The old Plaid or a new party?

I give my electoral support to Plaid Cymru because I believe that Wales should be an independent country. Plaid is the only party that, all be it grudgingly at times, supports this notion.

If you strip away the national aspect my political, economic and social values are much closer to those of Dylan Jones-Evans, Guto Bebb and Glyn Davies than they are to those of Adam Price, Leanne Wood or Bethan Jenkins. But I have no difficulty with working alongside people who support independence with whom I disagree on social and economic policy as long as independence is the main issue.

Unfortunately Plaid has campaigned in every election since at least 1997 on the slogan this election isn't about independence it's about ............. (insert socialist crap here).

I don't want to be a member of a party that puts socialism (or even conservatism) at the top of the agenda I want to be a member of a party that puts nationalism first.

The question is:
What is the best way of ensuring that a party that puts nationalism first and foremost exists? Is it by being inside Plaid and trying to re-capture the party for the nationalist first and foremost cause, or by forming a new nationalist party?


The gloating left and party unity

If Adam Price and Bethan Jenkins expect the whole of Plaid to unite behind the Party's decision to support the Labour coalition, can I suggest that they stop gloating about their socialist victory and stop rubbing the noses of the moderate majority into their left wing mire.

As much as Plaid may need to make gains in the Valleys, the party also needs to consolidate its vote and make gains in rural Wales too. Places such as Anglesey, Aberconwy and Ceredigion cannot be dismissed. There are many people in these areas who are bitterly disappointed by the Labour deal, and who are angry that Plaid has chosen to support what they see as an inherently anti rural Party and and its inherently anti-rural ideology.

Comments such as:

a party who has historically placed ourselves on the left (Bethan)


if we are what we say we are, a socialist party, a party of the left, then, all things being equal, when presented with a progressive programmed in alliance with another party of the left or an alternative programmed in alliance with the political Right, then our natural tendency should be to choose left. (Adam)

don't encourage unity, they feed the anger and disapointment of those of us who distrust Labour and dislike socialism. If you want the party to be united behind this deal then show a bit of humility rather than trumpeting it as yet another success for your socialist clique.



With so much happening in the Bay and the House of Commons yesterday a story, that would in other circumstances, have been a major story was buried. After 10 years of service to his country and party as the Conservative spokesman on Welsh affairs in the House of Lords Lord (Wyn) Roberts of Conwy is to retire.

During the past 10 years Sir Wyn has been a hard working peer who has had influence on a number of important parliamentary measures that have had an effect on Wales, including the Government of Wales Act 2006. I hope that who ever replaces Sir Wyn is as much of a patriot as he is because the House of Lords will play an important role in the work of the National Assembly in future.

As we know the new Assembly will have the ability to pass laws under a very complex system. Assembly Measures will have to be approved by the Secretary of state, The House of Commons, The Privy Council and The House of Lords. The House of Lords will be able to oppose, amend (possibly) as well as approve Assembly Measures. It is, therefore extremely important that there are a number of patriotic Welsh men and women of Lord Robert's calibre in the Lords to ensure fair play for Assembly Measures as they pass through the house.

Of course Sir Wyn is a Tory and his successor will be a Tory. There are good Welsh people from other parties in the Lords too. My chapel minister Rev. Lord Roger Roberts from the Lib Dems. Lord Elystan and others from Labour and Dafydd Ellis Thomas from Plaid Cymru. There will be a huge responsibility on their shoulders too, to ensure the success of Assembly Measures.

But Dafydd El will face some difficulties in dealing with Assembly Measures in the Lords. Firstly, of course, he will have a lot on his plate performing his duties as Presiding Officer and may not have the time to spend in the Lords. Secondly as Dafydd is a member of the Assembly, the Privy Council and the Lords there could be constitutional problems if he were to take an active part in affecting Assembly Measures in all three bodies. Thirdly Dafydd has to remain "neutral" in his role as Presiding Officer, it would be difficult for him to retain that neutrality if he was partisan either for or against an Assembly Measure in another place. So there is a danger that the only voice that Plaid has in the Lords could be silenced when Assembly Measures are being discussed.

There are a hundred thousand good reasons for opposing the very existence of the House of Lords and as many reasons for Plaid's policy of boycotting the place and not having members there, but we have to live in the world as it is until things change. As the House of Lords is going to have such an important role to play in the Assembly Measures process it is time for Plaid to think again about sending people to the Lords, and to do so in haste as the first Measure will be before the House about October time.

But who should be made a Nationalist Lord? Lord Alwyn of Oldfart has a certain ring to it, don’t you think? ;-)

The next step

The haggling is over. I had my preference and my preference lost. A deal had to be done, so a deal has been done and we have to live with it, for better or for worse

All options had dangers for Plaid and the national cause. Red-Green and Rainbow both meant compromising with unionist parties, so neither option was perfect.

Good luck to Rhodri and Ieuan in governing Wales from day to day as new found best friends.

It's time to move on.

The national question is above coalition deals. Wales is a nation and the natural status of all true nations is independence. Aiming for independence is more important than coalition deals.

All coalition deals mean compromise, and Plaid has been compromised by this deal (as it would have been by any other). Plaid has an important role to play in putting the needs of Wales first in the government in which it is now a partner, but it cannot campaign for independence any more, because that would go against the grain of the government of which it is now a part.

The campaign for independence needs to be taken out of the party political sphere; Wales needs a convention for independence a non-party political campaign for independence or something similar.

Some have said that the blogosphere is important to politics in Wales, it could be on this issue. But I think that it would be better if those of us who believe in independence; from right, center and left who see the value of creating a campaign for independence got out of our internet bubble and meet in person to discuss how to create a real world campaign for independence, that ignores party political machinations.


Not a BBC Blog

It's good to see that the BBC's Welshman in Westminster David Cornock is back in the Welsh blogosphere with his "independent" Not a BBC Blog, although his first post contains the frightening thought that Gordon Brown might appoint the anti-devolutionist Kim Howells MP as Secretary of State for Wales.


On the school buses

There is an interesting debate going on in the Assembly at the moment about the safety of children travelling to school. Some of the discussion has arisen from the sad death of Stuart Cuningham Jones in a school bus accident and his family's campaign to ensure that there are seat belts on all school buses.

The bus that takes my children to school already has seat belts for each passenger, but the children won't use them. Those who do wear them during their first days in the new school are ridiculed by the other children. The culture of the school bus encourages (bullies even) children not to use the seat belts provided for their safety. I hope that the Assembly in its further discussions about this important topic will look at the school bus culture and at ways of encouraging students to use seat belts, having seat belts on school buses will not provide any safety for our children unless they are used.

A post worth reading

This is a post worth reading by all of Plaid's Labour luvvies. And before anybody asks NO I didn't write it (but I wish that I had)


Blogs undermine journalism

Clear Red Water has an interesting post entitled the Cult of the Amateur, which is a comment on the book The Cult of the Amateur: How today's Internet is killing our culture by Andrew Keen. I haven't read the book, so this response is to Clear Red Water's post only.

The argument made by CRW and Keen is that amateur blogs undermine the rules and constraints of professional journalism, by allowing all and sundry to comment without being "subject to ... professional, academic or peer reviewing".
"Blogs have become so dizzyingly infinite that they have undermined our sense of what is true and false, what is real or imaginary. These days, kids can't tell the difference between credible news by objective professional journalists and what they read on joeshmoe.blogspot.com"

My blogs aren't amateur journalism. Anybody visiting my blogs for objective journalism, considered analysis or fair insight is going to be bitterly disappointed. My blogs are just a note of my personal thought, they have no authority other than "this is what Alwyn thinks". The posts are not objective they are my biased, partisan, often bad tempered, some times drunken, arguments about the issues of the day.

My blogs are the electronic equivalent of what I might say if I was having a political discussion with my mates down the pub. The only similarity between this blog and journalism is a similarity to the letters to the editor's page or the radio phone in programme. As long as those reading and, most importantly, those writing personal political blogs are aware of their nature then they should not "undermine our sense of what is true and false, what is real or imaginary".

If writers and readers are aware of the nature of amateur blogs then I believe that blogs add to the political process and actually enhance, rather than distract from, political journalism and professional political comment. That they do contribute to the democratic process.

Objective political journalism and the views of political leaders are worthless in a vacuum. Ordinary people discussing the views of political commentators and leaders are what gives those views value.

Democratic change happens when the views of political commentators and opinion formers influence ordinary people, that influence can only happen when the people discuss the issues raised. Amateur blogs can play an important part in contributing to that discussion, as long as readers are aware that the contribution to the discussion made by a miserable old fart on a blog such as this has the same value as the contribution made by a miserable old fart over a half of mild and a game of dominoes in the Dog and Duck

Welcome, Cleckanndra

A new member of the Welsh political blogging community is Cleckanndra, who appears to be on the left wing of the national cause.

Red Green "the only deal in town"

According to Martin Shipton of the Western Mail, A Labour Plaid coalition "now seems all but certain" as the majority of Plaid's AMs have stated that they will back the deal on Tuesday. Not only will they back the deal but they will insist that the Red-Green deal is the only deal on the table at the National Council on July 7th. Plaid's grass roots members will be denied the opportunity to discuss the Rainbow deal in the National Council, despite the fact (or perhaps because of the fact) that a poll to be published latter on today is rumoured to show that a majority of Plaid supporters prefer the Rainbow option.

I am disappointed, but not surprised. The fallacy in Plaid that the way to beat Labour is to pretend to be Labour has been ingrained into the party too deeply for the past 20 years, despite the fact that it is a policy that hasn't worked.

With a Westminster election on the horizon I had hoped that Plaid might regain Anglesey and Ceredigion and gain the new constituencies of Arfon and Aberconwy giving Plaid a record six seats. I can't see Plaid's decision to prop up the party that has shown nothing but contempt for rural communities and nothing but hatred for the Welsh Language and culture going down too well in these areas. I hope that I am wrong.


NHS drug research scandal

A quote From Buried by Mark Billingham

"Did you know that they've spent more money on developing Viagra than they have on research into Alzheimer's?"

"That's Terrible", Victor said.

"Your telling me. I'm walking around with a permanent stiffy and I can't remember what I'm supposed to do with it"

R-G v Rainbow isn't Left v Right

I am amazed by the way that so many from the left seem to have got their knickers in a twist regarding the right-left argument whilst considering the Rainbow v R-G coalition arguments. They claim that a Tory including Rainbow will be some form of extreme right wing government intent on privatising everything in sight, oppressing the working class and giving hand outs to the super rich. A Red-Green deal, on the other hand, will give Wales a progressive socialist government.

Both statements are, of course, absolute rubbish. Those who make such claims are either ignorant of the limitations of the Devolution Settlement for Wales or are deliberately misleading. The fact of the matter is that the limits of the National Assembly's powers give very little room for manoeuvre on the right - left axis. This is why the manifestos of all of the main parties for the last three elections have been broadly similar to each other. Most of the differences between the parties have been based on gimmicks rather than ideology. You can't distinguish left and right because one party wants free bus passes but the other wants free light bulbs, or that one wants to employ more nurse in the NHS but the other favours more doctors.

The National Assembly just doesn't have the authority to introduce either radical socialist policies or radical right wing policies. Even within the little leeway that the Assembly does have, the Government of Wales Act ensures that Westminster has oversight over almost any policy the Assembly makes. With New Labour and Cameroonian Tories converging on the middle ground in Westminster, the overseers are going to stifle anything that the Assembly does that even attempts to move away from the middle ground.

The coalition argument has nothing to do with right v left; it is a much simpler choice. Do we want a Welsh Assembly Government lead by those who have shown such incompetence in exercising the Assembly's limited powers over the last eight years, or do we want to give others the chance to prove that they can do better?

Those on Plaid's left who want Red-Green, because of misplaced socialist ideology, are deluding themselves and letting Wales down. You don't get four years of Socialism from Red-Green - you just get four more years of Labour failure.


An offer Plaid couldn't refuse

One of the problems of the half baked Government of Wales Act 2006 is that all National Assembly laws have to be approved by the Secretary of State for Wales first. Now as Gordon Brown seems to be offering cabinet posts to all and sundry in order to create a Ministry Of All Talents, how about he helps Rhodri out by making Elfyn Llwyd Welsh Secretary? That might even persuade sceptics like me to think twice about the Red-Green deal. Almost ;-)

No Lead in his Pencil

Despite the fact that Ieuan Wyn Jones was in Plas Menai, just a stone's throw from Martin Eaglestone's house to consult Plaid members about the different coalition options, Martin resisted the temptation to launch another "No Tory Coalition" stunt.

What was the cause of Martin's self control, what made him resist such a strong temptation? It couldn't possibly be that he can't afford to lose another biro, could it?



Graffiti is disgusting, anti social and completely unacceptable, so who ever is responsible for defacing the unequivocal Plaid message that once appeared on Leanne Wood's blog should be thoroughly ashamed.


Gordon Brown Meme

I have been asked by Little Man in a Toque to take part in the Gordon Brown Meme. I was tempted to take the same view as Ordovicious, but as Blamerbell seems to be the only Welsh blogger so far to have taken up the challenge I have decided to give it a go.
Two things Gordon Brown should be proud of
His Scottish Heritage
Putting up with a neighbour from hell for a whole ten years

Two things he should apologise for.
The tax credit fiasco
Wasting billions of tax payer's money on an illegal war

Two things that he should do immediately when he becomes PM.
Get rid of Hain as Welsh Secretary
Repeal the referendum clause and the dual candidacy clause of the Government of Wales Act

Two things he should do while he is PM.
Recognise the legitimate claims to nationhood of England and Cornwall and ensure that devolution treats all five nations of the UK with equal validity

Begin negotiations with the leaders of all five countries to prepare for eventual independence.

Tag others
As most of the contributors to the Meme have been right-wingers so far, I would be interested in the views of some Labour supporters so I pass the baton on to Normal Mouth, Clear Red Water and Live from the Socialist fortress.

Time for the English Democrats in Ealing South?

Those of us who are old enough to remember the 1960's will remember that it was by-elections, rather than general elections that enabled Plaid Cymru and the SNP to become parties of influence on the electoral stage, rather than the fourth place and forgotten party.

If it wasn't for the by-election of Winnie Ewing in 1968 the SNP wouldn't be in government today, if it wasn't for Gwynfor Evans' by-election victory in 1966 Plaid wouldn't be poised to be a party of government (one way or the other) in the National Assembly.

If the English Democrats are to make headway into the mainstream of English politics then it is important that the party takes advantage of every by-election in England to advance its cause.

Because of the sad death of Piara Khabra MP in Ealing South a by election will have to be held there shortly.

The constituency profile doesn’t make it the most hopeful for an ED breakthrough, but I do hope that ED will put up a candidate and campaign vigorously in the by-election.

If they do I hope and trust that all Welsh, Scottish and Cornish nationalists support the ED candidate, either by spending a day or two in the constituency offering practical help, or by sending a tenner (or more) to the Campaign Fund.

An answer to Clear Red Water

In the comments section of my last post, Clear Red Water makes some interesting points and asks some pertinent questions. My response is too long for a reply in the comments section so here it is as a separate post.

Clear Red Water said:


I respect your view and one which is very consistent and thoughtfully argued. But do you honestly believe that such a campaign for independence will seriously win out in the short or even medium term? I would contend that much of Plaid growth has focused on them actually ditching the 'independence now' message.

I think the assembly's popularity is growing, but i also think that support is based on the notion we are not in perpetual motion to independence. Or to put it less categorically, ENOUGH people take this view to make the independence argument unwinnable.

As a Labour member, i would dearly love Plaid to revert to such a suicidal position, but surely you cannot say what you suggest is really a good electoral strategy for Plaid?

I am curious, i am not having a go. I am just a bit confused if you really believe this and how do you qualify it?

I don't think that campaigning for independence would harm Plaid, for two reasons.

Firstly if you ask anybody what is Plaid about? What makes Plaid different to the other parties? etc you'll get the same basic answer - Plaid believes in independence for Wales. Some may word this sentiment in a more positive way, others' wording might be much more negative, but all will agree that Independence is Plaid's unique selling point. Plaid enjoys its current level of support because of / despite the fact that we all know that Plaid is a Nationalist party that wants independence for Wales.

When Plaid representatives on the telly try to wriggle out of the National Question it makes them look like liars.

Comments such as this election isn't about independence its about the future of Llandudno/ Whithybush / Prince Phillip hospital, give the impression that the rep is embarrassed about what we all know is the party's true policy.

When Plaid spokespersons say silly things such as "full national status in Europe", "equality with other UN member states", " the evolution of devolution" and other euphemisms that avoid the I word they give the impression of being two faced, of trying to con the electorate with fancy words.

I think that giving the impression, even if it is unintentional, of being an embarrassed, two faced, lying con-party doesn't attract votes. It probably puts voters off voting Plaid. So an honest approach towards independence would be a vote winner rather than a vote looser, at worse such honesty would have a neutral impact.

The second point is related to the first. If journalists ask Plaid about independence and Plaid wriggle out of answering, then the argument for independence isn't made. If the argument for independence isn't made how are people going to be convinced of the validity of that argument?

When other parties, as they always do, attack Plaid for its nationalism but Plaid doesn't respond by making a strong counter attack in defence of nationalism, then the impression given is that nationalism is indefensible.

Again, refusing to make a positive argument in favour of the principal that we all know Plaid favours, refusing to defend the political patch on which we all know Plaid stands is a vote looser rather than a vote winner.

If Wales is a nation, it should be independent. Independence is the natural status of all true nations. Independence is the logical step that Wales should aim for. I am convinced that if a vigorous campaign for independence was started today, then a referendum in favour of independence would be successful in about 2020. This would be better for Wales and better for Plaid than jumping into bed with Labour for some tinkering at the edges of devolution in 2015 would be.


Red-Green for a Refrerndum WHEN?!!!!

Much has been said about a referendum being the main advantage of a Red-Green coalition.

My personal view is that a better deal would be a deal based on scraping the need for a referendum. I have also posted a number of opinions saying that if a referendum had to be held that it would be better sooner, rather than latter.

Throughout my musings I had assumed that the Only Labour Can Deliver a Referendum Brigade were assuming that the referendum would be held in time to give the Assembly its new powers after the next Assembly election in 2011.

It appears not.

Betsan Powys, almost as an aside, mentions a conversation she had with Red / Green sceptics in Plaid's Assembly group:

But there was a bigger question being posed by some too - a tactical question. IF the deal goes through and IF the promise of support for a referendum is part of that deal and is seen as nothing more than a make-or-break Plaid demand, isn't it going to be much harder for the 'Yes' camp to win the vote come 2011?

Sorry! Win in 2011! - So the much touted Referendum that is the lynch pin of the Red-Green deal won't be held until after the 2011 Assembly election?

That means supporting Labour, for no new powers until 2016. And in 2016 what will we have (if the vote goes "yes")? The powers that Scotland had twenty years earlier, but with less than one fith of the policy areas over which Scotland exercised those powers in 1997! This is called GOOD by Plaid's Labour Luvvies?

Neil Kinnock said in 1979 that devolution was the slippery slope to independence - Plaid argued that it wasn't at the time, but secretly believed that Kinnock was right, Plaid Cymru has based its national vision on Kinnock's belief ever since 1979.

Kinnock was wrong!

Welsh Devolution has proved, so far, that it has neither the lubricity nor the gradient required to lead to independence.

Its time for Plaid to realise this fact; to give up on its evolution of devolution policies, to go back to its roots and to re-ignite a proper Campaign for Independence.

Welsh Blogger in Vote Rigging Scandal

Beer for Everybody who votes for ME in the Welsh Blog Awards 2007
The beer can be obtained in your local pub after you pay the full price for it


Salmond, Paisley, Adams - but not Jones

One of the problems about devolution, raised across the political spectrum, is that many in the centre have treated Devolution as an event. It concerned Whitehall in 1979 when it was happening, but now it is long forgotten. Ministers and their mandarins make decisions without any consideration given to the existence of the devolved bodies.

The media is much the same. When health, education or cultural announcements are made by the ministers responsible for these issues in England they are reported as "British news", without the qualifier that they are purely English announcements. The Welsh media fairs no better than the London media in this respect. Sunday's Waterfront, for example, included a discussion about re-introducing museum charges, despite the fact that this is a devolved matter and not a matter of debate in Wales.

One of the reasons for this has been that the functions of the Northern Ireland Assembly have been has been administered by a Labour minister and the Scottish and Welsh First Ministers have been Labour representatives. Agreements that have been made have been made through informal party mechanisms, rather than through formal inter governmental mechanisms. When Labour Ministers have made a cock-up in announcing changes in Wales and Scotland before consultation, we have seen the farce of Welsh and Scottish ministers announcing, after the fact, that that is what they would have done anyway, in order to save the face of a party colleague.

With Ian Paisley in charge in Northern Ireland and Alex Salmond in charge in Scotland, this state of affairs cannot continue with respect to those two countries. To this end the First Ministers of Scotland and Northern Ireland had an historic meeting yesterday to discuss ways of insuring that their responsibilities are no longer ignored by Westminster and means of joining together to lobby Whitehall on reserved issues.

One of the arguments put forward by the Red-Green supporters in Plaid is that only Labour can deliver a referendum on extra powers for the National Assembly. They see these extra powers as an essential part of improving the devolution settlement and as a major step in the process of nation building. However Scotland has enjoyed many more powers than can be obtained through the Government of Wales Act referendum for eight years, but yet Scotland has been ignored.

Having a non Labour First Minister who can join in a tripartite alliance with his Scottish and Northern Irish counterpart to ensure that the present settlement is given full heed in Westminster might do a lot more for strengthening the settlement and nation building than would gaining extra powers that are ignored.

Allowing Ieuan Wyn Jones to join forces with Salmond, Paisley and Adams could be of far greater constitutional significance for Wales than Jones joining forces with Numpti Morgan and seeing Wales sidelined again by the Labour old pals act.

Too early Alun

Alun Cairns has just asked Rhodri Morgan what plans the Assembly Government has to celebrate Prince Charles' 50th anniversary as Prince of Wales. As the investiture was in 1969 the 50th anniversary will be in 2019, so either Alun wants us to spend 12 years in preparation, or he has asked his question 10 years too early.

Croeso Seneddwr

A new member of the club this week is Seneddwr who introduces himself thus:
Like other Welsh bloggers, I am keen to share my thoughts on the political scene. Unlike some other Welsh bloggers, I aim to write something worth reading. . The senator also claims to have bought enough pints, massaged enough egos, listened at enough doors and had enough rows over the years to find myself privy to a fairly regular stream of political insight, oversight, gossip, rumour and half truth. Sounds intriguing.


Scottish Independence and the Red-Green deal

When the Scottish Liberal Democrats refused to form a coalition with the SNP because they couldn't agree over the SNP's flagship policy of holding a referendum on independence, most thought that the referendum issue was dead in the water.

Ordovicius has picked up on a story from the Scottish Sunday papers suggesting that a referendum could be back on the cards because the Conservatives may back the proposal. The Conservative thinking being that a referendum on independence held and lost would bury the issue for another generation.

However, as J Arthur McNumpty points out on his blog, this isn't official Tory policy, and is unlikely to become official policy whilst Annabel Goldie remains in charge of the North Britain branch of the Conservative and Unionist Party. All we have is one man, Scottish Tory Vice-Chairman Richard Cook thinking out loud.

Nevertheless, as we have seen in Wales this week one man thinking out loud, such as Adam Price on the Red-Green Grass, can change the political scene if enough people take heed of those thoughts, so the referendum on independence could still happen.

Because a referendum in Wales seems to be the lynch pin of a red-green coalition deal, this development in Scotland could be crucial. Any referendum in Wales held within six months of a Scottish referendum on independence would get confused with the Scottish issue. Most people in Wales get their news from the London based media, and too often Welsh issues, when reported, are reported as an addendum to what is often seen as a bigger story from Scotland.

I'm sure that some of the sceptics in the Labour party would angle to exploit such confusion by trying to get both referendums held on the same day.

If Plaid wants to broker a deal on the referendum issue, for that deal to be meaningful, it would have to include a fairly clear timetable that keeps the Welsh issue clear of the Scottish issue, rather than an open ended promise for a referendum sometime during the next four years.

Sold to the lowest bidder

I apologise to my neighbour Oscar for pinching this image off his site. But it seems to say all that needs to be said about the way the Labour Party agreed to a Coalition with Plaid, as Glyn said, looking like they had bitten into a rat sandwich, whilst reminding the Lib Dems that the "door is still open"

I understand that my AM (and Oscar's) left the Plaid National Executive early in quite a huff, because he was the only voice against keeping Plaid's door open to Labour. If this is true - good on you Gareth!

Congratulations Blamerbell

It has been a long, long time since I failed French CSE in school, but from my little remaining knowledge I think that the following entry on REPORTAGE ET PHOTO

Je suis lauréat du "prix spécial" (le deuxième prix) du Prix CNN du meilleur blog européen d'un étudiant en journalisme.
Bravo surtout à Ciaran Jenkins, vainqueur du premier prix.

Says that Blamerbell won first prize in the CNN Blog Awards. So Llongyfarchiadau mawr / hearty congratulations to Ciaran, you have done Wales proud; and congratulations to Reportage et photo on coming second too.


Not Red and Yellow again, surely?

Both of the BBC in Wales blogging political correspondents have dropped the same very subtle hint in the last hour or so, that a Labour - Liberal Democrat coalition might be back on the table.

Betsan Powys in a post that deals with Labour MPs reaction to yesterday's meeting with Rhodri Morgan and football adds :
A ring-around of constituency Chairs today (and more on that to come) suggests so far that the majority could just about stomach the inedible deal if they had to ... unless the unpalatable scrapes itself from the floor and puts itself back on the menu of course. Surely one course too many even to contemplate. Surely?

Her colleague Vaughan Roderick makes a similar hint in a post about the future prospects of Mike German:
(Translated) There would be little sympathy from the other parties who blame the Liberal Democrats for making a mess of the process of forming a government but is there anything that the party itself could do to avoid becoming a peripheral opposition for another four years?
It isn't possible. No. I refuse even to contemplate it. It could never happen.
But what if Mike lifted the phone and called Rhodri?

Very subtle hints, indeed. If only one of these journalists had dropped the hint I would have said that it was just a bit of teasing, but for both to drop the same hint within minutes of each other, makes me wonder if they have actually heard rumors that they are treating with caution at the moment.

I am not the only one to have picked up on the BBC's hints Ceredig seems to have drawn a similar conclusion

New Blog by AM

Another AM has started bloging, Sandy Mewies Labour AM for Delyn, made her first post on Monday.

Once Bitten Twice Shy

In those long ago days when he use to smoke like a trooper, I went on a canvassing round with the then newly elected Ynys Môn MP Ieuan Wyn Jones. I can't remember the exact occasion, but I think that it was the time that Dafydd Ellis Thomas was standing as Plaid candidate for the European Parliament.

Whenever Ieuan approached a house in which a dog was barking, Ieuan would stop, light a fag and let another member of the team approach the dog's residence. He had been bitten by a dog as a child, apparently, and was sh** scared of barking dogs as a result of this experience.

It seems that Ieuan has not only given up smoking since then, but that he has also overcome his once bitten twice shy fear.

Peter Black says that Ieuan may well give up the chance to be First Minister and will sacrifice personal ambition so as to secure a proper devolution settlement for Wales because he believes that a Labour-Plaid coalition will be the best chance of getting a referendum on a full Parliament and intends to use that argument to try and sell the deal to more sceptical colleagues.

Ieuan clearly, isn't once bitten twice shy any more, he doesn’t fear the fact that Plaid has been in this situation before, of propping up a failing Labour government in return for a promise of support in a Devolution referendum, despite the fact that when it came to the crunch that support proved to be worthless.

With some Labour hounds already barking in the garden, my advice to Ieuan is:

Stop, have a smoke and think of that dog that bit Plaid's arse back in 1979, before going to knock on Labour's door.


Do you remember 1979?

The interest of Wales is much more important than Plaid's partisan advantages in deciding whether Plaid should go Red-Green or Rainbow.

The most important issue raised regarding the advantage of a Labour-Plaid coalition is ensuring that the clauses in the Government of Wales Act 2006 that promise Scottish type powers to the Assembly after 2011 are activated and activated with Labour support. The Rainbow doesn’t have the Assembly numbers needed to activate those clauses. If a Rainbow call for a referendum succeeded with the support of a few Labour rebels, but the majority in the Labour Party campaigned for a No vote, the referendum would be lost anyway.

However I have a serious doubt about this issue. A doubt about commitment.

If Labour is only willing to support a referendum on extended powers in return for a coalition, but will oppose extended powers without a coalition how committed is the Labour Party to extended powers?

I remember the 1979 referendum, where Labour officially supported Devolution (as did the Liberals) because Plaid, the SNP and the Liberals kept a Labour Government in power in return for the promised referendum with Official Labour Party Support. The only party campaigning with enthusiasm for the official Labour Party policy in Wales, was Plaid. Members of the Labour party were campaigning with gusto for a no vote against their party's policy and without censure.

If Labour is committed to extended powers then Labour should support a call for those powers from a Rainbow Government, not just as a sop for a Red-Green government. Sop support will not win the referendum. Sop support from Labour today will be as worthless as sop support was in 1979.

The only thing that would make me support a Red-Green coalition would be a guarantee that the Government of Wales Act 2006 will be amended to give Full Law Making powers to the Assembly without the need for a referendum, because I remember 1979 and I don't trust Labour on referendum deals.

What's best for Plaid?

As I have explained in other posts, I am neither for nor against a Rainbow or a Red-Green deal, the deal that I want is the one that is best for Wales and the one that is best for Plaid.

My own political prejudices lead me to favour the Rainbow, because my own political views, if I lived in England, would lead me to support the Conservatives rather than Labour in an election (unless there was an English Democrat standing, of course).

Which ever side Plaid chooses to back, the losing side will accuse it of opportunism and selling its soul to the devil. The vitriol that comes from the losing side will make Sanddef's stirred in a bucket variety unworthy of third prize in the village show, even if Adam Price is the adjudicator for the jam, vitriol and chutney category. So the slagging that Plaid might get from the other parties as a result of its choice is immaterial.

Clearly, given the choice, from a purely Plaid point of view a Plaid First Minister is better for Plaid than a First Minister from any other party.

The other party political issue, and by far the most important, is that an alliance with, what many see, as the evil which is Tory, will be damaging to Plaid's future electoral chances. However the negotiators must remember that many people voted Plaid as an alternative to Labour, if Plaid delivers another Labour Government then they might see this as a kick in the teeth.

On the other hand there is a deep seated hatred of the Conservative party amongst some sections of the Welsh population, which in some areas is still as much to do with the evictions of 1859 as it is to do with the Thatcher Government of 1979. An anti Tory prejudice that would be illegal under discrimination laws if it pertained to any other issue other than party politics.

But a prejudice that, as the Rainbow Rebels quite rightly pointed out, Plaid can not afford to ignore. However Plaid has probably already peed on its chips in this respect by entertaining the possibility of a Tory including coalition for the past month or so. Plaid has shown its willingness to sup with the Tory devil, and even if it jibs at buying its round at last orders, the damage has been done and can only be undone by showing that Green + Blue = success.

From a party interest prospective the Rainbow is best for Plaid by a long shot.


Martyn Jones MP Sues the Mail on Sunday

Iain Dale has an interesting post about Clwyd south Labour MP Martyn Jones. Apparently Mr Jones is suing The Mail on Sunday because it claimed that he had told a House of Commons security guard to F*** Off twice, when he was asked to show his security pass.

Apart from not seeing what is so shocking in the story, even if it is completely untrue, to justify a libel case Mr Jones also shows one of the dangers of taking libel actions: If it wasn't for the reports about the libel case, I would never have become aware of the original accusation.

The end of the Rainbow?

According to Vaughan Roderick from the BBC, a meeting of the Labour group has given Rhodri Morgan a "free hand" to discuss the possibility of a Coalition with Plaid, this is the first time that the group has given any approval to the possibility of a formal Labour-Plaid coalition.

It looks like this could be the end of the Rainbow, that Adam's favoured Red-Green coalition dream may become a reality.

Plaid, not Glyn, to win in Maldwyn

The blogosphere is a strange community, those of us who inter-link and comment on each other's post, clearly have something in common, an interest in Welsh politics, an interest in blogging and an interest in wishing that our blog opinions reach the widest possible audience, so that those opinions have some affect on the wider political scene.

Wales is a small community, and, as we all know, small communities can lead to nepotism and incest. The Welsh blogosphere is an even smaller community than Wales is and therefore more prone to inbreeding.

I love Glyn Davies' blogs, I feel sad that the only AM who had a dedicated Welsh language blog is no longer an AM, so there is no longer a Welsh only AM's blog. But blog love-ins can only go so far.

Maldwyn / Montgomeryshire is very much a seat in the heartlands that Plaid Cymru should win, but Plaid supporters in the constituency have too often voted Liberal or Liberal Democrat as an anti-Tory vote.

I wish Glyn well in his campaign in Maldwyn, but only in so much as to hope that his candidature will enable Plaid voters to vote Plaid rather than anti Tory Liberal Democrat in 2009. If that happens then my true wish is that a Plaid MP, not Glyn Davies, will be elected. Sorry Glyn, but Glyn to Win in Maldwyn is a step too far for me to support, despite the fact that you are a Welsh politics blogging buddy.

Nationalist Yes! - Socialist No!

Many comments on blogs and elsewhere over the post election period have proved that there is still a core of Welsh nationalists who are not socialists or inclined to the left.

My personal experience is that most Plaid Cymru voters and supporters are not left wing. Unfortunately since the mid eighties there has been a wave of support for the idea that Welsh nationalism is a socialist cause; since the mid nineties that wave has become a flood

The only nationalist argument heard, these days is an argument that links the national cause four square with the socialist cause, and usually puts socialism to the fore and ignores the national cause. Too many Plaid supporters have swallowed this idea hook, line and sinker; against their better judgement, because they never hear any alternative nationalist view.

I welcome, wholeheartedly, Sanddef Rhyferys' call for a forum / think tank / discussion group made up of those of us who are nationalists but not socialist. A place for us to discuss the nationalist alternatives to socialist nationalism and to think of ways of promoting that alternative to the Welsh public.

If you are interested in joining the non-socialist nationalist forum contact details are available via Sanddef's Ordovicius blog.


Blog links

I am not a blog-link tart. Fewer than a third of the blogs that I link to in my blog roll, link back to me! That is their choice and I am happy with it.

However, I do want my Welsh political blog roll to be comprehensive, so if there are Welsh political blogs that I have missed our of my roll, let me know - without obligation, you don't have to link back!


Another new blog

With a first post made at 1.30 this afternoon a new name has appeared in the welsh blogosphere. Welcome Ceredig.

Adam and the Right

After using his latest blog post to make a bitter personal attack on Sanddef Rhyferys , Adam Price MP then goes on to comment on right wing nationalists in general:

Plaid is, of course, a “broad inter-faith community.” It is itself a political and social coalition whose philosophical glue is the love of Wales, its land and its people. However, if the party is to be relevant, it has to have something to say on the social and economic policy issues of the day and, for the time being at least, the centre of gravity is essentially social-democratic. I have always been completely welcoming of non-socialists in the party who are nevertheless democrats prepared to accept the democratic outcome of debate in the party. What I have never understood is a tendency among some right-wing nationalists that would almost prefer if people like myself had actually joined the Labour Party instead of joining Plaid. This is a bizarre position for people who are ostensibly seeking to win over Labour voters in the south Wales valleys and elsewhere. All that awaits them from the likes of Ordovicus, it seems, is a bucket of well-stirred vitriol

I disagree with a number of comments that Mr Price makes here. Firstly I don't think that Plaid is the broad inter faith community (or broad church, as most would say) that it once was. The party's membership card states unequivocally that the party is a socialist party, so quite clearly there is no room in it for nationalists who believe that socialism has harmed Wales and will continue to harm Wales. Indeed the party has expelled people, such as Guto Bebb, for holding free market economic views. Even Mr Price's comment, which might appear broad and conciliatory on first reading:

I have always been completely welcoming of non-socialists in the party who are nevertheless democrats prepared to accept the democratic outcome of debate in the party

can actually be paraphrased as you don't have to be a socialist as long as you pretend to support the socialist views of the majority.

This is of course one of the silly things that happens in Plaid these days, you have people who are clearly not socialists, like Ieuan Wyn Jones, pretending that they are socialist. I find this funny; many potential voters find it duplicitous, dishonest, opportunistic and worst of all off putting. If Plaid is to succeed the party needs to go back to being a broad church that allows people of left, centre and right to support the national cause, that is Plaid's true core value, in an open and honest way.

I have never heard anybody on the right wing of the national cause say that they wish that Adam had joined the Labour party. Most of us, despite disagreeing with his socialist ideology, recognise that he is a great asset to Plaid and is probably the most charismatic and able of the party's elected members. Personally I feel sad that his socialist colleague and contemporary in the Plaid youth movement, Alun Davies, did join the Labour party. The loss of somebody of Alun's calibre was a great blow to Plaid, despite the fact that he has always been a committed leftie.

The criticism that many of us on the right do make about the socialist in Plaid is that they too often take a British Socialist view, rather than a left wing Welsh Nationalist view and that many of them promote the socialist cause instead of rather than as well as Welsh Nationalism (I don't include Adam in this group, incidentally). If all Plaid is about is promoting collectivism, republicanism, pacifism, trade unionism etc then it may as well merge with a British left party. Unless Plaid Cymru is first and foremost a nationalist party that promotes Welsh Independence, there is no point in its existence.


Britain Day - Read all about it

Following on from my earlier post about Britain Day, the actual pamphlet which sparked the discussion is now available on-line in PDF form from the Fabian Society

A Common Place
Ruth Kelly, Liam Byrne
A new national day for Britain is one of the proposals in a Fabian pamphlet by Communities and Local Government Secretary Ruth Kelly and Immigration Minister Liam Byrne. A Common Place argues that our liberalism and tolerance have never been unconditional and also suggests that migrants work towards earning citizenship with credits awarded for voluntary work and deducted for law breaking.

Download the report (120 kilobyte PDF)

I haven't had a chance to read it in full yet, when I do it may be a subject that I return to!


Adam's odd coloured lawn

Hat Tip to Normal Mouth for pointing out Adam Price's blog. For some reason I hadn't noticed that Adam had a blog. I will put him in my list shortly.

Adam's latest offering is called the Red-Green Grass of Home. An odd title - perhaps Mr Price should ask Glyn Davies for some gardening tips. As one would expect from Adam Price the post is full of left wing ravings and comments about how Plaid and Labour have so much in common.

both stem from the Welsh radical tradition with its emphasis on egalitarianism, the values of community, solidarity and progressive universalism amd Rawlsian notions of social justice

This is news to me, I always though that Plaid evolved from the Cymru Fydd movement of Lloyd George Liberalism and that Labour came from the more radical wing of Liberals based mainly in the valleys who opposed federalism and "care naught for Wales save football". As the Liberal Democrats are the heirs of Lloyd George's Liberal Party and the Welsh cultural wing in the Conservative party is rooted in Cymru Fydd, I would have put Plaid's history and traditions firmly in the rainbow camp myself.

However isn't the socialist revision of Plaid's history or the fact that Adam now seems to be strongly in favour of a red-green agreement having been Plaid's main negotiator on the Rainbow deal, that is most significant in this post but this sentence:

It has to be a full formal Coalition with Plaid Cymru Ministers in the Cabinet. The New Zealand model of ‘confidence and supply’ may be appropriate in the case of a tiny opposition party offering one or two seats to get a ruling party over the finishing line. It is not appropriate for the Official Opposition being asked to forgo the chance of forming its own administration and give the ruling party carte blanche for four years. …. Nothing else is acceptable.

The general consensus a few weeks ago was that the choice facing Plaid was either a coalition with the Conservatives and the Liberal Democrats or a Stability Pact with Labour. A Labour Plaid Coalition with Ieuan Wyn as Deputy First Minister was never on the cards, but now it appears that Nothing else is acceptable from Labour.

Why has this change in Plaid's bargaining position with Labour come about? It could be that Plaid sees itself in a much stronger position now than it was two weeks ago and in a position to demand much more from Labour. On the other hand it could be a way of talking up Plaid's preference for a Labour-Plaid deal in order to please the left wing of the party, knowing that Labour will never buy the deal. By asking for what he knows Labour will refuse is Adam trying to make sure that Labour gets the blame for any failure to grow the red-green grass and leaving Plaid no option but to coalesce with the Tories because of "Labour's intransigence"?

Happy Britain Day to all my readers

I've probably got the date wrong, but wishing each other a Happy Britain Day is something that the Labour Party's Nat Bashing wing wants us to get use to doing, so today is as good a day to start practicing as any other.

Like most who have been at the grindstone, I welcome any extra public holiday, the UK has fewer than many other countries. As most of us don't celebrate the birth of Christ at Christmas or remember Christ's death on Good Friday, what makes the Labour party think that we will celebrate Britain on Britain Day? Harold Wilson's government tried the same trick of abusing Bank Holiday's for political gain during the last Labour administration, by giving us the nearest Monday to May 1st - Labour day - as a day off. Fat lot of good it did him, only the loony left still remember the political significance of the Early Spring Bank Holiday now.

Apart from sending greetings and swapping truly British presents like Blackpool Rock and Tower of London Snowstorms what else can we do on Britain Day?

Well we can do those things that only Brits can do, like cross generation activities (that means you young buggers showing some respect to old farts like me), community regeneration and voluntary activities, the sort of thing that makes us proud to be British. But don't let you voluntary activities involve things like Amnesty International, the International Red Cross or Médecins Sans Frontières; they're hardly British are they? So obviously undeserving of support on Britain Day.

We must, of course, use Britain Day to remember those historical events that put the Great into Great Britain. The Massacre at Amritsar, the Concentration Camps in South Africa, the Genocide of Tasmanian aboriginals, etc.

The other fantastic thing about Britain Day is that it will be the annual pinnacle for those who wish to become British via the Clubcard scheme, where you earn points for being truly British. Shame about Mohammed Ashgar AM and Bashir Ahmad MSP, you two have certainly pissed on your chips by claiming to be Welsh and Scottish rather than true Brits, no Clubcard points for you!

An Anthem for England

Gordon Brown is so keen to resurrect the idea of English Regional Devolution that he has composed a new anthem for England to use in International Rugby & Football matches, the Commonwealth Games etc:

There'll always be an England
But England will be nine
If your idea of England
Is exactly the same as mine!

©G.Brown Musical Associates


Feeling smug.

I have just been down to the paper shop where I noticed that The Sun The Daily Mail and The Guardian all have front page headlines reporting that the Olympic Logo causes epileptic fits - a fact that I posted on this blog two days ago :-)


An English Parliament

I signed one of 10 Downing Street's e-petitions a few months back calling on the Prime Minister to agree with setting up an English Parliament. The petition has now been responded to by one of Mister Blair's' office boys (apparently the PM never actually sees any of the petitions sent to him - which makes one wonder what the point of the site is)
Here is the response:

Devolution has been designed to meet the varying demands of the people of the UK. The great virtue of the British Constitution is that it has for centuries, been able to accommodate difference and anomaly in order to meet the specific aspirations of the British people.
English constituency MPs currently total over 80% of Members in Parliament and they represent over 80% of the population of the UK. An English Parliament would turn the UK into a federal nation. History shows that where one country in a federation contains more than 30% of the economic wealth or population, the federation is unsustainable. England's dominance within the UK would make a federal UK unsustainable. There would be continued tension between the policies of the English Parliament and Government, and those of the federal Parliament and Government, with the English institutions determining most of the economic and social policies, including public expenditure, but the federal institutions responsible for defence, taxation and macro-economic policy.
The highest priority was given to the creation of a parliament in Scotland, and a national assembly in Wales, since the demand for decentralisation in these countries was long-standing. Indeed, proposals to create similar institutions were enacted in the late 1970's but failed to secure the necessary majorities in referendums. The existing devolution settlement introduced in 1997/98 was designed to meet varying needs, and enabled better local decision making, in response to local issues.

So the answer in short is no England can't have its own parliament because England is a big bully that can't be trusted.

That Olympic Logo

The Olympic Games is a fantastic event, wherever it is held. It shows that people of different cultures, religious backgrounds, political traditions etc can work together, compete in a friendly manner against each other and most importantly have fun together. It is something that the whole world can be proud of. Because of this I have been disappointed by the gripes of some of my acquaintances about the London games in 2012. If we can support the games when they are held in China, the USA or Australia then we should be even more supportive when they are being held in the county next door.

Despite welcoming the fact that the games are to be held in London in 2012, I share the concerns that have been expressed by many that Lottery money will be channelled away from community projects in order to support the games. Because of these concerns the organisers of the games have a duty to ensure that every penny that they spend is spent wisely, because every penny spent without wisdom is a penny that could have supported a valuable small community project.

The £400,000 spent for the odious logo is chickenfeed in comparison to what the games will cost in total. But a competition on Blue Peter, for a prize of a free entry to the opening ceremony, would have created a logo that would have been much better than the one reveled today and could have spared 400 village halls from being told that their application for a much needed £1k grant had been turned down.

The people organising the games should remember Nain's advice look after the pennies and the pounds will look after themselves.

I have seen the static logo, the animated logo was shown on News at Ten tonight. Because of the flashing lights involved, watching it sent me into a photosynthetic epileptic fit, so I can't make any aesthetic judgements about it. Except, perhaps to say (bitten) tongue in cheek it knocked me out.

However as the same logo will be used to publicise the Para-Olympic element of the games, that part of the event that shows that people who live with a disability can also take part in sporting activities, the fact that the logo worsens the condition of people who live with the disabling effects of epilepsy is ......... (Sorry I can't use such vile words on my blog.)

More on the Olympic Logo:
Damon Lord - Diary of a Nobody - Iain Dale - and many others


I am pleased to hear that the animated Logo has now been changed as a result of complaints from a number of people who suffered a fit by watching it.


Dangerous driving

I've just heard a frightening statistic on S4C's news programme. According to a police spokesperson
the most common cause of death amongst girls aged 15-25 in Wales is their boyfriend's driving.

When I hear such nauseating facts I can't help but wonder how some journalists can sleep at night whilst continuing their vendetta against the Chief Constable of North Wales and his safe driving campaigns.


Welsh Nationalist or Brit Socialist

Blamerbell, in his latest post asks the question:

Why aren't there more of these eminent republicans within the ranks of Plaid itself? After all, this is a party, which wants to see an independent, socialist Wales. One would have thought the idea of a British monarchy was pretty inimical to that goal.

I don't understand why any member of Plaid, or any Welsh Nationalist outside the party, should be a republican.

Republicanism is an important question for the SNP - since the Union of the Crowns the King / Queen of England is also, legitimately, the King / Queen of Scots. If Scotland gains independence then a question has to be asked as to whether an independent Scotland wishes to remain a Kingdom or become a Republic.

Wales is exempt from this question. The (true) Princes of Wales were always chosen by the law of edling the anointed one rather than by primogeniture, Queen Elizabeth is not the Queen of Wales (and she doesn’t claim to be). If Wales becomes an independent nation it will have to be a republic, unlike the Scots we have no other choice.

I can't see the point of the republican question within a Welsh Nationalist context. What difference the Queen of the United Kingdom opening the Senedd or the President of the United Republic?

If we believe in Independence for Wales why should we try to force a republic onto either England or Scotland? If we truly believe in independence for Wales what England or Scotland choose to do is none of our effing business.

Republicanism is an Unionist issue, not a Nationalist one, Leanne and others in the loony left of Plaid have to make up their minds:

Are they Welsh Nationalists or Brit Socialists?


The ever-expanding Welsh Political Blogosphere

I was away from my computer between Tuesday afternoon and Friday evening because of a family funeral, I was quite surprised to see that when I returned there were over 130 posts on Welsh political blogs waiting to be read on my feeds thingy. Not only so much to read from the old stagers but two new kids on the block:

Gwe and a welcome return to Joe Allen on his new blog Assembly Notes

Sorry three new kids on the block. Sion Owain Edwards is another a new member of the clan, with a bilingual blog mixing sport and politics!


Carwyn and the Nat Bashers

In his blog yesterday Vaughan Roderick suggested that part of Carwyn Jones' portfolio as Minister for the Welsh Language and the Arts was to be the Plaid Pleasing Minister. It would be his job to be sweet to Plaid Cymru AM's and make sure that they had good reasons for not bringing the assembly government down. If this is so he has begun his job in a very odd way - by using his first interview to peeve Plaid.

Speaking on the Radio Cymru phone in programme Taro'r Post this afternoon Carwyn said that he didn't think that a new Welsh Language Act would do anything to benefit the language's future. He didn't go so far as to say that he was totally opposed to a new act but he left little doubt that it wasn't an option that he favoured.

In one respect there was nothing new in what Carwyn said, his comments are just an extension of what has been Labour policy for the last eight years. But yet, when Rhodri Morgan says that he wants the new Government to reach out to the opposition and find areas of consensus between the parties, it is strange that the first public statement by a minister in the new government is one that derides a commitment that was in the manifestos of all three opposition parties.

Of course Carwyn's comments will go down well with one group in particular, Labour's Nat Bashers. Having been portrayed as being on the Welsh Labour Party's nationalist wing in many reports covering the agreement / coalition talks Carwyn may be trying to distance himself from that image in order to broaden his appeal in preparation for the Labour leadership race.

If this is an example of what we can expect over the next 12-18 months, policies based on the needs of Labour leadership contenders rather than policies based on the needs of Wales, then the sooner this government is brought down the better.

Hen Rech Flin: Carwyn - Dim Deddf Iaith.