Monday, 31 August 2020

Having Delegates rather than representatives , could make the Senedd Family Friendly.

 The question of making the UK legislatures  family friendly as my las t blog reported is unlikely to change in the future.

Although more men do not automatically presume child rearing falls mainly on their female partner  the gender balance is still tilted to male representatives .

Prehaps the first way of tackling the problem is the looking at our elected polticians as "representative rather than delegates

As Bethan Sayed said when she announced (to the dismay of many) that she was standing down from the Senedd next year.

“Having had some time to think during lockdown, now is the right time for me to take a break from active politics, to spend time with my son during these precious early years.

“I do feel regret that, unfortunately, this is in part a decision that could have been different if we had a better set up here in Wales. Perhaps if there had been a job share opportunity – something that’s been discussed for several years – I may have felt more able and comfortable juggling my work as a politician and being a new mother.

“Perhaps if parties had worked to increase the size of the Senedd in time for the next term, so that the ever increasing workloads could have been better shared, my decision may have been different.

“But I want this time for my family now. It’s difficult enough for parents to juggle work and family life, and as much as many people wish to believe that Welsh politics is family friendly, I don’t think it is yet, sadly.

“There is still a long way to go.”

If we looked at our Senedd members as delegates , then the idea of having nominated  proxy voting  when a member is absent  if he or she ill, on maternity  leave or for a number reasons would not be so problematic.

All members of the Senedd and  Westminster employ staff and we should consider whether aone of these could be empowered to take part in debates and voting in place of the MS or MP  with the permission of the Llywydd​ (in the Senedd) or the Speaker (Westminster).

It might even solve the problem of members employing family members as they could be the nominated Proxy delegate, and yes it could lead to Christine Hamilton acting in place of her husband Neil representing  Ukip in Y Siambr.

The point I am trying to make is that if we want to introduce family friendly legislature , then we need to look at the whole role of how those elected is viewed.

It going to have to change our complete our whole mindset , the question is are we prepared to do it?

Saturday, 29 August 2020

Making the Senedd "Family Friendly" should be a priority.

 It is 2250 and yet  we find the news that5 a Senedd member is stepping down from Cardiff Bay, citing lack of childcare support and the "aggressive" tone of online debate as part of her reasoning.

Plaid Cymru's Bethan Sayed, who represents South Wales West, has said she would not stand at next May's election.

First elected in 2007, Ms Sayed said she will spend more time with her young son but remain a "pro-active activist".

She said there was a "long way to go" before Welsh politics was "family friendly".

Announcing her departure plans, she said it had been a "privilege more than words can properly describe" to represent the region and that she was "immensely proud of all the campaigns and initiatives" she had been involved with.


Ms Sayed, whose son is five months old, said leaving the Senedd was "in part a decision that could have been different if we had a better set up here in Wales" for dealing with childcare responsibilities.

"Perhaps if there had been a job share opportunity - something that's been discussed for several years - I may have felt more able and comfortable juggling my work as a politician and being a new mother," she said.

"Perhaps if parties had worked to increase the size of the Senedd in time for the next term, so that the ever increasing workloads could have been better shared, my decision may have been different."

 "Many people wish to believe that Welsh politics is family friendly," she added. "I don't think it is yet, sadly, there is still a long way to go."

 Ms Sayed also highlighted what she called the "often relentlessly negative nature of our politics today".

"While there is plenty to be angry and concerned about in politics, there are ways to effect change and talk to each other without the charged, aggressive and often mean spirited tone, too many take as a first step - particularly online," she said.

"With politics and debate overwhelmingly featured in online spaces, we have to try to find common ground where we can, and change the tone of debate."

Plaid Cymru leader Adam Price said Ms Sayed had "stood out as a tireless campaigner in her region and beyond, fighting on behalf of the workers of Ford, Visteon and Tata Steel".

He praised her work chairing the Senedd's Culture, Welsh Language and Communications committee and more recently promoting "the pioneering idea of introducing locums to cover Senedd members' maternity leave".

"On behalf of Plaid Cymru I would like to thank Bethan for her contribution to Welsh public life and from the Plaid Cymru family to her and her family, I send Bethan our warmest wishes" he said.

Many of us  do not realise the hours of work our elected members  put in on our behalf. and does not just consist in siting in the siambr taking part in debates.

It is not a 9-5 job and for those who take their role seriously it involve much unread constituency work an in Bethan's case this include fightin for the pension of workers at Tata steel  perhaps reflected with her vote in the Aberavon Constituency in the 2016 Senedd Election in what is can be considered a Labour safe seat.


Welsh Assembly Election 2016: Aberavon[1]
LabourDavid Rees10,57850.7−13.4
Plaid CymruBethan Jenkins4,17620.0+5.2
UKIPGlenda Davies3,11915.0+15.0
ConservativeDavid Jenkins1,3426.4−7.9
Liberal DemocratsHelen Ceri Clarke1,2486.0−0.8
GreenJonathan Tier3891.9+1.9
Labour holdSwing−9.3

The sad thing is that things are not going to change , though increasing the number of Senedd Members would help.

Not a popular suggestion I know , but it could ease the burden on MS's sitting in to many committees and enabling them to deal with their casework, probably the most unsung and time consuming part of the Job.

There may be  Senedd members who do not work as hard as Bethan Sayed has , but for many even for those with comfortable majorities , they take their role seriously.

For those with young families male or female , there is an additional burden , the fact that it has become too much for one of our ablest and brightest  MS's is telling.

Sadly I doubt things will change but unless they do we will continue to be governed by Grey Men, who have no idea how ordinary people cope and denying an alternative and talented representation (mostly women) , who have to put childcare first 


Thursday, 27 August 2020

Never mind place of birth , all in Wales are part of the future .

This appeared on Twitter  this week
I have a genuine question. 1) I feel more at home in Wales than I have anywhere else. 2) My grandmother was born in Wales. 3) I've lived here six years. 4) I'm about to embark on a year out to learn the language. 5) But...I was born in England. Can I call myself a Welshman?
8:01 PM · Aug 25, 2020Twitter for Android
To which I replied

Replying to
You only needed to refer to the first reference

OK it wasn't the best English " refer to the first reference", but the point was made.

There can be no better

I knew that grew up in Eltham, London, before moving to Aberystwyth, aged 18, to study, but always thought she had some ancestral connection with Wales, but her story is much more interesting

Writing in the Sunday Times and reproduced here. she tells us..

When you are the Westminster leader of Plaid Cymru’s MPs, some people make a couple of assumptions about you.
It is taken as granted that you will possess a Welsh ancestry of biblical extent, and that you will have been a monolingual Welsh speaker at least until the age of eight. It is assumed – depending on the degree of clichĂ© – that your family home will be in the shadow of either coal tips or sheep.
I must apologise for confounding these expectations. My pedigree is doggedly English. I was born, raised and educated in south east London with parents brought up in southern England. The Saville family has done a fair job of being rootless English middle class, while my mother’s family, the Noyes, were reliably settled in Salisbury and the villages of south Wiltshire.
Learning Welsh has been the single greatest cause of disruption in my life, diverting me from conventional career pathways, and unlocking doors to unexpected opportunities. It has motivated and rewarded me: not just the act of acquiring a second language, but the fact that being bilingual in Welsh and English brings with it a kaleidoscope of perspectives, experiences and revelations.
The reason why I learnt Welsh is a story about books. Bookishness is a family trait: my great-uncle wrote a series of stories for young adults, and my father’s parents kept bookshops. He would read Tolkein aloud to me. And then I discovered Alan Garner, whose The Weirdstone of Brisingamen led to Elidor, and then to The Owl Service.
I owe a debt of gratitude to Alan Garner, although I cannot read The Owl Service without cringing at the recollection of my teenage self, who found it both inspirational and terrifying. Garner centred the action of his 1967 novel in Bryn Hall, Llanymawddwy, Meirionnydd. It involves the interplay of three young people – two English incomers spending the summer in a grand holiday home and the Welsh-speaking son of the local housekeeper – caught up as unwilling actors recreating the tragic love triangle of the last book of the Mabinogi. At his best, Garner gathers up the threads of Celtic mythology, and remakes them into stories that haunt their modern landscapes. This was the story that drew me in. Then my father bought me the Everyman’s Library edition of The Mabinogion, translated by Gwyn Jones and Thomas Jones, for my fifteenth birthday. And that is what caught me fast: I went to University of Wales, Aberystwyth to follow Celtic Studies, which entailed learning Welsh and Irish, and, by the second year, writing faltering, error-ridden essays in Welsh.
Learning Welsh is little different to learning French. The language is awash with Latin loanwords, even though the underlying Celtic syntax survived the Roman invasion of Britain intact, with its verbs asserting their presence at the beginning of the sentence. Yes – you have to face up to the concept of linguistic characteristics which are fundamentally different to English: verbs conjugate across persons singular and plural, there are two forms of ‘you’, there are masculine and feminine nouns, there is an infinite number of ways to say ‘yes’ and ‘no’, plurals are multifarious and – horror of horrors – most consonants mutate according to rigorous grammatical conventions. But Welsh is a living language, and many Welsh speakers wouldn’t recognise the overly-academic linguistic explanations above – they’d just speak the language as it comes naturally.
Put the teenage literary escapism to one side, and what have been the experiences of a Welsh and English bilingual from south east London? It is a sense of belonging to a series of language communities opening outwards in ever-widening Anglo-centric circles and closing inwards to encircle and watch over the individual Welsh speaker.
English speakers have direct access to 20% of the world’s population, some 360 million of them using it as their first language. It is the most resourced language in existence. Speaking English is useful: in social, economic and political terms.
I may participate in the English-speaking universe, but in little sense does my tiny presence in that immensity equate to belonging. In a world where a sense of self and contribution falters in the face of constant mass communication, to be a Welsh speaker has personal consequences. It means belonging to a community where every speaker matters, where your choice to use or not use the language comes freighted with implications. As an individual, my belonging to a Welsh-speaking community carries a weight of responsibility, but, when compared to the insignificance of the individual English speaker in the wider English-speaking world, this responsibility is also the gift – or burden - of significance. Welsh bolsters the well-being of its speakers’ identity because all its speakers matter and are interconnected. In any conversation with a Welsh-speaker, we are at most three friends, acquaintances or family connections away from each other. And, critically, this is not a benefit solely accessed by birth right, this is simply a matter of choosing to participate in a language.
After years of learning Welsh at university, the choice had to be made between settling back in London and leaving the personal investment of linguistic competency behind and opting for conventional career comforts, or taking my chances in the Welsh-speaking communities of Gwynedd and Ynys MĂ´n. I scratched through an interview as a news reporter for the Holyhead and Anglesey Mail in 1990, and went from being a rootless observer of Welsh communities and dilettante student of the language to shouldering the dawning consequences of being Welsh.

Liz Saville Roberts MPThe Times

Liz has come to Wales and planted new roots where none where before and the result has been a spectacular contribution to our nation and its future.

I don't even argue for a form of   The cricket test, also known as the Tebbit test, w a controversial phrase coined in April 1990 by the British Conservative politician Norman Tebbit in reference to the perceived lack of loyalty to the England cricket team among South Asian and Caribbean immigrants and their children. Tebbit suggested that those immigrants who support their native countries rather than England at the sport of cricket are not significantly integrated into the United Kingdom.[1]

If you come to Wales and feel Welsh but still have a residue of affection to your former home that you (horror of Horrors) still support England in Rugby then that's OK .

If you are incensed with this perhaps consider a Samoan (or Irish) friend  who lives in Wales feels Welsh , but supports his native country.?

Or ask yourself if Welsh emigrants who gain citizenship in New Zealand  or any other country  should switch support to their new home, even as  My Hen Wlad Nhadau rings out from the stadium?

It's  what you do in Wales as a Citizen that is important not birth, Colour , religion, or language.

You are all part of the future and if you choose that you are most welcome.

Wednesday, 26 August 2020

Surely all the UK governments should be providing free Face Masks for pupils.

Prehaps the question over whether and when pupils should wear Face Masks in school, should be how they should be provided and why haven't the UK legislatures prepared for it and whether the government there should provide it free.

With decision about whether children will need to wear face coverings to school in Wales will be made today. Health minister Vaughan Gething has said he wanted any change to guidance on the mandatory use of face coverings to be made before schools reopen next Tuesday.

With news that pupils in England will no longer be advised against using face masks in secondary schools after Boris Johnson made an 11th-hour U-turn days before classrooms reopen. It will be important that the media cover (no pun intended) the advice or mandatory ruling of the Welsh Government .

In lockdown areas such as Greater Manchester, which have greater restrictions to stop the spread of the virus, wearing face coverings will become mandatory in school corridors where social distancing is more difficult.

In areas of England not subject to tighter restrictions, headteachers will have discretion over whether to require face masks, but the government will no longer advise against their use, a senior government source said.

The 2English" prime minister bowed to pressure and changed the guidance late on Tuesday after scores of headteachers broke ranks to urge their use, backed by Labour and trade unions.

The UK government has been under pressure to review its advice on masks in schools after the World Health Organization (WHO) updated its guidance at the weekend to say that face coverings were useful to curb the spread of Covid-19 where physical distancing between adults and pupils aged 12 and over was impossible, or in areas of high transmission.

Scotland confirmed on Tuesday that secondary schools would be given “obligatory” guidance on pupils wearing face coverings, while Stormont’s education minister said post-primary pupils in Northern Ireland would be asked to wear face coverings in corridors and other communal areas from 31 August when they return full time. Wales is reviewing its advice.

However it does not seem that any of the UK legislatures have considered issuing Fre masks to pupils and consideration of how poorer families , will be able to pay for them.

Surely with the knowledge that pupils would be returning to schools , the availability of Masks that match , the standards expected and the daily cost of masks , should have been a priority.

Free masks that are approved should be handed out on a daily or weekly basis in the forming to all pupils , whether the UK legislatures deem them to be compulsory or not.