Tuesday, 4 May 2010
Voting for jobs and Wylfa B on Anglesey
arrives just in time to give us a final snapshot before the election on Thursday.
The most striking statistic is the fact that over the last year Anglesey has seen the largest rise in unemployment related benefits in North Wales, with 19% more people on the island now classified as claimants (compared to a rise of just 2% in the whole of Wales, and 6% in the whole of the UK).
This also chimes in with the ratio of jobseekers to jobs reported in the Daily Post yesterday. With more than 2000 claimants on Anglesey chasing just 102 available jobs advertised in JobCentres last month, the jobseeker to job ratio is 20:1 - the highest in North Wales. To underline how bad this is: it is twice as high as the next worse job spot in North Wales, Wrexham, where the ratio is 'only' just over 9:1.
This goes to prove the Druid's often repeated point that what Anglesey needs now is jobs, lots and lots of them. It is my opinion that Governments do not and cannot directly create sustainable, long-term jobs, they can only create the regulatory environment in which private businesses can take off and thrive (this also applies to Wylfa B). However, with an election just days away we do need to return an experienced, dynamic, business-savvy MP who can both represent us in Westminster and provide a focus for change here in Anglesey. Albert Owen has failed miserably in this respect and the front-runner, Plaid Cymru's Dylan Rees, has zero business or entrepreneurial experience (despite laughably trying to compare running a police section to running a company).
The issue of who to vote for becomes more complex when we also include Wylfa B into the mix. Most residents on the Island (including the Druid) agree that Wylfa B is crucial to Anglesey's economic future. However as the building of new nuclear power stations requires government approval, there is a good possibility that Wylfa B could be scrapped in the event of a hung parliament where the anti-nuclear Lib Dems are likely to hold the balance of power. Plaid's Dylan Rees is personally pro-nuclear (probably due to personal political expedience rather than any heartfelt conviction) whilst his Party is resolutely anti-nuclear (as is their Scottish partners, the SNP); accordingly a vote for Rees is a vote for 1 pro-nuclear and 3 to 4 anti-nuclear voices in Westminster. Peter Rogers is pro-Wylfa B and would likely vote with his ex-party, the Conservatives in Parliament. Accordingly, any vote on Anglesey which does not return either a majority Labour or Conservative government, can probably be seen as a vote against Wylfa B.
(One final note on the WAG's statistical bulletins - I am beginning to suspect that in producing regional bulletins for North, Mid, South West and South East Wales but not also compiling an all-Wales version, the WAG is deliberately trying to make intra-regional comparisons difficult to make. The claimant count rise for Anglesey which I outlined above may be the worse in all Wales, but to discover that would mean having to compare figures in 4 different reports - which unfortunately I don't have the time to do).