Poor Guto is a bit upset

The pressure of the election seems to be getting at poor Guto Bebb.

On Pawb a'i Farn (an S4C programme similar to Question Time) last week Guto made a fool of himself. In response to a question on the MPs expenses scandal, you know the expenses scandal which involved members of his own party claiming for cleaning their moats and building a duck house, he tried to make out that fellow panellist Elfyn Llwyd was part of the scandal for claiming the parliamentary subsistence allowance. Elfyn chose to ignore him, so Guto said the same thing again, Elfyn dismissed the comments for the rubbish that they were by retorting if you say so Guto.

Unaware of how foolish his performance made him look, Guto smugly claimed on his blog that he had thrown a nuclear bomb at Elfyn. I responded to his post by leaving a comment that his so called bomb had blown up in his own face. Guto decided not to publish the comment. This is not the first time that Guto has refused to publish critical comments on his blog or to engage in any form of debate with those who disagree with him.

Guto's reluctance to engage in any debate is a shame, he use to be a regular contributor to the Welsh discussion board Maes e, where his comments were often insightful and interesting even when one disagreed with him. It also negates the whole point of blogging if one doesn't allow others to comment, and only allowing positive comments is a form of lying because it gives the false impression that all agree with one's words of wisdom.

Because of this I accused Guto of cowardice on my Hen Rech Flin blog, Guto's petulant response to my accusation can be seen here. The response is full of lies and inaccuracies.

Despite knowing that I am not a member of Plaid Cymru or any other party, and that the views I express aren't any organisation's views just my own, Guto insists on referring to me as a Plaid blogger. Guto claims that I called him a shitty coward, which I did not, if he checked with Cysgair he would find that the Welsh Word Cachgi translates as coward, dastard, rotter. Guto also claims that my comments were nasty – they were not – telling somebody that they are mistaken is actually an act of friendship not of nastiness, it enables them to avoid making the same mistake again. Of course this isn't the first time that Guto has accused me of nastiness when I have tried to be helpful to him; I was also accused of nastiness when I informed him that his leaflets weren't getting through to my part of Glan Conwy a few months ago, something that I would have expected any candidate to want to know.

If Guto cannot abide any disagreement with his point of view or any critical comment, if he fears discussion and debate has he got what it takes to be an MP? If he gets so hot under the collar because of a bit of criticism perhaps he should give up campaigning for the sake of his health.

Obligatory Post Debate Post.

If the broadcasters decide to do leaders debates at the next Westminster election, I would strongly suggest that they restrict it to one next time.

Tonight's debate was tedious. Nothing new was said, the same old arguments as were used last week and a fortnight ago were reheated. Nick Clegg and Gordon Brown looked knackered and came across as positively peeved at having to go through the same old crap again. I almost expected Brown to do a Bush senior moment and look at his watch to see how much longer he had to suffer the ordeal.

Although repeats of old classics on channels like ITV3 may be fun to revisit, most of us get annoyed at seeing a repeat at prime time within a week of the first broadcast, tonight's programme was worst than a repeat – it was a poor remake of an original non classic that dived.

Being the least tired looking and the only one who tried to put a bit of new oomph into the programme, I call this one for David Cameron, but the scores on the doors are not very complimentary to any:

MOF's Strictly Come Politicking scores for this week are a very miserable
Cameron 4 / 10
Clegg 3 / 10
Brown 1/10


Tories want Plaid help to block PR! Uh?

I don't buy the Financial Times, but according to Wales on Line, yesterday:

The Financial Times reported that Mr Cameron’s campaign team was exploring the possibility of a deal with unionist politicians in Northern Ireland and Scottish and Welsh nationalist MPs.
This was an attempt to avoid Liberal Democrats’ demands for electoral reform, the newspaper said.

There is nothing wrong with the Tories approaching smaller parties to see what sort of deals can be done in case they need a bit of extra support in the event of a balanced parliament, of course, but this story doesn't ring true to me.

I don't know where the northern Irish Unionist parties stand on PR but for as long as I can remember both Plaid and the SNP have been strongly in favour of electoral reform, so if Cameron came knocking on their doors asking for their support in order to avoid Liberal Democrats’ demands for electoral reform I would expect that he would find the doors slammed in his face.

This story is clearly a crock of the proverbial, worrying though that people depend on a paper that produces such fanciful reporting in order to inform their financial investment decisions.


Is the Pope launching a helpline a joke?

Thorough the day I have heard a number of reports about the gaff by Home Office staff regarding the Pope's visit to the UK. Almost every news service lists the jocular and insulting ideas that were suggested in the document:

Benedictine Condoms Ha! Ha!
Blessing a gay marriage Ho! Ho!
Opening an abortion clinic Ha bloody Ho!

I can see the piss take in these suggestions, I can see why Catholics are upset and I can see why some see the Vatican and the UK Government's reactions to them as rather sour faced.

But there is one thing in the list that I honestly believe is not a joke or a leg pull:

That the Pope should open a helpline for children abused by Catholic Priests and others in Church authority.

I would suggest that the person who threw this idea into the brainstorming event was serious, possibly even an adherent of Roman Catholicism.

As a non Catholic Christian preacher who has had to deal with totally unjustified tarred with the same brush bollocks over the last few months, I think that The Pope opening a helpline, or encouraging abused parishioners of all denominations to contact ChildLine 0800 1111 would be a very good idea!


SNP & Plaid to take BBC to Court?

Elfyn Llwyd has just announced on the S4C Programme Pawb a'i Farn that Plaid and the SNP are going to take the BBC to court over its decision to exclude the parties from the TV debates following the Trust's decision to reject their complaint about their exclusion.

I haven't seen any official anouncement about this, but I doubt if Elfyn would have said that legal action is to be taken, unless an official decision to go to court had been made by the parties.


A debate about consensus

The latest edition of the political X Factor was slightly better than last week's offering. All three leaders seem to have learned some lessons from the mistakes they made last time.

Last week Clegg came top by being the one that wasn't the other two, David Cameron tried a bit too hard to don that mantel but failed miserably. Mr Cameron also made a bit of a mistake in his summing up at the end. It was obvious that his script had been pre prepared and that he was reading it, so when he read "I don't know about you but I think that sounded desperate", it clearly wasn't a retort to what Gordon Brown had just said, it was something he was going to say if Brown sounded desperate or not.

Oh and Wales got a mention this week, just one as an aside by Gordon Brownand he mentioned the Scottish weather too.

Who won? It is more difficult to decide this week they were all pretty equal, especially as there was a lot of consensus on many issues.
So my Strictly Come Politicking scores are:

Brown 7 out of 10
Clegg 6.5 out of 10
Cameron 6. out of 10

Are the Welsh Lib Dems embarrassed by their road pricing plans?

In the Welsh Leaders debate on Tuesday and on CF99 last night the issue of the high price of petol arose. On both programmes the Liberal Democrats' representatives expressed sympathy for the difficulties caused to individuals and businesses because of rising fuel prices but neither mentioned their party's policy of road pricing.

According to this report on the BBC the Liberal Democrats want to charge road users between 8p and 12p for every mile that they travel on the roads.

Am I a cynic for suspecting that this reluctance to mention their policy on Welsh political programmes is because three of the seats being defended by the Liberal Democrats are in the most rural part of Wales where such a policy would be as popular as a rat sandwich?


NO! I am NOT a Labour Candidate

Every now and again I get plagued by Trolls who believe that they have discovered some huge secret – that my family name is Humphreys. The fools think that I somehow make the fact secret, or that I am ashamed of my family name, or that I try to hide behind a false identity.

The truth is I have used the name Alwyn ap Huw as a public identity for more than thirty five years. Mainly because there is another Alwyn Humphreys, who is much better known than I in Welsh Wales, and I have never wanted to be confused with him.

Since Labour announced the name of their candidate in Dwyfor Meirionnydd I have been inundated with e-mails, letters, phone calls and comments on the street congratulating me / condemning me and commentating on the fact that I have been selected as the Labour Candidate for Dwyfor Meirionnydd.

The worst thing is that some of these comments have come from family and friends who should know better!

To get rid of any further confusion I would like to make it perfectly clear that I AM NOT the Alwyn Humphreys Labour candidate for Dwyfor Meirionnydd.

I hope that nobody wastes a vote on Labour's Alwyn Humphreys because they think that He is Me!

I'm not quite sure what I would feel if I heard that Alwyn had lost votes because of a similar confusion :-(


Shut up Girl! Lembit on Feminism?

The second BBC Wales 2010 Election debates came from from Newtown, Montgomeryshire.

Heledd Fychan the Plaid Cymru candiadate, did well, very well. In a constituency that Plaid is unlikely to win Heledd put her name down as a contender to keep at it and build the Maldwyn vote into a victory for Plaid and/ or to make her a contender for a safer seat in the Assembly.

With the surge in the Liberal Democrats vote, following the leaders debate, the Lib Dems should keep this seat.

I can understand why the Lib Dems have had a surge, and good luck to them. If the Lib Dems have the most votes but the fewest MPs it will aid the democratisation of politics in the UK - it may be a step in the direction of fair votes for all including MK, SNP, Plaid.

My worry is that I don't think that a person who dismisses a female candidate with shut up girl, or who looks at politics through the lens of the Daily Sport, deserves to be an MP for any party, not least a Liberal and Democratic party.

I wish the Lib Dems the best of luck in England, I hope that they do well in those Scottish and Welsh seats that Plaid / SNP haven't got a sniff at, (I hope that MK beats the pants off them in Cornwall).

I would be pleased to see Nick Clegg PM, with that one caveat that the most illiberal and undemocratic embarrassment to the, non partisan, idea of Liberalism and Democracy loses his seat – Ta! Ta! Lembo!

Since 1879 Maldwyn has voted for Traditional Welsh Radical Liberalism, keep that tradition by voting Heledd Fychan the true keeper of that tradition.


MKs' Election Broadcast

Because the BBC doesn't recognise that Cornwall is a country but treats it as an English county, Mebyon Kernow is not permitted a tv slot for an Election Broadcast, as it doesn't put up a sufficient number of candidates in "the rest of England". It will have candidates in all six Cornish seats.

Here is the party's Election Broadcast made for YouTube


The Big Debate - Pigs in Lipstick!

One hour and 40 minutes was much too long.

I am into politics, but even I switched off after just over an hour (I did suffer the rest on Freeview+ after a couple of pints). If the broadcasters and politicians want to do it again in 2015, I would suggest between 45 minutes and an hour max.

It was a debate on domestic ie English issues, so wasn't of much interest to me.

In fairness the presenter did note before most questions this is an issue that is devolved in Scotland, NI, Wales, but it was disappointing that none of the leaders picked up on that with a comment along the lines of and our colleagues in the devolved bodies will also be campaigning for ....." - after all the Welsh, Scottish and Northern Irish leaders were excluded because it was a British debate – not much of an Union if the other supposed Partners in Union are just airbrushed out of the equation is it?

On two occasions David Cameron didn't spot the questioner and asked him to reveal himself, in order that Dave could address his answer to the questioners personally, bad move.

Firstly it suggested that he wasn't paying attention. It isn't what it looks like in the studio that is important – but what it looks like on the telly in my living room. I saw the blokes asking (there were cameras on them) the fact that Dave didn't see them made him look as if he wasn't paying attention.

Worse still David Cameron was addressing his answers to the questioners rather than to me in my house.

Because I am hard of hearing I lip-read as much as I heard of the debate. That "thing" Mr Brown does with his mouth (not as bad as it use to be) makes him difficult to lip-read, sometimes it lip-reads as unvoiced expletives!

More importantly Nick Clegg voiced his answer to the camera, not to a member of the studio audience; I saw what Nick was saying to me, rather than seeing what Dave was saying to an audience member over an image of his right earlobe.

The other lip-reading issue (and it is not only us hard of hearing, who partially lip read – most adults do) is that both Brown and Cameron appeared to be wearing lipstick; and that distracted from their message.

Every time they spoke I thought of Obama's comment about pigs and lipstick, and those thoughts clouded their message.

The Score:
Clegg 6 out of 10 (could have been 7 if it wasn't for the suit and tie.

Brown 4.5 out of ten.

Cameron 4.4 out of ten – almost a draw, but Dave needs to do better than a draw in order to win.

Alex Salmond Ten out of Ten:


BBC Wales Election debate - Delyn

I have just watched a recording of last night's BBC Wales election Debate from Delyn. On the panel were the four main party candidates:

Bill Brereton - Liberal Democrat
David Hanson - Labour
Peter Ryder - Plaid Cymru
Antoinette Sandbach - Conservative

Not included (not even in the audience - which use to happen in the old days) were the two other declared candidates:

Jennifer Griffin - British National Party
Andrew Haigh - UK Independence Party

One of the problems with local hustings, rather than party big guns, taking part in programmes like this is that they can benefit the incumbent. A person who has been a professional politician every working day of his or her life for years, sometimes decades should have a natural advantage in knowledge of the arguments and in ways of presenting the arguments.

Despite having been an MP for some 18 years David Hanson didn't seem to have that edge over the others. This would have been refreshing if it was because the other panel members were particularly strong, but they weren't, they were all pretty weak and uninspiring, for the incumbent not to win hands down in such a situation is a very bad reflection on his ability, especially as he has been a government minister for some time.

Two bad mistakes in the programme:

Whilst discussing crime and law and order Antoinette Sandbach mentioned something that David Cameron had said in Llandudno about the rights of people in England (pause, hesitation, afterthought) ... and Wales. It was only a 1 second pause, if that, but it stood out a mile.

The other bad mistake was by Plaid's Peter Ryder, he had mentioned Plaid's policy of a fuel price regulator, Antoinette retorted that this was a Conservative policy since 2008 and Paid wanted to jump on their band wagon. Peter tried to come back but was stopped by Betsan.

I know what Peter wanted to say. That Plaid had put forward such a scheme in 2005 and 2008 and the Conservatives had voted against it on both occasions. Peter should have got that point in, even if it was in answer to another question.

Bill Bereton was the candidate who was most out of his depth, he used his USP - that he is a former senior policeman, so he knows about law and order - in response to the first question about the economy, when a law and order question came up later in the programme he had nothing new or unique to offer on the subject.

So my Strictly Come Politicking scores are:

Peter Ryder - Plaid Cymru 4.5
Antoinette Sandbach - Conservative 4.25
David Hanson - Labour - 4.25
Bill Brereton - Liberal Democrat 4.00

All could have done better.

With the Experience of Lembit and Glyn, the enthusiasm of Heledd and whatever the Labour candidate can offer lets hope for something more inspiring next week when the debate visits Montgomeryshire.


The BBC, the Election and Devolution

I have just watched the latest edition of Newswatch, a programme that deals with complaints about the BBC's news coverage. This week's edition, as might be expected, had a section about election coverage.

In the programme the deputy head of the news room, Craig Oliver, the Beeb's man in charge of fair election coverage said something like these people [the party reps] are debating the running of our country. Weather taxes should go up, the Health Service and the Education of our children.

Except for Wales, Scotland and the North of Ireland the Health Service and the Education of our children are not major issues in this election – they are issues for next year's elections to the devolved bodies, because they are devolved issues.

If the man who is charged with fair election coverage isn't aware of the devolution differences which should be noted in the coverage of this election, what real hope is there for fair and impartial reporting from the BBC?


Ask the Prime Ministers "Why are you frightened of Plaid / SNP?"

Gordon Brown, David Cameron and Nick Clegg will appear  head to head in telly debates on April 15th, 22nd and 29th. I'm SO excited I can't wait!

The first chinwag will be under the auspices of ITV when Alastair Stewart will be the referee. The debate will deal with domestic issues.

Sky will host the second debate, international affairs will be the curriculum and Adam Boulton will be the invigilator

The final debate will be hosted by good old Aunty BBC with David Dimbleby in the chair presiding over a debate on economic issues

Any member of the voting public can send a question into the programmes, the theory is that the most asked questions will be put to the three great leaders, but the questions will be dismissed unless they are relevant to the themes of the debate.

If you would like to suggest a question you can do so through the following links:




I doubt if it would be asked, even if it was the most popular question, but what I would ask on the ITV programme is Why are the three representatives of the London Parties frightened of debating domestic issues with representatives of Plaid Cymru and the SNP?

I would ask Sky: Why are the three representatives of the London Parties frightened of debating international issues with representatives of Plaid Cymru and the SNP?

I would ask the BBC: Why are the three representatives of the London Parties frightened of debating economic issues with representatives of Plaid Cymru and the SNP??

I would encourage every Welsh and Scottish Nationalist to post the same questions, and after posting them to announce the fact on their blogs, and their Facebook, Twitter etc accounts.

A two minute protest, that will make a pertinent point if many of us take up the challenge!


Labour don't get Facebook

I am not one of those who believe the internet will have a huge impact on the Westminster election, but if it does have an affect it doesn't look like Labour is going to be one of the beneficiaries, the poor Labour party just doesn't seem to get how the internet works.

In the middle of March Scottish Secretary Jim Murphy made the claim that Labour represented the Facebook generation. Nothing wrong with that as far as it gos, all parties have to try and appear to be the best representatives of younger voters. However if Mr Murphy actually understood anything about Facebook he should know that such a comment would immediately spawn a Facebook group denying his claim.

So it happened The Jim Murphy Doesn't  Speak for me group was set up. However it appears that Labour didn't know enough about Facebook to foresee the inevitability of such a group being formed. They are now calling foul in the Scottish press. This is from the Scotsman:

The Scottish Secretary said: "Politics is a rough old game, but this goes way too far. I wouldn't like my kids reading this online about their dad.
"I'm sure Alex Salmond didn't personally sanction this, but it's time for him to stop it."
Labour MSP Cathy Jamieson said: "This kind of vitriol and hatred is shocking … The SNP have done nothing to close down their cybernats – and now we know why."

Comments which give even further proof of how little Labour understands Facebook. Before these articles appeared in the press the Murphy group had under 200 members, within hours of the story appearing on the online copies of the papers it had gained another 60 members - how many will it have when the papers hit the news stands?

Alex Salmond does not and cannot have any censorship control over Facebook, the idea that people would only join groups personally approved of by the leader of the SNP is quite ludicrous - and the "CyberNats" who are group members include Conservatives, Lib Dems and non alligned people who just don't like the audacity of any politician claiming to "speak" for them.

And if Labour did have a clue about Facebook they would also know that the Murphy group is quite tame compared to some of the groups that Labour supporters are members of such as:

I Hate Alex Salmond 
Alex Salmond can bite my shiny metal Unionist ass 
Alex Salmond can jump hoops as far as I'm concerned...
I would never tire of slapping Alex Salmond  etc.

By condemning the SNP whilst Labour supporters are just as bad if not worse the Labour party isn't just showing itself to be totally out of touch with the "Facebook generation", it is showing itself up as stupid and hypercritical too.


The right of a bigot to profit?

In the 1980's I was in a town in Herefordshire where I noticed a sign in a pub that said All Welsh people are banned from this pub – no Welsh allowed. My initial response to the sign was one of extreme anger, of personal insult – it shouldn't be allowed;. If there was a brick nearby I would have been extremely tempted to throw it through the pub's window.

I went into the pub and ordered a pint, expecting to be ejected and being able to phone the media to complain. I was served, unfortunately. The landlord didn't recognise my mid-Wales accent as Welsh, presumably he thought that all Welsh people speak with a valleys' accent (cf some of the media portrayals of Lloyd George).

Having been served I felt dirty, I had given this horrible bigot the profit on a pint and achieved nothing! If I had gone to the media his justification would have been that he HAD served me.

If the sign had been illegal at the time, and if, because of equality legislation, he was not allowed to refuse to serve me or express his bigoted view about Welsh people, would his personal opinion about the Welsh have been different? Probably not. But I might have stayed in his pub for more than one pint and given the jerk even more profit.

The same is the case with the B&B owner who refused to have a homosexual couple in her house.

Do gays want the law to force her to profit from them, despite her personal opinion?

Or do they want her to have a freedom of opinion that they can challenge and debate?


Family Allowance -past it's sell by date?

According to Question Time tonight St Vince Cable made a mistake in the Chancellors' debate on Monday. Apparently he said that he wanted to stop Child Benefit to rich people, which isn't party policy what the Lib Dems want to stop is The Child Trust Fund payments for richer families.

Child Benefit is the old Family Allowance it is a benefit which pays families about £50 a month per child, and is a non means tested benefit. The Child Trust fund is a £250 one-off payment which is put into an account to encourage families and their children to build up a long term investment accounts.

I didn't notice the mistake when I listened to the debate, but as the debate was so boring I might have missed it whilst yawning!

But is scarping Family Allowance a bad idea?

To declare an interest I have two children under 16 so I get the benefit.

Family Allowance was a benefit introduced in the UK in the aftermath of the two World Wars. With two generations butchered and damned there was a danger that Britain wouldn't have a birth rate sufficient to support industrial growth in the aftermath of war. There was also the problem that many women had taken on men's jobs during the wars, and had given the aspiring working class the idea of dual incomes in order to increase their aspirations.

Universal Family Allowance was introduced in order to encourage women to get out of the workplace and make babies. At 4 shillings a week per child, when first introduced, Family Allowance was a good reason for getting out of the workforce and making babies. Even If you went down from your mother's 13 kids to the 1940's/50's average of 5 kids, the value of family allowance was (in today's money) about £260 a week – worth staying home and making babies for!

Child benefit doesn't help the poorest, because it is seen as income for the purposes of Income Support and Tax credit and is deducted from other benefit claims.

The only people who actually benefit from Child Benefit are those who are above benefit levels!

Child benefit doesn't do what it was supposed to do anymore. Many kids are given the Child Benefit as Pocket Money.

Family allowance wasn't designed as state provided pocket money for teenagers from well off families, but that is what it has become. Child Benefit served it's purpose, it did its job, but now it is an anachronistic drain on public finances – it is time it was abolished!

Perhaps Mr Cable was Freudian correct!