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Posts Tagged ‘Elin Jones AM’

Plaid Cymru has today set out some of what it wants from Carwyn Jones if he wants the party’s support in avoiding stalemate in the Assembly.

AMs Elin Jones and Simon Thomas said Plaid wants the First Minister to publish a programme of government for the entire five-year term; an early indication of his likely budget priorities and to see how the legacy of the last government will be continued by this government.

Surely, I asked Simon Thomas, governments only publish programmes when, as happened with the One Wales coalition, they need to formalise agreements with other parties?

Not at all, he told me. Governments in fixed term parliaments often publish such programmes and in this case, it would give the other parties chance to debate the different plans on which Labour would be seeking co-operation.

On leadership matters, both Simon Thomas and Elin Jones agree that the timetable is up to the current leader Ieuan Wyn Jones who’s said he’ll step down sometime within the next two and a half years.

He’s said to prefer to go sooner rather than later but wants to oversee Plaid’s review into what went wrong at the election.

Simon Thomas said today that that review is due to last ‘well into next year’ and that Ieuan Wyn Jones should remain in post to lead it.

So I asked him if that meant there wouldn’t be a leadership contest this year.

‘There doesn’t need to be one,’ he said. ‘But it’s up to Ieuan Wyn Jones.’

When there’s a vacancy, will he be amongst the candidates? ‘When the time comes, I’ll say.’

Elin Jones meanwhile reiterated her position that she’ll ‘seriously consider it’ when the time comes.

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Rural Affairs minister Elin Jones has revealed today that she is pressing ahead with a controversial plan to cull badgers in an effort to combat TB in cattle.

This is despite a Court of Appeal ruling last year which halted the plans following an appeal brought by the Badger Trust.

Elin Jones says she’s paid careful attention to that ruling and made the proposed cull in North Pembrokeshire more specific.

She says she’s also paid close attention to views expressed in a consultation exercise as well as scientific and veterinary advice.

I’ve had to consider all advice, scientific, veterinary, legal advice and the court of appeal judgement. I’ve reflected on all that and consider it necessary.

You can see my interview with Elin Jones here.

The overriding aim, she told me, is to eradicate all sources of TB, a disease she says has taken the lives of 60,000 cattle here in Wales over the last ten years.

She’s laying two pieces of legislation today (Wednesday): one to pave the way for the North Pembrokeshire cull and the other to extend the testing, slaughter and compensation regime to other animals, namely goats, deer and camelid.

Camelids include animals like alpacas and llamas (hence my terrible headline) and the minister says her legislation means those who farm such animals will now be treated in the same way as cattle farmers.

The Badger Trust is weighing up the evidence which the minister is to publish online before deciding whether or not to launch a fresh legal appeal.

But it says the numbers of TB cases has been declining for 2 years without any badger cull.

Spokesman Jack Reedy says the Trust supports all the cattle controls apart from the ‘barmy’ badger cull.

UPDATE 15:50 Here’s the full statement from the Badger Trust:

The Badger Trust is deeply disappointed that the Welsh Assembly Government has resurrected its pointless proposal to “authorise the destruction of badgers” and other wildlife in a part of Wales.

This is despite significant reductions in bovine tuberculosis sustained over the last two years.

Elin Jones, the Rural Affairs Minister, sought to justify these “further aspects” as necessary to complete the range of measures already in place.

The Trust will be studying in detail the evidence presented to the Minister and will be seeking legal advice.

However, she concedes in a statement to Farmer’s Weekly Interactive, that there have been improvements in TB figures in the area although no badgers have been destroyed.

This reduction has been over two years but Ms Jones claims there has been a cyclical pattern in the past. The Trust emphasises that this was before the current increasingly stringent and effective cattle controls were introduced and took effect.

These were scientifically justified although long overdue. They included improved surveillance and cattle disease controls, linking compensation to good practice, enforcing the testing regime, and establishing a regional approach to the disease, all welcomed by the Badger Trust.

UPDATE 1611 Now animal rights group Viva! is calling for a boycott of Welsh dairy products. It says more than 2,000 people have already signed its facebook petition.

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Thanks to Plaid Cymru for reminding us that there’s just one hundred days until the Assembly Election.

The party marked this milestone with two unveilings, both  aimed at positioning Plaid as a modern, technology-savvy party. The first was a shiny new website, the second a pledge that a future government involving Plaid would make Information Technology a core subject in schools.

Politics first and then some geekery for a Tuesday afternoon.

If, as is extremely likely, the next Assembly government is another coalition, whatever any of the four parties pledge over the next few months has to come with a health warning that they may or may not be dropped as part of coalition agreement.

So, I asked, what’s the status of this pledge: absolute commitment, negotiable or droppable?

The answer, from Plaid, is that it will form part of the manifesto which in turn is a plan for government should Plaid win an overall majority.

But some manifesto promises are more equal than others and one of the main tasks over the next few months is to try to establish which pledges from each of the parties are non-negotiable.

A side issue is a question of terminology. At today’s press launch, the term ‘Welsh General Election’ was the favoured description of the vote in May. I wonder what terms the other parties will use?

I promised a bit of geekery. To highlight the techie credentials of today’s launch, there were a number of sleek laptops, smartphones and iPads in evidence.

I’m slightly jealous of iPad owners so asked the AM hosting the launch – rural affairs minister Elin Jones – about her Christmas present. She revealed how much she loves it (iPad owners tend to) and uses it for news, music and games.

She was less impressed when I told her she shares her enthusiasm with the Secretary of State for Wales, Cheryl Gillan.

When I met Mrs Gillan recently, she’d also been proudly displaying her Christmas present and, yes, I was jealous.

I can also reveal that as well as using their hi-tech devices for serious purposes (emails, news, documents), both of these senior politicians admit to having played the ridiculously popular Angry Birds game.

 

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