Wednesday, 28 February 2018

You can wear a poppy but not a yellow ribbbon.


The BBC report that 
Plaid Cymru MPs have criticised the Football Association for charging the manager of Manchester City Pep Guardiola for wearing a yellow ribbon.
The former Barcelona coach has said he will continue wear the ribbon to support Catalan politicians jailed for promoting independence from Spain.
He has been accused of breaching kit and advertising regulations.
The four MPs condemned the FA's decision in a House of Commons early day motion.
Can we compare the row over the English FA defying FIFA over the wearing of poppies by English players and Manchester United boss Pep Guardiol being  charged by the Football Association for wearing a yellow ribbon in support of Catalan political prisoners
The English  FA's "kit and advertising regulations" states:
"The appearance on, or incorporation in, any item of clothing (including football boots) of any distasteful, threatening, abusive, indecent, insulting, discriminatory or otherwise ethically or morally offensive message, or any political message, is prohibited."
Whether you think wearing a poppy  breaks the rules, but does seem that 
Guardiol wearing a yellow ribbon has a similar argument.
As  Guardiola noted European football's governing body UEFA had less draconian rules.
"The Union of European Football has another opinion regarding these issues," said Guardiola. "They say you can wear anything as long as you show it with respect. Here, apparently, it's different."
As Guillem Balague on yahoo sport puts it
Less than a week after four of West Bromwich Albion’s footballers allegedly started their own ‘nick-a-taxi’ self service department in Barcelona, Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola found himself charged by the FA for wearing a yellow ribbon.
The irony of the situation will not be lost on Pep, born and bred in Catalonia and a passionate supporter for the region’s independence. He has spoken about it on a number of occasions but only away from his footballing duties.
The ribbon is indeed a protest against the detention of Catalan independence activists Jordi Sanchez and Jordi Cuixart on sedition charges, and other Catalanists that defended or organised a referendum. The protest is not that they have been charged – although any charges will be roundly defended – but rather the fact that the two accused have been remanded in custody despite the fact they present no threat and while many others who are accused of far worse (corruption for instance) are on bail and walking the streets.
The FA, who when confronted with any potentially embarrassing situation normally react with a speed of action that would give narcolepsy the look of hyper-activity, have come charging in by stating that political symbols cannot be worn during games and  that he has breached that regulation… months after Pep started using it as a means of protest.
Jonathan Edwards, the MP for Carmarthen East and Dinefwr, said:

 "Pep Guardiola must be applauded for taking a brave stance in support of the unjustly imprisoned Catalan leaders, who were democratically elected to lead their country.
"The Spanish Government's actions, in imprisoning its political opponents, are out-of-step with the democratic principles expected of a European state and an ally of the UK.
"The English Football Association's decision to charge the Manchester City manager for expressing his support for his country's elected leaders must be condemned.
"The UK government should be putting heavy pressure on its allies in Madrid to respect the will of the people of Catalonia and pursue a peaceful and democratic solution."
 Has the English FA been contacted by Spanish Authorities  whose draconian response to any sign of Catalan defiance and have responded thus.
We can sympathise with the English FA in their efforts to avoid political controversy
The venue: Berlin's Olympic Stadium; the date: 14 May 1938. As the English players lined up alongside their German counterparts for pre-match ceremonies captain Eddie Hapgood and his men issued a Nazi salute to the crowd.
The gesture provoked outrage in the British press, and was seen as all the more galling since Hitler was not even present at the time.
But they are open to charges of hypocrisy over their poppy stance and their  reaction to Pep Guardiol wearing a yellow ribbon in support of Catalan political prisoners , who have been imprisoned by a government who are behaving every day like the Heirs of Franco, who also received the above salute from his followers.  

Tuesday, 27 February 2018

It's a Customs Union, but not as we know it.

Labour strategist may hope that Jeremy Corbyn  argument that he wants the UK in "a" Customs Union  not "the" Customs Union had me thinking of this

The use of the indefinite article however does not tell us anything after all the UK is going to have to form some kind of trade  agreement wit the EU as a bloc, in which the EU insist that we obey a number of trade practises .

 What Corbyn said: 

“We’ve long argued that a customs union is a viable option for the final deal so Labour would seek to negotiate a new, comprehensive, UK-EU customs union to ensure there are no tariffs with Europe and to help avoid any need whatsoever for a hard border in Northern Ireland.

Well its an improvement on his previous  silence and the almost free ride that he has given the Hard Line Brexit of Mrs May.

But let's me honest it will take a lot of goodwill on behalf of the EU to realise this especially if its simply a case of the wanting their cake and eating it.

Whether Mr Corbyn believes this will  be enough to defeat the government and even force a General Election is a question.

Labour have not established a poll lead that appears to secure victory and I doubt  that the use of the indefinite article  "a" Customs Union , unless he fleshes it out, together with signals that the EU could accept it will be enough to convince both Remainers and Leavers that he is not only sincere . but he can deliver.

Monday, 26 February 2018

Could Neil Hamilton be the face of Ukip 2018?, Ugh.

With Wales to its shame  being the  redoubt of Ukip  as it , councillors, members  and indeed leaders almost daily the Wasting Mule has been asking 

"What senior Ukip figures in Wales think of a Nigel Farage comeback".

Ukip is now in a state of chaos. A string of leaders have come and gone since Mr Farage stepped down in November 2016 and the party’s vote share has crashed.

Mr Farage has ruled out returning to helm the party but this has not stopped bookmakers William Hill making him the 7/2 favourite to be the next leader – and he would not struggle to find strong support in Welsh ranks.

David Rowlands, Ukip AM for South East Wales, was one of seven elected in the 2016 Assembly breakthrough and he would like to see Mr Farage back at the heart of the party.

He said: 

“I’m convinced that overwhelmingly, the people on the ground – the real grassroots of the party – would like to see Nigel take a much bigger role
“What is happening at the moment is that he is still doing his Nigel bit but it’s really in his own name and I think that people would like to see him back. There’s no doubt about that, generally speaking.”again within the party, yes.”

Nathan Gill, a Welsh Ukip MEP and former AM who was replaced as leader in Wales by Neil Hamilton shortly after the 2016 election, believes the party needs Mr Farage to get back into the driving seat. However, he doubts that the 53-year-old MEP would take the job.
He said:

 “I think it’s something that’s Ukip definitely needs. I don’t think it’s something that Nigel needs...
“I famously said that being the leader of Ukip Wales was like herding cats. Being the leader of Ukip as a whole is like herding cats with blindfolds on in a dark room.
“It’s an impossibility. We’ve seen now several leaders in a row come and go.
“They all they thought, ‘Oh, we can do what Nigel can do.’ There’s only one Nigel Farage – he’s proven it.
“The party really only responds to him. But the question we need to ask is, ‘Why would he come back?’ And he’s confirmed to me the only reason he would come back is if they were going to betray Brexit and that still remains to be seen.”
 “If Nigel Farage was to come back and call everybody to arms again I believe that a lot of people would come back but under the current leadership and structure the party hasn’t got a chance.”
However, present Ukip Wales leader Mr Hamilton, said he did not detect a clamour for Mr Farage to take the reins again.
He said: 

“I think that’s extremely unlikely. Nigel said that he was going to walk away 18 months or so ago to get his life back. Well, we haven’t seen much of that but I think it very unlikely that Nigel would want once again to be the administrative head of a political party.
“He’s basically a campaigner and not somebody who is interested in party organisation. He backed Henry Bolton and lost so I think [he] would wary of putting his hat in the ring...
“I think he’s cut adrift from the leadership anyway and he’s been at loggerheads with the Ukip national executive... His flirting with a second referendum, I think, did him a lot of damage with Ukip members.”

With Ukip over the boarder set for a drubbing in local elections in May,  Mr Hamilton  who  in his first days of being elected as an AM ousted Nathan Gill as leader in the Sened in a coup has problems of his own.

Gill left the group and sat a an "Independent Ukip AM" eventual resigning from the Assembly last year.

Mandy Jones succeeded Nathan Gill as a North Wales AM in December but was not accepted into the UKIP group, which she later described as "toxic".

Her spokesperson said she was leaving the Ty Hywel office block for a former shop in the Senedd building "to help ease tension" after disagreement with UKIP group leader Neil Hamilton.

Ms Jones has been sitting as an independent AM following a row with UKIP over her choice of staff.
The party claimed she had chosen to employ people who were members of other parties, or had recently campaigned for other parties, or both.
In January, Mr Hamilton said the people concerned had said "very unpleasant and insulting things" about him and other UKIP AMs.
A spokesperson for Ms Jones said: 

"I can confirm that Mandy Jones AM is moving offices after a request from Mandy to help ease tension after the public disagreement between her and Neil Hamilton."
The Assembly Commission said it "responds to members' requests for office accommodation changes in accordance with its statutory duty to ensure that the Assembly has the resources and support necessary to fulfil their responsibilities as elected representatives". 

Ukip may be on its deathbed and at the moment I doubt even Mr Farage will preform a Lazarist recovery .

But with a dwindling number of "Senior Figures"  the BBC maybe have to look to the Ukip Assembly group to fill the almost permanent  chair on Question Time and other political shows.

Not a shy man Neil Hamilton and his ghastly wife  may well be gracing our screens even more screens more in  2018  

Saturday, 24 February 2018

BEVO: Brexit for English Voters Only.

After David Cameron's  English votes for English Laws (EVEL) we now seem to be getting  Brexit for English Voters Only(BEVO) as Mrs May holds a Cabinet meeting in Chequers to thrash out Brexit details of what she hopes to be taking to her ext round of Brexit talks with European leaders.

Though there seems to be some absent figures around the Table.


The Brexit sub-committee gathered  at Chequers with the government under pressure to spell out in detail what it wants to secure from Brexit talks.

The UK has said it wants a “deep and special” partnership with the EU but I doubt that this has any more meaning that claims that they have respect for Wales or Scotland in their precious Union.

Karen Bradley, the Northern Ireland Secretary, was invited to the meeting and was pictured sitting beside Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson.but Welsh Secretary Alun Cairns and  his Scottish counterpart David Mundell, seem to be absent.

 There has always been the question ,

Does the Secretary for Wales represent Wales  in the UK government or the UK government in Wales.

It now seems neither is true.

Tommy Sheppard, the SNP’s spokesman on Scotland at Westminster, suggested the Northern Ireland Secretary got an invite because the DUP were propping up May’s Government. Arlene Foster’s party agreed to support the minority Conservative Government in return for £1 billion extra funds for Northern Ireland. 

Sheppard said:
 “Given the implications of Brexit on devolution it shows a casual disregard of the nations of the UK for the Brexit cabinet to be assembled without any Scottish voice.
“To suggest Northern Ireland should get a representation on the Brexit war cabinet and Scotland doesn’t is adding insult to injury – and comes on top, of course, of the £1bn DUP bung.”
Perhaps MUNGUIN'S NEW REPUBLIC suggests  Alun Cairns and David Mundell, had other duties like making the Tea.

Also absent  was Scottish Tory leader Ruth Davidson who made a big thing ofMs Davidson attending   a number of meeting of top cabinet ministers.

But she seems to have been confined to Holyrood and photo opportunities of her defusing mines Afghanistan or staring in a Great British Bake Off special.

Of course no one in the hierarchy  cares what Welsh Tory leader Andrew RT Davies thinks.

But it is clear that the "English " cabinet have no respect for any concerns from the Welsh or Scottish representatives even though I doubt that either Cairns or Mundell have been brave enough to express any.

Friday, 23 February 2018

Q:What's so "Great" about Britain . A: It's an Island.

 I  wonder if David Anderson the head of National Museum Wales was somewhat motivated by  the report  report on Wales’ national museums  Dr Simon Thurley, which has been criticised after it called on them to abandon a “narrowly Welsh” perspective on history.

The BBC seem to have missed the possible connection with the  reports that claimed .

The head of National Museum Wales has been accused of a "rant against Britishness" over comments he made in a speech at a tourism event.
David Anderson said Britain was not "Great" - and claimed the Brexit vote was "madness".
The Welsh Conservatives say he is a public servant and should remain neutral.
Mr Anderson said in response it was the role of museums to pose challenging questions and encourage debate.
While he has spoken out about controversial issues in the past, this time he went much further.

In a speech about promoting tourism after Brexit, the director general said he never wanted to stand beneath another banner that says 'Britain is Great'.
He called the words a lie - and a notion that contributed to the "collective delusional madness" of Brexit.
Mr Anderson said the whole industry should "cease to peddle falsehoods of British 'greatness'.
"I do not wish, ever again, to stand underneath the 'Britain is Great' banner,"
"The words are a lie.
"They contributed to the collective delusional madness that is Brexit.
"Our tourism industry... must cease to peddle falsehoods of British 'Greatness'."

Conservative culture spokeswoman Suzy Davies AM said Mr Anderson had a right to an opinion but should be more sensitive about where he expresses it.

"Rather than bring something positive to the table and how to bring Wales more into that sense of greatness, he took the opportunity to paint Britain as this black, dystopian place that nobody would want to visit."
Mr Anderson would not be interviewed but said in a statement it was the role of museums to pose challenging questions and stimulate debate.
He said,
"It was in this context that I put forward the argument at the conference that we urgently need a new and more contemporary definition of Britishness in which Wales' voice is much more strongly heard, and that reflects the diversity of cultures and identities of the nations and regions of the United Kingdom,"
Andrew Green, former librarian at the National Library of Wales said it was important that heads of national institutions were not party political but also that they were not "robots".
"As far as I can see, David Anderson was contributing to a debate about the extent to which Britishness and the role of Visit Britain in advertising for tourists to come to Wales, how those things work.
"I don't think that's party political but contributing to a debate which is entirely fair".
Mr Anderson does seem to me a response to   Dr Thurley  who said.

My main criticism was a lack of ambition in the story that was being told,”
“These sites were presented as if they were telling part of the social history of a small country. “Whereas they could be telling the story of how Wales, a small country, together with its larger neighbours England and Scotland, transformed the world in the 19th century.” The change would make the museums more interesting for tourists “from outside Wales”, “Wales played a crucial role in the British century and its raw materials and know-how made a major contribution to the industrial revolution and the empire,” he said. “Of course the human story in Wales is interesting and compelling, but so is the big picture of how Wales, as part of Britain, changed the face of the globe.”
I am with Mr Anderson on this  indeed in the wider context where  the "Great " in Britain is often taken as a synonym  for almighty

In fact  it refers to the
" Large island in the north Atlantic Ocean off the northwest coast of continental Europe. With an area of 209,331 km2 (80,823 sq mi), Great Britain is the largest of the British Isles, the largest European island, and the ninth-largest island in the world.,surrounding islands, form the British Isles archipelago".

Derivation of Great

The Greco-Egyptian scientist Ptolemy referred to the larger island as great Britain (μεγάλη Βρεττανία megale Brettania) and to Ireland as little Britain (μικρὰ Βρεττανία mikra Brettania) in his work Almagest (147–148 AD). In his later work, Geography (c. 150 AD), he gave the islands the names Alwion, Iwernia, and Mona (the Isle of Man), suggesting these may have been the names of the individual islands not known to him at the time of writing Almagest. The name Albion appears to have fallen out of use sometime after the Roman conquest of Britain, after which Britain became the more commonplace name for the island
After the Anglo-Saxon period, Britain was used as a historical term only. Geoffrey of Monmouth in his pseudohistorical Historia Regum Britanniae (c. 1136) refers to the island as Britannia major ("Greater Britain"), to distinguish it from Britannia minor ("Lesser Britain"), the continental region which approximates to modern Brittany, which had been settled in the fifth and sixth centuries by migrants from BritainThe term Great Britain was first used officially in 1474, in the instrument drawing up the proposal for a marriage between Cecily the daughter of Edward IV of England, and James the son of James III of Scotland, which described it as "this Nobill Isle, callit Gret Britanee". It was used again in 1604, when King James VI and I styled himself "King of Great Brittaine, France and Ireland".

 Just like Donald Trump "lets make the USA great again. "Great" Britain is part of nationalistic agenda which Unionists with "lets put the Great back in Britain spout.

Brexit has seen a ridiculeous nostalgia for the Empire ,  and as Mr Amderson puts it "contributed to the collective delusional madness that is Brexit".

There is nothing "Great" about Britain apart for the size of the Island the majority of us live on,

Thursday, 22 February 2018

Today we remember what true patriotism means.

 Last nights Brit Awards saw  star attending  last nights Brit Awards will be given a white rose pin in support of the #TimesUp campaign.

Although I support the reason behind the campaign it is a pity they  chose a White Rose symbol because it coincides with the anniversary of which the White Rose is an important symbol.

 As Today is the 75th anniversary of the execution of Hans Sophie Scholl I am reposting an article i wrote on this Blog in 2011

On Tuesday February 22nd I will be wearing a White Rose in memory of the young members of the White Rose movement  who executed buy the Nazi on that day in  1943.
They were mostly students at Munich University  who came to realise the shear evil of that Nazi regime and that the only way to defeat it was for Germany to lose the War.

They produced several leaflets on this theme ,but were eventually betrayed and arrested. Contrary to some chroniclers they were not tortured by the Gestapo but the manner of their eventual Trial and Deaths  was chilling.

The second Pamphlet   gives you some Idea of their standpoint.

Since the conquest of Poland three hundred thousand Jews have been murdered in this country in the most bestial way … The German people slumber on in their dull, stupid sleep and encourage these fascist criminals … Each man wants to be exonerated of a guilt of this kind, each one continues on his way with the most placid, the calmest conscience. But he cannot be exonerated; he is guilty, guilty, guilty!"
You can and should read all of the leaflets here.

This was not a movement of those who realised Germany had lost the War and were preparing the "Good German defence". They were arguing that Germany deserved to lose the War and Germans were as guilty as the Nazi for not opposing them.

Amongst those executed were Brother and Sister Hans and Sophie Scholl who were 25 and 22 when they were executed by Guillotine.

Hans Scholl (left), Sophie Scholl and Christoph Probst, leaders of the White Ros
There is an excellent Geman Language Film  Sophie Scholl – Die letzten Tage (Sophie Scholl: The Final Days), featuring actress Julia Jentsch  which deals withe her arrest, interrogation,trial and eventual execution which made me weep for someone who more courage than I will ever have and displayed such Humanity.Throughout the World there are still people who will stand up to evil governments who live by the motto of the White Rose movement.

We will not be silent. We are your bad conscience. The White Rose will not leave you in peace!
So on the 22 February I will wear a single White Rose in memory of these Bbave young people, who have shown us that there will always be those who stand up for Humanity and Justice and if we keep their memory then this will prevail even in the most vile of Regimes.

You do not need to join me in wearing a white rose  Today , but you should perhaps wear one in your heart.

Wednesday, 21 February 2018

Alun Davies calls for less hectoring of councils

I wonder of there is any link between yesterday's blog's on Leighton Andrew's
 claim that freedom of information requests submitted to Cardiff University represent an attempt to damage his reputation and the reports that
local government secretary has suggested the Welsh Government should apologise to local councils for "hectoring" them in the past

To be fair to Mr Davies he is on record on criticising Leighton Andrews on Local Government reform.

Back in  2015  Mr Davies  had accused Leighton  of fighting councils rather than working with them to reform local government in Wales.

The Blaenau Gwent AM,a appeared before an Assembly scrutiny committee for the first time since announcing his intention to slash the number of councils in Wales.

Alun Davies  said: 
In terms of the absolute debate we are having, the public debate we are having today, it seemed to be between yourself as a protagonist against local government, it not seen to be the very positive debate we should be having on the future of local government.

“I’m interested to know why you think we’ve failed to have that debate so far.

Mr Andrews replied:

 “You’ve got to look back at what’s been the context of local government. The context is one in which we’ve seen a number of major failures in service delivery.”
Mr Davies became local government secretary last November.
The AM for Blaenau Gwent, who made the comments in a personal blog, also promised local authorities a "road map" to new powers
He said:

 "Great efforts have been made recently to re-build and re-set the relationship and there is certainly a sense that things have improved significantly."
But he adds:

 "For me it is time that Welsh Government joined the debate over the future of local government with a degree of humility rather than an over-large helping of hubris."
"Too often in the past the tone from Welsh Government has been hectoring, arrogant and policy expressed in intemperate language with criticism that has been unwarranted and unjustified," he said.
"Perhaps it's time for the government to say sorry and to start again."
There are some who would argue that Alun Davies talking about humility  is somewhat like Donald Trumps claim to be a modest man.

I don't know if Mr Davies claim  of a new approach to relations with councils is planned criticism of Leighton Andrews, but I suspect that he will react in a similar manner to Mr Andrews when faced by local government intransigence.

Anyway surely Local government reform should be part of top down reorganisation , when we eventually see an increase  in AM and maybe  a new electoral system based on STV  for all of Wales.

In the meantime I expect that the no-nonsense approach he has  very reason Leighton Andrews  was appointed as a Minster , may well be used by his former colleagues against him.

Tuesday, 20 February 2018

Attempt to smear Leighton Andrews for seeking an inquiry

I am hardly a fan of former Cabinet Minister Leighton Andrews but his has claim that freedom of information requests submitted to Cardiff University represent an attempt to damage his reputation because of concerns he has raised about the treatment of Carl Sargeant is very disturbing

Mr Sargeant is believed to have taken his own life last November, four days after being removed from his post as Cabinet Secretary for Communities and Children following unspecified allegations of sexual harassment made against him which he denied.

According to the Wasting Mule
Writing on his blog , Mr Andrews – now Professor of Practice in Public Service Leadership and Innovation at Cardiff University – states: 

“There have been several attempts, which I suspect have been coordinated, to undermine people who have spoken up in support of Carl Sargeant. I am aware of a number of public servants whose employers have had malicious or anonymous mail about them.
“In my own case, my employer, Cardiff University, has had a series of FoI requests on matters which have nothing to do with my work, but are clearly intended to blacken my reputation or undermine my relationship with the University. Cardiff University, I am pleased to say, has been robust in my defence, as has the Universities and Colleges Union, UCU.”

Mr Andrews has not been told who submitted the freedom of information requests. The university has told him it would be in breach of the Data Protection Act if it did so.

One of the FoI requests referred to by Mr Andrews asks:
I would like to know details of any disciplinary investigations and/or sanctions involving Leighton Andrews, details of any complaints made against him and details of all complaints raised formally or informally by him since January 1 2017.”
Another asked:
Could I please request under the Freedom of Information Act, Leighton Andrews’ diary since November 5 this year, and details and content of any communication – text, emails, calls, WhatsApp messages - between Leighton Andrews and employees of Wales Online/Media Wales/Western Mail, BBC, ITV, Golwg, The Times, The Daily Mail, Guido Fawkes and Skwawkbox since November 3 2017.”
A third request reads:
“Please provide any communications relating to Leighton Andrews’ behaviour and public comments since November 5 2017, details of all meetings between Leighton Andrews and his superiors (both departmental and within the wider organisational structure) since November 5 2017, and all communications relating to either permission or requests to allow Leighton Andrews to conduct non-university business during normal working hours since November 5 2017.”
A fourth request asks:
“Please provide under the Freedom of Information Act, any communications, notes or minutes relating to the commercial, financial or organisational impact on the university of Leighton Andrews’ recent public comments since the beginning of November 2017. I would also like copies of any communications between Leighton Andrews and email addresses ending in,,,, and”
Writing on his blog, Mr Andrews states:
“In my opinion these FoI requests are malicious, and designed to undermine my reputation and discredit me.

“I am aware that another attack on me is currently being prepared. Others, in public service, have suffered worse.

“These attacks are designed to intimidate and to discourage people from giving evidence to the inquiries that have been established.

“Some people feel too exposed to give evidence. Remember, all of this is happening today, in post-devolution Wales, not in Senator McCarthy’s time in the USA.

“It is deeply damaging to devolution, to the reputation of Welsh Labour, and the reputation of the Welsh Government.”

Mr Andrews said he had kept Mike Payne, the chair of Welsh Labour, informed about what he described as the attacks on him, and said he was grateful for Mr Payne’s supportive approach. He added:
“But the attacks need to stop, and Welsh Labour colleagues need to take action to ensure that they do.”
Mr Payne said:
“I know that Leighton was a very close friend of Carl’s and of course I’m going to be supportive of him.
“I’ve told him that if he has any evidence of people within the party acting in an unacceptable way towards him, and he makes a complaint, the matter will be fully investigated. The same obviously applies if any other party member has similar concerns.
“Nothing can be done at present because Leighton has told me that his employer is not allowed by law to disclose to him the identity of whoever made the FoI requests.”

I support Freedom of Information , but surely  this appears to be case of an attempt to discredit someone who is seeking the truth and justice himself?

We can only wonder if those using the FOI to seek to discredit Leighton Andrews , are those seeking to prevent the full story of the events before and after 
Carl Sargeant sacking from becoming public.

if these FOI have come from within  the Labour Party particularly in the Assembly then it is a reflection of a party that is desperately  trying to suppress  the truth to the extent that it want's to smear a former colleague who is seeking that truth

Monday, 19 February 2018

Brexit should not see Farmers getting special status.

In many rural areas at election time you will filled the Hedge Rows resplendent in posters for the Tory candidate .

It is important that we distinguish between many of the struggling  Hill Farmers and the "Barley Barons " who are still making comfortable living.

It is odd however despite the problems of the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) that so many farmers voted for Brexit reliant as they are on EU subsidies.

A prime example is that of The family farming business of Pro Brexit Welsh Conservative leader Andrew RT Davies received EU subsidies totalling nearly £100,000 in a year

So it is perhaps not surprising Newport West's Paul Flynn sits on the Commons' environment committee that a special fund to prepare farmers for Brexit would in some cases be "income support for super rich",
The Labour MP said a special fund should not be set up to help.

Committee chairman, Tory Neil Parish, said the government should help farmers adapt to new trading circumstances.
Farmers have already been guaranteed subsidies at the current EU level until the 2022 election and the proposed fund would be in addition to this. 

Mr Flynn told BBC Radio Wales' Sunday Supplement programme:

 "The special fund is rather like asking for your cake, eating it, and then demanding a second cake."
The BBC report that
The Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee, states without an EU-UK trade deal, farm exports face tariffs from March 2019.
It acknowledges the UK government's intention is to agree a comprehensive free trade agreement with the EU, but says "there is no guarantee that this will occur".
The fund would therefore help the UK's agricultural sector as it adapts to the post-Brexit environment.
But Mr Flynn questioned this, saying in England, "the main bulk of the support" - one in every five pounds - "is given in subsidy to a millionaire or billionaire".
 He said.

"The only industry that has been guaranteed to have funding for the foreseeable future is farming,"
"At the moment we are wasting millions in giving grants to farmers who are rich. This is income support for the super rich in may cases,"

In what to me was a rather confusing article in the Wasting Mule
Lamb farmers in particular are concerned about the consequences of a post-Brexit free trade; they fear the UK market will be flooded with cheap produce. Hill farmers across Wales have had a tough enough time balancing the books for generations; they will hope they will not be numbered among the casualties of Brexit.

David Lidington, the nearest thing Theresa May has to a Deputy Prime Minister, is preparing a big speech intended to address the impact of Brexit on the devolved nations. Last year his predecessor, Damian Green, let slip the scale of worry in Whitehall about what will happen if governments introduce different schemes to protect farming, saying:

“We need to make sure that we don’t have subsidy wars to try to help sheep farmers, some in Scotland and some in Wales and so on.”
This is not a  class thing, but you can wonder why those adorning the hedgerows of the Vale of Glamorgan  with Tory posters  will be given aid after Brexit, whilst areas where the homes portray posters of a different  colour face no help at all.

I do not believe  any farmer should be punished whether they voted for Brexit or not , but if it turns out to be the economic disaster that i expect it will be . I  am with Paul Flynn and don't see why farmers should be singled out for aid, as  our equally fragile manufacturing injury goes to the wall.

Saturday, 17 February 2018

An elected "Vice-Regent for Wales!?

 Professor Laura  chair of an expert panel to examine the case for having more assembly members to handle its increasing workload may well have a number of odd proposals  put to her and her members . but one of the oddest  could be John Winterson Richards proposes an alternative model of national Governance for Wales outlined in an article on Click on Wales the Blog of  Institute of Welsh affairs.

He starts of with two valid arguments  

  •  Devolutionists must admit Welsh Assembly has failed to achieve the objectives they themselves set for it 1997

  •  Unionists must understand that devolution is not going to go away.
 He then comes up with , a rather unique alternative.

Once these two facts are conceded, the question becomes how can devolution be made to work? Can it be rebooted? Is there a model of devolution other than that of the failed Assembly?
Yes. Such a model is the “strong executive” model. Instead of a weak executive subject to a legislative assembly, let the people elect a strong chief executive directly. There is nothing new in this. It is a model used in national and local government all over the world. It is the model that is being pushed in England in the form of directly elected mayors and “super mayors” of regional or sub-regional “combined authorities.” Since some of these “combined authorities” have a population not far short of that of Wales, they provide a useful template, albeit one that need not be followed slavishly. They certainly prove that there is nothing administratively inconceivable about replacing the Assembly with a directly elected equivalent of a “mayor of Wales.”
Of course, the title “mayor” is really inadequate for a regional chief executive, and confusing where the local authorities within that region have their own mayors. It would certainly be inappropriate for the directly elected chief executive of the Welsh nation.
So why not revive the old title “President of the Council of Wales”? Ignored by popular history, this was the designation of the top official in Wales for about two centuries, from the end of the Middle Ages to the Stuarts. At its peak under the Tudors, the Council of Wales was noted for its efficiency and its popularity with the “oppressed poor,” a tradition it would be pleasant to revive.
It seems he is arguing for a form of elected Vice Regent who has some kind of Mandate but who will never be allowed to be an outlet for an Independence  mandate.
If the “combined authority” model was followed, the new President would be elected directly by the people but the Council would not. Instead it would consist of a representative of each of the unitary authorities of Wales, elected annually. The advantage of this is that the Council would be better enabled to carry out a task which was one of the few administrative justifications for the Assembly but about which it has done very little, the coordination of the unitary authorities. In particular, it was always envisaged at the time of the establishment of the unitary authorities that they would work closely together to provide joint services. They have failed to do so. Correcting this would be at the top of the job descriptions of both President and Council.
Unlike the Assembly, the Council would not be in semi-permanent session but would meet occasionally, probably only a few times a year. Instead of retaining its own expensive building, it would hire a county council chamber for the day. It would therefore meet all over Wales, not just in Cardiff.

 Even the Mayor of London is answerable to  the London Assembly an elected body, part of the Greater London Authority, that scrutinises the activities of the Mayor of London and has the power, with a two-thirds majority, to amend the Mayor's annual budget and to reject the Mayor's draft statutory strategies.The assembly is also able to investigate other issues of importance to Londoners (transport, environmental matters, etc.), publish its findings and recommendations, and make proposals to the Mayor.

 Instead he seems to be handing such powers back to Westminster.

Arrangements similar to those for “English votes for English laws” could negate the need for a separate Welsh legislature. Welsh Members of the House of Commons, in effect the Welsh Grand Committee, could be given the right of veto on laws specific to Wales. There is no reason why there should be many of these, apart from those relating to Welsh language, culture, and heritage. Otherwise a good law for Wales ought to be a good law for the rest of the United Kingdom and vice versa.
As a gesture towards nationalist sentiment, the Council of Wales and the Welsh Grand Committee, less all non-Welsh MPs, could be designated as the Upper and Lower Chambers of a bicameral “Parliament of Wales” to consider any primary or secondary legislation specific to Wales. It might meet for a week or so in an annual plenary session in Wales, during the long Westminster recess, again in a hired county council chamber, the venue changing every year from one part of Wales to another.

I hope I really can't be bothered to tear apart this nonsense , I John Winterson Richards is acting as a form of Devil's advocate , but i can't really be bothered to tear apart this nonsense in detail.

If I was to summit  my own proposal to the McAllister I would simply say that We already have a working model pforthe future and compared to  Devolution in Wales that in Scotland is a success and the answer here must surely  for Wales to have parity with Scotland.

Friday, 16 February 2018

Do the DUP really want an agreement to restore NI power-sharing executive?

It is beginning to look that the Northern Ireland Assembly may not convene after nearly a year after the last Assembly Elections the

Sinn Féin leader Mary Lou McDonald has said a draft agreement was in place last week to restore Northern Ireland's power-sharing executive.
The talks ended on Wednesday after the DUP declared there was "no current prospect" of a deal. 

Ms McDonald said the agreement included an Irish language Act and the DUP was warned to "close the deal before those opposed to it could unpick" it.
However, DUP leader Arlene Foster said that no draft agreement was in place.
Mrs Foster told Sky News that Sinn Féin "certainly didn't have an offer of an Irish language act".

She said,
"We didn't reach an agreement,"
"I regret that we didn't reach an agreement - they were insisting that they have this stand-alone Irish language act and that is not something I could sign up to - I have always been very clear about that."

But do the  DUP want a deal where it will power share in Stormont when it  can pull the strings in Westminster where the  deal between the Conservatives and the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) includes an extra £1bn in public spending for Northern Ireland.

They may well be alarmed that Unionists  are loosing their majority in Stormont. where since the first pst Good Friday Agreement Elections  although they have replaced the Ulster Unionist as the main party of Unionism.Sinn Féin is heading to become the largest party there in the future

1996 Elections 108 seats.

Party Votes Vote % Constituency

UUP 181,829 24.17 28 2 30

SDLP 160,786 21.36 19 2 21

DUP [1] 141,413 18.80 22 2 24

Sinn Féin 116,377 15.47 15 2 17

Alliance 49,176 6.54 5 2 7

UK Unionist 27,774 3.69 1 2 3

PUP 26,082 3.47 0 2 2

Ulster Democratic 16,715 2.22 0 2 2

NI Women's Coalition 7,731 1.03 0 2 2

Labour coalition 6,425 0.85 0 2 2

Green (NI) 3,647 0.49 0 0 0

2017 Elections 90 seats

Party Leader Seats Votes[41] NI Executive
won Change
Pref. %
Seats Change

DUP Arlene Foster 38 28 Decrease10 Decrease5 225,413 28.1% Decrease1.1%

Sinn Féin Michelle O'Neill 34 27 Decrease1 Increase4 224,245 27.9% Increase3.9%

SDLP Colum Eastwood 21 12 Steady Increase1 95,958 11.9% Decrease0.1%

UUP Mike Nesbitt 24 10 Decrease6 Decrease1 103,314 12.9% Increase0.3%

Alliance Naomi Long 21 8 Steady Steady 72,717 9.1% Increase2.1%

Green (NI) Steven Agnew 18 2 Steady Steady 18,527 2.3% Decrease0.4%

TUV Jim Allister 14 1 Steady Steady 20,523 2.6% Decrease0.9%

People Before Profit Eamonn McCann 7 1 Decrease1 Steady 14,100 1.8% Decrease0.2%

PUP Billy Hutchinson 3 0 Steady Steady 5,590 0.7% Decrease0.2%

NI Conservatives Emma Pidding 13 0 Steady Steady 2,399 0.3% Decrease0.1%

Labour Alternative Owen McCracken 4 0 Steady Steady 2,009 0.3% Steady

UKIP None 1 0 Steady Steady 1,579 0.2% Decrease1.3%

CISTA Barry Brown 3 0 Steady Steady 1,273 0.2% Decrease0.2%

Workers' Party John Lowry 5 0 Steady Steady 1,261 0.2% Steady

Independents N/A 22 1 Steady Increase1 14,407 1.8% Decrease1.5%


This appears to be the pattern where  those  Members of the Legislative Assembly (MLA's ) who are designated as Unionist have been falling over the last twenty years.

Which parties can appoint ministers to the Northern Ireland Executive is determined by a combination of mandatory coalition, the D'Hondt method and cross-community support, depending on the role, as explained above. Coalitions of between three and five parties have governed over the Assembly's history. The Executive of the Sixth Assembly has yet to be formed.

In effect, major parties cannot be excluded from participation in government and power-sharing is enforced by the system. The form of government is therefore known as mandatory coalition as opposed to voluntary coalition where parties negotiate an agreement to share power. The Democratic Unionist Party (DUP), the Ulster Unionist Party (UUP), the Alliance Party of Northern Ireland and some Social Democratic and Labour Party (SDLP) members favour a move towards voluntary coalition in the longer term but this is currently opposed by Sinn Féin.

Could it be that the DUP  foresee the day when there is a majority voluntary coalition  of "designated nationalists" and in Stormont and would be prepared to se the end of Stormont before seeing Sinn Féin's Michelle O'Neill or at least her successor installed as First Minster.

Although they have been opposed to a Hard Boarder also fear that some of those who have voted Unionist may well see a United Ireland which would be in the European Union as preferable to a divided Ireland in which they are part of an isolated UK , begging for Trade Deals with the USA and China no matter how unfavourable?

 where they are tied to  Can they encouraged with the