Tuesday, 31 January 2012

Miliband ignores the evidence.

Ed Milliband, was born in 1969 so he was 9 years old when Margaret Thatcher came to power.

Of course being the son of Marxist Academic Ralph Miliband ,he would have been a little more aware of political issues than your average 9 year old.

So for most of his life Miliband has seen..

18 years of Tory led government mostly led by Margaret Thatcher. Who decimated communities and had appalling record on social justice.

13 years of New Labour 5 years of which (He was elected in 2005) he was member of the government and having spent nearly all his working life working as an advisor to the Labour Party

Intrestingly in 1999, Miliband was involved in the process of building Labour's manifesto for the forthcoming Scottish Parliament elections. Initially doing so in an informal capacity, he was spotted leaving the Scottish Labour Party's headquarters on the night that a key policy meeting was held, involving the Scottish Secretary Donald Dewar and senior party officials, to consider the party's election strategy and details of Labour's manifesto. As a result, Miliband temporarily resigned from his post as a Special Adviser at the Treasury, to work on the Scottish election campaign full-time. It was reported that part of Miliband's Scottish role was to take charge of Labour's rebuttal operation.

So he has already made an intervention into Scottish Politics: But his recent speech in Glasgow shows that he learned nothing It is claimed by Labour Spin Doctors that Miliband travelled to Scotland on Monday to argue that the goals of fairness and social justice were more readily achieved by the people of the UK working together.

He told the gathering:

 "I say let us confront the real divide in our society."Not between Scotland and the rest of the United Kingdom, but between the haves and the have-nots."
So I am not here to tell Scots that Scotland cannot survive outside the United Kingdom.
"But I am here to tell you that we need to make Scotland, England, Wales, and Northern Ireland, a fairer, more just, place to live."And we can do this best together."

So despite virtually all his life and certainly his political life seeing a right wing Tory Government replaced by a right wing New Labour Government, which was in turn replaced another right wing LibDem government in which the gap between the rich and poor has grown constantly larger. He argues that Social Justice would be better of if Scotland remained part of a UK where there has been very little for the last 33 years and that's if you accept the Wilson/Callaghan government were a social-radical one. Which take some (red) -rose coloured glasses.

Milibad needs reminding that Scotland constantly rejected the Thatcherite agenda and there is still only one Tory MP in Scotland.

Though it must be pointed out Scottish MPs like Gordon Brown Alistair Darling were enthusiastic supporters of the New Labour Project. But would they have been if they had been Ministers in an Independent Scottish government? Perhaps not.

So despite the Scottish electorate overwhelmingly rejecting the right wing agenda of the Westminster Parties and that includes Scottish Labour who still have some Socialist credentials. Miliband argues that Scotland should remain part of the UK that has failed and will fail to address the true nature of social deprivation and seek to narrow the gap between the haves and haves not despite the two major parties in Scotland indicating that they might at least attempt to do so.

For the Scotland read Wales even Welsh Labour attempted (though largely failed ) to put Clear red water between them and Westminsters New Labour project as Rhodri Morgan outlined in a speech in 2006

Milliband has got the argument the wrong way round. Social Justice will not come from the UK either from a Con/Lib government, or a Labour opposition that will make only mealy- mouthed references to the plight of the Have-Nots, whilst as Blair did in 1997 focus on gaining the lucrative votes of that elusive electorate "Middle England"

Sunday, 29 January 2012

Alex Salmond Eats Babies.

The latest issue of Private Eye's (1306 lookalike feature has this.

Since the Eye lamppons everyone in their lookalikes Danny Alexander and Dobby the Elf! We hope Alex sees the joke.

But some of the recent comparisons have not been so funny

The Scottish Libdems  comparing Salmond with a Arab despot

Scottish Labour MP Tom Haris  comparing him to Hitler

And Newsnights Jeremy (The Sneer) Paxman in a live interview comparing him to Robert Mugabe 

Can it be that there is a conspiracy to portray a democratically elected leader who has so far not displayed any more anti-democratic measures than any politician from these Islands who wishes to control the agend.a.
So far Alex Salmond seems untroubled by these attempts to smear him by comparing him to despots.

Mind you there could be one former leader leader that he might just find  a comparison going too far.

Friday, 27 January 2012

Wales needs a Party of the Left not another Centre right one.

Gwion Owain, the Chair of the Dyffryn Nantlle branch of Plaid Cymru. has written an article on Click on Wales attacking the Left in Plaid Cymru,  arguing that they promote polices that "are trapped positions that have little resonance with the real world of the electorate".

Gwion writes....
I believe that Plaid has rooted it’s socialism more in the intellectual rather than real issues that concern the everyday voter. This can be explained by the over-reliance on policies based on the community and environment rather than those that appeal on an individual level. Contrasted with Labour’s ability to gain the support of those dependent on public services and the welfare system Plaid has wrapped itself up in the Guardianesque politics of the intellectual left. Any textual analysis of Plaid policy documents will lead to this conclusion given the reliance on policies aimed at the community level and the preponderance of policies addressing sustainability and environmental issues.

What is so bloody wrong with being on the  Intellectual Left notwithstanding the Guardianesque jibe. It is reminiscent of people being accused od being a dogooder . Though why this is worse then a dobadder or donothinger is beyond me.

Actually I no longer read the Guardian switching to the Independent because it seemed more in line with my progressive left thinking.

Gwion may have a point on the resonance with the Welsh Public. But  at the moment the idea of Welsh Independence attracts only a small percentage of Welsh Voters  . Should Plaid abandon this because its currently receiving the support of anything like a majority of the people of Wales? Of course not because this is a core belief. Similar  the Blaid should have  a idea of what an  Independent Wales  will look like and be prepared to argue for this even if the vast majority of people are as yet  not enthusiastic about.

That is what Political Parties are about . The shame of the Blair years was the emphasis on focus groups to find out  what the public wanted and shifting policy to meet this . Nothing wrong in listening  to the public, but Political Parties must also argue for what they stand for and be prepared to go on arguing this even if this is rejected until they win through otherwise whats the point in having any beliefs?

Green leader recently committed on question time on Labour's s  recent  move to say  Labour government would not be in a position to commit to reversing the Conservatives' cuts by saying that "Britain doesn't need  another Tory Party"

There has been arguments over Plaids unique selling point (USP) being Independence. But (and I know its an oxymoron) . Why can't we they have more than one USP.

Its all well arguing for Independence . But what sort of Wales will we have .

A mini Britain with 3 or 4 political parties with no real ideological differences all focusing on a dwinderling number of people who vote (whilst wondering why this is) at the beck of call of big business and the banks. Who set thew policies for them.when they are in government.?

Or a beacon of progressive government galvanising the whole of Wales ?

Gwion Owen's article however is clearly  attack on Leanne Wood in particular he writes

Leanne Wood’s leadership election vision makes much play of community ownership of the means of employment. However, Plaid ought to consider very hard before succumbing to the superficial temptation of unrealisable abstractons at this point in it’s history.
What would be unacceptable for a Independent Wales to carry on a system of unfettered Capitalism which as seen our communities from Gwion'sDyffryn Nantlle to Leanne's Rhondda open to the a market that sees successful companies with a hardworking workforce simply move production to another country .Because Labour cost are cheaper and they can make bigger profits   in order that the directors can achieve larger bonuses

Gwion also write..

 There are plenty of further examples of the manner in which Plaid haslocked itself into a certain type of socialist viewpoint which has very limited appeal. We could include the recent debate in the Assembly on smacking unruly children and the impassioned speeches from Plaid members, dismissed by Andrew R.T. Davies as “emotional nonsense”. The nature of these leftist positions have v
Surely sometimes politicians should take up a cause simply because they believe in it . Not because it is popular.. Was abolition of the Death penalty popular? Women's rights over divorce? Gay and Lesbian rights?

The call for the release of Nelson Mandela  "very limited appeal outside the liberal political class" but once he was released it seemed nearly  everyone had believed it it all along

They took place because courageous  politicians fought for them. Politicians should not ignore  a cause simply because it is popular . They should do what they believe is right.

As Caroline Lucus might also have argued . Wales does not need another Tory Party.

Tuesday, 24 January 2012

The "Tanned One " Remembers

When he was a true radical and man of Conviction.
It seems despite sitting on the Labour Front Benches Peter Hain, in his new autobiography "Outside In" is unafraid to ctiticise  former colleagues

From a Welsh point of interest  he makes the claim that

"Tony Blair and his team never gave Wales "proper respect and attention," 
: "At one point it appeared that the secretary of state's post had been abolished, that Wales was being summarily transferred into a department under an unelected peer, Lord Falconer." Mr Hain said the Wales Office was in turmoil, with staff learning about the change via TV.
"For a government supposedly excellent at communicating, this was another example of abject failure - especially if, as later transpired, it had been considered over a period rather than cobbled together at the last minute.
"It was further evidence of Tony Blair and his team never really giving Wales proper respect and attention, contrary to Scotland where the secretary of state's role was pretty minimal because all primary legislation had gone to the Scottish parliament.

"The role of secretary of state for Wales remained crucial, then responsible for all Welsh primary legislation .

This despite his calm role as Northern Ireland Secretary  May 2005 to 2007.was "probably the best job I did". Which er he did whilst Sstill retaining in his Welsh position

In fact his first period of Secretary of State for Wales  202-2008 meant the post was combined with

Leader of the House of Commons, 2003-2005
Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, 2005-2007
Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, 2007–2008

If he had qualms about his position as Secretary of State for Wale . Why did he accept them?

I haven't read the autobiography yet so can't completely  criticise Hains recollections, but in his review of Hain's Biography  Carl Packman at Left foot forward  makes the claim that
I’m happy to report that on reading Outside In by Peter Hain I did not have the same feeling. In fact one is struck by Hain’s modesty – which I suspect is partly based on his own personal appeal to influences such as Nelson Mandela.
I hope he's right but to mind  the "Tanned  One" has never been a "modest politician".Remember how on the day of the Welsh referendum on law makinf powers  powers Hain seemed to be claiming total credit for it seeming to forget that arcording to Wikileaks

CONFIDENTIAL cables claimed former Welsh Secretary Peter Hain told US Embassy staff Wales should wait five to 10 years before holding a referendum on gaining further powers.
he may deny this but in February 2011 just before the poll he claimed
 “Clearly the Plaid Cymru insistence on holding the referendum before May 2011 is the reason we have a referendum on March 3. We wouldn’t have had one otherwise.
“It’s not the best time to hold a referendum.
“I fear the turnout will be low. But that’s what’s been decided.”
And yet there he was on the BBC sofa on March 4th  giving the impression that he was the architect of the referndum and was the man who deserved all the accolades..

Carl Packman calls Hain a "Conviction Politician" I agree only I think Hain is convinced of his moral superiority. Something he lost when he became just another New Labour hack

Saturday, 21 January 2012

No kneesup in Llandudno

News that the Conservatives in Wales have suddenly  canceled their annual Welsh conference just two weeks in advance.

At first it seemed that it was just costs but they now seem to be claiming that security costs had run into thousands of pounds

Can this be just an excuse after all the Tories have huge financial backers who probably be only two willing to make a contribution.

Could it be that there would be a parcity of high profile backers attending as Cameron and Coe concentrte thier energies on the parts of England they neesd support from and actually care about?

Or they need to concentrate on Scotland where they are loosing  the little influence they have and by their sheer arogance have made a yes vote in an Independence referendun more likely.

But suerly the strangest thing that has come out of it is yesterdays  posting by Aberconwy Conservatives which despite the canceled conference being held in Llandudno in the Conwy constituency  of Con MP Guto Bebb and Con AM  Janet Finch-Saunders. makes no mention of the cancellation that would have been a boost to the leisure Industry.

I mean canceling a conference where in the last to elections you made significant gains. Wouldn't it have been worth it just to celebrate?

Scrapheaps they have been to busy trying to explain things to the local Leisure Industry .

If the reason was to concentrate on the May elections it is unlikely to help the 18 councilors in Conwy up for election . They probably expected to lose a few.Now it  may be that there will be a total cull.

Friday, 20 January 2012

Where have all the voters gone?

In 1982 when I was still a Plaid activist . I was one of the small Party members to spend my days fighting the Gower By-election.

One of the candidates John Donovan stood as a Computer Democrat and although he only realised 125 . His idea whilst the concept of the Internet existed  the World Wide Web was a decade that computers could support democracy  was somewhat visionary

So his argument then that there should be a electorate which  constantly voted on issues which may have seen like Science Fiction in 1982 loks almost possible these days and with the growing influence of Petitions triggering debates.in the House of Commons . It could be argued it as already began.

I mention this not because I believe there is  a deep concern in the amount of  people voting in Elections.

In the past Wales used to have the highest turnout of any "Region" of the UK but it has joined the rest it seeing a decline in the number people voting in General Election.

Take the number of voters in Wales in the the Election which saw a New Labour  take Power (1997 and 2010 when they lost.

Total  Number of Votes 1,619,703
Turn out 73.5 %

Lab 886,935/34
Con 317,127/0
Lib/dem 200,020/2
Reff 38,245/0
Soc lab 6,203/0
Green 17,018/0
NLP 516/0
Others 7909/0

Total Number of Votes
Lab 531,601/26
Con 382,720/8
LibDem 295,164/3
Plaid 165,394/3
UKIP 35,690/0
BNP 23,0088/0
Green 6,293/0
TUSC 341/0
Others 24,442/0
Soclab 6203/0

From this we  see that it is Labour who have lost the most number of votes due to absenteeism in Wales

And this is reflected into what has happened to the massive votes they used to have in some Welsh Constituencies.

Take Islwyn for Example

Electorate 50,540
Turn out 72.0%
Lab 26,995 74.2%
Libdem 3064 8.4%
Con 2,864  7.9%
Plaid 2,272 6.2%
Reff 1209 3.3%
Maj ority 23931 65.8%

Electorate 54,826
Turnout 34,690
Lab 17,069 49.2%
Con 4,854 14.0%
Plaid 4,518 13.0%
Libdem 3,597 10.4%
Ind 1,495 4.3%
BNP 1,320 3.8%
UKIP 916 2.7%
Ind 901 2.6%
Majority 12,215 35.21%
So Labour has lost over 14000 votes  over the period  that they were in government and seemingly largely due to absent voters.

And they will not be helped by plans to introduce individual registration as outlined here by Plaid MP Jonathan Edwards here as it expected that the changes will increase the number of unregistered voters
as he says

There is surely consensus that the preferred outcome is that all adults who are entitled to vote should be registered. Everyone should be on the electoral roll and have the opportunity to cast their vote at elections. The principle of individual electoral registration is positive—that electors should take upon themselves the responsibility to register to vote in their own right rather than under the aegis of a household. All relevant people should be willing and able to register and should have the same opportunity to do so. However, there might be a disconnect between equality of opportunity and equality of outcome in that although relevant people may register, they might not all actually do so. The Minister said that the Government hoped to learn lessons from Northern Ireland, and I look forward to seeing some of the resulting changes in the Bill. However, I believe that when the changes were introduced in Northern Ireland in 2002—Mark Durkan might wish to correct me—there was a fall of 11% in registered electors, and it has taken more than 10 years to rebuild the figures.

If this true then surely it will be Labour will be the biggest looser.

Already according to the Electoral Commission 6 million people were not registered across the UK.

How can this be?

Why it is impossible to use National Insurance Numbers to automatically register voters in the computer age is beyond me. I'm sure someone can see the flaws. But in 1982 someone had a vision of using computers to increase our democracy surely it would.t me to difficult in 2012 to ensure that they are at least used to ensure people are registered to vote.

Wednesday, 18 January 2012

A Plaid by any other name

The name of the Irish Political Party Fianna Fáil  is commonly directly  translated into "Soldiers of Destiny" but its official name is "The Republican Party". But I suspect nowhere in Ireland says they are a member of or a supporter of The Republican party.notwithstanding the huge defeat it had in last years election.

Which brings me to the news that commission set up by Plaid Cymru in the face of two poor election results to recommend that Plaid  should consider changing its name to the Welsh National Party.

If you didn't know and I wouldn't blame if you did.  Plaid's English name is currently the "Party of Wales "( a more direct translation). Its been suggested that the name was adopted In order that  Welsh Labour couldn't  Labour it self Welsh Labour - The party of Wales.

Since then has anyone really noticed the Plaid- Party of Wales name on party leaflets?, Hss any member canvassing said . Hello I'm calling on behalf of the Party of Wales? Has any senior Party member used it on a Pol tics pro gramme?Has any journalist or member of the public

Indeed nearly everyone simply refers to the Party as "Plaid Cymru "or simperly  "Plaid" or if they wish to be negative "Welsh Nats" or  even more derogatory " Nats".

Would a name change make any difference I doubt it and I suspect hardly any member will use it . Indeed it will be  largely only the Blaid's opponents who will.

Quite frankly if Plaid wants to link more with English speakers and avoid being seen as a Welsh speaking party it should  concentrate it efforts more in widening  it membership and campaigning more in the South Wales Valleys.Including a  staffed valleys office

So why has the commission come out with the name change proposal which they must know most members will not use ?  Could it be that the Party realised that this would be the major issue taken up with the report? And therefore the main points will be left to the membership and the four leadership contenders to digest rather than the media?

Gareth Hughes on his blog has given us most of the real recommendation  of the commission and I reproduce them below.

  • The establishment of a National Academy to revolutionise campaigning and organisation, as well as nurturing the community champions and national leaders of the future.
  •  A radical modernisation of the party’s campaigning methods to create a permanently campaigning party equipped with the tools that are necessary for a modern 21st century party.
  • The establishment of a more effective mechanism for policy formulation. Ensuring that the skills of members, supporters and external experts are utilised in order to ensure better policy development.
  • An acceptance that the Party needs greater clarity over its aims in order to be able to present a coherent and united message to the people of Wales.
  • Fundamental changes to the Party’s structures in order to ensure clearer leadership and greater accountability from all Plaid representatives
All of which seem to be the sort of thing any review of any structure would come up with.

Quite frankly the future of Plaid for the next decade will .not be based on a inward revue but on who it elects as its leadership in March and who can galvanize the Party with a vision of a Independent Wales that will unite all of its people. The question is will she  be up to the task

Monday, 16 January 2012

Lay on! Lay on! Lay on! They fail!

I some times wonder whether London Journalists are Lazy or ignorant  rather than simply just opposed to Scottish Independence.

A recent issue of the Express stated that.
The First Minister vowed to press ahead with his own poll to break up Britain despite being warned that the SNP’s proposals would be illegal.
Critics accused Mr Salmond of “panic” after the UK Government said a referendum would be unconstitutional without its authority.
The fact is a little research would point to Autumn 2014 as  always being the most probable date for the Independence referendum,.simply because June of that year will see the 700 anniversary of the Battle of Bannockburn and whether you think that it would be cynical or not . The fact is that is that the comparison of an arrogant English Ruler crossing the Border to face a largely peasant army will be made during that year by commentators and you can bet Salmond will be compared to tRobert theBruce to Camerons (Edward 11)

Other comparison of Edward attempting to legitmise is invasion by including disgruntled Scots like the gormer Guardian of Scotland Ingram de Umfraville,( Labour former First Ministers?) will be made.

But Robert had prepared his troops well. They had spent the winter drilling and he had chosen the ideal spot well.

One of the sad fact of the Battle is the presence of Welsh Archers on the English side. Tough hopefully the Welsh will be behind the tanks of the Scottish this time.

I,m not saying that this anniversary will be a major influence in the minds of Scottish voters but it will be an additional factor.

But who lead the invading army this time against Salmond's. Robert the Bruce

In theory it should be current Scottish Secretary Michael Moore but his Liberal Democrats are scarcely more popular in Scotland than the Tories and in recent weeks he has loked little more than Camerons puppet over the Independance issue. and has already made conflicting statements over whether the Scottish Government can legally call  a referendum 

There has been some talk that the Unionist army should be senior scottish politician, and former Labour Chancellor Alistair Darling has been recently spoken of, as it is claimed (at least by London commentators)  he is well respected in Scotland, but perhaps this is  largely because of sympathy from Scottish noters after his mauling (and often semi- racist) from the London media.

And as events have shown Cameron will be unable  to stay out of the issue even though it will not go down well with Scottish Voters . His latest intervention has seen nearly  800 people joining the SNPi n the last few days. Indeed its probably why Labour did comparently well in the 2010 Westminster Election.

Camerons other recent boob has been his attempt to prevent a option of devo-max in the Scottish independence referendum. as  Syniadau.so excewntly points out His instance of the  exclusion of a Devo-Max option will make it more likely for voters tvote for com plete Independence.

I still think it will be hard for the SNP to win an Independence referendum but every time the likes of Cameron seek to interfere makes be more confident that 2014 will see Scotland if not gaining complete Independence will have made a giant stride towards it.

P.S. If you are wondering ? The Title refers to the cry of the Scots as the Battle turned in thier favour.

Saturday, 14 January 2012

Carwyn the Federalist?

It seems Wales' First Minister Carwyn Jones has looked into Wales future after a a successful "Yes for Independence"  in a Scottish referendum and is worried that  English MP will  dominate Parliament if Scotland breaks away from the UK.

He said the House of Commons would need to be balanced by a new upper house with equal representation from England, Wales and Northern Ireland.

Mr Jones said the system could be based on the Senate in the United States.

"You would have for example, a Parliament in London with about 550 MPs, 510 of whom would be from England. Well that's no good to us at all."
"There would need to be a fundamental rethink of the nature of the relationship between the three nations left within the UK in order to make sure that, what was then the UK, was a stable body where people felt that they had full representation."

But it seems 510 MPs from England and  about 80 from Wales,Scotland and Northern Ireland is acceptable.

Surely a federal solution under Carwyn's criteria, would apply to the current  position of the Nations of the UK as well as one in which Scotland had left?

Carwyn doesn't call for a English parliament but how could a federal structure work with the House of Commons being (as it is almost now) also a an English parliament ?

But what of Carwyn's second chamber? Does he propose an equal number of Senators from Wales,England and Northern Ireland say 150 from each or one in which there are say 200 English senators and 100 from the other two?

I can't see this being acceptable to English MPs or English voters who would never see English dominance diminished  in even one of the Legislatures. Indeed I suspect that they would much prefer the complete break up of the UK rather than accept a Federal Solution (including one which Scotland was still part).

If I thought it would work, if the nations of the UK could exist in a Federal structure of equals then I would seriously consider it but the English Question is to complex .

Regional Government in England would not solve the problem. Wales is not a Region  and if there was a Federal structure  it ant of the UK legislatures should not be treated as a region like the South East of England.

Such a structure may work in England as an Independent country and I wish them well if they decide to do so. Though I would hope Cornwall's unique position would be taken into account and or perhaps they could join us eventually as Independent member of the European Union.If Luxembourg can be so can Cornwall).

In the meantime it is good to see the First Minister looking ahead but if he can't accept that Welsh Mps whether there are 40 or 30 are dominated in the Westminster Parliament  at present and realise that Wales should have Legastive powers equal to Scotland even under the present Union how can he claim that a future UK without Scotlant will be detrimental to Wales?

Thursday, 12 January 2012

New Welsh Constituencies a rough assestment.

To be fair  considering the remit of reducing the number of Welsh Constituencies 40 to 30 from the Boundaries commission have seemed to have made a decent fist of it and compared with a previous attempt, it at least seems to have kept communities together . Though in some cases the Commissioners have made a huge error such as including the Mountain Ash and Aberaman in the Rhondda (a possible boost for Plaid however ?) and anyone who has tried to cross the Mountain road which connects the two in Winter will know.It one of the first to close  when theres even light snow and in the past has ben closed for long periods due to landslides. Perhaps the creation of the new consituency may led to improvements though I doubt it.

From the Political Parties point of View  it seems Plaid will be quite happy with the new Gwynedd and Caerfyrddin seats and would not be worried about loosing they main contender status in Menai ac Ynys Mon and Ceredigion and North Pembrokeshire. Llanelli will be hard work however and the new Caerphilly and Cardiff North seat  means the longed for valleys breakthrough  seems further away.

For the Tories they lok to be losing  one of their North Wales Seats with the the ridiculously named North Wales Coast (Cant see that name lasting) and almost certainly one of the Pembrokeshire ones . Off the  3 Cardiff seat's  that will remain it is probable be dependent on the General UK political trends but for the moment they are down one.
For the Libdems  it will take some nuber crunching to work out if they are still viable in the new Cardiff Central and Penarth seat . The demise of Montgomery means they are unlikely to win this area back . leaving only the South Powys seat which they will have to fight it out with the to Tories
Labour will be the biggest losers , they appear to be seeing about some  of their valleys strong holds disappearing altogether including Islwyn  merged into the Newport Sirhowy Valey seat and the creation of the Heads of the Valleys (another poor name) from remnants of the Merthyr and Cynon Valley.and the loss of the one seat in North Wales.

So a rough calculation  if there was general election tomorrow could see the number of seats in Wales allocated as

Plaid 2/4 Current 3
Lib Dems 1/2 Current 3
Cons 5/6-Current 8
Lab 20/24- current 26

Sunday, 8 January 2012

Alun Michael seeks to be Police and Crime Commissioner for South Wales.

It seems that Cardiff South and Penarth MP Alun Michael has announced he will seek nomination as Labour’s candidate for the new role of Police and Crime Commissioner for South Wales.

However it appears that  if he was successfully nominated he would have to resign his seat  forceing a Byelection before standing so he would not have a fall back position  as he did in 1999 when he was the Labour establishment choice to lead the party in the Welsh assembly.

He was elected for the Top Up Seat of Mid and West Wales (thanks in part to Plaid winning LlanelI) but stayed on as member for Cardiff South and Penarth only to find that with only 28 seats Labour did not have an overall majority and when eight month old National Assembly for Wales  when faced with the likely success of a vote of no confidence against him.Which Plaid engineered and in the light of the controversial leadership election twelve months earlier these events were widely perceived as a snub to the Prime Minister himself who had championed Michael over his challenger he  resigned from the Assembly and went back to the Commons

The role of these Police and Crime Commissioner has been examined in depth by Click on Wales here but although the new commissioner will have significant powers over budgets and holding the Chief Constable to account they will not be able to direct where resources such as police officers should be deployed.

So anyone running a US style "Clean up Crime" campaign will be seriously misleading the electorate..

Nevertheless its a worrying factor of the Politicisation of the police  in the UK and the entry of Alun Michael into these elections emphases.this.

To be fair his press statement  does say.

“In a series of difficult and challenging roles I have always looked for new and better ways of doing things, and as the police face massive cuts – which in my view come too deep and too fast – it is more important than ever before to ensure that police work is clearly focused, and that the downward trend in crime which has been achieved in the South Wales Police area is maintained in the future.

“Violence has been cut more in Cardiff than in equivalent cities in England because a science-led partnership approach has been adopted, and knowing the facts I feel safe in the city centre – but as media coverage showed last year, rowdy and unruly behaviour makes people feel unsafe. So we need to go beyond cutting crime to build public confidence and change relationships.”
So he begins his campaign on a largely progressive  not; But as the election approaches promoted by a Tabloid media calling for voters to support "Hang and Flog" them candidates. It is likely the majority of those seeking the position will move to far more punitive rhetoric and considering the last Labour  governments kneejerk reaction to such calls under Home Secretaries (all of whom were far from liberal) and who Alun Michael worked under. I epect him to make more and more right wing law and order statements.

The chances of aliberal progressive candidate being endorsed beyond the Independent and Guardian  seems remote .

The real danger for Alun Michael however is that the public may simply not vote on political lines and seek a commisioner who is Independent of a political party. If Alun was to lose he would have nowhere to go and he may have made his last gamble.


Thursday, 5 January 2012

How to be a Welsh Republican.

It is interesting that much has been made of Leanne Woods Republicanism though t least Simon Thomas has expressed such views in the past .

Leanne's case however is her habit of s boycotting the  ceremonial opening of the  Assembly, anr therfore has been  accused of snubbing the Queen. and questions have been asked if giving the circumstances of her becoming first Minister in a Plaid Assembly Government  or  a Minister in a coalition government would she could she make this stance.

Franlkly its up to her. Bit it does raise a issue . In a recent Blog Miserable Old Fart commented that.

"Republicanism is a British obsession. An independent Wales will have no royal family! Republicanism is not a Welsh Nationalist issue!"
 I'm  sorry  Alwyn  I can't agree unless an Independent Wales is an avowedly Republic  then there is no rerason why it woulld not be on the same level as Canada, Australia , amd New Zealand  with the King or Queen of England as head of State represented by a governor general appointed  on the advice of a Welsh Prine Minister.

There is nothing I beleive in Plaid's Constitution that rules this out and it seems that a Independent Scotland would openly accept the reigning English Monarch as head of State.

But actually the current problem is not a future Wales but of Democracy.

Already Leanne has virtually no choice in order to take her seat. the Oath being...

I... swear by Almighty God that I will be faithful and bear true allegiance to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth, her heirs and successors, according to law. So help me Go
Or she may affirm  a solemn affirmation under the terms of the Oaths Act 1978:

I... do solemnly, sincerely and truly declare and affirm that I will be faithful and bear true allegiance to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth, her heirs and successors, according to law.
I would have no problem to my mind  swearing an Oath accepting Elisabeth Windsor as Head of State  for the period of the Assembly that is sitting .Which is different than recognising her as such.

But I could not accept being bound to accepting it in perpetuity and the idea that such an Oath would bind me to her successors is an affront  to Democracy .

So whats my advice to Leanne if she was placed in a position of being First Minister  and meeting the English Monarch.

I would accept the role as Head of State in the current unwritten constitution and therefore  welcome her to the Assembly  in the same way a Australian Prime Minister who proposed his or her Nation should  become a republic would, whilst making it clear that I was aiming to remove her from that position on the implementation of an Independent Wales.

But as first Minister I would also insure that the Oath of alligence is changed that  it read  something on the lines of ...one proposed by Tony Benn fir the House of Commons in 1197
   I... swear by Almighty God  that I will, to the best of my ability, discharge the responsibilities required of me by virtue of my membership of the Welsh Assembly s and faithfully serve those whom I represent here.
I ...do solemnly Declare and Affirm that I will, to the best of my ability, discharge the responsibilities required of me by virtue of my membership of the Welsh Assembly s and faithfully serve those whom I represent here.

Simple and Democratic and democracy should always be a Welsh Obsession.

Monday, 2 January 2012

National Left looks into his Crystal Ball

Here are my predictions for 2012

The Party can expect to make major gains next tear wining control of Torfaen, Blaneau Gwent, Newport Brigend, Merthyr Tydfil and Caerphilly.Indeed failure do so might prove a disappointed.This could be matched by becoming  the largest party in Cardiff and Swansea even having small majorities in one of these.In the Welsh assembly, they will continue to carry on without an overall majority at least until after the May election when they may seek to bring the Libdems into coalition.

They will however continue a Laissez-faire policy making only small policy initiatives whilst blaming Central government.,

Any discontent amongst Labour AM's  will only appear if and when the Libdems joined them. When those realising a Ministeral post will not be coming  to them will start to speak out. Some will take a call for more devolution even Parity with Scotland  others will rake up a fundamentalist Unionist stance 


It will be steady as it goes for the Conservatives . In May they may even increase their total  number of seats at the expense of the LibDems. But may lose overall control of Monmouth and even more likely Vale of Glamorgan.

Cheryl Gillian will lose her cabinet post as secretary of State for Wales to Clwyd West MP  David Jones or the post will be abolished.

The Conservatives in the Assembly  will take up a more Devo-sceptic position which whilst not provoking a split lead to the likes of David Melding from his safe  position as  Deputy Presiding Office increasingly distancing himself from the polices of his leader.

Liberal Democrats

Will have a very hard time in May will lose over 50 seats and and will be lucky to not to lose 70.

They will enter negotiations on forming a coalition with Labour after May realising that it the only way they can maintain a profile in Welsh politics.

Peter Black will make at least one ridiculous statement a week on his blog and will be shirty with those who point out his cant claiming that the  are being "repetitive or off subject".

Plaid Cymru.

The Party with the most interesting and challenging year a head of them.

Elin Jones will win the leadership contest . Though Leanne Wood will make a strong challenge (and might just win it).

Depending on how much the contest invigorates the Blaid . May will see the part lossing out to Labour in the East but gaining a comfortable Majority on Gwynedd. possibly gaining Ceredigion  and whilst it may lose some seats to Labour in Carmarthen this will be of-set  by gains from Independents.


The Welsh Rugby team will  will win the 6 nations in 2012 but alas no Grand Slam

Swansea will survive their first season in the premiership . Cardiff will make the champions league play off and join them.
The GB football (Under 23's)  in the Olympics will be an embarrassment and will be quickly forgotten and never proposed again.
The overall medals won by British athletes will exceed Beijing but the number of Golds will be less.
Glamorgan will have an average Cricket season.


The Jubilee will reach a level of sycophancy of a North Korean state funeral. Republicans will be ignored and marginalised .

There will be no announcement of a pregnancy as nothing will be allowed to divert attention from the Queen this year.