08/12/2011 Dragon's Eye


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Is a deal to save the euro-zone top of our politicians's Christmas


Good evening. All eyes are on Brussels this evening as European


leaders try to work out a plan to solve the debt crisis crippling the


Eurozone. The Prime Minister says he'll defend British interests in


those discussions - but for many of his backbenchers that means drawing


powers back to the UK. So will David Cameron be able to strike a


balance between the Eurosceptics at home and playing a part in avoiding


economic meltdown across Europe? If you would have predicted all of


this last year, they would probably have thrown you out of the cross-


party. A single currency on the brink, the government of Greece and


Italy collapsing, and the debt crisis threatening to spiral out of


control, shaking the foundations of the world economy. No shortage of


people keen to point out just how bleak everything looks. The crisis


in the euro-zone is having a chilling effect... Help them


resolve this issue... No one who looks at the current position could


deny that it is extraordinarily serious. So in this enormous all in


Brussels, the latest attempt to try and sort out the mass is getting


under way. The phrase make or break his used often when it comes to


European summit. Perhaps this one deserves the description more than


most. Tonight, Europe's political big beasts arrived to discuss new


budgetary rules drawn up by Germany and France, that would impose


penalties for countries that overspend. That proposal, according


to some, represents a fundamental shift in European politics. Inter-


governmental decisions are being taken once again by France and


Germany, and that is a problem for those who are... People who believe


in the Community method, which is all 27. For two countries to be


making the decisions are 17 is not appropriate. Other sense that the


from the euro-zone crisis has caused a political shift elsewhere.


At Westminster, in the shadow of Parliament, the statue commemorates


the siege of the French port of Calais in the 12th century by King


Edward the third. The Prime Minister must have felt under siege


from his own backbenchers yesterday. No taxation without representation.


It is the bastion of freedom. EU summit is a defining moment, a


once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. Will the promise to seize the


moment? Will the Prime Minister do Britain proud on Friday, and show


some bulldog spirit in Brussels? The Euro-sceptics on the right have


been re-energised, and that, to say the least, could prove


uncomfortable for Mr Cameron at the helm but his coalition. But a Tory


MP more sympathetic to the European cause senses a more general shift.


It may well be that we are starting to see a repositioning in politics


in which escapes isn't moves to be more of a mainstream concept. --


scepticism. As one who has been sceptical -- positive about our


membership of the European Union, I am worried about that. But I think


people in Wales need to be reminded regularly about how important


markets in Europe are. There has been a shift because of the


difficulties of the euro-zone has experienced. We have all got


reservations of one kind or another. I think many of us did make


criticisms of the way the was put together 10 years ago or more. --


the euro-zone. What is important is we don't try and put the clock back


but deal with the problems we are faced with. At least one Labour


politician was either -- eager to nail his pro-European views to the


mast yesterday. The Welsh government is unashamedly pro-


European, and I fully support measures to improve the stability


of the euro-zone. It is clearly in everyone's interest. I urged member


states to show regard for the common European good while standing


firm for disciplined financial management. He was speaking at a


conference held in Cardiff Bay to discuss the impact the euro-zone a


crisis is having on Wales. It is not a pretty picture. We want to


make sure that Welsh businesses have export markets to export to,


and we depend on Europe for a lot of our goods, so it is a two-way


trade, a lot of our imports come from Europe. The price of that will


be affected if the crisis continues, so it is a everybody's interest for


the whole thing to be stabilised. It is in the interest of Welsh


distances that the eurozone is a success. Back here, there are few


signs of the Christmas spirit, but I don't think there will be much


appetite among the political leaders tonight to share in festive


cheer. With the EU struggling to deal with the biggest crisis in its


history, nobody expects the economic forecasts to improve


anywhere, anytime soon. That was Owain Clarke from Brussels.


Well, joining us now from our Aberystwyth studio is Sir Emyr


Jones Parry - a former senior diplomat who has worked right at


the very heart of UK relations with the European Union. Good evening.


The summit has been described as do or die by many, is that how you see


it? It is a very important summit. There have been lots of artificial


deadlines, but there really is an urgent need to reassure the markets,


to stabilise the markets, to give some indication that when the next


set of bonds become due for repayment in Greece, and others


come up in other countries, that repayments will be made, and that


above all, new investment will be made at reasonable rates. That is


the challenge, and what we have got in this summit is a chance in the


short term -- short-term to send that message, but also, through the


proposed changes to fiscal rules governing the euro-zone, to try and


demonstrate to the markets that there is a fundamental wished to


tackle the basic problems. And the basic problems are technically


difficult. How can be tested is the south, how can you cope with those


problems -- how competitive is the South? It is a big, big technical


challenge and a political challenge. Huge issues, as you say, much has


been made up of the balloting at facing David Cameron with the Euro-


sceptics on the Conservative backbenches. And also, needing to


play a part in come up with some of the solutions to this. How do you


think he should or will play it? think he will stand up for British


interests. But it is politically difficult for everyone to stop


France and Germany have come up with proposals, the rest will be


pleased but a bit irritated at two countries are dictated. --


dictating. France wants the Germans to support bonds and the European


Central Bank to do more financing, Germany wants tighter fiscal rules,


which France doesn't want. Then for the Prime Minister, he has been


criticising, rightly, the lack of action, but that when the river him


is he could be put in the position where he is the person abstracting


action by the rest. Do you think of a domestic situation in the UK and


the political pressures on him it will hold him back from playing a


constructive role in these sessions? I am sure he will be as


constructive as he can be, given that we are not one of the 17 in


the euro-zone. But he has a legitimate point of view that


whatever is put in place, it shouldn't affect the fairness, the


integrity of the single market, it shouldn't disadvantage London and


the financial institutions. Those should be defended strongly. At the


same time, he has to contribute to the settlement, but that will be


most important but the 17th. were at the Foreign Office at the


time of the Maastricht treaty, those discussions, any lessons from


that period for David Cameron now? I think at the time, John Major was


quite right to obtain the opt-out for Britain to stop he did that,


and I am sure the Prime Minister tonight and tomorrow at will ensure


we are not been brought in something which neither the


government nor Parliament will want us to be part of, nor will we want


to be disadvantaged by the action of others. But we have a keen


interest in seeing this situation stabilised, getting the market's


return towards normality, because our interests are very much at


stake, all the trade we have with the rest of the European Union, it


is brattle for British interests. thank you.


It's the final week of business in the Assembly before Christmas and


the First Minister has wrapped things up today with an end of term


press conference. Earlier I spoke to Carwyn Jones and asked him is


he's satisfied with his Government's achievements over the


past year. Absolutely. We have provided a lot of packages of


support the economy, started to introduce new laws, after the


powers that the people of Wales granted us in May, and we have made


sure that we have fought Wales's corner, particularly the UK


government's acceptance of the need to look at the way Wales is funded.


As the Conservatives have pointed out, you have only tabled one piece


of legislation in that time, is that a satisfactory? They cannot


have it both ways. They have complained they wanted us to


produce white papers and send them out to consultation, then make sure


we drafted new bills, they cannot say on the one hand that things are


slow, because they themselves wanted to have this system, to make


sure the appropriate level of scrutiny was in place. We have


started work on a number of new bills. You will be familiar with


the criticisms from the opposition parties, they have talked about you


being complacent, there has been our lack of leadership, there has


been avoiding. Are you concerned these labels make stick? When other


parties have a go at you personally, it shows they are afraid of you. We


have shown the way in terms of new ideas for Wales, we had the best


manifesto, the best ideas in terms of legislation, and we are moving


forward with those. Those attacks don't impress me, I know full well


but they are worried. They say it isn't a personal attack, but the


policies you put forward have shown that you are complacent rather than


you as an individual, maybe. If you look at the Conservative point of


view, they would say we are complacent because we're not doing


what they are doing in England. When it comes to Plaid Cymru, there


were no ideas for new laws at all in their manifesto. We have put


forward ideas that are ambitious for Wales and will provide some


sense of optimism given the economic gloom that pervades the UK.


You have talked about the economic situation, which is dominating


everything, we have unemployment in Wales and 9%, youth unemployment at


over 22%. Looking ahead to next year, how bad you think things will


get here in Wales? It is difficult to see an improvement. We are doing


what we can, we have as seen -- scheme that will put 4000 young


people into training, we have �55 million available for small


businesses to help them through the difficulties, we have put capital


project support of over �130 million to make sure that new


buildings are built, which will create jobs in the building sector


as well. We have made sure that �1.4 billion is going into building


new schools. These things will all help people in getting new skills


in the future, but also create jobs. The opposition parties have


emphasised that you're ready to blame the UK government for the


economic woes of Wales. Do you take responsibility for the economic


condition of Wales's to UK government does bear responsibility.


I'm not saying that we sit back and do nothing, of course not, we have


shown that does not happen with all we have done and all the money we


have put in over the course of the last month particularly. But I


don't think the UK government's proposals to cut the pay of public


sector workers in Wales simply because they live in Wales is


something I can let go without You talk about regional pay. What


are your proposals on that? The Chancellor says this could happen


in the short to medium term? I do not accept that people who live in


Wales should be paid less for doing the same job as people in the south


of England. That is absolutely wrong. It is absolutely immoral. I


will fight it tooth and nail. All that would do is reduce the amount


of money going into people's pockets in Wales. That is wrong.


The forecasts are pretty gloomy in terms of the economy. What can the


Welsh Government offered to lift people's spirits? Selling Wales is


what we're going to do. I had been to China. I will be going to India


and the United States next year. We have people who are ambitious, who


want to move forward, people with the right skills. It is important


we do that. This is where the investment money is at the moment.


We have good relations with China that I think will bear fruit.


final question, just about the allegations of malpractice against


a couple of exams board examiners, it must be disappointing to see


these allegations made against a Welsh body? Yes. I am aware of the


allegations. The Education Minister has asked for an investigation.


They must be a thorough investigation so we know what has


happened. - there must be. Now, when it comes to education, Carwyn


Jones' government has pledged to drive up standards - and Ministers


say ranking schools in five performance bands is part of the


answer. Today secondary schools found out in which band they've


been placed. I asked Philip Dixon, Director of the Association of


Teachers and Lecturers Cymru, whether they accept this isn't


about naming and shaming schools but about improvement. The


Education Minister is clear about this. It is not about naming and


shaming schools. It is about improvement. Do you accept that?


That is his intention and that is to be welcomed. What we have seen


today is the naming of schools. There seems to be very little in


the way of support. That is a real concern. When you talk about


supporter, do you mean financial support? I would hope they would be


some financial support. That seems to be ruled out. There is other


support. Supporting teachers in class, supporting headteachers etc.


None of that seems to be getting to the front line. They have promised


four regional boards that will work on improvement in schools. That


will surely answer your concerns? That will be next year. They will


start around about September. There is almost a gap of the year between


the naming and the support. What schools will want from tomorrow is


the support. Our you opposed to banding schools? This idea was


originally about giving extra support to schools. And number in


the profession welcomed it. The crude ranking we have seen in


England with the rankings does not work. We have to see more support


in the system. That is not there. Schools have to be accountable.


Schools want to be accountable. But you have to have intelligent


accountability. I am not quite sure that letting them dangle before


Christmas without a supporter is right. What about the incentives


this provides? The fact they can move up? That is how the league


tables in England were supposed to work. They did not. My worry is


those who find themselves in the bottom band will find themselves


completely demoralised. I do not think you can expose people and say,


now improve your cells. Often they will need outside support. If a


child is not very good at maths, it would help them to know the other


scores of other children, because often children can help each other.


What we have here, I am afraid, is that the scores have been published


and these child, as it were, has been left bereft. You talk about


accountability. What about the role of parents? It is important, isn't


it, that they have an idea of how local schools are performing?


Quite often parents make judgments on a variety of indicators. I think


we have seen some perverse consequences today. There is a


school in the First Minister's constituency which finds itself in


band five. These things are not marrying up properly. Some parents


will be puzzled by the information today. Thank you for joining me.


The festive season is upon us, and we all recall Dickens tale of the


ghosts of Christmases past, present and yet to come. Well, never ones


to miss out on a good yarn, Dragon's Eye asked the Western


Mail's very own Ebenezer Scrooge, Matt Withers, for his take on


what's been, what's gone and what's If 2011 was the worst of times,


2012 could be even worse. This year saw the UK Government withdraw much


of its funding. There was so-so and rest on the streets of London. --


social unrest. What would dickens had made a bit? He described credit


as when a person who cannot pay asking another person who can pay,


guarantee that he can. In Wales, 2012 will be a tale of governments


in O2 macro cities, Cardiff and London. -- two cities. The


Conservatives and Liberal Democrat bedfellows led by Cameron and Clerc,


will find the fingers pointed at them increasingly by the Labour


administration in Wales. The Times of austerity have already begun


with a Wells budget cut for the first time. -- Welsh. A cry of


please sir, can we have some more, is unlikely to be smiled upon. It


will be the first full year of our National Assembly having law making


powers. People have great expectations. With the public purse


strings so tight, the laws will resemble more an Old curiosity Shop.


Mogg cycle lanes, less the tattooing of young people, and


local authorities being made to share chief executives. A new


commission will look at the fiscal powers of Wales. While everyone, or


at least most of us will feel the pain, politics will continue as


usual. Labour will continue to muddle through in an assembly which


could become a bleak House. Plaid Cymru, looking for a new leader,


and the Liberal Democrats, could be on hand to joined their gang. Could


a deal with the opposition see the assembly visited by a minister of


Christmas past, Peter Hain? 2012 will be all about the economy. With


less money around, governments will increasingly resemble Scrooge as


budgets shrink and spending retracts. It is a situation which


Dickens himself would have struggled to recognise more than


140 years after his death. Merry Christmas one and all? Bar humbug.


Thanks to Matt 'Scrooge' Withers from the Western Mail. Joining me


now is Conservative MP Glyn Davies, Liberal Democrat Assembly Member


Peter Black, the Labour MP Kevin Brennan, and Plaid Cymru Assembly


Member Jocelyn Davies. A pretty bleak picture painted there. Your


Conservative backbenchers are not showing much good Lil -- goodwill


towards cheerleaders on the European issue. Where you stand?


have got a top issue. David Cameron is in Europe at the Mohmand and


hopefully he will protect Britain's interest. That is what I expect him


to do. -- at the moment. It is politics. There was no harm in it.


Kevin Brennan, the Labour MPs smell blood here? -- do Labour MPs?


was telling yesterday when Ed Miliband put David Cameron on the


spot, just how much he waffled. It is a case of the return of the


dinosaurs in terms of the Eurosceptics in Westminster. They


are queuing up to get some red meat going on Europe. It is a fault line


within the Conservative Party and within the coalition. It Liberal-


Democrats traditionally have taken a different view. -- the Liberal


Democrat. Nick Clegg seemed to be staring into a vacant space


yesterday during Prime Minister's Questions. You have just done a


deal with Labour on the budget here. Is that party politically motivated


ahead of the local elections? was about making sure we have


stability for public services, making sure we got at key Liberal


Democrat manifesto pledge delivered, more money for every school in


Wales. The Prime reservation was stability, making sure we got the


budget through. Get some extra money to schools to help the


poorest people. I should imagine the Eagles you may get in the local


elections was probably am more of a motivation. -- I should imagine


that the boast you may get. I am quite enjoying being in opposition.


Yes, of course, this time last year we were in Government. I am very


proud to be in a Government that delivered the referendum. I think


we have settled quite well back into opposition. And of course


Labour was not able to offer us what we wanted in order to support


them on the Budget. We have supported them on the budget in the


past. When we have been able to get what we want. But the key issue in


the coming months is the leadership. His independence going to be the


dividing line? I do not know if that will be the case. Everybody


has their own views. We have three very good candidates. I will be


supporting Eddie Jones. We have got a Simon Thomas and Pywell and


Thomas. They have all got different views. -- Dai Llewellyn. Glyn


Davies, obviously it has been at the year for the new Conservative


leader in the assembly. He has maybe liven up First Minister's


Questions. Is the first ministerial material? Of course. He has liven


up proceedings in the assembly. I think he has done incredibly well.


He is coming to London next week to meet but David Cameron and all of


the MPs. I have been organising that. He is turning out to be a


very good leader. Defying some of the people who decried him. Has he


got Carwyn Jones on the Ron? I do not think so. Carwyn Jones is a


very significantly able operator. One thing I disagree with Jocelyne


about is about being in opposition. I could never settle with being in


opposition. It is a terrible place to be. Having an election for a


leader in opposition is like having an election for the mayor of the


Mont Caines. You might as well give up. One year in power is worth a


1000 years in opposition. It is not inevitable but you have to accept


that sometimes that is what happens. Make the best of the role you have


an opposition. It used to it. would never get used to it. I think


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