Sunday, 30 September 2012

Wales more of Airfix Model rather than a role one.

 With Carwyn Jones the only Labour leader of any legislative government in the UK its small wonder Ed Miliband told the Western Mule he was “definitely” helped in this task by being able to point to Wales, the one area of the UK where Labour remain in power.

He singled out the Jobs Growth Wales programme which aims to create 4,000 jobs a year.

Jac of the North may have given us some indication to whom some of these Jobs (if they come) may go to  as he explores the plans by Labour controlled Rhondda Cynon Taf to regenerate Penrhys inn the Rhondda and links with Labour Members 

Indeed it sometimes looks that many of these job creation projects only create positions for those running them.. Though this is somewhat unfair and we mustn't let Anti -Labour Party  prejudice cloud  our judgement.

But we really need independent audits to see how effective these are in creating jobs.

Such examples only give credence to Right wing politicians who see it a Socialist interventionism . Whilst in reality its nothing of the sort.

Though my main argument is that I see no evidence that the Welsh Assembly Government have done little in their time in power and the seem to believe that the best policy is to do nothing radical and thus gaining the hostility of the media . But are more than willing to sit out their time confident that the Welsh electorate will blame everything on the Westminster Coalition.

Indeed I doubt that Carwyn would be allowed by his London Masters to plough a radical policy . mindful of what happened when Ken Livingston's GLC and the media reaction .

But there not even a modest attempt to peruse a "New Deal" type agenda creating work at least Leanne Wood had some idea in her Plaid conference speech (But she could have gone further).
If we are to get out of the Welfare dependent West Britons that we are seen to be . We need to have Legislature that is prepared to sweep away the current way we look at Job and wealth creation and start with forming  a Mondragon Co-operative operations .throughout Wales who can adjust their model to local needs.and conditions.

But of course Carwyn's problem is that his party's interest does not lie in Wales creating a alternative democratic and left policy. Because it may just lead to people here in thinking that they can sought out their own problems out and not look to solitions from London based parties.

Like an Airfix model it Labour Welsh Assembly Government response to the powers we gave them last year  and its response to the current crisis may look like the real thing from a distance but close up you can see it only a very small plastic replica..of what we really need.

Saturday, 29 September 2012

What Next "Leanne Wood ate my Gerbil"?

I thought  that period known as the Silly  season was at at end; But the good old Mule has come up with what must be the most ridiculous "Political"  story of the year.

Welsh Labour challenges Plaid Cymru leader Leanne Wood to condemn president

Which contains the staggering news that Welsh Labour has challenged Plaid Cymru leader Leanne Wood to condemn her own party president after a video showed her speaking at a rally where flags of the paramilitary Free Wales Army were prominently displayed.

Cardiff South & Penarth Labour AM Vaughan Gething said

:Last week the Western Mail revealed Plaid Cymru leader Leanne Wood took a bizarre oath of allegiance to republicanism at a Cardiff wine bar during an event addressed by members of radical Welsh Nationalists Balchder Cymru {Pride of Wales}. Speaking afterwards she said she’d learnt her lesson and would not be performing in fringe political theatre again.
“Now we see her own party’s president, Jill Evans MEP, addressing supporters of the Free Wales Army right in front of the vulgar Free Wales Army flag.
“Leanne Wood should condemn Jill Evans for mixing with this radical fringe group and come clean with the electorate about Plaid Cymru’s relationship with extreme right wing nationalists. No Welsh party should have any sympathy with a paramilitary organisation such as the Free Wales Army in this day and age.

So according to the criteria laid  down by Vaughn Gething and welsh Labour

A Labour Politician would be condemned for speaking at an anti-cuts Rally where a small  bunch of Anarchist hold up a banner calling on people to smash the rich..

Or a  LibDem  for speaking at a anti War Rally where again a small band of Muslim Extremists call for the eradication of Israel.

A Conservative politician for addressing  at Countryside Alliance Rally where a small group (again) unveil a banner calling on Gays to be imprisoned.

Does simply attending let alone speaking  these events mean that you are sympathetic with these groups?

Are Politicians going to ignore these Protest or Rallied for being associated with a small group of extremist ?

Is the annual Cilmeri Rally  where the event took place o be handed over completely to fringe Nationalist? groups

  Former Plaid MP Adam Price said:

I plead guilty to attending this important historical commemoration on many occasions. It is impossible to control who turns up on such occasions.
“Jill can be accused of many things, most particularly being a pacifist. But to suggest she would have any sympathy with a paramilitary group is quite ridiculous.
“Roger Williams {the Liberal Democrat MP for Brecon & Radnorshire, which covers Cilmeri} has also attended the event. The idea of Roger dressing up in paramilitary gear and marching up a hill – or supporting those who do – is just totally laughable.”

How much longer is the Western Mule going to print these smears coming out of the Labour Party Press Office .

We are in the midst of the worst recession since the 1920's depression with a LibDem government in Westminster savagely attacking the poor and disposed in this country and AaLabour controlled Welsh Assembly locked in lethargy quite content to do nothing and blaim the Tories and LibDems for everything.

We need a National Newspaper in Wales  to investigate how we are in this mess and how politicians and others propose how we can get out of it.

We don't need the Welsh equivalent of "Freddy Star ate my Hamster"

Friday, 28 September 2012

Ponty regeneration stopped in its tracks.

Last July I posted on the regeneration of Pontypridd and the building of a New Shoping Centre

At the time local labour MP Owen Smith said......
 “Rumours that the development plans for the precinct have collapsed are untrue and misleading.“The reality is that the developers, to whom I have spoken again this week, are still in the process of securing the last elements of the funding they need to commence construction, but are hopeful that those will be in place later this week and that construction will start, as planned, before the end of the summer.“It isn’t 100% certain, of course, as this is a private company and we all know that the economic conditions for the construction industry are difficult at present.“But they remain committed to the development and are being supported by the council, the Welsh Government, AM Mick Antoniw and by myself.“In addition to this, I am meeting next week with Huw Lewis AM, the Welsh Government’s Minister for Regeneration to press the case for more funding for Pontypridd.“The Welsh Government is presently reviewing plans for town centre regeneration across Wales and I am determined that the case for increased investment in Ponty is made forcefully and heard loud and clear in Cardiff Bay.”

Yesterday the BBC reported that Owen Smith had announced that  the plans for a new shopping centre in Pontypridd are in tatters after the developer went into receivership, says the local MP.

Pontypridd MP Owen Smith said developer Taff Vale Limited emailed him to say receivers were being appointed.

Rhondda Cynon Taf council's  Labour leader leader Anthony Christopher said
 the authority was disappointed to learn of Taff Vale's collapse after the "considerable amount of effort and support we have given to facilitating this scheme".
Mr Christopher added:
 "The council will continue to work with those involved in the precinct site, including the Welsh government, to facilitate its redevelopment as part of our wider strategy for Pontypridd."
It is expected the land will be sold off by the receivers.
The private sector shopping precinct scheme is part of a wider regeneration of Pontypridd, including a rolling programme of refurbishing paving, street furniture and other infrastructure which has been taking place for around two years.

If Plaid or another Party had been controlling the council you could back your bottom Dollar that Owen Smith and his Assembly colleague  Mick Antoniw  would be condemning RCT from the roof tops.

For Own Smith its a huge embarrassment, he had tied himself to the redevelopment and he would have been jostling with the Council Leader to reselect in the glory when it was built.

Now all he can do is call for a rethink...
"Although a private site, I'm sure any developer would be interested to hear what local people would like to see on the site and all ideas should be considered," he said.
"We need to ask, do we want or need another shopping centre or is there something more imaginative that could be done for a site that's so important for the local community?
"Wales needs a contemporary Welsh art museum, so what about creating Tate on the Taff?
He added that Wales also needed a people's history and sport museum, and Pontypridd would be a first class location

He's right in that Ponty probably doesn't need a shopping centre of this type especially that rival towns had already many of these outlets.  But who is going to visit Pontypridd just to go to contemporary art gallery or Sports museum if there's nothing else there?

My suggestion would to build an open space plaza surrounded by small shops specialising in local products  perhaps even a twice weekly farmers market to complement and boost the existing declining  Market  in the Town..which use to be famous throughout not just Wales but the rest of the UK.

Ponty needs to be different A new centre dedicated to producers of local goods and crafts may be just what it needs.

But the Labour controlled council and Labour controlled assembly need to get their act together and its part of the MP (Own Smith) and AM (Mick Antoniw ) job to criticise them for failing to do so even if its their party ruining them.

Thursday, 27 September 2012

LibDems in a Paddy

As the Liberal Democrats face  a loss of 39 seats leaving them with 18 according to Electoral Calculus  they must be somewhat annoyed  that although their coalition partners would lose 80 seats . 16 of the LibDem losses will be to their coalition partners with the SNP  taking 9 in Scotland .

Things look worse in that 7 of the these losses to the Tories will need under a 3% swing compared with only 3 to Labour.

Of course its hard to predict individual seats especially for the LibDems who can often receive a high personal vote and they may not be hit so bad in Scotland.

But unless there's  a reversal of fortune  it looks s gloomy . The Tories can recover from a loss of 80 seats they will still be the opposition  party . But the LibDems will be reduced to their Pre-1997 position of the same number of just 18 seats.

So this may be why  Nick Clegg said in yesterdays speech thta Paddy Ashdown who oversaw a gain of 28 seats at that  election will lead the party's next election campaign.

But that was 15 years ago the game play has changed and the LidDems  will find her hard to attract the support of the Progressive left voters who distrusted Blair and saw Ashdown as supporting many of these issue they were concerned with..

The LibDem support tends to be dived by Social Liberals  who back the welfare state and re anti imperialist and anti nuclear. and economic liberals who what a free market. The former are giving up or drifting towards the Greens and other progressive parties or abandoning mainstream politics altogether and the latter are thinking why don't we back the Tories as long as they appear to have some social programme.

The LibDems spent their conference claiming to be different and appealing to those Social Liberals who have drifted away .

But when they were in opposition they could make any promise in the safe knowledge they  would not have to carry them out.

But they are in government now and need to show they can push through the Tax the Rich ideas they have been spouting. But with the Tories unlikely to back this and regarding their colleagues as little more than Lobby fodder which may be occasionally  given some indulgence . They are unlikely to push much of what came through Brighton in the UK government.

What's the bet on the LibDems cutting their losses ditching Nick Clegg and appointing Vince Cable as leader in order to salvage something from the wreckage.

Wednesday, 26 September 2012

Labour in Scotland agree with Nick Clegg

The BBC reports from The Liberal Democrats  conference that they are looking at curbing all age-related universal benefits for pensioners with assets of more than £1m.

The changes could affect payments including winter fuel allowances, free TV licences and bus passes.
Nick Clegg said the welfare budget "cannot be immune" from efforts to find government budget savings after the next general election in 2015.
But Lib Dem minister David Laws said he was "sceptical" about the proposals.
The proposals could form part of the party's manifesto. They would not come into force during the current coalition government, as it is a party, rather than a government, matter.
The changes, if implemented, would come in after the next general election, after the 2015-16 spending round.BBC 
 Asked whether the welfare budget could be ring-fenced from the debate on future savings, Mr Clegg told the BBC that "it can't remain immune".
Mr Clegg said age-related universal benefits such as free bus passes, winter fuel payments and TV licences for well-off pensioners would be protected for the duration of the current Parliament.
But he suggested the debate may have to be reopened for such entitlements after this period.
"I think there are many millionaires in this country... will also say voluntarily that maybe they should give up some of these universal entitlements to help people who are less lucky than them to make ends meet," he told BBC Radio 4's the World at One.
He added that it was "very difficult to explain... at a time when people's housing benefit is being cut that you should protect Alan Sugar's free bus pass".
 BBC 25 September 2012

At almost the same time  the BBC also report that Scottish Labour leader Johann Lamont has questioned universal

In a speech to party members in Edinburgh she said it was time to end a "something for nothing" culture.

"Well, I have to ask what is progressive about a banker on more than 100,000 a year benefiting more than a customer on average incomes from the council tax freeze?
"What is progressive about a chief executive on more than 100,000 a year not paying for his prescriptions, while a pensioner needing care has their care help cut?
"What is progressive about judges and lawyers earning more than 100,000 a year, not paying tuition fees for their child to follow in their footsteps at university, while one in four unemployed young people in Scotland can't get a job or a place at college?" 
 BBC Scotland25 September 2012

So it seems that the two leaders are in agreement and at first glance it does make sense.

But it it is only a step from excluding the rich to means testing .

Once you draw a line then it will not be long before the the level drops from those earning £100,000 a year to £50,000 then £25,000 then £10,000?

Once the principle is there. Not long I suspect.

The whole idea of these benefits is that they encompass all. There is no cut off point where you say 

"You don't deserve this" ?

If Clegg and Lamont need the money from the rich to help those who are poorer then Tax them!

Or is that to hard and the donors they seek will not mind loosing Free prescription and a Bus pass but will not pay a extra 1% in Tax?

Once we go down the road these two leaders are proposing. Politicians will start talking about the "Deserving and Undeserving" poor.

It will give the idea that this is not an entitlement that people have earned but a gift from the government.

Th Welfare state embraces all and is an entitlement not a benefit.

How long before Clegg and Lamont argue that there should be a cut off point where people pay for some of their health care ?

I'd rather see Alan Sugar getting a free bus pass than Mrs Jones next door not getting one because she's deemed to be just over the threshold. Or people not taking up their prescriptions because they fel they can't afford them.

Tuesday, 25 September 2012

Nick Clegg clearly doesn't get devolution..

Subordinate Central have a caveat on their Blog  entitled which reads "Clegg respectfully disagrees with Andrews"

"Freedom Central is an independent, collaborative website run by Welsh Liberal Democrat acitivists where any individual inside or outside the party can express their views. Views expressed on this website are those of the individuals who express them and may not reflect those of the party"
Why do they then do they  reproduce  the report of Clegg's has criticised  Leighton Andrews the Assembly Education minister for ordering a remarking of English GCSEs ,without stating that thier opinion  or that of the Liberal Democrats Education Spokesman in the Assembly Aled Roberts or the Welsh leader "La Pasionoria"?

For the record Clegg said.
"My heart goes out to the parents and the children, particularly those who have taken English GCSEs where they feel there has been a change in the way they have been assessed, but I strongly feel that it isn't for politicians to start interfering and say we're going to change the system unilaterally." 
BBC News 24 September 2012

What is devolution for if Welsh Ministers can't make unilateral decisions when the Minister responsible in England refuses to budge?

Hasn't Gove acted unilaterally in refusing to regrade and changing the Examination system in England.?

As Clegg continued  saying that the coalition had made the "sensible" decision to replace GCSEs with the English Baccalaureate Certificate (Ebac).
"Now it's for the Welsh government and the Welsh politicians to decide whether they want to follow that example, but one thing I don't think will serve the Welsh people and children in the long run very well is to have Welsh politicians interfering in a haphazard way in which exams operate," he added. 
 BBC News 24 September 2012

Of course Clegg clearly would like Jenny Randerson responsible for Education in Wales and that we should simply follow any decisions made by the Westminster Education Minister.

Bur where do the Libdems in Wales stand on this?  Aparently despite it caveat Subordinate Central  do not have a view but simply reproduce that of their federal leader who clearly doesn't understand devolution.

A Blog which claim to be independent LibDem activist should comment on Clegg's words and support or point out any disagreement  . Simply reproducing the BBC report whilst informative is not good enough. otherwise its just a press release from Central Office.

Monday, 24 September 2012

Plaid problem with Wylfa continue.

The leader of Plaid Cymru has attempted to clarify he party's position on nuclear power and how it relates to  Anglesey.

Plaid opposes the building of a new nuclear power station in Wales, although Ynys Mon AM Ieuan Wyn Jones, the former party leader, supports efforts to secure a new power station on the island.

With important council Elections coming next May on Anglesey Ms Wood now says that...

"I'll be telling those candidates in that election to make sure that they communicate Plaid Cymru's clear message with their voters, which is about doing everything we can at local government level, working with the assembly and also at Westminster level to create as many possible jobs as possible on that island".
 She later said that 
"this did not mean candidates needed to campaign on the party's national nuclear policy but on supporting local jobs on Anglesey". 
BBC Sunday Politics 2012

This reflects the problem Plaid have with Nuclear Power . Its instinct may be to oppose them  but practicabilities mean that since Wales two Nuclear Power stations were built in the stronghold of Ynys Mon (Anglesey) and Meirionydd they find it hard to campaign against them there realising they would be accused by their opponents of damaging jobs.

Which makes me ask If the Party have been built where Plaid were weak then perhaps the party may have not been so generous in allowing members and candidates to go against party policy?

Or should the party have a policy on Nuclear power and have it up to individual conscious anyway?

Its easy for myself to call for and end to Nuclear Power when I live in an area where jobs are not dependent on them but we must realise the main reason that Wylfa and Trawsfynydd were  built was not to provide jobs but because its remoteness.

Most of the UK Nuclear power Stations were built in areas of low population 

If we are to have Nuclear power stations and they are as safe and as the supporters have claimed lets build them near Major cities.

For Plaid the dilemma will not go away but the other parties except the Greens and the Conservatives are similarly divided and there are even some Conservatives who oppose Nuclear Power.

But for Plaid it will be hard to promote the Green fuel agenda whilst some of their members are supporting the building of a Nuclear Plant on Ynys Mon.

Alas although she's leader there's probably little Leanne Wood can do about it than pursue her present course.

Sunday, 23 September 2012

Sorry's no good.

It doesn't take much analysis  to see what's  behind Nick Clegg's sorry video.

Faced with a wipe out due to the Liberal Democrats coalition agreement , The Party realised that its best ploy is to claim

"Yes we know its bad; But if we weren't there and the Tories were on their own then things would be much worse for the less well off ".

Hence the apology and the " Pledge"" That he will block the Treasury's demand for more cuts before the 2015 election to compensate for lower-than-expected growth. "Not a penny more, not a penny less," he declared.

He disclosed that he will limit the scope of the government-wide spending review due next year to a single financial year, 2015-16, a shorter period than the Treasury wants. He will approve "no cuts" for the post-election period unless Mr Osborne brings in a wealth tax or mansion tax on homes worth more than £2m

Interviewed on the eve of the Liberal Democrat conference in Brighton by the Independent  Clegg: saod 

l backed a move at the conference to censure the Chancellor for obstructing the drive towards green energy, saying the industry needs more certainty from the Government to attract investors;l demanded the Chancellor announce in his Budget next spring that the threshold at which people start paying income tax will rise from £9,205 to £10,000;l vowed to block the Conservatives' plan to bring in regional pay for public sector workers if, as he expects, it would "widen the north-south divide".Mr Osborne wants to announce a blanket two-year freeze on state benefits from next April in his autumn statement in December
Independent 22nd September

So it looks like Clegg is standing up to the Tories.

But lets face it if Clegg had allowed the cuts in welfare that a freeze would have resulted in, he would be even more doomed than he is now and it remains to be seen if the LibDems will oppose Osborne other proposal to link welfare rises to the average pay rise rather than inflation.

It may be to late for Clegg to re-establish himself as a champion of the poor and what ever he does may not change peoples view of him as a politician who has betrayed his principles.

Indeed the public may take an even cynical view that Cameron shift to the right and Cleggs to the left is more about appeasing disgruntled party members and they have agreed  to throw a few bones at them , They may even have agreed on it. Cameron allowing more euro scepticism  and  calls for more welfare cuts . Clegg to call for  a tax on some of the rich. Whilst agreeing that there will be no real change of the main thrust of government policy.

Clegg's apology may however have the same effect of a mother faced with a child accused  of bad behaviour who cries

"I'm sorry mummy"

Is told

"Sorry's no good"

Saturday, 22 September 2012

Peace Advert banned from S4C

The BBC  reports the

A group that promotes peace claims an advert it wanted to air on the Welsh language channel, S4C, has been effectively banned from television.

Cymdeithas y Cymod, the Fellowship of Reconciliation, said it wanted to counter recruitment adverts for the armed services.

But the body used to clear TV adverts, Clearcast, said it could breach rules banning political causes.

However, an advert image has been cleared to run on S4C's online service.

To some extent I accept that this may be a case of a "Political Minded Advert" being banned but as
Cymdeithas  y Cymod  argume  the British Army are constantly showing adverts that  give a viewpoint on their role and in all of them no one is injured and no one is killed.

A recent advert even shows the use of a remote control missile to attack a rocket being set up by insurgents . The missile is deployed after the enemy have left and there a claim that there are no casualties .

So not only no British Soldiers are killed they don't kill any of the enemy!

Sanitised Warfare!

Also nearly all the adverts give a claim that there a career  in the Army despite the high unemployment amongst ex squaddies  and there no mention of the high number who are in prison 12% of the prison population) . Let alone those suffering from Post Dramatic stress disorder

Of course anyone pointing this out will be accused of "Not supporting our Boys"..

Why are we having these expensive recruitment videos any way ?
The government plan to cut the number of soldiers and there seems to lack of applicants.

Can it be that their true purpose is to justify the position of the UK in Afghanistan and other trouble spots.
This would make them political however and they could be treated under the same rules as  Cymdeithas  y Cymod were

So  while the Ministry of Defence " can you thier main role is to  justify MOD and Government  Defence policy.

In recent years there has been a disturbing move towards silencing any opposition from those against bot Labour and the Con/ LidDem involvement in Iraq and Afghanistan and a promotion of the idea that if you are opposed to this s you are attacking those fighting and even worse insulting  those who have been injured.or killed

We need to ask ourselves who really has the interest of those at risk in combat areas at heart . Those who put them there ,or those who want them brought home?

Friday, 21 September 2012

Poor Dave Miliband?

Anyone who felt sorry for David Miliband when he lost the Leadership of the Labour Party to his Brother Ed may thing again at his register of interest on They work for you

As  the recent issue of Private Eye point out he's had a lucid life outside the commons 

Although he still represents the constituents of South Shields it seems he's only a part time MP.

Register of Members’ Interests
1. Directorships
Vice-Chairman and non-executive director, Sunderland AFC, from 1 February 2011, 12-15 days a year, £75,000. Address: Sunderland AFC, Stadium of Light, Sunderland SR5 1SU
Received £25,000 on 23 June 2011. Hours: 3 days. (Registered 13 April 2012)
Received £25,000 on 23 October 2011. Hours: 3 days. (Registered 13 April 2012)
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2. Remunerated employment, office, profession etc
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Payments for speeches from London Speaker Bureau. Address: Elsinore House, 77 Fulham Palace Road, London W6 8JA:
Fee of £15,300 for speaking at Allianz event: The New Normal: Global Transformation, Dynamic Competition; Claridge’s Hotel, London, on 7 April 2011. Hours: 5 hrs. (Registered 6 May 2011)
Fee of £7,650 for cancelled speech at Malaysian Investment Development Authority event, 15 July 2011. (Registered 26 July 2011)
Fee of £25,500 and travel and accommodation worth £1,054 for speaking at Vatenfall Summer Economic Seminar, Basta, Sweden. Hours: 1 day. (Registered 9 August 2011)
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Travel and accommodation valued at £6,000.32 while attending Accenture Global Energy Board inSan Francisco from 18 to 20 July 2011. (Registered 9 August 2011)
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Payment of £23,980.82 for one week of teaching at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, 11-15 April 2011. Address of payer: MIT Centre for International Studies, 1 Amherst St, E40-457, Cambridge, MA 02139, USA. Hours: 5 days work. Travel and accommodation with family provided by Massachusetts Institute of Technology, costing £24,404.49. (Registered 6 May 2011)
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Member of the Advisory Board to the UAE Ministry of Foreign Affairs/Chatham House 2011 Sir Bani Yas Forum. (£60,001-£65,000)
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Transport and accommodation (including one member of staff) to Sir Bani Yas Forum on Future ofMiddle East, 17-20 November 2011, provided by Foreign Ministry of UAE, PO Box 1, Abu Dhabi, UAE; cost £4,935. Hours: 3 days work. (Registered 3 January 2012)
Payment of £900 received on 23 January 2012 for three articles in the Financial Times on 14 October, 14 November and 1 December 2011. Address: 1 Southwark Bridge Road, London SE1 9HL. Hours: 6 hrs. (Registered 13 February 2012)
Senior Advisor to Indus Basin Holdings, from 30 January 2012. Address: No 5, Street 15, Sector F-7/2, Islamabad, Pakistan. Payment on a quarterly basis. (Registered 16 February 2012)
This amounts to something like £277,264.01 for work since April 2011. That pn top of his MP's wage of £60,738

In the meantime he has played little part in the Democratic process doing the was elected to do 

  • Has spoken in 15 debates in the last year — below average amongst MPs.
  • Has received answers to 2 written questions in the last year — below average amongst MPs.
Miliband has earned more than many of his constituents get in a years wages for 5 hours work.

He should  concentrate on representing the people of South Shields and not on lining his own pocket.

Maybe MPs should be made to send an annual newsletter telling the constituents their register of Interest and how much they earned outside the commons and how much time they spent doing it as well as  how much time they actually spent representing those who elected them.

Thursday, 20 September 2012

LibDem Pupil Premium flagship holed

If there was one thing the Liberal Democrats believed they has a winning policy on that they could get the public on  their side was the Pupil Premium

Westminster MPs and Welsh Assembly members pushed it, Blogged on it and boasted of it when it was adopted

As Aled Roberts LibDem Education Spokesman wrote in Liberal Voice only last week...
"Education is a cornerstone of Liberal Democrat policy and principle. As Lib Dems we subscribe to the view that education is a crucial means by which individuals can realise their full potential. It was only fitting, therefore, that one of our key 2010 election pledges was the implementation of a policy which could address the inequalities in our education system – the Pupil Premium. It was a clear and straightforward manifesto pledge, easy to campaign on and one of the major Lib Dem policy accomplishments for England when Lib Dems went into Coalition Government. Accompanied by the Sutton Trust Toolkit for Implementation the Pupil Premium looked secure and sustainable".
Perhaps he may have seen that this policy may not .be having the desired effect......
So how should we assess our Welsh Pupil Premium, or to give it its official name, the ‘Pupil Deprivation Grant’? In July, the Sutton Trust published the results of a teacher survey it commissioned into how the Pupil Premium is being used in England. The findings, which highlight that many of the teachers surveyed are unaware of how the pupil premium should be or is being spent in their schools, are a lesson to us in Wales to make sure that we carefully monitor the application of the grant. Every effort must be made to make sure teachers are aware that the money has a specific purpose for disadvantaged pupils and isn’t there to act as a stop-gap when other budget areas come under pressure".
Liberal Democrat Voice 11/09/212
Well if the evidence from England is anything to go by then the pupil premium will make no difference

The BBC reports that Ofsted  have found that Schools in England must do more to ensure funding from the pupil premium is targeted to the disadvantaged pupils it is intended for, ..

"Chief inspector Sir Michael Wilshaw says heads must be able to demonstrate how the extra funding for low-income children is raising their attainment.The cash - £600 per pupil this academic year - is a flagship coalition policy.Sir Michael also warns bright pupils are being failed by mixed ability classes and early entry for GCSEs.Of 117 head teachers surveyed, only 10%, all of whom led schools in deprived areas, said the extra cash from the pupil premium had "significantly" changed the way they worked, the schools watchdog found.Half of the schools surveyed thought the pupil premium was having a positive impact on raising achievement, but few could provide evidence to back this up".

BBC 19/09/21012

So it seems that Schools may be looking at the Premium may be seen as simply increasing  the General School fund and may seen as plugging the gap after cuts and simply be spent on all the children in the School.

Of course the story in Wales may be better and the Premium spent more efficiently.

But I suspect the story will be the same as  in England and however "La Pasionaria" and Aled Roberts spin it and it may be true that  the pupil premium may give extra resources particularly  in deprived area which while it is not to be sniffed up may not help the poorer pupils that it supposed to be targeting

For many LibDems the Pupil Premium was the one policy they hoped they could claim credit for and reverse the fortunes 

But its beginning  to resemble a Premiership side facing relegation who pin they hopes on signing a new striker only for him to injured and declared unfit for the rest of the season. 

Wednesday, 19 September 2012

Bizarre Oath?

The Western Mule claims that Plaid Cymru leader Leanne Wood has come under attack from political opponents after it emerged that last year she uttered a "bizarre oath" of allegiance to Welsh republicanism at a meeting in a Cardiff Bay wine bar.

Bizarre Oath? As the Mule says ....

A video of the meeting was uploaded to YouTube only last week. It shows Ms Jenkins and then Ms Wood attesting an oath to Welsh republicanism, Ms Jenkins in Welsh and Ms Wood in English.Ms Wood appears on the video saying, as she stands adjacent to a red, white and green Welsh republican flag:

We attest this flag is a symbol of Republican Wales. We will fight for the truth against the world. All nations are born of one people. All laws are born of one justice. All freedoms are born of one peace.”She then says: “Is there peace?”, to which those present respond: “Peace”.
As I say what's Bizarre about this compared to  the oath of Allegiance she was compelled to  make  in order to take her seat in the Assembly.

"I... swear by Almighty God that I will be faithful and bear true allegiance to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth, her heirs and successors, according to law. So help me God.Members who object to swearing the oath are permitted to make a solemn affirmation under the terms of the Oaths Act 1978:I... do solemnly, sincerely and truly declare and affirm that I will be faithful and bear true allegiance to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth, her heirs and successors, according to law".
I leave it up to you which oath you consider  to be a "Bizarre " To a Hereditary  Monarch or to justice and peace.

The rest of the Mule report was that there was a small group at the meeting  Theres no indication that Leanne Wood even give tacit support for a radical Welsh nationalist group known as Balchder Cymru (I've never heard of them)o expressed extreme anti-English views.

The Mule doe add  out that its director of elections Ian Titherington had attended the same event, writing on his blog at the time:

“ were poets, pints, politicians and pontificators and it was an interesting general debate on the differing versions of Republicanism that people had.
“I found some of the poetry particularly entertaining and was pleased to see several friends from Plaid and other parties there, but was a little depressed by a handful of individuals who took it upon themselves to use the event for an anti-English rant that sounded straight out of the 1960s. Surely we have moved on from blaming England for all our woes, especially now that we have a Parliament that we have responsibility for.
This has not stopped Subordinate Central that fair minded Liberal Democrat Blog from publishing a piece  titled "Plaid’s Lunatic Fringe" despite no evidence that Balchder Cymru  have any links to Plaid.

And Neither the Mule or Subordinate Central mention whether there were any members of other main stream parties at the event .

Where there any LibDem or Labour  republicans there?

Tuesday, 18 September 2012

Conference or Rally?

Former ITV journalist Gareth Hughes has Blogged on the lack of any real debate at the Plaid Conference he writes...

Party conferences are getting tame. Where are the young turks that challenge the party bosses and push parties in directions that cause maximum discomfort to the party establishment? Plaid Cymru’s conference was such an affair. With monotonous regularity motions were carried unanimously. What ever happened to debate? 
I can't help but agree:But of course when Party's like Plaid do have a debate and a vote its journalist like Gareth who then write bylines on how the party is divided..

Still the Party conferences are nothing but a rally these days 

Part of the problem ironically for Plaid is that because of the Assembly it now has a great deal more spokespersons who are elected to public office.

This means that they are given space to address the part faithful on their remit and its from them and not the floor where branches have drawn up motions and amendments on subjects.

In my days in Plaid conferences were exiting affairs motions were debated some resulting in a close vote or constitutional amendments just failing to reach the 2/3 majority to change the party aims.

Of course this resulted in paper like the Western Mail reporter at the time  declaring that the Party was split especially if it was a Left-Right issue where his sympathies were with the latter.

Some times the Plaid Conferences   were declared to be  split even if the vote was 90-10 and only one person had made speech opposing the majority view
That  speaker would then be quoted in the Mule as representing a sizable minority .

Mind you like all the Party's if the leadership didn't like the motion even if it was passed they would quietly ignore it 

Something which was even worse in other parties especially Labour and the then Liberal party

Still members had a feeling that they had some say in policy and they weren't just there to applaud speeches from the leadership.

Gareth Hughes therefore may be right about the lack of debate but he and his journalist colleagues must take a great deal of responsibility for this.

Monday, 17 September 2012

Matt Withers has left the Mule anyone notice.

If you been missing the Bylines in the Western Mule from Senedd Correspondent  Matt Withers it's because   he has recently taken up a new post as Media & PR Officer at Liberal Democrats London HQ..

Scrutinisers of his previous columns may seek to see any bias or hostility  in his column over the years to the Welsh Liberal Democrats but I can't really see any either way .

Though he seems to  have been in line with the Mules Ani- Nat Stand.

From what I can see he has not ben a member of any political Party

He  obtained  a BA (Hons) 2:1, German and Politics from the  University of Sheffield 1998 – 2002 where he was: Editor of student newspaper The Steel Press, Though it seems he also joined  Amnesty International.

So maybe he has taken this position as a career move rather than any political conviction.

His departure from the Mule will probably result in a further deterioration of the quality of political reporting in the paper as shown by the latest editions Scoop of  "Furious row over plans for two major supermarkets in Carmarthenshire"

They report  that "Carmarthenshire’s ruling Labour-Independent coalition has accused the area’s Plaid Cymru MP and AM of trying to scupper plans for the large developments at Llandeilo and Cross Hands."

Something Plaid claim they had simply been representing the concerns of local traders – and attacked the council for using its publicly-funded press office to criticise them".

Read More

The report seems to consist of press repeats from the belligerents with only Sainsbury Director Neil Sachdev  joining in,  But no attempt seems has been made to contact any of the local people ot traders involved.

National Left admits to being uuilty of cutting and pasting from other sources  but in my defence I am just having a rant in the early part of the day . I am not a full time reporter .who should be digging a litle deeper than has been done here.

Alas it looks like it will get even worse in  the future as f our Media in years to come as staff are cut and experienced reporters seek more lucrative opportunities elsewhere.

P.S 11:25

Its will come as no surprise if you want any real in depth analysis of the Carmarthen row you will have to turn to blogs like Y Cneifiwr -for any form of analysis and not the Welsh Media.

Sunday, 16 September 2012

Hillsborough A victory against the Lies.

It is perhaps ironic that if the Sun hadn't published its outrageous  and  totally misleading headlines We may never have got to the recent revelations: Because although the families may have campaigned  over the years the sense of the injustice may have not been so strong amongst the rest of us.

The  Sun had published Truth; some fans picked pockets of victims; some fans urinated on the brave cops; some fans beat up PC giving kiss of life.

This was the front page of the Sun newspaper on the Wednesday following the Disaster. and its recent apology

In their history of The Sun, Peter Chippendale and Chris Horrie wrote:
As MacKenzie's layout was seen by more and more people, a collective shudder ran through the office (but) MacKenzie's dominance was so total there was nobody left in the organisation who could rein him in except Murdoch. (Everyone in the office) seemed paralysed – "looking like rabbits in the headlights" – as one hack described them. The error staring them in the face was too glaring. It obviously wasn't a silly mistake; nor was it a simple oversight. Nobody really had any comment on it—they just took one look and went away shaking their heads in wonder at the enormity of it. It was a 'classic smear'.

The response to this headline on Merseyside was one of outrage - thousand of copies were stolen and burnt and there followed a successful boycott campaign of the paper.

To the present day that paper is still understandably hated in the city of Liverpool

It now emerges that  the then Conservative MP for Sheffield Hallam, at the time Irvine Patnick passed on inaccurate and untrue information from the police to the press.  Patnick was later Knighted and there have been calls for him to be stripped of his title.

The real Truth is still some way off  but the latest report on the disaster he Hillsborough Independent Panel concluded that

 "up to 41" of the ninety-six who perished may have survived had the emergency services' reactions and co-ordination been improved This number is based on post mortem examinations which found that some victims may have had heart, lung or blood circulation function for some time after being removed from the crush. The report stated that placing fans who were "merely unconscious" on their backs would have resulted in their deaths.
Perhaps the incredible news is that
The panel found that South Yorkshire Police and other emergency services had made a "strenuous attempt" to deflect the blame for the tragedy from them and onto the Liverpool supporters. 164 witness statements were amended, 116 of them removing statements which were unfavourable to South Yorkshire Police. In addition police carried out blood alcohol readings of the victims, some of them children, and ran computer check on the national police database in an attempt to "impugn their reputation".
It has been a long journey to get here  and we may have still not got to the full story of the failures of that day  but all credit must go to those who have tirelessly  campaigned for a full truth which was still hidden despite a number of enquiries.seeming to draw a line under it..

But as I said at the start of the post. If the Sun hadn't published its smear then the impetus  for a call for justice for the victims and their families may not be so strong.from those of us not involved . The Sun and those who concluded  in the smear  cannot of course even attempt to use this to justify their position

This Week we got somewhere to give the people of Liverpool the justice they have looked for so long. Tthere  must be no obstacles now in the efforts to bring it to a final conclusion and that means the guilty must face prosecution for their betrayal of their duty and the truth.

Saturday, 15 September 2012

Leanne Wood takes a big step.

Leanne Wood's speech to Plaid Conference was impressive Speaking plainlyshe  pledged Plaid 
would spent the next decade developing and implementing policies to raise Welsh economic performance to a level equal to the rest of the UK.
"Wales needs jobs, it's as simple as that. And there's plenty of work that needs doing.
Concentrating above all on economic matters, she said a new generation 
have a right to believe that life can be better".People are thirsting for something new," she said, "and I'm determined that we are going to give it to them"."One of the first acts of a Plaid Cymru government will be to establish our own national powerhouse, a Glas Cymru for green energy, investing in national infrastructure from tidal energy to community-owned wind and hydro power, focused on our own energy needs and yes, where appropriate, exporting this valuable commodity but here's the difference, repatriating the profits and reinvesting them for the benefit of the people of Wales."
ts nice to see some positive ideas coming from an opposition and not merely condemning the Government whether in Wales or Westminster nor moaning about our plight but seeking solutions  something missing from the  Labour not only  Government in Cardiff in opposition  Westminster. 
I would have liked to seen her emphasise  more on the creation of cooperatives within this "New Green Deal"  but as Cibwr commented on  the Syniadu Blog (where you can see the speech in full)
"often wondered why the cooperative party is affiliated to Labour, given that speech you would have thought its home would be in Plaid"
Leanne speech however did not touch on Independence which was a pity but lets face it much of the argument depends on what will happen in the Scottish referendum in 2014 which will  what ever the result will be a game changer.

And Plaid need to show the Welsh Electorate a vision of what a Independent Wales will be like   and particularly that it will not be run by the same Old faces with the same old solutions. Sp this was hopefully a step towards this.

Wales need action now and Plaid can't simply say "Wait for Independence" . Nevertheless Plaid needs to blend the ideas that Leanne gave us a taste of this Weekend with the vision of a Independent Wales free from the  failed economic policies  of the Union. and in that we have only the beginning of Leanne's vision.

Friday, 14 September 2012

Police Commissioners a reason to visit the polling Station.

For the most part my only interest in the forthcoming Election for Police Commissioners is my opposition to the whole process

The fact that effectively only those supported by Political Parties or are wealthy can afford to stand  and that  independent candidates will not get Government money for even a single mail shot - which is something they would get for other elections.

So the likelihood is that virtually all the all those who will stand for these these post will be members of the two main parties  and as that ex  MPs like Alum Michael and Johm Prescott or persons constantly rejected by the electorate such as Christine Gwyther.

And the ban on  convicted criminals standing who were 18 or over at the time of the offence. The legislation also says that the offence has to carry a prison sentence means that Activists like former Members of Cymdeithas Yr Iaith who made a principled decision  to break the law and face the consequences in order to highlight an injustice are also banned.

This may have nothing to do with Plaid secession (a right one I think) not to contest the elections  but it would mean that the likes of Dafydd Iwan  are excluded from standing.

And is Dafydd any less honourable than Alun Michael?

The whole business is a mess undemocratic and far to restrictive.

But aboveall we do not need or want these has-been politicians running our Police..

We also have the news that Ballot papers for the upcoming police and crime commissioner elections will not be in Welsh unless legislation is passed in the coming days, the Electoral Commission will warn today.

The election watchdog warns that action must be taken or voters across Wales will be confronted with English-only ballot papers on November 15.

John Dixon over at Borthlas has shown the stupidity in the Westminster Governments attitude over the use over Welsh.

Lets face it I would have thought Bilingual Ballor Papers in Wales would be automatic.

I have been considering not voting or spoiling the ballot paper . I just might go to the polling station and write "Cymraeg "on the paper . I can't see any other reason to take part in this political farce.,

Thursday, 13 September 2012

Leighron neds to answer questions but back him on his action.

The  opposition Parties in the Assembly have weighed in in over the row over WJEC grading

Welsh Liberal Democrats Education Spokesperson, Aled Roberts  (rather Than Baroness Randserson) has called for the warring ministers Leighton Andrews and Michael Gove to step back...

"Rather than have the Education Minister, Ofqual and the examinations board engaging in institutional warfare, they must all sit down and work together for the best interests of Welsh students. Welsh students are not best served by this sort of twitter-based policy making and it is no way to reach a calm and moderate conclusion".
Is Tory equivalent  Angela Burns tried to shift the blame in to Leighton Andrews

She said: ...
“As regulator in Wales, the Welsh Government played an integral part in the GCSE situation. Its failure – along with the minister’s – is unashamedly ignored in this week’s hunt for headlines.
“The minister sets the curriculum, sets the exams and polices the system. It is vital that we have an independent regulator who can ring the warning bell so our young people do not have to face this situation again.
“It’s time Leighton Andrews was a little more honest with Welsh pupils and not only put up his hand to apologise for the distress caused but also admit it was not they who failed – but him.”

And Plaid Cymru  announce that Education spokesman AM Simon Thomas....
"has written to the Chair of the Children and Young People Committee, Christine Chapman, asking for her to recall the committee during recess so Assembly Members can scrutinise the actions of the WJEC and the Welsh Education Minister about the GCSE row."
Al three have a point and its their job to scrutinise  and we need to ask questions of the Minister particularly   in the disclosure that  English regulator Ofqual ordered exam board Edexcel )and by implication the WJEC) to make changes beyond what "might normally be required". and whether he was aware of this?

But in the matter of regrading the Assembly irrespective of Party should back Leightn Andrews against the "colonial" instincts of Michael Gove and and Ofqual.

He is the minister responsible for the WJEC and whilst they have the right to criticize Andrews they should not have the right to interfere in his decision.

This also includes Ofqual refusing to regrade those students  who took the Exam in England under the WJEC syllabus .. I doubt Ofqual would interfere in English Students who sat a Scottish Exam in England and they should accept that WJEC exams come under the Welsh Assembly whether they are sat.