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UKIP surge in opinion polls



Neil Hamilton: Thought to be a mid and west regional Assembly candidate

Neil Hamilton: Thought to be a mid and west regional Assembly candidate

IN SPITE of a troubled Assembly election campaign, the failure of the National Executive to ratify any candidates as we move within three months of the elections and the resignation of a UKIP councillor in protest over the parachuting in of prominent UKIP members onto the regional lists, the party has increased their projected vote share to 18% according to a recent poll.

If this was replicated on voting day, it would lead to UKIP gaining nine regional Assembly seats – including two in mid and west Wales.

Support for Labour has slipped to 31%, which is around 10% lower than in the run-up to the 2011 elections, where the party gained 30 seats and formed a minority government.

The party is currently predicted to win 27 seats, of which two are regional, leaving them four seats short of a majority. However, support for both Plaid Cymru and the Welsh Conservatives appears to be unchanged, beyond the 1% margin of error, meaning that the parties look likely to win 10 and 12 seats respectively. This would mean that, if these figures were reflected on voting day, it would take a coalition of Plaid Cymru, the Conservatives, and UKIP to gain a working majority.

YouGov shows consistently higher levels of support for UKIP than other polls. At the last election it showed significantly higher shares of the vote for both Labour and UKIP than were actually returned in the election poll. However, surveys suggest that UKIP voters and Plaid Cymru voters are more likely to vote that Conservative, Liberal Democrat, and Labour voters.

It is unlikely that Plaid Cymru and the Conservatives would work in a coalition together. Leanne Wood, Adam Price and Helen Mary Jones – all of whom advised against the ‘rainbow coalition’ in 2007, are likely to be elected to the Assembly.

While the Welsh Conservatives have not yet announced their intentions regarding EU membership, leader Andrew RT Davies has said that there need to be an open discussion about the subject. This, allied with remarks he made at the Conservative Party conference last year in which he asked for England to ‘take Mark Reckless back’ would seem to indicate that a Conservative UKIP coalition would be unlikely.

Plaid Cymru are ideologically opposed to UKIP on several key points including EU membership. In addition, the party lost seats following a coalition with Labour. It is hard to see how a coalition with the Conservatives and UKIP would not cost them far more, especially as the party is the only one in Wales to call itself socialist.

A return to the 2007 One Wales coalition between Plaid Cymru and Labour has been predicted by some pundits. However, some campaigners during the 2015 General Election claimed that overt support given to Ed Milliband’s Labour government cost the party dearly on the doorstep. Andrew RT Davies has already begun to make political capital out of this, casting his party as the only alternative to a Welsh Labour-led administration.

It is hard to understand why UKIP has delayed in announcing candidates, when at least two south west Wales branches held local hustings before Christmas. UKIP are highly unlikely to win any constituency seats in the area, and the suspicion remains that, with the probable exception of Neil Hamilton in Carmarthen East and Dinefwr, local party members will stand for the constituencies, while the more winnable regional seats will be contested by more high-profile candidates, such as Mr Reckless and UKIP press officer Alexandra Phillips.

The Herald asked UKIP for a statement regarding its candidates over two weeks ago. That request, addressed to Alexandra Philips as UKIP Wales’ Press Officer, was not favoured with either an acknowledgement or response,

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The Welsh Government launches Basic Income pilot scheme



FROM 1 July 2022, more than 500 people leaving care in Wales will be offered £1600 each month (before tax) for two years to support them as they make the transition to adult life.

Launched by First Minister Mark Drakeford, it is hoped the pilot will set care leavers on a path to live healthy, happy and fulfilling lives.

The radical approach has trust, autonomy and respect at its centre. It will provide independence and security to people who have faced immense challenges during their childhood, giving them greater control and empowering them to make decisions about their future.

The £20 million pilot, which will run for three years, will be evaluated to carefully examine its effect on the lives of those involved

Social Justice Minister Jane Hutt said the scheme is a direct investment in the lives and futures of some of Wales’ most vulnerable young people.

Those taking part in the pilot will also receive individual advice and support to help them manage their finances and develop their financial and budgeting skills.

Local authorities will play a key role in supporting them throughout the pilot. Voices from Care Cymru will also work with the young people to give them advice on wellbeing, education, employment and help them plan their future after the pilot.

To launch the scheme, First Minister Mark Drakeford, Social Justice Minister Jane Hutt and Deputy Minister for Social Services Julie Morgan met with people taking part in the pilot, and young people who themselves have been in care, to talk about the impact this support will have on peoples’ lives.

They discussed how they hope the financial stability will give people the opportunity to make positive life choices as they leave care and provide a more solid foundation from which to build their adult lives.

First Minister Mark Drakeford said: “We want all our young people to have the best possible chance in life and fulfil their full potential. The state is the guardian of people leaving care and so has a real obligation to support them as they start their adult life.

“Our focus will be on opening up their world to all its possibilities and create an independence from services as their lives develop.

“Many of those involved in this pilot don’t have the support lots of people – myself included – have been lucky enough to enjoy as we started out on our path to adulthood.

“Our radical initiative will not only improve the lives of those taking part in the pilot, but will reap rewards for the rest of Welsh society. If we succeed in what we are attempting today this will be just the first step in what could be a journey that benefits generations to come.”

Minister for Social Justice Jane Hutt said:

“We’re in the midst of a cost-of-living crisis like no other and we therefore need new ways of supporting people who are most in need.

“Our Basic Income pilot is an incredibly exciting project giving financial stability to a generation of young people. Too many people leaving care face huge barriers to achieving their hopes and ambitions; such as problems with getting a safe and stable home, to securing a job and building a fulfilling career. This scheme will help people live a life free of such barriers and limitations.

“We will carefully evaluate the lessons learnt from the pilot. Listening to everyone who takes part will be crucial in determining the success of this globally ambitious project. We will examine whether Basic Income is an efficient way to support society’s most vulnerable and not only benefit the individual, but wider society too.”

Tiff Evans of Voices from Care Cymru, speaking on behalf of young people who have experienced care, said: “This is a brilliant opportunity for care leavers in Wales. It is good to see that care leavers in Wales are being thought of and Welsh Government are providing this opportunity for them as young people to become responsible, control some parts of their lives and have a chance to thrive and be financially independent.

“We thank Welsh Government for investing in them and their future and we look forward to other changes and developments for care experienced young people in Wales in order for them to reach life aspirations.”

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Boris Johnson, his wife and chancellor Rishi Sunak to be fined for breaking lockdown rules



THE PRIME MINISTER Boris Johnson and his wife Carrie, and chancellor Rishi Sunak, have been notified that they will be issued with fines for breaking lockdown rules.

The fixed penalty notices are the result of a Metropolitan Police investigation into parties in Downing Street and Whitehall in 2020 and 2021.

Mr Johnson will become the first sitting prime minister to receive a punishment for breaking the law.

Labour immediately called for both the PM and chancellor to resign while Liberal Democrat leader Sir Ed Davey called for parliament to be recalled for a vote of confidence in Mr Johnson.

Scotland’s first minister Nicola Sturgeon also demanded that they should quit.

Those calls have been echoed this week by Welsh Liberal Democrat Leader Jane Dodds has called on the Welsh Conservative Leader Andrew RT Davies and Welsh Secretary Simon Hart to “show a backbone” and call for Boris Johnson and Rishi Sunak to resign following the news that both men are to be fined over lockdown parties.

Commenting Jane Dodds MS told The Herald: “Boris Johnson & Rishi Sunak have broken the law & repeatedly lied, they must resign from their positions at once.

“While people in Wales were playing by the rules at great personal expense, those in charge thought they were above the law.

“This also will come as a painful blow to all those covid bereaved families in Wales.  The behavior of Johnson and Sunak

“The Welsh public deserves much better. For the sake of the country, both Boris Johnson and Rishi Sunak must resign immediately.

“If the Conservative Party is to have any legitimacy in Wales Andrew RT Davies and Simon Hart need to show some backbone and be calling for resignations immediately. No Welsh Conservative MP should be backing the Chancellor or Prime Minister staying in post.”

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Plaid sets out its economic vision for Llanelli ahead of County Council election



PLAID CYMRU has set out its vision for economic regeneration in Llanelli ahead of the county council elections next month. The party’s priorities for Llanelli, include:

  • Delivery of a new £27m Leisure Centre for Llanelli, as part of the first phase of Pentre Awel
  • Ensuring supply chain opportunities for local businesses, and local recruitment arising from the multi-million-pound Pentre Awel scheme
  • Plans to enhance and redesign Spring Gardens and Central Square
  • Developing retail sites in the town centre
  • Commission a feasibility study for a Skateboard Park of national significance and BMX Pumptrack in Llanelli
  • Tackling empty buildings, and promote residential uses in the town – as is being done with the YMCA building
  • Delivery of the £9.3m Tyisha Project
  • Champion reform of business rates for town centre traders
  • Support more businesses with their online offering to support sales

The pledges build on actions already taken by Plaid over recent years, such as the £4.5million Market Street North project, which saw the Council buy up empty shop units from private ownership, to renovate and bring them back in to use, and the investment and revamp of the Grade II-listed Llanelli Goods Shed.

Plaid Cymru’s Hengoed ward candidate Susan Phillips stated: “Plaid Cymru is committed to doing all that we can to ensure that Llanelli has a bright future. Our manifesto sets clear ambitions for Llanelli, and places town centre regeneration at the heart.

“After decades of under-investment by Labour, the Plaid-led Council has already started the work of regenerating the town centre – leading on the YMCA building, and have also approved the development of Y Linc – the new £3.5m Arcade connecting Eastgate with the town centre. Developments such as this will breathe new life into the town, and we want to do more.

“Plaid Cymru has led on the development of Pentre Awel in Llanelli and we are committed to ensuring that as well as providing health and wellbeing benefits, that the businesses of Llanelli benefit through the construction stage, and that it will deliver employment and training opportunities to local people.

Tyisha candidate Terry Davies added: “Work has already started on the £9.3million Tyisha regeneration project, with the demolition of outdated flats already underway and we are committed to further investment in order to provide quality housing in the ward and improvements to the local environment, and now the town.

“Tackling the deprivation and decades of Labour neglect in Llanelli is a top priority for Plaid Cymru and this can be seen in the money that the party has channelled into the town. It is a breath of fresh air for Llanelli to see Plaid delivering on its promises.”

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