Welsh First Minister attacks Crabb and Government’s devolution proposals

Carwyn Jones, the Labour First Minister of Wales, and Leanne Wood, the embattled left-wing leader of Plaid Cymru, have both savaged the Government’s draft Wales Bill.

Wales Online records the nationalist leader denouncing it as an “insult to our country”, whilst the First Minister alleges that it amounts to an English veto on Welsh legislation.

A spokesman for Crabb rubbished this claim, and criticised Jones for “playing a dangerous game by peddling this nationalist rhetoric.”

The First Minister has been criticised by voices inside Welsh Labour for following too closely to Scottish Labour’s example of strident opposition to London and trying to out-nat the nationalists.

The weakness of his administration on vital areas like health and education played a key role in the excellent Tory result in Wales at the general election.

Another SNP faces scrutiny as business probed Trading Standards

A third Scottish Nationalist MP has come under scrutiny this week, after it emerged that a business they ran were due an investigation by Trading Standards after receiving a complaint.

The Sunday Express reports that Richard Arkless, the newly elected MP for the Borders constituency of Dumfries and Galloway, resigned as director of LED Warehouse the day after the complaint.

Arkless rose to prominence during the referendum campaign as part of the separatist group Business for Scotland, which was fronted by Michelle Thomson, the now ex-SNP MP for Edinburgh West.

He is thus the second B4S figure – and third Nationalist MP – to have questions raised over their business dealings since the general election.

DUP resume positions in Northern Irish government…

The Democratic Unionist Party has resumed its posts in the all-party Northern Ireland Executive, UTV reports.

The party followed its smaller rivals, the Ulster Unionists, out of the government over allegations that the IRA might still be active and killing people. They returned when the British Government looked into it and found that the IRA were still around, but that Sinn Fein remained committed to peaceful tactics.

Theresa Villiers announced yesterday that an investigation confirmed that the entire alphabet soup of paramilitary groups that plagued the province during the Troubles remained active in some form.

…as Irish police investigate IRA infiltration fears

Earlier this week, the Belfast Telegraph reported that the Irish police were investigating fears that at least one of their officers was an IRA mole, and had tampered with evidence in cases relating to the group’s extensive smuggling and money laundering operations on the border.

A Republican source also alleged to the website Belfast Live that the IRA still had a ton of Semtex and hundreds of AK-47s hidden across Ireland.

Row breaks out as abortion devolved to Scottish Parliament

According to Alex Massie of the Spectator, the Government’s decision to devolve abortion law to the Scottish Parliament is a “poison pill”.

If the only way to break up the SNP’s absurdly broad coalition is to give it responsibility for divisive choices, the thinking supposedly goes, the more of those choices it faces the better.

If it was the plan, it’s going swimmingly: two competing motions on the subject, each from a separatist MSP, have already been lodged in Holyrood following the announcement.

The Daily Record relates that Patrick Harvie, the Scottish Green leader, has filed the pro-choice motion whilst John Mason, a Nationalist MSP and former MP who represents a Glasgow seat.

Welsh Assembly increases budget by £1m to cover rise for AMs

The Assembly Commission, the body which runs the Welsh Assembly is to receive a budget increase of £1.1 million in the next financial year, according to Wales Online.

Of this, fully £1 million is earmarked to cover the increased salaries of the members after their independent remuneration board decided to award each a £10,000 pay rise.

As ever, several Welsh politicians are scrambling away from it, intending either to decline it or give it to charity.

Apparently the remaining £100,000 being added to the Commission’s budget for providing assembly services – most of its job – actually represents a real-terms cut.

SNP record – especially on the NHS – under attack

Spending on private healthcare providers has risen to a record high north of the border, despite the SNP’s commitment to drive all such spending out of the NHS, according to the Scotsman.

Roughly £82m was spent thus in the last financial year, compared to just £58m when the party took office in 2007.

As Labour accused the Nationalists of “sickening hypocrisy” Stuart Hosie, the SNP’s deputy leader, was shredded by Andrew Neil over his party’s record of squeezing Scottish health spending.

The veteran broadcaster apparently continued collecting Nat scalps throughout their party conference.

Meanwhile, the party’s heightened national profile has led to increased scrutiny on its authoritarian domestic agenda from national publications such as the Spectator and the Economist.

Particularly worth reading is Nick Cohen’s report on the SNP’s drive to co-opt independent Scottish institutions, especially universities.

Meanwhile Nicola Sturgeon’s demand for a new Scottish BBC channel has been dismissed by a senior figure at STV as an “analogue answer for a digital age”.

Alan Clements, their director of content, claims that such a move could actually harm Scottish output by diverting money from programming and content into broadcast infrastructure.