Saturday, 30 June 2012

Henry Richard a man of principle.

I have just finished reading Gwyn Griffiths 's biography of Henry Richard (. Arguably the first MP to represent Wales as a Nation in the House of Commons .

A well researched and argued book I would recommend you all to read this. I had always hoped that Ieuan Gwynedd Jones would have written Richard's Biography but this while it may lack Profesor Jones lively style. It is an excellent account of Richard's life and beliefs.

Born in n 1812 in Tregaron, Ceredigion, and educated initially at Llangeitho grammar school, Henry Richard attended college at Highbury, near London, to obtain qualifications for the ministry switching from his Minister fathers Calvinistic Methodist to the more open Congregationalist.

Although a highly successful minister at the t Marlborough Chapel, a Congregational chapel in the Old Kent Road London for some 15 years . He resigned in 1850 to devote himself full time as secretary to the Peace Society, a post he had undertaken two years earlier on a part-time basis. He helped organize a series of congresses in the capitals of Europe, and was partly instrumental in securing the insertion of a declaration in favour of arbitration in the treaty of Paris in 1856. Through this work he became universally known in Europe and the United States until his resignation in 1885.

In this role ,when the British Empire was at the height of its aggressive powers. He opposed British military adventures in the Crimea, Egypt, Afghanistan, South Africa, China and Burma and constantly advocated a system of arbitration to settle disputes between countries.

His pacifism also saw him although a committed abolitionist ,opposing the American Civil War a conflict he argued was not started to free the Slaves anyway. Arguing that the people of the Northmen States "Hated the Black man as much as those in the South".

But its not only his tireless and principled stand on the issue of peace that Henry Richard should be remembered..for. His outspoken criticism of Brad y Llyfrau Gleision . (The Treachery of the Blue Books) in which a reports of the commissioners of enquiry into the state of education in Wales published in 1847 attacked the Welsh.culture and Langage brought this London based Welshman to prominence in his own country

The public inquiry was carried out as a result of pressure from William Williams, Radical MP for Coventry, who was himself a Welshman by birth and was concerned about the state of education in Wales. The enquiry was carried out by three English commissioners, R. R. W. Lingen, Jellynger C. Symons and H. R. Vaughan Johnson. The commissioners visited every part of Wales during 1846, collecting evidence and statistics. However, they spoke no Welsh and relied on information from witnesses, many of them Anglican clergymen at a time when Wales was a stronghold of Nonconformism.

Their report was detailed. It concluded that schools in Wales were extremely inadequate, often with teachers speaking only English and using only English text-books in areas where the children spoke only Welsh, and that Welsh-speakers had to rely on the Non-conformist Sunday Schools to acquire literacy. But it also concluded that the Welsh were ignorant, lazy and immoral, and that among the causes of this were the use of the Welsh language and nonconformity.

As a leading Nonconformist Richards was one of the leading critics of the report pointing out that Griffith Jones circulating Schools had creatates country with a literate population with a deep knowledge of the Christian scriptures. defended the Welsh people and Language against what was an outrage slur on their character.He went on to play an active in the development Welsh education. qhere he He opposed sectarian schools and the teaching of religion in schools, especially when funded from the public purse.

In 1868 he was elected one of the Two MP for Merthyr where he never bowed to popular suport for "John Bulls" Wars and constantly spoke out with well researched argument about Britains Gun boat and jingoistic diplomacy of the Day.He remained a MP for 20 Years  untill his death in 1888.

It would be wrong to call Henry Richards a Proto Nationalist but he was the first MP to represent Wales as a Nation though it was not untill the end of his Political carrer that we saw the Likes of Tom Ellis that we saw the development of modern Weslh Poltician.

A Principled politician (how many are there today?) who spoke for Intenational Peace but also for the rights of his own people . Henry Richard desevers to be celebrated throughout Wales and I am grateful to Gwyn Groffith for making a major contribution to this.

Henry Richard, Apostle of Peace and Welsh Patriot
by Gwyn Griffiths (Francis Bootle Publishers).

Soft cover, 354 pages with 16 illustrations in black and white
ISBN 978 1 903427 33

Friday, 29 June 2012

Its Republicans who are grown up.

DET has waded in to the controvosoy over Bethan Jenkins alleged Twitter faux pas.

Speaking on BBC Wales' CF99 programme, former assembly presiding officer Lord Elis-Thomas said:
 "I'm not going to mention anyone specifically, but I think it's about time that we all grow up in our politics, and I think it's time for Welsh republicans to be at least as polite and sensible politically as Sinn Fein republicans.
"It's a very strange situation when Sinn Fein's policy on the unity of Ireland, and how that may happen, and their policy on the monarchy appears more reasonable than the attitude of some people in the nationalist movement in Wales."
But what attitude should Nationlist take? The problem is (as DET knows) that for those of us who find the very idea of a hereditary head of State  incredulous and even more so if it is claimed to be there by the will of God we have little chance to express it..

What can you do? 

You can't express it in the Westminster Parliaments.
You apparently can't express it by refusing  an invitation to attend a service in Cardiff to mark the start of the Queen's Diamond Jubilee tour of Wales
If you protest in a manner that you would against any undemocratic institution . You will be either ignored ny the media ,or criticized and ridiculed .
If you are one of the 20% of the UK population who are opposed th the monarchy and especially if you are a politician.Unless you speak out your silence or your "politeness" in meeting the Queen when seemingly required  is seen as given Tacit support for the monarchy.

The whole of the mass media hardly ever questions whether we need a Monarchy or not. Or indeed if we should have an elected Head of State despite a substantial percentage of the population believing so. And if you make the slightest stand  you are vilified or at the least misrepresented.

What kind of democracy is it that leads Politicians to ignore their beliefs and kowtow to the House of Windsor for fear of being vilified by the UK media and misrepresented by opposition Parties some of whom have equally committed republiocans among them).

This does not mean that anyone who is in a place of Public authority who is a Republican should not meet the Queen and shake her hand .

But it does mean that they should not be seen as celebrating that Institution and their politeness seen as support for it.

Why you may ask is a Politician refusing to take part in the pomp and ceremony designed to enhance a system they are seen as infantile posturing whilst those bowing and scraping seen as grown up.

If Bethan Jenkins is "a pointless gesture politician whose immaturity  is bad for the party and makes her and her leader look unready for any kind of office. as one  Annonymous comentator made on my previous post on this (Here). Does this not equally apply to the likes of DET.

Thursday, 28 June 2012

Another crap attempt to reform House of Lords.

The Bill to reform the House of Lords has been introduced, but it seems likely that it is domed to failure. With about 100 Tories threatening to oppose the blil its possible that it wil not even make it past the first reading.and Labour unlikely to back it.

The old saying that a camel is a horse designed by a committee seems to be appropriate here.

I have copied this information from Wikepedia (in Blue)

Membership of the House of Lords

Part I of the bill provides for the composition of the reformed House. The House will comprise elected members, appointed members, bishops ([[Lords Spiritual), and up to eight additional "ministerial members" appointed to serve as Ministers of the Crown. The provisions will be phased in over 10 years. After the 2015 election, but before the 2020 election, the membership will be as follows:
  • 120 elected members
  • 30 appointed members
  • up to 21 bishops
  • up to eight ministerial members
  • a number of transitional members equal to two-thirds the membership of the House on 27 June 2012.
Following the 2020 election, the number of elected and appointed members will increase to 240 and 60, respectively; the number of bishops will fall to 16; and the number of transitional members will be reduced by half. At the 2025 election, the House will comprise 360 elected members, 90 appointed members, up to 12 bishops, and up to eight additional "ministerial members" appointed to serve as Ministers of the Crown; the last of the transitional members will depart

Only 240 elected members directly? This seems to pitifully small and why will we Bishops still sitting the Chambers . How many practising Anglicans are there still in the U?. I suspect that there are more  Muslims attending  a religious service on a regular basis than Anglicans in the UK. Why are they still be given preferential treatment and even only English Bishops at that.

Elected Members

Elected members will serve three "electoral periods", effectively 15-year terms. Elections to the reformed House will be called for the same day as the Next United Kingdom general election unless that election earlier than 7 May 2015, in which case they would coincide with the first election after 7 May 2015. At each Commons election (unless it is called early), one-third (120) seats will be up for election.

The voting system is set out in Part 2 and Schedule 3 of the bill. It provides for an open list system, allowing voters to choose a party or an individual, in Scotland, Wales, and England (which will be divided into regions as is done in European Parliament elections). Northern Ireland will use the Single Transferable Vote.

In the case of a casual vacancy, an interim replacement will generally fill the seat until the next House of Lords election. In Northern Ireland, the party the member belong to at his or her election will nominate an interim member. If the member did not belong to a registered party, the seat would remain vacant. In the rest of the UK, the next person available to be selected on the party list the vacating member was elected from will become the interim replacement. If there is no one left on the list or the person did not belong to a registered party, the next person who would have been elected and still wants to join the House of Lords will be the replacement member.

So again a different electoral system for Northern Ireland with a a list system on the same basis as that of election for the European Parliament. There are 12 UK constituencies in the EU Parliament ( Including Northern Ireland ) for 72 seats. 

From a Welsh Point of view this would see Wales eventually  having about 12/13 seats in the reformed chamber.

The plan is to pay the members £40000 a year plus expenses and it seems likely that most members will either see this as part time, be retired or both..I have nothing against, even encourage people over 65 to take part but do we want a second camber consisting mainly of retired people?

Given that the UK  parliament has only to look at Australia which has a lower House based on our own and a Senate which has 76 members elected by STV compared with the House of representatives which has 150 members elected by First Past the Post . 

It would be a simple measure to look at the Australian bill which established this and simply adapt it to a UK parliament.

Of course you cant expect our UK legislators to admit that a former colony has it right or to keep reform simple and democratic.

Just like the AV bill this seems designed to fail and unless Labour suddenly realise that an entirely elected chamber is the only option and do it immediately they are back in government.We will be  probably be faced with this affront to democracy for the next decades. 

But given that they had every opportunity for them to do so between 1997 and 2010 don't expect much change.

Wednesday, 27 June 2012

Burning Bethan.

Is it just me or is there something over the top with regards Plaid Cymru AM Bethan Jenkins, decision to abandon Twitter after facing strong criticism over her description of Northern Ireland’s Deputy First Minister as “naive” for agreeing to meet the Queen.

My take on her "Naive" twitter post  of Martin McGuinness was that he was naive in not thinking the UK media will portray this not so much as the triumph of the peace process rather as a triumph for the monarchy .And so it has turned out. A perfectly legitimate analysis right or wrong.

However as many commentators have pointed out . It is unlikely that McGuiness  a canny politician if ever was one had not worked out the full implication of his and Sinn Fein decision in meeting the Queen of England and decided that they should do so

Whatever the reason for Bethan's Twitter remarkn. Surely the reaction of Labour and The Western Mule (usually the same thing these days) seem well over the top. . The Western Mule  reports  Vernon Coaker, Labour’s Shadow Northern Ireland Secretary as saying
 “These remarks are dangerous and irresponsible. The language used by Plaid Cymru about Martin McGuinness is almost identical to that of dissident republicans who oppose the peace process.“Plaid Cymru should apologise unreservedly for these comments and state clearly their support for the peace process and opposition to those who seek to destroy it.”
Is the Peace protest in such a perilous state that it can be undermined by few words  by a young Welsh AM on Twitter?

All this has done is the danger of posting on Twitter or Facebook comments or sound-bights that you are not really able to clarify in a short number of words. Leaving you to Misinterpenetration  or ridicule.

Bethan Jenkins is wise to abandon Twitter but then should all politicians as it clearly opens you up to attack.

What surprise me is the lack of support or at least sympathy for Bethan.

Never having met her I can't speak for her character but she seems to have ruffled feathers not only  with the my fellow bloggers and the media but within Plaid. Is it me or is there something more here.

There does seem a campaign against Bethan Jenkins from establishment and some anti-establishment quarters . as shown in the news that she had missed a few meetings on a Assembly delegation to Dublin It tends to make me warm to her.

Tuesday, 26 June 2012

Alistair Darling prefers the Tories to run Scotland.

The Better Together campaign to save the United Kingdom was launched in a lecture theatre in Scotland's capital yesterday 

Campaign leader Alistair Darling, a Scottish Labour MP and former Chancellor of the Exchequer,  made what he describes as "the positive case" for keeping Scotland in the UK.

Darling who was a pretty awful Chancellor though compared with the current one he does look at least barley competent said
"Those of us who believe that it is best for Scotland to be part of the UK, from whatever political views, have a duty now to work in harmony to argue for the better, stronger choice. This is a campaign that will make sure that the patriotism of the quiet majority to be heard alongside the voices of the committed view. We share a common platform on this single issue because, along with so many of our fellow Scots, we believe that a better future for ourselves and our children is as a partner in the United Kingdom."
This given on  the same time when David Cameron the UK Prime Minister and leader of a Party that had one MP out of 59 in Scotland, ditched the Caring Conservative image that he has cultivated since becoming Tory Leader and went back  to  the Nasty Party. Announcing  plans to slash the welfare budget by cutting benefit to under 25's and setting a agenda of blaming  the poor for the current financial crisis  that his party will fight under in the next General Election.

So if even if the lone Scottish Tory  was to lose its seat in the next UK General Election  Scotland could easily find itself run by Tories nearly all who have been elected for English constituencies. Some Partnership.

Alexander,  since "The Better Together" campaign consists of Labour, LibDem and Tory Unionist . is arguing that even if the Scottish electorate reject completely the values of Cameron Tories .its still better for them to be part of the Union.

It reminds me of the sort of argument that a abused member of  a family should remain with his abusers because they are better together as a family..

Given the choice of a Progressive Left of Centre Scotland  or  right of centre UK run by English Tories , who are intent on dismantling the Welfare State Alastair Darling, would clearly chose the latter.

Why. In the vain hope he will be Chancellor again?

Darling campaign is also based on relying on the Scottish people keep the Status Quo he stated that.
A vote for independence is like buying Scotland's children a one-way ticket to ncertainty.

Well he may have a point on there will be no going back on Independence  But can any Unionist tell me of any Nation receiving Independence regretting it and expressing a view that they should return to the control of their former masters?

Monday, 25 June 2012

Three Government Priorities?

The above images show .

A nuclear Submarine Defence Secretary Philip Hammond insists the final decision on Trident had not been made as he confirmed a £1 billion contract for reactors to power the next generation of Britain's nuclear submarines even though the ConLib government have not agreed to "like-for-like" replacement for Trident. But  with Conservatives committed to a full renewal of the UK's fleet of four Vanguard-class submarines by 2028with the LibDems seemingly opposed.

A Homeless Teenager with the news that Cameron is government is seeking to slash Housing benefit for under-25s and benefits for lone parents targeting the current 210,000 people aged 16 to 24 who are social housing tenants, although it is not clear if all of them will be single. He says the measure could save £1bn, but will not apply to victims of domestic violence.

The government has already capped housing benefit for anyone aged under 35 renting from a private landlord, so the maximum is the same as renting a single room in a shared house. The government is forecasting that housing benefit expenditure will peak in 2012/13 at £23.2bn, before falling back to £21.4bn in 2016/17.

But ministers have signalled that they are looking for a further £10bn in welfare cuts, mainly after the next election.

Jimmy Carr with LibDem Danny Alexander, the chief secretary to the Treasury, commenting on the row about tax avoidance as the Jimmy Carr scheme was involved in claiming an ordinary person's tax bill could be reduced by 2p in the pound if avoidance, or the tax gap, could be reduced by a quarter.

So we have a Nuclear weapon system that the government has already committed Billions on reactors presumably safe in the knowledge that if even if the LibDems have the courage to defy them they can probably rely on Labour unless the former are opportunist to back them.

An attack on the most vulnerable members of the of our communities guaranteed to increase Homelessness and placings these young people in danger of being brought into crime and prostitution.

Harsh words about Tax avoidance which will see some attempt to paper over the cracks . Possibly making it harder for celebrities to avoid paying some of their Taxes but certainly nothing on companies like Vodafone who avoid billions in taxes.

In all three examples we know what the Tories want to do and based on Labours past record they might well want them to do it  this whilst crying crocadile tears.Because they would have done the same if they had won the last General Election.

But how can the LibDems carry on supporting the first two and the failure to act on the third. They should surely relapse that if they carry on like this they will cease to be a Party of any significance by the next generations. Its time for Nick Clegg to show some guts and call an end to this despicable government.

Sunday, 24 June 2012

Adam Price quits main stream politics? ( I thought he had)

News in the Western Mule that former Plaid Cymru MP Adam Price, is intent on building a business career and may not stand for the National Assembly in four years, hardly comes as a surprise 

According to the Mule, Price stated that...

Iremember being in a taxi towards the end of my time in Parliament and reflecting on what I had achieved as an MP. I think I was a good opposition MP [he was applauded for exposing Tony Blair’s intervention on behalf of Labour donor Lakshmi Mittal, whose business interests rivalled the Welsh steel industry, and for seeking to impeach Blair over the invasion of Iraq].

“But I feel a need to achieve something positive that will hopefully change Wales for the better.

“I’m not saying that I’m turning my back on the idea of public service – I believe politicians can make a difference and that democratic institutions are vital. But they are not the the be all and end all, and there are other ways to make a contribution.”

“But I feel a need to achieve something positive that will hopefully change Wales for the better.
“I’m not saying that I’m turning my back on the idea of public service – I believe politicians can make a difference and that democratic institutions are vital. But they are not the the be all and end all, and there are other ways to make a contribution.”

The Mule, lists a number business options that Price has in the pipeline.and that this could mean that he will not be available to stand for the Assembly elections in four years time.

Apart from the fact that Adam Price needs to find some employment to match his abilities over the next four years what other option has he?

True, he had been do
ing some paid policy and strategy work for the party at the invitation of its leader Leanne Wood and chief executive Rhuanedd Richards. But that probably not enough to keep him financially and mentally solvent  and he would have to be pretty certain of winning a seat to continue in such a role.

I imagine a number of Plaid members will be disappointed in this news. But lets face it if Plaids future is based on getting one man into the assembly then its in a very poor position and certainly Plaid do not need Leanne Wood to be seen as a caretaker leader,preparing the party for the return of the P(r)ince over the water.

Who know where Wales be in 4 years time? If Scotland votes Yes on Independence or even if there a substantial minority vote. Then we will seem a major game change.

Whatever happens Scotland will undoubtedly get more powers and Plaid should be demanding parity as well as providing measures on the Welsh Economy to counter the Con/Lib attacks and Labours lethargy.Not looking to someone to return and lead them to a bright new future.

The trouble with waiting for a saviour is that the one who turns up may be an impostor or fallible  or he or she will never appear. .

Saturday, 23 June 2012

Where have all the Bloggers gone?

Recently there have been an increase in the numbers viewing this Blog.

I would like to think more people have decided that National Left is a erudite contribution yo the debate in Wales and beyond with people logging on thinking "What has glynbeddau on National Left have to say today.

Unfortunately the true reason for people turning to my rantings is that the number of Bloggers on Wales have fallen sharply over the last two years.  Some like Plaid Panteg and Dib lemmings have ceased altogether and others like Pendroni make only the occasional contribution . Whilst a number have become less frequent.though still make important  contributions.

It could be that we are between elections and only the local government elections have been there to stimulate us. Meaning those who are promoting a particular Party line think that other media are more important.

But its worrying . We need lots of different and regular contributions to stimulate the Welsh political scene.

It is sad therefore that Welsh Ramblings has pronounced that they are ceasing Blogging .

This will lead a big gap in the Welsh Blogging community an we desperately need it filled.

So we need some new Bloggers. If you know of any more Bloggers on  Welsh Politics and beyond let me know and I'll include them on list.

I would rather be a small fish in a big pond . Than a bigfish in a small pond that contributes nothing of importance.

Friday, 22 June 2012

"We don't pay taxes. Only the little people pay taxes..."

Was the words associated to Leona Mindy Roberts Helmsley American businesswoman and real estate entrepreneur. She was a flamboyant personality and had a reputation for tyrannical behaviour that earned her the nickname Queen of Mean.

Following allegations by unpaid contractors that work done on her home had been charged to her company, she was investigated and convicted of federal income tax evasion and other crimes in 1989. Although having initially received a sentence of 16 years, Helmsley was required to serve only 19 months in prison and two months under house arrest. Helmsley's fate was sealed when a former housekeeper testified during the trial that she had heard Helmsley say: "We don't pay taxes. Only the little people pay taxes...", a saying that became notorious and was identified with her for the rest of her life.

But it seems that this belief seems to be everywhere. From Comedian Jimmy Carr to Singer Garry Barlow and Tory Backers Philip Green Lord Ashcroft..

The latest outrage was when it was disclosed when it was disclosed that comedian Jimmy Carr was amongst a number of celebrities to legally avoid paying their Tax due

The prime minister struck a populist note over the issue during a round of television interviews in Mexico on Wednesday, saying the comedian's investments appeared to be "very dodgy" Carr swiftly became a hate figuer.

However he was hesitant to condemn others who unlike Carr are associated with the Tory party ,

Mr Cameron's rhetoric has drawn accusations of hypocrisy from Labour. Just before the general election it emerged that Lord Ashcroft, a Tory donor and former deputy chairman, had enjoyed "non-dom" tax status, and so did not pay UK tax on overseas earnings.and he failed to include Gary Barlow in his criticism saying it was a different case.

Yesterday the Prime Minister said he would no longer be giving a ‘running commentary’ on the tax affairs of the wealthy, adding that his outspoken criticism of Carr on Wednesday had been an ‘exception’.

So it seems that Cameron has amended  the saying 
'There's one Law for the Rich and another for the poor' to add  'but only if the rich are Tories".

Cameron has achieved a remarkable feet in making Tax dodger Jimmy Carr a seeming victim criticized not because he has been avoiding Tax but because he's not a Tory. 

Why was Carr singled out on this in any case?

Carr is said to have used an aggressive, legal, tax-avoidance scheme which enables members to pay income tax rates as low as 1%.

The comic, who has famously lampooned fat cat bankers, reportedly protects some £3.3m a year by channelling cash through Jersey-based company K2.
Carr is said to be one of more than 1,000 beneficiaries who shelter some £168m from the taxman each year using K2. HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) said the K2 scheme was already under investigation.
So why Carr out of these Thousands?

Lets face it all the establishment whether in Politics, Finance, Show business,Sport or the media have accountants only to eager to show them how to avoid paying Tax .
As my late father would have said "They are all at it".
We have hundreds of Civil servants wh should be working on this why haven't thay worked out . How to close these loopholes?
Of course a lot end up once leaving the Civil service  becoming gamekeepers turned poachers advising people on the loopholes they ahd failed to close when working for HMRC.
If we closed these lopholes then we could probably pay for many of the services cut by the ConLobdem government and reverse the attack on the power whose only option for advise is the over stretched Citizens Advice Bureau.

But then Carr, Barlow  Cameron and the others don't have any reall interest on the little people

Thursday, 21 June 2012

DET: I'm not leaving.

Dafydd Elis Thomas, has denied rumours that he is going to defect to Labour saying

........ now, looking back, One Wales seems like the exception that proves the rule, that we have a party that prefers opposition, that has not adjusted to the realities of devolution and the responsibilities of government.”

Asked if he could see any possible situation if, by the end of the current Assembly term, he would no longer be sitting as a Plaid AM, he said: “I have been elected as a Plaid Cymru member – selected, more importantly, by the Plaid Cymru party in Dwyfor Meirionnydd.

“I am entirely happy with them as I believe they are with me, that’s why they asked me to stand for the party leadership, and the positions I’ve taken in public since then have been positions that I discuss with them every month at our meetings.

Apart from the successful referendum campaign did the One Wales agreement achieve that much .

Hadn't it simply continued in the same way as the Assembly had done managing the pocket Money the Westminster government had given them.?

Would Plaid joining a coalition with Labour make any radical change and shake the latter out of its lethargy or would we see it flexing its muscles and start taking a radical approach to its new powers  and the Welsh economy.

I doubt it there would be a few concessions and although for  few months where Plaid ministers would appear to take the lead as happened to both Plaid and LibDems in their Assembly coalitions with Labour. Plaid will very soon be reduced to junior partner status and lethargy once more the order of the day. Though this time blaming the evil Tory/Libdems in Westminster.

Of course it may be better than achieving nothing in opposition.

DET  also states... .....
Now my anxiety is to see Plaid rethink its positioning. Trying to be an additional opposition party when we’ve got the Conservatives making some kind of fist of it is not where we should be.”

Apart from the  dubious argument that the Tories are "making a decent fist of it" La Pasionaria leader of the Libdems has usually out shorn Andrew T Davies in the senedd . Though she has been quiet lately (Probably seeking her own coalition) 

However, the role of opposition is not always to be be the opposite but an alternative.

Plaid role should be to provide an alternative when both Labour and the Tories carry on believing that that the argument is whether to put the deckchairs on the port or starboard side of the Titanic.

Wednesday, 20 June 2012

Carwyn Jones offers Wales as Nuclear Target

Carwyn Jones seems to be be offering Wales as a base for Nuclear Weapons.
Mr Jones had been asked during First Minister’s Questions about the potential to invest in Welsh ports responded:
“I did notice the Scottish Government no longer wishes to have the nuclear submarine base at Faslane, it no longer wishes to house the UK naval nuclear fleet. There will be more than a welcome for that fleet and those jobs in Milford Haven.”
This is a disgraceful move by our First Minister . But is somewhat typical of Labours attitude to Nuclear Weapons.

Those who remember CND in the 80's when cruise missiles were being imposed on the UK by the USA . Saw Labour MPs like Neil Kinnock and future ones like Peter Hain addressing us at Rallies where they had marched of earlier. Plaid and the others were usually at the back  in front . Telling us " Only a Labour Government could stop Nuclear expansion". .

A few notable exceptions like Paul Flynn carried on campaigning once they got into power but most quietly dropped their previous convictions

In 1982 every council  in Wales in signed a declaration of a Nuclear Free Wales .

I remember a rally at a Plaid Conference when the Historian  E P Thomson  the  author of the seminal work "The Making of the English Working Class "and  the  1980 Appeal for European Nuclear Disarmament, calling for a nuclear-free Europe from Poland to Portugal, which was the founding document of European Nuclear Disarmament. Congratulating Wales on being the first to declare itself Nuclear Free 

It may have been only a gesture but for many who who were concerned about the continuing expansion of the e Nuclear Arsenal through the world it was a small ray of hope.

CND no longer has effect on the public imagination and perhaps it is significant that its former Chair at the time of its greatest popularity  joan Ruddock became a Labour MP   in 1987 although she had resigned in 1985.
I have no doubt Paul Flynn will condemn Carwyn  Jones' s statement . But how many other Labour AM , MPs and councillors will also do so?

I wonder what their reaction from Labour party quarters  would have been if his words have come from Tory Welsh Secretary Cheryl Gililan?

Tuesday, 19 June 2012

Labour Candidates for Police Commissioners

Thanks to Valleys Mam ,we can see Labours Candidates in for the forthcoming election for Police Commissioners in the Wales

So who are the Candidates?


SANDISON, Hamish 494 Elected

WORRAD, Joshua 306

Hamish Sandison according to the Labour Party Website, is a solicitor, specialising  in law and technology. He has law degrees from the University of Cambridge and the University of California at Berkeley. He is dual-qualified as a US attorney, having practised law in Washington DC for 8 years.

Which may make him sutiably qualified if the real intention of the creation of Police Commissioners, is to copy the American system of electing Law Officials. Which results in the politicisation of these roles and means people run on a ticket of being tough on crime: But alas not he causes.

Dyfed Powys

GWYTHER, Christine Elected Unopposed

Christine Gwyther was the Assembly Member for Carmarthen West and South Pembrokeshire1999 – 2007 briefly being the Minister for Agriculture and Rural Economy where eyebrows where aised and  there was some hostility where it was disclosed she was a vegetarian.She failed to regain her seat in 2011 and then failed to defeat Jonathan for the Carmarhen East and Dinefwr Edwards seat in the UK Parliament.

Smaller Parties do tend to have perpetual candidates but Gwyther may be a sign that Labour have very little quality candidates in Dyfed.

South Wales

CANNON, Paul 1,058

MICHAEL, Alun 1,142 Electe

Alun Michael is the best known of these and his narrow victory may show that there is some animosity to him from Labour members.

In 1999 whilst still the member for Cardiff South and Penarth he was proposed by Tony Blair into the first Assembly in an attempt to stop Rhodri Morgan leading the party in the Assembly. Since the Party had already selected a candidate for his constituency . Michael stood for the Mid and West seat top up seat.

He was First Minister for 1999-2000 where on  loosing a vote of confidence he resigned his Assembly seat and returned to the Commons as if nothing had happened.

He will not have the option this time as must resign his Westminster seat before standing. He must either win or enter into the political wilderness of the Lords.

North Wales

HANSON, Margaret 276

MICHAEL, Tal 548 Elected

Tal Michael is the son of Alun Micheal and returned to Wales two years ago as Chief Executive of North Wales Police Authority. so he is already place d in the role which the election is set to abolish. 

On his website however he makes mo mention on his website on his time on Islington council prehapd fearing that he may be seen as a outsider. or his role in the Labour row over the banning of aleft-winger Liz Davies as a parliamentary candidate which resulted in Ms Davies issuing libel writs against him. and his amission in court that Davies had not
'heckled' at the education committee meeting in November 1994; 'nor did she incite violence on that or any other occasion'.Councillors Tal Michael, Phil Kelly, and James Purnell, had also agreed to make a contribution to the election campaign fund of Islington North MP, Jeremy Corbyn, and Ms Davies had agreed to pursue the action no further. (More Here)

So not inspiring Bunch and we can only hope that there are better candidates coming foward 

One potential  Simon Weston. seems likely to find a teenage  conviction for a teenage crime may well  find him disqualified which makes a mockery of how rehabilitation process.

Personally I would like to see Political Parties excluded in directly contesting this role . I f we are to have -Political Police Commissioners I would much prefer they Independent of narrow politics and saw the role as serving the electorate and not their own political ambitions.Some hope.

Monday, 18 June 2012

Greece is not the word (Unfortunately)

The sense of relief from the UK establishment. over the likely hood that New Democracy will form the next government is almost deafening.

The likelihood  is that  there will be a coalition of New Democracy and PASOK the two Parties that have run Greece since the restoration of Democracy in 1974. and must bear a great deal of responsibility for the Greek Crisis.

And yet the whole of the media in the UK seemed to be relieved that these two will now be back in control of Greece.

The alternative had been of course the election of a a SYRIZIA government committed to stand up to the EU, or rather Angela Merkel and the financial institutions who had forced them into the devastation measures ,which are destroying the lives of Millions of Greeks.

Party                         - Preliminary results (99%) -Ideology, Affiliation, Founding2012Seats2012Seats
Nea Dimokratia (ND) 
New Democracy
Liberal conservatism
Christian democracy
Synaspismos tis Rizospastikis Aristeras (SYRIZA) 
Coalition of the Radical Left
Democratic socialism
Eco-socialism, Anti-capitalism
Panellinio Sosialistiko Kinima (PASOK) 
Panhellenic Socialist Movement
Social democracy
Anexártitoi Éllines (ANEL) 
Independent Greeks
National conservatism
Chrysi Avyi (XA) 
Golden Dawn
Right-wing extremism -
Dimokratiki Aristera (DIMAR) 
Democratic Left
Democratic socialism
Social democracy
Kommounistiko Komma Elladas (KKE) 
Communist Party of Greece
Laikos Orthodoxos Sunagermos (LAOS) 
Popular Orthodox Rally
Right-wing populism

The result probably means Greece will stay in the Euro  and there may be some realignment of the austerity package. but there will be little change in the suffering of the millions of Greeks suffering from the diktat of the financial fat cats who caused the problem in the first place.

As the Greek government, sack thousands of state employees and undergo a series of privatisation. You can just imagine the slavering of Capitalist like Hedge fund managers as they anticipate  the opportunity to pick over the dead bones if the Greek economy.

When the financial crisis broke first in the Us and then in Europe it could have been a golden opportunity of the leaders of the EU to curb the power of the Banks.

Unfortunately the main power brokers France and Germany under Angela Merkel and Nicolas Sarkozy used the opportunity of the financial crisis in other to promote a right wing austerity measures throughout the EU and the UK under Brown and later Cameron did their best to stay outside any form of European Union solution  while promoting their own austerity measures.

The result was that the financiers were given a free hand to pick on weal economies one by one Ireland and Greece making them weaker and open to future exploitation by the likes of Hedge fund managers and then to move on to stronger economies like Spain.

The EU could have introduced a Tobin or Robin Hood Tax and put greater control on Banks and Hedge fund manners and even questioned the legitimately of Credit Agencies.

Instead of taking a lead themselves they chose to follow the very people who got us into the mess in the first place. 

Even to the extent of  seeing a temporary government in Greece run by so called technocrats for which read Bankers. 

When the crisis broke the establishment claimed to be shocked at the excesses of financial Institution but years down the line they are back where they were destroying communities with their  financial speculation and even deliberately creating  financial crisis in countries.Whilst getting huge bonuses for doing little more than gambling with ordinary people's futures.

When the establishment in the UK welcomes the success of Parties that have already failed their people I woody about the state of Democracy not only in Greece but here as well. 

Sunday, 17 June 2012

Bryncrug/Llanfihangel by-electio

I apologise to the late posting of the result of then,  but I had other things to comment on and Bryncrug had lost it impetus since it Plaid had entered in coalition with the 4 Labour Council and were no longer dependent on this result for control. .

The result was 

Clarke, Nancy ElizabethIndependent5110.2%
Evans, Alun WynPlaid Cymru13627.2%
Hughes, Gwyn Pennant
Llais Gwynedd 
Lawton, BethIndependentElected21242.4%
Pughe, JohnIndependent6613.2%
The result made no change in the balance of power and had previously been held by an  Independent .

It could have been interesting if it had been a straight fight between Plaid and Llais Gwynedd  especially they  held the neighbouring seat of Llangelyin and the candidate was the husband of that ward's councillor Louise Hughes.

But both were easily surpassed by Independent Beth Lawton who won comparably .

Interestingly despite Louise Hughes . presence  Merionith is not particularly strong for Llais Gwynedd who are concentrated in the Dwyfor area.and just as the old joke went that Plaid Cymru was actually Plaid Gwynedd  perhaps Llais Gwynedd should be really called  Llais Dwyfor

What is Llais Gwynedd anyway

Is it as Wikipedia states  small regionalist political party based in Gwynedd 

  • Nationalist group based largely on the support for the Welsh Language.
  • A right wing Nationalist Group
  • Simply a protest group opposed to School Closures
  • A group of people fed up with Plaids lethargy and prepared to give the party a kick up the Backside.
  • A coalition of different ideologies united for electoral purposes.

What we need is a clear Manifesto from Llais Gwynedd  on where they stand. Of course if they did this some members may think they don't stand there at all.

But to be fair they have shaken Plaid out of a complacency in Gwynedd and although I personally think they are wrong in opposing school reforms as Plaid are in other Parts of Wales . They may well speak for a large number of people in Gwynedd, and whilst I may not like what they say doesn't mean  we shouldn't listen


Saturday, 16 June 2012

Mondragon is a Basque story not Spanish.

There's an interesting article on the Bevan foundation Blog, This Is My Truth by David and Hilda Smith of the Progressive Co-operators Wales group ,on the need to talk about co-oprtative.

The article makes some important arguments, but it is completely spoiled when they write on Mondragon.

They say....
Mondragon is a Spanish example of a worker co-operative owned and controlled by its  “workers manual administrative and technical of both sexes’” who have invested in their own business to make it work. Robert Oakeshott is excellent at explaining ‘The Case for Workers’ Co-ops’ (1990

How can anyone write that Mondragon is a Spanish example? Even the casual researcher will realise that it is a Basque example closely associated with Basque identity and autonomy  . They might well have written that Mondragon was an European example.

Why this error? Is it because there is a reluctance to link Mondeagon with Basque Nationalism? Could it be that they fear that the some may see the future of Co-ops in Wales being linked to a Welsh National Identity.

In the eighties there was some great interest in Mondragon in Wales ; But its progress was largely quashed by those Trade Unionist who feared that this would promote Welsh Nationalism and Labour's attachment to State owned Industries.

We need to talk about the future of Co-ops in Wales but when the lead is taken by people who do not acknowledge a vital factor of the success of Mondragon that of a Basque Identity it will not get very far.

Friday, 15 June 2012

IDS. It's all your own fault.

The Work and Pensions Secretary Iain Duncan Smith, claims that  wants to change the current system that became "trapped" in the idea of meeting income targets.

He insisted that determining children’s wellbeing simply on the basis of income was wrong and masked the true causes of poverty. While “income matters”, authorities needed to know if “life changes” are occurring within families as well, he said.

He also argued that while “redistributing income is right” the government had to ensure any reforms were meaningful and changed a person's life.

Families will be told that they should work at least 35 hours a week, rather than rely on state handouts, if they want to avoid their children living in poverty..

And this sums up what Iain Duncan Smith is about . His role is to give the impression that the Tories (I'l let the Libdems of this, well some of them) are concerned about the unemployed and the poor whilst blaming them for their position.they are in.

In this he has been largely backed by the ain media

A recent edition of BBC Newsnight, saw Political Editor Allegra Stratton ,interviewed a young single mother Shanene Thorpe,.in the deprived area of Tower Hamlets in London.

Stratton, demands to know why Thorpe has chosen to move out of her mother’s two-bedroom flat, since she required housing benefit to do so.

After the interview, Stratton says directly to camera: “The government is thinking of saying to young people: if you don’t have work, don’t leave home.”

Except, Thorpe is not unemployed.  she works full time for Tower Hamlets council, but claims housing benefits to help cover the cost of rent. In a series of statements o  Thorpe attempted to tackle the inaccurate portrayal of her situation: “To set the record straight, I work for Tower Hamlets council, I’ve worked since 16 and I only get help towards my rent because it is so high.”

Private eye reports that Stratton was seeking to an unemployed  person to portray in a negative light

"You must have people living on benefits as a lifestyle choice" she allegedly demanded of Tower Hamlet officials.

Both Iain Duncan Smith and Allegra Stratton  appear to have formed the opinion that poverty is all the fault of the poor and is somewhat of a life style.

If only they got off benefits and get Jobs they will no longer be poor seems to be their solution.

Except there are few Jobs around
  • Many of the Unemployed are victims of a postcode CV where they are rejected simply because of where they come from.
  • There are no child care facilities or they are so expensive nearly al the wages go on them
  • The British manufacturing Industry was decimated under the Thatcher government unlike that of Germany which is helping it see through the recession..
  • What there is has now been built in areas where there is no or little public transport and you need your own transport.
  • Far to many Jobs are on the minimum wage OK for a single person but if you are like Shanene Thorpe you are still going to need some form of support.

I could go on but I am sick of the likes of IDS and the media portraying the unemployed as work shy and giving the impression they easily find work.

They are not alone in this the Blair/Brown government  carried out a similar exercise in giving the fault lay with the poor and not thier failure to create jobs.and Labours outrage on behalf of the poor ranks of shher hypocricy.

Itss not what you say in opposition but what you do in government that matters and the 13 years of Blair/Brown as they courted Middle -England failed the poor.

Unfortunately, I see little change in this attitude . Blaming the poor for being poor is an easy target and sits well with the Middle-England audience all the major parties seek.

There are no longer any votes to come from the poor as they either no longer register to do so (Millions of them) or no longer vote.

We need a new approach to poverty based on community socialism where we can create a new spirit and break the cycle that so many of our unfortunate citizens have fallen in to..