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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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News

Chancellor’s economic update includes VAT cut for hospitality sector, and customer discounts

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THE CHANCELLOR, Rishi Sunak, set out the measures in his summer economic update in the House of Commons on Wednesday (Jun 8), as he faces pressure to assist those who are most vulnerable to the financial crisis.

The Chancellor said he will cut VAT from 20% to 5% for food if people eat out to help those businesses which he said had been hardest hit by the coronavirus pandemic.

The chancellor announced discount to encourage people to eat out in August.

He says restaurants, pubs, bars and hotels as well as other attractions will be able to claim the money back within five days. It had been reported he was considering giving all UK adults a £500 voucher to spent with companies hit by coronavirus, but the Chancellor has decided not to go ahead with that proposal.

Another announcement is that employers who take back staff on furlough and continuously employ them until January will get £1,000 cash bonus per employee.

Instead Sunak announced a discount worth up to £10 per head for eating out in August. He said his final measure has never been tried in this country. It is an “eat out to help out scheme”, offering customers as discount worth up to £10 per head when they eat out from Monday to Wednesday in August.

Speaking in the Commons today, he said: “Our plan has clear goals, to protect, support and retain jobs.”

Regards furlough scheme, he said it must wind down, adding: “flexibly and gradually supporting people through to October” but that he is introducing a bonus for employers who bring staff back from furlough.

Employers who bring someone back from furlough and employ them through to January, paying them a minimum of £520 a month, will receive a £1,000 bonus.

He says that “in total we have provided £49bn to support public services since the pandemic began”.

He added: “No nationalist can ignore that this help has only been possible because we are a United Kingdom.”

Mr Sunak says the UK economy has already shrunk by 25% – the same amount it grew in the previous 18 years.

He also announced:

  • A £2bn kickstart scheme paying employers to take on unemployed 16 to 24 year olds for a minimum of 25 hours a week – he says the Treasury will pay those wages for six months plus a sum for overheads. He says there is no cap. This will apply in England and Wales.
  • VAT on food from restaurants, cafes, pubs and hotels will be cut until January 12 from 20% to 5%
  • Funding for apprenticeships and trainee-ships in England, there will be a separate announcement for Wales.
  • £1bn for the DWP to support millions of people back to work through Job Centres
  • A £2bn green homes grant in England to cover two thirds of the cost, up to £5,000, for energy efficient home improvements. Again the Welsh Government will have their own proposals on this given time.
  • A temporary cut to stamp duty in England and Northern Ireland.

Stephen Crabb has given his strong backing to the Chancellor’s coronavirus recovery plan, calling it “a huge step towards getting Pembrokeshire back on its feet”.

The Preseli MP said that the Chancellor’s ‘Plan for Jobs’ includes a £1000 bonus for businesses to bring back furloughed staff and the Kickstart scheme which will provide high quality work placements for unemployed youngsters. In England businesses will also be offered £1000 bonus to take on a trainee and £2000 for each new apprentice. Welsh Government has been given equivalent money to support their training schemes.

Speaking in the House of Commons following the Chancellor’s statement, Crabb said: “Make no mistake, this action to save a generation of young people from bearing the brunt of the economic crisis is incredibly positive and to be welcomed.”

The MP has previously warned about the prospect of a surge in unemployment as a result of the lockdown.

The Chancellor also announced a cut in VAT for the tourism and hospitality sector, giving a much needed boost to some of the sectors hardest hit by coronavirus. Early on in the lockdown, Crabb wrote to the Chancellor to call for a package of support for Tourism that included a VAT cut.

Responding to the announcement today, he said: “I am delighted that the Chancellor has listened to the proposals that many MPs from coastal areas have put forward. Tourism and hospitality need a real shot in the arm and the VAT cut will be very welcome.”

Today’s statement also saw the launch of a new ‘Eat Out to Help Out’ scheme, giving people 50% off meals out to encourage more families to eat out or get a takeaway during the month of August.   These measures will be important for Pembrokeshire’s many hospitality businesses who are still awaiting an announcement from Welsh Government on when they can open again.

On Friday Stephen Crabb will be bringing together more than thirty local pubs and restaurants for an online discussion with the County Council and others about how the sector can re-open safely and successfully.

 

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Politics

Cllr Beynon suspended as school governor at Pembroke’s Ysgol Harri Tudur

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PEMBROKESHIRE COUNTY COUNCIL said that they are unable to comment on the suspension of a Pembroke Dock councillor as a school governor.

Cllr Beynon confirmed that he has been suspended as a school governor at Pembroke’s Ysgol Harri Tudur.

“I’m looking forward until when the ombudsman throws out the complaints,” Cllr Beynon said.

Paul Dowson, a fellow Pembroke Dock councillor, recently resigned from the board of school governors of Ysgol Harri Tudur.

Cllr Dowson said after he resigned: “I feel a recent smear campaign reflects badly on the school even though its untrue.”

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Politics

Union wants council investigation into Councillor Paul Dowson’s conduct

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PEMBROKESHIRE County Councillor Paul Dowson’s public statements criticising the Black Lives Matter movement should be formally investigated by the council, according to UNISON.

The trade union said Mr Dowson’s use of a phrase adopted by the racist Klu Klux Klan was deeply offensive when people around the world were united in protest at police brutality and the murder of George Floyd.

UNISON questioned whether the councillor is fit to hold public office.

Mr Dowson used his Facebook page to attack Labour councillor Josh Beynon’s suggestion Pembrokeshire County Hall could be lit up in support of Black Lives Matter’s commemoration of Mr Floyd’s death.

Cllr Dowson posted that “White lives matter” a White supremacist phrase which originated in 2015 as a racist response to protests against police brutality against Black-Americans in the USA. Councillor Beynon received an online torrent of racist and homophobic abuse.

Manuela Hughes, UNISON Pembrokeshire branch chair said: “The Black Lives Matter movement has shown everyone that racism is rife in society. Black people are more likely to have been subjected to police brutality, more likely to live in poverty and more likely to be unemployed as a result of systemic racism. Their contribution is often written out of the history of this country.

Black workers have been disproportionately affected by Covid-19 and in the NHS, care and transport sectors, Black people have paid with their lives for caring for the whole community.

“This is the climate in which Councillor Dowson made his comments. He has brought Pembrokeshire County Council into disrepute. It is important that everyone stands together against racism and the council must formally investigate his behaviour.”

Mr Dowson was criticised for his Facebook comments in April last year that former Labour leader, Jeremy Corbyn, should commit suicide.

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