Tuesday, 28 February 2012

The Story of Wales

There an excellent article on the new BBC Wales series the Story of Wales by Labour MP Ian Lucus wh laments the apparent  reluctance for the BBC to show the programme UK wide .

The article is somewhat spoiled by Wales Homes's Introduction that compares it with Jeremy Paxmans new series on Empire which was shown in the rest of the UK at the same tinme last night.

Wales Home states that.
BBC Wales’s new flagship history won’t be shown elsewhere in the UK, and the programme it displaces, exploring the British Empire, won’t be shown in Wales. Both decisions are baffling and wrong.
The Paxman programme is  to be shown tonight at 9:00 PM where it replace  a Horizon episode.

But the main thrust of Ian Lucas article has a point and although some comments indicate the "Story of Wales might be shown in BBC 4 at a later date . There is no conformation that this will happen

By contrast Niel Oliver's  A History of Scotland was first broadcast in November 2008 on BBC One Scotland and later shown UK-wide on BBC Two during January 2009.

I share Ian Lucus's praise for Norman Davies The Isles, which charts the history of the British Isles which does not revert to an anglo-centric  history in which the Celtic nations are only bit players.Read it and wonder why others have not taken this approach.

As far as the series itself the first programme was OK. But i feel an opportunity was lost in not having a eminent Welsh historian to not only write it but to present it.

Like the Neil Oliver series (He's an archaeologist not an historian) the programme might begin to look like it was written by  a committee and as Insidious points out may be more about Huw Edwards  (whose father was just the sort of historian to do write and present such a series) rather than analysis of Welsh History. Edwards does a fine job I just would prefer a greater analysis which a presenter who actually wrote the words may have given.

In some ways my argument is supported by the series title "The Story of Wales" an horrible title which may be a bilingual pun on Hanes but in English just sounds twee.

I will continue to watch the programme and home that it makes a contribution.

I feel that BBC(Wales) may just have missed a opportunity not only in failing to insure a greater airing for this series   But perhaps we need a series with more gravitas presented and written by someone who make us sit up . John (Bwlchlan) Davies maybe.

Sunday, 26 February 2012

The Pri(n)ce over the Water plays it tactically.

The Western Mail and others including Gareth Hughes and Darren Hill at Wales Home  have made much of
The Pri(nce) Over the Water's call for  tactical  in  for Plaid Cymru leadership election (Peter Black also has a view on this but who cares what he thinks?). The premiss they give us is that this is a move to stop Elin Jones being elected as leader.

In his open  letter to the party faithful  Adam Price states...
This election will probably be decided by second preference votes. For those of you who are supporting Dafydd with your first vote, I would urge you to consider supporting Leanne with your second. I would ask Leanne’s supporters to consider lending their second vote to Dafydd. To every member, whoever they support, I would urge you not to let your second vote go to waste. It is of paramount importance that every member is involved in every part of this process.
I don't really see this as a move to block Elin Jones more of one to ensure that once D.E.T is eliminated in the first round his second preference vote  largely  goes to  Leanne Wood.

All the evidence of the campaign so far is that DET is well behind  Jones and Wood and if you look at the campaign websites Leanne appears to be ahead of Elin in the quality of endorsements.

Elin Jones Campaign Website

Leanne Wood Campaign Website

Dafydd Elis Thomas Campaign website

As far as the Welsh Blogs are concerned Leanne is well ahead with the support of Miserable Old FartSyniadau and Blog Menai. Three of the most influential in the Welsh Blogasphere  and of course they are joined by National Left in their support for Leanne( though I doubt I have much influence).

Some of the speculation over Adams call seem to be that he's looking to his own future. Gareth Hughes writes that ...

So why was the story placed? Well, clearly, there is a feeling abroad that Elin Jones is the candidate that has to be stopped. Have the other two made a deal to stop her? Politics are full of marriages of convenience. It certainly wouldn’t be the first time in the sordid world politics that a deal had been struck.
And could there also be worry that if Elin Jones won, she might just be a successful and gritty leader. Now, if that happened there wouldn’t be any pressure for her to move aside in a few years time. In such circumstances there just might not be a coronation for the venerable Price. Perish, the thought
I can't really see this whoever wins the Leadership, will seek to do so for at least two elections and unless Price's plan is to stand in the next Assembly election hope that Plaid will not make gains ,thereby triggering another leadership contest . It seems to me he as missed the Bus for a decade. He might well decide that Academic life in the USA will suit him more . A position where he can act as éminence grise to Leanne Wood making (as he does now) the occasional yet important commentary on the state of Wales without having the  inconvenience of actually placing himself up for election In which case he will have passed from fresh young politician to elder statesman in an astonishan;y short time


Thursday, 23 February 2012

Jenny Willott Talks the Talk but.....

It is no secret that I hold the  Libdem blog  Freedom Central in contempt and refer to it as Subordinate Central or sometimes when they have really  infuriated me so much that I  error use the term to them Subordinate. "Centre" .

For the most part the contributions seem to come form Party Activist who post their hypocritical commentaries anonymously  thereby giving the impresssion that this is a Independent Blog and not an attack one of the Party.

Some time ago I reproduced a piece by the blogger Insidious and make no apologies for repeating it.

But not all the articles are by Party Hacks, a recent one is by Jenny  Willott LibDm MP for Cardiff Central.

In a Piece entitled  Getting young people earning or learning  she  says..

I welcome the announcement by Deputy Prime Minister and Leader of the Liberal Democrats, Nick Clegg of £7.2 million to get young people in Wales who are not in employment, education or training (NEET), earning or learning again.
As part of Nick Clegg’s Youth Contract, the Coalition Government will, for the first time, target funding through tailored support on a payment-by-results system to 16 and 17-17-year-olds with no GCSEs at A* – C who are at the highest risk of long-term disengagement.
If this is true then its welcome (But I thought Clegg' announcement was about England

Still as Willot writes ,..
Sitting at home with nothing to do when you’re so young can knock the stuffing out of you for years. It is a tragedy for the young people involved and a ticking time bomb for the economy and our society as a whole. This problem isn’t new, but in the current economic climate we urgently need to step up efforts to ensure some of our most troubled teenagers have the skills, confidence and opportunities to succeed.

So why did Willott vote  to abolish the Education Maintainence Allownce  in England?

She "honourably"  resigned her post as parliamentary aide to Chris Huhne shortly before a vote to increase tuition fees as recommended by the Browne Review, in order to keep her pledge to constituents that she would vote against any increase in fees.

Like a number of LibDems Wilott depends from the Student population in Cardiff for her seat. But of course she doesn't depend on  the sort of people who would be on EMA who are to young or  so alienated they do not vote and it was an English Measure (The West Lothian Question Again), which did not directly affect Welsh Teenagers?

The major problem for youth unemployment is simply lack of jobs and this allows employers who would in the past take raw ineperianced staff to simply advertise for those with experience. Take a look at adverts for employment for Administration Jobs they nearly all ask either for 2 years experience or call for knowledge in a particular field.

The current government and  that of the previous  campaign of blaming lack of skills, is a smokescreen to disguise the major problem of lack of job opportunities.In particular in Manufacturing and Heavy Industries which those in the past who had not gone on to Further and Higher Education went to where the way taught "on the job". They may have not been brilliant jobs bit where full time and they earned a living.

If there are no jobs then placements either voluntary or compulsory will lead to young people having completed such a placement which they may well have enjoyed feeling rejected and exploited.And that is placements where you "May" be taught real skills in an office environment for instance .

How much training does it take to stack shelves at Tesco's?

Tuesday, 21 February 2012

Courting Plaid Supporters: Labour or Tory?

Since becoming freelance from ITV Gareth Hughes, has provided us with a insightful and entertaining Blog which is always worth viewing.

However and perhaps when you start from a position of praise there is always a however is latest piece on the  Welsh Labour Party conference  makes a I cannot see.

It is not so much is analysis of the conference itself but is assessment of Carwyn Jones overtures to Plaid Cymru supporters

Gareth goes on to make the claim that ..
The Tories started to eat into Plaid Cymru’s vote by targeting the more conservative Plaid. The strategy was greatly helped by Plaid Cymru trying to position itself as a left wing party. Whilst Plaid were trying to out left Labour the Tories were blatantly mopping up the some of Plaid’s more traditional conservative voters. Indeed they were so successful that at the last Assembly election Plaid were pushed into third place and Tories became the Official Opposition"
Where can he say Plaid tried to   "position itself as a left wing party"as opposed to previous Assembly elections? From  where I stood, this was the most centralist campaign Plaid had fought for decades  with only a few candidates taking a progressive left stand. The Party stood in the middle of the road and was run over by the Labour /Tories juggernauts

In my view Plaids campaign last year and its poor showing in the General Election of 2010 (In which the SNP also failed to live up to expectations) was partly due to a concentration on Westminster politics

However in the Assembly despite the vote on increased powers in the previous March in which they could have spent part of the build up working on law measures to put in their 2011 manifesto. Plaid offered very little to excite the welsh voters and suffered because they had been in  coalition with Labour for a good part of the previous Assembly  found in difficult to crticise the record of that  previous government.

(First past the post)
(Additional member system)
Total seats
Votes %+/−Seats+/−Votes %+/−Seats+/−Total+/− %
Plaid Cymru182,90719.3–3.15–2169,79917.9–3.16–211–418.3
Liberal Democrats100,25910.6–4.21–276,3498.0−3.74+15–18.3

(First past the post)
(Additional member system)
Total seats
Votes %+/−Seats+/−Votes %+/−Seats+/−Total+/− %
Plaid Cymru219,12122.4+1.27+2204,75721.0+2.38+115+325.0
Liberal Democrats144,45014.8+0.630114,50011.7−1.0306010.

In the election Plaid lost  36,214 votes . The Tories gained  18,658 Labour gained 86,752 and the Libdems  lost 44,191. I suspect the majority of the 18,658 Tory voters came from those who had not voted in the 2007 election.

In individual Constituencies  there might have been a few Tories who voted Plaid previous;y as an anti Labour vote  but even in the one where it might be suspected Plaid voters switched to the Tories the figures don't add up 
Assembly Election 2011: Aberconwy[1]
ConservativeJanet Finch-Saunders6,88834+3.6
Plaid CymruIwan Huws5,32126.2-12.3
LabourEifion Wyn Williams5,20625.7+3.9
Liberal DemocratsMike Priestley2,87314.2+4.9
Assembly Election 2007: Aberconwy
Plaid CymruGareth Jones7,98338.6
ConservativeDylan Jones-Evans6,29030.4
LabourDenise Idris Jones4,50821.8
Liberal DemocratsEuron Hughes1,9189.3
From this it could be argued Plaid voters switched more to Labour or the LibDems rather than the Tories . So whilst I can't totally discount Gareth Hughes argument I suspect that in reality only a few people who voted Plaid previously switched to the Tories in 2011and even then the their support was on lukewarm.

The majority  who switched went "Home to Labour" and this was because Labour with thier "Standing up for Wales" campaign slogan presented themselves as not only a Left of Centre  party as opposed to a right of centre Westminster coalition  government  bit also as "Party of Wales".

Even those who are on the right of the majority of Plaid supporters id  not largely subscribe to Thatchers vision and I suspect very few subscribe to Cameron@s and Nick Clegg's.

It will remain to be seen if Plaid can use Independence as their  Unique selling Point (USP) but I doubt if a move to the centre or right will gain many Tory Votes. The future lies in showing Labour voters that their values can be better severed by  a Welsh Parliament inCardif rather than a the Tories in Westminster

Sunday, 19 February 2012

I wouldn't go home if I was a Labour supporter.

The Sort of Homes you get if you "Go home to Labour"

In his speech to the the Welsh Labour conference First Minister Caewynb Jones, told the assembled delegates that voters had "come home to Labour" at last May's assembly election.

Well that's true enough. I saw the evidence in my own village of Beddau where in sharp  contrast to 2010 General Election there were plenty of evidence of support as I stated at the time.

But this was largely  a result of the election of a ConLib coalition government and this give impetus to those traditional voters to return to a Party in which they  had been disillusioned with after 13 years of a Labour Government that done little to address the problems of working class families even to the extent that they hardly used the term Working Class any more  and even when the ConLibs began their onslaught on the poorest in our society . Preferred  to concentrate on what the new UK leader called the "Squeezed middle classes".

And yet Labour was to exploit the fact that the Consevatives represented something akin to the 'ffydd Saeson' - 'faith of Saxons which the Welsh were to label the Anglican Church during the Reformation and this was part of the reason they did not  accept the protestant religion until they were able through Nonconformity to create their own form of Christianity.

But Labour stance in Wales is a false one.Its Welsh Identity is base on it not being 'ffydd Saeson' . But it does not mean that they have not  betrayed the people who have supported them so loyally foe nearly a centenary in Wales.

In address to the conference Carwyn Jones reached out to Plaid Cymru supporters, saying they "deserve better. In this he has a point . Plaid Supporters do deserve better but they do need to back a political party that in 13 years of Government at Westminster behaved like pale-blue Tories or 13 years of inactivity in the Welsh Assembly have adopted a Laissez-Faire approach to government and even when the Welsh electorate give them the powers to make even moderate law changes in Wales, cannot even use these. 

The failure of Plaid to work on this and harness the votes of those who feel betrayed by Labour and yet in Carwyn's terms came Home last May because they saw them as the alternative to the ConLibs has except for a few By-elections been one that Plaid major problems.

In this they may just have began to make a change. The election of Leanne Wood  as Plaid Leader next Month just be the spark that unites those who seel Independence and those who also look to a new progressivism yet radical change to approach to needs of all of Wales but in particular those who have been ignored by the major parties.  

In this National Left urges Plaid Members to vote for Leanne as the best option for the Party but the Nation.

Friday, 17 February 2012

Subordinate Central Spin on Council Tax doesn't hold up.

Good Old Subordinate Central  manage to witst the news once again on the announcemen of the council tax increase this year and  that Swansea, Caerphilly and Monmouthshire councils are the only authorities in Wales so far who plan to freeze council tax next year, with average increases set for a record low of 2.1% Subordinate Central  come up with the headline
"Welsh Lib Dem Councils keep Council Tax down"
Dispite the fact that they only lead a minority Council in one  those setting a Zero rate  Swansea have no councillors in Caerphilly and only 5 on Monmouth Councils.

For the record the rate reads as
Ceredigion Ind/LD/Lab, Blaenau Gwent Ind, Denbighshireind Ind/PC/Con/Lab, Flintshire Ind/LD/Con, Gwynedd Plaid ,Merthyr Tydfil Ind, Powys Ind Rhondda Cynon Taf Lab Torfaen Lab (minority)and Wrexham Ind/LD/Lab/Con councils want to raise their taxes by between 2.2% and 3.5%.

Carmarthenshire Ind / Labouncil is planning a 1.97% increase,Pembrokeshire Ind council has set its proposed rate at 1.7%, while Cardiff LD / Plaid council plans to impose a 1.44% increase.

Bridgend, Neath Port Talbot, and Vale of Glamorgan councils are yet to indicate their plans.

So the Libdem claims are a bit far fetched  despite Peter Blacks claims that...
“Careful financial planning and prudent spending by councils, especially Welsh Liberal Democrat-led councils, means that more money will be staying in Welsh people’s pockets during these difficult times.
“Welsh Liberal Democrat-led councils are keeping council tax increases low, and have consistently kept them low over the past four years, to help people out in difficult financial times.”
The only council to raise the council tax by 5% the caped rate is Anglesey  which as we all know is not facing elections this year.

Which despite all the talk from Plaid in Caerphilly or the Conservatives in Monmouth and of course the LibDems in Swansea of being prudent  Probably has more to do with the low rates this year.

With less than  Three Months to the May elections it would take a brave council to set the higher rate of Council Tax to 5% as Anglesey have.

But it is ridiculous for Peter Black to make such a claim since the  Libdems  are only in power in coalitions on Welsh Councils and are the majority group on these in only two Cardiff and Swansea and are not even  the largest group on the latter.

We are used to  the LibDems through Subordinate Central twisting the facts but this is misleading even by their standards.

Wednesday, 15 February 2012

What is fluency

The number of fluent Welsh speakers is falling by around 3,000 people a year, a new report suggests.

The Welsh Language Board (WLB) said deaths and people moving from Wales are having the biggest impact.

The report says that around 6,500 Welsh speakers die annually and 5,200 move away, out-pacing adult learners and children learning or raised in Welsh.

It found the number of people who say they speak Welsh fluently is approximately 300,000.

Clearly these figures are worrying .But it will be interesting when we get the results of the 2011 census, and look at comparison within Wales to see what the major changes are in the last ten years.

Where I suspect we will see a continued decline in those areas we know as Y Fro Cymraeg ,but increase in those areas which have been long Anglicised

But we need much more than the census results. We need a complete and through investigation into the state of Welsh in the whole of Wales and we need to make sure that we look at what we mean by the ability to speak Welsh.

Importantly: We need to ask .What do we need by fluent?

I'm a monoglot English speaker. But no one questions my fluency in English . Though some reading this Blog may question my literacy.

And yet I have met Welsh speakers who deny they are fluent despite speaking it on a regular basis but because they have not gone on to Higher Education believe they somehow  lack fluency and they dont speak "Proper Welsh".

Indeed watching the response to the 5,200 "fluent speakers" who move away it looked to me that they were basing this by mainly counting y those who have achieved an Higher Education and went on to further it . Indeed pursuit of this may be the reason they left.

But the future of the Language does not just lie with those gaining degrees and  working and then returning to Wales . It also lies with the shopkeeper in Ammanford ,the farmer in Tregaron, the factory worker in Blaenau Ffestiniog and the hotel worker in Holyhead.

Unless Welsh continues to be the language of ordinary working  people even if they don't speak it in the fluency of a senior member of the Gorsedd then the language will die

It must dot become or be seen  to be the Language of an Educated elite .where they are measured in their "fluency" though their fluency in English is taken for granted.

And that means the Welsh Government must seek to improve the daily use of the Welsh Language and promote Wales as a Bilingual country. In which fluency in Welsh is counted on the same level as fluency in English and every effort of our Schools are made to improve both.

This does not mean I dismiss the figures or fluency . Indeed if we take the 5,200 figure of fluent speakers leaving Wales to mean the better educated and extrapolate it to include those who are monoglot English speakers it means that something like 26,000 of our most talented people are leaving Wales every year and do not return.

We must seek to retain these no matter what language they speak.

Indeed the challenge for the future of the Welsh Language is the same for the whole of Wales . We need to create work for all and rebuild our communities and create the sort of Wales where the Son of Daughter of the shopkeeper in Ammanford ,the farmer in Tregaron, the factory worker in Blaenau Ffestiniog and the hotel worker in Holyhead can look to the future in their communities even if they temporarily leave  to attend further education,

Sunday, 12 February 2012

Religions have no right to dictate how our councils conduct meetings.

A row has blown up over the practise of having prayers at the start of council meetings. 

A former  Bidford Councillor says he is not surprised the High Court ruled against the Town Council for including prayers in the agenda for its meetings.
Clive Bone former councillor in  said he found "people didn't want to stand for the council" because of the inclusion of the prayers.
He said the National Secular Council's case against the council had "nothing to do with intolerance towards religion.
"Religious freedom is an absolute right, and so is freedom from religion."

Of course there has been a outcry from some quarters including communities secretary Eric Pickles.

Pickles said:

"While welcoming and respecting fellow British citizens who belong to other faiths, we are a Christian country, with an established church governed by the Queen."Christianity plays an important part in the culture, heritage and fabric of our nation. Public authorities – be it parliament or a parish council – should have the right to say prayers before meetings if they wish. The right to worship is a fundamental and hard-fought British liberty.
So Pickles for Christian prayers and I suspect much of the arguments for seems to be based more on a cultural basis than a religious one.

I can't call myself a Atheist because I believe that there is a possibility of a Creator or even Creators but cannot call myself an Agnostic really because that covers such a area from

I pretty sure there is no God 


There is a God but I don't know his Nature and neither do you?

So basically I'm just an open sceptic.However I am not a Christian even if my culture is one . When attending Funerals or Weddings the only time I enter a church ,. I do not join in the prayers. But enthusiastically join in the Hymns such as Calon Lan Cwm Rhondda and ny favorite Arglwydd Dyma fi. and Carys Mathews shows why below

But in our Legislatures  from English Parish Council (and the name says all) and Welsh Community Councils. To our Assembly and the two Houses at Westminster. The idea of raising one of belief over others is wrong and undemocratic and as Pickles admits has more to do with a English cultural Nationalism than any religious belief.

P.S. In the USA even though there should be separation of church and State religion still plays a prominent part and it is telling that a campaign by Mormon Mitt Romney is taken seriously. Whilst no Non-believer would ever have a chance at the Presidential Nomination of the Democrats or Republicans.

However perhaps in
te context of this I should mention the response of Edward Everett Hale (April 3, 1822 – June 10, 1909) was an American author, historian and Unitarian clergyman. who was was Chaplain of the United States Senate from 1903-0906 . Who when asked.

 “Do you pray for the senators?”

He quickly replied, 

No. After getting to know the senators, I pray for the people.

Friday, 10 February 2012

Awema. Still questions?

So at last the Welsh Government has acted over the scandal over Wale's foremost charity for ethnic minorities with the announcement by Equalities Minister Jane Hutt that funding had been terminated with immediate effect,

The decision coincides with the publication of an internal audit report carried out into the body by the Welsh Government, in conjunction with the Big Lottery Fund.

According to the statement..

"It was recognised from the outset that allegations that individuals had committed potentially criminal activity, or potentially affecting Awema’s charitable status, were matters that should be drawn to the attention of South Wales Police and the Charity Commission.
"Liaison with them has continued throughout the Welsh Government’s investigation process."
"The investigation has identified significant and fundamental failures in the control and governance framework within Awema:
* Governance arrangements in relation to management and to the Awema Management Board of Trustees;
* Financial controls and processes;
* An absence of key policies and procedures; and
* An organisational structure that does not adequately support the operations of Awema."

The Question we should now ask is. Why has this taken so long to be resolved with the effective closure of Awema?

The scandal first emerged when it was disclosed by the Western Mail that Naz Malik, chief executive of Awema (the All Wales Ethnic Minority Association) had been given a written warning after admitting using £9,340.36 of the body’s money to clear his credit card debt.

Most people wondered why he wasn't given the option of immediately  resigning or being dismissed.

Tthe acting chairman of Awema, Mr PK Verma, resigned, together with two other trustees.

In a letter to a senior Welsh Government official, Mr Verma, who has since died, alleged that attempts by him to call a special meeting of Awema’s trustees had been thwarted. He had wanted the meeting to discuss “the remuneration of the director [Naz Malik], in particular the authorisation of salary and pension increases that had never been before the board” as well as “the management and supervision of the director”.

Explaining why he and two other trustees were resigning, Mr Verma wrote: “... we have all come to the conclusion that it may be better to resign and leave the Assembly to sort out what is a most unsatisfactory situation.”

On July 13, the Welsh Government officially responded to Mr Verma, stating: “These are essentially internal operational matters and ones for you and the board to resolve.

Naz Mlik  position obviously had nothing to do with him being a prominent Labour Supporter and Mr Malik's son Gwion Iqbal Malik stood on Labour's Mid and West Wales regional list at last May's assembly elections

This failure to take any real action promted more interst in what was happening at Awema which

Current Awema Chair Rita Austin (a former Cardiff Labour Counxillor) Rita Austin defended Awema, saying it had become a "stick to beat the Welsh Government"She claimed that..
"The glee with which the press and TV convey the partisan attacks of opposition politicians is catching Awema in its backwash, creating the unedifying spectacle of a concerted attempt by powerful institutions to characterise Awema as a corrupt organisation: a time honoured way of debasing and devaluing the contributions of black and minority ethnic people, often on the basis of scant evidence, which is well known to many of us."
She adds: "It is as though the great, the good and the powerful have already rushed to judgement and made their minds up about what should happen to Awema, long before the Welsh government internal audit, with which we have been co-operating fully, has reported.

This dispite the fact that

THE Welsh Government was advised to stop funding the charity at the centre of financial management allegations as long ago as 2004 The document, obtained by the Liberal Democrats, in which a report into theAwema) recommended that no further funding should be provided for new projects until it could prove it had overhauled its project and performance management.

There may be some racial motivations in some of those commenting on the problems at Awema but it does seem to me that sensitivity over allegations of racism prevented the action that should have ben taken over 8 years ago and a charity that should have provided a valuable service would not have brought to such an inglorious end.

We need to investigate why action on the advice in 2004 was not taken and to what extent relationships with the ruling Labour part in Wales affected this

Hopefully a new charitable organisations will be formed to carry out the sort of remit that Awema should have done but as with other charitable organisations which may also need careful auditing of their structure. Lets hope it will sever the people and not those working for it.

Monday, 6 February 2012

Simon Thomas "Queen-maker"

Simon Thomas has bowed to the inevitable and withdrawn from the contest for the leadership of Plaid Cymru and now hass put his backing behind Elin Jones on a joint Ticket where he will seek to become her deputy..

He had been seen to have gathered little support for his campaign in statement he said ..
"One thing is for certain, Plaid Cymru will not achieve government or electoral success by playing Fisher Price politics with people’s hopes and dreams.

“Both Elin and I offer such a vision. I believe that by combining our experience, talents and different types of appeal we can work together to give the party the kind of direction and leadership it clearly needs.

“Elin has succeeded in gaining considerable support. I congratulate her on that, and today I announce that I will withdraw my candidacy in order to support her has her deputy on a joint ticket. I ask the party now to trust the next credible generation of Plaid politicians to take us forward under Elin’s leadership."

The  "Fisher Price" line  seems to be  an unveiled attack on front runner Leanne Wood  and one can see it as  compliment  to Leanne that he at least recognises that she is gathering support.

On the face of it this will strengthen Elin Jones candidature . But I'm not so sure.

It is unlikely Thomas had a large number of votes and maybe even the small number committed to him will not transfer directly to Elin Jones though it may attract some undecided.

But will  the joint ticket of two AM both with base in Ceredigion appeal to the majority of Party Members?

The idea of a joint ticket usually involves a balance of Geography or Ideology . The idea that the leadership should be concentrated in even West Wales might make those from outside think twice.

This  might be a "Stop Leanne" movement but it may also gavanalise those who have committed to her .

Simon Thomas may be seeing himself as "Queen-maker"  but he might just have added a bit momentum to his choice  but adding even more to the one he seems to be trying to prevent.

Friday, 3 February 2012

"Mr" Goodwin but still "Lord" Hanningfield

Quite frankly I find it absurd that in the 21st century we still have a system that sees people being knighted and therefore we lesser mortals should be obliged to call them Sir or Dame and as far Peers here's some of the spoken addresses you are supposed to use with them.

Duke -Your Grave (formal Duke (social).

Marquess -My Lord (formal) Lord (social).

Earl-My Lord (formal) Lord Social.

And that's just when you speak to them it even more complex addressing an envelope.

As far as I know Fred Goodwin committed no crime and he wasn't individuality responsible for the financial crisis . But then he wasn't individually for the supposed success that led to his knighthood.

Still to deprive him of a his knighthood when there are still Members of the House of Lords who have been imprisoned seems petty and has the hallmark of a government trying to switch blame from them by finding a convenient scapegoat.

This when we consider in the House of Lords are peers who were awarded their ermine robes for financial or political services, who are as culpable as Mr Goodwin.The Tories used to hand out knighthoods to their MP's from the English Shires on a regular basis irrespective of any real contribution they made,

And there are handful of peers who have served time in jail, including Lord Archer, the millionaire author who was jailed for perjury in 2001. The Tory lord served half of his four-year sentence.

Two further Tory peers, Lords Hanningfield and Taylor, were both jailed for expenses fraud but have not lost their right to sit in the upper chamber.

If he hadn't Hanningford (Real Name Paul White) at on the Conservative side on Essex County Council stood down in May 2011 White imprisoned in July of that year would presumably have been expelled from the council..

Conrad Black, the former press baron currently in jail for fraud, also remains a peer.

These are life Peers and can in theory still turn up and vote in the Lords . Where a jailed MP would have almost immediately been expelled from the commons.

Furthermore although the majority of Hereditary Peers no longer sit in the Second Chamber . They will still be allowed their titles no matter what crimes they committed.

Lord Brocket, was convicted of insurance fraud in 1996 and sentenced to five years in prison, of which he served two and a half years

Apparently his his autobiography is entitled Call Me Charlie perhaps he at least got that right

Presumably if Lord Lucan British peer, who disappeared in the early hours of 8 November 1974, following the murder of Sandra Rivett, his children's nanny, the previous evening. had been found guilty and had served say 20 years of a life sentence and then released could have entered the second chamber a few weeks later and voted.

What we need to is abolish all Hereditary titles Mo Lords,Ladies Sirs or Dames . The very idea that we should carry on with this ridiculous system is ridiculous in a modern democracy of equals.

Wednesday, 1 February 2012

Andrew Lansley first among equals?

Andrew Lansley has unwittingly shown what the problem with the current devolution settlement.

A leaked memo shows that he has written to the Welsh Government to complain he only found out about the its policy of removing and replacing faulty PIP breast implants through the media. 

Now he has a point to make because there us a memorandum of understanding which calls on the different governments to

* to alert each other as soon as practicable to relevant developments within their areas of responsibility, wherever possible, prior to publication;

* to give appropriate consideration to the views of the other administrations; and to establish where appropriate arrangements that allow for policies for which responsibility is shared to be drawn up and developed jointly between the administrations.

But Lansley seems to think that he is "first among equals "and that he is not just the English equivalent of those running Health in Wales, Northern Ireland and Scotland but somewhat superior to the others.

But I suspect Lansley believes the memorandum means Ministers in the devolved governments should contact him not the other way around. and they shouldn't contact each other either.

The Welsh Government has said the English Health Secretary is “arrogant and patronising” after he demanded to be notified in advance of policies in Wales.

Indeed if Lansley was so concerned about the actions of  Welsh Minister for Health and Social Services Lesley Griffiths in not complying with he memorandum,. Why didn't he seek to get a joint statement from his Northern Ireland and Scottish counterparts.

If they had done so I don't think there would be any argument.

Doesn't this show that he still thinks of himself of being in charge of health for the whole of the UK with subordinate Ministers in the devolved nations.

Perhaps Lesley Griffiths can tell us if Lansley has written to her saying why he has not decided to replace all the faulty PIP implants in England?

Communication works both ways and I suspect Lansley like most Westminster Government Ministers think it should only come from diktats from them.

P.S. It seems Peter Black is backing Lansley over this can it be more to do with his irrevocable move to the Tories than a real concern that the Welsh Government had not behaved correctly