Sunday, 25 December 2011

In a pathetic effort to be different NL wishes you.

The first of Ick is Hogswatchday, the Disc's New Year, and the winter solstice from the perspective of Ankh-
Morpork. In the Astronomical Year the second midwinter (the year's midway point) is called Crueltide, but due to people using the Agricultural Year this is the same festival.The 32nd of December, or the day
before the New Year, is known as Hogswatchnight; Traditionally associated with pig-killing, to ensure
there is enough food for the rest of the winter. Many Hogswatch traditions resemble a festival on a certain
spheroid world, including a decorated oak tree in a pot, strings of paper sausages, and, of course, a visit by the Hogfather.

To those on the speroid world Nadolig Llawen

Friday, 23 December 2011

Is Peter Black about to "Do an Oscar"?

Peter Black, seems to be defending the Westminster ConLib government on a regular basis these days . In a recent post he attacked Plaids Jonathan Edwards  for daring to suggest that  changes to the housing benefits system for the continuing rise in homelessness.

Despite the fact that charities like Crisis were a;ready warning in June  that  government attacks on Housing would have  a  malign effect on the poorer members of Society .

Claiming  the government's own figures Cris have claimed  that almost one in five of the 62,500 people in England, Scotland and Wales affected by the proposed extension of the Shared Accommodation Rate (SAR) have a disability.
From 1 January 2012, single people aged 25-34 will only be able to claim housing benefit based on the cost of a room in a shared house rather than a modest one-bed flat, bringing them into line with existing rates for people under 25. The average loss will be £41 a week. 
This will force many disabled people into housing that is inappropriate for their condition, said Crisis.

 And thats just the disabled

Figures  shows the restriction of Local Housing Allowances - which are currently based on the median rent in an area - to the 30th percentile of private rents will affect 774,970 households across the UK, who will lose an average of £9 a week.

New limits on the amount paid according to the size of a property, including a cap of £400 a week on a four bedroom house, will affect fewer households more dramatically. A total of 21,060 will lose on average £74 per week
Peter response was that amendments were being made in the House of Lords were some changes may be made. stating that 
"The political games being played by Plaid politicians on this issue do not help any of the families who have lost their home. Instead we need to concentrate putting appropriate support services into place throughout Wales and increasing the supply of affordable housing"
Peters seems to be of the opinion that when his leader La Pasionaria raises an issue that the Welsh Government rightly  need to look into she is providing  positive and constructive opposition .Whilst any one who criticises the Con/Lib coalition disastrous policies on welfare are being opportunist.

With the LibDems facing electoral meltdown next May in the local government elections and languishing in the polls where in the next parliament, they may find they have more AMs than MPs .Can it be long before Peter decides his future lies with the Tories rather than the sinking ship that are the Liberal Democrat?

Is this why he seems to have shifted to the right recently?

Monday, 19 December 2011

Plaid and the "I" word.

It seems that Syniadau has lit the Blur Touchpaper ,on  his recent Blogs on the call to discipline both Dafydd Elis Thomas and Rhodri  Glyn Thomas to the extent that he states...
"When I and others made our formal complaint about what Dafydd Elis-Thomas and Rhodri Glyn Thomas had said, our first purpose was not to get either man deselected. We sought a conciliatory solution, recommending that the party should formally instruct them to make public statements saying unequivocally that they support the aims of the party ... and specifically the aims of independence for Wales within Europe and Wales becoming a member of the United Nations. We only wanted to see a more severe sanction if they refused to make such a statement, and suggested that this should be removal from the party's national register of candidates so that they could not stand for Plaid Cymru in future elections"
Not being a Party member Its not for me to judge on this cal,l.But here goes anyway  Although I understand the frustration Syniadau has. Can a Party which can not command anything like the support the SNP in Scotland afford to carry in squabbling over Syntax?

What has emerged is an intolerance on the part of some Plaid supporters with those who shy away from the "I" word partly because they feel that as no Nation is truly Independent these days then the word is meaningless.

The problem is there is no other word that seems to be available,and I use it because that Independence in Europe means equality with countries from the likes of Germany to Luxembourg (Though even here some are more equal than others).

I have considered the possibility of a Federal Britain here but I feel that politician in England would not be willing to accept a role where they are not the dominant partner .

So as you can read on my Profile I accept the "I " word because I can see no other.

Of course Plaids new emphasis on Independence has come after the success of the SNP in Scotland but those pushing it here should realise that the SNP have achieved their position by proving that they were an effective opposition with alternative plans for Scotland's future even under the current devolution settlement and when they did form a government proved to be an effective one.

Support for Scottish Independence has still not achieved over 50% in the polls and I am very doubtful that the SNP can win a referendum on Idependence.

But even if you think you are not going to get a 100% mark in an examination . That is not a reason not to sit it and even if  the SNP realised they can't win it, calling a referendum will make it clear that sovereignty over Scotlands future lies with the Scottish people and not Westminster Governments.

Though if there is a additional Devomax question then I believe this will be won easily.

Plaid and Wales are decades away from being in such a position and whilst there is no reason that the Party should make its ultimate goal clear. It must also work to increase the powers of the Assembly and seek to secure parity with what ever Scotland will receive from a Devomax vote and reach out to those who feel that they can accept this even if they have doubts about Independence.

By raising the issue in such away Syniadau has shown that Plaid will seek to place Independence on the forefront of its policies (and why not) but the response to a pretty poor spoof on Dafydd Elis Thomas' position from some  commentators (who believed it to be true) show that some supporters are intolerant over those who are not in complete agreement.

However those who have doubts should treat the Party members and suppoters  with respect. It is one thing to show disquiet with a the major part of aParty policy its another to think as Dafydd Elis Thomas and Rhodri Glyn Thomas have , that they are above Part discipline whether it is fitting or not.

Thursday, 15 December 2011

Plaid Runner and Riders.

 sNews that Leanne Wood, has become the fourth Plaid Cymru AM to enter the race for the party leadership, will delight a number of people in Wales not just those who are Plaid members

She will look for backing when nominations open in the new year. But I doubt that she would not have made her announcement  if she wasn't sure of receiving it.

I doubt if any other candidate will throw their hat in the ring, as it is now  a pretty crowded field.

So what I do I think of those who have put their names forward

Dafydd Elis Thomas

  • Highly experienced has led the Party in the past.
  • His role has Presiding Officer has helped to cement the Assembly in the Welsh psyche.
  • Can deal with hostile interviewers with aplomb
  • In this capacity can make the most outrages statement seem plausible.
  • Can appeal to those who are worried about the Independence issue by appealing for more gradual approach.
  • Has a safe constituency seat so is not subject  to the "Bourne effect" where a rise in Plaid seats means the loss of topup ones
  • Welsh speaking.
  • Will be nearly 69 by the time of the next Assembly Election  and though age should not be a factor . Members will probably be looking for a younger leader
  • It would seem strange for a former gamekeeper (Presiding Officer ) to  turn poacher ( Party leader)
  • Can be petulant  when challenged..
  • Often gives the impression of shooting from the hip and seaming a bit of a maverick
  • Has long .alienated the Right-Wing of the party and now has probably done the same to his former Left supporters.
  • The stronger emphasis by the Party on Independence and his disquiet may well work against him.

Simon Thomas
  • Despite being a new AM has Parliamentary experience which may give him a bit more gravitas
  • Has long been spouted as a potential leaders by commentators outside the party.
  • As D.E.T's, recent statements on Independence may align with those worried about a fundamentalist approach
  • Affable and intelligent preforms does well in interviews.
  • Despite his Ceredigion connexions. His Aberdare upbringing might help to appeal to Valley supporters and voters.
  • Speaks Welsh.Indeed learned it (always goes down well)
  • Lost the Cerdigion seat  in 2001 and there was clearly some disquiet he did not fight it again in 2010
  • Like D.E.T unless he explains his position clearly on the Independence issue he may well lose support.
  • Represent a regional seat and is particularly vulnerable to the Bourne effect and therfore if Plaid won Llanelli  and Carmarthen West and South Pembrokeshire  then could well fail to be elected  (Though he could stand possibly in latter if polls show the party gaining support there)
Elin Jones
  • Has represented Cerdigion in the assembly since the Assembly was formed and has always given a good account of herself
  • Being leader will almost surley mean he Constituency seat will be safe.
  • Was a particularly effective Minister in the Lab-Plaid coalition and received plaudits from the farming Lobby
  • This included having the courage to agree on a Badger Cull against much opposition so will be seen s as  not afraid to make unpopular (in some quarters) decisions.
  • Speaks Welsh fluently and will  appeal to cultural nationalist.
  • The failure to implement the Badger cull and it very idea will count against her in some quarters.
  • Does not have any seeming connection with the South Wales Valleys could be seen as only representing Rural interestand Plaids comfort Zone.
  • Needs to improve her performance in English Interviews sometime can be seen to be Umming and Arring.
Leanne Wood
  • Experienced and has a certain Charisma 
  • May manage to express the Independence issue in away that will appeal well beyond purely Nationalist sentiments.
  • Although representing a Regional Topup seat any Plaid would have to do exceptionally well for her to experience the Bourne effect.
  • Will appeal to the Left and Republican wings of the Party.
  • Will appeal to those who feel Plaid should concentrate on raising its vote in the South Wales Valleys.
  • May well appeal to dissatisfied Labour voters and indeed some of their party  activist.
  • Has already seemed to have received the support of Jonathan Edwards and may be able to get Adam Prices backing.Could be seen as Plaid's Nicola Sturgeon to Price's Alex Salmond.
  • Will be seen a new start for the Party breaking away from its  Y Fro Cymreig comfort zone
  • Her Left wing and republican views will be attacked mercilessly by the Media and all the other other political parties (including Labour).
  • Will probably not appeal to traditional and more Right-Wing voters.
  • Could be seen as only keeping the seat warm for Adam  Price .
  • Would be the first Plaid Leader not fluent in Welsh
As the Leadership election progress I'm sure the  Pros and Cons for all will change but I think todays announcement by Leanne Wood will lead to a more exiting and certainly  more open election .

With the Leader to be announced in March I'm sure Plaid will be hoping that this will galvanise the membership and hopefully carry on the effect into the next election.

Tuesday, 13 December 2011

"Jonny" Wilkinson retires . Praise from a Welshman.

I think only David Duckham  the Is the only English Player who was capped 36 times 1969 to 1976  has ene endeared himself to Welsh Rugby fans and this was partly due to the fact that it was with the Lions under Carwyn James he was part of the successful British and Irish Lions tour to New Zealand and  encouraged by that  coach s, he found an attacking freedom that was lacking in the English game. He scored 11 tries in his 16 games on tour.

He was the only English back in the 1973 Barbarians side that beat the All Blacks 23-11 at Cardiff Arms Park. In the first half he made a run that has become part of rugby lore, that brought gasps and cheers from a Welsh crowd more accustomed to regarding him with hostility

This led to a memory of him playing in a charity match iat Penygraig where on soring a Try there was a beam of a smile when the announcer said "that try was scored by Dukham".

Johnny Wilkinson never enters Welsh hearts but I also feel on the announcement of his International reritement he should receive the praise he deeserves from this side of the border.

My attitude to Wilkinson changed when I realised in a match at Twikenham against South Africa he was clearly targeted by a South African player in order to take him out of the game and I found myself for the first and only time shouting for England.

Although his goal kicking was what he was most famous for and this the comparison to Neil Jenkins may have clouded many Welsh fans judgment .it was total commitment in defence that I feel showed himself at his best.

Indeed perhaps he was often too committed and his carer was blighted by injury he would probably surpassed Neil Jenkins record of International points in 2005a few years earlier.Though Jenkins should have been capped more by Wales in his career.

It has been suggested inat his old club Newcastle Falcons he was relied on so much he was left vulnerable to tackles by opposing players and was forced to take a greater role in defence that a fly half really should.

At this years World Cup he had failed to shine and like a number of veteran goal kickers seemed to have a particularly  hard time coping with the match ball.

So I hope the rest of Welsh Rugby fans will join me in raising a glass to an old foe on his retirement. Like Shane Williams he his a Rugby legend and we should acknowledge him as such.

Sunday, 11 December 2011

Are the Libdems just a Tory Faction now?

Well no its worse than that if Nick Glegg was a Government Minister and  the leader of a faction  within the Tory party (Like the Bruge group) and he had been humiliated by his leader. To the extent that  the Deputy prime minister was
"bitterly disappointed" by the outcome of the EU summit, and says he is still committed to the coalition government with the Conservatives. adding that David Cameron's decision to veto a new EU treaty would leave the UK "isolated and marginalised".
 He could, no probably nd would have resigned  from his cabinet position and  returned to the Backbenches and be probably be followed  if they had any ounce of morality by his fellow Libdem ministers.

U K's new position on the World Map
Of course this would have led to the fall of the coalition . So Clegg and his colleagues are showing that far from being a moderating influence on Camerons Conservative, they are in such a weak position that they can't even stand up for their principals and are prepared to accept th UK Isolationist Role and its new position as a Mid Atlantic Island with no influence in Europe treated like a minor power by the US and the rest of the World regarding us as the home of greedy bankers .

Clegg seems to be a impossible position he clearly leads a party that if they were in opposition would have been the most vocal opponent of Cameron's pathetic kowtowing to the Tory Eurosceptic right who may be a faction that  but clearly has more and influence that he ad his rag tag army has.
However if he was to call time on the coalition and force a General Election it it is unlikely his party would return anything but a rump.

Cameron has clearly humiliated his deputy but unlike previous Ministers, who had previously experienced  this such as  such as Geoffrey Howe after in the aftermath of the Prime Minister's Margaret Thatcher position at the Rome European Council meeting way back in November 1990, at which she had declared for the first time that Britain would never enter a single currency , left the Cabinet and  this led to his resignation speech. where he offered a striking cricket metaphor for British negotiations on EMU in Europe:
"It is rather like sending your opening batsmen to the crease, only for them to find, as the first balls are being bowled, that their bats have been broken before the game by the team captain". 
In Clegg's case it seems that he wasn't even allowed on the team bus.

Saturday, 10 December 2011

By trying do to the right thing School Banding hides the problem.

Ive been looking at the Welsh Assemblies  Banding for schools you can download an excel version here .

Its difficult to extrapolate any useful data from this because

Within each category, a school's score is modified to take into account the percentage of pupils eligible for free school meals. This allows for the challenges of running a school in a deprived area.

Most of the categories also take into account a school's progress over time, to reward schools that are making improvements in performance.

I have compared the Band 1 and Band 5 schools yn the area of free meals and  if you weren't aware of the fact that the information was "weighted" towards Schools in deprived areas then you may be led to assume that   social deprivation did not have a marked effect on education standards.

What we really need is a before and after these factors are taken into account .

But do Goverments really point to people the influence social deprevation have on Childrens Education.

The Welsh Assembly are right to take these factors into account and the percentage of freemeals  is a useful benchmark but it musn't be used to hide the very problem they are taken into account.

Thursday, 8 December 2011

Peter Black Censors Debate.

On the fourth of December Welsh Liberal Democrat AM Peter Black posted on Subordinate Central about the failure of the UK Department of Education to provide a bilingual version of a letter they sent out to teachers in Wales.

He then went on to make a further comment on his own personal Blog on this an I used the opportunity (as I have in the past) to comment on this stating....

"You criticism of the DOE would have more value if the Liberal Democrats in wales published all their election leaflets for example bilingually.
Was your correspondence last May fully Bilingual. Many of your colleagues failed to do so.
By all means point out these failings but also address your own"
T o which Peter replied......
The DOE are subject to the Welsh Language Act, we are not. We produced our leaflets as appropriate for the communities concerned.

I didn't think this was sufficient enough an answer and attempted to post a comment on my belief which I have often stated that Political Parties should set an example and have a moral duty to provide fully Bilingual Literature in their election campaign before they crticised others.

I was disappointed when Peter failed to publish it but I was prepared to move on when I read the following exchange on the same post.....
Regrettably, Peter, from your decisions to censor/withhold comments, we now know what a total hypocrite you are.
You can take both the 'liberal' and the 'democrat' out of your description.
 posted by maen_tramgwydd : 9:56 PM.
 Peter respose was
I refer you to the moderation guidance and in particular those parts that refer to 'off-topic', repetition and boring.
# posted by Peter Black : 8:20 AM.
I suspect that  maen_tramgwydd a regular and insightful (Who I do not always agree with) commentator on the Welsh Blogosphere had made a similar point as myself and I attempted once again to post on the moral duty of the Libdems  to publish fully bilingual leaflets but he has so far not published it.

Some may argue that he has a right to put what he likes on his Blog but Peter Black is an elected politician who uses his Blog to further the cause of his Party and he should publish criticism of his stance.

Blogs are an open forum not a propaganda  sheet.

Yes by all means censor racist or potentially libelous comments but to use 'off-topic', repetition and boring. as an excuse amounts to accusing you of being a Troll (someone who posts inflammatory, extraneous, or off-topic messages in an online community, such as an online discussion forum, chat room, or blog, with the primary intent of provoking readers into an emotional response or of otherwise disrupting normal on-topic discussion..)

If Peter wants to accuse me of this fine but quite frankly I don't see pointing out the Hypocrisy of his and his Parties position on Bilingualism is a valid criticism and amounts to censor ship because he can't handle the truth.

Monday, 5 December 2011

It seems £500 is enough to sway Scots.

It appears from a recent survey  that  two thirds  of Scots would back Independence if they believed it would make them £500 better off,,

But only one in five would want to go it alone if it meant a £500 a year reduction in living standards.

The findings suggest the economy will be key in the run-up to the SNP's referendum, expected in 2014.

I respective of this, overall, 32 per cent of voters said they were in favour of independence,, the figure is the highest recorded by the Scottish Centre for Social Research since 2005, when it stood at 35 per cent.

Support bounced back from a low of 23 per cent last year.

This shows that the key to a yes vote will be the SNP convincing the Scottish Electorate that they will financially be better of asan Independent Nation.

This would seem obvious but the fact that only £500 a year increase in their pocket points to Scots needing very little in a incentive to vote yes especially if 20 per cent  were willing to see a decrease in income as the price to pay for an Independence Scotland and points to a solid bse for the pro-independence body.

The poll showed that, at present, 34 per cent think the economy would perform better if Scotland split from the UK, while 29 per cent think it would do less well. 

Of course the Unionist argument will be that in this time of uncertainty  and the UK moves to recession then this is not the time to risk leaving the Union though of course the argument in the time of financial boom was also that this was not the time to risk leaving the Union.

I'.m still unconvinced that the SNP can win an Independence referendum bit if a Devomax option was included I think there would be a substantial majority.

But over the next few Months the economic argument will be crucial as both sides will produce figures to support their argument . Though economics seem to be a subject that you can find a expert to support your position on the benefits or otherwise  at the drop of a hat.So it may simply come down to the heart ruling the head and people voting purely on a Nationalist or Unionist  instinct.

Saturday, 3 December 2011

So whats the difference between Clarkson and an idiot on Facebook?

It seems that BBC has received more than 21,000 (and growing)complaints over Jeremy Clarkson's remarks that striking public sector workers should be shot. However it seems slow to respond and it is somewhat typical that it reporters and try to point out the fact that Clarkson somehow made positive about the strike .before hiss crass remarks. Though it was largely on his ability to drive through London unhibited by other traffic.

Mr Clarkson said he had not intended for the comments on The One Show to be taken seriously and was "happy to apologise" if offence had been caused. Though to my mind it was less tan convincing rather like a smirking schoolboy who has been forced to apologise for his behavior but clearly is quite pleased with himself.

We have to ask to what extent Clarkson remarks were planned well in advance of the programme going on the air and to what extent those producing the One Show were aware of what he was going to say. I cab't believe there no run through with guests. So are the BBC complacent in the remarks?

The other point is it seems that live you are allowed to get away with such appalling behavior on Television but to do so on the New Social Media is unacceptable as the case of Plaid Councillor Neil McEvoy shows.

But  if you were to look at the fact that Clarkson appears to be inciting people to violence afainst others . What exactly is the difference between a number of stupid young men who were imprisoned for calling people to riot.
Jordan Blackshaw, 20, set up an "event" called Smash Down in Northwich Town for the night of 8 August on the social networking site but no one apart from the police, who were monitoring the page, turned up at the pre-arranged meeting point outside a McDonalds restaurant. Blackshaw was promptly arrested.

Perry Sutcliffe-Keenan, 22, of Latchford, Warrington, used his Facebook account in the early hours of 9 August to design a web page entitled The Warrington Riots. The court was told it caused a wave of panic in the town. When he woke up the following morning with a hangover, he removed the page and apologised, saying it had been a joke. His message was distributed to 400 Facebook contacts, but no rioting broke out as a result.

Less people saw these postings  than Clarkson appearance  indeed he had more complaints than those who saw the Facebook pages for which the two were imprisoned.

So being a working class idiot who makes a stupid remark (and they were stupid) gets the full force of the law against you whilst being a TV personality is treated in some quarters as  eccentric humour.

I'm not calling for Clarkson to be imprisoned but its about time the BBC stood up to him and told him that his behavior was unacceptable to behave himself or find employment else where.( Though how many Final "Final Warnings" has he had?)
Valeys Mam gets it right when she points out that he has a DVD or a book or a programme to publicise so may be he is canny

The rest of us can show our disapproval by not buying his musings on DVD or print and to stop watchinf Top Gear entirely a massive drop in viewing figures may just may just give the BBC bossed some backbone.

Thursday, 1 December 2011

What exactly are we paying for? And How much?

It is very difficult to find out how many Tomahwk cruise missiles were deployed by the UK in the latest Action against Colonel Gaddafi forces.

We know it was at leasts12 and probably more. at a cost of about £500,000 per missile, were used this amounts to a minimum of £6 Million before we bring the cost of deployment .

Even the simple presence of the submarines and aircraft that launched them cost a fortune  .Figures released by the Government in response to questions in Parliament show that it costs £35,000 to keep a Tornado GR4 in the air for an hour and £70,000 for a Typhoon, taking into account the cost of fuel, staffing and maintenance.

By sheer coincidence just before I started this post I happened to look at Left foot forward and Kate Hudson's on how rhe Con/Libdem bypassing parliament and admitted that it has committed a further £2 billion to replacing Trident.

My reason for this number crunching is not however to comment on the rights or wrong of this expenditure but to try and show how it relates to the Welsh Budget.

This is not a case of "Comparing Apples with Oranges" but an attempt to show that how little a million pounds  is these days .

Clearly the £20 Million pound diverted to Education due to the agreement between Labour and the Libdems  looks a very small amount when we consider what the cost of just one days action in the Libyan conflict could have been  and the  £216Million   capital budget for building work will get an additional s a result of Chancellor George Osborne's Autumn Statement.  pales when we look at the cost of renewing Trident..

The recent Talbot Green bypass which came in on Budget cos £90 million for 4.6 miles . So working on this the money would be gone if we built  just over ten miles of major roads.

Even £14.5bn budget looks less a samll amount  in the final analysis and anyway and what do we need by a billion?
Acording to the Oxford Dictionary
In British English, a billion used to be equivalent to a million million (i.e. 1,000,000,000,000), while in American English it has always equated to a thousand million (i.e. 1,000,000,000). British English has now adopted the American figure, though, so that a billion equals a thousand million in both varieties of English.
But this is not always the case. and confusion looms large try reading this if you what to set your head spinning and it does seem that the powers that be can be selective when they use it.

 Is not time to stop make it absolutely clear when we using this term? Or perhaps do away with it altogether and refer to a Million Million or Thousand million  so poor confused persons like myself have a clearer idea what we are talking about.

Perhaps what we need is a standard unit which we can compare expenditure say a the cost of building Comprehensive School to accommodate  1500 pupils called the Compo.

Any Ideas of a more Comprehensive (Sorry about that) standard unit.