Welsh Voters are Thick says Labour

As was forecast by Ian Titherington, the Labour party will use the last few days before Thursday's poll for a campaign of dirt, dishonesty and downright lies. They have started this morning with the incredible assertion that Plaid is to freeze all public sector pay for the next four years.

Plaids policy commitments, as Labour knows, are in favour of fair wages and include a pledge for a national living wage that is higher than the minimum wage in the rest of the UK and a promise to fund the nurses' pay rise in full (which Labour has refused to do).

Having failed their attack against the genuine progressive policies that Plaid has put before the electorate they are now desperately trying to invent their own pretend Plaid policies to attack.

Everybody with an ounce of sense knows that Plaid has no policy on freezing anybodies pay and that this is just a lie from Labour's dirty tricks department, who are no doubt grinning like Cheshire cats this morning thinking that they have found a clever way to have a go at their main challengers.

However, it is not Plaid that Labour is attacking with their fallacies and underhand dealing it is the voters of Wales. Labour is telling Welsh people that it believes that they are too thick to see through this ploy, that they are so naive that they will fall for any con trick and that they are so gullible that the won't recognise a lie when they hear one. It is not an opposing political party that Labour is treating with scorn by using these sort of duplicitous campaigning tactics it is every single voter in Wales. I hope that Welsh voters return the compliment next Thursday by treating Labour with the scorn it deserves.

Referendum 2010 in Wales and Scotland

After watching the leaders hustings on BBC Wales I switched over to a similar programme on BBC Scotland. Although both programmes covered the same issues health, education the economy etc and some of the responses to these issues were broadly similar, the one thing that struck me as a surprisingly different was how much more London centric the Scottish audience and politicians seemed to be in comparison to those in Cardiff. If I didn't know better, the impression gained by watching these two programmes would be that the Assembly was the more powerful of the two. The Welsh Assembly, despite its lack of powers, appears to be a much more uniquely Welsh institution than the Scottish Parliament appears to be a uniquely Scottish institution.

One of the similar answers to similar questions given was on the matter of holding a constitutional referendum. If Alex Salmond wins in Scotland he aims to hold a referendum on independence in the last year of the next parliaments' term of office. If Ieuan Wyn gains power on Thursday he intends to hold a referendum on increasing the Assembly's powers to those currently enjoyed by Scotland in the last year of the next Assembly's term. Bad move.

If both referendums are held broadly within the same timescale then the issue in Wales will be confused by the issue in Scotland. News about the Scottish referendum and the views of the no lobby will give the impression that the Welsh vote is also to do with independence and because nobody will be making the case for Welsh independence the referendum could be lost. I think that it would be much more sensible for a Welsh referendum to be held sooner rather than latter say in about 18 to 24 months time (If Govenor General Hain will allow it).


Assembly Election Unimportant says Gordon Brown

All those Labour Party faithful who have been wearing out their boot leather canvassing support for their discredited party over the last few weeks are wasting their time. Former Labour supporters who haven't yet decided whether to vote or not next Thursday may as well not bother, because the National Assembly election is not important. However Wales votes next Thursday doesn’t matter.

Not my view, but the view of the Labour Party's prospective leader, Gordon Brown who has already conceded defeat and dismissed next Thursdays result as unimportant, because the only election that really counts is a Westminster general election.

These are his own words as reported in today's Observer.

Look, the only result that matters in the end is when it actually comes to a general election and people decide what they want to do.

The best way of showing the patronising git that Wales matters, that Wales is important and that the people of Wales have decided what they want to do is voting for Wales by voting Plaid Cymru next Thursday.

Cymraeg: Hen Rech Flin: Etholiad Cymru'n Ddibwys medd Gordon Brown


Former Shadow Welsh Secretary in Race Row

Welsh political junkies with a long memory will remember Nigel Evans the MP for the Ribble Valley as Conservative Shadow Secretary of State for Wales when Ian Duncan Smith lead the party.

Apparently Mr Evans was pictured in today’s Daily Mirror with his face blacked up and sporting an “Afro” wig. Even Mr Evans agrees that the photograph is distasteful, beneath contempt

The full story, a copy of the offending picture and a response from the man himself can be found on Chris Paul’s Labour of Love blog.

Drunken Welsh Bloggers Scandal

Those of you who wake up in the morning avidly waiting for pearls of wisdom from the Welsh Political Blogging Community will be sorely disappointed this morning. It appears that three quarters of the community went out on a bender last night and can't be expected to contribute until they wake up in the late afternoon nursing chronic hangovers.

Shame on you all - you’ve let the side down!

Meanwhile some of us have stayed at home keeping our fingers on the pulse of Welsh politics for our readers delight. Any suggestion that we might be feeling p**d off because we were unable to join the party is, of course, libel and will be strenuously denied.

Assembly Gender Balance to go.

The National Assembly has gained plaudits since its inception eight years ago for its gender balance. It is believed to be the only institution of its type in the world that has a 50 / 50 male / female balance. But things will change after next week's election.

In the constituencies there are eight female candidates who's main challenge comes from another female candidate: Trish Law, Kirsty Williams, Jenny Randerson, Lorraine Barrett, Christine Chapman, Sandy Mewies, Catherine Thomas and Janice Gregory. Even if some of these candidates lose, another woman AM is most likely to replace them.

There are 12 constituency seats where the main challenge to sitting female AMs comes from men.

There are only three women who are virtually guaranteed to beat off their male challengers Lynne Neagle in Torfaen, Rosemary Butler in Newport West and Gwenda Thomas in Neath. Having said that Islwyn in 1999, and Blaenau Gwent and Ceridigion in 2005 have shown that there is no such thing as a 100% safe seat in Wales.

Edwina Heart is probably safe in the Gower, but Plaid did come close here in 1999 so she might face a threat from Plaid's Darren Price if Plaid has an extremely good night. In Ceredigion Elin Jones is facing a challenge from Lib Dem man John Davies but will probably be safe. Karen Sinclare is likely to be returned for Clwyd South as is Ann Jones in the Vale of Clwyd although both could be vulnerable to Tory men on a particularly good night for the Tories. In Preseli Pembrokeshire Tamsin Dunwoody could be ousted by either Plaid's John Osmond, or the Conservatives' Paul Davies

Plaid won Islwyn in 1999 if this is repeated again this year then woman Irene James will be out and man Alan Pritchard will be in. Pontypridd is the sort of place that Plaid could win, the party has had some success here in the past, so Jane Davidson could be replaced by Plaid man Richard Grigg. Sue Essex has retired from the Assembly and has been replaced by another female candidate Sophie Howe, Conservative man Jonathan Morgan has high hopes of winning this one. Another Conservative man, Gordon Kemp is fairly confident of ousting Jane Hutt from her Vale of Glamorgan seat. Christine Gwyther in Carmarthen West & South Pembrokeshire could be lost to Plaid man John Dixon and in Aberconwy Denise Idris Jones is almost certain to be beaten either by Plaid's Gareth Jones or the Conservatives' Dylan Jones-Evans.

Rhondda is the only constituency where a sitting male AM is facing a real challenge from a female candidate. But only a true Plaid believer (like me) would put this one in the bag for the woman.

On the lists it is probably safe to assume that those women who currently occupy first and second places will retain their seats they are: Janet Ryder, Leanne Wood, Jocelyn Davies and Bethan Jenkins (replacing retiring AM Janet Davies). Although Elinor Burnham is in 4th place in North Wales, constituency gains by Plaid and or the Conservatives in the region will probably consolidate her seat. If the Conservatives make any gains in South Wales East Laura Ann Jones is vulnerable, she could be replaced by females Veronica Watkins of the Lib Dems and at a scrape the Greens' Ann Were, however Plaid man Mohammad Asghar or Labour man Mark Whitcutt are more likely to replace her.

In Mid and West Wales women AMs are currently in third and fourth place. Plaid's Helen Mary Jones who is not standing on the list this time and the Conservatives' Lisa Francis. If Plaid and / or the Tories make gains in the constituencies then Labour man Alun Davies is likely to take one of these seats. If Lisa Francis was to lose it is difficult to judge which party would replace her but as the "next in line" on the big three's lists are females and as the Green Party is fielding a female as top candidate then it will probably be another woman.

It seems probable that at least 5 and possibly as many as 15 women could lose their Assembly places to men in this election. However the parties fare, the big looser come next Friday will be the Assembly's reputation for gender balance.

Most Welsh political bloggers are men. For a female take on Welsh politics see Valleys Mam and Bethan Jenkins


Darren Millar

There seems to have been a lot of reaction (links below)to comments supposedly made by Conservative candidate Daren Millar: creationism should be taught in schools and that homosexuality is a sin. As is to be expected most of the comments have been predictable, pouring scorn and abuse on Mr Millar because he dares to hold a Christian view point in what is fast becoming a secular fundamentalist society.

Whether one chooses to believe in it or not the creation story has had a huge influence on Western culture. Without knowledge of the opening chapters of Genesis one can't appreciate Milton's Paradise Lost, Ruben's Adam and Eve or even Jerry Springer the Opera. The creation story has also been of historical importance. It has been the basis on which libertarian movements have been built "all men are born equal" is a creationist ideal. Because Eve lead to the downfall of man the creation story is also important in understanding the misogynist tradition that blighted Europe for centuries. It is essential that children should be taught the creation and other important biblical stories because they are an essential element in understanding the cultural inheritance of believers and non-believers alike. Even in science lessons the fact that an alternate view to the conventionally held belief in evolution should be taught in the interest of educational impartiality and of general knowledge.

There is an important difference between a Christian believing that certain practices, are sins and exhorting and encouraging members of his church to avoid them and believing that the activity is a crime for which all members of society caught engaging in it should be punished by the state. After saying that some biblical verses say that homosexuality is a sin Mr Miller added that he doesn’t believe that anybody should be discriminated against because of his or her sexuality.

I don't agree with much of Millar's religious or political beliefs, but I respect his right to hold them. If Asghar Ali, Yasser Mahmood, Mohammad Ashgar or Tunji Fahm, Muslim candidates in this election, were ridiculed or condemned for their religious beliefs the same people who are now criticising Darren Millar's religion would be up in arms.

Other comments
Blamerbell - Guerrilla Welsh Warfare - Wales Elects 2007 - Alun Pugh - Marcusian - Noel - Peter Black - Norfolk Blogger - Arsembly - Pink News - Ian Dale

Millar has now denied that he made any of the comments that the other parties claim that he made. Spineless little shit, he would have done more for the Christian cause and the cause of freedom if he had stood firm in defence of his right as a Christian to express a Christian point of view.


Things can only get better in Aberconwy

I am quietly confident that the next AM for Aberconwy will be Plaid's Gareth Jones. There has been some speculation that Conservative candidate Dylan Jones-Evans
could win the seat. This seemed to be a distinct possibility in the early part of the campaign, but from what I hear Euron Hughes the Liberal Democrat is getting a good reception on the doorstep and is taking votes from both Labour and the Tories.

If Gareth fails to win in these circumstances I will be surprised and, from a partisan point of view, I will be disappointed. However that disappointment would be eased a bit by the certainty that if Dylan or Euron were elected the people of Aberconwy would have a much better representatives in Cardiff Bay than we have in the sitting AM who is given this damning end of term report by the Western Mail:
Denise Idris Jones, Conwy, Labour
Comment: Very low calibre. How on earth did she get the party nomination in the first place?

Lies, Damned Lies and Welsh polls #3

I have already explained on this blog* why I don't like Welsh opinion polls; basically all that have been published in the past have proved inaccurate.

The most interesting thing about the poll published by the Western Mail today was the percentage turnout that it predicts. The WM suggests that an unprecedented 64% of people will vote. The detail of how each party will do according to the poll is being saved until next week. A delay in publishing a poll, by definition, makes the poll unreliable and out of date. However if 64% of the electorate vote there can only be one result: a Labour majority. Labour will have at least 33 seats. Without having any inkling of what the Western Mails seat distribution claims will prove to be, I can (almost) guarantee that it won't show a Labour majority of three seats.

The Western Mail's poll is conducted in a different way to ITV's.

ITV takes a random selection of people from all of Wales and distributes the result equally thorough the country (weighted acording to UK trends). Because there is almost no relationship between the way the wind is blowing in the Rhondda and the way it blows in Aberconwy trying to predict the result in either place from an all Wales result isn't going to work.

The Western Mail poll has a fairly equal number of respondents from all 22 local authority areas, which might in theory appear to give a more balanced view and take local trends into consideration. In practice, what the Western Mail has is 22 mini polls rather than a single poll - but each mini-poll will have fewer than 50 respondents. The margin of error in a poll of just 50 people is enormous, so again this poll has no credibility.

The Western Mail used the same polling method to predict the results of the National Assembly referendum and predicted a huge majority in favour of devolution. (The yes vote in the referendum only scraped a majority by the skin of its teeth.) Plaid used the same company for its internal polls in 2005, but failed to realise that the party was to lose Ceredigion and fail to re-capture Ynys Môn.

Once again, the only conclusion that anybody interested in Welsh politics can come to, is that Welsh polls are bollocks; and that Wales deserves better from the polling companies and the news media that employ them.

See also: Wales Elects 2007 for more about the poll and links to other blogs discussing the subject

*Lies, Damned Lies and Welsh Polls
*Lies, Damned Lies and Welsh polls #2


Bring back Matron? - No Thanks!

Every time the health service is mentioned in a political meeting or on an audience participation election special on TV or radio, you can guarantee that somebody will say that the answer to the problem is to bring back matron. We heard it on the BBC hustings programme on Sunday night, we heard it in the Save Llandudno Hospital protest on Saturday and we will hear the same cry another hundred times before this election campaign is over

In the good old days Matron was a nurse; a person who had been trained to care for patients; usually a nurse with many years of experience in patient care. It was a criminal waste of that nurses' training and experience to take her out of the caring environment and to make her a hospital administrator, a job for which she had no training and little experience. The best person to be a hospital administrator is an individual who has been specifically trained in health service administration, not a nurse.

I worked as a Registered Nurse in the National Health Service for many years. When I started nursing there were plenty of administrative tasks that needed doing. At that time Sisters and Charge Nurses did much of this work. A Sister could spend up to 90% of her work time on administration and just 10% of her time on doing what she was best at - nursing. This was not only wasteful, but also dangerous. When sister was up to her neck with paperwork the actual nursing was being done without her direct supervision by carers who were often less qualified and always less experienced than her.

When ward clerks became a common feature of the NHS in the mid 1980's I welcomed their appointment. Their appointment meant that I could spend more time nursing patients and less time nursing papers.

There may well be too many administrative and clerical staff in the NHS and getting rid of them might be a populist cause, but you can't get rid of the administrators before you have reduced the amount of administrative work that is expected in the health service.

I don't want to see us turning back the clock to the time that nurses were so bogged down in administration that they didn't have the time to nurse. I certainly don't want to go back to the good old days when the brightest and the best of nurses were plucked out of nursing to become administrative Matrons, thus depriving the sick and needy of their skills, experience and expertise as highly professional health workers.

Bring back Matron? - No Thanks!


(Almost) United against Discrimination

The decision of the four main parties to join together yesterday in a united pledge to fight against discrimination in the Assembly election was an excellent idea. It is believed that this is the first election anywhere in the world where this is happened. I hope that this will become a feature of all future Welsh elections and that other countries will follow Wales' example.

What a shame that two candidates, Peter Black and Martin Eaglestone should mar such an historic and important event by using it take a cheap shot at their political opponents.

Lib Dems facing Bankruptcy?

It appears that it is not only the Labour party that is facing serious problems because of dodgy donations. The Liberal Democrats could be facing bankruptcy after receiving a £2.4 million donation from a man called Michael Brown who turned out to be a crook.

The Liberal Democrats accepted the money from Brown's company 5th Avenue Partners, just before the 2005 election. This was the biggest donation in the party's history and almost 10 times more than the party's previous largest donation. It was this cash injection that enabled the Lib Dems to fight their successful campaigns in a number of key seats in 2005 including Ceredigion and Cardiff North.

The High Court ruled last October that 5th Avenue Partners was a fraudulent company that had never actually traded. As the company never actually traded it could not be considered to be carrying on business in the UK at the time the donation was made, so the donation was impermissible under UK election laws. If a party receives an impermissible donation then The Electoral Commission can ask the courts to order the party to pay a fine which is an amount equal to the value of the donation. According to a report in Scotland on Sunday the Electoral Commission is going to seek such an order.

To add to the Liberal Democrats woes a group of millionaires who invested in the fraudulent company are insisting that the money wasn't Brown's to donate but money that he had received through deception from them, understandably they want it back. Making the total amount that party has to pay out £4.8 million - money they don’t have and might find impossible to raise forcing the party into bankruptcy.

Other blogs on this subject:
Iain Dale's Diary
Chris Paul: Labour of Love: Libdemologists:
Bill for Fibs dodgy dealings: £4.8 million


The Professor who shot his own toe

Professor Dylan Jones-Evans is a person for whom I generally have a lot of respect. His contribution to the political debate in this assembly election has been informative and well researched. Even if one doesn’t agree with the Prof's views they are almost always worth listening to. I was disappointed, therefore to read his bitchy partisan blog post about the Llandudno Hospital Rally held yesterday. In his post he says:

Plaid Cymru tried their best to hijack the event again but a number commented to me afterwards that nearly all of their 'supporters' on the day were from outside the constituency.

It is also noticeable how many people have just about had enough of their shenanigans over this non-political community campaign where they have been quick to claim credit for anything involved in it, forgetting the hard work put in by ordinary members of the public who started this campaign.

The future of community hospitals is a political matter. Whether Llandudno hospital remains open or is closed, is downgraded or upgraded will depend on political decisions made in the next Assembly. It is a credit to the individuals who have run the campaigns to save Llandudno and other hospitals that they have managed to gain support from leading politicians, councillors and supporters from all of the parties. The fact that saving these hospitals has become such an important plank in the election campaigns of candidates such as Plaid's Gareth Jones is a credit to the success of the hospital action groups.

The comments about Plaid supporters being outsiders are incredible. There were a large number of Plaid supporters from the constituency there, although all of them were not Llandudno residents. Perhaps Professor Jones-Evans is unaware of the fact that the hospital's catchment goes far beyond the town. Llandudno hospital serves the Conwy Valley, for example. There were quite a few at the rally from Llanrwst, Eglwysbach and other Conwy Valley villages (which are now part of the constituency) - or are the views of those from the Valley who turned up to be dismissed as unimportant because they weren't wearing blue rosettes?

The largest group from outside Aberconwy were those from the campaign to save Blaenau Ffestiniog hospital there to show solidarity with the campaign to save Llandudno hospital. Blaenau Ffestiniog is also in the Llandudno Hospital catchment area and the closure of Blaenau Memorial Hospital will have an adverse effect on the future of Llandudno Hospital. The people from Blaenau had every right to be at the rally and their support should be welcome, not dismissed because they happen to live in a Plaid Cymru constituency.

Dylan Jones-Evans likes to describe himself as the Professor Who Shoots from the Hip. On this occasion he appears to have shot himself in the toe.


More Coalition Possibilities

Since John Austin made his famous faux pas on Pawb a'i Farn on Thursday night there has been a lot of discussion about coalitions in the press and on the bloggosphere.

Most commentators have looked at the same old possibilities a Lib / Lab Coalition a Lab / PC coalition or Glyn Davies' Rainbow coalition all of which have inherent problems, which have been well rehearsed by others.

There are some other possibilities that have hardly received a mention during the campaign.

The first is an option that is included in The Government of Wales Act. If within a period of 28 days the assembly members can't decide on the appointment of a First Minister, then a new election has to be held. I doubt if this option is in any party's best interest, but it would be good fun.

In the lead up to the 1999 election Ron Davies and Dafydd Wigley favoured the idea of an inclusive government in which all parties took part. Wigley has suggested that until the Assembly's new powers have bedded down that this is an option that he would support again for the next Assembly.

Dr Richard Wyn Jones suggests in the April edition of Barn that a minority government could be formed by one or two parties, say Plaid & the Lib Dems, with the Conservatives remaining in opposition but having an agreement not to bring down the government by abstaining in votes of confidence etc.

I have already noted that Glyn's Rainbow coalition has inherent difficulties. Plaid has said that it won't be part of a Tory lead coalition because of the way the Tories are perceived in Wales - and Ieuan Wyn's Suggestion that a Plaid Government would include Conservative cabinet members seems to have gone down like a lead balloon. However there is a variation on this theme that might be more acceptable, a rainbow coalition that is lead by neither Plaid nor the Conservatives but by one of the independents (Ron has said that he is up for the job if he's elected) or in the absence of a decent independent, a government lead by a Lib Dem first minister.

I am not advocating any of these proposals, just pointing out that there are alternatives to the coalitions that have been the focus of political sparing over the past few days.

More coalition blog posts:
Peter Black - Sanddef - Labour Watch - Wales Elects 2007 - Marcusian - Bethan Jenkins - Daniel Davies - Glyn Davies - Tory Diary - Martin Eaglestone

Ieuan Wyn Jones & Wylfa B

In the 1880's my great great grandfather moved from Llanelltyd near Dolgellau to Pontypridd, not to become a miner like so many of those who moved south, but because he was an undertaker and the mortality rates were more favourable to people in his line of business in the coal mining areas than they were in rural mid Wales.

Coal mining was a dangerous and unhealthy occupation, which could, and too often did, lead to sudden death through accident. Many of those not taken by accidents suffered the worse fate of debilitating illness that lead to a premature death.

Coal mining was a job that most people I knew in the south Wales valleys during the time that the mines were open, hoped and prayed that their sons could avoid. But yet, when the coal mining industry was threatened with closure, the valleys communities fought tooth and claw to keep the mines open.

Why? Because they knew that if the mining jobs were lost there would be absolutely nothing offered in their place. The loss of those dirty, dangerous and unhealthy jobs in the mining industry has ripped the heart and soul out of the south Wales valleys.

A similar thing happened in north Merioneth when Trawsfynydd nuclear power station closed. An area that had a fairly prosperous working class community became an area of extreme poverty and despair that has never recovered from the loss of those well-paid jobs at the power station. Do those who make glee about Ieuan Wyn Jones' position on Wylfa B really want Anglesey to suffer in the way that the valleys and north Merioneth have suffered?

If, as it seems likely, that the Labour Government is going to build a new generation of nuclear power stations anyway, what is best? That a new power station is built on Anglesey, safeguarding the last vestiges of Island's prosperity, or that a new power station is built elsewhere?

I don't accept the Ieuan is a hypocrite line. Ieuan is no more of a hypocrite than any of those socialist politicians who use to litter their fiery speeches with comments such as our children deserve better than the mines but who then fought honourably to try and to keep the mining industry alive because they knew that nothing better was on offer.

I'm sure that the people of Anglesey deserve better than the potential hazards of the nuclear power industry, but unless or until something better is offered to them I don’t see that Ieuan Wyn Jones, Albert Owen or any other politician from the Island has any choice other than to try to keep the jobs in that industry going for as long as possible, no matter how unsavoury those jobs might appear to be.

Cymraeg: Hen Rech Flin: IWJ & Wylfa B

Other Blogs on Ieuan Wyn Jones' comments about Nuclear Energy:
Cardiff Respect - Sanddef - Ferryside Rant - Peter Black



On Friday the 13th April it was rumoured in the press and on some blogs that inspector Yates, the Cash for Honours investigator, would deliver files with recommendations that charges be bought against some individuals "within 10 days". The 10-day period ends on Monday.

At the end of April the press reported that Tony Blair would resign forthwith if he were questioned under caution about the Cash for Honours affair.

The Wales-Elects 2007 blog reports that there is a lot of excitement over on Political Betting about a significant story, that will affect the Labour leadership election, about to break.

I don't suppose that there could be any connection between these three facts, could there?


Houses and Homes

Martin Eaglestone has asked for an honest debate about housing, here is my contribution to that debate.

The first thing that must be recognised is that there is not a single housing market. There are two housing markets. There is the market in homes (people who buy a house in which to live), and the housing investment market(people who buy a house in order to make proffit).

The dividing line between these two markets is often blurred, most people who buy a home hope that there is an investment potential in their purchase, but their primary purpose in buying a house is as a place in which to live.

At the other extreme are the people who buy surplus houses to rent as permanent or holiday lets purely to make a profit.

In the middle ground are those who by design, or more often by accident, have purchased a house that they can sell on retirement, or earlier, and buy a property more suitable for their home needs cheaper elsewhere, releasing equity for a retirement income or a business investment.

The problem with any intervention in the housing market from government is that it will p***s everybody off. From those who just live in hope, through the accidentals, and without a shadow of doubt the positive investors.

The problem with every party's attitudes towards housing is that they are all trying to tackle the problem from the wrong end.

Build a thousand new council houses in Wales and you take a thousand first time buyers out of the housing market, hitting the lowest rung owners who are trying to sell (and forcing their houses into the holiday homes / rental market).

Any help to buy policy, such as Plaid Cymru's £5K grant, or Labour's buy and rent schemes just inflate the first rung market (and every step above it), and wipe out the value of the grant / rent portion of the scheme.

Both socialists and conservatives will hate me for saying this, but the only way of resolving the home ownership / housing crisis is by offering tax brakes and grants to the upper end of the market for selling their houses at less than market value thus allowing a deflationary effect to trickle down to benefit the lower end.

Investment in the housing market has created untold harm to the home buying market; there is no other way of making homes affordable to working and middle class people, than by compensating those who have invested in houses in order to release those houses as nothing but homes


Mebyon Kernow

Wales and Scotland are not the only two Celtic Nations who are taking part in elections at the moment. Elections will also be held in Cornwall, as part of the English local government plebiscite. From what I hear Mebyon Kernow, the The Party for Cornwall is enjoying an exceptionally good campaign with prospects that the party will soon be celebrating its best ever result, Indeed on the parish and town council level MK has already had eleven councillors elected unopposed.

Cymraeg: Hen Rech Flin: Mebyon Kernow

Flying South

In the business section of today's Daily Post there is a profile of Basil O'Fee the commercial director of Highland Airways. Highland Airways is the company that will run the new air link between Valley and Cardiff.

As one can imagine Mr O'Fee is very exited about his new project and enthuses about the huge difference the service will make. He believes that the service will "finally link" north and south Wales and unite the country.

There is no doubt that one of the difficulties that the Assembly has faced from its inception is that Wales is not perceived to be a cohesive nation by many of its citizens, and that one of the reasons for that lack of cohesion is the difficulty in travelling from north to south or south to north.

Unlike Mr O'Fee I can't see the new air link playing a major role in resolving this difficulty. The air service doesn’t link north and south Wales - it just links one point in the north with another point in the south. Great if you want to go to Cardiff from Holyhead, but just as awkward as any other form of travel to somebody who wants to go to Merthyr from Llanrwst or to Porthmadog from Carmarthen.

The much lauded and heavily subsidies north to south rail link suffers from the same problem. It serves the north Wales coast and the south Wales coast but because the actuall north-south part of the journy is through England it provides nothing for the rest of the country.

The only real answer to the problem of north south travel is to grasp the nettle that all parties are too faerfull of the anti-road lobby to propose - to upgrade the A470 to dual carriageway / motorway standard. All other proposals are just money wasting sops that tinker at the edges of the problem.


Arsembly in Golwg 12/4/2007

It's been mentioned in a number of comments but not in an actual Blog Post!

Here is a translation of what Golwg had to say about Arsembly. Translated without permission on the grounds that if Arsembly isn't worth suing for libel, I'm not worth suing for breach of copyright.

A website that criticises Welsh politicians and prominent BBC newscasters is treading dangerous ground, says a prominent lawyer.

Amongst the most contentious arguments made on the Arsembly website was the following about the behaviour of Assembly President Lord Elis-Thomas

Word going around the Assembly is that the Presiding Officer was drunk-in-charge-of-proceedings last Tuesday afternoon.

Dafydd Elsi-Thomas didn't wish to make any comment about the claim. But he said that he was willing for Golwg to refer to it if "it helped to highlight web misuse".

The Presiding Officer confirmed that he would not be taking legal action against Arsembly. But an expert in libel law suggested that the PO would have a strong reason to bring such a claim. The suggestion that the PO was drunk whilst performing such an important office is clearly libellous said Meryl Evans, who has specialised in libel law for 15 years. The suggestion is that he isn't fit to do his job. A dangerous claim to make without evidence that he was drunk.

Many of the attacks have been targeted at Plaid Cymru officers and politicians, including Adam Price. Many prominent members of BBC Wales' political team are also subjected to his lash, including political editor Betsan Powys and Parliamentary editor David Cornock

Many members of the BBC newsteam have spoken to Golwg suggesting that a member of the department has been passing on information to one or two people.

According to one journalist who didn't wish to be named "his job will be in jeopardy if he is caught".

Golwg understands that a parliamentary candidate who has a very close friend working at the BBC is behind the website.

Meryl Evans confirmed that it is possible to take a libel action against a website, but that it is an extremely difficult process.

An USA ISP hosts the Arsembly site, which began posting in February.

It becomes more difficult if they use a foreign web service said Meryl Evans in relation to taking action against the site. It depends on the laws of the country in which the site is hosted, if you can bring a case against in that country. You are in expensive territory, without any knowledge that the individual at the end of the trail is worth suing


This is not the first blog to attack others in a personal way by far. The blog NatWatch use to make consistent dirty attacks on Plaid Cymru and the SNP, raising the suggestion that its author was a researcher within the Labour ranks.

In response Welsh nationalists created British-Nats-Watch in order to attack Labour

The appeal of a blog, an abbreviation of web log, is clear. It's easy to run, costs nothing and if you want to harm a political opponent you don't need facts. Arsembly NatWatch and the other malevolent blogs depend more on prejudice than opinion to a large extent.

Remember if you wish to comment on this post - it isn't mine - I'm just the unauthorised translator!!



Having had to wait for over twelve months for the answer, Rhodri Morgan has, at last, answered the question he refused to answer on Question Time on Feb 3rd last year.

Last year Numpti said he did not have a view on the invasion of Iraq because he was not a member of parliament when MPs voted. Today he said he would probably have voted against the 2003 invasion of Iraq if he had been an MP at the time.

On Radio Wales this morning he maintained the pretence that "he did not know how he would have acted if he had taken part in Parliament’s vote on the war." But added:

he would probably have followed his wife Julie, the MP for Cardiff North, and Kevin Brennan, his successor as MP for Cardiff West, and voted against invading.

Asked about his opinion on the war on the BBC Radio Wales Phone In show, Mr Morgan said: “I don’t say that I would have (voted against). I think I probably would have, but that’s all I can say because if you’re not there you don’t know.

This is a pretty arrogant statement for a politician to make during an election period. In short it says that only MP's can make an informed decision on any subject, because only they are there where the decision is made. The views of those of us who weren't there are merely uninformed speculation and therefore unimportant.

This isn't how democracy works, Numpti. The views of the great unwashed who weren’t there are important, as you will find out, to your cost on May 3rd.


Wales' favourite argument Football or Rugby has hit the assembly campaign in a media cover-up scandal.

Labour and the Conservatives have both complained about their political billboards on the football field being hidden by the BBC and S4C

Plaid Cymru has hit back by complaining that the worse cover-up is hiding the party message on the rugby field.

It remains to be seen if any party can get the crowds behind them on May 3rd.

Cymraeg. Hen Rech Flin: Peli


Trident bound for Wales?

A report in today's Scotland on Sunday claims that the Ministry of Defence is so worried about the movement towards independence for Scotland that it is considering moving the UK's nuclear missiles out of the country, apparently the ministry has already closely examined four sites for Trident's replacement outside of Scotland.

This is clearly good news for Scotland and the fact that the MoD is making plans for the eventuality of Scottish independence suggests that Westminster is beginning to accept the inevitable end of the 1707 union.

However the report goes on to explain where these four sites outside Scotland are:
Scotland on Sunday has learned that the swing towards the SNP forced the MoD to review three sites in England and one in Wales. The sites were originally considered as potential hosts for the UK's nuclear deterrent when the government was seeking a base for the Polaris system in the 1960s.

The MoD's preferred option is to place the nuclear missiles in Devonport, but as Devonport does not presently have a facility where missiles can be loaded, unloaded and stored, no final decision has been made and none of the four sites have been dismissed. So Trident might be moved from Scotland to Pembrokeshire.

The best way for Wales to let the MoD know that we don't want their nuclear missiles in Wales either is to ensure that Plaid Cymru is given as much support in the Assembly election as it appears the SNP is enjoying in the Hollyrood election.

John Jones has split from his girlfriend Mary Jane Williams.

The couple had been courting since they met at Aberystwyth University, in Cardiganshire in 2001, family friend Dafydd Dafis said.

John's move to a teaching job in Caernarfon, and Miss William's continuing her life in Cardiff, are also said to have put a strain on the relationship.

Council House has not commented on the split. There had been speculation about a possible engagement in recent months.

The woman next door, Megan Edwards, said: "It's a surprise, because it had seemed very stable and very steady."

She said she thought John's move to Ysgol Huw Owen in Caernarfonshire had "a lot to do with the final stages" of the break-up.

The bloke in no 13 reported that the couple had seen each other no more than once a week since then.

"One must suspect, though I don't know that this is absolutely certain, that it is more his decision than hers," said Megan Edwards. "He has said in the past that he is too young to get married. But I am led to believe that there is no-one else involved and that it is a decision they have come to mutually."

Will in no 9 said the pair had reached an "amicable agreement" to part.

Miss Williams attended John's graduation ceremony in Aberystwyth last year. It was the first time she had attended such a high-profile event, at which Mrs Jones and other senior Joneses were present.

Miss Williams left her family home in Cardiff on Saturday morning without speaking to the assembled neighbours.

She works as a till operator in Tesco's St Mellons.

I know it's a boring post. Just as boring as that other boy splits with girlfriend story that is splashed all over the news. Yawn!



Lies Damned Lies and Welsh polls #2

On his Welsh language BBC Blog, the BBC's Welsh affair's editor Vaughan Roderick confirms my doubts about the way Welsh polls are weighted

Vaughan has seen the original unweighted results of the NOP poll conducted for ITV. The unweighted results show that more respondents had told the pollsters that they intended to vote for Plaid than had declared an intention to vote Conservative.

In the constituency vote 182 of those who were polled declared for Plaid Cymru, whilst 180 gave their support to the Conservatives.

But despite Plaid Cymru being in second place in the poll and having slightly more support the published results gave the Conservatives a 3% point lead over Plaid - odd, but typical of the nonsense that passes for Welsh Psephology

A full translation of Vaughan Roderick's post can be found here.

In his latest post, in the early hours of the morning, Vaughan teases his reader that there is "more to come" on the ITV/NOP scandal!

The English Democrat Invasion

Thanks to Sanddef for reminding me of the English Democrats decision to take part in the National Assembly of Wales elections. A silly decision perhaps, but if one considers the precedence of Ireland a potentially dangerous move.

The Mynmyth is English idea is an old bone of contention which lacks any historic support. If one looks at the Parish Registers far to the east of present day Monmouthshire it is clear that not only Monmouthshire, but much of Herefordshire was part of Welsh speaking Wales up to the 1700's

The English Democrats excuse for standing in Wales is:
The Nationality of Monmouthshire has been a matter of debate since 1284.
In 1960’s the then Labour and Conservative governments conspired to put Monmouthshire into Wales, partly to dilute the growing Welsh Nationalism in Wales generally.

Bollocks! Before the Acts of Union of 1536 Monmouthshire did not have the right to send MPs to Westminster, because it wasn't considered to be a part of England. After 1536 it is true to say that Monmouthshire was annexed into England, but so were Caernarfonshire, Merioneth and Carmarthenshire. However every law relating to Wales alone since 1536, the first of which was the order to translate the Bible into Welsh, has included Monmouthshire as part of Wales.

The real reason why ED is standing in Wales is in order to spite Plaid Cymru for a snub. In 2004, Elfyn Llwyd, the Parliamentary leader of Plaid Cymru, was invited to address the ED conference and to discus a joint ED / PC / SNP campaign for the 2005 election. Elfyn refused the offer because of ED's attitude to Europe. Plaid and the SNP are both favourable to the EU; the English Democrats are opposed to the institution.

My personal opinion is that Elfyn made a mistake in refusing the invitation. A strong English nationalist party would be advantageous to the cause of Welsh, Scottish and Cornish nationalism. English nationalist's attitudes towards Europe are a matter for English nationalists to decide - that is what independence is all about - the rights of free nations to follow their own course.

The ED's decision to spite Plaid by standing in Wales is an even bigger mistake. It has added an unnecessary enmity between Welsh and English Nationalists and it is a huge waste of resources.

As a Welsh Nationalist of part English descent I want the English Democrats to have electoral success in England. The ED is likely to lose up to £11k in lost deposits from their pathetic stunt of standing in Monmouthshire. That £11k and the time and effort of their Welsh candidates could have been used to get a foot in the door by securing the election of a couple of councillors in the English Local Government elections being held on the same day as the Assembly elections; a much more positive way of using party funds and of supporting the cause than wasting resources on creating un-needed animosity between Welsh and English nationalists.

Cymraeg:Hen Rech Flin: Democratiaid Lloegr ym Mynwy


Iain Dale's Diary: Quiz Question: Who Said This Today?

Sanddef Rhyferys' favourite Tory Iain Dale tantalises his regular blog readers with the following quiz question:
Who Said This Today?

Supporters of independence will always be able to cite examples of small,independent and thriving economies across Europe such as Finland, Switzerland and Norway. It would be wrong to suggest that Scotland could not be another such successful, independent country.

As seventeen responses to the question have already given the correct answer I won't be spoiling anything by reveling that it was none other than David Cameron, the Conservative party leader. It is part of a comment by him in today's Telegraph.

Lest you think that Cameron is about to defect to the SNP, it should be noted that the article is a defence of the Union by the Tory leader in which he says
we need to continue to make the positive case for a united Britain by ensuring that the Union remains relevant to all English and Scottish people.

Despite disagreeing with Mr Cameron it is good to see that he, at least accepts, that there is nothing in the Union that is relevant to the People of Wales. Or is it just that to him and his unionist cronies Gordon Brown and Ming Cambell Wales is an seen as an irrelevant part of the Union? Whatever the answer there is no doubt in my mind that the sooner Wales becomes independent of this Union the better. Then we can join the likes of the small, independent and thriving economies across Europe such as Finland, Switzerland and Norway


Mobile Mammas make me sick

Whoever dreamt up Labour's Mobile Mammas scheme needs shooting, not so much for the policy but for the title. As Richard Hazlewood has noted it sounds more like a takeaway pizza van franchise than a scheme to support working parents. Rather a sexist term too. It suggests that men would not be allowed to join the scheme; given Rhodri Morgan's comments that single mothers would be the main beneficiaries of the scheme surely a few Mobile Pappas might provide the children of single mothers with a welcome male role-model.

What Mobile Mammas are are community nursing assistants who come in to your home to look after your kids when they are sick, so you don't need to take time off work. Rhodri claims that these assistants won't be strangers but people that you and your children get to know and trust. But surely only children with long term illnesses (who have community nursing assistance already) could get to know and trust their Mobile Mammas - you cant build up a relationship with somebody who pops around just once or twice a year when your off school with the bug.

When my kids have been feeling poorly only their Mam and Dad are good enough to comfort them, even people they know well like their Nain or an aunty are a poor second best to Mam and Dad. Telling a mother that she can't stay with a sick kid who's pining for his Mam, that she'll have to call in a virtual stranger instead, seems to me to be an extremely callous policy.

It doesn’t appear to be a very well thought out policy on public health grounds either. Fresh from looking after little Mary who has the flu - Mobile Mamma comes to our house to look after little Johnny with a broken arm, spreading the flu germ in the process to add to poor little Johnny's woes. Thanks but no thanks!

As Numpti is likely to be out of a job after May 4th, he might consider taking his Mobile Mamma's scheme to BBC 2's Dragons Den to see if he can get some backing for it as a little home spun business. That would be a much more appropriate place in which to try and sell the scheme than is an Election Manifesto launch.

As the scheme is to be part funded by the Department of Works and Pensions, this is not actually an assembly election pledge announcement, but an announcement of a Westminster government pilot scheme

Another blog post on this subject Ordovicius: "Labour Insults Working Families" say Plaid

on the buses

I am (probably) the only Welsh political blogger who has an Assembly Government free bus pass. I don't have to thank Labour for my pass however; my pass was originally issued by Gwynedd's Plaid Cymru lead council, which made use of Conservative legislation enabling local authorities to issue free bus-passes to deaf people. So Numpti Morgan knows where he can put his remember the bribe and vote for me threats.

Today's Labour manifesto contains a promise to extend the bus pass scheme to enable pass holders to use limited services on the trains for free too - very welcome indeed. But hold on Defi John - this isn't a new policy announcement for the new assembly. This is a policy already passed by the assembly in April of last year; the pilot for the policy will start on May 20th regardless of who wins the election.

Plaid and Socialism

An extremely good post on Glyn Davies AM's blog yesterday The Light amongst the Grasses. I find myself in sympathy with much of what he says about Plaid Cymru and its socialist baggage.

I left the Liberal Party and joined Plaid Cymru in 1979 because of my conviction that it was in Wales' best interest to be self governing and that none of the other parties would reintroduce any semblance of self government after the referendum result unless there was a strong nationalist party in Wales arguing the cause of independence. I certainly didn't join Plaid because I support socialism.

Although there has always been a socialist element in Plaid Cymru I've never quite been able to understand why. Socialism and nationalism appear to me to be opposing ideals

Plaid claims to be an anti-imperialist party, but socialism is inherently an imperialist ideology. One can't have socialism in little pockets here and there, the socialist Utopia requires all peoples everywhere to be governed by the same economic and social policies. The idea of independence is anathema to the socialist ideal.

Of course neither Plaid nor the Labour Party sign up to Soviet type socialism, so some might argue that the imperialism of international socialism isn't relevant to their democratic socialist views, but some members of Plaid do like to use the international socialist tag.

One of the basic tenants of all forms of Socialism is dependence upon the state. The only state that the people of Wales have to depend upon at the moment is the British state; it is nonsensical for a party to campaign for people to become more dependent on a state that the same party is also campaigning to abolish.

I think that it was Prof James Mitchell who made the point that Mrs Thatcher was the midwife of devolution because she dismantled so many of the institutions on which the people of Scotland and Wales depended for their services and their livelihoods and which made them "British" by dependence. By supporting re-nationalisation Plaid's socialists want to recreated many of those old institutions that have bound the people of Wales to Britain.

If you ask members of Plaid what they think of the Labour Party most of them will tell you that Labour has ruled the roost in Wales for about 100 years and that after a centaury of Labour failure its time for a change. I agree. The $64K question is why has Labour failed Wales for the past centaury? The answer is because Labour has given us 100 years of left wing politics. Changing the label on left wing politics from Labour to Plaid won't change a thing. What Wales needs in order to succeed is an alternative to the 100 years of failure of left wing politics - not a name change.

My biggest grievance against Plaid's socialism isn't however ideological, its because I find Plaid's socialist facade completely cynical. Most Plaid people that I know would be One Nation Conservatives or Liberals if they had been born English, some may even have become "new" Labour. The diehard firebrand socialists in the party are few and far between. The red flag is being flown by Plaid simply because some in the party have calculated that there are lots of socialist votes in the valleys and that if Plaid pretends to out-socialist Labour those votes could be in the bag. The sad thing is that Plaid has failed to realise that there is a hell of a lot of Welsh patriotism in the Valleys too and that a genuine nationalist appeal to that patriotic sentiment would probably bag the party a hell of a lot more votes than a cynical appeal to socialism.

Because this blog is listed under "Plaid Cymru" on the Wales Elects 2007 blogg, I should note that I am not a member of Plaid Cymru and I haven't been a member for many years.


Numpti Morgan

During the last few weeks I have been enjoying the election coverage on the on-line editions of the Scottish papers. Despite very valid comments made by Welsh political observers that Scotland has an advantage over Wales in having its own press, I have been surprised by how unionist biased the Scottish press appears to be.

One of the things that I like about The Scotsman and The Herald is the way that readers can post comments on line in response to any article. The Nationalists are winning the comments war on both paper's sites.

A word that is used often in the comments, mainly to ridicule members of the Labour party, is the word Numpty - such a good word! Today's Observer comments on the word Numpty:

Numpty, according to a survey, is Scotland's favourite word, a great term to describe someone who is an idiot. The Labour high command are behaving like a bunch of numpties as they desperately try to stop the Scottish National party.

Next Tuesday the BBC's Welsh political pundit Vaughan Roderick is to start a Welsh Language political Blogg to rival / compliment his colleague Betsan Powys' offering and that of his anonymous BBC colleague Arsembly. Vaughan has stated quite clearly on the discussion board Maes-E that anybody who uses personal insults will not be mentioned on his forthcoming Blogg. In fear of being blacklisted by Vaughan I have decided not to suggest on this blogg that Numpty would be a good word to use in relation to our beloved First Minister Numpti Morgan.

Fersiwn Cymraeg:Hen Rech Flin: Numpti Morgan

No support for SNP North of the Border.

North of the Border is a very tired old euphemism for Scotland wherever it is used, but I suppose that it is acceptable when used by London based newspapers.

Where the use of the term North of the Border for Scotland is absolutely ridiculous is when it appears in the Welsh media. I do wish the Western Mail and Daily Post would stop using it. The only place that is north of the Welsh border is the Wirral. Despite the huge opinion poll ratings that the SNP is receiving, they are not expected to make any gains in the local council elections north of our border.


Lies, Damned Lies and Welsh Polls

HTV has published an opinion poll on the forthcoming assembly elections. I shan't comment on its contents because the only thing one can say about Welsh opinion polls is that they are consistently wrong.

For example HTV commissioned a poll in February 1999, just before the May Assembly elections of that year. The poll predicted:
Lab 58%
PC 12%
Con 20%
LD 9%

The election result was

Labour 36.5% (wrong by -21.5%)
PC 29.5% (wrong by + 17.5%)
Con 16.1% (wrong by - 3.9%)
LD 13% (wrong by + 4%)

A much more inclusive poll was commissioned before the 2003 election. Because it was more inclusive it was more expensive and the cost of commissioning it was shared between HTV the BBC and S4C. Being a more inclusive poll it was better than the 1999 effort by HTV alone, but it still failed the + or - 3% test of a scientific poll.

Poll result:
Lab 39%
PC 31%
Con 15%
LD 15%

Election result
Lab 37% (wrong by - 2%)
Plaid 20% (wrong by -11%)
Con 19% (wrong by + 4%)
LD 11% (wrong by - 3%)

The current offering from HTV is similar to the 1999 poll, so one can expect it to be as inaccurate as that poll was.

UK wide opinion polls are fairly accurate; they are conducted according to a scientific discipline called psephology. Psephologists look at the make up of an electoral community and poll people by selecting respondents who reflect that balance. They try to create a gender balance, age balance, education balance, social class balance, earnings balance etc. that is the same as the balance of the electorate.

Because of a lack of regular opinion polling in Wales there is no such thing as Welsh psephology. Wales is not a microcosm of the UK it is a completely different place, one needs different polling methods in Wales than those used in the UK to get an accurate picture of voting intentions.

In comparing the two opinion polls the most outstanding factor is how wrong the Plaid result is in both. Grossly underestimated in 1999, badly over estimated in 2003. This is because UK based psephology just can't account for the Plaid vote (even if Plaid won every single vote in Wales it would be a minuscule 4% of the UK wide vote). The way UK psephology deals with Plaid is to ignore the party. If Plaid has 4 seats after a general election - UK polls will show it having the same four seats through out the period leading up to the next election - no matter what the political climate in Wales. Which is fine on an UK basis, a few Plaid gains or loses are unlikely to impact much on the overall result of a Westminster election.

Because UK psephological standards are used to conduct Welsh polls, Plaid always stands still in Welsh polls too!!!

HTV's poll today, like the 1999 poll (where Plaid's result reflects its 1997 UK election vote) and the 2003 poll (where Plaid's vote is similar to its 1999 Assembly vote) puts Plaid on no change by % or seats won - which doesn't make sense. If Labour loses 4% of its vote (as the poll suggests) and Plaid stands still Plaid must gain at least 2 more seats.

For Wales see England doesn't work in psephology any more than it works in any other discipline. An opinion poll based on a for Wales see England attitude to polling is a waste of the poll commissioner's money.

My advice to all parties in response to HTV's poll is - ignore it, it's bollocks!

Other Bloggs on HTV's poll include:
Glyn Davies Predictable Poll
Blamerbell Briefs: Poll says Labour set for assembly election losses
Chanticleer: The first poll
e-clectig: Pol Piniwn
Ordovicius: Fudged Poll to Frighten Faithful?
Iain Dale's Diary: Tories Set to Become Largest Opposition Party in Wales
Live from the Socialist Fortress: Straw Poll: hands up if you learnt something new today
Peter Black AM: Ebbs and tides
Alun Cairns