Friday, 31 December 2010

Looking into my Crystal Ball

  • The year will start with a number of Labour party members announcing they support for a no campaign but they will be seen to have little influence.   
  •  There will be a row in the Yes campaign  over whether they should compare the cuts from Westminster with a positive image of the Assembly. But this will strengthen the campaign
  • The Yes campaign will be won a though with less than 50% voting. there will be a Yes majority in Cardiff. Only Monmouth, Newport and Flint will vote No.
  • The referendum on the Alternative Vote will fail.although Wales and Scotland will have large votes for it.There will be a significant number of Ballots which will support the measure who will attempt to show preference for STV. 
  • Although the referendum on AV will be lost the proposal to cut the number of MPs will carry on it will mean the end of Ynys Mon and Montgomery as Historic constituencies although they will remain at the Assembly.  
  • There will be rumours of a number of Lib-Dems  splitting from the Party to join the existing "Liberal Party"  but it will come to nothing. 
  • There will be a number of new Blogs from people standing for  the Assembly but these will cease by April.
  • By the end of the year the Lib-Dems will have lost over 200 councilors through resignations who will now stand as independents this will not include the  many more they will lose in local elections.
  • The Assembly elections will see Labour just failing to get an overall majority. The Lib-Dems with 4 seats will fall over backwards to join them in coalition and try to distance themselves from their Westminster colleagues.
  • The Conservatives will lose 2 seats and will replace Nick Bourne as leader. They will be the first to propose the Assembly be called the Welsh Parliament. Nick Bourne will quit the Assembly by 2012.
  • Plaid will gain 1 or  2 seats one of whom will be Helyn Fychan as Plaid lose Conwy  this however will be seen as a Plus. They will decide to let the Lib-Dems join the Labour Party in power if Dafydd Elis Thomas decide to stand for Presiding Officer. Otherwise they will back him for Education Minister.
  • There will be a major campaign in support of S4C after the Assembly Elections. Support fro senior Plaid figures will depend on whether they are in government or not.
  • Peter Black will get more and more ridiculous on his Blog and will be privately told by La Pasionaria to cool it.
  • Adam Price will  not return to full time politics in the near future unless  there is an early by-election for the Assembly. 
  • There will be a major defection from Labour to Plaid which will be announced at their Autumn conference. 
  • The year will end with unrest in Labour over Ed Milibands leadership oddly this will not seem to have adverse effect on they Poll ratings which wil be 5% above the Tories. 

Thursday, 30 December 2010

Faux Democracy

 The above cartoon is from a Private Eye issue in the 1970's.  It as always stuck in my mind, because it reflects  the question I have often asked myself. Am I in favour of direct democracy if the people then support policies (Capitol Punishment being a prime example ) which I myself  totally opposed to?.

The answer I would give is direct democracy is not about the views of the majority but a means in which all care able to express themselves. Particularly those who are ignored by main stream politicians, and the British media .

In recent Blogs both Peter Black  and Glyn Davies have posted in favour of the coalition's plans  "to allow popular online petitions to be debated in Parliament. Those receiving most support, probably 100,000 signatures, would be debated, with some possibly becoming bills".

On paper this looks like a major innovation in direct democracy. but as Paul Flynn points out.and I  reproduce it below....

Tony Blair did that. The most popular petition, with more than 180,000 people in support, opposed road pricing. If the same people had been asked if they wanted safer roads, with fewer accidents and less pollution they would also have said yes . World experience has shown that public will always vote to lower taxes and improved services.

"On Tony Blair's site, more than 70,000 supported the one word suggestion that Gordon Brown should "resign". And almost 50,000 signed up to the idea that TV presenter Jeremy Clarkson should become prime minister. In the last census 400,000 people gave their religion as Jedi and name Darth Vader as their religious leader.

Foolishly the Tories put this piece of vacuous populism into their manifesto so they have to go through the motions. I am sure that House Leader George Young is wearily resigned about wandering down this parliamentary cul-de-sac. There has been serious progress in opening up the parliamentary agenda through the Backbench Committee that has new control over some parliamentary time.

For the first time in ten years of war in Afghanistan parliament voted on our deployment there. The great reform that is long overdue is to free up private members business which is easily sabotaged by opponents - mostly Government nerds".

This argument Peter Black addresses.
He wrote...

That is a disgraceful attitude towards the people who employ him. Inevitably there will be those who abuse the process, but that is no reason to deny people the opportunity to put forward their own ideas and even to organise petitions to influence the legislative agenda. 

But  Peter does not say how these petitions can be selected. With modern communications there could be hundreds of such Petitions a year with over 100,000 signatures and it would not be difficult for an unscrupulous webmaster to create a program that simply copies names on to the Petitions and it would take major resources to check if they were genuine. Especially if signatories worried about E-Fraud only supplied their names.

But of course any Petition put forward for debate will be largely selected by the government of the day.
Just ask yourself if there was a major petition calling for a Republic and an end to Titles.Would this be debated in the House of Commons? Despite the fact although we are in a minority  a significant number of the electorate in the UK are Republicans who if they wished to sit in the House of Commons (or our Assembly)  must swear allegiance to the Monarch and their Heirs and cannot it reality challenge the position of the Monarch in the House.

In actuality what will happen is that we will have petitions inspired by the Right-Wing media which government ministers will pick according to the perceived popularity  and tell us we are participating actively in government
If the views of the people are to be heard then replace the First past the Post system with STV where the concerns of the minority who are excluded by the current system can be expressed. 


Saturday, 25 December 2010

Bah Humbug

No it as alright even an old cynic like National Left cannot help but wish everyone Nadolig Llawen regardless of whether you see Christmas as a secular holiday (or both) and hope the message of peace and goodwill carries on into the New Year.

Monday, 20 December 2010

Can the Yes campaign attack the Westminster cuts?

Both Valleys Mam and Plaid Wrecsam have drawn attention to the spat between Peter Black and  Leighton Andrews on Twitter and both used the "Handbags at Dawn" simile. The argument between our two "distinguished" politics highlighted with Peter calling Leighton a cretin.

However we must look at the deeper implications of this unedifying  correspondence. and it is simply can a Yes campaign be run in favour increasing powers for National Assembly without making a comparison with a Right of centre Westminster coalition and Left of centre  Assembly government.

Clearly if this argument  was to be carried out by the Yes campaign it would be difficult for the Lib-Dems and Tories who support the measures to back the official campaign and whilst there could well be a advantage (which has not happened in previous referenda) in making such a comparisons wit a Tory led government it does seem that unless Labour are prepared to be accused of sacrificing National unity for future political advantage, they should cease to make such an argument through the "Yes" campaign.

And yet it would mean that those who were seeking greater powers could be loosing a major advantage.Perhaps  the next Yougov poll on the referendum in Wales should ask the question.

Do you believe that greater powers to the Welsh Assembly will make Wales less or more vulnerable to cuts from Westminster?

Some would argue that this is far from the point of the proposals, and any argument in this manner would be a false one. However the campaign could well be won or lost on such an argument that Wales will be better protected by a more powerful Assembly;But can the "Yes" campaign make such a claim?

Friday, 17 December 2010

Election expenses Spreadsheet.

If you wish to have a copy of the spreadsheet I simplified for the Expenditure for Wales email me at and I'll send either  an excel or Open office copy of the spreadsheet.

Thursday, 16 December 2010

Some Thoughts on the Election Expenditure

If you have read ny last three posts you will have seen a list of the expenditure by Party in the last General Election in Wales.
There are a number of interesting Points.

Spent over £24,0000  for  a 4th place in Aberconwy
Were the  Highest spender in Cardiff West £9,204,47 and received 7% of the vote whilst the Liberal Democrats spent £636.93 and received 17.5% of the vote.
Liberal Democrats 
Spent over £20,000 than the winning Labour Candidate in Merthyr Tydfil and Newport East.
Spent 1,520.93  (18.3% of Vote) in Swansea East and 22,701.65 in Swansea West  (33.2%)and £30.617.11 Newport East (37%) and £1,349.35(16.6) in Newport West .
Spent £190.00 (13.8)% n the Cynon Valley
Spent  £585.69 (585.69(7.5% of the vote) in Merthyr Tydfil
Labour  spent £446.95 (7.1%) in Montgomeryshire. and 2i,211.57(33.4% of vote).

When you look at the figures it is  hard to see to what extent expenditure makes a difference but it is clear in marginal constituencies you have to spend big.

Perhaps oddly the interesting result  may have been Torfaen

Green 438 Votes £37. Spent.
Labour 16847  Votes £2,96255.Spent.
Con  7541 Votes £148.20 Spent.
Independent 607 Votes £1.756.00 Spent.
BNP 1657 Votes £400.00 Spent.
Lib-Dem 6264 Votes  £589.00 Spent .
Independent 1419 Votes £600.00 Spent.
UKIP 862 Votes £1100.00 Spent.
Plaid 2005 votes £1,497.00 Spent.

In many other Welsh Consistencies just one Party spent more than the whole expenditure in Totfaen

It is it pity Plaid Panteg no longer blogs. I would like to know whether  the people of Torfaen felt remote from the democratic  process during the election as opposed say Aberconwy .
To my mid  the disparity between th money spent in Torfaen and marginal consistencies is an argument for PR especially STV because Parties would tend to treat each constituency as winnable  for at least one seat and spending would be spread more equally.
This would mean that voters at least will believe their vote will count. and it will make scrutiny  of such expenditure more equal and open.

Monday, 13 December 2010

Expenditure in 2010 election (Aberavon-Delyn)

I have attempted to reproduce the expenditure in 2010 election for Welsh Constituencies  more details can be obtained from the Electoral Commission here
I hope you are able to follow this as I've had to brake the spreadsheet down The rest will be posted tommorrow

Friday, 10 December 2010

Subordinate Centre think I'm being absurd.

Apparently according to  Subordinate Centre I'm being absurd over the Lib-Dems attitude to the Welsh language heres the exchange we have had in their post.

Glyn Morris (for it is me)
Whilst your criticism of Plaid is valid. It is surely hypocritical of your party to call for official status for the Welsh language and of course English is not an official Language in the UK though it is de facto so.
When the Lib-Dem website is not fully Bilingual.
You do not produce fully Bilingual Literature and leaflets in every Welsh consistency.
If the Liberal Democrats are truly in favour r of equality for the Welsh Language you should practice what you preach.

Subordinate Centre
Glyn, surely the point is to enable people to use the Welsh language without sanction not to force compulsory bilingualism on them when it is not appropriate.

Glyn Morris 
So it’s not appropriate for the Welsh  Lib-Dems be totally bilingual. Either Welsh is equal to English or it is not. Are you saying it is not? Because it is riduculous to talk of Official status if you believe this.

Subordinate Centre.
Dont be absurd. Equality means that people should have a choice as to which language to use without fear of sanction. Enforced bilingualism is tokenism at its worst and undermines the value of the language.

So there you have for the Lib-Dems to be a Bilingual Party  would be tokenism and they are against "Enforced" Bilingualism.

But how can a Language have Official staus and not be treated equal that would be real tokenism. It would be like saying to a slave you have been granted your freedom but you can't vote ,stand for election etc.

The reaction of Subordinate Centre shows that the words of their leader in the Assembly are only words. Before they start criticising policy on the Language they should set an example and embrace a bilingual policy themselves

Wednesday, 8 December 2010

Lib-Dem support official status for Welsh but not in what "they" produce.

The Liberal Democrats  are once again guilty of blatant hypocrisy over their attitude towards the New Welsh Language Measures. They may have a point when attacking Plaid Cymru as AM Eleanor Burnham  does on Subordinate Centre, or call for Welsh to be given full official status. as her leader La Pasionaria did in her  speech in the debate but since English does not in fact actually have official status in the UK it would not at the moment be possible.

Plaid's timorous attitude is appalling. A the only Party that treats Welsh equally in its own publications, then it should use this as an example of how the rest of Wales should treat both  the Languages of Wales.

But when the Welsh Liberal Democrats do not practice what they preach why should we listen to them on Welsh language legislation?

Their website is not even remotely fully bilingual and their election leaflets and other publications (at least where I live) are solely  English.

Even if the Welsh Language does not have official status then they could treat it equally themselves. The same applies to Labour and the Tories. But when we have posts such as "Plaid Cymru’s Welsh Language Betrayal" it clearly only those Parties and Organisations  who treat the Welsh Language equally in what they produce should be entitled to ctiticise Plaid's lack of backbone on this matter.

Tuesday, 7 December 2010

Our Schools are failing: Educate the Parents

The Programme for International Student Assessment (Pisa) tests  that are designed to measure whether students nearing the end of secondary school are well prepared to meet the challenges they will encounter in future life.assessments of 15-year-olds show Wales falling further behind since the 2006 tests.

READING: 2006 – 481 2009 – 476 CHANGE -5

MATHS: 2006 – 484 2009 – 472 CHANGE -12

SCIENCE 2006 – 505 2009 – 496 CHANGE -9

There will be many who will be blamed for this The Welsh  Assembly Government, Local Education Authorities , Schools. Teachers and no doubt other some will blame the Westminster Government.

But there will be probably be few who look at the link at the amount of interest parents take in their children's education and the PISA results.

It would be interesting for instance to look at a Schools Stats ,and the relationship with the number of parents who provide extra tutoring

It has also been my belief that League Tables were always going to be misleading because the role of the Parent in aiding their children's education has been ignored
This could include.

  • Ensuring their children attended school regularly. 
  • Ensuring Pupils did and presented their Homework on time,. 
  • They has access to materials with which to work with.. 
  • They install in their children a belief that education is of value and if they work at it. Then they can archive a great deal.. 
  • They had access to a computer (Important these days). And something that may be causing a divide between the have and have-nots which we have not seen for decades.

The solution cannot just be a matter of spending more money on schools or concentrating on the higher achiever whilst ignoring the failures.Something I suspect happens in some countries  that appear to achieve better results. If you exclude the Poorer performers from the Test (which is quite easy) then the results will appear to be better than the actual reality. 

It is unfortunate that  children of parents who did not do this for them will probably fail to do so for their own .Some will argue that there is nothing we can do about this, but perhaps the solution is not to look soley at the education of the Children but to create a new era of Adult Education and to encourage those whose own experience of schooling was largely negative to undergo a new form of Adult Education. Which they can  then mix with their own encouragement of teaching. their children.

We must realise this passing down negative attitude towards our children. We once had a suburb attitude towards education  in Wales which began with the circulating schools of Griffith Jones (1684 –1761).  The effect of this meant that in the 1960’s over 60% of children from Cardiganshire where Griffith was influential  went on to Higher Education.

Of course it can ne argued that we greater idea of the level of Education today as in former times those who were failing at School left at 14 or later 16 and went into Labouring and Manufacturing jobs, But these have gone and people who have failed (or rather been failed by) the education system are even less likely to find employment and this will in no doubt reinforce their negative attitude towards  Education which they will pass on to the next generation increasing the class divide.

So we must look at Schools system but also the relationship with parents because I believe the answer is to get them once more involved in their children's education and break the cycle of negativity.

Wednesday, 1 December 2010

Cilau Aeron By-election

There was a Byelection   on Ceredigion county council:on  yesterday in Ciliau Aeron division after the disqualification of Plaid Cymru councillor Moelfryn Maskell, who was found by the Adjudication Panel of Wales to have misused his position the result was.on Tuesday 30 November 2010 12:00
PC 365 (55.7; -11.3)
LD 247 (37.7; +19.1)
Con 43 (6.6; +6.6)
[Ind (0.0; -14.4)
Majority 118
Turnout 44%

This was a potential loss for Plaid as the previous councilor was as I wrote above disqualified but although there was a swing to the Lib- Dems it was not nearly enough . Perhaps it says more about attitudes to the Lib-Dems than Plaid. and I cant see Lib-Dem bloggers making much of a play with this.

Would a Independent have made a difference?

It is also interesting that the Tories  have had another por showing in a council by-election where they have rarely put forward a candidate. They don't seem to be benfiting dfrom being in government either.