Sunday, November 27, 2016

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Radical overhaul of student funding in Wales

Independent proposals for students to receive the equivalent of the National Living Wage during term time have been accepted by Welsh Lib Dem Education Secretary Kirsty Williams.

The Welsh Lib Dems were clear during the election that they would overhaul the current funding arrangements to make students’ daily living costs the central focus of any new funding system.

The Welsh Government will implement, with only minor modification, the Diamond package, meaning that the average Welsh student could receive up to £7,000 a year in grant support, which will also be available for part-time students, from September 2018.

Cadan ap Tomos, the Welsh Liberal Democrat spokesperson for young people, added:

“The Welsh Liberal Democrats have consistently argued that the high cost of living is the number one barrier to accessing university. It should be your ability to learn, not your ability to pay, that determines whether you can study.

“Far too many students are struggling to make ends meet. I’m proud that the Welsh Lib Dems not only listened to students by putting living costs front and centre of this debate, but that we’re now using our influence to deliver on our promise to students in May.

“With Kirsty Williams in Government, the Welsh Lib Dems will secure much-needed reforms for all students, making sure that a parent’s bank balance won’t hold any young person back from succeeding at uni.”

Welsh Lib Dem Education Secretary Kirsty Williams said:

“We are looking to introduce the most generous and progressive system anywhere in the UK. These plans will deliver the first system in the UK that is consistent, progressive and fair in its support for full and part-time undergraduates and for post-graduate students.

“I am clear that Wales needs a sustainable and progressive higher education funding settlement that supports students when they most need it, and, importantly, enables our universities to compete internationally.

“Our proposals are a fundamental shift so that Wales can develop a higher education funding and student finance system that really does provide for all.”

Sunday, November 13, 2016

Motes and beams department

A German couple sits on a couch in front of the telly. He, with his eyes glued to the box, says "How stupid are the Yanks to vote for Trump?" while she looks out of the window to the hordes of neo-Nazis and AfD supporters waving "Foreigners out!" and similar banners.

Friday, November 11, 2016

Liberal Democrat MPs will vote against Article 50

Tim Farron MP, leader of the Liberal Democrats in Westminster, says:

"We will vote against Article 50 unless it allows the people a vote on the deal, because the will of the people must prevail – both on departure and destination.

"The government has no plan and their haphazard approach is leading us towards a disastrous version of Brexit which risks jobs, communities, security and the economic health of the nation."

Thursday, November 10, 2016

What Welsh students could miss out on after Brexit

The organisation ColegauCymru / CollegesWales posts:


ColegauCymru / CollegesWales succeeded in its Erasmus+ application once again for half a million Euros to support overseas opportunities for learners and staff.  This latest success brings the total amount of funding acquired by ColegauCymru / CollegesWales for learners since 2011 through Erasmus+ and Leonardo da Vinci (the European Union’s predecessor programme) to just over €1.2million.

Nine FE colleges, Tata Steel and Isa Training will be part of this exciting project. The funding will enable 215 vocational learners and apprentices from 11 curriculum areas to undertake work placements in Europe.

There is a petition to save Erasmus here:

Wednesday, November 02, 2016

CETA signed

Cecilia Malmström writes on signing the Comprehensive Economic and Trade agreement at the summit between the EU and Canada:
This agreement is an important achievement, for many reasons. First of all, it clearly demonstrates that when Europe comes together, we can shape globalisation according to our values and our standards. We reached an agreement on the EU side after some tumultuous discussions. Sometimes we need to make things a bit complicated first, in order to make them better as a result - it has always been the crises that foster progress in our European Union.

There is much skepticism about both globalisation and trade these days – across Europe as well as in North America and elsewhere. In recent years we have been engaged in a very passionate European debate on trade. This is important, because it helps us improve our EU trade policy. As a Swede, I know for a fact that openness to trade and stringent social standards are not mutually exclusive. On the contrary - we need open and fair rules on trade to support, maintain and improve our welfare states. Trade agreements are not the silver bullet to solve all our problems, but it is an important tool that Europe has at its disposal to strengthen economic growth and foster jobs.

Friday, October 07, 2016

John Alderson

The "thinking man's copper", one of the last candidates for the old Liberal party, and a pioneer of community policing, died five years ago today.

Thursday, October 06, 2016

Thursday, September 15, 2016

Boundary Commission recommendations

These are the recommendations regarding Wales of the Boundary Commission set up as as result of the government decision to reduce the number of Westminster constituencies to 600 at around 75,000 electors each. The proposals affecting Neath, Port Talbot and adjacent areas are shown below.

It seems to us that the Boundary Commission has paid insufficient attention to one of its rules, namely special geographical considerations, including in particular the size, shape and accessibility of a constituency; local government boundaries as they existed on 7 May 2015 and any local ties that would be broken by changes in constituencies.

Local Liberal Democrats have consistently opposed the break-up of natural communities purely in the interest of electoral arithmetic. At the previous Boundary Commission review we asked for the Coedffranc wards (including Skewen) to be moved back into the constituency of Neath of which they naturally form part. On that occasion we were unsuccessful, but at least Coedffranc remained within a constituency contained within the same (Neath Port Talbot) local council area. It seems to us that the current proposals unnecessarily break the local government/constituency link (e.g.
Skewen merged with Swansea East, Port Talbot and Margam with Ogmore).

Saturday, September 10, 2016

Kirsty Williams rules out grammar schools for Wales

Wales’ Education Secretary Liberal Democrat Kirsty Williams ruled out a return to 11-plus in Wales and said: “It seems that some terrible ideas just won’t go away.

“The Tories in England and Wales seem determined to bang this tired old drum. For them, this is all about dogma and doctrine, rather than looking at what actually works for our young people.

“The facts show that grammar schools do nothing to improve social mobility. The Sutton Trust found that less than 3% of grammar school pupils were on free school lunches, compared with 20% across the country.

The Welsh Liberal Democrats believe in opportunity for all, which is why under no circumstances will Wales be seeing an expansion of grammar schools.

“As Education Secretary, I will be guided by evidence so that we have a schools system that is modern, innovative and rooted in optimism about the potential of all our children.”