Wednesday, 31 October 2012

£350,000 worth of ballots papers shredded

Nearly eight Weeks ago John Dixon at Borthlas s brought out attention to the possibility that the ballot papers the police commissioner elections may not be bilingual in Wales

Ministers said it was not unprecedented for similar legislative orders to be approved shortly before elections and the same had happened in the run-up to the 2010 general election.

True but it should have been corrected immediately. How much parliamentary time does it take to correct an obvious error.

And Why did it occur shouldn't there be a stipulation that Elections in Wales should automatically be conducted  bilingually

You would be forgiven that this was an oversight that would be corrected quickly and efficiently.

Nominations closed on October 16 so Ballot Papers  must have been printed after then

The Electoral Commission has already presumed the papers would be Bilingual, because they showed the example in the booklet I received  weeks ago and were not afraid to give us an example of what the Ballot paper would look like

Although Peers  approved plans to print bilingual ballots in both Welsh and English on Monday only  48 hours before a deadline for sending out postal ballots in Wales. Yhe Electoral Commission behaved sensibly.

 Unlike those who printed English only ballot paper
Ballots written only in English will now have to be thrown away.

 It has emerged an estimated £350,000 worth of ballots papers are likely to be shredded.

Ministers said they were committed to ensuring "full parity" between English and Welsh languages on ballot papers in Wales.

But Labour and Plaid Cymru said it was ridiculous that the matter had come to Parliament for approval so late in the day and that ministers had initially intended to seek their approval in May.


  • Why did such a cock up occur?
  • Why did it take so long to fix once it was discovered?
  •  Why were English only allot papers printed even though it was obvious the Legislation would be passed (I suppose the bureaucrats will claim an legal requirement) Even though the Electoral Commission realised this ?
  • What is Welsh Secretary David Jones going to do to ensure that the necessary Legislation is passed is to ensure that this doesn't happen again and Bilingual ballot papers are automatic in any Election or referendum conducted in Wales?
  •  Should Elections in Wales come under the remit of the Welsh Assembly?

This should never have happened  and must never happen again.

Tuesday, 30 October 2012

Trident replacement may see Miliband back Cameron

Although I wrote in this Blog that the SNP were wrong to commit themselves to NATO.  a decision that saw saw MSPs John Finnie and Jean Urquhart, leave the Party and sit as independents, 

A moral stance that we see so little of from our elected representative

But what about the non-nuclear move 

First Minister Alex Salmond has pledged that in an independent Scotland nuclear weapons would be made illegal.

He said that if an SNP government was elected post-independence the new constitution would outlaw Trident and other such weap

In  a statement  Philip Hammond  the UK defence secretary said he was making no contingency plans for moving Trident out of Scotland in the event of its people voting yes to independence believed voters would say no in the 2014 referendum.

The minister was in Scotland to announce a £350m investment in plans to replace nuclear weapons system Trident, based at Faslane on the Clyde.

Speaking on BBC Radio Scotland's Good Morning Scotland programme, Mr Hammond said: 

"The UK government is not planning around the possibility of a yes vote in the referendum. We are very confident that the Scottish people will recognise the value of remaining within the UK and choose to do so.
"We are not making contingency planning for a yes vote in the referendum. Were there to be a yes vote then all sorts of things would need to be reviewed, but we are not making any contingency planning for that.
"You can be confident that around a capability as important to the UK's defence as our strategic nuclear deterrent we will have all sorts of contingency plans for maintaining the deterrent in place in all sorts of circumstances - that is sound, good operational plannin

Pretty clear the Government are going ahead with a Trident replacement 

Except Hammond doesn't seem to have run it passed the LibDems Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg who said in response 

People should not "jump the gun" over whether or not the UK's Trident nuclear weapons system is to be replaced, 

The Lib Dem leader said the coalition agreement was "crystal clear" that no decision would be taken until 2016.

The coalition is split, with the Tories backing a like-for-like replacement for Trident, and the Lib Dems opposing it.

Lib Dem Chief Secretary to the Treasury Danny Alexander is currently leading a review into alternatives to a like-for-like replacement.

So it looks like the Lib Dems may block any replacement of Trident, at least until after the next  election 

But what about Labour they do not seem to have come round to abolishment ,  On 14 March 2007, the Labour government won Commons support for the plans to renew the submarine system. The proposals were passed by the House of Commons by a majority of 248.

Despite a clarification that the vote was just for the concept stage of the new system, 95 Labour MPs rebelled, and it was only passed with the support of the opposition Conservative Party.

There no real indication that Labour have changed their stance significantly,

  • So will Labour back Hammond on Trident Replacement?-Possiblyenough will.
  • If not will the Lib Dems knuckle under and support their coalition partners?- Clegg has given in on Party policy before he may do so again.
  • Will any Anti-Nuclear MPs resign take the same moral stance of the two former MSPs on NATO  and resign the Party Whip?- Not a snowballs.
Of course the get out for all the Westminster Politician would be to state that no decision will be made until after the Scottish Referendum .

But that would mean they admit that Scotland might votr Yes and I suspect they rather do anything even see the coalition collapse than do that.

Monday, 29 October 2012

Labour cement power in Caerphilly

There was a By election  on Caerphilly county borough counci last Thursday l: Eluned Stenner, daughter of the late Les Rees, was elected to succeed him as councillor for New Tredegar division on 25 October. held the seat for the Labour Party.

Gillian Mary Jones Plaid Cymru  95 (11.7; +11.7)
Cameron Muir-Jones   Cons       24 ( 3.0; +3.0)
Eluned Stenner         Labour     692(85.3; +12.6 ( Elected)
Turn out 24%

Although this is a Labour Stronghold and only an Independent stood against them last time Last Time.It confirms Labours new dominance in Caerphilly, and there seems to be no signs of a Plaid Comeback as yet 

May 2012

Gerald Jones Labour             965 (Elected) 
Morgan Jones   Independent 362 
Les Rees  Labour                744  (Elected)

There may be a bigger challenge in two Elections on November 15 on Conwy county borough council:  Deganwy division after the resignation of Independent councillor (and frequent blogger)  Jason Weyman

May 2012
Samantha Cotton Con      539 Elected
Julie Fallon         Con      484
Terrance James   LibDem  217
Jason Weyman.   Ind       730 Elected

There are Seven Nominations  so it might be interesting

There will also be an election on  Merthyr Tydfil county borough council: on 15 November in Cyfarthfa after the resignation of Merthyr Independents councillor Les Elliott.

May 21012
 Elliott Les  Merthyr Independents        7 97 Elected
 Brown Paul Merthyr Independents     760 Elected
 Chaplin Tony Welsh Labour                683 Elected
 Jenkins Malcolm Merthyr Independents 655
 Davies Margaret Welsh Labour           640
 Chaplin David Welsh Labour               601
 Evans Mark Plaid Cymru           318

5 Nominations here.Should  be between Labour  and Methyr Independents Where the candidates  Margaret Davies and Malcolm Jenkins just lost out last time   . Though Plaids Mark Evans  may pull s surprise 

There will be  justice carried out today  on Denbighshire county council: The recount ordered for Prestatyn North division, following the cock up in May's election count, will take place in the High Court on Monday 29 October.
Neath Port Talbot have still to call the vacancy  in Neath South division after the death of Labour councillor and former Mayor Mal Gunter. despite it being announced on August 28 . Why the delay?.

Sunday, 28 October 2012

James Gordon for Police and Crime Commissioner

Indeed your Write in candidate everywhere 

Highly experienced Former Commissioner of Gotham City he was responsible for bringing Batman in to cut crime in the City . Unlike others of the same name he did not oversee a corrupt city and police force although his Chief of Police was a bit dim.

So Lets face it compared with the other candidates he will be ideal and so I recommend you write in James Gordon on the 15th November or cut out the middleman and go for Batman.

Its better than not voting and you can show this election for the farce it is.

Saturday, 27 October 2012

Boundary Commission revise doomed proposal.

The Boundary Commission for Wales has published revised proposals for reducing the number of Westminster seats from 40 to 30 and you can see it in detaill .here . Though we could do with them giving  a more basic summary ,

The revised proposals do end some of the most ridiculous names for the proposed constituencies  such as the Moth Wales coast  and to link Caerphilly with parts of Cardiff North though the new
Cardiff North and South Gwent a bit of a mouthful.

Mind you I always have the suspicion the commission deliberately draw up impracticable proposals in order to make the final decision more palatable.

However it could well be that the work (and the expenditure) may be in vain.

Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg has said the Liberal Democrats will vote against the changes in retaliation for Tory MPs scuppering proposals to introduce a largely elected House of Lords.
Labour has opposed plans to cut the number of Welsh MPs from 40 to 30
So Cameron has turned to the smaller Parties . Though I can't se him paying the price sought by Plaid's Jonathan Edwards.who claimed...
  Plaid was open to supporting changes if there was a deal that would create “a de facto federal state”.
He said he would personally want to see new fiscal powers, the creation of a Welsh legal jurisdiction and responsibility for energy, criminal justice and broadcasting as part of a new Government of Wales Bill.
The deal, he added, would have to go well beyond the work of the Silk Commission launched by the Wales Office to propose changes to the present devolution settlement.
He added
 We are obviously interested. Our position has been quite principled; we have always said that we’re not wedded to the idea of 40 Welsh MPs.
“But if you reduce the number of Welsh MPs then you have to transfer the powers correspondingly. If you’re going to take away a quarter of Welsh MPs then in our view that would warrant a significant transfer of powers.
“So we’re open to offers.”
Mr Edwards acknowledged that the reduction in MPs from 650 to 600 would make it easier for the Conservatives to win a majority in England, adding this was a reason why “we want as many powers as possible devolved so that the people of Wales are protected from Tory policies coming from [Westminster].”
Stressing the need for the transfer of powers to be explicitly laid out in new legislation, he said: “I think what it does essentially is just knock Silk out of the equation. To do the deal you’d have to have a Government of Wales Bill before we vote on the seats.
“The Tories haven’t got a good record of doing deals – if you compare the [2007 Labour-Plaid] One Wales agreement and the coalition agreement, basically the Lib Dems have been fleeced on everything.
“So we wouldn’t vote through this reduction in seats unless we knew we had those transfers already down.”
Westerrn Mail October 23rd

Nice try but not much hope. 

So the maths don't look god for Cameron The SNP probably don't care . don't vote  Sinn Féin  don't vote and the other NI parties will not be enough.

And this is not even counting those Tories who may be seeing their own seats disappearing or those who may (Glyn Davies in Montgomery) Baulk at the abolition of a very old constituency.

So the Boundary Commission may have to file this away for another Parliament By then of course the demographics may have changed and there may already be 59 fewer MPs from Scotland.

Is Cameron going to waste valuable Parliamentary time on a doomed bill?

Friday, 26 October 2012

I.D.S. Don't have kids.

The BBC report that Child-related benefits for families may be capped at two children, the work and pensions secretary has said.

Iain Duncan Smith (I.D.S.)said stopping the current system, where families get more benefits the more children they have, was among changes being considered.

Families on benefits were often "freed from" the decision of whether they could afford more children, Mr Duncan Smith said, and must "cut their cloth".

He said,,

"When you look at families across the board across all incomes, you find the vast majority make decisions about the number of children they have, the families they want, based on what they think they can afford."
Many working families decided against having more children even if they wanted to, for financial reasons, he suggested, while there was a "clustering" of large families on welfare who did not have to confront that reality.
"People who are having support from welfare are often freed from that decision. Can there be not be a limit to the fact you need to cut your cloth in accordance with what capabilities and finances you have?"
But where's  the evidence that people are having children just to receive child benefits as I.D.S, seems to be implying

" People who are having support from welfare are often freed from that decision"

So child befits are so large that its profitable for people to have more children
As a guide. The rules for benefits for claimants depend on  individual circumstances and  will  affect the amount they  can get.

But as a guide .

Weekly amounts:

For the eldest child who qualifies £16.50

(Lone parents with protected rights may continue to get £17.55 for the eldest child.)

For each other child who qualifies £f11.05

So that's  £1.57 a day just to feed one extra child. and although it would be cheaper to feed larger amounts . I can see anybody living the god life on this,

Even if you agree that people are having children because of this . Could you support depriving children  already living in poverty because of the decisions of their parents this benefit . Are we really wiling to let them sink even lower in poverty.

But what about the premise that the parents on benefit  made a conscious  decision to have more children how many do that rather than from ignorance of contraception.

However the fact is that this is only a proposal .I.D.S hasn't tun it past his LibDem coalition colleagues and even the Orange Bookers  may have qualms about this proposal.

So I can't this moving any further.

So why has I.D.S. come up with . Could it be part of his ongoing strategy to demonise those unfortunate enough to be out of work and give the impression that . The cause of the UK woes is people deliberately living on benefit and not his banker chums.

Even if we were not in recession (or apparently just out of it) . The Tories would still have loved to make the cuts that they are carrying out .

But as ordinary working families suffer under the recession because of the corruption of our Banking Industry. I tis easy to shift blame on  another target it used to be minorities but now its simply the unemployed and those on benefits . Claiming they are taking money from hard working people and using examples like large families living on benefit to give the impression that all of them are exploiting the system.

As I said I can't see this proposal getting of the grouped : But that not its intention its to shift blame from those who caused the crisis to those who are suffering most under it..


Thursday, 25 October 2012

AWEMA Where are the Questions? Where are the Answers?

Yesterday's  Western Mule headline Welsh Government breaks silence on Awema scandal was somewhat confusing since as the opposition parties pointed out that Finance Minister Jane Hutt  was weak and evasive” answers repeatedly saying the Welsh Government was respecting protocol by awaiting the outcome of scrutiny by the Public Accounts Committee.

Although  Ms Hutt did say the Government had taken “swift and decisive” action to stop the charity’s the same manner the Captain of the Titanic of a ship who has just rani ship into another would be  swift and decisive in launching the lifeboats .

In response to Liberal Democrat Peter Black Ms Hutt resorted to the sort of language which leads to bafflement amongst us poor ordinary voters.
 “When the report was published by the Wales Audit Office on Thursday October 18, it was received of course by the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) and I understand that this report will follow the due process of the Welsh Audit Office value-for-money study report, and as the Welsh Government respects that process I wouldn’t want to preempt the outcome of the Public Accounts Committee’s work.
“But I would say, and indeed the Permanent Secretary made this clear last week, the action we had already taken prior to the publication of the WAO’s report that a grants management project [was] established in 2010, a [Grants] Centre of Excellence has been created in order to develop corporate process and procedures, tools and guidance for non-procured funding to ensure we respond effectively to reports of this kind.”
Well that lets her off the hook

I'm not a fan of Peter Black but he was right to say “shameful” that Ms Hutt had to be brought before AMs to answer questions on the issue.. He said,
“Their behaviour has brought the National Assembly into disrepute by repeatedly showing a complete disregard for Wales’ democratic process, 
Conservative Shadow Finance Minister Paul Davies said:

 “It’s about time ministers spoke up and took some responsibility for this fiasco.
“Closing ranks and hiding behind locked doors only serves to confirm further weakness. Welsh taxpayers deserve an apology for the catalogue of errors in the government’s handling of Awema.
“Minister after minister had a part to play in this disaster and recognition of a lazy attitude towards the public purse is now sorely needed.

Plaid Cymru’s Communities spokesman, Rhodri Glyn Thomas, said that the Welsh Government response was “far from satisfactory”.

He added:

 “When will the Welsh Government address the concerns raised about its conduct? This shameful silence must end.
“The Party of Wales is adamant that trust is the basis of a strong relationship between the Welsh Government and the third sector, and the Labour government must now work to regain that trust.
“That must start with fronting up to this terrible mess, and answering the difficult questions about why this organisation was allowed to continue in its mismanagement and waste millions of the taxpayers’ pounds.”
The Mule proudly reveals that  the All-Wales Ethnic Minority Association (Awema) scandal, first revealed by WalesOnline earlier this year.

But its coverage has been poor since and they have not really gone into depth recently .

Which shows the democratic deficit in Wales with only One National Newspaper whose priorities in reporting political stories are accusing Plaid Leader of making a Bizarre Oath or Jill Evans attending  the annual Cilmeri Rally we have very little in depth coverage from the Media.

This allows Labour to close ranks and to speak the Legal waffle that Jane Hutt has given knowing that a large number of the public will remain unaware that this scandal has taken place.

Labour is being let of the hook not because of lack of scrutiny by the Opposition Parties (though it could be better) but because we have only one Newspaper which has a cosy relationship with them and a BBC and ITV Welsh coverage whose main political programs are  shown at Times when a large number of viewers have gone to bed,

Wednesday, 24 October 2012

Workers win compensation from former Phurnacite plant.

Workers at the  now closed smokeless fuel plant which closed in 1991who  were made ill by their place of work, the High Court has ruled.
The men said making the fuel at the  at Abercwmboi, Rhondda Cynon Taf, left them with lung cancer and respiratory disease.
Four of 183 ex-workers with claims won compensation between £120,000 and £4,500 after claiming British Coal failed to provide necessary protection.
Lawyers say the judgement could affect hundreds of workers throughout the UK.
The workers had put forward claims for lung, skin and bladder cancers and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease

The are around Abwecwmboi used to be one of the most polluted parts of Wales

Phurnacite Plant Abercwmboi 1983

Travelling up to Aberdare in the 70 and 80's was a shock seeing the blackened and dying vegetation on the side of the road and it didn't take a genius to see what was responsible.

The pictures tell it all really.

The worrying thing is that it may not only have been the workers who affected and the local population who lived under the plant must have some concerns.

I remember a local politician in the 80's saying "Only when the Phurnacite becomes unprofitable will the claims about the pollution be heard ".

Local MP Labour Anne Clwyd (despite her party being in power)  said in 2003 

“the residents of Abercwmboi have lived next to 28 acres of highly contaminated land—some of the worst toxic waste left anywhere in the United Kingdom. It is high time we saw action rather this snail's-pace progress, if it can be described as progress at all.”

The area is the shameful of our Industrial past We accepted jobs in these heavy industries and put with the detrimental effects on our Health and environment and we were then abandoned by a succession of Tory and Labour governments and despite some clean ups we were left with the legacy of a damaged environment and ill health .

The victory of the claimants is welcome but the compensation looks mediocre compared with some  claims awarded to people suffering from harassment at work (and I'm not knocking these awards.)

It is an example of how Wales was exploited for its mineral wealth from the Slate Quarries , Coal , Steel etc. and we must make sure that we have full control of all ways our Nation run including the monitoring of Industry to ensure they are not harming Workers the local population and the environment.

I admit there's no guarantee that the  the Government of an Independent Wales will ensure this but at least we the electorate will be responsible if we don't remove them.

Tuesday, 23 October 2012

Mixed result for Galician Nationlist.

It would be wrong of me after yesterday post on the Elections in the Basque country not to comment on the Elections in Galicia which were held on the same day.

PartyPopular voteSeats
People's Party of Galicia - Partido Popular de Galicia
Socialist Party of Galicia - Partido dos Socialistas de Galicia
Galician Left Alternative - Alternativa Galega de Esquerda
Galician Nationalist Bloc - Bloque Nacionalista Galego
Other parties137,0900.960.33Increase0Steady
Blank votes38,4102.691.03Increase

So the right wing Galician of shoot of the  federal party Peoples Party  PP, increased its majority and the left Galician wing of the federal Socialist P arty PSOE lost heavily.

The election saw The Galician Nationalist Bloc lose votes and  seats,  The BNG  is a Bloc of various Parties mostly left 

 According to its former leader, Anxo Quintana, BNG is not an independentist party, yet some individuals and organizations within it may express a sympathy for the idea. in fact the Largest Party in the Bloc  (UPG) supports independence since 2011

The BNG can be considered a nationalist, mildly pro-independence, left-wing and pro-European part who have not totally committed to Independence,

The Big winners in Galicia was the new party Galician Left Alternative - AAGE  led by former BNG leader Xosé Manuel Beiras  Beiras took  part in the foundation of the BNG () as member of the National Directive Board. In 1985 he gained a seat at the Galician Parliament and gradually became the indisputable leader of Galician nationalism. Beiras took the party to its best results ever in 1997, receiving the support of almost 25 per cent of the electorate. 

AEG is a coalition of Nationalist Parties like Beria's new left Galician nationalist party (Anova) and Spanish federalist United Left, Spanish Greens and other Parties .

Combined  AGE and BNG together got 24,15% of the popular vote, which would have been a good result .

It seems all the Galician  in the BNG and AEG are on the left are there are no centre or centre right parties   of any significence  like the largest Parties in the Basque county and Catalonia  (EAJ-PNV  and CiU ).

It could be that the right in Galicia like the right in Wales are largely Conservatives who are centralist and have no interest in promoting further Autonomy

The poltics of Galicia however seems to be to complex for someone Blogging from darkest Beddau, to predict how it will turn out.


It seems that 9 AGE members consist of 5 United Left members and 4 from Anova

Monday, 22 October 2012

Big Swing to Left- Nationalist in Euskal Herria

 The Elections in the Basque country (Euskal Herria) have seen a swing of over 15%to the new Left-Nationalist grouping  Euskal Herria Bildu EHB

Basque Parliament Elections Results

  •  EAJ-PNV 27-3
  • EH-Bildu: 21+16
  • PSE: 16
  •  - 9
  • PP: 10
  •  -3 
  • UPyD: 1

  • The Swing becomes clearer when we the swing in the Basque TErritories.
    • Basque Territories  2012

      • BIZKAIA
      • ÁLAVA
      • GIPUZKOA
        Result 2009
      • EAJ-PNV
      • PSE
      • EAJ-PNV

    The 2009 election saw the  EAJ-PNV lose power to the Federal PSE  and for some commentators to question whether the Independence movement has lost its momentum .

    However the major facyor was the exclusion of Patries with links to ETA and the new group Aralar  only managed to pick up a few seats as some voters boycotted the election.

    Since 38 seats are needed for an overall majority  may have to seek support from the Federal parties if it is reluctant to pres for further Independence . But the Euskal Herria Bildu (Basque Country Gather (EHB) which contain Parties who are members along with Plaid in the European Free alliance means that the EAJ-PNVan.t ignore the message from the Basque electorate .

    Indeed the 3 years that they were out of power  could have shaken EAJ-PNV out of their complacency and they could well like Catalonia seek to hold a referendum .

    A few years ago commentators were trying to give the impression that the National Movements had lost their Momentum but it looks very different now and with Catalalan  having a new impetus  again also coming from the left and with Nieuw-Vlaamse Alliancie (N-VA) (admittedly more conservative )  scoring  major victories in municipal elections last week in Belgium.  We may see an increase for autonomy partial ot full throughout Europe.

    At present Wales is far behind. but who knows what the effect of this New-Nationalism will have on us?