O Dear! Mr Johnston

England Rugby boss Martin Johnston should be aware that some of those viewing games on the tv can lip-read. Although his abusive remarks about his own team were not audible, they were very clearly mouthed. Lip reading foul mouthed obscenities is just as objectionable on Saturday afternoon television as is hearing it!


S4C and devolution. Incompatible?

I am not a devolutionist I am a nationalist. I believe that Wales should be responsible for the whole of its own governance and the whole of its own national expenditure.

The issue of S4C recently raised by both Prof Dylan Jones Evans and Lord Dafydd Elis Thomas makes the case. S4C costs a lot of money, about £90 million a year.

As Wales pays about £170 million in tv licensing fees and, probably, pays a similar amount of the advertising premiums on goods purchased, S4C is still expensive, but not as exorbitantly so as some would suggest.

In an independent Wales S4C would be affordable.

If S4C was devolved it would not be affordable, because it would take up about 10% of the Assembly budget.

Spending 10% of a national budget on a telly channel used by one in ten of the population could never be justified. The Assembly reneged on the idea of giving just £600K to a Welsh Language newspaper, for goodness sake! - It could never justify spending 10% of its budget on the telly when hospitals and school are in dire need.

There is no other institution in the world as separately Welsh as S4C. If anything should be devolved all logic says that S4C is it! But a devolved Wales can't afford S4C.

The only way that Wales can afford to have control over something as simple as its own telly is by ditching the stupidity of Plaid's policy of the "evolution of devolution" and campaigning for all out independence, which would allow broadcasting to be seen as a small part of a total national expenditure, rather than a huge part of a very limited devolved expenditure!


Who is C of C?

I, and a number of other bloggers, have had an e-mail from C of C which is rather nasty about the Welsh Liberal Democrats' new leader Kirsty Williams:

All the hype that surrounded the election of Kirsty 'Kleenex' Williams as Welsh Lib Dem Leader, is now just a dim and distant memory.

Thanks to the wonders of modern science, it is now possible to pinpoint the exact moment at which her star, truly began to wane.

Apparently, it was 4:27am on 21st December 2008:

This was the last time the hapless Führer left her mass ranks of followers (30 in total), a message on Twitter:

Ever since that precise moment, the increasingly isolated and remote figure of Williams has proved conclusively, dead-cats don't bounce.

Since being elected she has managed, with consummate ease, to rack-off the Cardiff-based press pack by skipping two press conferences.

Then, in an attempt to breakout from the 'bubble', Kleenex galloped North to make a personal appearance to endorse her candidate in a Council by-election in Wrexham:

The result? Not only did the Lib Dems lose to the Tories, their share of the vote actually fell substantially following her presence 'on the knocker'.

All is not lost for poor Kirsty, however. The wretched Lib Dems have one option left.

Perhaps it's time Kirsty was re-launched as her Party's Leader. Kirsty 2.0 maybe?

I am sure her guru Peter 'The Genius' Black will come up some fascinating ruse to have another crack at re-catapulting his quite positively useless Leader into the electoral stratosphere.

Who knows, after her re-launch, she may even get as many as 35 people following her on her Twitter.

As I have only ever posted on Twitter once, a message that said something along the lines of I don't know what do do on this site, I am in no position to comment on Kirsty's lack of Twittering.

But I am intrigued to know who it is who has the knife pointed in such a vicious way towards Ms Williams' back. It couldn't possibly be Cringe-worthy of Cardiff, could it?


Paying for crime?

Kezia Dugdale flags up a thought provoking story in the Scotsman today regarding the Scottish Governments plans to make criminals pay for the funerals of their victims - whether that be murder, culpable homicide or something like a dangerous driving offence.

Kenny MacAskill, the justice secretary, outlined the measures, which will be in the Criminal Justice and Licensing Bill that goes before the Scottish Parliament next month.

He told a victim support conference in Glasgow yesterday: "We aim to give criminal courts more flexibility to award compensation against an offender, and update the remit of compensation orders so they can reflect changes in the means of the offender, and be used to pay funeral and bereavement expenses to the relatives of a deceased victim. If supported by parliament, these important changes will help more victims and their families.

I can understand the reasoning. Why should I fork out for the expenses caused by another person's act of destruction?

But I have a knee jerk reaction of ych a fi to the idea.

I hope that such circumstances never arise, but if one of my nearest and dearest should die as a victim of crime, the idea that the perpetrator of that crime should invade my final goodbyes by paying for the funeral is just abhorrent.

That a criminal should forfeit his/her assets to a general fund that paid out a funeral grant might be acceptable - but a direct link between the perpetrator and the victims funeral is just too horrid to contemplate.

When Wales has responsibility for its own justice system, this SNP policy is one that I hope our National Assembly doesn't follow.


True Wales, Big Lies #2

This is a sort of addendum to my last post.

One of the things that the anti-devolution group True Wales states is one of its principals is that any application to draw down Legislative Competence Orders from the United Kingdom Government should reflect the wishes of the majority of the Welsh people.

As a democrat I tend to agree with this principal. But it is a principal that raises the age old question of how a democracy can reflect the view of the majority (without oppressing the right of the minority).

The standard practice in these Islands is by electing politicians to act on behalf of those who elect them. Not a perfect system, but one, as Churchill once said is, the worst form of government except for all the others that have been tried.

The democratically elected body in Wales, the body that best represents the wishes of the majority of Welsh people is the Assembly. So according to True Wales' own principals Westminster should NEVER oppose an LCO, because every request for competence reflects the wishes of the majority of those elected to represent the wishes of the people of Wales.

Under the current system the Secretary of State for Wales can block an LCO. Does the current Secretary of State reflect the views of the majority of Welsh voters? Ma by ma by not! However he is not elected to his position by the people of Wales. He was elected by fewer than one in sixty of the total Welsh electorate. (One in sixty more than his shadow, and probable successor, who has only been voted for by the people of Chesham and Amersham).

Under the current system the Welsh Affairs Select Committee can also block LCO's (as it has done and will surely do gain). But the Committee doesn't reflect the majority view of Welsh People, as True Wales wishes, it reflects the make up of the House of Commons, with the Labour Party as the majority and the Conservatives as the second largest party (including the member for The Wrekin to make up for the paucity of Welsh Conservative members). The Liberal democrats and Plaid Cymru only have token members. Plaid's token membership is based on its association with the SNP. If Plaid and the SNP didn't ally themselves to be a single parliamentary group, there would be no Plaid member on the Committee.

Even when Wales decided not to elect a single Tory MP in 1979 the Tories were still the second largest group on the Welsh Affairs Committee! Truly representative of Welsh views? I doubt it.

If True Wales want the Assembly to have draw down legislation that reflects the wishes of the majority of Welsh people they should give the Assembly every competence under the Government of Wales Act and support the YES vote campaign. If they oppose any competence being given to Wales they should say so and stop their lying and their posturing as the democratic voice of Wales that they, most certainly, are not.

Boring Welsh politics

Rhodri Morgan once said that the politics of Welsh was Boring, Boring Boring, and that the Assembly of which he is First Minister is also boring.

David Cameron for the Tories said on his visit to Barry that Welsh politics was boring.

Welsh Liberal Democrat MP Lembit Öpik is so bored with his job representing his constituents that he tries to spice up his life with even more celebrity appearances.

Is there a party that isn't bored with Welsh politics?


But as the voice over on the Weakest Link often asks will the votes reflect the reality?

Probably not! And Plaid members and supporters should be asking themselves why this should be so?

There was a time when Plaid could command the headlines by shouting for Wales, despite its poor election results. Think of Penyberth, Tyweryn, Gwynfor's death threat. Plaid punched a thousand times above its weight and demanded attention in those days.

With every other Party being bored by Wales why isn't Plaid shouting above it weight NOW? Is the leadership of Plaid also bored with Welsh Politics?

Tell me it aint so Jo Ieu! Tell me it aint so!

True Wales Big Lies

As the kids are on holiday and have commendeered my computer I haven't had much time to follow whats going on in the world of Welsh political blogging this week. Thanks to an e-mail I have been informed that my name has been dragged through the mud in the comments section of Betsan Powys' blog.

38. At 05:34am on 13 Feb 2009, Bostoniwr wrote:
There are some interesting point of view concerning True Wales on Alwyn ap Huw's blogspot blog, "Miserable Old Fart". He begins with this sentence:

"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!"

plus ca change! Sounds familiar to anybody who's been exposed to their members posts on this blog.

The post that bostoniwr refers to can be found Here

39. At 06:09am on 13 Feb 2009, TheStonemason wrote:

"Alwyn ap Huw" is unlikely to write anything other than he has in your quote, he with others have established counter argument to the "No" position, he has been vociferous in his support for additional powers. Some even created a very similar web site to confuse, a very typical Nationalist technique when argument is weak.

Yet he has recently fallen out of love with Plaid Cymru.

You could be he, in different clothes.

I am disappointed with the Stonemason's contribution. Although we have differences of opinion about our views on the best constitutional settlement for Wales I hope that I have always opposed his opinions with courtesy and respect and with my own name displayed in big bold letters. I never make anonymous comments. I don't see the point of expressing an opinion without making it clear that it is my opinion.

Incidentally I haven't particularly fallen out with Plaid Cymru. I stopped being a member of Plaid Cymru some 10 years or so ago (not recently). That was more to do with falling out with the idea of membership of any party and the need to toe the party line that membership involves. I disagree with Plaid's socialism and its commitment to the EU; I don't think that the party shows its Nationalist credentials as much as it should do. Not being a member allows me to say so. But as far as any allegiance goes I will vote for Plaid and support Plaid in every election, as the best of a bunch of parties who's lines I will not toe!

41. At 08:42am on 13 Feb 2009, mapexx wrote:
Message 38....

What is significant is, not that True Wales is as charged, but that Alwyn ap Huw, does not expand on his charge that True Wales has published lies.

Maybe Bostonian,otherwise known as BOSSY BOOTS, could do it for him, and lay out on this blog, just what lies True Wales has supposedly told.

I would think that if any lies have been told it is by....

a: Alwyn ap Huw.
b: Plaid Cymru.
c: The Cardiff Bay mob, and
d: quite a few who frequent these blogs with their nationalist agenda's.

This is another one of True Wales' Big Lies. The post in question expands in detail on five specific lies that True Wales told in their initial outing.

However to give a more up to date example of True wales lying I refer Mapexx to True Wales own blogsite, where it states that one of its aims is that any application to draw down Legislative Competence Orders from the United Kingdom Government should reflect the wishes of the majority of the Welsh people where as True Wales actually opposes any drawing down of policies as a matter of principal.


The £444,000,000 rip off

If you click on this link, you will find a copy of a typical England and Wales Court Summons. In this case it is a Witness Summons for the Court of Protection relating to people detained under the Mental Health Act. The form is a simple template where one needs to fill in the boxes.

Its fair to say that there are many hundreds of different versions of summons forms, for different levels of court and different statuses of those who are summonsed to attend. But they are all basically similar, they are all simple templates. Three quarters of the details on all of the different templates ask for similar basic information NAME ............. Address............ Date, Place and Time of hearing etc.

Using the Court of Protection form and just fiddling with the very basic programmes that I have on my computer I was able to create a template, a Welsh translation of the template and the ability to automatically fill both forms at once in less than half an hour.

I am not a computer expert, I have no training, I have taught myself to do what I want to do on a computer by trial and error. But if I am able to create a form filling application in two languages in less than half an hour (albeit for just one form) why on earth is the Libra system being delivered in an incomplete state 7 years late and at a cost of £444 Million?

The system is incomplete because it can't offer Welsh & English bilingual summonses. Rectifying this problem is going to cost another £4 million.

Facebook was translated into Welsh by a group of about a dozen volunteers over a period of six months or so. Facebook, one would imagine, is a more complex system than a simple form filling exercise. If those volunteers offered to translate Libra their work would be valued at about £300,000 each! If those volunteers were to produce a virtual invoice for the cost of translating Facebook I doubt if they would come close to even 2% of what Libra claims the translation costs will be.

The whole Libra project raises rip-off questions. But the £4 million translation cost raises even more worries. £4 million for a single Welsh Translation service is manna from heaven to the anti-Welsh language lobby, it is a gift to those who want excuses for not supporting the language. As an avid supporter of the language I can think of much better language support uses for such a huge amount of money than issuing summonses - how many language tutors and learners could be supported by such a sum?

I'm not sure how or by whom Welsh Language projects should be investigated - but this is a project in need of a very serious investigation!


Tell Bethan you Love Her!

As St Valentine's day approaches Bethan Jenkins AM is feeling unloved and unwanted:

Valentine’s Day is fast approaching, and while I never usually celebrate it, I thought perhaps I should use it as an opportunity to recindle my love of blogging, as we seem to have become very distant of late. I think perhaps I am afraid of commitment- either that or the honeymoon period is over! …Sorry about the analogy- corny I know, but I’m trying to explain why I have failed to blog for so long. Betsan Powys suggested that I should consider not apologising for failing to blog, but I guess that people stop visiting blogs if they don’t update them, and if I continue, I want to ensure that I get at least a core readership!

Aw! Shame - from second most shaggable blogger to on the shelf in less than six months!

Pop over to Beth's blog and leave a little message on her comments page so that she knows that you do really love her - poor dab!

Ta! Ta! Syr Emyr?

Adam Price MP suggests that Sir Emyr Jones Parry may not be able to continue with his role as boss of the Committee for Delaying Welsh Democracy for much longer.

Adam also suggests that Sir Em should be replaced!

I would prefer that the committee be abolished. I can't see the point of its existence.

The whole point of the committee is just pointless. Its job is to advise the Assembly about whether or when a referendum should be held on further powers for the Assembly - a political decision!

Don't we elect and pay politicians to make political decisions?

If the Assembly can't be arsed to make such a simple decision for itself, without outside help, what's the point of the Assembly's existence?

Adam suggests that as Lord Ivor Richards was an UN Permanent Representative and a European Commissioner, before he presented his report; and Sir Emyr is a diplomat of vast experience - we need another experienced diplomat to continue the job!

Adam suggests Hywel Ceri Jones, a former Director-General at the European Commission!

This might be a shock to Adam, but Wales isn't Gaza, Wales isn't Afganhistan, Wales isn't Sri Lanka, Rwanda or Tibet!

There are rare disagreements about devolution in Wales, which can get heated - but not so heated that a good barmaid can't cool them. We don't need a High Profile International Diplomat to sort them out for F**k sake!

What we need are politicians who believe in devolution and who are willing to take the bull by the horns and start campaigning for a yes vote NOW!


Why Just a Welsh Language LCO?

A number of posts last week across the Welsh blogosphere relating to the Welsh Language LCO attracted comments from Brian Barker from the UK Esperanto Lobby.

I have never quite understood the idea of Esperanto, and have never favoured the idea of "one universal language". However Mr Barker's comments in favour of a legal status for Esperanto do raise an interesting point regarding Language issues and the Assembly. Specifically, why should the Assembly request competence for just the Welsh Language?

Wales is a multi cultural, multi linguistic community. The idea that the National Assembly should have authority to legislate and make policies in regard to just ONE of those many languages doesn't seem right to me.

Many of those who object to any protection for the Welsh language worry that such protection is, in some way, going to force them to learn Welsh or disadvantage them because they don't speak Welsh.

Most Welsh speakers despair when we hear such arguments. We know what linguistic disadvantage is and we know that giving our language a legal status is not going to endanger the future of English in Wales! However, we have to accept that the worries of the non Welsh speaking community, despite being unfounded, are genuine worries.

Competence for Language, rather than just the Welsh Language could enable the Assembly to give the English speaking majority assurances that would enable them to support the protection of Welsh without fear.

Wales doesn't have just two indigenous languages - it has three. Since its inception the Assembly has accepted that BSL (sign language) is the third most commonly used indigenous language in Wales. The Assembly is the only government body that accepts BSL as an official native language. A language LCO that gave the Assembly authority over BSL as well as Welsh might make ITV Wales think again about ditching BSL on it's news programmes.

In some wards in Wales both English and Welsh are minority languages, the Assembly should have the language competency to cope with these communities, and to react to their linguistic needs sensitively. An exclusive Welsh language LCO doesn't give our government the tools needed for that job!

I don't think that the current Welsh Language LCO can be adapted into a general Language LCO, given its passage. But whilst the current competence order is going through its paces, it would be good if the Assembly started to think about other broader linguistic responsibilities it could aquire as the next step!

Knighted Troubadours

A number of people have received knighthoods for their contribution in giving this realm a good sing song - Sir Cliff Richard, Sir Elton John our own Sir Tom Jones and, apparently, Scotland's Sir Alex Salmond:

HT Calum Cashley


Silly Question

The National Assembly has to ask for Competence over specific areas of legislation. It has to explain what it wishes to achieve through gaining that competence.

The UK government can say No, you can't be trusted in that area - competence will not be given!

Fair enough!

However, having said No! Shouldn't the Union government prove that it can provide an alternative to the competence refused?

Shouldn't Westminster have better policies that address the issues raised before refusing competence to Wales?

That Chippy in Chepstow

The ability to pass legislation regarding the Welsh language already exists!

The willingness to pass such legislation also exists - Westminster has passed decenial Welsh Language Laws since the 1930's.

The Welsh Language LCO has sod all to do with whether the Chippy in Chepstow should be subject to Welsh Language Legislation - it is all to do with who should decide whether or not said chippy should be subject to said legislation!

The Welsh Language LCO has nothing to do with the rights or the wrongs of Welsh language provision, it's to do with which institution is best placed to decide linguistic issues: Westminster or the Bay?

Those of us who want competence for the language to be decided in the Assembly, rather than at Westminster, are actually taking a gamble. Any Assembly language measures are going to be scrutinised a damn site more closely than Westminster measures are.

In Westminster the Welsh Language is always a side issue. Something that an enthusiastic Minister or Civil Servant can get away with.

The Education Act of 1993 insists that all pupils in Wales (including the Chippy in Chepstow's kids) are educated up to key stage three in Welsh! I doubt if such legislation could ever have passed through a Welsh Assembly given the competence to debate it!

There is one thing that worries me about the language LCO, which relates to the whole LCO process, and may be relevant to other LCO's.

If partial legislative responsibility is given to the Assembly, and partial legislative responsibility is left with Westminster then substantial responsibility can be left in limbo with neither body taking responsibility for it - the worst of both worlds.

Even if you couldn't give a fig about the Language, imagine the distress that limiting an LCO could cause in child protection legislation, leaving the differences between the Bay and Westminster in limbo!

The housing LCO compromise leaves neither Cardiff nor Westminster fully responsible for social housing - social housing will slip between both stools now - and probably die!

The worst thing that could happen to the language is Westminster giving 25% of language protection responsibility to the Assembly, and using that 25% as an excuse to do nothing with the 75% retained responsibility.

My personal attitude is either Wales gets 100% responsibility over Welsh Language issues, which common sense says that Wales should have, or we tell Westminster to stick the LCO where the sun don't shine!


Wales in Eurovision

The Eurovision song contest is a competition held between members of the European Broadcasting Union, the EBU.

S4C is a fully incorporated and independent member of the EBU, so Wales "can" compete in the Eurovision Song Contest as an independent state if S4C wants Wales to!

Mark Evans has proved that he is "almost" good enough to rep the UK in the Eurovision, so that means that he must be good enough to represent Wales.

So come on S4C ask Mark to compete in Wales' name!

Doctors and Nurses!

I have received an e-mail from BMAC asking me to link to their blog.

I am very happy to link to the Basingstoke Model Aero Club. However I suspect that the BMAC in question is the British Medical Association in Wales, the Medical Doctor's trade Union.

Because I am just a nurse I am used to being ordered about by doctors in a hospital setting, but I'll be buggered if I will be told what to do by doctors in the blogosphere!

So NO I will NOT provide a full link to the BMA Cymru blog, unless nurse's blogs are treated as equal by them!

I am grateful to the BMA for enabling me to raise an old gripe:

Why are people with bachelor degrees in medicine considered to be proper doctors, whilst nurses with PhD's, LlD's, DLit's etc are asked not to use their honest right to the title Doctor, in order to avoid confusion?