Sunday, 31 December 2017

" Honours" we are entering 2018 and not 1718.

 The term Knights if the Shires is an occasionally features as journalese to describe elderly Members of Parliament, usually any Conservative backbenchers with long service who possess a knighthood.

Largely autonomous outside their constituencies , they are part of the loyal "Lobby Fodder" who could be relied on to vote with the party no matter what the circumstances

This has somewhat fallen out of practise  has somewhat fallen out of favour, as Prime ministers seemed to have concentrated awarding political honours to supporters outside Parliament.

 Peerages and Knighthoods have been awarded to donors and aids , even wen the PM claims to stop doing so.

 It is interesting that it is the Telegraph who claim that

Theresa May has moved to shore up her future as Tory leader by giving top honours to half of the ruling board of the Conservative party’s influential 1922 committee.
Three of the committee’s six-strong board have received senior honours: Graham Brady, the chairman, and Geoffrey Clifton-Brown, the honorary treasurer, are knighted; while Cheryl Gillan, a vice chairman, is made a dame. 
The support of the 1922 committee is vital for Mrs May to deliver on her promise to serve a full five year term as party leader.
Sir Graham is listened to closely by the leadership and would play a crucial role in any future leadership contest, which would be triggered if 15 per cent of the party's MPs - 48 at present - write to him requesting one.
All three backed Leave in the European Union referendum, as did a fourth Conservative MP to be honoured, veteran former minister Christopher Chope who receives a knighthood.
The honours would appear at odds with claims from Mrs May after she became Prime Minister that she would bring an end to handing out honours to cronies.

The  ruse seems to have worked as Mrs May let me keep my job knighthood  was largely lost in the news of Sir Ringo  and Sir Barry hit the headlines and the Knighthood given to Nick Clegg apparently for destroying his party.

Since the Prime Minister is supposed to be first among equals does not given Knighthoods to sitting MPs suggest , some are more equal than others.

The Practice of dangling a seat on the Privy Council may well be used to prevent opposition MPs from disclosing privileged   information  and it was the practice that should a Privy Counsellor rise to speak in the House of Commons at the same time as another Honourable Member, the Speaker usually gives priority to the "Right Honourable" Member. This parliamentary custom, however, was discouraged under New Labour after 1998, despite the Government not being supposed to exert influence over the Speaker.

Does it still happen?

Personally I will never address a fellow citizen as Sir or Dame (which woman would want to?)  or Lord and its time to consider abolition all titles.

We are  entering 2018 not 1718 after all.

Saturday, 30 December 2017

Tories claim FPTP is rigged against them.

 Political Betting have taken the Tories and the Telegraph to  Task for  aping D Trump when they claim the electoral system’s rigged against them

Mike Smitherson writes.
I know it is the holiday season and all that with political news thin on the ground but the Telegraph should have looked at the basic numbers from GE2017 before inferring that somehow the electoral system is rigged against the Tories and for Labour.
This might have been true after GE2005 when Blair’s LAB won 55% of the seats with 35.2% of the votes but things have moved on since then. The basic fact from June 8th is that the Tories won 48.9% of MPs with 42.4% vote while LAB won 40.3% of MPs with 40% of vote. The LDs secured 1.8% of MPs with 7.4% of vote.
    Under the current boundaries the Tories would win 13 more seats (out of 650) than Labour if they both get 42% and there is a uniform swing. Under the proposed new boundaries, the gap increases to 37 seats out of 600.
Those basic numbers point to the opposite of what CON ministers and the paper is suggesting.
One of the political problems the Tories have got with this is that under the current proposal the DUP looks set to lose three seats to Sinn Fein becoming the second party in Northern Ireland.
TMay’s “supply and confidence” partners are not going to do anything that supports a plan that would negatively affect them. Without the DUP’s votes it will be a struggle getting this through the Commons.
So please no whinging. This is naked political self interest by the Tories.
 If the seats had been fought under Pr then the result would look like this
  • Conservative, 276
  • Labour, 260
  • Lib Dem, 48
  • SNP, 20
  • Ukip, 12
  • Green, 10
  • DUP, 6
  • Other, 6
  • Sinn Fein, 5
  • Plaid Cymru, 3
  • SDLP, 2
  • UUP, 1
  • Alliance, 1
The Lib Dems have suffered more than most in that election after  Election has seen them under FPTP  never even approaching the number of seats their support at elections deserve.

And 2016 was the first in years  where the Two Party system was prominet qith Labour and the Tories  getting over 80% of the vote

A year earlier in the 2015 General election he Conservatives would have won 75 fewer seats but would still have been the largest party in the Commons. Labour too would have taken fewer seats.
The SNP's dramatic increase in seats of 50 would have been curtailed to 25.
But UKIP, the Lib Dems and the Greens would have fared much better.
UKIP would have been a force to be reckoned with in the Commons with 83 seats.
Mr Farage has not yet declared which of the many alternative voting systems he would favour, but any more proportional system would be likely to give him and other smaller parties a boost.
The contrasting fortunes of the different parties in Westminster under first past the post are made clear by looking at the number of votes won for each winning candidate.
UKIP then required more than 100 times as many votes for its lone elected MP than the Conservatives did for each of theirs. 

Some would consider Keeping Ukip out was worth it  and certainly could have then permanently  a major UK party instead of disappearing of the Screen.

 Of course the Tory-Telegraph claim that they are loosing out under the current boundaries  and their plans to Gerrymander the current seat by reducing the number of MP including a huge cull in Wales.

The whole problem is that both Labour and Tories have an interest in keeping the current undemocratic system, and even if they  were forced to propose a form of PR by a coalition partner .as the Lb Dems proposed Alternative vote  saw in the 2011 Referendum it can easily be defeated.

We need Progressive Parties and those in Labour who believe in democracy to make a clear case for PR and promote  the Single transferable vote STV).

Even those in Labour who stick to FPTP  should realise that they face the possibility of being a permanent  opposition if they don't want to repeat the Blue-Tory years and being endorsed by the Right-Wing media who believe they are now "safe" and will continue the "Blue" agenda.

Friday, 29 December 2017

It seems that Sir Humphrey Clones are still there.

 On Wednesday the Guardian reported that

It is deeply concerning, therefore, to discover that about 1,000 files have gone missing after being removed by civil servants. Officially, the archives describe them as “misplaced while on loan to a government department”.
The files, each containing dozens of pages, cover subjects such as the Troubles in Northern Ireland, the British colonial administration in Palestine, tests on polio vaccines and territorial disputes between the UK and Argentina. It is unclear whether duplicates exist.
The loss of so many documents of such significance has understandably caused concern among historians, politicians and human rights groups. Amnesty International has called on Theresa May to order an urgent government-wide search for the documents, while Labour MP Jon Trickett has warned that the loss “will only fuel accusations of a cover-up”.
Such suggestions may seem far-fetched, but recent history has given many people reason to be suspicious. Documents in the National Archives have previously been key in revealing human rights abuses by the British state.
In 2014, for instance, investigators from the Irish broadcasterIn 2014, for instance, investigators from the Irish broadcaster RTÉ uncovered a 1977 letter from the then home secretary, Merlyn Rees, to the prime minister of the day, James Callaghan, in which Rees claimed that ministers had given permission for torture to be used in Northern Ireland during the Troubles. The information had reportedly been withheld from the European court of human rights.
Also in 2014, the government was accused of a cover-up after it said it could not release information about the CIA’s “extraordinary rendition” programme because the files had suffered “water damage”
 I wonder how long this has been happening because  "The Skeleton in the Cupboard" isthe seventeenth episode  of Yes Minister  first broadcast in 1982and contains  the following conversation between Minister Jim Hacker and Permanent Secretary Sir Humphrey Appleby 

Sir Humphrey Appleby: Well, this is what we normally do in circumstnces like these.
James Hacker: [reads memo] This file contains the complete set of papers, except for a number of secret documents, a few others which are part of still active files, some correspondence lost in the floods of 1967...
James Hacker: Was 1967 a particularly bad winter?
Sir Humphrey Appleby: No, a marvellous winter. We lost no end of embarrassing files.
James Hacker: [reads] Some records which went astray in the move to London and others when the War Office was incorporated in the Ministry of Defence, and the normal withdrawal of papers whose publication could give grounds for an action for libel or breach of confidence or cause embarrassment to friendly governments.
James Hacker: That's pretty comprehensive. How many does that normally leave for them to look at?
James Hacker: How many does it actually leave? About a hundred?... Fifty?... Ten?... Five?... Four?... Three?... Two?... One?... *Zero?*
Sir Humphrey Appleby: Yes, Minister.

It was clear over 30 years ago  that the writers Anthony Jay and  Jonathan Lynn had a deep insight into the machinations of government  and that notjing has changed.


Thursday, 28 December 2017

Goodbye Nathan Gill. Aargh he still an MEP.

The news that former Ukip Wales leader Nathan Gill has quit his North Wales seat at the National Assembly following a long-running dispute with Neil Hamilton, the party’s current leader at the Senedd does not come as a surprise.

Mr Gill was elected as one of seven Ukip AMs at last year’s Assembly election, but was quickly ousted as leader by Mr Hamilton.

He left the Ukip group at the Assembly and has been sitting as an Independent.
The politician, who remains an MEP representing the whole of Wales, has been criticised for poor attendance at the Senedd.

He said in a statement: “It is with both sadness and relief that I am choosing to step down from my position as AM for North Wales.

“I took this decision a long time ago, based on principle, not peer pressure. I consulted with the next candidate on the list who at the time asked whether I would delay my resignation to give her more time to prepare.
“I agreed that this was absolutely the right thing to do. Mandy Jones is now eager and ready to take over the role, and I am confident that I am leaving the post to someone who will do an excellent job for the people of North Wales.
“I am proud to have led Ukip to be the first party in history to break into the Welsh Assembly since its establishment winning seven seats in 2016 and to have been declared the party’s first ever AM.

“With the country now in the process of leaving the European Union, it is clear that the most pressing issue facing Wales is Brexit. With talks about to move on to the secondary stage, the institutions of the European Union will become increasingly involved in debating and advising on progress.
“I feel it is right that I concentrate on serving my term as an MEP and do my bit in helping to get the best deal for the country. As the only Eurosceptic MP in Wales, I have a duty to give the majority of voters who backed ‘Leave’ in Wales the representation that they deserve and need in Brussels.
“This is not, as some people have baselessly stated, a decision that benefits me financially. Quite the opposite. I am leaving job security for the next three and a half years to commit myself to my political beliefs for one final but crucial year in the European Parliament.
“Serving in both Parliaments has given me invaluable insight but also revealed how deep the disconnect is between UK politicians sitting in different parliaments. If we share information and work more closely together, we can get the best deal for our country.
“I pledge to maintain an open door to all politicians in Wales, whichever body they are elected to, to consult me and collaborate with me in my role as an MEP as we move to the next critical stage of negotiations.”

When UK MEPs leave the European Parliament at the time of Brexit in 2019, they will be entitled to a “transitional” payment worth around £40,000, so long as they are not elected members of another legislature. Which is handy for Mr Gill especially as the polls predict a possible Ukip wipe out in the next Assembly Election.

Two weeks ago Mr Gill’s spokeswoman told us he had no intention of resigning, although she confirmed that conversations had taken place “about what may happen in future”.

However there was an apparent indication in a leaflet that Mr Gill has sent to every constituent in Wales.

 The leaflet which seems to have en produced  by  Ukip European grouping Europe of Freedom and Direct Democracy does not appear to state where it was printed.

Hopefully it was printed in Wales? Otherwise  it makes a mockery of Mr Gill claim to be "Working for Wales".

On that  although this Blog is in no position to criticize spelling on typos . You would think that who ever produced the leaflet would check on the only Welsh spelling . What is Gwethio, Gweithio surely?

So Tax payers have  paid  through as EU arty grouping for what seems a Vanity project so Mr Gill can say in the limelight when quitting as a AM.

As has been noted Mr Gill attendance at the Assembly was sparse . Whether he attendance at the European Parliament will improve is open to question.

Like many Ukip AM he may not pop in often whilst still trousering his pay and expenses. Knowing full well it is not wildly monitored and  and his constituents don't seem to care.  

Plaid Cymru AM Bethan Jenkins tweeted:
“Nathan Gill has resigned as an AM. Such a loss to our Institution. Pity it cannot trigger a by election as I know Ukip would NOT win that seat again.”
 In the spirit of the season,

So say all of us

Wednesday, 27 December 2017

A new "Ealing Comedy" made in Wales?

 The state of the Welsh economy is so fragile that the Welsh Government seems desperate to strike any deal  with investors.even if it turns out to be disastrous.

They seem to hope that they can bathe in the publicity of a  "major investment"  and hope that if does go "Tits Up".

We now have  another example of such folly.

The BBC has reported that the film group Pinewood has stopped paying rent for a studio at a Welsh Government-owned building in Cardiff.
It entered a 15-year lease in January 2015, but BBC Wales has learned it is no longer considered to be a tenant at the Wentloog facility.
The Welsh Government said Pinewood remained committed to Wales and was operating the studio under a new agreement. 

Pinewood only began paying rent for its Cardiff studio in January 2017 after it emerged its first two years had been rent-free. 

So it has paid less than a year rent for the Studio before ceasing to do so

The deal was part of an agreement to move into the former energy centre on the outskirts of Cardiff when the building was bought by the Welsh Government for £5.2m.
BBC Wales used a Freedom of Information request to confirm Pinewood was no longer a tenant.
But despite stating a new agreement had been reached between Pinewood and the Welsh Government to operate the studio, further details have not been published for "commercial" reasons.

So far it appears the studio has been involved with,
  • The Bastard Executioner - FX channel medieval series, cancelled after the first season
  • Journey's End - a World War One play's film adaption starring Sam Claflin and Toby Jones
  • The State - Peter Kosminsky's mini-series for Channel 4, dramatising British Muslims going to fight with so-called Islamic State
  • Showdogs - a canine crime caper film with Will Arnett
  • A remake of the 1994 film The Crow was slated to be the first film to be shot at the studios in 2015,but production delays put the project on hold.Filming for BBC 
  • Three series Class (a spin-off of Doctor Who) took place here excluding the corridor and hall scenes. Which was cancelled after its first series.

I imagine at least two of the above would have been made at the BBC Wale's own facilities  before Pinewood started operating.

Responding to questions in the Senedd on 6 December, culture minister Dafydd Elis-Thomas told AMs: 

  "Pinewood remains committed to operating the studio in Wentloog and continuing to promote Wales internationally as a destination for high-end TV and film production."

Conservative culture spokeswoman Suzy Davies, who raised the issue in the Senedd, has called for more information about the relationship between Pinewood and the Welsh Government.
Ms Davies said:

 "This news does not appear to fit with what the culture minister told me two weeks ago when he said 'Pinewood remains committed to operating the studio in Wentloog'.
"Instead we are left with more questions about what Welsh Government's relationship with Pinewood is and whether there is a relationship at all now.
"Since my last questions to Welsh Government I have had two offers to meet with the minister to discuss this further in the new year.
"I hope that some clarity can be gained as these mixed messages from Welsh Government are unlikely to be helping in their attempts to make Wales an attractive place to make high-end television and film productions."
A Welsh Government spokesman said Pinewood was committed to Wales and having the company in Cardiff had given Wales a global advantage.
It said it had been invaluable to the film and television sector and the studio was also home to key supply chain companies.

"Pinewood is continuing to operate the Wentloog studio under a new agreement, the terms of which remain confidential,

Confidential? Surly we have a right to know if  we are being taken a ride by whoever is running Pinewood.

Maybe Pinewood old rivals should consider making a new "Ealing Comedy " about a hapless minister faced with a new scandal desperately trying to amen one disastrous  decision after another.    

Tuesday, 26 December 2017

Unionist V Independentista the future Welsh Politics?

There was an unusual admission by former Liberal Democrat Peter Black in a recent post


As 2017 draws to a close, where next for the Welsh Liberal Democrats?

He has a somewhat truthful analysis of the Liberal Democrats current status.

But for me one part actually stood out.

"We have few heartlands, mostly concentrated in rural mid-Wales where sheep outnumber people and community politics consists of candidates being seen at as many local funerals and church services that they can get to. Even there the traditional Liberal Democrat radical base has been eroded by incomers from outside Wales".
Interesting  that he uses language about incomers that may have got a Welsh Nationalist accused of some kind of racism.

But Peter goes on

"We have survived by ruthlessly squeezing Labour and Plaid Cymru votes to stop the Tories. In Ceredigion, we squeezed the unionist vote to stop Plaid Cymru. In both cases that squeeze unravelled disastrously earlier this year as two-party politics reasserted itself".
I think that this may be the first time that a member of a UK  wide party as referred to the Unionist vote in Wales .

In Scotland in this years General Election the Tories gained  12 seats from the SNP largely on a campaign where they sought Unionist votes from Labour and the Liberal Democrats they were helped by media that give prominence  to Scottish Tory Leader Ruth Davidson 

In Catalonia  the anti-independence Ciutadans (Citizens) aped the Scottish Tories in the same way  did win the most seats of any party, but not enough to form a majority government.
The Spanish government had called an early election in the hope of quelling the separatist movement, whose push for independence triggered the country's worst political crisis in decades.
But Madrid's hopes were clearly dashed.  no single party gained an outright majority but the three  independentista. parties together took 70 seats. They needed 68 to keep their grip on the 135-seat Parliament.
To govern the pro-independence parties will need to join in a coalition. Such a scenario would push the Madrid-Barcelona relationship back to where this all began three months ago, with a provocative  independentista. government in Barcelona rattling Madrid. 
Is this the future for Politics in Nation less State  where a  movement battles a  media selected Unionist Party which argue that  independentistas. such as those inn Scotland and  are deviding the Nation that for sake of "Stability"  the former must abandon Independence and Statehood.
There is never the argument that even if they are in a minority Unionist such as Pre-1922 Ireland are the dividing  force.

I have  deliberately used the term  independentista because it time we used this this rather than Nationalist or Separatist to describe ourselves.
Wales has not yet apart for a few constituencies  seen many contests between
independentistas (largely Plaid) and a selected Unionist Party,but as Scotland and Catalonia are proving this may well be a contest  of 
independentistas (which tend to be on the Left) and Unionists (on the right).
For the former they will have to face a Unionist controlled Media and as Catalonia has shown draconian actions from the State,
But I predict that they will  and a domino effect will soon start throughout Europe, whether Scotland or Catalonia will be the first to fall is the big question.

Monday, 25 December 2017

Nadolig Llawen, Now end War and Poverty.

I must admit I have huge respect for Plaid Cymru leader Leanne Wood who put this on Social Media

20h20 hours ago
🎄I’ve not issued a ”Christmas message” - I can’t be doing with “thinking of those less fortunate than ourselves” only at Christmas. Instead I wish you all good rest & happiness & strength for positive politics to help fight injustice in 2018.
As Jesus himself put it 2The poor are always with us" though he din't obviously add not just for Christmas.
The sight of Mrs Christmas message  praising volunteers who give up their time to ‘make someone else’s Christmas that little bit better’.  enrages me

How can she say 

 ‘As we celebrate the birth of Christ, let us celebrate all those selfless acts – and countless others – that epitomise the values we share.’

It is her policies that are making people sleep on the streets  and going to Food Banks (Food Banks in

To his credit Jeremy Corbyn highlighted the plight of those who were ‘cut off and lonely’ or in war-torn countries such as Yemen and Syria.
He said:

 ‘It’s a time of the year when we think about others, like those who have no home to call their own or who are sleeping rough.’

But as Leanne indicated Politicians should be thinking about the above every day.

But lets  not get to gloomy the message of "Peace on earth and goodwill to all men" is a valid if you are a Christian, Muslim , Hindu , or any religion  and even those like myself who have none.

Have a great Christmas but let the Christmas message be that we seek a time when we have no need to think of the less fortunate than ourselves, and we end War and Poverty throughout the World.

Sunday, 24 December 2017

Stephen Crabb, failed the Clinton test.

  I personally follow the "Bill  Clinton" rule where as someone pointed out.

"So long as the President does not tell us who we should sleep with, we should not care who he does".

Of course that does not include harassment and therefore it is important to report that while, former Welsh secretary Stephen Crabb has been cleared of breaching party rules following an investigation into allegations of inappropriate conduct.He may well not be cleared by public opinion.

The Conservative Preseli Pembrokeshire MP is one of two MPs to be cleared of breaching party rules after allegations of inappropriate conduct. 

We maybe should call for the Tories to tighten its rules.

Mr Crabb and Chris Pincher MP were cleared by a panel, headed by an independent QC, of breaching the Conservatives’ code of conduct.

Mr Crabb was reported to have admitted sending explicit messages to a 19-year-old woman he interviewed for a job. 

The party found that while the former cabinet minister’s behaviour fell short of the party’s standards and was “inappropriate”, it “did not constitute harassment”.


Referring to Mr Crabb’s case, a Conservative Party spokesman said: 

“Following an investigation, a panel headed by an independent QC has concluded that Mr Crabb’s behaviour did not constitute harassment.
“However, it found that his behaviour in this matter was inappropriate and fell short of the standards the party expects.
“The party chairman has reminded Mr Crabb of the need to adhere to the spirit and letter of the code of conduct at all times. He accepted this unreservedly and has made a full apology.”

It is important for us to note that

Crabb is a Christian who believes in the practical value of prayer and who feels the church should play an active role in community life.]
He has past links to Christian Action Research and Education (CARE), an advocacy group that is opposed to LGBT rights[during the 1990s Crabb was a parliamentary intern backed by the organisation, and he is one of around twenty MPs to have employed interns funded by CARE. When quizzed about his views during his party leadership bid in July 2016, Crabb said: 

"I don't believe that being gay is a sin. I don't believe it's something to be cured. I've never said anything like that." and claimed accusations to the contrary were "a complete falsehood spread by political opponents".
  Stephen Crabb is also  member of the of the right wing Cornerstone Group 

 s name derives from the Cornerstone Group's support for three British social institutions: the Church of England, the unitary British state, and the family. To this end, it emphasises England's Anglican heritage (although some are looking to Roman Catholicism in view of increasing liberalism within the CofE), opposes any transfer of power away from the central government and institutions of the United Kingdom — either downwards to the nations and regions or upwards to the European Union — and seeks to place greater emphasis on traditional family structures to repair what has been termed as Britain's broken society, as well as calling for tighter levels of immigration into the UK.
Its core focus points include the Monarchy; traditional marriage; family and community duties; proper pride in the United Kingdom's distinctive qualities; quality of life over soulless utility; social responsibility over personal selfishness; social justice as civic duty, not state dependency; compassion for those in need; reducing government waste; lower taxation and deregulation; Promotion and protection of ancient liberties against politically correct censorship and a commitment to the democratically elected UK parliament.
 once referred to as the Taliban Tendency by Conservative MP Alan Duncan and which new Parliamentary Under-Secretary  Preseli MP Stephen Crabb is also affiliated.

 Small wonder fellow Tory MP Alan Duncan once referred to this wing as a "Taliban tendency"

Stephen Crabb has failed the Bill Clinton rule and , I think we  have any right to call him out it is is the second time he as been accused for a second time of sending sexually explicit message to a young woman. 

Mr Crabb may well hope to put these two events, behind him.

I for one will let him so long as we don't hear any hypocrisy over 2Familly Values" from him or any of his other members of the Tory Taliban Tendency,
The Work and Pensions Secretary, a married father of two, sent sexually charged messages to an unidentified young woman in the days leading up to the EU referendum. Mr Crabb, 43, is believed to have been exposed by the unidentified woman after she became infuriated by his supposed hypocrisy in campaigning to be party leader on a platform of being a devout Christian and family man who opposed same-sex marriage.

Read more at:
sent sexually charged messages to an unidentified young woman in the days leading up to the EU referendum. Mr Crabb, 43, is believed to have been exposed by the unidentified woman after she became infuriated by his supposed hypocrisy in campaigning to be party leader on a platform of being a devout Christian and family man who opposed same-sex marriage.

Read more at:
sent sexually charged messages to an unidentified young woman in the days leading up to the EU referendum. Mr Crabb, 43, is believed to have been exposed by the unidentified woman after she became infuriated by his supposed hypocrisy in campaigning to be party leader on a platform of being a devout Christian and family man who opposed same-sex marriage.

Read more at:

Saturday, 23 December 2017

Forget Blue I want the White Passport back

As Brexiters are wetting themselves over getting a Blue Passport  in a few years time I find myself nostalgic for the olde British visitor's passport

 new simplified type, the British Visitor's Passport,  introduced in 1961. It was a single-page cardboard document valid for one year obtainable for many years from Employment Exchanges, as agents of the Passport Office, and then from a Post Office.

You could  pop in to the Post Office  get a Photo taken in a booth fill in a form , pay 5 and go on holiday the next day

 It was accepted for travel by most west European countries (excluding surface travel to West Berlin), but was dropped in 1995 since it did not identify the holder's nationality or meet new security standards.

Whilst on Holiday with a French Girlfriend I lost my Visitors Passport on the Paris Metro. She dragged me to the nearest Police Station and insisted that they give me a "declaration".

Travelling back to Dover on my own I was in a bit of a panic but on informing a  boarder guard he took me to a telephone where he rang some office or other , groaned and said " Its a Welsh one"  spoke for a few moments  and then turned to me and said "Off you go".

Of course we are living in different times, but I| can't hep thinking that those seeking to harm us will not be stopped by a Passport whether , White, Blue or Burgundy.

I am not even an enthusiast for a "Welsh Passport" I hope Welsh identity will be dependent on my Nation being seen as beacon of Peace and Democracy, rather than a piece of cardboard.

Nationality is not defined by a Piece of cardboard and I would rather have free travel and movement between nations,

For those who can;t wait for their Blue piece of cardboard I wonder how their patriotic chest will swell as they find their  can't go through the European Citizens channels and have to queue with other "foreigners".

Nations are much more than Passports I would cheerfully forgo a Welsh one for the right to freely travel in Europe .

Oh I can do so now,  but alas for now.

Friday, 22 December 2017

Catalonia gives a mandate for Independence parties

Catalan pro-independence parties have held their absolute majority in snap regional elections, dealing a severe blow to the Spanish government, which had called the polls in the hope of heading off the secessionist push.
The three Pro-Independence parties  won a total of 70 seats in the 135-seat regional parliament even though the centre-right, pro-unionist Citizens party was the single biggest winner, taking 37 seats.

Summary of the 21 December 2017 Parliament of Catalonia election results
Parties and coalitions Popular vote Seats
Votes  % ±pp Won +/−

Citizens–Party of the Citizenry (Cs) 1,101,574 25.36 +7.46 37 +12

Together for Catalonia (JuntsxCat)1 940,414 21.65 +1.85 34 +3

Republican Left of Catalonia–Catalonia Yes (ERC–CatSí)1 929,061 21.39 +4.79 32 +6

Socialists' Party of Catalonia (PSC–PSOE) 602,616 13.88 +1.14 17 +1

Catalonia in Common–We Can (CatComú–Podem)2 323,460 7.45 –1.49 8 –3

Popular Unity Candidacy (CUP) 193,285 4.45 –3.76 4 –6

People's Party (PP) 184,005 4.24 –4.25 3 –8

Blank ballots 19,375 0.44 –0.09

Total 4,342,973 100.00
135 ±0

The Anti-independent Citizens–Party of the Citizenry (Cs) may have emerged as the  largest party but since they ran a "now we will vote slogan" do they accept that the people have given a Mandate fir Independence?
 Or at the very least another "Legal" referendum?

Stance on independence issues

Stance on
Parties and coalitions Referendum Unilateralism Support of direct rule
Yes Yes Together for Catalonia (JuntsxCat) Yes Question
Republican Left of Catalonia–Catalonia Yes (ERC–CatSí) Yes
Popular Unity Candidacy (CUP) Yes Yes
No Citizens–Party of the Citizenry (C's)
Socialists' Party of Catalonia (PSC–PSOE) Yes
People's Party (PP) Yes
Question Neutral Catalonia in Common–We Can (CatComú–Podem) Yes
It is unclear whether the  Pro-independence Parties  will have enough members to form a government given than a number of their members are in Spanish Jails or exile.

The Madrid governing People's Party lost heavily and have absolutely no Mandate in Catalonia.

If the ball is in any ones court it is the European Union who must surely   recognise the rights of Catalonia to self determination or accept that they support Madrid and its increasing Francoist authoritarian government  that was decisively rejected in a election they called.

Thursday, 21 December 2017

Lib Dems fined, DUP get away with "Dark Money" payments.

I am surprisingly sympathetic to the announcement that  Liberal Democrats have been fined £18,000 for breaching campaign spending rules during last year’s Brexit referendum, the elections watchdog because there seems to be double standards at force here.

The majority of the fine was for failing to provide acceptable invoices or receipts for 80 payments worth more than £80,000, the Electoral Commission said.
The Britain Stronger in Europe official campaign to Remain in the EU, which has become Open Britain, was also fined £1,250 for failing to deliver a complete and accurate spending return.

Bob Posner, Electoral Commission director of political finance and regulation, said: “The reporting requirements for parties and campaigners at referendums and elections are clear, that’s why it is disappointing that the Liberal Democrats didn’t follow them correctly.

Because at the same time  the  Northern Ireland Secretary James Brokenshire is going to try to sneak a big favour to the DUP, the small party now propping up May’s government in parliament – and in effect holding the future of Britain, Ireland and Europe hostage.

 As campaigner Alan Ramsay points out,
Hoping that journalists and MPs will be too hung-over after yet another Christmas party to pay much attention to a new legislative detail, Brokenshire has chosen the quiet moment before the break to smuggle through a measure which will deny British citizens the right to know who funds their politics. And in particular, it will block all of us from knowing who gave the DUP a highly controversial £435,000 donation to campaign for Brexit last year.
Of course, that’s not what Brokenshire says he’s doing. Listen to his speeches, and you’d believe that his parliamentary order – which comes before a specially convened committee of 17 MPs today – is designed to deliver long-awaited transparency on political donations to the people of Northern Ireland.
In a sense, it will. Unlike in the rest of the UK, donors can give any amount of money to political parties in Northern Ireland and still keep their names secret. Brokenshire’s move will change this.
But here’s the catch. The Northern Ireland Secretary wants to make the new transparency rules effective 1st July 2017 – when in fact, a law was passed three years ago which would have allowed donors to be publicly named from 1st January 2014.
This timing is crucial. If Brokenshire was granting transparency from 2014, it would mean revealing who gave the DUP the mystery £435,000 – the largest donation ever received by a Northern Irish party, which was spent on lavish pro-Brexit campaigning in the weeks before the tightly-fought EU referendum vote.
This matters to citizens across the UK because almost none of this secret donation was spent in Northern Ireland. In fact, much of the cash was used to fund expensive wrap around adverts in the Metro freesheet in major cities on the mainland.
In effect, the DUP laundered a huge sum of cash for someone who wanted to bankroll the Leave campaign across the UK, and abused an out of date Northern Irish loophole to keep their identity a secret. And now Theresa May’s government is cleaning up after them.
Everyone will deny, of course, that this has anything to do with the squalid £1bn deal the Conservatives made with the DUP in May this year, in order to keep May’s government in power.
Asked in July why there weren’t granting transparency from 2014, the Northern Ireland office said to Channel 4 that James Brokenshire “does not believe that it is right or fair to impose retrospective regulations on people who donated in accordance with the rules set out in law at the time”.

But the reality is that the 2014 Act made clear that all donations from then on would one day be public. Talk to people in Northern Ireland, and they are clear: the assumption was always that one day, all details held by the Electoral Commission about donations from 2014 onward would one day be published. This is what the donors expected, it’s what the parties expected, and it’s what the public had demanded.
Brokenshire’s move also has involved ignoring all the people the government would normally consult on such an important decision.
There is one thing that the 2014 Act specifies. It says that the Secretary of State must “consult the Electoral Commission” before making donors details public.
The head of the Northern Irish Electoral Commission, Ann Watt, has made it unequivocally clear that she thinks information about donors from 2014 onwards should be published, saying: "While all reportable donations and loans received from 1 July 2017 will now be published by the commission, we would also like to see the necessary legislation put in place, as soon as possible, to allow us to publish details of donations and loans received since January 2014.”
Her predecessor Séamus Magee retired in 2014, and so is freer to say what he really thinks. At the time, he Tweeted: “The deal on party donations and loans must be part of the DUP/Conservative deal. No other explanation.”
“Every party in Northern Ireland understood that the publication of political donations over £7,500 was to be retrospective to Jan 2014.”
There is of course a understandable reason why donations to Political Parties  . Those who did so faced the possibility of becoming terrorist targets.

openDemocracy has learned that Sinn Fein, the SDLP, the Alliance Party, and the Greens have all told Brokenshire in writing or during talks that they want transparency on political donations backdated to 2014, thereby revealing the source of the DUP’s Brexit funding.”
“The Ulster Unionists have also told Brokenshire in private talks that they too do not oppose retrospective legislation and backed a consensus for the 2014 date.”

It has been suggested that the Dark Money came from an unusual source.

To recap briefly: two days before the Brexit referendum last June, the Metrofreesheet in London and other British cities came wrapped in a four-page glossy propaganda supplement urging readers to vote Leave. Bizarrely, it was paid for by the DUP, even though Metro does not circulate in Northern Ireland. At the time, the DUP refused to say what the ads cost or where the money came from.

We’ve since learned that the Metro wraparound cost a staggering £282,000 (€330,000) – surely the biggest single campaign expense in the history of Irish politics. For context, the DUP had spent about £90,000 (€106,000) on its entire campaign for the previous month’s assembly elections. But this was not all: the DUP eventually admitted that this spending came from a much larger donation of £425,622 (€530,000) from a mysterious organisation, the Constitutional Research Council.
The mystery is not why someone seeking to influence the Brexit vote would want to do so through the DUP. Disgracefully, Northern Ireland is exempt from the UK’s requirements for the sources of large donations to be declared. The mystery, rather, is who were the ultimate sources of this money and why was it so important to keep their identities secret.

The Constitutional Research Council is headed by a Scottish conservative activist of apparently modest means, Richard Cook. It has no legal status, membership list or public presence and there is no reason to believe that Cook himself had half a million euro to throw around. But the DUP has been remarkably incurious about where the money ultimately came from. Peter Geoghegan (sometimes of this parish) and Adam Ramsay of the excellent openDemocracy website did some digging and what they’ve come up with is, to put it mildly, intriguing.

What they found is that Richard Cook has a history of involvement with a very senior and powerful member of the Saudi royal family, who also happens to have been a former director of the Saudi intelligence agency. In April 2013, Cook jointly founded a company called Five Star Investments with Prince Nawwaf bin Abdul Aziz al Saud. The prince, whose address is given as a royal palace in Jeddah, is listed on the company’s initial registration as the holder of 75 per cent of the shares. Cook had 5 per cent. The other 20 per cent of the shares belonged to a man called Peter Haestrup, a Danish national with an address in Wiltshire, whose own colourful history we must leave aside for reasons of space.

The Liberal Democrats have been heavily fined  (for them)   for what may have been a administrative error whilst the DUP who are propping up the government are getting away what many see as a form of money laundering.

There should be a Police investigation into the DUP Dark Money allegation and if it is proven then I believe more than a Fine however heavy should be considered.

Wednesday, 20 December 2017

"Lord" Elis-Thomas makes claim to be Forelock Tugger in Chief.

Anyone who thought that the appointment  of Dafydd Elis Thomas  culture, tourism and sport - a deputy to economy secretary Ken Skates. Would see no further repeats of the Iron Ring  fiasco where plans to create an iron ring sculpture at Flint Castle which have  have been described as "insulting to Wales". Should think again

As Izzy Evans at Nation Cymru points out 

The ‘Iron Ring’ is, of course, the collective name for the ring of castles built by Edward I in order to cement his hold on the lands he stole from the Welsh princes.
Flint was the first castle in this ring of power – a chain of fortresses designed to encircle the north Wales coast and oppress the Welsh.
Its construction began almost immediately after Edward I began the First Welsh War in 1277.
Can you imagine any other nation celebrating its own conquest? Its own government glorying in its subjugation?

Such was the  outcry against this project that it was scrapped 

Now a Independent AM LordElis-Thomas and member of the Welsh Labour Goverment

(Maybe we should be getting used  to using his "Title") has declared he will promote Wales as "a principality within the United Kingdom".

Lord Elis-Thomas said the Prince of Wales was as enthusiastic as him about marketing Wales as a principality.

As even the BBC points out 

The Oxford English Dictionary describes a principality as "the territory held or governed by a prince". 

Wales has not been a principality since the 16th century and the Welsh Government itself has denied that Wales is one.
Lord Elis-Thomas told guests at the event: 

"We are going to promote the principality of Wales as a wonderful principality."
 "the Prince of Wales is as enthusiastic as I am" about marketing Wales "as a principality within the United Kingdom".

Lord Elis-Thomas joked:
"Anybody who doesn't like this word I will see you at the end."
The Welsh Government said in a statement in 2008: 

"Wales is not a principality. Although we are joined with England by land, and we are part of Great Britain, Wales is a country in its own right."
On Tuesday, a Welsh Government spokesman told BBC Wales:

 "This is not Welsh Government policy and we cannot comment further on personal remarks made at an event attended by the minister in a personal capacity."
So it seems the "Lord" Elis-Thomas  did not run his controversial  plans through his boss Ken Skates but appears to have had the OK from Charles Windsor himself.

It makes you wonder who "Lord" EliS- Thomas thinks is ultimate boss? 

Lord Thomas  looks on as his master signs something

Its not often I quote  Enoch Powell but his maxim

 "All political lives, unless they are cut off in midstream at a happy juncture, end in failure, because that is the nature of politics and of human affairs."

Often seem to be true but in the case  of "Lord" Thomas   it appears to be a Tragic farce.

Maybe "Lord" Elis-Thomas  sees himself playing a major role in the Investiture of Charles son George as Prince of Wales with himself in the role of George Thomas as chieif forelock tugger.

Hopefully the voters of Dwyfor Merionith will put an end to his Assembly career  sooner  than later.

Of course he will still have the House of Lords where he could carry on making his increasingly bizarre  ideas.