Monday 29 November 2010

Kim Howells Why Bother?

Kim Howells amongst  notorious unit of the Colombian army accused, by Amnesty International, of torturing and killing trade unionists.

I’m a bit surprised that there hasn't been more comment on that former  Labour minister Kim Howells says next year's referendum on extra powers for the Welsh assembly is "partial and daft" and he will be voting no

But it could well be that most people in Wales  see Howells as irrelevant. Last night program  “a Valley view of the World” confirmed my view of him however as parochial politician who thinks he is playing on the big stage but if you want to see a truly devastating appraisal of him then have a look at what  his former colleague at Westminster  Paul Flynn , has to say about him. I can't remember when someone has condemned (who is still) a party member in such terms. But why the program anyway?

I can only assume that  BBC Wales that  “Den of Nationalist” (Yeh right) made such a programme  in order to balance any coverage.

Or it could be simply that the Old Labour Unionist are still lurking the corridors of the BBC in Cardiff.

Whatever happens I can't see Howells having any major impact on the campaign but it would be interesting for them to give some space to a positive aspect of devolution it seems that negative attacks on the assembly is seen as impartial investigative reporting  but positive reports  are "Nationalist Propaganda”.

It will also be interesting to see the response of Howells replacement in the Pontypridd Consistency Owen Smith sthe on of a similar valleys champion Dai Smith,who has often expressed similar  views on Howells standpoint. that Wales stops at Tonypandy

Friday 26 November 2010

Miliband is no different than Howard Flight .

New Conservative peer Howard Flight has provoked outrage after suggesting welfare cuts will cause unwanted "breeding" among benefit claimants.  This has been condemned outright ,but Labour Politicians are more subtle

Ed Miliband has said  Labour did not do "enough" when it was in power to reform the welfare system, party leader Ed Miliband has said.
There was still a "minority" of able-bodied adults not in work, which "hacks people off".
Again the inference is that people are having a good living off benefits whilst the hard working middle classes pay for it. 

Milliband has vowed to stand up for the "squeezed middle" - people on low and middle incomes who were feeling the pinch of government cuts and a fragile economy.

To my mind Miliband may be not as offensive  as Flight but  even when he says it a minority cheating on benefits ends up taring  all with the same brush. 
Where does he and his fellow Labour MPs condemn the minority of middle classs people cheating on their taxes.?  
The interesting thing is that no politician seems to refer to the Working classes any more, and the reason for this is there is no point in courting the working classes anymore.

Because they have very little political influence.

The fact is because of our political system only a few seats “The Marginal Ones” are of any importance in a general Election and these are nearly all those with Milliband’s “squeezed Middle class” Labour may have huge majorities in the Welsh Valleys but this is of no use when it comes to an election because it is the marginal middle class seats in the South East of England..

Some may point out the big swings to the Liberal Democrats  in Merthyr Tydfil and Rhymney and Pontypridd which were quite impressive. But Labour still has no fear of the Tories and of course it is largely the Middleclasses who vote in these constituencies as the working class become more and more apathetic.
The turnout for  Merthyr Tydfil and Rhymney  was 58.6% and Pontypridd 63.0% compared with 67.6% and 72.7% in 1983 and I would argue that it it is the poorer member of the electorate who are not voting , or worse not even bothering to enroll as no one speaks for them anymore and we enter vicious a circle where because they don't vote politicians realise they can  ignore them even more than the do now.

This leads to the idea amongst al parties is that because working class people don’t vote they don’t count and therefore means that politicians have no need to court them. Indeed as both Howard Flight and Ed Milliband have shown there is a kudos in attacking them whilst praising the middle classes.

Expect more courting of the Middle classes and more attacks on the working class.

Wednesday 24 November 2010

Who will speak for the Roma?

News that A Welsh Mayor has apologised over comments he made about Hitler and travellers at an equalities meeting.

There were claims councillor Mike Eckersley said he believed Hitler had the “right idea” about moving travellers out of the country.

But Cllr Eckersley, mayor of Prestatyn, denied this and claims that was not the thrust of what he was trying to say at a Denbighshire corporate equalities meeting.

He said: “There was a heated debate going on about what we could and could not do.

“I said Hitler had an idea of moving people to another country, but I said we were bound by Europe and there was a duty to provide for travellers.
If Councillor  Eckersley had made his comments about Hitler and the Jews then he would have been condemned by a far wider number of People but we often ignore such attacks on Travellers espicially those who are Roma.

Te extermination of Romanies was started as early as 1933 while camps were being established by the Nazis to contain Romanies at Dachau, Dieselstrasse, Mahrzan and Vennhausen. The vast majority of Romanies were to suffer the same indignities as the Jews. The Society for Threatened Peoples estimates the casualties at 277,100.] Martin Gilbert estimates a total of more than 220,000 of the 700,000 Romani in Europe, including 15,000 (mainly from the Soviet Union) in Mauthausen in January–May 1945.[28] The United States Holocaust Memorial Museum cites scholars that estimate the number of Sinti and Roma killed to lie between 220,000 and 500,000.[2] Dr. Sybil Milton, a historian at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Research Institute, estimated the number of lives lost as "something between a half-million and a million-and-a-half"  see this on (Wikepedia) for more.

And yet it is largely ignored and when France insinuated a program of deporting thousands of Romanian and Bulgarian Roma as part of a crackdown on illegal camps in the country.and  Romanian citizens have the right to enter France without a visa, due to their countries of origin being in the European Union and although to its credit the Leaders of the EU protested, and some pointed out that it had echoes of French collaborators deportation of Roma during the second World War it still was not treated on the sane level as Antisemitism.

After the War there was a feeling of intentional guilt over the Holocaust and perhaps there was a reflection by governments and  people who realised the appalling discrimination against Jews in our own countries but  Roma received very little sympathy of this when we look at International Holocaust day we do not remember the fate of the Roma.

Councillor  Eckersley remarks are all too real of the prejudice that exist against Roma today and wheras there is evidence Antisemitism appears to be raising its ugly head in Europe once again. There still powerful and influential people )Jewish and Non-Jewish) who will rightly conem it . Who will speak for the Roma?

Monday 22 November 2010

It was twenty years ago today…

That Margaret Thatcher resigned as Prime Minister .

This has made me realise that many people reading this were too young to remember Thatcher’s government,t and for others time may have softened their view of her.
But her government was in many ways responsible for the mess we are in now.
  • Under her government our manufacturing industry was decimated Which is why Wales today is far to reliant oPublic sector making it far more reliant upon those jobs which are now threatened by her conservative successors.She destroyed our heavy industry, so we now import coal into Wales and her victory in the miners strike destroyed communities which still have not recovered.
  • Her sending of the task force to the Falklands  (“Two bald men fighting over a comb” Jorge Luis Borges) allowed people to still think Britain was a world power which was reinforced with her aggressive support for the 1st Iraq war which tied British military policy to that of the U.S. and tied Britain to a Military-Industrial complex who have an interest in Britain being involved in world conflicts.
  • Her selling off of our public utilities with the claim that this would “create a share owning  democracy” ended up with a worse transport system than we would have if we still had BR, and resulted in  the majority shares being held, not by ordinary members of the public but by capitalists who were only interested in their dividend.
  • She allowed Rupert Murdoch in exchange for his enthusiastic support in his newspapers like the Sun to build up his empire and the UK and have a poisonous influence on UK politics which still effects us.This led to the continuous shift of Labour to the right in order to find favour with Murdoch and the rise of Thatcher’s first  true heir Tony Blair.

But it was not until I studied at Aberystwyth in my 30’s that I saw the real nature of Thatcher’s Tories. Up till then few people I knew claimed to vote for them, let alone support them, but the ones that I met tended to be economic-social conservatives, who genuinely believed Thatcher, was carrying out the right policies for the good of the country.At Aber I found that some of the then Federation of Conservative Students .
  • Dressed in Springbok rugby jerseys in order to show their support for the South African apartheid regime.
  • Racially abused a member of the Student Union Staff for which they were suspended from the Union.
  • Went on a drinking Binge to celebrate the rise of Adolf  Hitler to power. Which was too much for the Conservatives themselves and they were disbanded.

There were some conservative students who were as disgusted by this behaviour as the rest of us but they still put up with it and their leader had in his room a poster which said “Speak English or Die”.
I don’t know where these morons are now but I suspect many are still respectable members of the Conservative Party.

And so we come back today and we have a Conservative party that is intent on  using the current financial crisis to destroy the Welfare State. David Cameron may claim to be “a caring Conservative” but in reality he and his party are fully intent on carrying out what they see as Margaret Thatcher’s Legacy and once again it will be the poor and vulnerable who will suffer.

Friday 19 November 2010

Why I will not be congratulating Dafydd Wigley on his peerage.

News that Dafydd Wigley  is amongst a list of working peers announced today does not dampen my complete opposition to the Lords.
True Dafydd  can point to some democratic mandate, as he topped the List of the votes of Plaid Members in a ballot, the Party ran to select nominations for Peers. Making him possibly the only Peer with anything like a democratic mandate but it is not enough.
The idea that in a Democracy we still have politicians who are appointed for life is ridiculous and the fact that once given their peerage it is almost  impossible to remove them only adds to this.
Indeed when you consider that there are proposals for recall ballots for sitting MPs (actually Peers are technically MPs so I should say members of the Commons). How can anyone argue that the second chamber can carry on without any electoral Mandate?
It will not be difficult to do there are loads of examples of how to elect the second chamber Ireland  and Australia are only two that work quite effectively.
And if anyone thinks that the current system is worth keeping consider these two recent examples.
 Commenting on the Engagement of William Windsor and Kate Middleton's forthcoming wedding yesterday   “Lord” Archer ex-Conservative deputy chairman, said ,
The wedding would receive global coverage and bring "millions" to the UK economy.
The Royal Family was a "great benefit to Great Britain Limited", he added.
That’s Jeffrey Archer, perjurer and ex con who is still allowed to (if he desired) to partake in House of Lords debates.
I’m all for the rehabilitation of offenders but in a week when a former magistrate has been suspended as a community councillor for six months for bringing her office into disrepute after breaching a ban on dogs using a beach. How can someone like Archer retain his title and in theory be still party the governance of the UK?
And only today, we had The Conservatives   having their first embarrassing resignation since the election today after Lord Young quit as enterprise adviser to David Cameron.
Young caused controversy by saying Britons had "never had it so good" in this "so-called recession",
But why has an unelected person been given such a position where he is not answerable  to the electorate.
No the elevation of Dafydd Wigley is not something we can wildly celebrate in Wales because we can only cheer when people are elected by the votes of the people of Wales and not appointed by some invisible body supposedly acting in the name of the (unelected) Head of State.

Wednesday 17 November 2010

La Pasionaria popular with 36% of Lib-Dems

A recent post on Subordinate Central caught my eye.

Kirsty praised by Lib Dem members

It read


“Lib Dem Voice has again published the results of their Liberal Democrat member survey, focusing on the performances of the leading Liberal Democrats.
They report that  “Kirsty Williams’ ratings have had a boost this month, perhaps thanks to her visibilty at conference”
So I followed the link  which explained.
Lib Dem Voice has polled our members-only forum to discover what Lib Dem members think of a variety of key issues, and what you make of the Lib Dems’ and Government’s performance to date. Almost 600 party members have responded, and we’ve been publishing the full results of our survey over the past few days.
So what was La Pasionarias  result?
Kirsty Williams, Leader of the Welsh Liberal Democrats
Very effective 12%
Quite effective 24%
Quite ineffective 7%
Very ineffective 2%
Don’t know / No opinion 55%
Net effectiveness +27% (+18%)
Pardon ; With only 45% having an opinion I hardly call 36% of the total thinking she was quite effective or very effective a ringing endorsement. The post’d headline should have been.


Kirsty praised by SomeLib Dem  members

Actualy I think La Passionaria has ben quirte effective lately, particularly on the NHS in Wales (OK education and Peter Black’s Badgers as well) and compared to the rest of the Lib-Dems in Wales she’s  pretty formidable but in the same way a  Third  Division Player would look playing for a pub team , But important as the NHS  is with the Welsh public  it will not be the only topic on the agenda in the build up to the next Assembly elections. She  and the rest of the Lib-Dems will try to make it a plank on which to gather support but I’m afraid that it will not be enough and no amount of spin from Subordinate Central will be able to hide the verdict of the electorate next May.  

Monday 15 November 2010

Do the Lib-Dems really want a by-election in Oldham and Saddleworth?

I was going to post on peter Black’s latest piece of cant but Plaid Wrecsam beat me to it. and dealt with it rather effectively, also a hat tip to Jaxxland for the piece on the same subject especially his picture of La Pasionaria on the NHS (have a look before its changed”

But you can understand Peters air of desperation,  because they look to be in serious trouble.

In theory much of this could be allayed if they were to win the forth coming Oldham and Saddleworth By-election.

This should be a Shoe in. After all the disgraceful behaviour of Labour during the General Election in this constituency must have influenced voters there  and the LIb-Dems would surely be expecting to win it easily. However running at 10% in the UK according to the latest yougov polls they may be just a little apprehensive about they chances there.

Also political commentators seem to be missing the fact that Oldahm and Saddleworth is three way marginal.

General Election 2010: Oldham East and Saddleworth[9]


Elwyn Watkins

Kashif Ali

Alwyn Stott

David Bentley

Gulzar Nazir
Void election result

The actual swing in the constituency was in any case to the Conservatives who are 5.5% behind Labour. So I think talk of the Tories putting up a Paper Candidate seems to be unlikely in a seat they could win. And If they did so  not wishing to damage their coalition partners (at least not at the moment) the electorate will surely smell a rat.

Also I suspect Labour in particular have been reluctant to expose Lib-Dem dirty tricks for fear of being accused of  supporting the  disgraced Phil Woolas; But I’m sure this will increase as the date of the by-election approaches. Just Google Lib-Dem dirty tricks  for more than a few examples.

If the Lib-dems won then they would probably have a boost in the opinion polls but if they were to lose then I suspect there will be cursing Elwyn Watkins the defeated Lib-Dem who brought the case.

There will also be an interesting council Welsh By- election in the Cilau-Aeron ward of Ceredigion council given that the former Plaid Councillor resigned under a cloud . We would suppose the LiB-Dems would be seeking their first  council win in Wales since the General Election. Watch {Peter's Blog if there's no mention of it after November 30th they failed.

Thursday 11 November 2010

The Lib-Cons have successfully shifted the blame from the Bankers.

Reports from Today’s Guardian states that
“A tougher-than-expected squeeze on the unemployed is to be announced today as the jobless face the threat of losing all benefits for as long as three years if they refuse community work or the offer of a job, or fail to apply for a job if advised to do so.
In the most severe welfare sanctions ever imposed by a British government, unemployed people will lose benefits for three months if they fail to take up one of the options for the first time, six months if they refuse an offer twice, and three years if they refuse an offer three times.”
This reflects a victory  for the Lib-Con government who have effectively shifted the  blame from the current financial mess from the Bankers who caused it to the poor who are suffering from it.
Why are the main media so silent on this ? Why are they simply accepting the coalition argument and figures ? That is the implication that there are plenty of jobs out there and  people are out of work because they choose to.
Where is the evidence that people who have been unemployed for long period for along time. Have been refusing job offers.
For the record, it is policy now that people who refuse an offer of a job have they benefit cut. Indeed if you do not attend a job interview which you jobcentre and you to you face sanctions.
The new part is of course community work that is unpaid (accept for benefits) work . In other words there will be very little difference between those who are  undergoing a Community service orders are orders of court where:
·   an offender is required to perform unpaid, useful work for the benefit of the community
·     the court can order between 80 - 300 hours of community service which must be carried out at such times as directed by the supervising community service officer.

 And someone sent to do similar work because they are long term unemployed perhaps they will be issued with different colour uniforms in order that they are not associated with those doing similar work because they broke the law. What ever happened they are likely to receive abuse from the public who don’t see any difference.

What colour will the Unemployed wear?
The whole Lib-Con policy is a sleight of hand to divert in action over the real culprits the Bankers who finance the main political parties and that is why Labour are making only mute objections to this for they to are in thrall to the City and proposed similar policies when were in power in order to mask they failure to provide real jobs in our more deprived areas.

The current Lib-Con policy of criminalising the unemployed will lead to  some turning to actual crime and in some cases prostitution for as I remember a girl who turned to selling herself on the streets saying that,

“The humiliation was the same but at least the money was better”.

Why do we still allow people who have never experienced life on benefit, who will not have to worry about tuition fees for their children (they will simply sign a cheque) and who will spend more on a birthday party than some people receive in a year to dictate to us.

Tuesday 9 November 2010

S4C future does no lie in English language programmes.

The recent YouGov poll, commissioned by S4C programme Y Byd ar Bedwar , found 53% agreed the channel should show English programmes, with 18% disagreeing and the rest not expressing a view. Welsh speakers were more evenly split, with 36% backing English-language programmes on S4C and 35% against.

However this do show why people would want English language programme on S4C.

  • They may think that this this only way S4C could survive.
  • They may be fed up with the piss poor Welsh productions of Independent TV companies and the haphazard way BBC covers Wales.

Labour MP Chris Bryant said: “I want S4C to serve all of Wales, not just part of Wales.”
But the poll did not ask as far as I know “would you like more programmes with a Welsh context onS4C but simplerly more programmes in English".

However those of us who can remember what Welsh Language programmes were like before the creation of S4C (and I suspect neither Chris Bryant or Peter Black ,who expresses similar views do) know what it was like 
 Programmes (what there were) scattered all over the schedule, and often in the afternoon or very late at night. and when they were shown English speakers complining thet could not watch their shows.

If English language programmes were to be included on S4C, how long before demands were made that should take up the prime-time spots?

I have argued  here  that f we need to increasase S4C's audience by attracting  Non-Welsh speakers to S4C then they should look at European productions and subtitle them in Welsh and English.

In the meantime Synidau points out the problems of existing English Language programmes on the BBC which relate to Wales and this would be multiplied if S4C was to fail but in a digital age but why do we have this problem?

I for one believe that when we only had five or six terrestrial channels that this always one programme that I wished to watch . Now with freeview there numerous channels there is all to often not one programme of quality I would wish to see. More choice seems to have left me with no choice.

If the future of S4C and its quality are to be discussed why single it out ? Can it be that this is merely an excuse for those who are opposed to the Welsh language to attack it through cutting S4C funding so that it becomes increasingly lees viable so they can abolish it all together.

The spurious call for the likes of Chris Bryant for English language programmes on S4C is an attempt to use a valid argument about English Language broadcasting  about Wales.Is just attempt to attack the Welsh Language, which they see as furthering Nationalism.Of course in reality they would be quite content that monoglot English speakers in Wales remained ignorant of Wales . They most certainly would not like to see a series like Pen Taler now showing on S4C or any series that gave the impression Wales was not anything but a subordinate part of the British State.
The future of Broadcasting in Wales is to vital for those who wish to divide Wales and its people (whatever Language they use) to win through.

Saturday 6 November 2010

Oldham East and Saddleworth election was a disgrace but what now.

It's not often I post in support of the  Lib-Dems, but in the case against Phil Woolas , I feel they were right.
Woolas  beat Liberal Democrat Elwyn Watkins in Oldham East and Saddleworth in May by just 103 votes. But Watkins challenged the result, claiming the Labour incumbent had lied about him in campaign literature. Most candidates would perhaps make such a claim after a defeat but Woolas' campaign literature was particularly offensive. One of which I've reproduced right. Other you can see here.

If the BNP had produced  a similar leaflet . I would not have been surprised, and simarly disgusted and I'm sure Labour would have condemned it outright. 
Of course I have not seen the leaflets produced by the Liberal Democrats in Oldham East and Saddleworth so we are tending to see only one side of the story and there may have been some very unpleasant literature from them during this campaign, and for the Lib-Dems to complain about unfair tactics is akin to a Wasp moaning that it had been stung by a Bee. Netherless this looks exceptionally bad and a rerun of the election is the right verdict.

Of course Phil Woolas  is not the only guilty one the role of his election agent should be investigated and it would be wrong to fight any Byelection with a different candidate but the same agent.

But what does this mean for the future of elections? Does it mean that prospective candidates will be reluctant to attack opponents who are engaging in dubious activities? I hope not but it does mean that we should look at the way elections are conducted.

I believe the returning officer should have a roll in vetting campaign literature and should have the power to suspend a leaflet from being distributed or force parties to rebut and produce corrections at they own expense.

For the Lib-Dems however this victory may well be a pyrrhic one as in theory they should romp home in any By-election irrespective  of who the Labour candidate would be. But if they fail then It will confirm their unpopularity in the UK following their betrayer of principles in the joining the coalition government So far the wind is with them in this constituency but I suspect they too might come under investigation and one wonders if we have not seen the whole nasty business  of the 2010 election in Oldham East and  Saddleworth  totally exposed.