Growing up in the 1990s, his earliest political memories will be of Tony Blair's dramatic first election victory, and the wave of hope and idealism which swept New Labour into power before things turned sour, and we woke up to find that Blair had dragged Britain into wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Other scandals followed, of course, such as the cash for honours affair.
One of the consequences of all that was that Labour Party membership plummeted; young people became disillusioned with politics in general, and with Labour politics in particular.
As Calum reached his teens he would have become aware of the Carmarthenshire Labour Party which around that time entered into what seems to be a permanent coalition with the closet Tories and assorted self-servers who make up Meryl Gravell's Independents.
The combination of Blair's bitter legacy and getting into bed with the likes of Meryl Gravell and Pam Palmer would have put most young people off getting involved with Labour in Carmarthenshire. But not Calum.
In Westminster Ed Milliband is championing the Living Wage, and some Labour controlled councils in Wales have implemented this policy for their low-paid workers. Carmarthenshire under its Labour leader has rejected the idea, and it is now about to embark on cutbacks which will see hundreds of low-paid staff being given the sack, and many more being transferred to the tender mercies of private sector care agencies and the like.
The cuts are unlikely to extend to the council's fat cats, and Kevin Madge currently finds himself having to defend what the Wales Audit Office considers to be unlawful payments to the chief executive who is, thanks to Meryl and her Labour allies, one of the highest paid public sector employees in Wales.
Whatever it is that motivates young Calum as he pursues his political career, there is not much evidence that it is idealism or a desire to stand up for the people who elected him.
Calum has now got himself into a spat with Plaid Cymru after he attacked MP Jonathan Edwards for not voting for Labour's proposed temporary energy prices freeze gimmick. The South Wales Guardian quotes Calum as saying that Plaid MPs couldn't be bothered to turn up for the vote (story here).
Not turning up is something Calum knows quite a bit about, and Plaid has responded by pointing out Calum's very poor attendance record for some of the committees he sits on (see announcement below).
Despite his age and the fact that he was elected to the council only last year, Calum has picked up quite an impressive string of committee memberships and jobs.
He is a member of the council's Audit Committee; a member of the Appointments Committee which is responsible for appointing senior council officers; a member and vice chair of the Appeals Committee which deals with appeals from parents against decisions not to provide children with free school transport, staff dismissal appeals, etc.; in addition, Calum is a member of the Education and Children's Services Scrutiny Committee and vice chair of the Census Working Group which is looking at the council's approach to the Welsh language.
Anyone who has watched broadcasts of council meetings will be familiar with the sight of Calum sitting behind Kevin Madge, nodding vigorously in approval whenever his leader gets up to speak. That is quite an achievement in itself because most people are hard put to make any sense out of Kev's ramblings. To date Calum has missed only three meetings of the full council since June 2012.
The Appointments Committee has met only once, and Calum missed that one.
The Appeals Committee, of which Calum is the vice chair, has met 17 times to hear appeals, mainly from parents fighting decisions not to grant free school transport to their children. Calum has missed 9 of the meetings for which there are minutes.
The Education and Children's Services Scrutiny Committee is one of the most important bodies on the council. Three meetings have been held since Calum became a member, and he failed to turn up to two of them.
In fact, reading through committee minutes it is striking how often you come across "Apologies: Cllr C.P. Higgins". On at least four occasions it seems Calum was too busy elsewhere, probably giving interviews in the media, to make an apology.
Overall, Calum, there is considerable room for improvement. Don't you agree?
‘Actions speak louder than words’, Labour councillor told.
Candidate’s attendance record ‘highly embarrassing’, says local Plaid Councillor
Plaid Cymru County Councillor for Saron ward, Councillor Alun Davies, has responded to the Labour party’s attack on his party by exposing the attendance record of Labour’s Carmarthen East and Dinefwr candidate for the 2015 Westminster election.
The 28 members of the Plaid Cymru councillor group on Carmarthenshire County Council had offered to form a coalition of all parties to help manage the circa £30million of cuts the county council must find. This has been turned down by the Labour and Independent groups which run the council.
As a result, Plaid Cymru refused to take part in the council’s recent ‘cuts seminar’ which voted to consult on a range of “savings” which will come out of the pockets of parents and schools, motorists and bus passengers, taxpayers and almost all who use the county’s services. The Plaid group instead promised to scrutinise the decisions made and endeavour to suggest alternative ways to making the books balance.
In last week’s South Wales Guardian Labour’s candidate Calum Higgins said Plaid Cymru councillors were doing a disservice to their constituents by not taking part in the Council’s cuts agenda. "This will only be detrimental to their own constituents who won’t be represented properly”, he said.
Later in the week the Labour candidate decided to attack hardworking Plaid MP Jonathan Edwards for abstaining on a vote in Parliament.
But Councillor Alun Davies has reacted to the Labour candidate’s comments by exposing what he brands a “highly embarrassing” attendance record at council meetings, stating that the young candidate cannot be trusted to turn up to do a job of work.
As a member of the County Council’s Appeals Committee, Calum Higgins has attended just 29%of the meetings this year. As a member of the Education and Children Scrutiny Committee, Calum Higgins has attended just 33% of the meetings this year. Furthermore, as a member of the Mid and West Wales Fire Authority, Calum Higgins was absent at the recent meeting which discussed the fire authority budget and the potential downgrading of Ammanford fire station.
County Councillor Alun Davies said:
“It’s a bit rich for Labour’s young councillor to have a go at Jonathan for his principled abstention against labour’s election gimmick.
“Calum’s attendance on the council’s Appeals Committee and Education Scrutiny Committee is appalling – 29% and 33% respectively. The scores of parents in Carmarthenshire that have had to battle for school transport for their children, or have fought decisions to close county schools have been let down badly by the labour candidate who just hasn’t shown up to these meetings.
“Action speaks louder than words. The labour candidate’s highly embarrassing lack of action speaks volumes.
“He’s attacked Plaid Cymru councillors for not attending Labour’s cuts seminar, but where was he last week when the fire authority was discussing the cuts his Labour colleagues are imposing on the fire service? Ammanford fire station will potentially be downgraded but Labour’s part-time representative was nowhere to be seen.
“In stark contrast, Plaid Cymru MP Jonathan Edwards is recognised as one of the hardest working MPs in Westminster – making over a thousand contributions in Parliament in just three years.
“The people of Carmarthen East and Dinefwr quite rightly deserve an MP like Jonathan who works tirelessly on their behalf. In the short period that he’s been a councillor, the labour candidate has demonstrated this year that he cannot be trusted to turn up and do a job of work. The people of this constituency deserve better.”