Journal Column – 16th May

Last week was the State opening in Westminster, one of the great spectacles of the Parliamentary calendar. As always there were some proposals to welcome and those to be concerned about.

Since 2004 Plaid Cymru have campaigned for a supermarket Ombudsman to ensure a more level playing field for producers, such as our dairy farmers who often find themselves hostage to unfair pricing practices. Therefore we welcome the proposed legislation, but we will be campaigning to make sure the Grocery ombudsman as it is to be called will have as much teeth as possible.

We welcome the indication that measures will be introduced to reform banking services. The Vickers commission provide clear guidance on the need to create buffers between retail banking and casino operations. My personal view is that there needs to be a complete separation under the terms of the Glass Steagall provisions of the 1930s in response to the great depression of the 1920s if we are to avoid a repeat of 2008. This is when ordinary working people were expected to bail out the financial elite for their mistakes on speculative investments and are now paying for it in job losses, reduced living standards, loss of services and reduced pension entitlements. The financial media were speculating that any reforms won’t be implemented until 2019, which would be ten years after the crash and leave seven years for the all powerful financial services lobby down here to dumb down the current proposals.

Of huge concern was the intention to legislate to reform public sector pensions. Coupled with localised pay, this would have a huge impact on the spending power in an economy such as ours.

We are also very concerned about the proposals to legislate to introduce a snoopers charter. Labour firstly planned these intrusive measures, which just goes to show that no matter the colour of the government in Westminster the policy agenda stays the same. I can’t see how you can defend a democratic society by undermining civil liberties. It’s a complete contradiction.

On BBC News 24 I described the Queens Speech as a damp squib just like the London weather. The reality is there was nothing in the speech to alleviate peoples concerns over jobs and their squeezed standards of living. The economic focus seems to be based on addressing supply side problems in the economy, whilst it seems obvious to me that the real issue is a lack of demand. What we need is investment in the economy, and it was disappointing that the HS2 England project for England was put on the back burner because I was looking forward to making the case for Wales’ due Barnett consequential of £1.9bn.

Returning to Carmarthenshire politics it seems that Labour and the Independents (or closet Tories in the words of Peter Hain) have turned down my party’s offer of a unity administration for the county. This unholy alliance has no political mandate, no policies and no vision for our county. Worrying times indeed.

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