Friday, 20 July 2018

We really need to change MP's voting in commons.

This  week Theresa May, survived a number  of very close  votes on Brexit legislation after whipping her MPs to support hard-right Brextremist amendments to the customs bill that have clearly been designed to make her Brexit White Paper unworkable.

Although  the vast majority of Tories and their DUP  compatriots actually voted in favour of the Brextremist led by Jacob Rees Mogg amendments which ,ore or less scuppered the previous .agreement that had made in Chequers that has led to the resignation of Boris Johnson and David Davies.

Although Jeremy Corbyn and the Labour Party voted against Theresa May and the Brextremists, the Tories were saved by the usual crowd of   Hard Brexit  supporters
Kelvin Hopkins, Graham Stringer, Frank Field, Kate Hoey and that great Anti-Tory Dennis  Skinner

But that's not all

It was revealed that the current Lib-Dem leader Vince Cable, and the former Lib-Dem leader Tim Farron didn't even bother to turn up to vote in the debate

 A Lib Dem source said: 

“Vince had an important meeting off the parliamentary estate that had been approved by the whips and nobody thought these amendments would ever be so close
Apparently the excuse was that they were under the impression that Corbyn would instruct Labour to abstain as they have done in the past

Whatever the excuse both parties lost an opportunity  to defeat the Tories.

But that's not all  

"The Conservatives have been forced to admit that their chief whip asked MPs to breach Commons voting conventions in knife-edge Brexit votes on Tuesday, as opposition parties demanded he quit and queried the accuracy of the prime minister’s account of events.
Party sources conceded on Thursday night that Julian Smith had asked several of his own party’s MPs to break pairing arrangements but some had refused to do so, and the only one who did obey the instruction was paired to a Liberal Democrat MP who was on maternity leave.
They admitted that Smith had wanted some MPs to break “short term” pairing arrangements, where a Tory is asked to skip a vote because an opposition member is unable to attend for good reason, but had made an error in asking party chairman Brandon Lewis to vote because he was paired with Jo Swinson – who only recently gave birth"
It has led to the call for the whole pairing  situation to be replaced by proxy voting  a form of voting whereby a member of a decision-making body may delegate his or her voting power to a representative, to enable a vote in absence,

Clearly we need a system where parties could apply to the speakers office where MPs like  Jo Swinson could nominate a fellow MP to vote on her behalf.

It could also end  the disgusting issue similar to when a Labour MP  discharged herself from hospital and attended parliament in her pyjamas in order to take part in a Brexit vote

Naz Shah, the MP for Bradford West, said parliamentary voting procedures were archaic and undignified after the whips refused her request to be paired with a Tory MP to cancel out each other’s vote – a practice that allows MPs to be absent from parliament with good reason.
She has been in hospital since last Friday with severe nerve pain, an ongoing complication from a hit-and-run collision several years ago.

When it became clear the vote on an amendment to the Brexit bill was going to be close, Labour whips asked her to leave hospital and make a four-hour journey to London to take part.
They told her she would be allowed to stay in the car rather than haul herself into the chamber, and whips would come to the car park to count her vote. But the Tories insisted she attend not just the vote but the three-hour debate preceeding it.
Shah was brought into the House of Commons in a wheelchair, carrying a sick bucket and dosed up on morphine. She said it was a humiliating experience.

“I was in my pyjamas. It felt personally very undignified and very invasive. It was embarrassing. I thought I’d just be able to stay in the back of the car, where I’d made a bed for myself, and be counted there, but the Tories wouldn’t have it. By making me go in to vote like that, they stripped me of my dignity.

When Tories can stay in the bar watching  the  England game only to leave to vote down a series of SNP amendments there is clearly something wrong.

but i doubt things will change such procedures  are there to bring new MPs into the whole ethos of parliament, where  many a previous rebel ends up embracing the whole archaic system   in preparation for them donning ermine and moving to the Lords next door.

Thursday, 19 July 2018

Where's the Independence vision in Plaid Leadership contest?

The BBC website has a somewhat misleading headline in

Plaid Cymru: Wood cannot be next first minister says rival Price.

The only  thing is this not what he appears to have said

They say,

In his first interview since announcing his bid, Mr Price said Plaid will lose the next Senedd election if it carries on the current track.

He said he can "create the momentum" the party needs.

Mr Price, AM for Carmarthen East and Dinefwr, is competing against Ynys Mon AM Rhun ap Iorwerth and Rhondda's Ms Wood for the post.

Asked if he did not believe Leanne Wood could become first minister, he told BBC Wales:
"We are at a cross roads as a party.
"If we continue on the current track then we will lose the next election, and that will be a tragedy.
"There's a brief window of opportunity for us. The Labour party that has been a massive dominate force in Welsh politics is going to be vulnerable at the next election.
"In Mark Drakeford, a nice and very able man, he an hardly represent himself as a force for change in the country that is crying out for it".
Mr Price said he can "create the momentum that we need to get people believing again that this country can be different".

Prior to the announcement of his bid, Mr Price criticised what he described as Plaid's "plodding politics of the parsimonious press release, the tired tweet and the formulaic Facebook status".

He told BBC Wales: 

"There is an appetite out there for the kind of dynamic, great transformation that I want to see.
"Unfortunately we've not been able to tap into that.
"If we just continue the one more heave school of politics, just continue on the same track, woe betide us if we then find we get the same result in 2021.
"If we want to be the change in Wales we first have to show we can change ourselves.
"We have to convince people that we have the appetite, the hunger, the ambition to be the next government in Wales.
"I have that ambition. It was a difficult decision for me to make but now I'm determined to do it.
"We can win and we can restore the faith in the democracy of this country."
For some reason the BBC referred to Plaid as a pro-devolution party with Mr Price saying it has "adapted least to the pro-devolution environment".

"We've been historically a party of protest, which is essentially pointing out the horrible things done to Wales by London governments.
"But you know what, the conversation we need to be having is about our own government - and we haven't made that mental shift."

He is of course right here  but where is the I word, with Brexit looming and the very real possibility of Scottish succession , then the reality is that under both Tory and Westminster governments , then the Assembly will resemble nothing more than a glorified English County Council.

The Beeb tells us, 

Adam Price has been a member of Plaid Cymru since he was 13.
Days before the result is announced he'll reach the significant milestone of 50.
That's nearly 40 years to live and breath everything the party has done and crucially hasn't achieved.
Publicly he's the effervescent face of Plaid, always talking up electoral fortunes and sending the troops home happy at the end of conferences.
Privately Adam Price has aired concerns about the party's fortunes.
A failure to articulate what a change of government would mean is his primary criticism. Most damning of all is his view that for 20 years Plaid hasn't understood the requirements of devolution.
In the next two months a man who's never shy of an idea will be in overdrive.
Central to his campaign will be the word "change" - saying it loudly and often in a leadership battle could be enough to secure victory.
Changing the colour of government is another matter.
The son of a miner who went to Harvard has already proved an ability to change the natural course set out for many of his peers. Here comes the latest test

But the reality is that who ever leads Plaid even if he or she becomes the next First Minister then simply having ideas will not be enough if they can't gain the powers to implement them

The real challenge is not to lead Plaid in the Assembly or to lead the Assembly even if it was to change its to Welsh Parliament/Senedd Cymru  will  not be enough.

The SNP with its advanced powers have made a difference in Scotland but you can bet that after Brexit Unionists will seek to ensure that this will never happen here. 

Plaid needs to become and be seen as not a "a pro-devolution party" but a Independence Party, who put forward a clear case for leaving the Union .

If not the reverse will happen and even under something named Welsh Parliament/Senedd Cymru, Westminster will seek to make it irrelevant  prior to dissolve it.

Who among the Plaid leadership candidates is prepared to argue for Independence, rather than how as a Welsh Government we spend Westminster's pocket money?

Wednesday, 18 July 2018

Are "Welsh" Labour "unimaginative and tired" ?

Our Third Rate Minister has claimed that "Brexit must not be allowed to take up so much time that it stops Welsh ministers getting their plans through the assembly", 

Though considering none of the Bills appear to have any major structural changes to Wales , then I wonder how this would happen

The Conservatives rightly claimed that "Welsh" Labour was "unimaginative and tired" and was "tinkering at the edges".

 Interim Welsh Conservative leader Paul Davies said:

 "The headline bills to be announced today is typical Welsh Labour; tinker at the edges, but do nothing to resolve the fundamental challenges to Welsh society and its economy."

The annual statement in the Senedd on Tuesday is the nearest thing the assembly has to a Queen's Speech.

Mr Jones said Cardiff Bay faced a

 "substantial programme" of amending EU regulations, but added: "As far as possible, we must not allow this Brexit workload to limit our legislative ambitions.
"But we must be flexible and be ready to adapt our legislative programme, should the need arise."
I thought that he had handed most of these responsibility back to Westminster when he capitulated over the power grab.#

So what can we expect.

  • The local government bill will also lower the voting age in council elections to 16
  • Another bill will remove the defence of reasonable chastisement for people accused of hitting children - in effect, a ban on smacking.
  • Wild animals will be banned from performing in travelling circuses.
  •  Other new bills to be presented over the coming year will aim to make the Welsh NHS more transparent and prepare Wales for the impact of Brexit.
None of these  seem to be bills which  will face opposition appear to lead to the Assembly being entirely split over Party Lines,

There is nothing in this program however  which will attempt to alleviate the ongoing  Austerity Agenda or seek to improve the economy.

Of course the Welsh Assembly is limited in its powers, but with a  long leadership contest in Plaid, Labour, and the Tories not forgetting Ukip (no matter how we want to) then it will be interesting to see if any of the leadership candidates in any party, can come up with something a little more imaginative than the above.

Tuesday, 17 July 2018

Does anyone know what "Brexit means Brexit" means anymore?

Much as I sympathise  with the Idea of a People Vote  over Brexit  and I do lean towards one , it is becoming increasingly difficult  to work out just what final deal we are voting for.

Last night aelsh Conservative MP has quit as a minister so he could vote against the government on its Brexit Customs Bill.

But not because  he supports  the line of David Davis and Boris Johnson. Indeed the opposite. 

Guto Bebb resigned as minister for defence procurement ahead of Monday night's vote.

MPs voted by 305 to 302 to support an amendment that critics said would undermine Theresa May's recently-announced negotiating position.

Mr Bebb, MP for Aberconwy, has been highly critical of Brexit-supporting Conservatives recently.

He branded Boris Johnson's resignation as foreign secretary "a selfish act" and attacked former Brexit Minister David Davis for criticising the prime minister's plan for future trade with the EU.

Glyn Davies, Conservative MP for Montgomeryshire, said:

 "I am very upset that Guto has felt the need to resign from the government. He is a good friend and was an outstanding minister.
"Guto is a man of deep principle. He is such a talented politician that I cannot believe he will not find another important role in the future."

The Customs Bill amendment was tabled by Brexiteer Tories and the government's backing of it sparked a backlash from pro-EU Tory MPs, who said the PM had "capitulated".
But Downing Street, which agreed to accept the four amendments, said they were "consistent" with the White Paper where it sets out how it wants to trade with the EU in years to come.
MPs backed the amendment that prevents the UK from collecting taxes on behalf of the EU unless the rest of the EU does the same for the UK.
Applying EU tariffs to products destined for the EU is part of Mrs May's plan to avoid friction at UK borders after Brexit.
Another amendment, to ensure the UK is out of the EU's VAT regime, was backed by 303 to 300.

The BBC's Elliw Gwawr, BBC Wales parliamentary correspondent

Guto Bebb voted remain in the Brexit referendum and it was no secret he had become increasingly frustrated by the actions of some of the Brexiteers in his party.
He accused former Brexit Minister David Jones of sour grapes after he criticised the prime minister's plan for future trade with the EU.
He also attacked senior cabinet ministers for "inflammatory" and "unworthy" comments after then-Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt said threats from business over Brexit were "inappropriate".
But after a string of resignations by Brexiteers, Guto Bebb's decision to leave a job he obviously enjoyed has surprised many.
What may seem strange is that he resigned so he could vote for what was the prime minister's own position a few hours earlier.

 So we now have,

Hard Line Brexit ministers,  resigning because they believe that the Prime Minister has softened her approach to a hard Brexit,
Another minister, resigning because the Prime Minister appears to have  given into them,
A Labour opposition which us equally split with its Leader seeming to be for the sort of Brexit thet Davis, Johnson and Ress Moog but for different reasons!
The majority of MP's   probably as confused as the rest of us and relying on the Whips Office to tell them what to vote for or against.

For the rest of us outside the Westminster Bubble, whether we supported Brexit or not we can only sit back and  watch our  masters make a compleat dog Brexit of it.b2

If we are to have "A people vote " maybe we should have some idea what the ballot paper would looK like.

Monday, 16 July 2018

Green(s) Bottle it.

Some people have been quick to react to the news that Green Party members in Wales have voted overwhelmingly against a split with the English Green Party with criticism.

But before we single them out , we must remember there is.....

No "Welsh" Labour.
No "Welsh" Conservatives.
No "Welsh " Ukip.

And although The Welsh Liberal Democrats ( is a political party in Wales and a member of the federal Liberal Democrats, along with the Scottish Liberal Democrats and the English Liberal Democrats.can we really say they are an independent party,taking a different path at times from their English colleagues?

As for the English and Welsh Greens the vote  largely reflects how small they are here.

As the BBC reports...
The party leader in Wales, Grenville Ham, had campaigned for plans to set up an independent party similar to the Scottish Greens.
But in a referendum nearly 65% of members rejected the proposal.

Amelia Womack, the deputy leader of the Green Party of England and Wales, said she was proud the party gave its members a say on the issue.
About 20% of the 1,500 members of the Green Party in Wales voted in the poll.
So that about  300 voting and a even more minuscule number voting yes.

Mr Ham said the vote highlighted how the party is
"truly run through grassroots".
"After much good-natured and informed debate within this internal election the membership has decided that staying as part of a larger Green Party is the best way to continue our work as an insurgent force for good,"

Ms Womack said the issue was put to the vote because it was a question that had been raised a number of times.

"I'm sure it's a question we'll bring back to our members in future," she addedUnfortunate for Mr Ham  his grassroots  are a very small patch indeed.

So maybe rather than reflect that 

Mabon ap Gwynfor and 18 others follow
UndebPlaidCymru Retweeted BBC Wales Politics
The Green Party decides that Wales is a region & not a nation.
UndebPlaidCymru added,

Sunday, 15 July 2018

Nicola Sturgeon shows how to lead a nation.

In a week were we saw the worst of UK and US leaders leading many of us to see a vert dark future , our friends in Scotland must be lifted to see their First Minister not kowtowing to  the US President.

As Trump was golfing the SNP leader became the first serving primeNicola Sturgeon became the first minister  in the UK to lead a Pride event when she opened proceedings at Pride Glasgow.
About 8,000 people were expected at the march from Clyde Place to Kelvingrove Park through the city centre in support of LGBT equality.
The First Minister is not involved in this weekend's visit to Scotland by US President Donald Trump.

 Pride Glasgow
They were joined by a number of MSPs, including Patrick Harvie of the Green party, Alex Cole-Hamilton of the Liberal Democrats and Conservative Jamie Greene., who has been a vocal critic of Mr Trump, was named honorary grand marshal for the event in recognition of her long-standing support for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBT) issues.
Wearing a t-shirt with a rainbow-coloured "choose love" logo, she headed up the Glasgow Pride march as it left the city's Clyde Place, alongside Suki Wan, chair of the Scottish Youth Parliament.

Speaking at the march, Ms Sturgeon said she had been a “wee bit tickled” by reports that Trump hates her and has been “bitching” about her to Theresa May.

“I find it hard to believe that the president of the United States, with all the big, important issues that he has to deal with on a daily basis, finds the time to rant about me on the telephone to Theresa May,” she said. “If it is true, I suppose I should take it as a compliment. I certainly don’t spend that much time talking about him.”
Ms  Sturgeon praises Blair Wilson at Pride Glasgow for his defiant selfie response to a homophobic attack. 

 They were joined by a number of MSPs, including Patrick Harvie of the Green party, Alex Cole-Hamilton of the Liberal Democrats and Conservative Jamie Greene.

As Plaid's Leanne Wood faces a leadership challenge and the party faces a uphill struggle, to match the SNP in gaining power. We in Wales wil do well to reflect om Ms Sturgeon leadership yesterday and only hope we will one day see a First Minister (Hopefully Leanne), who in these dark days can offer not only leadership but pride and hope.

Saturday, 14 July 2018

Cost of secret ceremony queried.

Given that the  ceremony that was staged a fortnight ago to mark the renaming of the Second Severn Crossing after the Prince of Wales. cost nearly £4000 we may be actually grateful it was carried out almost in private.

Prince Charles attended at the start of his annual week-long visit to Wales and Welsh Secretary Alun Cairns and First Minister Carwyn Jones both said a few words.

Which led to an extraordinary claim from  maverick AM Neil  McEvoy

Neil McEvoy AM Retweeted UK Government Wales
Carwyn Jones, the Labour First Minister, claimed to me in the Chamber that he did not attend the ceremony renaming the Second Severn Crossing to the Prince of Wales Bridge. The Wales Office claims otherwise. Has he just misled the chamber again? Can't help himself.
But there were very few media representatives in attendance to cover the unveiling to confirm whether Carwyn was there or not

Spoiler Alert he was.
Add caption

 WalesOnline say thet were given an embargoed royal itinerary for Prince Charles' week in Wales and invited to bid for a small number of reporting slots to cover the events over the week.

They say,

The itinerary had no mention of a ceremony. It only described "a visit to the toll plaza office at the Second Severn Crossing, which is being renamed The Prince of Wales Bridge to mark His Royal Highness's 70th birthday".
There was no mention of a public ceremony only a visit to an office that is all but inaccessible without permission.
Despite requesting a place on the rota, we were told there was no space.
We even contacted the Wales Office last week and asked for full details of the arrangements, stressing our wish to cover the renaming.
Yet in contrast to how keen the Wales Office usually is to promote events it is holding in Wales, there was no press release or other official communication from the Government about the renaming ceremony until after it had finished.

Instead it was left to the Wales Office and the small number of reporters and a wire photographer allocated rota passes to the "toll plaza office visit" to cover the historic moment.

Welsh Secretary Alun Cairns revealed the costs in a parliamentary answer to Carmarthen East and Dinefwr MP Jonathan Edwards.

The Pretender and Secretary of State for Wales Alun Cairns, during his visit to the crossing's toll plaza
Plaid Cymru MP Mr Edwards said:

 “Having caused untold misery with eight years of cuts to public spending, the news that the Westminster Government found tens of thousands of pounds to rename a bridge will rightly cause disgust all over Wales...
“To spend almost £40,000 on the renaming, against the will of the people he supposedly represents, only goes to further expose his complete and utter pointlessness. The Severn Bridges serve as a gateway to our country.
“It’s time to transfer ownership over the bridges to our own national government, and out of the hands of Alun Cairns and his Westminster puppet masters.”

Welsh Secretary Alun Cairns revealed the costs in a parliamentary answer to Carmarthen East Plaid Cymru MP Mr Edwards who  said:

 “Having caused untold misery with eight years of cuts to public spending, the news that the Westminster Government found tens of thousands of pounds to rename a bridge will rightly cause disgust all over Wales...
“To spend almost £40,000 on the renaming, against the will of the people he supposedly represents, only goes to further expose his complete and utter pointlessness. The Severn Bridges serve as a gateway to our country.
“It’s time to transfer ownership over the bridges to our own national government, and out of the hands of Alun Cairns and his Westminster puppet masters.”
The dragon on the sign for the Prince of Wales Bridge . The blue tongue
and what looks like a  collar has provoked controversy
Commenting on the works costs, Mr Cairns said:

"These costs reflect standard street furniture costs. All costs will be met by Highways England. "These are one-off costs and no significant ongoing maintenance costs are anticipated." The cost of the £6,767 ceremony was met by the Wales Office (i.e. you and me).

In his speech at a reception this month to mark the renaming of the Bridge, the English claimant to the title Prince of Wales said: 

“It is, therefore, my particular hope that the Crossing’s new name will bring to mind all those who, over these long centuries, have borne that ancient title ‘Tywysogion Cymru’ and the different traditions and heritages that they represent. Like the tributaries of the Severn, our different pasts meet in a shared present.
“In such a coming together, while never forgetting where we have come from, we can, I hope, each in our own way, contribute to a better future for all.”
In what way remaining a bridge  contribute to a better future for all.”

Maybe  the "was he there or not"  First Minister can elaborate in the siambr one day?