Saturday, 23 September 2017

Goldilocks and the Independence debate.

Before the First World War the arguments from London  against Irish Independence was that 

"The fact the Irish wanted Independence from the British Empire the "Greatest Empire in History" meant that they were unready for Independence,
Then in the 1970 when the SNP emerged as a political force partly due to the "Its Scotland's Oil" 

the argument  was that Scotland was being selfish in wanting to keep oil resources for itself.

Then the argument made during the Scottish Referendum was that the oil was running out and Scotland was now "Too wee and too poor for independence".

Here in Wales we are always being told we are to small and poor for Independence  an argument that seems to have been accepted in some Plaid Circles.

So now we come to the Catalan Referendum and this tweet from Rhondda's MP Chris Bryant:
I disagree. The referendum is illegal. And this is all about the rich abandoning the poor. Better solidarity is a united Spain rico y pobre 

As Nation Cymru  puts it
The ‘it’s illegal’ argument is clearly daft. As a politician Chris Bryant would know that what is legal isn’t necessarily right in many instances, otherwise he would never have voted to change a law.
This line of thinking is deeply worrying, however. It’s worth remembering that the first Scottish independence referendum got the go-ahead largely because neither side thought that ‘Yes’ had a hope of winning.
Catalonia’s treatment raises the spectre that if Scotland does call a referendum in the wake of Brexit – with perhaps more favourable polling – the country would face similar treatment.
After all, these arguments against a vote in Catalonia show that British politicians are happy to argue, when it suits them, that the people shouldn’t be allowed a democratic voice.
They can simply outlaw a vote and then claim ‘it’s illegal’, and so wrong.
But more revealing is the argument that Catalonia is too rich to be independent, and that it has a moral duty to stay in the union to help poorer nations that are part of Spain.
This is deeply ironic because one of the most consistent unionist arguments against Scottish and Welsh independence has been that they’re too poor to be independent.
Presumably, if Wales or Scotland were ever to pull themselves up by the boot-straps and become prosperous parts of the UK, the argument would suddenly flip the other way.
From being too poor to be independent, they would be too rich to be independent. We can’t win, I suppose.
The argument is especially galling because the London-centric, trickle down British economic model means that the UK includes both the richest and poorest areas in western Europe.
It’s not a union per se that creates equality but the fair distribution of wealth within in, something these same politicians lecturing Catalonia haven’t been able to, or don’t want to, achieve.
Is there a Goldilocks principle at work here?  Where Nations are not too poor or rich or poor for Independence but the conditions are just right.

Don't bet on it the new argument would be everything is 

"Just Right at the moment" so why change things"?
Perhaps the only argument for Independence should be 

"We want it" 

Friday, 22 September 2017

Percentage NHS spending shows limit of Welsh Powers.

A report has claimed protection of health funds in Wales  could make libraries and leisure centres unaffordable

A review by the Wales Governance Centre and Wales Public Services 2025 said about 56p in every pound spent by the Welsh Government on public services could go to the NHS within four years.
The two Cardiff University-based think tanks said under current UK government plans, the Welsh Government should expect another 3% cut to its budget for day-to-day spending by 2021-2022, on top of a 11.5% cut since 2010.
Welsh ministers have promised to protect the NHS, schools and adult social care, meaning local authorities take a bigger hit.
The share of the Welsh Government's revenue budget the NHS receives could rise to 56%, if ministers find the money needed to keep up with a predicted growth in demand, the report has warned.
Cuts to Welsh councils have been smaller than in England, but spending on unprotected services - such as libraries, roads and culture - could reach 50% by 2021-2022, the study estimated.
It added: "There may not be a single tipping point but continued attrition would call into question whether the full range of services we have now is affordable."

First Minister Carwyn Jones said it was the "inevitable" consequence of Westminster cuts to Wales' budget.

Mr Jones told BBC Radio Wales:
 "We know how important health is and we have got to the point where it takes most of our expenditure.
"But we have experienced austerity since 2010 and it is taking more of a decreasing budget."
Speaking to BBC's Good Morning Wales programme, he called on the UK government to support public services, saying finances were being "squeezed".
Lets face it we are not going to get any more Money from Westminster and even if Jeremy Corbyn was in Number 10 it would be be unlikely that we would see any substantial change in theBarnett formula the mechanism used by the Treasury in the United Kingdom to automatically adjust the amounts of public expenditure allocated to Northern IrelandScotland and Wales to reflect changes in spending levels allocated to public services in EnglandEngland and Wales or Great Britain, as appropriate. 
Only an increase in powers would probably see changes in Barnett and neither the Tories or Labour are likely to do so.
What the Wales Governance Centre predictions  shows is the limited  scope of the current devolved powers.
Indeed I suspect that it was decided to devolve the NHS to Wales because t would become our problem not through any desire to boost devolution.
So what can we do?
The  Conservatives say he problems facing the Welsh NHS were "the product of nearly two decades of Labour mismanagement".
Tory finance spokesman Nick Ramsay said: 
"Successive Labour administrations have singularly failed to get a handle on worsening public health, long-term workforce planning, and wasteful practices - all of which have been compounded by chronic underfunding."
So Mr Ramsay seems to be saying that the way to end wasteful practices is to increase the NHS budget.
I doubt any reforms which increased NHS efficiency will make a huge saving that would lower the NHS budget to under 50% though it would be welcome.
What the figures show  however is not only the rising cost of NHS provisions un Wales, but how very little real powers are devolved here.

Thursday, 21 September 2017

UK Unionist are tacitly backing "The Heirs of Franco".

It was reported that Jeremy Corbyn has responded to Piers Morgan's claim that he was deliberately "shut out" of a conversation with Spanish Arsenal full back Hector Bellerin when the Labour leader deliberately switched into Spanish, by tweeting at both men, in Spanish.
Mr Bellerin had told Piers Morgan to "calm down mate" over the claim in his column. Mr Corbyn replied ,saying: 
"Fue un placer conocerte.Es mejor que no le digamos de lo que estabamos hablando, no lo entenderia. Muy buen juego en el partido el domingo."
In English, this translates as: 
"It was nice meeting you. It's best if we don't tell him what we were talking about, he would not understand. Very good game on Sunday."
  1987, he married Chilean exile Claudia Bracchitt this ended in divorce and he then married In 2013, Corbyn married his Mexican-born partner Laura Álvarez.

So Spanish may well be a language he is familiar with.  Maybe he could use this to call on Spanish Prime Minister  Mariano Rajoy to end his attack on democracy in Catalonia.

Earlier on Wednesday, Catalan President Carles Puigdemont accused the central government of effectively suspending devolution after it moved to seize control of regional finances to stop them being used to fund the referendum.

He said, 
"Spain has de facto suspended the self-government of Catalonia and has applied a de facto state of emergency,"
"We believe that the Spanish government has crossed the red line that separated it from repressive authoritarian regimes and has become a democratic shame." 

At the very least he should comment on  The Spanish Socialist Party (PSOE) leader Pedro Sánchez responded to Rajoy’s comments in Barcelona by supporting : 

He said :
 you [Rajoy] will do what you have to do.
The Liberal Democrats also seem to be silent  . One would expect an emergency Motion at their annual conference but this seems not to be the case.

The silence from the UK Liberal-Left  who would have condemned  a similar attack on democracy elsewhere in the World. Politicians like Corbyn who are quick to defend the rights of Nations to seek independence as they did when the Baltic States sought and won their Independence from Russia (did Corbyn?)seem to have nothing to say as the "Heirs of Franco" seek to prevent Catalonia doing the same.

Maybe its to close to their Unionist hearts here as they see Catalonia  causing a domino effect where they are followed by Scotland.

But this is not a case of supporting a YES vote in Catalonia but the right to ask their people if they want Independence.

By remaining silent they are showing that they oppose not only the right of Nations to seek Independence  but even to consider it.

Many of us suspect if there had been any Indication in the Polls three years ago that Scotland could have voted for Independence then the Unionists  would have Blocked it.

One can ask if there is any difference between the Unionist Parties in the UK and the "Heirs of Franco in Spain?

Wednesday, 20 September 2017

Neil McEvoy suspended by Plaid again!

As the Party Conference season begins it seems Plaid have once again managed to have a problem with one of its AMs ,

It used to be Dafydd Elis Thomas but he has now left the party so the mantle of troublemaker in Chief now falls on Neil McEvoy.

Plaid Cymru AMs have unanimously voted to suspend Mr McEvoy from the party's group in the Welsh Assembly - the second time this year.
"As leader, I cannot allow elected members to act in a way which is detrimental to the party.
"We are a party and most importantly, a team. It is my duty not to allow behaviour which undermines its unity and integrity.
"I now look forward to the assembly group being able to move on strong and united, fully focused on the task of holding the Labour government to account and offering people effective representation at every level in all parts of Wales."
Asked later by BBC Wales whether there was a way for Mr McEvoy to be admitted back into the group, Ms Wood said:
"I don't know is the honest answer to that question.
"There have been a number of incidences over the summer talking about policy for example, attacking other members of the group and generally not treating other members with respect.
"Two members complained about that behaviour over the summer and the group collectively took action today."
Earlier this year, Mr McEvoy was suspended for a month by Cardiff council after an independent panel concluded that he made a bullying remark to a staff member.
He has recently angered colleagues by opposing party policy to end the right of council tenants to buy their homes.
Last week Mr McEvoy had a social media row with the party’s housing spokeswoman Bethan Jenkins, with whom he was once in a relationship, after defending the “right to buy” on the grounds that it had been the only way many working people had been able to buy their homes.
Mr McEvoy said it would be inappropriate for him to comment at this stage, but a friend said: “This changes nothing.
"Neil will keep fighting the corrupt Labour government.
"He came from an estate in Cardiff and he’s never forgotten where he’s come from. If Plaid is to keep calling itself the Party of Wales then it needs people like Neil in it.
Without a doubt Neil McEvoy has raised Plaid profile in Cardiff West though the process could well have ben started by Dr Delme Bowen who pursued a much more gentle approach than Mr McEvoy  who favours confrontation with Labour.

His confrontation style against Labour both on Cardiff Council and the Assembly has seen him gain support from some Plaid quarters as well as a committed Nationalism.

The problem seems that the seems to favour confrontation with his colleagues.

I am not in favour of carolling Party Members into support of a particular policy and people must always take their conscious into account.but dissenter  should ask themselves whether the inevitable publicity is worth the damage it could do to their  Party

We will see whether Mr McEvoy will rejoin the group one wonder if Plaid are beginning to think that running Labour close in Cardiff West or even winning it is worth the discord and bad publicity  that this could l involve the Party as a whole.

Tuesday, 19 September 2017

Alun Cairns wants "English" decentralisation for Wales.

It was of course the original National Left that promoted the idea of Decentralised  Socialism . I don't know if this still appears on Plaid Membership cards  but it is a policy that still needs implementing

So it is interesting to see Welsh Secretary Alun Cairns calling for more powers should be handed to Welsh regions - rather than ministers controlling everything from Cardiff, says the  

On the 20th anniversary of the referendum that created the assembly, the UK cabinet minister said too much power had been "centralised".
Wales should respond to the challenge posed by new elected mayors in Bristol, Manchester and Merseyside, he said.
A former AM who switched to Westminster, Mr Cairns suggested the creation of English mayors meant there needed to be a new drive to move power out of Cardiff.
He said
"I think it's fair to say that the devolution of powers from Whitehall to English cities has created a new dynamic, and Wales needs to respond to the challenge," 
"Centralising powers in Cardiff doesn't answer the needs of all parts of Wales. So there could well be the need for greater devolution to authorities, to individuals across the whole of Wales rather than keeping them in Cardiff Bay at all stages."
Of course to give powers away you must have them in the first place

True Bristol has had an elected mayor since 2012, with new regional mayors for both Merseyside and Greater Manchester created this year. The regional mayors have significant powers over issues such as housing, planning and transport.

But this is a English solution to their democratic deficit and calls for devolution of power for our neighbours over the boarder.

If you are going to devolve powers downwards then of course you need somewhere for it to go.

You could create City Mayors in Cardiff but why should that city have powers denied to Gwynedd for example.

I have long argued that we should create 5 or 6  super councils to cover the likes of Health, Education and Policing and have  smaller "Community based Councils to deal with the rest'

If that is not acceptable power should go where it is most effective including the existing County Councils  and that includes all the way down to Community Councils.

Certainly I believe that such councils should have more resources to support and instigate local projects, such as my local Community Council have helped my local Library which was closed by the County Council but is now run by volunteers and which has extended it s role in my community.

We should take Mr Cairns at his word and consider decentralising from Cardiff but that does not mean copying Westminster solution , but apply our own that is best suited to our own communities.

Monday, 18 September 2017

Twenty Years On.

So it was Twenty Years ago that narrowly voted for the establishment of the Welsh Assembly you can lift your hearts by watching the movement again.

I say "Lift your hearts" because  you may be like me were expected major changes in Wales both politically and economically which have not materalised.

A combination  of  lack of real powers  and constant Labour Government  has not led to changes in Wales in the same way Scotland has been propelled forward .

Has it won the hearts and minds  of the People of Wales?

Not  Quite.  Findings from Cardiff University’s Wales Governance Centre and Published in the Wasting Mule.

If the referendum on establishing the Assembly was held tomorrow, only 27% would vote against establishing it. Nearly half (47%) would support its creation, while 18% did not know how they would vote and 8% would not take part in the referendum.
Only 6% of people polled wanted independence.
Only 30% of people said the UK Government should be mainly responsible for decisions to do with education, and just 33% wanted Westminster to be in control of the NHS.
Income tax powers have been transferred to the Welsh Government but 55% of respondents said this should be mainly the responsibility for the London-based Parliament and Government. People were split on criminal justice and policing with 42% wanting AMs in the driving seat and 43% backing MPs keeping responsibility.
The researchers found a “surprisingly strong correlation between a how much devolution people want and how much they believe has actually been delivered”.
If the referendum on establishing the Assembly was held tomorrow, only 27% would vote against establishing it. Nearly half (47%) would support its creation, while 18% did not know how they would vote and 8% would not take part in the referendum.
Only 6% of people polled wanted independence.
Only 30% of people said the UK Government should be mainly responsible for decisions to do with education, and just 33% wanted Westminster to be in control of the NHS.
Income tax powers have been transferred to the Welsh Government but 55% of respondents said this should be mainly the responsibility for the London-based Parliament and Government. People were split on criminal justice and policing with 42% wanting AMs in the driving seat and 43% backing MPs keeping responsibility.
So we can still hope for the future of the Assembly but unless we see Parties with Vision for its own future as well as Wales then it is potentially bleak.
With Welsh Secretary Alun Cairns MP telling BristolNews that reducing the Severn tolls in January has potential to bind Bristol and Wales economy together and Labour's Ken Skates seeking to join North Wales to a English Northern Powerhouse it looks like the Unionist Parties are seeking not to develop a "Welsh" Economic structure in which we seek solutions by uniting the Nation but indeed dividing Wales into two regions of England.
The idea the South Wales should seek the approval not only of Westminster  but Bristol and North Wales Liverpool will lead to what seems to a total planned absorption  into England.
Is that what Welsh Unionist Politicians want ?
Certainly Labour's lethargic 20 years of running the Welsh Assembly could lead a conspiracy theorist would not be blamed for thinking this.
Unless there is a major change in thinking then 20 years from now Wales will not exist as a Nation .
We need to demand  "Parity with Scotland" immediately  and intensify the argument that the True future of Wales is in Independence.

Sunday, 17 September 2017

All democratic parties should support Catalonia's right to vote.

  On Monday I criticised the Mayor of Barcelona for refusing   refused to let its voting centres in the Catalan capitol  be used for the ballot opposed by the national government.
Barcelona Mayor Ada Colau told Catalan regional president Carles Puigdemont in a letter Friday she couldn’t allow use of the centres until he could outline plans for protecting public employees from the consequences of working on the vote, according to El Pais. 
Michael Haggett of the Syniadau  Blog commented
 I wouldn't want to be categorical, Glyn, but look closely at the form of words Ada Colau used. She said, "UNTIL he could outline plans for protecting public employees from the consequences of working on the vote".

With the Spanish authorities using the threat of various forms of legal action against anyone and everyone involved in the referendum, one of the characteristics of the movement has been to keep them in the dark for as long as possible, and only act at the last moment. I therefore half-suspect that the assurance she is looking for will come, but perhaps not until a few days before the actual vote. I can't be sure, though.

It's true that most mayors in Catalunya have made a very public show of support for the referendum, but the circumstances of a large cities like Barcelona are understandably different from those of the smaller municipalities, not least because they have hundreds, if not thousands, of employees.
I must  admit Mike appears to be correct   because Mayor Coalau  joined Catalan supporters of the region's right to hold a referendum on independence from Spain in  a rally backing more than 700 mayors facing the threat of arrest.
 She said. 

"It's a disgrace that we have a government that is incapable of dialogue and instead dedicates itself to pursuing and intimidating mayors and the media,

Ms Colau announced on Thursday that people in Barcelona would be able to vote without civil servants involved risking their jobs but did not explain how. 

Many  of the mayors gathered with Catalan President Carles Puigdemont outside the headquarters of the regional government, the Generalitat Palace, as supporters waved the lone-star flag of the independence movement.

"We stand firm against threats, censorship and prosecution and repeat this: we want to be a free country," Mr Puigdemont told the crowd, according to a tweet by the Catalan National Assembly grassroots independence movement.
Chants of "We will vote" could be heard from the crowd.
Apart from Plaid  and the SNP there sems to be little support from mainstream European Parties. who were so enthusiastic  about restoration of the Independence of the Baltic states in 1991.

But even if they do not support a YES vote in Catalonia surely they should be supporting the people of that Region Nation right to decide.

Maybe they agree with former Labour Home Secretary Jack Straw  who  said the Union should be permanently enshrined in law to prevent Scottish independence.

Writing in the Times after the Scottish Independence referemdum  the MP for Blackburn said Britain follow the example of the US and India and make the Union "indissoluble"
He said a No vote should be seen as being "for good", just as a Yes vote would have been.

The Spanish Government  of course are using this argument that it is in their constitution that Spain was  "indissoluble"  to deny the people of Catalonia the right to vote on Independence and to use such heavy handed  tactics against those trying to conduct the referendum.

I await Jeremy Corbyn and other Labour politicians to criticise the Spanish Goverment  for thier attack on Catalan Democracy.

Of course a YES vote  which may well be overwhelming as those who intended to vote NO react  against  the Spanish Government may be a domino effect and we will see the  Basque, Flemings and particularly Scottish  people following.

Who knows even Cymru may come to the conclusion we can set our own destiny!   

But whatever its time the World governments  acknowledged  that Spain is behaving like a pictorial power  and recognise Catalonia's right to vote.