The Shame of Annabel Goldie

As I have said before, if it was my call, based on personal prejudice rather than the need to look at things like precedence, the rule of law etc, I would have let al-Megrahi rot in gaol if he is guilty of the murder of 270 innocent people.

Because the rule of law is above personal prejudice, however, I suspect that the justice secretary of any makeup of a Scottish Parliament would have come to the same conclusion as that made by Mr MacAskill, so the political posturing on the issue is rather sick.

The sickest posture that I heard in the debate today came from Tory leader Annabel Goldie.

Ms Goldie suggested that Mr al-Megrahi could have been released on bail to serve his dying sentence out in a Scottish hospice.

Hospices provide a haven in which people with terminal illnesses can die in peace. They tend to have no "visiting policies" they keep "rules" to a minimum, they are relaxed and allow terminally ill people the space in which to die in a loving and caring environment.

If one of my loved ones happened to be passing his or her last days in a hospice, I just wouldn't want him or her to share that last dwelling place in life with a notorious terrorist. Full Stop!

The thought that I might have to go through a cordon of policemen, to be stopped and searched; even to be refused entry because of youthful misdemeanours, whilst my granny, my parent, my spouse or my child lay dying there is absolutely sickening!

Did Ms Goldie think this posture through before she proposed it in the Scottish parliament? Or is she just a heartless bitch who couldn't give a damn about the others who might have had to share the hospice with Mr al-Megrahi? Or is she more interested in political one upmanship than the care of those living out their last days in the bosom of the Scottish Hospice community?

Could WAG have done more to help young people get to university?

Prof Dylan Jones Evans asks:

Could WAG have done more to help young people get to university?

The answer is probably YES.

The question that I would ask is slightly different - Should WAG have done more to help young people get to university?

Isn't the real problem that we send too many young people to university in our days?

When I was of university age only 10% of young people went to University, only 8% of the population would gain a degree. The numbers gaining 1st class degrees and doctorate use to be a minuscule percentage of the general population.

There are jobs that would have been available to a CSE failure 30 years ago that now require a degree and a post graduate qualification!

"A" levels and degrees, even MA's and PhD's seem to be like incapacity benefit now: a way of keeping young people off the unemployment statistics for x number of years. As many of them will be on the dole when they graduate the highly educated workforce argument doesn't ring true!

Instead of pouring more and more money into universities wouldn't it be better if we used that funding to give real on the job training to enable 16 year olds to do proper jobs that are needed in our society rather than wasting millions in keeping them in education for an unneeded 5 to 10 years just in order to massage the unemployment figures or in order to create a fake idea of a nation that is more educated than it really needs to be?

Rubbish of the day?

In a response to a quote by Helen Mary Jones that ".....aboloshing prescription charges has helped people in Wales gain access to the vital medicine they need" Dave at the Cynical Dragon says:

Less than 10% paid for prescriptions when they were abolished.

I'm not convinced of the veracity of the comment that only 10% of people had to pay prescription charges, before the abolition of prescription charges in Wales. I understand that the truth is that only 10% of the population had to pay ALL prescription charges. The remaining 90% included people who had pre-pay certificates, those who had their first prescription issued in a hospital rather than a pharmacy and those who were exempt from condition limited charges (such as ex-service personnel who were allowed free prescriptions relating to their war pension ailments, but not other conditions).

As Lyndon notes in a comment, the trouble with the old payment system was that it was arbitrary, illogical and of a completely unfair nature.

I am prescribed anticonvulsants. So, if I had won an Euro Lottery roll-over of £90 million and had invested it in a dodgy hedge fund that gave me a 1000% return, I STILL wouldn't have to pay the charges under the current English system.

If the NHS in Wales needs to re-introduce charges, then the charging system must be fair and equitable. Unfortunately the Assembly doesn't have the competence to introduce fair prescription charges at the moment.

If there are good economic arguments for reintroducing prescription charges (and I am not convinced that there are) then they cannot be reintroduced until the Assembly has the full competence to create fair and equitable charges. With the eLCO system of gaining competence for the Assembly being so long winded there are many more pressing issues that need to be dealt with ahead of this one!


Top 60 welsh Blogs

Here are Total Politics Top 60 Welsh Blogs:

1 (1) Guerilla Welsh Fare PC

2 (6) Miserable Old Fart NA

3 (18) Blog Menai PC

4 (10) Adam Price MP PC

5 (15) Welsh Ramblings PC

6 Syniadau PC

7 (12) Vaughan Roderick ME

8 (7) Cambria Politico NA

9 (11) Cynical Dragon PC

10 Plaid Wrecsam PC

11 Cardiff Blogger CO

12 Pendroni PC

13 (14) Valleys Mam NA

14 (17) Hen Rech Flin NA

15 Polemical Report LW

16 (1) Peter Black AM LD

17 (22) David Jones MP CO

18 (8) Bethan Jenkins AM PC

19 Welsh Bloggers NA

20 Politics Cymru LW

21 (4) Miss Wagstaff Presents NA

22 (25) Borthlas PC

23 (2) Glyn Davies CO

24 Leanne Wood AM PC

25 Sweet & Tender Hooligan PC

26 (9) Betsan Powys ME

27 (5) David Cornock ME

28 (37) Gwilym Euros Roberts LlG

29 (31) Dylan Jones-Evans CO

30 (23) Paul Flynn MP LA

31 (3) Ordovicius PC

32 This is My Truth LW

33 (35) Huw Lewis AM LA

34 Plaid Bontnewydd PC

35 Freedom Central LD

36 Blog yr Hogyn o Rachub PC

37 (19) Lone Voice CO

38 UK Progressive NA

39 YmGom LA

40 Rural Studies PC

41 Wales Home NA

42 Blog Answyddogol PC

43 Stonemason CO

44 (24) 07.25 to Paddington ME

45 Alun Williams PC

46 Denverstrope CO

47 No Good Boyo LW

48 Welsh Noted NA

49 A Change of Personnel NA

50 Wrexham Socialist LW

51 Disgusted of Llandrindod Wells NA

52 (33) Leighton Andrews AM LA

53 Rene Kinzett CO

54 (26) Blog Dogfael PC

55 Don't Trip Up LW

56 Morgan Hen RW

57 Ian James Johnson PC

58 (28) Andrew Nutt PC

59 Blog Rhys Llwyd NA

60 Wrexham Against Racism & Fascism LW

Congratulations to all

Obscure Welsh Tory MPs

There is rather an odd post on the Aberconwy Conservative's blog in which a poster criticises Carwyn Jones AM for wasting his time reading the web site of the Cornerstone group. Apart from the fact that the Tories in Conwy shouldn't attempt to censor what Mr Jones reads in his own spare time, the attitude of the post's author to the Cornerstone group is quite revealing.

The author seems to suggest that Cornerstone is an unimportant grouping of relative nobodies in the Tory party; that it is a bit nutty (insane even) and that it's extreme right wing policies are an irrelevance to current conservative thinking. The group is hardly mainstream we are told and an obscure right wing think tank.

What the author doesn't tell us (perhaps s/he doesn't know) is that two of the three current Welsh Conservative MPs David Davies and David Jones are members of the Cornerstone group. So the Welsh Conservative group in Westminster is nutty, irrelevant, insane, hardly mainstream and obscure - not my opinion, but the opinion of Aberconwy Conservatives!

The Laws of Compassion

Whoever was responsible for the Lockerbie air atrocity showed no compassion for the 270 people who died as a result of the action. The bombers didn't give a dam about the family circumstances, the children, the parents or friends of those who perished as a result of their actions.

If Abdel Basset Ali al-Megrahi was one of those responsible then I don't see why he should be shown any more compassion, because of the fact that he is dying, than the compassion that he showed to those who he was responsible for killing. He wants to be with his family and loved ones when he dies, his family and loved ones want the comfort of being with him too – a comfort which was viciously denied to the victims of Lockerbie.

However there seemed to be a possibility that he was not guilty, that he was a scapegoat and that he had a chance of a reprieve based on the strength of his case for appeal. But it appears that he will not live long enough to see the outcome of that appeal, so the appeal has been dropped in order to enable the Scottish Justice authorities to expedite either his release on compassionate ground or his return to his homeland to serve his sentence there on compassionate grounds.

This totally confuses me and confirms the law is an ass theory.

By dropping his appeal he accepts his guilt. If he is guilty he deserves no compassion.

By continuing with his appeal he maintains his innocence and leaves open the possibility of doubt about his guilt. I can accept, given his poor health, that where doubt remains he might be given the benefit of that doubt and be shown compassion. I could understand if he was released on bail or sent to serve his sentence in Libya, prior to returning to Scotland (should he live) for the appeal.

The fact that he can only be shown compassion by admitting his guilt (even if he is really innocent) makes an ass of the law and a complete bollocks of the concept of true compassion!


Plaid Top poll, Labour in third place!

As far as I'm aware only three Welsh MPs blog, and all three have been placed in the top 10 MPs at the Total Politics blog awards. Adam Price is at no 7, David Jones is at no 9 and Paul Flynn at no 10.

Could this result be seen as a mini opinion poll of voting intentions at the next Westminster election? Plaid topping the poll, with the Conservatives pushing Labour into third place? :-)

Congratulations to all three MPs.

Blog Awards

The Iain Dale and Total Politics blog awards are trickling through. Although I am not a fan of these awards, congratulations to the winners, so far declared.

So far the ones that have been published are the top 30 Councillors list, the top 20 Northen Ireland list the top 20 Libertarian list and the top 40 media list.

There are no Welsh entries in the top 20 NI list (for obvious reasons) but my favourites has been mentioned in dispatches: A Pint of Unionist Lite, a blog that really truly believes in the UK and gives genuine arguments to defend its existence. Something that is missing in the union cause on the mainland where too many wear Unionism like underwear - something they believe is essential but think should be hidden and never mentioned in decent company, an attitude that stifles debate on an important issue. Llongyfarchiadau O Neil!

I can't find any Welsh entries on the Libertarian list either – are there no Libertarians in Wales? Iolo Morganwg and Dr Price would be sore disappointed!

There are three Welsh entries on the Councillors list Blog Dogfael, Rene Kinzett and Gwilym Euros Roberts. It appears that some councillor's blogs have not been included in the councillors list – composite councillor's blogs such as Plaid Wrecsam and Plaid Sir Gar and councillors who have "higher" profiles such as Peter Black and John Dixon. However the three mentioned are worthy recipients.

Dogfael doesn't really write a political blog. Most of his posts relate to the cultural, religious and pedestrian life of Aberystwyth the sorts of thing a parish councillor should be interested in! When he raises his baton as a councillor he shows how important the role of the parish councillor is in being the most easily accusable local rep and a conduit to the great and the good in "other" places.

Gwilym and Rene probably wouldn't agree on the size of an inch, they are polls apart politically, but they are both examples of what makes political blogging vibrant. Read either blog and you either want to kiss the screen and say halleluiah somebody understands or you want to stick a brick through the screen in disagreement with them. Two councillors who know what political discussion is about, that it is about debating the issues and not providing middle ground platitudes that please everybody and nobody at the same time. Both are worthy recipients of their accolade as the two best councillors blogs in Wales.

The Media blogs include four from Wales in the top 40 Vaughan, Betsan, David Cornock and Tomos Livingstone. All of them worthy recipients. The most notable thing about the media blogs is that Cambria Politico has fallen off the list. I suspect that this is because one of the main contributors to the blog, the Archdruid of Welsh journalism Clive Betts has been off sick for most of the year. Clive has started to contribute a few articles again to CP of recent months; if his health permits I'm sure that the site will rise again to the heights that it deserves by next year.


Dig for Victory!

Today marks the beginning of National Allotment Week, apparently. I don’t like these national days and national weeks particularly – there are too many of them to start with! But I would like an allotment.

Yesterday I had a very nice Sunday Dinner: Pork from a local butcher and all the veg grown in my own garden. Unfortunately my garden is very, very small, so the home grown dinners are a very rare treat. I need an allotment so that I have a patch that is big enough to feed the family all season.

Jonathan T Clark of Plaid Monmouth stated on a recent post that The 1908 Small Holdings and Allotment Act says the council has a duty to provide land if they are satisfied there is demand and if six electors petition that council, their representations have to be taken into consideration.

I wonder if I have five readers who live in Llansanffraid Glan Conwy who would like to join me in petitioning the local council. (If there is interest my e-mail address is at the top the left side bar).



I am now a Member of Parliament, not any old parliament like that thing in Westminster, but a Member of The English Parliament.

If you believe that England is a nation that deserves its own national parliament you can become a member too by joining The English Parliament online.


Stop the Bus – Some Want to Get Off!

Whenever I discuss Plaid Cymru’s policies (which I always do from a supportive, if sometimes critical, viewpoint) I can guarantee a defensive comment in support of Plaid Orthodoxy from Rhydian Fôn of Plaid Bontnewydd. I was quite shocked, therefore, to see Rhydian slapped down by one of his heroes this week.

Adam Price is peeved that Rhydian has suggested that the end of universal bus passes for the elderly might be a good idea. This puts me in a difficult position. I enjoy upsetting them both so much I don’t know who to support and who to oppose:-)

Logically I support Rhydian. Universal benefits always mean that those who have no need gain extras that they can well afford out of their own income.

During the Welsh Festival Season a regular thing that pisses me off is that rich pensioners get concessionary entry into Llangollen, the Royal Welsh and the Eisteddfod, but a hard working bloke on a minimum wage has to pay full price for himself, his wife and his 2.5 kids which often means that visiting these iconic festivals is well beyond the means of working class families.

Practically I agree with Adam. Means testing is bad! Unlike Rhydian or Adam I am old enough to remember means testing at its worst. The official from the social coming round to measure poverty in the most disgusting of ways. Your eldest daughter is over weight for a poor girl, your youngest is under weight – you don’t need help you need to balance portions more accurately! That was how means were tested forty odd years ago!

The problem with means testing, even in a less cruel world, isn’t with the people at the rich end of the scale – the millionaires who have free passes and prescriptions (which in all honesty they are unlikely to use) but on the borderline cases.

My grandfather paid into a superannuation fund which left his widow 6d a week too rich to get any state help for anything. My mother in law – just 15 years ago - was 50p a week too rich to get any state help because her late husband had a company pension paying half rates to his widow. So my grandfather and my father-in-law paid to make their widows poorer!

That is a means test trap that is bad for the economy. I will not risk paying into a pension fund that may put my widow into a similar situation. Because I won’t take that risk I put a greater burden on the state - my wife and I could both live to be 110 without a penny of self provision!

A guarantee of universal benefits for older people makes paying into a pension fund a worthwhile exercise, an exercise that will reduce the overall burden of age on the state!

Of course ideologically I disagree with both Adam and Rhydian. A strong capitalist Welsh economy would enable more Welsh pensioners to enjoy the riches of old age without the need for state intervention at all!


W Ambrose Bebb - A Welsh Hundred

W Ambrose Bebb, (grandfather of Aberconwy Tory candidate Guto Bebb), was a prolific writer in the Welsh language in the period before and after the 2nd World war, being the author of two dozen or so books and a countless number of articles.

Although the first of his books was written eighty years ago and the last almost 50 years ago much of his work has stood the test of time and is still very readable to the modern reader.

Some of Bebbs works are now being published in English translation by AuthorHouse, the first in the series being A Welsh Hundred:

A Welsh Hundred combines in one volume and for the first time in English two of Bebb’s most popular works originally published in Welsh in 1941. These two newly translated works Y Baradwys Bell (The Faraway Paradise) and 1940: Lloffion o ddyddiadur (1940:Gleanings from a Diary) introduce English-language readers to one of 20th-century Wales most colourful and provocative personalities for the very first time. Bracketing an important century in the life of Wales, A Welsh Hundred opens with the 1841 diary of Montgomeryshire farmer and church deacon William Bebb, as conceived and imaginatively reconstructed by his great-great-nephew W. Ambrose Bebb. By 1940, it’s the turn of Ambrose Bebb himself to document touchingly, enthusiastically, sometimes starkly the daily rhythms of life in and around the college town of Bangor, North Wales, on the eve of Europe’s second all-consuming world war.

A Welsh Hundred [ISBN 9781434359919] is published by AuthorHouse both in the United Kingdom and in North America. Direct orders (priced £6.80/$9.90 per copy) may be placed with the publisher online it also available via major online retailers, including Amazon.co.uk, Amazon.com, BarnesandNoble.com and Borders.com (priced £8.95/$14.49 per copy).

The translator also has a Welsh Hundred blog, which he uses to promote the book.

It has been some years since I first read these books in Welsh and I look forward to obtaining a copy of the translation, which I sincerely hope lives up to the great man’s original masterpieces.


Labour – a bad bet for Aberconwy

I have never bet on a political candidate, because I don’t know how to. I once went into a bookie in Bangor and asked to put a fiver on Syd Morgan wining in Pontypridd, the lady behind the desk told me that she didn’t think that there was a race track in Pontypridd and that there was no horse called Syd Morgan running anywhere in Britain that week. Good result actually, because Syd lost and I saved my fiver!

Even if I knew how to bet on political outcomes and was a regular betting man I wouldn’t risk 5p, never mind £5 on the result in Aberconwy.

According to the UK Poling Report, the new Aberconwy constituency has a “notional” Labour incumbency with a majority of less than 0.9% over the Conservatives. So it is a tight Labour / Conservative marginal. However in the Assembly elections the seat was won by Plaid Cymru. Plaid also won the Conwy constituency in the European Elections, all be it by the tightest of possible margins. The Liberal Democrats, although failing recently, have a good record of coming close in this area, so they can’t be written off.

The seat offers hope to so many parties that the Westminster election has already started in earnest in this area, despite the fact that the election is yet to be called, and probably won’t be called for another 6 months or more. During the past 2 weeks I have had leaflets from all of the big four; indeed I have had two leaflets from Plaid and the Tories!

Plaid, the Conservatives and the Liberal Democrats have all delivered their leaflets by hand, they have spoken to constituents out gardening, on the street etc, the candidates have pressed the flesh and made themselves known whilst delivering the papers, but the Labour message came by post. The post wasn’t even sent by the Labour Party, it was sent by Tangent Direct a mass mailing company based in Cramlington, Northumberland.

I suppose that the message from Northumberland may mean that Labour is ahead, that it doesn’t need local activists to do the donkey work, because it has the money to invest in alternative campaigning methods. On the other hand it may mean that Labour doesn’t have the activists locally to do the donkey work so it has to pay people to do what enthusiastic activists are willing to do for love of the cause in the other three parties. Whatever the reason, receiving a mailing shot got up my nose. It struck me as a lazy and impersonal way of contacting constituents and very bad form. It added to my feeling that Labour has already conceded defeat in Aberconwy, that the junk mail was an unenthusiastic response to the slog that all the other contenders are putting in with gusto.