Lose-Lose for Labour

Odd story in yesterday's Scotsman, which has confirmed rumours on a number of blogs over the past few weeks. Apparently Labour intend to hold the Glenrothes by election on:
either Thursday, 30 October or Thursday, 6 November for the contest.

The November date is the favourite simply because it comes only a day after the expected result of the American presidential election, and if Labour was to lose, party managers believe the bad news would be partly buried by the US coverage.

Apart from the fact that a defeatist attitude of defending a seat by preparing to lose it isn't the best tactic to use when entering an election campaign, a victory in these circumstances could also backfire.

With a 28% majority and no accounting for what events might throw up over the next ten weeks a Labour hold is not inconceivable, whatever the bookies might say. If Labour was to hang on, even by the skin of its teeth, it should be the beginning of Labours fight back; it should be Labour halting the advance of the SNP / the Tories, it should be the beginning of the new beginning for Labour. But what if that message got buried in the coverage of the US presidential election? The knives would still be out for poor Mr Brown and his advisers :-)


Top of the Blogs

I am not keen on awards for opinions.

I have a fear that opinions might change in order to win awards!

I'm sure that if this blog wasn't such an opinionated nationalist blog, and didn't express an abject hatred of the evils of socialism, it might be more popular and gain more votes in blog awards.

If I thought that awards were important, I might be tempted to change my views in order to gain more votes next time around.

Having said that I am grateful to all who kindly voted for my blogs in Iain Dale's blog awards. Apparently I have the sixth and seventeenth most popular Welsh blogs (and I am the only blogger to have two blogs in one category, so far). I am also the 10th most popular non aligned blog.

So thanks for your support, but don't expect me to mellow my opinions in order to get a higher position next year!


Poems & Politics: This Be The Verse - Larkin

Thanks to Jolly Roger for his parody of last weeks Poems and Politics, which can be found in the comments to that post and is worth a read.

This weeks Poems and Politics is inspired by a post by Glyn Davies the prospective Conservative Parliamentary Candidate for Montgomeryshire. Mr Davies wants his party, if it comes into government, to reintroduce a married couple's allowance for taxation purposes. The reason why he supports this allowance is to encourage good parenting because "We know that children with two parents, on average, perform much better"

Phillip Larkin offers an alternative view on parenthood:

Philip Larkin - This Be The Verse

They fuck you up, your mum and dad.
They may not mean to, but they do.
They fill you with the faults they had
And add some extra, just for you.

But they were fucked up in their turn
By fools in old-style hats and coats,
Who half the time were soppy-stern
And half at one another's throats.

Man hands on misery to man.
It deepens like a coastal shelf.
Get out as early as you can,
And don't have any kids yourself.


Jolly Roger's retort to Larkin is worth taking out of the comments section and adding to the main post:

Jolly Roger - This Be The Verse

So we fucked you up. Mum and Me?
We never mean to, nor have we.
We help you avoid the faults we had,
And try and stop you being so bad.

We weren't fucked up at any turn.
Life's stern lessons, we were glad to learn.
An ear for a clip, a back leg slap.
None of this Political Correctness crap.

I daresay that now PC accusers,
Would brand our parents as child abusers.
Despite this, right was learned from wrong.
And we passed this on to our family throng.

And now at life's Autumnal phase,
I've given and received much fulsome praise,
For the politeness, courtesy and respect,
That my children display and rarely neglect.

Even the grandchildren are much the same way.
And try and do a good deed a day.
I just hope that as this life will evolve,
This attitude will help many problems to solve.

I abhor the use of the whip or the lash.
But firm chastisement, far short of a thrash,
Is part of the Carrot and Stick regime.
That trains them for life's arduous dream.

No misery handed down by we,
Despite the Philip Larkin plea.
Our Human purpose? Procreate.
It's the sole reason for your existence, mate.

(c) Jolly Roger Publications.

Catch up

August is for holidaying not for blogging, so I have to apologise once again to those who have been eagerly awaiting my pearls of wisdom, only to find nothing offered.

I have noticed that some blogger announce their holidays beforehand on their blogs by saying things such as I will be away next week so blogging will be light. Is this a wise thing to do?

It wouldn't take a genius with a telephone directory or an electoral role to work out where I live. Isn't an announcement that I won't be blogging often over the next few months because I am taking a first class world cruise, telling potential baddies who might read my blog that they are free to come and pinch the family silver?

Baddies please note: I dont have any family silver, nor can I afford a world cruise - the point is made for illustration only:-)

I haven't been on a world cruise. I have just spent a few days in the land of my mothers, a land deprived of Olympic glory.

Whatever the rights or wrongs of the SNP's call for a separate Scottish Olympic team, there is no doubt that Scottish and Welsh athletes have received native glory in the media as people from Scotland or Wales on top of basking in the glory of team GB. Apparently there are to be special events to celebrate their success in Cardiff and Edinburgh. But what of the English medalists? Nothing special to celebrate what they have achieved for England!

It really annoys me when Unionist politicians accuse Welsh and Scottish nationalists of being anti-English. The homecoming celebrations of team GB's success prove, yet again, that it is not the nationalists who are anti English - but the unionists, who wish to dismiss the existence of that proud and honorable nation, England, by smothering it in Britishnes.

The main way in which England i's smothered by Britishnes is the way in which the media use England and Britain as synonymous terms. I'm not sure where the next Olympic games will be held, in the UK, in Great Britain, Britain, England or just the parish of London?

I am not the only person who is uncertain about the difference between England and Britain. I missed Boris Johnston's appearance on Who do you think you are? So I watched it on the internet repeats thingy. Boris responded to the discovery that he was descended from Frederick Prince of Wales with What! Wales, England? - before he was corrected by a German Archivist who knew better!

There are a few other posts that I missed during my absence that I will react to in a separate post (or posts), but the "Pick of the Week" has to be this post by Calum Carr. (It snot a nice post, so people of a nervous disposition shouldn't click the link!)


I'll see you in cwrt

There is a new gosip and scandal blog on the Welsh block The Cwrt.

Given that blogs of this sort don't seem to last long in Wales due to the touchiness of some of the elected and salaried officials down in the Bay, readers are encouraged to visit the blog as a matter of urgency, so that they know what the fuss is about when the plug is inevitably pulled on it.


Poems and Politics: Leisure W H Davies

Toque believes that Gordon Brown holidaying in Britain, this year and last, has put a curse on the weather. Apparently, Mr Brown use to go to Cape Cod for his holidays before becoming PM, Toque thinks that the weather might improve should Gordon Sod off back to Cape Cod.

Others have suggested that the reason why Gordon holidays in Britain is his inability to relax and take a brake from the pressures of office. A few months ago Ian Martin in the Telegraph suggested that Mr Brown should return to Cape Cod in order to have a proper break from office and gain the benefits that a proper holiday should give any hard pressured worker.

Apparently Mr Brown holidays in Britain now because he can't abide the idea of being too far away from the office in case a crisis brakes, and he takes a load of civil servants and advisers away with him so that he can carry on with the job throughout his family's holidays!

So this weeks Poems and Politics is a bit of sage advice for Gordon Brown from the Welsh poet and Supertramp William H Davies:


What is this life if, full of care,

We have no time to stand and stare?

No time to stand beneath the boughs

And stare as long as sheep and cows.

No time to see, when woods we pass,

Where squirrels hide their nuts in grass.

No time to see, in broad daylight,

Streams full of stars, like skies at night.

No time to turn at Beauty's glance,

And watch her feet, how they can dance.

No time to wait till her mouth can

Enrich that smile her eyes began.

A poor life this, if full of care,

We have no time to stand and stare.


Leanne Wood - Communist or Nationalist?

The Weekly Worker is the official campaigning organ of The Communist Party of Great Britain. The only reason for the publication's existence is to promote the political policies of that party. Back copies of the publication can be read on line. I came across it accidentally by Googling for information about Plaid Cymru.

The part of the online archive of the paper that Google sent me to was a regular column in which thanks are given to party members and supporters for their financial help. The column for May 22nd included this snippet:

Our fighting fund received help from an unexpected source this week - Plaid Cymru Welsh assembly member Leanne Wood donated a handy £25

What on earth is an elected Plaid Cymru member doing giving financial support to the official mouthpiece of another party?

Doesn't Plaid Cymru have rules that prohibit all members, never mind elected members, from giving support to a party that stands in elections against it?

I have thought for some time that some on the left of the party harm Plaid by putting Socialism before Nationalism - indeed this is the main reason why I feel unable to be a party member. But even I was shocked to discover that this support for socialism is so extreme that a leading light of Plaid's left wing would go as far as giving financial backing to The Communist Party of Great Britain.

It's time for Leanne Wood and her supporters to decide where their loyalties lie. Is it with the cause of Welsh Nationalism or the cause of British Communism?


Exit Music for Labour

In the latest book in the series, Exit Music D.I. Rebus solves his last crime and retires from the police force. The end of his creations carer might mean that the author of the Rebus books has some time on his hands, time that might be put to use by standing for parliament perhaps.

A friend of a friend of a friend of Ian Rankin assures me that the author is seriously considering throwing his hat into the ring as a potential Labour candidate in the forthcoming Glenrothes by election.

The other name that had been strongly rumoured to be a favourite for candidate, former First Minister Henry McLeish, seems to have been fatally stabbed in the back by unnamed Labour colleagues. I wonder if Inspector Rebus can find out who wielded the knife.


Adsa sporting fiddle?

Having spent a fortune in Asda last week I was given an Asda Sporting Chance voucher. The idea of the scheme is that the voucher can be used to obtain free sports taster sessions for children and hopefully inspire thousands of children throughout the UK to get involved with sport.

With so many couch potatoes amongst our kids who's only experience of sport is through doing it on gaming consoles this sounds like a brilliant idea for which the supermarket should be heartily congratulated.

But having looked at the voucher website www.asda-sportingchance.co.uk I was a bit confused.

Almost three quarters of the free sessions available with the voucher in Wales are free swimming sessions. Free swimming for kids is available for all Welsh children courtesy of the National Assembly, without an Asda voucher.

Is Asda trying to claim the credit for an Assembly initiative? Are the local councils trying to get paid twice for their free swimming sessions by getting cash from the store and the government? Is WAG trying to offload some of the costs of the scheme onto the private sector? Or is something else going on?

Whatever the answer Sporting Chance doesn't seem to be all it is cracked up to be and seems to have a whiff of a con about it somehow.


YouGov: How important do you think political blogs are?

I have been away for a few days visiting our Capital City, so sorry for lack of posts, responses and other things expected of me!

Apart from not doing blogging I haven't done any YouGov surveys this week either so my views aren't included in these results. However whilst trawling through my e-mails I read the results from last Friday's (I think) YouGov daily survey and thought that it might be of interest to fellow bloggers:

How often do you read political blogs?
Not at all 40%
Rarely 34.3%
Occasionally 21%
Frequently 2.7%
Regularly 1.3%

How important do you think political blogs are?

To you and you family
Very important 1.4%
Important 5%
Neither 10.1%
Not very important 17.1%
Not important at all 55.1%

To politics
Very important 3.6%
Important 20.2%
Neither 13.2%
Not very important 15.5%
Not important at all 32.3%

To democracy
Very important 6.8%
Important 18.3%
Neither 12.8%
Not very important 13.6%
Not important at all 33.9%

To the UK
Very important 3.6%
Important 14.3%
Neither 16.4%
Not very important 16%
Not important at all 35.2%

To the internet
Very important 5.2%
Important 21.2%
Neither 14.8%
Not very important 13.1%
Not important at all 31.5%

To the bloggers themselves
Very important 34%
Important 23.3%
Neither 6.3%
Not very important 3.5%
Not important at all 19.9%

YouGov is probably the most reliable of pollster, but it's polls are all conducted on-line. Usually, this doesn't matter - because a wide enough section of the general population uses the internet and is confident enough in its use of on-line facilities to ensure a fair cross section. But when the questions, such as this one, involve internet services, one suspects that YouGov's results might have a certain bias.

A poll of confident internet users that says that only 1.3% of them bother to read political blogs regularly, and fewer than 6.5% think that political blogs are of any importance to the political process, is very disappointing. If a similar poll that included people without internet access or who have little confidence in the service was conducted the lack of relevance of poliblogs would be even greater.

On the other hand, of course, the fact that I blog, and my sister (who's opinions are as relevant as mine) doesn't, shouldn't mean that my opinions are more worthy or influential than hers - so it may be a sign of a more mature democracy on these islands that we don't give blogs quite as much credence as they seem to have in other Western democracies!

If you would like to join YouGov so that your opinions on questions such as this can be counted click here


Poems and Politics: Dulce et Decorum Est

Bent double, like old beggars under sacks,
Knock-kneed, coughing like hags, we cursed through sludge,
Till on the haunting flares we turned our backs
And towards our distant rest began to trudge.
Men marched asleep. Many had lost their boots
But limped on, blood-shod. All went lame; all blind;
Drunk with fatigue; deaf even to the hoots
Of disappointed shells that dropped behind.

GAS! Gas! Quick, boys!-- An ecstasy of fumbling,
Fitting the clumsy helmets just in time;
But someone still was yelling out and stumbling
And floundering like a man in fire or lime.--
Dim, through the misty panes and thick green light
As under a green sea, I saw him drowning.

In all my dreams, before my helpless sight,
He plunges at me, guttering, choking, drowning.

If in some smothering dreams you too could pace
Behind the wagon that we flung him in,
And watch the white eyes writhing in his face,
His hanging face, like a devil's sick of sin;
If you could hear, at every jolt, the blood
Come gargling from the froth-corrupted lungs,
Obscene as cancer, bitter as the cud
Of vile, incurable sores on innocent tongues,--
My friend, you would not tell with such high zest
To children ardent for some desperate glory,
The old Lie: Dulce et decorum est
Pro patria mori.

This poem is posted in response to the bombardment of adverts on S4C promoting the benefits of a career in the armed forces. The MoD claims that it doesn't target any particular section of society for enlistment as part of a political process. But S4C seems to be the only main channel on which recruitment adds appear in every single brake. Sometimes we have two, during Pobl y Cwm you can almost guarantee an ad from both army and navy.

If this isn't targeting a section of society for the political purpose of Britifying it, I would like to hear the MoD's alternative explaination.


Crowning the Blogger

Congratulations to Hywel Griffiths the author of Welsh language blog Blog Hywel on winning the crown at this years National Eisteddfod.

Llongyfarchiadau Mawr Iawn.

The Fat Bastards Deserve it

I was disappointed by David, the Cynical Dragon's latest post Food for Thought.

I have enjoyed most of his posts, but in this case he is totally wrong. Blaming the obese for being obese, ostracising them and saying that the fat bastards deserve what they get is not a way to tackle the obesity endemic that exists in Wales.

The "easy targets" for the self righteous are the fast food outfits - MacDonalds, Burger King, KFC etc, but these aren't the real peddlers of obesity. The real peddler of obesity is the slimming industry.

The slimming industry has a vested interest in enabling you to lose weight and then regain it so that you become a perpetual customer.

A simple example. If you want to lose a few pounds, stop taking sugar in your tea; within a week or so you will get use to drinking unsweetened tea. NO! Says the slimming industry, don't stop drinking unsweetened tea - don't change this damaging habit - use pretend sugar to sweeten your tea instead.

Don't stop the chocolate habit - eat slimming chocolate. Have a slimming bicky with your brake, what ever you do don't change your lifestyle!

If you take sweetener, or slimming chocs, or slimming bickies you will relapse, you will use sugar and real chocolate and old fashioned biscuits again and you will get another guilt trip and come back to us again - you will become a yo-yo diet customer of ours for life.

And what about the slimming clubs? They tend to provide exercise for seven or so months a year (and sell you the diet chocies whilst you're there), but make sure that you have five months to grow fat again so that you come back again next year. I know women (and they tend to be women) who have been members of such clubs for over twenty years - and they are still not slim!

80% of dietary and exercise advice for the overweight in the UK (it's even higher in the US) comes to us through the vested interest of the slimming industry. Of course, the slimming industry spends millions on advertising in those papers and on those channels who are most likely to promote the fat bastards deserve it line, making us feel guilt about being fat, ensuring that we sign up to the slimming industry's products.

Wales, the UK, the US will never come to terms with the problems of obesity until the slimming industry is exposed as the evil charlatan snake oil peddler that it is.


Poems & Politics: Do you remember 1926?

Now that Normal Mouth is no longer available to argue with about the importance of literature and the arts in Welsh politics, I have decided to make the occasional Poems and politics post, linking great poems to the issues of the day.

This first one is influenced by Charlie Mark's post about the Prison Officers Union's call for a General Strike.

It is a part of Idris Davies' long poem Gwalia Deserta

Do you remember 1926?

Do you remember 1926? That summer of soups and speeches,
The sunlight on the idle wheels and the deserted crossings,
And the laughter and the cursing in the moonlit streets?
Do you remember 1926? The slogans and the penny concerts,
The jazz bands and the moorland picnics,
And the slanderous tongues of famous cities?
Do you remember 1926? The great dream and the swift disaster,
The fanatic and the traitor, and more than all,
The bravery of the simple, faithful folk?
'Ay, ay, we remember 1926,' said Dai and Shinkin,
As they stood on the kerb in Charing Cross Road,
'And we shall remember 1926 until our blood is dry.'

Fly the flag for Tibet

Linguanaut Damon Lord is trying to raise an awareness campaign about the suffering of the people of Tibet caused by the occupation of their country by the Chinese Communist Empire.

Amongst his suggestions are that, during the Beijing Olympic, supporters of Tibetan self determination:

1. Replace your Facebook profile picture with a Tibetan flag. Maybe fly a Tibetan flag on your blog page too.

2. Encourage all your friends to do so too.

I don't have a Facebook account, but I am happy to Fly the Flag for Tibet on my blogs. I hope that other bloggers will follow suite.

Support Tibet. Fly the Tibetan Flag during the Beijing Olympic Games 2008.


Why the Archbishop is wrong

Al Iguana has an interesting post this morning in which he draws attention to a sermon to be delivered by the Anglican Archbishop of Wales, Dr Barry Morgan, in the Eisteddfod:

“On such a day as this, we are given permission, if you like, to revel in our history as descendants of the original inhabitants of these islands.

“But although there is a new sense of identity in the nation, pride in its language dating back to the 6th century, its own literary tradition and a sense of belonging to a particular area of land, when we talk of nation, nationalism, nationhood, the debate can become very heated.

“We have seen and are still seeing the cost in human terms of the struggle for national identity in various parts of the world. We have seen what has happened in Yugoslavia, Israel, Palestine and parts of Africa.

“The challenge we face as a nation is keeping our identity and rejoicing in it without at the same time becoming narrowly nationalistic – xenophobic, even – or exclusive.

Having warned against the dangers of nationalism he goes on to warn of the dangers of religious fervour:

.. religion too can be used to demarcate people: those who belong and those who do not belong. A religious commitment can become a kind of tribal allegiance and religions can sometimes develop ways of policing the frontiers of the religious community to make sure that only the real insiders are inside and to ensure people cannot get in if they do not really believe.

“Both Judaism and Christianity have been guilty of this. Religious fervour has very often fuelled nationalistic fervour in most parts of the world. “It is quite a normal thing for humans to do and yet it can be one of the most demonic as we realise when we study any period of history.

What a load of old Bull.

Why single out nationalism and religious belief in this warning about hatred and violence?

One can be as passionate about socialism, liberalism or unionism as one can about nationalism - so what is so unique about nationalism that the Archbishop feels that it needs to be warned against more than any other political ism?

I've seen people get very heated about who is the best Dr Who (William Hartnell - of course) and come to blows in the Corry v Eastenders debate.
Football team rivalry has led to more than one murder. There is much more unity between Christians and Muslims in Wales than there is between Cardiff and Swansea supporters.

The fact is that any difference of opinion on any subject under the sun can lead to violence and hatred. By singling out two individual issues as being in need of special attention in warnings against hatred the Archbishop is adding to tensions, rather than reducing them.

I demand a recount

Many thanks to those who voted for me in the Witanagemot blog awards, I was awarded the second place in the category for Welsh Nationalist blogs along with Ordovicius who came first and Blog Menai who came third.

However I think that there is something wrong with the way the votes were counted.

How could
Bethan Jenkins or
Iain Dale possibly be considered more shaggable than

Aberconwy Tories Knifing Guto in the Back?

My nearest neighbour in the blogosphere is Oscar, a Conservative supporting blogger, but not a party hack. When he thinks it is right to do so Oscar isn't averse to giving Tories who he doesn't think are up to scratch a kick up the rear.

The latest Tory to be awarded an Oscar is Aberconwy PPC Guto Bebb:

Where has Gutto Bebb been of late?

He has appeared looking at the rubbish some where in the junction, hardly Westminster stuff though is it?

If the Conservatives have any chance of capturing this seat, Gutto needs to get off his ****, and get about, get to know his patch and the people in the area.

It is getting to look more and more like a lost cause here in Conwy/ Aberconwy, which is a shame, this seat is theirs for the taking, but each day and week is lost as there appears to be no active interest and involvement in the area they wish to capture at the next election.

Personally I think that Oscars' post is a bit harsh. Guto's profile is very high in the Welsh language media. It is so high that one might even think that Guto is the only Welsh speaking Tory in the World.

The profile problem seems to be one that is of the party's making rather than the candidate's. When journalists approach the party for a quote or an interview they only suggest Guto when the journalist wants a response in the language of Heaven. Because Guto has had his tuppence worth of media attention in Welsh, he is never, ever considered for promotion of the party by speaking English.

Whilst canvasing in the 2003 Assembly election a former Conservative voter told me that she would never vote for Guto, because he is a Welsh Nationalist in Tory drag. A fair point.

To many in Aberconwy and other parts of Wales, the Conservative party is perceived to be the anti Welsh party. A party that is the opponent of all things Welsh, a perception that many members and supporters of the party adhere to.

I suspect that the reason why some Conservative supporters in Aberconwy are sticking the knife in and suggesting that Gutto should consider his position as the PPC, and perhaps move aside for a more pro active candidate, is because Guto's profile is just too Welsh for comfort in a basically anti-Welsh party.


Act of Disunion

It would be silly to welcome Penddu to the Welsh blogosphere because he has been one of the most prolific commenters on Welsh blogs for some time and a regular contributor to the Welsh Independence joint blog. However it is good to see that he now has his own personal blog Act of Disunion.

I am also one of the contributors to Welsh Independence and its Welsh version Annibyniaeth. Neither have had any recent posts. All contributors (myself included) will have to do something about this inactivity!!!