Carmarthen Journal Article – Jan 11, 2011

The Christmas festive period offers an invaluable opportunity for politicians to refocus on the challenges ahead as well as determining priorities for the new year. The spotlight in Welsh politics for the first months of the year will undoubtedly fall on the March Referendum on full legislative powers for the National Assembly. In May there will also be elections for the fourth National Assembly and voters will also go on the polls on the same date to decide whether to adopt a more proportional electoral system for future Westminster elections. I’m looking forward in earnest to the March referendum as it will be an opportunity for normal party political hostilities to be put aside as those interested in creating a better Wales join together in common cause. I’m confident the Carmarthenshire campaign under the leadership of John Gillibrand, the Vicar of Llangeler Parish, will ignite the imaginations of the people of our great county.

My priority in Westminster will be scrutinising the economic policies of the UK Government. Since the Westminster election I have been critical of the UK Government’s obsession with deficit reduction due to the effect its tough reductions in public expenditure will have on the economy. 2011 will be the year the cuts really start to bite and the impact will be disproportionate on those economies such as ours which are more reliant upon public investment. The UK Government’s plans are a major gamble which will result in increasing unemployment, poverty levels and increasing wealth polarisation between individuals and regions. It’s grossly unfair that the economic elite that caused this crisis are looking forward to a reported £7 billion bonus season this month, whilst the poorest and disadvantaged will bare the brunt of the so called ‘age of austerity’. A far more equitable solution to restoring the public finances to a sustainable path should have been the order of the day based on a longer deficit reduction plan and a greater burden placed on the super rich.

With inflation on the rise, hardly helped with the increase in VAT which will push up prices, it seems that the ability of the Treasury to negate the effect of its fiscal policy with monetary mechanisms will be stymied. Interest rates will have to rise sooner and steeper than anticipated and a further round of quantitative easing (or printing money) would only store up significant inflationary pressures in the future.

Opportunities and challenges – It’s going to be an exciting and stimulating year ahead.

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