Saturday 31 July 2010

In the meantime.

I shall be taking a break from blogosphere as I’m spending a week in Saundersfppt with family and friends so until August 7th I leave you with this.

When I was about 11, I was visiting my Grandparents who lived in a a small cottagn in Treforest which was alongside the River Taff.

In those days their only Toilet or Ty bach was "out the back". It was made up of bricks with a corrugated tin roof..

Playing in the garden I espied the clothes prop, and having recently had a lesson on levers in my School,an idea occurred to me.

I carefully dug a small crevice under the Ty bach, and then prised one part of the clothes prop into it . Finding a pile stones, I placed them under the clothes prop to act as a fulcrum.

I then grasped the other end of the prop and with all my might pulled down..

To my delight the Ty bach rose a few inches. I pulled down more and to my then horror the Ty bach rose a few more inches and then slid , almost majestically into the Taff.

In a panic I ran of, and spent a miserable hour or two plucking up courage to return to my Grandparents cottage.

I eventually returned however and after knocking, I was greeted at the door by my Mamgu (Grandmother).

Ah Glyn”, said, “You Tadcu (Grandfather) would like to have a word with you in the sitting room”.

My Grandfather was sitting by the fire in his dressing gown.

“Tell me Glyn,he said,”Who pushed the Ty bach into the river?”.

“I don’t know Tadcu”.

“Before I ask you again Glyn,” said my Tadcu “Let me tell you story of great American hero, George Washington. When he was a boy, he chopped down a cherry tree. His father came to him and asked, “George, did you chop down that cherry tree?' ”'I cannot tell a lie, father, I chopped down the cherry tree,' said little George. “You should not have done that, but since you told the truth, I will not punish you.”. And George Washington grew up to be President of the United States”

“Now Glyn ,“Who Pushed the Ty bach into the river?”

I swallowed "I cannot tell a lie, Tadcu I pushed the Ty bach into the river”.

My Tadcu then gave me an almighty wallop across the ear”

Through tears I wailed, “But, but you said about George Washington…”

My Tadcu rose to his full height and bellowed, George Washington’s Father wasn’t in the bloody Cheery Tree”.

Friday 30 July 2010

Two good Ideas on Paper, but they are there to disguise the truth

Eric Pickles, communities secretary, has come up with a plan to force councils to hold referendums to approve or veto any excessive (as the central government sees it) council tax rises. (At present only ministers can ‘cap’ these increases).

Any council setting its increase above a set ceiling (which will be set by central government)  will trigger an automatic referendum of all registered electors in its area - at the cost of tens of thousands of pounds. The cost alone (at a time of tight budgets) will prevent most local authorities from even trying to carry out big increase.

So how is this decentralising democracy? Indeed the proposals seem to have a lot in common with the infamous  proposition  13 on California 1978

The proposition lowered property taxes by rolling back property values to their 1975 value and restricted annual increases in assessed value of real property to an inflation factor, not to exceed 2% per year. It also prohibited reassessment of a new base year value except upon (a) change in ownership or (b) completion of  in California's new construction.

In addition to lowering property taxes, the initiative also contained language requiring a two-thirds majority in both legislative houses for future increases in all state tax rates or amounts of revenue collected, including income tax rates. It also requires a two-thirds vote majority in local elections for local governments wishing to raise special taxes.

The result proposition is that it has hamstrung  the Government of California it has led to the ruin of the States finances to the extent it is almost bankrupt but it cannot raise taxes in order to square the deficit.

Pickles proposal will only strengthen central government and weaken any local attempt to seek local solutions for local problems.

The other seemingly good Idea is actualy a good idea The Secretary of State for Work and Pensions is suggesting that the 51 benefits currently available to the unemployed, as well as income-related benefits for the low-paid, will be replaced with a single benefit covering all people of working age.

I am sure that no one can argue with this and of course both Peter Black and Dib Lemming  are trying to say this is part of the Lib-Dem Policy.

However the main problem is not:

  • The Number of different Benefit
  • That people are better of on Benefits
  • That People on Benefits do not want to work
  • That there are clusters of where people have developed a culture of living on benefits
  • No the main problem in these areas are.
That there is no  Bloody Work in these area's
There is a Post Code discrimination against People in these area by employers.
When  both members of the coalition admit to this, (and supporters like Peter Black and Dib Lemming)come up with proposals to deal with it then I will give them credit Until then I will still suspect that the both Parties (as Labour did before them) are trying to give the impression that the problem lies with those on benefit and not the government's failings.

Thursday 29 July 2010

Are you a "Numper"?

“Can’t do that sir .You’ve got to support your team sir”

“But you just said they weren’t doing well.”

“Having a poor patch at the moment sir”

“Ah, then I expect you will want to support our tem, which will be very good indeed!”

“Can’t do that sir. You’ve got to support your tem, sit”

“But you just said they weren’t doing well”.

“That’s when you support your tem, sir Otherwise you’re a numper.”

“A Numper being….? Said Ridcully.

“He’s some one who’s all cheering when things are going well, and then runs off to another team when there’s a loosing streak. They always shouts the loudest”.

Terry Pratchett Unseen Academicals p 132 (Doubleday)”

Yesterday I entered into a discussion (some might call it a spat) with Steph Ashley on her Dib lemming Blog (A good Blog worth looking at). I must admit to being harsh with her. She does actually seem to be honestly trying to fight for the old left liberal cause.

However what she must understand that being a member of a political Party is not the same as supporting a football or rugby team. True there will allways  be "Numpers” but for the real members there is a huge difference.

When you support a sports team you my disagree with the managers team selection, or tactics and still have no problem cheering them on.

You can’t do this in a political party because at some stage you have to ask yourself .

“To what extent can I carry on supporting a party that carries out policies I can’t support”.

Then you have to decide that it’s no longer your party and its time to go..

Wednesday 28 July 2010

A new Homage to Catalonia".

News that the Catalonian government have voted to end Bull Fighting in the “Region” is most welcomed but it is a pity the BBC report of this adds

But while the official debate is over animal rights, many believe this process is an attempt by nationalist-minded Catalans to mark their difference from the rest of Spain by rejecting one of its best known traditions”.

The BBC of course gave tacit support to National movements if they were part of the old Soviet Union but any move by other “Regions”  in Europe are treated negatively even when those regions pass progressive policies.

Although the Welsh Assembly move to abolish charging for parking in Welsh Hospitals was not on the same scale. The same snide reporting came from the BBC in London.

It seems that the establishment in London are in cahoots with the establishment in Madrid. Why am I not surprised?

Tuesday 27 July 2010

Latest contender for Tory Toff Twit (TTT).

New Tory MP Rory Stewart appears to be a Throwback to 19th century Tory politicians.
His CV reads as much.

Educated at Eton and Balliol College Oxford he is reported to have flirted with the Labour Party as a teenager.

But after a brief period as an officer in the British Army on a gap year (I kid you not)commission (to the Black Watch), Stewart joined the Foreign Office where he seems to have joined the Arabist grouping that the FO is famous for).He served in the British Embassy in Indonesia from 1997 to 1999, working on issues related to East Timor independence, and as the British Representative to Montenegro in the wake of the Kosovo campaign. From 2000 to 2002 he walked across Pakistan, Iran, Afghanistan, India and Nepal, a journey of 6000 miles, during which time he stayed in five hundred different village houses.

After the coalition invasion of Iraq, he was appointed the Coalition Provisional Authority Deputy Governor of Maysan and Senior Advisor in Dhi Qar, two provinces in southern Iraq. His responsibilities included holding elections, resolving tribal disputes and implementing development projects. He faced an incipient civil war and growing civil unrest from his base in a CIMIC compound in Al Amarah, and in May 2004 was in command of his compound in Nasiriyah when it was besieged by Sadrist militia. He was made an Officer of the Order of the British Empire for his service in Iraq at the age of 31. While Stewart initially supported the Iraq War, the Coalition's inability to achieve a more humane, prosperous state led him in retrospect to believe the invasion had been a mistake.

Though this may have something to do with the plans he had for his Political future.

This I suppose is impressive but also is indicative of the Old Tory paternalism who believe they were born to govern the Empire as well as the rest of us.

In the last election he was elected to the safe Tory seat of Penrith and the Borders, "

So how does he show his true colours?

By an interview in the Scottish Sun he claimed that parts of his constituency are "primitive" and that some residents hold up their trousers with string.”

In a short sentence he has shown what the Tories really think of the rest of us and earns him a nomination of Tory Toff Twit (TTT)

Other contenders for this years TTT are Michael, Grove and  Jacob Ress Mogg. I’m sure that there will be many more before I  announce the winner in January.

Monday 26 July 2010

We're neck deep in the Big Muddy and the damn fools keep yelling to push on!.

Knee deep in the Big Muddy
And the damn fools keep yelling to push on
Waist deep in the Big Muddy
And the damn fools keep yelling to push on
Waist deep! Neck deep! we'll be drowning before too long
We're neck deep in the Big Muddy
And the damn fools keep yelling to push on!

This is the last verse of the Pete Seeger song (full verses here) which was considered symbolic of the Vietnam War and President Lyndon Johnson's policy of escalation, then widely seen as pushing the United States deeper into the increasingly unpopular war. Seeger often performed the song at concerts and rallies,

I was reminded of this from the report Today that secret US files have revealed

That coalition forces have killed hundreds of civilians in unreported incidents, Taliban attacks have soared and Nato commanders fear neighbouring Pakistan and Iran are fuelling the insurgency.

The war logs also detail:

• How a secret "black" unit of special forces hunts down Taliban leaders for "kill or capture" without trial.

• How the US covered up evidence that the Taliban have acquired deadly surface-to-air missiles.

• How the coalition is increasingly using deadly Reaper drones to hunt and kill Taliban targets by remote control from a base in Nevada.

• How the Taliban have caused growing carnage with a massive escalation of their roadside bombing campaign, which has killed more than 2,000 civilians to date..

What the US military learned from Vietnam was the management of information to reflect themselves in the best possible light is important in order to prevent opposition to the war growing at home. The UK has followed suite and it appears the Military Press Officers are very media aware these days to the extent the civilian press simply goes along with their statements without question.

And yet perhaps the strange thing is how the media seem to be surprised at these disclosures? True the policy of embedding reporters with the military has restricted press freedom, but are they really that blind to the reality around them?

If you listen to the BBC you often get the impression that we are close to defeating the Taliban such propaganda was all well during the second World.War to keep up morale but to deceive the people in this conflict is inexcusable.

What ever happen in Afghanistan whether the Coalition forces leave now, in 5 years or 20 years, the country will probably be at civil war immediately after , but our continuing presence is making the situation worse because it is increasing Anti-US/UK .support through the middle east.

There are  no "Green Shoots of Democracy " in Afghanistan or Iraq  for that matter  the latter too will engafe in civil war after the "coalition leave". What we have is a monumental mess which both politicians and media in both the USA and UK haven’t the courage to admit to it.

Sunday 25 July 2010

S4C: Death by Cuts?

This is my 100th Blog so it seems appropriate I cover old themes.

The reports that S4C will be seeing an overall cut of its budget over the next 4 years is of great concern. but it is interesting to see the reaction of both the Tories and Lib-Dems.

Glyn Davies seems to be denying (a la Peter Black over Rail Electrification)) the media reports: but puts a case for shifting the responsibility to the Assembly thereby placing any negative reaction to cuts soley with the  Welsh assembly government and not his own.Meanwhile at Subordinate Central Eleanor (Who) Burnahm makes the plea that:

While this is just speculation at the moment, if these cut have to be made, S4C must ensure that the quality and standard of Welsh language programming are not affected. S4C need to make efficiencies in backroom functions to limit cuts in what we, the viewers, see on the channel. S4C must look at cuts in management and senior staff salaries as some of the pay in the higher echelons are out of touch with people living in the real world.

More Tory speak from the Lib-Dems.

Both attempt to tie S4C to Plaid Cymru. I suspect that they hope we monoglot English speakers, who support or vote Plaid will take umbrage if the Welsh language does not suffer from the savage cuts and respond by abandoning Plaid.

The problem is that they can’t see  that S4C could not survive a 25% cut in its budget over 4 years  it will lose viewers and this will  lead to  calls to end  all financial support from either government.
What we need is for S4C to expand to bring English speakers by buying Foreign Language films as I argued in one of my first ever blogs. These can then be seen using subtitles. The popular series Wallander it its original (and to my mind superior) Swedish Language version is being repeated on the BBC4 . There must be other such series worth seeing and S4C could be the vehicle for this.

Perhaps readers of this Blog can make suggestions in the comments section?

Saturday 24 July 2010

John Dixon "Moves On".

News that John Dixon has resigned as National Chair of Plaid Cymru comes as no surprise for those who have read his blog it the aftermath of the General election.

He was clearly unhappy with the way things are going, as he commented on his blog Borthls.

“But it isn't as simple as just the personal and it would be dishonest of me to pretend that it is; there are some significant political reasons as well. There are a number of ways in which I feel that the party has moved, or is moving, in a direction which I cannot support, but being a national office-holder has fettered my freedom to say so”.

I like many of those who comment on Welsh Politics, will be awaiting further clarification from him on this statement. Plaid needs an open debate so that it can clear the air before the Assembly Elections next year.This does not  necessarily mean a period of blood letting but the failures to make progress last May needs to be addressed.

In my opinion the Party concentrated on winning seats like Ynys Mon, and Aberconwy with what could be called right wing candidates and did not offer the electorate of wales an alternative to the right wing agenda of the three London parties.

Perhaps John Dixon will lead this debate?

I first met John during the Methyr Tydfil by-election in 1972 so his commitment to the Party has been long and dedicated. Unlike this blogger who distanced myself from the Party (practically the leadership) over the years.

I will accept the accusation that could be levelled against me on this that. What I’m doing via this Blog is having the luxury of opposition. The former British Prime Minister Stanley Baldwin when ccommenting on the press accused it of having:

“Power without responsibility -- the prerogative of the harlot throughout the ages”.

Though I have absolutely  no power it can be used to describe those who never take charge but are content to boo from the sidelines content in the knowledge that they do not have to answer to the electorate. However we need dissent both inside and outside political Parties.

There will be concern within the Party that John Dixon's resignation may lead to a period of infighting. I hope no,t but I  do hope that it will lead to a strong debate on Plaids direction and future. There is a difference between a Power struggle based on egos (which may often  be the real reason) and a genuine difference of opinion.

It is said divided Parties do not win elections, but if New Labour and the Con-Lib coalition has shown us Parties that stifle dissent either by a strong leadership stamping out any opposition or by the tacit consent of the membership, are not worth the candle.

Friday 23 July 2010

US Senate Summon UK Politicians to Show Trial.

A formal invitation then followed from Senator Robert Menendez, who is on theUS Senate hearing into the release of the man convicted of the Lockerbie bombing. Has invited/summoned MacAskill and Dr Andrew Fraser, the director of health and care of the Scottish Prison Service who drew up the final medical report on the Libyan, to attend. He has also invited/summoned former UK justice minister Jack Straw who has beed minded to attemd.

Richard Baker, Labour’s shadow justice secretary, said:

 “It is quite extraordinary Kenny MacAskill has ruled out appearing before the US Senate inquiry. He and Salmond are the men responsible for the decision and they are now running scared.”

Annabel Goldie, the Scottish Tory leader, said:

“The SNP would be the first to complain if anybody refused to co-operate with them so they must comply with this request from the US Senate.

Typical hypocritical politicians.

In what other country other than the the USA would they support  placing UK politicians on virtual Trial?

Richard Baker on the Today programme this morning  has also said that he didn't think Jack Straw (who as British Justice Minister signed a agreement with Libya on prisoner exchange) should have to attend the hearing.

"If there was any dubious reason for Megrahi release then I doubt that the Scottish government were involved. Indeed they would probably have delighted in exposing it.

The decision by the Scottish Government Justice Minister was clearly (rightly or wrongly, solely on compassionate grounds why should he answer for this to a foreign government?

I can understand the anger in the USA at the release of al Megrahi .The Lockerbie atrocity killed 270 people – 190 of them American – in the bombing of Pan Am flight 103 in December 1988: But since when are governments of sovereign nations, or component parts of sovereign nations answerable to the US Senate.

If they wish to investigate by all means do so and if they suspect that BP had undue influence on any discussion then should ask questions but the US senate is not the World Government.

Would the late Edward Kennedy or any member of Congress have attended a committee of MP’s investigating sympathy for the IRA in the US Congress

The United States stand is further incongruous because it is not a member of the International Criminal Court (ICC). The ICC is a permanent international criminal court, founded in 2002 to investigate and prosecute individuals suspected of having committed genocide, crimes against humanity, and war crimes.

As of April 2010, 111 states are members of the Court, and a further 38 countries have signed but not ratified the Rome Statute that established the court. Countries such as India, Indonesia, and China have not signed or ratified the Rome Statute. The United States is in the unique position of having signed the Rome Statute, but formally withdrawn its current intention of ratification.

Positions in the United States concerning the ICC vary widely. The Clinton Administration signed the Rome Statute in 2000, but did not submit it for Senate ratification. The Bush Administration, the US administration at the time of the ICC's founding, stated that it would not join the ICC. When asked whether the United States should join the International Criminal Court, Barack Obama (then a Senator), stated:

"Yes the United States should cooperate with ICC investigations in a way that reflects American sovereignty and promotes our national security interests."

So the US believes that it has every right to behave like the Worlds Policeman, so long as the world cannot investigate its behaviour.

Thursday 22 July 2010

Will History repeat itself? 2

So the first Liberal since David Lloyd George answered questions to the Prime Minister. Lloyd George may have been the real Prime Minister not a stand in, but he too  was part of a coalition however, in which the Conservatives had control of two-thirds of its seats and who couldn't wait to get rid of him.

As Marx wrote “Hegel remarks somewhere that all great world-historic facts and personages appear, so to speak, twice. He forgot to add: the first time as tragedy, the second time as farce."

Wednesday 21 July 2010

Will History repeat Itself? (Big Soceity & Care in the Community)

On paper David Cameron’s "Big Society" looks a quite attractive policy for a decentralist  like myself, but in reality it is a policy to transfer power to voluntary groups which will be run by the sort of people that the Con-Lib coalition approve of. You can bet your life no group that advocates any form pf democratic participation bases on socialist principals will be allowed.

I am  reminded of another Tory Policy "Care in the community" which was introduced in the late 1980.s with the claim that it would end institutionalised care.

The basis behind "Care in the Community"  was intended,

To cap public expenditure on independent sector residential and nursing home care. This was achieved in that local authorities became responsible for operating a needs-based yet cash-limited system.

The Plan was to having a mixed economy of care, i.e. a variety of providers. The mixed economy provision in residential and nursing home care would be maintained despite the social security budget being capped. And there would many independent organisations providing domiciliary care services.

The main aim was to redefine the boundaries between health and social care. Much of the continuing care of elderly and disabled people was provided by the NHS. Now much of tha this would  re-defined as social care and is the responsibility of local authorities.

An important point to note however was that NHS services a was free, whereas social services have to be contributed . so some people could be charged under Care in the Community where they had previously received it free under the NHS or the local authority could pick up the bill by means testing

Means and Smith ( Bristol University (1989) claimed that the reforms:

Introduced a system that is no better than the previous more bureaucratic systems of resource allocation

Were an excellent idea, but received little understanding or commitment from social services as the lead agency in community care

the enthusiasm of local authorities was undermined by vested professional interests, or the service legacy of the last forty years

health services and social services workers have not worked well together and there have been few 'multidisciplinary' assessments carried out

in reality little collaboration took place except at senior management level

the reforms have been undermined by chronic underfunding by central government .

the voluntarily sector was the main beneficiary of this attempt to develop a "mixed economy of care"

What we saw under the Care in the Community agenda was sick people being made homeless wandering the streets as social services fought with limited budgets to deal with a crisis which should have been dealt with by the NHS and supported by central government.

It is clear in my mind that the major driving force behind this disastrous policy was to cut costs and so it will be with Cameron's Big Society.

Tuesday 20 July 2010

True Wales and its Labour Supporters.

 One of the interesting things that occurred to me after my last Post on Kite Flying was that nearly all the proposals were only relevant to England.

This true of course of the proposals by the Con-Lib plans for reorganising (eventual privatisation?) of hr Education and Health service in England.

Let us be clear if in 1997 we had not voted for the establishment of the Welsh Assembly then all of these proposals which are all Tory (with the Lib-Dems be subservient) would be applied to Wales.

So where does this place those in True Wales (Rachel Banner and Nigel Dix come to mind) who are Labour supporters?

Would they prefer that we in Wales should be subject to the sort of “Reforms” coming from the Con-Lib government, If they do why not simply join the Conservative and Unionist Party (as it was).

The assembly has it faults but the so does every legislature but you can only look at the article by Rachel Banner at Wales Home on December 4th to realise that she a supposed Labour member prefers to be run by Tories in Westminster.

The English proposals which are the ideology of elites which Rachel Banner (Queen Mary College, University of London, Jesus College, Oxford and Cardiff University) accuses the Assembly of being an elite.

Nigel Dix, the newly elected Labour Councillor for Caerphily also seems to be a believer that Wales should be run entirely from Westminster does he hate Plaid to such an extent that he would sacrifice Wales to the Rightwing. Unionist, Freemarket ideology of his True Wales colleague Monmouth MP David Davies?

Can  Rachel & Nigel , and any other Labour supporter of True Wales (many of who want to abolish the Assembly). really back an organization which is little more than a Tory front that would like the likes of Michael Grove run education in Wales.

Sunday 18 July 2010

Let's go fly a kite.

There have been a number of proposals from the Con-Lib government which appear to be Kite Flying. Seeing what the public reaction is before implementing them or quietly dropping them Since most of these only affect England they have not had a great affect on the Welsh blogosphere. But they are of interest and point to a major shift in emphasis between England and the dissolved governments.

Former Saint, now business secretary Vince Cable has suggested a graduate tax could be introduced to make students in England repay the cost of their higher education.

Interestingly no one has commented on the fact that if an aspect of taxation could be implemented in England then this would surely validate the Holtam Commission’s proposal for the Welsh Assembly to have Tax raising powers.


Transport Secretary Philip Hammond, mutes the idea that.

The age at which people in England get a free bus pass could go up from 60 to 65 sooner than previously planned, as one of the ideas being put forward by the Department for Transport to help cut public spending.

Again this is an England only proposal the Bus Pass in England is administrated by local authorities whereas in Wales it is by the Assembly. So this might be easier to implement in England where some councils who have high number of visitors from other authorities claim they at loosing out: But it would a brave party in Wales to put this in their 2011 manifesto. But if this Con-Lib policy in England I wouldd love to know  Nick Bourne 's and La Pasionaria's viewpoint or even Peter Black's.

However this proposal does affect us.
Tory Culture Secretary Jeremy Hunt has joined in by accusing the Beeb for "extraordinary and outrageous" waste - and said the annual £145.50 fee could "absolutely" fall next year.

Of course the Tories have to do something to appease Rupert Murdoch and this is probably the first step,

If it’s implemented because at the moment all these proposals are merely testing the water to see what the public reaction The last government were bad enough with the use of focus groups . This one seems to be basing policy on letters to the Editor.

Saturday 17 July 2010

We can't wait 15 years.for recovery.

A think tank has claimed that the Welsh job market may not return to its pre-recession strength until 2025.

According to the Oxford Economics analysis. While London and southern England will bounce back quickly, creating hundreds of thousands of jobs over the next five years, Wales will see only a tiny increase in employment, according to the Oxford Economics/Financial Times analysis.

That’s 15 Years.

Some European countries recovered from the devastation of the 2nd World War in this time.

The paper also argues that only 4,100 extra jobs will be created over the next 5 years.

We will never recover if this happens. The damage will be permanent and we will be see depopulation and Wales will become a second class Nation where no one will seek to invest in.
And yet the Con-Lib government still insist that we are all in this together.

When discussing how Wales is funded on the BBC’s Good Morning Wales, Peter Black AM said:

‘… clearly, you’re not going to be able to conjure up any more money over the next five or six years, what we have to do now is make sure we spend that money more effectively.

Peter makes his usual robust defence of his claims based on the idea that whilst Westminster can easily reform many other aspects go government the reform of Barnett is beyond them. Whilst claiming that he's been deliberately misquoted by Plaid. Of course he never does this.

Wales in the position it is in, because successive governments have stood by and saw our manufacturing Industry almost wiped out.

And what has London proposed CUTS that will further push many more people into poverty , whilst claiming that many of the unemployed are work-shy and it is they who are responsible for their situation.

There is no talk that what we need is something approaching Roosevelt's New Deal which could be funded by a Robin Hood task Creating the infrastructure and supporting co-operative ventures that could transform the Welsh economy.

Some will argue that the Welsh assembly should do more to increase employment, and they are correct. but  when we are still tied to Westminster who only have the London Bankers at heart the scope is only limited and, the assembly can only but patches on our wounds.

What we need is Parliament  consisting of Welsh men and women with the powers to address Welsh Solutions to Welsh problems and the courage to do so.

If we don’t take control of our own affairs then we will be sitting by as London and the South East of England prosper at our expense.

Thursday 15 July 2010

Iroquois Nationals team banned by petty bureaucrats.

An American Indian lacrosse team will not be allowed entry into the UK for the world championship of the sport the Iroquois helped invent unless members accept U.S. or Canadian passports, the British government said yesterday (July 14 ).

The Iroquois Nationals team won't be attending the world championship in Manchester unless the British government reverses its decision and allows them to use passports issued by the Iroquois Confederacy,

At first reading this  ban would have some merit,. Where I would love to have a Welsh passport I recognize that it would cause a diplomatic row if another country recognized it at this moment in time.

However :

At the request of Hillary Clinton request, the State Department had dropped a demand that the Iroquois athletes must use formal U.S. passports to enter and exit the country, rather than their confederacy-issued passports. However, the allowance is a "one-time-only waiver."

The Iroquois (also known as the Haudenosaunee or the "People of the Longhouse",are an indigenous people of North America. In the 16th century or earlier, the Iroquois came together in an association known today as the Iroquois League, or the "League of Peace and Power". The original Iroquois League was often known as the Five Nations, and comprised the Mohawk, Oneida, Onondaga, Cayuga, and Seneca nations. After the Tuscarora nation joined the League in the 18th century, the Iroquois have often been known as the Six Nations

It is ironic but if the USA had not existed then the Six Nations could now be part of the Commonwealth (OK fantasy but that would been the likely outcome).

Lacrosse a sport associated in the UK with Public schoolgirls could be called the Iroquois national sport and a source of identity . It is appalling that if the US Secretary of State can make allowance in order to right previous wrongs, it is to be scuppered by our own petty bureaucrats

Wednesday 14 July 2010

Anghard Mair: A voice the needs to be heared.

Click on Wales caries two related posts the first is of Anghard Mair ‘s Lewis Valentine Annual Memorial Lecture at Bethel Chapel, Llanelli yesterday (13 July 2010). And a probably unnecessary comment and summary by John Osmond. In her lecture Angharad  (which needs  much greater coverage) condemns the use of West Wales for the development and testing of Unmanned Aerial Vehicles – UAVs . These are in realty the sort of robot drones used to attack and destroy targets from a distance.

As Angharad far more eloquently than I could points out the morality of these unmanned drones is highly questionable and the support that a Welsh Assembly government that contains Plaid Cymru Ministers disturbing.

Of course it will be argued that Angharad with no responsibility to the electorate can easily condemn such actions. Not having to answer by a fighting an election on the subject of the morality of War when ythe opposition will condemn you for costing jobs and putting the countries defenses at risk.

With the power of the media these days the military/industrial complex who have an interest in increasing hostilities throughout the World in order to justify such expenditure on such horrific weapons has grown so that it is difficult foe any elected politician (or seeker of office) to speak out in opposition..

This was the case over the plans for ST Athen where claims that the proposed  new academy will create up to 5000 jobs with a £14Billion investment over 25years with an estimated 57.4 million pound spend into the local economy.

This led to certain reluctance on some Plaid politicians (and others) to oppose these plans.

I’m lucky that I have no political ambition an am free to speak my own mind and not revert to weasel word or hypocrisy to defend an action which I do not actually agree with. Or behave like opposition groups who condemn for the sake of opposition.

I remember when the Lib-Dems who up to the outbreak of the Afghan War were vocal in their opposition suddenly went silent when it started knowing full well how they would be treated by the media.

Therefore it is easy for me to speak out but the time has come for our elected politicians to speak out against the whole military/industrial complex, because if they do not join in the voices such as Angharad Mair then the time will come when it is to late and the forces of war will extinguish all opposition.

Tuesday 13 July 2010

Cornwall and the Cost of Democracy.

Dick Cole of Mebyon Kernow) has posted an interesting analysis on the expenditure of the political parties For the St Austell and Newquay constituency, where he stood so please look at this here before continuing with my piece.

The amount spent by the Conservatives and Liberal Democrats is staggering, and if we were to take into account that all six Cornish constituencies are Con-Lib marginal, then we are talking each of these parties spending about £200,000 in Cornwall alone and as Dick points out this is what they declared in the immediate run up to the election from January 1st 2010 to polling day on May 6th 2010.

It does not take into account the number of election leaflets masquerading as news letters that the people of Cornwall were subjected to between the 2005 election and the last one.

I have argued before that we need much more scrutiny of electoral expenditure.

What I would like to see is the power of the Returning Officer be increased and he/she should be a constituency representative of the commission.
They should have the power to.

  • Rule that any Party leaflet between elections that mentions a candidate for forthcoming election will mean the cost of the leaflet will be included in the election expenses of that candidate.

  • Have the power to fine a party for misleading, or offensive material during this period the cost of the fine being included in the election expenses.

  • Publish the full expenses of this candidate dividing the expenses between that spent during the campaign and any spent in the period between.



Also there should be a National and Regional assessment of the amount spent on advertising. 

This would mean for instance that in Cornwall the amount of Party advertising in the whole of Cornwall that is not constituency specific should be taken into account and that divided between the constituencies in that area. This would mean that if the Lib-Dems were to spend 100,000 on such advertising then this would be divided and added to their electoral expenses for each constituency.

Of course this would be much easier to administer and monitor if we had STV bit then we will not be getting it because the Lib-Dems have sold out on their ideals.




Monday 12 July 2010

Super Thursday? Oh lets just give up now. (NO)

Dafydd Elis-Thomas has written to Cheryl Gillan yo state he has no "constitutional objections" to it taking place on 5 May when the assembly elections and UK voting referendum are held.

Cost was the "overriding issue", he said.

And at Welsh Home Daran Hill has lent his support he wrote

“that if the Rubicon was indeed to be crossed, then why not go the whole damn hog? Why not hold the Assembly powers referendum on the first Thursday in May too? If we are to have a referendum on Assembly election day, then why not make it one that is at least related to that election? Let’s have a Super Thursday in May 2011”.

This is a rather defeatist argument. I would agree that on balance a Super Thursday would be better that having two referendums within a few months. However, as I have argued in earlier posts there is absolutely no reason to hold a vote on AV next year. 2012 would give ample time to prepare for the next General Election.. I could see an argument that if it would be on STV then time would be needed to prepare the new constituencies: But by its very nature AV does not even need tweaking of the boundaries.

It is in the interest of democracy that the Assembly elections and referendum should not be overshadowed by a UK issue. What price does Dafydd Elis Thomas place on this? When does it become too expensive?
We should have been having the referendum on Assembly powers this Autumn.

Actually.Why are we have a referendum just to fix a constitutional mess, seeking to transfer powers via a complex and baffling system?

Perhaps the referendum ballot paper should read something like this.

Do we really need a referendum just to clean up an over complex system?

Saturday 10 July 2010

Who neeeds the BNP when we have the Tabloids

Non-story about local pool forces journalism black out

 I first heard of this story on the satirical BBC Radio 4 show the Now Show and therefore looked up on Tabloid watch. for further information on Please use the link to check this out because they deserve the credit and for me to simply cut & paste the story from their blog would be just doing what all the Tabloids did with the original story.
What I would like to comment on is firstly the sheer hypocrisy of these Tabloids who would just have easily supported moves to cover up the windows in order to prevent Paedophiles looking in, You could picture the headline now.

But it is the sheer racist overtones of this coverage.The Sun presented the Story along with a picture of someone in a Burka relying on negative stereotypes to support their claim.

All the Tabloids claimed to be delighted that the BNP were defeated soundly in the last General Election but with such journalism there is no need for the BNP to ent their spleen the British media is doing the job for them.

Friday 9 July 2010

An Equal Union?

There has been much speculation that the Con-Lib government has plans to reduce the number of Welsh MP from 40 to 30 as part of plans to reduce the number of MPs in the UK.The idea is to equalize the number of electors each Constituency holds across the UK though some concession may be given to rural areas.

The reduction of Welsh MPs has also become necessary, it has been argued because Devolution means that there is no need for Wales to have a higher number of electors needed in each constituency than in England.

This has already been done in Scotland where after the creation of the Scottish Parliament saw the number of members reduced from 72 to 59 in 2005.

I have always thought the Scots were mistaken in not resisting the cut in their MPs and hope those in Wales do not follow suit.

Of course I personally would be all too happy to see the day when we send zero MPs to Westminster but as we do. Shouldn’t we have more MPs rather than less?

If the UK is the Union which is so beloved of the London Parties then why not has a Union of equals?

The EU for examples “weights” the membership of its Parliament so Countries wit large population do not completely dominate: And of course in Commission where the real power is the. There is one Commissioner per member of the 27 states.

Taking in to account that there is only one Tory in Scotland and the dominance of Labour in Wales It is is clear that we have different values to that of predominately Tory England.

If we accept the equal members of the Union therefore the membership of the Commons should perhaps in reality resemble this.

England……………350 MPs

Scotland…………...200 MPs

Wales……………...100 MPs

Northern Ireland…...50 MPs

I doubt the war in Afghanistan would have happened in this case.

This would mean no one member of the Union would completely dominate the Commons.
I doubt than any Unionist would agree with this proposal and Nationalist would treat it as a sop. But I believe this exposes the whole unionist argument.

We are either equal members of your Union or not. If we are treat us as equal Nations if not let us leave.

Thursday 8 July 2010

Short Term Contracts.


Anybody who has seeking work for a long period will know that there is a scarcity of jobs out there. They will have also noticed that many jobs now advertised are on short term contracts,  This has been the norm for a number of years.This is particularly prevalent in the manufacturing industry.

This means that people on short term contracts have no idea how long their employment will go on and could be renewing their contract daily. (Though I believe the norm is based the period they are paid weekly, fortnightly or Monthly.

To my knowledge there been no major investigation in to the amount of short term contracts, either in Wales or the UK. Which I find perplexing.

I therefore call any Trade Unionist, Political Party, individual MP, or AM to ask for the following Questions.

  • How many people in the UK/Wales are employed on short term contracts?

  • What percentage is this of the total UK/Welsh workforce?

  • What is the difference between increment/service pay between people on full time and short term contracts?

  • What is the average period of employment on someone on such a contract before the employee contact is permanently ended?

This will be difficult. Often at the end of the year (just before the Christmas Holidays people are dismissed, only to be reemployed a few weeks later with a different “Clock Number”

  • How many people on short term contracts are dismissed in this way (Therefore  receiving no holiday pay) only to be reemployed in the new year?

  • What is the longest period anyone has spent on such a contract? 

  • How often are people on short term contracts are eventually  offered full employment?

  • How often people from outside the company  are offered employment on full term contracts even though there are already people working there on short term contracts?

I know of at least one case where someone working for a state owned company who as been doing the exact job for 3 years on a short term contract who was ignored in favour of a new applicant.

  •  When redundancies are taken into account, or plant closures announced to what extent is the true nature of this ignored because the extent of those who were employed on short term contracts hides  the actual total people who are now unemployed.

  • What percentage of people who are on short term contracts are members of a Trade Union?

These questions need asking perhaps they haven’t been asked because the result may be too embarrassing.

Wednesday 7 July 2010

Cut off from the Internet

Yesterday because of a problem with my server,I couldn’t get on the Internet let alone Blog. I did have the option of using my local library, which due to a building extension now has excellent computer and internet resources but felt a day couldn’t harm me.

I was wrong about that. I was frustrated by the end of the day and it made me realise how dependant I am on my computer and the Internet.

As someone looking for employment I really need to lookup not only the ditrctgov website but employment agencies on a daily basis.

I also need to have my CV available and in Word because although there are cheaper word processing alternatives if you need to email the CV you really need Word because that’s what employers use.

My computer is nearly 10 years old and I only switched from Windows Millennium last year and it will not be cost effective to upgrade to Vista. I am saving for a new computer with a view to buying a new computer in 2011 or 2012. Bearing in mind support for XP ends in 2014.This I consider to be absolutely vital.

But what of those who don’t have access to a computer? Or have no Broadband connexion? Access to a computer is as vital to us now as access to a telephone 10-20 years ago.

As a student in Coleg Harlech in (1984-1986) because of my appalling handwriting and spelling. I was the first student to use the colleges computer to write my essays, which increased my marks by about 10%.

I suppose some will decry this as letting standards slip and we should concentrate on the 3Rs and handwriting skills, but I was a product of that and it affected my education when I failed to measure up with my handwriting and poor spelling. I am sure if I had access to modern computer faculties I would have done much better academically.

That is why I applauded Plaid's plan to give free laptops to 10 and 11-year-olds, but we need to look at the education gap that access to a computer causes in all areas of education.

I believe pupils should have free access to the internet. This could be carried out by the Welsh Assembly’s Education department which could set up an agency to do so by creating a sever providing intenet facilities  restricted to areas of the Internet which will aid them in their education. This would be supported by parents who would be worried about their children accessing Adult sites for example.

We must ensure no one falls behind or fails to realise their potential because they cannot what is now a simple thing as a computer.

One day being cut off from the internet has shown this.

Monday 5 July 2010

Balls (No inuendo)

Ed Balls will probably fail in his attempt to become Labour Leader, partly because of his surname . Members will be afraid of the headlines in the Tabloid press on the lines of “It’s All Balls!” Unfortunate but he does himself no favours when he makes statements as he did in Wales on Sunday yesterday on the Barnett formula for Wales

He said,

The important thing that I know from my time in the Treasury is that the Barnett Formula applies to part of public spending. But you’ve also got in addition to that, the spending outside the Barnett Formula which comes on the basis of need... because of unemployment, because of child poverty, and also because of the need for regeneration.”

And he went on that Wales, “disproportionately benefited” from European aid, unemployment benefits and tax credit support “because there has been greater need and disadvantage in some parts of Wales because of the legacy of the Thatcher unemployment of the 1980s”.

It’s seems to be a bit like saying that a victim of mugging disproportionately benefited from A&E treatment and Police attention.

What Balls and the rest of the Westminster circus can not see is the reason why Wales has such a dependency on the public sector is because of the failure of successive governments and to realise that we need to rebuilt our manufacturing industry. Well Balls appears to understand this to some extent,but he cannot blame it all on Thatcher. His party has had 10 years of government and in reality did nothing to address the issue ,or used the wrong policy the which is why we became dependent on EU funding.

The idea that if you get money from the European Union means that national government can  cut it’s own aid is contrary to the actual ethos of EU policy.

But successive government have pursued the wrong policy when it comes to encouraging manufacturing in Wales. To the extent of building large complexes for major manufactures who stat for a period but then decamp to area where wage costs are lower.

This cam be reflected in the saga of the LG factory in Newport which never realised anything like it's potential,

The LG site has had a troubled history, with up to 6,000 jobs promised in 1996 never materialising.

A £1.2 billion sister factory on the site, which was to make semi-conductors, never went into production and is still empty.

The LG Philips factory making colour tubes for monitors and televisions closed in 2003 with 870 job losses.

At its height, 2,000 people were employed at the site.

The LG factories on the site originally received more than £87m of grant money, and in 2005 some £34m was repaid to the then Welsh Development Agency.

To some extent LG failed because they were intending to build the wrong sort of TV sets but they could have changed their process.
Some would argue that this was the fault of the Welsh Assembly Government but they were highly under the control of Labour's Westminster Ideology at the time and the initiative came before the Assembly was created.

It would have been better if the £87m had gone to encouraging smaller indigenous companies to form or expand in areas of high unemployment perhaps on a small proportion of the 6,000 jobs would have been created but they would still be here. We need Welsh solution for Welsh problems not be led

It is clear to me that the current crisis will be used by the Parties at Westminster to “roll back the state”. Which they have been itching to do for decades. None of the leadership candidates seem to be willing to stand up for the eventual victims of this and Welsh Labour who may benefit from this policy. But Welsh voters are not stupid and they must distance themselves from the likes Balls because if they do not there is a centre left Party in Wales who will be only willing to do so.

Saturday 3 July 2010

Peter's (New) Friends.

If you are wondering why Peter Black in his latest post is so disparaging of those who have questioned the proposal that there should be a referendum on the Alternative Vote on the same day as the Welsh Assembly, Scottish Parliament and English Council Elections. There is a very good reason.

He believes that as they are associated with proportional representation they will benefit in votes from having both on May 5th 2011.

In his blog he writes.

“The idea that we could somehow partition off our own referendum and Assembly elections from the rest of the UK and stand aloof from the wider considerations of the UK Government is a separatist's wet dream. I am astonished that Labour are playing along with this outrage without realising that what they are actually arguing for is the removal of the Welsh political system from the Union.”

What utter nonsense, Peter knows full well that in Wales council elections were changed from coinciding with those for the Assembly elections to prevent confusion and to make the Assembly elections clear and avoid any confusion.

In Scotland the last Scottish Parliament elections were held on the same day with the council elections (on different electoral systems) was a fiasco.

What Peter and the Con-Lib coalition are asking is for people to vote on May 5th  for an Assembly via one electoral system and pick another electoral system for Westminster. This is daft!

But why should we have the Welsh Assembly Elections on the same as that for the Scottish Parliament and English Councils anyway? Just have a look at the Parties & Elections in Europe website (well worth viewing in itself) which shows other European States have elections to their devolved legislature at different dates.

The last Assembly election saw Wales ignored whilst the media concentrated on Scotland .Would it not benefit democracy,if we held the Welsh assembly elections on its own day? The Assembly elections should be an emphasis on the uniqueness of Wales that is shown by devolved powers. Peter Black surely knows this?

 It says something about the Lib-Dems in Wales that Glyn Davies gives a more reasonable and moderate viewpoint on the proposals.
Peter Black is becoming more and more desperate in defending the indefensible ,and his choice of words resembling arch-unionist politician which  can be shown by his endorsement by the Stonemason in the comments on his post.

“Well said, you have my vote, and a good many of the other voters in Wales”.

By your friends so shall we Know you,

Friday 2 July 2010

David Mitchell's Soapbox on Gaelic

I’m a big fan of the comedian Dave Mitchell whose tendency to go in to long rants on panel shows, somehow matches my own sense of humour. And I have been following him regually in the Guardian. However I was disappointed with his feature “David Mitchell Soap Box” on the Guardian Website.* However I’ll allow him the benefit of the doubt in that has a comedian being controversial is part of the job. Though he was just wrong on every front.

*If you can’t see the Video try You Tube here” but read the comments.

However itis the comments that really interested me. One would expect the readers of the Guardian webpage to have liberal-progressive viewpoint. However the comments are nearly all negative about minority languages and if you exclude right wing infiltrators you can get some of the idea of the British-Left-Liberal position on this.

I’m sure many readers of this Blog who support devolution and the Welsh Language will not be surprised and have been frustrated by this position over the years. I’ve met people on the left over the years, who have supported IRA and ETA violence in support of a United Ireland and Basque Independence whilst condemning Plaid and The SNP for being “separatists”.

Similarly there are some so called progressives who will talk endlessly about the plight of indigenous people in the Americas. Who have at the best indifference to the Welsh Language and at the worst downright hostile.

Not all on the British Left share these views however. I remember in my student days at Coleg Harlech finding some English students having more sympathy for Wales and the Language than the Welsh Labour members Neil Kinnock was very much in charge then..

What David Mitchell and many detractors of minority languages fail to realise is that even for those of us who do not speak these languages they provides us with a sense of identity and a understanding of our culture.many Non-Welsh speakers derive pleasure from Welsh Language music and have pride in the increasing bilingualism in our public and private sector. and whilst we may fail to learn it fluently, we can help to ensure that future generations do not lose out by ensuring they have the opportunity to be educated in our native languages.

That is why I am pleased that Helydd Fychan has been posting in Welsh lately even if it means that I have to use google translate (Which improves all the time) to get the gist of her post. and hopefully mean that more people will post in Welsh without translation and we non-speakers have a simple means of reading it.

But google translate doesn’t work perfectly yet Helydd Fychan translates as "Hebrides Vaughan”