Monday 30 June 2014

Cultural Racism or being Polite?

The BBC  seem to have made much of a report  that
"Disciplinary action could be taken against council leisure centre staff who do not greet customers in Welsh".
report for Gwynedd council's language committee provides an update on a "language champions scheme" and the use of Welsh at leisure centres in Bangor, Tywyn and Dolgellau.
It says some staff lacked confidence or were reluctant to use Welsh
The report concentrates on the language champions scheme in leisure centres in Welsh-speaking areas.
It says the...
 "situation has improved at the Bangor and Tywyn Centres," adding that "11 out of the 30 members of staff at Bangor were attending lessons and attempting to speak more Welsh, and it is reported that more Welsh is also being spoken at the Tywyn centre, where the manager can now follow the discussion through the medium of Welsh at meetings".
It says "problems continue" at Dolgellau Leisure Centre where "some members of staff lack confidence or are reluctant to use the Welsh language, despite efforts to persuade them to at least greet customers in Welsh".
It adds: "The department is continuing to press on staff who are reluctant to use the Welsh language, and consideration will be given to disciplinary measures in some circumstances."
Now there seems to a bit of difference here between Greeting people with Bore Da and Croseo and being Bilingual.
Are Gwynedd arguing that all Staff should be Bilingual in their leisure centers or simply improve on how they respond to cusomers.?
Even in Rhondda Cynon Taf I know Library Staff have been expected  to answer the phone in Welsh and English irrespective of whether they spoke Welsh or not for some time now.
Louise Hughes, an independent Councillor for Llangelynnin   who as once a prominent member of Llais Gwynedd  seems to have adopted the Kinnock method of deriding the  attempt to improve the use of Welsh with a story difficult to prove.
"I'm reminded of the situation when they insisted that a seasonal litter-picker should speak Welsh, which led to the beach at Aberdyfi being un-swept for two years.
"My Welsh is reasonable but some who are not fluent are made to feel second class."
She added: "We now live in a multi-cultural society. Things cannot be preserved in aspic and you cannot force people into how they speak.
I wonder how her former colleagues feel about this but she seemed to have fallen out with them after  she failed to get the Llais Gwynedd Nomination for Dwyfor Merionydd when LLais Gwynedd o choose Simon Glyn group rather than her to stand for election for  the Assembly, among accusation  of Racism from Ms Hughes who believed that her lack of fluency in Welsh was held against her.

So is this a real story  which made the Sunday Times  . Whose support for the Welsh Language has always been prominent.

As If!

Or is it  the work of one ambitious political minnow?

Its just a pity so many seem to  fallen entirely for it without making absolutely sure what was behind it.

Sunday 29 June 2014

Huw Lewis attacks "Colonial Conservatives". How about Colonial Labour?

After Yesterdays Blog Gove dons a Colonial Governor's hat. on Michael Gove interference in Welsh Education  I expected others to take up a similar theme.

I did not however expect one of them to be Welsh Education Minster Huw Lewis to agrree

Mr Lewis who went on Wales Online to argue more or less what I had written.

He writes... is, I think, one thing Michael Gove and I have in common.
We are Education Ministers who aspire for world-class education systems. So it puzzles me from the outset as to why, in his article, he would suggest that Wales should use England as a template for excellence.
All the recent evidence from around the world shows that there are two dozen other systems we should (and do) look at first. It betrays a troubling attitude that has little to do with education reform.
I have long maintained that the biggest threat to the United Kingdom would not come from a resurgent Plaid Cymru, or from the SNP in Scotland, and certainly not from the barmy English Democrats.
No, I think the biggest risk to the union comes from the seemingly indestructible colonial attitudes buried in the dark heart of the Conservative Party in England. And Michael Gove has again demonstrated this dangerously old-fashioned and potentially destabilising attitude in today’s intervention. Despite his claims to be pro-devolution, his prose drips with disdain, displays a total ignorance of our current reform programme, and vainly holds up his Free Schools experiment as an answer to boosting school standards, without a scintilla of evidence.
WalesOnline readers know that even objectively reported, making bald comparisons between England and Wales on education and health doesn’t really give a clear picture – it ignores our vastly different demographics.
Mr Lewis makes a fair point but by doing so I wonder how well it will go down with his Westminster Colleagues   who have not entirely taken devolution to their hearts .

I wonder what their attitude (and maybe Mr Lewis himself) would be if Labour were to be in power in Westminster and there was say a different led administration  in the Assembly.

Of course there may be a  difference between a Plaid led administration or a Conservative because Ministers could not use an example of the former of what would happen in England if they were in power in westminster.
Which was the main reason for Gove's attack and that of prime Minister David Cameron's  constant references to the NHS in Wales during Prime Ministers Question Time..

But I'm not convinced that Labour in Westminster, will not adopt the same colonial attitude as the Conservatives.

Indeed we only have to look at the response to the Silk commission from "Alas Smith and Jones"  where it seems it is Shadow Welsh Secretary Owen Smith s who seems to be conducting Labour's response and not First Minister Carwyn Jones.

Is it possible that Four years from no we can see Huw Lewis backing a Westminster colleague telling a Non-Labour led Administration in the Assembly how to run itself?

It wouldn't surprise me.

Saturday 28 June 2014

Gove dons a Colonial Governor's hat.

The "English" education secretary, has been given space by the Wasting Mule, to writes that Wales' falling standards in education and health are directly traceable directly to the Labour Party’s refusal to embrace reforms indicating once agai that Wales will be a Battleground in the next Genera

In somewhat patronising tones he  makes this clear

....But there’s another reason I support devolution. It allows different parties, in different parts of the country, to put their principles into power and lets voters judge, in real-time, which policies are working best.We’ve already seen over the last few years how Welsh Labour’s approach to the NHS has led to more cutbacks, lengthening waiting lists and poorer outcomes for those in pain. To the point where the party which best represents Bevan’s vision for healthcare in Wales is the Conservatives.
It’s a source of immense sadness to me that this should be so. My wife is Welsh and Swansea is my second favourite city in the world. To see Wales suffer unnecessarily is terrible.l election.

But what is even worse is that the condition which afflicts the Welsh NHS can now be seen to have weakened the Welsh education system.
Wales has a historic attachment to educational excellence and a belief in educational self-improvement which mirrors my own homeland of Scotland. The story of David Lloyd George, the cottage-born boy who lapped up learning at the feet of his uncle Lloyd and became a champion of social progress at Westminster inspired me when I was young.
The writing and rhetoric of working class Welsh heroes, from Nye Bevan to Alan Watkins, Dylan Thomas to Richard Burton remain inspirational.
Which is why Wales’ recent educational decline is so very regrettable.
Pass the sick bag Alice.

Gove you can't argue is right in that since the formation of the assembly and almost entirely under Labours watch Education in wales has hardly been a a shining example .

But does his criticism entirely stand up?

He writes...

A quarter of Welsh secondary schools have been rated unsatisfactory by Estyn, the education watchdog. In England just 5% of schools are ‘inadequate’, the equivalent standard.In the last few months alone, we’ve seen the introduction of a new English GCSE by the Welsh Government cause chaos, with the first exams sat in January yielding shockingly poor results.And just this week Wales’ independent schools have said they won’t use the new GCSEs designed by the Welsh Labour Government because they aren’t rigorous enough. Instead, they will use the GCSEs we’ve reformed in England.So Welsh children whose parents are rich enough to buy them an independent school education will benefit from greater rigour while working class children get left behind.Can that really be what Labour voters want? It certainly doesn’t fit my idea of social justice.

Now just a minute is really saying that children in Wales under the its Exam board WJEC had poor results which would have been worse under English Boards that are in his words more" rigorous"

Only yesterday we had RhAG (Parents for Welsh Medium Education) criticising the actions of Edexcel, one of the UK’s largest examining bodies, and believe their children are being put at a disadvantage by having their work interpreted by translators.

RhAG has also criticised the awarding of the contract to an English company rather than drawing on the expertise of the translation sector in Wales.

There's no proof yet the Gove's r,eforms are working in England yet and there's a strong suspicion that the move to Free Schools ironically started by Blair's Labour Government, will create  a two-tier education system in England where Middle class Parents (who Vote)  will be satisfied and those in need (who don't) will be locked into a circle in which they pass their bad education experience to their offspring.

There's no reason why we can't look at the English Education system  preferably to Scotland  and learn from successes  and mistakes.

Indeed  would Gove had gone to Scotland and criticised education services there even if Scotland appeared to be falling behind in educational achievements or left it to Scottish Secretary?

It just lloks like he believes that he should dictate  what happens in wales and the Minister in the Assembly should automatically follow him.

Labour in wales have a lot to answer for their running of our country since devolution but the real attacks on them should come from the parties in Wales not from a man whose own running of education in England is open toQuestion.

Friday 27 June 2014

Tory Assembly Split Continues.

 The Tories who are the official opposition in the National Assembly are being to look permanently at war with each other.
The Wasting Mule report that the e Tory AM who has been involved in a three-month protest against a decision of his own group leader by boycotting committee work at the National Assembly 
According to the Mule
Byron Davies, who represents South Wales West, strongly disagreed with Conservative group leader Andrew RT Davies’ sacking of Nick Ramsay as chair of the Assembly’s Enterprise and Business Committee earlier this year. For the last three months he has not been attending meetings of the committee, of which he technically remains a member.
He has made no secret of his reason for not showing up and told us: “I think the committee under Nick Ramsay was doing a good job in holding the Welsh Government to account and I think the group leader should not have removed him as the chair and replaced him with William Graham, who was not previously a member of the committee.”
Mr Ramsay was sacked as chair by Andrew RT Davies after voting against his leader’s line on the proposal to devolve income tax varying powers to the Assembly. He was also sacked as a Shadow Minister, like three other Tory AMs who also defied Andrew RT Davies.
Asked how long he intended to boycott the committee, Byron Davies said: “Ask the leader.”
He added that he disapproved of current arrangements under which committee chairs are appointed by party leaders, rather than elected by AMs.
The weakness of Tory leader   Andrew RT Davies position is shown  Brian  Davies, remains Shadow Transport and Regeneration Minister, and has not been sacked 

Labour AM Ann Jones said: 
“Whatever job people do there is an expectation that you fulfil the basic roles involved. In terms of AM, this includes attending committee, plenary and being available to take up matters for constituents. Byron Davies’ refusal to sit on a committee, following internal strife involving some of his colleagues, is a refusal to carry out one of the basic parts of his contract with the voters of South West Wales. It not only damages his reputation but that of his leader Andrew RT Davies. Byron Davies should explain to his constituents why he is refusing to represent them fully.”
What Mr Davies thinks he is achieving apart from embarrassing his Party leader is an interesting question  and indeed we may well ask what Nick Ramsay thinks about this as its his treatment Byron Davies is protesting about?

Its beginning to look like we have two Conservative parties in the Assembly we can only speculate whether some might think its Ukip time?

Of course if that happened. it could mean the Plaid's Leanne Wod would find her self leader of the Opposition.

Thursday 26 June 2014

Dr Who is made in Wales its not a Welsh programme.

For some reason  Ian Jones, the chief executive of S4C, g evidence to a Westminster’s Culture, Media and Sport select committee looking at the future of the BBC seems to have gone largely unnoticed by the main  Welsh Media. and its only through the Blog Daily Wales that I found  this out 

As they say Mr Jones said  said that while BBC Wales promotes the success of its UK network programmes such as Dr Who and Casualty, their programme output for and about Wales continues to decline.
The production of Doctor Who and Casualty in Wales – it’s good, it’s extremely good, it helps the skills base, helps competition and it helps the perception of producing, but I don’t think that’s the issue. That is in fact a red herring.”
“I think the people of Wales would appreciate more programming – more local programming through the medium of English.
“If I have any criticism of the BBC in Wales, that criticism is shared by former BBC directors in Wales and, I suspect, the current BBC director, in that there’s been a substantial decrease in programming produced and commissioned over the years in the English language for the people of Wales and we would support on all levels increasing that.”

This follows an a similar  points made by  BBC’s Director General, Tony Hall,  and that BBC Wales was failing its audience. 

Despite BBC Wales’ very real success, we must also acknowledge that English language programming from and for Wales has been in decline for almost a decade. The reduction in ITV Wales’ contribution has played a big part in this – but the BBC’s output has also been eroded.
“What does that mean for audiences here? It means, inevitably, that there are some aspects of national life in Wales that are not sufficiently captured by the BBC’s own television services in Wales, and I would include comedy, entertainment and culture in those categories.”

It would be Interesting to compare BBC Wales with BBC Scotland to see how many hours are produced by the two which are specific to them.

And especially after you remove News and Factual programs. Though the Wikipedia page for Scottish TV seems to contain many that were simply made in Scotland.

Some years ago we could watch the incredibly fumy Scottish Comedy Still Game  but we never got to see all seasons. Presumably London Audiences didn't like it.

But we can't go on with the situation where we have BBC Wales boasting about  DE Who and Casualty being made in Wales whilst we have to seek out anything that relates to us that involves even a quarter of the production cost of the two.

Is it not time the Assembly investigated broadcasting in Wales.  especially regarding what may be an agenda by the BBC to see the death of S4C by a thousand cuts

Wednesday 25 June 2014

Posh Schools don't want Welsh curriculum

BBC Wales gleefully report that some fee-paying schools  (What we used to call private schools) in Wales say they will follow the new GCSE courses for England rather than those set in Wales, the BBC has learnt.
Welsh Independent Schools Council (Wisc) (The Welsh just means they are in Wales)  said it believed the Wales-specific courses starting next year "lack credibility and portability".
Wales is setting its own English, Welsh and maths courses as England scraps coursework for most subjects.
The Welsh government said its GCSEs would be credible and rigorous.

Start Quote

It's not about opting for Wales or England, it's a question of what's the best qualification for our pupils”
Kenneth UnderhillChair, Welsh Independent Schools Council
The changes to the examination systems begin being rolled out in September, with the first of the new qualifications being awarded in 2015.
At the moment, two-thirds of these secondary schools sit the Welsh exams.
But the majority say they will now follow the England-based qualifications. According to the BBC Eighteen responded when asked about their plans, and two-thirds said they would be switching away from the Welsh GCSE.
Since in  Wales, there will be new courses in English, Welsh and maths broadly based on the current GCSE structures.
Whilst In England, a new grading system will use numbers instead of letters, and coursework is being scrapped for most subjects.
The changes will be in stages, starting with pupils due to take GCSE exams in 2017 - those turning 13 in the current academic year.
English and maths will be the first subjects to be affected.
Wisc chair Kenneth Underhill told BBC Wales he felt the changes in Wales were being brought in as a "fairly knee-jerk reaction".
Unlike the Michael Gove reforms in England Mr Underhill?
"There are a number of us heads of independent schools who are very patriotic Welshmen," he said.
"But in the end our responsibility is to do the best for our students. And so it's not about opting for Wales or England, it's a question of what's the best qualification for our pupils."
But there must be suspicion that Maths aside these schools do not see themselves as part of Wales and do not want to follow a Welsh curriculum.
And how many currently use it WJEC curriculum at present I wonder?
It would be interesting to see how many pupils come from Wales  or how many see their future in Wales as they go to   University often outside Wales

It seems that these Schools see the future of their Pupils as being outside Wales and that they feel "patriotic Welshmen" or not.
What we seam to have here are schools that see themselves  as islands of English Education in Wales .
Illustrated  when in February this year when Emma Taylor, the first female head teacher of Christ College Brecon in the school’s illustrious 473-year history, provoked controversy by claiming that some students are in need of being “rescued” from Welsh medium schools.
Asked why the education sector is struggling, Mrs Taylor said: 
“There is something in the Welsh psyche which is a desire not to get above yourself. 

“It seems that Welsh people prize modesty and humility and sometimes that can lead to a lack of ambition, and ‘I’ll settle for what I’ve got’ rather than thinking, ‘The world is my oyster and I can really aim high’.
“So there may be something about the teaching of resilience and self-esteem and self-belief areas of education that could be quite important as well as the three Rs.”
Should we care what  represents a very small number of those being educated in Wales.

Well yes because these bigoted  Heads hit the headlines and portray our education of our kids in a bad light based on a view that English education is superior .

We need a debate on Education and Examinations here but it should not be led by people who clearly have no commitment to the vast majority of our pupils here and whose interest lie elsewhere.


Tuesday 24 June 2014

Carwyns Big Idea is only in his head it seems

The BBC Parliamentary correspondent, David Cornock half heartily  ,questions whether t the UK government has rejected growing calls for a constitutional convention on the future of the United Kingdom after the Scottish referendum.

He reports that

Whip and spokesman Lord Wallace of Saltaire, a Liberal Democrat, told the House of Lords this afternoon there was no public demand for a convention and he had not heard any major political party suggest it. But he appeared not to rule out one in future.

But he admitted a convention would be a radical and rational step and encouraged a Welsh Labour peer to continue to campaign for one.

The historian K.O. Morgan, Lord Morgan of Aberdyfi, told him a convention would allow the government to address the "mess" of the current constitution.

He asked:

"Would not a constitutional convention help to clear up the mess firstly by clarifying the muddle over asymmetrical devolution, by clearing up the devo-max in Scotland that cannot speak its name, by re-asserting the authority of the Westminster parliament and above all at long last doing something about England and showing that England is not simply a bad football team?"

Lord Wallace replied:
"We'll leave the football team to one side. Constitutional conventions have on the whole taken place after revolutions in the United States, in France and elsewhere to go as far as a constitutional convention for the whole of the United Kingdom would itself be a radical and rational step. I encourage the noble Lord as a rational radical to pursue that but the public has currently no demand for it and I have not yet heard any major political party suggest this."

Former Plaid Cymru leader Lord Wigley told Lord Wallace:

"Whatever the outcome of the referendum in Scotland, whether it's a 'yes' vote or a 'no' vote the status quo is unlikely to be the final resting point of the argument.
"That being so, surely a piecemeal approach is not acceptable, particularly when in Scotland the government appear to be offering taxation powers which were recommended by Silk for Wales but which the government has rejected for Wales. So on what possible basis can there be a coherent progress when that is the approach taken by the government?"

The curious thing is that although elsh First Minister Carwyn Jones has repeatedly said there needs to be a constitutional convention - a formal way of looking at what powers Wales and other parts of the UK need.he does not seem to have done anything about it.

Back in October Plaid MP Hywel Williams asked the UK Government department responsible, the Deputy Prime Minister's office, what approaches the First Minister has made. This was the answer from Minister Greg Clark:

The Deputy Prime Minister has not received any recent representations on the topic of a constitutional convention from the Welsh Government.

Mr Williams said s that it raises questions about the First Minister's own commitment.
For all the First Minister's bluster, it seems that he's making no real progress on this.
It's becoming increasingly difficult to take him seriously when he claims to be committed to securing a better settlement for Wales. The only thing he has achieved is undermining people's confidence in his abilities.
It does look like Carwyn "Big Idea" has gone no further than himself maybe it shows his irrelevance in the future make up of the UK whether there's a YES or NO Vote.

What Wales neds is leadership as we face falling  further behind Scotland and indeed Northern Ireland after September .

It clearly does not exist among t "Welsh" Labour in the Assembly.

Monday 23 June 2014

What a Surprise!

The Mule reports that..
The  Welsh Government has been accused of using a grant designed to support Wales’ poorest pupils to plug a funding gap in Wales’ schools system.It follows the sending of a letter by Education Minister Huw Lewis to Welsh teachers’ union Ucac, in which he appears to confirm the Pupil Deprivation Grant (PDG) is being used to meet a manifesto spending promise.Ucac said schools were getting the “strong impression” that budgets are being cut and the PDG is helping to make up the shortfall.Pressure from the Liberal Democrats and Plaid Cymru secured an extra £35m for the PDG, which will be distributed among schools this year and see an additional £918 allocated to pupils eligible for free school meals.
Of course the  Welsh Lib Dems in particular have pushed the "Pupil Premium"  as a policy sometimes making people wonder if its all they got as a idea in the Assembly.

At the time La Pasionaria  leader of the Welsh Liberal Democrats said:
"Giving poorer pupils a better start in life was a key pledge in the Welsh Liberal Democrat's 2011 manifesto and it is a policy that we have pushed for at every given opportunity since. We have more than doubled the amount of money going to disadvantaged pupils meaning that the education budget will benefit from an additional £35m."It is not right that a child's future is determined by their family background and not their own abilities. With this grant, we are breaking the link between poverty and attainment that has dogged our education system for too long. Sadly, schools in Wales have suffered from years of under-investment from the Welsh Labour Government. Today we are taking big steps to change that."Welsh Liberal Democrats were not elected to the Assembly to turn our backs on the desperate need to improve education funding in Wales. We may have a small group in the National Assembly, but our influence in these budget negotiations will have a big impact on children's lives.
Mr Lewis has threatened to “claw back” from schools that ignore guidance on how best to use the money and the Welsh Government has been clear that PDG funding should not be used for other purposes.

But one wonders how unless there's a clear audit how we are to make sure the money has gone at least in the spirit it was intended.

In a letter to Mr Lewis, Ucac’s deputy general secretary Dilwyn Roberts-Young sought clarification on the matter.
He said:
 “It was our understanding that the increase of £35m for the PDG was additional money over and above the safeguarded sum and the 1% increase... members have been reporting to us over recent weeks that local authorities, when setting school budgets, are using the PDG, or part of it, to fill a budgetary gap.”
Mr Roberts-Young said school leaders had been placed in an “impossible position” of having to juggle reduced budgets, while meeting the Welsh Government’s expectations with regards the PDG.
It was a god idea and fair play to the Lib Dems and Plaid at least thinking about it.
But it was always going to be hard to implement in practice. and I doubt that Mr Lewis will be able to claw back anything from Schools who are breaking the guidelines 


Sunday 22 June 2014

Will Council Mergers lead to Civil War?

I am never quite sure what former  Bridgend  council leader  Jeff Jones s, now a local government consultant, (what ever that is actually stands for?

But U find myself in agreement with him in his  warning that   Big reductions in the number of Welsh councils would be a "disaster"
An independent commission, in January, recommended the 22 councils should be roughly halved. Welsh and  Labour's executive committee extended a consultation period over the issue at a meeting on Saturday to discuss the issue
But  Jones said council leaders were "struggling" with cuts and the idea mergers would help was "nonsense".
He told, told BBC Wales:
 "I think it's going to make a crisis into a complete disaster.
"I think this is where local authority leaders are really pulling their hair out.
"They're really struggling to make the cuts, and this idea that, somehow, mergers will make things better is complete nonsense.
"Even if in the long run you save money, in the short term you need money up front to make it work, and what is the long run?"

First Minister Carwyn Jones has called for substantial reductions in council numbers, insisting no one is in favour of the current set-up.
Leslely Griffiths, the minister responsible for local government, told last Thursday's Welsh Local Government (WLGA) conference she wanted "profound" changes to the way authorities work as a result of the reforms.
She has Councils who want to merge voluntarily will hold their first elections a year later in a bid to avoid “uncertainty”, 
Griffiths provoked fury from opposition parties after she told delegates at the Welsh Local Government Association (WLGA) annual conference that existing boundaries will be used for councils who want to stay the same for elections in 2017, but that she would legislate to allow councils that want to merge voluntarily to hold polls in 2018.
Lets face it the idea that local government reorganisation cam be simply done by Council Leaders meeting together and agreeing to simply merge  with no boundary reviews  or idea how resources will be distributed  is ridiculous.
Remember every council is undergoing cuts and may be dealing with them differently.
As a example take a council which  has decided to drastically cut services negotiating with one that has avoided doing so by dipping into reserves.
People may find that they in a new council where half have had Library closures and the other none.
it is possible we have new councils that are in a constant  state of "Civil War" between the merged authorities.
Constantly bickering and accusation of favouritism to one area.
Of course this happens with any Local Government reorganisation but the Williams commission plans which could have been written on a Beer Mat will make previous rows look like a storm in a teacup

Saturday 21 June 2014

Wales the general election battleground in 2015.

So it seems that the battle ground for the next General Election May been  fought here in Wales 
After constant  attacks by the Tories on the  way the NHS  works here .
Ed Miliband  and Ed Bals  visited wales yesterday  and appear to suggest that we are a model of what a Labour Government in Westminster will look like
Shadow Chancellor Ed Balls in what must be one of the most absurd statements from the man , claimed  yesterday that Wales is “leading the whole of the United Kingdom, finally, into economic recovery.”

From the Mule we heard that 
Mr Miliband spoke after an unprecedented joint meeting between his Shadow Cabinet and Carwyn Jones’ Welsh Cabinet at GE Aviation in Nantgarw, Rhondda Cynon Taf, which was followed by a question-and-answer session involving employees.Praising the Welsh Government’s Jobs Growth Wales apprenticeship programme, he said: “We’ve had a chance to show the difference a Labour government can make, and the difference a Labour government can make here in Wales. 10,000 people are about to be helped by Jobs Growth Wales and that shows the difference you can make economically by having a Labour government. I think that’s 10,000 reasons why Labour can make a difference.”Mr Miliband said holding the joint meeting had been an opportunity for his team and the Welsh Government to learn from each other. He said: “As a politician elected to Parliament after devolution, I’m relaxed about differences and the way different things are done in different places. One of the things we can learn from is Jobs Growth Wales, which isn’t being done in England. It’s been great for members of the Shadow Cabinet to meet their Cabinet counterparts in Wales and talk to them about what they’re doing.“We’ve got to do a lot better at working together in government and strengthening the institutions we have. There’s a Joint Ministerial Committee, which sees the Prime Minister and others coming together. I want to see those arrangements strengthened. Co-operation and learning from each other is absolutely fundamental to my approach to devolution and to the constitution.”

If you ever watch Prime Minister Question Time it largely consist of English Tory MPs  jumping up and claiming jobless figure had fallen in their Constituency sometimes claiming personal credit and pointing to youth figures in particular.

So we have to Governments each claiming credit what might well be manipulated figures on a recovery . When we look around at the work available and wonder how as we see out council services devastated and a very bleak future with a  Governments  using the crisis to destroy the welfare state abetted by a Labour Party who are afraid to challenge it on welfare reform. and Assembly government with no ambition and vision.

The real farce is that when the Election comes we are supposed to believe one or the other whilst in fact it is clear neither deserve it.

Can the Welsh electorate continue to be fooled by these two appalling governments

Friday 20 June 2014

Carwyn "Don't abandon us England".

If there was any proof Wales needs a need Political leadership came yesterday with reports that First Minister Carwyn Jones has warned that the 'great danger' of Scottish independence would be England deciding to leave Wales and Northern Ireland.

He said England could vote to get out of a union with the 'expensive' Welsh and Irish after a Scottish Yes vote.

Mr Jones also repeated his call for a convention to discuss the future of the UK, however Scotland votes.
On the idea of English independence, he warned: "The great danger to my mind, if Scotland votes to leave, is that what's left becomes unstable."Not because of Wales' position, because I don't think - and we know from opinion polls - this will lead to a surge in support for independence in Wales."But it also means that I can see a scenario where in two or three years time there are calls in England to get out of the union with these expensive Celts in the west and over the Irish Sea."If Scotland can leave the UK, so can England."That leaves us and Northern Ireland."Now that is an implausible scenario I grant you now, but if Scotland leaves I can see that momentum growing."'Why are we paying for these people in Wales and Northern Ireland, let's just cast them to one side, the Scots have gone anyway?'"I can see that happening and it's not in our interestsAt the same time a report

Ay the same time a s study Professor Steve Fothergill, from Sheffield Hallam University found

Former South Wales mining communities are the most socially and economically disadvantaged of all Britain’s former mining areas, a damning report published says.The State of the Coalfields study paints a grim picture of the lives of 757,000 people living in former mining communities in South Wales, one quarter of the population of Wales.Comparing their lives, job prospects and health with other former mining areas and the rest of the UK the report commissioned by the Coalfields Regeneration Trust found they lag behind in all areas and there is a ‘compelling case’ for continued support and funding”.The report, led by Professor Steve Fothergill, from Sheffield Hallam University, found 17% of all adults of working age are out of work on benefits in the South Wales Valleys compared with 16% in former mining communities in Durham, 14% in Yorkshire and a national average of 11%. In the South East just 7% are unemployed on benefits.
On health almost one in 10 adults across South Wales say their health is bad or very bad - nearly double that of the South East and higher than 6.9% in former mining communities in Scotland, 7.4% in Yorkshire and 8.6% in Durham.
And our first Minister believes that rather to face up to this ourselves we should be  worried about  being abandoned by England.

It is time that welsh Politicians face up to the fact that we can't go on being poor "West Britons" constantly being let down by the Westminster Government of any colour and by an assembly government that has been in Labour care since its inception.

Only when we take responsibility for governing ourselves will this change but it also means replacing Labour at the Assembly because they have proved that  not only are they prepared to take up the powers we need to make any change they have no vision to use the meagre powers we have.

and we have First Minister who seems content to accept that Wales may be seen in England as "expensive".]

Indeed  it is shameful that after 15 years of Devolution we still unlike Scotland have a leadership with no vision than to ask for more pocket money.

Thursday 19 June 2014

When Paxman lost the Plot (Remember this Peter Black).

You may well ask the question of Peter Black , why in his post on the retirement of  Jeremy Paxman he didn't have time to show the one clip that left the great integrator completely flummoxed?

Even the Huffington Post managed to remember this sublime moment 

"The irascible anchor, infamous for giving a savaging to interviewees, may have thought he was in for an easy ride when he took on the Welsh politician of Plaid Cymru, Dr Eurfyl ap Gwilym.
In an image far removed from the steely argument assassin with whom millions of viewers are familiar, Paxman was reduced to stammering and leafing through pages of notes after being comprehensively out-manoeuvred by the Welsh economic adviser.
 The broadcaster was left flummoxed during an argument over why Plaid was calling for more cash for Wales when the country apparently already got more than every English region.But in an example of how well-presented statistics can give you the edge in an argument, the Plaid adviser pointed out that London is in England and gets 115% of average UK public funding per head against 112% for Wales.
Popping on his glasses and faffing around with papers, Paxman can be heard uttering an anguished "Urghhhh Gawwwwwd," before trying to suggest that London was not a region.
With a final knock out blow, Dr ap Gwilym suggested Paxman do his homework and cheerfully added that London is classified as a region by the Treasury".
So its a bit mean of Peter not to even mention this  but the giving credit to a Plaid Politician is not something he particularly lies doing.

Wednesday 18 June 2014

The LibDems and the Iraq war for or against?

I didn't expect to fin myself defending  the Liberal Democrats from a Blog that  claims to be a Progressive Left  forum.

But Left Foot Forward must surely be desperate to defend all those current and former Labour MPs who enthusiastically Blair's intervention in Iraq in a article  OWEN BENNETT

Blair is not the only one with Iraq amnesia – the Lib Dems were NOT anti-invasion, just anti-that-kind-of-invasion

He says
It is one of the great myths of recent political history – that the Liberal Democrats were opposed to Britain joining with US forces to invade Iraq in 2003.
It is quite simply not true. In the run up to the 2003 invasion, Liberal Democrat leader Charles Kennedy addressed the infamous anti-war rally in Hyde Park on February 15.
He told the million-odd people who had marched through central London (including this author as a 17-year-old student) he had “yet to be persuaded as to the case for war against Iraq”.
He also told the Stop the War coalition-led protest he was “not personally a pacifist”.
These statements show Mr Kennedy was open to the idea of military action in Iraq, and he set out four criteria for Lib Dem acquiescence in the invasion:
1. The United Nations has the moral authority and the political mandate here.
2. United Nations decisions have to be based on adequate information – which means full compliance with the weapons inspectors.
3. The British House of Commons must have the right to vote on any actions taken.
4. All other options must be exhausted before there is any recourse to force.”
He added: “Without a second UN resolution, there is no way that the Liberal Democrats could or should support war.”
So there it is: Charles Kennedy setting out the circumstances in which he and the Lib Dems would be in favour of a military invasion of Iraq.
Get the second UN resolution and we back you.
So because Kennedy makes an honest statement that he was opposed to the war because he was concerned  about it's legality he and his party are supposedly tarred with the same brush as Tony Blair.

Maybe all becomes clear when you see in a supposed left-leaning Blog that 
"Owen Bennett is a reporter for the Daily Express Online and blogs at Designed for Life"

Plaid and the SNP  may be the  party  in the House of Commons only ones without dirty hands  and the Liberal Democrats failed to support Adam prices call to impeach Tony Blair  they cannot be  condemened in the same breath as those Labour MPs  would have opposed the War  if the Tories hasd been in power

And the failure  of the Liberal Democrats to bak Adam Price campaign to Impeach Blair was a  disgrace. for a Party opposed to the intervention

For the record  Those who backed Adam were 

Conservative Party
Richard Bacon
Angela Browning
Nigel Evans
Roger Gale
Edward Garnier
John Gummer
Douglas Hogg QC
Boris Johnson
Richard Page

Labour Party
Peter Kilfoyle was the only Labour MP to support the campaign, but he withdrew his support before the selection process by his constituency office began for the upcoming 2005 election.

Liberal Democrats]
Paul Marsden
Jenny Tonge

Plaid Cymru
Elfyn Llwyd
Adam Price
Simon Thomas
Hywel Williams

Scottish National Party
Annabelle Ewing
Angus Robertson
Alex Salmond
Michael Weir
Pete Wishart

George Galloway (RESPECT)
Richard Taylor (Independent) 

It is Labour and those who backed Blair  including Anne Clwyd 

As a recent article by Dan O 'Neil in the South Wales Echo  he wrote 

To her eternal credit Ann Clwyd had been an implacable opponent of Saddam’s monstrous regime for years as she championed the persecuted Kurds and Marsh Arabs. So she was right behind the (illegal) invasion and so optimistic about Iraq’s future, so condemnatory of Saddam that she was courted by one of America’s weirdest neo-con war lords, deputy defence secretary Paul Wolfowitz.
Here was a guy described by one senator as a fanatic and the true architect of pre-emptive attack on any state stepping out of line. He was ready to invade Iraq two days after 9/11 for no other reason except a long-held ambition to topple Saddam. He was a hawk with Syria, Iran and even North Korea in his sights. Ann was invited to Washington to meet him.
“Super hawk? No. he was a very engaging personality and I found it very easy to talk to him.” Then along came Wolfowitz’s boss Donald Rumsfeld, the defence secretary behind the “shock and awe” assault. “He had a great line in self deprecation,” our Annie assured us. “Which is a great thing in a politician.”
I wonder had she forgotten that this was the bloke who supported Saddam when he used chemical weapons against Iran, the same weapons that killed thousands of Kurds, one reason for Annie’s passionate campaign against

Left Foot Forward should be condemning those who cheered Blair not those expressed doubts