06/04/2015

Ceredigion's MP - representing Ceredigion or Westminster?


What practical difference would a Plaid Cymru MP like Mike Parker make in Ceredigion? Firstly there's the massive anti-austerity message that a Plaid Cymru win would send out, together with the increasing likelihood of having a key influence in a hung parliament alongside the SNP. But for anyone interested in policies and values, one of the best way to judge is to look at how our current Lib Dem MP has been voting at Westminster. 

Below are listed some of the ways he’s been voting, as recorded on the website ‘They Work for You', where a Plaid Cymru MP would differ markedly.  I must admit I’m quite shocked at some of the voting patterns.

Because some votes are complex or multi-layered, the website uses a scoring mechanism to judge on whether the MP has voted 'moderately', 'strongly' or 'very strongly' on each particular issue. These are all quotes from the website. My comments are in brackets.

Welfare and Benefits 
Voted moderately for a reduction in spending on welfare benefits
(Disappointing)

Voted moderately for reducing housing benefit for social tenants deemed to have excess bedrooms 
(i.e. the ‘Bedroom Tax’ - very disappointing to see this)

Voted strongly against spending public money to create guaranteed jobs for young people who have spent a long time unemployed
(I'm really surprised by this)

Social Issues
Voted moderately for laws to promote equality and human rights
(Only moderately?)

Taxation and Employment
Voted moderately against a banker’s bonus tax
(Astonishing)

Health 
Voted strongly against restricting the provision of services to private patients by the NHS.
(Thereby accepting the increasing privatisation of the health service - Plaid Cymru are committed to opposing this)

Education
Voted very strongly for ending financial support for some 16-19 year olds in training and further education
(Very surprising)

Constitutional Reform
Voted strongly for reducing central government funding of local government
(And then blames local councils for cuts to services?)

Voted moderately against a more proportional system for electing MPs.
(i.e. failed to back Caroline Lucas’s enlightened motion to broaden the debate on proportional representation, even though PR is supposed to be a key Lib Dem policy. The loss of this motion was then followed by the disastrous AV referendum in 2011 in which the Lib Dem’s choice was heavily defeated).

Voted moderately for greater restrictions on campaigning by third parties, such as charities, during elections.
(Generally seen as a measure aimed at restricting debate - surprising)

Voted a mixture of for and against transferring more powers to the Welsh Assembly.

Voted moderately against transferring more powers to the Scottish Parliament.

Voted moderately against more powers for local councils.
(Looking at the last three together, there’s not much commitment to decentralisation going on there...)

Home Affairs
Voted strongly for the introduction of elected Police and Crime Commissioners
(Has proved to be hugely unpopular - Plaid will vote to abolish)

Voted moderately for requiring the mass retention of information about communications
(Basic Lib Dem tenets seem to be going out of the window here)

Miscellaneous Topics
Voted moderately against greater regulation of gambling
(Surprising)

Voted moderately for financial incentives for low-carbon emission electricity generation methods.
(Only moderately?)

Voted moderately for measures to prevent climate change 
(Only moderately?!)

Voted strongly against slowing the rise in rail fares 
(Absolutely amazing)

Has never voted on selling England’s state owned forests
(Shame)

Voted moderately for restricting the scope of Legal Aid
(Disappointing)

Voted a mixture of for and against the privatisation of Royal Mail
(Incredible)

Voted moderately for the policies included in the 2010 Conservative-Lib Dem Agreement.
(And there lies the nub of the problem)


Put together, this list is pretty damning, and it certainly doesn't represent the wishes of the people of Ceredigion.  

I don’t know which votes were whipped or how strongly (’The Tories/Nick Clegg made me do it’?) but, with the Lib Dems refusing to rule out another coalition with the Conservatives, and Plaid Cymru's Leader Leanne Wood explicitly ruling out any co-operation with them at all,  it’s clear where people of any kind of green or left persuasion should not be placing their vote on May 7th.

On the other hand, Plaid Cymru's manifesto is here. If you're interested enough in policies to get to the end of this article, it's worth checking out.

11 comments:

  1. If bad or no Internet connectivity is in the top 1 or 2 of all case work for rural Wales for A.M.'s or M.P.'s suggesting
    that their might just be a problem. It was a (SHAME,INCREDIBLE,DISAPPOINTING,AND THERE LIES THE NUB OF THE PROBLEM,VERY SUPRISING) to find only a single wooly paragraph on page 49 of the manifesto to these problems and no suggestion of solutions for those who are going to be left out of SuperfastCymru.

    Just prehaps the manifesto writers need to get out of their Cardiff bubble and do the round to a few rural constituencies.

    This applies all the parties, but the Plaid manefesto is the strongest on this subject which is worrying. I was personally disappointed that the subject was considered so unimportant given the contribution to casework (and indication of a democratic deficit) and of course some personal bias mixed in as well.

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  2. As you are Plaid councillor I would expect to use your blog to criticise your political opponents but as a cabinet member on Plaid led Ceredigion County Council your comments are somewhat hypocritical. Plaid published a manifesto prior to the 2012 county council elections, a manifesto that promised much but a manifesto you are failing to deliver.
    I will presume that in your defence you will say that you are in a coalition and as a consequence you are restricted in what you can deliver even though your party leads the authority. Coalitions are not straight forward and lead to compromises, something you must by now have experienced but having experienced and compromised accordingly you see compromise as a flaw in other politicians.
    Then again you probably will argue that you are unable to deliver your manifesto promises due to the lack of funding from "central government". Central government is a term you use to cover both Assembly and Westminster funding, though eluding more towards Westminster as it better suits your political agenda. Difficult decisions are made when finances are for whatever reason tight, but when Plaid on the council make unpopular decisions they are justified by saying that the decisions are due to financial constraints, but again you see nothing wrong in criticising other politicians having to make similar difficult decisions based on on the same constraints as the council is faced with. (hypocritical) my brackets.
    Ceredig

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  3. Ceredig,

    Firstly, you probably ought to mention that you’re a Lib Dem councillor.

    Moving on to the substance of your comment, the cuts currently being forced on local government across Wales are little to do with the ruling groups in any of our councils, whatever their political colour, and everything to do with the austerity agenda of the Tory/Lib Dem government at Westminster.

    You seem to suggest that Councils and central government operate on the same financial model - they do not. Councils are dependent on central government (central/higher - call it what you will) for their funding. For example, only 21% of Ceredigion’s funding is raised locally by Council tax. The rest has to come from above. When this higher funding is cut it is therefore devastating.

    The Westminster government on the other hand can quite literally create money through its policies but chooses not to do so and prefers to cut public services. Even if you believe it is necessary to cut as hard and as deep as the Tory/Lib Dem government is doing, it is very evident that they are choosing to do so in a way that disadvantages the poorest rather than the richest in society. As you know, this is what the Conservatives always do, in good economic times and bad, because it is in their philosophy. The difference this time is that the Liberal Democrats are supporting them, as can be seen in the way Ceredigion’s MP has voted in parliament.

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  4. Alun,
    If you think by winning Ceredigion and increasing your seats to say 10 (I'm being generous.) that in some way you are going to be able to magically overhaul Westminster then I would say you are deluding yourself and CC is probably as far as you should go.

    Its far to easy I think to always 'Pass the Buck' which is essentially what our Plaid led council is doing. That's all I've heard this election from Plaid 'Its not our fault we would do it different'

    And no I am not a Lib Dem supporter, I am a Mark Williams supporter, the reason, because over the years he has helped me with many issues on a local level to make my life better as a disabled veteran (which the council have refused to do) and I know that he has also done the same for 1000's of others.

    You take a snap shot of a website, which personally i don't think adds up or is very good, I would ask you Alun when the last time was when you actually sat in a room with Mark and had a conversation with him. If more MP's and would be politicians did that then instead of believing everything they read online then maybe we would ALL be better off. I know Mark is always approachable and he considers everyone equal to him and is always more than happy to talk.

    I have spoken to all the candidates at hustings and one to one, and some of the obvious tricks Plaid activists have used I deplore not at all why I defended this country for many years. Plus I found some comments from some other candidates patronising as a Veteran and considering that helping veterans in wales is in everyones manifesto. The only one that has helped to date has been Mark Williams.

    I'm sorry if my ramblings aren't coherent or all over the place I find it very difficult with my PTSD & other mental illness to write this kind of thing now. Just one ability I have lost for the benefit of this country.

    Thank You

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    1. Anonymous,

      1/ "If you think by winning Ceredigion and increasing your seats to say 10 (I'm being generous.) that in some way you are going to be able to magically overhaul Westminster then I would say you are deluding yourself"

      One of the key points about this election is that it is going to be very, very close and there is a realistic chance that Plaid Cymru and the SNP will be able to have a significant influence.

      2/ "Its far to easy I think to always 'Pass the Buck' which is essentially what our Plaid led council is doing. That's all I've heard this election from Plaid 'Its not our fault we would do it different'"

      There's no denying that the financial cuts to local government have stemmed from the Tory/Lib Dem coalition at Westminster. They are devastating for all councils, including Ceredigion, and there's nothing wrong with saying so, as many people are.

      3/ "You take a snap shot of a website, which personally i don't think adds up or is very good"

      The 'They Work for You' website is a respected and impartial way of assessing the performance of MPs - that's why I used it, so that the assessment could not be seen as biased. More details about it here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/MySociety#TheyWorkForYou.com

      4/ "I would ask you Alun when the last time was when you actually sat in a room with Mark and had a conversation with him."

      3rd March 2015 (well, we were standing actually)

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  5. I have looked at Mike Parker's CV on the link above and read your blog when he was first selected as Plaid's candidate for the Ceredigion constituency in June 2013. I am surprised that he seems to have no previous political experience. He does not appear to have been a member of any community or county council. If this is correct then where is the evidence that he could effectively represent the constituents of Ceredigion?

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    1. Hi David,
      Many people say there should be far more 'non-politicans' in parliament. And, of course, the same could have been said about Mark Williams when he was first elected. Mike has had a public profile as a writer and broadcaster for some years.
      Regards
      Alun

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    2. Alun

      Just for the record, Mark Williams was secretary of the student Liberal Society at Aberystwyth University, worked for Geraint Howells and was a research assistant to Liberal peers in the House of Lords before becoming a teacher and then an MP. Mike Parker was part of Simon Thomas's Ceredigion campaign in 2001. Strangely for a Welsh constituency, they were both born in England.

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  6. I don't pretend to know the in's and outs of Westminister politics. This will be the 1st election where I have actually chosen a side. I like the 44.9% of people who didn't vote in last general election had lost faith in a system that failed me time and time again. Although I always believe in the concept of voting. I would go and formally discount my vote as a vote of no confidence. But I was inspired and compelled to participate this time after seeing the wheels of government turning for me. I moved to Aberystwyth 10 years ago after being homeless on the streets of Peckham. I like Leanne Wood, she and her Scotish counterpart came across dignified and with sound reasoning. If we were voting Leanne Wood as prime minister I would in a heartbeat. But that is not how the system works unfortunatly. I am deeply concerned with the "explicitly ruling out any co-operation with them at all" in relation to Torys. Not making the same promise as with Labour?
    I like many others suffered a great deal because of the bafoonary of the Labour government. Leanne Wood is from the valleys which traditionally has a strong Labour following.
    I come from an exceptionally multi cultural family. I am White Irish, my mother is White English, I have 4 sibblings, 2 are half Afro Carribean, 1 is half Pakistani the other is half Jamican and both my daughters are half Welsh ,I 1st came to the UK at the age of 15. Moving to London with my family. Instead of being placed in a real school. I was placed in the Education Support Centre. A place for troubled youths, kids who had serious behavioural issues, educational no hopers. I was placed their because of league tables. Not a reflection on my ability or willingness to learn. things became unstable at my mothers house. I then became homeless shortly after my 16th birthday. Bouncing through homeless peoples unit. I was a vulnerable young person (with undiagnosed autism) I was high risk. Yet was placed with Irannian assylum seekers, people just released from prison. Alcholics and drug addicts. When I was moved into a semi permant hostel I was due to recieve my 1st ever social security payment. A backdated giro for income support. £226.03, when it didn't arrive I went to my local job centre to query the status, only to be told it had been cashed. You cannot imagine the flood of emotions I felt then. I freaked out. As it was standard policy that all giro payments could only be cashed at a nominated post office, and any payment over £50 required ID to cash. I went to the post office demmanding to see the cctv. Went to the police station, nothing was ever done. I found out some time later it was the manager of the hostel I was staying who was stealing giros. I was living on individual packets of jam and sugar. unable to wash my clothes this was all at a point when I should have been sitting my GCSE's. I have a million more stories like this of times when I have been fucked over my the system. I never want to see Labour in power again. Certinaly not under Wallace, sorry I mean Ed. The day he becomes prime minister is the day i swim back to Ireland with my tail between my legs.

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    1. Thanks Jamie. Given that the opinion polls are pointing strongly to a hung parliament, any party wishing to form a government after the election is going to have to work together with someone. Any party ruling out working with anyone will simply have no influence. In Plaid Cymru's case, whatever the acknowledged shortcomings of the Labour Party, the only parties we are ruling out working with at this stage are the Conservatives and, of course, any further to the right. We are very optimistic that, in partnership with the SNP and the Greens, Plaid Cymru can have a real voice at Westminster after May 7th.

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  7. It might well be another hung parliment. acknowledged short comings? The WAR in IRAQ? is a major short coming. Leaving the treasury empty is more then just short commings. It's down right insanity to let thoose idiots anywhere near power again. The funny thing is, all the bitching between parties wastes so much time and distracts everyone from the key issues. Instead of focusing on our differences, why not celebrate all we have in common. I believe inherited beliefs or learnt behaviour are major contributer to many of the worlds ills. Countless people are either Tory or Labour, Muslim or Christian simply becuase their parents where, and they few their way of doing theings as the "right" way. We need to let go of the past if we are to move towards a better future. Draw a line in the sand, acknowledge that their is no partie without blame for the position we find ourselves in. If government spent less time fighting amoungst themselves and listened to the people the world would be a much happier place

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