I'm not a Graduate - but I benefit from an University Education

I had some legal difficulties to deal with earlier this year, so I contacted my solicitors Guthrie, Jones and Jones. Mr Guthrie Mr Jones and Mr Jones are all graduates.

I have had a chest infection over Christmas. Dr Jayaram has prescribed an antibiotic, which has made me better.

Gareth Hughes (a graduate Accountant) and co has helped me with my accounts.

My children will go to school next week and be educated by a host of teachers educated in the humanities and the sciences to degree level.

Having dealt with my legal, medicinal, financial and parental problems I was relieved to go home and relax in front of the telly and watch Bethan Gwasnas BA in a most entertaining telly programme.

I don't have a university degree, but I clearly benefit from university education!

Shouldn't I pay my share for that education?

Guthrie, Jones, Jones, Jayram, Hughes the teachers and Gwanas are all paid more than I am, but because they are paid more than me they already pay more tax than me - it is called income tax!

Despite not having a degree, - me and mine benefit from university education. I find the idea that we shouldn't pay our part for that benefit, by passing our debt in to student loans, quite obnoxious!


Hooray he's been

Last year I noted my disappointment that Father Christmas didn't visit Wales according to the missile and Santa watching agency NORAD.

I asked last Christmas:
Have the children of Wales been particularly naughty this year? If so the Assembly must do its utmost to ensure that the children of Wales are better behaved next year so that Santa doesn't ignore our country again! If our children have been as good as they usually are then the Assembly should contact NORAD to ask them to include Santa's visit to Wales next year.

It looks like my appeal has borne fruit, because this year I am pleased to say that NORAD did spot the great bearded one visiting Wales.

Best wishes for a good Christmas to all my readers, I hope that Father Christmas was generous to you on his visit.


BBC Alba and S4(BB)C

Apparently the reasoning behind the decision to put S4C in to the hands of the BBC is a lack of awareness in Westminster about the difference between the position of Gaelic in Scotland and Welsh in Wales. The Gaelic channel has been quite successful under the control of the Beeb, so the Welsh Language Channel could be run the same way seems to be the rationale.

I'm a relatively regular viewer of BBC Alba, I watch two or three programs every week, the channel broadcasts a number of extremely interesting documentary, historical and musical programs which are strong in content but tend to be weak in style.

For example I watched a program last week which discussed the way in which the poor in the highlands made beds of heather because no alternative bedding was available to them; something that I hadn't heard of before. The program was an eye opener, a testament to the ingenuity of man under the gravest circumstances, a great record of folk tradition, an education and extremely interesting, but in terms of broadcasting technique and quality it was weak. A Woman visited a man and said to him I understand that you know how to make a bed of heather. He answers yes I can-this is how it is done and then he makes a heather bed - a technically poor and cheap programme.

It is the kind of interesting material I want to see on S4C but not the kind of programme quality I want to see on S4C. But will this be the programme quality that is to be expected on S4BBC in the future?

BBC Alba was launched two years ago as an experiment; there was a review of its first two years this week. For viewers of BBC Alba the news is encouraging, the channel has been a success and will continue for at least another five years.

But some of the questions that are raised in the review are of concern! For example should the channel be broadcast on the internet, rather than on the TV? (Not at the moment because the availability of the web is weak in the areas where Gaelic is strongest - but it might be a possibility in the future)! Is that a potential future for S4BBC too?

The Corporation is reluctant to secure a slot for BBC Alba on Freeview in Scotland unless some radio channels are lost to make room for it. It is almost certain that BBC Alba will not be available on Freeview thorough the UK. Apparently up to one third of the viewers of S4C are outwith the borders of Wales, will S4BBC sacrifice those viewers in order to accommodate other channels, thus diluting the numbers who use Welsh language broadcasting?

Given that there are only around 70 thousand native Gaelic speakers left, the BBC must be congratulated for the excellent provision, given the linguistic circumstances, to Gaelic viewers via BBC Alba, but we must be careful that the corporation doesn't assume that the same level of provision will be adequate for three quarters of a million Welsh speakers too!


Rhydian Signs for Plaid???

Less than half way there somehow, somewhere, unfortunately.

But Someway? Someday?

Hold my hand rather than the Socialist Entrists hand and I may well take you there!


Poems and Politics "For those in Peril on the Sea" - William Whiting

A prayer for those whose lives are to be endangered by the latest cost cutting exercise from the heartless bastards in the Con-Dem Government who put money before humanity.

Eternal Father strong to save
Whose arm has bound the restless wave
Who bids the mighty ocean deep
It's own appointed limits keep
O hear us when we cry to Thee
For those in Peril on the sea

Oh Christ whose voice the waters heard
And hushed their raging at Thy word
Who walkest on the foamy deep
And how amidst the storm did sleep
O hear us when we cry to Thee
For those in Peril on the sea.

Even an atheist would agree that there is a better chance that God will take more heed of the needs of those in Peril on the Sea than either Cameron or Clegg!


Some New Blogs.

Challenging the Druid of Anglesey is Laudanum; Iolo Morganwg apparently invented neo-druidism under the influence of the drug.

Every election seems to throw up some new short term blogs for the campaign. The four Plaid hopefuls in the North Wales region are the first off the mark for 2011.


No Ifs No Buts No Police Service Cuts!

I wonder if any of those Policemen who seemed so eager to baton the heads of sixteen year old children on the streets of London yesterday, with a certain amount of glee, realise that their jobs are also on the line under the ConDem cuts agenda!

That kid you bludgeoned might be protesting for your job too!

Proud are you?


The Welsh Language Measure

How odd. I support Plaid Cymru's position and Alan in Dyfed opposes it. Usually it is the other way around!

Alan praises the Lib Dem's on Welsh Language policy and criticises Plaid – he is wrong.

Having been canvassed by Liberal Democrats in Aberconwy and having heard from family members resident in Cardigan about Lib Dem canvassing any support for the language by Lib Dems is obviously opportunist. Lib Dem supporters were using the Language Measure as an example of Plaid forcing the language on non Welsh speaking residents last May; now they are trying to say that the Measure doesn't go far enoughand that Plaid have welshed on the Welsh Language!

There is a failure in the devolution settlement. The Assembly has the right to legislate on the Welsh Language, but not on the Languages of Wales. A measure that says that English and Welsh are both official languages would be illegal; a statement that English and Welsh have equal legal status would be retrograde because the English language is NOT an official Language in England & Wales. It is our de-facto language. I don't think that a measure that made Welsh the de-facto language of Wales would be acceptable to the majority of Welsh people now.

I would like the Assembly to have the responsibility to legislate on all the languages of Wales and to be able to state, unambiguously, that Welsh, English and BSL are the official languages of Wales, all with equal validity, but it doesn't have that competency!

The problem isn't what the Measure includes, but how broad an Assembly Measure on the languages of Wales can be. The Plaid / Labour coalition has passed the best possible measure in support of the Welsh language that it is competent to pass.

If the Lib Dems don't think that the current Measure is good enough, they are in government on an UK level, they can ask their ministers to give further language competence to the National Assembly, in order to enable the Assembly to strengthen the Measure, but I won't hold my breath waiting for them to do so.


YouGov Health Warning

A new Welsh YouGov survey is due out before the end of this week. Apart from asking the normal tracker questions about which party one will be voting for in the next Assembly elections and how one will vote in the GoW Act referendum it also asks for responses to the Assembly budget. I expect that the budget question will be happy reading for the Welsh Conservative Party – with a huge percentage saying that Health Spending should not be cut, as per Tory group policy.

Unfortunately the question on spending cuts was leading and therefore unfair. The question asked, which ONE of the following areas of spending should NOT be cut? Followed by a list that included culture, transport, education health etc.

Respondents didn't have the opportunity to answer none of the above or to say all spending areas should be cut. The option of supporting the Assembly Governments' decision to spread the cuts across all areas wasn't on offer so respondents were "forced" to choose one area of spending that should not be cut. I would guessed that having been forced to make a choice that most would choose health, thus vindicating the Tory policy by default.

Anybody wishing to join the YouGov panel in order to be in with a chance of being a respondent in future surveys can do so by clicking HERE.

The Smelly Sockpuppets of Môn

I have been following the Welsh Blogosphere from its earliest days; one of the paucities of the Welsh blogosphere as a coherent entity is the lack of comments on most posts. The typical number of comments on posts which I have published in the last 12 months is 3-6, one in 10 of my posts have had no comments at all. A quick flick through the Total Politics Top Ten suggests that my comment rate is typical of the others.

There are exceptions. Wales Home often has posts which receive more than 50 comments, Blamerbell use to attract a huge number of commentators on some posts, but even they have had no comments on some posts.

The exception to the exception is the Druid of Anglesey – The Druid's weakest posts in the last 28 days have had 7, 9 and 18 comments, the typical number of comments is 30-60, it's not unusual for his posts to get well over 100 comments – Wow!

I recently posted about my disappointment at finding out that, despite his protestations of being above party politics, the Druid has declared himself to be a Tory hopeful in the next Assembly Elections. I have had an above average response to that post.

But there was something odd about the number of responses.

In response to every other post that I have made in the last 4 years that has been controversial enough to get more than 15 comments, about half the comments have come from signed commentators; the signed response to my post about The Druid was 2 out of 21!

Wales Home and Blamerbell also seemed to have had 40-60% signed comments on their most popular posts. But the Druid has an incredible and untypical number of unsigned posts, in comparison to most other blog sites, fewer than 10% signed on his last ten entries. Those that are signed are mainly from the just 7 individuals.

Something doesn't seem open and transparent. Something smells a bit corrupt! Could it be a dirty sock, over used as a puppet?


Bloggers and Libel Threats

From the Libel Reform Campaign:

“So you’ve had a threatening letter. What can you do?”

A new guide to the libel laws for bloggers is being published today. Download the guide here:

The guide, entitled ‘So you’ve had a threatening letter. What can you do?’, is published by Sense About Science in association with Index on Censorship, English PEN, the Media Legal Defence Initiative, the Association of British Science Writers and the World Federation of Science Journalists.The guide was prepared following Sense About Science’s recent survey of the impact of the libel laws on online discussion.

To coincide with the guide’s publication, Sense About Science is making available a summary of the effects of the English libel laws on bloggers, drawn from cases that have come to attention since the start of the Libel Reform Campaign and from the recent survey of bloggers. The summary identifies the particular ways in which online forums are affected by the current laws, notably:

  • the individual and non-professional character of much online writing, and therefore the more pronounced inequality of arms, particularly where people are writing about companies, institutions and products;
  • related to the above, the relative lack of familiarity with libel law and access to advice about handling complaints;
  • the liability of ISPs, leading to material being removed without consultation with authors;

  • and the vulnerability to legal action arising from the international availability of Internet material, and it being possible to republish old material by downloading it.

Reform of English libel law has been promised, and if campaigners are successful, then changes that will give better defences to online publishers and writers may come into force in 2012.

This leaflet is certainly not a substitute for legal advice, but it does provide information which other bloggers and writers who have experienced libel threats say they wished they had known at the outset.

The publication of the guide comes on the day that Yahoo!, AOL UK, Mumsnet and the Internet Service Providers’ Association (ISPA) are writing to the Prime Minister calling for urgent reform of our libel laws, and in the week where the summary of the effects of libel law on bloggers has been shared with the Ministry of Justice.


The Druid's Shame

Underhand and two faced.

Druid, you have claimed to be non aligned, to be putting Anglesey first; to be criticising Albert and Ieuan because they are the elected reps for Anglesey - and not criticising the Tories and others because they haven't been in charge in Anglesey since dinosaurs were eggs, you now declare that this is a lie.

The truth appears to be that you have been abusing your so called non-alignment in order to build up a following for your own personal and party political ambitions.

I am bitterly disappointed to discover that you are a charlatan and a fraud. Within the last couple of weeks, whilst your nomination for candidate must have been with the party hierarchy, you denied being a Tory. Why?

As you have been ashamed of admitting that you are a Conservative for the past 12 months, and taken offence at being labled as a Conservative by others, why should Anglesey's Conservatives have faith in you; never mind the wider electorate?

When you started your blog you claimed that it was a quest to get honesty and openness into the Islands politics, for which you have had my support. But it appears that you have been neither honest nor open - just a duplicitous snake in the grass. I am very disappointed.

A pedant writes:

At least two Plaid - bloggers have made the claim that Dafydd Wigley is the first person to be elected to the House of Lords, because he won a ballot of party members in order to earn his seat.

Actually my friend and minister the Rev Lord Roberts of Llandudno was elected to a list of prospective Lib Dem Lords by party members some 8 or so years ago.

I don't know if the Liberals still elect Lords, but there is no doubt that Roger was the first Lord chosen in this way.

However congratulations to Dafydd, Jenny and Eluned on their elevation – I hope they do Wales proud as Noble Lords; but where is the Welsh Tory Lord?

As far as I recall Syr Wyn in 1997 was the last member of the Welsh Conservative Party to be given the right to park his rump on the red benches.


Poems and Politics - To Autumn - Chris Bryant

My first poems and politics blog where I don't quote the poem. It is such a load of pretentious crap that it would embarrass me to post it!

Rhondda MP Chris Bryant's poem To Autumn can be seen here - if you love poetry please, please, please do not click on the link!


Poems and politics - Katherine Philips - Married People: “Suckers”

My son (born in wedlock) is asked to study this poem for his GSCE English exam; he has been ridiculed and bullied because of his response to it. He is a child of a married couple; his parents are – SUCKERS - according to the poet and the teacher's message – he is one of a minority in his class – a minority oppressed by the message of the poem!

It is a good poem; it makes a valid point. But is it the sort of poem that pubescent teenagers should be discussing as part of their exam projects?

Is this the way that we want our children to be introduced to the institution of marriage in school lessons?

Married People: “Suckers” – Katherine Philips

A married state affords but little ease
The best of husbands are so hard to please.
This in wives’ careful faces you may spell
Though they dissemble their misfortunes well.
A virgin state is crowned with much content;
It’s always happy as it’s innocent.
No blustering husbands to create your fears;
No pangs of childbirth to extort your tears;
No children’s cries for to offend your ears;
Few worldly crosses to distract your prayers:
Thus are you freed from all the cares that do
Attend on matrimony and a husband too.
Therefore Madam, be advised by me
Turn, turn apostate to love’s levity,
Suppress wild nature if she dare rebel.
There’s no such thing as leading apes in hell.

A good poem, but not the sort of message about marriage that I want my teen kids to learn.

It is not the sort of message about marriage and relationships that fits in with health education messages that the kids have.

Married People: “Suckers” -is a good poem for those of us who are old enough to appreciate it.

It is not a GCSE age poem and the person who put it into the 14/15 year old curiculum is a pervert who needs sacking!


Yes Men Looking for AV Support in Wales

I have received this e-mail from Iestyn Davies the Welsh Organiser of the AV referendum Yes Campaign:

Hello friend,

My name is Iestyn Davies - I'm your Yes campaign organiser in Wales.

I am here to help Yes campaigners like you to build your own campaigns so that Wales says "Yes" to AV on 5 May 2011.

Your leadership will be critical to this effort. Right now, I am looking for local organisers to help build the campaign where you are. Will you take up the challenge and join me?

The Yes campaign got off to a fantastic start on Bonfire Night, with people coming together at events across the country. Now we need organisers in your area to keep up that momentum.

We have just under six months to make sure that the country is ready to seize this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.

This is your chance to make a difference to the Yes campaign and change the future of British politics. Click here to find out more about becoming a local organiser and how you can help make Wales say "Yes"

I am really looking forward to campaigning with you for a new way of doing politics!

Best wishes,

Iestyn Davies
Organiser, Wales

My answer to Iestyn is NO, I'm not interested in the Lib Dem abuse of the electoral cycle in order to try and gain support for their half baked electoral reform compromise.

I will be campaigning in a much more important electoral contest on May 5th.

But I publish his appeal for support in the hope that Liberal and Labour AV supporters take their eye of the ball and put their efforts into AV rather than the Assembly campaign!


Re: Adam and the Druid

Re Adam's Comments:

Adam was not just being critical of the makeup of Assembly Members, he was being critical of Western Politicians; his criticisms were aimed as much at Members of the Scottish Parliament, Members of the NI Assembly, UK MP's members of the Budestag, the US Congress, Parlement Français etc. He was not knocking the Assembly!

Re Druid's Comments on what Adam said:

Are all those Tory's really wealth makers?

If I inherit Dad's millions, Dad's business and Dad's circle of expert employees would I be a wealth maker? Would I have a real experience of business life? Or would I just be born with a silver spoon in my mouth with no real experience of wealth creation?

I suspect that too many members of the current and the former government have had the good fortune of inherited luck rather than having gone through the hard graft of creating their own luck!

Wales needs wealth creators desperately, but we are not going to get them through primogeniture, in the way that most of the Tory Cabinet has wealth, we are not going to get them from demonising the unemployed and getting them to pick up rubbish for a pound an hour in exchange for benefits either.

What we need are lateral thinking ways of enabling our unemployed to become entrepreneurs, rather than minimum wage slaves, an idea that is outwith the conception of both those with inherited wealth and those with socialist straightjackets!

For Wales to succeed it needs something better than Left/Right polarisation. Plaid use to talk about national self determination in order to avoid the I, word – self determination is not just national it has to be communal and personal too!

How we lift the people of Wales out of dependency on the British state into personal, communal and national self suficiency is the national challange that can not be answered through socialism or British unionism!


Youth Not!

There was some controversy last week about the Youth Parliament. I asked my children who they had voted for and who their YPMP's was. They had never heard of the body and had never voted in an election for such an Institution.

A web search finds that Welsh Members of the Youth Parliament are chosen from an organisation that has the rather Old Codgers do Youth! title of Funky Dragon. My children have never voted in a Funky Dragon election, never heard of it, and the organisation's website doesn't appear to have been updated during their secondary school career!

On a local level, there appears to be a shadow Youth Conwy Council. Again my kids have never heard of it and have never voted for its members.
If only one of my children had not heard about these examples of youth democracy in action disregarding youth democracy, I could understand. But my youngest son is in to politics.

If he had a chance to stand election as Young Conwy Councillor, Youth Assembly Member or YPMP for Abercowny he would have stood and campaigned for election with a gusto that would put many senior politicians to shame; but as he has never heard of nomination or election to these so called "youth democratic institutions" he has been disenfranchised and deprived of his right of candidature. Or is the whole idea just a piss take?


Marcus is still alive and well!

Despite previously hosting many blogs, Marcus Warner's pearls of wisdom have been absent from the Welsh Blogosphere for some time - I'm sure that he'll be back in full flow before long.

However, those suffering withdrawal symptoms might get some temporary relief from his Guest Post at Liberal Conspiracy. (It's about S4C and devolving BBC Wales).


Secrecy and respect

On Freedom Central Peter Black AM repeats an allegation made by Glyn Davies MP last week that the reason for the lack of consultation with the Assembly Government regarding the future of S4C by UK Government ministers is because the UK ministers don't trust the Welsh Government to keep secrets. Peter and Glyn see this as a criticism of Plaid Cymru of course. Plaid ministers are being disrespectful, indeed childish according to Mr Black. This is not the attitude one would expect from someone who claims to be a liberal and a democrat.

The question I would expect a liberal and a democrat to ask is Why on earth should decisions about Welsh language broadcasting be made in secret?

Without any doubt a lack of respect has been demonstrated in the case of S4C reorganization. By making decisions about the future of the channel in secret without regard for the opinion of Welsh viewers, without consultation with those who will be most affected by the decision Jeremy Hunt has treated S4C's audience with a stunning lack of respect.

If Glyn's allegation that previous discussions at private meetings between the Culture Secretary and Plaid Cymru seemed to have become public within minutes, is true it does not show a lack of respect by Plaid Cymru; on the contrary it shows that Plaid ministers respect the people who they were elected to serve by not keeping them in the dark which seems to be the Westminster practice.


Lib Dem Gerrymandering for a Fair Vote is an Oxymoron

I have always been a bit of an agnostic about PR, I can see its advantages and its disadvantages.

Even under first past the post Plaid Cymru with a very small vote (in UK terms) claims to have had major achievements and to have punched far and above its weight in Westminster. If this is true there is no need for PR. Why should a party that claims that it has punched far above its democratic mandate under FPTP get even more power under PR?

On the other hand I can see the democratic deficit in the fact that the Conservatives in Scotland got 17% of the vote but fewer than 1% of the seats earlier this year! This is an example of a democratic deficit that has disenfranchised the voice of Scottish Tories that PR might equalise!

I understand the arguments for and the arguments against, but for the arguments to be realistic they must be based on a true belief in fairness.

The fact that the AV referendum is to be held on the same day as the Scottish, Welsh and NI General Elections is an exercise in unfairness.

Firstly because a proportion of the population who have more than average experience of alternative voting will have a disproportionate turnout!

Secondly because the Lib Dems froze out the SNP and Plaid Cymru in the Westminster elections, because they had much more coverage than the Nationalist parties did on an UK level. Holding the referendum on the same day is a despicable attempt to ensure that Nick Clegg gets as much, if not much more, coverage on the widest TV networks during the Scottish and Welsh General elections as Alex Salmond and Ieuan Wyn get!

As I said, I am an agnostic about alternative voting systems, but I will be voting NO in the AV referendum, because there is one thing that I do know about fair voting – you don't get a fair vote through Gerrymandering!


Is BBC news racist or just biased against the English?

I am grateful to O'Neil's elsewhere for pointing me in the direction of this letter in the Belfast Telegraph:

BBC 'racism' is clear through sports coverage

On Tuesday, October 12, Northern Ireland played the Faroe Islands in a Euro 2012 qualifying match, with an early kick-off at 4pm.
The match finished 10 minutes prior to the start of the main national news on BBC1 at 6pm, but there was no mention of the match in the 30-minute bulletin.
If the match had involved England, instead of Northern Ireland, would the match have got a mention on the national news?

Then the next day, Northern Ireland won eight medals (three gold, two silver, and three bronze) at the Commonwealth Games, but it did not merit a mention in the main national news which started at 6pm on BBC1.
If it had been England's best-ever day at a Commonwealth Games, would it have got a mention on the national news?

These are just two examples of the institutional racism that exists at the BBC. What is the BBC going to do about it?


I disagree with Mr Hastings. Not mentioning Northern Ireland's, or Wales' or Scotland's achievements on news programmes is hardly racism, no matter how flexibly one wishes to stretch the term. There might be a fair accusation of bias, but the bias isn't against Northern Ireland, or Wales or Scotland, but a bias against England.

The fact is that if I want to know what has happened in Northern Ireland, Wales or Scotland I can watch the national news on Newsline, Wales Today or Reporting Scotland, the one nation that doesn't have a national news programme is England (it has many regional news programmes but not a single national one), and therein lies the difficulty for BBC News at Six and News at Ten; they have to double up as both the UK "national news" and the English national news and tend to fall between two stools.

Giving details about Northern Ireland's sporting achievements, which will be repeated on Newsline 25 minutes later, crowds out English News; not giving the details of Northern Ireland's achievements upsets people like Mr Hastings.

My main news viewing is S4C's Newyddion. Produced by the BBC it is a mixture of Welsh, UK wide and international news which always gives a Welsh prospective on stories from outside Wales. It is similar in mix to the Scottish Six that was proposed in days gone by as the best way of presenting Scottish News.

Surely the best way forward is for the BBC to translate Newyddion's format into English in Wales, to have a Scottish six and ten, to have similar programmes for Northern Ireland and to allow England to have an English National news programme twice a day!


Once more unto the breach, dear friends, once more

A week is a long time in politics a decade is an age and 13 years is an eff of a long time ago.

An eff of a long time ago the Labour Party proposed a Devolution settlement for Wales which was sold, by the skin of its teeth, to the people of Wales as a means by which to defend Wales from future savage assault on Welsh industry and society such as those that the country had suffered under Thatcherism.

Today, the Labour Party in Wales is moaning about the fact that Tory Cuts to the Sain Tathan Bombing School, the Severn Blockade, the Newport Passport Office, S4C etc , etc are all unjustified assaults on Wales by the new Tory government. I agree, they are assaults on Wales. Wales is going to be hammered harder this time than it was the last time that The Unacceptable Face of Capitalism was in charge at Westminster, but we are going to be hammered because of the week defence that Wales was given by virtue of a wishy washy devolution settlement by Labour. The 1997 Labour promise that devolution was a form of Protection from the Tories has fallen at the first hurdle; the palisade has been breached already!

But where is Plaid Cymru, a party that should be fighting to the breach and pointing out that independence would offer ultra protection from all the whiles of Westminster, a party that should be on the rise as the stoutest defenders of a Wales under attack?

Plaid appears to be in a tavern; in an unimportant vile that the oppressors have passed by, discussing the virtues of Plaid Pickles as opposed to Lib Dem Jams!

Bloody hell, if even the Labour Party, the most anti Welsh Party ever to exist in Wales can see an advantage in upping the nationalist anti, why is Plaid going wrong?

There has never been a better time for Plaid to drop its Socialist rhetoric and promote its USP – Nationalism and Patriotism!

The London papers that talk about recessions and recoveries discuss London, not Wales. Wales has been in recession for the past 100 years, and will continue to be so unless and until Wales has the economic leavers to shape its own destiny. Why oh Why is Plaid too scared to put that message across to the people of Wales?

As for the title Labour will go for the whole hog: Cry God for Harry, England, and Saint George! I hear that a Royal Wedding is in the offing as a balm for the public pain of neo Thatcherism! Royal weddings are always good for brining the nation together whilst the shit is raining!


You say a Billion Tomaytoes, I say a Billion Tomahtoes

My understanding of the word billion is that it is the number that is represented as a one followed by nine zeros in American, but the number that is represented as a one followed by twelve naughts in English; a thousand million in the USA, but a million million on this side of the pond.

So when Mr Cameron and Mr Osborne talk about a billion pounds are they:

A) Genuinely talking about a billion pounds sterling?
B) Using the American usage out of ignorance of English usage?
C) Using the American usage in order to exaggerate the reality of the UK's financial problems?
D) Bastardising the English language for some other reason?


The Belly or the Chequebook?

John Jones is unemployed.

He gets Jobseekers allowance through the Llandudno JobCenter. His benefit is clearly noted as one paid in Wales.

When he visits the JobCenter on Monday he sees a job that fits his profile so he applies for it. The interview is on Friday, so in preparation he goes to Asda to buy a new suit, he buys the cheapest one, of course (he is on benefits).

Despite buying the suite in ASDA Llandudno, Wales, and paying VAT on his purchase, that VAT isn't a tax paid in Wales; the tax will be paid in Leeds, where ASDA has its accounting office.

The person who serves him on the clothing counter lives in Wales and works in Wales, but her income tax will also be paid in Leeds, because her pay check will be taxed in head office.

John gets the job, so he comes off the Welsh benefit take, but his job is also taxed in England so he doesn't become part of Wales' contribution to taxation.

Of course it is swings and roundabouts.

John's new job may involve manufacturing a component that is created in Wales and is exported to the rest of the world, something that is measured on a Wales basis and will show up as a plus in Welsh exports.

But remember that cheep suit he bought in Wales in order to go to the interview? That was probably imported through England, so statistics that show that Wales has a good balance of payments between imports and exports might not be as good as it first looks.

The fact is that the UK produces economic statistics for UK reasons. The UK would never, ever produce economic details that promoted nationalism.

Data that proved beyond doubt that Scotland or Wales or, Heaven forbid, even England would be better off outwith the UK will never, ever be available.

Of course the complete lack of proper data is a means to an end. Without the data we can't make a proper decision based on economic policy as to whether nationalism is good for our nation's economy, or a recipe for disaster. That is precisely why the data isn't available!

We can argue these economic points till kingdom come, but why should we?

Shouldn't the campaigns for English, Scottish, Cornish and Welsh self determination come from a fire in the belly rather than from a chequebook?


Affordable Housing - a Welsh Joke!

There were questions to the Housing Minister in the Assembly yesterday.

As usual when questions about housing arise in the Assembly or in other government institution from Community Councils to the European Parliament, the term affordable housing was uttered.

Affordable Housing is a term that makes my skin crawl every time that I hear it. Mainly because affordable housing is always an add- on to every housing development proposed, rather than the core of the planning application.

Jocelyn Davies mentioned that Rural Development Enablers had ensured that a massive 110 affordable homes had been built in Wales as a result of their efforts last year – Wow!

A company wants to build 100 houses in Llanbethma 10% of which will be affordable. WTF?

I accept that some housing development has to be aspirational. When I win the £112 million Euro Lottery Jackpot on Friday, I would like to think that I can build my new mansion in my local community! So I don't want unaffordable housing to be excluded from the planning process; but why should any planning authority support a development where 90% of the proposed houses are designed to be unaffordable to the community in which they are to be built?

If a company sees the potential to build 100 houses in my village shouldn't the vast majority of those homes be affordable homes for those who want or need to live here, rather than be beyond the means of locals and their children?

Making 90% of those houses unaffordable to villagers, but affordable to commuters from Cheshire and Lancashire kills the village as a vibrant community and turns it into nothing more than a boring dormer community!

Local need and local affordability should be the driving force in housing policy!


Ulster ain't British 'cos the Brits don't want it!

Every night, between midnight and 2am the blog A Pint of Unionist Light produces a post called Elsewhere.

I'm not sure whether this post is auto generated or is a lazy cull of loyal posts that have not been well read, because some of the captures are a bit odd; like a post that claims that states are immortal, so a successful referendum for independence should be rebutted, because the state is more important than popular democracy! I kid you not. Or a post that has obviously gone through the machinations of a translation machine, and doesn't make much sense because of the machines limitations.

However PUL gets his Elsewhere's he does point to some interesting posts, such as this one from Dilettante, who asks whether the Conservatives should go back to their old label of Conservative and Unionists Party.

If I remember rightly, the reason why Unionist was dropped by the Conservative party, was because in the post war years up to the beginning of the troubles in the north of Ireland the term unionism changed its meaning. Rather than being a supporter of the Union of the crowns of England, Scotland and Ireland, an unionist became a supporter of a trades union; Conservative and (Trades) Unionist didn't make sense!

Of course since the beginning of the troubles in the north of Ireland the term unionist almost regained its original meaning, except that it was tainted, it was related to one of the extremes of northern Irish politics which was alien to most people on the mainland and part of the pain and confusion that the Province's politics caused.

With all respect to the likes of O'Neill, to most people on this side of the Irish Sea, the politics of the troubles was a case of Catholic nutters fighting Protestant nutters, neither side was ike us. The likes of the Rev Dr Paisley and his Unionist supporters were Irish trouble makers and very un-British.

The idea of loyalist terrorists was an oxymoron! How can you show loyalty to the crown and a unity with the rest of the UK through acts of deadly violence? There is a kind of insanity in the very concept, which made Northern Irish Unionism foreign to the majority of the British people, rather than making us feel united with them through the Union.

Northern Irish Sectarian Unionism separates Ulster from the rest of UK politics, as much as Republicanism does! The ideal way to counter that would be for voters in Ulster to have the same choice as the people of Scotland and Wales have in elections: Labour, Conservative, Lib Dem and Nationalist candidates. Given that choice the nationalists would probably win every seat under first past the post.

The truth of the matter is that the Union gave up on the North of Ireland many years ago, the only true choice for Ulster is union with the rest of Ireland or an independent Republic of Northern Ireland, Britain moved on without you and you are not British any more, accept it!


Benefits Abroad

I was surprised to hear on BBC news 24 that the British Government has launched a hotline in a bid to track down British benefit fraudsters living in Portugal. I couldn't understand what benefits it was possible to claim, honestly or fraudulently, if one moved to Portugal. After Googling I eventually found out from the PA that the biggest problem was people on means-tested benefits going abroad but failing to declare their absence, and individuals working while claiming sickness benefits.

There was a time that benefits could only be claimed by signing on at a benefits office weekly or fortnightly and that benefits moneys could only be obtained by cashing a Giro or a benefit payment book in a named post office; making falsely claiming benefits whilst living abroad rather difficult. As a reward to political backers from the banking community Tony Blair and New Labour decided to make benefits automatically payable into bank accounts, in order to force the 20% of people who didn't have bank accounts in 1997 to open one; so that the poor could be ripped off by punitive bank charges. A very socialist policy!

A silly thought, perhaps, but wouldn't it be better to go back to a system of signing on and getting your cash from a named PO, rather than setting up foreign hotlines for ex-pats to shop their neighbours?

Before I found the PA report I found a DirectGov site that informs claimants about which benefits they can claim abroad. There aren't that many, in fairness. You can continue to get Job Seekers Allowance if you go abroad to look for work for a very short time. If you work for the Government or a British Company abroad you can get things like Statutory Maternity Pay and Statutory Sick Pay – which, I suppose, is fair enough.

The abroad benefit that really tickled me, however, is the Winter Fuel Allowance. This a benefit paid to pensioners to make sure that they are able to heat their homes in winter. The weather in January in the Algarve, the Balearic Islands, Alicante etc is often hotter in January than it is in July and August in parts of Britain – so why on earth are wealthy ex-pat pensioners in these warm climates paid this benefit?


A daft way of choosing a leader!

I have never been a member of the Labour Party, but I have voted in two Labour party leader elections. The first time was in 1983 when Neil Kinnock was elected, the second time was in 1992 when John Smith was elected. I was allowed to vote because I was a member of the Trade Union NUPE. I was entitled to vote so I did vote – for the candidate who I thought would make the worst Labour leader.

Both Kinnock and Smith won handsomely, so my vote, however it was cast, didn't make much difference – Labour got who Labour wanted, for better or worse.

It appears that Ed Milliband has been elected, by the skin of his teeth, by the union vote. Which could mean that a couple of thousand people who did as I did in previous Labour Leadership elections and voted for him as the worst possible candidate may have tipped the balance in Ed's favour this time!

Rather a daft way of choosing a leader!


The cost of pride!

Something that may be of interest to some of my older readers (or the parents and grandparents of my younger readers). Until December 11th return train tickets from any station on the network are available for just £15 on Arriva Trains Wales to those over 55 years old.

I know this because some witch with a capita B offered me the deal for a journey to Cardiff from Llandudno on the day of my 51st birthday!

The ticket for younger people costs £54 - if I was too poor to be proud I could have gone to the capital and returned for just £15! I refused the offer!

Have I gained a conscience since that time long ago, when I use to take a bus to Barmouth as a 17 year old teenager and insisted to the driver that I was under 16 in order to get a child's fair, before insisting to the landlord of the Last Inn that I was over 18 in order to get a pint?

Am I just a proud old fool for refusing the offer of a cheaper ticket because the ticket seller thought that I look older than I am?


The cost of my train ticket for this journey will be paid by through Crown expenses, so I don't give a fiddler's how much it costs!

But there may be a shopping trip to Cardiff by a young man unlucky enough to look over 55 y.o. before December 11th!


The English Parliament's New Address

I have received the following message from the English Parliament On Line:

For technical reasons (making space for the upcoming redesigned CEP website), and for more delicate matters of political expediency, it has been necessary to relocate the English Parliament online website.

It is now relaunched under the name Rise Like Lions, and features as its inaugural article a piece on Welsh Nationalism by Wales Home Co-Editor, Duncan Higgitt.

The details that you used on the English Parliament online site can be used to login at Rise Like Lions.

Hope to see you there.


Duncan's article is worth a gander!

As many Welsh Nationalists are of a left leaning disposition, here is a left wing English Nat blog for your delectation England's Left Forward


An Alternative to Public Sector Cuts?

There was an interesting article on the Politics Show yesterday, in which Profesor Greg Philo of Glasgow University (about 1hr:29 mins into the programme) argued that the state deficit could be abolished by a one-off tax on the wealthiest 10% of the population, rather than through the cuts agenda that almost all politicians of all stripes seem to be seeing as inevitable. The Profs' ideas are promulgated on the Glasgow Media Group's website.

Because I believe that government interferes too much in the life of the individual, I would support some state spending being reduced even if the government had zero deficits or even if it made a healthy profit.

I have some doubts about the practicality of taxing the best tax avoiders in order to raise revenues! There would have to be a series of preliminary laws to tighten tax avoidance and the donations made to political parties by massive tax avoiders, before any collection of such a tax could be practical – something that neither Labour or Conservative recipients of tax avoiders largess will support!

And there is the perennial problem of taxing success. Untaxed money can go back into business and wealth creation, creating better businesses and more wealth (and more taxes in its wake). Taxes tend to get swallowed up in bureaucracy and bumf and administration rather than in economic growth.

On the other hand I don't want to see my local school close, fewer police on the beat; monthly bin collection, or my aged parents' old age pensions slashed either. If a one off tax on the super rich can avoid those then I'm all for it!

Whatever the merits or the faults of Prof Philo's proposals, it is good to see an alternative to the cuts agenda offered by most parties in the last election. The Glasgow Media proposal should have been offered as an alternative to voters during the election by a major party. Agree or disagree a party proposing and another party opposing would have given the electorate a real choice!


Ron Davies' Address to Plaid Videos

Thanks to Sanddef:

If you prefer to read rather than listen to the speech Cllr Alun Williams has a transcript on his blog.

The petty point scoring experts at Freedom Central might like to listen carefully to Ron's comment regarding the "stench of an illegal war" about 8:05 mins in video 1; I hope that this was a slip up not a prophecy!


Gareth's School Days

Buried amongst the many is my comment on Gareth Malone's Extraordinary School for Boys blog

At 02:36am on 10 Sep 2010, Alwyn ap Huw wrote:

A lot of negative comments above, many suggesting that it's OK on a programme from the BBC, but couldn't be adapted to practical everyday teaching. I disagree.

There isn't a school in the world, even the most impoverished, that can't introduce,(at no cost) debating skills, an essential ability in answering those exam questions later in life that go "blah di blah di blah" –discuss!

Even the poorest school in the world can act out the meaning of a poem or the storyline of a book, at no cost.

When I was in school, a long time ago, many of the things that Gareth is doing were extracurricular. Debating and acting (passages of the Bible) was done in Sunday school.

The rough and tumble outdoor activities were done in the Cubs and the Scouts.

Competing in elocution, poetry reading or writing, singing, dancing, artwork and a hundred other forms of expression were provided by the local to national eisteddfod movement, encouraged by schools but outside the school curriculum!

It is a shame that children aren't members of as many extracurricular societies as I was 40 years ago. If schools are expected to make up that deficit, then school hours need to be extended.

An interesting point that Gareth made is that boys have to take risks. I agree. It is interesting that girls started overtaking boys academically when corporal punishment in school was abolished, when the risk of six of the best for the rudeness to Gareth that some of the boys on the programme displayed would have earned them a whacking in my day.

The abolition of CP has reduced the risk in boys education and reduced their achievements at the same time!


Plaid Cymru Credit Union - not much of a credit to the party?

Andrew Nutt posts a rather bitter post about his experience of Undeb Credyd Plaid Cymru Credit Union

I empathise with him because I had a similar problem with UCPCCU some years ago; when unfortunate circumstances resulted in me losing my health, my business, my job and my home shortly after the expense of my marriage and the birth of my first child.

I had, a few months earlier, when I though that I was flush for life, borrowed a sum of money from UCPCCU, not because I needed it, but in order to support the Plaid Cymru Credit Union cause.

When a health disaster struck and I lost everything it hurt that people I thought of as friends, who I would have expected to have been supportive and sympathetic of my plight, started sending threatening letters and using credit collection agencies against me. It hurt most bitterly.

My case ended up in the County Court; with a company from Halifax, which objected to my insistence that the hearing should be held in Welsh in Wales claiming to represent Plaid!

I won and the Judge offered me expenses and compensation in excess of what Plaid claimed I owed, but I refused his offer because I wouldn't do that to Plaid Cymru – much to my wife's annoyance.

The judgement was scathing in its condemnation of UCPCCU's lack of unemployment and disability insurance on its loans policies and its ruthlessness in pursuing people who used the CU services out of loyalty to the cause, rather than using services that might have offered better protection to customers who encountered difficulties.

Because Credit Unions are, in essence, a banking service for the poorest in society, the district judge said that they should have the strongest safeguards for those who encountered unexpected financial difficulties; and that PCCU seemed to approach their business as a party political fund raising venture rather than a proper CU service.

Mr Nutt's experience suggests that UCPCCU has ignored the County Court Judges' advice given in my case; or worse still, that they never even received his good advice because they had sold my loan to a loan shark in Halifax who never bothered to pass the judgement back to them!


Unscrupulous Liberal Bastards?

Next week the second reading of the Parliamentary Voting System and Constituencies Bill will be debated; the measure in parliament that intends to introduced the proposal to hold a referendum on the Alternative Vote system.

Caroline Lucas on behalf of the Green Party, Plaid Cymru and the SNP will proposed an amendment to the legislation which will offer alternatives to voters in the referendum. A choice between AV the list system used for Assembly elections and European elections, or the Single Transferable Vote system, a system that the Liberal Democrats have supported for several decades.

Under such circumstances, what will the Liberals do?

They can support the Green amendment in the hope that Labour and the Conservatives will join together to kill the motion between them. A dangerous proposition, because Labour might back the Greens just for the thrill of giving the coalition a bloody nose!

The Liberals can abstain; which will ensure that the vote is lost, or they can vote against the amendment, in effect vote against a policy that they have supported for decades!

Opposing the Green and Nationalists amendment is the most likely response; then spinning a justification for voting against a policy that has been at the core of Liberal policy for generations.

Unscrupulous bastards? We wait an' see!


Why isn't there a Welsh Public Service Trades Union?

During the late 1970's through to the early 1990's I was a member, a section steward, a branch secretary and a district chair of a trades union known as NUPE (The National Union of Public Employees). The union represented health service employees, local government employees, the ancillary staff of Universities and weirdly, junior Anglican Clerics and Methodist Ministers.

NUPE was affiliated to the Labour Party.

As a senior lay officer I often use to attend Welsh "regional" gatherings of the union, when I attended such gatherings I was always surprised at the fact that very few of those gathered were members of the Labour Party. There were quite a few Communists and Co-op party supporters, a smattering of Greens and SWP members, but by far the largest group of party affiliates were members of Plaid Cymru (as was I at the time).

In 1993, just after I had left the public sector UNISON joined with CoHSE (the Confederation of Health Service Employees) and NALGO (The National Union of Local Government Employees – a non aligned union) to form UNISON. Unison is the Union of which Ian Titherington (Grangetown Jack) is now a senior lay member.

From what I read on Ian's blog, it appears that UNISON in the 2010's is similar to NUPE in the 1980's, a Union with a large number of Plaid supporting members and lay union officials who also hold office in Plaid, and a significant number of supporters who belong to parties other than Labour or who have no particular party affiliation.

A question that I use to ask often amongst the great and the good of NUPE Cymru in the 1990's was why don't we form an independent non-affiliated Welsh public service union or an independent union affiliated to Plaid?

The answer was always that the Wales TUC wouldn't countenance such a Union because the TUC was Labour dominated and without TUC membership the "new" union would be too week.

Is this still the opinion of Plaid and other non Labour trade unionists in Wales? Or has the time come to form a distinctly Welsh Public Service Union, given that so many public services are devolved?


What's in a name?

In about 1979-1983 or there about, the late Daily Post columnist Ivor Wynne Jones criticised me in one of his typically anti-Welsh columns regarding something I had said or done in the nationalist cause, in which he referred to me as the Rev Dr Allan ap Hugh. I dropped a note to the Post to say that I was not a Rev or a Dr and that I am Alwyn ap Huw rather than Ivor's interpretation of my name.

Ivor, being Ivor, couldn't accept that he had made a mistake and retorted:
A rose by any other name would smell as sweet - as would the name of the foulest stench of the briar smell as foul!

I appologise to Duncan Higgitt for getting his name wrong in my last post.

Having said that, I hate to admit it, but perhaps Ivor had a point!


The Blog awards = V sign to arrogant Duncan Higget!

As I have said many times before, I don't like awards given for places where opinions are expressed.

If I didn't believe that Ted Heath was the best Prime Minister of the 20th century, way above Thatcher, Blair and Churchill; if I didn't hate the Labour Party with a passion and if I didn't think that Plaid's commitment to the evils of socialism was a betrayal of Welsh nationalism, my blog might have been a tad more popular in the Total Politics Blog Awards!

Despite being a member of the awkward squad who peeves all sections of political opinion at times I was pleased that both my blogs were in the Top Ten of the Total Politics Awards for Wales. MOF was at no 6 (down 4) and HRF at no 4 (up 10) a net up!

The thing that gave me the greatest pleasure was that both of my blogs are higher than the site that has the audacity and arrogance to call itself the HOME of Welsh Politics. If you don't know which site I am talking about, I'm sorry but I have been barred from linking to it, because by doing so I am accused of abusing the site in order to drive traffic to my own (much more popular –it appears!) blogs.

Up yours Duncan Higget!

These are the winners (Unlucky 13 excluded)

1 Blog Menai
2 Plaid Wrecsam
3 Syniadau
4 Hen Rech Flin
5 Vaughan Roderick
6 Miserable Old Fart
7 Cardiff Blogger
8 Betsan Powys
9 Peter Black AM
10 Everyone's Favourite Comrade
11 Blog Guto Dafyyd (aka Blog Guto DAFYDD!)
12 Pendroni
14 Welsh Ramblings
15 Freedom Central
16 Bethan Jenkins AM
17 Ffranc Sais
18 Dib Lemming
19 The Druid of Anglesey
20 Valleys Mam
21 Blog yr Hogyn o Rachub
22 Glyn Davies MP
23 Plaid Panteg
24 Polemical Report
25 A Change of Personnel
26 Leanne Wood AM
27 Politics Cymru
28 Blog Answyddogol
29 Liberal Smithy
30 Inside Out - A Jaxxland Perspective
31 Alun Williams
32 Gwilym Euros Roberts
33 Institute of Welsh Affairs
34 Dylan Jones-Evans
35 Borthlas
36 Paul Flynn MP
37 David Cornock
38 Morfablog
39 Red Anorak
40 Mike Priestley
41 07.25 to Paddington
42 Blog Golwg
43 Plaid Cymru Llundain
44 Rene Kinzett
45 This is My Truth
46 Denverstrope
47 Independence Cymru
48 Grangetown Jack
49 Blog Rhys Llwyd
50 Cambria Politico


Needed –an independent Devo Sceptic Tory Monkey for Aberconwy!

Assembly opponents amongst Aberconwy's Conservatives are so disappointed by the Assembly candidate chosen for their party in an open primary that they are threatening to put up an alternative candidate to oppose her.

Inspired by Hartlepool's election of H'Angus the Monkey, they are threatening to set up a Facerbook campaign to try and find a similar candidate for Aberconwy. Although I agree that Janet Finch-Saunders isn't the best candidate to represent the Conservative interest in Aberconwy I hadn't considered her to be particularly supportive of Welsh devolution.

If disaffected Conservatives want to find an independent devo-sceptic monkey to split the Conservative vote in Aberconwy, good luck to them in their quest – it can only help Gareth Jones' chances of re-election!


Plaid's Living Wage should be supported by both Right and Left!

During the last election Plaid Cymru proposed two policies that I would have expected every decent person to support. The first was for a fair pension, the second was for a living wage rather than a minimum wage. Both policies were opposed and ridiculed, not because they were bad policies, but because they were policies suggested by the wrong party.

I don't understand what the Labour Party has against the idea of a living wage. Surely such an idea should be a core Labour principal!

I don't understand why a Conservative should oppose such an idea either.

If an employee has less than a living wage s/he becomes a burden on the state, and has to have topup benefits out of the state's purse to give her/him a wage – his/her job is subsidies by the tax payer in the same way as his/her unemployment would be subsidised – what's the difference?.

If a person works his or her guts off for 60 hours a week but still needs state benefits to make ends meet, who is the scrounger? The mean employer, or the hard working employee?

There is nothing Conservative in underpaying an employee because you know that the benefit cheque will take up the slack in the wage bill.

The benefits bill needs to be reduced, without a doubt, but it needs to be reduced in a way that looks at the full picture.

I can't see a Socialist or Conservative value that should oppose Plaid's living wage, idea, so why don't both parties welcome Plaid's suggestion as part of the answer to a very big problem, rather than opposing it for opposition's sake just because it is a Plaid proposal?


How a pee could save millions!

This is weird but true!

Before the days of S4C, Eric Dafydd, my cousin in law worked for the BBC and on a couple of occasions, when I was in Cardiff, I went to the BBC Club with him for a pint.

In early August 1978, I had had a few pints in the club and went to relive myself; when a member of the news team, who was standing by my side, said Sad about the Pope isn't it? I hadn't heard the news, but Pope Paul VI had died.

A couple of weeks later I was in Cardiff again. I went to the BBC Club toilet again, and the very same reporter peed next to me and said Sad about the Pope isn't it? JP I had died – Spooky!

Because Eric left the BBC on the establishment of S4C I never went to the BBC club again until I was asked to take part in a programme for the Beeb in 2005.

I was having a pee, when a member of the news team who was standing by my side said Sad about the Pope isn't it? I hadn't heard the news, but John Paul II had died!!

Valleys Mam, Welsh Agenda and Aeron Jones object to the state visit of the Pope, because of its cost to the public purse.

They have an easy way of stopping it! Put some pints in for me behind the bar of the BBC club Llandaf. If they put enough pints in to make me pee - the visit might have a major problem!


Reforming the Benefits System

Ian Duncan Smith has suggested that the Benefits System needs to be simplified. He has said that there are far too many benefits, that the system is complicated and that it puts too many claimants in a benefits trap where it isn't worth their while looking for jobs, because gaining a job will make them worse off!

The knee jerk reaction of the left wing is to moan that Mr Smith just wants to demonise those not in work in order to cut their benefits and save money!

I don't believe that this is so.

There is no doubt that some tabloids do demonise the out of work in a counterproductive way. The Daily Hate Mail thinks that anybody who is on Incapacity Benefit is a scrounger, a shirker and a cheat and takes every opportunity to vilify them. This makes it harder for a beneficiary of Incapacity Benefit to gain employment! Would you offer a job to a scrounger, a shirker and a cheat?

Demonization of those not in work is bad, and the Tories should encourage their supporters in the press to desist from it. Likewise the left should resist from condemning all benefit changes as an attack on the poor, because there is little doubt that the current benefits system is a complicated mess, that is a hindrance to the poor gaining meaningful employment!

With a coalition Tory government that depends on Liberal attitudes to benefits, and which may depend on the votes of sensible people from the opposition benches to offset Neanderthal views from its own benches the benefit system has never had a better chance to be dragged up to date. I hope that it is.

To save the there are no jobs to be had commentators from keyboard fatigue – I believe that the benefits system is in desperate need of reform whether the unemployment numbers go up, down or remain the same!

Making the system fair is as important as taking people out of the system, Plaid, SNP and sensible Labour MP's should seize the chance, to work with Mr Duncan Smith in order to create a benefits system that is worthy of today's circumstances!


Why not delay the referendum for now and have a substantial referendum in 2012?

Last week I was invited to be part of a focus group commissioned by the Electoral Commission to garner opinions about the wording of the prospective Assembly Powers Referendum.

There were about 20 people in the group from different backgrounds. Some of us were keen supporters of the Assembly others wanted the institution abolished, but all, apart from myself, were under the illusion that the referendum was about giving the Assembly the same powers that the Scottish Parliament has now. When it was explained that they were mistaken, that the referendum was just about the way that the Assembly gained powers and that the full powers could be gained, over time, even if the referendum produced a 100% No vote, all thought that the referendum was a complete waste of time and money.

The members of the group were all annoyed that they had come to the meeting with strong views on opposing or supporting enhanced devolution only to find that the discussion was about administrative tinkering rather than anything of substance.

Because of the current government's desire to equalize the size of Westminster constituencies the Government of Wales Act 2006, will have to be amended, because the said act insists that Westminster and Bay constituencies must be the same size. In amending the bill why not add an amendment to give the Assembly Schedule 7 powers without the need for a referendum, and have a referendum in a year or two's time on substantive Full Scottish Type Powers for the Assembly, which most people, from both sides of the argument, think that the part 4 referendum is about anyway?


An austerity conundrum

In these days of austerity and tightening of the public belt the ConDem Westminster government tells us that there is a need to cut all sorts of costs out of public service provision in order to reduce costs and to provide better services for less money. A very laudable ideal that many will support.

But yet, when the Plaid /Labour coalition spends less per head on education, or on health or on social services than is spent per head in England the Assembly Government is accused of short changing the people of Wales and of underfunding services in Wales by Conservatives and Liberal Democrats!

I can't understand this!

If we need to cut public service costs why isn't the Westminster Government looking at the Plaid/ Labour Government in Cardiff and saying Wales has proved that you can deliver a decent education for £xxx per pupil less than is spent in England etc rather than the same parties who want to reduce spend per pupil / patient / service user in England complaining that the spend per person isn't as much in Wales as is, according to their own mantra, overspent per head in England?


Its Peter, not Elin who should resign

Rather than calling on Elin Jones to resign following the decision of three English judges to quash the democratic decision of those elected to the National Assembly, Peter Black should consider his own position. How can he justify remaining a member of an institution that he has helped a group of hippies from outwith Wales to undermine?

The decision to stop the badger cull will cost the Assembly millions of pounds, will cause devastation to the Welsh farming industry and cause untold suffering to thousands of cows and badgers. Rather than celebrating so smugly and criticising Elin Jones Mr Black should hang his head in shame.


It's that time of year again!

The time has come, the Walrus said,
To talk of many things:
Of shoes and ships and sealing-wax
Of cabbages and kings
And why the sea is boiling hot
And whether pigs have wings.

The time has also come to dig out the passwords for those long forgotten Hotmail, Yahoo and G-Mail addresses, so you can vote for yourself many times over in the:

Click here to vote in the Total Politics Best Blogs Poll 2010

Having nominated yourself, you might consider this blog as a bit of a filling in one or two of your selections in order to make up the numbers!


The Liberal anti Democrats

Supporting fixed term parliaments and proportional representation are supposed to be indices of supporting democracy. Great I am all for both reforms.

It seems a bit odd though that the self proclaimed great party of fairness and democracy just happens to decide that the referendum on PR should be held on the same day as the 2011 Assembly / Scottish Parliament elections, and by coincidence the fixed term of the current Westminster Parliament will fall on the same day as the 2015 Assembly / Scottish Parliament elections!

Plaid and the SNP being excluded from the "British" debate in the last Westminster elections halted their progress and helped the Lib Dems campaigns in Scotland and Wales. Am I a cynic in thinking that the coincidence of two UK issues being dealt with on the same day as the next two Devolution votes is gerrymandering to benefit the Lib Dems?

The truth is that the Lib Dems couldn't give a damn about democracy – they are only in politics for what they can get out of it!

Shame on them for betraying their rich heritage of supporting democracy for democracy's sake, and selling their soul for power and party political advantage!

I sincerely hope that my acquaintances in the Welsh Liberal Democrat Party will tell Mr Clegg that this sort of fix is not in the party's tradition of campaigning for fair, honest and democratic elections. But I won't hold my breath waiting for them to do so!

The National Assembly for Westminster?

Since the advent of the ConDem Westminster government six weeks, or so, ago, I have been disappointed with the attitude of Assembly Members.

I can accept that Labour and Plaid AM's are peeved that the Conservatives and Lib Dems are in Government in London and that the Welsh opposition AMs are as pleased as punch, so one expects a bit of our government V your government banter, but does the Assembly have to be so London Centric in all its proceedings? Questions to the FM and business questions for the past three weeks as well as many other debates all seem to be about what is going on in London.

The One Wales Government is NOT the unofficial opposition to the ConDem Government, the opposition parties are not in coalition in Wales and they are not the spokes persons for the Westminster government in Wales!

We pay AMs of all parties to discuss matters concerning Wales in those areas devolved to Wales, not to be a Westminster sounding board. Apart from letting Wales down with the nonstop London centric point scoring, Assembly questions and debates are becoming very, very boring.

Come on boys and girls get over the last election result; love it or loath it the result stands, please get back to doing the job in hand of managing the devolved issues to the best of your ability despite / irrespective of what is happening down the M4!


Who are the benefit scroungers who rip off Housing Benefit?

Who are the benefit scroungers who rip off Housing Benefit?

Obviously, the people to whom the multi billion pound benefit is paid!

But who it is actually paid to?

Despite what the Daily Hate Mail says, the benefit is not paid to unwaged people who live in rented accommodation, it is actually paid to the owners of the rented properties, some of whom are very rich individuals and most of whom make a killing from their property portfolios.

It is still possible to buy a 3 bedroom house in my area for £150K, a 25 year mortgage on such a property would be approximately £800 pcm. If we forget the 13th month for the sake of simplicity, that's £200 per week. Even with Cameron's cap on housing benefit a landlord can still scrounge a 100% profit out of a buy to let housing benefit house bought today, a good investment.

As time goes by house prices rise and rents rise too. Mortgage costs fluctuate but not by a huge amount. So if I had bought a house for £60k 12 years ago my mortgage repayments would now be about £250 pcm, £65 a week and I could be scrounging a 400% state profit from my investment, without taking into account the increased value of the initial investment. If my investment term was coming to its end I would probably be paying a mortgage of about £10 a week – and still be getting £400 per week rent – nice work if you can get it!

Many of the homes that are being rented for these giddy profits are former council houses, many of the people for whom the rents are being paid are the people who would have been housed by councils in days gone by - if the council housing stock hadn't been sold off.

Council House / Housing Association rents in this area are about £70 a week.

It is not rampant socialism or un-conservative to suggest that if the state is paying for housing the poorest in our communities that the state should get the best bang for its bucks. Paying Rachman type landlords to become multi millionaires from state benefits is not good stewardship of the public purse.

The £11 billion paid in housing benefit each year would build a hell of a lot of social housing. Using it to provide social housing would be the best economic answer to this part of the benefit overspend.


Wales' first 3/19 School

I was disappointed to read on Cllr. Alun Williams', blog that Ceredigion County Council has decided to proceed with its plan to establish a school for all children and young people in the Llandysul area. The school will provide education for all "children" aged between three and nineteen years old.

I feel that there is something intrinsically sickening in proposing such an institution!

As a parent I would not have wanted my children, when they were small, to be educated in such a school. The idea of sending a small child aged three to a school where pupils were swearing every other word, discussing their pretend sex lives and their sexual desires, chewing gum and smoking disgusts me.

As my progeny are now amongst those who swear every other word, discuss their pretend sex lives and sexual desires and chew gum (but do not, as far as I know, smoke!) I want them to feel that they are at the boundary of adulthood, that they are young men rather than little children sharing the same school as three year old toddlers.

When I moved from the Little School to the Big School, and when my children moved from Primary School to Secondary School it was a milestone on the road to maturity. It was a big step in life, a much bigger step than just moving from year 6 to year 7 or moving from junior campus to senior campus. It was a Right of Passage.

I really worry that depriving the children of rural Wales of such a milestone on the way maturity may create serious social harm in the long term. There is a real danger that young people will not "grow up" and learn to accept the new duties and responsibilities that maturity brings.

I'm glad that Plaid Cymru in Ceredigion has objected to such an abhorrent adjustment in the provision of education in the Llandysul area. I am disappointed that their objections have failed to persuade their fellow councillors to abandon it. But I hope that they will send the evidence which formed the basis of their opposition to their friends in Gwynedd, where Plaid is proposing a similar abhorrent shake up of schools in the Dolgellau and Harlech areas.


Look after the pennies and the pounds will look after themselves!

Yesterday morning I received a letter from the Service Personnel and Veterans Agency. The letter was sent by first class recorded delivery in a J6 bubble pack padded envelope, the package contained a copy of a letter that I had sent them and an acknowledgement that they would include my letter into the Statement of Case that the letter referred to!

The client that I am representing also received a recorded delivery copy of the same letter in the same packaging.

Eighteen quid for what could have been provided for by two 41p plain first class stamps!

Even the 82p would have been a waste of money because the Agency has no choice but to include the letter into the Statement of Case, and me and my client already knew that!

Eighteen quid might be chickenfeed in the sum of the overal national budget, but how many Bubble Packed Recorded Delivery Acknowledgement Slips does it take to build a new hospital?

When I budget for my kids birthdays or for Christmas I find that the things that make one go over budget aren't the big items like the PS3 or the new bike, but the pound-for-this-fifty pee-for-that little incidentals!

The Government should start to look after the billions of pennies wasted in this way, if it wants to save billions of pounds from the overall state budget!


Why is VAT a regressive tax?

I admit that I am not very good at sums and that I am easily confused by economic arguments. So I hope that somebody will be able to explain a comment made by Roger Williams on Sunday's Politics Show and by David Milliband on today's Daily Politics - that raising VAT is a regressive tax because it falls most heavily on the poorest in society.

If a poor person spends £20,000 a year and a rich person spends £200,000 I would have thought that the richer person would pay at least 10 times as much in purchase taxes than the poorer person. Because VAT is a purchase tax that is only charged on luxury goods, with essential goods being exempt, I would also have thought that it stands to reason that the richer person would spend a greater percentage of his money on luxuries whilst the poorer person would spend a large proportion of his money on tax exempt essentials. If this is the case then the richer person will pay even more in tax. This doesn't appear regressive or disproportionate to me; it appears to be fair and proportionate. So how do Mr Williams and Mr Milliband come to the opposite conclusion to me?


Plaid & SNP to be excluded from Welsh & Scottish Affairs Committees?

During the Business of the House debate in the Commons yesterday Elfyn Llwyd raised the following point of order:

Elfyn Llwyd (Dwyfor Meirionnydd, Plaid Cymru)

On a point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker. We are in a position today where we are discussing motions that will effectively exclude Plaid Cymru Members from being a member of the Welsh Affairs Select Committee and Scottish National party Members from being on the Scottish Affairs Select Committee. Additionally, there will be no room for those parties' Back-Bench Members to sit on the Back-Bench business committee. What kind of motions are these? What is the point behind them? I urge the Minister to take them away and think them through, as these motions will not stand the test of time, and the people in Wales and Scotland will be furious when they find out.

However his point was ruled out of order by Deputy Speaker Nigel Evans.

Mr Llwyd attempted to raise the same issue during the progress of the debate, but was again ruled out of order by Nigel Evans.

Given that Plaid is a party of Government in the Assembly and that the Committee has a huge responsibility for scrutinising Assembly eLCOs, it would be strange and undemocratic if Plaid was excluded from the Welsh Affairs Committee. Because the matter was ruled out of order by Mr Evans, I don't know what the background to Elfyn's complaint is. Can anybody shed any light on what is happening?

Whilst I was posting this Adam Higget posted the background to the issue on a site which his brother objects to me linking to.

Three Wrongs Don't Make a Right!

Whataboutery is a word coined by Cardinal Cahal Daly to describe what he thought was the commonest form of moral evasion in Ireland today.

Whataboutaery is a way of justifying one atrocity by comparing it to another worse atrocity (in the perception of the claimant), committed by the other side.

You ate my favourite biscuit,

So! What about you pinching my cream cake last week?

How dare you mention that! What about you using MY last teabag the week before
etc, etc.

Typically the publication of the Saville Enquiry Today has produced swathes of whataboutary reactions; this one by General Sir Michael Rose in the Mail is just one sordid example. This one from Lord Tebbit is another. The comments that follow the articles are an even worse example of whataboutary, with those who welcome the enquiry's report branded as traitors to Britain and apologists for the IRA and those who oppose it are branded as supporters of state sponsored terrorism by the loyalist paramilitaries and the British Government!

I think that PM David Cameron has been bold and brave in accepting the enquiry's conclusion and apologising on behalf of the British Government for what was an unjustified and unjustifiable action.

What both wings of the IRA and what the INLA did during the troubles was also unjustified and unjustifiable.

What the UVF and other loyalist paramilitary groups did during the troubles was unjustified and unjustifiable.

Whatabout some of those organizations' leaders and supporters following Cameron's lead in accepting that what they did was unjustified and unjustifiable rather than continuing with the moral evasion of whataboutism as their reaction to the enquiry?

Accepting that there was wrong on all three sides is the only way of bringing peace and reconciliation to the north of Ireland. Cameron has given a lead for the British Government's side, have the other two sides got the whatabout it takes to follow that lead?

Others on this subject:
Blog Menai; Iain Dale; Matt Wardman; RandomPottins; Ceder Lounge and many others


ABE - I've Changed my Mind!

Despite having said that I was going to support A B E on the Wales Home site, I have changed my mind.

Apart from Welsh politics my other delight is family history, which can be an expensive business when one has to pay for access to family history sites such as Find My Past.

Find my Past has pay to view family history records that include all the England and Wales Census records from 1841 to 1911, an index of Birth Marriage and Death indices from 1837 t0 2006 and many more records.

During the World Cup Find my Past has a bargain for those who do not want to watch the footy:

If you're not football mad, there is something else to do during the World Cup – make it your goal to research your family history.

You can view all the records on findmypast for free during every England World Cup match – all you need to do is register.

How it works:

30 minutes before kick-off we'll stop charging for 3 hours, which should give you plenty of time to explore what we have to offer

England will play on / at
12/06 19:30 BST
18/06 19:30 BST
23/06 15:00 BST

South Africa is currently in Winter and working on GMT so add an hour for international world clocks based on GMT.

Of course if England succeeds to progress beyond the first stage there will be even more free time available on Find My Past, another four games / 12 hours if they go through to the final or the 3rd place play offs!

So come on Eng-earl-and!!!


Badger culling

TB is a nasty disease; it causes coughing blood, overheating of the body, chronic fatigue and severe weight loss. The bacterium that causes tuberculosis is one that duplicates slowly compared to other bacterial diseases organisms, which means that the disease is one that kills slowly and painfully over a long period.

As someone who is very fond of badgers I would not wish any Brock to suffer such a long and painful death, that is why I do not understand the opposition by some who claim to be supporters of badgers to the Assembly Government's policy of culling badgers and cattle suffering from the infection.

The cull will not only ensure that the national cattle herd is free from this awful disease, but will also ensure that the national badger set is free from it too!

Opposing the cull is not going to save the herd or the set, it will just lead to cattle and badgers dying a long and painful death from a horrible disease, and potentially spreading the disease amongst the human population.

The opposition to efforts to remove the infection from the heard and the set by culling badgers and infected cows is beyond my grasp, and I fail to understand how such resistance can be promoted as support for animal welfare!


Sesiwn Fach Dolgellau - 17+18/7/10

A message from the Sesiwn Fawr Appeal Committee

On the 17 and 18 of July, Sesiwn Fach will be held in Dolgellau.

A mixture of gigs, jamming sessions around the town's pubs - what better?!

The purpose of the festival will be to get Sesiwn Fawr back on it's feet by 2011!

The line-ups are being organized and hopefully finalised within the up and coming week.

We ask you to pass the message forewards to your friends and help bring Sesiwn Fawr's rythm and beat to the streets of Dolgellau once again!

Thank you

SFD Appeal Committee

Who is the money owed to?

This is a serious question asked for the sake of an answer, rather than to make a political point.

Apparently the UK owes £890 billion pounds. Who does it owe the money to? Is it to some of the banks that it borrowed money in order to bail them out?


The Black Cat's first Parliamentary Purr

Congratulations to Guto Bebb MP on delivering his maiden speech to the House of Commons yesterday.

A transcription of his pearls of wisdom can be found here:

The tradition of the House is that maiden speeches are not controversial; I was pleased to hear Guto note the importance of the Welsh Language in this constituency and the value of teaching local and Welsh history in our schools.


Gwynt y Môr - no thanks!

After my sojourn in foreign climes I hear on my return that the Gwynt y Môr project to place 160 offshore wind turbines in the sea off Llandudno has been approved and that the work will begin next year.

The news has been welcome by Ieuan Wyn Jones and Cheryl Gillan, and by a number of Welsh bloggers. I'm sorry to break the all welcoming consensus. I think that the project is bad news for Wales.

I have nothing against wind farms, I accept the environmental benefits that projects such as Gwynt y Môr can deliver, but I am also aware of the negative effects of such a project. The noise, the visual impact and the affect on the local environment caused by taking energy out of the wind before it reaches land could be detrimental to the people who live on the coast and to the tourist industry that is the mainstay of the local economy. Incidentally I find the Plaid Blogger, Welsh Ramblings, response to such concerns that people who live in the coast are going to have to get over it is as insensitive as telling people in the Varteg that they should get over the fact that an open cast coal mine might blight their community.

Of course the argument is made that all disadvantages that the project will cause will be outweighed by the advantages that it brings. A point that I agree with in general, but as was the case with water extraction and coal extraction, Wales will bear the brunt of the disadvantages whilst the advantages are enjoyed by those outwith Wales. The economic benefit to Wales from this project will be a poxy 1% of its total value, whilst Wales will suffer 100% of the project's down side.

Rather than welcoming the development Plaid, a so called national party, should be shouting from the rooftops about yet another example of Wales' natural resources being ripped off for the benefit of others!