Thursday, April 23, 2009

Efficiency Failings

Lots of fuss about reductions in the budget of the National Assembly for Wales today, as a consequence of yesterday's budget. Impetus for this was a statement from the Welsh Local Government Association suggesting that parts of the Coalition Government in the National Assembly's programme for Government are no longer affordable. Anyway, Nia (or Mia) rang me and invited me to be a guest on Taro Post again today to talk about it. I was on with the unique and wonderful Mrs Gwenda Thomas AM (Labour), Hywel Williams MP (Plaid) and Aled Roberts (Lib Dem). Never done so much Welsh Language radio as over the last two days. Its very good for my language skills, but things do go wrong.

Before I head off to the studio for a Welsh Language interview, I usually check with my chunky pocket-sized Welsh Dictionary and come up with some new words to use for the first time. Today it was 'effaithlonrwydd' (efficiency), 'siomedigaethau' (disappointments) and 'hygredydd' (credibility). First time I spoke of 'efficiency' as in savings, I got the 'lon' and the 'rwydd' the wrong way round and said 'effaithrwyddlon'. Appropriately, I was saying that efficiency savings are not easy to achieve (or say!). Whenever I begin to get cocky about my Welsh, this sort of thing brings me back down to earth with a thump.

Felt quite naggy with Dylan today. He scoffed dismissively when I said the Chancellor's future growth figures for the economy were not credible. I said 'ddim yn hygregol', not knowing for sure that this was correct. I pointed out with some vigour that Gordon Brown and Alistair Darling are probably the only people on the planet who believe the figures are credible. The budget was so awful that I find it as easy to demolish in Welsh as to demolish it in English.

14 comments:

Penddu said...

Many years ago when living in Greece, I made a concerted effort to speak Greek. I went to the barber and I mixed up the words for short and funny (alphabetically very similar, but pronounced very differently). I asked for funny on top and very funny at the back. I got what I asked for....

Glyn Davies said...

Penddu - I'm refusing to let my imagination run with this! I once referred to the Liberal Democrats as Democratiaid 'Rhyfeddol' rather than 'Rhyddfrydol'.

Jeff Jones said...

Glyn Everyone knows that most so called efficiency savings are a joke. What worries the WLGA is that the creation of the Assembly has created a different environment to that found in other periods of public cutbacks such as the 1970s and 1980s. In those periods you often had a Sec of State who was passing through and didn't have any pet projects to protect. Now we have another 60 politicians who want to be loevd and will do anything to protect what they are interested in. To make matters worse they continue to put forward LCOs without any thought for those organisations such as local government which might be given the added burden of putting the LCO into practice.Local government knows that in this environment it will be expected to take the hit. Then to matters worse they will then find AMs supporting the protests against the cuts brought about by a poor local government settlement. Local government is going to find itself between a rock and a hard place. Unable to raise council tax because of capping it has to cut services. To make matters worse it doesn't have the balances which existed in the early 1980s. In Mid Glamorgan CC we used about £90 million in balances to protect services. As someone on last night's Question Time stated politicians should stop treating the voters as children and tell the truth. Efficiency savings can always be found but they just scratch the surface. We need an honest debate about what can be delivered. It means hard choices and politicians who are not prepared to make those choices should not put themselves forward for election. Millions have already been wasted in so called regeneration schemes which have achieved very little in the past 10 years. Community First for example except as a job creation scheme for the few has achieved very little but no one seesm prepared to say this. If this crisis is handled properly then there is a chance of a new more vigorous Wales emerging. But it needs bold action and I'm not sure if we have the civil servants,local government officers and politicians who are up for this game. I hope they prove me wrong.

Anonymous said...

I just refer to the Democratiaid Rhyddfrydol, a mouthful, as the 'Dem Rhydd' when I call on phone ins. Don't worry Glyn, if you get few words mixed up, as a Welsh speaker I salute you in learning the language, I thought you spoke superbly, a pity more people don't follow your fine example.

And yes, Dylan Jones (the Radio Cymru Phone-in presenter) seemed biased towards Labour, scoffing those who disagreed with Gwenda Thomas. I liked the caller who said she was 'living on another planet' if she really thought Wales had done well out the budget.

Huw Waters said...

Good effort!

Proper spellings are:

effeithlonrwydd
hygrededd

although, phonetically you wouldn't notice.

Dr. Christopher Wood said...

What are your suggestions Glyn for improving the Welsh economy?

Now would be a good time to hear you and other Welsh conservatives expounding solutions to improving the Welsh economy and job situation for Welsh families.

Strike while the “what's it” is still hot.

PS I miss my Welsh mother's freshly made and still hot Welsh cakes. Very yummy, filled my wee child tummy. What a sight it must have been for her to have her four Welsh children hovering around for the next treat - especially on Pancake Day. We would fight for ‘next turn’. We were like open mouthed gannets. A casual observer might wrongly think we were never fed.

Anonymous said...

Looks like 'a moody' is in the works ... here's one Telegraph headline: "Borrowing puts UK's AAA rating in danger after Budget 2009" ... and from the article: "Moody's and Standard & Poor's are reviewing the UK's rating in light of the Chancellor's revelation in the Budget that national debt will reach £1.4 trillion over the next five years."

Anonymous said...

I heard on R2 today that Essex CC is forming a bank, with the express purpose of lending money (that other banks won't although they have been bailed out by the taxpayer) to businesses in Essex.

Essex is roughly 2/3rds the population size of Wales, why aren't WAG operating a similar scheme? Then, with WAGs track record.....

James D said...

I can't help raising a wry smile at very long words in Welsh. They always seem to have the feeling of "there must be a better way of saying this" about them. Although I haven't found a better way in Welsh or English of expressing "cynhaliadwy"...

Anonymous said...

annon 08:29
WAG........running a bank.....god help us.
It makes me feel uneasy when public bodies think they know best, but Essex CC are working with Santandaer, however it will not be up and running for another 12 mths.

Anonymous said...

You've got to admit, it does show iniative on the part of Essex CC.

Take your point about WAG - Clowns

Glyn Davies said...

Jeff - Don't think I disagree with any of that, except that I don't think Council Tax can go up significantly becaus eof people's falling ability to pay it. And in reality it will be difficlult for opposition parties to engage in a debate with the Governemnt about how spending should be prioritised if the Government just lies about the economy as this one does.

James - so much nice than sustainability.

Anon 1 - Mrs Gwenda Thomas is a national treasure. And Dylan is not so bad really. I quite like a bit of argument and I'm quite pleased that I'm becoming able to cope with it.

Huw - Thanks. I need the spell check in English.

Christopher - Now that's a very big question. There has to be a greater focus on education and business support though. I was always a reluctant opposed of top up fees, because I know that we cannot afford to let our universities fall behind - and I was not in support of the Assembly Governemnt taking the work of enterprise and tourism promotion into the civil service. And a lot else as well....

Anon 2 - The budget has fallen apart already. it was a work of fiction.

Anon 3 - I worry about a local authority running a bank, if its any more than just issuing loans - which should always be considered as potentially grants. I hope its only until the banks start lending properly again and there is an exit route for the council.

Anon 4 - I share your concern, even if an international bank is involved.

Anonymous said...

Your welsh was wonderful on the radio. I didn't realise you'd made any mistakes. It's always more obvious to you than to anyone else, I'm sure. When the program finished I thought how well you spoke!

Dr. Christopher Wood said...

Glyn> yes ur right, it's a big question, but one that the Conservative Party has to address to put the final nail in the Labour party's coffin.

I realize the temptation to say as little as possible is great while Team Brown tear their ship apart, but for the public to really begin to believe in the Conservative Party the Conservatives have to come up with an economic plan - not to win the next election, but to take the public forward through what is to come post-election.

The Conservatives need to win several elections to put the country's finances back on course and to rebuild the British economy.

While Brown aped on about doing away with boom and bust cycles, the Conservatives need to take the British people into their confidence. It's the only way if the Conservatives are going to have several consecutive national election wins.

Never again can voters trust the Labour Party with the UK economy.

But the Conservatives will have to answer the basic question: what are their plans for the UK economy.

Yes, it is a hard risky question especially when team Brown are winning the next election for the Conservatives, but ultimately that's not the point.

The Conservatives have to win several elections to fix the economy, to make Brits feel confident once again in their government.

One key ingredient to bringing the UK economy back from the brink is PROTECTED INNOVATION.

The Conservatives need to break the vicious cycle of giving away UK discoveries lock, stock and barrel.

Singapore is showing the way, universities geared to innovation and protecting their creative juices/innovation for the sake of creating jobs and wealth for Singapore. This is being repeated elsewhere in South East Asia. The UK (and the EU) should take notice or see the UK/EU economy fall behind.

It's about believing once again in the ability of the British People to solve problems, to invent things, to discover great things and to protect those discoveries. The UK invented the pioneering field of monoclonal antibodies but failed to patent the discovery and foreign companies make billions, created thousands of jobs on the back of MABs technology. Patent law in the USA was modified to allow patents on the application of MABs technology. Companies like Abbot made lots of money filing patents on specific monoclonal antibodies in the detection of specific diseases. It has been said that so much money was made out of MABs technology that the NHS could have been funded for several years.

It is of course far easier for a small country like Wales to revolutionize its economy because it has a HUGE asset largely geared to academic promotion instead of being a dynamo for extra-university economic development in Wales.

The people of Britain are in desperate need of belief in their government. Team Brown has destroyed the faith of the British people in their government.

The Conservatives can save the fabric of Britain, but it will take nerve and vision.

Taking a back seat while Team Brown tears the British Labour party is enticing, but not in the long term interests of the British people.