Tuesday, 27 July 2010

We're all off on a summer holiday

Parliament rises for its summer break today. The Welsh Assembly members are well into their holidays by now. Although if you mention that they’re on their holidays you tend to get short shift. No holiday for them, but a summer of political events and campaigning. If they are to be believed they never relax and take time to think or reflex they are always ‘doing.’

Be aware the ‘doing’ involves you. Not an agricultural show, eisteddfod, summer fete or even a market is out of bounds to them. There are few places that you can safely be out of the reach of politicians.

No, they seem to be omnipresent. Ever ready to ingratiate themselves to you, to meet, speak but seldom listen. If they listened more and spoke less they might start to get things right.

But if politicians can’t reflex, political journalists can. They could look back and see what an interesting few months it has been.

One Prime Minister sent back to serve his Scottish constituents as a back bencher. A new Prime Minister now governing, all be it, courtesy of a party whose ordinary members are spitting blood, at such an appointment.

But looking back is mere history. There is more fun to be had by looking into the crystal ball. So what of the future?

Even Gypsy Rose Hughes can predict that Labour will have a son of a Marxist as its next leader. The ball hazily shows Milliband the elder wondering why he has to have such an ambitious younger brother. It raises sibling rivalry to another plain. Although the Dave is still the front runner, the Ed could still over take on second preference votes.

Whilst looking at Labour our own dear First Minister is doing his own little tour of Wales to talk to people about their public services. Presumably, he will then be enlightened as which cuts he can impose with the least damage. A futile exercise me thinks, for after the Autumn Spending Review next year’s block grant to the Assembly will cut services to the quick. The best he can hope is to persuade the Welsh that ‘its not me, gov’ and make sure that the Westminster government takes the rap. The polls are beginning to show that this is fertile territory to campaign on and his party might have a good outcome in the 2011 elections.

Things may not be so certain for his coalition partners. If they are to make any real gains these will have to be at Labour’s expense. With Labour likely to be in the ascendant there is little hope of this happening. They have been treading political water for a while now and there is little sign that this is likely to change.

The Conservatives are still relatively popular at the moment. Clearly, the country is inhabited by masochists. The early cuts and the budget have not dented their support, whether this remains so after the Autumn when the effects of the budget slows down growth and pushes us towards another recession, remains to be seen. But the electoral system of the Welsh Assembly will unlikely dent their numbers, perversely they may even gain a seat or two in constituencies that they won in the general election.

The big losers are likely to be the Liberal Democrats. Many who felt clever at the time voting tactically to keep the Tories out. They  are now repenting  their choice. No, its likely that the Assembly elections will see the equivalent of ‘massacre of the innocents.’ Or in the Liberal Democrats case the not so innocent.

Ah, before all this there is the little matter of the referendum on more powers. Welsh Assembly politicians of all parties will be singing from the same hymn sheet in the ‘yes’ camp. The same harmony from Westminster is highly unlikely.

But before all that, my bucket and spade awaits. Have a good summer, dear reader.

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