Friday, 31 October 2014

A Tale of Two Labour Parties (Carmarthen and Pembrokeshire).

The Wasting Mule reports  that "an opposition group leader at scandal-hit Pembrokeshire council says he is isn’t ruling out taking the council to court over an estimated £330,000 pay-off for its former chief executive"

You may be surprised to learn that at with similar shenanigans  on Camarthen Council it group leader  of nine Paul Miller has raised the possibility of an injunction to stop the golden handshake for Bryn Parry-Jones happening without recourse to full council.

The controversial severance deal was agreed by councillors at a private meeting on October 15.

On Wednesday, Pembrokeshire appointed auditor Anthony Barrett issued an “advisory notice” saying the council would be breaching the law if it went ahead with the planned payment.

He said:

After careful consideration, I have reason to believe that Pembrokeshire Council will incur unlawful expenditure if it continues its current settlement agreement with the chief executive, Bryn Parry-Jones
“For this reason, I feel I have no option but to exercise my statutory responsibilities and take this unprecedented action.
 Mr Miller said he believes that around £50,000 to £60,000 would need to come out of the settlement for it to be lawful.

 He said
“We are trying to do everything we can to stop the m and we haven’t ruled out an injunction,” .

Mr Miller said he has spoken to a London QC, adding:
 “I’m not saying we are going to do it. The intention would be to stop them executing the agreement without them referring back to full council.”
So will Councillor Miller be ringing Kevin Madge his Labour counterpart at Carmarthen who not in Opposition but part of the Lab/Ind coalition which a quick look at Y Cneifwr  will show that a similar situation may occur there The only  difference  appears that  the in  Pembrokeshire  the council want e effectively sack  their CE Bryn Parry-Jones even though it was the Council that approved his controversial Pension plan  whereas in Carmarthenshire the CE Mr Mark James as requested to leave. under a severance scheme   that it is available to all employees with over two years service so that may mask what is as equally distasteful as that of Bryn Parry-Jones.

Of course if Mark James was offered  a similar package to his Pembrokeshire counterpart then there will be no real difference.

As someone who believes in decentralisation it still appears to be rather odd to see the Labour Party in opposition in one council going down one path whilst in the next county Labour in power appear to be doing exactly what they are moaning about.

Thursday, 30 October 2014

Does Wales realy speak with onr Voice Kirsty?

La Pasionaria AKA Welsh LibDem leader Kirsty Wiliams, writing in Subordinate Central seems to think that  agreeing that the status quo in Welsh Devolution is  unexceptiona unexceptical, means that Wales is speaking with one voice
She writes
Since before the Scottish referendum, the Welsh Lib Dems have been calling for Wales to “speak with one voice” to ensure the Welsh voice is not marginalised in future devolution discussions.Following my call for the Welsh parties to come together and agree a common blueprint on devolution, I met with the other three Welsh party leaders to agree a joint motion, which was debated and passed last week.For the first time, all four parties have come together to agree a common platform for the future of devolution.Wales is now speaking with one voice. All four parties must now make sure that voice is heard by Westminster as discussions over our constitutional settlement continue.Liberal Democrats are working hard, both in Cardiff and Westminster, to ensure that Wales is getting the powers it needs to deliver for its people – powers over tax, energy projects, policing and much more. This united voice from Cardiff Bay will help Liberal Democrats in Government bring power closer to the people of Wales
 Saying you are not opposed to such a blueprint does no mean you don't think it does not go far enough

Part of Plaid's problem since the Welsh Assembly first met is that it concentrated to much on making the existing process work, rather than use it to show its inadequacies and call for Independence.

There's a danger of Plaid being seen as a Party of Devolution,rather than one seeking Independence and being indistinguishable  from the others.

It can and should bring forward a Progressive Left and Green agenda but that too should be linked to the argument that we can't do this whilst tied to Westminster where Tories and Blue-Labour have much of the power needed to make real change

So Plaid may for the moment join in this "One Voice" blueprint but that does not mean it surrenders its ambitions

To Quote Terry Pratchett's Lord Vetinari
'I believe you find life such a problem because you think there are the good people and the bad people. You're wrong, of course. There are, always and only, bad people, but some of them are on opposite sides.'

Plaid may have signed up  for this but that does not mean they are on the same side as the Unionist Parties.

Wednesday, 29 October 2014

Labour are using All Women Shortlists to get Party toadies selected

I have long supported the campaign to get more women elected to Public Office including "All Women Short-list because at the rate we are going it will be by the next century that we get to a position when there's something like 50/50 representation in all aspects of public office if ever,

However such an ideal has been damaged by the Labour Party who have used the process to get the sort of candidate who would appeal to those who live in that mythical constituency  of Middle England".

The Wasting Mule report that
"The daughter of a famous US-based comedian is running to be selected as the Labour candidate to fight the 2015 general election in the party stronghold of Neath.Mabel McKeown, who lives in London, is one of three women in the selection battle to be Labour parliamentary candidate in the constituency.But Neath MP and veteran campaigner Peter Hain, who is standing down, has denied claims on a political blog that he has “stitched up” the seat for Ms McKeown".
She is running against Karen Wilkie, deputy general secretary of the Co-Operative Party and last year’s chair of Welsh Labour, and Christina Rees, a Bridgend councillor and ex-wife of former Welsh Secretary Ron Davies. Ms Rees ran on the Labour list European election ,

It is odd that Labour who are so powerful in Neath can't find a Women of Quality amongst their ranks but then it would be doubtful that they could find a man  there as well.

The 1997 general election saw more women elected to the House of Commons than ever - 120, exactly double the 60 elected at the 1992 general election. 101 of these women MPs were Labour Party politicians. There were also 13Conservatives, three Liberal Democrats, and three from other parties (including Speaker Betty Boothroyd, previously a Labour politician).

 Like many on that night after years of Thatcherism there was a clear hope that we were entering a New dawn of progressive politics and with so many Women in the new government it would be more caring.

Images of the new Prime Minister Tony Blair with 96 female Labour MPs on the steps of Church House in Westminster, were widely publicised, giving rise to the rather misogynist term Blair Babes.

It son became clear that the new female members were as much of the party machine as the men . Loyal to Blair enthusiastically backing Blairs Middle Eat policy and making no attempt to roll back even the worst excesses of Thatcherism.

That in itself is not a reason to oppose All Women Shortlist " As we saw with Stephen Kinnock in Aberavon men are still being parachuted into safe Labour seats .Men who are all oart of the TEd Tory agenda.

All Women Shortlists just make  it easier for the hierarchy of the Party to control selection of compliant candidates and wed out any who might have some flame of socialism in his or her heart.

And in Wales make dam sure none of them would ever consider putting the needs of Wales First . Of course to me the two are the same)

How many Women or Men in Scotland have been parachuted into safe Labour seats from outside that Nation.?

Plaid have two candidates in winnable seats who were born and raised in England but who have been part of their intended constituency  for years  to such an extent they are as indistinguishable from those who have lived there all their lives.

Labour needs to look for candidates who are connected to their constituency . By all means via All Women Shortlist but not use it as a Trojan Horse to get candidate who suits the Leadership but maybe not the people they seek to represent.

Tuesday, 28 October 2014

Afghanistan 29 Welsh deaths were not worth this.

29 of the 453 servicemen who lost their lives in the 13 year Afghan war were Welsh and it may be this Nation lost more as  of population than any member of the coalition who took part in Blair's bid for posterity.

It is not enough to talk about sacrifice and courage of these and all who took part as if this somehow hides the fact that this waste of lives including the Tens of Thousands of Afghani civilians who died in this war.
For nearly all that time we constantly heard  of the Green Shots of democracy growing in 

Parliamentary elections were held on September 18, 2010. In July 2010, Staffan de Mistura, the U.N. secretary-general's special representative for Afghanistan and head of the U.N. Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA), described these as the "mother of all issues" elections. "They will not be Swiss elections, they are going to be Afghan elections," he said, suggesting the event might not fit the Western definition of democracy. More than 2,600 candidates, including more than 400 women, are running for office.
During the run-up to the elections in September 2010, the Taliban intimidated villagers in certain areas from voting. People in the villages would not vote because the Taliban left night letters warning they will cut off the finger of anyone if they find it marked with the indelible ink used to prevent multiple voting.
In late November 2010, Afghanistan's election commission disqualified 21 candidates from the September 18 parliamentary elections for alleged fraudulent activities, a spokesman said. 19 of the candidates were winning or leading their races, according to partial election results, while two others had failed to win seats.
There also huge doubts whether the coalition trained Afghan army (which took 13 years to bild) can cope against the Taliban or the inevitable tribal conflict.

We must not forget the 29 Welsh soldiers in this conflict indeed all who suffered during it. But we must also not forget that it achieved nothing did not make us safer at home and I am doubtful if it has made Afghanistan safer or even close to Western standards of democracy.

We may well talk of sacrifice but sadly in years to come we wil find that this sacrifice was in vain.

Monday, 27 October 2014

There may be Job creation but is it low waged?

The BBC has come up with the news that The Welsh government says 83% of people move into a job, apprenticeship or training at the end of six months
A scheme to get young people into temporary work has hit its target of creating 16,000 job opportunities almost 18 months ahead of schedule.
Jobs Growth Wales, which gets people aged 16-24 into work for six months, has created 16,108 opportunities and filled 12,730 vacancies since April 2012, the Welsh government said.
The original target date to hit 16,000 was March 2016.
Deputy Skills Minister Julie James was "very pleased" to reach it sooner.
Jobs Growth Wales pays the person's salary with the hope they will be offered a job at the end of the six months.
Eight out of 10 of the opportunities created by the programme were taken by private sector employers.
Ms James said: "Jobs Growth Wales is playing an important role in helping our young people start a range of exciting careers."

In September, the Welsh Liberal Democrats criticised the scheme, claiming the majority of people would have found work without it.

The LibDem may wel be right but then it may an An Ipsos Mori review suggested that 73% did not need it.

Indeed maybe true of all these Government schemes whether  from Westminster or Cardiff  real purpose is to give the impression that they are doing something about it,

My own experience of these Jobs schemes is that those more likely to get a job are cherry picked and  promoted by those running it thereby giving the impression of success.

What we need is Job creation schemes not job placement  or promotion schemes .

And well paid Jobs as well

A record five million UK workers are now in low-paid jobs, research from a think tank suggests.
Those earning less than two thirds of median hourly pay - equivalent to £7.69 an hour - rose by 250,000 to 5.2m last year, the Resolution Foundation said.

It said a "growing rump" of low-paid jobs was a problem for ministers because it kept tax revenues low.
It puts the Westminster boast of Britain's unemployment rate dropping  to 6 percent for the June to August period, down from 6.4 percent in the three months before and the lowest rate since 2008 somewhat into perceptive.

The Office of National Statistics said Wednesday there were 1.97 million unemployed people, 538,000 fewer than a year earlier. The agency says it was the largest annual fall in unemployment since records began in 1972
But what sought of Jobs are they going into how many are part time or on the minimum wage?
We need to take a look at these figures  to gauge is it a sign we are climbing out of recession or is Low Wage a sign that it is the poorest who are still suffering from it,

Sunday, 26 October 2014

Green Dragon a refreshing new blog for Cymru

I have always tried to keep am eye open for new Welsh Political Blogs and it is pleasure to see The Green Dragon join our ranks .

They have produced some excellent posts since coming into existence this month none more than their latest exposure of something called the Welsh Alliance for the fascist organisation it is

It clear to see where this group is coming from in that its Logo incorporates "The Prince of Wales " feathers and somewhat resembles the logo of Britain First

That fascist group who use honeytrap Images like Red Poppies on places like Facebook to lure  naive people to "liking them".

So if you haven't yet look at the Green Dragon Blog it seems to fill a very much needed gap in the Welsh Blogosphere.

And so it falls to

And a big welcome to Penartharbyd who inspired with the Bloggers from Scotland likeBella CaledoniaWings Over ScotlandWee Ginger DugLallands Peat Worrier and Newsnet Scotland has decided that his Blog should
"...join the ranks making the case for independence in Wales, alongside
colleagues DailyWales.netSyniadauBorthlas,Dic MortimerWelsh Not BritishBlog MenaiJac o’ the NorthOggy Bloggy OgwrNational Left and possibly Glyn Adda.
This is not a party political blog and has no intention of becoming one. So rest assured, we’ll be as independent and critical of the only party currently giving an outlet for independence-minded people as we will for the unionist parties".
Here at National Left I very much doubt that I could even approach the excellence of Bella Caledonia or Wings over Scotland but one day to link you to something equall to them from this Nation.

Saturday, 25 October 2014

There could be a real alternative in 2015 and Scotland and Wales can lead it.

Three stories from Yesterday ,
Firstly the news that Johann Lamont has quit as leader of the Scottish Labour Party after accusing the UK party leadership of treating Scotland as a "branch office".
A Scottish party source said Ms Lamont had "had enough" and felt she did not have the support of the UK party.
She is said to have become disillusioned with internal criticism of her leadership and interference by the UK Labour party in the running of Scottish Labour.
Ms Lamont wanted more autonomy for the party in Scotland and significant new powers for the Scottish Parliament.
But she felt both of those objectives were being thwarted by some of her Westminster colleagues, and accused them of putting their own interests ahead of those of Scotland.
She was also unhappy that a senior official of the Scottish party - general secretary Ian Price - was to be removed from office without her being consulted
This further   puts Labour in disarray before the next General Election where they face decemation by the SNP.

Then there was an indication that in the next parliament especially a hung one Plaid , The SNP and Greens might work together

 Giving her keynote speech to the conference on Friday, Ms Wood said votes for Welsh and Scottish nationalists, as well as Greens, could decide who holds the balance of power at Westminster following the election in May 2015.
The independence campaign in Scotland had helped bring about the "demise" of two-party dominance by the Conservatives and Labour, she said.
When it came to her argument that she should be included in the Leaders Debate before the General Election  when she said leaving Plaid Cymru out of proposed TV debates by the party leaders meant that "the truth will not be televised and her reference to "four men in Grey Suits" echoed a recent Guardian article. by Alex Andreou
However, the exclusion of parties such as the Greens, the Scottish National party and Plaid Cymru has another deeper effect. It excludes anyone who could lend a modicum of diversity to these debates; who might challenge the status quo on the environment, on devolution, on constitutional change, on free-market economics, on gender politics. What we have ended up with – again – is a platform of two, three or four rich, privileged, white, straight, middle-aged, male, career politicians from a tiny part of south-east England telling the rest of the country what is what.
This monochrome palette, this disturbing example of what Grayson Perry recently described as “the default man”, is bad for political engagement and grossly unrepresentative of the country. It ensures that large swaths of the voting population will flick on to the debates, see a pictorial representation of the same dull grey suits talking in soundbites and switch back to Britain’s Got Talent, secure in the knowledge that, if Britain does indeed have talent, politics is carefully sealed from any hint of it.

Finally there's a report that Alex'Salmond has revealed he is considering standing for a seat at Westminster in next year’s General Election.

The First Minister, who announced that he would stand down after defeat in the independence referendum, said he had not ruled out the possibility.

Asked on the BBC’s Question Time if he would consider a return to Westminster, he told the host David Dimbleby: "The answer to your question David, absolutely decisively I can tell you I haven't made up my mind. So you'll have to wait and see.

"But I tell you what, when I do make up my mind, you invite me back on to Question Time and I'll tell you why I did it."

With a SNP MP calling for a Yes Alliance in Scotland we should be aiming to take it further 

Stuart Hosie MP, candidate for the SNP Depute Leadership said
“I am certain that the best way to make sure Westminster delivers real maximum devolution to Scotland will be to return the largest ever number of Independence supporting MPs to Westminster. I’m equally certain that many of the wonderful, talented people who emerged through the Independence campaign will contest the next election.
While the SNP will be the engine of the campaign and with over 80,000 members it will be a turbo charged one, the wider Independence movement can provide further fuel and momentum to that campaign.
In practice that means looking at ways of working beyond party interests to maximise the participation of those who campaigned and voted for a better Scotland by offering them an opportunity to campaign and vote again for change at next year’s General Election.
I have no doubt that the SNP can and will send the largest ever number of SNP MPs to Westminster at next year’s general election, but if we can build a Yes Alliance, there is an opportunity to do even more than that.What is also clear is that whether we campaign on a joint platform of maximum powers for Scotland, or select candidates from the range of hugely talented people who emerged through the referendum campaign, the SNP should show the same willing to work with individuals and organisations to make sure the largest number of Independence supporting MPs is delivered to Westminster next year.
Why not an Alliance of  the Scottish Parties Plaid  the Greens in England  and Mebyon Kernow an at the risk of adding another Man in a Grey Suit  would not Big Eck be the one to lead it.

It could see over 20 SNP PMs , 5 Plaid , some Greens and maybe see Dick Cole representin the people of Cornwall in the next Parliament.

Indeed may be the biggest winners mauy be our friends in England who currently have no choice from Lab,Con,LibDem or Ukip.

They need an alternative as much as we do.