Sometime over the weekend I seem to have blocked access to my blog.

Many apologies to all of those of you who visited, desperate to read my pearls of wisdom, but were told to go away by Blogger.


Vote for Wales or Vote Gwynedd / Lloegr?

Since I began commenting on-line about political issues, many years before blogs were invented, I have supported Plaid Cymru during election periods and opposed Plaid's lack of commitment to what I see as purist Welsh Nationalism in between elections.

I find myself in a conundrum with the forthcoming County Council elections.

My nephew in law, Gethin Williams, is standing for Llais Gwynedd as the candidate for the Llanelltyd, Brithdir ac Islaw'r Dref ward of Gwynedd Council. If elected he will be a bloody good councillor for his ward. I say this from knowing the boy rather than the relation or the party rep. I hope that he is elected.

There are others on the Llais Gwynedd list that I know and respect:

Owain Gwynys, Seimon Glyn, Alwyn Gruffudd, people who have suffered for being nationalists rather than party hacks, the sort of nationalist that I support. People who have shown that they put the national cause before personal enhancement and have served the national cause well over many years, people who I want to see elected.

A council with individual members like Gethin, Alwyn, Seimon and Now would be a council and a half.

BUT - they are not Llais Gwynedd. Llais Gwynedd is a party of one issue people who don’t want local schools to change. And from what I've heard, some of the opponents of school changes oppose on the basis that it will force more Welsh on their kids. The idea that those at the heart of true Welsh Nationalism could coalesce with those who oppose the very existence of our language, just in order to save a school or two, turns my stomach.

I support Plaid Cymru during election periods, for the simple reason that it is the only nationalist party that we have. I would love to see a credible alternative nationalist party. Llais Gwynedd doesn’t provide that alternative!

The only way to vote for Wales in Gwynedd next May is to vote for the Plaid Cymru Candidate. (Unless you live in the Dolgellau Rural District, where you should vote for Gethin Williams)!


OurKingdom & Government Blogging

I like reading the OurKingdom blog, I don't always understand it, but I enjoy reading it. My politics tend to come from the heart and the guts, OurKingdom's politics tends to be more cerebral.

I have nothing against intellectual or logical politics. Nothing pleases me more than reading an academic treaties that comes to the same conclusion, through long and convoluted arguments, that I came to by gut instinct!

OurKingdom is currently hosting what the site believes to be a unique online deliberation on how the potential of the internet can be integrated into a national political process. It is about this question: can participation on the web reinforce representative democracy?

I write posts on my blog in the hope that they might have a smidgen of influence on the political process, they are my little way of taking part in the Welsh political scene. I don't expect them to be of huge significance, they are just my twopennyworth in a million pound venture.

What is important to me however is that it is MY twopennyworth, all mine! I don't want my blog integrated into a national (=Brit) political process.

150 years ago the press was seen as the Fourth Estate of Parliament, the fearless and favour-less institution that could hold Monarch, Lords and Commons to account on behalf of the people. Then all of the press owners became part of the establishment, part of the problem, the Press Barons who could claim after an election It was the Sun Wat Won It.

The internet is now the Fifth Estate.

As I have said I don't understand the whole point being made by OurKingdom, to read the whole point takes hours and involves clicking on hundreds of links. My gut reaction is that the government wants to control the blogosphere by making it part of the official political process in order to stifle its independent and unpredictable spirit.

This blog will never become a part of any government process. I will not be tempted into turning my personal blog into a vehicle for government consultation. MPs, AMs and Civil Servants are welcome to read my posts and inform policies from my opinions, but the opinions expressed here will always be my own and never part of any wider internet consultation. Sorry!


I have deleted a number of blogs from my links list because they ar either not available or have not had a new post for over six months.

If I have inadvertently deleted anybody by mistake, or deleted those who are not dead but just resting, please let me know and I will republish the link.

Upper or Lower?

The latest member of the Welsh political blogging family is Owain Cwmtwrch - he doesnt say if that is Upper Cwmtwrch or Lower Cwmtwrch though.


Problems with Independents!

I am unlikely to vote in the May County Council elections, I probably won't have the opportunity. My current councillor is about 90% likely to be returned unopposed (again). Even if he is opposed he will probably win hands down with a huge majority.

The councillor stands as a Liberal Democrat candidate, but his ward isn't a Liberal Democrat Heartland. He could stand for any part of the political spectrum from hard left to hard right or anywhere in between and still be elected as an individual who is trusted to represent the village.

The reason why the other parties (who probably enjoy grater support in a general election than the Lib Dems do) wont stand against him is because of the potential embarrassment of being thrashed by the Lib Dems. Lib Dems 1000 votes / other party 100 votes wouldn't make a good election night score card and would feature on those graphs, that the Lib Dems love, ad-nauseam come the next Westminster or Assembly election. Better to let him have a shoo in than a major victory!

When I was a devoted party member I use to hate independent council candidates with a vengeance. They were either party supporters who let the side down by not flying the flag for the party, or members of parties who didn't have a hope in hell of winning if they showed their true colours - dishonest, duplicitous buggers the lot of them.

Now that I have given up party membership I'm beginning to have second thoughts. If Mrs Local Councillor is being elected as an individual because she is a popular member of the community rather than because of her party colour, wouldn't she be more honest and true to her constituents if she stood as an independent rather than the representative of a party that the majority of her voters don't subscribe to?


Legislative Incompetence

It's not often that I agree with Alan but I agree with this post.

The ability for the National Assembly to seek competence to legislate in certain areas became available in May last year after the elections to the third Assembly. 10 months latter the first Legislative Competence Order will be granted. Now that the order will be granted we may still have many more months to wait before any legislation arising from the competence is passed by the Assembly. With a bit o luck a new law may be on the statute book before the summer recess, but maybe not.

So from gestation to enactment a new Welsh law is going to take between 12 and 18 months, depending on timetables.

In most democratic institutions an election clears the boards, anything not completed before election time fails. If a government of the same colour is re-elected then any outstanding matters from the previous parliament have to start the parliamentary procedure again from scratch after the election. I assume that this holds true for the National Assembly too. So if an LCO hasn't succeeded by May 2011 it may automatically fail.

If this is the case then the actual period in a four year Assembly term in which the Assembly will be able to gain competency is reduced, in practice, to just two years. LCO's tabled after May 2010 may not be passed before the 2011 election, and if re introduced after the election will not be gained until 2012.

But there is another problem that will reduce the period of competence even further.

Westminster elections will normally be held in the middle of an Assembly term, so any LCO before the Westminster Parliament at that time will also fall and have to be reintroduced, meaning that the actual period of competency that an Assembly has could be as little as 12 months.

This strikes me as a totally incompetent way of running a country. An incompetent way of running our country which is supported by all three Conservative MPs and many Labour MPs, who oppose holding an early referendum to get rid of this iniquity.


Pathetic Willott

With Lembit Opik the Lib Dem MP reeling from the rather unsavoury comments about his attitude to women made by his ex-fiancé Sian Lloyd the Lib Dems are desperate to hit out at his political opponents.

Opik might be a drunken, tight-fisted, shambolic show-off with hideous clothes. "But who cares", says Jenny Willott, "Glyn Davies, Opik's Tory challenger, makes jokes about Heather Mills throwing water over solicitors" - shock horror!

How pathetic, if this is the best defence of her colleague's shenanigans that Ms Willott can come up with she should give up politics. This baseless attempt at political smear shows Ms Willot in a much worse light than it does Mr Davies.

My partying days are over

Whenever I make critical comments about Plaid Cymru I can almost guarantee two responses in the comments. One will suggest that I join Plaid Cymru and try to persuade the party, from within, towards a more tolerant view of non-socialist politics. The second will suggest that I join the Tories, presumably in order to persuade that party from within, towards a nationalist view of conservatism.

Thirty years ago both of these suggestions would have been practical.

When I joined the Liberal Party in 1975 (before the days of the Liberal Democrats) I was able to make suggestions at local level, which, if passed, could go up to Welsh level and then on to UK conference. Most of my silly teenage ideas were killed off at local level - but never without a proper discussion and a democratic vote of local members. A couple of my ideas (after much amending) actually made it to the party's election manifesto.

When I joined Plaid, the same was true. An individual member's idea could go through the party process and become national policy. I can recall a particularly pleasing experience when I made an argument in a constituency meeting and then heard the local MP make my case, almost word for word, a few days later on the radio programme Yesterday in Parliament.

Big kudos! I was part of the party!

Sadly those days, when one could influence party ideas as a party member, have long gone. Now half a dozen party strategists decide party policies. The basis of manifesto commitment is the view of focus groups, psephologists, experts, influential donors, media response analysts and such like. Motions backed by swathes of party members are refused conference time by political experts and analysts who advise conference organisers. The day of the individual member's influence is long dead.

Plaid Cymru will not allow a proper internal party debate on the topic of socialism v nationalism neither will the Welsh Conservatives allow a debate on unionism v nationalism, even if a majority of either party's members want to have that debate, unless or until external advisers tell them that such a debate will be advantageous.

I can't see the point of joining any political party in our days.

I am much happier blogging my political viewpoint independently of any party straitjacket. The party hacks might not like it, but it gives me the feeling of freedom, of honestly held opinion; similar to that I use to have within the party structure in the late seventies / early eighties.

And who knows? A member of a focus group or a media analysts might be reading!


Not spluttering, not bovvered Glyn

Glyn can hear Alwyn and Alun spluttering . I don't know about Alun, but Alwyn doesn't splutter, Alwyn is a gentleman and gents don't do spluttering!

Why should I splutter? Because Glyn thinks that a referendum on additional powers for the Assembly should be delayed until 2015 and Glyn is going to tell Sir Wyn so!

I am not that bothered about the referendum. Because anybody who has read the Government of Wales Act (2006) should know that the referendum is a delaying tactic rather than a means of enabling Wales to have further powers.

The powers that the Government of Wales Act Referendum will give the Assembly are already available through LCO's, and will continue to be available if a referendum is held and lost tomorrow!

All that a yes vote in a referendum will do is make the system simpler.

A Yes vote won't give the Assembly further potential powers than it has now, a No vote won't stop the Assembly from gaining those powers. Rather than splutter at Glyn's 2015 proposal, or Hain's 2012 idea or UKIP's 2999 referendum date, my attitude is hold this waste of public expenditure referendum at your leisure, the result will be just clerical not constitutional.

The GoW Act is a statutory pissing competition - who gets pissed off with the convoluted system first; Westminster or Cardiff Bay? I suspect that London will lose in the end, but surely all will agree that the governance of our country (be it Wales or Britain) should be based on higher ideals than puerility!

Of course, I do have a problem with Plaid's attitude to the referendum. Adam Price has said that after the referendum is won Plaid will, at long last, accept that the next stage in the evolution of devolution will be campaigning for independence.

Why wait?

The 2006 GoW Act is on the statute book, all the powers are there for the asking, the referendum is an irrelevance, a delaying tactic, a clerical nuisance!



An Answer to Ian

Thanks for your response Ian.

You response is an example of why the left has caused totally unnecessary splits in the national movement by insisting that anybody who wishes to join Plaid has to sign up to socialism. Something which I am unable, in conscious, to do.

I gave my full support to the workers at Friction Dynamic, not because I saw the issue as a right / left issue, but because I saw it from my right wing chapel mentality as a right / wrong issue.

During the miner's strike, a fight between English ideologists, where both sides were wrong and neither could give a bugger about what was best for Wales, I (obviously) supported the Welsh miners, and I did so along side the Mersyside branch of the Socialist Workers Party, because they were the only people who remembered that there were coal mines in north Wales not just in the south.

The silly point is that Liverpool's Trots welcomed my support, despite the fact that they knew that I was both a right winger and a Welsh Nat. Plaid, on the other hand, rejects my support because I am not a leftist.

As to your comment that I have little or no understanding of the internal politics of Plaid. I was a member of Plaid before you were born, Ian bach, I probably have a better understanding of Plaid's internal politics than you will ever have.

When the late great Bob Skillicorn started Plaid's Trade Union section I was chair of NUPE in Gwynedd, one of the founders of Plaid's Trade Union Section.

NUPE, was one of the most bolshie left wing unions at the time, but they were happy to have a right wing nat as chair in Gwynedd!

Despite my right wing credentials I have worked with left wingers of all sorts to advance the common cause, the ONLY left wingers who refuse to accept that I can have common cause with them are Plaid Cymru's socialist tendency.

The saddest thing about Palid's silly lefties is that their socialism is all so BRIT, it never has anything to do with Wales!

You make the snide comment that I can be a Tory in a self-governing Wales. As a Welsh Nationalist, [you] look forward to that day. Whilst you and yours prohibit non socialists from playing a full part in the national cause you are not looking forward to that day, you are preventing that day from dawning!


Tea and terrorism from a cynic

Call me a cynic, but I wouldn't think that it was s possible to post 43 blog posts of relevance to Welsh politics and culture in just 13 days.

Cynical Dragon has done just that! (Including an intriguing note on how a good old fashioned Welsh panad can beat terrorism.)


The Budget Lies

Having read a few of the early internet editions of today's papers, the consensus on the budget seems to be that it was boring. So boring that some MPs slept through it.

The papers say that the budget was boring as if boring budgets are a bad thing! I disagree a boring budget is a good budget in my view.

I can remember the 1970's when budget day was interesting, not because it was exciting, but because it was terrifying. People who had no interest in politics would rush home from work to hear how bad a budget was. Income tax and purchase tax rises could mean that wage packets would be cut and prices up within weeks. School and Sunday School trips would be cancelled because working class people could no longer afford the fees as a direct result of a budget. Workers would go into work in fear on the day after a budget because they didn't know if jobs would be cut or whole factories closed as a result of budget announcements. I hope I never have to live through the terror of interesting budgets again.

My main criticism of this budget is the pathetic spin that is included in it. Taxes are raised in some areas and presented as lifestyle changing measures rather than the income raising measures that they are.

If you can afford a fiver for a packet of fags today, you'll be able to find £5.11 for a packet tomorrow. Indeed as the difference between the cheapest and most expensive cigarettes is over £2 you can absorb the 11p difference by changing brands. The claim that the 11p increase is a tax aimed at improving peoples health by encouraging them to quit is a blatant fallacy.

Then there is the lie that having to pay £1000 tax for the first year only on a brand new 4X4 is an environmental tax. Bollocks! If you can afford £60,000 for a brand new Range Rover an extra £1k is nothing. Does the Chancellor really believe that fewer 4X4s will be sold because of this measure? Of course he doesn’t, he just wants easy cash from the people who will carry on buying them regardless.

And then there is the 4p on a pint of beer to reduce binge drinking. If I go out on a fifteen pint of strong lager binge tonight, it is going to cost me 60p less than it will next week! Woo! Sixty Pee - I might stay in next Friday, or drink less - I don't think so!

If the chancellor really wanted to change lifestyles then £11 on a pack of fags, £4 on a pint of beer and £30k on a Range Rover might have done it. The taxes raised are not lifestyle changing tax hikes, he knowss it and we know it.

I don't think that the tax rises that he made are particularly bad. I don't mind paying 4p more for a pint in order to enable those who move from benefits into work to continue to get housing benefit, freeing them from the benefits trap. I'll buy an extra half of mild next Tuesday to help the cause! But why oh why couldn't he be honest?

The fallacy of the chancellor's lifestyle lies are so obvious, they do nothing but bring politics into disrepute.

Alistair Darling could have raised the same taxes honestly and shown himself and his party in a better light by being honest. :

I need more money to help poor families. I'm going to tax those who can afford the luxuries of cigarettes, booze and fast cars, to pay for more family tax credits etc and I am going to make sure that those recipients who squander extra poverty payment on such luxuries pay the whole benefit back to the treasury in taxes

Honest, fair, social democratic and something few would complain about!

So why did he have to lie?


FACT: AM's had less than 2% pay rise

The whole crap about the huge hike in AM's pay seems to miss an important point. AM's have not had an 8% pay rise, they have had a 1.9% rise.

National Assembly Members are paid a percentage of MP's salaries. MP's salaries have gone up by 1.9%, so AM's salaries have gone up by 1.9% too.

The rest of the so called increase is a grade change. Like if you are a staff nurse and become a sister or a PC who becomes a sergeant , or a teacher who becomes a head, you get more pay because of your promotion.

AM's, because of the Government of Wales Act 2006, have been promoted from 75% MPs to 82% MP's. They haven't had a huge pay rise, they have gone up a pay grade!!!

Westminster parliamentarians seem to be the most vociferousness complainants about our AM's pay rise. Which is understandable, because if AM's are doing 82% of what use to be an MP's job, shouldn't Welsh MP's be paid just 18% of their current salaries?

Indeed, as Westminster MP's are doing so little, wouldn't it be best to get rid of the bloody lot of them and save 40 x 100% MP saleries?

PS: Nice to see Plaid's usual suspects make a stand on their percived socialist issue of AM's pay. Shame they didn't make a stand on the nationalist issue of money for a Welsh language newspaper - after all Plaid AM's are paid for being, at least 82% nationalists!


Whats the point of Parliament?

I don't often have the opportunity to follow full parliamentary debates, so like most I depend on the news and political programs' sound bites to inform me about what has happened in Westminster.

On Wednesday and Thursday of this week circumstances enabled me to watch two full debates from start to finish.

Yesterday I listened to the International Womans' Day debate. Many contributers from all parties noted that one of the difficulties in attracting females to become MP's was the image rather than the reality of parliament. It was a good debate, excellent points made by 99% of the contributers. But yet, the reports on the debate showed a rather catty exchange between Harriett Harman and Theresa May, adding to the bad image of the House – showing the House at its “Macho” worst rather than the reasonable best that was evident in most of the debate.

On Wednesday I listened to the European Referendum debate. As I have mentioned in other posts I am not keen on the way that referendums are used in the UK, but, on the other hand parties made promises and promises should be kept, so I was undecided in listening to the debate. Good points were made by both sides and I found myself being swayed too and thro' during the whole six hour exchange, which is what a good exchange of views should do.

But I listened to the whole debate - most MP's didn't.

I came to the conclusion, based on what was said on both sides, that I would have voted for the referendum, if I had a vote. Again most MP's didn't vote on the argument; they voted according to the way that they had been instructed to vote before the debate had even taken place, which makes one wonder what on earth the point of holding a six hour debate was? The end result would have been the same after a six second debate!

When people laud British parliamentary democracy, and claim that it is the best in the World; that an independent Wales would suffer without it, I have to ask Why? Surely Wales can do better than this!