Thursday, 31 October 2013

Spanish Parties seek to deny Catatonian aspirations.

Whatever you think about the massive power the UK sate has against the Yes campaign in Scotland with a compliant media including the supposedly  unbiased BBC reined against those arguing for a yes vote . At least the SNP with it majority in the Scottish Parliament (even though the voting system was supposed to prevent this) were not prevented from calling for an election.

According to the Blog Nationalia Three out of four Spanish national parties represented in the Congress of Deputies (Parliament's lower chamber) have  passed a motion seeking to prevent Catalonia from calling a referendum on self-determination next year

The rulimg Popular Party (PP) and the main opposition  Socialist Party (PSOE) gave their support to a text introduced by Union, Progress and Democracy (UPyD) party, in which it is said that "in no case, any part of the [Spanish] citizenship can decide on the State's territorial organization, or on any other aspect or provision of the Constitution, excluding the others from this eventual decision". The motion continues by stating that "splitting up the citizenship" or "redefining the subject of national sovereignty, which is none other than the Spanish people", cannot be accepted.

This is basically a denial of Catalonia's right to Self-Determination.

The instigators Union, Progress and Democracy a Spanish political party founded in September 2007.
It isclaims to be a social liberal and federal  party. But  UPyD rejects the non-Spanish nationalisms such as the Basque and Catalan nationalism[ and wants to change the electoral law that allegedly favours regionalist parties from Spain's autonomous communities. Instead, it wants to strengthen the central government and the concept of a unitary Spanish nation.
The party actually has a core in the Basque country but little support there.
It looks like Spanish Nationalism has learned nothing from History.and that it still seeks to deny Catalan and the Basque country its own future playing into the arms of extremist
But the worrying part of this is that there are sections within Spain who will see this as legitimising military action by the Spanish State against the Basque or Catalonians if they chose to vote for independence.
Catalonia and the Basque country are probably more likely to vote for independence than Scotland this sort of action makes it even more certain.

Wednesday, 30 October 2013

Quebec: Charter of Values not as liberal on second glance,

At First glance the proposal of a charter of values by the ruling he Parti Quebecoisharter of Quebec Values, looks like the sort of thing a secularist like myself would have no problem endorsing. 
Here’s a quick look at what the government’s five proposals:
  1. Enshrine the questions of religious accommodation in the Quebec Charter of Rights and Freedoms by outlining the separation of religion and state, the religious neutrality of the state and the secular nature of its institutions, taking into account our common historical heritage;
  2.  Ensure that religious neutrality for government employees in the performance of their duties is established in law;
  3.  Outline what is considered conspicuous religious symbols for government employees during working hours (the proposal is subject to a right of withdrawal for a period of up to five years, renewable for certain sectors);
  4.  Ensure that the face is visible when giving or receiving government services;
  5.  Establish a policy to implement the religious neutrality of the state and the management of religious accommodation for government agencies.
  6. But when you look at what they are really talking about it becomes yet another attack in Muslim women who wear clothes associated with Islam.
But when you see what they are really referring to it looks like more on Muslim Women wearing clothing associated with that religion

Take a look at a poster produced by the Parti Quebecois to illustrate what would be considered conspicuous religious symbols.

 What conspicuous religious symbols the Quebec government suggests are acceptable and unacceptable for government employees to wear.
Quebec is not alone in this  can see the argument against face covering when dealing with government employees which seems a popular move by Western Governments but I wonder in the Whole of the Western Democracy how many female government employees where dress such as a
  Burqas or niqab ?“But what stands out is basically that everything that’s headwear like a turban, kippa or hijab will be forbidden,”

As a secularist I approve of the separation of state and any religion but not when it is used to endorse a policy to attack clothing which is part of someones religion I think that Quebec and other governments must think again
A ban on someone wearing clothing where they face is visible has merit and even some Muslim countries have done this,
But when it is extended to head scarves we are entering into areas of prejudice

Tuesday, 29 October 2013

Council Redundancy payouts not equall.

When Rhondda Cynon Taf announced it savage round of cuts which directly involved my village of Beddau , I called for the cuts to start at the top with a cul of senior executives.

However it seems that this will not save money at least in the short term.

Wales O reports that Wales' second biggest council gave five senior officers redundancy packages averaging £126,200 each during the last financial year,.

They say

Five unnamed top officers at Labour-controlled Rhondda Cynon Taf (RCT) council picked up £631,000 between them as the local authority sought to cut costs.

At the same time 140 lower paid staff were given pay offs totalling £646,000 – an average of just £4,614 each.

Despite the redundancies, the council’s workforce rose from 12,444 to 12,458.

Worryingly this came to light when Pauline Jarman, leader of the opposition Plaid Cymru group on RCT council, uncovered the pay-outs in the authority’s annual statement of accounts.

She said: 

“I’m sure that people across the council area who see the level of pay-outs to highly paid officers will be staggered at their size.
“These figures show 140 staff received little more than five senior people which highlights the stark differences between those at the top and bottom.
“It may be that the VER (voluntary early retirement with redundancy) scheme needs to be adjusted because it may become unaffordable in the current financial climate. We would want it retained in some form so it is more generous than compulsory redundancy.
“It has to be better than the state provision, especially, as the people most at risk will be the frontline low paid who will not have much of a pension to rely on even if they have long service.
“I’m anxious to ensure those at the bottom of the pay scales such as dinner ladies or care workers don’t lose out. There needs to be discussions on this issue between the council, the trade unions and workforce.”

Overall, the council redundancy bill was £3,052,000 in 2012-13 for 192 staff. It followed a similar redundancy bill in the previous year of £2,761,000.

And yet the council workforce rose .

In theory it is the job that is made redundant  not the worker . So we need to know if the jobs that the top officer were doing have ceased to exist or has someone been given virtually the same job under a new name.

I don't want to see people lose their jobs and if they do I would like them to receive adequate composition.

But n these age of cuts it will probably to start trimming from the top .

What is not acceptable is that the fat cats on our council are given more of the cream than the rest of the workforce.even when they lose their homes.

Still it looks like that RCT have made it impossible to cut their Senior Executives without incurring financial cost which means there are no savings for a number of years.

Which explains why the council are going for easy targets like Beddau (and other ) Libraries .

Though the local councillors should beware  a local petition to Save Beddau Library keeps running out of pagesfor people to sign.

There supposed to be a consultation exercise and already Beddau clearly says No,

Monday, 28 October 2013

Welsh Government Miss The Post.

Just how much Labour were committed to opposing privatisation of the Royal Mail can be seen from the news that Westminster's Department for Business, Innovation and Skills in Whitehall said it had received no representations from  the Welsh Assembly Government.

According to Wales Online a Freedom of Information disclosure to Plaid has revealed that the Labour Government in Cardiff did not participate in the campaign to oppose the sell-off.

A letter received by Plaid from the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills in Whitehall states: “I can confirm that the Department has not received representations from the Welsh Government about the privatisation of Royal Mail.”

Although the article reads like a direct copy of a press release  it does make a point.

In it Leanne Wood says.
Welsh Government miss the post.

 “While Plaid Cymru pursued a Welsh way forward to keep postal services in public hands, Labour in the Bay couldn’t even muster an email or a letter between them on this important issue.
 “Once again, Labour have been caught sitting on their hands while public opinion has rallied in support of public ownership and in support of our postal workers.
“It is sadly a well established pattern: Labour tub-thumping in public but doing nothing in practice.”

Maybe it got lost in the Mail 

But the idea that our Government in Wales cannot even write  their concerns here about the Privatisation of the Royal Mail  shows the true nature of that Government . Content to rest on their laurels in the belief they can escape blame for every thing the Westminster does,
 A spokesman for the Welsh Government referred us to the Assembly debate on Royal Mail privatisation of October 9, during which Communities Minister Jeff Cuthbert said:

 “I must stress that this matter is not devolved to Welsh Ministers, but I am always willing to make representations to Westminster now and in future.”

So that's all right then  .

From this example to the Bedroom tax. The Labour Party  not only  in Westminster but in Wales and in Scotland  have provided only half-hearted  opposition to the Co /LibDem cuts.

Indeed in Scotland it looks like Labour in the Scottish Parliament would endorse them if they were in power as can be seen here.

When it comes to Welfare reform cuts we get no real indication from the Labour leadership that they would reverse any of the reforms cuts that the Con/LibDems are implementing.

Milliband and his team seem afraid of Cameron and the Tories labelling them "The Welfare Part".

Why doesn't he simply turn to Cameron and say

"What is wrong with being a Party that cares about the Welfare of People? Why do the Tories think that this is a dirty word? Or is it simply his idea of Victorian Values and the return of the Workhouse"?

But the reality is Labour are not that different from the Tories . They would have liked to have privatise Royal Mail when in power and introduced much of the Iain Duncan Smiths  "reforms". as they pursued the voted of "Middle England" whilst taking areas like The Rhondda for granted .

How much longer can the people of Wales go on supporting this party whose interest is in marginal seats in England?

Even if leads to suffering in those areas who have loyal backed them for so many years.

Saturday, 26 October 2013

Alun Davies . Can he "Walk the Walk"

Welsh government minister Alun Davies  has been criticised for giving "evasive" answers to an assembly committee.
The assembly's environment committee said Natural Resources s gave them contradictory information about his portfolio.
Members condemned his department for financial management and planning failures, including "basic errors" in its draft budget.
In a letter to the Finance Committee about the Natural Resources department's budget, the AMs said:
He can Talk the Talk but can he Walk the Walk?
 "We are disappointed with the timeliness of information provided by the minister, and the oral evidence session, where a number of questions were evaded or contradictory information provided.
"We believe that this is an indicator of problems at the heart of financial management and planning of this department and we will continue to keep a very close eye on these issues both in-year and at future budget rounds.
"We believe the department's approach to financial management hinders general transparency. We are therefore unable to assess whether the budget is appropriately prioritised and is providing value for money
If you think this is just opposition members having a go at Labour Minister think again . For  Carwyn Jones and his government half of the members on the environment committee represent Labour.

Back in July 2012 Alun Davies was expressing a high opinion of himself.

Then in a response  Plaid Cymru dubbing the Labour party “clueless” for excluding the Farmers’ Union of Wales (FUW) and the National Farmers’ Union (NFU) from the Rural Development Plan Task and Finish Group, on Ynys Mon

He struck back,
"Plaid Cymru have got a cheek. I've spent most of the last year clearing up the mess left by my Plaid predecessor.
“From the bungled introduction of Glastir to their failure to represent Welsh farmers in Europe to a food strategy with no actions, no targets and no direction".
It seems another year on he's still having a job getting to grips with his portfolio.

Mr Davies was  once a high profile Plaid Member before jumping ship and finding a safe Labour seat with Labour in Blaneau Gwemt

A believer in aggressive politics he loves attacking his former party

IBut now beginning to look like he's not up to the job . Plaid might be relieved that he's not sitting amongst thier numbers in the Assembly.

Friday, 25 October 2013

Labour gain Dunfermline as expected.

Labour have gained the Dunfermline Scottish Parliamentary seat from the SNP  in the By-Election 

Cara Hilton (Lab) 10,275 (42.46%, +6.89%)
Shirley-Anne Somerville (SNP) 7,402 (30.59%, -6.99%)
Susan Leslie (LD) 2,852 (11.79%, -7.93%)
James Reekie (C) 2,009 (8.30%, +1.16%)
Peter Adams (UKIP) 908 (3.75%)
Zara Kitson (Green) 593 (2.45%)
John Black (Ind) 161 (0.67%)
Lab maj 2,873 (11.87%)
6.94% swing SNP to Lab
Electorate 56,743; Turnout 24,200 (42.65%, -10.16%)

2011: SNP maj 590 (2.01%) - Turnout 29,299 (52.81%)
Walker (SNP) 11,010 (37.58%)
 Rowley (Lab) 10,420 (35.56%);
 Tolson (LD) 5,776 (19.71%);
 Reekie (C) 2,093 (7.14%)

This was a seat Labour would have ben in serious trouble in Scotland if it had failed to win

They needed a 1% swing   but managed a 7% swing 
The by-election was triggered by the resignation of shamed politician Bill Walker who won the seat in 2011, who was jailed last month for abusing his three ex-wives.
The 7% swing is just enough to make it look a real victory though prior to the byelection most would have expected because of the jailing of Bill walker a Landslide.

It had been expected that the then new seat of Dunfermline  would be between Labour and the Liberal Democrats but saw Bill Walker win with a nominal swing.

Scottish Parliament election, 2011: Dunfermline
SNPBill Walker11,01037.6+13.5
LabourAlex Rowley10,42035.6+2.7
Liberal DemocratsJim Tolson5,77619.7-13.5
ConservativeJames Reekie2,0937.1-1.2
SNP gain from Liberal DemocratsSwing+5.4

Scottish Parliament election, 2007 Notional Result: Dunfermline
Liberal Democrats9,03033.2

So maybe it was the Liberal Democrats who are the biggest looser here. Again no sign of a recovery and they have been pushed to the margins of Scottish Politics.
The Conservatives will be pleased that they held their ground and held of Ukip who clearly were rejected once again in a Scottish Election.
So delight for Labour a win is a win after all
Relief perhaps from the SNP it what have been so much worse.
Question for the Lib Dems in where do they go fro here?.
And shrugs from the other parties .
We however can glean very little from this result to tel us which way the Independence  referendum will go.

Thursday, 24 October 2013

LIb Dem MP backs Plaid on not for profit company.

Maybe he'll mention it today but in his last Blog  Peter Black Praised John Major for his invention in the big debate on energy prices.

Whatever one might have thought about John Major when he was Prime Minister, there is no way that we can fault his timing. Sir John's intervention on fuel poverty and energy bills yesterday was perfectly timed and made Ed Miliband's efforts to make an impact on this issue look clumsy and inept:
But its Odd that he fails to mention that his own colleague Liberal Democrat MP Roger Williams has asked the Prime Minister to consider setting up a not-for-profit energy company based on the model of Glas Cymru which owns Welsh Water. He now says he'll also raise it with Lib Deb Energy Secretary Ed Davey..

Maybe he's  reluctant to do so because it was first raised by Leanne Wood last week

She told her party's annual conference that Energy Wales would buy gas and electricity at wholesale prices and sell directly to homes and businesses.

She said surpluses would be split between protecting customers and expanding energy efficiency.
Ms Wood said it would work as an arms-length firm in a similar way to Welsh Water.
I hope Peter and his fellow AM back this idea indeed I hope al Wales' Am's back this 
Out of all the proposals that have been flouted regarding Energy Prices it is Leanne Wood and Plaid who have come up with the best idea.
Because Plaid cane up with it firs,t is no reason for the other Welsh parties to back this. 
I wonder how many really good policies have failed to come to fruition because it was first raised by a party that is not in or likely to gain power soon.
It is a Welsh Solution to the problem and Roger Williams deserves praise for adopting it.
C'mon Peter Blog on this and back it even if you have to back Plaid .

Wednesday, 23 October 2013

Labour face crucial Cardiff Council By-elections.

There will son be be two by-elections on Cardiff soon! Cllrs Luke Holland  (Splot) and Phil Hawkings (Riverside) are standing down ,

Perhaps the real  interest will be if the Plaid  and the Liberal Democrats can resist the temptation to agree to not to contest the seats they have no chance or winning but the other clearly has

Riverside will be Plaids target

.They won al Three seats in 20008 only to lose one in a byelection in  and the other two in 2011

Nevertheless they should have high hopes of winning again

Party vote 2012

Lab 1731,1555,1431
Plaid 1153,9444,940

The others had less than 300 votes.

In Splot it should  be  between Labour and the Libdems  they one of the three seats in 2008 but Labour rook al three in 2011

Lab 1686,1624,1432
LibDems 1055,805,775

Again the other came nowhere.

So will there  be a "agreement  participially if the elections are on the same day.

Looking at the figures  Plaid should be confident in Riverside with or without Libdem intervention  but the LibDems may have to struggle more.

So I can't see Anti Labour pact that can  be used against Plaid by Labour in Wales.

But these will  be By-elections to keep our eyes on.

Tuesday, 22 October 2013

"Public Consultation" = Sham Democracy.

In a dictatorship the rulers sometimes try to legitimise themselves by organising a plebiscite. The result of which ends up with over 90% voting in favour of the government.

Democracies have another method its called public consultation.

The first round of cuts” in Rhondda Cynon Taf (RCT)move closer to becoming a reality after the proposed g nursery and pre-nursery  children, youth services, libraries, day centres, and the meal on wheels service   were approved by councillors yesterday.

Cabinet members of one of South Wales' biggest councils met yesterday (Oct 21st) afternoon to discuss proposals to bridge the authority's £56m funding gap

Plaid opposition leader Coun Pauline Jarman said: “I urge you not to go to consultation on ending full-time education for three-year-olds.

“This already has a massive no vote from the public. If members take no notice of that then this consultation will be a sham. Reducing to half-time provision is a massive backward step.

“In the 1970s Margaret Thatcher was known as the milk snatcher, do you want to go down as the council that steals food out of the mouths of the children.”

The same can be made about the other cuts already there a position against the closure of my local Library at the local Post Office  and I suspect that the same will be true elsewhere.

Maybe RCT have a plan to consult people about the Library closures in areas not affected and then publish the results?

No. I don't rreally really think that but the idea of a public consultation which already has resulted in outrage to give legitimacy when you clearly have no intention of listening shows that the whole process is a farce.

What the council hope is that they meet with the public and blame it all on the Westminster government. 

But by choosing the targets they have, they will get short shrift I suspect.

However they may throw a few crumbs and save a Library or two.

But please when will our democratically elected representatives stop the pretence that through "Public Consultation" that this will somehow change what they intended in the first place.

This goes all the way up from RCT to Public consultation over Nuclear Power Plants and even Silk.

Its a sham democracy and an insult to our intelligence, 

Sunday, 20 October 2013

Beddau and Tynant to lose Library and Day Centre

For those of you who don't know Beddau it lies between Pontypridd and Llantrisant.
It is in fact two villages because  Tynant is often included when referring to it.
Locals are probably the only ones who instinctively whether they are in Beddau or Tynant '

But for the most part it is Beddau that the local Rugby Club, Post Office Doctors Surgery and Library that  bare that name even though they cover both villages. 
Now we are to lose one of the above as part of the savage cuts proposed by Rhondda Cynon Taf council.
Rhondda Cynon Taf currently operates 26 libraries as well as mobile library, housebound, schools library and deposit collection services. 
The proposed change would see the number of libraries reduced to 12 with 4 each in Rhondda, Cynon and Taf.
RETAIN: Treorchy/ Tonypandy/Ferndale/ Tylorstown
CLOSURE: Treherbert/ Ton Pentre/ Penygraig/Porth/Ynyshir/Maerdy
RETAIN: Hirwaun/Aberdare/Mt Ash/Abercynon
CLOSURE: Cwmbach/Penrhiwceiber/Ynysybwl
RETAIN: Pontypridd/Rhydfelin/Church Village/Llantrisant
CLOSURE: Cilfynydd/ Tonyrefail/ Nantgarw/ Beddau/ Pontyclun
The Council will deliver an enhanced Mobile Library Service would operate in every part of RCT to support these changes

There is no way a mobile Library service can replace our Library.

People use our Library not only to take out books or use the computer services . But for many its also a social centre where people meet and chat and for many Older people it an important part of their life.

We will be able to use Llantrisant Library which recently moved to Llantrisant Leisure Centre  when it and Talbot Green where merged .

Bit although its about a half hours walk fro my house its a dangerous road and the idea of children walking there  from Beddau or Tynant fills me with dread.

You may ask what about a Day centre? . Well we have one but not much longer.
The proposed cuts would see the number of Day Centres reduced to 9 with standardised opening hours of 10am – 4pm across the board. The 9 centres proposed to remain have capacity to respond to any potential increase in service users travelling from the centres put forward to close.
In the Rhondda there would be a retained centre no further than 1.9 miles away and within Taf Ely a retained day centre would be no more than 3.8 miles away from those put forward for closure.
This proposal would save £600k p.a.
RETAIN: Alec Jones Porth/ Teifi House Maerdy/ Nazareth House Williamstown/ Brynnar Jones Gelli
CLOSURE: Dai Davies Cymmer/ Edith May Ynyshir/ Wesley Ferndale/ Noddfa Treorchy/ Llewellyn Pentre/ Combine House Tonypandy/ Dan Murphy Trealaw
RETAIN: St Mairs Aberdare/ Mountain Ash
RETAIN: Pontypridd/ St Georges Tonyrefail/ Pontyclun
CLOSURE: Beddau/Rhydfelin/ Gilfach Goch
So its a Double Whammy for Beddau and Tynant .

The two proposals will save £1,4 milion

There are no proposals to cut the number of executives or reduce councillors lucrative pay and expenses.

Something that can be restored once this appalling recession is over .

But we will never get our library back

The Labour run council may  hope that all the blame for this will be  placed on the Westminster Government  . But as I see the heart ripped out of my village . I know that my council must take responsibility for going for the easy targets and the wrong ones at that.

Saturday, 19 October 2013

Sandsfield East Byelection- No Change.

The Sandsfield East Byelection  saw Labour comfortably retain  their seat on Neath Port Talbot council

October 17th  2013
Lab 718 (59.7; +29.5)
Port Talbot Residents Association 222 (18.5; +18.5)
UKIP 154 (12.8; +12.8)
Plaid Cymru 69 (5.7; +5.7)
Con 40 (3.3; +3.3)
[Ind (0.0; -18.0)[
[Neat Port Talbot Independents (0.0; -19.4)]
[Ind (0.0; -32.4)]
Majority 496
Turnout 23.2%
Lab hold

The previous election saw the election of one Independent and 2 Labour which has been the case at least  since 2004

Independent Lella Helen James often frustrating Labour by topping the poll . They have managed to keep the  Other Seat even at the hight of Labours unpopularity

Only Neath and Port Talbot ever offer any real alternative but its embarrassing for Plaid and the Conservatives to come behind Ukip

But Neat Port Talbot is a peculiar that there is no real main opposition part with different Parties clustered in different part of the county.

artySeatsHoldGainLossNet Gain
*Liberal Democrat0004-4
*Plaid Cymru8714-3
*Neath Port Talbot Independents0003-3
*Social Democratic Party1102-2

Plaid for Instance are concentrated in the North West of the County. So they  probably had low expectation in Sandsfield East ,.but if they are to progress they need to do better in areas like this.

But for now its the Status Quo in Neath Port Talbot which was to be expected but as the council cuts start digging deeper. Iit will be interesting . How the 10 councils in Wales that Labour are in overall control can blame these savage cuts on the Westminster government  and retain electoral support..

Or will the nature of these cuts an example of which I hope to give tomorrow lead to public wrath against them. 
P.S. 11:0 AM Plaid in Wrecsam have announced County councillor Keith Gregory formally a Independent has joined Plaid ..