Thursday, 8 April 2010

All other blog is a BBC blog

Regular readers, both of you, may have noticed one or two changes to the blog formerly known as David Cornock's other blog.

I'm going respectable. Seven years after I began one of the first BBC blogs (Nick Robinson was another pioneer - whatever happened to him?) I'm going to be blogging on the BBC platform again.

This blog will cease to carry my thoughts on matters political. You'll need to re-tune to discover my latest in-depth analysis on the general election, LCOs, the Barnett formula and other equally fascinating topics.

I won't be posting about politics here again, but the other blog will remain as an archive so future generations can savour my take on Westminster life during the last few years. I do hope those future generations will be suitably grateful.

A big thank you to those of you who stuck with my other blog during its unofficial years. I hope we'll meet again on the BBC site.

Wednesday, 7 April 2010

Gordon's guarantee - does he mean us?

Gordon Brown's election launch included "a direct guarantee to every single citizen of Britain" on public services.

Many of these services are run by devolved governments in Scotland and Wales, which may lead you to wonder whether the "direct guarantee to every single citizen of Britain" is worth the paper it wasn't written on.

This is what the PM said outside No 10: "I want to give a direct guarantee to every single citizen of Britain that when you need the police, when you need help with cancer care, when you need your GP at the evenings or at weekends, when you need as a child to have personal tuition in your school, then these public services will be there, directly guaranteed to you as an individual citizen when you need them and accountable to you and your family."

Your GP at evenings and weekends? Personal tuition? These sound like England-only pledges, available only to some of the citizens of Britain. Labour certainly cannot guarantee them in Scotland.

This is the more carefully-worded text version of what he said, from the Labour website: "I pledge this guarantee, a personal guarantee for you - that when you need to get in touch with the police, when you need cancer care, when you need access to a GP in the evenings or at weekends, when you need one to one tuition for your child, our public services will be there guaranteed to you and accountable to you and your family."

We will have to wait for Labour's Welsh manifesto, written by the Foreign Office Minister Chris Bryant, to discover how the party squares the circle between what Mr Brown said and what he can actually deliver.

Tuesday, 6 April 2010

First election snub to Wales?

The circus that is Abingdon, aka College Green, currently features media folk from across the globe, a lone resilient anti-Iraq protester, a bookmaker or two, and someone giving away party political crisps.

This stunt allows voters to display their allegiance by opting for the "Real Election politi-crisps" of their choice. Each colour-coded bag displays the appropriate party leader.

They may contain 10.5g of fat in every bag, but the makers, who are based in South Wales, insist there are no artificial policies.

All come in the identical sea salt flavour; the three I examined are all best before July 2010.

So why only three? Is this the first election snub to Wales guaranteed to raise the hackles of Plaid Cymru's parliamentary leader and push the Elfynometer into overdrive?

Apparently not. The makers insist they have no allegiance whatsoever and nationalists from Wales and elsewhere can display their views by clicking on "other" on the special webpage set up for the campaign.

On the Buses

Perhaps it was turning 60 two months ago but Peter Hain is displaying a fierce pre-occupation with bus passes.

Three times on Radio Wales this morning, before the election had even been called, the Welsh Secretary warned of the threat posed to these freebies by a Conservative victory.

The Tories deny that they would scrap the bus passes. Welsh bus passes are funded by the Labour-led Welsh Assembly Government, which has given no indication it would scrap them if forced to deal with a reduced budget from Westminster under a Conservative government.

So voters may assume the bus passes will survive the election, whoever wins on May 6.

The passes themselves are often highlighted as an example of Wales leading the way - as the first nation to introduce them. Whisper it quietly but the idea - contained in Labour's 1999 Welsh Assembly election manifesto - came from London where over-60s have had free bus and Tube travel for years.

Peter Hain, yes him again, could not understand why his retired parents, then living in Putney, got free travel but pensioners in his own constituency did not.

The man himself now qualifies for his own free bus pass and indeed has used his newly-acquired senior railcard to travel between Neath and Westminster.

Downing Street: Waiting for Gordo

A new dawn has broken, has it not?

Abingdon Green, opposite the House of Commons, at 7am, as seen from the Radio Wales "pop-up" studio (two folding camp chairs).

The green currently resembles a Milletts outdoor showroom as the world's media shelter beneath temporary gazebos.

No sign of Gordon Brown yet today, although David Cameron has been for a run near his home in North Kensington before making tea for waiting reporters outside.

Today's Sun does have a front page photograph of the Prime Minister returning from his own jog around St James's Park.

Sounds like Nick Clegg and Elfyn Llwyd need to invest in a pair of running shoes to keep up.