Sunday, 31 March 2013

Con/LibDem drive people into the arms of Loan Sharks..

Wales Online reports that  a multi-million pound government cash reserve for Wales’ poorest is being controlled by a US business with no experience in the field.:
Computer firm Northgate Information Solutions is to take over control of the Discretionary Assistance Fund – formerly the Welsh Social Fund – from Tuesday.
Northgate is owned by private equity giant KKR.
The money is there to help people facing emergencies such as leaking roofs, broken boilers or having no food. It had been accessible by popping into the nearest job centre.
Now desperate applicants will have to call a phone number that could cost them more than 40p a minute, register online on a computer they can ill afford, or use a postal system that could see them waiting weeks for cash.
I can't see this as part of the LibDem ongoing campaign to demonise the poorest members

Because even they, would find it hard to claim that it it helps those who are "The deserving poor"  rather than scroungers.

But it is clearly designed to make it harder (already difficult) for desperate people  to claim emergency payouts.

Where  this will inevitably end up in, will be people turning to loan sharks and placing them in even greater debt.

Once again this appalling government attack the poorest members of our society in either misguided ideology or more probably vindictiveness

And we are left wondering if they have any other plans for those who have fallen behind .

Workcamps perhaps?.


Saturday, 30 March 2013

Caerphilly Council: Quis custodiet ipsos custodes? i

Jaxxland have  been reminding us  otg the continuing row (or rather lack of it) on  the fact that Caerphilly Council  have been putting employees under surveillance. 

The information comes from disclosures by Big Brother Watch  and then presented as a scoop by Wales on Sunday and the Wasting Mule,

BBW used d FOI enquiries which estimatethat £3.9 million has been spent by public bodies over the last two years on paying private investigators for surveillance work. The civil liberties group reports a growing use of private investigators by local and public authorities, particularly the number of times they are used without RIPA authorisation (Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act).

One of these four Councils  turned out to be Caerphilly.

Some might argue that there's nothing wrong indeed that councils are making sure that Staff are not misusing their positions or taking paid sick leave for instance when they are perfectly healthy.

But it appears  be that Caerphilly went too far and broke the rules.

A total of 29 organisations, 27 councils, one public authority and one government department, the Department for Transport paid private firms to undertake surveillance
The used powers under Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act in the years 2010/11 and 2011/12
But, 14 organisations - 10 councils and four public authorities - paid private firms to undertake surveillance that was not covered by Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act, making it potentially illegal
Two public authorities and two councils paid other public bodies to spy on their behalf at a cost of £7,600
Four councils - Caerphilly, Dudley, Leicestershire and York - used private investigators to monitor their own staff

As Jaxxland poiints out there fact that the alleged abuse if power by Caerphilly also happened under the previous Plaid led  administration means that there muted cries of outrage from councilors on the council. 

One surprising factor in this that though the Unions were aware of this and the mule tells us that  at least one  of, two the workers who were kept under surveillance are pursuing legal action against the authority, claiming it has failed in its duty of care towards them. it was exposed earlier by the GMB and others

Steven Davis, 41, and Jonathon Powell, 37, both of Blackwood, are being backed by the GMB union, which says it has been concerned about the council’s “spying” activities for at least three years.
The two men worked as a gully and drain-cleaning crew in the Blackwood area. They say they were “shocked and appalled” to discover that they had been targeted for surveillance over five days in May and June 2011.

Perhaps one question is who actually were aware of this policy?

We also need to know whether the surveillance actually uncovered any wrong doing . If it was opened it could be claimed it was acting as a deterrent

But if it was in secret and staff were unaware of its existence and it did not uncover any wrong doing of significance  then legal or not it may be a waste of taxpayer money.

Friday, 29 March 2013

Meath East byelection won Fine Gael.

For those intrested in Irish Politics the Meath East byelection has been won . Fine Gael candidate Helen McEntee was elected on the third count. who tqakes the seat after the death of her father Shane McEntee.

Dynasty are a transitional part of Irish politics,

2013 by-election: Meath East[12][10]
PartyCandidate % 1st PrefCount 1Count 2Count 3
Fine GaelHelen McEntee38.59,3569,54711,473
Fianna FáilThomas Byrne32.98,0028,1069,582
Sinn FéinDarren O'Rourke13.03,1653,370
Direct Democracy IrelandBen Gilroy6.51,5681,793
Labour PartyEoin Holmes4.61,1121,245
Green PartySeán Ó Buachalla1.7423
Workers' PartySeamus McDonagh1.1263
IndependentMick Martin0.8190
IndependentCharlie Keddy0.5110
IndependentGerard O'Brien0.373
IndependentJim Tallon0.247
Electorate: 64,164   Valid: 24,309   Spoilt: 259   Quota: 12,155   Turnout: 38.3%

The Constituency has 3 TD's elected underr STV at the 201I Shane Mcentee had held his seat and Fine Gael gained an extra seat and Labour the Third. The then ruling Fianna Fail lost its two seats reflecting the swing against them in the General Election throughout the republic,

Pref votes
 % FPvSwing%TDsChange
(since 2007)
 % of
Fine GaelEnda Kenny801,62836.1Increase8.876Increase2545.8
Labour PartyEamon Gilmore431,79619.5Increase9.337Increase1722.3
Fianna Fáil[nb 6]Micheál Martin387,35817.5Decrease24.220Decrease5712.0
Sinn FéinGerry Adams220,6619.9Increase3.014Increase108.4
Socialist PartyNone26,7701.2Increase0.62Increase21.2
People Before ProfitNone21,5511.0Increase0.62Increase21.2
WUAGSéamus Healy8,8180.4Increase0.11Increase10.6
Green PartyJohn Gormley41,0391.8Decrease2.90Decrease60

Since then polls, have showed a recovery for Fianaa Fail but not enough to win a General election,

24/03/13Red C28%13%24%14%-21%
17/03/13Millward Brown25%9%29%20%-16%
03/03/13Millward Brown24%11%23%21%-22%
24/02/13Red C28%12%26%16%2%16%
17/02/13Millward Brown25%13%27%20%1%14%
08/02/13Ipsos MRBI25%10%26%18%1%20%

 Labour, appear to be the Party suffering which seems to reflect the general attitude of voters taking their frustration out on the Junior Partners in a coalition.

The Polls also show a significant rise in support for Sinn Féin but they failed to make any breakthrough votewise in Meat East

However if there was a Irish General Election tomorrow there could possibly be a Fianna Fáil Sinn Féin coalition.

Sinn Féin are in a position tom hold a balance of power.

But with the two main parties Fianna Fáil amd Fine Gael both being Conservative and separated by historical factors rather than Ideology they may choose that joining in a coalition together may be the best way to keep Sinn Féin out of power.

If you are not Interested in Irish politics you should be.

Thursday, 28 March 2013

Thunderbirds are gone. Dave Miliband joins International Rescue.

For some reason I always looked at the Miliband Brothers and thought Thunderbirds!

Dave resembling Scott Tracy of Thunderbird 1

And Ed, Scott's younger brother Virgil pilot of Thunderbird 2

They elder brothers  even shared a similar education 
Dave  Miliband studied at Oxford University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology whilst Scott Tracy Educated at Yale and Oxford Universities, 

And now comes the News that  Dave  Milliband announced his resignation from Parliament in order to take up a post as the head of the International Rescue Committee in New York City.

The elder Miliband has abandoned UK politics after failing to narrowly loosing the Labour Leadership to his younger brother.

To read the media in what looks like an obituary Dave was an outstanding politician and will be must missed.

To my mind he was a career politician who having lost out on the top pride abandoned his constituents in South Shields an area he might never step foot in again.

Miliband, is typical of this sought of politician who has set on a Westminster career path. Selected for a safe seat in which he has no connection and who when it falters simply gives up the seat.

I don't know whether Dave Miliband ever talked about "Serving his Constituency"; But even before announcing his resignation he had concentrated on a lucrative life outside the commons '

In September last year I reported that

1. Directorships
Vice-Chairman and non-executive director, Sunderland AFC, from 1 February 2011, 12-15 days a year, £75,000. Address: Sunderland AFC, Stadium of Light, Sunderland SR5 1SU
Received £25,000 on 23 June 2011. Hours: 3 days. (Registered 13 April 2012)
Received £25,000 on 23 October 2011. Hours: 3 days. (Registered 13 April 2012)
Received £25,000 on 23 February 2012. Hours: 4 days. (Registered 29 March 2012)
2. Remunerated employment, office, profession etc
Payment for articles for Mail on Sunday. Address: Northcliffe House, 2 Derry Street, Kensington, London W8 5TT:
Payment of £2,000 received on 1 September 2011 for article published on 16 July 2011. Hours: 2 hrs. (Registered 16 September 2011)
Payments for speeches from London Speaker Bureau. Address: Elsinore House, 77 Fulham Palace Road, London W6 8JA:
Fee of £15,300 for speaking at Allianz event: The New Normal: Global Transformation, Dynamic Competition; Claridge’s Hotel, London, on 7 April 2011. Hours: 5 hrs. (Registered 6 May 2011)
Fee of £7,650 for cancelled speech at Malaysian Investment Development Authority event, 15 July 2011. (Registered 26 July 2011)
Fee of £25,500 and travel and accommodation worth £1,054 for speaking at Vatenfall Summer Economic Seminar, Basta, Sweden. Hours: 1 day. (Registered 9 August 2011)
Fee of £19,258 for speaking at the Ericsson Networked Society Forum; The Hexagon, Pier 6,Central, Hong Kong on 11-12 November 2011. Transport and accommodation (including one member of staff) came to £14,975. (Registered 13 December 2011)
Fee of £20,000 for speaking at Apollo Infrastructure Projects Finance Evening, Sheraton Park Hotel, Chennai, on 7 January 2012. Travel and accommodation also paid; value £6,601. Hours: 1.5 days.(Registered 8 February 2012)
Senior Global Advisor, Oxford Analytica; from 10 March 2011; payment on project basis. Address: 5 Alfred Street, Oxford OX1 4EH.
Payment of £24,000. Hours: 4 days. (Registered 22 July 2011)
Travel and accommodation valued at £6,000.32 while attending Accenture Global Energy Board inSan Francisco from 18 to 20 July 2011. (Registered 9 August 2011)
Transport and accommodation valued at £4,758.01 for visit to Washington, US, to attend Washington Post Global China Summit. (Registered 24 October 2011)
Payment of £15,000. Hours: 3 days. (Registered 13 December 2011)
Payment of £23,980.82 for one week of teaching at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, 11-15 April 2011. Address of payer: MIT Centre for International Studies, 1 Amherst St, E40-457, Cambridge, MA 02139, USA. Hours: 5 days work. Travel and accommodation with family provided by Massachusetts Institute of Technology, costing £24,404.49. (Registered 6 May 2011)
Fee of £14,400 for speaking at Global Arc event: Alternative Investments; The Landmark Hotel, London, on 9 May 2011. Hours: 7.5 hrs. (Registered 23 May 2011)
Payment for articles written for The Times Newspaper. Address: 1 Virginia Street, London E98 1XY:
£500 for article published on 8 March 2011. Hours: 2 hrs. (Registered 6 June 2011)
£500 for article published on 23 May 2011. Hours: 2 hrs. (Registered 6 June 2011)
£500, received on 3 October 2011, for article published on 7 September 2011. Hours: 2 hrs.(Registered 24 October 2011)
Fee of £12,000 for speaking to the Yorkshire Fiscal Group in Harrogate on 9 June 2011. Address of payer: 1 Bridgewater Place, Water Lane, Leeds S11 5QR. Hours: 7.5 hrs. (Registered 8 July 2011)
Senior Advisor to VantagePoint CleanTech Advisory Council, from 1 August 2011. Address: VantagePoint Capital Partners, 1001 Bayhill Drive, Suite 300, San Bruno, CA 94066. Payment on a quarterly basis. (£90,001-£95,000) (Registered 22 July 2011)
Quarterly payment of £23,209.75. Hours: 1.5 days. (Registered 1 August 2011)
Transport and accommodated valued at £2,920 for visit to Utah, US, 17-18 September 2011, to attend meeting of Vantage Point Clean Tech Advisory Board. (Registered 24 October 2011)
Quarterly payment of £23,210. Hours: 1 day. (Registered 13 December 2011)
Quarterly payment of £23,210. Hours: 1 day. (Registered 15 February 2012)
Payment of £611 for two articles for Project Syndicate, PO Box 130, 120 21 Prague 2, Czech Republic, published on 7 September 2011 and 13 October 2011. Payment received after 13 October. Hours: 3 hrs. (Registered 24 October 2011)
Payment of £25,027 for one week of teaching at Stanford University, 19-23 September 2011. Address of payer: Memorial Way, Stanford CA 94305-5015. Hours: 5 days work. Travel and accommodation provided by Stanford University, costing £3,834. (Registered 24 October 2011)
Member of the Advisory Board to the UAE Ministry of Foreign Affairs/Chatham House 2011 Sir Bani Yas Forum. (£60,001-£65,000)
Payment of £64,475 from the UAE Ministry Foreign Affairs, PO Box 1, Abu Dhabi, UAE. (Registered 15 December 2011)
Transport and accommodation (including one member of staff) to Sir Bani Yas Forum on Future ofMiddle East, 17-20 November 2011, provided by Foreign Ministry of UAE, PO Box 1, Abu Dhabi, UAE; cost £4,935. Hours: 3 days work. (Registered 3 January 2012)
Payment of £900 received on 23 January 2012 for three articles in the Financial Times on 14 October, 14 November and 1 December 2011. Address: 1 Southwark Bridge Road, London SE1 9HL. Hours: 6 hrs. (Registered 13 February 2012)
Senior Advisor to Indus Basin Holdings, from 30 January 2012. Address: No 5, Street 15, Sector F-7/2, Islamabad, Pakistan. Payment on a quarterly basis. (Registered 16 February 2012)
This amounts to something like £277,264.01 for work since April 2011. That pn top of his MP's wage of £60,738
In the meantime he has played little part in the Democratic process doing the was elected to do
Has spoken in 15 debates in the last year — below average amongst MPs.
Has received answers to 2 written questions in the last year — below average amongst MPs.
Miliband has earned more than many of his constituents get in a years wages for 5 hours work.

When he  should have  concentrated on representing the people of South Shields and not on lining his own pocket.

One wonders who will miss him most his former constituents s or those looking at him as means of influence in the  hierarchy of British politics

I wish him well in his new job because in the last few years he hasn't been doing the one he was elected for.

Wednesday, 27 March 2013

The Answer to the English Question, An Independent England/

Over at A View from Rural Wales Conservative MP Glyn Davies considers the English Question although he still calls it the West Lothian Question

He writes:

Lets consider some of the various answers. First up an 'English Parliament'. Now do we really need to create another 'parliament'? Is this what the people of Britain want? I have heard it suggested that current MPs sitting for English seats could meet as an 'English Parliament' each Friday at the House of Commons. Well, I would not want these English MPs deciding on health and transport policies in Shropshire without my being there, or air transport policy just because the actual airports are in England. Increasingly specialist services are going to be in England.  Lots of mid Wales services are in Shropshire. Some form of an English Parliament is supported by those who want a 'federal' UK. Personally I do not thing a 'federal system is sustainable when one of the 'federal partners' is around 85% of the whole. Think Cyprus and the Eurozone!! Many sensible people like this idea. I don't.
So what about 'English votes for English laws'. Personally I think this is rather better, but would be horrendously complex and difficult to operate. Every bill would have aspects which affected England only. House of Commons would be like a non-stop Hokey Kokey. But this would be good for job creation - the million civil servants needed to make it work.  This is not for me either - unless we unwisely decide 'Something must be done'.

So Glyn seems to have concluded that there's a problem but doesn't really know what the best solution.

He is not alone  

But then what he doesn't really address is that whats practical isn't always right.

He doesn't for instance look at devolving power to English Regions  but for both the Tories and Labour this would mean that there will be always at least one dissolved English body run by a different party than Westminster and it won't consist of Nationalist  but consist of their main Westminster opposition.

Of course whats arguably at fault here is the two party system,
File:Uk '971.png
I have used the 1997 election  because although there was a Labour  landslide . If there was  regional Parliaments in England .The would still be in control of parts of that country in these regions.and the Lib Dems in the South west

Similarly Labour faced with a Tory Landslide would still control large parts of the midlands .abd the North East

So Regional Parliament s is not attractive to either party.

So that leaves either a English Parliament or changing the voting system in  Westminster.

I don't share Glyn Davies pessimism on how English MPs can vote on English Laws 

There could be a  Speakers Committee who could decide on the bills and decide whether thebills: 

  • Solely affect English Law which  are voted on and debated by English MPs
  • Billss which may affect the other Nations which only English MPs  can vote on but others can debate and take part in the committee stage.
  • Bills that mainly affect England but the affect means that Welsh MPs can vote but not Scottish MPs.
  • Bills which affect the UK as a whole

It may look like a bureaucratic mess  but in fact would be reasonably easy to rule on.

Glyn rightly points out the problems of federalism. Though  Cyprus is a poor example . But he fails to point the only real solution is to  end the UK and see an Independent England as Wales  Scotland and Wales.

Practical and Fair.

Tuesday, 26 March 2013

Carwyn: Second (Or Third) Best Is Fine For Wales

Carwyn Jones' speech to the party faithful at the "Welsh" Labour Conference in Llandudno was extraordinary .

His argument seemed  at first to call for more powers for the Assembly because there was A Con Libdem government  at Westminster.

He said :
Today, we continue on the path of devolution. We need to see the first part of the Silk Commission’s work implemented, so that Welsh Labour has the tools to do the job on behalf of our people. We’ll await now the results of Part two of Silk – but I have to tell you conference, devolution can’t sit still. The present settlement is unclear and needs to be changed.”
Carwyn Jones Llandudno March 2013

So far so good 

He continued:
“Is it right that a Tory Government at a whim, should be able to abolish the Assembly without a vote if they so wanted?  Is it right that a Tory Secretary of State can prevent an Assembly Bill from becoming law?  Is it right that alone amongst the people of Britain, the people of Wales don’t have the right level of control over energy and water?  Conference – there are some things that can be devolved easily. There are others that cannot.

Why just a Tory Secretary of State? Doesn't this equally apply to a Labour one . 

Why  always take the easy option ?

Speaking of the Moon Race President John F. Kennedyin 1962  ( Whatever you think of him ) got it right. When he said

"We choose to go to the moon in this decade and to do these other things not because they are easy, but because they are hard, because that goal will serve to organize and measure the best of our energies and skills, because that challenge is one that we are willing to accept, one we are unwilling to postpone, and one which we intend to win." -- 

We know Carwyn, likes it easy but now is the time do the hard things . 

Carwyn , then ruins his argument:

We don’t believe in independence because we know – and most people agree – that it would be bad for Wales.  It’s because of our proud Welshness that we oppose independence.  We know that what’s important is the ability to recognise what’s bad for your nation. That’s what sets us apart.
“Conference, I don’t believe that the powers of the National Assembly should be exactly the same as Scotland and Northern Ireland.  Their histories are different to ours.  But Conference, I will never accept that Wales is inferior to Scotland and Northern Ireland – which is what the present UK Government are saying.
“Let me be clear. Wales is not a second class Scotland. Welsh Labour is not more lowly than the SNP, the DUP or Sinn Fein. Devolution must develop and the people of Wales deserve the same respect as those of Scotland and Northern Ireland.
“We stand for a strong Wales, as part of a strong UK. That’s what our people believe in, and that’s where we, as a Party stand too

Here he sounds like a Rugby Coach  that the Challenge Cup is better for his team than the Heineken Cup or its a his Soccer alternative claiming that playing in the Europa league suits him fine and he doesn't want to play in the Champions League.

In fact Carwyn's ambition is worse as he seems happy not to qualify for the second tier  that Scotland have with a parliament let alone independence.

"Welsh Labour is not more lowly than the SNP, the DUP or Sinn Fein".!!!

They are not even in the same league.

Perhaps Carwyn in his Devolution is better bet that independence will consider holding  a National Holiday  every  September 19th  to celebrate the 1997 referendum.

But what Nation celebrate s Devolution Day.?

Monday, 25 March 2013

People Live In Homes Not Accommodations,

 The Wasting Mule  reports largely using the Party's press release (so you can also read it here) that 
Hundreds of homeless families and individuals in Wales – including pregnant women – are being put up in bed and breakfast accommodation and Plaid Cymru has warned the plight will worsen after bedroom tax is introduced.
An investigation by the office of Plaid leader Leanne Wood using the Freedom of Information Act has discovered the widespread use of B&Bs, with only the Cardiff and Ceredigion local authorities not using them.
In June 2011 Ms Wood raised the issue of the use of temporary accommodation directly with the then Housing Minister Huw Lewis, highlighting the unsuitability and cost of using temporary accommodation. The Minister promised to stop the use of temporary accommodation.
Figures obtained from local authorities show that in, for example, Bridgend – whose AM is First Minister Carwyn Jones – 125 households were placed in B&Bs between April 1 and December 31 last year.
Many homeless people are not being housed in their home areas – some, for instance, from Merthyr Tydfil have been housed in Newport while border counties like Flintshire, Wrexham and Monmouthshire have used B&Bs in Chester and Gloucestershire respectively.
Plaid Cymru has also discovered that the B&B accommodation for a family can cost up to £420 a week, with daily rates of up to £90 for a double room.
Ms Wood said: “More than 1,000 cases of families and individuals being housed in B&B accommodation in Wales between April and December 31, 2012, is an unacceptably high number. Housing children and pregnant women especially in B&Bs is unsuitable and it is a practice which should be stopped
Western Mail March 25th 2013

When you look at this and the potential that the Introduction of the Bedroom Tax will probably cost  more  though it will be largely fall on the Assembly and Local Government makes you wonder why the government introduced this.

Because the Con/LibDem intention is to place the blame on the economic woes on the poor. 

Constantly they have tried to give the impression that those dependent on the welfare state are getting something for nothing.

it is also part of a long term policy to present Social Housing as a temporary measure and that people should live in private accommodation.

They are saying . This is not your Home your stay here is only temporally don't get used to it..

Already I have heard stories that family's are leaving Social Housing and moving to the private sector and  worse conditions because the changes mean that they can no longer live in the place they have called home for years.

Most observers rightly point out the distress on the elderly and disabled who may have to move from their Home to other accommodation.

But single people are also affected 

Even someone living in a small two bedroom house/flat may have to seek single accommodation.

But is there plenty single accommodation in the Public or Private sector?

Obviously not.

And will the rent  and therefore Housing Benefit be more for private single accommodation then their current two bed accommodation ?


What about those who circumstance change? 

Take a single mother  who is forced to live in single accommodation and the finds that a they need to offer a room to a offspring. 

Would they have to move a gain 

And then again if the offspring moves on.

There are loads of scenarios which you can see occurring which makes a potential bureaucratic minefield.

People live in homes some may live in homes too big for them and should be persuaded to move.

But it is heartless to force someone to move from a Home they have lived in for years and who may have improved it to move if their circumstances change 

But when did the Tories have a heart? And they seem to have removed the LibDems as well