The Poll that got away

This is a bit of a late post. It relates to a story that was a big news item on the BBC's Radio Cymru and S4C news bulletins on Monday and was for a time the lead story on BBC Arlein.

I haven't mentioned it because I expected that it would also appear in the English MSM, on BBC Wales, ITV, The Western Mail or the Daily Post. But no! This appears to be a story that only Welsh speakers are interested in according to the MSM

A survey carried out by Beufort polled more than 1000 people in Wales. Only 11% of respondents considered themselves to be fluent Welsh speakers.


76% of them said that they thought that it is important for companies to advertise their services and wares in the Welsh Language.

82% of respondents said that the Welsh language is something to be proud of.

Why wasn't this story considered to be of interest to non Welsh speaking listeners and viewers of BBC and ITV Wales news programmes or readers of the Daily Post, the Western Mail or the Echo?

Would it be naughty to suggest that the editors prefere language conflict issues to dominate their coverage rather than to report the fact that most Welsh people, regardless of linguistic ability, support and value the Welsh Language as one of our national treasures?


Job Seeking

Apparently the Wales Millennium Centre is looking for a new chair. According to Head Hunters Odgers Berndtson:

The Board of Trustees is now seeking a new chair on the retirement of Lord Rowe-Beddoe after 9 years of outstanding service.

After all the money that the Assembly Government has pumped into it, one would have thought that the Wales Millennium Center could at least afford a new sofa by now, rather than just another chair!

Odgers are also looking for a Chief Executive for Scarlets RFC

Decision, decisions! Should I apply to be chair of the WMC or CE of the Scarlets?

Nah! The North Wales Weekly News has an ad for a toilet cleaner in Llandudno, a job with much better prospects and a damn site less sh** to deal with than either of those offered by Odgers.

The problems of PR

A recent YouGov Opinion poll for Scotland suggested that if a Westminster election was held this week that the likely result would be Labour 32%, SNP 30% Conservative 21% and Lib Dem 13% (96% total so I assume others 4%). If this is stuck into the Scottish Calculator on Electoral Calculus this gives a seat result of Labour 35 seats, SNP 10 seats, Conservatives 5 seats and Lib Dems 9 seats.

Clearly there is an "unfairness" element here. Labour and the SNP almost neck and neck, but Labour win more than three times as many Scottish seats. The Lib Dems on a third fewer votes than the Conservatives get almost twice as many seats! I can understand why people want PR, but I remain an agnostic on the issue.

I am not quite opposed to PR, because I can see the obvious failings of First Past the Post that this example gives. But I'm not convinced of the benefits either.

If one listens to party propaganda Plaid Cymru has had a huge effect on Welsh Politics between Gwynfor's election in 1966 and Plaid becoming a party of Government in 2009. Some of the claims might be taken with a pinch of salt, but some of them are probably fair. Tories might claim credit for the Welsh Language Act and S4C and Labour might claim credit for the Welsh Office and Devolution, but if it wasn't for the existence of Plaid, as a thorn in their side, these things would, probably, not have happened.

If Plaid has had only a quarter of the influence that party propaganda suggests over the past 50 years then Plaid's influence has been more than proportional to its vote tally, even under FPTP.

In the 1989 European Election the Green Party received 15% of the vote. This was before the partially PR D'Hont system was used in Euro elections, so the party won no seats. Under the present system they would have won a significant number of seats for the same number of votes. But despite winning no seats the party had an influence that was much grater than the size of its vote merited. Since 1989 every mainstream party has had to take green issues seriously. Not as seriously as the Green Party might wish, but the influence of that one election has been much more proportional than the vote merited and very much more than the Green Party vote has merited in subsequent elections.

Most political pundits accept that the Fascists will gain at least one, possibly as many as three seats in this year's Euro Election. They won't gain anywhere near as many votes as the Greens got in 1989. Under a FPTP system it is unlikely that they would have saved their deposits anywhere, they probably wouldn't have got enough votes in any constituency to make the difference between who won and who lost. But with PR they will gain seats.

Those seats will give them a platform worth much more than their vote and will make some mainstream candidates compromise with Fascist policies in order to retain and regain votes in the same way as Green issues were taken on board post 1989. This is the frightening side of PR.

As I said I am an agnostic on the issue - I can see both sides of the argument I can see merit on both sides and problems on both sides. But how does one square the circle?


NI Conundrum

I have never quite understood the politics of the north of Ireland.

I am an unashamed Protestant in my religious beliefs. I can understand the "Home Rule is Rome Rule" worries of Unionists. There is no way that I could live in the Irish Republic where all democratic decisions appear to be subject to the Pope's veto.

On the other hand I am also a (Welsh) nationalist and I have 100% sympathy with Irish nationalists who campaign for Irish Independence in the same way that I campaign for Welsh Independence.

As a protestant nationalist I don't know who the good guys are in NI politics, so I tend to ignore the thorny subject.

However there is one issue that has been raised on the Pint of Unionist Lite blog that has left me gobsmacked.

I had always respected the integrity of Sinn Fein MP's for refusing to take their seats in the British parliament. It is not a position that I agree with, but one which I can respect.

But I am told in the comments section of the Pint that despite the fact that SF MP's don't attend Westminster, they still claim the London home allowance!

You can call me stupid, but I don't understand the principal of refusing to sit in a British Parliament, whilst taking money for sleeping in a British parliamentary expenses bed!

To add to the fun, in her review of the way that parliamentary expenses are paid, Harriet Harman is considering having different rules for Northern Irish MP who don't attend the House of Commons!

Whilst the MPs for Land's End and John o'Groats will have to justify expenses for living in London, and will lose out if their far flung constituency duties mean that their actual attendances in London are limited, SF MP's will get a non attendance allowance.

Despite the sympathy I have with the Irish national cause I have to say that this is wrong, very wrong!

Happy St George's Day

To my Canadian, Cappadocian, Catalan, Ethiopian, Lithuanian, Georgian, German, Greek, Maltese, Palestinian, and Portuguese readers and friends.

To all from Appignano del Tronto, Carpeneto, Cerreto, Grue, Ferrara, Genoa, Hone, Modica Sicily, Arcole, Nerola, Riano and Venice in Italy.

To those from Aragon in Spain, Beirut in the Lebanon, Constantinople / Istanbul in Turkey, Moscow in Russia, Ptuj in Slovenia, Amersfoort in the Netherlands, and Senjin Croatia.

To the shepherds, butchers, farmers and agricultural workers; crusaders, armourers and equestrians; Boy Scouts, archers, soldiers and knights.

To those who suffer from herpes, leprosy, the plague, skin diseases, rashes and syphilis and all the others that St George represents

But most of all to all my English friends and readers:

Have a Very Good Saint George's Day!


Silly Budget

There is not a lot to say about the budget. As all the predictions and forecasts seem to have been based on wishful thinking they are not worth the paper they were written on.

It looks like the Assembly is going to get £500,000,000 less per year as a result of cut backs. A lot of money for a small institution so there will be severe cut backs in things like schools and hospitals and business support - the things needed to help Wales to come through the recession.

There seems to be little to get exited about on the bread and butter issues. Beer and fags and petrol have, as usual, gone up but not by as much as in previous budgets. This, along with the changes in higher rate income tax rates, seem to be a desperate attempt at appealing to Labour's traditional vote rather than having any fiscal significance. But having ignored their core vote for ten years then these attempt will probably fall into the category of the well worn political cliche of too little too late. The 50p in the £ tax for those on £100k or more seems to be a particularly naive bit of political budgeting. O.K. it may give the impression that the chancellor is punishing those rich sods who lead us into the financial crisis, which might please the socialists; but surely it is those who earn or aspire to earn such sums who are going to be needed to turn the economy around.

I am rather sceptical about the £2,000 old banger grant. How many people who currently have to drive 10 year old cars worth less than £2,000 are going to be in a position to sell them and buy a brand new car. Surely the reason people drive old bangers is because they can't afford anything better.

I was just as disappointed with the Conservative response to the budget speech. Cameron spoke well but was let down by his supporters. When he mentioned the possibility that Britain might have to go to the IMF his backbencher's laughed! Having to go to the IMF is no laughing matter. The Conservatives really must stop enjoying the recession. The economic downturn may be causing the Labour party difficulties but it is also causing hundreds of thousands of ordinary voters problems too. Hundreds of thousands of voters who are not going to vote for a party that laughs at their difficulty and sees the recession as a jolly wheeze with which to batter Brown and Darling.


Have Labour Conceded Defeat in Aberconwy?

It looks like the Labour Party has accepted that they haven't got a hope of retaining Aberconwy after the next Westminster election.

All parties are sometimes forced to put up "paper candidates" just to show that they are on the ballot. These are often people that even their own party hope don't win - but better a crap candidate than no candidate at all! Such candidates are almost never put up in constituencies that a party has a sniff at winning, but such a candidate has been selected by Labour to fight Aberconwy.

Cllr Ronnie Hughes, Labour's chosen one, is a former leader of Conwy County Borough Council. It is no exaggeration to say that he was probably the worst and least liked leader that the council has ever had. Indeed Cllr Hughes is such a maverick that even his own council group members sacked him as leader after last May's elections and even called for him to be booted out of the Labour Party after he accepted a post in the council's rainbow cabinet before his party had agreed to join the rainbow coalition.

Guto Bebb (Con) and Phil Edwards (PC) must be rubbing their hands with glee at the news of this selection. I sincerely hope that one of them wins - the thought of Ronnie Hughes MP is just too horrid to contemplate!

Congratulations Peter

Hearty Congratulations to Peter Black AM on being elevated to the lofty position of Official Censor of the Welsh Political Blogosphere. In his new role Peter has the final say on who may or may not Blog on politics in Wales. He has decreed that two bloggers should be banned forthwith.

Guerrilla Welsh-Fare and Welsh Ramblings are no longer welcome because:

A) They say nasty things about the Liberal Democrats.
B) They support Plaid Cymru
C) They blog anonymously and
D)There are rumors that the authors may work in Cardiff Bay.

How dare they blog! It shouldn't be allowed! Both should close down their blogs and p*** off!

I find it hilarious that Peter should have made his censorship comments on a blog called Freedom Central, and that he has done so without realising the irony that he is trying to restrict these bloggers' freedom of expression.

I haven't got the foggiest who writes these blogs and I couldn't give a damn where they work or who they work for. If they are Plaid staffers as Peter suspects then clearly they are going to be partisan in favour of Plaid. There is nothing wrong with partisan blogs - Peter's own offerings are hardly balanced and neutral. There is nothing odd or suspicious in people who are interested enough in the political process to work in politics expressing a political opinion either, why shouldn't they? The style and content of both blogs make it clear that they are the personal and idiosyncratic views of the authors rather than "official" blogs.

Peter claims that both use their blogs to smear others. I can't say that I have noticed that these two are any worse than other bloggers. However in his criticism of Welsh ramblings Peter draws attention to a post that claims that Paul Murphy has been selective in his choice of people with whom he has consulted regarding the Welsh Language LCO. If this is true then I would expect Peter to join Welsh Ramblings in condemning the Secretary of States actions. If it is not true I would expect Peter to debunk the claim. Surprisingly he does neither. Having complained about others being personal and smearing opponents Mr Black makes a personal attack on the author of Welsh Ramblings without addressing the important issue raised in the post at all!

Lest there be any doubt I should note that I am not employed by any political party, MP or AM - but I might be available for the right fee!



Can some corrupt politician please, please, please start a scandal that is a wall, a fence, a door a window anything other than another bleeding GATE.

The gate tag really has become so abused and overused by now it needs to be got rid of permanently


Banned from driving in prison!?

My local freesheet, the North Wales Pioneer, has rather an odd criminal justice story in this week's edition. I can't find a link to the story in the paper's online edition at the moment, but this is the gist of the story:

A young man had rather a lot to drink and then assaulted his girlfriend. The police intervened, so the man stole the girlfriend's car in an attempt to make a get-away. He was cornered by the police and then used the stolen car as a weapon, driving into police cars and two police officers, before being apprehended.

In court he was sentenced to three years imprisonment for the assault on his girlfriend and the police officers and for stealing the car. He was also given a three year driving ban for the drunk and dangerous driving.

This is what I found odd about the story. My understanding is that prisoners in custody have no opportunity to drive. So if this man serves his full sentence he will not have had a driving ban in any practical sense. He will be allowed to drive himself home from prison on the day of his release! If he is given parole or remission on his sentence the practical time that he is banned from driving will have been shortened by the time that he will have spent in custody.

I can't see any logic in such a sentencing policy. Surely if a person is given both custody and a driving ban for a serious driving offence then the ban should always be consecutive not concurrent. It should start on the day the offender is released from gaol, otherwise the banning part of the sentence is just a nonsense that serves no purpose other than to make the law look like an ass.


Getting the revenge in first

Apparently the Ukanian King of Blogging, Mr Iain Dale is going to write a critique of Welsh blogging on his site later on today. Because of my nocturnal hours I won't see it before most of the rest of the Welsh blogosphere has either torn it to shreds or praised it to the hilt! So I'm going to follow my great grand dad's advice about possible conflict and get the revenge in first.

The first point is, of course, that the opinion of an outsider, is to some extent unimportant. A lot of the Welsh blogs discuss Welsh issues and are only of internal interest, their interest and appeal to the wider world may be minimal - but so what? Wales needs and deserves a forum in which Welsh issues are disseminated.

The population of Wales is only 3 Million, just 5% of the population of the UK. Wales has more blogs and more readers per capita than any other part of the UK! Simon and I may be sliding down the list on the Wikio rankings, for personal reasons, but Wales based blogs still have more than 5% of the top 100 rankings. So Wales, as Chanticleer, notes is punching above its weight in the blogging ring.

Of course there are certain areas of the blogging scene in Wales that Mr Dale can not access. Thankfully he doesn't see Welsh blogging at it's bitchiest!!!

When I started to get an interest in party politics in the 1960's and 1970's I use to attend public meetings arranged by the different parties. OK I might leave them unpersuaded but at least I heard their argument and considered it before rejecting it.

During the Thatcher-Blair era that element of politics disappeared.

I think that blogging has bought the era of listening to your opponent's point of view back into politics because polibloggers tend to read and respect each other, even when we disagree! We hear what the other side has to say.

Whatever Iain has to say about Welsh blogging, I am proud of being a part of the Welsh political bolgging scene. I doubt if many votes are won or lost by Welsh political blogging, BUT the respect that people of differing parties and opinioins gain for each other through our on line debates must be for the common good!



Some prat has attacked this blog with spam comments on every single post. Whilst I spend a few hours erasing them I have switched off the ability to read or publish comments. This will just be a temporary measure, things will be restored by tomorrow.

Apologies to those regular commentators who's inboxes will have been inundated with "follow up comment information" e mails too.

This is going to take me a lot longer than I thought (especially as I am tempted to read all the old posts and comments as I go through the process! - Did I really write all that crap? Did you really respond to it?)

I have turned the comments and ability to comment back on. Comments on posts over 14 days old will be moderated. Please resist the temptation to click on any of the remaining spamming links - they contain a virus!