Saturday, 31 August 2013

There is no "Special Relationship"

I've mentioned before ho much I enjoyed Clair Wilis' brilliant book on (That Neutral Island) on Ireland neutrality during the Second World war.

One of the interesting things that come out of it the hostility given to the infant republic after the US joined the War against the Axis powers . There s a good PHD thesis there for someone.

The same could be said about US  attitudes to France  who have been transformed almost overnight from " Cheese Eating surrender Monkeys to their "Oldest Ally" ( which is historically true"

The Daily Mail manages to get into a right old state over this with a sub lines

Kerry cozies up to America's 'oldest ally' FRANCE and snubs humiliated British as he seeks support for strike on Syria 

  • John Kerry made no mention of England in his White House speech Friday  
  • President Obama makes coded swipe at the UK's decision not to join in
  • Parliament has refused to back British involvement in military action
  • U.S.-France relations go back to 1778 Treaty of Alliance against Great Britain in American Revolution
Daily Mail 31 August 2013
Of course the  Mail has a problem in distinguishing between England and the UK but perhaps its worth it if only for the BU media to realise the "Special Relationship" is a myth.

The US is a bit like a rich Uncle bestowing favours on Nephew and Nieces if they fawn up to him or threaten to cut one off from his Will if they fail to do so.

Its time all the governments in the World told the US that their dictate of "If you are not with us you are against us " is not on and that a true friend is not someone who always agrees with you but will tell you  when you are behaving like an ass.

But we must also take in to account that this weeks vote against an immediate military action is not about  pleasing  or displeasing the US its what our parliamentarians on behalf of the people of these Island think what is morally right.

When John Kerry ass "What we in the world are going to do about Syria",  the reply should be what ever our democratically elected representatives decide not you.

Friday, 30 August 2013

Syria is not about the UK position as a world power.

What ever your opinion on whether the UK should take some form of Military action in Syria surely it should be about the moral question and not about the UK.s standing in the world or the "Special Relationship" with the USA.

The fact that David Cameron has been forced  to definitively ruled out British involvement in any military action against Syria after the government lost a crucial vote in the House of Commons which was designed to help pave the way for a possible intervention. seems to have enraged some of the supporters of Intervention .because it appears to somehow diminish the UK as world power.
It may a devastating blow to his authority, the prime minister lost a government motion by 272 votes to 285 – an opposition majority of 13 – after dozens of Tory MPs joined forces with Labour.
it is thought that 30 Tory MPs rebelled. 
Ministers had thought they were secure after a Labour amendment was defeated, in the first vote of the night, by 332 votes to 220, a government majority of 112.

It is clear that many MPs had leaned the lesson of IRAQ n  and the dodgy dossier
Although we are told he US had incontrovertible proof the regime of Bashar al-Assad was responsible for attacking the rebel town of Ghouta with chemical weapons, and that the substance involved was undoubtedly sarin gas  there can be no definitive conformation until the UN completes it investigation.

There is a civil war going on Syria Indeed throughout the middle easr

 Click to enlarge. Each color represents an ethnic or religious group. (The Gulf/2000 Project at Columbia University).

Syria is run by Alawites, a minority sect of Islam whose members include President Bashar al-Assad and many in his inner circle. They’re indicated in a greyish green, clustered near the Mediterranean coast. Although Alawites make up only 12 percent of the Syrian population, they are playing a crucial role in the war, fighting to prop up Assad’s regime.
A further explanation can be seen here.
It is not a simple case of the Assad Regime Bad rebels good and some of the actions of the Rebels have been as Babaric as that of Assads followers.
Military Invention in Libya  clearly helped the rebels there to overthrow Gadaffi but even if the Rebels were to win in Syria . What guarantee do we have a even more brutal civil war will break out.amongst the rebel fractions?
We and the USA are not the Worlds policemen and we can't go on deciding amongst ourselves who are the good guys and who are the bad  and removing the latter.
If Britain standing in the world was diminished last night, the position of democratic accountability in these islands  was enhanced.

Wednesday, 28 August 2013

Another PCC is in trouble But ignores it.

With one police and crime commissioner (PCC) (Winston Roddick)  under Investigation for allegedly  misleading  the electorate as he was living outside of his respective force area on the day he was elected to the post in November another Ian Johnson, the PCC for Gwent  says he did not  get a fair hearing when he appeared before a committee of MPs.

Gwent PCC Ian Johnston has been accused of bullying Carmel Napier, Gwent's chief Constable  into retiring in June.

He claimed he was made to look like a villain by the Home Affairs Select Committee, which questioned both of them over what had happened.

The committee said he had a "disdainful attitude" to parliamentary scrutiny".
But Mr Johnston told BBC Wales he believed the MPs had already decided what they were going to write before he appeared in front of them in July.

He said:

 "I don't think they listened at all to the evidence, I think the way the questioning went they had made their mind up about lots of things.
"If you look at the way that it was done, I was the villain of the piece before I even went in there and Carmel Napier was this poor unfortunate woman who had been bullied by this new police and crime commissioner.
"That was the way they presented it."

 In its report Mr Johnston was slated by the committee for what they called "this disdainful attitude towards scrutiny by Parliament, as well as an indication of a clear over-sensitivity to criticism".

They pointed out that Mr Johnston had been elected by less than 8% of voters in Gwent and "had managed to side-step the statutory arrangements for local scrutiny of his decision to sack the chief constable".

However, Mr Johnston said he believes the commissioners are "not accountable to members of Parliament".

If the PC are not accountable to members of Parliament then who are they accountable to?

Well probably the the Justice Minister or Home Secretary but it is essential that Parliment can scrutinise the PCCs especially as the in the case of  Mr Johnstone appears to have abused his powers and it is still unclear what they extend to.

He seems to have gone to the Willie John Mcbride school of "get your retaliation in first" 

A man accused of bulling now claims he is being bullied .

Despite only 8% of the people of Gwent voting for him including one Polling Station having Zero number of people turn up, he thinks he has a mandate to do as he likes . 

I always though the whole PCC exercise was farcical . I didn't know it was a going to be threat to democratic scrutiny well.

Monday, 26 August 2013

PCC Winston Roddick under investigation

The new Police and Crime Commissioners have  not started well.  Already we have stories if abuse of powers.  

Now we have allegations that two of them ,Winston Roddick and Hampshire PCC Simon Hayes face investigation by the Independent Police Complaints Commission after it is alleged they were living outside of their respective force areas on the day they were elected to the post in November

Winston Roderick has already come under controversy  after his victory in North Wales . When he dismissed claims that he hid his membership of the Liberal Democrats by standing as an Independent.

The Independent Police Complaints Commission confirmed it was in the early stages of investigating Winston Roddick  following  a “referral” about alleged electoral fraud.

It is claimed that Mr Roddick,  a QC and a former leader of the Wales and Chester judicial circuit, listed his brother’s house in Caernarfon in a nomination form for last November’s PCC election, when his main home is 160 miles away the Welsh capital. Under electoral regulations, candidates must live within the force border on polling day.
Mr Roddick has insisted that he acted in a  “right and proper” way.

Plaid Cymru MP Elfyn Llwyd, the party’s legal affairs spokesman and a barrister, said
: “As a supporter of his, who remains a supporter, I believe it’s proper for the matter to be investigated although I take the view that it is a very minor matter and of very little consequence.”
Well minor it may be: But if it its true then we have a person who has been elected to defend Law and order who has deceived the electorate.

So what can the outcome be if the allegations are true should Mr Roddick resign?

Well it depends on the Independent Police Complaints Commission report  but Mr Roddick  may  have to resign and there will be a By-election.

Last Time  on a paltry 14.83 turn out Roddick defeated Tal Michael in the second round run off.

Second round



Final total



Winston Roddick
Tal Michael

First round



1st pref


2nd pref

Winston Roddick
Tal Michael
Colm McCabe
Richard Hibbs
Warwick Nicholson

By-elections usually have a fall in turnout . How low a turnout can there be before the whole process becomes invalid?
Wil Tal Michael run again after his humiliation in the recent Ynys Mon by-election or will it be another Independent that comes through ?

Frankly the best  thing we can do is scrap the whole idea of PCC altogether

Saturday, 24 August 2013

WAG in a Pickle.

Most people who follow a sport team will find fault with their side and often express it strongly but woe betide a supporter of any other side who dares to express similar opinions.

So news that English Local Government Secretary, Eric Pickles, yesterday when warning that freedom of speech and independent journalism were under attack in local government, following local residents being threatened with arrest for filming and reporting meetings is interesting because how do we react?.

He then took the opportunity to point out that the Welsh government had “rebuffed” the suggestion that the same approach should be taken to open up council meetings in Wales as is being pushed by himself in England in England

Pickles is right to criticise the Welsh Assembly Government for not taking action but he is wrong to do so when issuing plans for England.

It looks like he believes that he somehow he has still some power over this issue in Wales and the press release issued by HMC seems to suggest this

In a letter to Pickles his Welsh counterpart Lesley Griffiths says it was ...

'entirely inappropriate' for Mr Pickles to intervene on a devolved matter; that it was 'discourteous' to make the letter public and that it was an 'extremely surprising and totally unacceptable interference by the UK Government in the Welsh political sphere.'

She has a point. If Pickles made the criticism In parliament to a Labour questioner asking him to act quicker on this issue then it would be OK. but for a Minister to criticise a devolved power is wrong.

We do not see English Ministers telling their counterparts in Scotland how to conduct themselves and yet in Wales (even when their criticism is valid) they behave like colonial masters interfering in the local government.

If there is to be criticism by the Tories of the Welsh Assembly Government on blocking of the democratic rights of local residents being threatened with arrest for filming and reporting meetings should it not be coming from their leader in the Assembly or even the Welsh Secretary and not from a Minister who has no responsibility here even though he thinks he has.

Friday, 23 August 2013

Not on the Internet and seeking work is tough

As you may have noticed I haven't been Blogging as often as I normally like over the last few weeks mainly due to my 12 year old computer packing up.

Fortunately thanks to the efforts of friends and families I am back on line .

The period has however shown me how much the Internet has entered my life and how dependent I am on it.

It also reminded me how much people may be loosing out if they can't enter the Internet regularly

For Job seekers it is now not only necessary but compulsory.

If you are on jobseekers allowance you now have have to use Universal Job Match  UJJM and not only refer to it but register  and  regularly log on.

You have to have a CV and in reality using Microsoft Word ( it won't take open Office).

Even then as I found out the CV you upload ends up Unjustified . I had been spending Weeks sending of my CV via this method to potential employers before I discovered  the Glitch.  I mist have looked like a very poor applicant to Human resource Managers and reduced to bottom of the pile along with others who applied through UJM .

Also according to an article in Private Eye if you chose not to make your CV on UJM searchable it sent blank pages to the potential employers!

According to the Jobcenter you should treat this and other job searches as full time employment as full time and spend as much time as you would if you were fully employed about 35 hours a week doing this.

This is fine if you have access to your own computer and the Internet though it tends to get a bit soul destroying going through Employment Agency after Employment Agency only to find no suitable Jobs (or any) in your  travel to work ates (90 minutes each way)...

But if you don't have a computer or yours crashes you are still expected to regularly  use the Internet and
use the facilities in the jobcenter if they are available or your local library.

As I found despite the wonderful support of the Beddau Librarian my local Library is only open part time and competition for access can be intense especially during the Summer Holidays and it could be expensive to travel to your local jobcenter everyday to log on.

The point is that for the long term unemployed it could be a Catch 22 situation they can't afford a computer and pay a a ISP a monthly fee on their allowance and its only when they get a full time Job they can really afford to go on-line regally and seek work.

I don't know what the solution is but clearly the idea of job seekers going on line 5 hours a day 7 days a week is unrealistic  a view probably shared with those a t the jobcenter  but which they are not able to state.

Those on Job Seekers allowance must make great efforts when seeking work and use every avenue but it should be realised the obstacles that some might have and not set them targets they can not possibly meet.

Update 3:30 pm

By coincidence there s a article in the Wasting Mule with a A successful Welsh businesswoman labelling Jobcentres “completely useless” claiming she was inundated with applicants who did not really want jobs with her.

How many genuine jobseekers are lost in this mire as people apply for jobs desperate to reach their quota irrespective of their suitability?

What we need is to ensure that people are applying for positions bit realise that the reality of the limited opportunities out there.

Irrespective of the Woman 's experience above . What we need a  real jobs to match real abilities.

Monday, 19 August 2013

Quis custodiet ipsos custodes? again

I wonder if the security forces decided  to  Glenn Greenwald's partner was  at London's Heathrow airport for nearly nine hours, as reported by  the Obsever/Guardian  on Sunday. in yhe safe knowledge that parliament was not sitting and therfore some awkward MP or Lord didn't ask some difficult questions.

David Miranda, who lives with Greenwald in Brazil, was held under a controversial provision of Britain's Terrorism Act that allows police to stop, question and search people without having to prove any reasonable suspicion, and without a lawyer needing to be present. The paper said he was held for the maximum amount of time allowed under the law: 

Miranda was then released without charge, but officials confiscated electronics equipment including his mobile phone, laptop, camera, memory sticks, DVDs and games consoles.
Miranda was coming from Berlin, where, the Guardian said, he had stayed with Laura Poitras, the filmmaker and journalist who, along with Greenwald, has been at the center of the storm surrounding NSA leaker Edward Snowden. Greenwald told the New York Times that the Guardian had paid for Miranda to travel to Berlin so he could give documents to Poitras, and that he was coming home with documents from Poitras.

Who ordered this arrest/detention? Was it our own security forces or were they acting on behalf of the USA?

We live in a democracy, which surly gives us protection when our security forces are breaking he law as Snowden whistle blowing as shown and which we are still probably not fully aware of.

This must be a case of Quis custodiet ipsos custodes? ( who guards the guardians?) and the harresment of someone because he is the partner of someone involved in exposing the wrongdoings of the very people who are detaining him.

Imagine the rection of both USA and UK government if Putin goverment behaved in such away the hypocricy would be blatentent.

But prehaps the real problem here is the silence of the Leader of the oppposition David Milliband  over this it is part of his job to expose and question the government over this and yet he seems happy to ignore this abuse of power.

With the Liiberal Democrats largely silenced by thier coalition partners it means that the opportunity of the "minor parties" to act in defence of our freedoms is limited.

One doubts that a change of government will make the slightest differnce in this abuse of power.

Friday, 16 August 2013

Rod honeymoon with Ukip a short one.

It seems UKIP members are a bit more Independent  than we may have thought.

According to the wasting Mule Richards who only just joined thhe party was completely rejected as a Ukip candidate for next years European Elections.

Mr Richards, who had hoped to stand for the anti-EU party in Wales, said he was left shocked when told he had come eighth out of eight would-be candidates in an assessment exercise undertaken by Ukip officials.

He seems to have believed that the Ukip leader had more or less assured his nomination

He told the Mule

: “I was very interested in standing as a candidate and contacted Nigel Farage last year. He encouraged me to stand and understood that because of my work as an independent political pundit for the BBC it had been difficult for me to join Ukip up until then.
“He told me that would be no problem and arranged for me to meet the chairman of Ukip, Steve Crowther. I met him in Bristol in February and he also encouraged me.
“A couple of weeks ago I took part in a hustings meeting at the Bear Hotel in Cowbridge, where all the candidates spoke. I was also interviewed by the party panel and did an isometric test.
“I’m not being immodest (modesty was never his forte) when I say I have a lot of public speaking experience, and have also been an MP and a Government Minister. I think I performed well on the day.
“I was shocked when I had a phone call from Steve Crowther last Friday and was told I had come eighth out of eight. He told me a lot of people in the party were against me because I had only recently joined – but both he and Nigel Farage had said earlier that wouldn’t be a problem.
“Raising the issue with him in the first place was designed to avoid something like this happening.”
Expressing his dismay at the party leader, Mr Richards added: “When I rang him last Friday he sent me a text saying ‘Will call in a bit’, but I haven’t heard from him since

Western Mail 15 August 20013 (my quotes in black)

 So no comeback for Rod Richards here.

But it  may shows woryring strength of Ukip that they can reject a high profile (if contentious )candidate.

It may be one of the shortest Party memberships ever where next for Rod  the English Democrays?

I'm still having computer problems so my Blog will still be less frequent than normal.

Friday, 2 August 2013

The other Byelectionn last night was also a Plaid win.

Since virtually everyone will be concentrating on Plaids "emphatic win " in the Ynys Mon byelection  I thought that I would concentrate on the Blaidd also holding a seat on Caerphilly Council last night

Although the the Penyrheol by-election result was a within Caerphilly Council has been one of Plaid’s  strongholds in Caerphily they had lost one of the fours seats in the labour landside last year.

.The by-election, which followed the death of the local councillor PLAID Anne Collins, saw the following result:

Steve Skivens (Plaid Cymru) 929
Gareth Pratt (Labour) 554
Jamie Davies (Trade Unionists and Socialists Against Cuts) 173
Cameron Muir-Jones (Conservative) 135

The  seat despite being a stronghold  had however seen Plaid always in some danger  of loosing some of themto Labour
( Thanks to  Elections in Wales for the Info)

 1995: Plaid 1,525, Lab 1,457, Lab 1,398, Lab 1,293, Lab 1,255, Plaid 1,198, Plaid 1,150, Plaid 1,079 (Three Lab WINS, One Plaid WIN)
1999: Plaid 1,924, Plaid 1,687, Plaid 1,672, Plaid 1,491, Lab 1,021, Lab 993, Lab 913, Ind 628 (One Plaid HOLD, Three Plaid GAINS from Lab)
2004: Plaid 1,753, Plaid 1,549, Plaid 1,472, Plaid 1,384, Lab 1,055, Lab 1,048, Lab 1,024, Lab 840, Ind 479 (Four Plaid HOLDS)
2008: Plaid 1,924, Plaid 1,687, Plaid 1,672, Plaid 1,491, Lab 1,021, Lab 993, Lab 913, Ind 628 (Four Plaid HOLDS)
2012: Plaid 1,361, Plaid 1,196, Plaid 1,110, Lab 1,074, Plaid 992, Lab 917, Lab 871, Lab 851, Ind 398, TUSC 174 (Three Plaid HOLDS, One Lab GAIN from Plaid)

Still it shows Plaid may be clawing back some of the votes that it had lost last year.

But both  Ynys Mon and Penyrheol show that Plaid can compete against Labour even as these results come only weeks after a poll that sh ows Labour in Wales firmly ahead.

UK General Election Voting Intention
Labour: 48% (+12%)
Conservative: 23% (-3%)
Lib-Dems: 8% (-12%)
Plaid Cymru: 9% (-2%)
UKIP :8% (+6%)
Others: 4%

National Assembly Election Voting Intention (Constituency Vote)
Labour: 46% (+4%)
Conservative: 19% (-6%)
Lib-Dems: 8% (-3%)
Plaid Cymru: 17% (-2%)
UKIP: 6% (+6%)
Others: 3%

National Assembly Election Voting Intention (Regional List Vote)
Labour: 25% (-12%)
Conservative: 12% (-11%)
Lib-Dems: 9% (+1)
Plaid Cymru: 23% (+5%)
UKIP: 16% (+11%)
Others: 14% (+6%)

Plaids high standing in the region list indicate there are may be a higher number of voters who would support the party if they thought they had a chance of winning.

Plaid desperately need to create that impression last night they may just be beginning to do so.