Friday, 31 May 2013

Two faced EU sceptics.

The BBC reports that the European Commission is launching legal action against Spain over the refusal of some hospitals to recognise the European Health Insurance Card.

As the EHIC entitles EU citizens to free healthcare in public hospitals. However the BBC fail to distinguish between Public and Private Hospitals where  the  latter does not have to comply and it may be in some cases  that people are not aware of the difference

However it appears that  some Spanish public  hospitals rejected the card and told tourists to reclaim the cost of treatment via their travel insurance, the Commission says.

A BBC correspondent says the Commission is not accusing cash-strapped Spanish hospitals of trying to make money.

The Commission, which checks compliance with EU law, has requested information on the issue from the Spanish government - the first stage of an infringement procedure which could eventually result in a fine.Under the health card system, an EU citizen's home health service is supposed to cover the cost of emergency treatment abroad. So for a British citizen the UK National Health Service picks up the final billThe European Health Insurance Card entitles you to the same state healthcare as a citizen in that country - this includes prescriptions, GP visits and hospital stays.
BBC  30th May 2013 
Care is not always free and the details vary between states depending on their healthcare system.

Some costs can be claimed when a patient returns home, but again this depends on the local setup.

The card can be used in any of the 27 EU countries as well as Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland.

It covers emergency care as well long term conditions including kidney dialysis treatment.

People are still advised to have travel insurance, as private healthcare and flights home are not covered.

So we have a case of a fellow EU country apparently not  obeying the EU rules and outrage about the Spanish .

But guess what on the same day there was outage that the UK government  were also breaking the rules.

According to the Telegraph Brussels has objected to Britain's application of an extra and "discriminatory" residency test that has stopped eligible migrants from EU countries getting benefits to which they are entitled under European free movement legislation.
Commission officials told the Telegraph that repeated meetings with the Government, including "informal contacts, had failed to bridge the impasse leading to the court challenge to British law.
"The commission believes that the UK's so-called 'right to reside' test fails the EU legal 'habitual residence' requirement. As a result of this discriminatory test EU citizens cannot receive social security benefits, such as child benefit, to which they are entitled under European law," said an official.
"The commission asked Britain to end this discrimination against EU nationals in September 2011 but no measures have been notified to us."
The commission will argue that welfare benefits "unfairly and illegally" denied to EU migrants include, child benefit, child tax credit, income based jobseeker's allowance, state pension credit and income based employment and support allowances.

Telegraph 30th May 2013

You can imagine the reaction of the  Telegraph readers.  80% of whom give their support to the UK  over the Benefits law in various degrees of Little  England nationalism.

And yet you can bet a pound to a penny that they also  feel that Spain should be forced by the commission to comply with EU rules and grant healthcare  to UK nationals on holiday there .

One of the problems with the EU,  is that member nations seem to believe every one  hould comply with the rules except them.

But the Anti EU lobby in the UK manifested by the Conservatives and to some extent Labour  feel that they can remain in the UK and not obey the rules at all  and Ukip  seem to believe that  the UK can quit the EU  and wipe out all the social legislation that has benefited many of its citizens and yet carry on with trade in Europe as if there had been no change.

Next years European Elections  will the British media  largely backing Euro sceptic parties and maybe some like the Sun calling for a vote for Ukip and withdrawal.

But here in Wales we need to point out the benefits Wales have received from EU benefit and the disaster for powers to be returned to a right wing  anti welfare state Westminster. Something those Euro sceptics on the left do not fathom.

There's a lot wrong with the EU, especially a bloated bureaucracy.  But it is all that protects us these days from the Tories compliantly destroying mush of our social policy and placing it all on the free market.

Thursday, 30 May 2013

"Letter"? "What Letter"? "Oh I've Lost It sorry".

Wales online tell is reports that  there have been calls for an internal investigation into evidence of a Welsh Government letter used by Cardiff council’s economy boss to help justify an attempted multi-million pound land deal.

Councillor Russell Goodway, cabinet member for economy, this month said his only copy had been shredded and he’s yet to get a replacement from the Welsh Government.
The former Labour council leader used the letter last November to help justify the urgency of a £7.25m bid to purchase five acres of land at Callaghan Square in the city centre.
He told two meetings late last year that the Welsh Government had, in the letter, advised him a “third party” wanted to purchase the site and “land bank” it, meaning it would be “sterilised for a number of years”.
The deal subsequently collapsed, but Coun Goodway has since failed to respond to repeated requests from councillors to produce evidence of the letter.
He has said his copy was wrongly shredded by a council officer and there was no record of it on the council’s system as it had been hand delivered to him at his other work by an Assembly official.
 Liberal Democrat .Elizabeth Clark, chairman of the Policy Review and Performance Scrutiny Committee, has now asked council chief executive Jon House to launch a “full internal audit”.
In her request to Mr House, Coun Clark said she was “aghast” that a cabinet member and council officers had “carelessly and apparently cavalierly” thrown away such an important document.
“Especially, since at that stage negotiations to buy the Callaghan Square land by the council were still on-going for another six days,” she wrote. 
It is irresponsible behaviour at best. To make matters worse, I have asked for the letter on many occasions over the last six months with no substantive response until this week.“I feel that Coun Goodway is holding the scrutiny process in contempt.“As a result, please could you undertake a full internal audit of the situation.”
Coun Clark also asked Mr House to obtain a copy of the letter from the Business Minister Edwina Hart.
Well assuming  Coun Goodway, is correct for an highly experienced councilor not to make a copy of a letter that was important in convincing Councilors that they should proceed in hast to secure  the Land deal  and even if it was marked Private and Confidential (ehich it may or not have been) not to have made a copy for himself if only to avoid any suggestion that he is being duplicitous is odd.
Even odder is that the Assembly may not have kept a copy for its own records '

A young couple viewing a new House may be told ny an estate agent that they need to put an offer in as soon as possible as there is already another couple interested  in the property even if it is not true in order to get a deal.
I wouldn't dream of accusing  Coun Goodway, of doing such a thing with regards Callaghan Square purchase but I hope that he, The Council or the Assembly can  produce a copy of the letter to vindicate him or suspicion of its existence will continue.

Wednesday, 29 May 2013

Assembly Government considering copying disastrous English 111 number.

One of the  advantages of Devolution  is that you can look at other nations  are doing things and adapt the best practise of others and mould it to suit you.

However the Welsh Assembly  may have got it wrung in  considering copying England  and replacing NHS Direct with a 111 number.

As the Wasting Mule reports : Concerns have been raised about a controversial non-emergency helpline service as it looks set to be introduced in Wales

The new 111 helpline in England, designed for people with urgent but non-life threatening health problems, has been criticised for failing to meet patient demand.Reports have claimed that many patients have been unable to have their call answered quickly enough by the new service set up as a replacement to NHS Direct.The Welsh Government is now considering introducing the service in Wales to replace NHS Direct Wales with proposals going before Health Minister Mark Drakeford during the summer.

Western Mail 29th 2013

But Only last week:
Doctors at the British Medical Association's GPs conference in London said lessons had to be learned after the "disastrous" roll-out of the service in recent months.
The phone line - which has replaced NHS Direct - has been dogged by reports of calls going unanswered and poor advice.
GPs said they had seen their workloads increase because of the problems.
There are actually 46 different services across the country (Englanf), run by a variety of organisations including private firms and ambulance crews.
Some places have seen the service suspended, while others are relying on the support of old NHS Direct teams to deal with calls.
GPs at the conference in London voted unanimously in favour of a motion calling for an independent inquiry over debacle.
BBC 23rd May 2013 

Mark Drakeford should  consider waiting to see how the service in England responds to the criticism and wait to see if they can improve it substantially before adopting it.

There is no reason to do things just because it is happening in England  nor is a reason to reject it.

 But in the case of replacing NHS direct with a similar 111 to our neighbours. It may be that we need to consider a totally different alternative and create a service based entirely on our own solution to Welsh needs.

Tuesday, 28 May 2013

Snoopers Charter Will Result In Innocents Being Classified As Undesirables.

When I was a Teenager, I taught my youngest sister  who was about four years old to recite.

Pussy Cat Pussy Cat
Where have you been 
I've been up to London to see the Queen
Pussy Cat Pussy Cat 
What did you do there
I planted a bomb under her chair

It caused some ructions when she repeated it at school, but it was a rather poor and puerile act by myself especially from someone who even then was developing pacifist beliefs and  would be appalled by any act of violence.

Still if I had  the Social Media and the proposed Snoopers Charter had been around then I may have been placed on some list as a suspected terrorist.

The plans first brought forward  by Labour in 2003 and revised by the Tories but blocked by LibDem leader Nick Clegg , are now set to be revised after the atrocity  at Woolwich  could see the Conservatives and Labour Party working together on the Bill to defeat any  Liberal Democrat veto .

My Opposition  plans for a communications bill that would give police and security services access to records of individuals' Internet use. are.

I'm not convinced that it would have prevented the Woolwich attack . The accused were already known to the security agencies and it there have been accusations that at least one of the accused was targeted as a MI5 spy. and who was already clearly in their radar after appearing in a Kenyan cout after being arrested on the Somali border  We need to know the full extent of the security sources  .

Could it be thta they viewd him as a potential informan?

It is clear that the idea of the Communication and Data Bill is much wider than watching suspect Terrorist and will cover everyone on the web. It could be that it will gradually be extended and profiles built up of everyone who is deemed opposed to the establishment . This would include, Socialist, Nationalists. Greens,  Republicans  (which all would cover me) etc.

People who may be opposed to what the Majority in the Westminster Parliament think and may use strong language but would never consider committing an act of violence against another Individual or the State apparatus.

Security surveillance could well be so wide spread that they miss the real terrorist as they investigate the  comments of people who may not share mainstream opinion but have no intention of supporting let alone committing acts of terrorism.

It means that some will be condemned of Thought Crime and comments they made on some website twisted against them.

The government will claim that "the innocent have nothing to fear." But the innocent always have something to fear especially from those who tell them they have nothing to fear"

Monday, 27 May 2013

AM calls for top up of £53,852 salary.

The Wasting Mule  claims that " row has broken out over a proposal that would see AMs with responsibility for young children or elderly relatives able to claim a carer’s allowance on top of their £53,852 salary".

Is this from a Labour or Plaid feminist?

 No. The  proposal for an additional carers’ allowance has been put forward by North Wales Conservative AM Antoinette Sandbach, whose daughter attends a boarding school in England.

It is being considered by Sir George Reid,  chairman of the Assembly’s Remuneration Board, who wrote to AMs last month stating the board believed there “may be merit in such a proposal”.

Ms Sandbach’s submission to Sir George  Reid, a former Presiding Officer of the Scottish Parliament, stated:  and SNP MP , Knighted on 2010 stated 

: “There are three broad reasons justifying the immediate introduction of a defined carers allowance for all members:
"It would ensure that the National Assembly for Wales provides similar support for members who are carers as other legislatures in the UK. The other three UK legislatures already have caring provisions in place;
"It would demonstrate clearly and definitively to potential-candidates for future Assembly elections that caring responsibilities need not present a barrier to election; and
"Given that statistically more women than men are likely to have caring responsibilities, this would provide a lead, and set an appropriate example, for other stakeholder groups in response to calls from the Presiding Officer (and other leading Welsh politicians) for a more representative gender balance amongst AMs.

Western Mail 27th May 2013 

Last month Mr Reid wrote a letter to all AMs stating:

 “The National Assembly for Wales places a significant emphasis on equality and there being no barrier to standing for election as an AM and, if elected, individual Members carrying out their duties.
“We [the Remuneration Board] believe there may be merit in such a proposal and that it should cover a wide range of caring needs that might include children, elderly relatives and partners with particular needs. We shall issue a discussion paper on the matter for consultation with Members.
"In the event of there being support for the proposal we would include such a measure in a future Determination in this Assembly. This would inform candidates standing in the 2016 Assembly election.”
 Western Mail 27th May 2013

I am trying to be fair here and  think for instance what my reaction would be if this had come from say Leanne Wood.

But our AM already get a reasonable remuneration package compared with most of us and the cal from someone  who   owns woodland, agricultural farmland and estate property in Conwy, residential property in London and shares in a Chambers building in London as Ms Sandbach,  entry in the Members’ Register of Interests shows hardly look like she suffering .

With some families in Wales struggling to buy new school Uniforms each year . The idea of someone  calling for greater child care  when her daughter  is in a boarding school even if she has no intention of making the claim herself . Makes it hard to support in these times of us "all being in it together. 

Sunday, 26 May 2013

Innocent young Muslims girls victims of racisit hate.

When Wales played Ireland in the quarter final of the rugby world cup one of the absolute delights of the day at the free screening at the Millennium Stadium was seeing two young girls wearing Welsh Rugby Shirts and Muslim Headdress. Two young Girls who saying they were Muslim but also that they were Welsh.

So angers and saddens me that Wales Online report  that a young  Muslim woman spat at as charity reports rising anti-Muslim incidents after Woolwich murder

They continue

Charity Faith Matters said it is looking at claims a young woman was spat at in an incident in the Cardiff area and said it was dealing with a significant rise in the number of anti-Muslim incidents in Britain as a result of the attack in Woolwich.
Meanwhile, hateful messages have been posted on social media websites. The Welsh Defence League’s Facebook page boasted a picture of the aftermath of the shocking murder with the message: “Still believe Islam is the religion of peace? How many more have to die to disprove the lie?”
I know people who so outraged with the incident  that they copied this appalling message  . But they are wrong very wrong . You cannot blame all Muslims for what a small number who have a skewed view of the faith as you cannot blame all Christians for the action of what you would consider religious nutters in the USA.
Muslims collecting flowers in Birmingham city centre for the fallen soldier Lee Rigby

Wales Online quote a Swansea solicitor Mamuna Farooq condemned Wednesday’s attack and said the incident has left her scared to go out alone.

Miss Farooq, 27, said:

 “I consider myself to be not just a British Muslim, I would class myself as a Welsh muslim.
“I was born and bred in Wales and would always say my nationality is Welsh, but the religion I follow is Islam.
“I was born and bred in Swansea, have lived in Swansea, studied in Swansea and I’m a solicitor in Swansea. So all my life I’ve been in South Wales.
“I’ve been very fortunate that I’ve never experienced any problems.”
But Miss Farooq, who specialises in Muslim wills at solicitors Douglas-Jones Mercer, added: “I have to admit that I do feel very conscious and won’t in the near future be going out on my own.
“I believe there are certain individuals who have been very upset at the incident that took place in Woolwich and they may want to vent their frustrations on a Muslim.”
Miss Farooq, who wears Islamic headdress, says she feels more vulnerable because her clothing singles her out as an easy target.
The solicitor added: “I try my best to fit in to Welsh society as much as I possibly can, but obviously your religious identity is one that when you are wearing a head scarf can’t be concealed.
“Also I want to maintain my identity at the same time just the same as any other young Welsh person.”

We must resist not only the minority of Muslims who support  the appalling atrocity in Woolwich; But  they do not speak for Islam, and Racist like the English Defence League and it spin off the so called "Welsh Defence League do it no way speak for us.

They are in many ways similar, filled with hate against  our society and probably share ironically the same anti-liberal ideology.

When I think of the Two Welsh Girls I saw at the Millennium stadium I hope that that do not suffer the hate of those who use Woolwich as an excuse for they racist Islamophobia.

Saturday, 25 May 2013

Sally Bercow shows everyone should be careful .

Only this week whilst web searching  foe this Blog I almost included a piece that was potentially libellous because it seems there were two Conservatives in Wales with the same name.  So It ocurred to me that the recent  libel verdict against  Sally Bercow  after the high court ruled that she defamed the Tory peer Lord McAlpine by falsely suggesting on Twitter that he was a paedophile is a lesson for us al
The Commons Speaker's wife had always defended her tweet – "Why is Lord McAlpine trending? *innocent face*" – about the former Tory treasurer in November last year, following allegations on BBC 2's Newsnight about an unnamed high-profile politician and immediate speculation on the Social Media  ended with  Mr Justice Tugendhat, ruled that the tweet was seriously defamatory of McAlpine and had falsely tarred him as a paedophile.
He said in his judgment:
 "I find that the tweet meant, in its natural and ordinary defamatory meaning, that the claimant was a paedophile who was guilty of sexually abusing boys living in care. If I were wrong about that, I would find that the tweet bore an innuendo meaning to the same effect."
Its  a lesson for us all . There may have been many worse accusations and even clearer liable by other Social media users but it seems  unless McAlbine ,seeks to pursue them she was singled out for her  media prominence.

So unless McAlpine ,solicitors are now firing of letters to be firing of letters to other social media users demanding some kind of settlement  this unfortunate affair which resulted in a innocent man accused  of a crime which carries a huge social stigma may end.

It shows the difference between Libel and Slander. Worst may be said in the workplace or pub but when it is in print it is not only easier to prove but open to far larger numbers.

However what this case shows is that everyone should be  careful of making speculations  or repeating it,

However it also shows that  the likes of McAlpine  has the wealth to to seek redress in the courts or simply the use of aggressive lawyers who can force apologies and redress with a single letter.

Saly Bercow  may have innocently thought it was  McAlpine who was the unnamed politician  following allegations on BBC 2's Newsnight but she got it wrong and should have apologised immediately .

Meanwhile the doors of the High Cpirt remain open for the rich or who are backed by their employers .Whilst closed to the rest of us unless we are defendants.

Meanwhile the rest of us will have to put up with even more implicit accusation that came from Sally Bercow ,and be very careful of what we say about those with money even in cases where our accusations are accurate .

Friday, 24 May 2013

Trucking Justice.

Imagine for some reason you need to go to court and also need Legal Aid  and found that you couldn't turn to a Solicitor who you knew and trusted but found that one was appointed for you.

Imagine your reaction if that Solicitor came from the same Company as Eddie Stobart trucking According to the Guardian

Apparently what may be on this what  when new rules on Legal Aid come into force

"The subsidiary of the haulage firm Eddie Stobart has emerged as a leading contender in bidding for a new generation of criminal legal aid contracts that would deprive defendants of the right to choose their own solicitor.
Lawyers are planning protests outside parliament in opposition to the Ministry of Justice's proposals, which aim to cut fees, reduce funding of judicial reviews and save a further £220m out of the legal aid budget.
The row within the legal profession over the plans is intensifying. The head of Stobart Barristers has described traditional law firms who rely on legal aid as "'wounded animals waiting to die
Guardian 8th May 2013  
Eddie Stobart

Trevor Howarth, its legal director, said the firm would be bidding for the new criminal defence contracts. "We can deliver the service at a cost that's palatable for the taxpayer," he said. 
"Our business model was developed with this in mind.
"We at Stobart are well known for taking out the waste and the waste here is the duplication of solicitors going to the courtroom. At the moment there are 1,600 legal aid firms; in future there will be 400. At Stobart, we wouldn't use 10 trucks to deliver one product."
Howarth said he had received emails from solicitors with the heading "Truck Off". He added
: "I have already taken calls from barristers [on our panels] who say they have been contacted by solicitors telling them they won't use them again if they take instructions from us."
On removing a defendant's right to choose their solicitor, Howarth said: "I don't think the lack of choice is damaging. [People are not] entitled to access justice with an open cheque. No one is stopping them paying for their own choice of solicitor."

Soliciters in Wales have warned that  UK Government changes to legal aid will result in miscarriages of justice and the closure of high street

Members of the legal profession lobbied the Wales Office about the impact they claim cost-saving proposals from the Ministry of Justice will have on people throughout the nation.

Mark Davies of Swansea-based Goldstones Solicitors, said:

“This is going to have a devastating impact on high street firms.”
The Wasting Mule tells is that.

It is planned that 21 contracts will be awarded to provide legal aid criminal services in Wales – nine in South Wales and four each in Dyfed-Powys, Gwent and North Wales.

Describing the challenges of serving Dyfed-Powys, he said:

“It’s 4,700 square miles. It’s a huge area.
“To put that into context, if you get arrested in Newtown and the lawyer that has the contract is based in Haverfordwest, it’s going to take over two and a half hours just to get that lawyer over there and back; it’s a 130 mile round-trip.”
“What we are going to have is effectively the death of the high street firm.”

Western Mail 21st May 2013

Lynda Roberts of Porthmadog-based Breese Gwyndaf Solicitors feared that today’s standards of Welsh language provision would disappear if services are provided by a few large companies.

Ms Roberts is also alarmed that in most criminal cases clients will lose the ability to change their representation.

Describing the importance of ensuring that people in Welsh speaking areas could access advice in their first language, she said

: “Client choice is paramount... The provision of advice is essential in the Welsh language in those areas.

Speaking in the Commons, Conservative Justice Secretary Chris Grayling said:

 “ I have absolutely no intention of ending up with a legal aid market dominated by a small number of very large firms.
"A central part of the tendering process will involve a quality threshold that ensures that we have the quality of advocacy and litigation support in this country that we need and expect.”
He added: “We must ensure that every defendant, innocent or guilty, has access to a proper defence. We also need a system that is affordable at a time of great financial stringency.”
The Fear is that (though some will say the definite result) is that the changes will be on Legal aid will be defended by young inexperienced  solicitor  and there will be increased miscarriages of justice  through inept defence or the firm with an eye on the costs will persuade defendants  to plead guilty

How many MPs and Lords who support this measure have or (ever will) needed Legal Aid ?

This is truly frighting move that could see a further difference between those who can afford a decent defence and a difference between acquittal rates   based on ability to pay.

Thursday, 23 May 2013

Royal Glamorgan Hospital is this leading to downgrading?

The Royal Glamorgan hospital in Llantrisant   sometimes called The Camilla  because it comes between  the Prince Wales in Merthyr and the Princess of Wales hospital in Bridgend  could stop treating the most serious accident and emergency cases as part of a major NHS shake-up in south Wales.

Health officials say the "best fit" is to locate specialist services in Cardiff, Swansea, Merthyr, Bridgend and in a new hospital near Cwmbran.

The Royal Glamorgan also stands to lose consultant-led maternity care and specialist baby care as part of the proposals for the future of hospitals in South Wales.

The plans involve:

  • Consultant-led maternity care (obstetrics)
  • Specialist baby care (neonatal)
  • Specialist children's care (paediatrics)
  • Emergency medicine (A&E)
Start QuoteDr Grant Robinson Aneurin Bevan Health Board medical director announced:
 "We cannot continue to provide all these services in every location across south Wales.
"We need to concentrate these services to ensure all patients receive safe and sustainable care.
"Our clinicians believe that the best way to do this, while improving safety and the standard of care patients receive, is to concentrate these clinical services in fewer hospitals - either four or five."
"We need to concentrate these services to ensure all patients receive safe and sustainable care."Our clinicians believe that the best way to do this, while improving safety and the standard of care patients receive, is to concentrate these clinical services in fewer hospitals - either four or five.""We need to concentrate these services to ensure all patients receive safe and sustainable care."Our clinicians believe that the best way to do this, while improving safety and the standard of care patients receive, is to concentrate these clinical services in fewer hospitals - either four or five."

At the moment eight hospitals in the region provide one or more of these services.
The centres would include the University Hospital of Wales (UHW) in Cardiff, Morriston Hospital near Swansea and a new hospital at Llanfrechfa Grange near Cwmbran.
We need to concentrate these services to ensure all patients receive safe and sustainable care.”
Aneurin Bevan Health Board (ABMU) medical director Dr Grant Robinson said:

Would he be saying this if it was a Hospital in his health board that  that was affected by the proposed changes in the same way as "The Camilla?

Like Dr Robinson, I may have a bias here because "The Camilla"is my nearest Hospital.

But I believe that we need to examine the implication of changes.

At the moment we do not need  know If  the most serious accident and emergency cases are to be taken from the Royal Glamorgan, What difference in time will it make in the time it takes an inured person to hospital and will result in serious injured people taking longer to be taken to A and E.

Assuming that those attending Maternity Units may not have access to their own transport  was  taken into consideration  by those drawing up the proposals  and are reliant on public transport. What difference in the most extreme case will it make in those affected. Could it mean that pregnant women  could end up making more than two journeys by public transport?

Is this going to be the end of the the removal of services from The Royal Glamorgan or is it just the start and the Hospital will end up being downgraded?

The suspicion is that  after a few cuts the public will come to be used to them and slowly but surely "The Camilla "will be downgrade.

I believe this just the start and we cant trust assurances from Politicians and NHS managers who seem to only look at figures and a map and don't take into account the disadvantage some of the people they represent will be placed in

Wednesday, 22 May 2013

Porthcawl a Ukip stronghold? Maybe not.

News from the Wasting Mule that Two former Welsh Conservative candidates have defected to UKIP, is interesting.

Both are however from the same area and therefore the Mules claims that this is signs of a surge of support for the 

Caroline Jones, who last October stood as Tory candidate in the election of a Police and Crime Commissioner, said she had resisted an attempt by Welsh Conservative leader Andrew RT Davies to get her to stay with his party.

Ms Jones, a café owner from Porthcawl who joined the Conservatives in 2009, stood for the party in Aberavon at the general election in 2010 and in Gower at the National Assembly election in 2011.

Another former Welsh Conservative candidate from Porthcawl, Chris Smart, has also joined UKIP. A right wing Tory, he was second on the party’s South Wales West regional list at the Assembly election in 2007.

If Alun Cairns had resigned his Assembly seat after being elected MP for Vale of Glamorgan in 2010, Mr Smart would automatically have become an AM. the Conservative home page states that he was a former Leader of Porthcawl Town Council.

In 2008 held his Newton seat in May’s elections by just 14 votes, was declared bankrupt on June 6 by the High Court of Justice” here

Small wonder that the Tories made every effort to make sure that wasn't drafted into the Assembly by making sure Alun Cairns clung on to his regional

The two defection probably point out the state of membership of the Tory party in Wales rather than a sign of surge of support for Ukip here.

 Caroline Jones who only joined the Conservative party in 2009, and yet stood for the party in Aberavon at the general election  a year later  and in Gower at the National Assembly election in 2011. Before standing  as Tory candidate in the election of a Police and Crime Commissioner

And Chris Smart who had his political ambition thwarted by his own Party because they perceived him as an embarrassment.

If this news tells us anything its the quality of the candidates of both the Tories and Ukip.

Tuesday, 21 May 2013

Finding Myself Agreeing With A Tory.

The news that Parents of children who are regular school truants are to be fined up to £120, seems at first glance a reasonable idea.

The new measures to tackle school absence rates  instigated by the Welsh Assembly come into force in September.

Parents who fail to stop their child missing lessons will be issued a fixed penalty notice of £60, which will double if they fail to pay within 28 days.

Those who ignore the new regulations could end up in court.

Education Minister Leighton Andrews said there was a "general agreement" with his proposals following a public consultation.

His "general agreement" however  doesn't hold water as all three opposition parties  have voiced disquiet over this measure.

Conservative education spokesperson Angela Burns AM said she feared fines would stack up while behaviour remained largely unchanged.

"This is a lazy Labour government piling all its eggs into a basket of punishment at the expense of support and liaison," she said.
"There is a real danger that these fines will hit the most vulnerable hardest and ignore the real reasons behind truancy."

Welsh Liberal Democrat education spokesman Aled Roberts described the Welsh government's decision as counter-productive.

"Evidence shows that children from poorer backgrounds are more likely to play truant and achieve poorer educational outcomes.
"I am concerned that fining parents of truant pupils will cause them even more economic hardship and will do nothing to address the problems of their child missing vital school hours."

Simon Thomas for Plaid Cymru said he backed policies to support pupils and families to tackle truancy, rather than introduce fines.

"Introducing fixed penalty notices are a retrograde step," .
"They have not worked when they were introduced in England. The education minister needs to state where any money raised will go."
It comes to something when all three opposition parties take a sensible approach ' 

The problem is that even if the parents frogmarch their children to school  there is no guarantee they stay there.

As one parent  Suzanne Lewis has a suspended prison sentence over daughter Shauna's school attendance record.said back in March on the BBC Week in Week out programe which dealt with the problem said.
 "They want to see me getting her to the school gates. That's what we've done.
"We've got up in the morning, taken her to the school and then we've had phone calls [to] pick her back up, perhaps an hour after.
"She won't go into class with the other children and she will not do any work. I'll most probably end up in prison because of it."
Shauna said: "Mam shouldn't be going through that really because it's not her fault why all this has happened.
"I do feel guilty sometimes. I was scared in case they put her in prison because I don't know what I'd do without my mam."

If a parent has done every thing possible to get their children to school how can fining them especially if they are on very low income help matters?.

What about the parents of children who are truant because of persistent bullying? Should they be fined?

Couldn't it lead to child abuse as the parents physically take it out on the errant child?

This another example of Leighton Andrews way of doing things . He believes that it is more important to appear dynamic and decisive rather than do the right thing which may nor grab the headlines.

Once again we have a policy that will not solve the problem but is aimed at convincing the public that the Assembly government are doing something.

What we need is to carry on talking to parents and children to find the reason for their truancy and address it 

As the NUT Cymru policy officer Owen Hatchway pointed out:
 "We know that persistent truancy is a problem for schools.
"However, this is an issue where substantial progress is being made. The latest figures show record levels of attendance in the primary sector and significant improvements in attendance in secondary schools.
"Whilst no one should rest on their laurels, the union is concerned that the introduction of truancy fines could have a counterproductive impact and undermine the good work being undertaken."

When you find yourself agreeing with the words "This is a lazy Labour government piling all its eggs into a basket of punishment at the expense of support and liaison,"  and realising that came from a Tory . There's something seriously wrong with Labours proposals.

Update 3:00PM

Not only am I agreeing with a Tory  I find  Liberal Aled  Roberts has shown that Leighton Andrews claim there was a "general agreement" with his proposals following a public consultation was totally misleading.
There were just 53 responses to this consultation, including only 12 of the 22 Welsh local authorities, along with 16 schools/headteachers and 12 parents/carers. Of those 53, only just over half – 55% – agreed with the penalty notice option.
It is appalling that a senior minister can attempt to claim major support for his measures when he clearly hasn't.

Monday, 20 May 2013

So what about Blaenau Gwent Leighton?

News from the Mule that "Plaid Cymru has called on education minister Leighton Andrews to “front up” and take responsibility for the failure of council school services" reflects  what I commented on yesterday that "Wales need the News to cover Leighton Andrews not Michael Gove".

This news  follows the publication of a damning report into standards at Blaenau Gwent council, which remains “unsatisfactory” despite 18 months of external support and monitoring.

Education watchdog Estyn said officers and school leaders had not been held to account effectively and a “lack of competence” at all levels hampers progress.

Blaenau Gwent is one of six councils in Wales to have required “special measures” and a wide-ranging review of education delivery has considered removing school services from local government control.

Plaid Cymru’s education spokesman Simon Thomas said the “catastrophic failure” to raise standards in Blaenau Gwent called for urgent action.

He called on Mr Andrews to tell parents and teachers how he proposes to turn the situation around.

Mr Thomas said:
 “The failure of the education minister to get to grips with our education system is a cause for national concern. The catastrophic failure to raise standards in Blaenau Gwent proves that major changes need to be made.
“The minister is adept at ordering numerous reviews, but what we need now is real action. He needs to tell us what exactly he is going to do to turn education services around. He needs to tell worried parents and teachers how he intends to raise standards.
“The minister has told us that he intends to set up new regional bodies, and this needs to happen sooner rather than later. We need to see the minister actually taking responsibility for what has gone wrong in our education system.”
Mr Thomas said Welsh Labour had been in charge of education in Wales since devolution – and the minister could no longer point the finger of blame.
“The failures in Blaenau Gwent happened on his watch, and under his control. He now needs to front up and tell us how he will right this failure,” 
“The fact that educational standards have declined in Blaenau Gwent since the minister intervened shows that for all his bluster he still hasn’t got a grip on the system.”
Western Mail 20 May 2013 

We must be fair to Labour controlled Balenau Gwent  they  have only been back in control of the council after  four years pg Independent/People's Voice/Liberal Democrat Coalition  and that is hardly time to see results of any changes they have made.

Having said that the decline there has come after many years under their watch.

1991 - Labour hold
1995 - Labour hold
1999 - Labour hold
2004 - Labour hold
2008 - Independent/People's Voice/Liberal Democrat Coalition
2012 - Labour  from Independent Coalition

It must be said  however that it does look like Leighton Andrews may be reluctant to take action on a Labour Council which will probably remain in power for decades .

Former headteacher  Bethan  Guilfoyle ,was drafted into the authority in 2011 alongside a broader Welsh Government taskforce that has since been scaled back.

Was this because improvements were appearing or that it would be embarrassing for commissioners  to be sent in to a Labour controlled authority by a Welsh Labour Government.

Mr Andrews has taken steps to merge the education departments of  Rhondda Cynon Taf council with tho now Labour controlled ailing Merthyr Tydfil, however the latter could well slip back to control.of other parties and Independents.

What we need is a thorough investigation into how education practises are conducted by councils  throughout Wales but any investigation must take into account social deprivation and parental involvement  in the education of their system.

A school may have the best teachers but if the children's parents had a negative education  experience they are often likely not to take an interest and contribute to their children interest.

Perhaps we should look beyond  the schools to the wider environmental. 

Sunday, 19 May 2013

Wales need the News to cover Leighton Andrews not Michael Gove.

On the part that of today's the Sunday Politics which the BBC graciously  "cuts to news from where you are" and provide us with some news of Wales, Assembly presiding Officer  Rosemary Butler  will  she was worried that people in Wales were not hearing or reading enough about matters in their own country.

She said:
We are sleepwalking into this area in 10 years' time where people are not going to be able to access news about what's happening in Wales”

"My concern is that the majority of people in Wales don't get their news from Wales, they get their news from across the English border and therefore it tends to be English-centric,"

Ms Butler said she believed that this was damaging for democracy.

"Very few people relatively watch BBC Wales or ITV Wales compared with UK news and Sky television. Therefore they are not getting a full flavour of what's happening here in the National Assembly.
"It's the same with newspapers here in Wales, we don't have a major national newspaper and the number of people reading Welsh newspapers is actually reducing.
"It's very important that the people of Wales have plurality of where they can get information about what's happening at the assembly.

"My concern is that we are sleepwalking into this area in 10 years' time where people are not going to be able to access news about what's happening in Wales."

One way would be that help.  Would be for  BBC Wales  to run its own  main news  at six combining Wales Today with UK and International News.

S4C already do this and BBC can use the same clips as the London Broadcast but choosing to comment on areas devolved to Wales eg: Health and Education.

This Week much time has been given to Michael Gove the Westminster Education Secretary clashing with the National Association of Head Teachers. But Gove  is only responsible with Education in England 

For Instance 

At a Rally for Education was the third of a series of gatherings held across England and Wales jointly by the Nasuwt and NUT unions in the hope of “defending” the education of children and young people. and Two leading teachers' unions called on the Welsh Government to tackle the problems facing the education sector in Wales. and called "Welsh solutions for Welsh schools”.

 Nasuwt General Secretary Chris Keate said more than 50% of teachers in Wales have considered leaving the profession all together, 81% feel professionally disempowered and 99% have no confidence in the government’s educational policy.

“You’ve got a profession in crisis and the [education] minister has got to start to listen and he has got to look for Welsh solutions for Welsh schools,” Mrs Keates said.
“We want change so that teachers can get on with the job of teaching.”

Speaking to an audience in Cardiff’s Motorpoint Arena, Mrs Keates  said that during a time when “savage” austerity measures were taking their toll on the education system, Wales should be “celebrating the positive difference” that comes from having devolved powers.

But instead, she said, the country remains subservient to Westminster and while policies in Wales “may have different names on the tin, there is a frightening degree of commonality behind the manner of their introduction and their impact on the workforce and children and young people”.

Westminster’s coalition government was also heavily criticised as Mrs Keates claimed nothing good had come from there since May 2010, the month it came into power.

But she also criticised home grown Welsh policies, blasting the new school banding system, a shift toward the Pisa assessment system and the national pay framework that she said was being “hacked to pieces”.

“Pay has been frozen, pensions raided, jobs lost,” she said.
“Teacher morale is at an all-time low. The profession is in crisis. What the Westminster coalition chooses to ignore is that teachers’ pay and conditions are inextricably linked to the entitlement of children and young people to be taught by those who are recognised and rewarded as highly skilled professionals and who have working conditions which enable them to work effectively and focus on teaching and learning.”

In a message to Wales’ education minister, Mrs Keates said: 

If Leighton Andrews fails to seize the political opportunity we are offering him and the rolling programme of strike action spreads in the Autumn term to Wales, then he will have to take responsibility alongside Michael Gove.
“It will be the failure of Leighton Andrews and Michael Gove – not the failure of the teachers.”

We need this to have been the major focus on Education in Wales not Gove being hecked by the NAHT.

We need Welsh Solutions to Welsh problems but we need a media to report  and analyse it. 

Having a report on the BBC on education which simply sees thinks can add "in England" makes it clears this does not apply to Wales, Northern Ireland, or Scotland that this does not affect them it is snmal wonder that our Assembly is not held up to the scrutiny and criticism that it needs.

When people vote in Assembly elections voters need to consider amongst  other factors how Schools  have fared under Leighton Andrews in Cardiff, not how English Schools have fared under Michael Gove at Westminster

Saturday, 18 May 2013

Farage more than meets his match in Salmond.

The media it seems have made no attempt actually t find the make up of the demonstration that met Ukip leader Nigel visit to Edinburgh '

As far as I can make out the demonstration was an organisation called Radical Independents.

Apparently one of the two arrested was English so it may ell have been a mixture of activist  and not has Farage  claimed of Nationalists and certainly not the SNP.

As one of the protesters clearly stated it was Farage's politics  they were addressing when he said

"We don't mind Immigrants coming here but we don't want you."

Others told him the Union Jack was not their flag

Farage told BBC Scotland the incident was deeply racist and displayed a total hatred of the English.

Mr Farage then called on Scottish National Party leader Alex Salmond to condemn the behaviour. But he might as well called on all the leaders at Holyrood to do so.

Mr Farage later hung up during a telephone interview with the Good Morning Scotland programme on BBC Radio Scotland after being pressed about his lack of knowledge of Scottish politics and the low level of support for his party north of the border.

He later described the interview as "insulting"

Perhaps the fawning of the London media including the BBC who have failed to robustly question him on his polices and seem content to concentrate showing as a man of the people with a pint in his hand  (does he ever finish one, or is he permanently pissed?)  has gone to his head.

He seems to believe ha is above criticism 

Perhaps  the BBC should for instance should ask Mr Farage 

. "Why he should be visiting Edinburgh pf his knowledge of   Scottish politics  and  why he wasn't in t Aberdeen, where a Scottish Parliament by-election is taking place which apparently the reason for  his visit".

Still its interesting to ponder that Farage may have an agenda here 

Realising that he party has little chance in Scotland he may want to  pander to English Nationalist sentiment resentful of Scotland and who only see the cross of St George in the Union flag.

We can only hope that this week  exposes this  so called  "Man of the people" for the little Englander he is Man of the People! Don''t make me laugh.

 He's a public school educated prat sort of Thatcherite we despised in the 80's and 90's.

Its about time the Media stated to scrutinise him fully and grill him on his policies he has been given a easy ride by the BBC in particular  at times the Politics show looks like an advert for Ukips polices. With Andrew Neil, chief cheerleader.

Friday, 17 May 2013

Voter Apathy looms large.

In interviews with 1,128 people the BC found that found that 22% of people could name their own MP, compared with 38% in 2011.

Which is somewhat odd in that for the vast majority its the same person . Though the 2011 result came after one year after a General Election its a big drop and suggest few MPs have a close link with the electorate and the much vaunted argument that First Past the Post (FPTP) enhances any link does nit hold water.

The report suggests many people were "disenchanted" with politics, with the proportion saying they would not vote doubling from 10% in 2011 to 20%. 

The public's self-declared likelihood to vote is the lowest recorded since the audit series began 10 years ago.

This may be confusing in that the turn out at the 2010 General Election had a Turnout of 65.1% and saw a rise . It looks like turnout may depend on whether there's a possibility that there may be a change in government.

1974 Oct72.872.676.674.867.7
1974 Feb78.879807969.9

Source: House of Commons Research Papers 01/37, 01/54, 05/33 & 10/36.

For many people there would appear to be no point in voting if the party they supported had no chance in winning .Only votes in a marginal seats count for a huge number of voters their votes a re irrelevant as they would not count . A Labour voter in Surrey for instance will probably never see their candidate elected  the same thing goes for a Tory in the Rhondda

Uk '971.png
1997 General Election

Even the 1997 General Election with the Labour Landslide left the South East of England largely blue

However despite the best efforts of Politicians it is clear that a great deal of the public are disengaged totally from politics 

Despite the prominence of the eurozone crisis and the debate on the UK's EU membership

  •  57% of people did not correctly identify the fact that Britons elect members to the European Parliament.
  • 33% of people believed peers were elected.
  • 41% of the public say they are certain to vote in the event of a general election, compared with 48% last year and 58% two years ago
  • 12% of 18-24 year olds say they are absolutely certain to vote - down from 22% last year and 30% two years ago
  • 58% of people are still not prepared to vote even "if they felt strongly enough about an issue"
  • 23% are satisfied with the way that MPs generally are doing their job - compared with 29% in 2010.

Some of the figures bucked the trend and revealed closer engagement
  • 47% of the public say they would like to be involved in local decision-making - up from 38% from last year
  • 47% also agree that Parliament "holds government to account" - again up from 38% last year.

Which is worrying but  it suggest that people are not engaging in pol tics and that  we need to find a way to get more people engaged .

Perhaps we can't  but a change in the voting system to STV may make peoples vote more relevant and therefore engage them more.It may wel be that it suits Labour in the Tories not only to have FPTP but also to have those who might vote against them not bother to do so.

I suppose the problem  I share with those who read this Blog  is we can't understand how people don't share our interest . I bet you all can name your MP.