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Politics

How Labour won the argument

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By Matthew Paul

Even though Labour –according to Jeremy Corbyn– ‘won the argument’ last Thursday, the
Tories comprehensively won at the traditionally more important business of getting votes.
Simon Hart, Stephen Crabb and Jonathan Edwards all held their seats; the two
Conservatives enjoying comfortable majorities over Labour (though it was Hart, not Crabb,
who took Alun Cairns’ vacant job as Secretary of State for Wales).
Plaid Cymru, as predicted, had a pretty rotten night. They can take a little comfort from Ben
Lake’s solid win in Ceredigion, and from seeing their majorities creep up in Y Fro Gymraeg.
But the Party of Wales remains a party supported by only one in ten Welsh voters. Plaid
made no progress at all outside its core areas; indeed its share of the vote has (with a very
slight blip in 2015) been slowly on the slide for twenty years, from the 14.1% it won in the
2001 General Election, to 9.9% last Thursday. This is not a movement on the march.
Plaid’s aggressively anti-Brexit stance, and its ‘Unite to Remain’ alliance with wishy-washy
Britnat parties was a huge strategic error. Mistletoe-clad traditionalists in Y Fro know
perfectly well that the party is pro-EU and didn’t need reminding. Brexity boyos in the
valleys looking for an alternative to Labour found it a massive turn-off.
In Carmarthenshire West and South Pembrokeshire, Plaid’s vote share fell; Rhys Thomas
having failed to mention frequently enough that he’s a doctor and was in Afghanistan.
Jonathan Edwards will be spooked too. He lost half his majority in Carmarthen East &
Dinefwr, and the Conservatives smashed Labour into third place. With a bit of investment in
the constituency from CCHQ, there is every prospect of the Tories biting Jonathan on the
bum next time round.
While the doorstep in the Pembrokeshire constituencies had been showing solid support for
the Tories but no reason for complacency, over in Carmarthenshire it was apparent that the
Labour campaign had completely gone to bits. Labour Candidate Maria Carroll, though an
avid Corbynite, was for some reason unpersoned by her party and ordered to stay away
from Jezza’s big gig at Nantyci showground. The dear leader didn’t mention her or CE&D
once in his speech.
Rattled, Carroll put out a video in which she adopted the conciliatory tone of a dying gypsy
fortune-teller cursing the drunk driver who knocked her down: “your children and
grandchildren will SUFFER!” Even this inspirational message failed to turn things around.
Maria Carroll may have won the argument in Carmarthen East & Dinefwr; but only if the
argument centred on whether or not she would lose to both Plaid and the Tories, and get
the lowest vote in Carmarthenshire in the Labour Party’s entire history. To her credit, she
achieved both. She was fortunate not to face a credible challenge from the LibDems, or
Count Binface.
In receipt of this absolute shellacking from the electorate, many candidates would step
back, slightly abashed, and opt for a moment of quiet reflection. Not Maria. Erupting on
Twitter, she blamed every factor for her defeat except unpropitious astrological
convergences, her own incompetence, and Oh! Jeremy Corbyn. Broadly speaking, she

shared the view prevalent amongst members of the Corbyn cult; that the electorate got it
wrong.
Certainly, the analysis among Corbynites seems to be that it wasn’t the manifesto that got it
wrong; voters loved the classical socialist idea of taxing the rich until there aren’t any left,
then starting on the moderately well off. It definitely wasn’t the leader either; he is a good,
kind, honest, decent man who really cares for the poor. And, as we all know, there aren’t
any poor Jews. No, it was vile, billionaire-owned mainstream media like The New
Statesman, The Guardian and The Pembrokeshire Herald that brainwashed a majority of the
electorate into thinking Corbyn was an unpatriotic halfwit who surrounded himself with
commies, bomb-scatterers and anti-Semites. What made it worse was that they achieved
this by the sneaky, underhand trick of reporting things that Corbyn had said and done.
Carroll tweeted that she wants to see “an end to the abusive power of the media”, and even
expressed an aspiration to close the media down, so perhaps The Pembrokeshire Herald has
had a lucky break.
Maria Carroll wasn’t alone on Thursday night. The Beast of Bolsover, Dennis Skinner, was
finally told that his forty-year long end of the pier show was being shut down. Labour were
turfed out of Sedgefield; once Tony Blair’s rock-solid stronghold. Redcar, Grimsby Fishdocks,
Satanic Mills East, and a host of other seats which have been Labour since the dawn of time
all voted with some enthusiasm for Boris and Brexit.
The strategy of forcing opposition parties to treat a first-past-the-post election as a
referendum on a subject about which they didn’t agree worked an absolute treat for the
Tories. Even so, a competently led Labour Party with a clearly defined position on Brexit
could have won. In one credible poll, 43% of Labour voters who switched sides said it was
leadership, not Brexit, that was their main concern.
For the time being, Corbyn remains at the helm of his stricken party, anxious to ensure that
whoever succeeds him is chosen on his terms and from his cult. Any Tory with £3 in his
pocket would do well to sign up to Labour now, for the unmissable opportunity of helping to
elect Richard Burgon or Rebecca Long-Bailey as the Lenin-capped loon’s successor.
Entertaining as it may be to watch the Labour Party disintegrate, the Tories can allow
themselves only a short gloat. Reality will start to bite soon, when they get stuck into what
may not be the entirely effortless task of Getting Brexit Done.

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Politics

Pembrokeshire County Council considering ‘Fire-break’ implications

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FOLLOWING the First Minister’s announcement at lunchtime today (Oct 19) of an all-Wales ‘firebreak’ commencing on Friday, Pembrokeshire County Council is currently assessing the impact this will have on its services.

Council Leader, David Simpson, said: “I can provide assurance that detailed planning arrangements both internally, and externally with our partner agencies, are underway to ensure that we are well placed to meet any challenges which may arise.

“We will be issuing further updates over the coming days.”

Councillor Simpson added: “The First Minister has clearly said the ‘firebreak’ has been put in place due to the increasing level of cases across Wales.

“Although the restrictions do not come into force until Friday we all have to act now – early prevention can make a huge difference.”

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Politics

Two week national ‘Firebreak Lockdown’ announced for Wales from 6pm on Friday

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MARK DRAKEFORD, The First Minister of Wales has announced a two week ‘fire break’ lockdown from Friday October 23 at 18:00 HRS, to last until Monday November 9 at 00:01 HRS

Mr Drakeford said: “This firebreak is the shortest we can make it. It must be sharp and deep in order to have the impact we need it to have on the virus.”

All non essential businesses, including tourism businesses will be told to close.

Businesses have been told that they will be given £1000 each automatically to help with the economic impact of the shutdown.

Mr Drakeford added that children will be the priority and that childcare facilities will open as normal. Primary schools will open after half term.

Secondary schools will be closed for a week after half term to help control the virus.

Universities will offer a mixture of face-to-face learning and learning via video link. Students must stay at their university accommodation during the lockdown.

Responding to the Welsh Government’s announcement of a Wales-wide lockdown, Paul Davies MS, the Leader of the Opposition in the Welsh Parliament, has called the lockdown “not-proportionate” and is calling on the Welsh Government to be “open and transparent” on the evidence to support a lockdown and if the First Minister is committing Wales to rolling Wales-wide lockdowns every month.

Paul Davies MS said: “Sadly, the First Minster has failed to get public support for this second Wales-wide lockdown, failing to be open and transparent about the evidence to justify this lockdown and what his actions will entail for the future.

“The Welsh Government also has to be honest that this road they are taking us down is committing Wales to rolling Wales-wide lockdowns. This is not a two-week break to solve the pandemic, it is likely that we will see regular lockdowns across the rest of the year. The Welsh Government must be clear what actions they are taking during the lockdown to prevent further Wales-wide lockdowns which will have a significant impact on people’s lives and livelihoods.

“However, the main concern is that this national lockdown is not proportionate. The impact on businesses in areas such as Powys, Pembrokeshire and Ceredigion, who have the lowest rate of Covid-19 cases in Wales, will be severe at a time when they are desperately struggling to recover from the pandemic so far this year.

“The First Minister needs to urgently come to the Welsh Parliament and answer these questions, to face effective scrutiny by elected representatives and not run his government by media.”

Preseli Pembrokeshire MP, Stephen Crabb told The Herald: “The evidence to support an all-Wales lockdown is weak and I am sceptical that this so-called ‘fire-break’ will tackle the situation in those parts of Wales where infection rates have been out of control. The key issue for Welsh Government to address is what will be done differently after the firebreak ends in those parts of Wales where infection rates have spiralled out of control. Otherwise the whole of Wales risks being dragged back into a series of rolling lockdowns.

“As we saw earlier in the year, lockdowns come with huge costs in terms of harm to the economy and to people’s emotional and mental wellbeing. With the Welsh Government asking UK Government to fund this lockdown, I hope that as many businesses as possible get support they need quickly. Pembrokeshire’s hospitality businesses will be hit particularly hard by these latest restrictions and I will be fighting hard again to see that they are protected as the lockdown kicks in.”

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Politics

Cardiff and London at loggerheads over who will pay the bill for the Wales-wide lockdown

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THE PLANNED national lockdown for Wales still has many details to finalise before any final announcement of its terms and length.

The major sticking point is money.

During the UK-wide national lockdown from March to July, the Westminster Government picked up the tab for paying Welsh workers’ wages and provided a massive amount of extra funding for business support.

From November 1, the UK government will support eligible businesses by paying two-thirds of each employee’s salary, up to a maximum of £2,100 a month.

Businesses might also be eligible for grant support of up to £3,000 a month to meet other costs.

Devolved administrations in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland will receive a total of £1.3bn in increased funding this year to cover similar measures.

Businesses will only be eligible to claim the grant while they are subject to lockdown restrictions.

Council leaders across Wales have expressed their deep concern to Welsh Government ministers about the lack of any detail of what will be done to provide financial support to businesses, particularly those which are not forced to close by lockdown restrictions but close as a knock-on effect of lockdown.

Local authorities, which channelled most business support during the lockdown which began in March, have still not been told by the Welsh Government what help or how much will be available for businesses in that position, let alone how it will be delivered.

The sour relationship between the Welsh Government and Westminster is not likely to help Mark Drakeford’s administration if it looks for fresh funding help from the Treasury to bail it out of the wider economic consequences of a Wales-wide lockdown.

If the Welsh Government tries to go it alone to soften the blow, it faces making significant cuts elsewhere in its budgets.

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