Monday 31 December 2012

Labour MPs blast thier own Council

The South Wales Echo reports that Cardiff West MP and his AM colleague  Mark Drakeford have blasted their own Partys running of Cardiff Council

According to the Echo......

"The two  attacked, City's quality of life 'under threat' from plans for 45,000 new homes, and warn the city’s quality of life is under threat from the proposals to build 45,500 properties, and they describe Cardiff council’s Local Development Plan (LDP) Preferred Strategy as “flawed” in a seven-page letter.
The LDP has been opposed by opposition parties, but this latest criticism is significant as it is the first time Labour politicians have spoken out against plans put forward by the Labour-run council.
They say Cardiff will “quickly lose its appeal as a good place to live” if high levels of traffic congestion are a regular experience for residents.
“Nor will high density, indistinctive housing, poorly served by basic amenities, do anything to sustain Cardiff’s appeal as a place to live in the future,” the pair wrote.
“The current strategy puts at risk precisely the qualities which have made Cardiff a success.
“It radically undervalues those components which contribute to quality of life, on which, in turn, economic attractiveness in the future will depend. Indeed, the strategy threatens to undermine the very conditions which it hopes to create.”
South Wales Echo 31 December  2012
It continues

The strategy, agreed by Labour councillors in October, proposes 18,250 of the homes be built on undeveloped greenfield sites on the city’s northern and western fringes.
Within Mr Brennan and Mr Drakeford’s constituency, this includes 7,500 homes on fields between Pentrebane and St Fagans and 2,750 homes on land south of Creigiau.
They say Cardiff needs an LDP and more housing, but construction must first take place on brownfield sites – those areas with previous industrial or commercial use in need of regeneration.
“Only when every possibility for brownfield site development has been exhausted should, we believe, attention shift to greenfield areas,” the pair write.
“In that sense, the consultation document appears to take the wrong approach, in appearing to put greenfield sites at the heart of the debate.
“Our conclusions are two-fold: The strategy seriously overestimates the number of houses which can and should be built on greenfield sites in the city; and where greenfield building is required, the strategy fails to provide a convincing case for the sites it has so identified.”
South Wales Echo 31 December  2012

It is refreshing  to see Labour MPs  taking  a stand against their own council . Though a cynic might  think that thousands of Non Labour voters moving into their constituency may be their greatest  concern..

Whether the split in Labour spreads to Labpur Councillor in Cardiff West remains to be seen .Creigau is not a Labour stronghold . So they personally may not be threatened.

Still  just over six months  over Labours spectacular capture of Cardiff Council last may it looks like cracks are appearing in the new administration and  Cardiff Labour may well be hoping that there are  no by-elections in the city in 2013. 

Sunday 30 December 2012

Carwyn : "We are a drain on England"?

First Minister Carwyn Jones has made an interesting (Bizarre comment , regarding the future constitutional landscape of the UK by , claiming England could strike out without Wales in the aftermath of a Scots yes vote in its independence referendum,

The First Minister said that although it was an unlikely scenario, the “possibility” of England leaving the union amplifies the need for an urgent constitutional convention on the UK’s future.

Carwyn Jones  said:
 “If the Scots leave, it does create the possibility that England might leave as well.
“I think that’s highly unlikely, but all manner of strange scenarios can come about when you start dismantling the UK, which is why, of course, I hope it doesn’t happen.”
He added;
“We know what the consequences would be for Wales [if Scotland votes yes]. Let’s say for example there were problems regarding Wales’ funding, we would have to deal with that.
“For me, the most difficult outcome would be if we had ever-increasing costs and a decreasing tax base.
Carwyn seems to be suggesting that England would ditch Wales as a unnecessary drain on their resources  by adding:
“Plaid Cymru would argue for independence. My view is that it would leave 15% difference between what we raise and what we spend. Now that gap is not easy to make up, and for me that’s why independence makes no financial sense
I think that this an ideal importunity  to  remind you of  Jean-Martin Aussant of  the Quebec Party , Option nationale(ON) response to a similar argument that Quebec would lose out if it chose Independence,

Aussant has an economics background that comes in handy when making that case. against the argument  that  Quebec would lose billions in equalisation payments? by saying  "Good riddance",

He passionately argues that the current system is bad for the province. In a Youtube video, Aussant puts it this way::
"Imagine you have $50 to buy music you like. Your neighbour takes the $50, and promises to give you back $55 worth of tunes".
"What he doesn't tell you is that it's music you don't like -- and there are $25 in administrative fees," Aussant tells viewers. "So you started off with $50 and you ended up with $30 worth of music you don't even like.
"That's Canadian equalisation. We need to face the facts: We'd be better off keeping our money and choosing our own music."
Is Carwyn really saying that Wales will always be poor, that we will always be dependent on money from Westminster? He supposed to be coming up with solutions to this.  Not indicating that it is inevitable ant that theres nothing we in wales can do about it.

Carwyn also seems to be ignoring the fact that it is part  it of  his job  to ensure that Wales does not have a fiscal gap ( Though most States including the UK have one). He may think that his role is just to receive money from the UK government and the European Union  and spend it like a schoolboy with his pocket money but EU money at least is supposed to invested in a manner that the economy grows so such aid diminishes.

It time we stopped thinking of ourselves as being doomed to constant an country of high unemployment an d poverty. We need men and Women of Vision and that means not relying on others to pull us out of our financial inertia and that starts with controlling out own finances and that means Independence.

Saturday 29 December 2012

So you can't even by a pint of Milk in Welsh in Pwllhelli!

After the census result showed a fall of 3.6 percent  of those who can spel Welsh and 4.6 of those who can read and write the Language the reality of this problem has been brought home home when Dr Robyn Lewis, a former Archdruid of literary group the Gorsedd, told the Cambrian News he felt "humiliated" after Police officers were called to the store merely because he "wanted to be spoken to in his own language."

The ruckus occurred at the Spar in Pwllheli, after the 83-year-old was told to pay £58.62 for his groceries. He told the BBC he was shocked to hear the amount spoken in English rather than the Welsh number "pum-deg-wyth punt, chwedeg-dau".

The Archdruid was aggravated further when a police officer arrived, who also had no knowledge of Welsh . So a  backup was called the situation was resolved: i through the Welsh Language

Dr Lewis told the BBC:

 "It was sorted out by me being given another Welsh-speaking cashier whom I spoke entirely in Welsh.
"I paid and left. Honour was satisfied.
"All I wanted was an answer in my own language, in my own country."

The manager of the Spar, Conrad Davies, told Cambrian News:

 "The customer was not happy so we had to call the police as he refused to pay for his goods.
"The situation was completely blown out of proportion and left our member of staff extremely upset."
But it even seems that the cashier may have spoken fluent Welsh. If the situation was blown out of proportion it was when the manager called the police

Lets  be clear this was in  "Pwllheli" .If you can't use Welsh in Pwllheli where can you ? And if you can't expect to speak to a Police Officer in the Language you  brought up in on the The Llŷn Peninsula  then there is a serious problem in how to encourage the everyday use of the Welsh Language in its very heartland.

The Spar in Pwllhelli have shown that we need to ensure that in Y Fro Gymrarg  at the very least Welsh Speakers can use that Language naturally in their every day. lives

Robyn Lewis has shown us a glance the extent of the problem affecting Welsh Speakers in its very heartland if you can't pop unto a shop and use the Language in its very heartland  then the decline will be accelerated as it was in the South Wales Valleys after the first world war.

Friday 28 December 2012

We need parity with Scotland not small concessions,

On top of Carwyn Jones proposal for the Nationalisation of Cardiff Wales Airport  Wales' First Minister  there a little reported statement  that back in October  that Wales should have a dual role in deciding whether the Severn Barrage project should go ahead.
Carwyn Jones, replying to a cross-party debate on the potential of energy generation in the Severn Estuary, said the scheme represented a “tremendous opportunity” – and that he would seek a wider role for Wales in decision-making over proposed schemes.
 He called for Wales to be given control over renewable energy projects in the same way that Scotland has, saying the Welsh Government took a “strong view” that Wales should have sufficient control over its own resources.

“This control does rest with the people of England, Scotland and Northern Ireland in their respective nations – it isn’t true of Wales,” he told the Senedd.
“It’s important that as we see our natural resources developed that the people of Wales see the benefit that we get from that – a benefit that hasn’t always been there.
“It’s important that as we look to the future, that there’s proper benefit for the people of Wales. We must not allow the situation to happen again when natural resources are used but the compensating benefits are not put in place.”
He called for a dual role for Wales in the Barrage decision-making process.
“Sadly there’s no planning role for the Welsh Government offshore.”
Western Mail October 18th 2012

It does provide some evidence along with Leighton Andrews standing up to Michael Gove when the were are at loggerheads in a row over whether to regrade GCSE English exams. that the Assembly may be getting some backbone.

Of course its easier to stand up to central government when its of a different colour and I doubt that Carwyn and Leighton would not be so eager to push Wales, in another direction if their own party were holding the reins of power in Westminster.

Indeed . Why haven't both realised that the answer to any such conflict is that Wales should have full parity with Scotland and not have to beg for a place at the table or check if its OK with a Westminster government minister before embarking on a different path?

In my comment on Carwyn Jones. plans for Cardiff airport I asked of he was "Un Petit  René" after  René" Lévesque the founder of modern Quebec Nationliam started his public campaign for nationalisation. of  "Hydro-Québec   when he was a minister in the then Quebec Liberal Administration.

 Of course Lévesque left the Liberals to form Parti Québécois . becoming  first Quebec political leader since Confederation to attempt, through a referendum, to negotiate political separation for Quebec.

So Carwyn is not even "Un Petit  René" but he rather than asking for crumbs from the Westminster. Should realise it would be nice to see our own table laden for our own needs.

Thursday 27 December 2012

2013: Welsh Regional Rugby

This year saw a Welsh  Grand Slam followed by a disappointing Australian Tour affected by the unpreventable absence of coach Warren Gatland followed by a disastrous series of Autumn International affected by the unnecessary absence  of Gatland on "Lions" duties.

The main disappointment was the failure once again of the four regions in Europe  and lurch from crisis to crisis

Welsh Rugby Union chief executive Roger Lewis has hinted that one of Wales' four regional sides could be downgraded to a development operation as part of drastic measures aimed at securing the future of Welsh rugby. the move as part of his plan to shore up the professional game with his words set to cause concern at the Blues, Ospreys, Dragons and Scarlets who rely heavily on the financial support currently offered by the governing body
In addition, European funding could be restricted to just two teams a season while the regions could come under increasing control of the WRU with coaching appointments and recruitment controlled by the union.

I suspect that Lewis is pointing to the most drastic scenario if the regions do not get their act together as well as cooperate with the WRU.

The formation of the regions was always going to be problematic, The Irish Regions consist of the four provinces and already had a strong identity.

Originally five regions the Bridged- Pontypridd combination of the Celtic Warriors collapsed in the second season adding to the resentment particularly among Pontypridd, supporters who had never really warmed to the Warriors and many refused point blank to consider supporting their in -corporation into the Cardiff Blues region.

Ironically, this may have benefited Ponty as they kept their fan base and have not followed Pontypool, Cross Key and Bridgend into a struggle for survival,

The Pontypridd MP Owen Smith has led a campaign for Pontypridd RFC to become the centre of a  fifth "Valleys" region but whilst this may go down well with his constituents with Wales seemingly unable to support four  regions it is unlikely to se any light of day at least for now.

It may well be that the Dragons will become a development region like  Connacht which means that it would receives only half the budget of the other regional teams teams. But if this is a case they maybe they should consider offering Sports Scholarships to youth players from developing European Nations . Russia Georgia Spain  for example . There are probably a huge amount of Talent going to waste there and simply looking at some seven players may be worth while. But forming links with clubs in Europe and viewing younger footballs.

Perhaps the major innovation should be in developing the Premiership to consist of 16 temas consisting of sides from each region .

There would be no promotion-demotion but at the end of the season each club would be reviewed and could face being replaced by another side from the Championship league.

Its clear something that need developing before its taken seriously ( or at all), but it could be a means of increasing the player base for the Regions and ultimately the full Welsh National side.

What is clear we can't carry on like this.

 [Smile] keep calm and win the grand slam!

Sunday 23 December 2012

Nadolig Llawen

Like everyone  I will be take a break from blogging over the next few days consider a Gift from me as you can escape from my ratings for a bit.

In the meantime I'm enclosing My Christmas card which the rest of my friends received.

So have a great Christmas whatever your faith or lack of it.

Saturday 22 December 2012

Will Teachers wear "White Hats" in US Schools?

From these Islands the National Rifle Association, one of the most powerful lobbying groups in the US, call for armed security guards to be posted in every school in the country and insisted that the only solution to gun violence in the wake of the Newtown massacre was more guns. Looks like a publicity disaster.

A week almost to the hour after a gunman blasted his way into Sandy Hook elementary school in Connecticut, killing 20 first-grade children as well as six staff members, the NRA's executive vice-president Wayne LaPierre finally broke his silence and delivered a defiant message to the nation.

His statement: "The only way to stop a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun."  looks mad.

.But we must remember that the NRA is a powerful body and receives support from a high number of US citizens .

One of the arguments the supporters of is that after the War of Independence with no real Army the Second Amendment which read

A well regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.

preserved their Independence, and became a symbol of that Independence and Freedom

For many US Citizens owning a Gun is simply  the same as owning a Car and yet they need to pass a test to drive a car and yet in many cases simply go to store and pick up a weapon like the Automated rifle used at the Newtown massacre.

But even if we take the right to bear  arms into account the idea "The only way to stop a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun." and that the only way to prevent another Newtown  is to place armed guards in schools.

It used to be that in Black and White Westerns you could tell who was the good and bad guy because the good guys wore white hats and the bad ones black.

But you better have a better analysis of what constitute a good guy before you allow them to carry guns in schools .

The problem with Wayne LaPierre argument is that some mass murderers think they are are good guys acting out Gods will.

Even extensive psychological test would not weed out someone who may be considered responsible in a School and allowed to carry a gun and yet they could well be  facing a breakdown

But the problem from these shores is that whilst we abhor is argument it still finds support in the hearts of US  Citizens,

What it does show that there's are huge cultural gap between us and and the US and we must recognise this and perhaps it shows that the former is not something we should look to for a lead and instead look at our friends in Europe .

Friday 21 December 2012

Sir Gâr Wins Another Award.

The Citizens of Carmarthen will be celebrating their Council 'Private Eye's Rotten Boroughs' 'PR Plonkers of the Year' Awards for 2012. over the editor of the South Wales Guardian claims that Carmarthenshire council withdrew advertising from its pages after it criticised the authority.Carmarthen Council also a received a special mention in the 'Hellfire Award' for their involvement with the evangelical Towy Community Church, 

This is Carmarthens second year in the Awards where they only managed to achieve a runner up in the "Legal Bully of the Year" for it attempt to bar fellow blogger Jacqui Thompson (Caebrwyn) from meetings to the extent they had Dyded-Powis police arrest and throw her in the cells for trying to use her democratic right.

She is still facing a libel case from where she is suing Carmarthen Chief executive Mark James who is counter suing the council who ( i:e council tax payers) , will be paying Jame's case and indemnifies James from the costs associated with the legal action.

Its listed to begin in London next February .

Jacqui is not alone in telling us whats happening at Carmarthen County Gall Y Cneifiwer has been often amusingly detailing the antic's of the ruling group on the council.

Indeed the odd thing is that it a group!Consisting of Labour and Independent councillors and whilst we are used to the former when it complete control behaving heavy handed its odd that a majority of Independents seem to willingly go along with them especially as a number may be as Peter Hain claimed earlier this year closet Tories.

Few seem to break ranks and appear to be awe of their own leadership and allow their council reputation to ruined in this those running it.

It could well be the prospect of Plaid running the Council is more abhorrent to them that partaking in behaviour which shames them , Carmarthen and the whole of Wales.

Unfortunately the Citizens of Sir Gâr will have to put up with this unholy alliance for the near future . Indeed with Labour on a high in Wales it probably be well into the next decade before they are booted out.

Chilling thought.

Thursday 20 December 2012

Bethan Jenkins; What Now?

I was hardly a surprise that suspended Plaid Cymru Welsh assembly member Bethan Jenkins has been banned from driving for 20 months after pleading guilty to drink-driving. Though the extent of the press coverage was perhaps higher than I would have suspect.

The BBC reported
Jenkins, 30, was arrested early on Sunday, 14 October in Cardiff.
She was over twice the drink-drive limit, unsteady, barefoot and wearing pyjama-style bottoms, Cardiff magistrates court heard.
After the hearing she said in a statement that she was deeply sorry and coming to terms with depression.
On this occasion I fell well below the standards I expect of myself and I therefore fully accept the judge's decision in this matter”

It continues
Jenkins had been to a 40th birthday party and had had too much to drink before being stopped by police in Llandaff, the court was told.
She spoke only to confirm her name, address and plea.
She was fighting back tears as Judge Bodfan Jenkins banned her from driving.

What this means for her future is uncertain .

She should expect the Party  whip to be restored though she is on sickness leave at the moment.

He future in the Assembly is perhaps less clear. If she decides to stand for the Regional list for Plaid she may get a sympathetic vote from Plaid members .  But of course the headlines  from the Mule if she gets the number one spot  probably run on the lines

Controversial Plaid candidate gets top spot on party lists and then go on to rake up the Drink Driving story.

If she's not in the top two thew Mule will say

Troubled AM dropped by Plaid and  go on to accuse the Party of not helping her overcome her depression.

My advice to Bethan is to take a break enjoy Christmas, and if she wants to return to the rigmarole of the Assembly next year to do so .. In the meantime I hope she gets the support from her Assembly colleagues to cope with her depression  in the same way they would if she  was suffering from any other illness.

She still has promise and although she has been found Guilty of a serious offence as long as she has learned her lesson we should not hold it against (whilst not condoning it ) her in the same way we would a friend.

It may well be the muted response from opposition politicians and bloggers may well be they all  could well have fallen in the same way.

It is hard to say alcohol related problems  amongst politicians is greater than other professions but is highlighted more and we do expect them to set a example . But none of us are perfect and we should.t punish them any differently.

Wednesday 19 December 2012

Carwyn becomes "Un Petit René"?

Its hardly the equivalent of February 12, 1962, When René" Lévesque the founder of modern Quebec Nationliam started his public campaign for nationalisation. of  "Hydro-Québec   when he was a minister in the then Quebec Liberal Administration. but Carwyn Jones' plans f or the  Welsh government wants to buy Cardiff Airport from its current owners,  is worthy of note

The First Minister, announced that an agreement had been reached with owner TBI and it will work towards a purchase over the next few months.

The airport would be run on a commercial basis by an independent operator on behalf of the government.

It will not receive subsidies and should make a "return to the Welsh taxpayer", Mr Jones said.

Plaid Cymru welcomed the announcement and said the airport needed to be a "shopfront" for Wales, but Conservatives demanded evidence that nationalisation would provide value, and Liberal Democrats warned it would become a "money pit" for public funds.

Interestingly the Conservatives seem less negative than the Lib Dems.

Of course Hydro-Quebec  has obtained almost mythical status there going from  192 when  Lévesque n started his public campaign for 1962 where In a speech to the Quebec Electric Industry Association he bluntly called the whole electric business an "unbelievably costly mess"

Since then has transformed into an economic "Miracle " and a achieved almost mythical status in Quebed and a symbol of National Identity equivalent to  Mondragon in the Basque country .

Of course an airport is not the even close to  these, but iit could show we in Wales have some vision and if  the proposed electrification of the rail line to Swansea actually goes again then with rail link to Cardiff Wales Airport on the lines of Heathrow Express it would help to open it up to new  customers .

I hope this, if managed properly this will show that we in Wales can turn things around  and build on this by doing things our way.

We need imagination however and the Welsh Government must tell us their vision of how Cardiff Wales Airport can be both profitable and serve the needs of the people of Wales.

But its a start and we should (whilst still checking the small print) give it a cautious welcome.

Tuesday 18 December 2012

Caerphilly Council scandal .I blame the Unions.

Hundreds of Caerphilly council workers ,walked out of their offices  yesterday  against the awarding of secret huge pay rises to their bosses.

Around 350  council employees assembled on the approach road to their headquarters at Ystrad Mynach, while several hundred more did the same at other offices across the county borough.

The collective expression of anger, organised by their union Unison, followed revelations last week that 20 senior managers were awarded pay rises of up to 30% at a time when most workers are on the third year of a pay freeze.

Much of the outrage about the rises is directed at Mr O’Sullivan, who wrote the unpublished report that recommended the increases for himself and his senior colleagues. In Mr O’Sullivan’s case, the rise was one of up to £35,000, bringing his annual salary to £158,000

The £35,000 would safely pay the yearly  wages of one of those protesting .

This outrage has come after Labour won control of Caerphilly council last year  and one wonders whether Unison contributed to that campaign for Labour ?

The row over these r huge pay rises for top managers at a time of wage freezes for the lowest paid workers  emerged the rises of up to 30% for 20 top managers at Caerphilly council were approved at a secret meeting in September following a report written by chief executive Anthony O’Sullivan.

Mr O’Sullivan himself received a pay rise of up to £35,000, taking his salary to around £158,000.

Colin Mann, leader of the authority’s opposition Plaid Cymru group, said that

" In addition to the outrage felt by the rest of the staff, around 30 managers felt they had been discriminated against by not being included in the rises.
Mr Mann said: “The managers who missed out on these increases are a crucial part of the workforce and included in the same ‘Hay’ pay scale banding structure as their better paid colleagues who got a rise".
“Some of them have spoken to me and said they cannot understand why they were excluded from the rises.
 “This whole episode has been absolutely disastrous for morale within the authority, which is now at rock bottom.”
The suspicion is that Labour have decided to make these extraordinary pay rises to keep selected senior management on side and make sure of their support over the next four years of running the Council.

Much of this reflects the problem with Labours dominance of Welsh Politics . They control the councils and both the Member of Parliament  and Assembly Member are Labour.who would have been screaming from the rooftops if it had been Plaid who did this.

It is incredible that Labour after a brief period where it lost control of a number of Welsh Councils have returned to their old arrogance . They never seem to learn any lessons. But why should they ?.

In a few years Unison. the union which led yesterday protest will be plastering their offices with Labour Posters and given financial backing to that party and in some ways their and other unions constant support for Labour means that they must share some responsibility for this scandal.

The Unions cannot go on backing Labour  moaning  about their abuses of their members when the part is in power and then backing them once again.

They are are like the victims of abuse who stay with their abuser and attack anyone else who tries to help them.

Labour will ride this out they can safely  ignore the protest of the ordinary worker and with the Senior Management bought of will expect no problems from them.

What we have seen in Caerphilly, is how Labour believe that it is the only party  that should run things in Wales and that it is above criticism.

Even when they are thrown out of power they return very quickly to their old ways ones they regain it and they do deserve or receive our support unless they really change their ways and frankly I see no prospect of this even in the long term. 

Monday 17 December 2012

European Funding not being spent as it should?.

The Western Mule reports that The body responsible for how EU money is spent is in urgent need of “radical restructuring”, an influential Assembly committee has found.

They go on to say...

The National Assembly’s Finance Committee said a review into how EU money was allocated by the Welsh European Funding Office (Wefo) should be carried out.
It raised concerns over “lack of leadership” and concerns about the monitoring of what effect the funds – totalling £1.8bn between 2007 and 2013 – were having on Welsh communities.
The criticism comes ahead of a Welsh Government-commissioned Guilford review, expected to be published early next year, into arrangements for accessing European Structural Funds for the next funding period.
Western Mail  December 17th 2012
They go on to say that...

The Finance Committee report makes 16 recommendations on the future of Wefo, including an “independent, unfettered and imaginative” review of implementation of Structural Fund programmes after 2013.It also recommends that the Welsh Government defines its strategic priorities for spending “at the earliest available opportunity”, and what it thinks the legacy of the spend would be.It should also review its processes for applicants applying for Wefo funding, the committee said, to ensure they were robust, and eliminate unnecessary bureaucracy.
Jocelyn Davies, the Plaid chairwoman of the Finance Committee. said
The committee has concerns over the lack of leadership, co-ordination and monitoring of what effect these funds are having on communities in Wales,” said Jocelyn Davies, the Plaid chairwoman of the Finance Committee.“Therefore we want to see a wholesale review of the Welsh European Funding Office’s purpose and role and a clear distinction of the Welsh Government’s strategic priorities in the future.

As with Westminster inspired Job Creation scheme I can't help feeling that the majority of real jobs that are created exist within the organisation running them.

And far to often there's a link with members of Poltical Parties holding senior positions within these organisations . In reality this is to be expected after all they have an Interest in these  to get involved in such schemes and it may often be for altruistic  reasons.

But we need to know the make up of organisations within receipt of such funds and we also need regular and accurare assessment of whether they are achieving their objectives

The Mule never has an article like this without a comment from Peter Black (his always by the telephone or do they have a direct link). But in this case He's almost worth quoting ..

More than £6bn has been invested in West Wales and the Valleys from European money and match funds by the UK, Welsh and local governments since European funding started – and yet Wales is still the poorest part of the UK, while Welsh Government targets for improving GDP and GVA have been missed.
“The Finance Committee’s report has identified a key issue behind this failure – a lack of leadership, coordination and monitoring of the effectiveness of this expenditure by the responsible agency and by implication government ministers.

We need such funding but once we receive it it is our responsibility to ensure that it is spent as efficiently as possible. . Throwing money at schemes that have lofty ideas bur fail to come up with the results they promise.and plays into the hands of those who seek to cut such funding
Once again I find myself calling for the Assembly to look at diverting a large pprtion of this funding to setting up cooperatives  and creating real jobs.

What we have now is nit working . Our AM's must insure that in future we get the best results from any extra funding we receive.

Sunday 16 December 2012

Cameron Gets Cold Feet.

In the last General Election one of the highlights of the campaign was the Leadership debates  which saw Cleggmania  and a temporary surge in LibDem vote but it didn't last and arguably the only effect was to lesson support for smaller party it certainly had a averse  affect on the Plaid vote.

Now it looks like David Cameron may not want to repeat the experience

In the Observer Andrew Rawsley rights that

Now, however, there is growing doubt about whether there will be TV debates at the next election, and the main reason is that the prime minister is getting cold feet. In a speech last week, he dwelt on what he didn't like about the experience. While saying that he was still in favour of the principle of debates – he could hardly say otherwise without looking frit – he raised questions about their format and impact. One of this cricket-loving prime minister's favoured phrases is "rolling the pitch". He would not be expressing his reservations now – so far out from the next campaign – if he were not trying to prepare the ground for wriggling out of TV debates if he decides that they aren't in his interests.
As they did last time, when the campaign was spearheaded by Sky News, the broadcasters will clamour for the politicians to agree to televised debates. Indeed, they have already started making approaches to the political parties

Andrew Rawnsley
he Observer, Sunday 16 December 20

Of course Cameron may be looking at Polls like Saturdays Guardian show Labour taken a 10 point lead

State of the parties graphic

The big surprise is the 14% for UKIP ,which must really worry him.but he will find it hard to put the Genie back in the bottle, especially if he needs to keep Murdoch's News International and his SKY news favourable or at least not completely hostile..

Of course UKIPs position in the polls will make it harder to exclude them but they might prefer that . The idea pf Nigel Farage being exposed in such way in his pompous arrogance and the fact that he leads a one tr trick party may not help them at all. i expect his appearance will hemorrhage votes for them.

One thing that Plaid, the SNP and the Greens could do is agree to campaign that they eachshould take part in one of the three  debate each.

I still don't like the idea of these debates . We are not electing a President and there no constitutional rule that any of these could be Prime Minister.

Indeed the Prime Minister does not even have to come from the three largest Parties . He or She  could be a compromise in a coalition of three or more Parties and only have to persuade the Monarch they can form a government.

Alas no matter how e vote we do not select the Prime Minister constitutionally the Monarch does.

Clegg may well have no choice but to take part in the debate format as proposed Media the relative small loss in actual votes election day rather than immediately after the debates may be preferable too the idea that he is afraid of defending his record.

Saturday 15 December 2012

Sandy Hook Elementary School.

As I sat down to work out what I would make the subject of  daily Blog   I am lisening to the news of  the killing of 20 children in Connecticut

US President Barack Obama has called for "meaningful action" in the wake of a shooting at a Connecticut school that left 27 dead, including 20 children.

An emotional Mr Obama spoke of his "overwhelming grief" over the deaths at Newtown's Sandy Hook Elementary School.and we all join in with him.

The suspected gunman was widely identified as Adam Lanza, 20, who is among the dead. He is also thought to have killed his mother earlier.

It is second-worst US school shooting after the 2007 attack at Virginia Tech.

The children at Sandy Hook Elementary were aged between five and 10.

I hope to return to my usual ranting tomorrow: Bur when you here this everything else seems to petty and all I feel like doing is weeping.

Friday 14 December 2012

Pat Finucane murder was little more than a war crime.

The Sir Desmond de Silva report into the murder of Pat Finucane was published yesterday, 23 years after the Belfast civil rights lawyer was shot 14 times in front of his wife and children by a loyalist death squad.
The Campaign to get at the Truth like Bloody Sunday and Hillsborough have been long and torturous 
In 1999, the third inquiry of John Stevens into allegations of collusion between the security forces and Loyalist paramilitaries concluded that there was such collusion in the murders of Finucane and Brian Adam Lambert. As a result of the inquiry, RUC Special Branch agent and loyalist quartermaster William Stobie, a member of the Ulster Defence Association was later charged with supplying one of the pistols used to kill Finucane, but his trial collapsed because he claimed that he had given information about his actions to his Special Branch handlers. The pistol belonged to the UDA, which at the time was a legal organisation under British law. A further suspect, Brian Nelson, was a member of the Army's Force Research Unit. He had provided information about Finucane's whereabouts, and also claimed that he had alerted his handlers about the planned killing

The key conclusions of the latest report,include the following acknowledgements:
  • There was a continuous supply of information from the British state to the British terrorist groups
  • in the North of Ireland over a period of many years. In fact, concludes the report, by the mid-1980s up to 85% of all intelligence information gathered by the UFF / UDA alone was supplied to them by the RUC, British Army and the British Security Service (MI5).
  • The British authorities took no action in relation to numerous intelligence reports which outlined a number of future terrorist attacks by the Unionist gangs, with the paramilitary police and Intelligence services ignoring or concealing such information.
  • British agents employed or working on behalf of the RUC, British Army and MI5 played “key roles” and actively “furthered and facilitated” the murder of Pat Finucane and others.
  • Following the murder there were no attempts by the RUC or British authorities for a long period of time to investigate or arrest known suspects belonging to the UFF / UDA for their participation in the assassination.
  • Serving or former members of the RUC, British Army and MI5 Army persistently lied or attempted to deceive investigators. Several senior British Army officers provided  highly misleading and inaccurate information.

And yet The Finucane ,family’s demand for a full public inquiry into his death, however, was refused by David Cameron

The Idea that such a murder could take place in which the state concluded only 23 years ago ,is shocking and we cannot draw a veil over it until the Finucane family get full justice 

The  Bloody Sunday inquiry showed that, we are entitled to know exactly what happened, how it is that state forces could commit such atrocities in our name,The truth, the whole truth must out, and it will only emerge with a full judicial inquiry. and it must come sooner than later if not from this Government then the next.

The Agents of Law concluded in the murder of a man who was doing his job seeing that all are entitled to a proper defence.

This was not James Bond or Spooks.There's no justification for the State to break its own Laws and murder people even if they thought they were Terrorist

Bur  Pat Finucane wasn't even a Terrorist the UFF may have considered him one; But he was a Lawyer and the British Government and its arm of ts the law knew this and still concluded in his murder and we still do not know the full extent of that murder or the extent of the knowledge of government minister at the time of this conclusion before Finucane's murder and after.

Just like Bloody Sunday we will eventualy have a full inquirey but probably after many of those responsible are dead.

But time will not dampen the truth and the truth is in 1989 the forced of Law abd Order in the UK behaved in the same way as those in former Yugoslavia during the recent conflict.

What we have here is little more that a form of War Crime and those who are responsible must face justice.

Thursday 13 December 2012

Nearly 100 yeats later Westminster still don't get devolution.

We are used to Westminster MPs ad even Government |Ministers not realising that Devolution in Wales has really happened  but it seems it that what was the second piece of devolution to Wales . The Disestablishment of the Church in Wales (passed 1914 enacted 1920) Has never happened

The first was the Sunday closing Act 1881

Now the government have now announced that  the Church in Wales and Church of England will be banned in law from offering gay marriages.

Other religious organisations will be able to "opt in" to holding ceremonies.

Culture Secretary Maria Miller said both organisations had "explicitly" stated strong opposition and would not be the bill

However The Archbishop of Wales says making it illegal for the Church in Wales to offer same-sex marriages will be a "step too far".

Dr Barry Morgan says the freedoms of the church would be curtailed by a ban.

Other religious organisations will be able to "opt in" to holding ceremonies.

The Act both disestablished and disendowed the "Church in Wales", the term used to define the part of the Church of England which was to be separated. Disestablishment meant the end of the Church's special legal status, and Welsh bishops were no longer entitled to sit in the House of Lords as Lords Spiritual.

So where they may be a case of the Government has the representative of the Monarch who is head of the Established Church (as well as the Church of Scotland) to separate the Church of England from any legislation  But  can it really interfere in the Church in Wales in this way?

Clearly this move was to appease the the likes of the Taliban Tendency of the Cornerstone Group which is currently dominating the Welsh Office.

One thing is clear nearly 100 years after the second law specifically tailored for Wales . Westminster is still reluctant to loosen its grip.

Wednesday 12 December 2012

We need a new Welsh language strategy.

The Census Figures for the use of the Welsh Language look gloomy

All usual residents aged 3 and over
No skills in Welsh
Can underst-and spoken
Welsh only
Can speak Welsh
Can speak
but cannot read or
Can speak
 and read
but cannot write
Can speak, read and write
Other combin-ation of skills in Welsh

Wales Total
Isle of Anglesey
Neath Port Talbot
The Vale of Glamorgan
Rhondda Cynon Taf
Merthyr Tydfil
Blaenau Gwent

I am not convinced that the UK census is the best and most efficient way of measuring peoples ability to speak Welsh or to measure competence and we need much more breakdown particularly regarding to age differences and origins

And " No skills in Welsh which has a Welsh average of 73.3 "  seems to be high as most of the people I know in this area have some knowledge of Welsh and certainly more than they would have than any other second Language. 

And it would be Interesting to see the questions asked in 2001 compared with 2011 (Were they exactly the same).

But it does appear that there has been a fairly large drop in areas like Gwynedd  (-3.6) Carmarthen (-6.4) and  Ceredigion(-4.7) which have not been made up  (see the Table provide by Syniadau here

Nor has there been a increase in Welsh Speakers out side Y Fro Gymraeg areas as expected

Clearly In-migration has had a major effect in Y Fro but emigration has to be a major problem.we need to address the dispersion of our people

Its all very well having a Welsh Speaking Scientist working in Silicon Valley in California but it would be much better if they were able to work in Aberystwyth.or Bangor 

And work must be found for those who are not so well qualified.

We need to look at a Mondragon stule cooprative movement for  Y Fro Gymraeg  based on Gwynedd Carmarthen and Cerdigion with cooperatives linked to the Universities of Bangor, Aberystwyth and Trinity St Davidas as well as other  educational institutions to create new an innovative jobs which will be linked to the use of the Welsh Language.

The answer to the fall in Welsh Language speakers will always be work for those who speak it where they live and quality work at that.

But it also means that we must also aim to provide a working environment where the Welsh Language is used regularly..To the extent that Non-welsh speakers are encouraged to learn Welsh as part of their employment 

Our Political Parties must work through our Assembly to ensure that this becomes a reality.

Even if the Census figures had shown a slight growth we would still need a new initiative from the Welsh Assembly Government the response from Leighton Andrews seems complacent Leighton Andrews said: 

The Welsh language and Welsh language communities face challenges and the issue now is not to blame people but decide how to work together to ensure a sustainable future for the language."

He said he would be open to new ideas and had a strategy, launched in March, which included encouraging the use of Welsh in social media.

A Welsh government spokesman added that the strategy recognised the "fragile state of the language" and looked to promote its use across all walks of life.

We need something more than people having  a Facebook page in Welsh.