Wednesday 29 September 2010

Monmouthshire Council insults Wales and its People.

News from the BBC whilst the rest of Wales takes pride in hosting the Ryder cup Monmouthshire County Council has refused to fly the Welsh Flag (Draig Goch ) from Monmouth Shire Hall during the competition

 The council has refused saying it doesn't want to get "embroiled in debates" about whether Monmouth is "really Welsh".

Kellie Beirne, the council's chief officer for regeneration and culture was reported as : "The Shire Hall in Monmouth is a historically important building and the town itself plays a significant part in both Welsh and English history. "It doesn't need a national flag to demonstrate that".
"Due to the building's unique identity, a specific Shire Hall flag is flown to emphasise the extraordinary history it has."
But according to the BBC the Union Flag is already flying over the shire hall.

I can only assume that Ms Beirne is quoting council policy and not just making her own response or that of her council official bosses.

So who drew this up? If anyone.

Monmouthshire is clearly legally part Wales and devolution finally ended any argument. There is now no “Wales and Monmouthshire” and all Welsh Counties are equally subject to any Laws and Polices that emulate from the Welsh Assembly t.

Only a minority question this today and I can only say that elected members of Monmouthshire County Council and elected AMs and MPs should move swiftly to resolve this and to recognise that Monmouthshire is a fully a part of Wales, is proud to be part of Wales and entirely seeks to promote this at every opportunity.

Tuesday 28 September 2010

Welsh Republican Rugby Union?

Like many Welshmen and Women for me one of the downsides to a Welsh Rugby International is the fact that we see our team wearing jerseys displaying the emblem of a foreign Prince.

If you want to meet the cracach and get some idea of what the they are like. Then only look at the hierarchy of the WRU. Who invite William Windsor to be something called "Welsh Rugby Union’s Vice Royal Patron" despite the fact that he and his brother spent his youth in an England shirt correctly supporting his own country.
So I can't wear an official shirt. There are some rugby shirts with a Welsh identity but I feel we need a bolder statement.
Perhaps what we need is to form something called The Welsh Republican Rugby Union (WRRU)and produce Rugby jerseys which are more in keeping. I’ve produced a crude example below using the leek as an emblem but perhaps readers of this Blog can come up with a better badge.

Of course if someone did do this those forelock pullers at the WRU would probably try to sue for copyright. But there is no monopoly on Red or Cymru so there only contention would be the sponsors name (which I don’t care about) and the attempt to use WRRU.

Sunday 26 September 2010

Attack of the Clones.

I was going to write on the election of Ed Miliband but as I would have written the same if any of the other candidates had won (except Diane Abbot maybe). I realised it would be exactly the same piece with a different name. All I can say that we have another political clone leading a major party and I pity political commentators and perhaps more importantly  Rory Bremner in trying to distinguish between Cameron, Clegg and Miliband ( sound like a firm of dodgy solicitors) or as I suppose Dave, Nick and Ed as they will be called by the media (sound like a team of Blue Peter presenters). Of course they will tall try and sound different as they try to put Blue .Red and Yellow between them but in reality it will be a pale pastel.

As George Orwell wrote.

"Political language... is designed to make lies sound truthful and murder respectable, and to give an appearance of solidity to pure wind".

We will no doubt judge Ed Miliband's conversion to the Left by his actions if he ever becomes Prime Minister by then of course it will be to late for smug sceptics like myself to say. "I told you he would let us down". But I suppose I unfortunately will.

Saturday 25 September 2010

Can there be an "English" Left I hope so

Miserable Old Fart has pointed me to England’s Left Forward. A valiant attempt to look at politics from an English left point of view.

Most Nationalist in Wales and Scotland, whether on the right or left have met those largely "British" socialist. who proclaim “I’m not a Nationalist but a Internationalist”, and then go on to decry Plaid and the SNP.

Of course they would then go on to express their support for indigenous people throughout the world, whilst at the same condemning any one fighting for an independent and/or Cymraig as narrow and parochial.

They would often then express support for militant Irish Nationalism backing Sinn Fein during the troubles, whilst attacking peaceful movements in Wales and Scotland.

In fact England’s Left Forward makes this error and I would argue any claim that Sinn Fein has never been on the left as we progressives would judge and reflects a romantic view of Irish nationalism. The likes of James Connolly were always in a minority and the belief that the left had a major influence in the war of independence is a trap which the anti-imperialist left have often fallen into.

This does not negate the Irish stuggle but you cannot condem Saunders Lewis for his right wing nationlism whilst prasing in any way Éamon de Valera.
However when it comes to Wales and Scotland .The old saying “cut an British socialist and you will draw Imperialist Blood”is all  too true.

But there have always been those who have tried to emphasise English Identity in a positive progressive light. The late Bernard Crick 16 December 1929 –2008 showed elements of this, perhaps learned through his extensive work on George Orwell, but it’s a pity he never passed this on to Neil Kinnock when he acted in his capacity as his advisor.

And the musician Billy Brag perhaps is the very figure of what we all would like to see of  a progressive English socialist and  now National Left welcomes England’s Left Forward to this group and we can only hope it expands throughout England.

However If you thought that expressing a Welsh or Scottish identity through socialism is hard to communicate then pity our brothers and sisters in England

Both their patron Saint and National flag have been appropriated by the far right, and when you can see the Draig Goch and Saltaire being waved at Anti War, Anti -Racism and other demonstrations. It is hard to see the appearance of the flag of St George at these events ever occurring in the near future.

But that is precisely support England’s Left Forward and others who are patriotic Englishmen and Women but are not imperialist.

Perhaps the solution is for new English flag that the left can identify with? A Red Rose for instance . But perhaps what really is needed is for the Greens in England and Wales to form separate identities as already happens in Scotland and those in England can be a focus of not only Green politics but of a progressive left English Identity. They should have much in common in any case.

This could lead to a Bloc of Members Of Parliament from The Greens and the Nationalist party working together promoting progressive ideas and opposing the Imperialist and rightward lurch and rhetoric of the British Unionist Parties

Thursday 23 September 2010

Peter Black puts his blinkers on again.

Peter Black today seems determined to prove critics like National Left that he cherry picks only positive and open himself to ridicule reports on the Lib-Dems. In his own words

There is a good blog post from Andrew Sparrow on the Guardian website in which he outlines ten things he has learned from attending Liberal Democrat Conference. Obviously a number of journalists were attending our conference for the first time this year and were pleasantly surprised to see that we did not live up to the myth.

Peter then reproduces Numbers 1,2,3,45,6 and 10 somewhat positive analysis by  Andrew Sparrow So what weren’t the highlights according to Peter  ?

Well obviously they are less positive.

7 The alternative vote campaign seems to be in trouble. The polls show support for AV is falling and it is hard to find a Lib Dem confident that AV will get through. Clegg launched the Yes campaign at a rally on Saturday. But some Lib Dems think voters will use the referendum as an excuse to punish the coalition for the cuts and, if the Yes campaigners have got a strategy to deal with this, they haven't bothered to tell anyone what it is yet.

8 Lib Dem relations with the media are getting tetchy. There has been a surprising amount of sniping at the media from the platform this week. Maybe it's just because the Lib Dems are in government. But my cod-psychology theory is that the repressed anger generated by years of being patronised and ignored by the papers is finally erupting.

9 Lib Dem delegates don't necessarily decide policy any more. The Lib Dems are more democratic than the other parties. For years, conference really has decided policy. But this week delegates have been passing motions which, although technically party policy, will not decide what the government does. Whether or not a conference motion influences the coalition will depend on whether or not Clegg fights for it at the cabinet table.

As I wrote Peter has opened himself for ridicule here. Does he really think we are too thick to check Sparrows Blog in full? 
 After the usual hagiography on Wales Home on Welsh Politician in which he has been compared to an Anorak .I would venture to argue is most obvious apparel is Horse blinkers.

Citzen Cable speaks to the People.

It is interesting that the Lib-Dem Rally (sorry conference) ended with Business Secretary Vince Cable warned yesterday that banks could face higher taxes if “offensive” bonuses are handed out at a time of economic crisis.

This of course went down well with the Party faithful Cable was seem prior to the General Election as the Cassandra who foresaw the Banking crisis where no one listened to him and now as Business Secretary will be the man to punish them..

Cable reminds me of Orson Wells as Citizen Cane. Who in a election against a corrupt city boss.

[I entered this campaign]...with one purpose only, to point out and make public the dishonesty, the downright villainy of Boss Jim W. Gettys' political machine, now in complete control of the government of this state. I made no campaign promises, because until a few weeks ago, I had no hope of being elected. Now however, I am something more than a hope. Jim Gettys, Jim Gettys has something less than a chance. Every straw vote, every independent poll shows that I'll be elected. Now I can afford to make some promises. The working man, the working man and the slum child know they can expect my best efforts in their interests. The nation's ordinary citizens know that I'll do everything in my power to protect the underprivileged, the underpaid, and the underfed.
Orson Wells Citizen Cane (R.K.O. 1941)

Of course Kane was as bad as Gettys and his campaign was always about power but the rhetoric of Citizen Cable and other real politicians (where they are always on our side) never comes to fruition. Already the right wing press are rallying behind the money interests. Who whilst they were as critical as the rest of us a year ago now rally around the capitalist freemarket agenda, and the result of this will undoubtedly lead to him making only cosmetic changes to banking regulations.

Because the idea that he was a lone voice pointing out the failings in the economy is largely a myth which the Lib-dens gleefully have promoted since and particularly in the build up to the General Election. In fact like most politicians. Citizen Cable shifts with the wind.

Julian Knight in the Independent in April of this year got to the heart Citizen Cable right. He wrote.

Take, for example, the Government's quantitive easing programme. Cable chided this as Robert Mugabe economics – a good throwaway line but wrong. In 2003, when the first alarms were being raised internationally about Gordon Brown's massive spending splurge, Cable was openly supportive of the Chancellor. He has separately called for retention of the Bank of England's independence while calling on it to cut rates. And in the depths of the crisis, Cable first backed the takeover of HBOS by Lloyds and then a few months later said it was a mistake. I wonder if he still has the same view. Tony Benn – not someone I regularly quote – put politicians into two categories: signposts or weathercocks. Mr Benn says he has time for signposts who stick to their principles and are consistent, but none for weathercocks who go with whatever makes them look good and court popularity. Mr Cable is definitely a weathercock, and if he were to achieve the chancellorship in a hung parliament, we'd see this writ large.

The fact that Citizen Cable has already been sidelined whilst giving him the air of authority to prevent any true rebellion. He will be like Harri Webb's Our Budgie

"If you ignore him he'll squawk and Squawk
And rattle the bars of his pretty cage.
But he'll never get out
He'll never try it.
And a cloth on the cage
Will keep him quiet".

To parphase Harri's last lines.

"This futile bird
it seems to me
Would  mas perfect
Lib-Dem  MP"

Tuesday 21 September 2010

Gosh my local Labour Party are Democrtic Socialists!

This morning I received my first Post election leaflet from a Political Party. This was from the Beddau and Tynant branch of the Labour party.

It was largely a attempt to give a shine to the Labour controlled Rhondda Cynon Taf controlled council as well as introducing Mick Antoniw their candidate for Pontypridd in the next years Assembly elections.

Normally I wouldn't bore you with  such a trivial piece, but there one aspect that surprised me. As
you can see from the left for the first time in a age
a Labour leaflet mentions Democratic Socialism and ordinary Working People! It may be that the man behind it (a decent fellow actually) has gone out on a limb here.
It may be that a different form of the leaflet has been posted in the more affluent areas of Beddau and Tynant where "Democratic Socialism "has been repaced by another slogan.

Or it could be that Labour has realised that it has neglected its core vote for too long as it sought under the New Labour banner for votes in "Middle England".
I wonder if I'm like those people who write to the Times saying that they heard the first cuckoo of spring or this is just an anomaly. Time will tell, but it will be policies and action that will  determine whether Labour is a now or can be a  "Democratic Socialist movement". History alas is against them.

Monday 20 September 2010

Blaneau Gwent to become Lawless..

The news that that independent AM Trish Law is to stand down next year comes as no surprise, after Dai Davies emphatic defeat in this years Parliamentary elections, and the voluntary implosion of Peoples Voice Though some may well have argued that she would have won through good will and the seeming arrogance of Labour candidate Alun Davies.

However baring Alun Davies making some extreme gaffes and being seen as taking the seat for granted he should be comfortably elected next May.

Unless of course if the electors of Blaneau Gwent having had a taste for rebellion do so once again.

But for the other Party’s Alas the mathematics are not there.
In the first Assembly Elections Phil Williams did take 21.1 % but was way behind Peter Law who was then the Labour Candidate.

And the Higest Liberal vote was in the Parliamentary seat in 1983 (their best year in Wales for years) and that was only  15.1%. They are however the only other mainstream Party on the council with two seats but I don't think that's enough to single them out as a contender.

Incidentally Blaneau Gwents council website is one of the worst I've ever seen where I can't seem to get councillor details and they don't give people information on Regional Assembly members.

The Tories haven't even reached the small percentages of the other Parties even in good years for them.

It's possible with a dynamic candidate one of the Parties might make an impact particualy if Trish Law was to enorse him or her.. But this  seems unlikely and an interesting era in the politics of Blaneau Gwent in particular and Wales in general seem to be coming to an end.

Sunday 19 September 2010

Peter Black dissident

You will be as amazed as I am that Peter Black now attending his Party Rally (sorry conference) in Liverpool has found himself in conflict with his colleagues.

Was it over Budget cuts, Trident, abandoning STV for the inferior AV? No it was over a motion calling for a proper legally enforceable code of conduct on how civil servants avoid conflicts of interest when they cease to work for the government and go into the private sector. As Peter tells us

The Association of Liberal Democrat Councillors tabled an amendment calling on the same code to apply to Council officers and urged Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland to follow suit.

Now it may well be that the devolved countries would want to follow suit, after all it seems like a good motion, but frankly that is a matter for us and not a Federal Conference, who have no jurisdiction in these matters. It is really none of their business to advise us either way. I argued that the offending passage should be excised but was defeated”.

Well he 's right on this but to call the Liverpool rally (sorry conference) a Federal Conference is valid only  if you accept the myth that the Liberal Democrats are federal party and that La Pasionaria leads a independent Welsh Liberal party.

If this is true then are they self financing will they pay for next years Assembly elections themselves or will they receive cash from their London HQ.

This of course applies to all the Unionist Parties but the Lib-Dems try harder to pretend they are not controlled by Nick Clegg and Cowley Street. They are not like the SDLP who whilst being a separate party take the Labour whip .They should be sitting with Plaid and the SNP but that's another argument.

Peter Black have been right to be a dissenting voice this time but to achieve any credibility he should speak out his Parties sell out to Cameron and the Tories.

Saturday 18 September 2010

Diane Abbot finds Welsh Map. But its years out of date.

In article in yesterday's Western Mail David Williams reports Labour leadership contender Diane Abbott as describing how she takes inspiration from Welsh Labour and why she believes women in Wales will lose out in the coming cuts

I’ve always felt a great affinity with Wales. It has always been a place I’ve looked to as a home of the true “left” of the Labour Party. She is reported as saying.

Err Is this the same Diane Abbot who in August said,

“I have not spent a week and a half in Wales. I genuinely think the Scottish Labour party has always had a very fundamental role in British Labour politics. In a way the Scottish Labour movement is the keeper of the flame when it comes to socialism. I think whoever wins (in Scotland) deserves to win overall.”

Apparently according a online questionnaire . Diane Abbot is clearly the closest of the Labour Leadership contenders to my own viewpoint. However its a bit late I think for Diane to whoo Welsh Labour voters, but if she was honest it is not the Labour Party in Wales who are the inheritors of the “True Left” but a large number of Plaid Cymru members and supporters.

Not all of course, but even those within Plaid who bulk at the term socialism, I found often agreed with Party Policies which Dianne would argue was that of the true left.

But the Labour Party in Wales even before the advent of New Labour was hardly a progressive left wing party (and I think progressive is an important term here) and often only used socialist langage but always avoided put it in to practice.

I always found it it amusing that whilst a student at Coleg Harlech and later Abeystwyth University. Labour party members from England, often found themselves more in tune with Plaid students (as I was at the time) than Welsh Labour Students on many social policies

And this was often apparent in other political fields such as Anti-Apartheid and CND.

I still meet Labour members whose attitude to progressive ideals for example Women Rights, The Peace Movement, and Green Issues are close to “Old Toryism” and not even New Labour.

But it is the New Labour project that I believe is the problem here, Dianne record on opposing Blair's right wing vision was not great (Better than the other Candidates though) and I think Labours major problem is that there no true left winger of the stature of Tony Benn to rally to.

I don't think Diane is capable of that but if wishes to take up the mantle she will not find the answers in the ranks of Welsh Labour.

Thursday 16 September 2010

What a pile of Cachi.

Leighton Andrews AM, has done us all a favour (Praise for a Labour AM whatever next?) in posting on the Electoral Reform Societies (ERS), proposal for new Welsh constituencies to fit in with the Libcon proposals for cutting the number of seats in the UK, and having roughly equal constituencies based on population size, There a spreadsheet you can download here where you can search for your council ward. and your proposed new constituency (You’ll need Excel)

Like Leighton I find the proposal absolutely crazy. The Title of the spreadsheet is CACI . CACHI would be more apt

My ward of Beddau seems to have been placed in something called Bargoed & Treharris/Nelson where next door Llantrisant would be in Rhondda & Maesteg and Llantwit Fardre would be in Caerphilly & Pontypridd.

Bargoed and Nelson are currently in Caerphilly whilst Treharris is in Merthyr and Rhymney.
Beddau seems to be liked to these by a strip running through the small village of Penycoedcae (where I grew up) and the Graig and Pontypridd Town. (so no link by a major road or Public transport) so we will be remote from the rest of the proposed constituency

The whole thing looks like a mismatch with the ward of Pontypridd Town not even in the proposed Caerphilly & Pontypridd constituency . The only criteria seems to be electoral numbers.

Perhaps its ploy by the ERS to show that the Libcon plans are unworkable without destroying the whole historic basis of constituency identity?

There is one good thing from these proposals in that if historic links and identity with an area could be done away with. There is no reason why we can’t simply do away with them all together  and have multiple constituencies based on STV.
If we are going to have a reform at least make it democratic and worthwhile

Update Plaid Wrexham have joined in with a analysis of their area. It would be great if more can join an we can get a full picture of this mess with regards Wales

Wednesday 15 September 2010

Kennedy leads dissent. Peter Black ignores it.

Former Lib Dem leader Charles Kennedy has spoken out against the proposed Libcon coalition s proposed cuts.

Mr Kennedy says “he is reluctant to become an irritant, sniping at the government from the sidelines”.

But he warns those making decisions about spending “not to throw the baby out with the bath water”.

It is interesting that both Peter Black and Subordinate centre have remained silent over this as they were quick to point up dissent at the Plaid conference.

Kennedy however may well be expressing the views of many Lib-Dems as they head to in Liverpool for their conference .

I suspect that one of the reasons they chose the City was they believed that they would be in control of the Metropolitan City Council, but alas they lost it to Labour last May.

And the the leader of the Lib Dems in Liverpool  and former council leader has said "he fears people will see no point in voting for the party after it formed the coalition government".

Oh dear. Here in Wales the Lib-Dems buoyed with a close results in Swansea West, Newport East, Merthyr .and Pontypridd would be claiming that they would take these seats in next years Assembly Elections.

Alas the pointers seem to indicate they will lose constituency seats including that of La Pasionaria and have to rely on the regional seats to keep they numbers as they already are.

Peter Black showed his astuteness when he declined to put his name forward for Swansea West. Even though a Lib-Dem victory there could well cost the Party his regional seat.

Even if they were to win the Election court case against Phil Woolas in The Oldham East and Saddleworth , and I hope they will .it looks like a particularly nasty case. It will only open an honest nest where they own dubious practices will be called into count and their portrayal of themselves as the honest Party will be brought to public scrutiny.

Tuesday 14 September 2010

Unions should support thier members not the Labour Party

Unions should support thier members not the Labour Party  Many years ago whilst working in a Textile factory, I was a shop Steward for a small union called the Amalgamated Union of Textile Workers and Kindred Trades.

I was a Plaid member and activist at the time and I remember the Branch Secretary presenting me with a Labour Party diary, an embarrassing moment for both of us.

The secretary Jack Wright brother Ken, had been a Labour Party councillor and chairman of Caerphilly council where he had been granted leave of absence by the company. until he had been beaten by Plaid in one of its great surges in 1972. So this did not endear him to me.

He was also national President Of the (AUTWKT) . However bizarrely he was also Personnel Officer for the company. This meant the leader of our Union was responsible for hiring and firing the workforce.
All this and the fact that I was the only person singularly made redundant by the company never affected my support for Trade Unions.

I even understood and accepted the traditional links Unions had with the Labour Party. But I believe now is the time for this association to end.

But as Miserable Old Fart recently posted  it is frustrating of Union members who supported another Party only to see the Union backing Labour.

Even non-aligned members must be angered in seeing their Union refraining from criticising the New Labour government who did little to improve the lot of working people as they pandered to the City and the Bankers who eventually have led as to the current state where a Libcon coalition cuts will affect the poorest  often Union members greater than most.

Passing the Unison offices in Pontypridd in the last election where the posters backing Labour, who had done nothing to support Trade Unions in the 13 years of power and did little to improve the lot of the workers Unison represented filled me with anger and despair.

The Unions themselves no longer are led by people who have come up the ranks but often entered the organisation straight from university never actually having worked in the same manner as their members, and it often seems to me that often  it is little more than a career move where there is little understanding of the experience of ordinary members.

And the days when a Trade Unionist becomes an Labour MP after starting on the shop floor seem well gone.

Now of course they seem to  have found a new militancy which has been largely absent over the last 13 years.

I applaud this, but Unions should stand up to Government whatever the make up and for that reason  I believe that Unions should.
  1. Break their formal ties with the Labour Party
  2. Sponsor MPs and Candidates regardless of Political party but whether He or She support the principals and campaigns of that Union.
  3. Seek to devolve power to regions and branches and seek to encourage ordinary members to take a more active roll in the Unions development as NUPE did in the 1980’s.
Can any Trade Union leader really believe that either Milliband Brother will support Unions with little more than platitudes? And yet the endorse them.

Unions  are not there to serve the Labour Party but its members. It is time they began to do so


Saturday 11 September 2010

Phone Hacking Scandal a bigger threat than we thought.

Former Plaid MP has Adam Price has claimed that MPs held back in an inquiry into phone-hacking allegations for fear that their own private lives could be targeted, a former MP has claimed.

Adam said it was "regrettable" that the culture committee had not been tougher last year. He said it had been wrong not to force News International chief executive Rebekah Brooks to attend a hearing.

He added that he hoped the standards committee would "stand firm where we didn't".

Adam said the culture committee should have used "the nuclear option" and forced Mrs Brooks to attend.

Under parliamentary rules, MPs can compel witnesses to attend committee hearings - but they have rarely exercised that power.

"We decided not to," said Mr Price. "I think to some extent because of what I was told at the time by a senior Conservative member of the committee, who I know was in direct contact with NI execs, that if we went for her, called her back, subpoenaed her, they would go for us."

He added: "Which meant effectively that they would delve into our personal lives in order to punish them, and I think that's part of the reason we didn't do it."

Peter Black take on this is unbelievably coy but then he could hardly back a Plaid Politician could he?

The Idea that MPs are afraid of News International. was also mooted by Labour MP Tom Watson. Who in the debate on the Hacking scandal claimed “Politicians from the Prime Minister down are scared of standing up to “assassins” in the media”.

Attacked the “barons of the media”.

He claimed: “They have no predators. They are untouchable. They laugh at the law. They sneer at parliament. They have the power to hurt us, and they do, with gusto and precision, with joy and criminality”.

For this statement he was mocked by the Independent Simon Carr.

Yes the “Independent” which when it comes to the wire, backs its fellow media mates over democracy and fairness.

Both Adam Price and Tom Watson, have exposed what many of us have long suspected threat the Media protect their powers with the threat of exposure of any who stand in their way.

Even if you personally have nothing to hide they will go for your friends and family.

And if James Murdoch (Rupert’s son) gets its way then Sky will be allowed by the coalition government to ditch political neutrality (or at least the pretence) and copy it’s American counterpart Fox News and adopt a aggressive right wing agenda. Where Tea Party supporters like Glen Beck are given free rein.

Beck recently celled President Obama a racist saying.

That Obama has exposed himself as a person with "a deep-seated hatred for white people or the white culture."

If the Murdochs are given a similar free rein by the Coalition Government then the result will be even worsr than America because the lack of alternative coverage only the BBC will be there to callenge them and. Sky will becone like the News of the World a nasty right wing outlet maquarading as the voice of the people.

Our Politicians and the rest of the Media (Including Simon Carr) must stand up to News International and call them to account
Stanley Baldwin (3August 1867 – 14 December 1947) once said of the Media that it had....

"Power without responsibility — the prerogative of the harlot throughout the ages".

A free press is precious to our democracy a press that runs the country through fear and intimidation is a threat.

Wednesday 8 September 2010

(Irish) Labour shames (Welsh) Labour.

I was looking at the Webpage of the Irish Labour Party this morning and discovered t they provided a translation service for other Languages (through Google translate) including Welsh.

I don’t know how good this translation is (perhaps Welsh Language Bloggers can help here). But it is a noble effort.

It’s not lost on me that Welsh Labour doesn’t have a button to Welsh Language version of they website.

Surely their Irish counterparts shame them on their Internationalism (and Plaid should also look at the way their  translation access button, works for other languages ) but it is really amazing that I can easily see a Welsh Language version on the Irish Labour Website whilst Welsh Labour ignores it.

I have found the toolbar for the webpage translation at it seems to work. So my page can in theory be read in more than one language.

Tuesday 7 September 2010

Mr Clegg's weasel words.

So the proposal to hold a referendum on the introduction of the Alternative Vote (AV) for UK elections has passed it’s first hurdle with an easy win for the coalition government on last night vote (6t Sept).
To read some Lib-Dem blogs you would have thought this was always their policy those at Aberavon and Neath Liberal Democrats claimed.

“Our two Parties have different views on the future of our voting system. But we both recognise that there are genuine concerns about the current system. And we emphatically agree that the decision is not, in any case, for government alone.
It should be taken by the people themselves That is why both our parties support putting this question to a referendum next May, just one example of the power shift we are determined to deliver. Fixing parliament also means tackling the unfairness in the geography of MPs' constituencies by making sure votes count equally wherever they are cast. The coalition also proposes to cut the number of MPs to 600”.

If as they claim that it should be taken to the people themselves , then why not have an open referendum and give those who support STV (including presumably themselves) the chance to vote for this option.

As for the “Fixing” parliaments with regards re forming constituency boundaries. Then they got that right, because its nothing but a move to give the Tories the opportunity  to gerrymander the current set up.

I don’t often agree with Labour MP Kevin Brennan but when he asked .

“whether plans for constituency changes were included in the same bill as the price of Conservative support for the referendum. Mr Clegg replied that, as they were "two issues that relate to how we are elected to this House", it had been "natural to bring them together".

Mr Clegg defended plans to reduce the number of MPs and to redraw constituency boundaries so they each represented about 76,000 people each, saying it was "patently obvious that individuals' votes should carry the same weight".

But you don’t have to be a genius to work out that the Tories would clearly love to see AV fail at the referendum but see the cut in the number  seats pass (which we will not be allowed to vote for) guaranteeing them a larger majority if the percentage votes for the Parties at the next General Election remained roughly the same.

How can you have two bills combined when only one goes to a  referendum?

In their efforts to get their backsides on the seats of ministerial cars Nick Clegg and the Lib-Dems have sold parliamentary reform down the river and given their Tory bosses exactly the electoral advantage they are seeking.
 Because the bboundary changes are guaranteed to pass but the AV referendum may well fail.

No amount of weasel words either from Lib-Dems at Westminster , or Aberavon and Neath will hide this.

Sunday 5 September 2010

We should all celebrate the Welsh language.

I would like to congratulate all those who took part in the Pethau Bychain event last Friday It wall all about. celebrating the Welsh language online and to encourage more people to put blog posts, videos, audio and other things in Welsh online.

This is something we should all support and those who took part should be encouraged to increase their output.
To my shame, my Welsh was not up to taking part, but my commitment to supporting the language through events like Pethau Bychain is as total as any fluent Welsh speaker and perhaps even more than some.

We must remind ourselves that there are many supporters of the language who don’t speak Welsh and if they fail to learn it then seek to ensure that all of the next generation will have every opportunity to do so.

I believe that the Welsh Assembly should set a target that every Welsh School should be fully bilingual by 2030.

Some may think that is to far away. But I would rather see a longer prepared process than a rushed job where the infrastructure (including personnel ) is not there.

But perhaps the greatest challenge is to take the language out of politics.  As I've posted before on Party Websites , all parties in Wales should seek to be fully bilingual and by now over 11 years since the establishment of the Assembly they should have made greater progress

Sadly there are still elements in the Labour, Conservative and Liberal Democrats who have an Anti-Welsh agenda. Partly because they associate the language with Plaid, but also they are simply prejudiced and can't see beyond this.

However through Google translate I was able to read the Blogs in Welsh as I read those such as Blog Menai (a worthy winner of the Welsh political blogs 2010) on a regular basis.

Perhaps I missed the point in doing this but.Google translate is a useful  tool and will get even better, It means that bloggers like Blog Menai can reach a wider audience without having to resort to bloging in English.

But I am aware that we might be heading for future where no one learns a language because they can easily access translations. However I encourage people to use Google Translate, because it can only broaden our mind when it comes to Welsh and show that it is a living language.

I was reminded of my own position last night whilst sharing a pint with a friend who is Scottish but speaks Welsh fluently (but he still can’t roll his “Rs”) and I was reminded of the story of Police inspector talking to a farmer in  Amanford.

Police Inspector: I’m afraid I can’t speak Welsh Mr Jones. But I can understand a fair bit.

Farmer: Yes,Well so can my dog Gelert..

There are to many of us like that Police Inspector but at least I recognise it.

Friday 3 September 2010

Sir Humphrey Appleby. R.I.P.

Sir Humphrey:: The whole Cabinet can give you political advice.

Jim Hacker: They advise me to give more money to

their departments. I need someone on my side.

Sir Humphrey: But I'm on your side.

The whole Civil Service is on your side.

680,000 of us.

Surely that's enough to be going on with.

Jim Hacker: All giving the same advice.

Sir Humphrey: Which proves that it must be correct.

The Key . Yes Prime Minister BBC 1986.

The BBC series Yes Prime Minister showed the Civil service in control of the Politicians but these days our perception is probably more based on the “Thick of it” where it's government advisors who rule the roost.

And surely this is the main question that should be asked of William Hague with the whole Civil service to call on. Why does he need so many special advisors?

Why hasn’t those fearsome defenders “The Tax Payers Alliance” condemned this seeming waste of public money? Could it be because as some of us have long suspected they are mealy a Tory Party front?
I can understand why Ministers as Jim Hacker “need someone on their side” but so many?

Can it be that the Parties in Westminster (all of them) see the position of Special Advisor as a means of training the next generation of MPs?

David Cameron, Dave and Ed Milliband, and Ed Balls all were special advisers payed by the Tax payer and the current house of Commons has many MPs whose virtual whole working life has been previously spent in some capacity in Westminster.

This is what we should be asking about William Hague. Even if he was Gay I could’t give a hoot. I have long come to believe  that as long as Politicians don’t tell me who I can share a bed with, I don’t care who they share a bed with.

And lets face it like many a hetro-sexual male I’ve shared a Hotel bed in the past with another man when circumstances meant there was no other accommodation available. Are people of the same sex going to be questioned about they sexuality when ever they share a room even if there were twin beds in the room?
Lets concentrate on the real scandal and not puerile Homophobic tittle-tattle.

Thursday 2 September 2010

Do your views match how you would vote?

I thought people might like to try out the Toolbar above to check out  if their perception of themselves matches the results of the questionnaire.

You can also test how you might have voted in the Labour leadership contest here . I don't think that you should take it to seriously but it may be interesting.

If you are interested here's my result for the Labour Leadership contest
And for the General Election though I suspect the Lib-Dem % may be quite different now.
Either way I don't seem to be backing the winners. But such is life.

Wednesday 1 September 2010

The North South devide will increase and Wales is in the North.

.I'm surprised that more has not been made  of the News from the BBC That.

At least one in 10 people will be unemployed in half of UK regions by 2015, an economic think tank has forecast.

According to the Centre for Economics and Business Research (CEBR), the unemployment rate will exceed 10% in Wales and the North of England. The CEBR blamed expected huge cuts to public sector jobs.

The CEBR blamed expected huge cuts to public sector jobs.

You will not be surprised that London and the South of England are expected to escape the worst of the job losses, however.

This may be obvious to some but its important that. We must emphasise this and why this is happening.

If we Look at the Political Map of Britain after the 2010 Election .

We can see on the map on the Left  the position of the Parties However the left map is is some what misleading with regards the swathes of Blue. Whilst  it shows correctly the dominance of the Tories it looks more impressive than it is because the Tories often represent large rural constituencies.
Therefore if you look at the Map on the Right where the constituencies are shown as being of equal size.

From this Map (outside  of London) you can see that there is a great difference between the "Blue" South and the largely "Red" (including Wales and Scotland) North.

This means in the case of the Tories that are areas largely in the North which they do not represent and that they have little inclination to pay  attention to.

It also means in the case of Labour Party that (Because of the large Majorities) the battleground for them  is in the Tory marginal Tory seats in the South.
This is a result of our First past the Post electoral system.

Either way the North (including Wales and Scotland) loose out).

This is why we need proportional representation and in particular the Single Transferable Vote (STV)

Under STV then  virtually every constituency (of 4-6) seats will be represented by more than one Party and this will force elected members to concentrate on working for their constituency.

I understand the argument that this will often lead to coalition governments and the danger of what the American call Pork Barrel Politics in which individual politician can secure spending for localized projects.

However we could legislate for this  and empower the Standards Committee with the power to rule such deals as unconstitutional.

This does not mean that MPs cannot lobby or fight for their constituencies but any decision by government must be based on a honest appraisal.

The North South divide has grown under the last New Labour Government and it will continue to do so under the Con-Lib-Dem. The current proposal that the Introduction of AV will somehow make things better is just plain wrong.