Wednesday, 26 July 2017

John Mcdonnel should answer why Labour block rail devolution.

The cancellation of the electrification of the Cardiff to Swansea stretch of the Great Western line was an act of “retribution” by a Conservative Government, according to John McDonnell.

According to the Wasting Mule Labour's Shadow Chancellor claims the party was given a bloody nose by voters and is now abandoning Wales.

Describing the cancellation of the electrification as “absolutely appalling”, he said: 

“It demonstrates [for] me exactly what this Government is all about. They are abandoning Wales, basically...
“They have had a bloody nose from the election and in some ways this is retribution.”
He described the way the announcement was made on the last day of parliament in a written statement as a “democratic disgrace”.
 “Normally what would happen is that you’d have an oral statement from a minister, normally the Speaker would allow an hour’s questions so you’d be able to tease out the information. Often as a result of that you’d be allowed an Opposition Day to debate the issue...“No way to run a democracy, is it?”
Whether you agree with John McDonnell or not  if Labour hadn't backed the Tories  in blocking the Silk Commission  recommendation of Devolution of regulatory powers over transport including ports, rail, buses and taxis and a greater say in determining the rail franchise. would we see the assembly responsible for this and automatically get its share of UK expenditure through the Barnett Formula to pay for this.

If these powers wee devolved electrification may well have been completed now and we may well be looking at other  projects electrification of the North Wales line or reopening the Carmarthen Aberystwyth lines.

The truth is that Labour in backing the Tories  in limiting  devolution in Wales are holding back Wales.

John McDonnell must explain why his party is opposed over the devolution of Transport.

Could it be that they will not be able to blame the BIG Bad Tories for any failures .

Welsh Labour steerage of the NHS and Welsh Education has not been a success despite them being in power since the creation of the assembly.

We need to follow Scotland not only in Parity of Powers but in having a Party in power who are not a Branch Office of London and do not look there  for their masters approval.

Tuesday, 25 July 2017

Welsh Government to build monument celebrating conquest;

The Plans to create an iron ring sculpture at Flint Castle which have  have been described as "insulting to Wales".
The design, which the BBC claims is  said 
to represent the relationship between the medieval monarchies of Europe and the castles they built, 
However  it is clear as Izzy Evans at Nation Cymru points out 

The ‘Iron Ring’ is, of course, the collective name for the ring of castles built by Edward I in order to cement his hold on the lands he stole from the Welsh princes.
Flint was the first castle in this ring of power – a chain of fortresses designed to encircle the north Wales coast and oppress the Welsh.
Its construction began almost immediately after Edward I began the First Welsh War in 1277.
Can you imagine any other nation celebrating its own conquest? Its own government glorying in its subjugation?
  Plaid Cymru's North Wales AM Llyr Gruffydd said it symbolises the oppression of Welsh people.

"The 'ring of steel' is the description given to the chain of castles across Wales that were built to conquer and subjugate Wales," he said.
"From a Welsh perspective, this is certainly not something to celebrate. It does not either reflect the many rich Welsh legends that could have been the source of a far more appropriate sculpture."

 In response, a Welsh Government spokeswoman said it recognises 

"that art divides opinions, encourages debate, and can be interpreted in many ways"."These plans are about investing in Flint, increasing visitor numbers and growing the local economy. The proposed sculpture would also provide a unique opportunity to promote Welsh steel, as well as tell powerful stories that continue to shape our lives today," 
No to Flint Castle's planned Iron Ring"We will continue t
o listen to a range of views on this important project as it evolves, and ensure that decisions over issues such as the words inscribed on the sculpture reflect local opinions and the complex and often difficult history of Wales."

But this is not about Artistic merit but about Historic symbolism and those involved should consider reading about the history of Wales especially the conquest. before making such decision. 

Would the Irish government consider building a statue of Cromwell outside Wexford?

Perhaps the telling thing about the project  is that it was unveiled 

 Economy Secretary Ken Skates, who unveiled the design, said: 

"In its prime, Flint Castle played a pivotal role in not only shaping the future of Wales but that of the UK and Europe."The iron ring sculpture is a perfect way of marking this significance while attracting more people to visit the site, bringing positive economic benefits to the area."

Is there a Minister  for the Arts or Heritage?

Maybe our AMs should all read a bit of Welsh History.

This looks like a purely  economic  attempt to attract tourism and   the symbolism that it represents doesn't matter  .

I  have no romantic view of the Welsh Kings or Princes after all  Castell y Bere  a Welsh castle near Llanfihangel-y-pennant in Gwynedd, was  Constructed by Llywelyn the Great in the 1220s, the stone castle was intended to maintain his authority over the local people as well as  to defend the south-west part of the princedom of Gwynedd.

But to "Celebrate" the conquest of Wales  by England seems to indicate we are happy that it happened.

I suppose you could argue that the Iron Ring could be a symbol of the pride that it rook such a massive effort to subdue us, but would any other Nation  in the world consider building a tourist attraction that symbolises  their subjugation by another?

You can sign the petition against the Iron Ring  (48884 so far) sculpture here.

Monday, 24 July 2017

Cotbyn's Hard Brexir support will be a disaster for workers,

Is there any difference between when he laid out the case  for leaving the single market, between the Jeremy Corbyn and Ukip  in blaming immigration for harming the lives of British workers?

Well actually no, looking at it from left or right it is the same language and the sort of language some of the left have used for over a century when it comes to immigration whether it be the Irish, West Indians or Polish. 

The Labour leader said that after leaving the EU, there would still be European workers in Britain and vice versa. He added:
 "What there wouldn't be is the wholesale importation of underpaid workers from central Europe in order to destroy conditions, particularly in the construction industry." 
Corbyn said he would prevent agencies from advertising jobs in central Europe - asking them to "advertise in the locality first". This idea draws on the "Preston model" adopted by that local authority, of trying to prioritise local suppliers for public sector contracts. The rules of the EU prevent this approach, seeing it as discrimination. 
In the future, foreign workers would "come here on the basis of the jobs available and their skill sets to go with it. What we wouldn't allow is this practice by agencies, who are quite disgraceful they way they do it - recruit a workforce, low paid - and bring them here in order to dismiss an existing workforce in the construction industry, then pay them low wages. It's appalling. And the only people who benefit are the companies."
You could just imagine if it had been Plaid controlled Gwynedd Council who suggested this and the outrage of the whole of the Labour Party.
Why should we accept Corbyn's rhetoric and Hard Brexit stance and the claim that it is a different approach than that of May or Farage,
If workers on any Industry are underpaid then make sure that there are no such things as Zero and short term  contracts and fining of firms and agencies who effectively employ on such contracts when they are actually working full time.
Corbyn told the BBC’s Andrew Marr Show:

“The single market is dependent on membership of the EU. What we have said all along is that we want a tariff-free trade access to the European market and a partnership with Europe in the future.“The two things are inextricably linked so the question then is the kind of trade relationship of the future and we have made it very clear we want a tariff-free trade access with the European market.”Corbyn said the party had not decided on whether Labour’s policy should be to remain in the customs union, but claimed that was also firmly linked to being a member of the EU. “We haven’t jumped on either side of that fence but, again, the customs union is part of the European Union.”
So is Corbyn's opposition to the single market based on opposition to the free market or is it some kind of "Socialism in One Country" ideology?
Its strange when those on the progressive left and who supported (and still do) remain from that position  find themselves  in agreement with  some Blarites or rather those labled such by Corbyn suppoters like Chuka Umunna,  one of the party’s leading advocates of a soft Brexit, who pointed out that several countries including Norway were members of the single market without being full EU members.
Corbyn rhetoric may go down well with former Labour voters who had drifted to Ukip but what about the majority of Labour voters who favour staying in the single market.
For Wales Corbyn spell disaster and his support for a hard Brexit may appear to come from a different direction  than Farage May but the  eventual destination ill be disastrous for British Workers as firms up and leave for the EU and we become a low pay, low workers protection and low tax country in order to attract them.

He is just another British Unionist who may have a different  vision of a Post-Brexit UK but the result will be anything but a socialist utopia.

Sunday, 23 July 2017

Ukip AM racist comments revelations part of internal fighting?

So is there any connection between the news in April that UKIP AM Michelle Brown is to face a vote of no confidence among party members across north Wales. and the revelation that she has bee recorded calling Chuka Umunna a “f***ing coconut” in a rant in which she targets the Labour MP as well as Barack Obama.

Party activists met in Holywell, Flintshire, in April to discuss concerns about "serious misconduct".

In recent months, Ms Brown has denied a hotel's allegations of smoking recreational drugs, and of impropriety over changing the text of a job advert.

She declined an invitation to attend the meeting, and her spokesman described it as "petty infighting".

UKIP assembly leader Neil Hamilton said Ms Brown had his full support.

Members from six UKIP branches in north east Wales passed a vote of no confidence in Ms Brown but decided to hold a wider vote of members across north Wales .

Now In a telephone conversation with her senior advisor at the time, Nigel Williams, Ukip AM Michelle Brown said Mr Umunna was “black on the outside, white on the inside”.

She also described former Labour MP Tristram Hunt as a “t**t” before saying former US President Obama was “exactly the same” as Mr Umunna.

Ms Brown has apologised to anyone offended by her comments and said the language she used about Mr Umunna was “inappropriate”, the Daily Post reported .

During the conversation last year, the AM said:

“I don’t say this lightly...but Chuka Umunna is a f***ing coconut.“He’s got as much understanding of an ordinary black man’s experience as I have.“He may be black but his mother or his father was British from a very, very influential family.“He is a coconut - black on the outside, white on the inside, and Barack Obama’s exactly the same.”

Mr Williams worked for Ms Brown for just over a year before being sacked by her in May this year, and was previously a police detective of 14 years in North Wales and Merseyside.

He said he spoke out after recently discovering the conversation among his records.

Mr Williams said
“I was absolutely appalled,” “It’s bad enough coming from anybody, but to come from a newly appointed Assembly Member is absolutely appalling.“I’ve seen swearing and I’ve been called all sorts of names myself, but I’ve actually never seen it from somebody in such a position.“This wasn’t a meltdown. This was just a conversation that Michelle Brown was having, which she thought was OK. “There was no meltdown going on. She was talking ordinarily about something else and just decided to throw that into the conversation.“She was being appallingly badly behaved.

In a statement, Ms Brown said:

“The point I was making is that, because of his considerable wealth and privilege, Chukka Umunna cannot possibly understand the difficulties and issues that the average black person faces in this country any more than I can, and I stand by that assertion. “I do however accept that the language I used in the private conversation was inappropriate and I apologise to anyone that has been offended by it.“As far as the language I used about Mr Hunt is concerned, it was a private conversation and I was using language that friends and colleagues often do when chatting to each other.”

Don't get me wrong this is appalling racist language and the Assembly must tale action against Ms Beown for bringing  it to disrepute. and Ukip shoulfd remove the whip from her immediately. 

Bit I wonder how much her language is the norm amongst Ukip members , and thus revelation has come out because of an internal dispute and Ukip members plans to remove a AM they see as an embarrassment.  

I take any cries from Ukip that they are shocked with this racist language and believe that it is actually a example of their true nature.

Saturday, 22 July 2017

Carwyn last among equalls.

Michael Blackley is  Political Editor of the Scottish Daily Mail and secretary of the Scottish Parliamentary Journalists Association so this is a very interesting article.

Where this leave our own First Minister Carwyn Jones is anybody guess . Maybe  Westminster don't even believe Carwyn is on the same level as Welsh Secretary Alun Cairns" and he is directed to  one of his deputies.

So the Secretary of States is on an equal basis  with the First Minister of the devolved legislature including  Northern Ireland 

Well when the impasse over the Northern Ireland Assembly is over whose going to tell Arlene Foster that she will not have access to Mrs May but  James Brokenshire.

Or will it depend on the DUP MPs voting with the Government ?

The Welsh and Scottish Governments have launched a formal bid to get the UK Government to give each administration a cash windfall after it agreed a £1bn deal to stay in power with Northern Ireland’s DUP.
The two administrations say Wales should receive an extra £1.67bn with Scotland receiving an additional £2.9bn.
Perhaps after the  Mrs May doesn't want to meeting Nicola or Carwyn  starting each enc outer with "Wheres my money."

There are no Tory MPs in Northern Ireland and in the recent past both Wales and Scotland have been Tory free.

This has seen MPs for English constituencies some of whom having only tenuous  connections to Wales appointed Secretary of State.

There has also been some doubt of who leads the shade of Unionist Party in Wales and Scotland that in the legislature or the Westminster appointed one.

Since 1999 there have been calls for the office of Welsh Secretary to be scrapped or merged with the posts of Secretary of State for Scotland and Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, to reflect the lesser powers of the role since devolution.

This does not seem to be the thinking of Mrs May  and  she seems intent on ignoring Scottish and Welsh concerns over Brexit . Unionist may applaud this move and Carwyn may not worry to much. 

Does he even care about how we are perceived outside Wales compared to Scotland?

But in Scotland it will be seen as an almighty snub and a part with only 13 MPs out of 59 and  31 out of 129 MSP have an equal voice with the Scottish Government.

Friday, 21 July 2017

Wales compared to Albania . Unfair to Albania.

The Westminster Government may well  be in chaos but they can still try and bury bad news,  when they  announced yesterday morning they were scrapping the electrification of railway lines in Wales, the Midlands and the North of England.
Chris Grayling told the Wasting Mule a faster journey between the cities would be achieved without the "needless disruption of engineering works".
He said a new fleet of trains would be on the line from the autumn, with 130 extra seats per train.
The first minister said the news was "disturbing".
Which is quite an understatement.
Carwyn Jones tweeted: "Disturbing reports on rail electrification in the media this morning - waiting for the UK government to clarify."
Plaid Cymru leader Leanne Wood tweeted: "Wales gets 1% of rail investment despite making up 6% of the UK network. And now this."
The party has now tabled a motion in the assembly condemning the move.
It called on the government to reconsider, with South Wales West AM Dai Lloyd calling it a "shameful climb down".
Swansea council leader Rob Stewart said he was "angry" at the decision and felt "betrayed" by the UK government.
While Neath Port Talbot council leader Rob Jones said it was "a kick in the teeth" for the region and its businesses.
Making the announcement, Mr Grayling committed to 40% more seats on rush-hour journeys between Swansea and Cardiff.
He said the new trains would be bi-mode, meaning they could run on electrified sections of track and then transfer to non-electrified sections.
Professor of Transport for the University of South Wales Stuart Cole said the announcement could prevent companies investing in Swansea.
"It affects its [Swansea's] image… what people like Siemens, Mitsubishi or any of the international big investors will say is 'if the UK government aren't prepared to invest in high tech for Swansea, why should we?'
"It means that Swansea won't get the kind of modern railway technology which cities of its size elsewhere in western Europe have had for several years."
Perhaps the most telling response was this Tweet from Leanne Wood

Wales gets 1% of rail investment despite making up 6% of thenetwork.
And now this.
  23 hours ago23 hours agoMoreLeanneWood Retweeted LeanneWood
Wales is in a club of just three countries in Europe with not one inch of electrified rail to date. The other two are Albania & Moldova.

Albania has long been refereed to has the poorest part of Europe, and even if it is not strictly accurate to be compared to that nation in any context is embarrassing .

Is there any connection with the announcement that Tolls on the Severn bridges between Wales and England will be scrapped by the end of next year,

Welsh Secretary Alun Cairns said the decision would be a major boost to the local economy.

He did mot seem to make any statement on what effect cancellation pf the Cardiff-Swansea electrification will have,

A study commissioned by the Welsh Government suggested the removal of tolls would boost the Welsh economy by £100m.

However another report, for UK ministers, predicted just halving the tolls would mean a 17% increase in traffic along the M4 and surrounding areas either side of the crossings.

But it did not indicate the impact on traffic by scrapping the tolls completely.

The scrapping  of Tolls is welcome but it is somewhat typical that in a era where people are being encouraged to use Rail over Road' Wales seems to be going in the opposite direction,

How much longer can we continue as poor West Britons with one of the worst economies in Europe.

How much longer can we continue voting for Unionist Parties who wont even  have parity with Scotland and therefore have only 1% UK investment in our Rail Network/

Reopen the CarmarthenAberysyth line? No chance.

We will soon not even have EU funding coming directly to Wales  and  will have to go cap in hand o Westminster  the basis of this weeks announcement  we can't expect  much, 

Thursday, 20 July 2017

Unelected body holds election???

Those who refer to the House of Lords as an Unelected  Body are complexly wrong. In fact it is a democratic legislature that sees Peers elected.

Well some are elected and on a very small franchise, but that's OK isn't it?

Indeed it is even more weird  that  the only Peers that are elected are Hereditary ones.

The so called  by-election was called following the retirement of Lord Walpole, with his replacement selected by hereditary peers of the Crossbench group.
As Left Foot Foward explains
Some background – the 1999 House of Lords Act removed all but 90 of the hereditary peers (and kept holders of the offices of Earl Marshall and Lord Great Chamberlain) – meaning 92 guaranteed aristocrats in Parliament in total.
Ever since, when one dies, there’s a ‘by-election’ to replace that peer. The only people eligible to vote are existing hereditary peers who sit in that group.
And today, the results of this latest democratic wonder/travesty came in. We know very little about the winner.
Nonetheless, welcome to the 12th Baron Vaux of Harrowden (you can read all about the title here). He won a landslide with 16 out of the 27 votes. Unfortunately, there’s very little information about him online.
What we do know is that his aristocratic name was created was 1523 – and at the age of 52, he’s spritely compared to most peers.
Educated at Ampleforth College (annual boarding fees in 2017 – £32,392), Richard Hubert Gordon Gilbey is married and has two children. Baron Vaux is a businessman, a chartered accountant and was a runner up in the last crossbench by-election. And according to Companies House, he’s had a senior role in 13 companies.

His application for the Lords read:

“For 15 years held senior positions in the technology sector, covering public sector, education and financial services, latterly as global head of corporate development for a $5bn US group. Interests in renewable energy, farming and Scotland. I am able to and would intend to contribute fully.”
We hope to learn more about this person who will get a vote on our laws for the rest of his life.

 New research by ERS found that its highest, the electorate for hereditary by-elections has been 803 – at its lowest just three people. Four by-elections have had more candidates than electors, including the only by-election within the Labour group of hereditary peers for which there were 11 candidates and only three voters. There is only one female hereditary peer listed on the register of future candidates. No female hereditary peer has been admitted to the House of Lords by by-election.

Tommy Sheppard, SNP spokesman on the House of Lords, said: 

“The ludicrous farce of hereditary peer ‘by-elections’, where a select few aristocrats are given the right by birth to decide who should make our laws, is a democratic outrage. 
 “This antiquated bastion of privilege highlights exactly why the House of Lords must be scrapped, and replaced with a fully elected second chamber, at the earliest opportunity. “With over 800 members the House of Lords is second only to the People’s Congress of China in size - wasting huge sums of public money without any democratic accountability to the people. It is well past its sell by date and the UK government must now take long-overdue action.”

Of course the  hereditary peers are only a stark  example of the most undemocratic legislature  in any "Democratic" country,

The idea that you can select people and give them a Life Peerage is also as bad.

They not only never face an election but as their title says they are there for life and will never have to face those of us who are recipients of their voting in the Lords for approval,

Last June many voters would have been told that if they voted for "minor " parties it was a wasted vote.

But at least they could make a statement .

If we are to have a Progressive Alliance then the replacement of the Lords with an elected body should be at the top of the list.