Monday 28 February 2011

English Rugby Board may veto Gatlands selection against Ireland.

Welsh Rugby coach Warren Gatland has called for the end to the situation where he has to send his proposed Team selection to the English Rugby Board for approval.

Under the current rules he explained I can draw up my team but must send it off to the ERU, who can make changes. They don't often do so but it takes time and they have vetoed players recently they would not let me select George North because they felt he should be playing for England. And many here feel we would  have won the Grand Slam in 2005 and 2008 if Shane Williams  had been allowed to play but they felt he was too small for International Rugby.

A fan  who give his name as glynbeddau said"Everyone in wales has views on the selection of the Welsh team and quite frankly even when the ERU have passed the Welsh Coach's  selection intact, It wasn't always the side I would have picked: But the current situation is ludicrous and its about time the manager made his own choice of the side he would like".

Not every one agrees however Rachel  from Gwent said. We are quite happy with the current situation we do not believe any Team Coach in Wales will ever be capable  of selecting any National side. Far better for it to be picked by what former England Captain called "57 old Farts".

Some went even further "Why have a Welsh side at all?"said John from UKIP . We believe there should be only a UK side and the Welsh and Scottish side should be disbanded and completely run by the ERU.

Glynbeddau added " if we were ever allowed to vote on the issue I suppose the people of Wales would clearly like the selection of the Welsh Team to be made (for good or bad)  by the current Coach . Of course if he gets it wrong we can always get a new Coach we have very little influence  amongst the "57 old Farts".

Saturday 26 February 2011

R.T.E. Exit Poll

R.T.E have published the results of an exit poll for the Irish Election.

3,500 voters were interviewed after they had cast their ballots  . The results of the poll is.shown here.

Results were accurate to within half a percentage point in the last election. Tough the high % ov votes of Independents/Others may well affect the final result

If the poll is accurate  then it means that Fine Gael  will fall short of the 87 seats
it needs for an overall majority . Ceann Comhairle (the UK equivelent is the Speaker) is elected automatically.

Labour with 20.5%  will have it highest share of the vote ever the previous high point of  19.5 in 1992 resulted in 33 seats in the 166 seat Dail, and will mean they will be the main Opposition party for the first time if they choose not to join the Fine Gael in government if they choose to do so.

Labour leader Eamon Gilmore's  will perhaps be considering the standing og the Liberal Democrats in the UK whose leader had similar approval as himself only to see it vanish when  they joined a right wing coalition and became associated with the cuts that the new government will be implementing .

Because Fine Gael if anything is more right of center than  Fianna Fáil. and it would be Labour who will be blamed by their supporters for any shortcomings.

So what will be the make up of the government of the  31 Dail?

Sinn Féin  could end up with the number of seats Fine Gael needs for a majority possibly backed up with those Independents/others who will not on on the Left (It looks like the United Left Alliance ULA will win a significant number of Seats).

A  Fine Gael Fianna Fáil. coalition with a Party that was in government want to become junior partners in any coalition seems unlikely.

But the hostility between the two parties is more historical than  ideological that  but  Fianna Fáil.will have major  difficulty in being an opposition party and not sounding hypocritical if they oppose Fine Gael cuts..

However Labour will probably feel that it has no choice but to bite the bulletand join the government whilst claiming they are easing the excesses of Fine Gael slashing of public services and welfare

But in the 31 Dail the veteran Socialist Joe Higgins will be there with his ULA supporters and will be at least speaking out for the poor and dispossessed of Ireland . A situation sadly lacking in our own House of Commons apart from the occasional interruptions of Plaid, the SNP and Greens.

Wednesday 23 February 2011

Cameron the Vulture.

As North Africa and the middle East sees the collapse of dictatorships ,every one who looks back at the previous collapse of the Soviet Union, whilst welcoming the growth of democracy must be worried about the ensuing vacuum that will prevail.

 Whilst  We saw the growth of stable democratic governments in the Baltic states for instance but also saw the emergence of dictatorships in countries such as Turkmenistan who the West ignore because it acts as an ally and we must never forget the awful civil war in the former Yugoslavia (Ironically not part of the Soviet Union). And Putin control of Russia looks no different to that of the former "Communist" dictatorship.

Likewise in this region no Western Country has called for the introduction of Democracy in Saudia Arabia presumably they see a difference between a Monarchy which is Tyrannical and a republican one?

However I believe  the West were always more interested in  exporting capitalism than democracy was which  always the secondary aim and only because it provided stable governments. However there seems to have  be no lessons learned from this

In an unbelievable move, PM David Cameron was accompanied on his visit to Cairo by representatives of no less than eight British arms manufacturers. He was joined on the trip by 30 businesses, including Rolls-Royce, BAe Systems, Cobham Group, Qinetiq, Thales and Ultra Electronics, which all produce defence equipment.

Putting aside  the fact that it is partly due to British interference in these countries that led to these regimes. It is amasing that we now believe that we can influence who ever emerged to run these countries. In Iran for instance there is still more hostility towards Britiain han the U.S.A because of out interferance in the past and I suspect the same would be true of Egypt. This does not mean we should not provide advice and help to these countries in order they can set up their democratic institutions.  But whatever these countries need it is not more weapons.

Where is the criticism of the other Political parties over this appalling trip? Is the profits of British Manufactures more important that the suffering of the Arab peoples of the Middle East and and North Africa.

When a man's house is on fire you do not want to sell him a can of Paraffin.

Sunday 20 February 2011

Pontypridd Fights Council Cuts.

Yesterdays rally organised by Unison in   Pontypridd for Rhondda Cynon Taf (R.C.T.) workers against cuts they said were imposed on them by the Labour-controlled council.  was a good start and there was an enthusiastic turnout.

Unison has criticised proposals which it says downgrade pay and conditions, but council leaders have said the alternative is "job losses and service cuts".

Those who attended the Rally  were truly shocked to here from Union leader of of the Councils bullying tactics and it provided us with the interesting  dilemma faced with the only spokesperson invited to speak on the Platform.

For it was Labour's Candidate for the Pontypridd seat  Mick Antoniw. who managed to address us on a protest on the attack on the work force of Labour controlled R.C.T. without once mentioning them. A remarkable feat and it was a generous audience who allowed him to do this.

We could ask why other Parties who were present Plaid,Socialist Party,and Communist Party  for example were not allowed to address the audience (actually I was thankful) but it still shows that the Unions must be prepared to stop backing Labour unless that Party fully backs the rights of their members. As I have said before they are for the members of Union and not to blindly support the Labour Party there is a difference between the Labour Movement as a whole and the Party, and you can be an enthusiastic supporter of the former without backing the latter.

A noticeable absentee was Lib-Dem councillor and perennial candidate Mike Powell, who is usually leaping aboard any passing band wagon.For someone who almost provided us with an upset in Ponty in the General Election one would have thought he would have wanted to use the opportunity to meet the voters but apparently not.

One aspect of the rally was support from the Platform for A Yes vote on the March 3rd referendum. Whilst in truth I didn't feel any huge enthusiasm  for this from those present, there was no negative reaction despite the fact there was an attempt by true Wales to hijack the event.  

As the march started I saw a giant inflatable pig  being held by a group waiting to join in, At first I  naturally thought it was a protest against Bankers and as you can see it was impressive. 

Imagine my disappointment when I realised it was a stunt by True Wales NO campaign who attached themselves to the rear of the march. If however they felt they had somehow  ingrained themselves they were deluded."Why are they here?  was  a question that was asked by more than one marcher and they seemed to have made very few friends. Indeed the stunt seemed to have backfired and I felt the majority attending felt only resentment towards them. 

There will be other Rallies and I hope the numbers will grow and  despite the Unions almost incestuous attachment to the Labour Party, they need and deserve our support . In fact no Party should seek an electoral advantage in claiming they are the lead in fighting the cuts in this battle  we are really "All in it together".

Saturday 19 February 2011

Changing the Electoral Time Table.

A young girl arranges her Wedding Day for  a certain day and then her older Sister tells her ,
"I've decided to get married on that day so if you don't want a clash or double wedding you will have to change your day".
I suspect the younger sister would be a bit miffed

So when Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg says he will offer AMs the chance to bring forward or delay the poll up to a year.  I thought there would be a stronger reaction especially from Plaid and the SNP

But it seems that both Plaid and the SNP would like to move the Assembly and Scottish Parliament  Elections that would be due in 2015 and it is the Coalition partners Labour party in Wales who have said to Westminster that they should move the date of the next General Election if the coalition go ahead with their plans for fixed term elections of 5 years.

I am unsure that Alex Salmond is suggesting that Scottish Parliaments would have a fixed 5 year term but I think 5 years is to long and prefer 4

I wonder if Carwyn Jones would have been so assertive if Labour was in government and proposing his but I suspect he might well have  been.

However  if the dates were moved the fact that the assembly elections are every 4 years and Westminster 5 means there will be a clash every 20 years.

So a simple solution would be to have equal Assembly and Parliamentary terms of  4 years  indeed if we added Council Elections then we could have a Time Table as

2014 General Election
2015  Election to Welsh Parliament (Hopefully by then")  " NI Assembly and Scottish Parliament
2016 Local Government Elections
2017 Elections to Second Chamber?(wouldn't that be a good Idea?)
2018 General Election and so on

You could argue that if we were to make it every 5 years then we could include European Elections but as I said I think 5 years is too long and since these elections are based on the votes of Parties proportionally they could be held on the same day as one of the others  (It may well raise voting numbers). It will mean having elections in June but so what. are elections in May sacrosanct? But  I don't think our internal democracy should be governed by Europe anyway we already have one "older sister "  telling us to change our dates.

Wednesday 16 February 2011

Scrutinising Welsh Laws?

By now many will have read the analysis on the Assembly referendum  on the Jaxxland website. I'm not going to go over their criticism of the debate but they raised  some very good points and it proves that sometimes criticism is constructive and we should all consider the points made. Sometimes you have to listen to what your friends are warning you.

However one thing raised on this issue  and what I believe is the only truly legitimate argument True Wales has is the question of Scrutiny should Wales have law making powers on the  20 subject areas it currently covers.

The argument being that the only real debate on these Laws will be in the Assembly Chamber and in Assembly committes and the lack of a second Chamber for which in the current settlement  is Westminster means that any Laws proposed by the Assembly will not be accurately scrutinised.

The latest post from Syniadau shows the minefield that any a Legislative Competence Order ( LCO ) which the current Assembly uses in order to change some Laws relating to Wales has to go through.and defy any member of True Wales to argue here that this is a democratic and efficiency method.

So how do we scrutinise laws  proposed by the Assembly do we need to?

The Assembly like the Scottish Parliament and the NI Assembly is Unicameral  and does not have a second chamber. I have never seen any criticism of  the Scottish Parliament being on, and I am totally convinced that a second chamber is a big as a democratic watchdog has some would claim.

And of course Westminster second Chamber can only delay or amend  bills  from the commons it has no power of veto but under the current system Westminster can veto Welsh laws  proposed in the Assembly and that is not as Syniadau points out scrutiny but  I would also the abuse of power by Westminster governments and as the different political makeup of the two government becomes more evident of the next 5 years this will undoubtedly grow if keep the current system..

In any case the creation of a second chamber in order to balance power in order to prevent one party in the Lower House with a overall majority from passing Laws at will by having the second chamber composed of independent minded peers or senators or relying on the people to Vote split that is vote for different parties in the Upper House is not really relevant to Wales and Scotland because the current  votining system makes it unlikely that any Party will have a comfatable Majority.

Labour  hasn't received over 50% of the vote in A General Election since 1970 and although they could win a majority in the Assembly with about 43% of the vote it would be a small one. Of course under STV the likelihood of any Party having a overall majority would be less likely.

I am not arguing that scrutiny is not needed or that a democratically elected second chamber  is not preferable but our current system where is not an example we should revere or follow.

Thursday 10 February 2011

Union backs Party that is attacking its members.

Unison representing workers at one of Wales' largest councils will ballot members over industrial action in a row about new staff contracts.

Rhondda Cynon Taf recently  issued redundancy notices to all 10,000 of their workers. In order to force the workers to accept new contracts.

Rhondda Cynon Taf is a Labour controlled council so I was surprised (Well I wasn't really) when I received a Newspaper type election leaflet from the Pontypridd Consistency Party (Monoglot English of course) which contained this advertisement. From the Public and Commercial Services Union (P.C.S.)>

So we have a Union that represents civil service and other other public sector staff  and who will be campaigning against the attacks on R,C.T workforce Paying to advertise in the Paper of a party that it is cutting wages in the very consistency 

And even Unison who are calling the strike Ballot you can bet their headquarters  will be festooned with Labour posters in May when they will back Labour in the Assembly elections for the R.C.T.consistencies.

For thirteen years under the Blair- Brown Labour administration the Unions remained largely silent as the Labour government  made very little effort to address the attacks of Margaret Thatcher on our Workers Rights.

The Unions are there to represent the interest of the Workers and not the Labour party. The leadership of P.C.S in Wales should be ashamed of once again putting the Labour party before the interest of their own members.

Incidentally there was no mention of the Assembly referendum . I suppose some would claim that this was not the medium to do so. But if the Labour party officially back the campaign would not this be the opportunity to do so?

Wednesday 9 February 2011

Tory Minister Fuels debate on how we spend our pocket money.

A remarkable example of Westminster arrogance has come after after a Plaid Cymru and SNP call to tackle the cost of fuel was defeated in the Commons.

The result of the vote was 14 Ayes to 303 Noes. Most Liberal Democrat and Conservative MP's voted against the motion. Most Labour MPs abstained.

I accept that Green activists would like to see less use of fossil fuels and I sympathies but making it hard for people inn rural areas who do not have regular access to public transport is not the way at present.

Why did Labour abstain? They would have expected Plaid and SNP support  in any similar motion they put forward. Are the rules of Westminster politics .
 Small  Opposition Parties must back the largest Opposition party but not Vice Versa
One if the worst aspects of Party Politics is the assumption  that only your Party  have the right ideas. It make you think that if some one like Plaid's  economics advisor Eurfyl ap Gwilym came up with a brilliant and foolproof plan for solving the financial crisis (OK fantasy, but I hope you get my point )  all three of the major British parties would reject it because they hadn't thought of it.

The debate produced one moment which showed the true ignorance of Westminster Tories however when
Treasury minister Justin Greening  said the Welsh decision to cut university fees showed scope for ministers in Cardiff to alleviate fuel costs.

So what he is in fact saying that the Welsh Assembly should subsidise non-devolved issues, and divert some of its budget to areas which are the responsibility of Westminster.This arrogance goes to the Heart of the devolution debate.

As long as the Scottish Parliament and Welsh and Northern Ireland Assemblies are not allowed greater financial control including tax levies (which also means the same for England) then any money which is sent back to Wales from the treasury (It's our Money after all) then it will be teated by ministers like  Greening as akin to pocket money and we will constantly be advised how to spend it.

 Even in as this case in areas in which they have currently no responsibility.

What we need is a basic UK tax rate  and then the devolved powers should  be able to set an additional tax and in the absence of devolved government in England, English MP's should set the additional levy (if they choose to) in England.

No one likes paying Taxes but we need to raise and spend money where it is most effective that is what responsible government is partially about.

Sunday 6 February 2011

Why I will wear a White Rose on Feburary 22nd.

On Tuesday February 22nd I will be wearing a White Rose in memory of the young members of the White Rose movement  who executed buy the Nazi on that day in  1943.

They were mostly students at Munich University  who came to realise the shear evil of that Nazi regime and that the only way to defeat it was for Germany to lose the War.

They produced several leaflets on this theme ,but were eventually betrayed and arrested. Contrary to some chroniclers they were not tortured by the Gestapo but the manner of their eventual Trial and Deaths  was chilling.

The second Pamphlet   gives you some Idea of their standpoint.
Since the conquest of Poland three hundred thousand Jews have been murdered in this country in the most bestial way … The German people slumber on in their dull, stupid sleep and encourage these fascist criminals … Each man wants to be exonerated of a guilt of this kind, each one continues on his way with the most placid, the calmest conscience. But he cannot be exonerated; he is guilty, guilty, guilty!"

Hans Scholl, Sophie Scholl, and Christoph Probst, who were executed for participating in the White Rose resistance movement against the Nazi regime in Germany.
This was not a movement of those who realised Germany had lost the War and were preparing the "Good German defense". They were arguing that Germany deserved to lose the War and Germans were as guilty as the Nazi for not opposing them.

Amongst those executed were Brother and Sister Hans and Sophie Scholl who were 25 and 22 when they were executed by Guillotine.

There is an excellent Geman Language Film  Sophie Scholl – Die letzten Tage (Sophie Scholl: The Final Days), featuring actress Julia Jentsch  which deals withe her arrest, interrogation,trial and eventual execution which made me weep for someone who more courage than I will ever have and displayed such Humanity.Throughout the World there are still people who will stand up to evil governments who live by the motto of the White Rose movement.

We will not be silent. We are your bad conscience. The White Rose will not leave you in peace!
So on the 22 February I will wear a single White Rose in memory of these Bbave young people, who have shown us that there will always be those who stand up for Humanity and Justice and if we keep their memory then this will prevail even in the most vile of Regimes.

Friday 4 February 2011

Tony Blair not as Hypocritical as some.

Tony Blair has described Hosni Mubarak, the beleaguered Egyptian leader, as "immensely courageous and a force for good" and warned against a rush to elections that could bring the Muslim Brotherhood to power.

I must admit that Blair unlike the majority of  Western Politician  and Media are not behaving like total hypocrites.

Murbarak has been backed to the hilt by the USA and UK who have armed him and ignored  attacks on democratic forces in Egypt working on the  alleged remark of President Franklin D. Roosevelt (FDR)  in 1939 that the Nicaraguan dictator  "Somoza may be a son of a bitch, but he's our son of a bitch".
All of a sudden Murbarak has been condemned by those who have backed or ignored the excesses of his regime now can see his true nature.

Watching the Media I find the reporting like war time propaganda  and such is the bias expressed by the media that I have almost began to doubt their veracity.

I mentioned in a previous post how much I enjoyed reading Clair Wills's book on Ireland neutrality in the Second World War one thing that occurred was that the Irish faced with Allied propaganda at first doubted the reports of the horrors of the concentration camps and other Nazi atrocities.

The reporting from Egypt has some elements of propaganda  and even the BBC seems to have chosen which side to report on. Since the side they are supporting are those I myself would back I should not be disturbed but I am disturbed by what looks like Western Interference by politicians and the media  which could well backfire.

The trouble is, democracy in Egypt  may result in the sort of plural western government that the West and indeed myself would like to see. Egypt could end up with  a hard-line Islamic government being elected which is hostile to Israel and increase in tension in the Middle East.

The difference between myself and Tony Blair is that I would accept the democratic mandate of such a government I may not approve of it but it would be the choice of the people of Egypt.
It is not for Western governments to decide what sought of Democratic government others should have.

Wednesday 2 February 2011

Time to Grow Up.

I received the Election Commission Guide to the March Referendum and admit it is clear easy to read and sticks to the factss.

One thing has occurred to me on reading it  however is if the referendum question is

Do you want the Assembly now to be able to make laws on all matters in the 20 subject areas it has powers for?

What will happen if the Assembly was to gain powers in other subject areas, Policing for instance. Will law making powers be assumed? Will this depend on the whim of Westminster who may grant responsibility but not the means to change the Law as now happens. Will we have to have a referendum on every area of new

I hope whoever drew up the bill on this thought out the likelihood of the Assembly gaining responsibility in more than the 20 areas it currently has.

In many ways this reflects what the referendum is about  if we have responsibility for a subject we must have the means to affect the way they are run by law making.

What we are talking about is if you elect people to the assembly to make a change in they must be given the tools to do so
The Welsh Assembly is not a School Council set up by a Head to  give pupils some idea of responsibility and as a lesson in democracy whilst making sure he or she can ignore any "Wild Ideas".

I remind you of the comment of True Wales spokesman  Paul Matthews,
"We’re not the most innovative or creative, and very often those that are, move out of Wales.” 
 The likes of True Wales  believe that we are incapable of even making simple decisions and will jeopardize our future by such a portrayal. A No vote on March 3rd will say to the World "here are a people afraid of responsibility. W ho can't even have the courage to make simple changes to their lives but must constantly ask its bigger brother for approval".

March 3rd will be  an opportunity for Wales to tell the world it is prepared to act  responsible and willing to look at its own affairs and sought out its own problems.