Sunday, 30 August 2015

Corbyn and Plaid Left or Right for the latter.

Gareth Hughes over at The Welsh Almanac has been pondering on the effects of a Corbyn Victory what I found particularly interesting was  his question  of Plaids position in the wake of a Corbyn victory

He writes.

Where does Plaid go?

But it’s not only Labour that would have to reflect on a Corbyn victory but Plaid Cymru. As a party they’ve always positioned themselves as left of Labour. They could hardly push themselves to the left of a Corbyn Labour party.
So how will they respond? Will they try to re-position the party in the centre ground of Welsh politics with a move to the right? It’s unlikely that this will happen whilst Leanne Wood is leader but certainly the pressure will be on for such a move.
What intrigues me is the notion  that Plaid Left-Right stance could or should be based on the position of the Labour Party .

Its a pity poor political party whose policies depend on those of another party (Lib Dems for example).

As some one who when a Plaid member in the 80's  helped formed the original National Left  and pushed for Plaid to adopt "Decentralised Socialism" it was not so much as a response as to what was happening in the Left Right battle but what we felt was the best option for Wales and  an Independent Wales at that.

Plaid might find easy to work with Corbyn on the opposition benches at Westminster but that does not mean they except his entire package .

Corbyn may be a change for the Labour Party on the Left-Right spectrum  being more decentralised and "more democratic than his predecessors but my view is that it will be the same Old Labour Party.

Its not a case of Plaid positioning itself on the Left or Right of Labour it what kind of Socialist Principles it means on their Membership card and what kind of Independent Wales they envisage.


Saturday, 29 August 2015

More Control Freakery From Welsh Labour Government?

The Wasting Mule reports that Carwyn Jones has been urged to order an independent investigation into how his top adviser was asked by a senior civil servant to approve a response sent to someone who complained about her conduct.

According to the online version

During the general election campaign earlier this year, Jo Kiernan attended a Labour Party fundraising event addressed by Ed Balls, the then Shadow Chancellor.
Ms Kiernan, a former ITV Wales political editor, is the senior special adviser to the First Minister, and is often by his side when he makes public appearances.
Related story: Former ITV Wales political journalist Jo Kiernan given special adviser role by Carwyn Jones
A member of the public who does not wish to be identified claimed Ms Kiernan had breached the special advisers’ code when she attended the event at the Bayside Brasserie restaurant in Cardiff Bay in April.
 Ms Kiernan, who used to present the Waterfront programme on ITV (Wales) and was appointed by Rhodri Morgan as his media adviser in 2006, has carried on in that roleunder Carwyn Jones.

If Ms Kiernan was a Labour Party employed adviser there would be no problem but  Special advisers are paid for by the Tax payer and are forbidden from participating in election campaigns.

Mr Jones wrote back to the complainant saying Ms Kiernan had not broken the code because the dinner was a private, rather than a public event.

 The Mule continues..
It has now emerged that Ms Kiernan personally approved the response sent by the First Minister to the person who complained.
A series of emails disclosed to the complainant following a request under the Data Protection Act shows that David Richards, the Welsh Government’s Director of Governance, was asked by Permanent Secretary Sir Derek Jones to investigate the complaint.
After drafting an email, Mr Richards ran it past Ms Kiernan, asking:
 “Is that okay with you as a response?
 She responded:

Happy with that David. Many thanks, Jo.”
 She also asked for, and was given, the full name of the complainant.

A spokesman for the Welsh Conservatives said: 

This matter raises concerns about the process followed by the Welsh Government and senior civil servants when dealing with serious complaints about staff conduct.
“It is clearly unacceptable for the subject of a complaint to play any role in its determination, and this email exchange appears to indicate that the special adviser in question was actually given an opportunity to approve the First Minister’s official response.
“The First Minister needs to issue a statement clarifying the procedure, while also addressing these concerns over potential conflict of interest.
“It would also appear that there has been a serious breach of data protection, with the complainant’s identity discussed on several occasions.
“Clearly, if that is the case then Labour’s First Minister will have to consider whether his special adviser’s role has now become untenable.”
The original complainant has now asked Mr Jones to order an independent investigation into whether she broke the code by involving herself in responding to a complaint against her conduct and asking for the identity of the complainant to be revealed to her.
The complainant has also asked Sir Jeremy Heywood, head of the Home Civil Service, to investigate the conduct of Mr Richards.
A spokesman for the Permanent Secretary would only say: 

“Let’s be clear – there is no case to answer here. Under these circumstances, a member of staff or special adviser is permitted to know who is making allegations about their conduct.”
This is somewhat typical of the control freakery of Labour in the Assembly in that they manage to turn what at first was a relatively minor complaint into a larger one.

On 8 July 2014 Labour AM Alun Davies e was sacked by First Minister Carwyn Jones following his repeated written requests to his civil servants for the private details of Common Agricultural Policy payments made to opposition members, including: Andrew RT Davies (Leader, Welsh Conservatives); Antoinette Sandbach (Conservative); Kirsty Williams (Leader, Welsh Liberal Democrats); William Powell (Welsh Liberal Democrats); and Llyr Gryffudd (Plaid Cymru).

It sems that once again in order to please their political masters,Civil servants are oversleeping the mark .I am not sure whether Sir Humphrey Appleby, from the Television series Yes Minister and Yes, Prime Minister, would approve.

Friday, 28 August 2015

45 new Peers created by a PM who wants ro cut 50 MPs from the Commons.

It sometimes happens that in a company a senior member of staff retires or in some cases is made redundant. His or hers colleagues  have a whip-round for a leaving gift or throw a party.

The following Monday the leaver turns up and starts carrying out more or less the same role but this time as  freelance consultant.

The equivalent in our Westminster Parliament of course is when a MP retires or is defeated at the election they return to the palace of Westminster as members of the House of Lords and lo and behold among e David  Cameron's nominations of  26 new Tory peers, 11 Liberal Democrats and 8  new Labour members of the Lords there are some familiar faces. 

Wings over Scotland comments on by simply showing a picture of Alistair Darling former Chancellor and leader of the Better Together campaign under the headline the journey


Whilst WelshnotBritish finds the irony closer to home

Mr Hain has defended his decision to accept a peerage, despite saying he supported an elected second chamber.
He said the Lords needed members who were willing to accept change or else it would not happen.
And Mr Hain argued a second chamber which was made up of representatives elected proportionally from each of the UK's nations and regions would increase democratic legitimacy and help ease the “constitutional crisis provoked by the continued pressure for Scottish independence”

Oh bless him hes taking this arduous task on for the good of us.

I give him a year before he's claiming that the Lords play a vital role in scrutinising the Government as many reformers who enter the Lords and get their noses in the trough have done for decades.

He is joined by two former  Welsh Secretaries  Paul Murphy and William Hague so it seems that the lowest post in the cabinet may have some use in the future of a politician.

The LibDems who were reduced to 8 MPs in May will see 11 new Peers some of them retired or defeated colleagues maybe that says more about the nominations than anything else .

Among the Tories is Douglas Martin Hogg, 3rd Viscount Hailsham, PC, QC (born 5 February 1945) who left Commons in 2010 under a cloud when   The Daily Telegraph  exposed that he claimed  upwards of £2,000 of taxpayers' money so-called for the purposes of "cleaning the moat" of his country estate, the Kettlethorpe Hall; 

So hes going to be right at home among the ermine .

The creation of 26 Tory Peers by Cameron is particularly insulting as he is seeking  to reduce the numbers in the Commons by some 50 MP .

So he in just one year he has created almost as many Peers (45)  in the unelected chamber as he seeks to reduce the democratic elected one.

Thursday, 27 August 2015

Is it not time we showed a little humanity on the refugee crisis ?

A Ukip council candidate has resigned from the party after a Facebook post emerged from last year in which he said immigrants should be gassed.
Bobby Douglas, who is standing at a by-election in Caerphilly next week, was responding to a social media advertisement which said: “Nigel Farage has called for all immigrants to be banned from receiving benefits until they have been resident in Britain for at least five years. Share if you agree.”
Mr Douglas responded:

 “To [sic] right. Gas the b******* if they don’t go. If its [sic] good enough for badgers its [sic] good enough for scum.”
In another post he said a woman should have been “painted black” to get into the UK, before describing migrants as “sponging, scrounging parasites”.#

Challenged about the comments by the Caerphilly Observer newspaper, Mr Douglas claimed the “gassing” comment was “in jest” and that he has a “black sense of humour”.
Asked if it was wrong he said: “Yes, it was said out of context to somebody.”
Later he posted a statement which said: 

I deeply regret any offence I have caused by posting and reposting various remarks on Facebook.
"They were made in poor humour at a time when I was not a candidate and not even considering standing for election. I was furthermore not even a member of the party at the time these comments were made.
“I accept full responsibility for these comments and am therefore resigning my membership with immediate effect.”
Ukip Welsh assembly election campaign co-ordinator Sam Gould ( I thought that was former MP Marl Reclless's job) said he was “deeply disappointed”.

The comments are disgusting, vile and sickening,” he said. “The Facebook posts weren’t visible to us when he was selected. We suspended him within two hours of finding out, and he’s now no longer a member of the party – we have a zero-tolerance approach to this kind of thing.”

Former Welsh Secretary Ron Davies, who is standing in the Bedwas, Trethomas and Machen ward as a Plaid Cymru candidate next Thursday (3rd September) , said: 

These comments are vile and abhorrent and he should issue a statement withdrawing his candidacy. I find it extraordinary that someone holding such views about fellow human beings should seek public office, which is about serving your fellow humans.

” The by-election was caused by the death of long-serving Labour councillor Ray Davies a man who would be appalled to see someone with the views of Bobby Douglas.

Even if you were to accept that this was "Black Humour" on behalf of Me Douglas it reflects a distressing trend in Social Media were there appears to be little sympathy to the refugee crisis (Or migrants as the media keep labelling them).

Only yesterday rescuers there came news that  rescuers  have saved about 3,000 refugees but found more than 50 dead on boats near the coast of Libya, according to the Italian coastguard.
Who cannot recognise the desperation of Refuges in that they try to cross the Med crammed in such flimsy a vessel

At least 55 bodies were discovered on Wednesday on three overcrowded boats in the Mediterranean Sea, the coastguard said.
Of them, 51 were found in the hold of a wooden boat found drifting precariously off the Libyan coast by the Poseidon, a Swedish ship mobilised under the European Union's rescue mission Triton.

Tens of thousands of people, mainly from Africa and the Middle East, have put to sea this year in the hope of reaching Europe, often dangerously packed into small vessels that were never designed to cross the Mediterranean.

Thousands have died but the media including the BBC still keep using the term migrants in their coverage and treat this as a crisis for the UK and the rest of Europe and not for the refuges fleeing violence in their own countries.

Its time we started to show more humanity to the refugees and it shpuld start with the media and the UK government.

Wednesday, 26 August 2015

Simon Brooks seems to have answered his own question.

The LibDems over at Subordinate Central shared the  The Western Mule  delight in reportimg that a former activist, asked  whether Plaid Cymru have given up Welsh nationalism to become just ‘a generic British anti-austerity party’?
In an article for the current affairs magazine Planet, Simon Brooks – who founded the Welsh language communities movement Cymuned and is the author of several books on Welsh cultural issues – suggests that the cause of Welsh nationalism has become subsumed within what he calls “a pan-British anti-austerity radicalism”.
He writes: 
“Opposing fracking, standing up to the cuts, support for the latest public sector strike: these are worthy causes, but British in character and the word is not meant in any pejorative sense.
“There is a failure here to develop a national narrative.
“The image of political hugging on the stage during the leaders’ debates [when Plaid leader Leanne Wood, SNP leader Nicola Sturgeon and Green Party leader Natalie Bennett had group hugs], the ‘anti-austerity alliance’, is the image of a nationalism which is a point on the political compass of a wider British radicalism rather than the compass itself.
“Nationalism has become party to a pan-British radicalism, and generous towards those who reject the national cause.
“This was an election in which Plaid Cymru embraced a party, the England and Wales Green Party, which was standing against its own candidates, including in Ceredigion, its main target seat.”
According to Brooks, there is nothing new in what he calls Plaid Cymru’s new-found interest in the British Left: “Making common cause with English radicals has been the bulwark of every Welsh general election campaign since 1968.
“This alliance delivered to the Liberal Party its hegemony between 1862 and 1922 … and to Labour its hold over anglophone Wales up to the current day.
“By becoming Old Labour Lite – that is, by portraying Welsh Labour as Red Tories, and Welsh nationalists as inheritors of Lloyd George and Nye Bevan, the Party of Wales hopes to inherit the radical crown.”
But, Brooks argues, the strategy contains within itself the seeds of its own destruction.
“Civic nationalism” of the kind being pursued by Plaid does not differ from similar approaches in England and the wider UK, and therefore there can be no logical reason to press for the break-up of the UK.
He writes 
In its argument for progressive British politics, Plaid Cymru may well be undermining ‘Red Tories’, but it is making the intellectual case for the continued dominance of an improved Labour Party in Wales.”

 I was going to write a response to Simon Brooks article but it appears he has somewhat answered his own question. because today's Wasting Mule online reports that Simon has rejoined the Party and his reason for doing so is interesting
He said:

 “I’ve rejoined Plaid Cymru and feel a lot better for it. I think it makes total sense for Plaid to be anti-austerity. My concern was that the party needed to focus on why cuts were bad for Wales specifically.

“In Gwynedd, where I live, we are of course very dependent on the public sector for employment, and cuts are damaging our communities.“I have known Leanne for 20 years and in this part of Wales she is regarded as something of a rock star.”

It just goes to show that a critical analysis of a approach does not necessary mean that it is the wrong one only that it may lead you away from your ultimate goal.

Tuesday, 25 August 2015

So Welsh is not part of the “social fabric” of our capital.

The Wasting Mule online today has the news that  leader of Wales’ largest council has caused uproar in Welsh language circles by claiming Welsh is not part of the “social fabric” of the capital city.

Cardiff council’s Labour leader Phil Bale made the statement during correspondence with Cymdeithas yr Iaith Gymraeg, the Welsh Language Society, about Cardiff’s Local Development Plan (LDP).

Writing on behalf of the council Mr Bale stated:

 “[On] the basis of the evidence presented, this response comes to the conclusion that the use of the Welsh language is not part of the social fabric [of the city], in accordance with national guidelines.

“This means that it is not considered that development proposals which are noted in the Plan materially affect the linguistic balance of communities across Cardiff, at the expense of the use of the language.

“As a result, I understand it is not considered that any specific policies are necessary in the Plan to deal with the specific interests of the Welsh language.”

In response, Carl  Morris (No relation to this author) wrote to the Planning Inspectorate on behalf of Cymdeithas yr Iaith.

He said: 

“It must be said that this claim is daft and completely ignorant, and obviously raises questions which need to be answered in terms of the attitude and the policy of the authority and its officers.

“We are not of the view that the remark reflects the support of the present leader of the council for the language, but rather the ignorance of officers in the planning department.
“We ask you to insist that the council, in its development plan, considers the Welsh language in terms of its status, requirements in terms of new schools and education provision, and its place in our communities.”

Mr Morris said there were a number of areas in the city where the Welsh language was strong, but it was thought that the desire of people in the city to see the Welsh language strengthen should also be considered.
He said: “

The support of people right across the city is reflected in the demand for Welsh-medium education.
“In addition, and although we are not of the view that percentages or numbers of speakers should decide whether consideration is given to the Welsh language in the plan or not, it’s clear, not only from the tens of thousands of Welsh speakers who live, visit and work in the city, but also the number of places where Welsh is the main language used in the city – from chapels and schools to social spaces – that Welsh is a vital part of the social fabric of the capital city.
“You will be aware a number of developments that have been given English-only names over the years – from Assembly Square to Central Square.
“Giving private developments English-only names undermines the status and use of the language. Furthermore, there are a number of new English-only street names and monolingual signs which are part of new developments.
“These will have a negative effect on the use and status of the language as well.”

A Cardiff council spokesman, said: 

“The LDP is currently being examined by the Welsh Government Planning Inspector. The Welsh language has been considered as part of the examination process.
“The wording that is quoted by the Welsh Language Society – is technical language – taken from a national planning guidance document.
“Unfortunately, the wording has been used selectively in this instance, as it fails to show the full context on how the wording was used in this planning document.
“It is disappointing that this issue has been raised so late. Ample opportunity has been given for everyone who wants to, to comment through the consultation process.
Nevertheless the choice of words by Mr Bale that Welsh is not part of the “social fabric" is insulting coming from our Capital City.

There has always been a feeling that Cardiff wants to Boer Capital without actually part of  of Wales.

It is reflected in Mr Bale  plans for Cardiff and Bristol are to work more closely to help compete for future investment.

I do not expect for Cardiff to give thought on housing developments and other planing issues on the Welsh language in the same way as Gwynedd does.

and as Mr Morris pointed out it should reflect this in the use of street names for instance.

But it should aim to use Welsh as much as possible to reflect it status.  

Monday, 24 August 2015

New Left Wing Pro-Independence party to form in Scotland

Next Saturday will see the creation of a new Socialist Party formed in Scotland to fight the Scottish Parliamentary elections next year

According to the Herald newspaper

The grassroots anti-austerity movement, anchored around the Scottish Socialist Party (SSP) and the Scottish Left Project (SLP), has been taking shape over the last eight months under the nickname the Scottish Syriza.
However it will be be formally launched as RISE, which stands for Respect, Independence, Socialism and Environmentalism, in Glasgow next Saturday [August 29, 2015].
Up to 1000 activists are expected to attend the Marriott Hotel for the event, which will include more than 30 speakers and examine policies for next May’s Holyrood election.
Among those taking part will be representatives from Syriza, Spain’s Podemos movement, Quebec Solidaire and Black Lives Matter, plus independent MSP Jean Urquhart, German MP Andrej Hunko of the Left party Die Linke, and Mike Small, founder of the Bella Caledonia blog.
There will also be a message of support from veteran journalist Tariq Ali.
Describing itself as “Scotland’s Left Alliance”, RISE will field candidates exclusively on regional lists, from which MSPs can be elected with as little as 5.2 per cent of the vote.
As part of an electoral pact to maximise the chance of socialist MSPs being elected, the SSP will refrain from standing candidates, giving RISE a clear run.
The umbrella model is based on Syriza in Greece, which was formed in 2004 as a coalition of 13 radical groups, including Maoists, Trotskyists, feminists and environmentalists.
The Respect element of RISE refers to equalities -- it has no links to George Galloway’s party.
The new name, with its whiff of revolution, is intended to catch the attention of voters drawn to the left in response to the Tory government, but who doubt the commitment of Scottish Labour and the Scottish National Party to radical change.

Apparently RISE stands for:
  • Respect: We stand for a society where we end racism, sexism, discrimination on the grounds of sexuality and where people of all backgrounds, colours and creeds are treated with respect and dignity.
  • Independence: We stand for Independence for Scotland. But our Independence is based on ending neoliberalism, austerity and the membership of NATO. We are for ending the monarchy and putting people in charge.
  • Socialism: We are for a social alternative to capitalism where people run the affairs of our society democratically and where the vast resources of society are utilised in common, rather than for the super-rich.
  • Environmentalism: We believe that environmentalism must be central to social change. Our world is being destroyed by the ruthless pursuit of profit over everything else. Sustainable ecology – where we maximise our enormous renewable energy potential to power Scotland – at the heart of a radical vision for change.
Which looks similar to the original programme outline of Quebec Soidaire.

  • "Nous sommes écologistes" ("We are environmentalists")
  • "Nous sommes de gauche" ("We are on the Left")
  • "Nous sommes démocrates" ("We are democrats")
  • "Nous sommes féministes" ("We are feminists")
  • "Nous sommes altermondialistes" ("We are alter-globalists")
  • "Nous sommes d'un Québec pluriel" ("We are from a plural Quebec")
  • "Nous sommes d'un Québec souverain et solidaire" ("We are from a sovereign and united [literally: solidarity-showing] Quebec")
  • "Un autre parti, pour un autre Québec!" ("Another party, for another Quebec!")

Already there has been speculation  that it could lead to defections from the SNP to the new party .

It will be interesting to see  if this will lead to s significant  number of MSPs elected via the List System  on the RISE ticket.

There has been a number of articles by Unionist that Scotland under the SNP is becoming a single party state.

Though there is no complaint that a similar  situation exist in Wales under "Welsh" Labour .

I bet those who moan about the SNP having to many MPs and MSP for a democracy would go into panic if the opposition turned out not only to the left but also committed to Independence.

From a Welsh point of view  a Syriza type of alliance among left wing groups in Wales which is also committed to Independence seems unlikely.

Too many Welsh Socialists are still committed Unionists or as they try to put it

"I'm not a Nationalist , I'm an Internationalist"

It is a bit of a enigma that  in order for there to be a left alternative to Plaid there needs to be successful Plaid Cymru and probably a legislature that can promote real change.