350,000 missing voters

An unprecedented alliance of organisations have come together to highlight the need for people across Wales to register to vote, as newly-released figures show 350,000 people were missing from the electoral roll in Wales.

At the last General Election, around 350,000 eligible potential voters in Wales were not signed up to the electoral register, with students and younger people, people living in the private rented sector, certain Black and Minority Ethnic (BME) groups and those from lower income backgrounds among the least likely to be on the electoral roll.

These dramatic falls have led to serious concerns about how many young people will vote next month as, in Wales, the number fell by 27 per cent between 2013-2016.

Jess Blair, of the Electoral Reform Society, tells me: “This election is an opportunity for people to have their say about some of the most significant political decisions in living memory - and yet a massive swathe of the population will not be able to make their voices heard.

Politics goes beyond voting, but failing to sign up and turn out means surrendering your say at this crucial time. This is not an election to let slide - and all of Wales will lose out if our representatives are picked by the loudest voices rather than the whole country.

“At the last General Election, some 34 per cent of registered voters didn’t vote, with one in seven of those eligible not even on the electoral register - a number greater than the share of the vote for any party.”

Call for Stability

The NFU has again called for milk buyers to deliver stability to dairy farmers as farmgate prices come under pressure.

Market signals around commodity prices, production at world and EU levels and global dairy auction results are all positive and the Union is keen that milk buyers give a strong sign to their suppliers that any price cuts now should only be temporary.

Last week saw farmer-owned business First Milk reduce prices to its members by between 0.1p and 0.35p per litre - the company’s first price cut since last summer.

An NFU spokesman said: “The dairy market is very finely balanced, with global and regional milk buyers waiting to see how supply and demand balance out going forward.

“All parts of the dairy chain are watching the market but given the very serious dent in producers’ cash flow, net worth and confidence suffered over the last two years the response of processors and retailers now is crucial.

“Strong signals and a clear commitment to deliver a fairer share of the rewards from dairy markets are what is needed. Butter and cream prices remain strong and the cheese trade is only marginally down. High stocks of powder are affecting skimmed milk prices, but across the board there are few drivers for drastic price change.

“While the market has weakened slightly in recent months, dairy futures and the global dairy auction - up 3.5 percent this week - are all suggesting that milk values should at least hold.

“That optimism is underpinned by solid forecasts for dairy products, including an expected increase in demand from China, and question marks over supply in some major milk regions.

“The recognised UK dairy market indicators have dropped, but only marginally. That is encouraging for this time of year as we approach peak production. Farmgate prices should be around 27.5p per litre depending on the end use for that farmers’ milk.

“First Milk’s announcement that it is to reduce its milk prices to members reflects the markets it is in and its Board’s policy to pay a price that is based on returns month on month. After a very difficult time, when First Milk’s prices lagged well behind competitors, much-needed progress had raised members’ prices to a more competitive level.

“First Milk’s recovery, rationalisation and streamlining has been achieved to a large extent by the poor prices that their farming members have had to withstand over a prolonged period.

“We know that the new CEO at First Milk, Shelagh Hancock, is keen to add more value where possible. This will be important if members’ prices are to aspire to higher levels relative to competitors.”

Labour requirement

Traditionally, farmers sons and daughters have provided much of the labour requirement on Welsh farms, but there are strong indications that the shortage of available workers will restrict the agriculture sector in the future.

Over recent years, employment permits available to farm workers from eastern European countries have allowed these skilled operators, including qualified vets, to help meet labour shortages on livestock holdings whilst others readily fill posts with vegetable growers and packers and at abattoirs.

Industry leaders fear the shortage of labour supply at farm level, both skilled and manual, will restrict the ability of the agriculture sector to achieve its growth targets over the next decade - farmers compete on international markets, and considering the potential implications of Brexit for Welsh agriculture, any restriction on competitiveness that can be alleviated should be ensured.

This labour shortage is attributed to improved employment levels, job opportunities that attract workers living in the countryside and improved economies across all EU countries - the shortage of skilled workers in the dairy sector has resulted in an increase in working hours for many farmers raising further concern from a health and safety and quality of life perspective.

Where has respect gone?

One of the few television programmes which I really enjoyed at one time was BBC1’s Questiontime, but how the whole show has changed, and certainly not for the better.

The panel comprised four speakers, mostly politicians, who respected each others views and engaged in good natured banter when it was their turn to speak.

Now, with five panellists (some not particularly brilliant and with thoughts lacking in any form of substance), the enjoyable exchanges have gone and been replaced by ignorance, intolerance, frequent and extremely rude interruptions of the speaker, and a chairman who appears more than anxious to express his own views.

The political party in power are treated with total disregard as disgruntled panellists would prefer the public to forget that these are the people who found favour at the polls and were rewarded with the most seats in Westminster.

So many programmes of this nature, including those on the Welsh channels, are quite obviously stage managed and have become an utter waste of time. Many locals who have been invited to be part of a TV audience confirm their annoyance and frustration - the same will undoubtedly be so leading up to the coming general election.


Rachel Carson, an American marine biologist, conservationist and author of Silent Spring, who opposed the use of commercial pesticides and helped launch the modern environmental movement considered: “The more clearly we can focus our attention on the wonders and realities of the universe about us, the less taste we shall have for destruction.”

Rosalind Franklin, the English chemist and X-ray crystallographer who contributed to the discovery of the structure of DNA, is reported to have said: “You look at science (or at least talk of it) as some sort of demoralising invention of man, something apart from real life, and which must be cautiously guarded and kept separate from everyday existence, - but science and everyday life cannot and should not be separated.”

Different doctors

Strange.. but so true. Two patients limp into two different medical clinics with the same complaint? Both have trouble walking and appear to require a hip replacement.

The first patient is examined within the hour, is x-rayed the same day and has a time booked for surgery the following week.

The second sees his family doctor after waiting three weeks for an appointment, then waits eight weeks to see a specialist, then gets an x-ray, which isn’t reviewed for another week and finally has his surgery scheduled for six months from then.

Why the different treatment for the two patients? The first is a Golden Retriever and the second is a senior citizen!