Wednesday, 29 June 2011

Referendum spending Published.

The Electoral Commission  have published the expenditure of the participants in the referendum on the lawmaking powers of the National Assembly of Wales you get here

But here's the details anyway.You can down load it in XL or PDF ,but if you want it in Open Office contact me and I'll send you a copy.

At first Glance you would be forgiven for believing  that there was a "Democratic Deficit" in that the Yes Campaign by a ratio of 30:1, but don't forget True Wales refused funding as designated a lead campaign organisation either under Electoral Commission rules, that would meant that neither side were be entitled to a £70,000 public subsidy or to a free Royal Mail delivery of a leaflet across Wales.

They will probably use these figures as proof of their claim that they were victims of the Establishment.. But it is clear that the lack of support from the so called silent Majority who were opposed to the Yes vote meant that they could only spend ust under £4000. Indeed the real interest is that  that Wealthy Conservatives clearly did not back True Wales.

If we look at the figures ,Then Ie Dros Cymru, who would have been the lead Yes campaign  in event True Wales  had registered for the Money were by far the biggest spenders with £81,452,11, compared with the latter £3,785.20 so even if we excluded the other participants, the difference between the two major organisations was one of support not one of the Establishment.

Indeed what comes out of these figures of the Referendun Spending is that the NO campaign had very little support from those who were committed to campaigning in the referendum. being in a majority of the committed does not make you the Establishment however.

Even the Total of £145,003.16 spent on the entire referendum campaign by the participants   was in itself a small amount working out at about.£3625 per Welsh Constituency which is small fry compared with what Political Parties spent on Westminster and Assembly Elections.

Indeed this may well have been the cheapest in expenditure (by participants) of any referendum of its type and when you consider the clear lack of committed support for a NO vote and True Wales and then what it cost to run  for what was in fact only a minor change that could have been passed through normal Westminster Legislation then we must ask was a Referendum really necessary.

Of course we can't put a price on Democracy and perhaps it was better than the sniping that would have gone on from the types of True Wales who would have claimed the new powers would have no mandate without the endorsement of a referendum. Some still do so with regards the turnout. But the money spent may have been better use for the good of the Welsh people, It would be interesting to see if that body "The Tax Payers Alliance have any views  as they are usually red hot on unnecessary government expenditure and the vote last May was unnecessary,

Sunday, 26 June 2011

Welsh Olympic Legacy (There isn't one)

Recently  a number of Blogs Syniadau and Welsh Ramblings for instance  have committed  on the British Olympic Association (BOA)  attempt to do a deal with the English FA and force a Under 23 football side on us. My own contribution on this including a ghastly error where I call Sepp Blater Serge. (I did not change it because It was pointed out and I deserved to be admonished for my lack of attention ) is here.

It is often suggested that this stitch up s a price we in Wales (And Scotland and Northern Ireland) should willingly pay for the dividend the London Olympics Legacy will give us.

But  a recent report in the Scotsman has shown that this is Hogwash.

A cording to the Scotsman..

....the Olympic Games' flagship "legacy" programme, which will pump £135 million into grassroots sports facilities and coaching initiatives over the next four years, will focus solely on England. 
Some £150m of Scottish National Lottery money will be ploughed into the Olympics, but no equivalent legacy project has been put forward for Scotland – or the other devolved nations, Wales and Northern Ireland.
The lottery funding handed out to Scotland as part of a separate legacy initiative for the Commonwealth Games in 2014 is 24 times less than the amount of cash England stands to receive as part of the Places People Play programme unveiled by Games chairman Lord Coe last year
A similar story can be told in Wales.

Last year the Daily Post revealed just 0.01% of the money from top-level Tier One contracts – the bigger contracts – were awarded to 10 companies in Wales.

One of them was won by Williamson Technical Services of Conwy, for “specialist site engineering services” at the Olympic Stadium.

This was compared to 759 contracts awarded in London, 233 in the South East and 60 in the West Midlands. Having missed out on the bigger contracts, Welsh companies were expecting to get some of the Tier Two and Three or sub-contracted work shared out by the larger companies.

But Plaid Cymru MP Hywel Williams says he’s found out there are no guarantees they will get anything.

Arfon MP Mr Williams said Olympics Delivery Authority’s (ODA) claims that the allocation of contracts was “fair” across the UK was complete “nonsense”.Mr Williams found no information was held centrally by the ODA about the Tiers Two and Three contracts.Mr Williams said
....the Olympics contracts had overwhelmingly been given to companies in the south east of England.
Mr Williams said: “They said we should not worry and that Wales would benefit from the Tier Two and Three subcontracts. But now I have discovered that records for Tier Two and Three contract allocations are not available .
 Theis was in December and since then its got even worse according to James Corrigan in todays Independent on Sunday.

Announced with predictable pomp last year by Lord Coe (title: Locog chairman, salary: £360,000 pa, plus £500-£1,000 for every meeting he attends), the Places People Play initiative will pump £135m into grassroots sports over the next four years. Now, overlooking for the moment that the Comprehensive Spending Review cut £160m from school sport and that some of the funding will be used to protect sports fields which shouldn't be sold anyway, the £135m will be much welcomed. In England.
Not in Scotland, or Wales or Northern Ireland, which have all been forced to contribute heavily to staging the Games, but shan't receive a penny of the PPP funding. And their youngsters will not be able to enter the programme's free ballot for Olympic tickets either. So much for the "British" Olympics, so much for the legacy. In truth, £135m is peanuts anyway and it will not begin to address the shortfall in funding caused by the redirection of monies into the staging of this big fat myth.

Where is the Labour Welsh Government on this . Not only do they almost to a Man and Woman fail to back our FA in their stand against the BOA and the English FA  they seem to have accepted the fact that Welsh sport i being ripped off as money is diverted to London and all we have to show for it is a Football Match at the Millennium Stadium and (Whoope some Teams setting up Training camps.

It time Carwyn Jones in particular denounced what James Corrigan calls a Big fat Myth and speak up for the Welsh FA and the rest of Welsh Sport,

Friday, 24 June 2011

(Don't) Carry on Sargeant.

It's not often I find myself in agreement with Peter Black but when he criticises t he Welsh Local Government Minister  Carl Sargeant latest moves on forcing Local authorities  to make joint  senior appointments  he is at least this time making a fair point.

Sargeant  seems  to be in the same camp as Eric Pickles in that he feels that his remit is not to work with Local Government but to run it.

In the last Assembly Commissioners were sent in to run the troubled Anglesey council after years of political infighting, at the time  Carl Sargeant said councillors had "betrayed those who elected them" and indulged in "politics of the playground".

I'm sure some would agree with this at times it seems that Anglesey council  consisted of the legendary Kilkenny Cats

 There once were two cats of Kilkenny
Each thought there was one cat too many
So they fought and they fit
And they scratched and they bit
'Til (excepting their nails
And the tips of their tails)
Instead of two cats there weren't any!

But you can't help thinking that the nature of democracy meant that it should have been up to the people of Ynys Mon to change the situation through the ballot box.

Of course one of Carl's idea at the time was force the council to merge with Gwynedd and It has been suggested that Sargeant's  real preference would be to merge other councils throughout Wales but he has rejected this because of the cost..

Though he also recently  sacked three boundary commissioners  who had suggested  the cutting of number of  councilors . . As iIve only seen the Welsh Government's spin on this I can't really comment on whether this the right decision and it seems the sacked commissioners will not be able to defend themselves. but it is a worry that the Boundary Commission for Wales might feel that they must come up with the result the Welsh Government (i.e The Labour Part) wants rather than what the people of Wales need.

Some will look at the idea of making  joint appointments. But I can see some major problems.
  • Can a Chief Executive or thier counterpart rly effectively work with two councils that have totally different make ups. Can He  or She flit between policies on School Numbers, welsh Language Education, or even Bin Collection?
  • If one of the councils loses faith in a joint appointee can the sack him or her without the approval of the other council ?
  • Taking into to account the size in area of Gwynedd Council for instance or the nature of communications in the valleys of Rhondda Cynon Taf  can these really share appointments with other councils Gwynedd-Anglesey R.C.T-Methyr say  even with the use of Information Technology effectively, If democracy is to be devolved downward should this not include civil servants?
Perhaps if Carl Sargeant wants to remove senior Council Appointees he should look at the Irish system of government  although the  trend has been to remove decision-making from elected councillors to full-time professionals and officials. In particular, every city and county has a manager, who is the chief executive but is also a public servant appointed by the Public Appointments Service.This might just be the way to make senior Local Government  appointments

But I  although I don't t agree  the decision making should be taken from councilors . Making the Chief Executive a public servant seems to be a reasonable option.

Wednesday, 22 June 2011

Laptops culled Badgers saved (For now.)


The new Assembly Government has distanced themselves from policies from the last Assembly that were associated with their former Plaid Cymru partners that It began when confirmed it will not pursue a policy of providing schoolchildren with free laptop

The Welsh Government, and Education Minister Leighton Andrews said he was not proposing to continue the project, launched in March 2010.

  This had been main plankpf  Plaid's campaign for the 2007 assembly education. Mr Andrews said the "Welsh Government supported a pilot project to explore the educational benefits of providing access to laptops through schools. It ended on March 31 and was being evaluated".
The second announcement has been that plans for a Badger cull in West Wales have been put on hold while a review is carried out.

The Labour-run Welsh Government says an independent panel of experts will examine the science involved.

The cull had been part of an attempt by the previous Labour-Plaid Cymru coalition government to combat bovine TB.

But Environment Minister John Griffiths said there would be no cull while the panel carried out its work.

Both these can well been seen as snub to the coalition partners and indication that there will be no one
Wales 2 or at least not one one where Plaid could portray themselves as equal partner.

As far as Laptops are concerned I thought this was Plaid's most innovative ideas it clear to me that our children must have easy access to information technology and those whose parents can provide it will have an early advantage particularly in Secondary Education.

If Labour have good reasons for not pursing a project that will lessen the education gap between the children of poorer families then I hope they can produce them but if the scrapping of the project is too show two fingers to Plaid then shame on them..

In a similar vein the new moratorium and yet another revue on the proposed Badger Cull could well be for good reasons. It interesting then both John Griffiths who announced the revue and Elin Jines the former Plaid Minster who ordered the cull under the last Assembly are two of our more decent politicians.

But the vast majority of those AM voted against such a move in the last Assembly and it can't help to be noticed that John Griffiths (who also voted against a delay) is the AM or Newport East s far away fro Newport Pembrokeshire where a cull may have taken place and one can't help feeling the decision was not entirely his.

I understand the conflicting evidence for and against the cull but I can't see how ah further revue will shift  the argument either way.

So Labours plans may be to distance themselves from what in many quarters was an unpopular policy that been proposed by a Plaid Minister but as with Laptops their action should be do what is right.

Over at Jaxxland they point out that a joking remark by a Tory AM that that the move was a quite obviously a pre-coalition concession to the Welsh LibDems should not be taken to seriously by political pundits.

But unless Plaid are prepared to humiliate themselves by entering a Coalition with a party that has just ditched one of their main achievements as coalition partners and have become very coy about a major measure by a Plaid Minister. Where are Labour to look for support?

Monday, 20 June 2011

BOA still ignores everyone but the FA.

News from the BBC The British Olympic Association (BOA) is close to an agreement to enter a British football team at London 2012.

BOA chief executive Andy Hunt said he is "incredibly positive that we will get a [British] men's and women's football team" at the Olympics.

But a Scottish Football Association spokesman said: "Our position hasn't changed and, as far as we're concerned, the status quo will remain."

When the idea that Serge Blatter assured Chancellor Gordon Brown that a British side could compete in the Olympics without FIFA forcing the home nations to give up their own independent sides in competitions. Brown off course in an effort to protray himdel as a Brit and not a Scot was all in favour.

He advised that written assurances would be given that England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland could continue to field separate teams in the World Cup and European Championship after the games.

I do not know to what extent these have been given but clearly he couldn't make this indefinite even though in his megalomania he probably thinks he will go on in charge of FIFA for ever.

The BBC claim that "The BOA has left management of the GB team with the English FA and it appears likely that the bulk of the squad will be formed by the current England Under-21s."

Because of course this a under 23's competition  its not a rerun of the World Cup and I understand that  since 1992 male competitors must be under 23 years old, with three over-23 players allowed per squad.and it is typical of the London media that they are trying to give the impression we would be seeing the leading players of the day in the competition..

The London media have portrayed  the other Home Nations as being selfish in their opposition to the Olympic Under 23 Plans uit even if you acceptedthis,  it it is nothing as to the arrogance of British Olympic Associationa(BOA) and the  English FA in going through with this.

A similar situation occurred  when the English FA  attempt to postpone the election of Serge Blatter . In this they were portrayed in the London Media as campaigners for a clean up of the FIFA  and the Welsh FA as almost  treacherous  in  not backing them

But as  Welsh FA  Pritchard outlined the sequence of events which led to Wales going it alone and declining to jump into bed with England.He said....
: “England had been touting for support for a few days, but funnily enough didn’t say anything to us until the night before the vote was to take place.
“We found that strange, but it had become apparent to us by then there was little support for their stance over the election.
“When they finally had discussions with us, as part of the home nations group, they outlined how they wanted the election postponed and transparency and independence in Fifa’s ethics committee.
“We fully agreed with them on point two and gave them our 100 per cent support over that issue.
“But we could never back them on point one because the Fifa statutes are quite clear. There is no jurisdiction for postponing the presidential election. Full stop. 
“I repeat, we were fully supportive of Fifa transparency. We emphasised that stance when Uefa convened a meeting of the European countries at 7.15am on the morning of congress.
“England put their points of view across at that meeting, I put Wales’ viewpoint forward.
“But when Bernstein got up on the rostrum a few hours afterwards, he just went on about Blatter and the need to postpone the election.
“To say we were unhappy is an understatement because we wanted him to focus upon transparency.
“Suddenly, the Blatter issue became the agenda, even though there was not a shred of evidence against him.
“The facts of the matter are that Bernstein’s proposal went against the constitution of Fifa because of the reasons I have already outlined.
“We had to distance ourselves from that. So too did Northern Ireland. Like ourselves, they were doing what was best for Irish football.
“There were 206 member countries with a vote. A total of 172, including ourselves, voted against Bernstein’s proposal. In anyone’s parlance, that is a pretty overwhelming decision.
“We did not vote for Blatter, as such, I should make clear. Our vote was for the agenda to proceed, as the rules state, with a presidential election.
“Yes, as the only candidate, I suppose that duly meant a vote for Blatter. But it was the Fifa statutes and rule book we were backing, not a particular individual.”
From this a different impression of the English FA stance comes and that is one of arrogance and might well have strengthened Blatter's position.

There is a feeling amongst many FIFA members commentator that the UK and England in particular have a right to special and even a dominant role in FIFA .

In both these cases the English FA could arguably have a point but that does not give them the right to assume that they can run football in the whole of the UK.

Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland should be treated as equals by the English FA and any one ,for any reason should have the power to Veto the establishment of a UK (not British)  Under 23    (even selfish ones) Olympic side it is not for them nor Gordon Brown, David Cameron or Seb Coe to say so,

Saturday, 18 June 2011

Phil Davies The True face of Conservatiism (Unless they get rid of him)

Now and then my natural enmity towards the Tories  relaxes  and  I find my self warming towards some Like Glyn Davies and David Melding abut I never been taken in by David Cameron's pretense  of caring conservatism and as long as he has the Likes of Shipley MP Philip Davies in his Party,  my long term view  that they are an uncaring, spiteful bunch will remain. Recently  Philip Davies  has sparked anger by suggesting that disabled people should work for less than the minimum wage to increase their chances of being taken on by employers.

Philip Davies told the Commons:

"If an employer is looking at two candidates, one who has got disabilities and one who hasn't, and they have got to pay them both the same rate, I invite you to guess which one the employer is more likely to take on.
"Given that some of those people with a learning disability clearly, by definition, cannot be as productive in their work as somebody who has not got a disability of that nature, then it was inevitable that, given the employer was going to have to pay them both the same, they were going to take on the person who was going to be more productive, less of a risk.
"My view is that for some people the national minimum wage may be more of a hindrance than a helpIf those people who consider it is being a hindrance to them, and in my view that's some of the most vulnerable people in society, if they feel that for a short period of time, taking a lower rate of pay to help them get on their first rung of the jobs ladder, if they judge that that is a good thing, I don't see why we should be standing in their way."

 What a stupid ignorant offensive (I could fill this paragraph with adjectives) man. But a man who is a member of a governing coalition. Do those LibDems  siting alongside Davies really feel comfortable being in Government  which contains people with such views.

Amongst other contributions he has made to our political life has been as the parliamentary spokesman for the Campaign Against Political Correctness and he has been accused of wasting the Equality and Human Rights Commission's time by sending a stream of correspondence to its Chair, Trevor Phillips, between 2008 and 2009. In this correspondence, he asked questions relating to race and sex discrimination such as: "Is it offensive to black up or not, particularly if you are impersonating a black person?" and "Why it is so offensive to black up your face, as I have never understood this?"]

He also asked whether it was racist for a policeman to refer to a BMW as "black man's wheels"  ( I Think it is) and whether the Metropolitan Black Police Association breaches discrimination law by restricting its membership to black people. Peter Herbert, the chair of the Society of Black Lawyers, said: "This correspondence seems a complete and utter waste of time... he shouldn't be using the Human Rights Commission as basically a source of legal advice."

In March 2007 he voted against the Equality Act (Sexual Orientation) Regulations 2007 which proposed to allow the Secretary of State to make regulations defining discrimination and harassment on grounds of sexual orientation, create criminal offences, and provide for exceptions.

In early 2010, Davies was criticised by the press] and religious organisations for using Parliamentary rules to "wreck" the Debt Relief (Developing Countries) Bill, an anti-poverty measure designed to stop "Vulture funds" from buying up the debt of third-word countries in order to aggressively pursue repayments through the international courts. How proud he and his fellow Tories must be of this?

Perhaps Davies would be more at home in the English Democrats  His father is Peter Davies, who in 2009 was elected Mayor of Doncaster for that Party but then again they might find him a bit to much of an embarrassing.

What is unless Davies views on the employment of some of the most vulnerable members of  our Society by the whole Conservative party they can't complain if I and others see their silence as tacit approval and judge them as a whole on the unpalatable views of their colleagues.

Friday, 17 June 2011

Mixed Night for Plaid : Bad one for all other Parties.

There was a mixed night for Plaid in the  Council two By-elections yesterday 16th June 2011.
This has been taken from the ALDC website .

On  Gwynedd Council  there was a gain from the LibDems
Gwynedd UA, Arllechwedd
PC 255 (56.0; +8.8)
LD  (20.4; -32.3)
Lab 72 (15.8; +15.8)
Con 35 (7.7; +7.7)
Majority 162
Turnout not known
PC gain from LD
Percentage change is since May 2008.

But in Conwy the Party failed to put up a candidate (Why?) and the seat went to an Independent  with only the Tories as a Party fighting the seat.
Conwy UA, Uwchaled
Ind 477 (94.1; +94.1)
Con 30 (5.9; +5.9)
[PC (0.0; -100.0)]
Majority 447
Turnout not known
Ind gain from PC
Percentage change is since May 2008.

Clearly, as always local condition apply and it would be foolish to extrapolate an all Wales l trend from such small numbers.but the the loss off what was a long term Libdem seet in the Arfon part of Gwynedd means their all ready small band there has grown smaller. It's a pity Llais Gwynedd didn't fight the seat because we can't judge the ammount of support for them, particularly as  the thorny topic of school closures have reappeared.

The poor result for the Tories in three  recent By-elections in Conwy despite the fact they hold both Parliamentary and Assembly seats probably means that AM Janet Finch-Saunders will probably not relinquish her council  seat in favour of the Assembly   and stand down when the full elections take place next next year.

 Next elections

  • Carmarthenshire county council: Byelection on 23 June in Llanegwad division after the disqualification of Independent councillor Dilwyn Williams who has not attended any council meeting in six months. 
  • Gwynedd county council: Vacancy in Glyder 21st July division after the death of Plaid Cymru councillor Dai Rees Jones
  • Torfaen county borough council: Vacancy in Snatchwood division after the death of Independent councillor Tom Gould No date set
I shall try to keep those interested informed.

Thanks to Plaid Wrecsam I have been alterted to a Btelection on  Wrexham Council Yesterday
The result was  

 Wrexham County Marchwiel

John Bell Conservative 172
John Pritchard Independent  302

In my defence this has not appeared on any other format or Blog so thanks again to Plaid Wrecsam for reporting it


Wednesday, 15 June 2011

Welcome back Ieuan you haven't missed much.

After all the criticism  over Ieuan Wyn Jones Holiday during the "Start of Term". It does seem that there wouldn't have been all that much to so except meet the Queen and ask a few questions over why the new Welsh Government (Thank God they've dropped WAG) was taking so long to do anything.

But now things have started moving and Labour through their First Minister Carwyn Jones have issued a staggering programme for the 4th Welsh Assembly,
  • A Bill to build on the Children's Rights measure 
  • A Bill to simplify 'the web of legislation' regulating social care to make access to services much easier and more understandable
  • Funding and structural reforms to drive resources to the education front line
  • Legislation to bring coherence and efficiency to higher education in Wales with a single strategic planning and funding body
  • Modernise the Auditor General in Wales and the Wales Audit Office 
  • A new independent sustainable development body for Wales
  •  Improve supply of and legislate on the amount of land to be used for allotments
  •  Legislate to make it a duty to provide cycle-routes in key areas 
  •  Heritage Protection Bill to strengthen the protection of listed buildings
  •  Organ Donation Bill to provide for an opt-out system of organ donation Consolidation of existing laws, such as planning 

Wow this has made all the hard work people put in for the referendum and  Assembly election worth while. I'm sure more cycle lanes  together with  some  vague proposals to make things a little better were foremost in peoples minds when they voted  last March and in May.
Yes a list of 10 proposals that will receive little opposition and guarantee that the Masters and Mistresses at Westminster will not raise any real objection and even Carwyn's Boss Peter Hain  can be happy that the Assembly will not be trying to seek a Welsh solution to the crisis of the next 5 years.

I argued before the referendum that "It was time to take of the stabilisers off the Bicycle"  but it seems having done so the new Welsh Government are nervous of trying to ride the bike without them.

However if this lackluster programme is all  that  is all Labour have to offer because they haven't a overall majority then perhaps they should turn to another Party for support and together put forward a Radical future for Wales through a One Wales 2.

Monday, 13 June 2011

Leyla Zana wins seat in Turkish Election a cause for celebration.

News that the Kurdish Nationalist Party The Peace and Democracy Party BDP  has effectively won 36 seats in the  Turkish General Election (up 16) is welcome . I used the term effectively because the Members have been elected as Independents since there is a 10% electoral threshold and as the Kurds make up an estimate of 6-23% of the population make it almost impossible for a Kurdish party to meet..

Amongst those elected on perhaps what we can call The BDP coupon  is Leyla Zana  who is a particular heroine of the Kurdish National cause .

Mrs Zana, who had two children and only one year of schooling, became a leading campaigner for Kurdish prisoners, and in 1991 she was elected the first Kurdish woman MP.

While taking the oath of loyalty in parliament, she  caused an uproar in Turkish Parliament after adding the following sentence in Kurdish to her parliamentary oath during the swearing-in ceremony in 1994:

"I take this oath for the brotherhood of the Turkish and Kurdish peoples".
Because of this in March 1994, the Turkish Parliament voted to lift the immunity of Zana and five other Kurdish DEP members: and they  were sentenced to 15 years in jail by the Supreme Court.

In 2001 the European Court of Human Rights ruled against Turkey after a review of her trial; although Turkey did not recognize the result, in 2003 a new harmonization law permitted retrials based on ECHR decisions. In 2002, a film named The Back of the World, directed by Spanish-Peruvian filmmaker Javier Corcuera, examined her case. In April 2004, in a trial which the defendants frequently boycotted, their convictions and sentences were reaffirmed. In June 2004, after a prosecutor requested quashing the prior verdict on a technicality, the High Court of Appeals ordered Zana and the others released.

Since then she has constantly charged with offenses that we would have regarded as quite legitimate in our own democracy.

Not quite though though the argument over the swearing of the oath of loyalty to the Queen of England which recently was highlighted  by the  Boycott of the opening of the fourth Assembly whilst in no way matches the repressive actions of the Turkish State on Layla Zane and other Kurds has a degree of denial of the rights of democratic groups who philosophy different from that of the State to sit in their Legislators.

Clearly one of the reasons why the outrage  a woman was imprisoned for speaking  for 15 years  her own Language was that Turkey has been seen as valuable ally of the West. And it typical of the hypocrisy of Western Government that they do condemn Turkey whole heartily on the their treatment of the Kurdish people  in the same way they condemn Saddam Hussein treatment of the Kurds in Iraq despite the  blatant similarities.

The Kurds are most misused ethnic group in the World  they have no Nation State they can call they own as they have divided up between various other Nations. They have used terrorism as means of an end but often this seen by them as the only option and whilst in no way condoning such acts by organisations such as the
PKK. The Turkish authorities a have used as an excuse to exclude and even imprison though like Leyla Zane.

Hopefully one of the condition placed on any Turkish application to join the European Union will be one that recognises the rights of the Kurdish People to the democratic process. I would have liked to have written the Rights of the Kurdish People to self determination but whilst existing members like Spain  deny that opportunity to Basques and Catalans it would not be possible to do so.

The election of Leyla Zane and her colleagues is one for welcome but the victory of the ruling AKP a socially Conservative party  that will seek to amend the Turkish Constitution in order to consolidate its power is not.

Saturday, 11 June 2011

When Two Blogs Go To War.

I have waited a few days to compare the reaction of two Blogs that I regularly look at to giv e them time to comment on recent events.

Both Syniadau and Freedom Central are blogs which are linked to Political Parties Syniadau to Plaid and Freedom Central to  the LibDems, but the way they cover the Welsh Political scene is vastly different.

Syniadau whilst openly putting the Plaid case and commentating on other parties, will openly say when they disagree with senior Party members.  or when defending Plaid often make it  clear that this not from a subordinate position and will add their own analysis as they did with Ieuan Wyn Jones absence from the Assembly.

To my knowledge Syniadau will always post a comment which opposes the views placed on the Blog  (barring obscene and racist ones I guess) and will respond to these comments with cutesy, and will often acknowledge someone who writes contrary to the post may have a point.

Freedom Centre on the other hand are merely an LibDem attack job. They seem to have Anti-Plaid bias in particular  and although they claim to be independent of the Party much of its contribution often comes from Peter Black and other  LibDem AMs . They will cut and Paste entire news items without comment on the problems of other Parties  without comment and before I am accused of hypocrisy (I admit to frequently  cutting and Pasting ) I hope I wil always add my own comment on the issue. not merely  copy something from the Western Mail or the BBC and leave it there in the hope this will be sen as unbiased .see Insidious brilliant take on on this.

But the main problem with the Blog I have  come to call "Subordinate Centre" is that not prepared to look at news that it is critical of the LidDems in Wales or their leadership. Just recently they have virtually ignored the controversy  over the exclusion of the LibDem AM's John Dixon and Aled Roberts  from the Assembly and it ironic that it Syniadau who appears to more supportive of the two .

In the last few days former North Wales AM Eleanor Burnham said her party's response in the impasse with regards the excluded AM's "looks like farce". and Subordinate Centre has totally ignored it . Peter Black who has also been criticised by his former AM has also not commented on his Blog. Burnahm may have her own agenda if Roberts was to be permanently excluded then she would as 2nd on the party list take his place but they could have pointed that rather than ignore the criticism all together.

They  willingly at   Suborninate Centre to recently  reproduces much of Synidau spat on Elfyn Llwyd (above link)  or to copy the Western Mail report on Senior figures move against Plaid Cymru leader again without any of their own analysis

They also seem to fail to publish comments that are critical of their post but I will grant them the assumption this may be merely due to  a technical problem.

So we have two Blogs both I think should be read but only one of them has important and serious contribution to make to the political life of Wales.

Thursday, 9 June 2011

Labour vision there is none so better attack Plaid?

An interesting post on Wales Home on Wakes from New Labour AM Ken Skates.

Does he give his impression of Labours Plans for the next five Years?
Comment on the extensive progressive legislation He and his colleagues have in mind?
Show how Wales will differ from the right wing ideology led cuts and reorganisation the Westminster Coalition has outlined  for England. such as the so called NHS reforms?

Er No. Probably because there are none.

Instead this AM who has only been in the Senate for a month has chosen to concentrate those  Plaids AMs absent from the jamboree of the so called State Opening.

In an article entitled "Wearing badges is not enough in days like these" Ken Skates  rights he makes particular play on Ieuan Wyn Jones  absence

"I have just two simple points to make about this. The first, and most uncontroversial in a sense, is that as the leader of a major party in the Assembly, Ieuan had a special responsibility to be there on behalf of his group and on behalf of the people who voted for the party in May. Many of these people will not share Plaid’s anti-monarchist views and whether he has let them down is not my place to say, but I do think it was discourteous not to attend without a valid reason. It displayed a lack of judgement as he chose to put anti-Royal sentiment ahead of celebrating the additional powers that his loyal supporters had campaigned for". 

The second and more important point, I feel, is that the episode shines a revealing and uncomfortable light on a deeper and more fundamental problem for Plaid as a political party, namely its continuing failure to come to terms with both devolution and work within the new realities and institutions of Welsh politics to affect real change.
Bearing in mind the Queens speech was not outline of her Government in Wales plans for using these new powers, but merely a congratulations for having them.Was there any point if you are a Republican  or not in inviting her in the fist place.?

How much did it cost and who pays for it?

He goes on

The issue at hand here is one about politics. We now run our own affairs and take our own decisions. The irony that it is Plaid that is distinctly uncomfortable with the responsibilities and powers that it has been campaigning for is an interesting, if underexplored, development in Welsh politics over the last decade.

This week’s decision by Plaid’s leader to obsess with regional republicanism, instead of acknowledging the incredible distance Wales has come, illustrates his party’s inability to embrace the real business of public service. Missing First Minister’s Questions this week means he failed to raise awareness of, and provoke action on, the burning issues that affect our constituents this week. 
What burning issues? . Oh yes the  complete lethargy of the Assembly since the 4th  one was elected last May including the filing of Committee places the failure of the new Labour Welsh Government to live up to their promise to stand up for Wales apart from a veiled statement that Carwyn Jones is claiming today that "borrowing powers could be on their way" following yesterday's JMC meeting. although his London boss Peter Hain has seemingly rejected the idea.

Yes perhaps Ieuan Wyn Jones should have been there to point that out but I believe there probably a good case that he really needs a rest after along and disappointing electoral campaign. There a huge difference in your energy levels when you are  winner compared with the despair you feel when you lose.

But theres a complete different issue when comes to the moral stance of boycotting the Queen.

What Ken Skates appears to be saying is that Plaid should simply become just another Party within the British system some of us would argue that this has been their problem and they have lost the Radicalism and Fire that many of who used to be active embraced and John Dixon reminds us this in his Borthlas blog.

Plaid should never emulate the London run Parties  who play by the rules of convention that emulates and
suits their establishment values.

Ken Stoats writes like a long term grandee rather than a fresh face his use of the term anti-monarchist rather than Republican is a typical conservative form syntax with its negative implications.

I am sure than none of the AM had any resall animosity  to the Queen. They just don't want her as our head of state.

But there will always be a time when those frustrated with the Political process will use other peaceful means  so that the rest of us can here their voice so often stymied by the mainstream media and the boycott was just one example of this.

From what this AM is implying we will not be seeing him or any of his colleagues on a protest against government cuts seemingly  being allowed to ask the occasional question of the  First Minster will be sufficient.

But the issue of Republicanism  is one that can only take place outside the Welsh Senate and Westminster because open debate on the topic is not allowed, in the debating chamber.

Of course if Labour  were in opposition in Wales it would be different story and with the aid of the Trade Unions, who have always put the interest of the Party before that of they members will  have no doubt taking part in more than one type of extra parliamentary  activityi Including the wearing of numerous badges.

It has never taken long for young Labour radicals to become establishment figures once elected, but Ken Stoats seems to have done so in record time.

Tuesday, 7 June 2011

Boundary Changes What Wales might look like.

The organisation Democratic Audit has Looked at the potential outcome of the ConLib government plans to cut he number of constituencies in the UK. This is not definitive analysis and the actual  result from the boundary commission due to b published in the Autumn nay be quite  different but they have used the same criteria.

The first interesting thing that emerges is that the biggest losers may well be the Liberal Democrats.

It is ironic that if the AV referendum had succeeded and if the Libdems were to poll anything like the 20%+ vote they have come to expect in a General Election then they would have probably been by far the biggest gainers in Westminster seats. However the plan to cut the number of MP's was coupled with the AV legislation but was not subject to the referendum. So even if the Libdems do not  suffer the same meltdown in votes that they had in the Scottish and Welsh elections they are likely to regret allowing the Conservatives to place this alongside the AV bill.

The analysis by Democratic Audit  also using the Boundary Commissions attempts to give us a possible likelihood of what the new Welsh constituencies may look like.

This of course is based on what would the result have been if the seats had been fought on these boundaries and the same %vote for each party at the  2010 election but it does give us some indication of what the future Welsh Electoral Map for Westminster may look like.

BlogMenai has added a useful critique of the analysis which is well worth looking at (you can use goggle translate if your Welsh like mine is shamefully not up to reading it directly).

As I have said this is largely an hypothesis and it may well see a big difference when we vote again in 2014. Or  we may be voting earlier as the Libdem wake up to the fact that even if they overcome the current toxic effect of being coalition with the Tories and they recovered the percentage of the vote they received in 2010 they are still likely to lose nearly a quarter of their current seats. Indeed in the next few months this may well be the biggest strain on the coalition. However I don't think the public will regard a stand purely on the Libdems self interest to kindly

Sunday, 5 June 2011

I am a Citizen not a Subject.

 Good for Leanne Wood who has announced that she is once again boycotting the State Opening of the Assembly  because of her Republican beliefs.

I expected the usual claptrap from the forelock tuggers in support of their Queen  but as usual the most ridiculous criticism has come from Peter Black.

In his Blog Peter makes a claim to be a republican but  he claims that  Leanne and those joining he in a boycott.

"However, that did not stop them taking the oath of allegiance to the Queen, nor does it prevent them serving as a member of a body that constitutionally takes its authority from the crown and whose laws have to be approved by the monarch, no matter how academic that approval may be.
Nor can they deny that the monarchy enjoys majority support amongst Welsh people, who expect their elected politicians to represent them at events such as this. Irrespective of my personal views my duty on Tuesday is to be in the Assembly representing my constituents at the official opening and celebrating the birth of a new phase of Welsh democracy"

Excuse me?How can you celebrate a democracy that forces people to swear an oath to

... be faithful and bear true allegiance to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth, her heirs and successors, according to law.  
And claim that this a democracy?

It's the heirs bit that really gets me I'm perfectly willing (until we decide otherwise to to accept ) Elizabeth 11  as head of state even of an Interdependent Wales but I am not willing to accept this should be forever and certainly  to any heirs .This is undemocratic and makes a nonsense of Peter's position and those  who claim to be  republican bit do nothing about it...

 I remind Peter and others that

"Those elected to the House of Commons, to the Scottish Parliament, or to the Welsh Assembly who refuse to take the oath or affirmation are barred from participating in any proceedings, and from receiving their salaries. They could also be fined £500 and, have their seat declared vacant “as if they were dead” if they attempt to do so. ] Under the Parliamentary Oaths Act 1855, any peer voting, or sitting in the House of Lords without having taken the oath, was subject, for every such offence, to a penalty of £500".

So if you are a Republican in order to take you seat you must  lie under oath or in Peter's case simply accept the situation and say and do nothing about it.

In the Northern Ireland Assembly however there is no requirement for members of the Northern Ireland Assembly to take an oath of allegiance, or any other oath, nor is there any form of voluntary oath prescribed for those who may wish to swear one. However, members are required to sign the Assembly's roll of membership, designate their identity as "Nationalist", "Unionist" or "Other", and take a Pledge of Office. Ministers can be removed from office if the responsibilities of the pledge are not met. Members pledge to...

(a) discharge in good faith all the duties of office; 

(b) commitment to non-violence and exclusively peaceful and democratic means;

(c) to serve all the people of Northern Ireland equally, and to act in accordance with the general obligations on government to promote equality and prevent discrimination;

(ca) to promote the interests of the whole community represented in the Northern Ireland Assembly towards the goal of a shared future;

(cb) to participate fully in the Executive Committee, the North-South Ministerial Council and the British-Irish Council;

(cc) to observe the joint nature of the offices of First Minister and deputy First Minister;

(cd) to uphold the rule of law based as it is on the fundamental principles of fairness, impartiality and democratic accountability, including support for policing and the courts;

(d) to participate with colleagues in the preparation of a programme for government;

(e) to operate within the framework of that programme when agreed within the Executive Committee and endorsed by the Assembly;

(f) to support, and to act in accordance with, all decisions of the Executive Committee and Assembly;

(g) to comply with the Ministerial Code of Conduct.

So in order to bring in to mainstream politics Republicans who in the past advocated violence against the state  they are not required  to swear an oath.

Peter Black is right in one sense there is a Republican Dilemma  but its whether to speak out  and campaign for the Democratic right to advocate the end of the Monarchy and face the wrath of the establishment and media or to remain silent.

But how can anyone who claims to be a republican as Peter does remain silent and accept this situation and criticise those who have the courage to make even a modest stand on principal.

If Peter wants to "celebrating the birth of a new phase of Welsh democracy  " let him be the first to propose that the Welsh Assembly adopt the same form of oath as their colleagues do in Northern Ireland .

Friday, 3 June 2011

Best of the Worst.

Listing to the Today programme on BBC Radio 4 yesterday . I heard a voice from the past.

The item was on the claim that So many asylum seekers have been given leave to remain in the UK that it "amounts to an amnesty",

One interviewee was Keith Best mer chief executive of the Immigration Advisory Service, who said many of the applicants had simply been "forgotten about" and "left in limbo" by the authorities.

In 1979 Best had produced one of the biggest political shocks in Welsh political History  when he took what was then the safe Labour seat of Anglesey (Later Ynys Mon) with a 7.6 swing.

The shock was even greater because Best was a Brighton councillor and Barrister with no connection to the island and spoke no Welsh.

He established himself however and learned the Language where he was confident enough to be interviewed in it.

Beating of a challenge from Plaid Cymru 's Ieuan Wyn Jones in 1983 he looked like he was set for a long tenure as Ynys Mon have not voted out a siting Member of Parliament since Cledwyn Hughes beat Megan Lloyd George in 1951.

So Plaid may have well failed to win the seat in 1987  because  Keith Best was not the candidate then as he he had been  forced  to stand down after admitting  fraud; during the privatisation of British Telecom, Individuals were limited to one allocation of shares and  . Best was discovered  to have  illegally submitted many applications by using minor variations of his name  and was prosecuted  .

He was eventually s sentenced to four months imprisonment and fined £3,000. On 5 October 1987, the Court of Appeals ruled that the jail portion of his sentence was too harsh,  (rightly so to my mind)and Best was released. However, his fine was increased to £4,500.

If he had not got involved in such  a stupid and greedy venture he may have well been Secretary of State for Wales in 1993 instead of John Redwood and Wales may have  not have been so alienated against the Tories that some might have survived the 1997 wipe-out.

But since his disgrace Keith Best has rehabilitated himself.

He was director of Prisoners Abroad 1989–93. which supports British citizens who are imprisoned overseas. It also works with ex-prisoners returning to the UK and with families members and friends of those detained.

In 1993, he became chief executive of the Immigration Advisory Service providing direct legal assistance to refugees, asylum seekers and others needing advice and guidance around British immigration law.

In  April 2010 he took up the post of Chief Executive Officer of the Medical Foundation for the Care of Victims of Torture.

Since my last two Blogs have been about political slease  then its a pleasure to find that one former disgraced MP who at least has chosen to use his talents in such a manner, especially when you consider the raft of ex-ministers who on leaving the House of Commons or returning to the back-benches  go on to earn lucrative directorships with companies they had contact with in their ministerial role, especially Health and Defence.

So an even an old cynic and Anti-Tory like National Left would like to congratulate Keith Best  and wish him all the best (No pun intended) in the good works he is carrying out.

Wednesday, 1 June 2011

361 Lords not leaping.

Another politician has fallen from the sleaze allegations "Lord Taylor", once one of the most promising Tory politicians of his generation, was jailed for a year  for defrauding the taxpayer of more than £11,000.

Taylor had denied fraud, claiming that he had been told by a fellow peer that he was entitled to claim travel costs and an overnight allowance despite living in London. He said that he regarded his fraudulent claim as "In Lieu of Wages"

In other words he regarded this as Perks and his claim that other Peers made similar fraudulent claims has properly an element of truth.

Personally I can't see that much difference between Taylors fraudulent claim  and that of David Laws  who had claimed over £40,000 on his expenses in the form of second home costs, from 2004 to late 2009, during which time he had been renting rooms at properties owned by hiss "secret lover" .

Certainly  I can't see anybody getting away from falsely claiming Housing benefit  by claiming "he didn't want to disclose his sexuality".

And of course in reality Taylors fraud is no different  from a factory or office worker nicking goods from their place of work because they feel they deserve it as "Lieu of wages"  and claiming as Taylor seemed to be alleging  "We all do it it's Perks",

Of course there's  a major difference between Taylor than any other person found guilty of stealing from his employer he has not been immediately dismissed Taylor need not even feel l that his political career is over. An anachronism in the British constitution says that a life peer is a life peer, no matter what. Even a Community Councilor would have lost his or her seat if they had been convicted of even a relatively minor offence.

And theres no reason to fel that the second chamber would change things. Thy  recently they voted down Nick Clegg's  proposal for reform of the House of Lords .About 500 peers, including former prime minister Margaret Thatcher, showed up for the vote and Peers backed plans to remain as a fully appointed house by 361 votes to 121 - a majority of 240.

So "Three cheers for Democracy". well done the 361 who obviously don't want any chance of someone entering that august chamber who's  not one of the remaining Hereditary Peers, A Bishop of the Church of England or a receiver of political patronage including those rejected by the Electorate as John Taylor was at Cheltenham in 1992 ( there may have been an element of racism in his defeat but it was small).
So how do we reform the House of Lords How about?
  • Making all Citizen of the realm a Peer on their  18th Birthday  
  • Having elections amongst those eligible for the Lords  (ie all of us) based on multiple constituencies using  STV.
  • Removing the ban of Peers sitting in the Commons. .
This could prove a lot simple method than working out what do do we the existing member of the Lords . They would still have their Peerages It would just mean that there would be lot more of us.

So in anticipation of my and everyone else elevation . I sign  myself

Lord Glyn of Beddau.