Thursday, 17 April 2014

Kettle Boils over

 Martin Kettle  in the Guardian may well be pointing to a scenario of Britannia Waving the Rules that I warned about in a recent post.
He seems to be suggesting that if Scotland were to vote Yes in September, the Union may raise the spectre of the Silent Majority.
But there is a second thing to be clearer about too. If Scotland votes yes, the consequences could be messier and nastier for longer than most of us have allowed ourselves to consider. That is partly because there is a conspiracy of decorum surrounding the referendum campaign. The no campaign doesn't want to attack the nationalists too hard because that plays to the nationalist message of bullying and victimhood. But the yes campaign is equally bland about pretending that every problem triggered by independence will be sorted pragmatically, amicably and quickly.
 Apart from the fact that Kettle seems to disregard Project Fear which saw amongst other things,

  •  George Robertson   claiming  Independence would rob the West of a major anchor of stability and solidarity at a difficult time
  •  George  Galloway  and the claims of  Catholic persecution in an Independent Scotla
  •  and Labour joining with the Tories and LibDems to say Scotland will not be allowed to keep the pound

There's much more but the list is too long to quote on this post.

Kettle then evokes the possibility that Labour might even use a victory in the 2016 General Election to delay Independence

 If a yes victory is declared, how will the British Labour party, meeting for its party conference on the following day in Manchester, react? By promptly agreeing to expedite Scotland's departure? Dream on. A yes vote would explode into the UK party conference season. All the main parties would be destabilised in major ways.
 So what is Kettle suggesting  that the Labour -Unionist may claim (Unless there's a SNP Landslide) the result as second referendum and that the Scots didn't really want Independence?

Kettle goes on 
Salmond talks as though the negotiations following a yes vote would be straightforward, respectful and informed by mutual trust. Why should that be so? They would more likely be devious, antagonistic and riddled with mutual suspicion, as well as largely meaningless until after the 2015 general election.
Whether Salmond was negotiating with Cameron or Ed Miliband (and it is worth remembering that if Labour wins in the UK in 2015 and then wins in Scotland in 2016, Labour could in fact be negotiating with itself), the process would be likely to be prolonged. The UK government would have every possible incentive to drive a hard bargain with Scotland, as Hammond made clear in the defence context this week, and it would be backed by public opinion.
AH there's the Silent majority again, or is it English Nationalism Kettle is referring to  the worrying thin is he seems to be approving this scenario.
Meanwhile, what about the public mood? Views will not remain frozen unchangingly once the result is in. Nor will they inevitably remain benign and peaceful. Nationalist opinion could become more militant if the talks become bogged down.
Even acts of violence are not inconceivable in certain circumstances or places, as anyone with a smattering of knowledge of the Irish treaty of 1921 will grasp.”
As far as I can see the Irish Civil War that followed the 1921 treaty was between those who wanted a Irish republic outside the British Empire (as it was then) and those who accepted an Irish Free State which seems to be similar to what the SNP are offering Scotland .

Those negotiating for Independence will have a clear mandate the idea that some will accept a form of Devo-Max  splitting the group seems far fetched.
 So that's it Kettle may be right about this but as I said the worrying thing is he seems  Kettle seems to approve .

But is this an argument against voting YES as Kettle appears to be arguing. Democracy should not take place because others particularly the current regime will not in the end accept it.

Talking of Kettle it is said that the Irish Land league  leader   Michael Davitt once introduced his colleague Andrew Kettle  to a crowd with the words

The name of Kettle is known in every house in Ireland
Maybe the name of  Marin Kettle of the Guardian should be known in every house in Scotland not for his doom laden, prophesy but because it expose the old adage cut a British Liberal and you get the same Unionist blood as ardent Tory.

As a potential scenario Kettle may be right and I raised a similar fear in a previous blog  but that's no reason to vote NO

Wednesday, 16 April 2014

A Parliament by any other name.

Peter Black may be desperately seeking a split in the Welsh Conservatives when he turns to an article in the today's South Wales Argus by Andrew RT Davies's  leadership rival, Nick Ramsey but you can't real call a poo pooing  of a call for the renaming of the Welsh Assembly as  a split.. Though maybe Peter on firmer ground when it comes to Ramsay's  attitude to tax powers

Ramsey writes ...
"It seems the political silly season has started earlier than usual this year with the re-emergence of old calls to rebrand the Assembly as the Welsh Parliament - and we wonder why the public are disillusioned with politics!
I wish politicians would get on with the job of sorting out the very real day to day problems facing the country rather than wasting time on issues which primarily interest the political “bubble” class. I certainly won’t be supporting any unnecessary and costly changes to the Assembly’s name or any leap towards unrestricted income tax powers".

Ramsey was considered to the more Pro-assembly member in his leadership contest with Andrew RT Davies so one wonders about his current attitude.

Maybe he's looking at a new challenge and building up support from those grassroots Tories who still don't like the idea of Devolution  .

On the subject of the renaming of the Assembly as a Parliament John Dixon was on his usual  tip form last Week when he pointed out
"Clearly, it’s important for any nationalist that Wales has a ‘proper’ parliament; but when I talk about a ‘proper’ parliament, I mean one with proper powers, not just a proper name.  The name is ultimately an irrelevance; what matters is what it can do, and the very fact that we have Welsh politicians beseeching London politicians to change the name merely serves to underline that lack of power.  I rather suspect that, if and when the Assembly has the power to decide for itself what it should be called as part of a more wholesale transfer of power, the name would be seen as the irrelevance which it is.
Besides, there’s nothing wrong with ‘National Assembly’.  A quick look at the names given to national legislatures across the world reveals that it’s actually a very common name.  Only a blinkered UK-centric view would lead anyone to the conclusion that there is any significant difference between a parliament and an assembly".

And of course he largely correct  but as one commentator pointed out 
".... is that while the term "National Assembly" is common throughout the world, it appears to have been deliberately chosen in the context of Wales to denote a different (ie lower) status than that enjoyed by the Scottish Parliament and the 'proper' parliament in Westminster".

And should we not be looking  for a Welsh word for our legisture 
The Oireachtassometimes referred to as Oireachtas Éireann, is the legislature of Ireland.[2] 

The Oireachtas consists of:
  • The President of Ireland
The two Houses of the Oireachtas:
  • Dáil Éireann (Lower house)
  • Seanad Éireann (Upper house)
Of course the current Assembly is a unicameral chamber and the head of State is the Queen of England  bur maybe we should look back into our history.

A dáil means an assembly or parliament, so a literal translation of Dáil Éireann is "Assembly of Ireland"
Owain Glyn Dwr summoned a parliament at Machynlleth  in 1404 what exactly did he call it ?

A distinctive name in our own language may male the members just little prouder and committed .

I've often wondered why there's hasn't been a welsh Scholar who hasn't come up with a old name for a welsh parliament

So any ideas.

Tuesday, 15 April 2014

Nigel Evans may well be Innocent; But he is guilty of hypocrisy.

There's a saying  in the USA 
"That a Conservative is a Liberal whose just got mugged".

"Whilst a Liberal is a Conservative whose been wrongly arrested".

Nigel Evans, who is £130,000 out of pocket after being cleared of sexual assault, has s said he  regrets his previous support for cutting legal aid. seemingly  fits in to the category.

Well only to the extent of his own self interest that is.

The Ribble Valley MP had previously condemned the rising cost of legal aid and admitted he would probably have voted for the last round of cuts in 2011 had he not been Deputy Speaker at the time.

He said he was stunned to learn he would have to pay his legal fees even if he was acquitted – plus value added tax. Mr Evans, whose life savings have been wiped out, has pledged to campaign on the issue after his return to the Commons.

His solicitor, Daniel Burke, said the CPS’s decision to instruct Senior Treasury Counsel, Mark Heywood QC, was above and beyond what would happen in normal cases where the defendant was not in the public eye.
He said had Mr Evans relied on legal aid to fund his defence case, he would not have had the sort of representation to challenge the prosecution team on an equal footing.
Mr Burke suggested the decision had been based on Mr Evans’s profile rather than the requirements of the case. 

It is however  believed that Mr Evans had the opportunity to receive legal aid where he would have to make a contribution too but which would probably have been returned to him in the wake of a not guilty.

The Nigel Evans decision to forgo a legal aid consul  which is common in such cases despite the defendants  resources it is argued because the  Crown Prosecution Service’s “disproportionate” decision to use a top barrister in the case against him.

From what I have read about the case it does look that  Mr Evans may have behaved like a complete prat in is relationship but it the evidence against him looked slim and not enough for a conviction.

But maybe Mr Evans  should reflect on the fact that he could afford a top class defence and if he he had relied on legal aid the outcome may (despite his innocence) My have not been favourable.

There some debate  about which Judge  said

"In England, justice is open to all - like the Ritz Hotel".

But maybe Nigel Evans and his friends should reflect on this.

 Just like the Plebgate affair  concerns an altercation between Conservative MP Andrew Mitchell, the Government Chief Whip at the time (who later resigned because of the incident), and the police, which took place on 19 September 2012. Which  gained notoriety initially for the conduct claimed of Mitchell  in that he was said to have called the Police Plebs  and again two months later when, subsequent to Mitchell's resignation, CCTV and other evidence was revealed which appeared to call into question some of the evidence against Mitchell. there  was strong  support  for Mitchell amongst Tories when one of their number may be the victim of
 false accusation by the police.

When the police lie about ordinary member of the public or someone is imprisoned because of trawling investigation or the many victims of injustice partly because they can't afford a proper defence they are ignored.

Indeed with the cuts to legal aid their plight will get worse .

Nigel Evan's eyes may be opened now because of his experience but maybe he should answer why it took this to see what his Con/Lidems have been doing to the cause of justice of the ordinary and Women

Monday, 14 April 2014

Is Carwyn really the new Enver Hoxha?

 It was the rhetoric of David Cameron which was disturbing  the Boarder of Death god help is

David Cameron’s message to the Welsh Tory conference when have a Tory leader and members of his cabinet payed so much attention to the Welsh Tory Conference or even acknowledged a boarder.

The speech also achieved the improbable in out-stripping the severity of warnings issued by another Tory big beast in Jeremy Hunt, who opened the conference warning of Wales “sleepwalking” towards a Mid-Staffs-style tragedy. as if he's running the NHS in England brilliantly.

Whose watch was that  Mid-Staffs mess on.Where is the privatisation in England leading to?

The idea that Wales under under the sleepy Carwyn Jones is lurching to a  becoming the new Albania und where carwyn Carwyn becomes another Enver Hoxha is laughable .

But not laughable is that this war between the Tories attacking the Welsh Government  non stop (noat tacks on Scotland and Northern Ireland on how their government are run I notice ) and Carwyn accusing them of being Anti-Welsh an they are "Standing up for Wales " having Forty Winks in an armchair more likely.

Cameron description is hardly going to help the Welsh economy protrayong us as a  second  Albania is sacrificing Wales this way worth it for a few more votes in Middle England?

Already Nurses are finding the political row over the Welsh NHS both "tiresome and demoralising", according to the head of the Royal College of Nursing in Wales.

RCN director Tina Donnelly said it was time for politicians to stop fighting and put patients at the forefront of moving forward.

The West and Russia often fought proxy wars African States   who suffered greatly from civil wars partly driven from outside.

How much will wales suffer as the Westminster parties fight the next General election  here where the solution is not in Westminster but in the hands of the People of wales if only they could reject the parties there.

Sunday, 13 April 2014

Andrew RT Davies "coalition of ideas". hardly likely.

There's something rather odd about  the leader of the Welsh Conservatives telling his  party members they must be open to a "coalition of ideas".

s said the party - which has been in opposition since the Assembly was created in 1999 - needed to listen to ideas from outside.

"I believe Welsh Conservatives are mature enough to look at that coalition of ideas, to look where the best ideas can come from, and to date they've come from the Welsh Conservatives," he said during the second day of the Welsh Conservative conference in Llangollen.
"It means reaching out to anyone who has the best interests of the people of Wales at heart and wants to get us off the bottom of the league table whether it be in health, education or the economy, rather than this over-lording mentality Labour has."

His words will be seen as a hint the party could be open to forming a coalition with other parties after the assembly elections in 2016.

But it seems a trifle early to be calling this after all the the next Assembly election is two years away and we although we may have had a Labour government in power at Westminster  after the 2015 General election and possibly  past it honeymoon period

However current Opinion polls point to Labour being just  short of a majority bur comfortably  ahead of the other parties amd if Ukip were to enter the Assembly with 5 or more seats even a Rainbow Alliance  of Tories,Plaid and the LibDems  and at least the last two would not allow Ukip in the gang  would not be enough  for a majority and it would be odd to see Andrew RT Davies and Leanne Wood in some kind of arrangement where one would be First Minister and the other his/her deputy.

Polling organisation/client Sample size Lab Cons Plaid Lib Dem UKIP Others Lead
10–12 February 2014 YouGov/ITV Wales 1,250 42% 21% 19% 9% 5% 3% 21%
2–4 December 2013 YouGov/ITV Wales 1,001 43% 19% 20% 9% 7% 3% 23%
18–22 July 2013 YouGov/Elections in Wales Blog 1,012 47% 19% 17% 8% 6% 3% 28%
28 Feb 2013 Ynys Môn by-election, 2013
18-20 Feb 2013 YouGov/ITV Wales 1,007 46% 21% 17% 10% 5% 2% 25%
5 May 2011 National Assembly for Wales election, 2011 (constituency) 949,252 42.3% 25.0% 19.3% 10.6% N/A 2.8

Polling organisation/client Sample size Lab Cons Plaid Lib Dem UKIP Others Lead
10–12 February 2014 YouGov/ITV Wales 1,250 39% 19% 17% 9% 10% 6% 20%
2–4 December 2013 YouGov/ITV Wales 1,001 40% 19% 15% 9% 10% 7% 21%
18–22 July 2013 YouGov/Elections in Wales Blog 1,012 25% 12% 23% 9% 16% 14% 2%
28 Feb 2013 Ynys Môn by-election, 2013
18-20 Feb 2013 YouGov/ITV Wales 1,007 26% 14% 26% 8% 13% 13% Tie
5 May 2011 National Assembly for Wales election, 2011 (regional) 949,388 36.9% 22.5% 17.9% 8.0% 4.6% 10.1

Mr Davies may be right in  calling  the current Welsh Labour government but the likelihood is that this will continue .

If the Polls continue then I suspect it will be the Liberal Democrats who after a drubbing  in 2015 will be seeking to establish some form of new power base and  enter into coalition with Labour and try and claim credit for any reinvigorating that occurs.

The danger for wales will be that with a "lazy" and "tired". Labour Government permanently established in Cardiff Bay disillusionment  with the assembly will grow and unless Plaid can emulate the SNP we may be doomed to see little progress in establishment of real powers or a sense that devolution has led to a a Wales we can be proud of.

Saturday, 12 April 2014

Let down by NHS and DWP my experiance.

Prime Minister David Cameron said Wales was witnessing a "national scandal" as Offa's Dyke "has become the line between life and death". 

Addressing the Welsh Conservative conference in Llangollen, though its likely that his real target was swing voters in England Mr Cameron said the healthcare workforce were being "woefully let down by Labour".
He criticised Welsh Labour on education and the NHS, saying patients were waiting too long for heart scans.
He said Welsh Labour was guilty of "appalling, inexcusable complacency".
"One in seven people in Wales is on an NHS waiting list," he said. "A cancer drugs fund is in England - but not here.

"I tell you - when Offa's Dyke becomes the line between life and death, we are witnessing a national scandal."
He said families had seen loved ones waiting too long for treatment - and they were "sometimes dying".
"After this utter shambles Labour should never dare call themselves the party of the NHS again," he said.
"Welsh Conservatives are arguing heart and soul that it doesn't have to be this way... with real courage and reform, things can be different

Well I'm one of those on a waiting list  since November  11th and  have  been informed  that my surgery is booked for the 21st Though there's no guarantee it may not been postponed .

I have a recurrence of the Acromegaly which after 20years which have resulted in type 2 Diabetes  and high cholesterol.

But the main side affect this time is a Musculoskeletal disorders which  started over a year ago which has left me in sever pain in my arm and legs particularly my left arm where it becomes very painful if I carry out manual tasks.

It has taken a whole year from the onset of my problems to get fuly diagnosed and finally or  rather hopefully  get the surgery which hopefully will change things.

Last July as my condition was being fully diagnosed I was advised by Local Job Centre that I should apply for Employment Support Allowance and complied and duly been receiving this which saw no change in my  benefits financially.

Although still waiting for the Surgery which hopefully will cure or at least my condition I was called into Work Capability Assessment by the infamous ATOS.

I was not surprised to be told week later that I was no longer assessed as having limited capability for work and if you look at the form below you will wonder who ever will be found so.

Now I don,t really have a problem with the argument that having an illness or disability makes you incapable of working. Plenty of people with disabilities  do. Though clearly you will have to be very very disabled not to be passed fit for work.

And I found the adviser at the Jobcenter when I rejoined Jobseekers allowance helpful and understanding and I'm not expected to start applying for any Job that is advertise.

And it may well be that I find this more beneficial for my self esteem that seeking a sick note every few months.

But my problem is that I'm waiting for Surgery.

But my problems have been compounded  because just the day after my Jobseekers Allowance assessment I received a Phone call saying my surgery is due on the 23rd of april.

So although I have been told I am not eligible for ESA for 6 months I will need to claim some of benefit for period of hospitalisation.

And of course there's no guarantee  that the operation will go ahead . It is in the Neurosurgery department and  there could easily be some poor person with a life threatening issue who will need far more than I do and therefore my surgery rightly will be postponed  and  I will have to transfer benefits again.

Pressure anyone t whose  facing surgery can do without. 

The commonsense move would be for the Job Centre to allow me a fortnights grace  and allow me to sign on as normal in a months time. It would suit me and indeed them in avoiding paperwork in transferring me back and fo in benefits.

But I suspect that's unlikely.

I have been let down by the NHS and the Welsh labour government   and DPW and ther Con/Libdem draconian welfare rules  but fortunately not by friends and family for which I am grateful .

Anyway  I will be back tomorrow but  if this Blog does not appear foe a few days at the end of the Month I will be in Hospital which may be something I will Blog on.

Friday, 11 April 2014

Two Statues In Cardiff Of Men With Vision (One sadly forgotton).

 Years ago I always wondered who John Batchelor (The Friend of Freedom)  whose statue graces the Hays in the centre of Cardiff was 

So it was One of my favourite moments when a student at Coleg Harlech  was reading John Davies (Bwlchllan, ) epic (Cardiff and the Marquesses of Bute,  University of Wales Press, January 1980, ) and finding out about .

It also helped that my tutor Neil Evans is probably  the foremost expert on the industrial history of our capitol and he expanded on Bachelors story for me.

South Wales Echo  Columnist Dan O'Neil  has recently written about this and its worth looking at especially for those who have always wondered about the statue . And well worth a read here

He covers much of the issues which led to the people of Cardiff to raise a statue.

How  Batchelor became a prominent Cardiff figure, having moved there in his early twenties. He set up business as a timber merchant and, later, slate merchant and also played a key role in establishing the Mount Stuart Dry Dock.
He was an active Liberal politician and served as a Liberal Councillor and, later, Mayor of Cardiff, in addition to being Chairman of the Cardiff School Board. He also campaigned against slavery.

However, John Batchelor's political activity brought him into conflict with the Bute family (John Crichton-Stuart, 3rd Marquess of Bute), who had significant land-holdings in Cardiff, including Cardiff Castle, and had built much of the docks.
The Butes supported the Tory party and many believed that their conspiring led to the collapse of Batchelor's shipbuilding business.

As O'Neil l writes 

When Lord Derby’s government was toppled and a general election called, Batchelor persuaded Walter Coffin, chairman of the Taff Vale Railway, to stand as a Liberal. He was up against the man who had represented Cardiff for the past 20 years, a gent with the impressive initials JDCL to go with the surname Nicholl, regarded as a puppet of what was called “the Castle party”.
Coffin won by 494 to 464, an upset that infuriated the Marquis. At the end of the year Batchelor’s shipyard tenure ran out. Bute refused to renew it. Ships carrying timber for the brothers were barred entry to the Bute docks and the Batchelor business collapsed.
The vindictiveness went on after Batchelor’s death. When his statue was erected in 1883 opponents suggested alternatives to the legend Friend of Freedom. A local solicitor, T H Ensor, wrote to the Western Mail suggesting instead: “Traitor to the Crown... hater of the clergy... sincerely mourned by unpaid creditors... died a demagogue and pauper.”
When the legendary editor Lascelles Carr published the letter he was prosecuted for criminal libel. But in a case making headlines across the country, the judge declared “the dead have no rights and suffer no wrongs” and he ordered the jury to find for the defendants.
But Carr didn’t get away with it altogether. He was given a beating outside Cardiff station by Batchelor’s sons.

The one   story  O'Neil l does not touch on how Bachelor was presented  was presented with a painting of
Ifor scaling  the walls of Cardiff Castle using his bare hands, seizing  the Earl, his Countess Hawise, a daughter of the Earl of Leicester, and their young son Robert, and kidnapping  all of them to the woods of Senghenydd. Refusing to release them until he had recovered the land he had lost "and a lot more".  (Where is this painting now I wonder?)

But regular readers of O'Niel column will know  his disdain of the the Welsh language  and any  thing associated with it.

Bachelor's statue rivals the other friend of freedom statue of the founder of the NHS Nye Bevan in Queen Street

 The to were visionaries one largely forgotten but the other still relevant as  the NHS he was so prominent  in establishing is being slowly strangled by increasing privatisation by the Con/Lib Dems  in Westminster and by appalling mismanagement by Labour in Cardiff Bay.

One thing is clear unless there's a sudden  sense of vision in both Cardiff council and the Welsh assembly in  The Bay we wouldn't be seeing any future statues of  visionary politicians raised in Cardiff in the future.