A daft way of choosing a leader!

I have never been a member of the Labour Party, but I have voted in two Labour party leader elections. The first time was in 1983 when Neil Kinnock was elected, the second time was in 1992 when John Smith was elected. I was allowed to vote because I was a member of the Trade Union NUPE. I was entitled to vote so I did vote – for the candidate who I thought would make the worst Labour leader.

Both Kinnock and Smith won handsomely, so my vote, however it was cast, didn't make much difference – Labour got who Labour wanted, for better or worse.

It appears that Ed Milliband has been elected, by the skin of his teeth, by the union vote. Which could mean that a couple of thousand people who did as I did in previous Labour Leadership elections and voted for him as the worst possible candidate may have tipped the balance in Ed's favour this time!

Rather a daft way of choosing a leader!


The cost of pride!

Something that may be of interest to some of my older readers (or the parents and grandparents of my younger readers). Until December 11th return train tickets from any station on the network are available for just £15 on Arriva Trains Wales to those over 55 years old.

I know this because some witch with a capita B offered me the deal for a journey to Cardiff from Llandudno on the day of my 51st birthday!

The ticket for younger people costs £54 - if I was too poor to be proud I could have gone to the capital and returned for just £15! I refused the offer!

Have I gained a conscience since that time long ago, when I use to take a bus to Barmouth as a 17 year old teenager and insisted to the driver that I was under 16 in order to get a child's fair, before insisting to the landlord of the Last Inn that I was over 18 in order to get a pint?

Am I just a proud old fool for refusing the offer of a cheaper ticket because the ticket seller thought that I look older than I am?


The cost of my train ticket for this journey will be paid by through Crown expenses, so I don't give a fiddler's how much it costs!

But there may be a shopping trip to Cardiff by a young man unlucky enough to look over 55 y.o. before December 11th!


The English Parliament's New Address

I have received the following message from the English Parliament On Line:

For technical reasons (making space for the upcoming redesigned CEP website), and for more delicate matters of political expediency, it has been necessary to relocate the English Parliament online website.

It is now relaunched under the name Rise Like Lions, and features as its inaugural article a piece on Welsh Nationalism by Wales Home Co-Editor, Duncan Higgitt.

The details that you used on the English Parliament online site can be used to login at Rise Like Lions.

Hope to see you there.


Duncan's article is worth a gander!

As many Welsh Nationalists are of a left leaning disposition, here is a left wing English Nat blog for your delectation England's Left Forward


An Alternative to Public Sector Cuts?

There was an interesting article on the Politics Show yesterday, in which Profesor Greg Philo of Glasgow University (about 1hr:29 mins into the programme) argued that the state deficit could be abolished by a one-off tax on the wealthiest 10% of the population, rather than through the cuts agenda that almost all politicians of all stripes seem to be seeing as inevitable. The Profs' ideas are promulgated on the Glasgow Media Group's website.

Because I believe that government interferes too much in the life of the individual, I would support some state spending being reduced even if the government had zero deficits or even if it made a healthy profit.

I have some doubts about the practicality of taxing the best tax avoiders in order to raise revenues! There would have to be a series of preliminary laws to tighten tax avoidance and the donations made to political parties by massive tax avoiders, before any collection of such a tax could be practical – something that neither Labour or Conservative recipients of tax avoiders largess will support!

And there is the perennial problem of taxing success. Untaxed money can go back into business and wealth creation, creating better businesses and more wealth (and more taxes in its wake). Taxes tend to get swallowed up in bureaucracy and bumf and administration rather than in economic growth.

On the other hand I don't want to see my local school close, fewer police on the beat; monthly bin collection, or my aged parents' old age pensions slashed either. If a one off tax on the super rich can avoid those then I'm all for it!

Whatever the merits or the faults of Prof Philo's proposals, it is good to see an alternative to the cuts agenda offered by most parties in the last election. The Glasgow Media proposal should have been offered as an alternative to voters during the election by a major party. Agree or disagree a party proposing and another party opposing would have given the electorate a real choice!


Ron Davies' Address to Plaid Videos

Thanks to Sanddef:

If you prefer to read rather than listen to the speech Cllr Alun Williams has a transcript on his blog.

The petty point scoring experts at Freedom Central might like to listen carefully to Ron's comment regarding the "stench of an illegal war" about 8:05 mins in video 1; I hope that this was a slip up not a prophecy!


Gareth's School Days

Buried amongst the many is my comment on Gareth Malone's Extraordinary School for Boys blog

At 02:36am on 10 Sep 2010, Alwyn ap Huw wrote:

A lot of negative comments above, many suggesting that it's OK on a programme from the BBC, but couldn't be adapted to practical everyday teaching. I disagree.

There isn't a school in the world, even the most impoverished, that can't introduce,(at no cost) debating skills, an essential ability in answering those exam questions later in life that go "blah di blah di blah" –discuss!

Even the poorest school in the world can act out the meaning of a poem or the storyline of a book, at no cost.

When I was in school, a long time ago, many of the things that Gareth is doing were extracurricular. Debating and acting (passages of the Bible) was done in Sunday school.

The rough and tumble outdoor activities were done in the Cubs and the Scouts.

Competing in elocution, poetry reading or writing, singing, dancing, artwork and a hundred other forms of expression were provided by the local to national eisteddfod movement, encouraged by schools but outside the school curriculum!

It is a shame that children aren't members of as many extracurricular societies as I was 40 years ago. If schools are expected to make up that deficit, then school hours need to be extended.

An interesting point that Gareth made is that boys have to take risks. I agree. It is interesting that girls started overtaking boys academically when corporal punishment in school was abolished, when the risk of six of the best for the rudeness to Gareth that some of the boys on the programme displayed would have earned them a whacking in my day.

The abolition of CP has reduced the risk in boys education and reduced their achievements at the same time!


Plaid Cymru Credit Union - not much of a credit to the party?

Andrew Nutt posts a rather bitter post about his experience of Undeb Credyd Plaid Cymru Credit Union

I empathise with him because I had a similar problem with UCPCCU some years ago; when unfortunate circumstances resulted in me losing my health, my business, my job and my home shortly after the expense of my marriage and the birth of my first child.

I had, a few months earlier, when I though that I was flush for life, borrowed a sum of money from UCPCCU, not because I needed it, but in order to support the Plaid Cymru Credit Union cause.

When a health disaster struck and I lost everything it hurt that people I thought of as friends, who I would have expected to have been supportive and sympathetic of my plight, started sending threatening letters and using credit collection agencies against me. It hurt most bitterly.

My case ended up in the County Court; with a company from Halifax, which objected to my insistence that the hearing should be held in Welsh in Wales claiming to represent Plaid!

I won and the Judge offered me expenses and compensation in excess of what Plaid claimed I owed, but I refused his offer because I wouldn't do that to Plaid Cymru – much to my wife's annoyance.

The judgement was scathing in its condemnation of UCPCCU's lack of unemployment and disability insurance on its loans policies and its ruthlessness in pursuing people who used the CU services out of loyalty to the cause, rather than using services that might have offered better protection to customers who encountered difficulties.

Because Credit Unions are, in essence, a banking service for the poorest in society, the district judge said that they should have the strongest safeguards for those who encountered unexpected financial difficulties; and that PCCU seemed to approach their business as a party political fund raising venture rather than a proper CU service.

Mr Nutt's experience suggests that UCPCCU has ignored the County Court Judges' advice given in my case; or worse still, that they never even received his good advice because they had sold my loan to a loan shark in Halifax who never bothered to pass the judgement back to them!


Unscrupulous Liberal Bastards?

Next week the second reading of the Parliamentary Voting System and Constituencies Bill will be debated; the measure in parliament that intends to introduced the proposal to hold a referendum on the Alternative Vote system.

Caroline Lucas on behalf of the Green Party, Plaid Cymru and the SNP will proposed an amendment to the legislation which will offer alternatives to voters in the referendum. A choice between AV the list system used for Assembly elections and European elections, or the Single Transferable Vote system, a system that the Liberal Democrats have supported for several decades.

Under such circumstances, what will the Liberals do?

They can support the Green amendment in the hope that Labour and the Conservatives will join together to kill the motion between them. A dangerous proposition, because Labour might back the Greens just for the thrill of giving the coalition a bloody nose!

The Liberals can abstain; which will ensure that the vote is lost, or they can vote against the amendment, in effect vote against a policy that they have supported for decades!

Opposing the Green and Nationalists amendment is the most likely response; then spinning a justification for voting against a policy that has been at the core of Liberal policy for generations.

Unscrupulous bastards? We wait an' see!


Why isn't there a Welsh Public Service Trades Union?

During the late 1970's through to the early 1990's I was a member, a section steward, a branch secretary and a district chair of a trades union known as NUPE (The National Union of Public Employees). The union represented health service employees, local government employees, the ancillary staff of Universities and weirdly, junior Anglican Clerics and Methodist Ministers.

NUPE was affiliated to the Labour Party.

As a senior lay officer I often use to attend Welsh "regional" gatherings of the union, when I attended such gatherings I was always surprised at the fact that very few of those gathered were members of the Labour Party. There were quite a few Communists and Co-op party supporters, a smattering of Greens and SWP members, but by far the largest group of party affiliates were members of Plaid Cymru (as was I at the time).

In 1993, just after I had left the public sector UNISON joined with CoHSE (the Confederation of Health Service Employees) and NALGO (The National Union of Local Government Employees – a non aligned union) to form UNISON. Unison is the Union of which Ian Titherington (Grangetown Jack) is now a senior lay member.

From what I read on Ian's blog, it appears that UNISON in the 2010's is similar to NUPE in the 1980's, a Union with a large number of Plaid supporting members and lay union officials who also hold office in Plaid, and a significant number of supporters who belong to parties other than Labour or who have no particular party affiliation.

A question that I use to ask often amongst the great and the good of NUPE Cymru in the 1990's was why don't we form an independent non-affiliated Welsh public service union or an independent union affiliated to Plaid?

The answer was always that the Wales TUC wouldn't countenance such a Union because the TUC was Labour dominated and without TUC membership the "new" union would be too week.

Is this still the opinion of Plaid and other non Labour trade unionists in Wales? Or has the time come to form a distinctly Welsh Public Service Union, given that so many public services are devolved?


What's in a name?

In about 1979-1983 or there about, the late Daily Post columnist Ivor Wynne Jones criticised me in one of his typically anti-Welsh columns regarding something I had said or done in the nationalist cause, in which he referred to me as the Rev Dr Allan ap Hugh. I dropped a note to the Post to say that I was not a Rev or a Dr and that I am Alwyn ap Huw rather than Ivor's interpretation of my name.

Ivor, being Ivor, couldn't accept that he had made a mistake and retorted:
A rose by any other name would smell as sweet - as would the name of the foulest stench of the briar smell as foul!

I appologise to Duncan Higgitt for getting his name wrong in my last post.

Having said that, I hate to admit it, but perhaps Ivor had a point!


The Blog awards = V sign to arrogant Duncan Higget!

As I have said many times before, I don't like awards given for places where opinions are expressed.

If I didn't believe that Ted Heath was the best Prime Minister of the 20th century, way above Thatcher, Blair and Churchill; if I didn't hate the Labour Party with a passion and if I didn't think that Plaid's commitment to the evils of socialism was a betrayal of Welsh nationalism, my blog might have been a tad more popular in the Total Politics Blog Awards!

Despite being a member of the awkward squad who peeves all sections of political opinion at times I was pleased that both my blogs were in the Top Ten of the Total Politics Awards for Wales. MOF was at no 6 (down 4) and HRF at no 4 (up 10) a net up!

The thing that gave me the greatest pleasure was that both of my blogs are higher than the site that has the audacity and arrogance to call itself the HOME of Welsh Politics. If you don't know which site I am talking about, I'm sorry but I have been barred from linking to it, because by doing so I am accused of abusing the site in order to drive traffic to my own (much more popular –it appears!) blogs.

Up yours Duncan Higget!

These are the winners (Unlucky 13 excluded)

1 Blog Menai
2 Plaid Wrecsam
3 Syniadau
4 Hen Rech Flin
5 Vaughan Roderick
6 Miserable Old Fart
7 Cardiff Blogger
8 Betsan Powys
9 Peter Black AM
10 Everyone's Favourite Comrade
11 Blog Guto Dafyyd (aka Blog Guto DAFYDD!)
12 Pendroni
14 Welsh Ramblings
15 Freedom Central
16 Bethan Jenkins AM
17 Ffranc Sais
18 Dib Lemming
19 The Druid of Anglesey
20 Valleys Mam
21 Blog yr Hogyn o Rachub
22 Glyn Davies MP
23 Plaid Panteg
24 Polemical Report
25 A Change of Personnel
26 Leanne Wood AM
27 Politics Cymru
28 Blog Answyddogol
29 Liberal Smithy
30 Inside Out - A Jaxxland Perspective
31 Alun Williams
32 Gwilym Euros Roberts
33 Institute of Welsh Affairs
34 Dylan Jones-Evans
35 Borthlas
36 Paul Flynn MP
37 David Cornock
38 Morfablog
39 Red Anorak
40 Mike Priestley
41 07.25 to Paddington
42 Blog Golwg
43 Plaid Cymru Llundain
44 Rene Kinzett
45 This is My Truth
46 Denverstrope
47 Independence Cymru
48 Grangetown Jack
49 Blog Rhys Llwyd
50 Cambria Politico