F**k you too Seb Coe

Hat tip to Toque for drawing attention to this incredible outburst from Seb Coe, the Boss of the 2012 London Olympics published in The London Paper;
TEAM GB will have a football team for the 2012 Games, Seb Coe has confirmed, whatever opposition is put up by the Scots, Welsh and Northern Irish.

The creation of the team has been opposed by the Football Associations of Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland who are concerned it may compromise their individual status within Fifa.

But he said the BOA, which selects teams for the Games, has decided to press ahead with a football squad despite the opposition.

When asked last night about the opposition from the Welsh and Scots, Coe replied bluntly: “F*** em!”


Ian James Johnson and Amlwch to Magor also comment on this story


Murphy for Wales and Scotland?

Back in January Tomos Livingstone asked Will Brown merge the departments for the devolved nations this year? David Cornock has also suggested that such a move might be imminent. If 'senior Whitehall sources' quoted in yesterday's Scotland on Sunday are to be believed this much heralded event won't happen in the next cabinet reshuffle due to be announced during the next few days.

Although with Jim Murphy being tipped as the person most likely to become the next Scottish Secretary and with little likelihood of Paul Murphy losing the Wales Office, perhaps we are being softened up for a merger by having a Mr Murphy doing both jobs.

Is your facebook friend a spook?

Apparently MI6 is to use Facebook to recruit new spies.

Doesn't this defeat the object of spying? What is the point of hiring spies who are going to record their activities on a social network?

What are you doing now?
Filming secrets in the Russian Embassy!

I can't see it working somehow!

New Blogs

I have added a few new found blogs to my list today:

Chwith, which is the Welsh word for Left (as in left hand rather than left out) obviously looks at Welsh politics from a left wing view.

Gray's Monotony has been blogging since the beginning of the month "writing on sport, politics and whatever 'culture' implies in the name of fun and interest."

Ian James Johnson is a Plaid Cymru researcher in the House of Commons, who also started blogging at the beginning of the month


The Stonemason who has been commenting on this blog for some time without me realising that he also had a blog. The Stonemason blogs from Caerphilly on the advantages of Wales remaining part of the UK.


Ten commandments for Bloggers

The Evangelical Alliance has designed 10 commandments to help Christian bloggers to keep on the straight and narrow paths through cyberspace.

Ten commandments for bloggers
1 You shall not put your blog before your integrity

2 You shall not make an idol of your blog

3 You shall not misuse your screen name by using your anonymity to sin

4 Remember the Sabbath day by taking one day off a week from your blog

5 Honour your fellow-bloggers above yourselves and do not give undue significance to their mistakes

6 You shall not murder someone else's honour, reputation or feelings

7 You shall not use the web to commit or permit adultery in your mind

8 You shall not steal another person's content

9 You shall not give false testimony against your fellow-blogger

10 You shall not covet your neighbour's blog ranking. Be content with your own content

I can't see myself sticking to all of them somehow! Indeed I think that I might have broken numbers 5, 6, 7 and 10 in just one short post here!

Our English Identity

This a translation of an item on BBC Cymru ar lein's web page. As far as I can find it has not been published in English anywhere and it has not been followed up by BBC Cymru on TV or radio news bulletins.

The Welsh Language Board has asked the British Government to reconsider after they refused to ensure that the Welsh Language appears on ID cards.

The first cards will be issued to foreign nationals from next November.

The British Government said that they didn't intend to use Welsh on the cards because it is not one of the Official Languages of the European Union.

Meri Huws, chair of The Welsh Language Board said that the response from the Home Office isn't good enough.

"In our opinion, the reason given isn't sufficient" as Welsh is already used on passports under the same European directives.

"We believe that ID cards for Wales should be bilingual, as is the case with driving licences".

The Government has stated that they expect that all citizens will be offered the cards within three years.

It will be necessary for all airport staff to have the cards by next year
After that it is expected that the card will be offered to young people over 16 years and then to the rest of the population.

This is an interesting development. Although I have no particular beef against ID cards, I suspect that most politically active supporters of the Welsh language oppose them. This seems like a cynical ploy to get Plaid Cymru / pro-Welsh language suporters who are members of other political parties/ Cymdeithas yr Iaith even the Assembly to campaign FOR Welsh ID cards rather than opposing ID cards per say.

A cheap shot, which just shows what a dinosaur Cymdeithas Cledwyn is up against in trying to persuade people that the Labour party isn't pathologically against the Welsh Language


True Wales' Untruths

There is a sweet irony in the fact that a movement calling itself True Wales should launch its campaign by making a string of untruthful claims!

The True Wales campaign claims that it is the voice of the majority that wants to see Wales remain a part of the UK. They are going to represent that true voice by campaigning against the Welsh Assembly gaining any new powers in a referendum called under the Government of Wales Act 2006!

The first untruth is the movement's claim that they are "opposed to the Assembly gaining further powers". What a crock of dung! The movement's real issue is opposition to the very existence of the Assembly. They want to see the Assembly abolished! But lending this bunch of fools support wont see the abolition of the Assembly - Abolition is not on the political agenda.

Their second untruth is that supporting their campaign will stop the Assembly from gaining further powers. No it wont! The Government of Wales Act has already granted the Assembly all the potential powers that a referendum could grant through the eLCO system. If a referendum is never held, or if a referendum is held today and Wales votes 100% NO - the potential powers in the Act remain. The Assembly will still get the powers but through a tortuous route rather than through a simple one.

The third untruth that True Wales makes is the claim that supporters of devolution all support independence. It is fair to say that some do see devolution as a step by step process towards independence. But only a fool could claim that a yes vote in a GoW Act referendum equates to a vote in favour of independence! Elin Jones, Adam Price and others have been honest enough to state that they see every step for devolution as a step towards independence; but they believe that a referendum ON independence is very far down the line. There is no way that the referendum in the offing can be claimed to be a referendum in favour of independence. The suggestion that Glyn Davies, Peter Black or Carwyn Jones (all of whom are in favour of further devolution) are crypto nationalists! It isn't just an untruth, it is a libelous lie to suggest that they are.

The fourth lie of True Wales is their claim that support for their movement is going to stop calls for independence. I believe that Wales should be an independent country. A devolution referendum - which ever way it goes - is not going to change my mind or the minds of most believers in independence! Indeed a NO vote might even be beneficial to our argument and might hasten independence. A NO vote would prove that the slowly slowly catchee monkey approach of some nationalists is an abject failure and enthuse more to support my belief that we should be campaigning for "whole hog" independence rather than siding with devolutionist unionists!

The fifth and most potent lie of "True Wales" is their false claim that
True Wales members chose the name because they believe those wanting Wales to remain a full part of the United Kingdom have been "unfairly categorised" as anti-Welsh

It is not unfair to categorise those who believe that their own compatriots lack even the slightest ability to govern themselves as Anti Welsh . Anti Welsh is the nicest thing one could say about them. Treacherous shits, the bottom of the dung heap, a shame and an embarrassment to their own country are amongst the kindest terms that I can find to describe them. Blogger would probably close this site down if I said what I really think about them!

The official response to the launch of the quisling cause has been rather mute.

Deputy First Minister, Ieuan Wyn Jones, said that there was no need to set up a Yes campaign before Syr Emyr Jones Parry commission had judged the public response to further powers.

I agree with the thoughts of John Dixon, Plaid Cymru's chair who made the obvious point a few days ago that:
Opinion polls can help to inform that judgement, but they should never be allowed to become the determinant. There is otherwise a risk that we wait until the polls show that the argument has been clearly won before we start to present the case; and I don't understand how anyone would ever expect to decisively win any argument without putting the case.

If an YES campaign is needed it is needed NOW before UnTrue Wales gets a head start in peddling its lies. I can understand why more staid politicians might want to stand above the fray and not give the prats any credibility, but there is no doubt that a gauntlet has been thrown down. The "official" politicians might not want to take it up, but is that a reason for web politicos not to take up the gauntlet and run with it? One of the supposed strengths of political opinion on the www is its ability to galvanise support and create campaigns outwith the "official" channels. Can the web community pick up the gauntlet and create an enthusiastic Yes campaign?


Bryn's British Album

I always thought that Bryn Terfel was a Welsh Nationalist. Perhaps I'm mistaken he has done the "Rule Britannia" bit in the Proms twice, after all!

My youngest son bought me a copy of Bryn's latest CD yesterday (cos it was my birthday - do David Cornock and I share a birthday - all be it 109 years apart?). Bryn's Album is called "First Love" songs from the British Isles, and has been advertised, even on S4C, as the best British Album by the best British singer.

Politics apart, Bryn is a fantastic singer and all of his albums are worth listening to, but why oh why does he feel the need to put on a "false" Scottish accent when singing Scottish songs?

Danny Boy, which features Ronan Keating singing along with Bryn is dreadful. It shows that Ronan is a light crooner who's voice just can't match that of a classically trained expert - why either agreed to the release of this excruciatingly painful track is beyond my comprehension.

Bryn Terfel - First Love - Songs from the British Isles is an ideal present for the miserable old fart in your life - but warn him/her to skip tracks 4, 5 and 16 if you don't want him/her to be even more miserable than s/he is now!


Beleving in Science

The last time I did a scientific experiment was a long long time ago. It had something to do with a Bunsen burner heating up a chemical to create a smell similar to rotten eggs. I don't remember why the experiment was done or what I was supposed to have learned from it.

When I was doing my rotten eggs experiment, scientists were proving that smoking cured asthma, in faith I believed them and started smoking - I'm still hooked!

Clearly I don't know much about science, what I do know is based on faith rather than knowledge.

I would suspect that the vast majority of people are in exactly the same position as me, they believe what scientists say, they have faith in scientific proof but they have very little understanding of science.

But we have a problem, scientists have a tendency to prove what the money tells them to prove.

For a million dollars wind farms are good trump that with four million and we'll say that nuclear is better!

Scientists say that global warming is happening and we need to do everything that we can to stop it. Other scientists say bollocks, global warming is just a statist way of controlling people and that global warming is a myth!

It is faith that makes us choose sides on such issues rather than knowledge.

Creationism or Darwinism? Do you make your choice through personal scientific experimental proof, or is your view based on what you believe to be true? I suspect that 99% of people believe what they believe and don't give the subject a second thought - irrational blind faith from both sides of the argument!

I know that my redeemer liveth! As a matter of fact and experience I know that the Lord Jesus Christ is my saviour.

But apparently I'm a nutter for knowing something through my experience of faith in religion rather than being confused by a mixed up faith in science!

Confusin' i'n it?

Conservatives - the biggest party in Wales

According to a massive opinion poll of nearly 35,000 people conducted by Politics Home in 238 marginal seats across the UK including a number in Wales, the Conservative Party is set to become the largest Party in Wales in Westminster representation.

The poll reckons that the Tories will have 18 seats:

Cardiff North
Cardiff West
Carmarthen West and South Pembrokeshire
Clwyd South
Clwyd West
Newport West
Preseli Pembrokeshire
Vale of Clwyd
Vale of Glamorgan
Brecon and Radnorshire
Alyn and Deeside,
Cardiff South and Penarth
Newport East

Plaid Cymru will have five (re-gaining Anglesey and Cardigan - but not advancing into new territory)

Ynys Mon
Dwyfor Meirion
Carmarthen East & Deinefwr

The Liberal Democrats will be reduced to two

Cardiff Central

Peoples Voice will hold on to Blaenau Gwent

Leaving Labour with just 14 seats!

I can't see it happening myself.

I suspect that half of the predicted "gains" will be near misses for the Tories, as supporters of the three non Tory parties shift allegiance to the best placed non Tory candidate (probably Labour)

I reckon that Plaid can gain Aberconwy and Llanelli, giving them seven, with a bit of hard work and a lot of bottle Caerffili and Cwm Cynon could be in Plaid's grasp - but highly unlikely.

The weird thing is that listening to people on the street, I get the feeling that Labour is losing support because of its failure to address issues of social democracy and the left:

High energy costs for the old and the poor, the 10p tax rate for poorer workers, a lack of respect for civil liberties, not saving public services such as the Post office, allowing free markets to cripple the economy etc.

If Labour was more left wing and more social democratic it would be more popular!

In these circumstances the Liberal Democrats and Plaid should be making hay. Polls should be suggesting that both parties would be looking at double figure gains in Wales with a Tory wipe out.

The fact that the people of Wales see the Tory's as their saviour in the face of Labour failure is an indictment of both Plaid and the Lib Dems. These are the parties that pissed off Labour voters have felt comfortable to support in the past. Both must ask themselves why they are being passed over in favour of the Hairy Arsed Tory Monster in Wales? The monster that Wales last gave majority support to in Westminster in 1832!

If Plaid's left cant make a forcible case for left of centre social democratic nationalism in the present political climate then it may as well give up, because it is never likely to have more favourable circumstances!

The alternative for the party, of course, is to ditch socialism and campaign for the center right vote that seems to be gaining ground in Wales as old style socialism breaths its last, a center right vote that Politics Home suggests is being hoovered up by the Welsh Conservatives!


Gwenllian's referendum.

I am confused about what the forthcoming referendum is going to be about. My understanding was that the referendum would be the one legislated for in Section 4 of the Government of Wales Act 2006, which will only give powers to the Assembly to legislate in those areas that it already has executive responsibility for.

However in an interview with the Total Politics magazine Plaid Cymru's Chief Executive says something slightly different:

one of the points within the One Wales Agreement is the establishment of the All Wales Convention, which has just started work, and then having a referendum on its conclusions before 2011.

What Gwenllian is saying is that if the Convention comes to the conclusion that the Assembly needs more powers than the Act currently offers, (over policing for example), or a different constitution to the present set up (more members, a different voting system etc) then THAT is what the referendum will be about.

If Gwenllian's interpretation is right then I would be much more supportive of the Convention and more enthusiastic about the referendum. If I am right then I think that the Convention and the referendum are a waste of time effort and money.

Is Gwenllian right or is this another example of Plaid over exaggerating what it can get from its pact with Labour in order to please its supporters, in the same way that it promised a daily paper but was only able to deliver a web page?

Iain Dale causes Plague of the Cornflakes!

Last year if you wanted to see your blog name in Print you would have to pay out a whopping £15 for a copy of Iain Dale's Guide to political blogging.

This year, if you have attended the Liberal Party Conference or the TUC you will already have been given one gratis. Something for those who are about to attend the Labour and Tory conferences to look forward to.

Those of you who attend other conferences (Plaid, SNP, MK, etc) and us sad souls who don't do conferencing need not despair. The publication is available as a PDF for free HERE.

The publication contains many more lists of the best than were published on Iain's blog. For instance the top 30 blogs by councillors, which has two Welsh entrants:

Blog Dogfael, a Plaid Councillor on Aberystwyth Parish Council at number 14 - Llongyfarchiadau Dogfael.

And at 29 Gwilym Euros Roberts who is also described by the guide as a Plaid Cymru Councillor .

Look out for multiple by-elections in Gwynedd, as half the council members choke to death on their cornflakes by the news that Gwilym is a Plaid Councillor. It's difficult to work out which party will suffer the most from the plague of the cornflakes, Plaid or Llais!

Iain Dale's ignorance of Gwynedd politics may have a lot to answer for!

BBC Alba - first impressions

I have watched the opening night of the new Gaelic TV channel BBC Alba. On the whole I would say that it was a successful launch and an enjoyable evening of watching the telly.

The evening started with A Chuirm, what the Irish would probably call a ceilidh and we Welsh would call a noson lawen. Personally I am not fond of this sort of programme. I really enjoy attending a ceilidh or a noson lawen, its just that I don't feel that the fun one has in being present can be translated into a tv experience. But as an example of such programmes this one was as good, if not better, than others of its type. Even on tv the haunting sound of unaccompanied Scottish island Gaelic singing can still send a shiver down the spine.

The second programme, Eilbheas, was the best of the night. A drama about a young Punk Rocker in 1977 who was haunted by the Ghost of Elvis Presley! Poigniantly heart tugging in parts, hilariously funny in others, a good story and one of the best tv dramas that I have seen for some time.

The third programme was a docudrama about a mass murderer called Peter Manuel. This evil bastard was, probably, the most notorious of all Scottish murderers - despite that I had never heard of him before. I am uncertain about programs like this. Should we make such people "famous" by dramatising their exploits? More importantly should we turn their evil deeds into "entertainment"? Despite my miss-givings the programme was extremely interesting and very watchable.

Moral doubts apart, I do have one "editorial" complaint about this programme. I don't speak a word of Gaelic, but I was able to follow the story by virtue of on screen subtitles. But I am very hard of hearing and I have particular difficulty understanding people speaking with unfamiliar accents. Unfortunately the subtitling was switched off when some contributors with strong Scottish accents were speaking English. So I found myself in the odd position, of being a non Gaelic speaker being able to follow the Gaelic content with much more ease than I was able to follow the English content! In future BBC Alba, please keep the subtitles going throughout the programme.

The evening ended with the second half of A Chuirm.

There is no doubt at all that I will watch BBC Alba again, I will keep a special look out for new dramas. So Hearty Congratulations to all at BBC Alba, and best wishes for the future.


BBC Alba

A new tv channel broadcasting in the Gaelic language starts tonight at 9 pm. BBC Alba can be seen on Sky channel 168 and on other digital services.

If you would like to learn a little Gaelic inorder to enjoy the new service then the Beeb is also providing on line lesson: Beag air Bheag (little by little)!

Still supporting Chris!

I see that Betsan Powys, Miss Wagstaff and Valleys Mam have all flagged up the latest development in the Christopher Glamorgan saga.

Reading between the lines in the reports from the three ladies it appears that Christopher has had a preliminary hearing and that the preliminary hearing hasn't gone well for him. This is what Betsan says:

Solicitors acting for the government don't mince their words. In letters I've had sight of they sum up the conclusions of the Employment Judge (and bear in mind I'm quoting their own summing up here, not quotes from a transcript) like this:

the "claim has little reasonable prospect of success", the blog was "contrary to the civil service code" and "has the potential to cause an embarrassment to the Welsh Assembly Government", therefore breaking the code.

Had 'Christopher Glamorgan' been guilty of "excessive internet abuse and potential copyright infringement" alone the judge seems to conclude that a final written warning would have been enough. However the blog, "the most serious of the issues", means dismissal "would fall within the band of reasonable responses available to a reasonable employer".

There isn't a judge, of course, in a tribunal - just a chair. The reason for not having a judge is that the tribunal system was set up to create a service that was easier for individuals to access than the judicial route. The initial assumption was that neither party would have legal representation nor the costs that such representation involved, people would represent themselves.

I was an active trade unionist in the early days of the tribunals service and was trained by my union in helping members as a lay representative in tribunals. Although I am no longer an active trades unionist I do still occasionally represent people in tribunals. Indeed the reason for blog silence over the past few days is because I have been busy preparing a case for a War Pensions Tribunal Appeal. So although I wouldn't claim to be anything near an expert on tribunals, I do have a fair working knowledge of them.

Unfortunately over the past 15 years or so tribunals have become entangled in the professional legal mire that they were set up to avoid. When a claim is made against a large corporation or a government department, equally large specialist law firms are, almost always, used by the employer. Because costs are rarely awarded in tribunals trade unions are very reluctant to offer equal representation to their members because of the excessive costs involved. It appears that this is what has happened with Christopher too. Again according to Betsan:

He was sacked and and as things stand is taking his case to tribunal, despite his union, the PCS, heeding advice they've been given that he has some mountain to climb, such a mountain, carrying the threat of such a big bill at the end, that they've decided he must climb it alone

When an individual is left to speak for him / herself or left with a lay rep in a tribunal the employers' lawyers get dirty and aggressive. I remember one occasion when I received two letters from the same company on the same day. One requesting further details about an argument to be put before the tribunal, the other containing details of every penny I had ever owed in my life and a threat that if all wasn't repaid within 7 days I would be sued for bankruptcy. On another occasion the lawyers phoned my own employers to tell them that they were letting the side down by allowing me my holiday entitlement to coincide with a tribunal date.

It appears that The Welsh Assembly Government's Lawyers are getting dirty with Christopher too.

How can the BBC's reporter, Betsan Powys, make fairly sweeping comments about how week Christopher's complaint is (whilst remaining neutral, of course)? Based on:

letters I've had sight of

Has the WAG's legal firm been briefing the Beeb against Chris?

And then there is the threat in the letter that Betsan has seen:

Go ahead and we'll apply for a full costs order against you, one that covers all fees, charges, disbursements and expenses incurred by WAG.

The Tribunal rules say that if, after a preliminary hearing, a case seems so hopeless but one side or another insists on carrying on, then the preliminary chair can order a bond of £500 from the side that is almost sure to lose, if the case is lost after a full hearing then the bond is lost too. This happens in fewer than 2% of preliminary hearings. If a bonded tribunal is lost then full costs can be awarded against the losing side. This happens in fewer than a third of bonded cases. If Christopher had been told to put up a bond the BBC briefings would tell us so. If a bond hasn't been ordered we can almost guarantee no award of costs will be made. It is just bullying.

Betsan's post takes Christopher Glamorgan's case out of the "defending the blogosphere" category into a much more serious realm.

An inordinately large number of people employed in Wales are employed in public service. Their ultimate boss is the Government, an employer that might sack them for expressing an opinion and then bully and threaten them and brief the media against them if they dare complain!

Betsan says the issue:
will be discussed in an internal meeting, presumably in government offices in Cathays Park, next week.

I would suggest that that meeting seriously considers an apology, a large bung and a shut up clause to draw a line under this issue, before the Assembly is given even worse coverage as a shit employer than it is getting now and it will continue to get, win or lose, if it carries on with Chris' tribunal!


Where is the support for Kez?

On Saturday I mentioned the fact that an SNP councillor and millionaire had threatened the blogger Kezia Duggdale with legal action.

I don't particularly like Kezia's blog - she supports the Labour party - I don't. She says nasty things about Alex Salmond, one of my political heroes, but I respect and defend her freedom of opinion!

Last year there was a blog consensus that the blogosphere would stand up to rich people trying to bully individual bloggers when Asmanov went after Bloggerheads, where is that blog support for Kez?

All of the following blogs were willing to support bloggerheads. Was their support real? Or was it just an opportunistic way of getting a hit on Technorati?

I hope that each and everyone of them will say a word in favour of Kezia's right to freedom of expression - but I won't hold my breath!-

[Justin McKeating], Curious Hamster, Pickled Politics, Harry's Place, TimWorstall, Dizzy, Iain Dale, Ten Percent, Blairwatch, Davide Simonetti, Earthquake Cove, Turbulent Cleric Mike Power (Mike has also produced this video), Jailhouse Lawyer, Suesam, Devil's Kitchen, The Cartoonist, Falco, Casualty Monitor, Forever Expat, Arseblog, Drink-soaked Trots (and another), Pitch Invasion, Wonko's World, Roll A Monkey, Caroline Hunt, Westminster Wisdom, Chris K, Anorak, Mediawatchwatch, Norfolk Blogger, Chris Paul, Indymedia (with a list of Craig Murray's articles that are currently unavailable), Obsolete, Tom Watson, Cynical Chatter, Reactionary Snob, Mr Eugenides, Matthew Sinclair, The Select Society, Liberal England, Davblog, Peter Gasston Pitch Perfect, Adelaide Green Porridge Cafe, Lunartalks, Tygerland, The Crossed Pond, Our Kingdom, Big Daddy Merk, Daily Mail Watch, Graeme's, Random Thoughts, Nosemonkey, Matt Wardman (i, ii, iii, iv, v), Politics in the Zeros, Love and Garbage, The Huntsman, Conservative Party Reptile, Ellee Seymour, Sabretache, Not A Sheep, Bartholomew's Notes on Religion, The People's Republic Of Newport, Life, the Universe & Everything, Arsenal Transfer Rumour Mill, The Green Ribbon, Blood & Treasure, The Last Ditch, Areopagitica, Football in Finland, An Englishman's Castle, Freeborn John, Eursoc The Back Four, Rebellion Suck!, Ministry of Truth, ModernityBlog, Beau Bo D'Or,Scots and Independent, The Splund, Bill Cameron, Podnosh, Dodgeblogium, Moving Target, Serious Golmal, Goonerholic The Spine, Zero Point Nine, Lenin's Tomb, The Durruti Column, The Bristol Blogger, ArseNews, David Lindsay, Quaequam Blog!, On A Quiet Day..., Kathz's Blog, England Expects, Theo Spark, Duncan Borrowman, Senn's Blog, Katykins, Jewcy, Kevin Maguire, Stumbling and Mumbling, Famous for 15 megapixels, Ordovicius, Tom Morris, AOL Fanhouse, Doctor Vee, The Curmudgeonly, The Poor Mouth, 1820, Hangbitch, Crooked Timber, ArseNole, Identity Unknown, Liberty Alone, Amused Cynicism, Clairwil, The Lone Voice, Tampon Teabag, Unoriginalname38, Special/Blown It, The Remittance Man, 18 Doughty Street, Laban Tall, Martin Bright, Spy Blog The Exile, poons, Jangliss, Who Knows Where Thoughts Come From?, Imagined Community, A Pint of Unionist Lite, Poldraw, Disillusioned And Bored, Error Gorilla, Indigo Jo, Swiss Metablog, Kate Garnwen Truemors, Asn14, D-Notice, The Judge Political Penguin, Miserable Old Fart, Jottings, fridgemagnet, Blah Blah Flowers, J. Arthur MacNumpty, Tony Hatfield, Grendel, Charlie Whitaker, Matt Buck, The Waendel Journal, Marginalized Action Dinosaur, SoccerLens, Toblog, John Brissenden East Lower, Electronic Frontier Foundation, Peter Black AM, Boing Boing, BLTP, Gunnerblog, LFB UK, Liberal Revolution, Wombles,
Focus on Sodbury..., Follow The Money, Freedom and Whisky, Melting Man, PoliticalHackUK, Simon Says..., Daily EM, From The Barrel of a Gun, The Fourth Place, The Armchair News Blog, Journalist und Optimist, Bristol Indymedia, Dave Weeden, Up North John, Gizmonaut, Spin and Spinners, Marginalia, Arnique, Heather Yaxley, The Whiskey Priest, On The Beat, Paul Canning, Martin Stabe, Mat Bowles, Pigdogfucker, Rachel North, B3TA board, Naqniq, Yorkshire Ranter, The Home Of Football, UFO Breakfast Recipients, Moninski , Kerching, e-clectig, Mediocracy, Sicily Scene Samizdata, I blog, they blog, weblog, Colcam, Some Random Thoughts, Bel is thinking, Vino S, Simply Jews, Atlantic Free Press, Registan, Filasteen, Britblog Roundup #136, Scientific Misconduct Blog, Adam Bowie, Duncan at Abcol, Camera Anguish, A Very British Dude, Whatever, Central News, Green Gathering, Leighton Cooke (224), , Skuds' Sister's Brother, Contrast News, Poliblog Perspective, Parish Pump, El Gales, Noodle, Curly's Corner Shop, Freunde der offenen Gesellschaft, otromundoesposible, Richard Stacy, Looking For A Voice, News Dissector, Kateshomeblog, Writes Like She Talks, Extra! Extra!, Committee To Protect Bloggers, Liberty's Requiem, American Samizdat, The Thunder Dragon, Cybersoc, Achievable Life, Paperholic, Creative-i, Raedwald, Nobody's Friend, Lobster Blogster, Panchromatica Back off, man..., Dan Hardie, Krusenstern, Brendadada, Freace,
Boriswatch, Fork Handles, Chris Applegate, Christopher Glamorgan, West Virginia Rebel's Blog, Instapundit,
Powerpymes, iDiligence
, Gizmotastic, Demos, Gary Andrews, Neweurasia
, Never
Trust a Hippy
, sub specie aeternitatis, Bananas in the Falklands, The Sharpener, Virtual Light, Stu News, Scraps of Moscow, Danivon, As A Dodo, La Russophobe, PJC Journal, Mick Fealty's Brassneck, dead brains don't dance, A Comfortable Place, Bamblog, Robert Amsterdam, The Customer, No Longer at Ease, Rachel-Catherine, Humaniform, Mike Rouse, Chesus Yuste, anticapitalista, Aderyn Cân, Ulla's Amazing Wee Blog (294), Ross200, Disruptive, Internazionale.it, The Obscurer, A Lefty Down Under, Things I Learned or Made Up, Pickled Bushman, Persons Unknown, Gnus of the World, Postman Patel, Parburypolitica (ii) Miscellany Symposium (306) Omnium (ii), In the Café and the Station, James Cridland's blog, Small Beds and Large Bears, Christopher White, Rolled-up Trousers, Lynne Featherstone, ßench, Random Comments from South London, Chap Sticks, (316) Suraci, UK Politics - Can't Get Enough, Critical Facility Dojo, MetaMedia (IHT), LFCM: Casualty Monitor, IP Democracy, (322) Magna Carta Plus News, Antony Loewenstein, Sports Blog, footballis fixed, Mailstrom,B2fxxx,


SNP Councillor threatens the law on Labour blogger

A couple of days ago Labour blogger Kezia Dugdale published the text of a letter sent by the daughter of an SNP councillor to First Minister Alex Salmond. It wasn't a very nice letter, it contained some very nasty allegations. Apparently the councillor Jahangir Hanif is going through an acrimonious divorce, and the letter from his daughter Noor appeared to be related to that family dispute.

It is rarely wise for outsiders to take sides in a divorce. For members of a political party to use accusations made in a family dispute to attack a member of another party is particularly unwise. However Noor had put her letter in the public domain, it has been quoted in newspapers and was mentioned in the Scottish Parliament on Thursday, so wise or not, it would appear that Kezia had the right to publish the text if she wished.

However, the blog post which contained the letter is no longer on line having being removed following legal proceedings bought by Cllr Hanif. I can sympathise with Cllr Hanif, to a certain extent, nobody wants their dirty linen shown in public. But an SNP councillor suing a Labour blogger for mentioning something that was already in the public domain is going to do more harm to the councillor and his party than ignoring it would have done. I hope that Alex Salmond has the sense to publicly distance the party from the individual actions of the councillor, otherwise the SNP will be open to attack for using the law to silence its critics.

Kezia's response to the legal action



The purpose of the fund is to pay much of the costs involved in pursuing a legal action against the UK Government.

The action is necessary after government’s constant, dogmatic and wholly irrational, refusal to include the Cornish within an international treaty designed to, among other things, introduce educational pluralism in their traditional homeland and thus bring to an end the forced assimilation of the Cornish people.

That treaty is the Council of Europe Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities. Please visit the website and help our Cornish cousins take the steps necessary to secure, among other things, equal educational opportunity for all pupils in Cornish schools.


Thatcher to lunch with Brown again

Considering that some have claimed that it marked the beginning of the end of Gordon Brown's honeymoon period, and the picture of the event was said to have been influential in the Glasgow East by-election, one would have thought that the chances of Mrs Thatcher being invited to lunch with the PM again were fairly slim.

According to the Guardian however Mrs T and the PM are due for another get together this weekend:

Margaret Thatcher is to return to Chequers on Saturday at the invitation of Gordon Brown, the Guardian has learned. The prime minister is expected to discuss the global downturn with the woman who dealt with some of Britain's toughest postwar economic conditions.

They way in which Mrs Thatcher dealt with those tough economic conditions is not remembered with affection by many Labour voters, but the guardian thinks that:

The meeting at Chequers is likely to be seen as a sign of the humble approach Brown plans to adopt during the political conference season as he tries to save his premiership by acknowledging the depth of the current economic difficulties. A one-to-one meeting with the Iron Lady, whose premiership was almost derailed by the dramatic rise in unemployment in the early 1980s, will show that Brown is prepared to take advice even from someone who remains highly controversial on the left.

To me it seems a bit like Einstein's definition of madness to do the same thing, hoping for a different outcome. ... All Brown will get is another hammering from the right for using a frail old lady for political advantage and another hammering from the left for asking economic advice from what they see as a personification of evil.


Poems and Politics: Rev Eli Jenkins' Prayer

With a Welsh scientist intending to blow the world to smithereens today, a Welsh prayer is in order for this weeks Poems and Politics:

Rev Eli Jenkins' Prayer - Dylan Thomas (from Under Milk Wood)

Every morning when I wake,
Dear Lord, a little prayer I make,
O please do keep Thy lovely eye
On all poor creatures born to die

And every evening at sun-down
I ask a blessing on the town,
For whether we last the night or no
I'm sure is always touch-and-go.

We are not wholly bad or good
Who live our lives under Milk Wood,
And Thou, I know, wilt be the first
To see our best side, not our worst.

O let us see another day!
Bless us all this night, I pray,
And to the sun we all will bow
And say, good-bye - but just for now!*

*We hope!!!!

If you are able to read this post then the Rev Jenkins prayer will have been answered and the evil scientists will have been defeated.

If not - then blogging might be light as me and my computer are turned into goo and sucked into a black hole!


Lembo's love life part 299

There is a vicious rumour over at the Daily Pundit that suggests that Lembit Opik was not dumped by Cheeky Girl Gabriela Irimia, as was previously reported. It appears that the truth is that Lembit was forced to break up his stable loving relationship by serial shagger and party leader Nick Clegg:

'It's the Cheeky Girl or the Party,' Clegg is rumoured to have told Lembit.


Conference Blogging

I have received an invitation to live blog Plaid Cymru's annual conference.

I am extremely grateful to Plaid for the invitation. I think that Plaid is being very progressive in extending such an invitation, and very brave too, considering some of the things that I have said about Plaid on this blog!

Unfortunately, because of previous family commitments I won't be able to accept the invitation. I hope that most of the other Welsh bloggers who have been asked will be able to make it and I look forward to reading their contributions.

Blogging the conference has been an important part of the presidential campaign in the USA this year. I doubt if blogging Plaid from Aberystwyth will be quite as important, but those things that are big the other side of the pond today have a way of becoming important on this side sooner or later! So Plaid's invitations to blog are probably on the right track.

I am kicking myself that it will be impossible for me to accept Plaid's invitation this year, I'm hoping that it was a genuine invitation and not just an administrative error. I would love to be able to live blog a conference!

I hope that I get an invite next time round, and as I am pushing myself, if the Wales TUC, Welsh Labour, Welsh Conservatives, Welsh Lib Dems, Llais etc feel like making a similar offer ..........!

Can you believe it?

I'm sure that the majority of people with an e-mail address have received financial scam spam at some time or another:

You have won £6 million in the Spanish lottery (despite never having entered)

Hello, I am the former chancellor of a country where an illegal coup has happened. I secreted millions of pounds before the coup and you can have half if you send me your bank details so that I can process the funds through your bank.

Family History research has suggested that you are the heir to millions, send us your personal details so that we can process your claim and pass the cash onto you.
They come through the post too:
Send me a thousand pounds and I'll show you how to beat the bookies.

Phone this number at £10 a minute to see if you have won a prize worth 10p

and so on.

I would have thought that 99.9% of people would recognize such posts as what they are - the posts of liars and thieves trying to con people out of their hard earned cash.

But if reports in some of today's newspapers are to believed I am wrong. Hundreds of people fall for these scams every day:

The OFT estimates that three million people every year lose around £3.5bn to scam mailshots, telephone calls or e-mails.

I find these figures hard to believe. The cynic in me suggests that the OFT is over egging the pudding and exaggerating the figures. If the figures are true everybody in Britain is going to fall for a thousand pound scam at least once in a lifetime. I just don't believe that the majority of us are quite that gullible.

I don't wish to underestimate the dangers of falling for scam spam, or the ways in which it ruins the lives of those who are tempted by it.

But if my cynicism is correct then the OFT is doing a disservice by publishing these exaggerated figures. The economy depends on people making investments based on proper research and expert advice. There is a danger that these sorts of "scare stories" will put people off genuine investment opportunities out of fear.

Fear of crime is possibly a greater social problem in these islands than actual crime is. By publishing figures that suggest that we are all doomed, that all of us will be ripped off, the OFT is increasing the levels of the fear of crime.

It is important that we are all aware of the dangers of being ripped off by scams, but exaggerating the risk doesn't do anybody any favours.

If my cynicism is misplaced, I apologise, but by the OFT's averages I should be able to con at least three regular readers of this blog out of £10,000 each.

I am willing to be proved wrong and it's worth a try!

So, dear reader if you would like me to make your wildest dream come true, please send your cheque for ten grand to Miserable Old Fart c/o Barclays Bank, Llandudno.


Next Steps for Devolution

The next step for devolution in the North of Ireland is devolving the police and justice systems to the Assembly. A major and controversial move. It will happen when the Westminster Secretary of State for Northern Ireland feels that it is time, probably within the next few months. There will be no need for a referendum.

Gordon Brown has accepted that the next step for devolution in Scotland is greater fiscal powers. Again a major change. There may be a need for a vote in the UK parliament to amend the Scotland Act, but it will probably happen by virtue of an order in council. It will happen before the next Westminster General Election in order to try and protect Labour's majority of Scottish seats. There will be no need for a referendum.

The next step for devolution in Wales will be a slight administrative change which gives the Assembly no potential further powers or areas of responsibility. The general consensus seems to be that this will happen at the earliest in three years time, but most likely in seven years time, but only if the change is approved in a referendum.

I think that this is wrong, that it is treating Wales badly, that it is something that Welsh Devolutionists and Welsh Nationalist should be shouting from the rafters and protesting on the streets about. But they are not doing so, they are clouding with this insult to Wales and praising it as an advance for Wales!

I don't understand why I get abusive e-mails calling me a fucking traitor for pointing this out on my blog, more importantly I don't understand why Labour Devolutionist or Plaid Nationalist feel that they need to defend such an unsavoury state of affairs!

Can anybody provide a rational explanation why Wales should have to wait seven years and have another referendum in order to get a quarter of what NI has and less than a fifth of what Scotland has now? Why Scotland and NI can have even more major new powers without the need for referendums? And why Labour the Lib Dems and Plaid think that such a situation is right and fair?


Tory Asses and Plaid Arses

When I was a big boy my Mam told me that the best way to treat boys who think that they are bigger and better than you, who tell lies and say silly things, is to ignore them - then they will go away.

When I first read David Davies comments about launching a No campaign against the referendum clause in the Government of Wales Act 2006, my reaction was Ignore him and he'll go away.

Unfortunately too many people, most of a nationalist persuasion, have chosen not to ignore him and have given his silly comments wings. Mr Davies has not, can not and will not start an official campaign for a no vote yet! Starting such a campaign is not and was not the intention of his press release this week.

If a campaign under the Government of Wales Act Referendum clause ever happens, the question will be Should the Assembly continue with the LCO route of gaining powers or not? That is all that is in the clause.

When Plaid mentions Scottish Powers they are lying - there are NO Scottish Powers in the Act! If we hold a referendum tomorrow and the NO campaign gets 100% of the vote; by 2015 (Labour's preferred date for the referendum) most of the powers of the Government of Wales Act will have been passed to the Assembly by LCO's anyway.

The referendum is not a cause, it is a distraction, David Davies knows that, Labour knows that worse still - Plaid knows that too!

What David is doing is in tune with what Labour is doing - trying to stifle the debate about independence. Plaid cannot campaign for more than what the GOW Act 2006 offers until the referendum is won, because it has hitched its future to the GOW Act referendum.

David is not campaigning against the GOW Act - he is campaigning against independence, and leaving Plaid in its usual lurch of having to say this isn't about independence - rather than campaigning FOR the policy that most of its supporter want!

It is high time that Plaid stopped arsing around with other parties' Unionist agendas and tried to persuade the electorate of the advantages of independence!

Swallowed the Bait:
Devils Kitchen
Peter Black
Right Student
James Johnson
Che Grav-ara


Brown's British Values

When one hears of reporters being manhandled and assaulted by undercover police for asking awkward questions of leading politicians, one usually thinks of places like soviet Russia, Communist China, Zimbabwe or some tin pot fascist dictatorship.

This couldn't happen here, after all freedom of the press is one of those Great British Values that Gordon Brown is so fond of reminding us about. Or is it? Apparently not according to this report in The Times:
Gordon Brown dodged reporters’ questions about his leadership when he arrived in Liverpool to address the North West Economics Conference before heading to Scotland to talk to the Scottish CBI tonight. A reporter was repeatedly manhandled away from Mr Brown by undercover police officers.

And later at the Walker Art Gallery in Liverpool a Special Branch officer and two uniformed police officers interrupted a reporter’s interview with Andy Burnham, Secretary of State for Culture Media and Sport. Mr Burnham said he was unaware of Mr Clarke’s comments so declined to respond. The reporter was forced to give his details to the police.

Despite being accredited for the event, the reporter, John Fahey from the Press Association, alleges he was forced away by Special Branch and members of the COI, the organisation which handles regional media events. He claims he was "belted in the solar plexus quite forcefully" after confronting Brown with questions about Charles Clarke's comments this morning.

If his account of events is correct, it seems extraordinary that special branch should interrupt an interview with the Culture Secretary...

You Gov starts Welsh Panel

Last August I wrote a post on this blog saying:

Unfortunately YouGov doesn’t do Welsh Polls, mainly because there are not enough Welsh members to create a reliable poll. Wales is considered to be a part of the Midlands of England because of the lack of Welsh members!

I also encouraged those who were interested in Welsh current affairs to join YouGov in order to ensure that there are enough Welsh members to enable the company to produce Welsh polls.

I was pleased to be informed today that YouGov in partnership with the BBC and research company SPA has now set up a panel called WalesView which will be conducting regular research into a variety of topics concerning Wales.

I shall look forward to taking part in these surveys and seeing what they report.

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

Exclusive: Adam is Edna!

Readers of Welsh blogs will know that Glyn Davies has a whistle blower in Cardiff Bay, who has supplied him with knowledge of all sorts of goings on since he left the institution.

The sweet whisperings of Edna Mopbucket into Glyn's ears have become a regular part of the former AM's blog.

But who is the real Edna?

A clue might be found in an advert for a play in the Shaftesbury Theatre: At these performances the role of Edna will be played by ....... Adam Price!


Poems & Politics: Rape - Adrienne Rich

Bethan Jenkins AM has an interesting post about rape, and the reaction to Helen Mirren's rather silly remarks about date rape.

Bethan and Helen's comments remind me of a poem I first heard read by my cousin Olwen Leavold a few years after it was published. My initial sexist reaction was bloody ridiculous, if a person has really suffered rape the last thing she would do is write a poem about it*. But Olwen reminded me of my fondness of War Poems - a catharsis for men who had suffered horrific experiences. If Wilfred Owen could write Dulce et Decorum after experiencing a gas attack - why shouldn't a woman be able to write something as moving after a rape attack?

Having been slapped down by my cousin and having looked at the poem again in that light, I think that this weeks Poems and Politics is, in fact, one of the most frightening and moving poems ever written:

Rape - Adrienne Rich

There is a cop who is both prowler and father:
he comes from your block, grew up with your brothers,
had certain ideals.
You hardly know him in his boots and silver badge,
on horseback, one hand touching his gun.

You hardly know him but you have to get to know him:
he has access to machinery that could kill you.
He and his stallion clop like warlords among the trash,
his ideals stand in the air, a frozen cloud
from between his unsmiling lips.

And so, when the time comes, you have to turn to him,
the maniac's sperm still greasing your thighs,
your mind whirling like crazy. You have to confess
to him, you are guilty of the crime
of having been forced.

And you see his blue eyes, the blue eyes of all the family
whom you used to know, grow narrow and glisten,
his hand types out the details
and he wants them all
but the hysteria in your voice pleases him best.

You hardly know him but now he thinks he knows you:
he has taken down your worst moment
on a machine and filed it in a file.
He knows, or thinks he knows, how much you imagined;
he knows, or thinks he knows, what you secretly wanted.

He has access to machinery that could get you put away;
and if, in the sickening light of the precinct,
and if, in the sickening light of the precinct,
your details sound like a portrait of your confessor,
will you swallow, will you deny them, will you lie your way home?

*note: I was only 16 years old then :-)


Public information or propaganda?

Public information broadcasts usually serve the genuine purpose of informing the public about things that most of the public need to know. Don't drink and drive - remember to apply for tax credits in time - don't fiddle the benefits system - use the green cross code when crossing the road etc. All good and worthy information that educates the general TV watching public.

I don't think that the latest public info adverts from the UKBA fits into the same category.

How many people are likely to need a license to bring immigrants from without the European Free Trade area into the UK? I would have thought that the numbers are few - not enough to justify the level of TV advertising that the UKBA's campaign currently enjoys.

Is it cynical to suggest that the main point of the UKBA's adverts have sod all to do with licencing and informing potential licensees (never mind informing the general public) but more to do with publicising an attempt by the Labour Government to appear tough on immigration?


OU does Welsh

Those with an interest in things Welsh wishing to further their education might be interested in two new foundation courses being offered by the Open University

Croeso: beginners' Welsh
Points: 30 Code: L196 Level: 1

Croeso will give you the skills you need to speak and understand simple Welsh in everyday situations. No previous knowledge of Welsh is required. We’ll send you printed and audio materials, and you’ll have a dedicated website, all of which support your language learning. And while you’re learning Welsh, you’ll gain a real feel for Welsh culture too.

Small country, big history: themes in the history of Wales
Points: 15 Code: A182 Level: 1

How does a country without political independence gain an identity? What is the role of history and historians in shaping national memory and identity? How have the historians of Wales done their work – what are their sources, and how should we scrutinise them? Using case studies ranging from the impact of Tom Jones and the Welsh rugby team in the twentieth century, to the building of Welsh castles under Edward I, this course will develop your understanding of Welsh history, the craft of the historian, and some of the ways in which national identities are formed.

Taking these courses will not only give you points towards a degree, but will also enable you to have learned conversations about Tom Jones and rugby in Welsh - wow the benefits of a good education ;-)