Where now for Labour in Wales?

It was never going to be a straightforward conference for Labour in Llandudno. Too many elephants in the room threatened to crowd out the agenda. Yet in the end, it was Carwyn Jones who prompted commentators to punch the Twitter app on their phones like things possessed. Many of them had speculated on the First Minister’s imminent exit, although this was definitely one occasion where a departure announcement was not prefaced by leaks. Carwyn’s grip on office had been looking more tenuous with each Senedd appearance. His opponents across the chamber grew more strident in questioning his integrity while his glum-faced colleagues sat behind him in semi-complicit silence. But what’s done is done

Hard lessons to be learned over Syria

It’s funny how we all become Middle East experts with the raising of a pint glass or a dinner napkin. I guess I’m no different when I stated the other night that the saddest thing about history repeating itself is how lessons are so seldom learned. In January 1915, toxic gas first drifted across a frozen battlefield, indiscriminately killing and maiming those it touched. More than a century later, it feels we’ve come little further as a species. Political opinion is that the targeted destruction of chemical weapon stockpiles in Syria was either an expedient action in favour of humanity or an example of prime ministerial high-handedness. You can make up your own mind. For me, it is one of th

Can we clean up our act over dirty money?

You won’t be surprised to learn I’m one of those obsessive types who checks his junk mail, just in case. That’s how I spotted, among the exclusive deals and personal enhancement offers, a warning from the National Crime Agency (NCA) about money laundering scams. Yeah right, I thought, I’m just the kind of guy that international criminals would target in their nefarious dealings. And yet it seems worryingly easy to get involved in ventures that turn out to be funded by proceeds of crime. Worse still, such schemes inevitably ensnare investors in fraud somewhere along the line. The NCA advise that crooks prefer to focus on professionals like solicitors and accountants to make things look legiti

Sending the wrong message

You may have read in the Evening Post how it’s emerged that the decision to scrap rail electrification to Swansea was actually taken in Downing Street. Details released by the Audit Office reveal the Prime Minister personally agreed its cancellation after looking into the economic arguments, for and against. It seems a review had found the benefit-cost ratio for the scheme was in the “low value for money” category, according to the standard appraisal method applied by the Treasury. Funnily enough, I’m told that that the ratio for the Bristol to Cardiff section wasn’t much higher - the difference being that a huge chunk of City Deal cash was earmarked to supplement rail investment. I’ll be ho

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