Thursday 31 December 2015

Wales is treated with indifference rather than contempt

 There is an old saying 

"The squeaky wheel gets the oil".

It seems that Plaid may be  thinking of this  with the report in the Wasting Mule that Plaid claim claims Wales gets a 'raw deal' because Conservatives do not respect or fear Carwyn Jones 

According to the article,

The leaders of the devolved governments in Scotland and Northern Ireland can win concessions from the UK Government but Wales gets a “raw deal” because its leader does not “command respect” in Westminster, Plaid Cymru has claimed.
In the latest sign that the nationalist party will target First Minister Carwyn Jones in the month’s leading up to May’s Assembly elections, Plaid drew a comparison with the record of SNP leader Nicola Sturgeon.
 Carmarthen East and Dinefwr MP Jonathan Edwards said Mr Jones was “not taken seriously” in Westminster and that this was reflected in the latest proposals for changes to the funding and powers of the Welsh Government.

 Mr Edwards said:

“With the Labour first minister having failed to command respect in Westminster, it is hardly surprising that Wales gets such a raw deal on fair funding and more powers. Recent issues such as fair funding for Wales from the HS2 high-speed rail project has exposed the weaknesses in Carwyn Jones’ leadership.”
 The Tories are treating the Labour administration in Cardiff Bay with contempt because they don’t respect or fear them. Contrast this with the relationship between Westminster and Edinburgh and Belfast.
“In Scotland, there is a strong first minister who has succeeded in holding the UK Tory government’s feet to the fire and securing more powers for the Scottish parliament to grow the economy and generate jobs. Similarly the Northern Irish Government has won a succession of concessions from Westminster.
“Wales is not a second class nation and there is no reason why we should settle for anything less than a similar deal. The only way of achieving this is to elect a Plaid Cymru government with Leanne Wood as First Minister in May.”

Of course  as I have so often mentioned the Mule finds irs "Labour spokesman to challenge Plaid claim

A spokesman for First Minister Mr Jones said: 

“This is embarrassing guff from Jonathan Edwards, he knows Plaid Cymru got it totally wrong on HS2. Working with other devolved administrations, Welsh Labour Ministers secured £755m over five years for Wales. Rather than admit their mistake and welcome the extra funding, Plaid are digging a deeper and deeper hole. Their lack of humility betrays a party unready for Government.”
: “In contrast to this, whether it is on Europe, education funding, the Wales Bill, or attracting inward investment, Carwyn Jones is fighting hard for the people of Wales. This is one of the reasons he is so popular with wavering Plaid voters.
“Everyone knows that many inside Plaid Cymru are plotting to jump into bed with the Tories to try form a Government in May. Welsh Labour will be fighting hard to avoid a disastrous coalition of chaos.”
It is interesting that Labour that in Scotland will be arguing against the SNP gaining a Majority in the Scottish Parliament with al the guff about Scotland being a"One Party Stata" whilst campaigning her efor themselves to have a working majority in the Welsh Assembly.

For myself I think Plaid may be wrong Wales is treated with contempt  it is more like indifference. Contempt at least means we register on the London Parties Radar
It is  not so much because of Carwyn Jones himself but because for Labour despite a few glitches their hegemony here has remained intact and for the Tories although  they do not regard  Wales a lost cause they see seat gains as a bonus rather  than a a long term plan and certainly .

Wales does not even seem to have even drawn the contempt of do the degree that 

 A former minister in David Cameron's government told Margaret Thatcher that "pampered" Scots deserved deep spending cuts in the 1980s, new files show.
In 1986, David Willetts, then a Downing Street policy advisor, told the Prime Minister that the Conservative Party's position north of the border was "so bad" it might not get worse if Scots' share of public spending was cut, describing the country as a "juicy target" for cuts.
Willetts later became an MP and was universities minister from 2010 to 2014 during the Coalition Government. He stood down from the Commons in May and is now a member of the House of Lords.

Wales will continue to be treated with indifference unless we realise  that voting for Unionist Parties and accepting our lot as "Poor West Britons" will not change anything.

Only by joining the move to Independents in the sane way as Scotland and Catalonia can we be able to claim  as in the Dafydd Iwan song "Ry'n ni yma o hyd."


Wednesday 30 December 2015

Turkey's pro-Kurdish opposition party leaders face arrest for "treason".

We in Wales in Scotland may have the whole force of the Unionist media against us but at least we are not faced with the threat of being arrested for treason for calling for autonomy for our Nations.

According to the BBC
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has condemned as "treason" a call by Selahattin Demirtas for Kurdish autonomy.
"What the co-leader has done is treason, provocation," Mr Erdogan said, referring to Mr Demirtas, co-leader of the Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP).
At the weekend the HDP and other pro-Kurdish groups called for self-rule in Turkey's mainly Kurdish south-east.
Turkish prosecutors have launched an investigation into those comments.
The Turkish military has stepped up operations against the rebel Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK), which is fighting for Kurdish self-rule. The army says it has killed more than 200 PKK militants in the latest fighting.
The PKK is regarded as a "terrorist" organisation by Turkey, the US and EU.
The HDP won 59 seats in Turkey's 550-seat parliament in the 1 November elections. It came third, behind Mr Erdogan's Justice and Development Party (AKP) and the Republican People's Party (CHP).
Speaking on Tuesday, Mr Erdogan said Mr Demirtas and other Kurdish leaders would be "taught a lesson" by the people and the law.
He accused Mr Demirtas of challenging Article 14 of the constitution, which bans activities deemed to "violate the indivisible integrity of the state".

This follows the reports that   Turkish - Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu had accused the head of Turkey's p pro-Kurdish opposition party Thursday for using a trip to Moscow to condemn Ankara's shooting down of a Russian warplane over Syria.

Selahattin Demirtas, co-head of the Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP), met foreign minister Sergei Lavrov in Moscow on Wednesday and criticised Ankara for shooting down the warplane near the border with Syria last month. Moscow denies it had entered Turkish airspace.
"They take sides with whoever Turkey is facing a crisis with. Demirtas saying in Moscow that Turkey's downing of Russian jet was wrong is a total disgrace and treason," Davutoglu told a meeting of businessmen in Ankara.
"Our main duty is to raise our voice against Russian cruelty. Supporting Russia while it kills civilians in Syria is treason not only against this country, but also against humanity."

Kurdish politicians have accused Ankara of focusing military efforts on Kurdish militia in Iraq and Syria and failing to take up the fight with Islamic State.

We can only speculate  what Endogan  means by  Mr Demirtas and other Kurdish leaders would be "taught a lesson" by the people and the law.

But if Mr Demirtas is arrested for calling for Automony  then what will the response of David Cameron that great defender of Democracy and Freedom?

I'm sure that that there are some Unionists andin the Media who would love to accuse Leanne Wood and in particular Nicola Surgeon of Treason for calling for Independence but they are probably content for now to allow the continuation of Project fear in Scotland under the new guise of SNPBAD.

And what of Jeremy Corbyn? Will the Labour leader condemn the Turkish Government if it arrest the leaders pro-Kurdish opposition part? 

If the Turkish leader carries out his threats it must be commended  from all quarters and Turkey status as an ally must be brought into question .

Tuesday 29 December 2015

Don't Blame foreign aid for the plight of the UK flood victims.

I for one have been filled with despair  with Facebook posts  which have the line

It's time we stop foreign Aid, for the short term, and spend it on helping our own people.Please re post if you agree.
 and Labour MP Simon Danczuk made the suggestion while speaking to BBC Radio Manchester on Monday in the aftermath of the devastation which hit his Rochdale constituency. He said: 
"Why do we spend money in Bangladesh when it needs spending in Great Britain? What we need to do is to sort out the problems which are occurring here and not focus so much on developing countries. That has to be our priority."
So I was delighted with  Michael Sheen  when guest editor on BBC Radio 4's Today Programme when he used his closing speech to debate the merits of using aid money to help victims of disasters closer to home, such as flood victims in York and other parts of the North.
Apparently Sheen has caused a storm of controversy by criticising calls for the foreign aid budget to be diverted to help flood victims.
 And it is absolutely true. There is terrible, terrible poverty in this country; there are terrible conditions for certain people. 'And I can understand why people get so worried about giving money to other countries, but of course 0.7 per cent of the national income goes on foreign aid.'That is about being a member of the global community, taking that responsibility seriously. 99.3 per cent of course goes on what goes on in this country.

...And the argument, the false dichotomy of pushing British people against foreigners, or shirkers against strivers, it's a false argument. 

'And it allows other people who have certain interests to get away with it.'The argument needs to be, "What is our government doing for people in our own country?"'
But maybe its the view of one of the Flood victims that sum things up

Exactly is not Foreign Aid that is diverting Money  from helping our own people  but Our Vainglorious belief that we can claim to be a World Power by spending Millions on bombing Syria in every Raid.

It is typical of our Society that some blame other destitute people rather than  those in Power.

Thank the God I don't believe in for Michael Sheen and the above Liam Cox for a bit of sanity and hopefully people will see that robbing other victims is not the answer.

Sunday 27 December 2015

Man of the People. My arse.

Nigel Farage likes to portray himself as a"Man of the People"  and Ukip as speaking up for the silent majority, but he got it badly wrong yesterday.

Greeting huntsmen of the Old Surrey Burstow and West Kent Hunt before a legal Boxing Day chase, Mr Farage’s wearing an array  lapel badges showing  his sympathy for lifting the 2005 ban on hounds tearing foxes  to bits.
UK Independence Party leader Nigel Farage shakes hands with huntsman Mark Bycroft of the Old Surrey Burstow and West Kent Hunt before they departed from Chiddingstone Castle for the annual Boxing Day hunt in Chiddingstone, south east England
Either Farage is permanently pissed or the obligatory  pint is just for show.

He favours relaxing controls . But 80% of people in the UK back the law, a recent poll said. 

Downing Street suggested it might introduce a government motion to amend the 2004 ban by relaxing rules that say farmers can only use two dogs to hunt.

But this appears to .be far from the wishes of the general public.

There may be a class divide but its not that larger and  if anyone is trying to  to turn hunting issue into class warfare as Farage claims. It is him and his a minority of "posh pals", claiming to either speak for the people when they clearly do not or posing as victims.

As some one who supports causes in which I am a minority  (probably more than Farage) . I do not believe that  he and is supporters for this despicable activity (you can't call it a sport) should shut up.

But clearly they and the Tory Government are in a minority on this and unless they believe the only minority that should be listened to are the Hunting Fraternity legislation on Fox Hunting should be going in the other way rather than trying to reintroduce it.

The Tories however are not all Pro-hunting But Blue Fox, the increasingly confident lobby group coordinating Tory anti-bloodsports activists, claims that nearly 60 Conservative MPs would vote against proposals to weaken the ban.

So the likelihood is that any attempt to push forward any attempt to to reintroduce Fox hunting would fail.

It is a pity that this may the reason why a change in the Law is unlikely rather than Cameron realising the people he and Farage  claim to speak for will not back the reintroduction of tearing a animal to pieces and calling it Sport.

Thursday 24 December 2015

Nadolig Llawen

Like everybody else I will be taking a break over the Christmas period so

Nadolig llawen a blwyddyn newydd dda

And for the rest of the Celtic World

 Marchal's original design of the Breton flag - Image by Ivan Sache , 5 ...

Nedeleg laouent ha bloavezh mat

Cornish flag | Cornwall flag | ST Pirans flag | Cornish
Nadelik Lowen ha Blydhen Nowydh Da

Irish flags, Ireland flags, Irish flag, Ireland Flag

Nollaig Shona agus faoi Mhaise Duit

Nollick Ghennal as Blein Vie Noa

Nollaig chridheil agus bliadhna mhath ùr

and i can't ignore my friends in England



Merry Christmas and Happy New Year

Indeed to everyone throughout  the World never mind you Religion or Lack of one I wish you all well and the hope for peace and prosperity where ever you are for now and specially the future 

Wednesday 23 December 2015

Are the Welsh Greens moving to be a real Welsh Party?

The Green Dragon Blog reporting on the Green Party leadership makes an empathises on the new leader Alice Hooker Stroud  being " Macynlleth born and Welsh speaking " and the jer deputy being " the Neath born Director of NUS Wales Hannah Pudner".

While I don't think being Welsh Born or Welsh speaking is a absolute necessity for any Party in Wales it should go some way to counter any suggesting that the Green Party here is largely one of incomers 

It will certainly be helped  with another piece in the Blog 

Another exciting development to report has occurred in the shape of the recently launched 'Seren Werdd' group. Created by Welsh Green Party members and supporters the aim of the group is to follow the lead undertaken by greens in Scotland a few years ago and bring about an Independent Wales Green party (the welsh greens are currently an autonomous section of the green party of england and wales). More information on Seren Werdd can be found here

This is most welcome  it has not helped Green politics to be seen as another Branch Office Party"

As what is clear I am a Plaid supporter  though  not a member because I believe this Blog should be Independent and free to criticise Plaid  when it I believe it is necessary.

In Scotland there are other Parties that back Independence rather than the SNP and it does give voters there who might disagree with their recent  commitment to join NATO an alternative.

And the Polls show that although the SNP are heading for a thumping Majority  in May ther Greens may be the only party to make sinificent gains in seats.

According to the Scotland Votes website, replicated uniformly next May, such results would see the SNP win 78 seats, nine more than they already hold in the Scottish Parliament. Labour would lose 12 seats, falling to just 25.
The Conservatives would remain steady on 15 seats whilst the Lib Dems would lose all but three of the five seats they hold at present. The Greens would pick up seven seats to get nine in total.

I don't think that Plaid supporters have the luxury of being to voter Green in  the regional list in May but it would be a sign of the Blaid's  strength that in future elections we could see a Plaid government  and a number of Green AMs committed to at the very least parity with Scotland.

So I have "liked" Seren Werdd " on Facebook and look to seeing it develop .

Wales needs all the voices against "Dark Unionism" it can get.

Tuesday 22 December 2015

Late entrant for daft idea to reform Welsh Assembly of the year.

Every now again there cones a idea that highlights the contempt that various UK institutions hold for  the Welsh Assembly and make a case that they would not dare to suggest in Scotland.

The latest comes in a BBC news report that MPs could serve as Welsh government ministers in a bid to widen the talent pool, according to  the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales

It occurs to me that if you wanted to widen the Talent pool then simply increase the Number so AMs by electing them

The claim by the Institute of Chartered Accountants Welsh director Martin Warren amove would also ease the "growing burden" on politicians in Cardiff Bay as more power is devolved, the group's Wales director Martin Warren said.

Again this looks like an argument for more elected AM rather  handing some of the reins of government to members of another Legislature

To be fair Mr Warren did acknowledge  that

If it proved difficult to increase the number of AMs from the present 60, a bigger role could be given to the 40 MPs from Wales as their role in Parliament diminished,

So maybe this is a clever way of pointing out that we need more AMs by pointing to a even more unpopular alternative

Or am I a bit too full of Seasonal Goodwill?

Peers serving in the UK cabinet have set the precedent, he added.

Yes and they are technically Members of Parliament although anther chamber 
Parties in the assembly have questioned the idea on the grounds of democracy and accountability.

The accountants' organisation said scrutiny of Welsh legislation was suffering due to "significant workloads for politicians shifting from Westminster to Cardiff Bay".

He's right there but  maybe he should question why this doesn't seem to be the case in Scotland 
One of the arguments for the SNP success in Scotland is that werhas the SNP sent their best people to Holyrood. Labour continued to send thier best people to Westminster.

You can argue about that and in Wales we can point to the fact that although we keep voting in a Labour Government in Cardiff Bay they are not up to it and have run the Assembly very poorly

He also  suggested letting the first minister appoint MPs to the Welsh cabinet, or inviting MPs to serve on assembly committees, in both cases reducing the demands on the time of politicians in Cardiff Bay.

 OK so if MPs could serve as Welsh government ministers then surely opposition parties could do the same.

Imagine a Party with no Welsh MPs  appointing MPs from English constituencies siting in the Assembly  shadow cabinet?

Another idea put forward was the creation of a non-political body of professionals who could advise on and scrutinise policy.

Er is that a suggestion of creating a second unelected chambre?

"Wales is a small country with limited resources and making best use of those resources within a democratic framework to achieve for Wales must surely be an objective that crosses all political borders," said Mr Warren.

 There doesn't seem to me much appetite for Mr Warren ridiculous proposal

Dr Rebecca Rumbul, manager of the Wales Governance Centre at Cardiff University, said involving MPs in assembly business might be "confusing" to voters.

Liberal Democrat AM Peter Black was also doubtful, claiming MPs 

 "won't be able to do either job properly".

For Plaid Cymru, AM Rhodri Glyn Thomas said:

 "Placing the members of another parliament in the government of a different country would rightly be considered as undemocratic."
A Welsh government spokesman said:

 "Ministers are selected from the membership of the democratically elected National Assembly and we see no need to change this.

This is a ridiculous and insulting idea. How many of the Welsh MPs are really that talented.

Given that very few of Labour's Welsh MPs ever make it to either the Cabinet or Shadow Cabinet these days very few these days.

The first thing we need for the Assembly to work properly is to get a First Minister with a vision for at the very least it to have the same powers as the Scottish Parliament and not be content in simply working out how to spend our pocket money (sorry Block Grant).

It is unlikely that this is going to come from the current "Welsh Labour" party no mater who they bring into the Assembly government..

Monday 21 December 2015

Cardiff Council Labour Group "In Special Measures"?

 Cardiff Councilor Ralph Cook who after being suspended by the Labour Group quit it and is currently I believed suspended by the Labour  Party  following complaints about his  posting on Facebook regarding the Prophet Mohammad.may have given his critics further impetus with a recent post.

He writes 
The Cardiff Labour Group is in effect currently in "special measures": It has an adviser appointed by the Welsh executive to "assist" the Group in formulating the Council's budget - the same adviser was employed last year but the Group rejected all the recommendations put forward by him and the group of members (which included myself) who had worked alongside him. There are also two observers from the Welsh executive who also regularly attend Group meetings. The Group is entirely dysfunctional. The Group has a campaigning budget - contributed by members from their allowances - of somewhere near £100,000. Currently some of that money is being spent would you believe it on food for members at Council meetings. I have never eaten any of it because I believe Group campaign funds are for campaigning, not for filling bellies of people who can't be bothered to make or buy their own sandwiches.
Since he has deleted the entry on Mohammad I can not comment on it .

But his recent post above may be the main reason why Labour want to Mr Cook out of the Parry as well as the Council group,

It seems that  the Welsh Executive are concerned with the ongoing Civil War within the Cardiff Group even without Councilor Cooks presence.

What other Labour controlled Council has these special advisers "assisting" them I wonder?

But surely it is a matter of Public concern that unelected Labour officials seem to have a role in the running of the Council? With resignations and Political Coups it sometimes looks more like the plot for a BBC Wales for a cheap version of the Danish Political Drama Borgen

If it was any other party the Wasting Mule and its Sister paper the South Wales Echo would be investigating what is going on in Cardiff Council thoroughly.

We get occasional press reports and the odd Social Media comment but alas the majority of the residence of our Capitol are in the dare over what is going on in thier city hall.

They deserve better.

Saturday 19 December 2015

Welsh Assembly elections may decide Ukip's UK leadership.

The leader of Ukip in Wales has unsurprisingly  heaped praise on his UK boss Nigel Farage after the party’s only sitting MP suggested he should be replaced.
Ukip Wales MEP Nathan Gilll defended Mr Farage after Douglas Carswell said the party needed a “fresh face”. 

I imaging whatever the feelings of Ukip members  in Wales (How many are there?) . The prospect of having a bitter leadership election before the welsh Assembly Election is not one they would welcome.

So it hardly uprising that Mr Gill said

“I cannot fathom what Mr Carswell is trying to achieve but if he thinks he is on the pulse of the UKIP membership, or the voter, then he is just plain wrong.
“I, along with my colleagues, are seething at these ridiculous remarks.”

Mr Gill described his leader as “incredible”, a “superb orator” and doing “more than anybody else to take the debate over our EU membership to the British people.”
“He is an inspiration with an incredible work ethic,” he said.
“He is also the man doing more than anybody else to take the debate over our EU membership to the British people.”

In an interview with BBC Essex, Clacton MP Mr Carswell said:

 “The Oldham by-election to me said very clearly that I think we need a fresh face.”
Mr Carswell suggested that Mr Farage had taken the party as far as he could and Ukip needed to “change gear”.
He said: “We all need to think very carefully as to whether or not we can build beyond the base we have now got without that change.
“We have gone from being a party with 2%-3% market share to a party with 13%, 14%, 15% market share, and that’s a phenomenal achievement, an incredible achievement and no one can ever say that that hasn’t been an achievement.
“But sometimes a start-up needs to change gear and to change its management if it is to go to the next level.”

Mr Carswell is  Ukip's sole MP and it MR Farage remains the prospect of loosing their sole MP seems possible .

 The former UKIP MP Mark Reckless is to take on a leading role in the party's campaign to win seats in the National Assembly for Wales and  he seems likely to stand and win a Regional seat in the Election.

What will Nigel Farage's role in these elections be.

Will despite Nathan Gills protestations of Loyalty we he welcome a strong presence  Ukip leader in Wales.

Will he be seen an asset or as seen in Scotland his presence seems to have a negative effect.

There has been much speculation over the effect  the Scottish and Welsh Elections in May may have on Jermey Corbyn's leadership  of Labour.

But it may well be Wales that decide it . Labour have already written of Scotland but to lose seats in Wales will give Corbyn's enemies ammunition.

But if Ukip do not do as well the polls indicate in Wales then they will look for an excuse and Farage may well be blamed.

Indeed the future of Ukip may well depend on the Welsh result . They have be faltering in local government elections since last May and with a Euro referendum apparently coming sooner than later Ukip may well have the plank pulled from under them.


Friday 18 December 2015

Byelection Gogarth Division on Conwy County Council

There was a byelection fir the Gogarth Division on Conwy County Council

2012 result
Gogarth - results
Election Candidate Party Votes %
Margaret Lyon Independent/ Annibynnol 368 19% Elected
Janet Elizabeth Haworth Welsh Conservative Party Candidate/Ymgeisydd Plaid Geidwadol Cymru 317 17% Elected
Mike Pritchard Welsh Labour/ Llafur Cymru 279 15% Not elected
Terry Dewar Welsh Labour/ Llafur Cymru 259 14% Not elected
Michael Williams Welsh Conservative Party Candidate/Ymgeisydd Plaid Geidwadol Cymru 248 13% Not elected
Greg Robbins Plaid Cymru - The Party of Wales 220 12% Not elected
John Ridler Independent/ Annibynnol 212 11% Not elected

2015 Byelction Result (Conservative Defense)

Hugh Thomas Montagu Saville   Conservative 318 [42.5%; +15.7%]
Deborah Louise Good                 Labour 187 [25%; +1.4%]
Greg Robbins                            Plaid Cymru 167 [22.3%; +3.7%]
Roger Hewitt Boon                    LD  49 [6.5%; +6.5%]
Mark Pavey                              Independent 28 [3.7%; +3.7%]
[Previous Independents [0.0%; -31.1%]]
Conservative Hold
Percentage change since 2012

So a Tory Hold  it is difficult to read any major political shift from this result clearly the presence of an obviously popular Independent who was previously a Conservative Councilor  in a ward that sems to be otherwise Nominally Conservative clouds any swing .or sign of diffraction with the Party . Though it looks like the Majority of Margret Lyo'sn vote went to the Tories.
If you are interested  there a list of this Ward results back to 2004 here


Thursday 17 December 2015

Reform our Councils to be more efficent not just to save costs.

The Wasting Mules reports that

 "A leading expert on local government has blasted plans to cut Wales’ 22 councils to eight or nine.Professor Colin Copus, director of the Local Governance Research Unit at De Montfort University, has attacked arguments that bigger councils will prove more efficient and warned it could damage the communities they are supposed to serve.In an article for the Gorwel think tank, Prof Copus strongly criticises the treatment of local government in the devolution era and regrets a “centralising tendency”. 

He writes:

“As with most local government reform, the most depressing element of the situation in Wales is the stubborn, folklore like attachment to the perceived benefits of big local government which is consistently displayed by policy-makers.”

 “What that means is that as local government gets less and less local, trust in councillors and officers declines and that community engagement and cohesion deteriorates

 Hr continises
“Increases in size mean a cull of councillors and those remaining must cover larger areas, look after the interests of more citizens, care and respond to the individual problems of more and more constituents and struggle to oversee massive budgets as well as monitor and hold to account the activities of large bureaucratic organisations spending public money. They must do all that while not full-time salaried politicians in the same way as Assembly Members and Members of Parliament.”
 He laments an “obsession with super-sizing councils” and claims the “sad fact is that policy-makers seem wedded to increasing the size of Welsh local government and they do that because when developing solutions to contemporary problems, what often occurs is not the search for evidence-based policy, but policy-based evidence”.

Meanwhile the BBC reports claims that the whole process is preventing Councils from taking action to reform their structures now.

Debates on whether or not to merge councils have been a distraction from deciding how services should be run, the public spending watchdog has said.
Auditor General Huw Vaughan Thomas told BBC Wales English councils were "re-designing themselves" and Welsh councils needed to do the same.
Ministers want to reduce the number of councils from 22 to eight or nine, after the May 2016 assembly election.
Mr Thomas said services needed more radical change to cope with cuts.
Five years into the longest period of sustained spending reductions since World War Two, he said public services needed to be reformed, but that had been "overshadowed" by local government reorganisation.
The Welsh government's council merger plans have had a hostile reception from political opponents and some Labour council leaders.
"There has been a lot of debate about the nature of services, but it has been overshadowed by what kind of structure of local government we want," Mr Thomas said.
"What's more important for people is not necessarily what council is there, but the services they are providing, it's certainly been a distraction.
"It's affected, I think, the ability of some councils to think beyond four or five year horizons. They need to think much longer term."
He said councils in England were "redesigning themselves" and "we need to be doing the same in Wales".
"But there's almost a desire to do as little change as is needed," Mr Thomas said.

I an not convinced that Bigger Councils are the answer and would prefer a Tier of Government based on maybe the Police Authorities to deal with the Police,Fire ,Ambulance and possibly Social services with about 20 full time elected "Super Councillors" to deal with them.

Part of the cost could be saved by abolshing the Police abd Crimes Commissioner for instance,

The rest of the Councils could remain the same . Some like Gwynedd and Powys could revert to their old boundaries like like Merioneth and Brecon.

Surely this would e better than having Councilor driving for hours in order to get to a Council meeting to discus a topic that only affects his or her part of the new County?

And ordinary people will be denied the chance to make their views directly to their council.

The issue should not be how cheaply we can deliver local Government but how efficient .

Wednesday 16 December 2015

Why is the IWA amd "Welsh Labour giving Farage a platform here?

Yesterday s Blog  about a Pontypridd's Ukip general election candidate switching  to Labour ahead of Assembly election generated a fair bit of interest and it seemed to prove how worried the Labour Party are about Ukip gaining a  foothold in in Wales  

That’s apparently comes from a stark warning in an internal Labour Party analysis, leading sources to warn that “the real danger UKIP pose to Labour lies ahead”.

 Now we have Ukip leader Nigel Farage and Welsh First Minister Carwyn Jones have accepted a think tank’s invitation to debate whether the UK should remain in the European Union

The event, organised by the Institute of Welsh Affairs, is due to take place in Cardiff on January 11.

 Director of the Institute of Welsh Affairs, Lee Waters, was selected as Llanelli candidate for Labour earlier this year.

There have been  some questions how a Labour candidate in the National Assembly elections can continue to run the Welsh think-tank following his selection.

It does seems rather odd that both the IWA and Welsh Labour  seem intend on  giving Ukip a wider platform im Wales.

On spring 2014 Mr Farage held two debates with the then deputy prime minister Nick Clegg in the run-up to the European Parliament elections, in which UKIP topped the poll.

It is wildly accepted that Farage bested Clegg and give him a boost . Whereas the LibDEm leader appeal to Pro-European voters fell on deaf years .

Can we rely believe that Carwyn who has spent the last Five years not answering questions in the Assembly and who is not highly regarded for his debating skills outside.

So why is he and the IWA giving Farage and Ukip the Oxygen of Publicity.

OK here comes the conspiracy theory.

Labour in Wales have been looking at Scotland and nay well have come to the conclusion that the long term threat will come not from Ukip but Plaid Cymru.

Maybe the hope is that by flagging a Ukip threat  Plaid,Green and LibDem voters will hold their noses and vote for Labour  especially in the Regional list.

After all if Ukip push Plaid into 4th place you will probably here muted cheers in Labour quarters.

I'm not sure if my theory is correct after all it may well be the IWA is interested in having a Welsh angle on the European debate.

But then why exclude other Welsh Parties?

If my wild musing are correct Labour may be playing a dangerous game with the future of the Welsh Assembly  at stake

Tuesday 15 December 2015

Pontypridd General Election Candidate Switches to Labour (Good or Bad?)

Wales Online has an intriguing story that the Pontypridd's Ukip general election candidate switches to Labour ahead of Assembly election
We are even provided with Photo's of the current AM Mick Antoniw

Andrew Tomkinson joins Mick Antoniw on the campaign trail

The story claims Ukip ’s general election candidate for Pontypridd has switched allegiances to Labour ahead of the National Assembly election next May. 

Andrew Tomkinson won more than 5,000 votes in the general election earlier this year – with Ukip’s 13.4% share of Pontypridd’s vote a significant 10.1% increase from its performance in 2011. 

The ex-serviceman from Graigwen has now resigned from Ukip to join the Labour Party, and has been on the campaign trail with current Pontypridd AM Mick Antoniw .

Mr Tomkinson, who has served in Afghanistan, said he originally “fell into” becoming a Ukip member.
He said: 

“I’m interested in getting things done locally.

  “Labour’s successes such as forcing the Tories’ U-turn on tax credits, taking action on fracking, generating more jobs in Wales and making significant infrastructure investments across Taff Ely, shows that they are the only party who are able to get things done for local, working people.”

“I just sort of fell into Ukip membership. At the time it seemed new and exciting, but I quickly discovered that many of Ukip’s policies conflicted with my own beliefs particularly on climate change, fracking and social issues.
“I’ve never been anti-European and want to see a fairer, more equal society, not more tax cuts for the rich.”
 This News appears to be a direct copy of a Labour Party leaflet with the words

"Andrew’s switch to Labour was welcomed" by Mr Antoniw, who added:

 “More and more people are recognising that it is only Labour and a Labour Government in Wales who will stand up against the Tories austerity programme.We want to see a fairer and more prosperous Wales and will always defend the poorest in society, who are being targeted so viciously by the Tories.I welcome Andrew’s support and would say to anyone who has supported other parties to come home to Labour and help us to take on the Tories and create a better, more equal society.”

Considering being  Anti-European is one of the major causes for  Ukip existence not being so seems a bit odd to someone who was not only a member but a candidate

Interestingly there does not seem  to be any mention by Mt Tomlinson on Ukip other main platform " Immigration" and since I did not I have a Ukip leaflet and Mr T Tomkinson did not turn up to the Hustings I attended . I have no real Idea what Mr Tomkinson actual thoughts   were during the May election or whether he agreed with the UKip Manifesto .

He might well have been deluded at like many people who backed Ukip in May did so because they  seemed to be outside the political bubble.

Labour appear to be worried about Labour in the forthcoming Assembly Elections and its no wonder they are pushing this helped with a compliant Wales Online .

But one wonder,s how comfortable  Mick Antoniw, who is the most prominent backer of Labour Leader Jeremy Corbyn in Welsh Labour feels tramping the Streets with someone who less than year ago was associating with views that were an anathema to the AM.

Monday 14 December 2015

Calling Shaker Aamer" a resident of Guantanamo Bay" is appaling.

The Media have a very strange term to refer to Shaker Aamer long imprisonment often in solitary confinement

The headlines  including the BBC refer to him as

 "last British resident held at Guantanamo Bay"
Resident?  What kind of word  is that to use for someone who was tortured and mentally abused?

 Shaker Aamer, a Saudi national married to a Briton, was suspected by U.S. authorities of being an Islamist militant associated with al Qaeda but was never charged with any crime. He was released in October after 13 years detention at Guantanamo and has returned to Britain.

In his first broadcast interview, to the BBC's Victoria Derbyshire programme, Shaker Aamer detailed abuse he allegedly suffered at the US camp and in detention in Afghanistan.
He has alleged that a British official was present at one of his beatings.
But he said he does not want to see anyone prosecuted over the case.

Speaking earlier to the Mail on Sunday newspaper, Mr Aamer denounced extremists such as the killers of Fusilier Lee Rigby, saying they should "get the hell out" of the country.

Mr Aamer was seized by bounty hunters in Afghanistan in the wake of the US invasion of Afghanistan.
He was first held in the country before being transferred to the US military base in Cuba.
US intelligence agencies believed he was working with Osama bin Laden - but Mr Aamer said he moved to Afghanistan to help with charity work. He was never charged and accusations against him were dropped in 2007. 

He told the Victoria Derbyshire programme he could not talk about compensation "for many reasons", but added that it was "beside the point". 

"I do not want to prosecute anybody," he said, "I do not want anybody to be asked about what his role [was] in the past. I just want people to tell the truth."
He also said he did not intend to take legal action, saying: "I don't believe the court will bring justice because of what happened in the past."

Mr Aamer told the Victoria Derbyshire programme that on one occasion, he believed a British intelligence officer was present when an American interrogator was beating the detainee's head against a wall.
"I felt my head - boom, boom, boom - banging the wall. And all I remember [is] that my head just keep banging the wall, back and forth, back and forth, back and forth,".
Asked if he was certain a British intelligence officer was present, he replied: "I would say 80, 90%.
"I have no doubt he is an Englishman, because of the way he spoke, the way he is very careful, the way he was sitting far away, looking at me."
The British government said it "stands firmly against torture and cruel, inhumane and degrading treatment or punishment" - and the US military says it does not tolerate abuse of detainees. 

A spokesman for the US Department of Defence added:

 "Shaker Aamer was lawfully detained at the detention facility at Guantanamo Bay.
"He was transferred to the United Kingdom following a determination by the Secretary of Defense, consistent with statutory requirements, that security arrangements are in place to substantially mitigate Aamer's potential threat to the United States

Would the US describe the Imprisonment of one of its Citizens who was never charged ot taken to Trial and yet  imprisoned for 13 years subject to Torture  as being  "Lawfully Detained" ?  Even if the country abusing their Citizen constitution allowed it.

No one  can deny the US the right to defend its Citizens at home and abroad but they like the rest of the World must abide by "Human Rights" and the law

Yes Human Rights that Wishy Washy cause of Liberal Do-gooders so derided by the right wing press.

I for one would prefer to be a do-gooder than a do-badder.

The best defence of  our Freedoms is not to deny them to others whether Guilty  or Innocent.

But to show that these Freedoms are desirable for all.

Meanwhile the BBC and the rest of the media should not use the term Resident to describe someone who has spent over 13 years in conditions we would not allow in this country.