Welsh Battlegrounds

Hat tip to Sanddef for mentioning the 18 Doughty Street programme about the Welsh battlegrounds in the next Westminster election. As might be expected from Doughty Street the programmes main focus is on Tory chances of winning.

Despite the Tory spin on the programme it was interesting that expert guest Robert Waller dismissed Glyn Davies' chances of winning Montgomeryshire as minimal because this seat has been Liberal for "150 years" apart from one short period. (117 years to be pedantic).

However the one exception in 1979 is interesting. Despite more than a century of Liberal representation, since the 1950's much of the Liberal vote has been a vote against the Conservatives rather than for the Liberals. There are parts of the constituency in Welshpool, Newtown and Montgomery town which should be prime Labour territory. Much of the west of the constituency is typical Plaid "heartland". One of the things that enabled the Conservatives to win in 1979 was that on the back of the Plaid successes in 1974 and expectations of an advance in Ceredigion the Plaid voters in the west of the constituency voted Plaid. When the Liberals regained the seat 4 years latter the Plaid vote collapsed.

With Glyn standing for the Conservatives, a bloke who is by no means your typical Tory ogre, but a pro Welsh Tory with a social conscience, will the constituency's Labour and Plaid supporters feel that it is "safe" for them to vote "naturally"?

If they do, that will be a much bigger threat to Opik than a general rise in the Tory vote. If this happened it would be Glyn who would win, of course. But it could allso be the seed that delivers Montgomeryshire to Plaid, or even Labour, when Glyn retires.

Another seat where there has been a traditionally large ant-Tory protest vote is Conwy. The Rev Roger Roberts for the Lib Dems, Beti Williams for Labour and (in the Assembly elections) Gareth Jones for Plaid have all benefited from this. In the new seat of Aberconwy the Tory's have another "nationalist" candidate standing in the shape of Gutto Bebb. If Plaid can persuade all of its natural supporters to stick with the party in Aberconwy and attract sufficient disaffected anti-Tory Labour voters to lend support Plaid could win this one.

In both of these seats (and in others), it is clear that Plaid will do best if it gives up its traditional Brit-Socialist anti-Tory scaremongering, and gets its own support out rather than frightening Plaid voters into voting for anything that defeats the hairy-arsed Tory Monster. If that lets the odd Tory in by default, so what?


Drugs, criminality and taxes

I have never taken any illegal drugs. Not because of any moral superiority, they just weren’t a part of the society in which I lived during the years in which I might have been most influenced to take them. However, it took little to tempt me to succumb to beer and fags, despite dire warnings! If a drugs culture had existed in rural Wales when I was a youngster, I have no doubt, whatsoever, that I would have been part of it. I haven't done drugs through luck, no other reason - just luck.

Many of those who pontificate about anti-drugs policies are in exactly the same situation as I am. There but for the Grace of God / luck of the draw go I.

It is clearly evident that the taking of illegal recreational drugs is now a part of the cultural norm for many in the Western world. Too many people, from all walks of life, take drugs for the trade to be abolished by any sort of war on drugs or just say no policy.

So many of the deaths of children and young people by gunfire and knifing incidents in recent years have been caused by the unregulated drugs trade. The lifeblood of the gangs that terrorise urban areas is the drugs trade and their control over and desire to protect their control of that trade.

The idea that people won't report crime to the police for fear of recriminations from the gangs is too simplistic. Many otherwise "respectable" people don't report crimes because they are part of the problem they worry about the police snooping into their own illegal practices:

Will the police smell the pot in my living room?
Will they see the residue of lines on my coffee table?
Will helping them find the murderer cut off my supply chain?
Will the criminal that I shop grass on his minion and his minion grass on his minion's minion and start a lead down to the fact that I am one of the minion's minion's minion's customers for illegal drugs?

The only way that the drugs trade can be controlled is by governments taking control of it, by legalising those drugs that are now illegal, specifying quality controls and licensing outlets.

Before I am lambasted in the comments section - I am luck enough to be able abhor the idea too, but all other ways have failed and failed miserably!

The only way left to tackle drugs crime is to take criminality out of the drugs trade by taking the criminals out of the trade and replacing them with qualified, licensed and taxed legal traders.


Political Editing

On Monday last week the Daily Telegraph reported about abuse of the online encyclopedia Wikipedia by organisations editing entries in order to promote themselves and rubbish their opponents. The Plaid Cymru entry is often changed to include a claim that it supported Hitler during the second world war and that it is a fascist party.

The Telegraph reported that one of the organisations that have abused the site in this way is the Labour Party. In today's edition the Labour supporting newspaper Scotland on Sunday has lifted the story, but has edited out every reference to the Labour party :-)

YouGov and Wales

Apparently YouGov is the polling company that has provided the most consistently reliable Scottish polls in recent years.

Unfortunately YouGov doesn’t do Welsh Polls, mainly because there are not enough Welsh members to create a reliable poll. Wales is considered to be a part of the Midlands of England because of the lack of Welsh members!

There is no way that a YouGov poll can be hijacked by, say, 5000 Plaid members joining on mass, as the administrators carefully choose who is asked what question, but the more Welsh members, the more likely that Welsh issues can be addressed by the company.

Members of YouGov get paid for giving poll opinions (about 50p a throw). You can't take money out of the scheme until you have earned £50 (i.e. done about 100 questionnaires). How long it takes you to be invited to take part in a 100 questionnaires depends on your profile.

If you would like to join YouGov by clicking on this link, I get a backhander for enrolling you. If you don't want me to get that backhander, fine, Google will give you means of joining YouGov independently. But do join, one way or another. The more Welsh members, the better the chance of reliable Welsh polls.


The Wilted Rose

If you share my dislike of the Labour Party (or even if you love the Labour Party, but want to see what the other b****rs are saying about it) you may enjoy this newish blog:

The Wilted Rose

A blog that aims to highlight humorous snippets from the press, media or internet - or videos from YouTube - showing, with hilarity, the absolute political, economic, social, environmental and ethnical/moral bankruptcy of the Labour Government.

Britishness, Welshness and Toryness

I haven't been able to get a copy of John Osmond's pamphlet Crossing the Rubicon in which he recounts the story behind the coalition discussion that occurred as a result of the last Assembly Elections. There is an excellent post about the pamphlet on the Our Kingdom blog.

Our Kingdom includes an interesting quote from the pamphlet by Conservative AM David Melding:

We can now see that the idea that Britishness must be conceived just within the confines of a unitary state, has been merely an historical episode, lasting perhaps from 1707 to the 1950s. There is a great release of energy when you recognise the reality of something as profound as this.

We need a new sense of what it means to be British. If we remain stuck in the 1950s view we will be in trouble. And if it turns out that we cannot re-invent a new form of Britishness to fit with the needs of the 21st century… then it won’t be much of a loss to see it go.

I agree with Mr Melding that Britishness is very much an outdated concept and that it has been outdated since at least the 1950's. What I don't understand is why he should want to reinvent something so passé, especially as we have something new and vibrant to replace it - a rediscovered Welsh identity. As the people of Wales, Scotland and England are all re-discovering their true national identities; the chances of inventing a new form of Britishness are pretty slim.

Mr Melding's acceptance that there wont be much of a loss if out-dated Britishness goes and Glyn Davies' recent acceptance that Wales could flourish as an independent nation, might suggest that the Conservative and Unionist Party in Wales is going through a dramatic change. However one must remember that the new Welsh Tories in the Assembly are not the only elected members of the Conservative party in Wales. There are also three Conservative MPs.

Much has been made of the split between Westminster and Cardiff Bay in the Labour Party; the tension between Welsh Welsh Labour and British Welsh Labour, but that is nothing compared to the split between the Conservative MP's and the Conservative AM's.

All three Welsh Conservative MP's David Davies, David Jones and Stephen Crabb are, apparently, members of the extreme right wing Cornerstone Group who believe that The devolution referenda excluded 85% of the population - (i.e. the English) - but the disgracefully wasteful talking shops in Edinburgh and Cardiff are supported by a preponderance of English-taxpayers' money.... There should be an all-UK referendum on the issue of abolishing the existing devolution settlement.

There is a clear split in the Conservative Party in Wales, they have been good at papering over the cracks so far, but they can't hide the rift forever.


Political sex scandal - Read all about it!

I am going to ask my local newsagent to keep me a copy of the News of the World for the next few weeks. I am convinced that a major sex and politics scandal is about to brake, involving one of the most respected members of the Welsh Blogosphere.

To avoid being sued for libel I won't name names. But a certain prominent political personage suggested on his blog last Tuesday that a man who didn't have a completely clear recollection of whether there were semi-naked women in the club wasn't fit for erection election! In the same post he also suggested that a sex scandal could be a 2% vote booster.

This nameless politician is not in the first flower of youth, but despite his advanced age he posts positively about sex and the older person on his latest blog!

Now adding 2 and 2 together, reading between the lines, etc! There is a suggestion that this nameless politician is building up a defence before the inevitable story comes out!

Could he have stolen the Cheeky Girls off Lembit?


Come clean Glyn unknown politician. The Welsh Blogosphere needs to know the truth!!!!!!


Nimcy Jones MP

We are all aware of the acronym NIMBY which describes those who think that a development that benefits many should go elsewhere, as long as it's Not In My Back Yard. In Conwy County we have a mutation of the NIMBY, a NIMCY Not in My Church Yard. The leading Nimcy is none other than local MP David Jones, who is leading a protest at the proposed siting by Ericsson of a mobile phone mast on the highway immediately outside the ancient parish church of St Trillo.

Good communication links are essential to the development of businesses potential in Wales, be it physical communication links such as duelling the A470 (which most NIMBYS oppose) or modern communication methods such as internet and mobile phone connections. Many mobile phone users who travel up and down the Conwy Valley have to own two mobile phones, because you can't get a decent T Mobile signal in the south of the valley and you can't get a decent Orange signal in the north of the valley. A situation that people in the rest of the UK would find intolerable.

If we are to improve communications and get rid of mobile phone black spots we need to build more masts. There are some places where it might be inappropriate to build them, but I can't for the life of me see why the highway outside St Trillo's church should be one of them. Nimcy Jones MP claims that to erect this mast would be nothing short of sacrilege. As many a rural church survives from fees for mobile phone masts that are added to their spires, without claims of sacrilege against them, how on earth can a mast on the highway by a church be called sacrilege?

The MP notes that This is one of the finest churches in North Wales; its tower is unique, topped by a turret known as the Rector’s Chair, whose function was to hold a brazier which would be set alight if warning ships were spied, quite right too. St Trillo's is, without doubt, a fine church of historic significance, but a mobile phone mast on the highway beside it won't destroy any of the church's features and can't take anything away from its historic importance. So what's the problem?

The problem is that the protesters, in general, are people who have made their fortunes running successful businesses or working for successful businesses elsewhere; businesses that succeeded by using every new innovation that was available. But now that they have retired to their idealised vision of north Wales as a rural backswood they hate anything that might enable the local people to live successful modern lives in a modern Wales. People who think that industry and modernity shouldn't exist in their retirement haven.

Of course those who want to live modern lives in a modern Wales vote Plaid - the NIMBY incomers who want Wales to retire with them vote Tory, which is the only reason why David Jones MP is supporting protests against progress happening in his own constituency.


Unionist argument is Too Poor

The publication of the Scottish White Paper on independence has resulted in a little bit of discussion in Wales. Not much, and not of the highest standard, I must admit, but a little bit is better than nothing.

The interesting thing is that the Unionist response in both Scotland and Wales hasn't really been one that defends the Union; it has been one that attacks Scotland and Wales. A case in point is the comment by Mal Humphreys (Mumph) in yesterday's Wales on Sunday "we don't have the calibre of politicians in Wales".

The most common argument aimed at putting Wales down is the economic argument. Wales is too poor to go it alone; Wales is too dependent on English money. This is factually incorrect, degrades Wales and is actually an argument that undermines the Union.

It is factually incorrect, because although Wales is the poorest of the four constituent countries of the UK, the UK is a very, very rich country so even its poorer areas are relatively rich. As Penddu pointed out on the Welsh Independence blog last week, even if Wales GDP remained at its current level of 80% of the current UK average then Wales would still be the 12th richest country in Europe and the 26th richest in the World. The fact that Wales is continuously the poorest country in the Union is in itself proof that the economic argument is a fallacy. The Union has made us poorer than the rest of the UK and will keep us poorer than the rest of UK. The only way for Wales to become richer is by us taking control of our own economy for our own benefit.

The economic argument degrades Wales by saying that our role in the Union is to milk it. Any decent union involves give and take, but this Unionist argument claims that Wales should take all and give nothing, an argument that I find morally offensive. If the best vision for the future of Wales that Unionist politicians can offer us is for us to continue as the jolly beggers of Britain, then perhaps Mumph is right in his assessment of the calibre of our politicians. But if that is their vision of Wales' future in the Union I want no part in it.

The economic argument that Wales is dependent on English handouts is actually harmful to the future of the Union. It may appeal to the ignorant and fearful in Wales, but it isn't going to appeal to the people of England, who are themselves now asking what has the Union got to offer England? And they are finding the answer Sod all except scrounging Celts! Because that is what the Unionists in Scotland and Wales have been telling us is the Union Dividend for years.

As the Scottish process continues, the debate in Wales and England is also going to intensify. Unionists are going to have to find much more persuasive arguments than they have offered thus far. The problem is, of course, that when they try to think of them they are always at a loss to find any, because the only conclusion that anybody who thinks about the amalgamation of Wales and England can really come up with is that Wales was joined to England in medieval times for medieval reasons. Those reasons no longer exist in the 21st centaury, so the best way forward is for our two countries to agree to an amicable separation.

Wales on Sunday adds to independence debate
Welsh Independence
Alan in Dyfed


Scotland to Join the UN?

In today's edition of the Sunday Herald, there is an interesting guest article by John Mayer. I'm unsure if this is John Mayer the musician or somebody who just happens to share the same name, the article is worth reading, however, whatever the author's background.

Mayer argues that Scotland could become a member of the United Nations. A silly argument on first consideration - only sovereign states are members of the UN and Scotland hasn't attained that status yet. However Mayer gives examples of countries that have been members of the organisation despite not being independent sovereign states. Apparently India, Belarus, The Philippines and Ukraine were all members of the UN before becoming independent, and the Palestinians have observer status membership despite the fact that there appears to be little short term prospect of an independent Palestinian state being created.

One SNP MSP has already given his support to the call, Michael Matheson has urged Alex Salmond to give the matter serious consideration and important but anonymous "sources" within the SNP have suggested that the idea is in line with First Minister Salmond's desire to see Scotland represented on international bodies.

If Scotland applied for UN membership and was refused because of UK government opposition it would be a big publicity coup for the SNP, if it applied and was successful it would be a major step on the road to recognising Scotland as an independent country. A win-win situation for the SNP.

Of course if Scotland was to gain membership of the UN, then there could be no reason for Wales not to do likewise.


Monkey with a Blue Rosette

Not quite a Welsh Blog, but he is based in that area of England that once was Wales, indeed Ludlow has a better historical claim to being the Capital of Wales than Cardiff :-}

Monkey with a Blue Rosette - typical bloody English Tory, but with a sense of humour, and worth a read!

The Myth of Child Poverty

There is much talk in left wing political circles about child poverty and ways to overcome it. No reasonable person wants to see a child live in, or bought up in poverty, but the whole idea of child poverty is a misnomer, it’s a fallacy, it's an euphemism it’s a lie. There is no such thing as child poverty. Children who live in poverty are poor because the adults who bring them up are poor. Adult poverty, parental poverty, is the real issue. But lefties can't tackle parental poverty because to do so would put them in the same camp as the right wing Tories who advocate benefit reform. Benefit reform is and always will be anathema to the left. Helping (rather than punishing) people on benefit will always be anathema to the right.

The left-wing think tank The Institute for Public Policy Research, has decided that one way of tackling child poverty would be to offer the equivalent of free school meals to children in community centers during school holidays (totally impractical in rural areas, of course) because the parents of those children who have free school meals in term time can't find the extra money to feed their kids a decent meal during holiday times (especially the long summer holidays). Sounds good in theory, but in reality it would just tighten the benefits trap.

The IPPR make a fair point, but wouldn't the sensible answer be to scrap free school meals altogether and give those on benefits an extra £14 per child per week 52 weeks a year in order to enable them to pay for school dinners and to buy food for their kids' lunches during holiday times?

Benefit dependency is the biggest cause of the parental poverty that causes child poverty. Benefit Plus - free dental care, free school meals, housing benefit, community care grants etc is the biggest cause of the benefits trap that maintains benefit dependency. Until both left and right accept that benefits need to be increased to a level that overcomes the need for Benefit Plus, the benefit trap will remain, parental poverty will remain and child poverty will never be defeated.


Wil Edwards

I was sorry to read on Vaughan's blog that news has just broken about the death of former Labour MP Wil Edwards. Wil was my MP from 1966 to 1974, and served his constituents well during that period. He belonged to that band of truly patriotic young Welsh Labour MPs that were around in the 60's and 70's such as Cledwyn Hughes, Ednyfed Hudson Davies and Gwynoro Jones.

Despite having been interested in politics since my youth I have never stood in an election, and I have Wil to thank for saving me from that fate. I was in the count in Dolgellau in February 1974 when Dafydd Elis Thomas beat Wil Edwards, I have never in my life seen anybody look as sad and totally dejected as Wil looked on that night, I certainly wouldn't volunteer to put myself in a situation that resulted in that sort of trauma.

Heartfelt sympathy to Wil's widow Mrs Eleri Edwards, his children and grandchildren

Congratulations Guto Bebb

Congratulations to Guto Bebb on being selected as the Conservative candidate for Aberconwy in the coming General Election. If he is elected there is no doubt that he will be a good constituency MP and a credit to Westminster.

Aberconwy is a new seat that is currently represented by Beti Williams (Labour) and Elfyn Llwyd (Plaid Cymru). Neither incumbent intends to defend the seat*. According to UK Polling Report the notional result in 2005 was:

Labour: 9119 (31.5%)
Conservative 8875 (30.6%)
Liberal Democrats: 5733 (19.8%)
Plaid Cymru: 4186 (14.4%)
Others: 1080 (3.7%)
Labour majority over Cons: 243 (0.8%)

This makes the seat fifth on the Conservatives list of target seats.

One must take these notional results with a healthy pinch of scepticism though. Guto, or any other candidate would be foolish to give them too much credibility.

The new boundaries were used in May's Assembly elections. This was the result:

Gareth Jones PC 7,983 (38.6%)
Dylan Jones-Evans Con 6,290 (30.4%)
Denise Idris Jones Lab 4,508 (21.8%)
Euron Hughes Lib Dem 1,918 (9.3%)

I had thought that Beti Williams intended to stand in Arfon, however Hafod and Martin Eaglestone both tell me that she is in fact going to stand in Aberconwy.


Policing should be devolved

Today's edition of the magazine Golwg contains a call from North Wales Chief Constable Richard Brunstrom for responsibility for policing in Wales to be given to the Assembly.

Brunstrom says:
Responsibility for Welsh policing will be separated from Westminster before long. I am totally convinced that policing will be devolved in the near future, not immediately, the Assembly isn't ready for us yet, but that direction is clearer now than ever before in my opinion
Policing will be devolved to Cardiff over the long term, there is no doubt that that will happen. Because the world has changed. The law has changed and has developed, the Assembly has become stronger it has more powers
Although policing isn't yet devolved from London it's important that all the police forces in Wales are seen to be local and national services here in Wales. Not as an "army from England" but as a local army that wants to work for the future of Welshness.

Former Home Secretary John Reid, apparently responded to this suggestion when Mr Brunstrom put it to him some time ago with the retort over my dead body, but Brunstrom says in Golwg - He was wrong - he's gone - but I'm still here.

Of course Mr Brunstrom is right, if policing can be devolved to Scotland and the North of Ireland it is wrong that it is not devolved to Wales too; or does the Westminster government think that the people of Wales are too thick, incapable or unruly to run our own policing services for our own needs?


The kind of country WE shoud be!

This is the front page of today's Scotsman, responding to the SNP Government's consultation document on independence. How long will we have to wait to see similar headlines on the front pages of a Welsh paper?

Whilst Scotland has a national conversation about its future place in the world, initiated by a Government that puts Scotland first. Wales has to put up with a conversation about remaining in the clutches of a not fit for purpose Labour Party, initiated by an unionist failure from a party that never puts Wales first. (Interesting URL by the way it starts file up yours - appropriate or what?)


Jan Morris "Is a Fascist"

In Monday's Guardian, Jan Morris wrote an article in support of a Wales totally bi-lingual and miraculously liberated from the United Kingdom's squalid public culture of greed, gameshow, tabloid celebrity and national pretension.

A sentiment bound to upset the Brit nationalists in the Labour Party. As was to be expected, the bloke who follows the Lord Mayor's Show turned up in today's letters page in the guise of Huw Lewis AM.

How fitting that Jan Morris made mention of Abercuawg, or home of the cuckoo, in her article (Our nation may at last achieve serenity, August 6) because it is clear that she was visiting cloud cuckoo land when she wrote it. Not content at inventing for the UK "a public culture of greed, gameshow, tabloid celebrity and national pretension", she goes on to say that South Wales conjures images of "prejudice, distrust, envy, resentment and plain dislike". She then has the audacity to describe her vision of Wales as a "friendly little country"!

Yes, Labour in Wales has entered into a coalition with Plaid Cymru, but we did so in order to keep delivering on issues like jobs and tackling child poverty - not to develop a quasi-fascistic rural idyll that so enthrals Ms Morris and her cultural nationalist clique. I hear that her travel writing is excellent; I'd suggest a visit to Planet Earth as the next destination.
Huw Lewis AM
Lab, Merthyr Tydfil & Rhymney

Huw makes a fair point when he comments that this article isn't up to Jan's usual excellent standards. Introducing her thesis by referring to Abercuawg was an open goal for Cloud Cuckoo-land responses, which I would have expected a writer of Jan's experience to have foreseen and avoided. And like Huw I thought that Jan's comments about the urban and industrial parts of our country were unworthy, unhelpful and unnecessary.

It is however a shame that Huw had to spoil his response by referring to Jan as a Quasi-Fascist - which she clearly isn't. Jan has been writing for the best part of 60 years, all of her writing has a radical and libertarian streak that is anathema to Fascism. Jan's war record, as a member of the intelligence services during the Second World War and as a reporter in subsequent wars is proof that she has been an active and vocal opponent of Fascism in all its guises. Her personal circumstances have made Jan a target of vile abuse by the far right. To call Jan Morris a Quasi-Fascist is, therefore, below the belt.

Calling political opponents Fascists is common currency within the Labour party. A few weeks ago Betty Williams is supposed to have commented that all Plaid supporters in north West Wales are Fascists. To be fair to Labour, Welsh nationalists are not above this sort of insult - all too often supporters of the national movement refer to the policies of those with differing opinion as being supporters of ethnic cleansing or linguistic genocide.

This may be dismissed as part of the political banter between people of differing opinions, as harmless fun, as part of the rough and tumble of political life.

Personally I find it worrying.

The problem is that warning people that Nick Griffin is a Fascist is worthless if you have already called Jan Morris, Saunders Lewis, Gwynfor Evans, George Thomas or John Redwood Fascists.

Telling people that the BNP is a neo-fascist party, when Plaid, Labour, Conservative and the Lib Dem's have also been called neo fascists by their opponents just makes people react to the warnings about the BNP with a Yeh! Yeh! Heard that insult before attitude.

The real Fascists came within a couple of thousand votes of winning a seat in the last Assembly election. Proper Fascism is a real and present danger in Wales today. Diluting the anti Fascist message by using the term "fascist" for the sake of political banter isn't just insulting to people with differing legitimate political opinions, it is the political equivalent of crying wolf. With the real Fascist wolf approaching our flock, there is a danger that the warning cries will be ignored because we have all heard the false cries too many times before.


Tax is "Labour Money"

Mrs Thatcher use to be fond of reminding us that there is no such thing as Government Money, every Government Penny is actually a Tax Payer's Penny.

Not according to Dai Havard MP. The Money spent on public services isn't tax payers' money, it isn't even Government money it is Labour Money

So when you pay VAT on your Mars Bar tomorrow, put petrol tax in your car, cringe at the amount of tax deductions that are on your payslip etc, you will be pleased to know that you aren’t paying your fair share towards the public good, you are actually making a donation to the Labour Party!

How arrogant can the Labour Party get before the people of Wales (including Adam Price) see through it? !!!!!!


Return of the Sospan

After a few months absence with his blog locked to readers, its good to see Llanelli Journal's return to the fray. There aren't enough local political blogs in Wales. To a certain extent those of us who blog on an all Wales basis, an UK basis or an European basis are only dealing in theory. Blogs such as Llanelli Journal and Thought of Oscar tell us how those grand theories work in practice, how they really affect local communities, if they help or if they hurt. It is a shame that there aren't many more parochial (in the positive sense of the word) blogs in Wales.

Llanelli's return post deals with the building of The Works Art Center in Llanelli, giving a balanced overview of the pros and the cons. Although I live light years away from Llanelli I find the post very interesting. Many of the cons remind me of the arguments against The North Wales Theater (Venue Cymru now) in Llandudno and Galeri Caernarfon, before they were built.

The objections to such projects often boil down to we haven't had this sort of place before so we obviously don't need it - it's a waste of money, its something for others not for us. However when they are built, and shows that the objectors like are put on, they become an essential part of the local community, they start to belong to the community. When the North Wales Theater was shut down during its transformation into Venue Cymru, many of those who objected to building the place originally were the most vociforous against its temporary closure.

I'm sure that when The Works comes into being it will soon be seen as an essential part of Llanelli's cultural life and will become as big a selling point for west Wales as Galeri and Venue are now to north Wales.


Adam Price in Golwg

A number of Blogs refer to Adam Price's column in the Welsh magazine Golwg dated Aug 2nd. Here is a translation of the article:
Towards a Rainbow Government

It was a shock to the system walking through Whitehall last week and happening to come across Wales' Deputy First Minister leaving Gwydir House - a sort of island of Anglo-Welshness in a nondescript house overshadowed by the MoD - which serves as the home to the Wales Office.

The sun shone for a few minutes to note an historic moment: the first nationalist in power to visit London without being beheaded.

Its clear that Peter Hain was not talking about the streets of Whitehall in his semi Churchillian interview; We will fight them on the streets - whilst referring to Plaid. Taking that with the claimed comment by Betty Williams that Plaid are Nazis, one would think that a civil war rather than a coalition was about to begin.

And now a summer offensive has been announced by Major General Hain to sell "the Union" and to condemn independence. The labour party is living a duplicitous life; divorcing Plaid in London whilst still on honeymoon in Cardiff.

But in one sense Peter is right. No one should think for a second that the coalition would extend to Westminster or to County council chambers. On the contrary, in fact. For the sake of Welsh democracy, the hegemony of the Labour party needs to be challenged where they are at their worst: where they are parochial and British.

It is pretty obvious that neither Plaid Cymru – nor any other party – can do this on their own. We need allies, but perhaps not the ones we were talking to in the shadow of the rainbow.

To see the affect of Labourism at its worst on the southern valleys communities, go to Blaenau Gwent. There Peoples Voice will be challenging to take over in the local elections next year.

If we can work together with the Labour Party of every party, why should we not do so with a movement that is popular, forward thinking and truly socialist in deed not just name? After all Plaid was pioneering with this sort of cooperation in the 1992 General Election by going into coalition with the Greens in Gwent and Cardiganshire.

If such an experiment was successful the seats of the triumvirate of arch_Brits David, Touigh and Murphy would start to look very fragile. And the possibilities don't end there. A joint campaign with the Greens in the 2009 Euro-elections could see Labour beaten for the first time ever by gaining the second seat.

And who knows when the 2011 election comes, there may be a rainbow government after all - but this time with more attractive colours.

Blogging responses from: Normal Mouth ... Tomos Livingstone .... Homage to Catatonia

The Unreasonable Union

The argument for independence is so simple and so straightforward that I often wonder why so many Welsh people can't accept it.

Everybody, even the most ardent unionists, accept that Wales is a nation. The natural status of nations is independence; therefore Wales should be independent - what is there to argue about?

The Scottish Nationalist Mike Mackenzie answers this question on Ian Hamilton QC's blog

This business of maintaining the Union may therefore not be an area in which we are really capable of thinking rationally. Rather our attitudes may stem more from custom and belief than from reason. Those seeking to justify the continuance of the Union are therefore at a loss to find reasoned arguments.

An interesting essay, worth reading and worth discussing!


Is it all a bit of fun?

Despite the fact that I only received two nominations in the Welsh Blog Awards, it appears that I am the second best Welsh Political Blog and the best Welsh Nationalist Blog in the WITENAGEMONT awards!

I am rather annoyed that I wasn't even nominated in the "Most shaggable blogger" award, the fact that I didn't top the poll on this one shows how uninformed those who vote in blog awards are!

Everybody else who has won an award has been modest and accepted that such an award is just a bit of fun. But it's not. Despite not having made a post today I have had a huge amount of extra hits, all coming from the Witengemont awards URL.

As the purpose of any blog is to be read, gaining extra readership through winning blog awards, can't be dismissed as just a bit of fun.

Where awards are available for blogs, there is always the danger that authors compromise their position in order to post for the award, rather than to campaign for their genuinely held political opinion.

As awards = hits, I can get more awards by compromising my views in order to get more support in the awards next year, thus increasing my hits even further!

So thanks for the award, Witengemont, but - no thanks - I don't do compromise and I don't blog for awards!


Homage to Catatonia

There is a new Labour kid on the block Homage to Catatonia (I not sure if its the former pop group or the illness that is given homage by the title).

The blogger asks us to Remember that disagreement is the soul of politics, and asks for no consensual nonsense here please.... But he also states in his profile that he likes warm beer.

Now how can anybody disagree with a person who has the sense to realise that the traditional way to serve beer in Wales is at room temperature? The problem with Welsh politics today is that too many of our politicos drink stone cold beer. Cold beer effects their reasoning and detracts from a commitment to proper Welsh values!

A campaign for warm beer is something that a Labour - Plaid coalition should work together on. Its the only thing that connects both the socialist tradition and traditional Welsh values