11/12/2011 The Politics Show Wales


Jon Sopel and Aled ap Dafydd with analysis of the political scene shaping Wales.

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Later in the programme: After a referendum and election a euro zone


crisis and an economy on the break, how was 2011 for you?


We look back on the political year with representatives from our four


Apology for the loss of subtitles for 1806 seconds


Hello and welcome to the final Politics Show Wales. Stay with us


for the next half-an-hour. It's our end-of-year show. We thought we'd


take a look back at 2011 and also try to work out where we'll all be


going in 2012, especially at a time when the winter chill is running


through the economy. We have representatives from the four main


parties - a party chairwoman, an AM and MP and an MEP. Sadly even


though it's Christmas, there's no Lord-a-leaping.


Anyway back to 2011. Here's our reporter Adrian Browne's snapshot


of the past 12 months. His report does contain some flash photography.


As 2011 started, Wales did its way through the big freeze. The


financial freeze has stayed with us. Vat jumped to 20% and was quickly


reflected in petrol prices. George Osborne twice told MPs that


economic growth forecasts had been slashed. The euro-zone sclerosis


escalated and Wales's MEPs hope to way through could be found. In


spring along came one of those Welsh devolution referendum


campaigns that tend to crop up every 15 years or so. A resounding


Yes vote for more law-making powers for the National Assembly was one,


albeit on a poor turnout. Later Cheryl Gillan launched a commission


to consider devolving tax-raising powers. The first election saw the


Labour Party secured 30 out of 60 seats in Cardiff Bay. There was no


return for the Labour/Plaid Cymru Coalition. There was a long


farewell to the leader of Plaid Cymru. Conservatives leapfrog them


to become the assembly's second biggest party. Their leader also


lost his seat. He was replaced. The Welsh Liberal Democrats lost one of


their six seats to Labour. Their leader, Kirsty Williams, suffered


the indignity of having two of her AMs suspended because they were not


eligible to stand for election. One was reinstated and the other


replaced. Carwyn Jones's programme included 500 new police community


support officers and increased access to GP services. The


opposition asked whether meaningful targets were? A new compulsory 5p


charge for carrier bags was the most talked about was government


policy of the year. The Liberal Democrats gave the Welsh government


the numbers needed to get the budget through in return for an


extra �20 million for the poorest school pupils. Lib Dems were


accused of seeking to distance themselves from the UK government


partnership with the Conservatives before local elections next year.


That Coalition at Westminster spaced public sector strikes over


pension changes a summer riots across English towns and cities.


Euro crisis summits came and went under pressure on David Cameron


with his pro European Lib Dem Coalition partners on the one side


and Euro-sceptics on the other increased. His decision to veto


treaty changes leaves Britain's relationship with the heel


uncertainty say the least. After the bitter blow of losing a


referendum on changing the way MPs are elected, Nick Clegg continued


to argue plans such as limiting senior executive pay it was a price


worth paying. At the Labour front line at Westminster united in


opposing plans to cut the number of Welsh MPs from 40 to 30. As 2011


draws to a close, there are 16,000 job vacancies advertised at


Jobcentre Plus in Wales. The bad news is the country has 137,000


people who are unemployed with few forecasters predicting the economic


gloom will lift any time soon. Who are the winners and losers in


2011 and what will shape the political landscape in 2012? Plenty


to discuss with the Plaid Cymru Chairwoman Helen Mary Jones, Labour


AM Jenny Rathbone, Jenny Willott MP from the Liberal Democrats and Kay


Swinburne the Conservative MEP. The economy has been the most


talked-about subject in the political year. Who's blame is it?


It is a national crisis but we had a Labour government he did not


regulate the bankers properly and they ran wild. They played ducks


and Drakes with our pensions and the jobs in the future. None of the


political parties can hold their heads up high on this. What do we


need to do? Plaid Cymru is of the view that the level of austerity


and public spending cuts that we are facing, while it might keep


international bankers happy, risk driving us into a double-dip


recession. We must be very careful unless we that is where we end up.


We want to see the Welsh government and the UK government investing in


infrastructure to provide jobs and facilitate the economy for the


future. We are disappointed the Liberal Democrats did not support


our call for extra money in the Welsh budget. Unless we get people


working public services will suffer. We face a very difficult situation.


It is absolutely clear that since 2008, we have had a real challenge


to regulate the banks. We have a completely skewed economy. We


desperately need to revive our manufacturing sector. We will not


be able to do that unless we have a better control on how our finances


are spent. It is a disappointing that David Cameron has walked away


from Europe which is where most of our trade is done. The situation


looks absolutely dire. You have got to acknowledge that your party had


15 years are when they could have regulated banks and invested in


manufacturing and economy and got the banks under control and they


didn't. I think Labour has agreed that we should have regulated the


financial sector. None of the other parties were saying that we needed


to regulate it... That is absolutely not true at all! Vince


Cable was saying for years that we needed to regulate the financial


sector better. Everybody knew outside of the Government. It was


quite clear there was a growing problem and Vince Cable was saying


for a long time before the crisis. As somebody who deals with economic


monetary affairs on behalf of the Conservatives, most of this is not


a UK function. It is a single market function of Europe summit is


the Europeans that regulate the banks and we regulates it --


implemented. It was Europe that got it wrong. It is a single market


issue. The regulation comes from Brussels. I deal with the


legislation day in day out. We need to be very careful about the blame.


It has to be a regulation rather put -- in has been directed rather


than a regulation. Let us look at some Welsh specific issues such as


the rate of unemployment. How do we deal with unemployment which is


rising, especially youth unemployment. In our view we have


to be investing in the economy, in economic development here in Wales.


We must spend more on the infrastructure but in fairness the


Welsh government has had its capital budget stuck -- cut so it


is hard for them to do it. Winnie the economy to be made a priority


but the government has barely done anything. You had this idea that


would create 50,000 new jobs and your manifesto is based on the


principle and idea. The Welsh come to -- the world public did not vote.


There are all sorts of reasons why we did not do well in the election.


It is interesting that the SNP government in Scotland is


implementing something very similar to our programme so it will be


interesting to see if that enables them to have a good influence on


the economy. We know there are international and UK wide issues


but there are things that devolved administrations can do and it is


disappointing to see the Welsh Labour government beat so moribund


on the economy. The assembly are hoping to get 42,000 people into --


more people into jobs but we must do more. We must do all manner of


things. We put �50,000 into creating the Welsh jobs fund and


his apprenticeship schemes. At the end of the day we only have the


resources we get from Westminster. Our tools are limited. We have to


protect and preserve as far as we can be Welsh economy from the storm


that is coming, both from the UK government and from Europe. One of


the most promising things that we are doing is the learning and


skills measure that will improve the training that people are


getting which is much more focused on the jobs that are available and


the needs of manufacturing industry. You pointed out in your piece


earlier that there were 6,000 jobs and 130,000 people on the dole. We


need to fill those 6,000 jobs but the key has to be to attract more


investment into Wales, to rebuild our manufacturing industry so that


we can actually sell to Europe and further afield... The Liberal


Democrats supported the Budget because you got �20 million for the


most disadvantaged children in our schools but that was not the people


premium that you're asking for which was in your manifesto. It is


a version of it. There was also investment in apprenticeships.


concentrate so closely on the money for school children when the


obvious crisis is the economy and a lack of growth and a lack of jobs.


One of the biggest problems in the Welsh system is a lack of skills


among slung people and a lack of proper education... What about the


people you do not have jobs? That is where I said that some of


Baroness more went into increasing apprenticeships. In England there


have been significant investment in apprenticeships and it is starting


to see a big difference in some areas, particularly where there are


deprived communities where there has been heavy investment. It is


really important that we do not just look at the current situation


but we look to the future as well to ensure that the current group of


children who are going through our schools do not come out and face


the same problems that the current pupils do. We are tackling youth


unemployment for those who are 18 to 24 now but we are also tackling


the problem with the skills gap and making an -- making sure your own


people from disadvantaged communities have a better chance to


get work and build successful careers. One way of creating jobs


is through capital spending but we know the money coming from


Westminster has been slashed. Why is there enough money to cut the


tolls on the Humber Bridge for a �500 million tunnel through the


Chiltern Hills when there seems to be no money to extend roads to


Swansea and/tolls on Welsh bridges. It seems that Wales is at a


disadvantage. I would disagree that that is the case. It is all based


on a business case that has been put forward. The Welsh Office are


putting forward a case for Wales, in terms of extra investment


priorities, particularly electrification of the line and


potentially the Swansea link as well. Outside of that we have


something we can do immediately in Wales. We have not spent half of


the structural funds available to us. That is over �1 billion that we


still have to spend. Why not read a wreck that money now into economic


initiatives? Put the money into short-term jobs prospects like


apprenticeships and let the public sector use that money now to


generate growth for our cop economy. We need to use all the tools at our


disposal. Long-term projects are all well and good but it will not


deliver in the next decade. We need to be direct that money right now


into the economy. It is therefore competitiveness reasons and that is


why the get the money and let us make ourselves more competitive by


redirecting that money and it is massive amounts compared took


anything. One of the big problems that business it faces is


infrastructure... You cannot use structural funds for that and you


know that perfectly well. We are very bad at using the structural


funds. I am not saying it is six strategic as it could be but when


your government is taking great lumps out of the Welsh Assembly


budget for capital projects, you cannot create jobs out of nowhere.


You cannot create jobs if you do not have a road or railway to get


people to work and goods to market. It is not there to focus solely on


structural funds. There are issues there but without the capital spend,


how is Wales supposed to make best It is disappointing that the UK


Government slashed at the rate by 50%. That meant that thousands of


families who are about to get panels on their roofs which would


bring down energy bills and contribute to tackling global


climate change, was a polished. Slashed overnight. -- abolished.


That has meant that people have been told that they will not have


these schemes. These were effective ways of getting people to use their


equity to invest in jobs in the here and now. Plumbers had to train


up for these schemes and now they are saying that the market has


disappeared. Another issue which will affect


workers in Wales as a public sector pay and pensions. Coalition -- the


coalition in Westminster wants to renegotiate the terms. We know that


there are plenty of people in Wales and the public sector. Do you see


them being at a disadvantage in the future?


The position right now is unsustainable. There is consensus.


The previous Labour Secretary of State agreed. It is very important


that people on the public sector have a pension to retire on and


that is safe and they can rely on that. But at the moment, the system


is that you can retire significantly earlier in the public


sector than in the private sector. That is not possible -- it is not


possible for that to carry on. But will we see pensions going


down? And because of the review of regional pay, here in Wales, a wage


cut also? We are not seen pensions go down.


People are having to pay more in there. That is a form of production.


But they will see a better pension at the end of it.


That is not what is happening. The money is going straight back to


George Osborne. That is a complete misunderstanding.


It is not. Low-paid workers are having to pay even more of their


salary. And that has already been frozen. The way that the UK


government is approaching this is likely to mean more people opting


out of their pension scheme which means it will store up problems.


Not everybody accepts that these public sector schemes are


unsustainable. Changes have already been carried through in the last


few years. But the Government is not playing.


Some people would say, even more cause to build up the public --


build up the private sector. But we have a baroness recently stating


that there were people in the Labour Party at suspicious of the


private sector. That does not feed and to the feeling that Labour are


on the side of the private sector. On the contrary.


But the comment, she regrets the capitalist system.


That is her personal historic view. But she has created economic


zones... By what measure are we are judging


her effectiveness? If the business community feel they have got the


Government behind them, well, that is not the message I am hearing.


The businesses I talked to are finding that the Welsh government


is a very focused on the economy. But it is extremely fearful of the


macro-economic policies coming from London which are simply not working.


Effort some body is unemployed they are clearly not making any


contribution by way of tax. George Osborne's plan is completely


hopeless and that has been borne out by the increasing deficit. We


need a plan B. An indication that the UK Government is serious about


investing in infrastructure. Leads wind the clock back. Starting


with the referendum. If you landed from Mars you could argue that


nothing has changed. Well, the institution now has the


power to do things. Another thing is the Government actually getting


on with doing it. After six months the first to measure was only


recently. It may be good or bad but I have not even looked at it yet.


But you cannot blame the powers for the fact that the Government is not


using them. The whole of Wales has said that they wanted these


decisions are made in Wales, that we could look after ourselves and


each other better. That was a great day.


Did you take your eye off the ball at the election after concentrating


and that? I do not know, is the honest answer.


But I know that we worked extremely hard on the ground. People in Plaid


Cymru and other parties. We have an internal review which will look at


it. But in the end, Plaid Cymru is about the good of Wales, not the


good of Plaid Cymru. So you could argue it was the right decision to


make. New ministers get on top of their


portfolio. It is important to get their measures right. Properly


scrutinised. It is no good are rushing it.


You cannot scrutinise it until it is implemented.


Of course you cant. But you need to have a draft so there is not so


much work to do it when it needs to be scrutinised. So the Government


is entirely focused on improving the delivery up of public services.


And of trying to protect the jobs and skills. It is an extremely


difficult environment we are working in. But the government is


getting on with it and his United. Are the Liberal Democrats ending


the year on a better note than the where have we through it, I just


wonder, who are the Liberal Democrat? The Friends of the


Conservatives? Befriends a Labour? Sometimes when you try to be


friends with everybody you become friends with no one.


We are an independent party with a clear vision of what we want to


achieve and will work with whoever we think and help us achieve as


much as possible. There was an opportunity with the Welsh a budget


to insecure that there was real Investment elderly on and


disadvantage. So we took the opportunity to do that.


Somewhat cheaply, according to the opposition.


Of course, the opposition would say that. In Westminster we have a


clear prog -- programme we are working on with the coalition. We


have achieved a number of things that were in our manifesto. It just


goes to show that we will work with different political parties in


different situations to achieve as much of what we want to see done.


On a personal note, do you regret the coalition and Westminster?


Absolutely not. There is a huge amount being done there would not


be done without the Liberal Democrats in government. The income


tax threshold being raised. There has been huge investment in


environmental measures. We have seen the pupil premium in the Wales


as well as England doing a huge amount of good in schools in


deprived areas. And there is a whole load of things around


identity cards which the Labour Government was going to bring in,


we have scrapped, all sorts of civil liberty measures the we have


changed as Egg direct result of Liberal Democrat been in government.


Yes, coalition government is difficult, but we have seen a real


market for the Liberal Democrats can do in government.


How big a blow was it for the Conservatives to lose their leader.


-- their leader in Wales? It is always a blow but we have


increased our election in -- increased our vote in every


election. We lost a talented leader but he will go on to other things


and we may not have seen the last of him as a politician. We have a


strong new leader. But the issue is local government elections and


making sure that that trend we have seen over the last five years


continues. That is the reason we have grown over the last five years


- we have taken our message to the people and made them understand it


directly. When they come on board with us, then hopefully they will


stay on board over the long term. Another challenge for the New Year


is the new leader of your party. Who should that be?


As the party chair I am politically responsible for making sure the


election run smoothly so I am unable to select or state a


preference. But the party will decide which way it want to go then


will choose the leader that can take us there.


Now that the Liberal Democrat support you on the Budget, do the


Labour group now feel slightly more comfortable? Knowing that when you


need support it is there? We need to get our budget through


in the context of economic crisis we're all trying to manage.


Uncertainty is one of the worst things for business. But, are you


know, we do not know what the future relationship will be with


the Liberal Democrats in the assembly. But we certainly have to


be mindful of what is going on in the rest of the world. Events on


Friday with David Cameron completely losing it in Europe...


This is going off track. We only have 90 seconds left.


20 seconds for each of you. A wish for the New Year.


Economic growth, reduce unemployment.


All politicians are working for Wales.


Investment in infrastructure to reduce unemployment, especially


youth unemployment which is terrifying.


Tackling climate change, keeping people's bills down.


I thought you about to predict a general election!


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