Friday, 27 November 2015

Pwllheli South byelection Non Party Independent gain from Llais Gwynedd

Pwllheli South (Llais Gwynedd defence) on Gwynedd
Result of ward at last election (2012): Llais Gwynedd 374 (60%), Plaid Cymru 252 (40%)
Candidates duly nominated: Michael Parry (Ind), Peta Pollitt (Llais Gwynedd), Hefin Underwood (Non Party Independent), Alan Williams (Plaid Cymru)

Michael Parry (Ind),                                         106  17.91%
Peta Pollitt (Llais Gwynedd)                              49     8.28%
Hefin Underwood (Non Party Independent)          269 45.44%
Alan Williams (Plaid Cymru)                              168 28.38%

Non Party Independent gain from Llais Gwynedd    

So an interesting result that  in that Llais Gwynedd  came last in a seat they previously  though Plaid will be disapointed it was not them that took the seat.

The winning cadisate Hefin Underwood is down as a Non Party Independent so might not join the Independent group and we can wonder if he has any political alliance?

His election has not changed the Dynamics of Gwynedd Council with Plaid short of a majority by One.

Thanks again to Harrt Hatfield over at politicalbetting  and Cai Larsen of Blogmenai fame for providing the information and credit to both of them.

Thursday, 26 November 2015

Income-tax powers may be Trojan Horse

 but we know it is and can deal with it.

I am not sure how delighted Plaid Cymru should be  about the  announcement in the Chancellor's Comprehensive Spending Review that Wales is to be granted income-tax powers without a referendum, hailing a victory for his party which was the first to propose such a move.

Responding to the news, Jonathan Edwards MP said:

"This is welcome news and a significant victory for Plaid Cymru.
"For several years, we have argued that the principle of fiscal autonomy has already been conceded by the devolution of minor taxes.
"This means that a referendum would have been a complete waste of time and resources, and we are pleased that the UK Government has finally seen sense on this matter.
"However, Plaid Cymru believes that income tax powers alone are not enough. We want to see Wales being offered the same financial and fiscal powers as the other nations of the UK.
"Scotland has been granted full income tax powers with no referendum while Northern Ireland is set to receive corporation tax powers. Wales is not a second class nation and there is no reason why Westminster shouldn't be offering us the same deal.
"Only then will the Welsh Government have the tools necessary to make decisions and changes that will work in the best interests of the Welsh economy, not the Treasury in Westminster

We must however  recognise the Tories have done this not to boost devolution or the Welsh economy.

Writing in the Wasting Mule 

George Osborne has just changed the dynamics of the looming Assembly election campaign.
His announcement that income tax powers will be devolved without a referendum puts parties under pressure to say what they will do with these new levers.
Until now, the question was whether a referendum would ever be held. Now the parties have the chance to present proposals for made-in-Wales tax policies.

Will the move create new political space for Welsh Conservatives? Suddenly, elections are not just about how you want public money spent, but how you want it raised.
The introduction of a floor to ensure a minimum level of funding for the Welsh Government has long been demanded, and the Conservatives can go into the election boasting that they have delivered this.
This will not quell demands for a new funding formula that reflects the high levels of need in Wales. Nevertheless, we can expect Welsh Tories will hold it up as a triumph, alongside the party’s role in the creation of S4C.
 The Tories will seek to use this move to claim that the other Party in the Assembly are  high spenders and high Taxers'

Welsh Conservative leader Andrew RT Davies has said he wants to use new income tax powers to take 5p off the higher tax rate in Wales.
He told BBC Wales cutting the rate from 40% to 35% would attract entrepreneurs to Wales and "create quality jobs".
Mr Davies estimated the reduction - using powers announced in Chancellor George Osborne's spending review - would cost up to £75m.
Mr Davies's tax plan would save those earning £50,000 about £400 per year.

So its not something that will necessarily  go down well the majority of the low paid Welsh electorate .

But the Tories strategy has always been to target those who can benefit from their polices  and the Low paid are not among them . After all his party won an overall Westminster majority with 36.9% on a 66.1% turnout

That is why they have put this through without a referendum which could very well be lost.

But that does not mean we should not welcome this Trojan Horse that it may be . If our Assembly or Parliament is going to be something that just redistributes the money it receives from Westminster  it must be able to have control over how it raises its revenue and yes take responsibility for it.
We should know whats inside and be prepared to use it for our advantage.

I mentioned that the Tories probably think of this measure as a Trojan Horse but along as we know that what it is.W may be able to use it for  our own advantage it will not be easy but we can use this opportunity to point that there is a alternative  to Westminster demolishing the Welfare state and government is not just about giving more money to the higher paid.

Wednesday, 25 November 2015

Why prosecute obscure people for hate crimes and not "media personalities"?

A shamed reality TV star has been spared jail after making a public apology for saying children with Down’s Syndrome should be killed at birth.
Ursula Presgrave – who appeared in the BBC show The Call Centre – admitted being “sickened and ashamed” at her own comments about disabled children.

Presgrave, 23, was brought before magistrates after writing on Facebook that children with Down’s should be killed instead of living the “pointless life of a vegetable”.
Her comments were considered a “hate crime” under the Malicious Communications Act – with a maximum sentence of six months in jail or a £5,000 fine.
Tattooed Presgrave went online to say: “Anyone born with down syndrome should be put down, it’s just cruel to let them lead a pointless life of a vegetable.”
The post attracted thousands of comments after being shared by other Facebook users and police received several complaints.

These were really vile comments and I am glad  that such action was taken against such  a person.

However I wonder why only individuals who usually turn out to be stupid and ignorant ordinary members of the public who are prosecuted for "Hate Crimes".

Recently the Daily Mail published a carton by Mac depicting refugees that has been compared to Nazi Propaganda.

  As many pointed out it bears comparison to one , published in a Viennese newspaper by the name of "Das Kleine Blatt" in 1939:


And its not only hate filed newspapers who seem to be immune from prosecution 

I don't think you can refer to  Ursula Presgrave as a reality "Star" but
Another former reality "Star" , Katie  Hopkins  is well known  and she made a series of tweets suggesting that people with dementia are "bed blockers" who take up scarce hospital beds. Her comments were condemned by leading UK Alzheimer's charities.[

On 17 April 2015, Hopkins wrote a column in The Sun comparing migrants to "cockroaches" and "feral humans" and said they were "spreading like the norovirus".
 and yet Hopkins seems unlike Ursula Presgrave to be protected .

Can you really see a difference  between the comments made by these two vile people. Or is it that the higher media profile you have the more Hate filled comments you are allowed to make?

Can it be that they like the Newspapers Katie Hopkins work for  they are protected by Lawyers who will make such a prosecution more expenses and less likely to get a result.

I'm all in favour of prosecuting such "Hate" crimes  but  if only obscure members of the public are to face the full weight of the law then it is not completely fair and equal.

Tuesday, 24 November 2015

Disadvantaging English speakers or simply speaking Cymraeg?

 There a modern Fairy Tale which appears every so often about an Englishman who goes into a Bar in Wales where everyone is speaking English but as son as he orders his Beer the rest of the  Customers  realising he's not Welsh start speaking in Welsh.

I wonder who goes into a Bar and immediately start listing to the conversations or who orders a pint so loudly everyone in the Bar can here him?

It is the argument that people speak Cymraeg only to annoy English speakers .

The Wasting Mule online  have jumped on a piece of news that helps them in it  periodic anti Welsh Language articles

According tho Wales Online

A village council has been accused of disadvantaging English speakers – by conducting its meetings and providing some of its council documents in Welsh only.
In a scathing report by the Public Ombudsman for Wales, Cynwyd Community Council, near Corwen, Denbighshire, has come under fire for failing to provide bilingual agendas.
The defiant council has hit back at the criticism, saying that it has not let down the local community.

The Ombudsman said 

the council held its meetings in Welsh, as well as posted some of its notices in Welsh only, which prevented non-Welsh speaking complainant “Mrs X” from becoming involved in council business.
The “intransigent” council had allegedly refused to cooperate with the Ombudsman’s investigation or accept his findings.
Ombudsman Nick Bennett, in a report which was published today, said: 

”While I fully support the principle of any Welsh council conducting its business through the medium of Welsh, it should also ensure those who consider English as their first language are not excluded.
“It is worrying that the council has taken such an intransigent position throughout my investigation. Their refusal to act reasonably has let down their local community, both Welsh and English-speaking.
“I am hugely disappointed that by refusing to accept my entirely reasonable recommendations, Cynwyd council has forced me to issue a public interest report.”

His report states 

“it appears to be significant” that the clerk seemed to have resented Mrs X’s complaints about how the council operated.
Mr Bennett said: “I consider that the council has failed to make adequate written bilingual provision for Mrs X as a person who understands English, but not Welsh.
“It amounts to maladministration which has caused Mrs X to suffer an injustice. I therefore uphold Mrs X’s complaint against the council.”

He added that the council response was “contemptuous” of Mrs X and his office.

Clearly I do not have the full details and probably  neither does Wales Online but I wonder if the Ombudsman even considered discussing this with his or hers counterpart on the Welsh Language Board which may have a different view?

Retired headmaster and council clerk Alwyn Jones Parry told the Ombudsman, in a defiant response:

 ”Our position has not changed since the onset of these tedious protracted discussions.
“If we had been approached politely this matter would have been sorted out correctly and quickly.”

He insisted there was a “reasonable translation process” and neither an apology nor a suggested £100 payment for her trouble would be made to Mrs X who was new to the area. She did not seek compensation.
The reply continued:

 ”We emphatically say that Cynwyd Community Council believes that we have no case to answer. The complaint is without foundation, time wasting, a waste of money, and incorrect use of the Ombudsman.”
very few English or Welsh-speaking locals turned up at meetings to listen to the nine community councillors. If a guest speaker couldn’t speak Welsh, the council went into English for that part for the meeting.
 ”We are not apologising as we don’t see that we’ve done anything wrong.”
: “The councillors are a caring bunch and don’t get paid anything.
“They do it for their love of the area. They are the foundation of our political system. They are not anti-English, nor am I.”

Oddly I am glad this row as occurred  because it does raise a huge disadvantage that the Welsh Language is in.

If Mrs X was to turn up at every meeting of  Cynwyd Community are the Councillors  expected to cease carrying out their business in Welsh and switch to English?

The argument is that 99.9% of Welsh speakers are bilingual and  if people like Mrs X (and indeed myself) are unable to understand Cynraeg then they should switch to English in order to provide for us.

Its an argument that I suppose you could use in the Netherlands  .

Why should Welsh speakers always give way to English . Yes Councils like Cynwyd should accommodate those who do not speak Cymraeg particularly through notices . 

But is there not a line where doing so could lead to dropping Cymraeg altogether?

Sunday, 22 November 2015

How to aid the Kurds ? Recognise a Kurdish State for a start.

There was a recent contribution on Left Foot Forward by James Alston studies History at Cardiff University.entitled 

Response to Caroline Lucas: the Kurds need our help

Yesterday, Caroline Lucas called for a diplomatic rather than military response to the attacks in Paris which left 129 dead and 352 injured on Friday night.
Using the well-worn aphorism that military intervention risks ‘making us less safe, not more’, her article advised against air strikes on Daesh (the newly-favoured name for ISIS due to its pejorative connotations), suggesting that they were directly related to the growth of their support base. In her solution, Russia and Iran are involved in the dealings.
After what happened in Paris, it’s easy to agree with Lucas. Nobody wants more terrorist attacks on Western soil. And public opinion, at least in 2013, was against intervention. (Though following these attacks, it stands to reason that those figures will have changed.)
The problem with Lucas’ approach is that with the breakdown of any acceptable opposition group such as the Free Syrian Army – which doesn’t even exist any more – the Kurds need, and deserve, our help. Despite the intervention of Turkey, the Kurds are still fighting against Daesh, and are the only group worth helping at this point.
Indeed, the US have been working with the People’s Protection Units, or the YPG, since October of last year, despite its alleged links to the Kurdistan Workers’ Party, or PKK.
The YPG is well worth fighting alongside whether you agree with their struggle for an ethnically Kurdish state or not, and is a significant force in the battle against Daesh: they have steadily been gaining territory along the Turkish border since they began working with the Americans.
And even though Turkey agreed to work with the Americans against Daesh, so far their operations have been largely restricted to bombing PKK-affiliated groups.
The problem with this argument to me is  if you are not a pacifist e is the line "The YPG is well worth fighting alongside whether you agree with their struggle for an ethnically Kurdish state or not"

Because it indicates that the Kurd once ISIS and probably  President  Assad are defeated then the Kurds will be abandoned and the West will then deny them any hope of a sovereign  Kurdish State and turn a Blind eye as a New Syrian State allied to Turkey crushes them.

The greaterst  help we can give the  them  is to recognise  the creation of a future Kurdish state  but even if it was made I suspect the West can not be trusted to keep it.

Meanwhile iIf you are starting to get confused by who is doing what, why, where or how in the Middle East then one Daily Mail reader, known as Aubrey Bailey, has made it ‘Clear As Mud’ with the following:

Are you confused by what is going on in the Middle-East? Let me explain. We support the Iraqi government in its fight against Islamic State (IS/ISIL/ISIS). We don’t like IS but IS is supported by Saudi Arabia whom we do like. We don’t like President Assad in Syria. We support the fight against him, but not IS, which is also fighting against him.
“We don’t like Iran, but the Iranian government supports the Iraqi gov’t against IS. So, some of our friends support our enemies and some of our enemies are our friends, and some of our enemies are fighting our other enemies, whom we don’t want to lose, but we don’t our enemies who are fighting our enemies to win.
“If the people we want to defeat are defeated, they might be replaced by people we like even less. And, all this was started by us invading a country to drive out terrorists who weren’t actually there until we went in to drive them out – do you understand now?”
 Indeed even the doyen of the BBC Today program earlier this week got confused:
Well it’s more than two years since the Government, our Government, asked the House of Commons to approve military action against Islamic State in Syria and MPs said no – it was a devastating defeat.
It seemed to prove the end of David Cameron’s plans for British warplanes to join other Western forces in attacking them in Syria as well as in Iraq.”
except that  it is not true. Parliament never voted on attacking ISIS, and Cameron never wanted to attack ISIS. The vote was about declaring war on Assad’s government.

The temptation to support the Bombing of ISIS in Syria in the wake of the Paris atrocities is compelling but . 

  • Will it make us safer?
  • Will it lead to the victory of the Assad regime who are backed by the Russians who will be attacking ISIS  but also rebel positions?
  • Wil we continue to allow an ally (Turkey) to use the crisis to attack the Kurds in Syria rather than ISIS?
  • Will it be as accurate as  it claimed or will innocent Civilians die further increasing the refugee crisis and fostering a long tern resentment in the Middle East?
Before we support such actions  we should be clearer about the outcome.

Saturday, 21 November 2015

William Graham effectively de-selected by Tories for Assembly elections.

BBC Wales have covered the news that a 

"A Tory AM effectively de-selected by the party has said he was the victim of an "orchestrated campaign".
William Graham dropped from first to fifth place in a party members' ballot for the South Wales East regional list for the 2016 assembly election.
He said he had "upset too many people" by being pro-devolution and backing projects such as an M4 relief road.
Mr Graham told BBC Wales' Good Morning Wales Welsh Conservative leader Andrew RT Davies was "intrigued" by the result".
Mr Graham however seems to think that there were behid the scenes campaign to oust him
Speaking on Good Morning Wales, Mr Graham said he was "a victim of a bit of an orchestrated campaign, to come from first to fifth this time".

"I suppose I've done pretty well to survive the last four elections.
"I think also that I've upset too many people in my party."
Mr Graham said he had campaigned against creating a Welsh assembly in the 1979 and 1997 referendums, but Conservatives were "pragmatic".

"I've certainly come to passionately believe in devolution now [as] the only real way to save the United Kingdom, so that upset the right."And on the left, I suppose my championing of many of the infrastructure projects - particularly the motorway solution to the M4, I'm very keen on the circuit of Wales in Ebbw Vale, electrification and the metro - hasn't exactly made me a favourite with the left."
In February, Mr Graham was one of three Conservative AMs "spoken to" by their leader following an argument on Twitter about the party's M4 policy and expressed his views on his website

To his credit Mr Graham seems to be remaining loyal to a Party for now  that have effectiveky sacked him. Asked if he would remain in the Conservative Party, Mr Graham replied "you bet", saying he would be out canvassing for the Tories on Saturday morning.

The other sitting Tory AM in South Wales East, Mohammad Asghar, topped the poll, with Laura Anne Jones coming second on the list.
She was previously an AM between 2003-07.

Of course the Wasting Mule online managed to find "a Welsh Conservative source", who thinks that that this was largely about Mr Grahams pro devolution stance linking the decision to the row over the income tax lockstep, said:

 “Every other group in the Assembly is getting a talent upgrade, except the Welsh Tories.
“What has happened in South East Wales is that a small cabal of disgruntled anti-devolution members want to give the leadership a continued kicking over an arcane devolution row nearly two years ago.
“When the ‘lockstep four’ got sacked, they hoped that William Graham would jump with them, but instead he stayed and kept his paid Committee Chairmanship job. They never forgave him, and rather than put the party interest first, they remain intent on fighting a bizarre turf war over an issue that was resolved, and that nobody else understands.
“If the party membership honestly think that Mohammed Asghar represents a fresh thinking future for the party, the fifth Assembly does not look bright for Tories in Wales.”
 Indeed  many of you will recall that Mr Ashgar was first elected to the Assembly for Plaid Cymru  before deserting them for the Tories and whilst he'd not the most high profile AM  (how many are there?) he may well win votes for this from his Tory ccomrades  who think the headline 'Orchestrated campaign' ousted Conservative AM" rather than "Tories drop Plaid defector"

When it was first announced that the two Tory  List AM  for South Wales East  would not automatically be on the Top of the Party list I thought it was Mr Ashgar  who was  the object of a deselection process but it seems it was Mr Graham.

It does rather show that "List" MPs" need to make sure that they keep the Party grassroots happy or is it  the party leadership? Maybe in MR Graham's case a failure of both.

Friday, 20 November 2015

Last Nights Byelections in Wales

 There were three Welsh Council Byelections last night and with one gain. one hold and a close second  Plaid were wearing the biggest grins 

Thanks to Harry Hayfield (Political Betting) and Blog Menai for the information.

Llanaelhaearn (Gwynedd)

 Result of council at last election (2012): Plaid Cymru 37, Independents 19, Llais Gwynedd 13, Labour 4, Liberal Democrats 2 (No Overall Control, Plaid Cymru short by 1) though Plaid have gained seats by Llais Gwyned defections
Result of wards at last election (2012):
 Llais Gwynedd 353 (50%), Non Party Independent 238 (34%), Plaid Cymru 85 (12%), Independent 32 (5%)

Aled Jones (Plaid Cymru )- 200
Wayne Issac (Llais Gwynedd) - 112
Eric Cullen (Ind) l - 99

Plaid Gain from Llais Gwynedd.

Last Time  Plaid Cymru 254 (57%), Labour 154 (35%), Liberal Democrats 35 (8%)

Gareth Roberts (Plaid Cymru)_ - 189
 Eirian Roberts (Lab) - 110   
Andrew Joyce (Lib Dem),19
Plaid Cymru hold

Kidwelly on Carmarthenshire (Lab defence) Result of council at last election (2012): Plaid Cymru 28, Labour 23, Independents 22, People First 1 (No Overall Control, Plaid Cymru short by 10)

Result of ward at last election (2012): Labour 571 (44%), People First 300 (23%), Independent 238 (19%), Non Party Independent 177 (14%)

Ryan Thomas (Lab) 288
Dilwyn Jones (Plaid)    248
 Fran Burke-Lloyd (Independent)   177
Stephen Bowen (People First), 58
Stephen Davies (Con) 53
Vivian Summers (Independent) 28

Holding Dewi  a Bangor seat where Labour is strong was a good result but  taking  Llanaelhaearn from Lais Gwynedd means that Plaid have probably seen off what was  a potential threat to their dominance Llais look like a spent force. 

Whereas the night was rather spoiled for Plaid with a close cal in Kidwelly  it was howeverer an indication that Plaid's  new leadership of Carmarthen Council is not damaging them.