Monday 31 October 2011

Presidents and Heirs.

My last post on the Election of Michael D Higgins as the 9th Prisident of Ireland ( Uachtarán na hÉireann) didn't leave me any space to add any Information. But Michael D rocking in the Dail was written in 1994 so it seems he had the unique opportunity of having a campaign song 17 years before his campaign for the Presidency.

I am delighted with Michael D election he will be a brilliant and Progressive President and although it would not be my place to tell the Irish Electorate who to vote for he would have been my choice.

There have been some in commentators on the Welsh Blogasphere who seem to have lent to Sinn Fein's Martin McGuinness during the election and believe his  13.7% of the  first preference  vote was some how a major advance . Though in fact  the number of transfers seem low for MCGuiness  seem to point to his vote being polarised..

Irish presidential election, 2011[193][194]
PartyCandidateNominated by % 1st PrefCount 1Count 2Count 3Count 4
Labour PartyMichael D. HigginsOireachtas: Labour Party39.6701,101730,480793,1281,007,104
IndependentSeán GallagherCounty and City Councils28.5504,964529,401548,373628,114
Sinn FéinMartin McGuinnessOireachtas: Sinn Féin & Independents13.7243,030252,611265,196
Fine GaelGay MitchellOireachtas: Fine Gael6.4113,321127,357136,309
IndependentDavid NorrisCounty and City Councils6.2109,469116,526
IndependentDana Rosemary ScallonCounty and City Councils2.951,220
IndependentMary DavisCounty and City Councils2.748,657
Electorate: 3,191,157   Valid: 1,771,762   Spoilt: 18,676 (1.0%)   Quota: 885,882   Turnout: 1,790,438 (56.1%)

The position of President is largely ceremonial rather the head of state in the UK and there was some campaign in the Republic to abolish it . But this largely faded under the last two Presidents Mary Robinson and  Mary McAleese, who both rose the profile on the world Stage with their commitment to Humanitarianism throughout the World

It is  somewhat Ironic that at almost the same time as the Presedential Election the British Establishment were enthusing over  the decision the change the rules over succession to the head of State of the UK and claiming this was "Democratic and Modern"

What a non-story this was. Taking into account that the current heir to the throne  William should live till he's at least 80. It will be 2062 before any heir succeeds him. So I'll be long gone by them but hopefully Wales will be a Republic.

The biggest joke was Cameron et al portraying this as some kind of democratic coup and modernisation. No change can make the idea of an hereditary head of state either democratic and modern.

And today we have news that Prince Charles has been offered a veto over 12 government bills since 2005 Ministers sought prince's consent under secretive constitutional loophole on bills covering issues from gambling to the OlympicSo the Republic of Ireland so often portrayed as narrow minded conservative country elect a progressive humanitarian as they President and have the opportunity in 7 years time to change him if it they disaprove.. Whilst we are told we are being democratic and modern because the first born will be heir to throne regardless of sex and will not be dis bared if they marry a Catholics. Which of these two states is really demcratic and modern?

Friday 28 October 2011

Nice (Non) Work if you can get it.

It seems that Ex Prime Ministers have found a gravy train at the expense of the Taxpayer.

Margaret Thatcher who is now 86 is rarely seen in public and has health problems, but this has not stopped her claiming £535,000 in state handouts under the public duties cost allowance available to ex-PMs.

In 2005, doctors advised Lady Thatcher, who served three consecutive terms in office, that she should not make public speeches in the wake of some minor strokes.

But it is claimed  still attends some public functions, including an address by the Pope during his state visit to the UK last year.

In September, she attended a party to mark former Defence Secretary Liam Fox's 50th birthday at his London apartment.

I don't know whether she claimed on her visit to the Popes address and I doubt whether she would have been allowed to claim for Liam Fox's Birthday Party but we clearly need to know what events we have payed for.

The MP's expensive scandal where they claimed for ridiculous expenses like Duck Houses shows that we needed transparency in their expenses claims  This should also apply to ex Prime Ministers making such claims.

The system was set up by John Major in 1991 to reward former incumbents of No 10 for work including answering letters and attending public events.a bit like the Royal Family I suppose but it seems that the ex Prime Ministers  are using very expensive stationary.

A Commons briefing states the allowance is to "assist with additional office costs which they are liable to incur because of their special position in public life". In the past five years, it has cost taxpayers more than £1.7 million to support Baroness Thatcher, her successor Sir John Major and, since 2007, former Labour premier Tony Blair

Blair has claimed just under £273,000 since leaving office in June 2007, including £169,076 in 2008-9 – more than his annual salary when he was in Downing Street. Despite making a fortune in his other exploits ,

John Major , who was Prime Minister 1990 to 1997, has claimed £490,000 in the past five years.

As a republican  I can just about stomach paying for Elizabeth Windsor  and her elder son as she is Head of state. I see no point in paying for the rest of her family to enjoy freebies whilst claiming to represent the UK. I t becomes even worse when we are paying ex Prime Ministers who already receive a generous Pension  for  so called work there appears to little record off.

We need a full breakdown of these claims and and investigation to whether they are justified.

Wednesday 26 October 2011

Whose the Landlord?

 BBC Wales have reported The Welsh assembly will pay £2.3m in rent to a mystery landlord for the building housing the offices of its 60 members, 

The BBC reveal..
The assembly's rent for the Ty Hywel building in Cardiff Bay will rise nearly 30% next year from £1.7m.
It is paid to Crick Properties Ltd, registered in Douglas, Isle of Man, but assembly authorities cannot say who the ultimate owner of the building is.
Senior AM Darren Millar is worried about the "very muddy" arrangements.
The building is attached to the Senedd and contains the assembly's old debating chamber.
As well as housing the offices of AMs and their staff, the Welsh government occupies the fifth floor, and media organisations, including the BBC, have space in the building.
Mr Millar, chairman of the assembly's Public Accounts Committee, raised concerns about the arrangement on the grounds of the importance of Ty Hywel as a public building and the amount of public money paid in rent.
"I'm very concerned about it," he said.
"The National Assembly has always been, or claimed to be, a beacon of transparency, and yet this is very, very muddy."

The report also points out. that...

Ty Hywel, originally called Crickhowell House, was built in the 1990s by Grosvenor Waterside, the property arm of Associated British Ports, which owned large areas of land around the newly reclaimed Cardiff Bay.
The Welsh Office took out a lease on the building and it was transferred to the assembly in 1999. It housed the assembly's debating chamber until the Senedd was completed in 2006.
After being sold by Grosvenor Waterside to insurance giant Aviva, the assembly had the opportunity to buy the building outright in 2009, but decided against it because funds were not available.
It was then sold for £31m to a company set up in the Isle of Man specifically for the purpose. Because of the way this company - Crick Properties Ltd - is structured, it is difficult to find out who is the ultimate owner.

Though the Blog Slugger O' Toole seems to have more success than the BBC in tracing the Landlord.

Clearly if the Assembly had bought the building in 2006  then it wohuld probably have been payed for  in 20 years and assuming the Assembly were still using it would have resulted in a long term saving.

I don't see any other buildings being available so they should have used this opportunity and those who maid the decision should explain themselves.

It would have been also easier if the Assembly could have borrowed the Money to Pay for TY Hywel but I doubt if they had the powers.

The major problem here is that every tenant should know who their landlord hill . Perhaps some Welsh MPs could put forward a Bill at Westminster making all Landlords register any properties they own in the UK here,

There has been no suggestion of improper here but what would the reaction be if it proved the Landlords were a Political Party or group that were heavy lobbying the Welsh Government?

Supposing a group like Greenpeace  discoverd their Landlords  were a Whaling company?

Because of the short sightingness  of the assembly in 2006 they are  being held over a barrel .

Unfortunately  I don't see any solution now but clearly the situation needs examining.

Monday 24 October 2011

Why Tory MPs are revolting.

I seems that over 70 Tory MPs are prepared to defy the Whip and votethe motion, tabled by Tory MP David Nuttall, asks whether Britain should remain a member of the EU on current terms, leave the EU, or renegotiate the terms of British membership to create a new relationship based on trade and co-operation.A number of backbench Labour MPs have also signed the motion, including Graham Stringer, Austin Mitchell and John Cryer. But Labour sources say the party will order its MPs to vote against a referendum on Britain's future in Europe.

The Labour leader, Ed Miliband, will claim pushing for a national poll at a time of high unemployment and stagnating economic growth is an "irresponsible and terrible distraction".

The Liberal Democrats despite trying to distance their pro EU beliefs by staring this in 2010 thier Manifesto 

"The European Union has evolved significantly since the last public vote on membership over thirty years ago. Liberal Democrats therefore remain committed to an in / out referendum the next time a British government signs up for fundamental change in the relationship between the UK and the EU".

Will be opposing the referendum motion and although they cam claim that they were arguing for any future changes and not retrospective. One wonders what their position would have been if in opposition. Well I don't really wonder they would be supporting the motion . well as long as they knew it would be defeated.

Of course for a number of Tories they will realise that cull in seats are the redrawing of constituency boundaries means that it is more important to appease the future constituencies who will be re-selecting thier candidates for the next General election rather than the Tories Whips

One senior figure told The Independent:

 "The mood of Tory grassroots members is overwhelmingly Eurosceptic. They want a referendum on the EU. A candidate who opposed that in Parliament would be cutting his or her own throat. The boundary review will be a big factor in MPs' minds."
Personally as a democrat who supports I am not opposed to a referendum on Europe in the future if there is a clear call but I don't see the bleating of the right media as one. Though any referendum may expose their position which would place the Nations of the UK as little more than a client state of the United States of America.

If the motion was passed I can't see how a re-negotiations will work . What happens if the EU simply says Non to every issue? So the only real issue is In or Out. Which is the real agenda of the Eurosceptics
In many ways the Eurosceptic Tories objection to European Unity is based on the myth that Britain is Major power that has a say in the World together with the hatred of any legislation they see as a "liberal" agenda.

The main problem I see is at the present time such a referendum in the mix of the current European financial crisis will not be helpful and the idea that an American Citizen (Rupert Murdoch" through his media empire will distort the debate makes me question whether such a referendum would be truly democratic and reflect the true will of the people.

Saturday 22 October 2011

A walesi bárdok (The Bards Of Wales)

János Arany March 2, 1817—October 22, 1882)

Today October 22 id the  129 anniversary of the death of János Arany  the Hungarian journalist, writer, poet, and translator . Who is one of that country's  foremost literary figures.

This of course would not have led me to make a comment except for the fact that Arany was responsible for a link between Wales and Hungary that we do not really share with any other Nation.

In 187 Arany was asked to write a poem of praise for the visit of Franz Joseph I of Austria, as were other Hungarian poets. Arany instead wrote a poem about the tale of the 500 Welsh bards sent to the stake by Edward I of England in 1277,  Where he got this from I don't know but he used it  as a metaphor to criticise the tyrannic Habsburg rule over Hungary after the Hungarian Revolution of 1848. 

The poem was not  published for  6 years. But  later in 1863, disguised as a translation of an Old English ballad, so as to conceal the real meaning from the Austrian censor.

The poem is considered to be a manifesto of the passive resistance which led to the Austro-Hungarian Compromise of 1867. Arany wrote his own preface to the poem:

"The historians doubt it, but it strongly stands in the legend that Edward I of England sent 500 Welsh bards to the stake after his victory over the Welsh (1277) to prevent them from arousing the country and destroying English rule by telling of the glorious past of their nation."

It soon became and remains one of the major literary works in the Hungarian language.

In the 6th grade of elementary school, every Hungarian student is required to learn The Bards of Wales as it has an important role in both Hungarian history and literature.

So it seems that Hungarian Children may have more knowledge of Wales than any other country in Europe and Indeed even if you dispute the accuracy of the slaughter of the Bards they may more knowledge of the cconquest of Wales than our own 6th graders.

In September 2007 an English copy of this poem, translated by Peter Zollman, was donated to the National Library of Wales in Aberystwyth. which you can read here.

Thursday 20 October 2011

British Military defend the Union.

The Left Foot Forward Blog has posted on a former Chief of the General Staff Lord Richard Dannatt,has launched a withering attack on Alex Salmond’s failure to set out his thinking in any detail over Scotland’s defence and foreign policy in the event of independence.

Speaking to the Daily Telegraph, the head of the UK Army between 2006 and 2009, argued that Alex Salmond had to set out a blueprint for defence and foreign policy prior to a vote on independence if the electorate were to be able to make an informed decision. He concluded:
"There is undoubtedly merit in the argument that Alea Salmond should make it clear how an Independence Scotland should organise it defence ."
but the article seems to be based on looking at defence based on the current British system of behaving like an Imperial power and giving the impression it has an influential role. Though most of the World see them as merely a arm of the US .

Of course in many ways this a palticular more difficult ptroblem than Wales. for Scotland 

Scottish Regiments were after all the backbone of the British Empire and thier shipyards built many of the Royal Navy  ships and they were enthusiastic tools of the Empire

But Lord Dannatt has also supported the views of his predecessor, General Sir Mike Jackson, who in May argued that an independent Scotland would require the building of a completely new military from scratch, arguing that the military could not serve two political masters. (Has he forgotten NATO?) It has been seen as  rebuke of suggestions that the SNP are considering some sort of “independence lite” option, in which defence and foreign policy would be shared with England.

Most people will argue that there will be two Independence referendum s 
One to Establish the principle and open negotiations on how to split the arms of government which will include  defense and

One to approve the settlement.

Responding to the developments, shadow defence Minister and Scottish Labour MP, Russell Brown argued:

“Knowing how we would defend ourselves, whether the shipyards would close, how many aircraft carriers we would have, the size of the army, our membership of Nato, our role on the UN Security Council: all these must be answered before the referendum, not after. On defence, our relationship with Europe, the currency, on pensions, Alex Salmond might run from the questions but he can’t hide from them.“

But what Dannatt, Russell Brown  and Left Foot Foward can't see is its not for them to decide on the future defence of an Independent Scotland and neither is it for the SNP . It will be for the future government of Scotland who free from the British Imperial mentality and those who have a vested interest in this either military commanders or the armaments industry who for their own reasons would not like to see a smaller commitment to defense expenditure. 

The British Involvement in Iraq, Afgahanistan  and Libya  shows that the Westminster Parties still see the UK as a world power and are still prepared to spend Billions of pounds but much worse sacrifice the lives of hundreds of servicemen in order to maintain this illusion.

Plaid has in the past had a greater anti-militaristic  tendancy than the SNP  though opposition from the leadership was muted and it was left to the likes of Leanne Wood and Welsh Ramblings to voice the traditional Plaid view.

Lets exam an Independent Wales .
Initially we could inherit the current Welsh regiments and bases and we could run them as they are for a .  year period before establishing our own force based on what Wales needs.
The Air force basis  of St Athens and Valley in Anglesey will eventually be the responsibility of the Welsh Government but they could remain open on a shared basis by the Welsh, Scottish and English and perhaps Irish governments. 

Wales will need very little Navy probably just some coastal vessels. Why would we need Aircraft Carriers and battleships?

Eventually a Welsh defense force similar to that of the Republic of Ireland should emerge.with a similar defense expenditure of 0.6% of GDP to the UK 2.6(World 2.6). For all countries see here

What is clear from the argument on Left Foot Forward  is that they think this could be Alex Salmond and the SNP Achilles Heel. the Military complex is a powerful body which has been increasingly more political its not surprising that they are being pulled out to defend the Union.

Tuesday 18 October 2011

"Neville" Huhne what a hero.

Yesterdays summit with Prime Minster Dsvid Cameron Energy secretary Chris Hunhe the six biggest power firms, consumer groups and regulator Ofgem. Resulted in the expected spin in which everyone said something should be done to reduce prices especially to the most vulnerable. But showed that since privatisation Governments of all colours are impotent, or more accurately haven't the stomach to do anything about it .

Huhne response was for people have to check that they are on the cheapest available energy tariff and whether they could save money by paying by direct debit.

What about the poorest members of society who can't afford the risk of a direct debit bill leading them into the Black and therefore finding themselves accumulating Bank Charges?
What about those who are forced to reduce their energy use to the extent that they find that any savings are minimal. A 5% saving on £2000 is £100 but on £500 is £25 still are saving it might be lost in the process of switching .
Who actually can understand the Tariffs and how to work out whether paying a standard charge and less for the units and simply paying for the units?

David Cameron may call for a "trusted, simple and transparent" market. as Labour's Shadow Energy Minister Caroline Flint does . But why doesn't he legislate for it and why didn't Labour do so when in power

What we have is the three major parties giving the impression that they reconise the problem but are so in thrall to the "Free Enterprise Thatcher" concept that they are unwilling to come up with a real plan.

There are some simple things that can be done.

  • All utility companies should bill customers on the use of units only so people can easily see what they are using and the price charged
  • All bills payed quarterly should have no increases during that period and people should then be able to immediately and easily switch at the end of that quarter.
  • Utility companies should provide customers with information on tier profits and dividends payed to share holders
  • All companies should provide a yearly summary bill to customers showing the units used that year and the total bill charged. Banks should give customers a period of grace (say a month) on direct debits from utility suppliers to allow people to add funds and not occur bank charges.
I bet not one of those at the summit will be basically living in one room over the Winter as they seek to reduce their usage and look with dread for their quarterly bill or are constantly .checking their meter if they are on a Pay as You Go Tarrif

Words are not enough and Huhne's call for people to simply switch, shows that he hasn't a clue how ordinary people are struggling to pay their bills. 

Sunday 16 October 2011

Lets not mope but celebrate.

The Welsh Bloggersphere was quiet yesterday. I imagine that majority were like me distracted with the World Cup match in Auckland.

I joined the 60000 people who took advantage of the inspired move by the Welsh Rugby Union to watch the match at the Millennium  Stadium and all credit to them.even with the result and that Red card it was a great experiance.

Of course the result was not what we wanted . But we must not let ourselves fall into the trap of seeing ourselves as  victim but  look forward to the 3rd place play off and beat Australia convincingly (Which I think we can still do even without Sam Warburton) to prove to ourselves that the only team that could have beaten  New Zealand in the final was Wales The final looks like it will be a foregone conclusion.

Yesterday saw the whole of Wales united and one  thing that brought a smile to my face was a number of Asian girls in welsh shirts wearing headscarves . Did I say Asian Girls? I meant Welsh Girls

One of my friends on leaving the match marched into a nearby bookmakers and put a bet on Wales to win the  six nations next year at 11/4. The full lit to win outright. are.







So compared with the Odds on England an France!!!(Do bookies know anything about the game?) it looks like a good bet. (Don't know what the odds are for a Grand Slam but it seems worth a flutter).

So lets put yesterday result behind us and not reflect on what would have happened if it has been a Yelow card instead of red. Lets be positive for once.

  • We clearly had a great team who had a brilliant defence and scored in a Try in every match
  •  We have a outstanding Captain in Sam Warburton who hopefully will lead the Team to the next world cup.
  • Mike Phillips  seems to have refound his Mojo and his young  replacements Travis Knoyle and especially Lloyd Williams look class as well.
  • We seem to have found a full back in Luke Halfpenny  in the one position we have had a real problem
  • As long as Adam Jones and Gethin Jenkins are fit we have the best props in the world
  • Scott Williams looks to be a future centre to make us proud..
  • George North is clearly a class act who will only get better.
So lets stop moping look forward to Friday confirm our belief that we are in the Top five sides in the World and go on to claim the Top spot we are not far off.

Friday 14 October 2011

Putting all your eggs in one basket.

It would be ridiculous for me to say that news that the new £400m Airbus plant, which will manufacture carbon-fibre wings for its new aircraft the A350, will retain about 650 jobs at the Broughton plant in North wales  plant alone is anything but good news

Airbus already has more than 550 orders for the aircraft, which will be due for service within two years, and the new factory means it is the largest such factory in the UK.

This has partly been achieved due to the Welsh Assembly under th e Labour Paid Coalition investing investing£29m in the project.

Of course David Cameron, was there despite the fact his ConLib government had virtually nothing to do with the funding and whose polices may well have put the entire Airbus expansion in doubt.

It is however ironic that this opening happened at virtually the same time that it was announced that Unemployment in Wales rose by 16,000 in three months to reach 131,000, in the alarming figures showed yesterday.

The 9% jobless rate included a sharp rise in the number of young people out of work, to record levels, while the claimant count for jobseekers allowance reached 78,500, some 6,500 up over the year.

Around 26,000 fewer people are in jobs, as the employment rate in Wales fell by 1.2% to 67.3%, compared to 70.4% across the UK.
But the problem with Airbus its a single industry and a single product and we must ask ourselves how risky it is investing in just one product?
  • What happens if sales for the Airbus do not meet expectations?
  • What is the life expectancy of the Airbus project 10,20,30 years?
  • Can anyone see the use for the factory of that size  if the project fails to take off (no pun intended.

OK with 500 orders we can hopefully expect a period of well paid secure jobs forsome years to come and Broughton has got an extremely proud history  of 70 years of aviation history so it may be a good investment and worth the risk. Certainly it wasn't worth the risk of the Assembly not backing the project.

But when is the Welsh Assembly government going (and all the opposition Parties for that matter) to realise that they must invest similar sums to the £25 million invested in Broughton? and spread it out.They must look at backing smaller industries (including cooperatives) in  areas like the  South Wales  Valleys and West Wales.

One of the reasons that Germany is not facing the economic disaster that much of the rest of the Western Economies are i s that even the Christian Democrats did not follow the Thatcherite  free market policy which saw the manufacturing industry in the UK decimated..

We still have not learned the lesson of Bosh,LG and other projects who provided jobs for a period and then left for cheaper horizons or in the case of LG never even  providing the expected work. 

The LG factory in Newport which never realised anything like it's potential,The LG site has had a troubled history, with up to 6,000 jobs promised in 1996 never materialising.A £1.2 billion sister factory on the site, which was to make semi-conductors, never went into production and is still largely empty. The LG Philips factory making colour tubes for monitors and televisions closed in 2003 with 870 job losses.
At its height, 2,000 people were employed at the site. The LG factories on the site originally received more than £87m of grant money, and in 2005 some £34m was repaid to the then Welsh Development Agency

We cant go on having industries that provide 10 years of prosperity but then leave us with 20 years of an unemployed generation. Its good news from North Wales but it is not the way to secure the future long term economy of Wales.

Tuesday 11 October 2011

Welsh Labour MPs join Front Bench Wow!

The BBC reports that ED Miliband has  appointed 12 Welsh MPs  (of a total of 26) to his shadow Welsh Team
  • Peter Hain (Neath), Nia Griffith MP (Llanelli), Lord (Bryan) Davies: (Who seems to be the ex MP for Oldham and I can't see any Welsh connections)
  • Ian Lucas (Wrexham): Foreign Office
  • Owen Smith (Pontypridd): Treasury
  • Wayne David (Caerphilly): Justice
  • Chris Bryant (Rhondda) and David Hanson (Delyn): Home Office
  • Kevin Brennan (Cardiff West): Education
  • Huw Irranca-Davies (Ogmore): Environment
  • Chris Ruane (Vale of Clwyd), Susan Elan Jones (Clwyd South), Mark Tami (Alyn and Deeside): Whips
This is the first time that a Labour Leader has a freehand to chose his shadow ministers  since the scrapping the elections this year.

At first glance 12 front Welsh Shadow members looks impressive  but when you look at the full list here. you can see that they are not exactly dominating the Labour front Bench.

In fact the term Front Bench is a bit of a misnomer  because there are so many of them there would be no room on the front Bench in one sitting and they will occasionally do so and mostly when the house is half empty Tough one will be chosen to sit next to Ed at PMQ every so often to ensure the natives think their MPs have some influence.

Only one MP Peter Hain is in the Shadow Cabinet and that is in the Welsh Office if the position didn't exist would Hain be in the Cabinet? . Possibly but one some would have suspected this was his last chance to have a plum portfolio instead of a position that because of devolution could well be scrapped before the next election.This compares badly with Scotland which has three members and either shows that Welsh MPs are not seen as up to the Job  or as no threat where a promotion to the Cabinet will ensure their loyalty.
In fact  with 258 Labour MPs   who in opposition are often more rebellious. Given as many  shadow jobs as possible (which could be nearly 50% of them) and dangling the prospect of promotion is a way of ensuring their loyalty.

As far as the Welsh MPs don't expect to see them preforming at the dispatch box very often on the BBC Parliament Channel

  1. One of the the front bencher  MPs is in the Welsh Office.
  2. Three are in the Whips Office which limits their contributions to debate.
  3. Only the Owen Smith Treasury  and Chris Bryant (Home Office ) really  can be seen as promotion  and it looks like thy is the only current Labour MPs from Wales  who are seen as Cabinet potential.

So we have in fact very little Welsh influence in the new Labour Shadow cabinet and  the only Member from Wales (Peter Hain) seems to be intent on interfering in the Welsh Assembly and seizing control of the leadership of the Labour Party in Wales.

Mind you the failure of Welsh Labour MPs to get  a shadow cabinet position is as nothing to the position of the  eight  Tory and three  Liberal Democrats in the coalition government none of whom seem to be up to even the position of Welsh secretary  which is still held by Cheryl Gilian the MP Chesham and Amersham in Buckinghamshire. Despite the fact that she has.t a clue.

Saturday 8 October 2011

What the Tories need is a Hopscotching Cat.

The row over the Catgate scandal  continues.

 Home Secretary  Theresa  May told the Tory conference: “We all know the stories about the Human Rights Act, the illegal immigrant who cannot be deported because – I am not making this up – he had a pet cat.”Only for the The Judicial Office, which represents judges, to  confirmed the cat, called Maya, was not the reason the man was allowed to stay. Maya belonged to a Bolivian who came to Britain as a student and was in a stable relationship with his partner. 
It seems that the casualty from this . Will not be Theresa May but Ken Clark who derided Mrs May and bet correctly that she had her facts wrong.As the Tory right se the chance to get rid o a justice minister they see as too liberal rather than a Home secretary who can't get simple facts right.

But whatever the internal spat betweeen  Justice secretary Clarke and Home Secretary May and it is probably has more to to with the fact that they resent the job of Home Secretary (once one of the Big three Cabinet post) was divided  under the last Labour administration and feel that only one person should run  these departments. The case of Tories misleading their party conference is not new.

Mrs May who made her name by calling the Tories the nasty party exactly nine years ago has been playing to the very right wing "Hang and Flog Them "crowd  that she was criticising  in 2002 then by calling for the scraping of their Bete Noire the Human rights Act and used  her ridiculous cat claimto justify it..

This is not the first time A Tory politician has made a untruthful claim  at a Tory conference when attacking what the delegates see as  the Liberal Agenda.

Back in 1995, former Conservative Party Chairman Brian Mawhinney regaled his Party’s Conference with a story of how taxpayer’s money was being similarly spent on hopscotch for Asian women.

In fact, it later transpired that the public money had been given to the Hopscotch Asian Women’s Centre, a well-respected voluntary organisation that deals with domestic violence, language and integration issues in Camden, which neighbours Haringey.

To the party faithful however it probably  doesn't matter if these claims are true or not because the simply reinforce their prejudice position and one wonders as the sort of rubbish spouted by May and Mawhinney not deliberate inaccuracies  .After all it would be a success if the public at large felt that there was something in their claims. 

The  Blog Tabloid Watch  (which you should look at on at least a weekly basis)regally exposes the lies that come out of  our newspapers especially the outrages claims that are maid by the Daily Mail and Richard Littlejohn and yet they still get away with and the sad thing is that most of the other media fail to expose it.

If you throw enough mud, some of it will stick and if you make enough outrages and wrong claims about the Human Rights act, then people will start believing they were true. Was this Theresa Mays real intention after all?


Thursday 6 October 2011

Lab-Lib Coalition in Wales by Xmas?

Subordinate Centre,  surpasses itself it its attempts to push forward  the profile of La  Pasionaria  To save you the effort of looking at the Blog I've copied it here.
Welsh Liberal Democrat Leader, Kirsty Williams, is sometimes criticised for her willingness to tell it like it is, though more often by journalists than the wider public who rather like this quality in their politicians.
On Tuesday in the Assembly though, she drew praise from an unexpected quarter as the First Minister contrasted Kirsty’s independence of mind with the approach so far taken by the Leader of the Conservative Group in the Assembly .
“The Leader of the Welsh Liberal Democrats has her own mind”, said Carwyn Jones during an exchange in First Minister’s questions,
“she often stands up and criticises those at Westminster.”
Perhaps Labour have realised that portraying Kirsty as in any one’s pocket is never likely to ring true or has the budget cosying up started already?

But there may be something we can read in this.

Labour with 30 seats do not have an overhaul majority and whilst with 30 out of the 60 seats it can probably win most of the votes it needs as the chances of the 15 Consevatives ,10 Plaid and  5 LibDems voting together just to defeat the Assembly government is unlikely and it would still mean that the Llywydd (Presiding Officer) Labours Rosemarry Butler of her Deputy Conservative David Melding for the casting vote and it would be an extraordinarily measure and breaking of convention for them not to vote with the government of the day if there is a tied vote..

However Labour, whilst probably being able to defend a byelection can not afford to have any member reducing their ranks a long term illness or suspension.  and  and they probably will need to at least form a understanding with another party sooner or later even if it did not mean a full blown coalition.

They may have not done this already because their former partner Plaid Cymru have still to appoint a new leader and they may well be waiting to see what  the attitude of the winner of that contest will be,

Or they could already (as ir seems to be suggested by Subordinate Centre) be playing footsie in the Senedd with La Pasionaria and the Liberal Democrats .

For the LibDems the chance of getting into coalition in Wales after a disastrous Welsh Election ( which fortunately for them received little press coverage because of Plaids poor showing.) has a number of attractions

  • It would raise La Pasionaria  profile and I admit she an excellent performer in the chamber  but it has the danger of her in particular loosing her position as a well briefed opposition spokesmen and she would find it harder to defend government polices than attack them.
  • I imagine that most Welsh Libdems are worried about the toxic affect that they are facing from being in coalition with the Tories in Westminster. With elections for Welsh councils next May threatening a massive cull of LibDem councilors in Wales .The chance of being in a government that offers an alternative to a Tory led government could be alluring.Though it may have little effect as how the public in Wales perceive them.
  • They could portray themselves a s the driving force of a Government, that so far has made only lukewarm proposals in Welsh Legislation. Though this will probably last for no more than a year.and Labour would then seen to be the playmakers. As happened in the previous Lab-LibDem , Lab-Plaid coalitions.
  • Since it is no longer the official opposition in the Assembly, they could portray  Plaid as a Party in decline and of no influence in the Senedd .Though if Plaid get their leadership choice right they might be facing a invigorated party.
For Labour who clearly have no plans for any major legislation they could probably wait. But it does seem that La Pasionaria has been making overtures to them (and it hasn't been one way traffic). We might just se 2013 start with  her receiving a plum ministerial job

Tuesday 4 October 2011

Sometimes someone else writes what you think

Every once in while you read a Blog post , which makes you think "I wish I'd written that". and the latest post from State of the Nation is one I really wish I had .Read it here before you continue.

It it is clear to me that Iain Duncun Smith remit has been to switch the public's eye from the people who caused the Economic Crisis the whole world is in from the Greedy  and Corrupt Bankers and give the impression that all we have to do is eliminate benefit scroungers and all our troubles are over. So IDS (The initialised politician) goes about giving the impression that every person who is unemployed or claiming any kind of benefit is a scrounger and thereby hopefully raise the ire of the middle classes who feel that they are the only decent people around.

Not only the Tories are up to this New Labour also pandered to this and constantly tried to cover up its failure to tackle the problems of long tern unemployment but trying to blame those who were experiencing the humiliating experiance of being out of giving the impression they dont't really want to work.

Under Ed Miliband it does not seem much will change he speaks of the Squeezed  Middle Classes but does nothing to defend the Bashed Bottom.

The problem is that there is no political advantage in supporting the poor and less well off. If they vote at all it they probably  live in a safe Labour seat and the Political Parties are only interested in the 150 or so marginal seats which are dependent on the swing votes of squeezed Middle Classes.

In many ways our electoral system is to blame here. When the votes of the Bashed Bottom don't count because they are not in marginal seats then  the Political Parties have no need to court them.

So we will see the Tories attacking the poor by giving the impression as they always have that they are a lazy underclass living off benefits and Labour making the occasional sympathetic noises whilst making sure it does nothing to point out the real causes of poverty .

Monday 3 October 2011

Homer, "Our man in Wales"

On Sunday, Andrew RT Davies and Homer Simpson lookie-likey  introduced as "Our Man Wales "  (sound like a appointed governor?) made his conference debut as Tory Assembly leader

He said the Welsh Government had run out of steam and ideas on how to use the assembly's new law-making powers.

On health, he said spending on free prescriptions had left no money to pay for life-saving drugs - 24 cancer drugs were available in England but not in Wales.

Mr Davies also said the Tories would support the Welsh Government where they came forward with suitable ideas to revive the economy.

If Mr Davies can come with a patient who has been refused such drugs he should produce them.If he can't  is this just a case of Tory opposition to universal health care which free prescriptions is an fine example?

The idea of charging for Prescriptions led to the architect of the NHS resigning from the 1950-51 Cabinet in protest at prescription charges being introduced for dental care and spectacles. He saw it as a fundamental part of the NHS and it has been one of the triumphs of the Welsh Assembly since it was introduced by the Labour led assembly in April 2007 (Cynicaly just before the May elections but I can still them credit).

Mr Davies theme of the Welsh Government "running out of steam and ideas " was taken up by his Boss  Welsh Secretary Cheryl Gillan who launched what the press caled  launched a scathing attack on Labour’s leadership in Walesand I cal hypocritical.

Ms Gillan accused Labour First Minister Carwyn Jones’ Welsh Government of putting forward a “timid and uninspiring” legislative programme and pledged that finance reforms will force ministers to demonstrate greater accountability for the money they spend.

She claimed that Labour’s “foot-dragging” had led to a six-month delay of the decision to introduce business-friendly enterprise zones and this had resulted in missed opportunities for the Welsh economy.

Ms Gillan also attacked Labour’s health and education policies and called on the Welsh Government to “ditch the dogma” and work with the UK Government for the good of Wales.

The Welsh Secretary claimed there is a “battle of ideas raging in Wales” between Labour and the Conservatives

What Battle of Ideas A labour Assembly which major policy  idea seems to be on Cycle Lanes and A Welsh Conservative party that has come up with no specific "Welsh" polices. And what are the Business friendly polcies the Tories have other than screwing  already low pay workers or makining it easier to sack people by increasing the period where workers can claim for unlawful dissmisal to two years.

They seem to be arguing that Labour in Wales should simply copy the ConLib coalition governments policies in Wales. In other words the Assembly should be little more than administrative arm of the Westminster.


Do the Tories ever consider a Welsh solution tp Welsh problems. What would Mr Davies and Ms Gilian attitude if Labour did try some progressive policies.

The other interesting thing from the Conservative Conference so far is Cameron telling his Welsh Mps not to not to fall out over cuts to the number of MPs' seats at the next general election.

Wales will lose a larger share of its MPs than any other part o UK when boundaries are redrawn. 10 in all and this would mean that a fair number of the Welsh MPs will join the cull.

This could also be one of the reasons why Cameron has not replaced the hapless Gilian with a MP who represents a Welsh Constituency . He probably waiting wh will be standing next time . It would be embarrassing for him to to select a Welsh Secretary who will not be around after the next election