Why? Wendy

I have listened to the news, and read the blogs, but I still don't quite understand why Wendy Alexander has resigned.

The controversy over her "dodgy donations" has been going on for nine months or so, and she has stood unbended in the face of the storm. She has been let off by the procurator fiscal and the election commission, the decision of the parliamentary standards committee was a very soft rap on the knuckles, one day's suspension - an extra day's holiday at the end of the summer brake. No big deal.

Ms Alexander has already accepted that one of the donations received was undoubtedly illegal, so an extra day off with hubby and kids as punishment is hardly six of the best. Had she accepted the rap and shurged, a line would have been drawn under the saga and she could have got on with her job. Battle over, no great victory but hardly a defeat either, so why hoist the white flag now, at battle's end? It doesn't make sense.

The timing of her resignation, the circumstances of her resignation and the poor arguments in her registration speech don't harm the SNP, they harm Labour - which makes one wonder if that was the intention!

Wendy was stabbed in the back by members of her own party - has she resigned in order to stab the bastards back?


New Blogs

A welcome to a number of new and newish blogs.

Sanddef of Ordovicius fame has added two new URls to his belt.

Cyflwr yr Undeb is only a fortnight old, but already has 55 posts, making it by far the most prolific Welsh language blog, and it is a blog worth reading.

Sanddef and I rarely agree on European matters, but there is little opinion on CyrU, just lots and lots of links to sources on European issues that are of value to Europhiles and Europhobes alike. Sanddef now has an English version of the CyrU site State of the Union. If you love the EU bookmark it - if you hate the EU this is the secret info amo store!

With the EU elections on the horizon a new Plaid blog has appeared called Best for Wales. This blog seems to be an unofficial back Jill Evans for Europe blog. A worthy cause, no doubt, but one that has a whiff of negativism about it. Plaid, Labour and the Tories will have a seat each in next years Euro elections. The fight is for the fourth seat - shouldn't europhile Plaid blogs be backing Eurig to gain the spare, rather than dissing him as a challenge to Jill's seat?

Another Plaid challenger who is bloging his campaign is Elfyn Llwyd MP, who has his eyes on the party presidency.

I have known Elfyn for too many years to remember, so I can't say anything against him.

He would make as good a Party president as anybody, he is one of the few Plaid big wigs who oposes using the socialist tag and that is a plus to me!

But, given that the party's power is vested in the Leader who will always be in Cardiff Bay, the President is still the Queen of the party, the Head of State, the titular top honcho - if Elfyn won the presidency - wouldn't there be somthing pervers in having Plaid's symbolic top dog in Westminster?


Pascal's Environmental Wager

There is an interesting spat going on between two Welsh blogs at the moment.

On the one side is Paul Flynn MP. He argues vociferously that all that can be done should be done to slow down global warming. The MP calls those who don't accept global warming deniers who have undermined well-founded public alarm on Global Warming.

On the other side is the Cynical Dragon who accuses Mr Flynn of advocating a form of terrorism by raising peoples fears based on unfounded propoganda.

Both present their arguments with passion. Both make valid points and both claim to base their opinions on sound scientific evidence.

It is difficult to decide which one to agree with, especially for those like me who don't really have the scientific expertise with which to judge the merits of either side's arguments.

One way of dealing with this uncertainty is to adapt Pascal's Wager to the environmental argument:

If we reject the argument that human pollution causes global warming, but we make the wrong choice, the result could be disastrous.

But if we accept that human pollution causes global warming and we are wrong, so what? The result of efforts to reduce pollution and to clean up our world will be beneficial anyway.


Naughty Guto

Kezia Dugdale has an interesting blog post about Welsh Journalist and London Mayor's best friend Guto Harri.



Primark and the Raj

Last night I watched the Panorama programme about the cheep clothing company Primark.

The programme highlighted the way in which many of the shop's clothes are made in poor conditions in India.

Some of those employed making the clothes are kids as young as 7 years old. Some of the children have been sold by their parents to the employers and are, in fact, slaves. Some of the adults making Primark clothes are paid as little as 50 pence a day.

Similar programmes have shown that GAP, Burberry and other Western fashion companies rely on the same abuses of labour in poorer countries.

Panorama noted that "boycotting" Primark and other companies that use similar production methods would be counter productive. If Primark runs away from India, then the Indian economy will suffer and those who rely on the pittance that they receive for making westerners' posh clothes will be even poorer.

The answer, according to Panorama, is for customers to put pressure on the shopping chain. We must insist that Primark does ensure that its Indian suppliers' provide more than minimum standards, minimum wages and minimum working conditions. Primark should also be persuaded to ensure that those employed in its suppliers' factories are offered health care and educational facilities for their children.

All of this sounds good. If it came to pass because of pressure from the British Broadcasting Corporation it would make us all so proud to be British.

But hold on, there is a whiff of history in the Beeb's answer to Primark's problems. It is reminiscent of the British tea companies that controlled the Raj, made Victoria Empress of India and sent missionaries to impose moral, ethical and educational standards on the sub-continentals; because British companies knew better than Indian rulers.

India has been an independent nation since 1948. It is up to the Indian Government, not Primark, GAP, Burberry or the BBC, to decide minimum work standards in India, it is up to the Indian Government to insure that the standards that it legislates are adhered to.

British (Irish in Primark's case) companies laying down the law in India, in the way that Panorama advocates, takes us back to the bad old days of Imperialism.

Other comment on Primark & Panorama:

SNP Tactical Voting
Edward Harcourt
Stephen Newton
Leo Hickman
Accrinton Web
A shameful example of political propaganda dressed up as education from Ysgol Llanhari

And many others, most of whom have bought the imperialist message .

Blogging Welsh Politics #3

There has been much comment in the Welsh blogosphere over last few weeks about what I have called the Holy Grail of blogging in these islands – making political blogs as influential here as they are in the USA.

Clive Betts has added his tuppenceworth here and here.

The new political journal, Total Politics, has an interesting contribution to the debate by Mark Pack , head of innovations for the Liberal Democrats.

Mr Pack argues that in comparing size ('Merica is a lot bigger than the UK), the number of parties competing for support (two across the pond lots and lots this side) and the fact that Brit Blogs are permanent party political campaigns, rather than here-today-gone-tomorrow individual campaigns of US candidates who fall by the wayside, that we are really doing much better than than them! - Interesting - and worth a gander!


You Gov: Religious symbols

Last Friday's daily YouGov poll has a Welsh angle in that some of the question arose out of the decision by Sarika Watkins-Sing to take Aberdare Girls' School to court. Here are the results:

An owner of a hairdressing salon has been fined 4,000 pounds and accused of religious discrimination for refusing to employ a Muslim woman who was not prepared to remove her headscarf when styling clients' hair or model alternative hairstyles.

Do you agree or disagree that the salon owner is guilty of religious discrimination?
Strongly agree 7%
Agree 14%
Disagree 20%
Strongly Disagree 55%
Dont know 4%

What do you think about the level of the fine (4,000 pounds) the salon owner has been asked to pay?Too high 28%
About right 10%
Too low 2%
The salon owner should not have been fined 56%
Dont know 5%

To what extent, if at all, do you think an individual's human rights have been infringed by rules that do not permit the wearing of the following religious symbols in the WORKPLACE?

A bangle (Kara)
A very large extent 10%
A large extent 12%
A very small extent 12%
A small extent 13%
Not at all 45%
Dont know 8%

A headscarf (Hijab)
A very large extent 6%
A large extent 13%
A very small extent 12%
A small extent 15%
Not at all 48%
Dont know 7%

A full covering (Burqa)
A very large extent 5%
A large extent 8%
A very small extent 9%
A small extent 10%
Not at all 60%
Dont know 7%

A necklace with a cross
A very large extent 17%
A large extent 14%
A very small extent 12%
A small extent 12%
Not at all 40%
Dont know 6%

A school has asked a Sikh pupil to remove a religious bangle (Kara) because all pupils are not permitted to wear jewellery other than wristwatches and plain ear studs. Do you agree or disagree with the school's ruling?
Strongly agree 47%
Agree 26%
Disagree 17%
Strongly Disagree 7%
Dont know 3%

To what extent, if at all, do you think an individual's human rights have been infringed by rules that do not permit the wearing of the following religious symbols AT SCHOOL?

Sikh bangle (Kara)
A very large extent 7%
A large extent 9%
A very small extent 10%
A small extent 13%
Not at all 55%
Dont know 5%

Muslim headscarf (Hijab)
A very large extent 6%
A large extent 11%
A very small extent 9%
A small extent 14%
Not at all 55%
Dont know 5%

A full covering (Burqa)
A very large extent 4%
A large extent 7%
A very small extent 8%
A small extent 11%
Not at all 64%
Dont know 5%

A necklace with a cross
A very large extent 12%
A large extent 10%
A very small extent 10%
A small extent 12%
Not at all 51%
Dont know 5%

I had some difficulty with this one, on the one hand I believe that workplaces and schools have the right to make their own reasonable rules regarding what is or isn't acceptable dress code. On the other hand I realise that because my religious views don't require the display of any symbols, it is a lot easier for me to live within such rules than it is for those of other faiths. So I voted don't know to all the questions.

Clik Here is you would like to be part of the YouGov panels


Behind the Headlines

Normal Mouth flags a post on the US legal help site Out-Law which reports threats of legal action against blogs by the news agency, AP.

Apparently AP believes that even short excerpts cut and pasted onto blogs of online news content are a breach of copyright.

If the boot was on the other foot, and a print newspaper lifted content from a blog, could the blogger sue for mega bucks?


YouGov Gay weddings and Holidays

Here are the results of the YouGov poll on gay marriages which I mentioned on Wednesday, with some additional results on holidaying intentions.

The wife of the failed July 21 bomber Hussain Osman was sentenced for 15 years for not informing the police of the attempted suicide bombing in advance. Do you think the sentencing is...
Too harsh 12%
Too lenient 27%
About Right 57%
Dont know 4%

In the US, the state of California has granted marriage licences to gay couples for the first time. Do you think Britain should follow suit?
Yes 50%
No 41%
Dont know 9%

To what extent do you think that gay couples should enjoy the same rights as heterosexual couples?
A very large extent 35%
A large extent 19%
A small extent 10%
A very small extent 6%
None at all, the two types of couples should be treated as separate 26%
Dont know 3%

With the summer holiday season almost upon us which of the following applies to you?
I have already taken my summer holiday 10%
I intend go on a summer holiday and intend to be away for more than 2 weeks 7%
I intend go on a summer holiday for up to 2 weeks 15%
I intend go on a summer holiday for up to 1 week 16%
I intend to go on holiday later within the last four months 17%
I do not intend to go on holiday this year 32%
Don't know 3%

And where do you intend to visit (or did you visit) this year on your summer holidays?
UK 25%
Southern Europe 18%
Northern Europe 6%
Eastern Europe 2%
North America 6%
South America 1%
The Caribbean 2%
Africa 2%
The Middle East 0.6%
Asia 2%
Other 2%
I do not intend to go on holiday this year 30%
Dont know 5%

When deciding about where to go on holiday, how important, if at all, were these factors?
Climate change
Very important 8%
Important 23%
Unimportant 39%
Very unimportant 3%
Don't know 7%

Very important 56%
Important 33%
Unimportant 5%
Very unimportant 3%
Don't know 3%

Journey time
Very important 19%
Important 44%
Unimportant 28%
Very unimportant 6%
Don't know 3%

Very important 34%
Important 40%
Unimportant 19%
Very unimportant 3%
Don't know 3%

Activities available at destination
Very important 19%
Important 43%
Unimportant 28%
Very unimportant 7%
Don't know 3%

Ethical reputation of airline
Very important 6%
Important 22%
Unimportant 33%
Very unimportant 9%
Don't know 10%

Ethical reputation of travel operator
Very important 7%
Important 24%
Unimportant 31%
Very unimportant 28%
Don't know 10%

How does the amount you intend to spend (or have already spent) on this years summer holiday compare with that of last year?
Decrease by 20% or more 17%
Decrease by at least 10% but less than 20% 5%
Decrease by at least 1% but less than 10% 3%
No change 34%
Increase by at least 1% but less than 10% 8%
Increase by at least 10% but less than 20% 8%
Increase by 20% or more 9%
Don't know 17%

My answers were about right to the first question. Yes to should gay weddings be allowed in Britain; to a very large extent on if gay couples should enjoy the same rights as heterosexual couples and I don't intend to go on holiday to the fourth question. Because I don't intend having a holiday, I wasn't asked the other holiday questions.

Please go to YouGov if you would like to be part of the surveying fun.

Dafydd Elis to be ousted?

On the BBC's Welsh language news programme Newyddion broadcast on S4C last night there was an item claiming that the Labour group in the Assembly is to seek guidance on how to sack the presiding officer Lord Dafydd Elis Thomas.

Oddly, I can't find a link to this story on the BBC's website in either Welsh or English. Vaughan Roderick was the reporter of the story on the news program, but he hasn't yet blogged the story - odd again.

So was the Newyddion story wrong, or was it a rider for a bigger story that is about to brake?

Whatever the answer, it has been no secret that a number of Labour members, since the inception of the Assembly, have been unhappy with Dafydd El's presidency. Allowing the Assembly to sack Alun Michael, rather than letting him resign with indignity, is something that many in Labour will never forgive DET.

Up until the election of the SNP government in Scotland (including the election period) anybody without prior knowledge, looking at devolution in these islands, would have suspected that Wales had the devolved body with the greatest independence, because Wales followed its own course whereas Scotland, with more actual powers kept to the Westminster line. Some of this difference was down to Rhodri Morgan, much of it is because of the way Dafydd has used his presidency to shape the institution.

One of the complaints that unnamed Labour members have made, apparently, is that Dafydd doesn't realise that he is just the president of the Assembly, not the President of Wales. I agree with them. I believe that Dafydd Elis making himself de facto President of Wales is the most important boost to the national cause since Owain Glyndwr crowned himself Prince of Wales.

I can understand why some Labour members might wish to sack him from the presidency, but they should be careful what they wish for. As Lyndon B Johnston is supposed to have said of J Edgar Hoover better to have him inside the tent pissing out, than outside the tent pissing in; and as Presiding Officer Dafydd has an important role to play inside the tent.

Outside the tent Dafydd is the most experienced politician in the Assembly. He has been a professional politician since 1974 (before some of his detractors were born). He is extremely intelligent, an astute manipulator and - as his presidency has shown - he knows his Machiavelli.

The question Labour (and possibly Plaid) detractors should ask themselves is where is Dafydd safest?
In the presiding chair.
On the backbenches.
Or even as Deputy / First Minister.

If I was a member of any of the parties in the Assembly, my opinion would be the His Lordship is safest where he is rather than anywhere else. That is why I don't think that his presidency is really in danger.


Being miserable by nature, there isn't much that makes me laugh. But this post by Normal got very close!

YouGov: Law and Order etc

For some reason YouGov seems to be out of sync with their surveys. The results of the Wednesday survey on gay marriages hasn't been sent out yet. However further results from Tuesday's survey on the tanker driver's strike, boozing laws and law and order have been published.

Overall, 60% of panellist opposed the tanker drivers strike and 30% supported the strike.

In regards to drinking, 67% support increasing the age of purchasing alcohol from 18 to 21 and 29% would like the age limit to remain at 18.

There is a similar level of support for a higher age limit on buying alcoholic drinks in pubs and clubs (64%) and 36% oppose this.

A slight majority (52%) think that retailers should stop offering cheap alcoholic drink deals and 43% would like these bargains to continue.

The full set of results for the crime questions are below.

To what extent do you think the people listed below should be responsible for reducing crime in your local area?

Neighbourhood Watch
A very large extent 4.6%
A large extent 17.6%
A small extent 50.9%
A very small extent 21.9%
Not involved at all 3.6%

The Police
A very large extent 73.6%
A large extent 22.1%
A small extent 2.3%
A very small extent 0.7%
Not involved at all 0.5%

Local Councils
A very large extent 25.1%
A large extent 45.3%
A small extent 21.1%
A very small extent 5.1%
Not involved at all 2.3%

The parents
A very large extent 52.8%
A large extent 34.1%
A small extent 7.8%
A very small extent 3.5%
Not involved at all 0.8%

Local voluntary organizations
A very large extent 2.4%
A large extent 8.5%
A small extent 42.1%
A very small extent 30.8%
Not involved at all 13.9%

In order to restore trust in the criminal justice system, the government has proposed various measures aiming at reducing the crime rate. Which of the following do you approve of?
Police community support officers should be given more powers in issuing fines and detention 58.5%
People serving community sentences should be forced to wear visible jackets in order to show that they are being punished by law 58.4%
The administration of the criminal justice system should be removed from the probation service and contracted out to a new organisation.14.9%
Publishing "conviction posters", showing the public the profiles of the convicted criminals. 44.2%
A public commissioner should be appointed to represent victims of crime 48.5%

Clik Here is you would like to be part of the YouGov panels


YouGov: EU

Yesterday's daily YouGov survey asked about attitudes to the EU in response to the Lisbon vote in Ireland. Here are the results:

Three quarters of those surveyed would like to see a referendum on the Lisbon treaty in the UK and all EU member states. A minority of 11% think votes should not be held in EU countries.

Most of those polled believe that the 35 years of EU membership has had a negative impact on Britain's laws and institutions (69%) and personal freedoms (61%). Only 24% and 18% said that membership has had a positive impact on personal freedoms and laws and institutions, respectively.

Opinion is roughly split on whether Britain should continue its membership of the European Union with 44% supporting continued membership and 48% opposing.

Today's survey includes these questions?

The wife of the failed July 21 bomber Hussain Osman was sentenced for 15 years for not informing the police of the attempted suicide bombing in advance. Do you think the sentencing is ….
Too harsh
Too lenient
About Right
Don’t know

In the US, the state of California has granted marriage licences to gay couples for the first time. Do you think Britain should follow suit?
Don’t know

To what extent do you think that gay couples should enjoy the same rights as heterosexual couples?
A very large extent
A large extent
A small extent
A very small extent
None at all, the two types of couples should be treated as separate
Don’t know

I'll post the answers tomorrow. If you would like to join YouGov so that your opinions on questions such as this can be counted click here

One for a Linguanaut

Damon Lord has a long questionnaire on his latest blog post.

I can't be bothered to answer all the questions. Most are age inappropriate to an old fart like me anyway.

But there is one question that I do want to answer:

Can you swim?

I am pleased to say that the answer to that question is yes, thanks to the National Assembly.

When I was in my early 30's the answer would have been No - I was terrified of going into deep water, I would try my best to avoid swimming pools and would paddle in the shallow end if forced to "go swimming"

However I had free swimming lessons, provided by the Assembly, when my kids were young, so that I didn't put them off swimming by being a scared dad.

Most swimming pools offer this service – ask about it!

Having learned to swim as an adult and having been given the opportunity to swim confidently with my kids I would recommend adult swimming lessons to all parents and grandparents who can't yet swim, and to all who are thinking of becoming parents or grandparents.

It makes a world of difference!

It's No Laughing Matter!

I had expected, Betsan, Vaughan, Peter , Bethan or Leighton to pick up on this one, but as they haven't I shall tell the story :-)

During Questions to the First Minister this afternoon, Eleanor Burnham started her question to Rhodri with a complaint about the dastardly way in which she was treated by Carwyn Jones last week.

Carwyn had made a joke that Eleanor didn't think was very funny, about never wishing to travel with Eleanor given the misfortunes that appear to beset all of her journeys. Full details here, HT David Cornock.

As Eleanor told the First Minister travel in Wales is no laughing matter.

Hear, hear!!!

Unfortunately Eleanor ended her question by making a Freudian slip. Rather than telling the FM its time you got your act together she said its time you got your arse together.

Result - rather than just Carwyn laughing at her - the whole chamber was bent double.

Da Iawn Eli! :~)

Free 0800 costs the poorest £400 million

I very rarely read the Daily Mirror, but using my National Assembly Bus pass on the train today (thanks IWJ), I picked up a copy of Monday's edition. (You need to look at the "clean carriages" issue IWJ).

Amongst all the usual celeb crap there was one very worrying item in the paper:

Most people, who I know, always make the same complaint about BT telephone bills - the bill was huge but the actual cost of the calls was a negligible part of the bill. It's the "extras" that cost! Because of this problem, apparently over 2 million households no longer have a land line, they depend on mobiles alone.

Those who have given up the land line tend to be those who are on the lowest incomes.

But government cut backs mean that many services that use to be available through your local benefit office are now only available on the phone.

For example Social Fund Crisis Loans for all of Wales are now dealt with through the Llanelli Office. If you Live in Holyhead, Wrexham, Monmouth or Cardiff, and many other parts of Wales, you have no choice but to phone Llanelli to apply for a crisis payment.

The number is an 0800 one, costs nothing from a BT land-line. BUT you pay full network rates if you call from a mobile. If you get through, the cost of listening to "Greensleeves" (or other tinny music) and being told that "you have now moved down one place in the queue of 43 who are waiting" can cost a fortune. Sometimes it can cost much more than the value of the benefit that you want to claim.

According to the Mirror report calls to the Department of Work and Pensions (the benefits and unemployment service) cost mobile phone users up to £400,000,000 lastyear!

Some tips to anybody who finds themselves with this problem.

1) If you have friends or family with a land line, ask them to let you use their phone to make free 0800 calls.
2) 0800 calls are free from call boxes as well as land lines (if you can find an unvandalised one and can stand the smell of stale urine for 90 minutes)
3) JobCenter+ offices must, and CAB's might, allow you to use their phones to make free calls to benefit providers
4) Ask your local Labour Party representative why the Labour Party, of all parties, has allowed such a situation to arise!


Old "New To Me" Blogger

One that should have been in my blog roll for a long time, but I missed is Sandwell Boy

His profile says:
I was working as the Political assistant to Andrew Davies AM for Swansea West from 2004 - 2008. I have recently been appointed as an International Officer for Swansea University. I am now based in Swansea. I was also recently elected as a councillor in the local elections May 2008.

Bloging since October 2006, so an Old Stagger in the Welsh Poliblogs scene - sorry for not linking to you sooner.

Abusing the race card is true racism

Unlike the vast majority of those who have commented on Alun Cairn's Wops comment, I actually heard the original programme on which the unfortunate comment was made. I thought nothing of it at the time and I had to listen to the programme again to see what the fuss was all about.

It was a silly comment, made in a silly context, it can't be excused. But the fact is it wasn't a big deal either (and Alun apologised on the spot when Vaughan picked him up on the inappropriate nature of the comment).

But there is a wider issue about racism here.

Proper racism is an abject evil.

A few years ago my wife, my sister and I were lost in London. We stopped by the first person we saw - a black woman - to ask the way. Her reaction to a car full of whites pulling up by her side was one of terror, she actually wet herself in front of us. There was nothing that we could do or say to reassure her that our intentions were honourable that we only wanted to ask directions.

The "best" that we could do was drive away and leave her in her distressed state. It was a sickening experience, but one that made me realise what racism, actual racial fear, is.

Most of the people who are playing the racist card against Alun couldn't give a shit about the reality of racism. They see it as a cheep shot against a Tory.

Using racism as a cheep shot, is probably the most racist action of all, because it reduces the real fear of the woman that I met in London, to nothing but political oneupmanship.

Everybody who know or knows of Alun Cairns knows that he is not a racist, and know his comment was not meant in an offensive way.

To use his comment to play the racist card demeans the campaign against truly offensive racism.

Playing the racist card, for cheep political pot shots, debases the true experience of racial oppression, and is something that all who oppose racial oppression should abhor.

Where is Chickentown?

Looking at my blog statistics I see that I have had over 150 hits this week from people looking for variations on the term chickentown / chicken town.

Those who are looking for John Cooper Clarke's poem can find it HERE

A YouTube version can be found here:

If, however you are looking for the blog chickentown, it is no more.

Having been outed as none other than David Taylor, otherwise known as Arsembly, Natwatch or Leighton Andrews' right hand shit stirrer by an anonymous commentator on many Welsh blogs, the blog was deleted.

Shame really, because it was an insightful blog which made a good case (even if I didn't agree with it). Whoever chickentown was I hope he returns to the blogospher soon either as himself or under a new pseudonym.


YouGov: David Davis

YouGov has a panel of some 5,000 members who fill in a daily survey. Some of the questions on Friday's survey were about David Davis, the petrol tanker driver's strike and releasing very old prisoners. Here are the results:

A similar proportion support (41%) and oppose (45%) the decision by David Davis to resign over the 42-day detention of terrorist suspects.

Interestingly, half believe the Liberal Democrats made the right decision not stand against David Davis in a by-election, yet the same proportion say it is wrong for the Labour Party not to stand.

Two thirds of panellists say it is morally wrong for the Government to offer concessions and deals to other parties on unrelated matters in order to get its legislation through.

On the subject of petrol, half of the panelists intend to make fewer car journeys as a consequence of increasing prices. And, most seem confident that there will be no petrol shortages as 48% of respondents have not filled up the car in advance of the tanker strike. Only 10% have topped up, just in case.

An overwhelming majority (85%) say that convicted murders such as the Black Panther should never become eligible for parole no matter what their age.

If you would like to join YouGov you can do so by clicking here.


Europhile or Ostrich?

This comment by Stephen Farrington seems to typify the head in the sand attitudes of supporters of European integration to the Irish referendum result:

Redrafting the treaty in the wake of less than 0.1 per cent of Europeans rejecting it would be futile

To dismiss the Irish vote in this way is disingenuous. The truth is that the Irish are the only people of Europe who have been allowed to express an opinion.

Had the rest of Europe been given the same opportunity that the people of Ireland were given, Stephen and other Euro-whores know that a result similar to the Irish one would have occurred in the majority of the 27 nations. Which is precisely why the other 26 have chosen not to hold a referendum.

Ignoring the result in Ireland, a country which has a fairly positive attitude towards the EU, is like Gordon Brown ignoring a bad opinion poll in the Labour heartlands because it only asked the view of a 5000 sample!

The fact is that the majority of the people of Europe, not just the Irish, don't like the way in which the Union is turning into a superstate rather than the economic community that it was established to be.

Rather than dismissing the Irish view, whilst ignoring the views of their own people, the mandarins of the EU might serve the people of Europe better if they took the representative view of the Irish into consideration and concentrated more on building up the European Economic Community and rather less on trying to create the U S of E!

Other Good Posts on the Irish Referendum:
Tim Roll-Pickering
Shiraz Socialist
Alert: Euro-Federalists already planning to subvert Irish Referendum results

EU Treaties must be ratified unanimously. Each country ratifies a Treaty on the assumption that all other countries will do so too. If one country says that it cannot ratify a Treaty as it stands - in Ireland’s case because the Irish people have rejected it - there is no point in the other countries proceeding, and the Irish Government should request them to stop.


Be careful what you wish for...

There were plenty of complaints by AM's last Wednesday after a BBC Trust report criticised how the corporation covered news in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. A lack of reporting on BBC "national" news about what was going on in the Assembly and failing to report what its members are saying was the main complaint down in the Bay.

Since the report was published there has been some improvement. I bet that at least one AM is cursing this change of policy though, as News 24 has reported Alun Cairns' unfortunate greasy wops remarks in each of its hourly bulletins today.

Who's morals?

I make no secret of the fact that I am a committed Christian and a supporter of the evangelical wing of the Methodist church. As a Welsh nonconformist I clearly believe in the division of state and church, but I don't try to divide my own political and religious views. Both influence each other and both make up the person who is me. My Welsh nationalism is Christian and my Christianity is Welsh nationalist.

I was intrigued, therefore by a mention on the letters page of this weeks Golwg to THIS site from an organisation calling itself the Christian Institute. A site that claims to measure an MPs voting record according to Christian standards.

According to the site it appears that all of our Welsh MPs are lost, forsaken, destined for fire, brimstone, hell and damnation!

The biggest score that an MP can get is 20.

Albert Owen, Lab, Ynys Mon, scores 0, nothing, zilch, sod all -shame on you Albert!
Hywel Francis, Lab, Aberafon, does slightly better on 1.
Adam Price, Plaid, Carmarthen E and Dinefwr scores 5.
Veering on the side of the Angles is David Jones, Con, Clwyd West who scores 7 ticks and no crosses.
Weirdly one of our most moral MPs is cheeky Lembit Opik who scores 8 - good, but not good enough, not even half moral!

Clearly, as we are being governed by a bunch of heathens, I need to reconsider my attitude to standing for election. Parliament could do with a good dose of Christian input from the likes of me. So where would I fare?

Oops! I am a tad better than Albert, but nowhere near as good as Lembit!

This site has two problems as far as my Christianity is concerned.

Firstly its moral stance seems to be based on the opinions of the extreme right wing bible-belt American tradition of Christianity, which has little in common with the radical tradition of Welsh nonconformity.

Secondly the Christian tradition to which I belong believes that salvation is a personal thing, not one that can be forced on others by law.

I just don't see the point of laws that force Christian morals on non Christians, indeed I find them counter productive to the cause. I would be happy if every reader of this blog chose Christ as his / her saviour. But to make that choice you have to have a choice. But you won't have a choice if the so called Christian Institute succeeds in making any alternative illegal!

Blogging Bells

Many congratulations and best wishes to the top of the UK blogs Iain Dale and his partner John on their civil partnership ceremony today.


YouGov: individual rights and freedoms

YouGov has a panel of some 5,000 members who fill in a daily survey. Some of the questions on yesterdays survey were about individuals' rights and freedoms here are the results:

Britain has been called a 'surveillance society' where peoples actions are routinely monitored. To what extent do you agree or disagree that Britain is a 'surveillance society'?

Strongly agree 36.7%
Agree 43.3%
Disagree 13.7%
Strongly Disagree 3.2%
Dont know 3.2%

The need for greater public security, prevention of fraud and environmental concerns has led to a range of initiatives that require the monitoring of daily activities. Which, if any, of these do initiatives do you think has or would have beneficial effects on individuals' rights and freedoms?

CCTV cameras 48.5%
ID cards 37.9%
Finger printing in schools 14.8%
Congestion charging 13.2%
Chip and Pin 53.5%
Fitting microchips in wheelie bins 4.6%
Tracking of retail purchases 7.8%
Tracking of travel patterns 9.7%
Biometric passports 40.2%

And looking at this list again, which, if any, do you think has, or would have, a negative effect on individuals' rights and freedoms?

CCTV cameras 22.7%
ID cards 39.7.9%
Finger printing in schools 55.7%
Congestion charging 41.6%
Chip and Pin 7.2%%
Fitting microchips in wheelie bins 66.8%
Tracking of retail purchases 62.8%
Tracking of travel patterns 58%
Biometric passports 24.1%

A few local councils have been randomly selecting household rubbish bins as part of a study to find out how much food people throw away. Householders were told about the search after it had been carried out and issued with replacement bins. Which of these statements do you most agree with?

This was an invasion of privacy and should not have been allowed 66.5%
The study will provide important data on how much food people really are wasting and was worth the small invasion of privacy 23.4%
Neither of these 7.6%

If you would like to join YouGov you can do so by clicking here.

Dai Dai's Tory Challenge

David Davies' decision to resign is not a challenge to the Labour Party on the question of 42 days. If he wins or loses it won't make a difference to the Labour Government.

His challenge is to his own party.

Most Tories who voted against 42 days would be happy with the policy had a Tory Government proposed it. Few Tories would want to stand on a manifesto that promised to reverse the law (if it is passed).

What Mr Davies' decision does is to throw down the gauntlet to those in his own opposition rich but policy poor party to say we will reverse this law if elected. It is a clarion call to Tories to make a stand on an important issue, rather than opposing for opposition's sake.

The Tories will, of course, make the stand in order to win the by-election. With no Labour, Lib Dem, UKIP or BNP candidate opposing him the chance that the Eng Dems, or worse, the beauty queens, might give him a run for his money would be unthinkable!

But the main question is will the Tories pick up the DD gauntlet and become a party that proposes rather than just opposes? And if it does will that enhance or harm its electoral chances?


Why care?

In his column in Golwg this week Normal Mouth wonders why public opinion seem to support issues that human rights campaigners see as an erosion of our basic liberties.

He highlights the fact that many communities are calling for more CCTV cameras rather than complaining that those that exist are an intrusion.

Opinion polls seem to suggest that the 42 days (and more) proposals of detention without trial are supported by about two thirds of the population.

Many seem to believe that taking DNA samples and identity cards are a good thing if they help police catch more criminals.

Part of the answer, I'm sure, is that we have a high level of trust in the police and the other security forces not to abuse those powers. Which is fair enough, the difference between freedom and oppression is often based on how the authorities use (or abuse) their powers, rather than what powers they actually have.

The second reason (which may be based on the first) is that we don't expect the reductions in human rights to effect us, they will only effect people who have no rights to have rights.

The attitude that I hear on the streets (and promoted in some parts of the media) seems to be:

I won't be locked up for 42 days without trial and who cares if a terrorist is locked up for 42 years, never mind 42 days? Why should we care if a person who wants to bomb, kill and maim loses his human rights? OK some of those locked up might not be charged afterwards. We all know that there is "no smoke without fire", so many of those released will be the ones who have been allowed to get away with it because of our soft laws, rather than the innocent. Even if the odd "innocent" person is locked up they will be Muslims who don't believe in human rights anyway so why should I care?

But before taking this attitude that it doesn't affect me so why should I care, it might be worth reflecting on the words of Pastor Martin Niemöller

When the Nazis came for the communists,
I remained silent;
I was not a communist.

When they locked up the social democrats,
I remained silent;
I was not a social democrat.

When they came for the trade unionists,
I did not speak out;
I was not a trade unionist.

When they came for the Jews,
I remained silent;
I wasn't a Jew.

When they came for me,
there was no one left to speak out.


A Pedant Posts

Ordovicius posts a list of the top 10 Welsh blogs according to WIKIO.

This is his list:
1. Peter Black AM (=)
3. Don't Trip Up (+1)
4. Paul Flynn - Read My Day (-1)
5. Miserable Old Fart (+1)
6. Valleys Mam (+1)
7. Normal Mouth (-2)
8. Dylan Jones-Evans (=)
9. Miss Wagstaff Presents* (=)
10. Ceredig (=)

If there was a Welsh version of the Scottish type love in meme, most of Wikio's top ten would be in my top ten of Welsh blogs too.

The one I have difficulty with is no 3 in the list Don't Trip Up, a good blog, which I read often and is in my "feeds reader". It is Written by Stephen Farrington who is based in Cardiff, but is it a "Welsh" blog?

If it wasn't for the fact that Matt includes it in the Welsh Political News wire and that it mentions Cardiff as the blogger's domicile in the profile, I wouldn't know that it was a Welsh blog.

The posts suggest that Wales doesn't exist in this blogger's mind, that he is unaware of the existence of the Assembly on his doorstep and if he is aware of it he couldn't give a toss. So does he deserve to be called a Welsh blogger?

I feel the same about Mr Eugenedes who is regularly mentioned in the Scottish Roundup, but who rarely has a word to say about Scottish politics.

The fact that the most popular Scottish blog and the third most popular Welsh blog can blog politics without even acknowledging the existence of the countries in which they post from is a very sad reflection on Welsh and Scottish politics.

Unlucky for some

Many people believe that the number 13 is an unlucky number.

Llais Gwynedd has just won it's 13th member on Gwynedd Council, by virtue of the election of Dafydd Lloyd Hughes as the representative for the Bodwydd a Rhiw ward in a by election today.

Does this signify bad luck for Llais or its Plaid opponents? We will have to wait and see!

It's probably not the politically correct term, but I believe that Dafydd is the first black person ever to be elected to this very white council.

So Llongyfarchiadau Mawr on both counts, Daf.


The short answer is ...

One of the most annoying things about listening to broadcasts of questions to ministers in the House of Commons is the way in which a simple question is often responded to with a long and rambling answer which bares no relation, whatsoever, to the question being asked.

I am glad to see that the Scottish Parliament is bucking this trend and giving answers that are short and to the point:

Ms (Annabell) Goldie had asked the government how many drug finds there had been in each Scottish prison over the last five years, broken down by type.

The answer - issued in the name of Enterprise Minister Jim Mather and not the justice department - simply stated: "Blah."


Wales has got talent

There was some dispute in the Miserable household earlier on today Mrs MOF wanted to watch the final of Britain's Got Talent, I wanted to watch the closing competitions at the Urdd Eisteddfod. As usual she won!

In some ways I was glad that she won, because it enabled me to compare the Brit TV talent show with the annual gala of Welsh talent provided by the Urdd.

There was a 12 year old girl who got the judges gushing with praise "one in a million", "unique", "incredible that one so young should have such a voice" etc. But if if she had competed at the Urdd on Thursday she would not have got through the preliminary rounds.

Congratulations to the winner, George Sampson, who I suspect won on a sympathy vote rather than on true talent.

If the likes of Simon Cowell and Lord Lloyd Webber really want to look for new talent, rather than line their own pockets from Saturday Night Crap TV, they would be better served by visiting the Urdd Eisteddfod next May than by having further series of their paucity of talent telly shows.