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?