Wednesday, 30 September 2020

We should be careful not to furnish hostility, but local needs come first.

 Four councils in north Wales are to go into local lockdown in a bid to tackle the spread of Covid-19.

People will not be able to leave or enter Conwy, Denbighshire, Flintshire, and Wrexham unless they have a "reasonable excuse" such as work or education.

They are the same restrictions as seen in most of south Wales, where lockdowns cover 11 different areas.

The new measures will come into effect at 18:00 BST on Thursday.

It will be illegal to meet others indoors who are not within your immediate household.

it has led to t he First Minister has called on Prime Minister Boris Johnson to ban people from travelling to Wales from coronavirus hotspots in England.

Wales Online report that 

Unlike in Wales, where people in areas in local lockdown are banned from leaving the county without a reasonable excuse, in England there are no such restrictions.

Welsh local lockdown rules tell people not to travel outside that area unless they have a reasonable excuse - and going on holiday is not deemed a reasonable excuse.

This means that people in Bolton in Greater Manchester, which in a local lockdown and had 231 cases per 100,000 people in the last week, are able to travel to Ceredigion or Pembrokeshire on holiday whereas people in Newport, Gwent, which has 50 cases for the same number of people, can not.

When WalesOnline questioned Welsh Government minister Vaughan Gething at Monday's press conference he indicated there were no plans to restrict people coming into Wales from English Covid hotspots.

Surely if people in a local area are now restricted in movement  and  prevented from leaving that area  then at the same time people should have restrictions on entering that area.

If you are in a hotspot you can obviously  become affected and knowingly or unknowingly carry it in to another area, but equally you can enter a hotspot and

n hot only become infected and carry it out  or be already infected  and make the issue worse.

We must become careful of blaming outsiders whether its from within Wales. England  or indeed students  and creating an hostile environment.

But as Ceredigion which as seemingly manged to contain the pandemic better than others the sudden spike  is clearly linked to the University at Aberystwyth.

You don't need to be an expert to realise that the influx of thousand pf students arriving back at University to see that some may well be Covid carriers  and that would see cases appearing on campus  and in the area.

There is a strong argument that part of the reason to open the Universities was a financial one , but  it it would be impossible  to send them all back home to be tutored online.

The problem now is a Town and Gown argument  in whether the Students are following strict guidelines  or  meeting in large numbers and increasing infection rates.

The potential of a bitter resentment on both sides is worrying and we need to get a grip and prevent it.



Tuesday, 29 September 2020

Vale of Glamorgan Council generating bad publicity.

The Vale of Glamorgan Council has had some unfortunate  bad oublicity this week as it joins much of the South of Wales in a new lockdown.

The Council leadership is acurious mixture of Labour and two "Independent" Groups.

The First Bad news that  was that .

The Vale council leaders to sell off a popular wedding venue and community centre have been “misunderstood”.

The Kymin, in Penarth, could soon be sold on a long lease as a restaurant or hotel, after the Vale of Glamorgan council deemed the Victorian house “surplus to requirements”.

Councillors on the cabinet voted on Monday, September 21, to advertise the Kymin on the market.

The plans have been criticised but councillors hit back, claiming critics misunderstood the word “disposal”.

The plans for the Kymin were recently revealed by Miles Punter, the Vale’s director of environment and housing, in a report to cabinet.

Mr Punter said the council was planning the “disposal” of the former community centre: local government jargon for getting rid of something. A private bidder, community group or Penarth town council could be chosen to take over the Kymin.

Mr Punter claimed use of the building would be limited, and any successful bidder would have to use the building as a hotel, restaurant, or community centre.

During the cabinet meeting, councillors sought to allay concerns the building would be lost to the public, by saying Mr Punter had been misunderstood.

Council leader Neil Moore said: “This is being disposed of by a long lease. It’s not being sold off ‘per se’.

“People need to start reading things, because most people don’t.”

Deputy leader Lis Burnett said: “This building hasn’t been used for over a year. We’re all keen this building comes back into productive use as soon as humanly possible".

Of course the length of the "long lease" may be that in many peoples lifetime it may as well been sold

Then came news that 

Plans to build the long-awaited Dinas Powys bypass have been delayed once again as no funding can be found.

Details of how transport could be improved in the village were due to be revealed in spring this year.

But this has now been pushed back by the Vale of Glamorgan Council until November, as finding funding for the improvements is proving difficult.

In November, the council will set out the business case to the Welsh Government, in a process called the Welsh transport appraisal guidance (WelTAG).

Peter King, cabinet member for neighbourhood services and transport, said: “The ‘WelTAG stage two plus’ report for improvements to transport in Dinas Powys, including consideration of the bypass, is due to be presented to cabinet in November this year.”

He was updating councillors during a public meeting of the full council on September 21, on the plans for the Dinas bypass and the problems finding funding.
ort tailored for you

Cllr King said: “In respect of the active travel route between Barry and Dinas Powys, the council made a funding bid to the Welsh Government for this fiscal year, in order to progress this key active travel scheme.

“The bid to Welsh Government comprised a request for funding to take a detailed topographical survey costing £50,000; further ground investigation work costing £60,000; and a public stakeholder consultation costing about £1,000.

“Unfortunately the scheme wasn’t prioritised for funding by Welsh Government this year. As and when the opportunity rises, I will continue to seek funding for the scheme, which forms an important active travel link for this council.”

But as the population of Dinas Powys is set to grow rapidly, questions were raised about why it has taken so long for the council to get the transport projects off the ground.

Cllr Ian Johnson said: “There’s going to be a 20 per cent increase of the population in Dinas Powys. There’s lots of development and not a lot of infrastructure. The active travel route was part of the 2015 local transport plan, with a due finish date of 2020.

“It’s not beyond the wit of cabinet to allocate the funding towards that project, to kick start it. Will you do it?”

Responding, Cllr King said: “If any opportunity rises, we will certainly make further progress, because it’s a route that I'm particularly keen to see completed. It’s an integral part of the matrix that needs making up. So rest assured, when any opportunity rises, we will do it.”

Finally it sems that the council are having problems actually getting together  asattempts to restore local democracy in the Vale of Glamorgan were left in shambles as the council’s first full virtual meeting suffered from “ludicrous” feedback.

The Vale of Glamorgan council attempted to hold its first full council meeting via video-conferencing technology on Monday, September 21.

But councillors complained that excessively loud feedback and echoes left it impossible to understand what others were saying.

General confusion about the voting process also hampered efforts of one of the key parts of local democracy, while some votes were recorded incorrectly.

The Vale council’s IT department was criticised, as other councils and organisations across the country have coped with the switch to new technology, allowing people to socially distance and meet virtually.

But six months after regulations allowing councils to hold public meetings remotely came into force, the Vale council is
still struggling to adapt to the new necessary technology.

During the full council meeting, council leader Neil Moore repeatedly stopped talking to highlight the issue of the echo and the feedback.

Cllr Moore said: “There’s terrible feedback. Can I just stop for a second, please, I’m sorry but this is giving me a headache.

“I don’t know what’s happened there but it seems to have gone away a little bit.

“Somebody’s left their microphone on, this is ridiculous. Could somebody please turn their bloody microphone off?

“I’m not sure whether somebody is sabotaging this. But it’s absolutely ludicrous. I think there’s someone on the phone who isn’t on mute causing the massive feedback.”

One prominent member of the council  is  e former leader of the Conservative group in the Welsh Assembly has been elected to his local council to fight the closure of a village school.

At the timeAndrew RT Davies said he was "bitterly opposed" to plans by fellow Tories in the Vale of Glamorgan to shut Llancarfan Primary School.

Mr Davies is usually very forthright on his Twitter page , but unless he has a separate account as a County Councillor , may be he should be paying more intention to his second job.

As a County Councilor  heclaims a salary o£13,868 before expenses, alongside his salary as an Senedd Minister. When standing for election Davies pledged to donate his council salary to good causes in the Rhoose ward and has since created a community fund which makes regular donations to community groups and worthwhile causes in the area.

It surley can't help to impress his  voters?

Monday, 28 September 2020

Quis custodiet ipsos custodes?

Quis custodiet ipsos custodes? is a Latin phrase found in the work of the Roman poet Juvenal from his Satires (Satire VI, lines 347–348). It is literally translated as "Who will guard the guards themselves?", though it is also known by variant translations, such as "Who watches the watchers?" and "Who will watch the watchmen?".

It seems that the Tories may be panning that it will be their placemen.

Claims that the UK  the government has  asked right-wing commentator Charles Moore and former Daily Mail editor Paul Dacre to fill two powerful UK media jobs.ClainBritain’s culture secretary Oliver Dowden have been  denied well in art anyway 

The Sunday Times reported that Moore has been tapped to be the next chair of the BBC, while Dacre is set to be installed as the new chair of UK media regulator Ofcom.

The government is responsible for recruiting for both roles and the Sunday Times said prime minister Boris Johnson wants the pair, both ferocious critics of the BBC, to usher in a “revolution” in UK broadcasting.

Senior government insiders told the newspaper that hiring Moore as a replacement for outgoing BBC chair David Clementi is a “done deal,” while Johnson “wooed” Dacre for the Ofcom job over drinks at Downing Street in February.

But speaking on the BBC’s Andrew Marr Show on Sunday,  Culture  Olive Dowden denied that any decisions have been made prior to the government launching a formal recruitment process.

Asked if Moore and Dacre had been offered the jobs, Dowden said: 

“No. We have a formal process for them to go through.” Asked if there had been “behind the scenes” talks about the roles, Dowden said: “I have conversations with people all the time… It is not my role to offer them the job.”

Moore, a former Daily Telegraph editor, has waged war on the BBC and its funding the model, the license fee, for more than a decade. So much so, he was fined by a court in 2010 for not paying the fee.

In a Daily Telegraph column in February, he applauded the BBC’s “global reputation” before reeling off a laundry list of things he does not like about the corporation.

“Here are some weaknesses: entertainment channels, including Radio 1 and Radio 2, which could be better done commercially; a website which crushes competition; a massive, talent-destroying bureaucracy; and, yes, bias,” he wrote.

“This bias is not chiefly party political (though it is certainly anti-Tory). It is politico/cultural – woke, pro-Remain, credulously green, anti-market, obsessed with issues connected with “diversity”, yet itself not truly diverse at all.”

  It is politico/cultural – woke, pro-Remain, credulously green, anti-market, obsessed with issues connected with “diversity”, yet itself not truly diverse at all.”

Paul Michael Dacre is an English journalist and the former long-serving editor of the British right-wing tabloid the Daily Mail. He is editor-in-chief of DMG Media, which publishes the Daily MailThe Mail on Sunday, the free daily tabloid Metro, the Mailonline website, and other titles.[

Andrew O'Hagan wrote in the London Review of Books in 2017 that Dacre's 

"worst effect" on the Mail "has been to let it seem mired in the things it hates, as if society’s worst excesses were mostly an outgrowth of its own paranoid imagination". In his view, under its editor the paper is a "bubbling quagmire of prejudice posing as news, of opinion dressed as fact, and contempt posing as contempt for that portion of the world’s population that doesn’t live in Cheam". Polly Toynbee in 2004 commented "Read him out the first clause of the press code - the one that tells newspapers not to 'publish inaccurate, misleading or distorted material', and he replies with a straight face that the Mail obeys it"
Recently the internet was Up In Arms after The Telegraph reported that the new Director General of the BBC, Tim Davie, (No i did not miss out the S) was set to drastically reduce the amount of left-wing comedy on the BBC

I suspect the Moore , Dacre  claims was part of a goverment Kite flying exercise and was meant to draw the predictable fire so that when the appointments are made they will be less controversial , though equally right wing and hostile to the BBC.

indeed I it may only because Rupert Murdoch  is an American citizen is the only reason that he has (despite his alleged republicism) is why the Tories have not elevated him to the House of Lords and Minister pf Propaganda.

How much more control does the Right need  it seems that some aspects of the centre and left are allowed to exist so that the government know who we are.

In one of John le Carré novels he claims that many of the Far Left parties whose newspapers turn up at demos   are secretly finance by the security services to do just that.

We must not become paranoid however, but it is clear we are  constantly  vigilant.

Saturday, 26 September 2020

Lib Dem talk of a Federal UK has no substance .

Yesterday I blogged on new Lib Dems leader say  that he opposed a Second Sotttish Independence referendum.

He said


I genuinely think Scottish people from all sides of the question on independence will say 'this is not the time for constitutional questions, now is the time for helping people who are in distress, businesses that are in distress and people who are facing the loss of loved ones'.”

On the party's opposition to another independence referendum, he said: "The Liberal Democrats' policy on independence is set by the Scottish Liberal Democrats and always will be under my leadership.

"I know that they believe that Scotland is better in the family of nations."

At the same time in her responce to   a Plaid Cymru-appointed group on Welsh independence has said two referendums should be held on the nation's future place in the United Kingdom. The Lib Dem "leader in Wales" Jane Dodd raised the hoary question of fedralism.

Led by former MP Elfyn Llwyd, it says a Plaid government in Cardiff should hold a "multi-choice" referendum to gauge views.

That poll should be used to persuade a UK Westminster government to agree to a referendum on the preferred option.

Ms Dodd said

 “politics isn’t working for Wales or the UK as well as it could right now” that “independence looks attractive”..

“There are far too many uncertainties, too many unknowns and too many risks with independence, she said.

“We don’t know nor are Plaid proposing solutions to questions such as: What currency we would use? Would we still have access to the BBC? What would happen in towns and villages that straddle the border? Or whether English students will still be able to study in our universities?”

Jane Dodds called for a “truly federal United Kingdom” instead.

The process would start with a declaration of a federal United Kingdom. A citizens’ assembly would then help draw up a written constitution.

Under the motion The Senedd, the Scottish Parliament and Northern Ireland Assembly would have their powers protected and could not be over-ruled by the Westminster government, she said.

The governments would be required to co-operate to tackle big issues that affect the whole UK such as child poverty or the climate emergency.

“The idea to reform the UK to a federal nation similar to Canada and Germany is a constructive middle way between a centralising Westminster government and a dash for independence from the nationalists,” she said.

“It replaces division with the co-operation which is needed to heal the existing divisions and to build a better future for everyone.”

So four years after the First Scottish Independence referendum have the Lib Dems produced any major paper on a Federal UK or included it as a commitment in a manifesto  . Googling it is problematic because  when you search Federal and LibDems you get results for it as it being a Federal Party (in name at least.) but what Federalism as a proposal for UK goverment from this party is dificult to actually find.

I suspect someone commenting on this will claim refer me to some kind of policy document, but as a Unique Selling Point (USP) , it seems that Federalism particularly in an English context is some what subdued.

What do they mean by it a Federal union of Wales, Scotland  Northern Ireland and England> or one of Wales , Scotland Northern Ireland and say eight English regions,

The first would be totally unacceptable to England if it meant that  the rest were equal  and the latter would reduce Celtic Nations, were merely UK regions.

I am not sure as we seem to be on a wave of support for Independence , that Plaid should be confusing the issue with multi choice questions.. Now is nor the time to take our eye off the prize..

Still it could lead to a debate and actuall proposals not vague  lib Dem Federalism Quackery.

Friday, 25 September 2020

Heads Unionists win. Tales Independistas lose

 There is a convention even in the UKs second chamber , that the house of Lords do not block bills which were in the winning parties at a General Election Manifesto.

Whether this will apply to a Scottish Second referendum if the SNP were to win next May''s Scottish Election remains to be seen.

Certainly the Unionist across the Lobby where the leaders of the Tories , Labour and te Liberal Democrats seem to indicate they will ignore any claim of a SNP/Green mandate at Holyrood and deny a request for a Second Referendum.

Asked if he would listen if Scots tell him they want independence, Davey said he thought people will find the constitutional arguments a "distraction" - if they are even talking about them at all.

He said: "I think even the strongest proponents of independence would say ‘let's focus on the things that matter, let's not get extra disruptions or distractions'.

"I genuinely think Scottish people from all sides of the question on independence will say 'this is not the time for constitutional questions, now is the time for helping people who are in distress, businesses that are in distress and people who are facing the loss of loved ones'.”

On the party's opposition to another independence referendum, he said: "The Liberal Democrats' policy on independence is set by the Scottish Liberal Democrats and always will be under my leadership.

"I know that they believe that Scotland is better in the family of nations."

Davey also compared the issue to the "self-indulgent" UK Government pushing to get a Brexit deal before January and not seeking an extension "when we've got one hell of a fight on our hands" because of coronavirus.

He went on to say that the "laserbeam-like focus" of Scottish LibDem leader Willie Rennie on the impact of coronavirus and the recovery could pay dividends.

"I think the other Unionist parties are not as strong as they've been in the run up to previous Holyrood elections and I think we have a real possibility of gaining momentum," 

So wining a election on the issue of Independence  is not a mandate , but naturally not winning means denying any calls.

Heads Unionists win. Tales Independistas lose!

Not that the Lieral Democrats in Scotland have any form of mandate from the Scottish People and  they must ride on the coattails of Labour and the Tories to claim one.

Scottish Parliament out of  129 seats (SNP 61)

Member of the Scottish ParliamentConstituency or RegionFirst electedSpokespersons[18]
Willie RennieNorth East Fife2011Leader of the Scottish Liberal Democrats
Liam McArthurOrkney2007Justice and Energy
Beatrice WishartShetland2019Education
Alex Cole-HamiltonEdinburgh Western2016Health and housing
Mike RumblesNorth East Scotland2016Rural Affairs

House of Commons of the United Kingdom out of 59 Scottish seats (SNP 48)

Member of ParliamentConstituencyFirst electedNotes
Alistair CarmichaelOrkney and Shetland2001Only Lib Dem MP returned in the 2015 general election in Scotland.
Christine JardineEdinburgh West2017
Jamie StoneCaithness, Sutherland and Easter Ross2017Member of the Scottish Parliament for Caithness, Sutherland and Easter Ross between 1999 and 2011.
Wendy ChamberlainNorth East Fife2019

Only gain made by the Liberal Democrats in Scotland at the 2019 general election. Was previously the most marginal seat in the entire United Kingdom in 2017.

Recent polling, conducted between September 2 and 7, predicted the LibDems would win eight Holyrood seats, making them the smallest party in the Scottish parliament. If this happens and the SNP 9possibly with the Greens) win an overall majority on a electoral system designed to prevent this . I hope Ed Davey will explain why his party will still deny Indyref.2

Thursday, 24 September 2020

How much Party donations and expenditure would pass forensic examanation?

Can it be as far back as ao October 1994 when The Guarcash-for-questions affair" was a political scandal of the 1990s in the United Kingdom.y lobbyist,Ian Greer of Ian Greer Associates, had bribed two Conservative Members of Parliament to ask parliamentary questions and perform other tasks on behalf of the Egyptian owner of Harrods department store, Mohamed Al-Fayed.

TIt would be folowed up by Cash-for-Honours scandal (also known as Cash for PeeragesLoans for LordshipsLoans for Honours or Loans for Peerages) was a political scandal in the United Kingdom in 2006 and 2007 concerning the connection between political donations and the award of life peerages. A loophole in electoral law in the United Kingdom means that although anyone donating even small sums of money to a political party has to declare this as a matter of public record, those loaning money at commercial rates of interest did not have to make a public declaration.

In March 2006, several men nominated for life peerages by then Prime Minister Tony Blair[1] were rejected by the House of Lords Appointments Commission. It was later revealed they had loaned large amounts of money to the governing Labour Party,

You would have thought that by now the UK  Parliament, would have sought to end such flagrant breaches of the democratic process where even where it is apparently not illegal  if you have money you canh still seem to have influence by donating to a Political Party.

Nation Cymru recently reported that 

More than half of donations received by new Conservative MPs in Wales came from secretive fundraising clubs based in the south-east of England.

Six of the nine new Conservative MPs elected in Wales received a combined 15 donations totalling £53,750, according to the new register of MPs’ interests.

The source for 55% of that sum (£29,750) was a network of clubs and funds used by the Conservative party to allow rich supporters to donate money anonymously which is usually targeted at candidates in marginal seats.

The funding is legal but transparency campaigners have called for a change to the rules so that the origins of political donations are revealed.

The Nation have also reported  that 

Alun Cairns set up a Westminster interest group for energy security months after receiving a donation from an energy company at the heart of a row about lobbying by another Conservative MP.

Last June, the Vale of Glamorgan MP registered a £5,000 donation to his general election campaign fund from Aquind Ltd, a company with plans to build an electricity interconnector between England and France.

The company’s director, Alexander Temerko, has donated more than £1 million to the Tories.

After winning re-election, Cairns established the All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) for energy security.

He is listed as the “chair and registered contact” for the group which held its first meeting in February this year, the UK Parliament register of APPG’s shows.

The purpose of the group is to “promote the security of energy supply in the UK”.

Temerko is described on his personal website as a “vocal champion of UK energy security and independence”, while Aquind’s website states that its interconnector is needed to “ensure additional security and diversity of energy supply.”

The funding from Aquind is completely legal. However, Cairns’ formation of the group could raise questions after fellow Conservative MP David Morris was ordered to apologise by Parliament’s standards watchdog for breaching rules on donations tied to the same company.

Morris had accepted a donation of £10,000 from Aquind last September. A month later he used Business Questions in the Commons to call on the UK government to urge energy regulator Ofgem to “protect British companies by granting regulation as soon as possible” for Aquind’s project.

He followed up his request the next day with an email to the UK Business Secretary.

Westminster’s standards commissioner found his actions broke paragraph 12 of the code of conduct for MPs which states: “No Member shall act as a paid advocate in any proceeding of the House.”

Jane Dodds, leader of the Welsh Lib Dems, told Nation.Cymru that it was important to ensure that the activities of Alun Cairns’ cross-party group were transparent.

“Discussing energy security is a very noble cause, however it would be interesting to know what the precise aims and objectives of this group are,” she said.

“Alun Cairns and other members of this group need to ensure that the group’s activities are clear and fully transparent.”

I don't live in a marginal seat  so probably do not see the sort of campaigning in marginal seats but  Political parties' spend is  capped at £30,000 for each constituency that it contests in a general election and one wonders how many through some creative accounting keep withi the limit and if we had a effective election commission  and  Conservative proposals to abolish or significantly revamp the Electoral Commission is hardly going to give it electoral teeth.

One thing that would be useful if  Wikipedia copied the same system of constituency results in  Canada where often you can see how much each party spent in each riding 9Consituency)

2019 Canadian federal election
ConservativePhilip Lawrence27,38539.7+0.14$68,864.16
LiberalKim Rudd24,97736.2-6.31$83,715.67
New DemocraticMallory MacDonald9,61513.9-0.9$8,871.55
GreenJeff Wheeldon5,5248.0+4.87none listed
People'sFrank Vaughan1,4602.1$1,643.34
Total valid votes/Expense limit68,961100.0  
Total rejected ballots484
Eligible voters96,841
Conservative gain from LiberalSwing+3.23

2019 Canadian federal election
ConservativeDan Albas31,13547.9+8.34$45,571.84
LiberalMary Ann Murphy16,25225.0-12.21$46,808.57
New DemocraticJoan Phillip10,90416.8-2.50$29,000.61
GreenRobert Mellalieu5,0867.8+3.87none listed
People'sAllan Duncan1,3452.1-none listed
LibertarianJesse Regier2130.3-none listed
Total valid votes/Expense limit64,935100.0
Total rejected ballots341
Eligible voters

Not all are listed but you can get some idea  see more here.

2019 Canadian federal election
New DemocraticLaurel Collins23,76533.2%-9.1
GreenRacelle Kooy21,38329.9%-3.0$78,891.28
LiberalNikki Macdonald15,95222.3%+10.5
ConservativeRichard Caron9,03812.6%+0.8
People'sAlyson Culbert9201.3%-$5,286.41
Animal ProtectionJordan Reichert2210.3%0.0
CommunistRobert Duncan1130.2%-
IndependentDavid Shebib1110.2%-
VCPKeith Rosenberg460.1%-
Total valid votes/Expense limit71,54999.3% $121,316.37
Total rejected ballots4750.7%
Eligible voters94,627
New Democratic holdSwing
Source: Elections Canada[3][4]

 Whether such a easy system would help us to see any correlation between , the amount spent on seat and the outcome.

Of course we also need forensic examination of the Parties overall spending and donations, but the current system stinks and in the sixteen years since 2Cash for Questions"  scandal it has hardly improved.