Friday, 20 September 2019

When is it wrong to call an arsehole an arsehole?

Whilst  we should expect high standards from our elected officials it is absurd that   tweet by Plaid Cymru AM Leanne Wood has been criticised by the Assembly's Standards Commissioner for calling a blogger an "arsehole" on Twitter.
A complaint was made by an unnamed person alleging Ms Wood breached the Code of Conduct for Assembly Members by referring to an author of a tweet about a fellow AM as “an arsehole”.
Blogger Jac' o' the North tweeted a screenshot of the personal Twitter profile of Delyth Jewell - then newly-announced to be Plaid's successor to the late Steffan Lewis and wrote "women’s rights and international development’. God help @Plaid Cymru."

At the time I wrote that if they had done any real research  then they would find ironically that Delyth Jewell  won the Overall Researcher of the Year award at Westminster. in  2014 whilst working for the then Plaid MP on his stalking bill

The panel of judges, made up of MPs, peers and the National Chairman of the Federation of Small Businesses which sponsors the event, said that her work on the stalking bill “went far beyond what would be asked of a researcher”.

In fact she's holding two trophies, because she also won the award for Crossbench or Other Parties’ Researcher of the Year.
They might realise that such an award out of hundreds of researchers some of who may well be now MP's or future ones is a huge accomplishment.
Plaid are very lucky to see someone step in the shoes of a a AM who was renown in the Siambr for the quality of his research.
At 9.37pm that night, Ms Wood responded "Do you have to be an arsehole all the time? Have a day off".

In her defence of her tweet, Ms Wood said that the person who wrote the tweet was "a persistent, pernicious influence in Welsh politics for many years".
"His blogs often contain disparaging comments about women and minorities as well as Plaid Cymru; which are seemingly his pet hates. I defend freedom of speech but there are limits to this and Jones frequently crosses the line and regularly writes untruths.”

At the Time  the "Arsehole of the North responded 

"On reflection, the tweet I put out could have been worded better, and I shall clarify below why I have misgivings about Ms Jewell’s elevation. But no disrespect was meant to Ms Jewell, personally, for I don’t know her. (Though that never seems to deter my detractors.) She may turn out to be an excellent Assembly Member, but her background, and professed interests, do not fill me with confidence, as I shall explain.But then, some might think that Leanne Wood’s tweet was a little OTT as well, maybe abusing her position of influence. Perhaps it even qualifies as the kind of ‘bullying’ we hear so much about from Cardiff Bay (another source of endless entertainment".
It seems that he had realised he had made a error of judgement , indeed in making the complaint  he has probably led even more people  to realise  what a prejudiced  man he is.

His supporters of course will rally behind him, but it seems that people may well realise that hei is not the Champion of Welsh Idenity he professes to be , but  a bigotted arsehole.

Thursday, 19 September 2019

New Concessionary Bus Pass has all the hallmarks of a disaster.

For my sins  I volunteer in Beddau and Tynant Community  Library , which due to inspirational leaderships reopened after it was closed by Rhondda Cynon Taf council.

The need for such a facility has become clear in the last weeks,  as we have attempted to deal with enquiries over the change in concessionary bus passes in Wales.

Large numbers of people applying for new free bus passes have crashed part of a government website.
About 730,000 over-65s use concessionary cards in Wales and have until 31 December to sign up for new electronic ones.
Applications opened on Wednesday and Transport for Wales (TfW) reported "high volumes" of traffic to its website.
It told users not to panic as old cards are valid until the end of the year.
TfW, which took over running public transport in Wales last year, wants users to switch to new-style cards, which are recognised on electronic readers so they will "work as part of an integrated travel network in the future".
A statement on its website said: 
"We're experiencing an exceptionally high volume of hits to our new concessionary travel card site."
It added it planned to take down the new website in a bid to "boost the capacity to better manage" the traffic.
The  l is currently unavailable. We’ve been extensively testing the site and upgrades are now in place. Before we relaunch the site, we’re working with Age Cymru to carry out further user testing and we expect to reopen the online portal early next week (w/c 23 September 2019). 
Given that many people over sixty do not have direct access to the portal anyway , we in the library anticipate helping many to use our computers and this will be repeated throughout Libraries throughout Wales.

TfW here's  may well state that ther eis plenty of time to apply: Your current pass is still valid and will continue to be accepted for travel until 31 December 2019.
A paper application form is available here to download below for you to print at home.  

This week we in Library have handed out about  50 application forms to local residents at acost by us of 20p to cover the cost of printing and paper ( I doubt you will find it cheaper.
Guidance on how to complete the paper application form is also available here
Once you’ve completed your application, please double check all the details are correct and post it to: 
Concessionary Travel Card
PO Box 55
LL49 0AY
If this is repeated throughout Wales then I wonder if a PO Box will be able to cope.

It does seem that those running the system have not sufficiently prepared  and may not have enough staff.

Wednesday, 18 September 2019

What Wales, needs is a new car not trying to fix the current botched job.

I am not sure how to react to Labour AM 's Mick Antoniw,  article in Nation Cymru on constitutional reform in Nation Cymru.

Is it a genuine realisation that "The Precious Union" is broken  or merely another Labour response, to a growing  rise in Independence calls  in Wales similar to that in Scotland where much is vaguely promised but nothing concrete  emerges.
Mr Antoniw writes

Eleven years ago I wrote an article for Tribune magazine, commenting on the Constitutional implications of devolution. I said we had ten years to sort out the dysfunction of the UK constitution and the English question or the UK risked breaking up.
The dysfunction remains and has become chronic. We are now facing constitutional meltdown. Brexit and the removal of the EU Constitutional umbrella expose the inherent fracture lines that have been increasing ever since 1999.
Since the Kilbrandon report in 1974 and until recently, there has been little detailed and comprehensive thought given by Parliament to the importance of the UK’s largely unwritten constitution.
Over the years, as devolved and decentralised government has progressed, the glaring lacuna in the rules and conventions that govern the relationship between the nations of the UK have largely been overlooked or disregarded.
All Governments and political parties have failed to recognise this growing crisis and have been oblivious to the potential consequences for the UK. On the one hand as the powers of the Welsh Assembly and Scottish Parliament have begrudgingly been increased on an almost ad hoc basis, at the same time the inability of Westminster to recognise its own need for reform has become more acute.
The cataclysmic effect of Brexit has exposed this dysfunctionality. It is clear to most observers now that King Constitution has no clothes, or not many…
The writing has been on the wall for some time. During the Scottish independence referendum there was an opportunity to redefine the purpose of the UK; but in the absence of any credible answer to the question, “What is the purpose of the UK?” many Scots opted to vote for independence.
In Wales, where “independence” has had little support, the debacle in Westminster has resulted in many beginning to question our relationship with the UK.
Change, one way or another, is underway. Precisely what that change is, re
mains to be determined.
Yes as he states  the question has been asked not only before the Scottish Independence Referendum  and we have had some answers from the fringes of the Labour Party and whilst Tony Blair  may have delivered devolution , I always had the feeling that he never believed it and was merely carrying out what his predecessor as Labour Leader John Smith called "Unfinished Buisness".

He goes on
There is a need for a progressive analysis and solution. And we know from history that if we on the left do not provide that answer, those on the far right, the Tory Party and Brexit fanatics, will.
As a socialist, I am opposed to the ideology of nationalism. Socialism and nationalism as we know from history do not make happy bedfellows.
The problem is that the use of the terms “nationalism” and “independence” have often been ill-defined and abused by those using them. They have usually been used alongside flag-waving, populist speeches, romantic and historical mythology.
In reality, their use has increasingly been synonymised with separatism per se, with little reference as to the economic and social implications, particularly for ordinary working people.
Labour’s ideological position has traditionally been one that is class-based; self-determination and decentralisation of power, and the empowerment of people and communities,
as opposed to Plaid Cymru’s nation-based approach.

Well we can all read the  what he is indicating   by  "Socialism and nationalism as we know from history do not make happy bedfellows". but can he really argue this as a member of a "Socialist" (I know) Party  that  is by its very nature a British Nationalist Party.

He will of course regard this a slur on the Labour Party  but before he accuses others  of such Ideology he really should examine  the vet nature of the Unionism that   Labour  has promoted ever since it quietly ended the idea of Home Rule all round  it held before Irish Independence.

The immediate point I make is that there is a need for civilised and rational debate. There is a need for political parties on the centre and left to come together to work out a solution and a way forward.
Much work across all political parties and across UK parliaments has already taken place. There are a plethora of reports, documents from constitutional and legal committee analysis, nearly all of which says the current mechanism for inter-governmental relations within the UK is not fit for purpose.
The Joint Ministerial Committee does not work. It needs resources and mechanisms for dispute resolution. Brexit has broken the Sewell Convention. International trade agreements at UK level will drive a coach an horses through the devolution settlements and the proposed shared prosperity fund is likely to lead to a recalibration of centralised government in Westminster undermining the devolutions settlements.
Is it any wonder that people are questioning the future of the UK?
PrinciplesThese are dangerous times indeed. A populist break-up of the UK raises many questions:
  • Will we retain the pound?
  • How independent can Wales be while tied to a London based fiscal system?
  • For all its faults, do we really want to see a break up of the UK Welfare State?
  • What about the Welsh financial deficit? Current arrangements may not be satisfactory but there is still a £13 billion deficit to account for.
  • Do we really want to leave the UK and the system of wealth redistribution that exists? Walking away from this would drastically impoverish many of those who are already the poorest and most vulnerable in our society.
  • Is a decentralised or federalised UK constitutional structure the likely way forward?
It is clear to me that a UK wide constitutional convention is long overdue.
This means that everyone has to buy into radical constitutional reform of the UK, governmentally and financially, a redefining of the role and function of Westminster, clear constitutional rules with a common Supreme Court acting as a constitutional court to resolve disputes.
Clear principles must underpin the purpose of the UK and its function. Foreign affairs, defence, economic wellbeing, equality and redistribution of wealth.
And finally, a referendum for the whole of the UK on a nation by nation basis to either buy into a new revigorated UK or to go their own way.
The alternative, after years of Brexit chaos, is many more years chaos and confusion as the UK, year by year, disintegrates into yet deeper chaos and decline.
Its time to have this serious and open conversation. We cannot afford not to.

In reality  Mr Antoniw solution is like taking your car back to the same garage , time and time again and not getting it fixed.

There may be promises of a new solution , but  what Wales, needs is a new car , not having those who have constantly botched the job trying to fix the old one.

Tuesday, 17 September 2019

Should a Plaid/LibDem pact be based on results nearly 10 years ago?

Former Labour MP for Carmarthen Gwynoro Jones  has been trying to establish himself as a elder Welsh Statesman without much success .

However it is interesting to note is take on the allocation of seats in any Plaid/LibDem pact for the Election which is expected before the end of November.

He writes 

My parameters were the constituency results  for the General Election 2010, which was probably the last general election held in ‘ normal circumstances’. By that I mean the General Election 2015 was one where the Lib Dems were severely punished because of the coalition years. The 2017 General Election was heavily influenced by  Brexit and tactical voting hence it became a two horse race between the Tories and Labour. Then I looked at the Senedd Election results of 2016 and the recent  Euro elections.
There are a few seats in the tables below that could have been allocated differently. Of course   Ceredigion is taken out of the equation because, let’s face it hell would freeze over before either Welsh Lib Dems or Plaid Cymru would agree to stand down.

So Gwynoro  seems to be basing his tables on a Best LibDem result scenario in a election that was nearly ten years ago.

Take the situation of Merthyr and Rhymney  which he allocates to the LibDems and we see what nonsense this is

The LibDems did obtain a big swing  in 2010 with a candidate who seemed to have joined Plaid 

General election 2010: Merthyr Tydfil and Rhymney[14][15]
LabourDai Havard14,00743.7-16.8
Liberal DemocratAmy Kitcher9,95131.0+17.0
ConservativeMaria Hill2,4127.5-1.4
IndependentClive Tovey1,8455.8N/A
Plaid CymruGlyndwr Jones1,6215.1-4.9
BNPRichard Barnes1,1733.7N/A
UKIPAdam Brown8722.7+0.4
Socialist LabourAlan Cowdell1950.6-0.3
Registered electors54,715
Labour holdSwing-16.9
However the following elections  saw the LibDem vote almost disappear  

General election 2017: Merthyr Tydfil and Rhymney
LabourGerald Jones[4]22,40766.8+12.9
ConservativePauline Jorgensen[5]6,07318.1+8.0
Plaid CymruAmy Kitcher [6]2,7408.2-1.3
UKIPDavid Rowlands[7]1,4844.4-14.2
Liberal DemocratBob Griffin [8]8412.5-1.6
Registered electors55,463
Labour holdSwing+2.4

General election 2015: Merthyr Tydfil and Rhymney[9][10]
LabourGerald Jones[11]17,61953.9+10.2
UKIPDavid Rowlands[7]6,10618.7+15.9
ConservativeBill Rees3,29210.1+2.5
Plaid CymruRhayna Mann3,0999.5+4.4
Liberal DemocratBob Griffin[12]1,3514.1-26.9
GreenElspeth Parris[13]6031.8N/A
IndependentEddy Blanche4591.4N/A
CommunistRobert Griffiths1860.6N/A
Registered electors61,716
Labour holdSwing-2.8

 The  2010 vote  seems to be  a protest some of it  seemingly  transferring to ProBrexit parties in the following election.

Indeed it many of the seats where the LibDems achieved  big  swings i or came close   2010 Swansea West, Newport East  ,Wrexham Pontypridd, their vote has collapses

So if Plaid agree to a 50/50 seat  allocation based on anything like Gwynoro list then it will be a big mistake

I also had a difficulty in allocating seats to the Welsh Greens, as much as I agree with a great deal of what they stand for. Nevertheless, since there are seats that can be allocated either way – I have not included them in the tables below. 
They are

Carmarthen West and South Pembrokeshire
Newport West - altho' was tempted to make WLDSwansea East
Vale of Clwyd
Possibly they could be four constituencies where the Greens could stand.
 Group 1

Welsh Liberal Democrats - 8
       Plaid Cymru - 10
Brecon and Radnor
Cardiff Central
Cardiff North
Cardiff West
Cardiff S E and Penarth
Carms East and Dinefwr
Clwyd South
Clwyd West
Merthyr and Rhymney 
Ynys Mon

Dwyfor Meirionydd


Group 2

Welsh Liberal Democrats - 11
       Plaid Cymru - 6
Blaenau Gwent
Alun and Deeside
Cynon Valley
Newport East
Swansea West
Vale of Glamorgan





Anyway that’s my shot at it. Lets see what transpires.

Frankly I would not allocate the LibDems anything more than 7 or  8 seats and especially be careful  (if I was Plaid's negotiator) of not standing in like monmouth if they are to be seen as the Party of Wales.