Monday, 31 May 2010

David Laws why now?

I am not sure what to think about the David Laws story. I suppose that not being Gay I have no idea of his dilemma.He  claims he didn't want his friends and family to find out about his sexuality. I accept his claim. Though we have come along way over the years, and I myself have long abandoned any prejudices against Gay and Lesbian people which in my youth I might have expressed out of ignorance. This has been reflected over the years in the wider society, and we can look to the referee Nigel Owens whose sexuality no longer seems tobe an issue, and where most people’s attitude seems to be to say, “So what”.

However I doubt very much that David Laws sexuality was much of a secret in the “Westminster Village” and the fact that his partner James Laundie had formally worked as a senior Liberal Democrat researcher  for Paddy Ashdown & Charkes Kennedy and was very much in the bubble

Which leaves me to ask the questions.

  • Why didn’t the Telegraph expose David Laws financial position when it exposed so many others last year?

  • If they were not aware of this who leaked the story? Could it have been a Liberal Democrat, who was embarrassed by the party being linked to savage cuts via Laws’ position at the Treasury and hoped that after a reshuffle Lib-Dem ministers were in cabinet jobs which were more popular with the public.

  •  Why has the right wing press backed Laws so much? Could it be that this “economic" Liberal was very much to the liking”? I doubt that they have found a new enthusiasm for privacy and Gay rights.

  •  If David Laws was so concerned about his privacy why didn’t he simply not make the claim? After all £40,000 over 8 years can’t be all that much for him. 
Perhaps in time the revelation about his sexuality will lead David Laws to leave a happier life, and I am sure that he will be surprised about the reaction of his friends and family. Who will probably say something on the line “Oh come of it Dave, of course we knew.”

My objection to David Laws is that he is an "economic" Liberal who was prepared to make savage cuts on the poor of this country but I suspect his successor will be no different.

Saturday, 29 May 2010

Black calling Kettle Pot.

I apologies for going over old themes; But how much longer can the Lib-Dems get away with calling other parties dishonest when it is they who are the main culprits?

Over at Subordinate Central Peter Black has been at it again in a post entitled " The Gloves come Off" he wrote

“Labour’s dishonest and vindictive campaign to discredit the Liberal Democrats for doing the responsible thing and bringing liberal policies to a stable government took a new turn today.”

He adds,

Labour activists in seats across Wales took to posing with large “under new (Tory) management” signs in front of Lib Dem offices – and a page was apparently added to the Welsh Labour website for “confused Lib Dems” to contact Labour.”

“Any person who read the leaflets from the Liberal Democrats, whether in the last election or previous ones (or the election leaflets (Focus) which masquerade as information) must chuckle at the sheer audacity of Peter Black.

I tried to leave a comment on the site but to date it has not been published.

I referred Peter to a comment I had made about previous claims that he had made about dirty tricks in politics, and in particular their Pontypridd Candidate whose leaflet referred to Plaid as “Labour little helpers” .What is the difference with them being accused of “under new (Tory) management? and produced a very misleading and dishonest graph. (See post on May 4th)

Perhaps Peter’s reluctance to comment on this is due to the fact that these tactics were very successful there was a big swing to the Lib-Dems in Pontypridd.

I repeat: How much longer can Peter and his party get away with such hypocrisy?

Thursday, 27 May 2010


Speaking at a conference in Cardiff University this week. Leighton Andrews said the governance of higher education had become "the last resting place of the crachach (elite)".

I am not entirely sure what Leighton, means when he refers to the crachach. Does he mean a Welsh Speaking elite or simply an elite?

If he means the latter.Then surely every University in the UK is run by elites and Welsh Universities are as nothing to those in Oxbridge. Who to this day display all the vestiges of the British class system.

If how ever he means to refer to a Welsh speaking elite he should enlarge on what he means.

Is Leighton suggesting when referring to the crachach as a quasi nationalist groupthat (as some do)  who seek to keep power in Wales via the exclusivity of the Welsh Language?

Or is he is referring to people like Prys Morgan . Born in Cardiff, the son of academic T. J. Morgan. Who studied at St John's College, Oxford, then joined the teaching staff of the University of Wales, Swansea, where his father had been a professor. Following his retirement from academic life, he became President of the National Eisteddfod of Wales at Swansea, President of the Honourable Society of Cymmrodorion, and is joint director of the Iolo Morganwg project at the Centre for Welsh and Celtic Studies in Aberystwyth. These are typical crachach credentials.  Prys Morgan has a much more famous brother “Rhodri” Leighton’s old boss in the Assembly. Indeed the last resting place of the crachach is (as it always has been) in the Unionist parties.

To my mind the Crachach refers to a Welsh elite who long ago sold out Wales for vestiges of power. If only they had used to their talents to promote the cause of Wale, they might serve some purpose  but seduced by larger more powerful forces in the UK. They simply have been content with control of a few crumbs in the shape Welsh Institutions but not really our Universities all you have to do is attend a degree ceremony, and listen to the attempts by heads of departments trying to pronounce even a short piece in Welsh, to see that the crachach in the form the Welsh language has very little sway.

Wednesday, 26 May 2010

Education Reform?

The Con-Lib, proposals to extend Academy status to every School in England must be of concern to us in Wales. Since both Cameron and Clegg view the National Assembly as little more than a glorified County Council they will attempt to force these measures on the government in Cardiff.
The proposal for which they are virtually following Tony Blair’s Education Reforms

On the face of it the proposals look promising but in reality they will end in extending the gap between schools whose catchments areas area those of economic decline, and those in more affluent areas.

Small wonder our Education policy has long been decided on by those who no experience of State Education, But the idea that you can open up schools to form o free market points to the new government not so much being the “Heirs of Blair” as that of Margaret Thatcher and Keith Joseph.

I have long been of the opinion that the major influence on the success Schools is the willingness of parents to participate in the School both in deed and financially. Indeed for this reason League Tables are meaningless unless it takes into account the aid parents give children out side schools in extra tuition or simply help with homework.

Indeed this is I admit partly due to the success of Welsh Language Schools where the parents are often highly active in the PTA.

But what the Con-lib government in the name of freedom and progress plan is to more or less make a school success dependent on the parent’s attitude to their children’s education. It will lead to parents being accessed on what they can give to the School both in time and financially. This will lead as to selection (although everyone will deny it)
The result over the years will be a growing gap between middle class schools where parents are vocal and able to financially aid the school, and schools which comprise of pupils whose parents do not participate at all. (Because of their own parent’s education experience) falling further and further behind and there will be no local authority to step in and try to remedy this.

Meanwhile government and free market propaganda will concentrate on the success stories and the true nature of the increasing class division that will invariably occur will be sidelined.

The Welsh Assembly must act now with positive measures to ensure these proposals are exposed for the negative and divisional reality that will ensue.

Tuesday, 25 May 2010

First Cut is the deepest.

The announcement that the Welsh budget will be cut by £162.5m as a part of £6.2bn spending reductions has been treated as inevitable by the media and politicians alike, but I find it incredible that the reason we are in this mess seems to have been completely forgotten.

We are here because of greedy irresponsible bankers whose speculation nearly brought their own institutions to their knees, and forced the rest of into a decade of austerity.

However the cuts are here but the problem  is that it they will force cutbacks in Assembly programmes, that in the long run will help us out of the long night that approaches . Often what looks like waste has a positive effect in another area and this does not really appear until some time after the cuts and we learn to rue our actions.

The Wales Office said recycled £24.4m savings would reduce the impact from the original £187m. So presumably some of the Target areas of waste have already been identified and cut.
Over at subordinate central  "La Pasionaria" (will someone advice her to stop looking so smug in her photos) makes the claim.

"I have been critical in the past of waste in the Welsh Government’s budget, particularly in reforming Quangos, and the Health Minister’s refusal to investigate waste that financial experts have found in the NHS. I hope that the Welsh Government will now be willing to examine cleverer, smarter ways of delivering their services.”

Kirsty Williams may have a point but she is hitting an easy target without questioning her own government’s position Yes Kirsty your governments). Peter Black also joins in, and it is clear that the Liberal Democrats are simply attempting to shift the blame from their own Con-Lib coalition in Westminster to the Welsh Assembly.

I am reminded of a Tutor of my mine, pointing out that critics of courses such as flower arranging in Adult Education Colleges, (who they claimed were not vocational) did not realize that the students who took such courses would often join other more vocational classes a year later. Which they would have not have done, if they had not signed up for the first course.

We should not act too rashly and all the Parties in the Assembly should work together for the good of the people of Wales, and not simply obey the wishes of their London Masters.

Monday, 24 May 2010

Republicanism and Democracy

 Over at Plaid Wrecsam there has been an interesting article on the Oath of allegiance. I couldn’t help but put in my own contribution in the comments section and finished by stating

“it is shameful that a pacifist republican elected to any Assembly or Parliament who answered his/heir’s own conscience who refused to take such an oath would be excluded from the democratic process. At the very least the part her heirs and successors should be removed. Republicanism is honourable and democratic.”

There was a reply from NitroTab who


“A Republic and a Democracy are two very different systems of governance glynbeddau. You can't be a Republican and believe in a Democracy at the same time as they are entirely different.
A common mistake a lot of people make actually.”

Now I accept that there are many republics in this world that are not democratic, but it is ridiculous to suggest that they are incompatible.

However it is the position Monarchy I am concerned with here. I could possibly swear an oath of loyalty to the monarch as the current head of state, but the Oath also adds that one should......

"sincerely and truly declare and affirm that I will be faithful and
bear true allegiance to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth, her heirs and
successors, according to law."

Heirs and successors? No I am a republican. What this part of the oath  means is that any avowed republican, who has received the majority of votes in constituency at a general election on a platform of abolishing the Monarchy could not take his/her seat without lying on oath. Is this democracy?

Even if we had a Monarch who was a paragon of virtue I could not support he or she because there is no guarantee that their successor would inherit these virtues.

There are a number of republicans in Parliament and our Assembly  who lie when taking the oath. But they cannot express republican views in the chamber; But is it not a contradiction of our Human rights that we forbidden to express our views in the very heart of our democracy?
The Option should be given as to members of the Northern Ireland Assembly to sign Pledge of Office. Then we can at least have some measures of true democracy. I am a citizen not a subject.

Sunday, 23 May 2010

Childhood Poverty.

I am one of six children brought up by caring and loving parents in a small hill top village and I was 21 before I and the rest of my family moved to a house with a bathroom and  inside Toilet. Of course there is always a danger when writing about ones childhood of sounding like Monty Pythons “Four Yorkshiremen’s Sketch”: But I don’t think that any time during my childhood did it to occur to me that we were poor, and that there were things we as a family lacked. Some of my friends were a little better of but we were had mostly the same lifestyle.

Actually I believe today’s children have it worst they live in a much more materialistic society where the lack of items such as a mobile phone Xbox(or equivalent) designer backpacks emphasises the poverty gap between them on their friends and can lead to psychological bullying. Indeed, it can increase the education gap, because the need for pupils to have access to computers and the Internet. That is why the plan (based on Plaid’s manifesto for the last Assembly elections) will be carried out is welcome.

There is a poignant article by Barbara Ellen in today’s Observer here. In which she condemns the programme “How the other half lives?” A series in which better off families aid less well of families. Babara’s analysis is bang on. We cannot solve society's problems by well meaning individuals (or those appeasing they conscience) in such way. But I suspect that the new Con-Lib government will follow previous governments in trying to shift their responsibility for child poverty to religious charities and the free market.

We need a government that address the causes of poverty, this includes:

Unemployment. At the moment for successive governments the line has been to blame the unemployed for their position.

A cycle of poor education: (if the system failed your parents than it is likely to fail you).

Transport: I cannot but help but ask why has there been no attempt to investigate the link between lack of easy access to reliable public transport or ones own transport and unemployment and poverty? What percentage of the unemployed can’t drive as opposed to the UK average?

What we need is action not pithy reality TV programmes or right wing responses.

Saturday, 22 May 2010

Badger Cull in England.

News yesterday that the Con –Lib government will press ahead with a badger cull in England, as soon as "practically possible". Speaking at the Devon County Show on Thursday, 20 May, DEFRA farm minister Jim Paice announced that DEFRA would not wait until trials in Wales were concluded before pressing ahead with plans for a targeted cull of diseased badgers in bovine tuberculosis hotspot areas.

I must admit that like most people (I suspect) in Wales I was uneasy about our own Welsh Assembly Government’s plan to cull Badgers but felt that the scientific evidence pointed to it as being the best course.

I however accept the absolute sincerity of those who oppose the cull however and this includes Peter Black who has been a major opponent and as blogged regularly on the subject.

I do not accept the argument that this was a piece of political expediency on his part. In particular with reference to Plaid’s position in Ceredigion where Elin Jones the Minister responsible for implementing the cull is AM.

However I will be awaiting Peter’s response to DEFRA’s announcement. I am sure that he will not argue that this is an English matter and he will condemn his own Con-lib coalition proposals in the same way he has done in the past with regards the Assembly’s Lab-Plaid stance on this issue.

Friday, 21 May 2010

No October Poll?

It seems that the chances of an autumn referendum on more powers for the Welsh assembly are in the balance. Clearly the General Election affected the time table, with all Parties having the eyes on another prize.
Now perhaps freed from central party restraints, Carwyn Jones has written to Cheryl Gillan requesting a poll, possibly in October.

This will meant that legislation needs to be passed by Parliament before the summer recess to facilitate such a vote.

Ms Gillan's claim that insufficient preparatory work was done by Peter Hain and, the Electoral Commission appears to say a 10 week period is needed to ensure the referendum question can be easily understood by voters – and it seems this would rule out an autumn poll.

However in 1997 after the election of a Labour government on the 1st of May. We had a referendum on the 18th of September and this was a week after the referendum in Scotland. Clearly if the Political will (and perhaps that of the Civil service) is there, then this can be achieved before MP’s go off on their holidays.

There is some speculation that the referendum should be called on the same day as the assembly elections: But that would mean that people would be voting without knowing what sort of assembly they are voting for.

Already the Lib Dems in the guise of Peter Black and "La Pasionaria" are placing the blame every where but the new coalition in London. Hard as it seems for me to say it this time they may be right. Though Ms Gillan's fence sitting and the low priority that London puts on further Welsh devolution points to their partners and indeed the Lib Dems in Westminster continuing in delaying the process.

Thursday, 20 May 2010

Twp Puppets

“I'll show you politics in America. Here it is, right here. 'I think the puppet on the right shares my beliefs.' 'I think the puppet on the left is more to my liking.' 'Hey, wait a minute, there's one guy holding out both puppets!'”

Bill Hicks American Comedian (December 16, 1961 – February 26, 1994).

Although Hick’s was referring to America. His joke came to mind when watching Cameron & Clegg's early performance when they presented themselves a double act.. Since then we have seen the announcement of an emergency budget.
The two working together are I’m afraid going to try and fool us by creating a bogus progressive agenda, to hide the effects of a draconian monetary and welfare policy.
It is clear that on June 22nd the Con-Lib government will deliver savage cuts that will affect the poorest in these Islands. Whilst there will be only cosmetic action taken against the very people who got us into this mess in the first place. I mean of course if you’ve forgotten (because our politicians have) the Banks.

Meanwhile Puppet number 2 has claimed he will be introducing the greatest reforms since the Great Reform act of 1832. Clegg seams too have missed the establishment of the Welsh Assembly & Scottish Parliament but then he is a London Centric Politician.

Of these “Great Reforms”.

Labour’s ID card scheme, the national identity register and Contact Point children's database will all be scrapped.
Far enough but ID cards are only a symbol on the need to have identification with you. If you don’t have a driving licence then life can be difficult.

House of Lords to be elected on 'proportional' voting system to rebalance the Upper House.
Not fully: It seems that some Lords will be appointed, and of course (if it is reformed) the position of the Lords Spiritual (Bishops) must be addressed, and whether we actually need to rename our second chamber? Or if we had true PR, the question we might ask, is do we need a second chamber? Perhaps replace with a Council of the Islands. In which the Member of the Union are represented on an equal basis in the same manner as Nations in the EU.

Referendum on changing the voting system from First-Past-The-Post to Alternative Vote.
 If we are to have a referendum why not offers the people a wider choice and include STV.

Public power of recall over MPs and a statutory register of lobbyists to help clean up politic.
On paper recall seems a good idea but does this leave us open to moneyed groups picking on a MP who exposes views contrary to theirs?And why not seek to curb the power of groups such as Murdoch's News Intenational?

Donations to political parties to be limited.
But no figure was given and unless this is watertight it won’t work as people like Ashcroft will simply spread their money around in the same way he did at the last Election.

I leave myself open to hypocrisy here because I’ve called earlier for a Progressive Coalition government of Non-Tories to introduce reform: But what Clegg is offering us is a bare minimum and is designed to give a Conservative lead government the impression of reform.

Wednesday, 19 May 2010

Answering London's Call.

A curious article on Wales Home  by Jez Caudle entitled " London Calling belittling Plaid and the SNP's reference to the "London Parties". I think Jez's defence of London completely misses the point.

I lived in London during the nineties and loved my time there, it was an exciting City in which  there is an amazing mix of cultures that enriches the city.

I used to drink in Irish pub in Camden called the Stags Head. Strangely it was a gathering point not only of the Irish, but exiles from Wales, Scotland,and the rest of England (Indeed the World). Londoners seemed to prefer to gather in other Public Houses. Perhaps it shows a inbuilt hostility to outsiders or viceversa I don't know?

However I agree with Jez that despite great degrees of wealth in some areas London has huhe problems . Because of the massive poverty in many London boroughs, health and social services in the capital needs more money but then do all areas of poverty throughout these Islands.

However London gets funding through projects such as the Olympic Games and the Millennium Dome which we in all parts of the UK can only dream about.

When however the Nationalist Parties refer the "London Parties" it is in opposition to the London centric view that these express, and the influence of the London based Institutions such as the Banks and the Media as well. Indeed the latter is often most at fault and it sometimes seems from all aspects of the "London Media" that devolution never happened.

I believe that you will find more hostility to London, coming from Birmingham, Liverpool and Manchester who also suffer from the London Centric emphasis, rather than Cardiff and Edinburgh .

If Jez were  to return to Wales now he would see  the Assembly working on  issues such as Health and Education  which are ignored outside London. He would also see Parties calling themselves Welsh Labour, Welsh Conservative and Welsh Liberal Democrats who attempt to give the impression that they are outside the "London Bubble",  but in truth they are under central control.

If you here London Calling by all means answer it but come home soon.

Tuesday, 18 May 2010

Cheryl Sits on the fence.

According to her interview on Good Morning Wales Cheryl Gillan plans to remain neutral on a referendum for more powers to be dissolved to the Welsh Assembly.  She will neither campaign for or against giving the Assembly primary law-making powers in areas devolved to it. Gillan seems to have suggested that as she  doesn't live in Wales, so she shouldn't comment.

Pardon! The person who represents Wales in the Cabinet (or the Cabinet in Wales in reality) can't comment on a referendum because "She doesn't live in Wales"? Doesn't this expose her position? Having a Secretary of State who represents a English Constituency is embarrassing enough but one who doesn't have a view with how Wales is governed is unbelievable.

Perhaps the fact that some of the Tories in the assembly seem to have gone Native and will support the move to primary law-making powers is the reason for Gillan's fence sitting . It would be a ridiculous if the Welsh Secretary was to campaign against further devolution (which I believe is Gillan's real position) and the leader of the Tories in the assembly campaigning for it.

I also suspect that London are going to change the rules again and attempt to fix the question on the ballot paper and move the referendum to the same day as the Assembly elections in the hope that in a years time the popularity of the Con-Lib coalition will see that there is a No vote.

What are the Lib-Dems view on this. Can Kirsty Williams our own "La Pasionaria" tell us? She looked very uncomfortable with Cheryl Gillan the other day. Perhaps she realised that her Party's own prospects in Wales has been dashed by her Leaders decision to join Cameron's Tories. Based on the General Election results the Lib-Dems would have been expecting big gains in next years Assembly Election. It is now likely they will be the ones who pay the price for the cuts to come.

Monday, 17 May 2010

AV in Australia

Many apologies for yesterdays post. Spelling and Grammar were never my forte (and this has been a problem that I've had all my life); but this was poor by any standard. However it would be a poor world if only the truly articulate took to the blogosphere.

However today in the wake of the agreement of the Con-Lib coalition on the Introduction of a referendum on Proportiona Referendum (PR). I wish to comment on the proposals for electoral reform. The parties have agreed to only propose The Alternative Vote (AV) as opposed to The Single Transferable Vote (STV).

This is an unbelievable lost opportunity.

AV is not truly proportional and STV (whilst like all systems) has its flaws is much preferable

AV also can support the Two party System as can be seen from Australia The major democracy that uses AV and which closely resembles our "National" government.
The Australian Federal Elections of 2007
The result in the House of Representatives (Lower House was)

However in the Senate(Upper House equivalent to the Lords) which uses STV the result was

                         Party             Votes                   %          Change           Seats Won   Seats Held  Change

The figures are a bit confusing because of the coalition but it is clear that under AV the Greens were discriminated against whilst under STV  they weren't . I propose the referendum should be placed as follows.

If Question one is rejected the there would be no need to count Question 2.

It you can improve on this please do (Obviously a Bilingual version should be placed in Wales. Lets start the debate now.

Sunday, 16 May 2010

Will we ever see a “liberal” Home Secretary?

It is has been said that a conservative is a liberal whose been mugged and a Liberal is a conservative whose been wrongly arrested.

There may some truth in this but in the case of two actual Conservatives who have been rightly convicted (Aitken and Archer) their experience has lead both to call for prison reform and have pointed out the poor literacy of the prison population).

The one appointment that would have possibly made me more enthusiastic over the Con-Lib Dem coalition would have been if we had seen the appointment of a liberal-reforming. Home Secretary and Minister for Justice. Theresa May has had little liberal credentials, though Ken Clarke might have (I doubt that he will last though).

It is not since the days of Roy Jenkins that any Home Secretary (when the post were as one) pushed through any genuine liberal reforms. Both Tory and Labour administrations have put forward a conservative agenda when it came to their remit in these areas. Indeed most Labour Home Secretary's like David Blunkett were worse at times.

There will probably be no real attempt at reforming Social Justice, and in fields such as prison reform the new government, as (all have in recent years) have bowed far too often to tabloid pressure. Indeed it some times seems that the Editor of the Sun Newspaper, is in charge of social and criminal  judicial policy as can be seen in the recent out cry over the return to prison of Jon Venables and the baying of the Tabloid mob that followed.

We will no doubt see the scraping of ID cards but this will be as a result of political opportunism  by the Tories in opposition. I suspect many on the authoritarian wing of the Tory party secretly supported such measures I also suspect they will bring it in by other means probably making it difficult to exist without  some form of ID. If you don't have a driving licence like me you know this already is the case.

There will be an increase in the Prison population and decrease in efforts to rehabilitate offenders by education when in Prison ,  cuts for social care outside prison, and call for harsher sentences.

Incidentally when I took the Telegraph test on who to vote for. One question stumped me.

"Are you in favour of building more prisons in order to ease overcrowding"

Well I wasn't in favour of building more Prisons, but I was in favour of reducing prison numbers and overcrowding. I was also in favour of building prisons nearer to where offenders lived. (I  support a new North Wales prison) but I am concerned with reducing the prison population.

Despite what Michael Howard said, Prison does not work and we appear to be the only European country to think so.

Immigration control will be come harsher and it will be the innocents who suffer and there will be no real attempt to prosecute those who exploit immigrants or stricter controls on gang masters. If there are immigrants taking jobs from British (or Welsh)  Workers it because employers (through gang masters) can employ cheap non union staff in bulk. The problem as always since (Irish immigration in the 19th century) has been one of capitalism not the immigrants themselves.

I doubt that we will a progressive reformer in these posts as in the USA "liberal" has become a dirty word propagated by media such as Fox. It will happen here and Prime Ministers of any colour will not have the courage to confront and remove any reformer.

Any opposition to this will be derided as the work of  “Bleeding Heart Liberals” and do-gooders (though who want to be a do-badder or do-nothinger).

The real chance of progressive change in our social and judicial policy may have been lost forever, and we will go on copying the USA in policies which create good headline in the press that will be portrayed as being successful, whilst the true extent of their failure is masked.

Saturday, 15 May 2010

Anti-English or just facts?

I underwent a fair bit of soul searching before writing this blog, because whenever I’ve heard the term “I’m not a racist but…” I’ve known that 90% of the time the viewpoint will turn out to be of various degrees of racism.

Before the election, I had noticed when reading the online biographies of Liberal Democrat candidates for Welsh Constituencies in the General Election that a large number seemed to have born outside Wales.

On his blog Miserable Old Fart Alwyn ap Huw makes further comment on this in relation to piece by Cynog Dafis and the reaction from subordinate central. Freedom as they call it.

It is with regret that I must agree with Alwyn because although I have no objection to birthplace of any candidate. Indeed Plaid Cymru often has candidate whose origins are not Welsh (Janet Ryder for Instance). The fact as (Alwyn reports) that well over half of the Liberal Democrat Candidates was born outside of Wales and only 1 out of 40 was fluent in Welsh is worrying.

It is worrying because it could lead to the Liberal Democrats being seen as an English Party.
It is worrying that it can give the impression that there are no suitable “Welsh” candidate and that we are somehow inferior.
It is worrying that it could (on both sides) be seen as a form of racism.
It is worrying because they would never put up candidates in a similar fashion in Scotland.

The Lib Dems are of course are often the first to point that any candidate from outside the constituency is not a Local candidate. The difficulty when pointing their position  however it is that they can call any critic’s  of Lib Dem selection policy Anti-English racist as they have on subordinate central.

But pointing out the actual facts is not racist, and I would strongly argue that any claim that those born outside Wales should somehow be excluded from office is abhorrent.

A number of MP’s who came from outside Wales have served their adopted nation well and even have given more support to devolution and the Welsh Language than their Welsh Colleagues..

A prime example was Stuart Rendel who was born in Plymouth and MP for Montgomery (1880-94) and who was a major benefactor of Aberystwyth University and the National Library.

And indeed if criticism of Welsh and bilingual policy ever comes from Lib Dem voices it’s more likely from their home grown "talents"such as Pontypridd’s Mike Powell.

The actual reason for the large number of the Lib Dems candidates from outside Wales seems to be due to the fact that they came here as Students and channelled their resources into local government. This somewhat explains their “Stronghold” of Cardiff Central” Have they pushed out local candidates in favour of their politically opportunist University clique?

Indeed this, rather than by National origin may be a factor in the preponderance of candidates born outside Wales, and points to a greater problem which (all parties must address) of the growing professionalism within our candidates at all levels, and how this is seen a career move, rather than any real political  commitment. The Lib Dems in Wales who are following this path may be sticking out because of their origins.

Friday, 14 May 2010

A New Dawn or Darkness at Noon?

I am in no doubt that we are in for a honeymoon period for Cameron & Clegg. I doubt very much that it will it last; but I suspect that we in of period of seeming stability in the coalition. Both leaders will try to emphasise that we are experiencing a new time of Politics and I am waiting for the claim that the UK has “Two Obamas”.

But in reality we will little change in the way government operates and we will see the Tories dominating the agenda and the Lib Dems going along with it.

Outside parliament there will probably see defection in local councils but at Westminster the appeal of power will be to alluring.

As an old Leftie in the 80’s, I was on many a CND demo and was frustrated as we were addressed by Labour Politicians who gave the impression that all we had to do was vote Labour and we would have a strong Unilateral voice in the next government.

Of course when in power they abandoned their CND badges, and apart for a brave few followed their leader in the lobby to vote to renew Trident.

But it was not just this. If the build up to the Iraq war had been carried out under a Conservative government. We would have heard howls of protest from the Labour Party and we would have been addressed by leading members of the party on rostrums throughout the land.

This was true of Student Fess and how many Labour members really agreed with Blair’s views on faith schools especially those who had started their political life in the NUS?. The way that it was ignored by the Labour Party on Wales Scotland point to this.

And ID cards just look at Peter Hain what would his younger self thin of his position.

In a years time Cameron will be comfortable enough to reveal his true nature and introduce a Neo-Thatcherite agenda. The Lib Dems their bottoms warm on the government benches will behave like the previous former radicals in the Labour government and obey their leader, and sell their principles for the allusion that they are really an influence.

Thursday, 13 May 2010

The New Ant & Dec?

Yes I can't help being reminded of the geordie duo. It is a common theme that no-one can tell them apart and in may ways this is true of the Prime Minister and his deputy. Not just the same accent,  but the same mannerisms the same use of of emphasis (poor Rory Bremner) they really are indistinguishable.

But it's not just in they talk they are similar for in reality they share the same values (or actually lack of them) and are  representative of the politics where presentation is everything and content nothing.
In fact who these pair really remind me of is:

I find myself quoting George Orwell
"Political language... is designed to make lies sound truthful and murder respectable, and to give an appearance of solidity to pure wind."

The sad thing is that the likelihood is that Labour will go the same way that and elect Dave Miliband as their leader.

But this no surprise, as I have already argued on this blog the political classes whether in Parliament, or commentators in the media are led by products of privileged education which encourages this attitude and the sad thing is that enough people are fooled by this to elect them. Even when they come over as a complete buffoon as Boris Johnson does he still gets elected as London's Mayor. People think that because he has a posh accent he is more educated and a better person to represent and lead us. Just compere the treatment of John Prescott whose syntax was derided by the media to the extent they questioned his capabilities.

It is  2010 it is time we stopped doffing our caps our tugging our forelocks.

Wednesday, 12 May 2010

New Cabinet takes shape

OK bit over the top but the new Government will be dominated by public school Oxbridge graduates. Who have no idea how the majority of us lead our lives.

But the appalling thing is that we have lost a golden opportunity for genuine change. the Liberal Democrats may have got a referendum on PR. But it is for AV and will only change the fortunes of "Three Main Parties".

What we have is a deal so that Nick Clegg and some of his cronies can sit around the cabinet table claiming that they are influential and trying to claim credit for popular measures whilst being mute on the savage cuts which will affect the most vulnerable of our society.

During the election campaign the Liberal Candidate for Pontypridd referred to Plaid as "Labour's little helpers in the bay". Where does this leave his party who are out numbered nearly 6-1 by the Tories?

I will be looking to see how Peter Black and his colleague's at Freedom Central spin this ( Perhaps they should rename themselves Subordinate Central.

Tuesday, 11 May 2010

What Next?

I intend to be brief in what I believe should be the outcome of the negotiations that are currently happing. Though by the time you are reading this the die may well be cast.

I believe that there should be an anti-tory alliance and this should be based on complete reform of our political system. This should mean that a maximum three year programme be carried out.

This should include:

  • The Introduction of a form of PR for all elections preferably by STV.
  • The abolition of the House of Lords and a directly elected chamber or one resembling the Irish Senate where people can vote as an interest group.
  • The formation of an English Assembly/Parliament which will be based in a City in North of England or
  • The formation of regional assemblies in the English Regions (Cornwall to have its own).
  • The Prime Minister of the Day to lose the right to determine the date of an General Election. Which should be fixed and only fall on a vote of no confidence.
  • Referendums on a Welsh Parliament and Scottish Independence.
  • A review on political donations and the way they are spent and a cap on spending at a General Election both on a UK basis and at constituency level rigorously enforced.
These should be the basis of a reform Parliament.

Monday, 10 May 2010

We Rule you 2010

Some of the people on the top of the cake have changed but the concept is still valid after all these years. When we are  are in a position when "The Markets" seem to be playing a part in the formation of the next government. It is the people at the bottom who will play the major part in any cuts, that will come about and with International financiers determining by their monetary speculation the fate of a Nations economy.

We can see that whatever the outcome of the negotiations on the formation of the next UK government, the much vaulted change and fairness that was promised by all the major parties will not occur.

Is it only a year ago that leading politicians were calling for major reforms and even for the heads of our banking establishment. Indeed this was largely absent from the election campaign and even "St Vince of Twickenham "was largely silent.

If there is a Tory-Lib Dem government, it will a major betrayal of the people by the latter and if they fail to get a commitment to PR (Not an enquiry) then the very moral basis of their campaign of 2010 will be exposed as flim flam and they will face the consequences in the long term.

Sunday, 9 May 2010

What I think I've learned so far

As the events of the election are unfurling so far I believe that
  • The "Leaders debates" did not have much influence on the way people voted, but the fact that they took place, and the way they were constructed  and advertised by the media was influential in marginalising smaller parties. 

  • The influence of television and radio is much greater than the newspapers and it  was these who were instrumental in the bubble that was "Cleggmania". 

  • That Cleggmania  was a bubble is evident, but the Jury is out on why it failed to materialise in the final days. Some commentators blame it on the exposure of the Lib Dem's position on Immigration , Defence and Europe. However I tend to agree with a friend's observation in that the initial positive response to Clegg after the first leaders debate included those who had no real intention of voting.

  • The results of the council elections in England in which Labour did well points to the possibility that some of their supporters who might not have voted answered Gordon Browns last minute plea to "come home."

  • That a Party with 37% of the vote can hardly say it had a mandate to run the country and if it does it should not be allowed to call a election when the polls favour it or more importantly when it has built up a substantial war chest.

  • There should be an investigation in how much was spent by each party in every constituency and any correlation between how much was spent and the vote pointed out. 

  • This should include any money spent by each Party in the period leading up to the election. This could include constituency Parties publishing annual accounts via the returning officer. He/She should rule whether this should be included as election expenses.

  • The queues and problems associated with a late surge of people trying to vote must lead to a call for elections to be held on a weekend, If you are working all day the your window to vote can be reduced considerably.

  • The possibility of "Tory England"  bring ruled a progressive alliance of MPs from outside exposes the Unionist argument that the UK is  a Union of equals. I have sympathy with English people in this but it is up to them to solve either by having a English Parliament or devolving power to its regions,

  • Publicity can be damaging as Lebit found out.

Saturday, 8 May 2010

Second Thoughts

This could well be the first election where no Party can be Happy with their results.

The Tories can take some comfort from they increase in seats, but apart from Montgomery they are back to the result in 1987 Hugging the North and South Wales coast.

The Lib Dems will be happy with the majority in Ceredigion and the votes in Pontypridd and Merthyr ,but the loss of Montgomery and their failure to actually gain seats after all it's goals that count.

For Labour there must be relief that they managed keep their vote up and hold on to threatened seats.

For Plaid  it must be bitterly disappointing and I can only point you to John Dixon's incisive analysis on Borthlas  "especially on the Lib Dem surge". Plaid as well as the SNP must find a way to avoid being squeezed, especially by the BBC whose behaviour has been disgraceful throughout the election.

However the main concern withe everyone must be. Who will form the next Government? I suspect it will be some form of Con-Lab pact.

It is interesting that political pundits in England are whinging about the possibility that although the Tories are the largest party in England they may be excluded from government with a pact which relies on members from Celtic Nations.

Notwithstanding that their precious Union is all about. It could well be the deciding factor in Cleggs choice. He may not relish the thought of facing another election in a years time with an English backlash about being ruled by a Celtic left alliance.

Friday, 7 May 2010

Initial Thoughts

With a number of seats declared it looks like a hung parliament but my initial reaction. Is that no party will be satisfied with the result.

In Wales.

A bad night for Plaid obviously squeezed and failing to gain the seats  they hoped for.
A bad night for the Lib Dems loosing Montgomery and whilst making inroads failing to gain any Targets.
A bad night for Labour loosing three seats but realising it could have been worse and gaining Blaneau Gwent.
A good night for the Tories but they too must be disappointed with not gaining more seats in Wales.

In Scotland

A bad Night for the SNP remaining stable like Plaid in their seats but failing to make a breakthrough.
A similar story for all the other parties in Scotland but with only one seat the Tories must still worry about being seen as an English Party.

In England
A good night for the Tories but failure to have an overall majority must take some tarnish off when they reflect on the result.
For Labour there must be some relief that it was not worse. However they now must consider a new leader and this will not be easy if they attempt a coalition..
For the Lib Dems who may end up with a net loss it must be devastating after the initial expectation after the first leaders debate. I am sorry to see that Evan Harris lost in Oxford  he was one of the better ones.
For the Greens. Winning a seat was accomplishment in itself.

In Northern Ireland

Although little the loss of Peter Robinson to an Alliance candidate was a minor earthquake.

I hope to have a deeper analysis later today when we a complete picture.

Thursday, 6 May 2010

Vote Progressive Today

Today could be a day of change, but it  will not be one if David Cameron becomes Prime Minister. Neither will it happen if New Labour continue in the same fashion. The Lib Dems may offer some hope, but they are a London  centric party which is tied up with the establishment and will bow down to the bankers and media bosses eventually. However if we are to prevent the Conservatives from giving Rupert Murdoch carte blanche to monopolise the media in Britain as can be seen by the Tory attacks on the BBC which echo News International  (This may  explain the Today programme's emphasis on "Cleggmania") It is vital that the next goverment is not Conservative. So in some circumstances in England I advice people to judge the Lib Dem or Labour candidate and if they have an individual progressive agenda and if they have fought the campaign honestly (Though I expect few have), then I suggest you vote tacitly against the Tories but if not then Vote Green.

In Wales and Scotland vote Plaid or SNP or Mebyon Kernow in Cornwall.

The only Parties that offer a major change are Plaid, SNP and Greens (and MK).

I sincerely hope the Greens win at least one seat: But after tomorrow if there is going to be any change in Westminster they must seek to work together as a progressive alliance.

Wednesday, 5 May 2010

What will happen after tomorrows vote?

The possibility still exists of a Hung parliament from the recent polls the possible outcome  is that we have:
A Conservative government with a small majority of less than 20 seat.
Reasonably likely. But will mean they are still open to by-election defeats. There will be one seat not contested tomorrow. Thirsk & Malton . In the event of a Hung Parliament this may be decisive..... 7/10.
A Conservative minority government that will attempt to govern on a similar basis to the SNP government in Edinburgh on day by day, issue by issue basis.
Possible but any by-election loss could result in a no confidence vote.... 5/10.
A Conservative minority government which enters into an understanding with the Lib Dems but no formal coalition at least for the near future. 

Unlikely that the Lib Dems would support a position in which they could not gain credit for any popular measures....4/10.
A Conservative Government that forms a coalition with the Lib Dems which promises a referendndum on PR. This may be Cameron’s only option. In the hope any proposal would be rejected by the electorate.... 6/10.
A Conservative Government that forms a coalition with the Lib Dems which where there is no referendum on PR but another review.

 It would be unlikely that Clegg would fall for this one again; but the lure of a cabinet seat will be strong.... 5/10.
A Labour- Libdem government with the promise of a referendum on PR but AV not STV.
This depends on the size of the Labour vote if it’s high then they may join together on a reform tick....6/10.
A Labour- Libdem government with the promise of an open referendum on PR.
If the Labour vote is low then this may be the only option open to them.... 7/10.
A Conservative Labour coalition which resist any form of reform as raised on this blog on April 22nd.
Very unlikely but if the Lib Dem and Others hold over 100 seats it may be an option.... 2/10.
A Conservative government that either has a small majority or is just short who call another election within a year.
Quite likely they will be able to raise the funds and outspend all the other parties.... 7/10.

Tuesday, 4 May 2010

Three more Monolingual leaflets.

I have not yet received the Labour Liberal and Democrats but I had a UKIP leaflet yesterday. So I had to go on line to see them. I still have yet to see any literature from the Greens and the Socialist Candidate.

The labour Leaflet is somewhat bland but a worthy effort marred of course by the absence of Welsh but. It does make a rather pathetic attempt to portray Owen Smith as a local boy since he left the area as a teenager.

The Lib Dem leaflet also contains no Welsh. It is a glossier version of the original leaflet delivered at the start of the camping. It portrays the candidate in a superhuman  pose and gives the impression he is responsible for any successful project in the Rhondda Cynon Taf area. Although he is only one of three Liberal Democrats on R.C.T.

 However we know that small numbers can achieve much as the 3 Plaid MP’s have shown despite Lib Dem denials. It is  a pity that Mike Powell  seems to think that the Pontypridd Constituency consists of only Pontypridd Town.

He also goes in for Nat Bashing (he’s notorious for this) and reproduces the dodgy bar chart this blog exposed on April 11th however although the leaflet repeats the claim that

“Labour have had the Pontypridd vote on loan since 1922.” They do not add the claim that “they won a by election following the death of liberal MP Thomas Lewis”

I would like to think that National Left’s exposure of this in his Blog and local Newspapers caused Mr Powell to remove a poor researched statement. It would be nice to think so.

The UKIP leaflet was a disgrace. I’ve come to believe that people are more dangerous and the BNP and all I can say is that it was a pity that it was on glossy paper as it was of no use in the toilet.

The absence of the Welsh Language from all the Parties except Plaid shows that have no commitment to the Language. How can they support legislation on the Language in the Assembly and not ignore it themselves?

Although a monolingual English Speaker I decry this attitude. And although it would not at all be my main reason voting Plaid I (I have considered the Greens). It was influential in affecting my decision.

Monday, 3 May 2010

"No Dirty Hands"

In 1852 when Henry Bruce was nominated to succeed Josiah Guest a Merthyr’s MP (and was returned unopposed), some 8,600 people turned up to stand around the hustings where the election would have been held, and where, in any event, the result would be declared. But of those only about 900 had the right to affect the result. A large number however held their hands up in a symbolic gesture in a protest against their disenfranchisement all to no avail . Or as Bruce said to them:

You may hold up your dirty hands against me, but I’ll still be the MP tomorrow”.

The Reform Act 1867 (also known as the Second Reform Act, and formally titled the Representation of the People Act 1867), 30 & 31 Vict. c. 102, was a piece of British legislation that enfranchised the urban working class in England and Wales. Before the bill, only one million of the five million adult males in England and Wales could vote; the act doubled that number. In its final form, the Reform Act of 1867 enfranchised all male householders and abolished compounding (the practice of paying rates to a landlord as part of rent). However, there was little redistribution of seats; and what there was had been intended to help the Conservative Party.

However Merthyr was given a additional seat becoming a two seat constituency

In the election the following year the workers waved placards saying “No Dirty Hands” and Bruce was defeated.

One of the new MP’s was Henry Richard, He was to become known as one of the foremost nonconformists in the House of Commons. Here he was a leading member of the party which advocated the removal of Nonconformist grievances and the disestablishment of the church in Wales.

As secretary of the Peace Society  he helped to organize a series of congresses in the capitals of Europe, and was partly instrumental in securing the insertion of a declaration in favour of arbitration in the treaty of Paris in 1856. Through this work he  had became universally known in Europe and the United States until his resignation of the post of Secretary in 1885.

Less well known for his Anti-slavery work, and though unable to support the American Civil War as an appropriate means to end slavery because of his commitment to peace.Henry Richard was respected in this field. Indeed, a few weeks after his death the Anti-Slavery Society, now Anti-Slavery International, published an obituary in their journal, The Anti-slavery Reporter and Aborigine's Friend

Henry Richard was probably the first peoples champion to represent Wales and Welsh Values in the House of Commons and there have been precious few since.

On Thursday remember the Dirty Hands and vote for those who will represent the people of Wales and not the untruest of a London centric elite.

If you which to nominate someone who has been a "Welsh Peoples Champion" leave a comment.

Sunday, 2 May 2010

The Shy Tory and the "Christian " Right.

So far I’ve only received three election communications through the post. nothing from Labour, Lib Dems or the Greens so far and only two delivery days left.

A Plaid leaflet, whilst not saying much was well presented and fully bilingual and these two.

The Conservative Candidate for Pontypridd has produced a leaflet that seems to be avoiding mentioning the name of the Party.

There is no Conservative logo on the leaflet and it hardly mentions the Conservative Party at all and David Cameron only once.

Could it be that he is ashamed of being a Tory or could it be that if he was to use the Welsh Conservative logo a bit of Welsh might appear on his literature.

The other leaflet is from the Welsh Christian Party. For a party that claims to be Christian and Welsh. This is just another bigoted right wing party and I find it odd that a supposed Welsh Party which uses “our” flag of St David. Does not contain one word of Welsh!

The leaflet contains all the inflammatory writings of the far right attacking immigrants the Europe and Political Correctness , mixed with a form of Christianity that none of my religious associates would recognise.

I I would go as far as to say they were hiding their bigotry under the flag of St David and they must not be allowed to get away with it..

Indeed I am worried of their use of the flag. It saddens me that the far right has hijacked the flag of St George and we must not allow this to happen in our own country with that of our patron saint.
I am ashamed that these two parties have any connection in Wales.

Saturday, 1 May 2010

Dr Who and the "Three Main Party Leaders".

Just like the Daleks the three “Main Party Leaders” (as the BBC call them obey their master in the Daleks case it’s Davros and in the case of the London parties it’s Davos the Swiss resort which is the host to the World Economic Forum (WEF), an annual meeting of global political and business elites.

The real issue of this election of how we got into the economic mess we are in and how it is us, rather than the people who caused it will be paying for it has largely been ignored.

There has been some mumblings but there has been no call for a complete rethink of how International financiers can bring a nation to bankruptcy  through monetary speculation or give support for a Robin Hood orTobin Tax.

Even St Vince of Twickenham has been muted. What has happened to the people's champion? But then Vince Cable has always been ambivalent.

On the principle of the independence of the Bank of England, Cable said at the 2008 Liberal Democrat party conference, "The Government must not compromise the independence of the Bank of England by telling it to slash interest rates." The following month, though, he called on the Chancellor to urge the Governor of the Bank to make "a large cut in interest rates".

And of course the answer is clear all these parties know that their funding is dependant on big business they beat their breasts when the crisis happened but now bow down making only the occasional gesture in support of the ordinary voter.  By their silence they have betrayed the peoples of these Islands and none of them deserve our support.