Tuesday, 22 January 2019

Brexit is being dictated by DUP bigots. It must be stopped.

Just imagine what the English Media would make if the four Plaid Cymru MPs  or  Thirty Five SNP MPs had done a deal  with the Tories in the same way the DUP had and influenced the whole of the Brexit debate , to the extent that although the UK was to leave the European Union, but would stay in the Customs Union and single Market.

Well of course we have.

Even the Guardian had a headline before the 2015 General Election

"General election attack ad campaign suggesting Labour leader is controlled by SNP firebrand shows that gloves have come off in run up to general election""

Ed Miliband is depicted as being in Alex Salmond's pocket.

Now consider the power the DUP have at a time of the biggest political crisis that face the Westminster Parliament in which a far right  sectarian part has more power simply by backing Mrs May government not in a coalition but largely as long as May makes sure Northern Ireland , leaves the European Union on the same terms as the restof the UK, even if this means a Hard Brexirt or No Deal  and and a customs boarder with the Irish Republic.

The DUP indeed have a unique position because the Northern Ireland Assembly does not currently meat and to some extent Sinn Féin not sending their elected MPs to Westminster, Arlene Fosters band of bigots are virtually the only voice we hear from the six counties despite opinion polls that suggest if they have thier way then support for an United Ireland will soar
DatePolling organisation/clientYesNoUndecided/No intention to voteLead
December 2018LucidTalk48%48%4%0%
September 2018OFOC52%39%9%13%
June 2018Lord Ashcroft44%49%7%5%
June 2018NILT22%55%22%[59]33%
June 2018YouGov42%45%13%3%
May 2018ICM21%50%29%[60]29%
December 2017Lucid Talk48%45%7%3%
October 2017Lucid Talk34%55%10%21%
July 2017ESRC27%52%21%25%
September 2016LucidTalk28%61%11%33%
September 2016Ipsos Mori22%63%15%[61]41%
January 2013Ipsos Mori17%65%17%[62]48%

Mrs May claims she will speak to other parties , but it is clear that whilst she will meet with Plaid, SNP Greens and Liberal Democrats she will not actually listen. indeed Corbyn's refusal to meet her may well be the right approach.

Instead she turns back to a Part that is prepared tom see Northern Ireland  burn, to preserve a Unionist and sectarian hegemony in the six counties.

The only option if we are not to see such a disaster that a No Deal or a DUP led Brexit is to first extend Article 50 and seek a mandate from the electorate with a second referendum  on whether to accept any government deal and that includes  Corbyn becoming PM or the option of Remain.

Monday, 21 January 2019

Wales the "Land of Artist's Impressions".

BBC Wales reports that
"Business and political leaders will meet to discuss ways they can help workers affected by the suspension of work on a new nuclear power station.
Japanese firm Hitachi's decision to halt its Wylfa Newydd project on Anglesey was described as a "tremendous blow" to the north Wales economy.
About 9,000 workers had been expected to build the £13bn plant.
Economy secretary Ken Skates will be at an emergency meeting of the North Wales Economic Ambition Board later.
Mr Skates said he wanted to discuss what job opportunities there were for people in similar fields in and around Anglesey.
Energy is not currently devolved to the Welsh Government and Mr Skates said he was "deeply concerned" and wanted the UK government to "step up to the plate" to give assurances about the project and the wider implications for the regional economy".
The North Wales Economic Board?


 The North Wales Economic Ambition Board is made up of private and public organisations, colleges, universities and business leaders from across north Wales, working with the Welsh Government to encourage business investment.Its vice chairman, Gwynedd council leader Dyfrig Siencyn, said Wylfa was worth "billions" to the local economy.
"It's quite difficult to imagine the sums we're talking about, so the impacts are extremely severe," 

How this relates to both Labour and Tory support for a  "Northern Powerhouse Region" in which the economy of North Wales becomes subordinate to Liverpool and a  A "western powerhouse" between Cardiff, Newport and Bristol, I am not sure .

What is clear is that there has been a constant failure by the Welsh government to take control  of the economic future for Wales.

As Martin Shipton in excellent form reports  in the Wasting Mule points out.

2There's a discernible pattern that has emerged in recent years.
An announcement is made that a public or private sector organisation is planning a project that will create hundreds or thousands of jobs in Wales.
  • Everyone rejoices at the boost to the Welsh economy that the new project will bring.
  • Politicians from different parties and different levels of government claim a slice of the credit.
  • Then things go silent for a while before rumours start circulating that there are problems.
  • Eventually an announcement is made that the project can’t go ahead after all.

All manner of excuses are trotted out, and the politicians who originally claimed credit for their part in securing the scheme now assert that Wales has been betrayed yet again.
From the Swansea Bay tidal lagoon to the Circuit of Wales, and the M4 Relief Road to rail electrification, an argument can be made in isolation about the specific individual merits of each one.
But the repeated pulling of plugs from potentially transformative infrastructure projects planned for Wales is a pattern of events that's is increasingly difficult to believe are unconnected.
People in Wales can look at enormous outlays on initiatives like HS2 and Crossrail and wonder, legitimately, why it's acceptable to spend billions of pounds in bringing jobs and prosperity to parts of England, but not to us in Wales2.
 It was common in the  early days of Package Holidays that people would book a Holiday in Spain based on an artist's impression of an hotel to find it only half-built on arrival, but it at least it would be eventually completed.

Someone has recently pointed out that Wales is a land of Artist Impressions

An artist's impression of the planned new Wylfa Newydd nuclear power station

An artist's impression of an aerial shot of the Circuit of Wales next to Rassau Industrial Estate at the Heads of the Valleys
An artist's impression of an aerial shot of the Circuit of Wales next to Rassau Industrial Estate at the Heads of the Valleys
Artist's Impression Swansea Tidal Lagoon

 What Wales needs is not only a Welsh Government  with ambition capable of carrying it out.

That means we need both the powers but a First Minister and government capable  of both.

At the moment  we have neither and unless there's a sudden change in how people vote it will continue.

Sunday, 20 January 2019

Nigel Cobner resigns from Plaid Cymru.

The news that Nigel Copner has resigned from Plaid Cymru  is both regrettable and interesting .

At the last general Election Mr Copner produced the biggest swing in any seat and came close to producing one of the biggest shocks in Welsh politics ever.

Elections in the 2010s

Welsh Assembly Election 2016: Blaenau Gwent[1]
LabourAlun Davies8,44239.7−24.3
Plaid CymruNigel Copner7,79236.6+31.2
UKIPKevin Boucher3,42316.1+16.1
ConservativeTracey West1,3346.3+1
Liberal DemocratsBrendan D'Cruz3001.4−0.4
Labour holdSwing−28.0ulling off the bigest shock in the histiry of Welsh O

Last July he resigned as  treasurer for Plaid Cymru hciting threats made before his local constituency party declared support for one of Leanne Wood's leadership rivals.

But now  he has resigned from the Party  fully making this statement
As you are aware a small team within Blaenau Gwent put their heart and soul into the local election for Plaid. We achieved the biggest shift in Plaid history for the assembly elections and increased westminster vote by a factor of 3.Plaid appeared to be team that would put the interests of the welsh people first and ensure democracy and honesty persists.I was wrong. The key points of reservation that I have include:

1. Independence- Welsh independence is not currently economically viable and pushing for this at this time loses the party credibility. I am in favour of fighting for Wales but this full independence position is highly foolish at this time. Transform the economy, transform peoples prospects then maybe but the people must decide.
 It does seem peculiar to see a Plaid Candidate not fighting for independence though I can accept the "not now" argument and indeed I have long looked  at r devolution using the Traws Cuambria bus journey as an analogy.  A journey in which some may wish to leve the bus before reaching the final destination , but I wonder if Nigel wants to begin the journey at all.

2. The position of the party has been fully against brexit and against the wishes of the voters. Of course brexit is concerning but the starting point should have been to support all attempts to make brexit work. If it brexit looks damaging, as it does now, then it is reasonable to go back to the people. I now believe a peoples vote is probably the best course of action but thats now!
All parties are split over Brexit  and Plaid are probably no different , From my reading of Plaid it does seem that they have always been prepared to accept the referendum result but the Hard Brexit  of Prime Minister May and indeed Jeremy Corbyn has led them tom the same conclusion as Nigel earlier.

3. Many of the decisions within plaid lack any due diligence and are democratically deficient!!!! I could list these off. However, the net result so far is that the party is NOT determined to win despite how much they say they are. However difficult, one needs to make those decisions that really do create the focus and drive to break through. There is a serious disconnect between what is said and the decisions.
There are other issues which I could list ie discipline and victimisation issues etc. Currently as many of you are aware I am extremely busy and to spend time and even more time with a party that does not really want to win is clearly foolish.
This I can't comment on I am not a Plaid member  and internal battles are up to Party Members.
Therefore it is with a very heavy heart that I have resigned from the party.
Despite the critical issues with the party it has been a pleasure to talk with many of you and to have received your support in such numbers. It remains my firm position to support our community in the best possible way through the University, circuit of wales etc and to deal with individual cases as best I can. Maybe Plaid will finally listen and change- one hopes.
Blaenau Gwent deserves far more!
Thank you for your support.
Yours most sincerely

Prof Nigel J Copner

Some may ask why Prof Coper has chosen this moment to resign? 

It comes days after Delyth  Jewell was chosen tom replace the late Steffan Lewis as the list member for South  Wales East.

She was second on the Party list  where Prof Cobner was third and although understand, not unconstitutional to chose another candidate it is the convention.

The choice of Ms Jewell  was met with scorn by the likes of Jac O' the North and his supporters

Including this comment on his Blog who seems to be complaining about criticism of the blessed Jac in the same way a wasp cries after being stung by a bee.

Anon.Seems Ms Jewel was second on the list and Mr Copner third on the list to replace the sadly lost Wales south east Plaid cymru A M. Ms Jewel was second on the list at the insistence of the central party not any local democratic selection process. Mr Copner, who ran a brilliant campaign in Blaenau Gwent and almost won the seat might have made a better AM than Ms Jewel. He certainly has a lot of support and potential votes in the south east. The rules say the next in line gets to replace a vacancy, but, they could have been put aside in the interest of the nation and party. Ms Jewel was publicised as the replacement in an insensitive manner before the funeral of the late A M. Mr Copner has left Plaid Cymru in disgust at his treatment by Plaid Cymru.
Prehaps Anon  may reconsider their point when they see one of the reasons Prof. Cobner  ids that does not support Independence now, something Jac and Ein Gwlad claim Plaid are not fighting for enough.

Saturday, 19 January 2019

Should you be driving at 97.

I suppose I should start with an apology.
I have been under the impression that  due to his non attendance  at "Royal" occasions the English Queens  husband has been suffering from some form of dementia, or was physically incapable
So the news that hen is apparently capable of driving a Land Rover comes as bit of a shock.
Prince Philip, 97, was not injured in the accident, which happened as he drove a Land Rover out of a driveway onto the A149 shortly before 15:00 GMT.
The other car involved was a Kia. Two women in it needed hospital treatment - they have since been discharged.
Eyewitnesses said the duke's Land Rover overturned during the collision.
They said they helped the duke out of the vehicle. He was conscious but very, very shocked and shaken, they added.
Norfolk police said it was force policy to breath test drivers involved in collisions and both had provided negative readings.
The duke is back at Sandringham and has seen a doctor as a precaution.
A woman who drove past the crash scene - near Babingley, a small village north of King's Lynn in Norfolk - at around 15:40 said she saw an ambulance and "a heavy police presence".
"I was just going down the A149 … and saw a lot of blue flashing lights ahead," she said. "I saw a black, 4x4 type car on its side and me and my son were like 'oh my word, that doesn't look good'.
"Luckily it was just sort of on the side of the road, the road wasn't closed in any way.
"Obviously it looked quite smashed in. I'm quite amazed he [the duke] is okay actually."
orfolk police confirmed officers were called to the scene shortly before 3pm after a Land Rover and a Kia were involved in a collision.
It had previously been reported the duke had been driving a Range Rover.
The driver of the Kia suffered cuts, while the passenger sustained an arm injury, police said. Both were treated at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in King's Lynn.

It is commonly thought that you need to retake your driving test at the age of 70. But in actual fact you only need to renew your license at the age of 70 and never need to retake your test.

The DVLA advice is

There’s no legal age at which you must stop driving. You can decide when to stop as long as you don’t have any medical conditions that affect your driving. Find out how changes to your health can affect your driving and how to give up your licence, if needed.

What you need to consider as an older driver

Unless your health or eyesight suddenly get worse, it can be difficult to know when you should stop driving.

Your safety and the safety of other road users are the most important things to consider. If you’re concerned that your driving is not as good as it was and you may be putting yourself or other road users at risk - stop before you have an accident.

It may be time to give up driving if:

  • your reactions are noticeably slower than they used to be
  • you find traffic conditions increasingly stressful
  • your eyesight is getting worse
  • you have a medical condition that may affect your ability to drive safely – ask your GP for advice.
I can only assume that Prince Phillip has met all the criteria and is fit to drive.

It would not be a chore for him to give up driving as he already had a bodyguard with him. Indeed you would be forgiven for assuming al the senior members of the "Royal" family would be driven by a trained bodyguard capable of taking evasive action.

Since I don't my self drive I have no idea what it actually entails or whether age can make you a bad driver.

Certainly many would wonder why someone at 97 and in ill health  has a driving licence , but others may take the view as long as they meet the criteria they should not be discriminated because of their age.

It will be interesting if we get an impartial  police report on the accident including any prosecution, but i doubt it.

Friday, 18 January 2019

Tory AM to stand for local council. WHY?

As someone who supports an increase in the number of Welsh Assembly Members, my case is not helped by a number of AM's remaining as local councillors after the election.
Now we have the news that te Conservatives' former leader in the Welsh Assembly is standing for his local Tory-run council to fight the closure of a village school.
According to the BBC
Vale of Glamorgan Council has plans to merge Llancarfan Primary School with another school and move pupils to a new £4m site in Rhoose.
Andrew RT Davies said he was "bitterly opposed" to the plan.
Labour said he "cannot be an honest broker" because his party is in charge of the local authority.
A by-election has been caused by the resignation in December of Matthew Lloyd as a Conservative councillor for Rhoose in protest against the council's plans to move Llancarfan pupils to the new site.

Mr Davies said he would support the Conservative administration on all other issues apart from the future of the school.
"I have been fighting the proposal from day one, whether it was the [previous] Labour council or Conservative council," he said.
"I believe that rural schools are the very fabric of rural life,
"I genuinely believe there's a fight to be had here around Llancarfan school and the wider ability of Rhoose to benefit from further investment."

Mr Davies, who led the Tory assembly group for seven years, said he would not quit his seat as an AM for South Wales Central if he won the council by-election on 14 February.
Council leader John Thomas told the Local Democracy Reporting Service Mr Davies was a "strong candidate" who would be an asset to the Conservative group.
But he insisted that the decision on the school was in "the best interests of the children we're educating in Llancarfan and the Vale in general".

So it seems that Mr Davies is standing in order to defeat his own party on one  (though admittedly an important issue)

The Tories have are one seat short of overall control on the council 
Vale of Glamorgan Council Seats Chart

Rhoose is a  seemingly safe seat ,but it could be lost to  an Independent , especially one standing on the School Closure.
So could part of Mr Davies's reason for standing be to keep the seat for the Tories? Especially as he would support the Conservative administration on all other issues apart from the future of the school?

Will he resign if he fails to change the councils mind?

Also could his influence in keeping  Llancarfan Primary open mean another School could face closure 

Rural schools are always a problem for cash starved councils and we are used to hypocrisy among all the political parties who oppose such a policy when in opposition in  Council A, whilst closing schools i as the ruling party in Council B. throughout Wales

I do not doubt Andrew R T Davies sincerity in standing but can't help thinking that he could serve the people  of Rhoose and Llancarfan by making the case for proper funding for our councils , from our Assembly, but also from the  paymasters in Westminster. 

Thursday, 17 January 2019

a Jewell takes the place of our lost Diamond.

Delyth Jewell has been confirmed as the Plaid Cymru assembly member for South Wales East after the death of Steffan Lewis.
Ms Jewell was the second on the Plaid Cymru party list for the region in the 2016 election. The assembly said she will take her oath in due course.
Mr Lewis died last week after suffering with terminal bowel cancer. He was 34.
The politician is survived by his wife, Shona, and their three-year-old son Celyn.
Ms Jewell has worked as a campaigner on women's rights and international development at the charity Action Aid.
A Plaid spokesman said: 
"No-one would wish to come to the assembly as a new member in such sad circumstances.
"We will give Delyth all the support we can as she arrives at this difficult time
Ms Jewell appointment has predictably  upset the likes of Jac O ' the North 

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.

The  reply to Jac from Leanne Wood may well sum up much of the feeling of many in Plaid and beyond

Do you have to be an arsehole all the time? Have a day off.

Maybe this the time we started fighting back against the dinosaurs  like Jac O' the North  and Ein Gwlad. 

Plaid have appointed someone to replace Steffan Lewis  and Delyth has very big shoes to fill, but it may well be that a Jewell may take the place of our lost Diamond.

Wednesday, 16 January 2019

Government using Brexit vote to bury pension credit cut

I'm not going to comment on the current Brexit vote as many others will cover it and the implications are still not clear.

Instead I will be commenting  on the fact that Ministers have used the looming Brexit vote to bury bad news about changes to a state pension top-up that could leave some older couples more than £7,000 worse off.

The Daily Mail reports that 

The Department for Work and Pensions yesterday announced that planned cuts to pension credit – a top-up available to the poorest pensioners – will be enforced from May this year.
Currently, so called ‘mixed age’ couples, where only one partner has reached the pension age of 65 while the other is not, can claim pension credit if they wish because one of them is over state pension age.
But from May 15 this year, such couples will no longer be eligible for pension credit. They will, instead, be entitled to apply for Universal Credit, which merges six benefits into one.
In a statement released late on Monday , pensions minister Guy Opperman said: 
‘Pension Credit is designed to provide long-term support for pensioner households who are no longer economically active. It is not designed to support working age claimants.
‘This change will ensure that the same work incentives apply to the younger partner as apply to other people of the same age, and taxpayer support is directed where it is needed most.’
But Steve Webb, director of policy at Royal London, said this change could see some couples lose more than £7,000 a year, because working age benefits are usually less generous than pension credit.
Webb said the rate of pension credit for a couple is currently £255.25 per week, or £13,273 per year, while the rate of universal credit for a couple is £498.89 per calendar month or £5,986.68 per year.
That’s a difference of £7,286 per year, Webb said. He added that the changes to eligibility will put pressure on the younger person in the couple who has not yet reached pension age to seek work.
‘Under the proposed rules, couples where one partner is over pension age and is not expected to seek work will get the same rate as a couple where both partners are under pension age and both are expected to seek work,’ he said.
Webb said the change means that some couples could lose thousands of pounds depending on whether their claim falls a day before or a day after the May deadline. 
Reading this it seems that if I was to enter into a relationship with a woman who is not of pensionable age before May 15th, it could be that I could loose my pension (assuming that new relationships are taking into account).
Certainly the idea that people in a relationship where one person is not of pensionable age seek to live off one pension if we take the governments view that  the" same work incentives apply to the younger partner as apply to other people " indicates they believe people are choosing to live off one partners credit .
The New Statesman gives this example back in October

Jen and her husband got married in 2011, and have been together 16 years. They live in Lincoln.
Jen, who volunteers, is unable to work as she cares full-time for her husband, who has lung conditions that can make him unconscious, and relies on a mobility car to get around after suffering a stroke a few years ago.
They therefore have a low income, and rely on pension benefits to afford their living and medical costs.Jen – who prefers not to give her full name – is 47, and her husband is of pension age at 66. They receive Pension Credit to top up her husband’s state pension and his small workplace pension, as well as receiving the help with rent and council tax available to pensioners. Jen receives Carer’s Allowance, and her husband also claims the disability benefit Personal Independence Payments.But with the new welfare system Universal Credit on its way, Jen calculates that they will end up £190 worse off a week, leaving them to live on about £100 a week.
Small wonder the government have chosen to bury bad news in a week that will be dominated by the Brexit vote.