Thursday, 31 January 2013

Independence Question"Humiliation" or tweak.

Labour Unionist Left Foot Forward sorry Left Foot Forward once again through its attack dog ED Jacobs blog under  the headline''

Do you agree that Salmond’s referendum question is biased? “YES!” say the Electoral Commission

This is based on the Commission, who apparently asked to "Test " the question proposed by the Scottish Government for the 2014  to a number of voters..
Do you agree that Scotland should be an independent country? Yes/No
The report agreed that  the question was clear but concluded....
“Based on our research and taking into account what we heard from people and organisations who submitted their views on the question, we consider that the proposed question is not neutral because the phrase ‘Do you agree…?’ could lead people towards voting ‘yes’.”
The Commission therefore n to recommend  the question put to the Scottish people be:

“Should Scotland be an independent country? Yes/No” 

Jacobs goes on to say 

"Whilst the SNP have agreed to the suggested new wording, the development is yet another humiliation for the nationalists who have faced a string of bad news over independence including  the European Union rejecting the idea of Scotland automatically joining the EU if it became independent and support for independence slumping".

What humiliation? A simple tweak of words which looks more of a result of the Electoral Commission justifying the expense of looking at the question.

Perhaps they could tell us what percentage of the Scottish Electorate where more likely to vote yes in the original question

Over at Better Nation  Jeff points out 

"In 1997 we were asked
“Do you agree there should be a Scottish Parliament?”, 
Which is interestingly entirely consistent with the SNP’s preferred question. I don’t really understand why that style of question was good enough then but isn’t good enough today but, at the end of the day, if voters aren’t convinced enough by the merits of independence that they may be swayed into voting No when they look at the question, then do we really want to embark on this great adventure at all?"
And who put this question? The then Labour Government at the time.

According to Jacobs and the Electoral Commission that question would have led people to have voted Yes.

And maybe so .

But can you really have a question that is fair?

I mean.The SNP may have preferred to ask

"Do you agree that Scotland should be an independent country  free from being run by English Tories in Westminster Yes/No
And Ed Jacobs and his Union friends may have preferred 

Should Scotland be an separate country  breaking up the United Kingdom? Yes/No”  

Left Foot forward  are beginning to sound ridiculous and hysterical in their attempts to save the Union by twisting every little story on the Independence debate to claim that it is an "Humiliation for the SNP"

Interestingly from the comments on Jacobs articles most reading them are well aware of his nonsense and are making sensible comments on his page.

Can we have more balance from a supposed progressive blog please and not just the views of Labour Unionists

Wednesday, 30 January 2013

Superintendent Harry Windsor?

After the Police and Crime Commissionaire election debacle, ministers are drawing up plans for some senior police officers in England and Wales to be directly recruited from outside the service,

The home secretary told a conference of senior police officers the move would bring "greater diversity" to forces.

She said she "would hold a consultation on so-called direct entry - one of several recommendations from a major review into police pay and conditions".
Direct entry is intended to open up recruitment to senior policing posts to the wider public and business sectors, rather than promoting only officers who have completed their training and worked their way up the ranks.

The overhaul is part of a package of reforms that were drawn up by ex-rail regulator Tom Winsor in the most wide-ranging review of police pay and conditions in more than 30 years.

Under his proposals, "exceptional" applicants would have the chance to rise from civilian to inspector in just three years. Successful businessmen and women, along with members of the armed forces and the security services, should all be encouraged to apply to the fast-track scheme, Mr Winsor said.

Mr Winsor, who is now Her Majesty's Inspector of Constabulary, previously said he wanted to end the notion of policing as an intellectually undemanding occupation. He added that the "brightest and best" applicants with skills "distinctly above those of factory workers" were needed.

What an insult to your average copper but The idea that a former Captain in the British Army  who completed his education at Eton with two A-Levels[13] (achieving a grade B in art and D in Geography) .is chilling.

Would you like to see the likes of Harry Windsor as Superintendent of your local force.

Or any other officer from the armed forces which are still class driven and still have a high number of public school senior Officers in thier ranks

And wasn't the whole idea of Police commissioners to supply comradeship beyond the Police infrastructure?

Hasn't this been done before? Weren't many of the original Chief Constables ex Army Officers including the notorious Captain Lionel Lindsay  who totally mishandled the Tonypandy Riots in1911 an ex army officer?

This looks like an attempt to fill senior Police positions with people whose loyalty is not to the force or heaven forbid the public but to politicians,

We are going down a dangerous road here which could see the police being run by people who have no idea of what the role is.

In fiction there's always a clash between the experienced street cop and his bean counting boss, who spends his time climbing the greasy pole to promotion. 

It looks like these authors may have plenty of material in the future.


Monday, 28 January 2013

BBC mislead over Irish Minister on Scotland Vote.

The BBC seems to have been somewhat disingenuous in its headline  ' Scottish independence: Irish minister says EU application 'would take time'

Ireland's European affairs minister has said an independent Scotland would need to apply to become a member of the European Union.
Lucinda Creighton told the BBC an independent Scotland would be welcomed into the EU, but would need to apply and go through a lengthy process.
Her views chime with concerns raised by Scottish Secretary Michael Moore.

This does seem to give the impression that Ms Creighton was apparently  was saying that Scottish membership of the EU would be somehow problematic.

Nationalist would have been disappointed that a Irish Minister would appear to be so negative over Scottish Independence

However in a letter to Nicola Sturgeon Lucinda Creighton makes it clear that she had not intended to e negative at all.

She wrote ....
....I was asked about the future of negotiations with the EU in the event that Scotland votes for independence.  I thought that my reply was largely in line with that of the Scottish Government.  I certainly did not at any stage suggest that Scotland could, should or would be thrown out of the EU.  Scottish people are clearly citizens of Europe.
I did answer the question about hypothetical negotiations with the EU.  I think it is clear that a newly independent state would have to (and would have the right to and indeed should) negotiate the terms of membership, as they would undoubtedly be somewhat different to the existing terms.  I did say that this would take some time, which I expect it would.  I also went on to say that a newly independent Scotland would be welcome as an EU partner (and I think that applies to all EU member states including Ireland).
My understanding is that the Scottish Government has already committed to a negotiation with the EU between 2014 and 2016, if you vote for independence in 2014.  If my interview suggested something other than that, this was not my intention.  I think my comments have been misconstrued.  I sincerely regret this.

No one expects Scotland to become Independent on the day after a YES vote after Independence it wil take some time some even argue that there might be the need for a second referendum to ratify the negotiations with the British government.

At the same time Scotland will be seeking to negotiate its position in the EU This would include

A Scottish EU commissioner and a seat on the commission e executive body of the European Union responsible for proposing legislation, implementing decisions, upholding the Union's treaties and day-to-day running of the EU.[
The right to an EU veto
the right to vote under qualified majority voting
An increase in the number of Scottish MEP in line with Denmark {which has  similar population ) 12.

With Catalonia likely to hold a similar referendum the EU  will have to consider its position before they are carried out and clarify exactly what will happen.

One further complication however is Cameron's  In - Out referendum which if Scotland do vote YES will mean that Referendum would be held possibly during the negotiations or delayed until after Scotland becomes fully Independent possibly in 2017 if a second referendum is needed .

Whatever happens we don't need the BBC to misinterperate  Irish politicians who are in agreement with the Scottish Government and not as they bay that of Westminster.

Sunday, 27 January 2013

Cameron Euro Gamble Is A Diversion.

I consider myself a democrat and therefore could not oppose an in out referendum on the UK membership of the European Union if there was a significant call for one.

However it seem strange that a Prime Minister, is calling for a referendum in which he will call for a Yes vote.

Of course Cameron,  is arguing that that depends on him being successful in repatriating  a number of powers most of which seem to be social policy that have benefited workers . Which the Tory party hate.

So its about regaining the powers to make life for the ordinary worker harder.

But in reality this is not about repatriating powers or even an in out referendum.

Its about fighting the next election on Europe in which the Tories, will dangle the referendum whilst portraying Labour in particular as opposed to the referendum and therefore gaining votes of British voters opposed or dissatisfied with the European Union.

The idea of Cameron fighting a General Election on a Euro sceptic referendum platform and then as Prime Minister joining the Labour Leader on a YES campaign is ludicrous.

Interestingly the Europe: Public mood “more pro-membership than for some years polls seem to show that since Cameron announcement  or rather his announcement of an announcement. the p public mood “more pro-membership than for some years”

Yougov January 21 2013

Though it does seem that the change is largely on party lines full detail here

Cameron gamble that  his referendum gamble may work and that there will still be a yes vote may work . But he may not fol the public.

Indeed the long term done to the economy as the indecision due to the length of time before a referendum may well blow up in the face .

In 2015 the voters in the UK may well say to him "Its the Economy Stupid"  particularly  if he fails to repatriate or looks like he may repatriate any powers in the next two years.

He may well win over some UKip supporters but it even seems that Poll suggests many Tory voters will return if Government delivers on welfare, immigration and the deficit and Europe is not the major issue

Cameron hope that Europe will divert voters from the economy may be a forlorn one and a policy that could be even more damaging in the long wrong .

It needs to be exposed as the diversionary tactic that it is

Saturday, 26 January 2013

Darren Miller misses Assembly sessions to pray in USA

News that a Conservative AM has  will take a week off from his duties at the National Assembly to attend a prayer meeting in the United States.seems to be mutes

The  Western Mule reports that

Darren Millar, who represents Clwyd West, will travel to Washington DC on Monday February 4 in advance of the National Prayer Breakfast on Thursday February 7.
The day after he flies – February 5 – a meeting will be held in his absence of the Public Accounts committee, which he chairs. For chairing the committee, Mr Millar is paid £12,420 on top of his basic AM salary of £53,852.
Last night a spokesman for the Welsh Conservative group at the Assembly said Mr Millar had been granted permission to be absent for the final week before half term.
“He received an invitation to attend in his capacity as chair of the all-party Assembly faith group. It is a very prestigious event that will be attended by visitors from around 160 countries. He will be paying for the trip himself.
“Darren will not be commenting further,” said the spokesman

Western Mail January 25 2013 

The Mule does quote an "!Assembly insider" who tipped them about Mr Millar’s trip as saying...
 “This Tory AM’s constituents in Clwyd West will rightly be questioning how exactly their interests will be represented in the Assembly while he is in Washington for this meeting that has nothing to do with his work as an AM. Perhaps he is going there to discuss how families in Clwyd West will make ends meet following the massive cuts that his party in Westminster is imposing on them – but I doubt it."
Another Assembly source said: is quoted as saying 

 “It is completely unacceptable that at a time when families are struggling financially in Wales, Darren Millar is off on a religious junket to the United States during term time.“AMs have ample opportunity to take trips during generous recess periods throughout the year. If Darren was promoting Wales at a political event or making some kind of advancement that might help his constituents in Clwyd West then perhaps it could be accepted, but fleeing abroad on some mission to find one’s inner spirit is just taking the biscuit.”Ibid 

 A Tory source pointed out that Labour AM Vaughan Gething was away from the Assembly earlier this week to attend President Obama’s inauguration.

But even if Mr Gething  visit was unofficial he could b seen as representing the Assembly there.

Still three's something rather pathetic about these anonymous sources which may be that they are loath to put a name to ant perceived criticism of a religious event.

But why should.t there be? Any other absence  who have seen open comments from Welsh Politicians who would be eager to put they names to it.

It doesn't matter what Mr Miller  attends . It is a private trip and it should not be taken during the time the Assembly is in session He is not even representing his party.

When Plaid AM's boycotted the Royal opening of Parliament they were criticised by other AM for not doing their Job including Darren Miller 

It will be interesting to see the response of Tory AM to any absence of fellow members in the future.

Friday, 25 January 2013

Gwynedd joins Top Brass pay row.

News that its not only Labour Councills, giving pay rises to their Top Brass while the lower payed suffer

About 200 staff working for Plaid led  Gwynedd council staged a lunchtime walkout over pay increases of up to 7% for senior staff, according to a trade union. Unison says its members are angry about the rises when they are "making sacrifices to save jobs and services".

Three of the most senior officials were given a rise of £5,839, while heads of service received from £1,042 to £5,094.

The council said the managers' pay was still comparatively low when compared to other local authorities.

Silyn Roberts, Unison's branch secretary for Gwynedd, said the rises were "grossly unfair and insulting" to council workers who have had a three-year pay freeze.

Gwynedd's three corporate directors - among the most senior managers in the local authority - will receive an increase of £5,839 from £83,121 to £88,960.

For the 11 other heads of service, the increases ranged from £1,042 to £5,094. For example, the heads of social services and education received an increase of £3,311 from £72,200 to £75,511.

The pay of the chief executive has not been affected and remains the same as it was in 2008, a maximum of £108,26

In response Gwynedd council leader Dyfed Edwards, told BBC Radio Wales the authority was contractually obliged to honour the pay rise agreed in 2009.aid the increases relate to a pay policy it first established in 2009 when it was advised to "follow the practice of other authorities and link senior manager pay to an independent public sector benchmark".

He said he did not feel the pay was too high but that the "gap between the lowest paid and the highest paid is too great".

The councillor said there was a danger senior officers' pay "may be spiralling upwards due to competition by 22 local authorities".

He called for changes "to get out of this competition where if a neighbouring authority sets pay at 20% then what are we supposed to do?"

So this may not be the same as the row in Caerphilly,  but it reflects the difference in power of those in senior positions and those at the bottom

Anyone familiar with Private Eyes 2Rotten Boroughs " will be aware of how senior council executives leave one Council with a lucrative pay of even afire only a few years  and then get a similar position. Or retire on a lucrative pension only to be employed by a council on a advisory capacity . Which is in fact only a way of employing them to prevent any legal restrictions

Gwynedd may have been caught in a legal trap which it had set but it looks more like we have a class  of public employees who can set their own pay and terms of conditions.

Perhaps it s time to adopt the Irish system of "The County or City Manager"  who performs the executive functions of the County or City Council. He or she supervises, co-ordinates, manages and pays the employees and officers of the Council.

County or City Managers are recruited through a competitive recruitment process organised by the Public Appointments Service. Once appointed, the County or City Manager will remain in office for a term of 7 years (although this can also be extended by an additional three years). The retirement age for County or City Managers is 65.

This can prevent the symbiotic relationship between the Chief Executive and the Leader of the ruling party where both have a mutual interest in keeping the other in his or hers position.

Otherwise we will find that vital services will be cut because we are giving senior management far to lucrative  pay packages and finding there's no way we can prevent it.

Thursday, 24 January 2013

Underempoyed masks true nature of jobless.

For those who are unemployed and actively seeking work the fall in unemployment figures seem hardly believable and they are probably asking where are the jobs

Perhaps a report from the Office For National Statistics (ONS).last November reported that
One in 10 of all workers in the UK are now officially underemployed,
It says 3,050,000 workers want to work more hours each week, out of a total workforce of 29.41 million.
The number of workers in this position has shot up by 980,000 in the four years since the start of the economic recession in 2008.
Most of the underemployment is concentrated among part-time workers.
This problem of underemployment seems to particularly affect the poorer parts of society”
The ONS said 1.9 million of the underemployed were in part-time jobs and this meant, in turn, that 24% of all part-timers wanted more work.
By contrast, only 5.5% of full-time staff said they wanted to work more hours.
The ONS said the main reason for the growth of underemployment has been the economic downturn of the past few years.
"During this period many workers moved from full-time to part-time roles and many of those returning to work after a period of unemployment could only find part-time jobs," the statistical office said.
"Of the extra one million underemployed workers in 2012 compared with 2008, three-quarters were in part-time posts."

I have no figures for the amount of hours people were were working but lets say people wanted to work an extra 10hrs a week bringing them up to 35 hours .

That could mean that there are a equivalent of nearly a million more people jobless.

This masks the true nature of unemployment..

I've noticed a steady increase of part time Jobs being advertised in the last to years many for under 20 hours a week .

Taking a daily transport cost of £4 that could be £20 a week  from your wages making it for some hardly worthwhile.

For some it will be worthwhile it after all easier to find another job if you are in employment  and it would help your CV.

As the Government pats itself on the back we need a full investigation into the nature of unemployment and the extent of its growth.

We may be seeing of an iceberg that masks the whole nature of what the real jobless fguersare .

Wednesday, 23 January 2013

Yougov Poll show Plaid set to keep EU MEP. (Well Maybe)

Normally from a Welsh viewpoint yougov polls are nor particularly relevent

 Lumped with the Midlands of England it is very difficult to find out how Wales would vote

The latst figuers for example see a weighted nunber of 314 for the Midlands and and 96 for Wales

Headline Voting Intention
[Excluding Don’t knows and Wouldn’t votes]

Con 34
Lab 31
Lib 10
Plaid 3
Green 1
Respect 0
Other 0
So it would be wrong to try an extrapolate the Plaid vote from this number  but it my be close to the 8-12 Plaid would expect in a UK election

However it is worth noting the intentions of Vhe same voters when asked

 If there were an election to the European 
Parliament held tomorrow, which party would 
you vote for?

Con 33
Lab 29
Lib 14
Plaid 8
Green 2
Respect 0
Other 0

There a huge percentage swing amongst the 97 Welsh respondents and although as as I said the number is to smal for a scientific evaluation it does appear that Plaid will successively hold their seat in next years European Election and seemingly at the expense of Labour

What Plaid need to think about however is how ro ge those who switch to them in European Elections to remain  with the party in other elections.

Tuesday, 22 January 2013

TUC praises One legged Welsh Duck

 I must admit that I'm frequently guilty in cutting an pasting in this Blog but I do try and make it clear and attribute sources.

The Western Mule in an article with a byline attributed to Martin Shipton ,once again rehash a press release this time from the TUC.


Unions leader urges UK to follow Wales' 'alternative' economic lead
It reports tha

 "Wales’ “alternative” economic strategy is a model for the rest of the UK to learn from, the first woman leader of the Trades Union Congress has said.
Frances O’Grady, who was on her first trip to Wales since becoming the TUC’s new general secretary, described the austerity approach adopted by most world leaders as “probably the worst global case of ‘group think’ since the Iraq war”.

Western Mail  22 January 2013
She said:

When making the case for the alternative against self-defeating austerity, we know that Wales is leading the way. The Wales TUC has done a fantastic job since the financial crash to help prevent mass redundancies and save thousands of private and public sector jobs.
“There are clear lessons which the UK government can learn from Wales on policies ranging from tackling youth unemployment to ruling out privatisation in the NHS. The key difference is that the Welsh Government understands that working people and public services did nothing to cause this financial mess and that attacking them will not solve it.
“By working in partnership with the Welsh Government, the Wales TUC is taking action to build a better and more equal society in difficult times. From ensuring that public sector contracts deliver jobs and training to get people back to work, to fighting for equality reps in the workplace, trade unionism at its best is active in Wales.”
Ms O’Grady said: “We’ve seen a decline in living standards for the great majority. I think what’s important is that decline in living standards isn’t so much a symptom of the financial crash, but as economists now agree, a key driver of it.”
Western Mail  22 January 2013

What alternative strategy ?

What most of us see is a Welsh Government locked in lethargy with no ambition and only seeking to spend its pocket money from Westminster and Europe without invoking controversy.

Rather Like Rhodri Morgan's one legged duck its swimming in circles quacking about how its making progress.

Frances O’Grady, seems more intent on promoting the only part of the UK were Labour  are  in power rather than facing up to realty that the Welsh Government has no real alternative and doesn't have the money or power if it had one to implement it anyway. 

Ms O'Grady might as well have used her praise on the Scottish Government but then that's not a Labour Administration is it?

What is real disappointing is that the article gives no alternative viewpoint on this so  "alternative economic lead".

Where were the views of opposition parties?

Was Peter Black unavailable for a quote I doubt it and what of Plaid and yes the Tories?

We may have a different party then the ConLib in power here: But I see very little evidence that they even have the will to look at radical alternatives and probably would be quietly told by Ed Milliband to drop it because it would not go down well with "Middle England".

Remember when Labour were in charge of the GLC under Ken Livingston? Sometimes referred to as the only socialist ever to gain any real power in the UK? How Kinnock and the rest of the leadership distanced themselves and privately breathed a sigh of relif when it was abolished.

We don't need TUC leaders coming here to promote the Labour Party in Wales what we need is for them to fight for thier workers and that includes coneming Welsh Labour Councils attack on thier workforce someyhing Frances O’Grady and the TUC appears to be remarkably silent on  

Monday, 21 January 2013

The Left and Unionism in NI

There's an interesting article on the Blog  open Unionism asking "Where is the  Pro Union Left"? pointing out that nearly all the Unionist Partiesin Northern Ireland  are  the right of Centre.

Democratic Unionist Party (DUP)
British unionism,National conservatism Populism Euroscepticism[
Political position
Right-wing to centre-right

Ulster Unionist Party (UUP)
British unionism Conservatism[Internal Faction: • Liberalism • Euro-scepticism
Political position

Traditional Unionist Voice (TUP)
British unionism, Conservatism Euroscepticism
Political position

The article does not mention the Progressive Unionist Party possibly because of its link with the para military  Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF),

Progressive Unionist Party  (PUP)

British unionism.Democratic socialism,Social democracy
Political position

But the article seems in reality to be a call for the UK Labour Party to organise in Northern Ireland

The writer Deirdre Nelson acknowledges the  Labour still on paper supports a United Ireland which it did not drop unlike Home Rule All Round which was officially dropped  in 1951.

But she doesn't address the fact that the SDLP is a sister party of Labour taking the Labour whip in Parliament and who would suffer if Labour where to fight NI seats to the extent that Sinn Féin' would take even more seats at the SDLP expense.

Mind you it is hypocritical for Labour who lead the pro-union "Better Together Campaign" in Scotland not to promote the Union in Northern Ireland by standing there.

Perhaps Deirdre Nelson and other left leaning Unionist should think about moving to the PUP taking it away from its Para Military Associations and making it an ltruealtenative to right wing unionism.

Or seeking to promote a Left of Centre and non sectarian  Northern Ireland Party that would seek greater autonomy for the province even Northern Ireland Independence in the European Union?.

Which bears the question should they be allowed to join the European Free Alliance ?

Tricky one for Jill Evans I would think.

Still its hardly going to happen in the immediate future.
However ; Which ever way the Scottish referendum goes the current constitutional settlement in the UK is doomed

The politics of Northern Ireland seem unlikely to move from the Unionist-Nationalist-Republican spectrum but  whatever happens the solution does not lie with the British Labour Party.

Sunday, 20 January 2013

A New Bank of Wales.

Piaid  Cymru is urging the creation of a Welsh Government- owned Bank of Wales that would make it easier for small and medium sized businesses (SME')s to access the capital they need to grow.

The party’s economy spokesman Alun Ffred Jones said its economic commission would investigate proposals for a Bank of Wales, along similar lines to German Sparkasse and Landesbanken which operate on a strictly regional basis to support local industries.

Former Plaid MP Adam Price, co-chair of the economic commission, added: “Other countries in Europe have regional state-owned banks that lend to SMEs, and the UK is unique in not doing so.

Finance Wales [Wales Government’s business bank subsidiary] was originally intended to fulfil this function, but because of EU regulations was unable to do so.“I believe such a bank could be set up with around £20m, which would be well within the Welsh Government’s capability. This is a practical idea aimed at addressing market failure.”Plaid sources believe that momentum may be growing for the creation of such a bank, and that its creation could form part of future Budget negotiations between the Welsh Government and opposition parties.

Sounds like a good idea but why not take it further link the Bank to Credit  Unions in Wales and make it a peoples bank 

Changes to the Credit Union Act were passed though parliament January 8, 2012 with the main change points being the removal of restrictions of membership to reach out to new groups by serving more than one group of people, provide services to community groups, businesses and social enterprises with specific Business loans and to offer interest on savings, instead of a dividend in line with mainstream banking

The proposed Bank of Wales could also be an umbrella organisation that credit Unions could see as a back up and help them feel more secure.

This is an opportunity to change the way we support business in Wales  and whilst Plaid's proposal is a start perhaps they could be more adventurous.

Saturday, 19 January 2013

Jonathan Edwards MP on ATOS and the attack on the disabled

I'm usually loath to use this blog to allow professional politician publicity . But  Plaid MP  Jonathan Edwards, speech on   Atos and the work capability assessment deserves as wide an audience as possible you can read it here.

You can sum it up however with just one example he gave of a constituent......
"In my surgeries, I have heard several harrowing and very sad accounts from constituents who have been subjected to impersonal and inhumane work capability assessments by Atos. One has been diagnosed with an aggressive brain tumour, which cannot be completely removed because that would leave her paralysed. In August and September of last year she had radiotherapy to slow down the growth of the tumour, but in October she was told that it would grow back even more quickly, and that she would have to have further radiotherapy or she would die. I should add that this lady also has polyarthritis and asthma. Why has this lady been placed in the work-related activity group? Her doctors and consultants have specified that she should be placed in the support group as she is fighting for her life. Her only concern should be winning that battle".

All 650 MPs have probably experienced similar harrowing stories and some probably highlighted them . But all should be taking action on this and move to stop the abuse of some of the most vulnerable members of society,

Jonathan started his intervention by pointing out that "Atos and the work capability assessment should be seen in the broader context of the UK Government’s assault on, and "demonetisation" of, disabled people. 

He ends by pointing out that this attack stated with the last Government....
"As with a lot of current UK Government policy, this is a matter of completing the job left by the last UK Government; it is another example of the Labour-Tory tag team in action. Labour introduced WCAs in 2008 and signed up Atos. As a Welsh nationalist and a socialist, I believe an independent Wales would choose a different path, where Governments do not offer contracts to private companies to make profits from inflicting misery and suffering on the most vulnerable people in our society. We would treat people who need support with the dignity and respect they deserve".
How can those Tories, LibDem and yes Labour MPs when faced with these appalling outrages not hang their head in shame and vow to stop the  of the demonisation poor and vulnerable in order to pay off the crisis brought on by the greed of bankers and other financiers.

At least the Tories and LibDems have the excuse of the current crisis . Labour's assault started before it started.

At least the disabled iand vulnerable in Wales have Plaid to peak up for them . What of those in England ?

Well maybe the Greens but als they are not as yet strong enough to be fully heard.

Friday, 18 January 2013

Caerphilly act on chief executive pay hike.

Councillors  in Caephilly have voted to cut a pay rise for a local authority chief executive from £27,000 to just £5,000.The  council held a special meeting to discuss the original pay award that would have seen Anthony O'Sullivan receive £158,000 a year.It led to protests by staff and trade unions, leading to an apology from Labour councillors on the authority.
Colin Mann, Plaid Cymru opposition leader on the council, said: 
“This whole debacle has tarnished the reputation of the council and damaged public and staff confidence. It will take some time before it recovers.
“Questions about leadership and judgement are being raised by the public and given the way this episode has been so disastrously handled, the chief executive, as the authority’s most senior official, may now feel he should consider his position.”
Labour council leader Harry Andrews responded: “
This is a preposterous suggestion by Mr Mann who is clearly attempting to distract attention away from the fact that the behaviour of the deputy leader of his group, James Fussell, in this matter is the subject of a live Ombudsman investigation for an alleged breach of the council’s code of conduct. It is Mr Fussell who should consider his position.
Exact details are unclear although it is suggested the complaint revolves around Cllr Fussell’s role in the controversial decision to award 21 top council officers, including the chief executive, huge pay rises.
Cllr Fussell was on a committee with four others which voted for the pay increases. Cllr Fussell has previously stated he did not vote in favour of the increase
So the complaint may be that Councillor was mistaken in his claim that he voted against the increase.

Though it may be an earlier complaint  which isnot kinked to the current controversy  Cllr Andrews is referring to 

Still he's not the only councillor to be reported The complaint against Cllr Fussell follows one against Labour councillor David Hardacre.

Cllr Hardacre’s son Gareth Hardacre is the council’s head of human resources and organisational development. He was present at the meeting of the Senior Remuneration Committee on September 5 when rises for top managers, including himself, were approved.

Cllr Hardacre, the cabinet member for performance and asset management, was present when the minutes of the committee meeting were received and noted at a full council meeting on October 9, but allegedly did not declare an interest.

Labour may think they have put this behind them but many are going to begrudge a £5000 increase when they are on a basic pay.

A statement issued by the four trade unions which represent the council’s workforce said:

 “We are disappointed that the Labour group has been unable to fully meet the expectations of our members to rescind the payments made to the chief executive and the chief officers of Caerphilly Council. We recognise that there are complex legal issues surrounding this matter and accept that the Labour group have made significant efforts to find a resolution to the matter which does not potentially involve the council in prohibitive and significant legal costs.
“However we remain of the view that the chief executive and the chief officers concerned should demonstrate real leadership, recognise that these payments cannot be justified in the current economic climate and voluntarily agree to forego these unacceptable pay increases.”
Mind you what would the Unions have said if it had been another Partyy that  had done this secret deal?

It would certainly be outrage and not "disappointment" from them.

And if two Councillors have been reported to the Ombudsman for the alleged misdemeanours. Why isn't there an investigation to the whole sorry story over the secret pay rise?

Are only smal fry investigated by the  Ombudsman.

Mind you with Labour back to its old hegemony in Wales  and reverting to its arrogant nature. The Ombudsman Office would have to have to be  expanded five fold to deal with it flaunting of the rules and its contempt for those who elected them.

Thursday, 17 January 2013

Alun Michael advertising for a deputy and an assistant.

The Western Mules Martin Shipton reports that South Wales Police and Crime Commissioner Alun Michael is today advertising for a deputy and an assistant.

In contrast to some other Commissioners, the former Labour MP has decided to recruit via open competition.

He said: “These roles are open for anyone to apply so that the process of recruitment is clear and transparent.

The two posts, which will be paid pro rata to £65,886 per year for a full-time appointment, will support the Commissioner in fulfilling his responsibilities. Duties will include working with the Commissioner and with the Chief Constable and his team, with local authorities and a range of agencies, voluntary organisations and community groups across south Wales, liaising with other Commissioners in Wales and England, and helping to generate long-term plans to reduce the impact of crime and disorder on the people and communities of south Wales.
Western Mail January 16th 2013
Mr Michael is also advertising for a chief financial officer.

If the process is truly open then its most welcome . I imagine the few people who voted did not know they were also voting for the PPC to appoint their Deputy and others and this could in some cases mean political cronies or their campaign manager.

Still I'm looking forward to the jobs appearing on the Directgov's new pisspoor Universal Job Match or will they be restricted to Advertising in the Mule and South Wales Echo?

Of course it could end up with Alun Michael finding that the best candidate for his Assistant may be the failed Labour candidate for North Wales . There's no doubt he would be qualified for the job. But appointing your son may be going a bit too far?

Nevertheless there's always a suspicion that Alun Michael Open Contest will be teh same as jobs advertised in the newspaper  by local authorities which have already decided to appoint an internal candidate.

The proof may be in the eating . But even then, as the latest Beef -burger scandal has shown despite reading the label we don't really know what the real contents are.

Wednesday, 16 January 2013

Mrs Windsor and Son, have more power than we thought.

The extent of the Queen and Prince Charles's secretive power of veto over new laws has been exposed after Downing Street lost its battle to keep information about its application secret.

The Guardian reports that  
Whitehall papers prepared by Cabinet Office lawyers show that overall at least 39 bills have been subject to the most senior royals' little-known power to consent to or block new laws. They also reveal the power has been used to torpedo proposed legislation relating to decisions about the country going to war.
The internal Whitehall pamphlet was only released following a court order and shows ministers and civil servants are obliged to consult the Queen and Prince Charles in greater detail and over more areas of legislation than was previously understood.
The new laws that were required to receive the seal of approval from the Queen or Prince Charles cover issues from higher education and paternity pay to identity cards and child maintenance.
In one instance the Queen completely vetoed the Military Actions Against Iraq Bill in 1999, a private member's bill that sought to transfer the power to authorise military strikes against Iraq from the monarch to parliament.
She was even asked to consent to the Civil Partnership Act 2004 because it contained a declaration about the validity of a civil partnership that would bind her.
In the pamphlet, the Parliamentary Counsel warns civil servants that if consent is not forthcoming there is a risk "a major plank of the bill must be removed".
 Guardian 15 January 2013 

Some Examples include

The Queen
Housing Act 1996
Rating (Valuation Act) 1999
Military actions against Iraq (parliamentary approval bill) 1999 – consent not signified
Pollution prevention and control bill (1999)
European Union bill 2004
Civil Partnership Act 2004
Identity cards bill 2004-06
Courts, Tribunals and Enforcement Act 2007
Corporate Manslaughter and Corporate Homicide Act 2007
Fixed term parliaments bill (2010-12 session)
Her Son
Conveyancing and Feudal Reform (Scotland) Act 1970
Land Registration (Scotland Act) 1979
House of Lords Act 1999
Gambling bill 2004-05
Road Safety bill 2004-05
Housing and regeneration bill 2007-08
Energy bill 2007-08
Planning bill 2007-08
Local Democracy, Economic Development and Construction (Lords) 2008-09
Marine and Coastal Access (Lords) 2008-09

You can see some argument that the Head of State, should be consulted on Bills that he or she were expected to sign if they were elected , but unelected ? and her Son and Heir as well.

The guidance states that the Queen's consent is likely to be needed for laws affecting hereditary revenues, personal property or personal interests of the Crown, the Duchy of Lancaster or the Duchy of Cornwall.
Consent is also needed if it affects the Duchy of Cornwall. These guidelines effectively mean the Queen and Charles both have power over laws affecting their sources of private income.
The Queen uses revenues from the Duchy of Lancaster's 19,000 hectares of land and 10 castles to pay for the upkeep of her private homes at Sandringham and Balmoral, while the prince earns £18m-a-year from the Duchy of Cornwall. 
Guardian 15 January 2013 

So the Monarch and her son have a say in their own revenu , Its like the President of the USA ,setting his own wage and retirement package.

The real scandal is there's nothing we can do about it. A MP bringing this up in the commons will be banned by the Speaker  from doing do. Because our elected Democratic institutions do not discus the monarchy in the chamber.

Unless its a sycophantic speech of course.

We need to know the full extent of changes to Government Bills made at the bequest of the Monarch or her heir and if any Bills were dropped because of a "Royal Veto",

In 2010 the people of Wales voted for the Assembly to have some legislative powers should the referendum Question have had the proviso " subject to the Monarchs or her heir's approval?"

Are we to See the same proviso in Party Manifestos?

The Queen should be told her role is to wave at crowds , entertain foreign dignitaries and open buildings.

It should be made clear that she may well express an opinion but it will have no effect on policy.

As arguments are made about devolving power from Westminster and regaining powers from the EU. Perhaps we should start debating ending the powers the Monarch still keeps

But then do we really know what powers she actual maintains?

Tuesday, 15 January 2013

Tory place-men in Welsh Questions

The Western Mule Martin Shipton ,in what looks like a based in a copy of a  Labour Press release  reports that Government whips in the House of Commons have been accused of devising a “human shield” strategy to protect Welsh Secretary David Jones and his Scottish counterpart from awkward opposition questions.

Part of the article says:

Labour say Conservative whips have asked 10 English Tory MPs to systematically submit easy questions to Mr Jones and Scottish Secretary Michael Moore to cut down on the time available for Welsh and Scottish MPs and to disguise the Tories’ lack of political representation in Wales and Scotland.The same 10 MPs entered the draw for both last week’s Scottish Questions and tomorrow’s Welsh Questions.Tory MP David Amess, whose Southend West constituency is 200 miles from Cardiff and 400 miles from Edinburgh, last week asked the Scottish Secretary how many meetings he has had to promote business and tomorrow is due to ask the Welsh Secretary what his verdict is on the defence industry in Wales.Mr Amess, whose interest in Wales has, according to Labour, never been apparent before during his 30 years in Parliament, is part of a trend said to have increased by 40% since Mr Jones became the Secretary of State for Wales last September.
Western Mail January 15 2013

Part of a press release or not this move  makes a mockery of Welsh Questions  as 
Plaid Cymru’s parliamentary leader Elfyn Llwyd said : 

“Obviously it’s most unwelcome considering that MPs from Wales have only 30 minutes per month to raise their concerns about Welsh matters.“The last time this practice seemed to have been adopted was under the last Tory administration in 1992. One would have hoped that a sense of fair play would persuade them that what they are doing is utterly wrong.“I know the response will be that Westminster is the UK Parliament, but nonetheless this practice is unacceptable and will give rise to acrimony.”

Western Mail January 15 2013 
Even the Governments LibDem allies are concerned 

Roger Williams, leader of the Welsh Liberal Democrats in Westminster, said: “I could understand this happening when the Conservatives had no MPs in Wales or hardly any, but they now have eight.
“It’s also understandable when there are cross-border issues relating to hospital services, for example. In the main, however, I’d like to see a convention agreed by all parties that Welsh questions should be reserved for Welsh MP
Western Mail January 15 2013  

Welsh Questions, like Prime Minister Questions and First Minister Question are as Plaid Leader Leanne Wood described the  latter a Pantomime and does not serve much of a real purpose, As Members try to get a soundbite in the little time they have to ask a question . Only to find that the Minister does not answer it even though he or she is primed with statistics from their Civil servants

And Government lackeys are given questions to ask that show the government in a good light which if they are clever enough they memories or if not read out. The reward being a bit of promotion in the Government ranks.

So its usually a waste of time with no real insight into the Welsh Office and what its doing and its not helped with the poor quality of Labour MPs who often are just mouthpieces for the leadership in the same way the Tories are.

Still they are Welsh MPs representing Welsh Constituencies.

There may be a case for some cross border MPs to ask relevant questions affecting their constituencies but it is ridiculous that this is happening.

And to what extent are Civil servants in the Welsh Office used to prepare questions to be handed to English MPs like Davis Amess to ask Welsh Ministers ?

Now that's one question I'd  would be only to happy for him to ask. But I doubt he'd get an answer.

Monday, 14 January 2013

Probably not the finest regions in the World.

All Welsh regions have failed to qualify for the quarter final  of the Heineken cup and with has seen them knocked out before the qualifying stage is complete.

Injury and the loss of senior players to clubs outside Wales have played their part . But the fact remains the regions have failed to shine in the completion since their formation,

There have been calls for Central Contacts on the lines of the Irish regions ad this certainly would help. Though some argue this has somehow inversely damaged the National side. 

But the main problem is still a lack of identification with the Regions and in some cases like Pontypridd darn right hostility.

The WRU, The Regions, and representative of the other clubs in Wales need to come together  and work out what is best for Rugby and the future of the players under our structure.

The relationship between the regions and other clubs need to be improved and it may be an idea that representatives of the premiership clubs are invited to join the management of the Regions.

We can't go on this there may be some who would like to see the regions collapse but ever since the end of the amateur game the old club structure was unlikely to generate the income to support a team  hat could win  the Heineken cup.(Yes Cardiff were runners up in 1996 the first year of the trophy. But since then none.

Just look at the figures

1995–96 FranceToulouse21–18daggerCardiff WalesCardiff Arms ParkCardiff21,800
1996–97 FranceBrive28–9Leicester Tigers EnglandCardiff Arms ParkCardiff41,664
1997–98 EnglandBath19–18Brive FranceParc LescureBordeaux36,500
1998–99Ireland IrelandUlster21–6Colomiers FranceLansdowne RoadDublin49,000
1999–2000 EnglandNorthampton Saints9–8MunsterIreland IrelandTwickenhamLondon68,441
2000–01 EnglandLeicester Tigers34–30Stade Français FranceParc des PrincesParis44,000
2001–02 EnglandLeicester Tigers15–9MunsterIreland IrelandMillennium StadiumCardiff74,600
2002–03 FranceToulouse22–17Perpignan FranceLansdowne RoadDublin28,600
2003–04 EnglandLondon Wasps27–20Toulouse FranceTwickenhamLondon73,057
2004–05 FranceToulouse18–12daggerStade Français FranceMurrayfieldEdinburgh51,326
2005–06Ireland IrelandMunster23–19Biarritz FranceMillennium StadiumCardiff74,534
2006–07 EnglandLondon Wasps25–9Leicester Tigers EnglandTwickenhamLondon81,076
2007–08Ireland IrelandMunster16–13Toulouse FranceMillennium StadiumCardiff74,500
2008–09Ireland IrelandLeinster19–16Leicester Tigers EnglandMurrayfieldEdinburgh66,523
2009–10 FranceToulouse21–19Biarritz FranceStade de FranceSaint-Denis78,962
2010–11Ireland IrelandLeinster33–22Northampton Saints EnglandMillennium StadiumCardiff72,456
2011–12Ireland IrelandLeinster42–14UlsterIreland IrelandTwickenhamLondon81,774

We can't go on like this and we need an urgent response . With only one Welsh representative in the final of Probably the major Rugby club competition in the World (as Heineken would say) compared with Ireland's  8 its a disgrace.

Lets be serious we can't just put this down to our current injury problems and the exodus of players we need to have a plan which will see at least two of our regions playing an Heineken final within 5 years.