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!