Congratulations Ben Lake, a step forward to an independent Wales!

I have been updating https://cy.wikipedia.org/wiki/Etholaethau_seneddol_Cymru‘s pages on the constituencies of Wales by adding the 2017 General election results. 

Given the comments by media pundits and pissed off Plaid supporters on social media I have been pleasantly surprised by how well Plaid Cymru did in a Presidential election where the others were squeezed dry by the May v Corbyn narrative. 

Plaid only lost 2% of its vote share, kept all its held seats (ok, by the skin of if its teeth in Arfon) and gained another seat. Not bad in the circumstances!

In percentage terms, gaining 1 extra MP, made Plaid the biggest winner in Great Britain in terms of percentage increase of a numbers of a party's MPs.

Ok I’m pissed off too. I wanted Plaid to win between 21 & 40 seats and we fell short. Until we can win a minimum of 21 seats Independence is a pipe dream. But so-called supporters of the Welsh National Cause dismissing Plaid holding on and increasing its representation in the very polarising 2017 General Election are not helping the National Cause.

If we want to win we must celebrate every step on the way. Congratulations Ben Lake, a step forward to an independent Wales!


Right wing blogger becomes "Most Left Wing" shock!

I am a constant critic of the BBC’s bias in favour of the status quo, which tends to be supportive of the government (whichever party is in power); so-called “British” values, which is shorthand for “British Establishment” values and not giving due respect to the fact that the “Celtic fringe” and rural England might not share the same values of the Metropolitan elite in London.

Having, now, watched the debate on TV, I can understand Boris Johnston The Daily Mail complaint about an apparent left-wing bias of the audience in Wednesday's BBC leaders' debate. I was a member of the audience, and I know for a fact, that there was no bias in the audience selection. The difference in cheering levels was simply because the right wing couldn’t be arsed or enthused to cheer; when we, left wingers, cheered the rightists looked daggers at us, as if cheering was beneath them. When Amber Rudd or Paul Nuttall made a point they agreed with they nodded their heads in agreement rather than clapping or cheering.

The first cheer was given to Angus Robinson, by SNP suporters, who were sitting next to me and told my wife and me off for not cheering Leanne. After that the Plaid / SNP group cheered loud for everything that we agreed with, the Labour, Green and Lib Dem groups eventually joined in. But the Tories and UKIPers, just sat there looking at those of us who were cheering like we were shit and that cheering was beneath them.

The truth is that the audience WAS fairly chosen, was reflective of all opinion, but the right was so wibbly-wobbly, so unsure of its stance that it just couldn’t bring itself to whoop and cheer right wing arguments!!!

In trying to get a totally fair audience ComRes, a Tory leaning polling company, who chose the audience, also became a victim of the law of unintended consequences. The audience was not just representative of party /non party political leaning, but geographically representative. Which is why my wife and I were invited; not just as Plaid supporters but as people from north Wales. We went to Cambridge on a train and met people on the train from Scotland and the north of England who we discovered were also heading to the same event. Because of security issues, we had to register for the debate up to five hours before the debate began. Many of us from the far flung left had bonded as a group hours before the debate started. Lots of the right were more local to Cambridge.

The debate was held in Cambridge University's Senate-House, registration was in Downing College's Howard Theater. The Audience was bused between the two venues. A short walk, but because of the number of protesters en rout, a long bus journey. The protesters enthused those of us on the so called left, but intimidated and disgusted the rightists.

The audience WAS fairly balanced, there was no BBC bias, it was just that the balance was balanced between an excited and fired up left and a miserable and glumb right.

Those of us from far flung provinces were put up by ComRes in the same hotel. Us, so called lefties, partied into the early hours, the Tories and the Kippers went to bed!


Are PIP forms illegal?

English is my first language but I tend to fill all official forms in Welsh. Welsh is my wife's first language, but she doesn't like using Welsh forms or help lines, because she worries that those reading / translating /answering them might know her personally; she prefers the anonymity of dealing with English officials. (An interesting point; but not the subject of this post). A few years ago I filled in an English application on her behalf for Disability Living Allowance. Recently she has received a claim form for the replacement benefit Personal Independence Payment.

There are some glaring differences between the two forms.

The old DLA forms use to carry the Plain English Crystal Mark. The PIP form doesn't, which isn't surprising because it fails the Plain English test. It is full of yes or no questions that can't be answered by yes or no (commonly referred to in legal cases as a Do you still beat your wife? Questions – a Yes is bad but a No suggests that you use to beat her!)

Trick questions like Do you use a wheelchair to move around safely? Do I answer "YES" I use a wheelchair or "No" I am unable to use my wheelchair to move around safely, but with the No suggesting that I don't use a wheelchair?

Most benefit claim forms have, historically, either on the front page or the back page, a section to declare that Z has filled this form on X's behalf, the PIP form doesn't. There are millions of people living with a disability who can't read or write; so a third party answers the questions "as if" the claimant was answering. 

On page 25 (not page 1) there is a question about reading and writing. How could anybody get to page 25 without the ability to read and write? Panic stations, there must be a section in the front or back of the form to say "I filled in the form on my wife's behalf". NO!!! So she read and wrote 3/4 of the form without difficulty? SHE has to sign the statutory statement, whether she has a clue what "I" have written or not!

Sorry, but this form is bollocks of the umph degree, designed to fail claimants rather than to enable claimants to get their entitlement. Benefits forms are supposed to enable applicants to obtain due legal entitlement to benefit. The PIP form is designed to frustrate legal entitlement, so the form fails in law. If the form fails in law, every rejected claim also fails in law!

If my wife's claim fails I am minded to take her claim to the ECHR and will be asking for crowd funding.

If her claim succeeds, without the need for review or appeal, we will donate her first month's payment to a crowd fund that enables those refused PIP to mount a legal challenge to the whole damned system.