Saturday, 28 February 2015

Devo/Dipyn Bach is Inadequate and Insulting.

So once again its a case of Devo/Dipyn Bach as Cameron and Clegg turned up in Cardiff  to tell us the wonderful new powers we are going to get.


Standing alongside Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg who is leader of supposedly Federal Party  at Friday morning’s announcement, Mr Cameron said: 

The St David’s Day agreement that we have reached today does represent one of the biggest transfers of power in the history of Welsh devolution.
“I said I wanted Wales to be at the heart of the debate about further devolution and today we are showing that it is.
“A funding floor removes the last remaining barrier for a referendum on income tax devolution.
“Today’s agreement paves the way for a referendum that could deliver an Assembly that is not just spending money but is actually responsible for raising some of its revenue too.”
 Powers in the Parliamentary command paper include licensing oil and gas extraction in Wales – allowing Wales in effect to have a full moratorium on fracking.
planning consents for projects up to 350MW and power over sewerage are among the measures in the package. Plans also include devolving Assembly elections, making the body permanent, respecting the Assembly if it wants to change its name to a Welsh Parliament and allowing for more AMs.

Political Pundit Daran Hill apparently seems to think that this settles things . Writing in Click on Wales  he says

... In conclusion, it was an ambitious objective by the Secretary of State for Wales to try and settle the devolution question. What the package does is not so much draw a line in the sand but to define where the debates of the next five years will be. They won’t be over devolving additional powers like policing and criminal justice. The debates of the next five years will be around if and when a tax powers referendum is held, what the Assembly should name itself, and how many toga clad senators might sit there in future
And there was me thinking Daran and his PostIf group had his finger on the pulse of Welsh Politics,

 there is a red line its be crossed already 

Labour probably see a trap in the Tax raising powers ans Welsh Labour Leader  Carwn Jones poured cold water on this

Mr Jones said: 

"We've had no real commitment from the UK government, no date when the underfunding of Wales will be dealt with and no sum of money mentioned; just a vague promise."
He added: “I note what has been said by the Prime Minister and the Deputy Prime Minister this morning, and there is some welcome progress on certain areas. Credit is due to those, from all parties, who have worked to get something tangible out of this rushed and unsatisfactory process.
“However, Wales is still not being treated with the same respect as that being afforded to Scotland and this continuing imbalanced approach is damaging to the UK.
“The move towards a funding floor is an important step forward and we have been pushing for this for some time. But we cannot be confident that funding for Wales has been put on a fair and sustainable footing until the detail is agreed at the next Spending Review. This is disappointing and should also be seen in the context of an unprecedented £1.5bn cut to the Welsh budget in this term.
“We will now consider the details of the proposals ahead of a full response to the National Assembly for Wales on Tuesday.”

Whils Plaid Leader Leader  said:

 “I thank the Secretary of State for facilitating this process and Plaid Cymru entered into it in the spirit of cooperation. For reasons that have not been satisfactorily explained, however, Westminster has insisted that the people of Wales settle for a powers package that falls far short of the normal going-rate of devolution in the United Kingdom.
“Whilst some inclusions, such as the devolution of powers over fracking, are to be welcomed, this command paper falls well short of the powers that can help us strengthen our communities. And it goes nowhere near getting the funding settlement that Wales is owed after decades of disadvantage.”

And in a very astute move produced a Table that show how Deco/Dipyn Bach has left as behind Scotland but Nirthern Ireland


 Far from being settled we hopefully can see Devo/Dipyn Bach   being expose as both Inadequate and Insulting.

Friday, 27 February 2015

Should Plaid completly rule out any deal with the Tories?

Over at Borthlas  John Dixon raises the question of if there is a hung Parliament  after next may whether Plaid should not completely rule out doing a deal with the Tories if it resulted in a good deal for Wales.

As John points
Given the position in Scotland, ruling out a deal with the Tories may well be an electorally sound strategy.  The SNP is now in a commanding position, with the Labour Party’s support apparently in freefall, and the party’s leaders looking increasingly panicky.  Reassuring Labour voters that the journey from their past voting habits to voting SNP is a very short and easy one makes a great deal of sense in terms of delivering the coup de grace.  And there is no longer a single constituency in Scotland where it is credible to argue that the SNP can't win.
But the same is not true for the Greens in England or for Plaid in Wales.  Outside a handful of seats, it is not credible to argue that those parties are in with a serious chance of winning.  Can anyone seriously see those two parties having more than around 6 seats between them come May?  Whilst it makes sense to tie the post-election narrative for those two parties to the strength of the SNP, does it make sense to tie their electoral narrative into that of the SNP in the same way? 
 The potential effect of knowing in advance that those parties favour a Labour government – and that’s what they’ve effectively said – could all too easily backfire.  For those of their supporters who would prefer to see a Conservative Government than a Labour one (and there are more of those than many would care to admit) it could encourage them to vote for one rather than against one.  And if people do prefer a Labour government, why not simply vote for one directly?

Its a provocative yet insightful argument  typical of John

The SNP have managed to turn into a two party contest between them and Labour and surprisingly there appears to be little analysis of where the voters have come from.

Clearly many are former LibDems but there also could be a fair number of disgruntled Labour supporters .

But of more interest might be how many former Tory voters are voting SNP, having formerly voted Conservative,  simply out of dislike of the Labour Party and a simple desire to break their hegemony.

When campaigning here in the 70 and 80's, particularly in Local Authority Elections there was much talk of "The Anti-Labour " vote .

However I know that at  least of one case in a Ward with a Plaid Councillor  where the Tories stood on a regular basis when they failed to put up a candidate voters arrived at the polling station and finding there was no Tory simply walk out without voting.

Indeed it would be interesting to see whether in 1997 and 2010 when there was a change of Government  whether that was more due  Tory voters in 1997 and Labour  in 2010 not voting rather than switching parties.

But as far as GE2010 goes Plaid, probably should rule out a deal with the Tories in the 2015 -2020 Parliament simply that it would be odd to run on an Anti-Austerity ticket and envisage doing a deal with the ideological fans of it.

Thursday, 26 February 2015

At least Natalie Bennett is not a Blair or Cameron.

There is a story probably apocryphal that when the Labour Government came in to power in 1945 although it had a long commitment to the Natiolisation of the Mines  it had no real plan in how they were going to carry it out.

It is said that when being questioned on Nationalisation in the Commons  he turned to Jim Griffiths who was writing notes , Griffiths handed him  a piece of paper but unfortunately the notes where all in Welsh.

Nowadays Ministers are highly briefed  by Civil Servants and coached by PR men and when questioned in the media are apt in not answering awkward questions

 Even the extraordinary Paxman  - Howard interview did not lead to the latter answering the question with a YES or NO.

Even the extraordinary Paxman  - Howard interview did not lead to the latter answering the question with a YES or NO.

Yes  Natalie Bennett should have been better prepared.  as she  crumbled under scrutiny of her housing policies on LBC there's a trancript here.

 But Bennett could actually make a virtue of this disaster and say that she is not a professional Westminster figure   who avoids he questions they are asked in interviews, instead reiterating the part they are proudest  of a policy of again and again.

Even persistent  interviewers  like Paxman, Andrew Neil and indeed Nick Ferrari who conducted t the Bennett interview  on LBC are often to get hard figures out of their subjects.

The difference is that normally these evasions are delivered smoothly, and most speakers have been extensively polished by PR teams so that they know not to look lost and hide it with coughs and silences .

Maybe Natalie Bennett has not had the extensive  training that the Parties  and she’s paying the price for  it .

Lets face it I would rather vote for Ma Bennett that the likes of Tony Blair so polished that he blinded his interviewers or Cameron   who cleverly makes his soundbite in street interviews then walks off before the difficult questions start.

Alas people like confident Polticians even when they are lying to us so Ms Bennett may have to have some intensive coaching before the Leaders Interview or the Green surge may collapse overnight and that may welll affect the whole Anti-Austerity alliance.

Tuesday, 24 February 2015

Cardiff Labour's Civil war continues.

The Wasting Mule online reports that

Damning criticisms of Cardiff's top three councillors by an MP from their own party have emerged in a leaked email.
An email from Cardiff South and Penarth Labour MP Stephen Doughty addressed to senior Labour councillors in Cardiff contained savage criticisms of the city's budget setting process.
Swingeing cuts are being made that will see treasured community facilities including play centres face closure.
Mr Doughty's email included the words:

 "It will require some pretty categorical assurances before I am willing to believe anything you, Graham or Phil say after the appalling handling of this process so far."
Mr Doughty’s criticism was directed at the authority’s leader Phil Bale, deputy leader Sue Lent and finance chief Graham Hinchey.

This appears to be a second critical  email that  to the one that  was reported on the same website on February 12th of this year  when Stephen Doughty  and his constituency counterpart in the Assembly Vaughn Gething claimed  they have been “actively misled” by colleagues in Cardiff council’s ruling group following private discussions about proposed budget cuts in the city.
Vaughan Gething AM and Stephen Doughty MP have sent an e-mail, which we have seen, saying they feel they have been misled by senior members of the council’s ruling group – including leader Phil Bale.

It appears that there is such a rift in the Cardiff Labour someone in the Cardiff Labour party is leaking like an old car radiator.

Whether this is actually about the cuts proposed by the Council  or about the clear civil war in the council since Phil Bale replaced the former leader in what seems like a coup is unclear.

With a General election looming there may be jitters in the Cardiff Labour party that this will affect their chances of capturing Cardiff Central from the Liberal Democrats and Cardiff North from the Tories.

Interesting Times indeed


Monday, 23 February 2015

Tory MEP Kay Swinburne tells bankers they should find ways around EU bonus cap

The Wasting Mule reports that " A Top Welsh Conservative has been secretly recorded advising bankers to be “innovative” to flout rules that would cap their bumper bonuses".

The party’s MEP Kay Swinburne was caught on tape alongside a Tory MP talking to an audience in the City outlining how the Conservatives had opposed new European rules limiting how much bankers can make on top of their salaries.

Ms Swinburne, who worked in investment banking before becoming an MEP, told the audience there was no public appetite to revoke the cap and suggested they “get around it” instead.

She said: 
Dr. Kay Swinburne, Conservative MEP“I can tell you there is not a single constituent I have met that actually thinks we were right to have taken that to the courts.
Well she right  there but that does not mean that Ms Swinburne that her banking friends should accept  this completely
They think it was right that there was a bonus cap. So I think it’s up to everybody else to be a little more innovative as to how you get around it and I am hearing all sorts of schemes at the moment that do bypass the overall cap.

EU rules now limit payouts to 100% of a banker’s salary, or 200% if approved by shareholders.
Chancellor George Osbourne launched a legal fight to overturn the cap - spending £43,000 of taxpayers fight on court battles - before abandoning the bid last year after a judge rejected ministers’ claims it was illegal.

Speaking at the same event, Tory MP Mark Garnier described the cap as “vandalistic legislation”.
MP Mr Garnier worked in the City for two decades and founded a hedge fund. He sat on the Parliamentary Commission on Banking Standards and is a member of Westminster’s powerful Treasury Select Committee.
He branded the cap “complete nonsense”.
He told the Open Europe Conference in the City on January 20:

 “These types of things the average individual will see in the City just ... sort of rather like ... vandalistic legislation.

“Something like the bonus cap where we’ve done a huge amount of work in this country in order to make sure that you can have deferred bonuses for bankers in order to drive better behaviour and to help the stability of the banks - to suddenly have somebody coming in who doesn’t really apparently know very much about the behaviour of bankers to say ‘we need to have a bonus cap’ is just complete nonsense.
“It drives the wrong kind of outcome.
 Before the  In  2012 HSBC  has set out how chief executive Stuart Gulliver received £7.2m in 2011 – a year when the bank's performance was "satisfactory in aggregate" according to chairman Douglas Flint.

Gulliver has a salary of £1.25m. He can get three times that amount in his annual bonus and six times that in a long-term incentive plan which pays out on a three-year time horizon.

For 2011, he actually received £7.2m – compared with a maximum potential bonus and salary of £12.5m – because the bank awarded him 1.72 times his salary for his annual bonus and three times his salary for his long-term incentive plan. Turning to the annual bonus of £2.1m, financial targets accounted for half of his potential bonus and he achieved 30% out of 50%. Here is the break down, the percentage figure being the maximum that could have been awarded

What does he do with his Bonus which is likely to be a mere £I.5 Million in today's announcement.(Poor Lad)

It seems that Stuart Gulliver,  who has vowed to reform the crisis-hit bank, sheltered millions of pounds in a Swiss account through a Panamanian company and remains tax domiciled in Hong Kong.

So it is clear no matter how  much we  protest about the excess of the City and our Legislators make some attempt to address our concerns. The Fat Cats will find a way around it and there will be Tory MPs and MEPs who will help them in doing so. 

In Kay Swinburne we must ask whether she has actually advised anyone  how to flout the Rules announcing that such things exist and seemingly giving approval is one thing , Actually helping people to flout the rules  is a resigning matter.

Sunday, 22 February 2015

Plaid and "The Widows Mite"

Although I am not a Christian there are still some parts of Doctrine especial from the parables that I suggest we should consider

One of those I always remember is that of the Widows mite

 In the story, a widow donates two small coins, while wealthy people donate much more.[Jesus explains to his disciples that the small sacrifices of the poor mean more to God than the extravagant, but proportionately lesser, donations of the rich.

I would suggest that "A Labour  Spokesman" consider this  as as The Wasting Mule reports that

 A row has broken out between Labour and Plaid Cymru after it emerged that Plaid had received no declarable donations at all during the final quarter of last year.
Figures published by the Electoral Commission show that between October and December 2014, the Conservatives received donations totalling more than £8.3m, Labour more than £7.1m, the Liberal Democrats more than £3m and Ukip more than £1.5m. Even the Green Party registered donations of nearly £250,000.
Plaid Cymru, however, made a zero return.

The Welsh Labour spokesman said:

Just months from a general election this is deeply embarrassing for Plaid. It looks like progressives in Wales are voting with both their feet and their cheque books and giving up on the so-called party of Wales.
“Plaid members will be asking why donations have dropped off so dramatically at such an important time.For Leanne Wood, Plaid’s beleaguered nationalist leader, this is yet another devastating blow.”

Insisting that Plaid Cymru’s finances were healthy and in good shape for the election campaign, a party spokeswoman said:  (can't people give their names?"

“Parties are required to report individual donations above £7,500 to the central party (including aggregation) or individual donations above £1,500 to its accounting units (including aggregation).
“The donations received by the party in the final quarter of 2014 didn’t fit into either of these categories.
"However, we are delighted that there was a 32% increase in donations to the party between 2013 and 2014 and we’re proud to be a party which is in credit and is not burdened by very significant loans unlike most of our opponents.

"This is thanks to the kind generosity of our members and supporters and we’re grateful to them for their continued support.”
 So Where does Labour Money come from?

A list of the highest donors for the fourth quarter of 2014 shows that three trade unions gave more than £1m to the Labour Party: Unison gave nearly £1.4m, Unite gave more than £1.3m and the GMB gave nearly £1.1m.

 Labour’s donors gave it £13,307,696 in 2013 and £18,747,702 in 2014.

 Unions again  donating to  the RedTories who if they win an absolute Majority in May wil continue the present Government  Austerity program and Labour  as Rachel Reeve shadow work and pensions secretary, has insisted, ill be tougher than the Tories when it comes to slashing the benefits bill..

And we are entitled to ask  how much came from  Tax Avoiders hopi,g a repeat of the Blair /Brown Governmentlethargy in pursing them.

The top donor to the Conservative Party between October and December 2014 was Michael Gooley, founder of the travel agent Trailfinders.

Overall donations to Plaid Cymru rose from £139, 952 in 2013 to £184,585 in 2014.

The Conservative Party saw the biggest leap in donations, from £15,904,171 in 2013 to £28,930,508 in 2014.
We are entitled to ask How much came from Tax Advoiders?

Donations to the Liberal Democrats rose from £3,870,637 in 2013 to £8,221,771 in 2014.
Ukip’s donors gave the party £668,829 in 2013 and £3,847,474 in 2014.

Another big leap saw donations to the Scottish National Party go up from £41,500 in 2013 to £3,772,594 in 2014. The referendum on independence for Scotland took place last September.

So Plaid have no big Donor's of Tax Avoiders  and Trade Unions betraying their members .

But which Party can claim to be free of  "Outside Influences".

I see nothing wrong in someone who supports a Party's aims   to donate but we seem to be back to Lloyd George  selling knighthoods and peerages – and the OBE which was created at this time – for money.

The same with Unions but that also should not so much about influence  as backing Parties or Individual who share their principals.

Saturday, 21 February 2015

Hengoed Result - Mixed blessings for Plaid

 The result of the Byelection for the Hengoed Ward on Carmarthen Council saw Labour holding the seat from Plaid
Carmarthenshire UA, Hengoed- 19 February 2015

Edwards, Penelope Magaret Labour 335 [33.2%; +7%]
Davies Martin Vaughn Plaid Cymru 313 [31%; +6.6%]

Richards Bramwell George UKIP 152 [15%; +15%] 
SamuelWynford People First 80 [7.9%; -26.1%]
Skinner William Edwaed Independent 76 [7.5%; +7.5%]
Davies William Andrew Conservative 54 [5.3%; +5.3%]

It will be a disappointing  for Plaid who must have had high hopes of regaining the seat they lost in 2012 and the 15% Kipper vote looks ominous . Whilst the collapse in the People First

Candidates Party Result 2012 

CAIACH, Sian Mair People First - Putting Llanelli First 337 Elected
DAVIES, Martin Vaughan Plaid Cymru - The Party of Wales 315
EDWARDS, George Welsh Labour 338 Elected
EVANS, Mike Plaid Cymru - The Party of Wales 271
JENKINS, Heidi Elizabeth Other 89
JONES, Ken People First - Working For Your Community 261
LEWIS, Sue Welsh Labour 253
ROBERTS, Fred Independent 213

To what extent personalities played in this election is unclear but I believe that the Labour Candidate was the Window of the councillor  and may have gained some sympathy vote.Whilst the collapse in the People First shows that it is largely a personnel vote (probably deserved ) for Siân Caiach.

It may explain the on the same day the same voters produced a different result for the vacant rural seat Llanelli Rural Council by a rather more comfortable margin:

Susan Phillips for Plaid won the election for the vacancy  by a comfortable  margin:

Plaid 351
Lab 285
Ukip 165
People First 65
Ind 37

I wonder if the the fewer voters  on the rural seat was partly due to Conservatives not voting.

A win Plaid in the county seat would have a moral booster so gaining the  Rural seat may be very much a relief.

Friday, 20 February 2015

Dafydd Wigley makes case against Fracking in Llantrisant.

Last night Public meeting in Llantrisant held by Plaid had a good turn out  could have been more Plaid stalwarts  than locals but there were certainly a fair number of Llantrisant people active in opposing Fracking. 

I have no doubt that if the current threat of Fracking exploration in Llantrisant had not been lifted  and  the machinery moved in we would have seen a bigger turn out

But it wasn't  Bad  and it was good to see Dafydd Wigley on form who detailed much of the experiences in some of the US states having met  Welsh born campaigner from South Dakota on a trip to the USA who clearly had a great deal of influence on him.

Dafydd also emphasised the cooperation between Plaid.SNP and the Greens at Westminster  which is already in existence in Westminster.

He also emphasised  how vital it is that  powers over  Fracking  should be devolved to the Welsh Assembly.

As I said the threat in Llantrisant  as been lifted for the moment  but there now a new threat in nearby Llanharan,

That is why we need a Moratorium  on Fracking . I know that many who like me have already made their minds up and are opposed to Fracking would like to se  it banned now.

But it is vital that we halt Fracking exploration now and a Moratorium will give us time to build up the case against and hopefully lead to a ban.

A moratorium has more chance of getting support from those Parties which are in Power at Westminster than a outright ban.

But as last night showed  early opposition by people of all Parties and those who are not members of any helped to at least stop exploration around the Llantrisant area (including Beddau ) but we must be constant vigilant throughout Wales  if we not to leave a environmental disaster  to future Generations.

Thursday, 19 February 2015

The Welsh Assembly needs real powers not a cosmetic name change.

In the early days of devolution, the,Comedian Bill Bailley,  told a joke reflecting on the fact that Scotland now had a Parliament and Wales an Assembly.
He quipped.

Imagine a meeting in Cardiff
The Speaker''
"Today we will have a debate led by Plaid Cymru on Valleys regeneration , But first this nice Policeman wants to talk to you about how to cross the road safely". 
It somewhat reflects the feeling that  our Assembly even by name is inferior to a Parliament.

After Labour leader Ed Miliband’s speech at the weekend, there speculation  name change on the cards for the National Assembly for Wales?

Labour has made it known it would allow the Assembly to change its own name if the party wins the next election.

Currently any re-brand would require moves in Westminster, but Assembly presiding officer Rosemary Butler says she expects Welsh Secretary Stephen Crabb to reflect the growing consensus on the issue of sovereignty, saying it should be up to the Assembly to decide its own name, its elections and rules.

She says there is a “strong case to change the name” in light of increased tax and borrowing powers.

The Wasting Mule recenty said "Eyebrows were raised across Welsh politics in January when David Cameron directly referred to the Assembly as the “Welsh Parliament” in Prime Minister’s Questions" . But this may well have been due to the fact that the assembly does not loom large in the Prime Ministers mind.

Then, in Swansea on Saturday, Mr Miliband referred to the Assembly as a Parliament during his speech to the Welsh Labour Conference.

He told the BBC

When you’ve got a body that is passing laws, that can raise some taxes, that is going to have charge of elections as I announced... indeed, in terms of what it calls itself as well, I think it’s a Parliament in all but name,”

But what do we mean by this anyway .

When you think about it the term "National" Assembly admits Wales is a Nation and in Quebec the Legislature   is called The National Assembly of Quebec (FrenchAssemblée nationale du Québec) has powers Scotland can only dream about.

Another Comedian Billy Connolly who perhaps was reflecting his journey to British establishment figure once said
I don't want a Stormont. I don't want a wee pretendy government in Edinburgh.
— on the prospective Scottish Parliament; often quoted as 'a wee pretendy Parliament'; interview on Breakfast With Frost (BBC TV), 9 February 1997

Maybe  Dafydd Elis-Thomas as a point
“A National Assembly is a democratic body often established in revolutionary circumstances,” he said, citing France’s Assemblée Nationale. He said the etymology of the word Parliament “is drawn from those who were parleying with the king. It comes from a different tradition.”“Why call something by a name that is even more confusing? We have a Scottish Parliament, a UK Parliament, a European Parliament.“I think the National Assembly for Wales indicates that it is a democratic body established by the people of Wales for themselves.”But he agrees that the name, together with powers over elections, its own constitution and everything about the Assembly’s functions should be in the hands of AMs.

Renaming the Asembly a Parliament   would not prevent Welsh Devolution  being as Leanne Wood recently said "Third Rate."

But why  should we  use English,French or Latin terms anyway

Dáil Éireann is the lower house, and principal chamber, of the Oireachtas (Irish legislature), which also includes the President of Ireland and Seanad Éireann (the upper house.

Can't we come up with a Welsh word that reflects our identity through our legislature?

Whatever happens it is more important that we get parity with Scotland over powers  rather than a name change which may inflate the ego's of those sitting in Cardiff Bay but delivers still leads it a third rate legislature. 

Tuesday, 17 February 2015

Remembering Bwlchllan (John Davies)

I received a Email Yesterday afternoon saying simply "Bwlchllan has died . Nothing on the news yet". I knew that this referred to Dr John Davies. Almost immediately tributes starting appearing on my Facebook page and nearly all calling him Bwlchlan.

I wonder if any academic has ever been referred to by a"nickname" (though that's not treally he word) by both students and colleagues?

My first encounter with Bwlchllan was as a student in Coleg Harlech and reading his "Cardiff and the Marquis of Bute" and causing some consternation in the college library with a shout of joy when discovered a piece on John Batchelor  over the title "The friend of freedom".

For years I had passed it wondering who he was and now tthanks to a Historian called Dr John Davies I knew. 

These days you can find out by Wikipedia but for me it  meant that i was leaning more  Aberystwyth University  after leaving Colehg harlech.

So when I mid go to Aber it was only natural that as I was studying History I would choose Bwlchllan's  the Celtic people and the British State 1870 -1939 as part of my degrre course.

And so two years I would join with others spellbound after the door to the lecture open Bwlchllan would enter settle himself in a chair  and bgin with a long drawn out 

"Well . Last time..."

He would probably have sent a Teaching Inspector into apoplexy . Breaking all the rules of using OHP's  and handouts  However I doubt if anyone would have learned or   remembered more as his magical voice  and as  but peppered  the lecture theatre with anecdote's

Such as when he was with a group in Dublin awho   looked up the  Phone Book in a call box and rang the number of the President of Ireland  and to their astonishment finding it answered by De Velera himself and being invited to tea. 

Bwlchllan then said he tried looking up under Q in London to no avail.

All these anecdote's were however relevant o the course  as when he explained seeing a Crofter's course  a Croffters Court in the Highlands being held in the open with a Land Rover being used to conduct the proceeding.

Some year's later when with a friend in a Greenwich  second hand book shop  I caused  some consternation again when I discovered a pristine hardbackcopy of his Hanes Cynmru for £4 pounds  and although  my Welsh was nor good enough my friend got a bargain of a lifetime.
Hanes Cymru published  by Penguin was a grounbreakung  book not only in it's subject matter but because being published by a major publisher led to it being second only to the Bible in copies sold.

Later I was to read it in translation but I regret that I was unable to here it in the original.

Few people can have had such an impact on the teaching of Welsh History and Culture and few will be mourned as much Dr John Davies and few will be given a affectionate title as Bwlchllan.


Monday, 16 February 2015

Average Welsh Pay falls by another £300 in a year count your blessins.

The Wasting Mule Online covers the story Average pay in Wales fell by more than £300 in real terms last year and as much as £2,000 in the last five, according to analysis from the Wales Trades Union Congress.

In 2014, Welsh average pay stood at £24,384, falling in real terms by 1.3% since 2013 and 8.3% since 2010.
The Mule for some reason seem to think that we should be some what grateful because they say
"Although much greater falls were seen in the West Midlands and London, the figures were cited by one Plaid Cymru MP as evidence that the policies of austerity are failing.
At least the Mule do tel us that
Meanwhile, chief executives of FTSE 100 companies saw their pay increase, on average, £700,000 in real terms between 2010 and 2014.
A FTSE 100 chief exec could earn 137 times the average Welsh person, taking them just 14 hours to earn their average yearly pay, according to the figures.
 Wales TUC General Secretary Martin Mansfield said  
2014 “was another miserable year for living standards in Wales.”
“Even though inflation has fallen sharply in recent months, it is still going to take years for people’s earnings just to recover to their pre-recession levels,” he said

And yet the Mule still seem ken to give the impression we are not so badly off

According to the statistics, Wales’ average pay in April 2014 fell in real terms by £318 from 2013, and by £2,217 from 2010.

That compares to the West Midlands where average pay fell by £1,037 in a year, or 4%, and London where average pay fell by £978.
Some wage growth was seen in the North East, however, with the median wage rising by £164 or 0.7%. It was the only region analysed by the TUC that recorded an increase.

Plaid Cymru treasury spokesperson Jonathan Edwards MP said:

 “This is a very valuable piece of research from the TUC which clearly indicates that austerity is failing on its own terms, and that Westminster’s austerity continues to have a very real impact upon Wales and the Welsh workforce."Wage growth is at best anaemic and in Wales, falling.”though much greater falls were seen in the West Midlands and London, the figures were cited by one Plaid Cymru MP as evidence that the policies of austerity are failing.
 The Welsh Government said ministers shared the concernthe concerns of Wales TUC.

 A spokesman reflected the Problem Welsh Labour have in claiming responsibility for success in the Welsh economy whilst blaming the Westminster coalition for the failures.

He /She (for we do not know) said

 “This research again shows that despite recent improvements to our economy, many people across the UK are failing to feel the recovery in terms of pay and the cost of living.”
But William Graham, business spokesman for the Welsh Conservatives in the Assembly,Turns a blind eye to the figures. said: 
“The real economic picture in Wales is improving with greater private sector activity and jobs being created, while hardworking people have more money in their pockets due to increases in the personal allowance and action on fuel duty.”
And the poor  Welsh Lib Dem were also reduced to a spokesman  who could only turn to their beloved mantra of tax cuts
“A further £400 a year tax cut is one of the five priorities on the front page of our election manifesto.”
So there we have it 

We are worse off and yet there is a recovery.
 we are worse of and yet apparently not as badly as others
We are worse off and yet we should vote for the Parties that support the "Austerity Agenda".

No need  to change anything.

Sunday, 15 February 2015

Labour offer Wales not Devo/Max but Devo/Dipyn Bach

As the Welsh Branch of Labour  met in Swansea  they were addressed by their leader Ed Miliband,
Despite the headlines in the Unionist Media Miliband seems to be offering Wales only piecemeal devolution of the sort we have had over the last 15 years.
There was no Devomax just Devo/Dipyn bach
We should be grateful that  Mr Miliband let it be known that he favoured changing the name of the Assembly to the Welsh Parliament, saying that with Labour in power at Westminster it would play “a greater role in the lives of the Welsh people”.

He said it would have power over “ports, elections, energy and a greater say over policing.”
He said.  
“I believe the Welsh people should have the power to decide who gets to choose their representatives and how it is that they choose their representatives. So powers over elections in Wales should be in the hands of the Parliament.
Fair enough though we may need to see the detail's But  of course Mr Miliband is probably confident that  Labour will dominate the Assembly/Parliament  for the foreseeable future.
He said
This means that Wales will be able to choose to extend the franchise, as they did in Scotland for the referendum (by lowering the voting age to 16).
 Moving on  He said

And it also means more powers over public services. An all-Wales policing plan drawn up with the Home Secretary, giving the Welsh people responsibility to shape policing in Wales.
So basically the Home Secretary at Westminster will will  have a Veto on this . Imagine the reaction in Scotland if the sort of powers promised in "The Vow " contained the byline as long as we can still say no.

Miliband was maybe better on Energy
“And the Welsh people should have the power to determine what energy projects are right for Wales. Wales already has the highest energy prices in the UK. You have seen the greatest increase in prices of anywhere in the country. That can’t be right.
“So my government will freeze energy prices until 2017, so they can only fall and not rise, helping over a million households in Wales. And give the energy watchdog the power to force companies to pass on falls in wholesale prices.”
 Though he didn't explain why he told his PMs not to back the Plaid,SNP,Green Westminster vote calling for a monetarism  on fracking.

The Labour leader renewed a pledge to ensure Wales was not disadvantaged by the Barnett Formula, which determines the size of the Treasury grant to the Assembly, and which experts have said underfunds Wales by £300m a year.
Though of course it could simply mean reforming the Barnett Formula so Scotland doesn't benefit so the pot is reduced and Wales doesn't get any money.
Years ago there would be dissent in the ranks in  and we may have seen some calls for Labour to stop signing up to the Tory/LibDem Austerity project.

In advance of the conference or should it be called a rally?, Plaid Cymru  released voting records showing how Labour failed to support a catalogue of “progressive” positions in the current Parliament.
When Plaid voted against the Welfare Reform Bill that brought in benefit cuts, Labour abstained.
Labour backed a cap on the welfare budget and one year ago abstained on a vote to halt further public spending cuts and establish a commission on the effects of austerity.
So nothing from Ed Miliband or Carwyn Jones at Swansea yesterday that a Labour Government  at Westminster only offer is Devo/Dipyn Bach and more austerity.

Saturday, 14 February 2015

Plaid at last plan to take Welsh in schools further.

Plaid have made  a bold initiative especially Schools in Wales should teach three to seven year olds mainly through the medium of Welsh within 20 years, just before GE2015.
Bold because you can immediately see cries of "raming Welsh down out throats and WebBrits ( The opposite of CyberNats) rushing to thier laptops.
According  to Half of English-medium schools should be doing it within 10 years but Welsh-speaking areas would be the priority for its new Foundation Phase  policy.
Education spokesman Simon Thomas said bilingualism was "a valuable skill".
The National Union of Teachers said there was "merit" in the plan but asked if sufficient teachers could be found.
'Basic right'
Plaid Cymru was launching its language strategies ahead of May's general election at an event in Newcastle Emlyn, Carmarthenshire, on Friday.
"Accessing services and operating in the workplace in their language of choice is a basic right for all the people of Wales," said Mr Thomas.
"Nowhere is this right more important than in our schools and playgrounds where the foundations of children's confidence to converse in Welsh is formed.
"We know that bilingualism is a valuable skill and benefits children's cognitive development."
Owen Hathway, Wales policy officer for the National Union of Teachers, said there was "merit" in the plan but added that "finding enough teachers capable, and wishing, to teach through the medium of Welsh can be difficult".
Which is a fair point but not something that could be overcome , But it would have to start in Teacher Training with Teachers having to have to speak Welsh to qualify in the same way that they currently have to speak English.
There could be a move to send current teachers on a say six month extensive Welsh Language course with the promise of a rise in their pay grade on passing
Rex Phillips, national official in Wales for the NASUWT,was more dismissive asked whether Plaid Cymru had considered "parental choice and the views of pupils, teachers and the wider education workforce before making this announcement".
Well they can of course express their views via the Ballot box.
But it about time that Plaid started to come up with positive policies on the Language. It  has seemed   they have  worried about a negative reaction from monoglot English speakers.
There is no evidence  that in  areas like Gwynedd where such a plan is largely the norm that children suffer from such and education the reverse is actually the case .

As i started this a bold move but it is the right one it will be hard to implement and some would say Plaid ere shooting for the Moon.
But as J.F, Kennedy put it 
But why , the moon? Why choose this as our goal? And they may well ask why climb the highest mountain? Why, 35 years ago, fly the Atlantic? Why does Rice play Texas? We choose to go to the moon. We choose to go to the moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard…
We need desperate measures to save our language and Plaid have made a step. Will other parties follow?