Sunday, 31 January 2016

Is devolved transport "off the rails?" Er no.

For some reason the BBC seen to indicate that Wales cannot cope with having control of Transport.

They report that Edwina Hart accused UK officials of "ignorance" amid suggestions passengers could have to change trains on some services between Wales and England.
Responsibility for the Wales and Border network will be devolved in 2017.

A Department of Transport spokesman said no decisions would be made without considering local views.
Services from Aberystwyth to Birmingham and Milford Haven to Manchester via Cardiff, are among routes which could be affected.

In last year's St David's Day agreement, the UK government wrote:

"In order for the secretary of state for transport to ensure proper accountability, it is likely that services primarily serving English markets will be placed into other franchises for which the Secretary of State for Transport is the franchising authority".


Responding to suggestions some passengers may have to change trains on cross-border routes, Mrs Hart said some Whitehall officials "don't actually understand how things work and what are important".
she said
"I base some of their comments on ignorance rather than a conspiracy theory," .

"We want to ensure those services remain within the franchise."
John Rogers from campaign group Railfutures Wales said: 

"It's ludicrous, it's impractical, it's being done behind the scenes with a lot of secrecy initially and we're determined to fight it".
"It's not in the interests of passengers. People hate changing trains, it's a deterrent and it would affect the tourist industry,".

A Department for Transport spokesman said

: "We are working closely with the Welsh government to develop plans for cross-border routes and stations as we move towards devolving the next Wales and Border franchise".
 I suppose  there be be some conflict within some routes but its not as if the world has never seen cross border Train services .

I'm not sure how often the   Milford Haven to Manchester via Cardiff, runs but suspect that few passengers will be travelling from South Pembrokeshire to Manchester by Train.

Services from Aberystwyth to Birmingham already sees a change in Machynlleth as it joins trains from   the  Machynlleth to Pwllheli Coast Line, where Trains are coupled or decoupled depending on direction.

As far as I can see unless travellers to Birmingham will also have to change at Shrewsbury there will be very little change.

It seems that this another story coming from Westminster sources  that suggest that unlike Scotland ,Wales  is incapable of handling any form of new devolution.

The reverse seem to be the Truth and Westminster cannot envisage what different Nations have been doing since the Worldwide growth in rail travel in the 19th century.

Saturday, 30 January 2016

Why do some of the Left support a Brexit?

I am not a great fan of the European Union but i don't understand while some Left leaning people are  right wing Euro sceptics are arguing for a Brexit 

Maybe they will cite the multi-billion pound US-EU trade treaty being negotiated behind closed doors could have a “devastating” impact on Wales’ small businesses, Plaid Cymru has claimed.

A “day of action” is planned today against the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP).

The party’s Aberconwy Assembly candidate, Trystan Lewis, wants the UK Government to abandon its support for the deal. He also called on the Welsh Government to demand a veto for Wales.

He said: 

TTIP not only threatens our vital public services with privatisation, but could also prove devastating to small businesses. It is widely acknowledged that this trade deal is one which has been drawn up by big business, for big business.
“Any benefits will go to the largest EU and US corporations, leaving SMEs at a competitive disadvantage. This could prove devastating for us in Wales where 99% of our business sector is made up of Small and Medium-sized Enterprises.”
Cardiff West Plaid candidate Neil McEvoy said:

 “The massive public pressure which has been seen throughout Europe so far has been very effective in putting pressure on European governments and political parties, and has helped to raise awareness with millions of people in countries all over Europe. Together we can make a difference, and help protect our public services.”
Aberconwy Conservative MP Guto Bebb, a leading advocate for TTIP, said:

 “I find it truly shocking that Plaid are against the treaty that will benefit small businesses more than it will benefit large businesses. The biggest barrier with trade to the US is not tariffs, it is regulations.
“Large businesses can deal with regulations but small businesses cannot. So if we rectify the regulatory burden that exists then it makes it easier for small businesses from Wales to sell to the US.”
Giving an example, he said:

 “A brewery needs to sell beer in metric measures in the European market but fluid ounces in the US... Large businesses can have two different production runs; small businesses cannot.”
But do we need a secret agreement between the US and EU to resolve this issue it looks like simple negotiations to me.

He continued:

 “In view of the fact that we are in my constituency one of the finest producers of Welsh lamb, I find it absolutely incredulous that Plaid Cymru are opposing opening up the US market to the best lamb in the world. We have Meat Promotion Wales going on trade visits to the US, we have the Port of Philadelphia saying that once we have TTIP in place Welsh lamb will welcomed with open arms and Plaid Cymru – the so-called Party of Wales – are against that opportunity for Welsh farmers.”
Welsh lamb will be "Welcomed with open arms". Of course it will and so will Mr Bebb's flying pigs.
 Mr Bebb claimed Plaid’s opposition to TTIP was evidence of its “takeover of Plaid by a left-wing, Corbynista-type leadership”.

 So two argument that claim TTIP  wil be good or bad for small business

Since the  negotiations are in secret we are stil in the Dark but one of the fears is that Public services, especially the NHS, are in the firing line. One of the main aims of TTIP is to open up Europe’s public health, education and water services to US companies. This could essentially mean the privatisation of the NHS.

The European Commission has claimed that public services will be kept out of TTIP. However, according to the Huffington Post, the UK Trade Minister Lord Livingston has admitted that talks about the NHS were still on the table.tions  like the NHS  could be sued by US companies 

The EU has admitted that TTIP will probably cause unemployment as jobs switch to the US, where labour standards and trade union rights are lower. It has even advised EU members to draw on European support funds to compensate for the expected unemployment.

So this may well loks like an argument for the left to support a Brexit .

But  leaving the EU will leave the UK at the  mercy of successive Tory governments hellbent on removing the Trade Union and social policy that we in part owe to be members of the EU.

The UK under the Tories and/or BlueLabour (when they sadly ditch Corbyn) will turn to the US as a trading partner and accept a deal that is even more detrimental to us than TTIP.

We must stop TTIP but those on the Left must seek to reform the EU as hard as that may be.

Leave and we will be in the hands of Right wing Unionists who will destroy the NHS and for all their talk of "UK Independence " make us a client state of the USA who will impose their brand of capitalism on us which would be even worse than TTIP.

Friday, 29 January 2016

Three strikes and you'r out?

The Welsh Labour Government has had a bad Week,

 There was consternation this week when the Assembly’s public accounts committee detailed the “incomprehensible” sale of a site in Lisvane outside Cardiff at its agriculture value of £1.8m instead of its housing value of “at least £39m”.

Attacking the sales by the Regeneration Investment Fund for Wales (Rifw), The former head of the Land Authority and the Welsh Development Agency’s land division  Nicholas  Neal said:

 “The land was bought by the former Land Authority of Wales in the 1990s with its expertise of identifying where there would be housing land needed in the future. In 1998 the Land Authority was merged with WDA as the Land Division, retaining the expertise and knowledge of land requirements and the planning process.
“As a consequence of the abolition of the WDA and its Land Division in 2006, the Assembly took charge of all its land, but lacked the expertise to manage it, and to achieve its full value.”
Then the Welsh Government was forced  issued a furious rebuttal after leaked details from a Wales Audit Office report showed accountants KPMG had valued Cardiff Airport at between £20m and £30m - far lower than the £52m it paid.

A spokesman described the figures as “selective and misleading” and said it was wrong to suggest the Welsh Government paid more than necessary when it bought the airport in March 2013.

According to Wales Online

The KPMG valuation was revealed on page 42 of an 80 page Wales Audit Office report into the purchase of the airport by the Welsh Government in March 2013.
KPMG, which was the Welsh Government’s financial advisers for the purchase, provided a range of valuations based on cash flow and earnings.
Using cash flow, the consultants came up with a value range of between £10m and £40m.
Using earnings, they came up with values ranging from £6m to £55m.
Bringing these two ranges together, the Audit Office report said: “Taking all information into account, KPMG suggested an indicative valuation range of £25m to £35m, which in its opinion reflected the Airport’s weak performance relative to historic levels and the low current profitability compared with future profit levels forecast by [former owners] Abertis.”
A few months later, in March 2013 just weeks before the purchase was made, KPMG updated its suggested value range to £20m to £30m after figures released by the airport showed lower profits.
 True in  their report, the Wales Audit Office did not criticise the price paid.
It said the Welsh Government had “a clear rationale... and undertook appropriate due diligence, with the price paid informed by a range of commercial and public asset valuations”.
However, it said “progress is slower, and the need for external finance greater, than forecast at the time of acquisition,”
The WAO said: “Turning the Airport around is proving more challenging than the Welsh Government expected at acquisition.”
It also said there were “some weaknesses in the preparation of the business case”. The report said the Welsh Government had expected passenger growth of up to two million passengers by 2017/18.

But maybe the Government should have been tougher though 

Then BBC Wales revealed  NHS patients in Wales wait longer for treatment and diagnosis than patients in England for most of the main categories,

Hip operations showed the biggest difference of four months, with an average wait in England of 75 days compared to 197 in Wales in 2014/15.
Diagnosis of heart disease takes on average 10 days longer in Wales.
Deputy Health Minister Vaughan Gething called for a focus on the results of treatment, not just waiting times.
Waiting times for hip surgery have deteriorated significantly in Wales over the past four years. Since 2011/12, the average wait has risen by a fifth for the nearly 6,000 people who had hip operations in 2014/15
Waiting times in Wales for the treatment of cataracts, hernias and some heart operations are around two months longer than in England.
Diagnosis of pneumonia takes two weeks longer in Wales and waits for stomach operations 12 days longer.
There were minimal differences in waits for heart procedures, diagnosis of cancer and head injuries, while waits for kidney operations were less in Wales than in England.
 There may be good arguments  why the Assembly government  has failed in these three sectors.

But it looks like incompetence or inability to run a government that has been in power for 17 years.

I titled this after a Baseball rule, where a batter is permitted two strikes before striking out on the third.

But the fact is the "Welsh" Labour running of the Assembly has be lethargic and unambitious from the star .

Their whole ideology seems to be based on how can we spend the "pocket money" we get from the Westminster government.

With no ambition and seeing themselves as the permanent party of government they believe they are immune from criticism .

With the likelihood that even if they were to fall spectacularly short  of a overall majority next May they will not be replaced by another Party or a coalition. 

In other words ministerial  jobs are largely safe no matter haw bad they are at it .

The frighting scenario is that the Welsh electorate will come to believe that  rather than follow Scotland and replace Labour with a party that has a Vision of independence , we do ot need an Second rate Assembly run by third rate  Labour politicians


Thursday, 28 January 2016

New Wrexham Prison should meet the needs of North Wales.

I must admit  that Dwyfor Meirionnydd MP Liz Saville Robert has proved one of the most impressive  of the new  intake from last May's General Election.

Her latest argument  that  Plans for the super-prison under construction in North Wales should be adapted to include wings for women and young offenders,should be something that we should consider backing .

The £212m Wrexham prison will hold 2,106 inmates and be the biggest in the UK, and the Plaid Cymru MP argues Wales now has an opportunity to ensure that young and female prisoners can be kept closer to their families.

She said:

 “Provision for women who commit crimes in Wales needs to be overhauled to become fit for the 21st century. We still do not have a women’s prison in Wales, nor for that matter do we have a prison for high-risk offenders, whilst young offenders from the north are shunted across the border because of a lack of a suitable facility.

“Given that the UK Government has seemingly made its decision on the Wrexham super-prison, I do believe the Government could change its plans so that the prison better meets the needs of the people of Wales.”
 The demand for prison places in the north of Wales is around 700, not 2000. It would surely make sense therefore to make the best use of the new prison with a conventional prison housing 700 prisoners, and separate wings for women, young offenders and high risk inmates.”

 Ms Roberts argues female offenders often need “different solutions”, saying: 

“Only too often they are themselves the victims of the toxic trio of domestic abuse, mental health problems and substance misuse. Female criminals need different solutions to break the patterns of criminal behaviour.”

It is appalling that we are having a "Super Prison " foisted on us. But if we are two have one  then lets have one that at least meets the needs of North Wales.

We will have the ludicrous scenario of a Prison van carrying a Female or Young Offender  eastwards towards a prison in England  to pass a similar van carrying a male prisoner coming in the other direction.

The United Kingdom has one of the highest prison population rates in the European Union by ratio.

I am one of those "bleeding heart liberals" who  believes that we have too high a prison population rate  and  rather than building such prisons  we need to make sure that only those who can not be placed into some form of community service should be incarcerated.

But even then there is no reason to punish the families of those in prison as well by making them make long journeys to visit prisoners.

We are going to have a "super prison" imposed on us because we do not have the powers to decide for ourselves how we deal with convicted fenders. 

But a UK government if it intends to impose this should at least  listen to Liz Saville Roberts and see that it at least meets some of the needs of North Wales.

Wednesday, 27 January 2016

So seeking asylum is like going on Holiday.

A Welsh MP has told asylum seekers in Cardiff to stop 'moaning' about having to wear brightly coloured identification wristbands - because he had to do the same thing on his all-inclusive beach holiday.
Speaking on LBC Radio, he said: 

'What's the big deal? This gentleman has come over here to this country and has been welcomed by the generosity of the British taxpayers, put up in good accommodation and offered three square meals every day. 
'If having to wear a little red wristband to get meals and walk 10 minutes to a centre is the worst thing that's ever happened to him, and the other things that were happening to him are a lot less worse than that, then he doesn't have a valid asylum claim and shouldn't be here. 
'Last summer I was on holiday at Lake Balaton in Hungary with my family. The Retro Hotel expected us to wear wristbands when we ate our inclusive meals so people couldn't just walk in off the beach to claim a free meal.'  

A wristband scheme used by Clearsprings Ready Homes led to widespread criticism after it was revealed the company had handed out red wristbands to 200 asylum seekers staying at Lynx House on Newport Road in Cardiff so they could claim breakfast, lunch and dinner.

Wearers claimed they had been victimised as a result of being easily identified and spoke of their humiliation at having to wear them.
It appears Mr Davies seems to share the same opinion of the odious Katie Hopkins 
 If Britain is prepared to provide an all-inclusive resort service for asylum seekers, the least they can do is wear a bloody wristband

I went on an all-inclusive holiday once. Much to my surprise, it was great.

We knew exactly what we were paying before we left and didn't spend a penny whilst we were away.
And the kids loved it. All they had to do to get a free drink or hot dog in the middle of the day was show their little coloured band – and somehow they felt they were getting away with something.
They were quite proud of their red wristbands and wished life was more like that every day of their little livs.

A Bloody Holiday !

Cardiff South and Penarth MP Stephen Doughty is asking for an urgent investigation into a series of complaints made to him about the company over the past year.
He said he asked for an “urgent meeting” with the company’s chief executive and Home Office ministers.
Mr Doughty said he has received a series of letters from constituents about Clearsprings Ready Homes.

He said in one letter it was claimed that a woman and her child were made to share accommodation with another woman who had mental health issues and claimed she spat in the sink and deliberately antagonised the family.
Another letter raised concerns about claims of short notice evictions of families, including one woman who had fled rape and sexual violence.
The letter said the woman was settling in to a new community in Cardiff with children and receiving medical support, but was forced to leave after receiving an anonymous note telling her she would be relocated to Swansea within 24 hours.
Complaints were also made claiming women had baby equipment withheld or taken away because they did not comply with “house rules”. It was also alleged that children using Clearsprings services were not provided with “suitable food”.
 Mr Doughty said:
 “It’s not just on the issue of stigmatising vulnerable people fleeing persecution with red bands that Clearsprings and the Home Office have serious questions to answer.”
No one is asking for special treatment for people seeking sanctuary in Cardiff and Wales, but simply for them to be treated with the dignity and compassion we should all expect from our fellow human beings. “Often these are individuals, including many woman, babies and children, who are fleeing rape, violence and persecution. They need our support, not to be treated like second class humans.”
“I have had a worrying series of concerns raised over the past year about this company, which I have raised repeatedly with the Home Office – including allegations of short-notice evictions, intimidating and abusive behaviour, and people having their bedrooms entered without their consent.”

How in Earth can Katie Hopkins and  Davis Davies compare this with an inclusive Holiday.

I described Katie Hopkins as  odious   but David Davies is a MP and a member of the governing party in these Islands . Hopkins job is to deliberately  provocative  whilst we expect a lot more from Members of our legislature.

How can those who voted for him sleep at night Knowing they  elected such a heartless bastard.

Tuesday, 26 January 2016

Ukip offer 3rd rate "Welsh" candidates, or 2nd rate former Tories next May.

BBC Wales has reported on the growing row within  UKIP's governing body  over parachuting Candidates from outside Wales  to stand as lists candidates  and that some some members are  "defying" Welsh leader Nathan Gill by refusing to approve the party's assembly election candidate selections

According to the Beeb.
The National Executive Committee (NEC) met on Friday for the second time in two weeks and discussed the matter.
Its role is to sign off a list of assembly election candidates put forward by the party in Wales.
But BBC Wales understands it failed again to approve the list.
The party's source told BBC Wales: "The NEC - on which [former Conservative MP] Neil Hamilton sits - has become factionalised and is opposing the selections put forward by the party in Wales and supported by Nigel Farage.
"There are people on the NEC defying the leader in Wales.
"It's a real stalemate between the Welsh leadership, who Nigel supports, and the NEC."
Some Welsh members have warned that selecting candidates from outside Wales - including Mr Hamilton - would be damaging.
On Friday, UKIP councillor Kevin Mahoney said he would quit the party if Mr Hamilton, Mark Reckless and Alexandra Phillips were selected.
Based on its recent electoral performance in Wales, the party stands a good chance of getting several regional AMs elected in May.
Mr Hamilton did not want to comment.
A spokesman for UKIP Wales said: "There is so much vested interest in the process as it could be UKIP's first major breakthrough into a domestic parliament and the party and its members want to be sure that the best candidates are selected for the job."
Is Mr Hamilon in charge of his own selection I wonder?

If the three named above are selected in the top 2 of the regional  lists will there be a backlash among Welsh voters  whose support for Ukip is probably wobbly anyway?

Will there be an ironic accusations of racism  if other parties  highlight  that some Ukip candidates seem to imposed from outside Wales.

It says a lot about the calibre of Ukip  Welsh membership  where they have to turn to a former Tory MP who defected to them and then lost his seat and a disgraced former Tory MP who despot being raised in Amamnford  seems to have worked the hardest in loosing his accent.

Despite their notoriety  neither Mr Reckless or Mr Hamilton  were good MPs seen as rising stars in their former party s.

With  Ukip set to win a number of  seats It looks like we  will either have third rate Ukip AM from their Welsh membership or second rate AM who come from outside.

What a choice. 

Monday, 25 January 2016

How Welsh Journalism Works

If there had been  a appalling "Trolling" over the programme  in on the questions newsreader Lucy Owen was  asking herself as she starts thinking about which secondary school her seven-year-old should attend, then we would have Media coverage not only Wales but in the UK media.

You know the likes of

"Vile Welsh Language supporters attack Lucy".

There may well have some idiots who might have responded in such a way but in stead the BBC and the Wasting Mule have become the story because of  the line in the Mule that has since bee n retracted  on the Online page. I covered this yesterday here.

Here it is again.

Embedded image permalink

If you follow the link you will find a mealymouthed attempt at apology at the bottom of the article

We sincerely apologise, of course, for unintended offence caused by the use of the word 'despite' in the Western Mail version of this article and in an earlier online version. The context of the piece is about the merits of Welsh medium education, which we love and admire.
The reporter's intention was to make the point that having to or choosing to study later in English at university did not create a disadvantage for a pupil taught in the Welsh language. Far from it, in fact. We are mortified that a different view has come across.

And that is it despite the Twitter Storm where Welsh speakers responded with ironic humour  rather than nastiness  the story has received no further coverage .

The BBC web pages and the Mule have not responded to a story which at one stage was the third most trending Twitter talking point in the UK.

So there appears no coverage of the "Twitter" storm and other Social media responses.

Is it it because the response can't be labelled under the  CyberNats catch all?

The Lucy Owen programme may be a genuine investigation into problems which may occur within families where parents do not speak Welsh but  by the use of just one word in an accompanying article  in which the BBC and the Wasting Mule seem to have collaborated to promote the programme an unfortunate reaction may have appeared on Social media even by those who have not seen it.

 But because the reaction  has been often brilliantly funny and because what are probably the biggest media outfits in Wales (BBC and Wasting Mule) are now the story these two "worthy" institutions  are reluctant to cover it.

With hardly any other major mainstream Welsh media when what we have ,leave out such stories, we have a huge democratic deficit.

Sunday, 24 January 2016

BBC , Wasting Mule and "despite being taught in Welsh".

 If you were to follow the link to Wales Online on the the question newsreader Lucy Owen is asking herself as she starts thinking about which secondary school her seven-year-old should attend which is the subject of a BBC programme among all the Bullshit  you will see the line

She goes to see Wales rugby star Jamie Roberts, who was taught in Welsh until he was 18 and is now a qualified doctor who is currently studying for his Master in Science at Queens’ College, Cambridge.

Though that is not the original line in the Wasting Mule  which reads.

Embedded image permalink

This has unleashed a Twitter Storm where Welsh Speakers have treated thee story with apt derision.

Twitter 12 hours
I have got a girlfriend. #DespiteBeingTaughtInWelsh
23 January 16 GMT - Via Twitter for iPhone - - - - Recent Popular!
Twitter 14 hours
#despitebeingtaughtinwelsh I am a Westminster MP and they sometimes let me ask questions to the Prime Minister

Twitter 14 minutes @RhysCaerdydd: Despite being taught in Welsh until I was 18, I have a PhD in semiconductor physics. #despitebeingtaughtinwelsh https://t…
24 January 16 GMT - Via Twitter for Android - - -     
 You can see much more here..

I am not sure whether the truly offencive line originated with the BBC  or The wasting Mule, but it does reflect that the BBC and the Mule appear to be deliberately trying to stir things up.

Monoglot English speaker Lucy is in a quandary over whether or not to send their seven-year-old son Gabriel to a Welsh medium secondary school.
Welsh fluent Rhodri certainly wants him to go, thereby carrying on the bilingual tradition that’s run in his family for generations.
It’s an issue that’s dividing the pair more than ever before, and – as part of BBC Wales’s How Wales Works season – Lucy’s gone and made a documentary about it.
Welsh or English? Lucy Owen’s Big School Dilemma sees the BBC Wales Today star confess her fear that, by sending Gabriel to a ‘siarad Cymraeg’ comprehensive, she’ll become increasingly unable to support him or be involved in his education.
I presume Lucy Owen is an Intelligent and interdependently minded Woman who works in an institution (BBC) where there are numerous numbers of Welsh speakers who come from Monglot English only backgrounds.

So she must have had some conversations with workmates who have experienced this.

If this programme covered a ordinary member of the public, looking in to where they send their child it might have some worth.

But it seems to me to have  set  out to court controversy.

 But I doubt that those responsible did not realise  that one line of "despite being taught in Welsh" has turned the while programme into a laughing stock.


Saturday, 23 January 2016

The Tories as "The Workers Party" (only some though).

The Wasting Mule  gives space to Conservatives in Wales are not about “public schools, country mansions or trust funds”, Welsh Tory leader Andrew Davies has claimed as he launched a bid for the support of blue collar voters.
With the May Assembly elections looming on the horizon, Mr Davies wants to establish his party as a champion of “working people”.

The Vale of Glamorgan-based farmer said: 

“Forget the cliché of public schools, country mansions and trust funds. Welsh Conservatism is about freedom and fairness, and a belief that aspiration and hard work are by far the best route out of poverty and hardship.
“The party I lead is built on blue-collar Conservatism, and driven by a sense of hard work and aspiration... After 17 years of successive Labour governments, Wales remains the poorest part of the UK with many people on low wages, trapping them in poverty.”
 Davies was educated at Llanfair Primary School, St John's Preparatory School, Porthcawl, and later boarded at Wycliffe College, Stroud. so not Eton but pretty dam close .

Daran Hill,  who the Mule describes as one of Wales’ leading political consultants, said Labour and Plaid Cymru were making “overt” appeals to working-class voters but “aspirational” politics was now the “predominant preserve” of the Conservatives.

He said:

 “Class as an indicator of politics has been declining for many decades, as shown by significant research. However, there are some signs that this decade is significantly more class-based in terms of the strategies of some political parties than it has been in the past.

“Labour since 2010 and Plaid Cymru under Leanne have both adopted a much more overt appeal to working class voters and changed the vocabulary of their politics. The election of Corbyn has only reinforced this approach.

“What that has meant is that the ‘aspirational’ aspects related to class and class mobility have now become the predominant preserve of the Conservatives in a way they have not been able to dominate since the 1980s. They know that as well as a working class there is a huge section of the electorate which is
“Interestingly, though, when it comes to the education level aspect of class, the Conservatives are unique in Welsh politics in that a majority of their Assembly Members and Members of Parliament never attended university. This gives them a different perspective perhaps and also increases the party’s self belief in the ability of anyone to change their social status.
How can you be "aspirational" if you are dependent on Food Banks just to live?

How can you be aspirational if you have a major illness bit are forced into Job seekers allowance?   

How can you be aspirational if you re a Steel Worker in Port Talbot who has been made redundant.

Socialism is however all about aspiration  but it aspirational  for all .

It is not what I can do do make my life better it is about making everyone life better.

The Tories success has come from Thatcher on and which was shared by Blair was that you can win an election with the support of less than 30% of those eligible to vote.

So you cater for them  what Darren Hill who  refers to have " much more concerned with holidays and home ownership than it is with bedroom tax".

Those you intend to kick in the teeth are not going to vote for you they are  often not even to bother to vote . Indeed not even register. 

You convince people that Andrew Davies words

 After 17 years of successive Labour governments, Wales remains the poorest part of the UK with many people on low wages, trapping them in poverty.”

But you then  demonise those  above by labelling them as workshy and scroungers and of course lacking aspiration.

It could be argued that there are some in the Labour Party who have an interest in having a electorate base that is relatively worse off.

What we need is realise that we can create a Nation that caters for all and lift all out of poverty. Do this we need to copy Scotland where the Independence campaign united all and saw Labour and the Tories lose by the idea that "Another Scotland was possible".

It is up to Plaid and maybe the Greens to fight for Another Wales by first becoming the main Opposition in the Assembly by far and then replacing Labour followed by a successful independence  referendum.

Fail and poverty  under Labour or the Tories will always be with us.

Friday, 22 January 2016

We need more ambition that just renaming the Welsh Assembly.

First Minister Carwyn Jones has called for the National Assembly to be renamed to the Welsh Parliament.
Labour’s Mr Jones said the name change would help people understand better what a Parliament does. 

But he also stated his opposition to the devolution of welfare and to the devolution of attendance allowance – a benefit that helps pay for personal care.

 So it seems Mr Jones may want a Parliament but does not want some of the responsibility  that goes with it.

Mr Jones made the comments to the House of Lords Constitution Committee, which met in the Senedd on Thursday.

The First Minister said:

 “One good thing about the Wales Bill... is that it would allow the Assembly to change its name to a Parliament, which I am personally in favour of, because people understand better what a Parliament does, because they are used to the term.
“One of the things I would like to see in the next Assembly term is that we do move to a situation where we call ourselves a Welsh Parliament. It would help immensely in terms of people’s understanding of what this institution actually is, and what it does.”
 “I accept that welfare should be a GB wide matter. That would be a matter for the UK government.
“I don’t argue for a devolution of the benefits system because, bluntly, we will be in a more difficult financial position.
“It’s one of those bonds that holds the UK together. If you take the welfare system apart you begin to unravel one of the UK’s major common themes.”

So is that the height of our First Minister devolution ambition.

Well may be not . 

Mr Jones also claimed he was told by a Whitehall department that the Wales Bill was predicated on the idea there should be “minimum or minimal” divergence in the law between England and Wales. he said. 

“The England and Wales jurisdiction now is abnormal,
It has two legislatures within it that pass laws within the same policy areas. I don’t know anywhere else in the world where that happens.
“The difficulty we have is that the current Wales bill is predicated, and this has been confirmed to us by Ministry of Justice officials, on the idea that there should be minimum or minimal divergence in the law between England and Wales.
“That cuts across the 2011 referendum result. That was not what the people of Wales voted for.”
He said that he had previously taken the view that a jurisdiction wasn’t necessary to ensure a robust devolution settlement.
“But given the fact that its at the very heart of the current Wales Bill its difficult to see how it would work without there being some separation of the jurisdictions,” he said.
“The Lord Chief Justice has said that to his mind it is possible to have a distinction in the jurisdictions but with a shared court system and a shared penal system. I am immensely attracted to that idea.”

So are Labour  calling for the establishment of a separate  jurisdiction in which case would they include  Policing and Criminal Justice?

To my mind they go together.

But you never know with Welsh Labour  who seem to like the idea of devolution  so they can pretend there  is a part of the UK they still hold hegemony  and have some legislative powers .

So long of course they do not have to do the unpleasant jobs like raising Taxes and welfare.

For those of us who would  see devolution go further, then we must accept that we can't go "cap in hand" to Westminster for ever.

I have Blogged before that I don't accept Leanne Wood's and Plaids current claim that Wales is to poor at this moment  to seek Independence .

It suggest that we are bound  to UK by poverty that it partly  due to Westminster Centralist  polices.

I don't care what name is given to the Legislature  in Cardiff Bay . What I do care that it is a government  prepared to take responsibility  and address our needs here.


Thursday, 21 January 2016

Cameron dodges the question on steel.

 Prime Minsters Question time should of course be renamed Prime Ministers  doesn't answer the Question but provide a soundbite time.

Wales Online may think that David Cameron was put on the spot by Plaid Cymru’s Jonathan Edwards in the first Prime Ministers  doesn't answer the Question but provide a soundbite time.since Tata Steel announced the jobs losses which are expected to see 750 positions go at Port Talbot.

Mr Edwards sought to put the prime minister under pressure about the UK’s friendly relationship with China at a time when the country’s “dumping” of cheap steel is blamed for much of the woes facing the UK’s industry.

He said:

“The UK Government is a cheerleader for China to be awarded WTO Market Economy Status (MES) because it wants the City of London to become a major trading centre for the Chinese currency.
"MES for China would make it nigh-on impossible to impose tariffs on Chinese steel despite its dumping strategy.
“Is this not a classic case of once again the Westminster Government putting the bankers of London before manufacturing workers in Wales and the rest of the UK

He said: 

I have to say, I think the honourable gentleman is wrong both on content on approach.
"The two issues are separate – there are market economies that Europe still puts dumping tariffs on; we actually did that recently on America and we’ve done it in the past with Russia, so I think we should take these two issues separately.
“We should continue to pursue robust action against China, which is exactly what we’re doing based on the merits.
"But in terms of a closer [trading relationship] with China, I want to help those Welsh businesses including companies like Airbus to break into Chinese markets and make sure we get the best for British jobs, British manufacturing, British exports – that’s what we want in our relationship with China.”

Cameron acknowledges that  placing dumping Tariffs was possible but doesn't explain why it was not done and it is now to late.

He then tries to put a positive spin by talking about something else.

When it comes to answering questions from his own backbenches  on the lines of 

If the Prime Minister visited my constituency he would find what a wonderful success  is policies were having on my constituents.

I'm sure that the Scottish First Minster armed with notice of the Question also dodges giving a actual answer.

Of course the same thing happens in the Assembly though Carwyn Jones often struggles to come up with a positive spin or soundbite.  

 I'm sure that the Scottish First Minster armed with notice of the Question also dodges giving a actual answer. 

Is it not time that in PMQ (and FMQ) consisted of questions that the Prime Minister did not have prior knowledge of?

Well it would probably nor work al that would happened would be a vague promise that he or she would look into it followed by a sound bite not connected to it.

It all goes to show that the weekly 30 minutes of PMQ's  is all about giving the impression that  we live in an "Accountable Democracy" but in reality it is side show controlled and manipulated  by the party in government.

Wednesday, 20 January 2016

Wales' needs the powers to tackle the likes of Steel closurs.

 Talk about shutting the Stable door after the Horse has bloted.

It seems Economy Minister Edwina Hart will chair a taskforce which was set up following Tata Steel's announcement that 1,050 jobs will go across the UK.
Port Talbot will bear the brunt of these cuts, with 750 jobs going at the south Wales plant.

An action plan is set to be drawn up on how to help the workers affected.

We have seen this coming for a long time  and while I accept there would be a bigger outcry if the Assembly Government did nothing but as Leanne Wood pointed out on Channel 4 News the other day Valleys like the Rhondda have not recovered from the closure of the Coal mines in the 80's

With the decimation of other manufacturing Industries Wales is becoming a Nation of Call Centres and  I am not sure what a Task force can achieve '

Following the announcement, think tank the Institute for Public Policy Research said a further 1,200 jobs could be lost in Tata Steel's supply chain.
A meeting was held on Tuesday night for about 50 union representatives.
Martin Waters from the Community union described it as "very emotional".
During First Minister's Questions on Tuesday, Carwyn Jones said cutting business rates to help Tata was being considered, but global factors had contributed to the steel crisis.
Problems such as a glut of steel on the world market, a strong pound and high energy costs were all outside the Welsh government's control, he added.
At First Minister’s Questions in Cardiff Bay, Carwyn Jones revealed that the Welsh Government was asking for UK Government help to introduce an enterprise zone to give firms in Port Talbot business rate relief and tax breaks.

But  Only seven jobs each have been created at two of the current Welsh government's enterprise zones in the last year.

More than 1,000 jobs were created at the Cardiff and Deeside zones but just seven each at Ebbw Vale and St Athan, showing a mixed picture. Which does not fill me with confidence

Plaid Mid and West Wales AM Simon Thomas pressed for a Welsh Government-assisted joint venture to save the Port Talbot steelworks.and  called on the Welsh Government to explain why spending an estimated £1bn on the M4 relief road was more important than maintaining the steel plant at Port Talbot.
Asking what would need to be sacrificed for the plan, he said:

 “We might want to ask ourselves whether a new M4 or maintaining a steel plant in Margam is more important for the Welsh economy. I would suggest the latter.
“We need to have a very hard view on what we are likely to be spending our money on in the next five years and think about where our economy is going”.
He added: “It may be that Tata are not the slightest bit interested in this and I accept that, but I think it is still strange that the Welsh Government and the First Minister are not prepared even to go actually physically to India and put all these proposals to the company.”

Seeing this is Edwina Hart's pet project  it seems unlikely this will ever be considered.

All the Parties including the leader of the Welsh Conservatives  seem to have seem response and some kind of plan to the closures but is it not time we realised  that the Assembly Government lack of powers and insignificant makes it largely impotent to respond eve if it was to have the courage to adopt Gerald Holtham and Adam Price even some  options for the future of steel in Wales as outlined by them on Click on Wales. 

Until the Purse Strings and Powers are no longer  retained by Westminster where both Tory and Labour governments will intervene to save the Bankers and pander to the City of London we will be unable to tackle such disasters that have hit the workers of Port Talbot.

Independence for Wales may not have prevented the closure of our Steel Industry but it would mean that we could respond with something more effective than the obligatory  task force.