Wednesday, 31 August 2011

Green Thatcher.

The rivers Taff was once on of the most polluted rivers in Britain s  it ran black with coal dust and were so polluted that no life could survive – even as recently as the 1980s.
But it was not only Coa that pouted the river, accidental  (and sometimes deliberate)  spillages from companies  on the Treforest Industrial Estate for example between Upper Boat and  Nantgarw also contributed to the chocking of life on the river.

I once worked for a company that accidentally spilled over 25,000 ts of detergent into the Taff in one day  which was only noticed when people in the Riverside area of Cardiff noticed the pleasant smell. Though it was not so pleasant for any river life.

And then came Thatcher and the mines closed and many of the manufacturing Industries went as well not all who contributed to the heavy  pollution.

It was not only our rivers The area of Abercwmboi  in the Cynon Valley is still suffering from the pollution and anybody taking the road to Aberdare could not help noticing the blacken dead trees caused by the recycling plant which we were told for years was safe. I remember one Plaid activist in the late 70's predicting that the plant true toxic nature will only come to life when it became unprofitable and he was proven right.

We can't help being  pleased  has seen fantastic results, with the Taff now supporting many species of wildlife, including salmon, otters, sea trout and eels.

But it is sad that this was not so much because of the work of the Environment Agency whose spin it seems is to be taken  with a pinch of salt   but because of the demise of the heavy industries that provided thousands of jobs in the South Wales Valleys  and have never been replaced not even by non-polluting light industry.

So there you have it our rivers are cleaner because of the decimation by Margaret Thatcher's Government and not because of any Green planing.

We paid a heavy price for the jobs that  industrialisation brought to South Wales Valleys and then paid a heavy price in the greening of the Valleys as these industries were closed.

We can't and shouldn't go back to the days when you couldn't see the bottom of the river bed of the Taff because of the coal dust and other pollutants and if we are to rebuild our manufacturing industry again then environmental factors must be brought into account.

Green polices make sense in the long run because the sort of companies that exploit the environment are often short time and discourage cleaner industries from coming to the area.

If we are to have a long term future of  a clean and healthy environment then we  must remember what the Taff was like just 30 years ago but we must also realise that we also need work for our people. The Green- Work planning that can see both the environment protected and work created must be a priority of the Welsh Assembly.

Tuesday, 30 August 2011

No Sign of Lightening UP.

. When I first posted on the Independent on Sunday (IOS) article Welsh tell MP to lighten up over race 'slur',.  I believe only  Peter Black had Blogged on it and I hadn't  read his comment. Lets face it who reads the IOS. I think I'm the only one who buys it at my newsagent and I read it because I had got fed up with then Observer's seemingly being pro-invasion of Iraq and being Blair sycophants . Though if Matthew Bells sloppy badly researched article is anything to go by how can I trust the IOS on other issues?

Since then nearly all my favorite  Welsh Bloggers  had commented on the IOS piece and nearly all have improved  on my criticism of the original article.

Miserable Old Fart  and Syniadau have pointed out Labours Chris Bryant's hypocrisy over this issue MOF over his take on Alun Cairns slur on Italians and Syniadau on Bryant's attack on Homophobic remarks., and if you are uncomfortable with some of the comments such as Jack of the North's then  thats the whole bloody point. You can't say its OK to offend som eand not others and I find Homophobia  as offensive as racism.

Bryant's comments where he proposed that everybody in Wales should laugh of unacceptable insults of them that he would not rightly  tolerate when  directed at him be interpreted in three ways.

  • He really is a hypocrite. 
  • He generally believes that the  attack Roger Lewis including the Monkey language comment should be laughed off.
  • He believes that the comments by Lewis were totally unacceptable  but to prosecute other action against him would be an attack on free speech.
  • He  himself found the words offensive and would like  to see action against Lewis but couldn't resist the opportunity to attack Plaid in a Sunday Newspaper. 
The  above  could be said of Peter Black  who must  attempts to defend his position finds himself  getting  more and more hysterical. All you have to do Peter is admit you were wrong (as you realise) .and I,ll give you all the credit.

Taking in the response on the Bloggersphere  which I admit is a unrepresented sample( but much more than those who commented las Sunday ) . What are the chances that the IOS and Matthew Bell run an article next Sunday entitled "Welsh tell Labour MP stop being a hypocrite and stand up for us? . Odds anyone?

Sunday, 28 August 2011

IOS think Welsh should "Lighten Up" (Or maybe know their place)

Once again a Liberal  newspaper seems to think that its ok to insult the Welsh and their language in a way that they would condemn if such statements were made against any other minority.

In todays Independent on Sunday  (IOS) there's an article by Mathew Bell entitled  "Welsh tell MP to lighten up over race 'slur',. In which he gives a totally one-sided report  on Plaid MP  on Jonathan Edwards reattempt to bring to book Daily Mail reviewer Roger Lewis who in his review of the bok "Bred of Heaven" made the comment ..

I abhor the appalling and moribund monkey language myself, which hasn’t had a new noun since the Middle Ages.
“[The] trouble with the Welsh language is that it isn’t a quaint custom revived or the relic of cultural niceties — it is foisted on people for political reasons. 
In support of the article Matthew Bell quotes.

Chris Brtyant  former Thatcher supporter now  Labour MP for the Rhondda  who seems to be using this to attack Welsh Nationalism.

Former  LibDem  MP Lembit Opik who abandoned Wales as soon as he lost his seat

And B list Celebrity  Carol Vorderman,  who we "are grew up in Presatyn" ! and who seems to think that calling Welsh a Monkey Language is equivalent to criticising her dress size for as she says

"Roger Lewis is just doing what modern-day critics are paid to do, which is give everything a vicious pounding while attempting humour," she said. "If Jonathan Edwards thinks that Lewis is unfair, then he should read what's been said about me after I've worn a dress half a size too

Bells article also has claims that  Lewis had messages of support from Welsh and English people, including Stephen Fry  ( The stupid persons idea of an intelligent paerson) and Gyles Brandreth (Enough said.

Nor one person id quoted in support of Jonathan Edwards complaint and it does not mention the gist of his argument in his complaint to Theresa May that

“It is often said that hatred of the Welsh is the only remaining form of acceptable racism. Articles like this further that perception. I would be grateful if you could advise me what action can be taken to remove this sickness from society.” 
What angers me about the article in the IOS is not that it is dismissive of  the complaint by Jonathan Edwards but it is so one-side and that it makes no attempt to look at Anti-Welsh  attacks.There are no comments from Welsh Speakers for instance. It is typical of the Liberal Left who condemn racist abuse throughout the spectrum  but seem to have blind eye when it comes to Wales..

There may be an argument that  we should laugh such attacks off ,but in my view we should not put up with this sort of attack. For years the Irish had put up with and even contributed to the "Thick Paddy "jokes  but have now come to realise this only reinforced Anti-Irish prejudice and you won't see such jokes on mainstream Television these days.

Some might call for the return of the Bernard Manning , Jim Davidson type of comedians but I bet none of those  quoted in Bell's article would back this. But still think Welsh is open to racist slurs in the name of " Free Speech"..

Only Wales and its Language, (and possibly the French)  are now open to such abuse and we must stop it.or be seen a second class citizens for ever.

Update: It seems Peter Black has a different view on this . Can it because it was raised by a Plaid MP? Surely not.

Friday, 26 August 2011

BBC Wales news for once manage to unite Left and Right.

Rather frighteningly I find myself for the first time ever in total agreement with John Tyler   formally the Stonemason as he comments on the  BBC Wales "story " that...

More than £10m has been lost to the NHS in Wales in the last three years because ambulances are not transferring patients to hospitals quickly enough.
After taking patients to hospital, crews should be ready to answer the next emergency call within 20 minutes.
Research by the BBC shows that tens of thousands of hours are lost when ambulances fail to meet that target.
 Perhaps they should watch thier episode of Casualty (much advertised as being "Made in Wales" )  where even fictionalised situations seem  have a more realistic idea of whats happens in Emergency Departments than the BBC Wales News staff.

I can only assume that BBC Wales health correspondent Arwyn Jones  and his researchers have never been taken to an Hospital by ambulance. what do they expect Ambulance to do . Pin a note on a patient and leave them in the Lobby, If the patient had been sick or spillt blood on the floor of the Ambulance, just leave it there and only clean up at the end of the shift.

If both I and the ex Stonemason (John Tyler ) can agree on this  then it does show how pathetic BBC Wales have become as John says...

Maybe the reporters at BBC Wales should get out more, sit alongside people who actually work for a living rather than looking for a story where a story doesn't exist, paid for by the very same people they look to criticise. 

There you go ive quoted him and agreed with him.

I know this is supposed to be the silly season byt in the case of BBC Wales its appears its more the stupid season.

Thursday, 25 August 2011

Darren Millar calls for Judge Jeffereys

George Jeffreys, 1st Baron Jeffreys of Wem,  (15 May 1645 – 18 April 1689), also known as "The Hanging Judge"
Tory Clwyd West AM Darren Milla, has claimed that a a four-month sentence on a man who posted an invitation on Facebook to start a riot has been criticised by a Tory assembly member as "too lenient".

David Glyn Jones, 21, of Bangor, Gwynedd, was convicted by Caernarfon magistrates after admitting a charge under the Communications Act.
The court was told that Jones had typed
“Let’s start Bangor riots”. 
I don’t see why everyone’s complaining about the rioters.
“Given the chance I’d love to smash up a police car, wouldn’t you?”
although he removed the posting after 20 minutes, he still received a 4 month sentence, but apparently this was not  enough for Darren Millar,  who said  said he believed Caernarfon magistrates should have been tougher on Jones.

"There needs to be consistency - I don't know why he was charged under a different act," 
"I'm disappointed that he only got four months - I do think the public context overrides other concerns.

Millar seems to believe Jones should have been charged with inciting rioting under the Serious Crime Ac t,which saw  two men from Cheshire jailed for four years at Chester Crown Court.

Lets be clear, David Glyn Jones' posting on Facebook in the midst of the riots that were happening in England was bloody stupid .But did it encite people in Gwynedd to riot? Was anyone incited to join in the riots by text on Blackberries or other social media .Can we really imprison every one who post a stupid remark on the  Social Media?

The mainstream media made much of this even connecting this ti the use of Blackberries  in furthering the spread of the riots portraying it as a perverse form of the alleged use of such media in the dictatorial regimes. But is there any evidence for this? Can you blame 24 hour news instead?

Well just ask yourself how many Rioters had Blackberries or  how many watched 24 hour news and the answer is probably few. although most could have texted .Where is the evidence that people  responded to social media  calls to join in the riots actually did so.

I don't know.But then I don't think anyone else does at the moment. . I do know riots spread well before the onset of Social Media and 24 hour news so I suspect the real influence was less than we are led to believe.

But then is it only those who have called for riots in their area who broke the Communication Act that David Glyn Jones was charged under?  Where there not also calls for vigilante action against those involved in the riots do we prosecute them? The social media including Facebook are full posts that people regret even a few minutes after  pacing them. Are people to be prosecuted just for placing something which they realise not long after was offensive.and remove it and even apologies?

But it is not only the reaction in the social media that could be problematic.

Daily Mail Richard  Littlejohn had written in his column ,,

The police are hamstrung by legislation and terrified of being accused of racism. So it’s hardly surprising that instead of clubbing these looters like baby seals, which is what they deserved, they initially stood back and watched while shops were plundered and homes burned down.

Just wait for the witch hunt against those Manchester officers caught on camera battering a troublemaker to the ground, even though the law-abiding citizens of Manchester and beyond were cheering to the rafters.

Was this not also am incitement to violence in this case by the Police  . Probably not under the Law but it was a dangerous statement which could have provoked people to take out what they saw a summary justice  against the rioters and it  I imagine there were calls for such summery justice on the social media.

Those who were the worst offenders in the Riots rightly should face the full wrath of the Law and  perhaps  thet will in due course but at the moment it does seem that the prosecution are going for the easy to prosecute targets in the initial stages. Could it be that by the time those who had actual instigated the riots are brought to trial the and the public  need  see individuals made examples of. (as Darren Millar called for). would have died down and actual rioters recieve lesser sentances than   David Glyn Jones, who may be an idiot but didn't deseve to be imprisoned.

And we don't need the likes of Darren Millar using the rioters to persue the Tories Hang and Flog them agenda.

Tuesday, 23 August 2011

Jack Layton leader of Canadian NDP dies of cancer.

Sad news that Canadian politician Jack Layton has died of  Cancer at the age of 61.

Is death comes after his party the New Democratic Party had achieved its best result in a Canadian electionon he had ledt the NDP to 103 seats, more than double its previous high. This was also enough to make the NDP the Official Opposition in the Commons for the first time ever. The NDP gains were mainly due to a major surge in Quebec as the party won 59 of the province's 75 seats, dominating Montreal and sweeping Quebec City and the Outaouais. The NDP had gone into the election with only one seat in Quebec, that of Mulcair, and had only held one other seat in the province in its entire history.

The  result in Quebec came after he impressed the Quebecois population with his commitment to furthering Quebec autonomy and his support for the French Language..

Despite its advance in the federal elections the NDP do not fight seats in the Quebec Parliament and many of its associate member are free to join the left leaning Parti Québécois and  the left Québec solidaire 

So the NDP view on the autonomy question is vastly different from that of our own Unionist Labour Party and Layton must take a great deal of credit  for this.

What the future for the NDP without Layton is not clear but its interim leader Nycole Turmel’s has in the past been a supporter of the Bloc Québécois  and with its large number of Quebec seats it is unlikely to water down its sovereignty policy.

You can't imagine Labour in the UK ever getting into the position of even supporting the sort of autonomy that Qubec has at present let alone call for more for wales and Scotland.

But it cannot be anything but a sad day when a man who had just achieved his highest political standing  should die so soon after he will be solely missed.

Monday, 22 August 2011

Lembit Öpik : an appology (of sorts)

I'm sure that I am not alone  amongst those bloggers who regard themselves to be on the left who gave a little cheer when the Consevative  candidate Glyn Davies unseated  Lembit Öpik  at Montgomery last year.
I saw Lembit as a poor excuse fior a constituency MP seemingly more interested in appearing on Television game shows  and courting publicity with his  love life.

Whereas Glyn Davies who had been a moderate  and pro devolution member of the Welsh assembly and who defeat due to the electoral system rather than his own popularity was seen as a loss even by political opponents.

His "View from Rural Wales " blog during the years before he was elected was a popular one which even when we disagreed with him was always a good read and whilst Iain Dale may gave been somewhat biased. his observation that  the Blog was....
"By common consensus the best politician blogger in Wales and he's a real character".

And  Glyn's"A View from Rural Wales " blog was voted the second most popular Welsh political blog in Iain Dale's Total Politics Guide to Blogging 2008-09,[9] a position he has maintained from the previous year.

However since his election I'm afraid Glyn has turned into just another Tory lapdog  the worst of which was his condemnation of the reopening of the Phone Hacking scandal as he seems to believe that they should have concentrated on the recent riots.
he claimed ....

.....But I really do hope that tomorrow's newspapers (that I buy) are not going to give us more wall-to-wall of it. I know its an important issue, but I'm bored. And I also know that not a single Montgomeryshire constituent has raised the issue with me for weeks. I used to have lots of letters, emails and cards, almost all of which had been prepared by lobbying groups which had it in for the Murdochs - but hardly a single unprompted approach from a constituent ever. Almost every constituent has a view on the riots, even in Montgomeryshire. My worst nightmare is that we have another six hours of moral outrage in the Commons when we go back in early September

Would he have blogged this if he was still in opposition.?

And his latest contribution has been a defence of the draconian sentences on those who took part in the riots or where some how recipients of looted goodsby saying that another former inhabitant of his seat  Lord Carlisle  was seemingly trying to interfere with the judiciary. Whilst his senior colleagues were doing thier best to encourage the sentences which have shocked some of us.

He does at least show some moderation unlike his leader when he writes

 "There is absolutely no doubt that the riot situation calls for severer sentences". There is a difference between stealing something, and 'looting' as part of a riot, even when the act, in isolation, is the same. Our magistrates and judges know this, and will sentence accordingly - which is why we've been seeing some harsh punishments handed down. No doubt some of these will be reduced on appeal. Nothing wrong with that, because the appeal system is part of the judicial process. Must add that I have been hugely impressed by how the court system has risen to the challenge of dealing with so many criminals at the same time. 

 But the right of his party have been cheering on these sentences its clear the magistrates have been responding accordingly . He can't pretend this is not the case.

and So from a entertaining and moderate figure who looked at Welsh Politics with an entertaining  eye that even those of us who generally hated the Tories would sometime sgive a nod of approval A View from Rural Wales has become AView from Metropolitan Westminster and is all the porer for it.

So did the people of Montgomery  make a mistake in voting out Lembit Öpik in May 2010 on balance No, but then perhaps they should have taken the chance to have elected Plaid 's Helydd Fychan  whose contribution through her Blog Pendroni is sadly missed.and who

Saturday, 20 August 2011

Can this be why Cameron and the Tories opposed AV?

Before I began I must admit to taking the information fro Britain Votes and Better Nation. I hope they will forgive me for borrowing their info.

 On Thursday there was an by-lection  for  Edinburgh City Council, City Centre . The last election which was held under STV  resulted in the following 1st round preference votes.
 SNP 20.4%
Con 20.2%
LD 19.9% 
Lab 18%
Grn 17%
SSP 1.8%
Ind) 1.6%
Lib) 1%

After the Elimination counts with he Lib Dem Charles Dundas being elected first (taking most of the Green votes)   – with the SNP’s David Beckett elected next, and the Tories’ Joanna Mowat only returned once  Labour  were eliminated  in the last round.

So Thursday  byelection was also under the same rules as STV though you can argue it co responded to an Election under AV. The SNP who had hekd the seat were somewhat at a disadvantage because the former councillor David Beckett had done a Adam Price and resigned his council  seat to attend a course at Harvard   (prehaps they will meet up?) and there might have been a bit of resentment from a electorate who felt they had been snubbed.

Any way the voting went as follows  turn out was 23.4%
Round 1
Con 837 (24.2% + 4.0)
 SNP 797 (23.1 +2.6)
 Lab 682 (19.7 +1.7)
 Green 494 (14.3 -2.7)
 Ind 394 (11.4 +9.8)
LD 251 (eliminated) (251 -12.6)

Round 2
Con 904 (67 votes from LDs)
SNP 825 (28 votes from LDs)
Lab 716 (34 votes from LDs)
Green 576 (82 votes from LDs)
Ind 402 (8 votes from LDs) (eliminated


Round 3
Con 1043 (139 votes from Ind)
SNP 893 (68 votes from Ind)
Lab 745 (29 votes from Ind)
 Green 635 (59 votes from Ind) (eliminated)

Round 4
Con 1110 (67 votes from Greens)
SNP 1084 (191 votes from Greens)
Lab 968 (223 votes from Greens) (eliminated)

Round 5
SNP 1368 (284 votes from Labour) – ELECTED
Con 1264 (154 votes from Labour)

So the Tories has  led in most of the counts and had received  more second preference votes from the Independent . Failed to win the seat at the last hurdle . When the majority Labour prefernce voter went to the SNP.

What can we read from this not to much  .

That the Libdem vote collapsed  is clear and the fact that the majority of twhat must be a hardcore of Liberl Democrat  loyalist second preference  went to the Greens. Which may result in some gains for the latter next may.
A surprising large percentage of Labours preferences went to the Tories.
It would have been intresting to see what the SNP second preferences were?
But the real question might be can the Tories win a election under these rules (ie virtual AV)? and could it be the reason why they where so vehement against AV. Whould the anybody but a Tory (ABAT) result in them being wiped out particularly at local level?

Friday, 19 August 2011

Tories saw an opportunity as England Burned.

Can it be that the Tories have been waiting for the riots such as happened last week, in order to reestablish their political credentials?

In a Spectator interview, Iain Duncan Smith, predicted "the unrest would prove to be a turning point in David Cameron’s leadership".

He believed the PM, saw the riots as just as important to his time in office as 9/11 was for Tony Blair..

Mr Duncan Smith or I..D.S as the Tories try to label him in order to give him gravitas (despite his first name being George G.I.D.S?) said:

“This is our warning... the crisis is coming.” 
His comments came hours after Mr Cameron had defended the courts for handing out tough sentences to rioters.This was despite the fact that Cameron remained on Holiday during the time when England burned only to come back at the end and as Sir Hugh Orde, head of the Association of Chief Police Officers,  claimed was  

" trying to take the glory for decisions made by senior officers"

Sir Hugh also  said the politicians
"had made no difference to the police operation to end the mayhem on Britain's streets"
However even we were to ignore the appalling use of the 9/11 analogy for political advantage  it does seem that the Tories are going to use the riots to push forward their agenda of blaming those on benefit for the state of the UK. as Dunacan Smith and other call for the eviction  of  the families of convicted rioters  and for those to lose their benefits.

It  would be wrong to say the Tories wanted the riots, but as the public outrage expressed itself you can just imagine the hardliners  relishing the opportunity to impose draconian measures on those accused and this reflects the glee that Cameron and other of his cabinet seems to have in the disproportionate prisons sentences so far, Though to the credit of the LiBdems they are speaking out but it shows haw irrelevant thet are when it comes to actual polices.

The right have always reasoned that public disorder plays into their hands as "Middle -England" who may be worried about government polices  react against violence on the streets by backing the Government

 In the meantime the likes of Iain Duncan Smith a man who .lied on his CV by claiming  that he had attended the University of Perugia when he had in fact attended the Università per Stranieri, which did not grant any degrees at that time, and a claim that he had attended the prestigious-sounding Dunchurch College of Management turned out to refer to some weekend courses at GEC Marconi's staff college.

And who even before the scandal over PM expenses was accused of having his wife Betsy  on his Parliamentary payroll  despite the fact that she had appeared to do no actual work. He was cleared of this but you can read the story here.

This is the man who lectures the unemployed and those on benefits on morality.

Time will tell whether this is "David Cameron's " moment " but the evidence so far after the initial disgust at the riots has died down is that he and his cronies are using this as a means to put forward the authoritarian agenda Cameron and the rest of the Tories secretly want.

Wednesday, 17 August 2011

122,000 unemployed in Wales. Time for a radical plan.

Todays news that unemployment in Wales has risen by 10,000, taking the total to 122,000,  comes as no surprise .

The jobless rate is now 8.4%, which means Wales continues to have the highest percentage of the four UK nations, according to Labour Market Statistics.

The figures are even more worrying when you consider that Wales' is so highly dependent on the public sector and the full effect of the coalition cuts have not be felt yet.

This story coincides with the government has announcement of  locations for new "enterprise zones" in England to try to boost economic growth.

Ministers said 30,000 new jobs would be created by 2015 by giving cheaper business rates, superfast broadband and lower levels of planning control.

New zones were announced at sites in Cheshire, Cornwall, Gosport, Norfolk, Hereford, Kent and Oxfordshire.

So two of these Zones plus the Zones which have already announced for Bristol and Liverpool will have a direct effect  on the Welsh economy as they will attract industries that may have come closer to home.

Don't get me wrong. I have very little faith  that enterprise Zones do not so much as  move jobs from area to another and have very little influence in raising unemployment in the UK as a whole. But clearly unless our Lethargic Assembly doesn't come with an ambitious and radical strategic plan for creating jobs in Wales then we will lose out to the English enteprise Zones in the the near future at least for a decade.

Could the reason for this lethargy be because the Labour Welsh Government have no idea what to do. If this is so then its time to bring in coalition partners to beef things up.

Of course it could well be that with a ConLib government in Westminster then Labour, have reasoned that it  the Westminster government  who will get the blame for the rise in unemployment and rather than come up with ideas that may be controversial the best option for Labour is to nothing.

But what of potential coalition partners? Neither Plaid nor the Liberal Democrats have really advanced radical ideas to bring employment to Wales and the unemployment blackspots and we may have to wait for the former to elect its new leader before it gets into gear.

Whatever any of the Welsh parties do creating enterprise Zones which bring in companies for a few years  only for them to move again when the subsidies end  and they move off to a country with a better offer.

As this Blog as argued from its beginning  we need to create cooperative movements throughout Wales based on local needs . Indeed we need a minster for Coopratives who will lead  a department that wil aid those wishing to enter a venture. Now would't that be the perfect post for Leanne Wood in a Lab/Plaid coalition?

At first this will not result in a dramatic rise in employment, but it will be sustainable growth and is not preferable to create 50000 jobs over 10 years that not only remain but are steadily growing or 10000 jobs over 5 years of the type that LG promised that are gone with a change in the market in the same time?

Monday, 15 August 2011

Cameron should look around him before he lectures on morality.

 In a speech in Oxfordshire,  Prime Minister said politicians had been unwilling to talk about rights and wrongs, but "moral neutrality" would not "cut it any more". He questioned whether politicians had "the determination to confront the slow-motion moral collapse that has taken place in parts of our country these past few generations".

What abiut his and his fellow MPs morality . During the expenses scandal of the last Parliament it energed that. he habd his felow leading Tories had a strange idea of morality .

David Cameron
The Tory leader put a total of £141,820 on his second home allowance over five years. The majority of Mr Cameron's claims were for mortgage interest and utility bills for his Oxfordshire constituency home.

One exception was a £680 bill for repairs to the property, which included clearing wisteria and vines from a chimney, replacing outside lights and resealing his conservatory's roof. He has agreed to repay the bill for the removal of wisteria.

George Osborne
 The parliamentary authorities considered ts personal website too "political" to be publicly funded, when he was shadow chancellor
After claiming £30 for a private company to host the site, Mr Osborne was told by an official: "I draw your attention to the 'Latest News' section of your webpage. This includes some articles ... which contain clearly political content and are therefore not acceptable on a publicly funded website."

He also put a £440.62 bill for a chauffeur company to drive him from Cheshire to London on 11 November 2005 on expenses.

While the invoice offered a 5 per cent discount for "prompt settlement", Mr Osborne received the full amount.

He has agreed to repay this money.

The records showed he also claimed hundreds of pounds for cleaning and remortgaged his second home in Cheshire, increasing his monthly mortgage interest bill from £1,560 a month to nearly £1,900.

Andrew Lansley
 When shadow health secretary he spent thousands of pounds renovating a thatched Tudor country cottage - and sold it shortly afterwards.

He redecorated with premium paint in some rooms at a cost of £2,000 and spent more than £500 having the driveway re-shingled.

He is then said to have "flipped" his expenses to a Georgian flat in London, and claimed for thousands of pounds in furnishings, including a Laura Ashley sofa.

He will repay £2,600 of decoration fees.

Of course this is smal fry in comparison with the claims for Moat cleaning and Duck Houses of lesser Mps and of course the criminality of of gormer MPs David Chaytor and Eric Illsley  who were both jailed.

But it is typical of MPs who call for morality amongst the poor whilst regarding their expenses as perks and lets face it any local councilman who had behaved in such a cavalier  way with tier expenses would have been disbarred  and jailed.

The idea that someone like Cameron whose wealth and that of his wife  made no difference to his  greedy expenses claim can talk about morality is frankly laughable.and the fact that he and his cabinet ministers can talk about "children without  Fathers ". When their own father method of child rearing was to pack their offspring of to boarding schools as soon as possible  makes it difficult to make me accept that they have any idea of how ordinary people live.

We do need  to accept responsibility for our actions whether its a MP flippimg  his or her second homes or  for receiving stolen goods but as this case of mother jailed after the recent riots for receiving stolen shorts justice is not equitable.

The current situation of selfishness and greed started in the Boardrooms of the city and at the palace of Westminster not on the housing estates of our inner cities.

Friday, 12 August 2011

When Boris and Cameron didnt know right from wrong.

Above is the infamous photo of the Bullington club  Class of 1987, members of an exclusive dining society whose raison d'être has for more than 150 years been to afford tailcoat-clad aristocrats a termly opportunity to behave very badly indeed. amongst these toffs were current Prime Minister David Cameron  and London Mayor Boris Johnson.

According to the Independent   (13 February 2007)
On the day The club's notorious dinners typically involve members booking a private dining room (under an assumed name) and drinking themselves silly before destroying it elaborately. They wear royal blue tailcoats with ivory lapels, and - having made merry - pride themselves in politely paying the restaurant's owners compensation in high-denomination banknotes. One former Bullingdon member, the journalist Harry Mount, has recalled "being rolled down a hill by a Hungarian count". Boris Johnson once admitted to "dark deeds involving plastic cones and letterboxes".
Yet the "high jinks" that took place on the night the photo was taken (at Canterbury Quad, Christchurch) are up there with the best of them. At some point after the dinner, the group walked through Oxford when one (thought to be Ewen Fergusson, though exact recollections differ) threw a plant pot through the window of a restaurant.
The burglar alarm was activated and police descended with sniffer dogs. Six of the group were collared and spent the night at Cowley police station before being released without charge.
"David Cameron was one of the four people who escaped," a witness says. "If it wasn't for his foresight, he'd have spent a night in the clink. Generally, though, the Bullingdon has been totally misrepresented. We weren't tearaways who did no work. I mean, David Cameron still got his first. Buller was a drinking club. It wasn't about taking drugs. At least not in 1987." And the picture? "A lot of people feel it's frightfully embarrassing. But the more I look at it, the more I start to think it's charming and quaint. We look like schoolchildren. It's like a sort of page out of a high-school yearbook."

You can't compare these actions with the rioting in English cities but illustrates a difference in attitude between the how society  reacts between behavior of the different classes .

If you are rich and behave in the way Cameron and Johnson  did as undergraduates then you just young men up to high jinks and letting of steam  If you area teenager on deprived housing estate and behave in a similar s manner like breaking a window when inebriated  then you are a mindless Yob who doesn't know right from wrong nd whose parents are to blame because they did control you..

There is a huge degree of difference between throwing a plant pot through a window and what has been happening  on our streets . But it shows that all  young people are capable of anti social behavior but in some cases it is written of whilst in others the lives of young people are ruined by a criminal record.

In the last few days after the appalling scenes an in particular the deaths of people who were defending their property there has been a understandable  call from the ordinary member of the public for retribution  and we are seeing swift trials and sentences on those accused in taking part. However we must be careful that this does not become a case where people end up with a criminal record simply because they were on the streets at the time.

It is never easy when faced with what we have been seeing and hearing the sort of behavior on the streets displayed  on our media  not to join in the call for harsh measures to be taken against those involved in the riots and arson. But we must be very careful in taken actions that we may well regret even in a few months time.

Thursday, 11 August 2011

A bleeding Heart Writes.

 It has been said that rain is nature's ASBO and it seems that the sort of weather we normally curse in summer came as blessing last night.
The recent outbreaks in England for which we in Wales have be so far spared (by mostly chance I fear)  has filled many of us on the Progressive Left with despair.It is not only those on the right who are calling for Water Cannons,Plastic bullets and the Army to be deployed on the streets but ordinary members of the public this also coincides  with calls for swift judicial retribution. and if it is difficult as we witness the mindless arson and looting to argue otherwise.

But we must ! Draconian action will only alienatethe us of Water Cannon ,I would argue made the matter worse.

It would be ironic that it will be LibDems who will be part of the Government that will authorise this and presumably it will hang heavily on them if there are serious injuries to members of the public and a change of attitude from Joe-Public  from the deployment of plastic bullets especially when we consider the apparent age of many of those taken part.

In my youth I was never in a gang though this is is probably becuse I lived in the  small village of Penycoedcae not because I was a particularly well behaved child.

But even if I had been by the age of sixteen if I although  had not joined the small number then that had taken A Levels and the even small number that went to University . I went like virtually all my friends  straight from school to some form of work in whichand if Ihad come from a larger Town  I would probably hanged around with a gang of people my age but in which I would then  have gradually drifted away from by the time I left my teens.

For some of the youths today there is no prospect ahead for any of them. From the time they enter their Teens they see no chance of full time  work just as their parents saw no prospect as the devastation of the manufacturing industry  in the 80's under the Thatcher government created a class of permanently unemployed.

The current problem we are facing I would argue we can trace this back to the tremendous rift in our society which was started under Magaret Thatcher.

They are part of  a circle of deprivation as they receive no  encouragement from their parents in improving themselves by education in School or after by further Education and they will pass this attitude  on to their offspring.

Alienated from School they son become alienated from society and the only people they see who have any power and money around them will be criminals ad drug dealers.

I'm not excusing the actions of these rioters. But unless we stand back and understand this we will not breal this circle of deprivation. we will certainly not break it by as Cameron  when  said the "Fightback begins".

You can haul the rioters before  Magistrates  give a draconian sentence to a 13 year old and give him a criminal record and permanently ruin a already appalling future but it will mean people emerging from the justice system  even more hardened and alienated than they were already.

I know that I am in  small minority here Few elected politicians will remotely have the courage to speak out against the furious understandable backlash against the rioters and arsonist. It is one advantage I have of of being an Independent blogger.

It is clear that the current carnage on our streets  is not directly as a result of the ConLib dem cuts but we must not allow the Tories in particular to exploit the situation to stifle genuine peaceful opposition to their polcies by attempting to connect the opposition to the rioters and using this as a excuse to stifle debate.

 The disgust that is shown by the huge majority over the current crisis should not be seen a golden opportunity by the right to continue in their policy of demonizing the underclass and blaming them for the current economic crisis.

You may well think " There goes a bleeding heart liberal again making excused for what is simply evil criminality"  But we can't solve the problem by being more and more draconian it may put a lid on things for a short period but it will never be a long term solution and will only make the gulf between the deprived and those who they see as the well off worse.

Sunday, 7 August 2011

The Pri(n)ce and the Go girl,

Whether this a "Silly Season" story I don't know bur Western Mail columnist Martin Shipton has speculated that Plaid may about to turn to the Pri(n)ce over the water sooner than most of us expected.

In an article "Can Plaid’s dynamic duo be new Sturgeon and Salmond?" he speculates ( though he calls it a revelation) that former MP Adam Price thr Pri(nce) over the Water (Sorry)and current AM Leanne Wood, are contemplating entering a Partnership to contest the Part Leadership next year.

I'm not sure how accurate this.and lets face it Adam Price probably would be better of doing a deal with Dafydd Elis Thoma, who could act as caretaker leader with the whole of Wales knowing that Adam would take over after the 2015 elections.

Bur a Adam -Leanne partnership has a lot going for it and I for one would possibly find myself in enthusiastic support if it was to come about.. Adam is probably the leading politician of any of the Welsh parties and Leanne  (the Go girl) has been a champion of the poor and one of leading AM s( and I mean of al the Parties) and could well be seen as the leading Welsh Left-winger today. Adam who may have solid left credentials would appeal to more Traditional (whatever they are!)  Plaid members and supporters.

Though of course its fraught with problems :

  • To what extent would a leader  outside either the Assembly or Westminster have a significant platform.i to be in the Public-Eye and put forward Plaid's ideas and message.
  • If Plaid made significant gains in the period up to and including the 2015 Election  would Leanne or anybody other leader willingly give up the leadership to Adam as a newly elected member?

However this appears at first to be academic because under the current Plaid Constitution  the Party leader must be an AM and although this could be changed it appears that it is to late to do so at this years Martin Shipton reports.....

"A Plaid Cymru spokesman said it was too late for any rule change motion relating to the election of the party leader to be put before next month’s annual conference: “This would require a change in the party’s constitution, and would have to be submitted at least two months before conference by a party unit like a constituency or the Assembly group. Other units would then have the opportunity to submit amendments.” 

Though I seem to remember Plaid Conference having the right to suspend standing orders by gaining the support of 3/4 of the delegates present.

If this was true and the delegates voted to change the rules it could amount to be seen as  a virtual affirmation and there may not even be a contest next year.

So I'm not sure whether this "Dynamic Duo" idea is a runner  but it looks like Plaid's best option of getting out o its current doldrums.

I wonder if this was the reason behind Ieauan Wyn Jones delay in departing the leadership?

Friday, 5 August 2011

Big Soceity in Action . Close Remploy factories.

News from the BBC that disabled workers in Rhondda Cynon Taf are staging a 48-hour protest as the UK government consults on the future of Britain's Remploy factories.
Seventy two jobs in Porth are under threat, along with more than 300 others at eight other Remploy bases in Wales.
The government is "minded to accept" closure of the remaining Remploy factories for disabled workers, according to a consultation on the end of government support for segregated employment.

The review, led by Liz Sayce, chief executive of disability charity Radar, concluded that state support for segregated employment should be phased out in favour of helping disabled people to get and keep jobs in the general labour market.

Sayce suggested that reallocating resources could increase the number of disabled people being helped from 65,000 to almost 100,000.

Why can't I stop thinking that this was not so much a review rather than a "Come up with an alternative to remploy agenda".

The ConLib government have targeted the  disabled unemployed and have been working to give the impression that the majority of them are Benefit Scroungers . Last  Saturday, in what I consider to be the Blog article of the year Valleys Mam pointed me to the sort black propaganda the Coalition government has been up to and if you read anything today use the link at look at it..

No doubt there will be the usual patronising guff from some commentators on "how these workers are seen as valuable " and how much employers reguard the small number (usually seen as a quota ) that they so graciously give work to,

here will be the argument that the proposals are to prevent segregation of the disabled But the this plaln has only one criteria to save money.  If hundreds of dedicated people are thrown on to benefits where they will join the rest of the ConLib demomizesd disabled unemployed too bad. But no amount of spin of the "Big Society " or patronising from this government and those carrying out its orders will hide the real truth.

There are very few jobs for the able unemployed let alone those who have even minor disabilities.

Wednesday, 3 August 2011

Why is Welsh treated as an handicap?

My local Llantrisant Community Council have just delivered a leaflet explaining tome what its been doing over  the last Number of years.

A cynic may think that the Councilors may be using this to rise their profile ahead of the elections in May 2012.Though I think it's about time the Council explained the work it does and how we benefit from the work these unpaid councilors do.

However as you can see the glossy leaflet is in English only and I've highlighted the instruction.

"This Newsletter is available in Welsh and larger print...."

Although my Welsh is poor, I was tempted to ask for a Welsh version to give my support for bilingualism. But wouldn't that mean I was tacitly accepting the situation. That the ability to speak Welsh is seen in the same way as near blindness?

If it's a question of cost.Perhaps a less glossy leaflet, could be produced and because the last of the four page leaflet consisted of contact number of  the councilors, together with photos this will not double the cost anyway.Does a leaflet double in price because it's fully bilingual? I doubt it.

Indeed perhaps Llantrisant CC should investigate how other community and town councils deal with bilingualism especially since the Welsh language Act of 1993...
"obliged all organisations in the public sector providing services to the public in Wales to treat Welsh and English on an equal basis".

Clearly to my mind a monoglot leaflet does not comply with the act .Though perhaps someone can tell me what the legal position is.

This situation is being reflected in the Assembly as Syniadau points out in his Blog .

"the Assembly Commission, ....., made the decision only to translate contributions made in Welsh to English, but not vice-versa. A few weeks ago they published a paper outlining options for translating it, one of which was to use Google Translate to provide a rough translation that would then be corrected by professional translators".
Now I use Google translate  and whilst its a remarkable piece of technology  it has still a long way to go before it is fully accurate,  and I'm doubtful if it can translate to the accuracy, that a full report on our AM, contribution for a number of years if ever , and whilst I can vouch for translating Welsh into English I can't vouch for the reverse.

The argument as argued by the Libdem's Peter Black is...
 "In principle I support a fully bilingual record but it is at this point that priorities have to be applied. Isn't it tokenism to just provide a straight translation? Would those resources not be better used in developing the language across Wales? Those are hard questions that we need to answer our satisfaction before proceeding"
I'm sure many  Language supporters may consider the idea that th the "resources not be better used in developing the language across Wales" to have some merit.

However: Either  the Welsh Language is equal to English in all respects in Welsh life  or it is not.

Remember ,the Welsh Assembly unanimously approved a set of measures to develop the use of the Welsh language within Wales] On 9 February 2011 further enhancing the 1993 Act. This measure received Royal Approval and was passed, thus making the Welsh language an officially recognised language within Wale . The Measure:he official status of the Welsh language;...
  • creates a new system of placing duties on bodies to provide services through the medium of Welsh;
  • creates a Welsh Language Commissioner with strong enforcement powers to protect the rights of Welsh speakers to access services through the medium of Welsh;
  • establishes a Welsh Language Tribunal;
  • gives individuals and bodies the right to appeal decisions made in relation to the provision of services through the medium of Welsh
  • creates a Welsh Language Partnership Council to advise Government on its strategy in relation to the Welsh language;
  • allows for an official investigation by the Welsh Language Commissioner of instances where there is an attempt to interfere with the freedom of Welsh speakers to use the language with one another.[Peter Black and the Libdems were arguing that this did not go far enough.
The point i'm trying to make is that as long as there's a argument  that there's no need to translate Assembly contributions into Welsh because "everyone can understand English". Then the mindset will always be that Welsh is not a real Language but an ecotic option or worse still seen on the same level as handicap.




Monday, 1 August 2011

If Peter and Cheryl do not have a job perhaps its time to end it.

There has been an interesting take on the report of the seeming lack of activity of Shadow Welsh Secretary Peter Hain in the commons chamber firstly from jaxxland who takes the Western Mail s and Plaid's Jonathan Edwards to task for what they point out is not much of a  story. Though Welsh Ramblings  makes  a little more of it.

So why interesting? Because  both in their way seem to realise that the problem with Hain is that Shadow Secretary of Wales is now a virtual Non-Job ,as the actual post of Secretary of State held by Cheryl Gillan has lost much of the little authority that it had when Wales voted for increased powers last March.

The post of Welsh Secretary has  always been the lowest in the cabinet, and has been usually filled either by nonentities , John Morris, Paul Murphy, George Thomas or seen as a means of keeping some people in the Cabinet William Hague,John Redwood and of course Hain .

So why does the post remain post devolution ? Most of the powers have past to the Assembly?

For Labour its probably a means to reward Welsh MPs who have failed to measure up for a more important cabinet or shadow cabinet post . There have been very few Welsh cabinet ministers of late and yet the dominance of the Part in Wales suggest they should have the talent to emulate their more successful Scottish colleagues..

For the Tories who have failed to appoint a Welsh based shadow or cabinet Welsh secretary in Wales the position has probably more to do with the need to keep the Scottish position in order to give the impression that  they have greater influence in that nation bearing in mind  only 1 of 59 MP and  15 of 129 MSPs. They have been fortunate in being able to appoint the Liberal Democrat Michael Moore so at leat unlike Wales and Northern Ireland the cabinet   minister represents a seat in that country.

However  why keep these post especially if they along with that of Northern Ireland are seen as form of Government control.. 

Would the solution to these non-jobs be to abolish the Scottish, Welsh and Northern Ireland office and create a new cabinet office of "Secretary for Devolved Communications", With a Cabinet  Secretary and three minister  under him or her. The responsible  minister(s) would be invited to Cabinet meetings when the respective devolved area is on the paper. The minister for Wales for instance would also take the seat reserved in the senedd for them on a more regular basis explaining the Westminster governments position and learning that of the Welsh Government (a semi-ambassadorial role in fact.)

It might also be interesting to appoint a minister for each of the English Regions..

The current Staff in the Welsh Office can be transfers to the ministry or the Assembly