NURSING - the normalisation of cruelty?

One of the few taboos left in our modern society is one that makes it difficult to criticise other people's expressions of grief. Because of that it is difficult to criticise Ann Clwyd Roberts' recent attack on the nursing profession, made in the context of the death of her husband.

Of course I sympathise with Ann in her loss, I met her late husband Owen on a few occasions and I would be horrified to think that his last days were blighted by lack of care in Wales' flagship hospital, but I'm sorry Ann, I doubt that it is true.

Because professional health care workers expect to be at the butt end of anger as an expression of grief, being insouciant about such attacks is an element of being a caring health care worker.

When my eldest son was a little boy, about 4 years old, he was rushed into hospital with a very severe ear infection. A doctor told me that if the infection spread to his brain that he would die and that the severity of his condition suggested that that was the most likely outcome, his chances of survival were very low indeed!

I hated that doctor with a level of hatred that you cannot imagine – I wanted to do worse than "shoot the messenger".

I see him occasionally in the aisles of the local Tesco store and every time I see him I feel my stomach churning 12 years after the event! Did he break the news gently and with compassion or was he brusk and clinical? I don't know. All I can remember of the event is the horror of some ****** telling me that my lovely little baby was likely to die. Thankfully my son survived, but I still hate that doctor despite the fact that he saved my son's life.

When our loved ones are in hospital it is difficult to be rational, they are the most important people in the world to us we are very emotionally involved with their care, anybody who shows less emotion in such a crisis can appear "callous". But the nurse on that ward may have thirty other patients to deal with s/he has other relatives and friends who are as demanding of her / his attention for their loved ones as I am for mine. S/he can only give one thirtieth of the time that I feel my nearest and dearest deserves, because s/he has to care for the other 29 patients too.

Having a child, a parent, a spouse a grandparent in hospital coming to the end of their lives is probably one of the most traumatic experiences any of us can have. Dealing with the expression of that trauma is an everyday occurrence for health care professionals; If they become emotionally involved they will burn out! A caring professional must be able to share professional empathy with all patients and clients but they cannot give personal sympathy (which is what most of us want from them) and carry on working.

Indeed professional standards and even basic empathy can often conflict. Refuse to tell an 82 year old granny how her granddaughter and prospective great-grandchild are doing and you will be accused of being a callous "jobs worth"; give that information, unintentionally, to hacks and you have breached patient confidentiality and are the butt of a radio hoax and at the arse end of a Professional Conduct Enquiry!

What annoys me most about Ann's intervention on this issue is that she, as a Labour MP, has allowed Jeremy Cunt to respond to her grief by claiming that nursing has descended into the normalisation of cruelty! A means of blaming nurses, rather than government, for failings in the NHS

Ann - Is that sick lie about dedicated public servants what you want Owen to be remembered for?


Do I take Sugar?

Whenever there is a news item about people who live with a disability a representative pops up on the telly to speak on their behalf!

Where do these representatives come from?

Who elects them?

Who selects them?

I am very hard of hearing and I have up to 50 absence epileptic fits a day, but I have never, ever, been approached by any organisation purporting to represent my disabilities before they give evidence on my behalf to the National Assembly or Westminster Committees. When I see these people representing me on BBC Democracy Live I wonder how on earth they were selected to speak for me because they haven't got a fucking clue about the realities of living with hearing loss or epilepsy in rural north Wales.

Who are Epilepsy Wales/Epilepsi Cymru? I have lived with epilepsy for 40 years without this organisation ever aproaching me or asking my opinion about epeleptic issues! Apparently Wales Council for the Deaf is a lead organistaion in informing the Assembly about hearing loss issues - sorry for the pun, but as a deaf person, I've never heard from them!

Today's news about the closure of another two Remploy factories in Wales is apparently supported by SCOPE a charity that has grand ideas about some disability utopia, but doesn't have a realistic clue about the realities of living with a disability!

How many people who live with a disability voted for the Scope Representative to "speak for them" in support of a Tory attack on real people whose only chance of a job is in a Remploy factory?

I agree with IDS, most people with a disability can work! Disabled people should have work. Working is a good therapy, but the idea that I can compete in an open jobs market is a total fallacy. Be honest – given the choice of employing a healthy young 17 year old or 50+ deaf epileptic – who would you give the job to?

Sorry SCOPE, but your trendy lefty lovey attitude towards disability doesn't help me!

The only way that I can get a job is if I can get an employer that discriminates in my favour – like Remploy!

The only way that I can be represented is if I am consulted as a disabled person -rather than be represented by the wheelchair pusher who is asked does he take sugar and answers, wrongly, on my behalf - like Scope!


Is the government reducing benefits costs by killing claimants?

This is a press release from Disabled People Against Cuts Caerdydd which will be holding a memorial protest today for those who have died as the result of the Westminster Government's draconian treatment of disabled and chronically sick people as part of their benefits cuts policies.

Disabled People Against Cuts Caerdydd and supporters will gather at the Aneurin Bevan Statue, Queen Street at 5 pm on Monday 3rd December. The event will include the lighting of 1000 candles to remember welsh disabled and sick people who died last year shortly after being told that they were fit for work and having benefits cut by an Atos 'work capability assessment. It may also include 'direct action' such as blocking roads.

The National Day of Remembrance for those killed by ATOS has been supported by disability campaigning organisations including Disabled People Against Cuts, Black Triangle and others. 29 MPs signed an Early Day Motion in support off the day including Welsh MPs, Martin Caton, Anne Clwyd, Jonathan Edwards and Albert Owen.

According to an FOI (Freedom of Information) response publicised by the Daily Mail journalist Sonia Poulton on October 7, the current weekly average Atos/DWP death toll of people found fit for work after an ESA work capability assessment now stands at 73 people per week.

A FOI in April revealed in 2011 an average of 32 dying a week after failing test for new incapacity benefit. More than a thousand ­sickness benefit claimants died last year after being told to get a job.

There have been numerous horror stories in the media of people with terminal illnesses (in one infamous case even someone in a coma) being declared fit for work by ATOS and having their benefits cut.

Recent Stories:

'A GRIEVING boy of 13 has accused Atos of killing his disabled dad. Kieran McArdle told the Daily Record in a harrowing letter how his father Brian, 57, collapsed and died the day after his disability benefits were stopped. He had been assessed by Atos and deemed “fit for work”'


'A cancer sufferer, who had her benefits cut by government officials who said she was fit to work, has died'.

'I sought this debate in order to raise the case of one of my constituents, Colin Traynor, who was epileptic. He was assessed as fit for work, yet died less than four months later' (Michael Meacher MP)


The Evolution of Devolution project has Failed

I canvassed in favour of a Yes vote in the 1979 Devolution Referendum. At the beginning of the campaign there was a considerable amount of enthusiasm for the proposal in Merioneth. As the campaign progressed I saw that enthusiasm wane into indifference and even into outright hostility. As the likes of Neil Kinnock, Leo Abse and Donald Anderson made their tirades against the Welsh language, Welsh culture and the dreaded monsters that lived to the north of the Beacons the opposition to devolution grew stronger. The starting message of the 1979 campaign was that Wales was being ignored by Westminster so we needed a parliament of our own. As the campaign went on fervent Nationalists were telling me that they would prefer Welsh issues to be ignored by Westminster rather than be oppressed by the likes of Kinnock etc in a Welsh parliament.

One of the arguments made by Plaid Cymru in favour of campaigning for enhanced devolution rather than ought right independence is that if devolution works well for Wales, then the people of Wales will embrace the process and demand more and more powers for Wales. Opinion Polls suggest that there is an element of truth to Plaid's theory and as time has gone by support for devolution has increased substantially, but every attempt to move the process of devolution on is stymied by the same old opponents of Welsh self determination – the Labour Party.

In the four years prior to the 2011 referendum all of the talk was about parity with Scotland which seemed to have massive support amongst the electorate. It was only in the statuary period three weeks before the vote, that honesty entered the campaign and we were told that the actual referendum would be on a cosmetic issue!

The first volume of the Silk Report suggests another referendum on another cosmetic issue that won't be held for at least another 10 years, I'm sure that the second volume will contain even further obstacles to attaining what many thought they were voting for a year and a half ago.

In the meantime the Labour Government in Cardiff is doing what the cynics of 1979 were predicting: Ruling Wales poorly in order to prove that Wales can't run its own affairs. We have had a Labour Government since the beginning of Devolution and in that time it has lowered Wales' economic performance, worsened the health of the nation, inflicted poorer education on our kids and encouraged maximum immigration of non Welsh speakers into the Welsh Language Heartlands.

Broadcasting has been administratively devolved to Wales since the 1950's. Before the creation of the Assembly we had Teledu Cymru, TWW, HTV Wales, BBC Wales, BBC Cymru, The Welsh Light Programme, Radio Wales, Radio Cymru, S4C and a number of regional broadcasters. Local broadcasting within Wales is likely to expand over the next few years. As the media has been practically devolved for so many years, one would think that the governance of broadcasting should naturally be devolved – but Labour is opposed to devolving broadcasting!

Some have laughed at the unfortunate timing of the Welsh Labour Government asking to pull an episode of a soap opera on the day that Lord Levison published his report on statutory control of the press. I don't think it's funny, unfortunate nor an accident. It is another case of the Labour Party deliberately creating a situation which proves that Wales shouldn't have broadcasting devolved, because Wales can't be trusted, even in the case of the editorial independence of Soap Operas. Labour attitude through and through.

The Evolution of Devolution project has failed, and failed miserably, it's high time that all of us who support the National Cause - Left or Right- In Plaid or anti-Plaid – Cultural, Political, Economic and every other sort of Nationalist to give up on the Devo project and go four square for independence, because at the current rate Wales will become extinct before it evolves or devolves much further.


David Davies and the Welsh Not

Whilst searching the Internet for some genealogical information I stumbled across a story in the Western Mail originally published over a week ago which would, at one time, have set the Welsh blogosphere alight. I'm not sure if the fact that the story was ignored is a reflection of how blogging is no longer au fait, or a reflection on the fact that the Western Mail has become such a voice piece for the anti Welsh that Welsh bloggers are ignoring it. I hope that it is the latter.

The story is headlined Welsh Not a myth to stir up prejudice against the British Government!

In the article David T C Davies MP claims that, an infamous 19th century school punishment handed out to children for speaking Welsh in class is largely a myth used to stir up anti-English prejudice. He Justifies this statement by claiming that:

Until the 1870 Education Act, the state had no involvement at all in schools, so whatever was observed by the inspectors who wrote the Blue Books had nothing to do with the Government.“The teachers who imposed the Welsh Not were Welsh and its imposition would have been done with the agreement of parents.“ Of course I have no sympathy with the Welsh Not, but it’s important to recognize that it wasn’t imposed by the British Government.”

The article is then followed by over 200 comments made by anti- Welsh trolls, many of whom are probably one individual posting under numerous monikers. Although, in fairness, some of those opposing the trolls also show a degree of ignorance about the truth about the Welsh Not and make unfounded remarks about Mr Davies himself.

Let's start with David Davies, himself. Mr Davies is a fairly fluent Welsh speaker, he is not an anti Welsh blow-in to Welsh politics or a stranger to Welsh culture. Indeed David's great, great, great grandfather the Rev Peter Williams, was the author of what is probably the most famous Welsh song in the world, Guide me o thou Great Redeemer (better known to rugby followers as Bread of Heaven) so David has every right to comment on Welsh culture. Secondly much of what the MP sid about the Welsh Not is factually correct.

As Mr Davies says the Welsh Not was never imposed by the British state on Welsh Schools. The person responsible for creating the myth of the Welsh Not, Sir O. M. Edwards, notes that some of those who thrashed him in Day School for speaking English were the same teachers who taught him how to read and write in Welsh in Sunday School, and recounts an incident when one of those who beat the English language into him admonished for speaking English, rather than Welsh, when they met on a train. The Welsh Not was used as a means of teaching English, rather than one of oppressing Welsh.

Where David Davies' argument fails is in his claim that the Welsh Not was never endorsed by the British state, because Until the 1870 Education Act, the state had no involvement at all in schools" which, with all respect is a load of tosh! Before 1870 schools were run by the Church – The Church of England was an integral part of the State at that time.

The Not punishment was invented by the Church, it was first used in monasteries to discourage the use of any native language in favour of the use of Latin. The origin of the Welsh Not also included an English Not!

After the dissoloution Anglican and then nonconformist missionaries used the practice throughout the Empire against hundreds of languages – many of which have become extinct because of Language Not practice as endorsed by the British Government.

I suspect that David Davies is not responsible for the Newspaper's headline Welsh Not a myth to stir up prejudice against the British Government because there is nothing in the article that suggests that David said anything like that, but the headline writer is way off the mark.

The Myth of the Welsh Not came from a True Brit who was a Liberal MP, His Majesty's Chief Inspector of Schools and a Knight of the Realm – not quite the typical Radical Welsh Nat Extremist, but a person who was at the heart of the Brit Establishment and a confidant of the British Government, a person who would hardly stir up prejudice against the British Government!

That the Welsh Not, The Gaelic Not, The Afrikaans Not and hundreds of other Nots were used throughout the Empire in order to promote the use of English is not a myth!


Oh No! Not another Bloody Referendum

We pay our politicians good money to represent us, for that money they should bloody well do the job, rather than jib out of the job every so often and ask for a "referendum" to cover their fears of making a decision.

There is something patently ridiculous in the idea of needing a referendum to make a decision - when the referendum can only be called when those who have the power to make the decision, without a referendum, feel that the vote will go their way.

If the last need for a devolution referendum is anything to go by, we won't even have a debate about the issue of tax varying powers for the next goodness knows how many years, we will just have a convoluted debate about the best time to decide about discussing the issue!


There are only two honest ways of dealing with this issue, one is for the elected to accept / reject Silk's recommendations without a referendum and accept the consequences of their decision. The other is to put the matter to a referendum as soon as is practically possible – next May - perhaps. Procrastinating about the best time will be dishonest, duplicitous and a disservice to Wales

If we have to have another bloody referendum I will, of course, make another application to lead the No campaign on a NO! Not Good Enough platform :-)


Winston's Mega Mandate

I have received a number of press releases from organizations who are concerned about the democratic deficit caused by so few voting in the Thursday's Police Commissioner Elections. I could use them to fill the void in my recent blogging activity, but I won't because personally I am very, very pleased that so few voted.

Unlike other regional elections, such as the Regional Assembly Lists and the All Wales European Election List – the Commissioner vote has been a vote for an individual rather than for a list member.

As an individual, despite a miserly 15% turnout, Winston Roddick's 35K vote is three times the personal vote won by any constituency AM in North Wales and twice the personal vote of any MP elected in North Wales.

Despite the limitations of his job, despite the lack of confidence in the vote, despite the pathetic turnout numbers Winston Roddick is currently, by far, the individual elected with the largest personal mandate in the whole of North Wales - and that's the danger of these elections! Imagine the moral authority the person elected to the post would have if 70 or 80% of us had cast a vote!

I hope that the low turnout will result in the abolition of these elections – because the danger of just one individual Police Boss having more electoral clout than any MP or AM in North Wales frightens me.

It is that sort of power that leads to the creation of a Police State.


Peeing Comps and I Told You So!

I stand by my claim that the Labour Part is Standing up for Wales against the Tories by intentionally scuppering Welsh Laws by making them laws that will inevitably be challenged by The Secretary of State for Wales, the Counsel General almost admitted so in the Assembly yesterday!

Those who have claimed that the SoS for Wales is at fault are being naive. If the SoS doesn't challenge the laws when there are obvious doubts about them; they are open to challenge from any Tom, Dick and Harry – a challenge from the SoS that is rejected / upheld will actually strengthen the validity of any Welsh Law.

By seeing the flaw in the Official Languages Bill, David Jones MP might be doing a favour to the language (which he speaks fluently) by asking the Supreme Court to validate the bill. If validated by the Supreme Court the Bill is legally sound! If the Supreme Court says No, it will say why and a more sound bill can be passed by the Assembly based on its judgement.

On the other hand David can ignore the bill's current failings and allow any Tom, Dic and Harri to oppose it in hundreds of courts of law.

If I was a Hairy Arsed Tory Anti Welsh Monster, I would have ignored the problems that the Bill raises and would have waited for the proverbial to hit the fan.

By flagging the problems and attempting to resolve them David Jones isn't quite the "Monster" that Labour would have us believe. He is a good friend of Wales who is trying to sort out a mess in the best interest of Wales!

Of course the main problem is the pathetic Devolution settlement that Wales suffers – a settlement that many voted for enthusiastically! Last year - I tried to organise a No! Not Good Enough Campaign – but I had little support.

It appears that it wasn't good enough



NATO - A breath of Fresh Air!

Some might agree with Syniadau that the SNP's vote for Scotland to be part of NATO was right; others might agree with Glyn Beddau that it was wrong.

Having listened to broadcasts from other party conferences, where nothing was debated, where no policy was decided, where the party hierarchy was not held to account, I thought that the NATO debate at the SNP conference was a breath of fresh air.

A party conference where delegates were allowed to argue passionately for and against what they believe to be the best policy followed by a knife edge vote, where the arguments presented to conference made the difference to the outcome of the vote - that is what party conferences use to be for should be for!

How many other Governing parties, in the so called Democratic West, would allow such a debate and such a vote? Very few!

Agree or disagree with Conference's decision (I disagree) it was fantastic to have such an open, honest and hard hitting debate – decided by ordinary party members.

The fact that UK Party Conferences have become nothing more than staged managed rallies rather than a place to argue policy and that Scotland still has a party where debate is open and free - should, in-itself, be an argument for independence and a reason to vote YES in 2014!


A Christmas Boost to the Economy

Gideon Osborne wants to cut back on benefits in order to do what he wants to do with the economy.

There is one really pathetic state benefit that he should tackle if he is serious about boosting the economy. The Christmas Bonus.

The Christmas Bonus is £10 that is paid to all benefit recipients in late November, it was first paid in the 1970's; I can't recall if it was Mr Heath or Mr Wilson's government who introduced it, but I can remember my Grandmother being thrilled to bits because the £10 enabled her to buy a pair of socks for all of her descendants – the first time she had been able to buy all her kids and grandkids a Christmas present.

The Christmas Bonus is still £10 forty years later – it probably costs more than £10 to distribute it and in this day and age ten quid is hardly a bonus of any real value to the recipient.

Abolishing the Christmas Bonus would be a sensible saving if one just wants to cut the benefits bill. Let's be honest a tenner at Christmas isn't really a benefit anymore! Ditching the payment and the cost of paying it would make serious inroads into the benefits bill!

On the other hand – the best way of boosting the UK economy in the run-up to the important Christmas quarter would be to update the Christmas bonus to a sum that enabled grannies to buy gifts for all their descendents again!

Giving every scrounging bastard, older person, tax credit parent, disabled individual, single mum etc a £2K Christmas bonus - that will be spent rather than saved will result in a HUGE boost to the economy!

And therein lies the problem of the Tory attitude to solving the economic downturn in these islands' prosperity – the idea that the economy is top down as it use to be 200 years ago, that the "poor" depend on those higher up the financial / social scale is wrong in this day and age. It isn't so now!

The way that the mass economy works is that the things that sell best are the things that we ALL must have – if we are on the dole or on a £5K per week – for the economy to grow we must enable the poorest to buy!

In a mass international market – the mass is the key to economic success, not the elite – The Cameron / Gideon axis doesn't get this modern truism and is, therefore, bound to fail.


Let's suppose that my cynicism is wrong - What happens next?

Let's suppose that my cynicism about the reason why the first two Assembly Bills have been subjected to judicial review is wrong (as nationalist and socialist commentators alike suggest in response to yesterdays blog post).

Let's suppose that the fact that at least one and possibly two other Bills are in line for judicial review has nothing to do with the Assembly Government / the Labour Party deliberately picking a fight with Westminster, what happens next?

The Supreme Court will not make its decision on the validity of these contentious bills on the morality of the Assembly being able to pass them; they will just look at the dry bones of law and the law will unequivocally find against the Assembly.

If, after it finds against the Assembly, we all condemn the law for being an ass and we complain that such laws are morally indefensible even if legally sound, what happens next?

Will the Labour Party mount a vigorous campaign for a more robust devolution settlement? Will the Conservatives and the Lib Dems admit that there is a flaw in the Government of Wales Act and insist that it is rectified by their colleagues in Westminster? Will even Plaid say that the Campaign for Devo Max / Independence starts today?

Sorry! I'm still a cynic - the answer to all of those questions is No! No! No!

Creating Bills that will be challenged in law has everything to do with the right to moan it's not fair but absolutely nothing to do with creating a system that is fair!

What happens next? – The answer is nothing other than the traditional Labour Evil Tory hissy fit rant.

I think that my cynicism is well founded!


Labour Games and Welsh Laws

The fate of the National Assembly's first attempt at passing a law under the new powers it gained following last year's referendum is currently being considered by the Supreme Court following a complaint from the Wales Office that it is without the competence of the Assembly. Apparently the Assembly Government had been warned by Whitehall sources that there were problems with the Local Government Byelaws (Wales) Bill before the bill had gone through the Assembly's processes but the Assembly Government chose to carry on regardless.


Yesterday it was announced that a second bill, The Official Languages Bill is about to face a similar fate because the bill deals with both the devolved Welsh Language and the non-devolved English Language. I am not at all surprised by this move; back in 2010 when the Assembly was discussing the Welsh Language LCO I noted on this blog that "There is a failure in the devolution settlement. The Assembly has the right to legislate on the Welsh Language, but not on the Languages of Wales. A measure that says that English and Welsh are both official languages would be illegal;" I made this statement, not because I have superior knowledge of the law, but because that was the feedback that those of us who raised the issue of Official Status got from Assembly Members and Civil Servants. So the Assembly appears to have passed the Official Languages Bill knowing full well that that there were elements in the Bill which were not within the Assembly's current competence.


A third bill, dealing with organ donations is, almost inevitably, going to face a similar challenge, but yet again it appears that the Welsh Labour Government is going to press ahead with that bill regardless of any legal warnings too. When the Government of Wales Acts were passed such legal challenges were expected to be very rare, but they seem to be the defining trait of the current Assembly. So the question has to be asked "Why?"


From a nationalist point of view one could see these legal challenges as a way of highlighting the deficiencies in the Welsh devolution settlement and making the case for more devolution, but that is not what the Welsh Labour Government is doing; Welsh Labour, on the whole, is lukewarm about giving the Assembly further powers.


The Labour government in Cardiff is basically having a pissing competition with the Con-Dem government in London in order to prove that they are "standing up to the Tories". They are allowing the governance of Wales to stagnate in silly legal challenges. Rather than using the limited powers that we voted to give the Assembly in the referendum for the benefit of Wales, Labour is abusing that mandate by bogging the right to pass Welsh laws down in petty party politicking and point scoring. Yet again - the Labour Party is putting what's best for Labour before what is best for Wales!


Paralympics - F***-off your disability doesn't count!

I didn't watch the opening ceremony of the Paralympic Games; I had the broadcast flagged to auto view, but the first comment on the programme was this programme contains flashing images - a warning to people, like me, who suffer from photosensitive epilepsy that this is a programme that would be injurious to our health. In other words – fuck off –your disability hasn't been catered for!

It wasn't an unfortunate oversight; the warnings about excluding people with epilepsy were made way back in 2007 when preparations for the games were beginning! I'm almost glad that my disability isn't deemed good enough for a fortnights worth of unionjakery!


Pussy Riot Hypocrisy

If a punk rock band performed a blasphemous song using crude and vile expletives criticising the Queen or the British Government in Westminster Abbey, the Daily Mail would be outraged and wold be calling for the stiffest prison sentences, if not the death penalty. The paper would have a front page outraged editorial in response to a lenient two year gaol term for such offenders.

Given the severity of custodial sentences meted out by the English Judiciary to people who stole a 30p bottle of water or made silly comments on Facebook and Twitter last August, could a punk rock band invading the sanctity of St Pauls Cathedral expect less than two years from an English court?

If Pussy Riot had performed illegally in York Minster would William Hague condemn the judge and the legal system that imprisoned them? Not bloody likely!

Of course the members of the group shouldn't have been imprisoned for making a valid political point, but there is something sickening in the British Establishment jumping on the bandwagon of Pussy Riot supporters when there is overwhelming evidence that Pussy Riot couldn't have expected better from a British court of law.

As the Bible says:
How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me remove the speck from your eye’; and look, a plank is in your own eye? Hypocrite! First remove the plank from your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.


Disabled Scounging Bastards

I live with epilepsy and a severe hearing loss. Neither disability means that I am incapable of any sort of work.

I have known about my hearing difficulties since the late 1960's and my epilepsy since the late 1970's neither were a job problem in my prime. I have had some fairly important jobs despite those disabilities. I have been a Senior Nursing Officer in the NHS; a Company Director in private health care and an education and training advisor in the University sector.

Until 1997, neither of my disabilities had stopped me from working. In 1997 I crashed a car that I was driving into a neighbour's car in the car park outside my house because I had an epileptic fit whilst driving. It was in a car park, I was reversing slowly into a parking space, but putting my foot on the gas during the fit wrote off both cars!

I had two baby children at the time, the thought that the fit could have happened on the A55 with the babies in the car was sickening, I haven't driven since and I never ever want to drive again.

Even if I wanted to drive again, once the DVLA discovered that I had a fit whilst driving they cancelled my driving licence anyway! Because I lost my driving licence I lost my job!

The Government decided that I could receive "incapacity benefit" as a result of losing my job.

I objected.

As a lip reader I thought that I could train to be a lip-reading teacher,(they are few and far between in Wales. At the time none of them could teach lip-reading in Welsh), but I was told NO – I would have to pay for my training and lose all benefits because training would prove that I am not "incapable" of working.

So I remain, a scrounger, a sponger, a ne'r do well, a person left on the scrap heap, because I was useful as one incapable by the last government to hide true job seeker numbers but one deserving of opprobrium by the current government as a scapegoat for the burden on the public purse.

But not considered by either as a person living with a disability who can make a positive contribution to society.


Poor Olympic Show

The morning papers and the BBC tell me that the Olympic Opening Ceremony was Majestic, Spectacular and Wonderful. Sorry to be a killjoy, but I thought that it was a load of crap!

It opened with William Blake's delusional claim that Jesus paid a visit to England's Green and Pleasant Land (Jesus didn't and Blake made the claim whilst suffering from serious mental health issues). Almost as a whoops moment, the ceremony realised that it was a "British" rather than an English games, so Jerusalem had a brake for Danny Boy, Flower of Scotland and Cwm Rhonddao to be included before reverting to Jerusalem. Almost as if to say that the north of Ireland, Scotland and Wales were included in England's green and pleasant land.

The next scene was another Blakism. England's Green and pleasant land was transformed into the "dark satanic mills". In a form of reverse racism some of the industrialists were black. There is no doubt that black men and women were employed in the mills, mines and docks during the industrial revolution and that their labours added to the wealth of the industrial barons, but suggesting that black men were amongst the top hatted barons of industry was a "politically correct" lie.

The idea that the games were forged in the steel of the industrial revolution was another lie. The first time the Games were held in London in 1908 it was deemed inappropriate for "working class people" to take part in such a gentlemen's event.

I liked the bit where the Queen was escorted to the games by James Bond. It was funny, but was spoiled by the Queen looking so miserable when the cameras shot to the "real live HMQ" – she was not amused!

The singing of God Save Betty was apparently sung by a deaf children's choir, but the BBC didn't show any close up's of them signing the song – which rather defeated the object!

When Team GB entered the stadium HM was picking at her cuticles and looking entirely bored by the whole event, so all in all a very poor show from our so called head of state..

I watched the show on the TV, and I was bored stiff. It was clear that most of the show was "made for tv". Those in the ground couldn't see the half of the production. OK those who paid £2012 to watch the show aren't going to admit that they were ripped off – but they were!

At the end of the show it was interesting to note that the President of the IOC thanked the public servants and the volunteers for their contribution, thanking the plebs hadn't crossed Lord Coe's mind.

After all the hype, and Huw Edwards and the Beeb trying to big it up – I would give the Olympic Opening Ceremony, at best one out of ten. That 1 is for the lighting of the coldron – which was inspiring – but as for the rest it was a coldron full of shit!


John the Window – the most corrupt man in Britain!

The tax avoidance problem isn't caused by billionaires fiddling their accounts –it's caused by me giving a fiver to a mate for helping me out when my car don't work according to government minister David Gauke

I am also part of the rotten core of corruption by paying the window cleaner £4:00 in cash every month, without ever asking for a VAT receipt, or even checking that the windows have been cleaned; the basket could be secreting thousands of £4s a month into a secret bank account in the Cayman Islands and bankrupting the British economy in the process - because of fools like me!

Those who are committed to protesting against tax avoidance must stop protesting against the likes of Sir Phillip Green immediately – he is just an innocent bystander in a much more corrupt cabal headed by none other than John the Window from north west Wales!

Shocking! - Shouldn't be allowed


Buy my Taid x 33's Biography!

I don't do book reviews on this blog, mainly because I don't know how to do them.

Despite having a Twitter account I don't particularly like Twitter; - I don't see the point of saying something in 140 characters that one could stretch into a 3 hour sermon!

If I was to join both of these failings together I would probably tweet Wow what a great read or What a croc of sh**; as a response to most of the books that I have read.

I have been offered a free copy of a book to review on this blog. I won't take the offer up, if I did I would be obliged to say something more than wow/croc about it; but as the publishers were so kind as to make the offer and the subject is my many times great grandfather I'll give it a free plug!

How the murder of Wales’ Greatest king transformed the history of Britain on the eve of the Battle of Hastings

Gruffudd ap Llywelyn is one of those relatively unknown figures that deserves a lot more recognition in the annals of history. Born in northern-Wales in the early part of the eleventh century, Gruffudd would go on to seize an unprecedented amount of influence in a ruthless ascent to power. After forcibly unifying all of Wales and claiming the title of ‘king’, Gruffudd successfully attacked the English with the help of a Viking contingent. Gruffudd would get as far as Hereford before burning the city and returning home. These acts forced King Edward the Confessor to seek peace.

Harold, earl of Wessex (later King Harold I) would later take the fight to Gruffudd and in 1063 forced the King to flee his homeland. He was later betrayed and beheaded by his own men, forebears of the princes who have entered history as Wales’ national heroes. The Welsh were left in chaos on the eve of the arrival of the Normans. The death of the last king of Wales would nevertheless also lead to the downfall at Hastings of England’s last Anglo-Saxon king, Harold II.

• The first popular account of the only king to rule all of Wales as a single country and also the last king of the ancient Britons

• Provides a fresh perspective on the events that lead to the Norman Conquest

• Contains original research and little-known illustrations

Michael and Sean Davies each hold a PhD in mediaeval history, and both have published books and articles on Welsh history. Michael runs a company which gives historical tours of Wales and Sean is a writer and editor for the BBC in Cardiff. They both live in Wales.


Does Britain Mean the Same to You as Britain Means to Me?

Gareth Young aka Toque has an interesting post on the Click on Wales Blog site about Ed Milliband's rather odd speech on Defending the Union in England

There is much in Gareth's critique of Mr Milliband's speech that I agree with, read his article!

What I find interesting in Mr Milliband's speech is his odd claim that we can all be equally British

Having to say: Scottish or British, Welsh or British English or British I don’t accept any of that., he says. But he doesn't acknowledge that being "British" might mean different things to different Britons!

I am Welsh and British, but my Britishness comes from the fact that I belong to the Britons who held most of this Island before the Romans and the Anglo Saxons and Normans poked their unwelcome noses into our affairs. My claim to Britishness is one that is superior to the English claim to Britishness!

The Scots are British by virtue of what was supposed to be a marriage of equal's so since the 1700's the Scots have been as equally British as the English.

Many of the English, however, don't seem to accept that there is a difference between being English and being British. During the 1966 World Cup challenge the Union Flag was the prevalent flag. During the Euro 2012 challenge almost every supermarket in Wales has had support OUR (England) team marketing. Even Welsh Rugby Matches on S4C have been inundated by the rather unfortunately predictive Mars Bar advert!

Being English and British to many English people has no resonance – they are two sides of the same coin – two words that mean exactly the same. Mr Milliband proved this when he said in defence of his Speech Keir Hardy was born in Scotland, represented a Welsh constituency and sat in the ENGLISH parliament. - not the British Parliament, the English Parliament!

Being British in England, Scotland, Wales, Cornwall and the North of Ireland means completely different things to different people!

Even our definition of Britishness is a means to divide us rather than a label to unite us!


So I can't stand?

Like most nationalists of a certain age I have my arrested for the cause medal with bar, and because of that it appears that even if I had more money than sense, I still couldn't stand election for Police Commissioner.

Simon Weston (a person I wouldn't vote for, but for whom I have a lot of respect) may be barred from standing because of a conviction which he received in the 1970's.

I was also arrested in the 1970's, and convicted of throwing a full can of beer at Prince Charles - my conviction was a travesty of justice. The can was empty – would anybody, other than an opinionated magistrate believe that I would waste a FULL can on Carlo?

I have convictions that are less honourable than those for the national cause, such as one for assaulting a patient in my care in the mid 1980's. The circumstances were that the patient was posing a knife threat to me and my staff so I slapped her and then disarmed her. I was up in court for assault, pleaded guilty and was given an absolute discharge –the closest thing that a magistrate can say to you should have pleaded not guilty and we would have let you off! The Nursing Registration Council came to a similar conclusion, and I kept my Registered Nurse status after their investigation.
I have a conviction for throwing a brick through the window of a holiday home! If I was guilty I wouldn't have denied it, but I didn't do it! I was set up by the police for naughty things that I had done to TV masts and postal vans that they thought they knew I did, but couldn't prove - so they set me up!

Having been a customer of the bum side of the police service, I think that I could offer an understanding of the service that those who have escaped conviction can never contemplate. Isn't it wrong that those of us who have, perhaps, the most pertinent experience of the police should be barred from standing?
Of course the opposing argument is that if a conviction bar wasn't in place we could elect a mass murderer to be our Commissioner!

We could!

But isn't it an insult to the people of North Wales, South Wales, Dyfed Powys and Gwent to suggest that we would?


Should Plaid and the Lib Dems think again about Police Commissioner Elections?

From what I understand neither Plaid Cymru nor The Liberal Democrats intend to propose nominees for election to the Police Commissioners posts next November.

I had been told that Plaid might be willing to give practical support to an independent candidate who was generally favourable to the national cause, so I looked at the possibilities of standing as an independent. But the evidence proves that it would be absolutely impossible for an independent to mount a credible campaign in policing areas as huge as Dyfed Powys and the North; in terms of costs, resources and of practicality so there is no point in a candidate standing without the support of a political party or a similar organisation.

So it appears that our choice come next November will be between the Labour candidate, the Conservative candidate or a person with more money than sense!


Poems and Politics - TWAT - John Cooper Clarke

I love poetry, and I can recite a number of my favourite poems by rote. I can quote chunks of others, and if I feel the need to make a poetic quotation to support a point I have sufficient knowledge of poetry to enable me to find appropriate quotes.

Many of the poems that I know by rote were learned for the purpose of competing in Eisteddfodau. The ones that I remember best aren't the ones that were drilled, they are the ones who's meanings and structure were explained in detail before we even got onto learning them.

Poems learned in context and taught with enthusiasm can be a lifelong pleasure. Poems taught by rote because the National Curriculum says they must be taught could be counterproductive and put kids off poetry for life. So I give a half cautious welcome to Michael Gove's pronouncement that Children as young as five will be expected to learn and recite poetry by heart in a major overhaul of the national curriculum for schools in England. If it is done well English kids will have a huge benefit, if it is done badly English poetry will suffer a generation of despair.

I sincerely hope it's done well. If not, perhaps this poem by John Cooper Clarke might be the poem Mr Gove will be most associated with:


Like a Night Club in the morning, you're the bitter end
Like a recently disinfected shit-house, you're clean round the bend.
You give me the horrors
too bad to be true
All of my tomorrow's
are lousy coz of you.

You put the Shat in Shatter
Put the Pain in Spain
Your germs are splattered about
Your face is just a stain

You're certainly no raver, commonly known as a drag.
Do us all a favour, here... wear this polythene bag.

You're like a dose of scabies,
I’ve got you under my skin.
You make life a fairy tale... Grimm!
People mention murder, the moment you arrive.
I’d consider killing you if I thought you were alive.
You've got this slippery quality,
it makes me think of phlegm,
and a dual personality
I hate both of them.

Your bad breath, vamps disease, destruction, and decay.
Please, please, please, please, take yourself away.
Like a death in a birthday party,
you ruin all the fun.
Like a sucked and spat our Smartie,
you're no use to anyone.
like the shadow of the guillotine
on a dead consumptive's face.
Speaking as an outsider,
what do you think of the human race

You went to a progressive psychiatrist.
He recommended suicide...
before scratching your bad name off his list,
and pointing the way outside.

You hear laughter breaking through, it makes you want to fart.
You’re heading for a breakdown,
better pull yourself apart.
Your dirty name gets passed about when something goes amiss.
Your attitudes are platitudes,
just make me wanna piss.

What kind of creature bore you
Was is some kind of bat
They can’t find a good word for you,
but I can...


Unionists aren't the problem – apathy is!

Since I started blogging some 5 years ago I have crossed swords with the likes of John the Stonemason, Adam Higgitt aka Normal Mouth; O'Neil and Kezia Duggdale, and have suffered trolling comments from the infamous KP.

It would be easy to think of these as the anti nationalists; as the enemy – people who deserved to be shouted down, kicked in the tender parts and ridiculed. They are not our enemy, they are almost our best friends. They are the people with whom we can argue the national cause, people who are interested in the concept of nationalism, despite opposing it.

In Wales, the problem that nationalist face isn't opposition to nationalism; it's just downright indifference to nationalism!

The vast majority of Welsh people belong to the "don't care – couldn't care less" spectrum as far as the national cause is concerned, it is they; not those who have thought about nationalism and decided to oppose it, who are the real challenge.

Whether we see the future of the national cause as one of reinvigorating Plaid Cymru or one of creating new nationalist movements (or a bit of both) - to succeed we must realise that those who are opposed to the national cause are not the problem; fellow nationalists with whom we have differences are absolutely not the problem; the problem is indifference and apathy.

Our main task isn't one of opposing Unionism or pissing off other nationalist (despite the fact that doing so is fun). Our main task should be one of enthusing the uncommitted into support for the National Cause


The Cost of English in a bilingual Wales

One of the things that I have found interesting about the Western Mail's attack week feature on the Welsh Language is how they conflate bilingualism with excessive support for the Welsh Language.

A perfect example of this can be found in the support for the paper's anti Welsh attitude garnered from Paul Murphy: who warns against 'excessive' spending on Welsh language schemes!

The very word bilingual suggests something to do with TWO languages so any perceived cost of bilingualism should, surely, be shared between BOTH languages. A monolingual transcript of Assembly proceedings, in either language, would have a price tag attached. So how much of the £400K bilingual waste of money is actually being spent on JUST the Welsh Language?

Does English come free of charge?

However I am willing to agree with the Western Mail, translation costs money and in these straightened times money is short. When witnesses appear before committees of the Assembly and present their evidence in Welsh, or when members address those committees in Welsh, translations are a waste of money; they are unneeded and cost too much; after all those of us who can understand Welsh can sacrifice that wasteful spending on English in order to put that wasted money into more worthy pots! Translating those contributions into English is expensive, a waste of money and shouldn't be allowed!

I have attended many hundreds of bilingual meetings in Wales during the past forty years, without ever using any translation facility – as a fluent user of both Welsh and English I don't need translators – those who need the translation facilities are the mono-linguist English, not us bilingual Welsh speakers!

Translation, in Wales, is primarily, spending on the English Language!


Unopposed - WHY?

I have had some interesting responses by phone and e-mail to the newspaper article that appeared in the Weekly News mentioned in my last post. People are always welcome to e-mail me or to phone me to express their views, however there is a comments form at the bottom of every post on this blog; and the newspaper article specifically asks for a debate in its letters page.

90% of the 300+personal responses that I have had so far have been personal, mostly jocular, many supportive and a handful abusive. About 10% have been constructive and would be better made in a public forum rather than in private! I would encourage that 10% to make their comments known to the letters editors of their local papers, on blog comment forms, on twitter etc. This is an important public issue – so don't tell me personally what you think in private – tell the public what you think in public!

With 93 Welsh county councillors being elected unopposed, one county ward not even having a single candidate stand and more than 6,000 Welsh Community Councillors elected without contest, there is something wrong with the democratic process that demands that community reps are elected by the community! What's going wrong is, surely, a matter for serious debate amongst all of us who respect the democratic process!

Some of those who have contacted me have been other councillors who were elected unopposed in their various communities who feel, somehow, that my comments were a criticism of them. That, of course, is rubbish!

All of us who put our names forward for election did so knowing that an election was, at least, a possibility so we entered the fray honestly and it's not our fault that others couldn't be bothered to stand against us; but it must also be part of our responsibility, as representatives of our communities, to ask why there is such disinterest in membership of our county and community councils.


Community Councillor Needs to Buy New Shirt!

Damn and Blast! I should have made sure that I was wearing a decent shirt before allowing the North Wales Weekly News to photograph me for their article on my non-election to the community council! I hadn't noticed the frayed collar until I saw the picture in the paper - very embarrassing!

The tie is of my Betton family tartan, a sept of Clan MacBeth, which does not (of necessity) signify Hubble Bubble Toil and Trouble for the Community Council!


Plaid – for the first time – offering hope in my lifetime

One of the reasons for my Love / Hate attitude towards Plaid Cymru is Plaid's ambivalence about the I word!

I support INDEPENDENCE for Wales unequivocally. Plaid, at times has appeared rather uncertain about independence claiming that it has "never ever" been a party aim, perhaps a long term desire, something that may happen a long time after all current party voters are dead and buried etc.

I was pleased, therefore, to see that Elfyn Llwyd, who has often been as ambivalent as others on the I issue has stated that he will see Wales independent in his lifetime.

Elfyn is a few years older than I am, so Elfyn's statement is the first time EVER that I have heard a Plaid Politician predicting that I could live in an independent Wales!

Diolch Elfyn


Any info about Counts?

Conwy Council is counting all borough and community votes between 9am and 4pm on Friday centrally at Venue Cymru, a horrible decision!

We are electing local councillors and locals should know the results locally after a local count. The final results may not be available until Tuesday or Wednesday on the Council's website! Not good enough!

In the good old days we use to be able to toast our new councillor in the local pub at last orders on election night – that is how it should be!

How are other councils counting? Are they all centralising on Friday or will some results become available on Thursday night / the early hours of Friday morning?


Peter Hain – Wales' Voster?

Peter Hain was a man for whom I had a lot of respect in my youth.

 He was the leader of the Young Liberals whilst I was a leading member of the Merionethshire Young Liberals in the early 1970's.

When my sisters had posters of David Bowie and Donny Osmond on their bedroom walls I had a poster of Peter Hain on mine!

I have nothing but respect for Peter's valiant fight against Apartheid in the 60's and 70's, he was a national and an international hero, but despite his opposition to apartheid, Peter's political legacy seems to have been heavily influenced by SA apartheid PM Balthazar Johannes Vorster's mantra that opposing him was the same as supporting his opponents.

In true Vorster style Mr Hain claims that all votes against his party, be they from Plaid, Greens, Lib Dems, Communists, the SWP, Christian Voice, even supporters of birthday parties or Christmas parties are all closet evil Tories – any party, other than the Labour Party is the Evil Tory Party!

As a former supporter and one who use to have a great deal of respect for you, Peter, please don't transfer that sort of South African politics to Wales – we don't need it, we dont want it!


Labour's message of support for the Tories

During the 2011 Assembly elections Peter Hain and Carwyn Jones claimed that Wales could send a message to the Westminster administration by using the Assembly vote as a referendum on Wales' opposition to the ConDem government. It was a tactic that failed. The Conservative vote in Wales went up as did the number of Conservative representatives elected to the Assembly.

As a referendum on Tory policies the last Assembly elections actually gave the Tory's an endorsement. Wales was never ever going to vote Yes to Tory policy but as a result of Labour's campaign more people voted Yes than might have been expected otherwise and the Conservative vote was boosted.

Once bitten, twice shy, one might suppose. But no! Labour are trying the same tactic again; despite knowing that using the local government elections as a referendum on Westminster Tory policies will lead to many more Conservative councillors being elected in Wales. The question has to be asked:


Simply because it is in Labours interest to have more Conservative councillors in Wales. The Labour party has become so lazy, so stagnant, so bereft of original ideas for the betterment of local communities or for the betterment of Wales that it's only unique selling point is we are not Tories and the more Tory Councillors there are the more negative and not Tory Labour can be!

Wales deserves better! Wales deserves councillors, of all parties and of none, who put our communities first and who couldn't give a damn about sending a message to either Westminster or Cardiff Bay!

Don't waste this election as a referendum on any unrelated point, please use the election to elect a councillor who wants to represent your local community in your local council chamber as an honourable way of serving your community, rather than voting for nothing better than sending a V sign, that will be ignored, to Mr Cameron!


Don't sell our water, swap it for Beer!

Don't sell our water, swap it for Beer was a silly comment made by a drunk in my local pub a few days ago. We shouldn't sell our water to England or give it away for free, we should swap it for beer – a pint for every gallon! A silly comment maybe; but one that has some merit.

The whole of the UK has a fairly temperate climate; there isn't any part of these islands that suffer from the true meaning of the word drought.

The problem isn't that "Britain" is short of water; the problem is a geographic imbalance of water usage!

Too many people live in, and too many water intensive industries are based in water poor areas, like the South East of England.

The answer to the problem isn't pumping Welsh water over hundreds of miles into South East England in order to enable those water guzzling industries to survive, the answer is to rellocate those industries to Wales where the water is plentiful.

Breweries use about a gallon of water in order to make a pint of beer; why should we sell Welsh water to drought infested English brewers for a pitance when we have enough water to make our own beer, that we can then sell to England at a premium price?

Don't sell our water, swap it for Beer!!!

Welsh agenda makes a similar point in a more academic fashion


Is Labour's Wet Dream also Plaid's Wet Dream?

One of the things that makes me hate left wing politics in general, and the Labour Party in particular, is the feeling that the left needs poverty and deprivation in order to justify its existence. If the Labour heartland was lifted out of hardship and became prosperous would it still vote Labour?

The answer is a resounding NO!

Because of that the areas that have voted Labour for the past 100 years are still the poorest and most deprived parts of the United Kingdom; places like the South Wales Valleys and Glasgow have been made poorer under every single Labour Government, voting Labour has worked against them, because if Labour had helped to lift those loyal communities out of poverty and hardship they might not vote for the poor man's party any more.

My feeling about Labour was confirmed this week by a, now erased, YouTube in which a Senior Labour Politician described rising unemployment and inflation as an orgasmic wet dream for the left; claiming, more or less, that the poorer people are the more likely they are to vote Labour – so poverty is good news for Labour.

There is a Nationalist argument, which is largely true, that Wales; since time immemorial, has been the poorest part of England and Wales / Great Britain / The United kingdom because it has been exploited and ignored – an independent Wales couldn't be worse off than an exploited Wales has been for the past 500 years!

Doesn't this make the ability to complain about exploitation and poverty and deprivation a wet dream for Plaid's left wing too?

Or can those of us who want Wales to succeed work together in order to create a vibrant Welsh capitalist / co-operative economy that serves Wales well and leads the people of Wales to believe that we are able to beat poverty and stand on our own two feet - rather than being chained to the left wing poverty trap!


Call me Cllr MOF

I have been elected, without contest, to Llansanffraid Glan Conwy Community Council. With only 11 candidates for 12 seats there will be no election for the community council again this year.

Having looked through old local newspapers I cannot find any reference to Glan Conwy Council being subject to election since the end of the Second World War (with the exception of me and Dan standing in a by-election last year).

I'm sure that Glan Conwy isn't unique in this respect; there will be a large number of other community councilors who are also selected without election through all of Wales.

I have been congratulated on my "election" by many members of the community, but I don't think that congratulations are in order; I am bitterly disappointed that I have just been selected without having to go through the rigours of the electoral process. I would have preferred to have stood an election, made my case and lost miserably rather than be, yet another shoo in, in the long list of shoo ins to the council!

Community Councils are the foundation stone of the democratic process, the fact that so many community councillors are selected without election makes a farce of local democracy.


There are four candidates for the County Council elections in the Llansanffraid Ward for Conwy

Ivonne Sarah Lesiter-Burgess Welsh Liberal Democrat
John Malcolm Spicer Independent
Dan Worsley Welsh Conservative Party
the candidate who will have my support

Graham "Gas" Rees


A New National Party?

There has been some discussion of late about creating a New Nationalist Party in Wales, by people who are as peeved with Plaid as I often am.

My general attitude is one of the more the merrier. Many different organisations pleading the national cause from differing viewpoints can only benefit the overall cause of national self determination.

The problem that I have with almost every proponent of a new nationalist party is the lack of ambition; almost all proponents of such a party seem to want to oppose Plaid Cymru!


Plaid Cymru has 3 out of 40 MPs, 11 out of 60 AMs, gained 19% of the vote in the last Assembly elections on a turnout of just 42% - less than 10% of those eligible to vote. A new nationalist party that just wants to steal a portion of Plaid's vote is a waste of time and would dilute the national cause – what gain would there be for the general cause if there were 3 or 4 more unionist Assembly Members in the Senedd as a result of the New National Party splitting the Plaid vote?

If a New National Party was formed that could appeal to the 58% of those who couldn't be arsed to vote in 2011, or that took votes from the Unionist Labour Party or the Unionist Conservative Party or the Federalist Lib Dems – I might be interested, but I just can't see the point of a new party that restricts its ambition to pinching a small part of Plaid's electoral support because of petty ideological spite.


Congratulations Leanne

I would like to offer sincere congratulations to Leanne Wood on gaining the leadership of Plaid Cymru.

There is no secret in the fact that there are huge differences of opinion between my right of centre politics and Leanne's left wing politics.

I have berated Leanne's political stance on a regular basis since I started blogging; I don't expect that to change! The posts in which I have noted that Leanne and I disagree are the ones which have attracted the greatest number of comments by both those who support her and those who agree with me! That is Leanne's strength as a party leader; she is a politician who can spark fierce debate, a woman whose opinions attract a strong response be it in her favour or against her.

Too many of our current politicians are people who are too respectable and too moderate; people who are afraid to upset anyone; people who follow the crowd rather than challenge people to think about alternative routes.

According to the old cliché the only thing worse than people talking about you is people not talking about you. Unfortunately people have not talked much about Plaid, Independence or the alternatives to the political consensus recently!

Leanne is a woman who cannot "not be talked about", she is a lady whose views tend to create a fierce political debate.

As long as she isn't mesmerised by the importance of her new office or forced into compromise by party advisors too worried about rocking the boat, Leanne's uncompromising and clear views on all the important issues facing Wales will created interesting, sometimes heated, debates which will not only be beneficial to Plaid Cymru but will also be beneficial to Welsh politics in general.


Defining marriage to exclude gays!

I am always busy on a Thursday night, so I always miss the politics programmes. Why do all of them have to be broadcast on a Thursday? It must be boring for those not interested in politics, and is frustrating for those of us addicts who like our daily fix of politics.

I have just caught up with Thursday’s QT and a claim by Cardinal O’Brian that proposals for gay marriage are “redefining” the meaning of marriage!

The term marriage, in my experience, seems to have a much wider meaning, than the narrow one that the Cardinal wishes to restrict it to.

When I was doing woodwork in school we had to do joints, mine were never good enough because they didn’t marry together!

When I watch antiques programmes on the telly I hear the term marriage for two bits of antiquity that don’t naturally belong together but are, however, joined together – like a 19th century mirror on a 18th century dressing table.

The person trying to redefine the word marriage is the Cardinal; he is trying to claim that the word marriage can only be used to describe Holy Matrimony as accepted by the Roman Catholic Church. But he is wrong, even there.

When Catholic people were executed for the abomination of homosexuality, they were condemned for the sin of marriage of men, so the Catholic Church actually acknowledges that gay marriage exists, even if it has never approved of it, because it has murdered people for partaking in it!

If the Cardinal doesn’t want to ask God’s blessing on the marriage of two men or two women, he shouldn’t be forced to do so; but why should a Catholic dictate that I, as a Methodist, shouldn’t be allowed by law to ask God for that blessing?

In civil proceedings what practical difference is there between a civil partnership and a civil marriage? None! Why should a man-woman civil proceeding be given a different term to that of the same man-man or woman-woman civil proceeding?


Statistics, damned statistics and independence

Earlier this month a poll, by ITV Wales/ YouGov, asked voters how Wales should be governed just 10% said Wales should become independent and only a third of Plaid Cymru voters said that they would want an independent Wales.

Interesting findings.

The Population of Wales is just shy of 3 Million (about 2.2 milion of voting age), so if this data is correct about 300,000 of us want Wales to be independent. That is a huge base on which to build the national cause.

Plaid Cymru gained about 170,000 votes in the last Assembly elections; if only one third of them support independence fewer than 60 thousand of the 300 thousand supporters of independence voted Plaid!

ITV/YouGov's finding that only one sixth of the supporters of independence vote for Plaid Cymru should be food for thought for whoever becomes the next Plaid leader!

It must also be food for thought for us non-aligned Welsh nationalists!

There is clearly a need for a non party / cross party organisation that can represent the views of close to a quarter of a million supporters of independence who didn't vote Plaid last time, for whatever reason, but might like another way of expressing their support to the national cause.


A Lord as leader of Plaid! How daft is that?

I love Dafydd Elis Thomas, in my opinion he is the most influential person to enter Welsh political life since Owain Glyndŵr, he is a national hero!

Without a shadow of doubt Dafydd is the most able, the most experienced and most capable Assembly Member in Cardiff Bay, regardless of party affiliation. Dafydd is a man that the whole of Wales, not just Plaid supporters, should be extremely proud of; a National Treasure!

If Dafydd was just Dr Thomas AM, I would say that he would be an exemplary leader of Plaid and a man made to be an excellent First Minister!

But Dafydd is not Dr Thomas any more he is Lord Ellis-Thomas of Nant Conwy, for better or worse.

On personal merit Dafydd is head and shoulders above the rest of the field! But his title is a burden that Plaid cannot afford!

If Plaid elects a Lord to become the leader of a Nationalist Left of Centre Party it will become a laughing stock!

Despite his undoubted merits, every vote for the good Lord will be a stab in the heart to the national cause. Comparisons will be made between the Third Marquis of Salisbury and the First Lord of Nant Conwy and those comparisons will hurt.

Please, Plaid don't do it!


Where did Plaid hold its Open Husting Event?

I find it odd that Plaid Cymru; a party which claims to be the most down to earth, most working class, most socialist party in Wales and the party who's pulse beats closest to the beat of the heart of the Welsh nation should choose to hold its open hustings meeting in the most exclusive hotel in the country!

If the battle is to be won in hostelries, won't it be won in spit and sawdust pubs rather than in stared hotels?


What is Fluency in Welsh?

This post was going to be a comment on a post on the National Left blog but has grown too long.

The background is that on Tuesday the Welsh Language Board issued a report that claimed that the number of Fluent Welsh speakers was declining by about 3,000 per year despite the fact that the 2001 and probably the 2011 census results have / will show an overall increase in the numbers of Welsh speakers. If rumours are correct the 2011 census will show that Welsh is now spoken by slightly more than was the case forty years ago in 1971.

The Welsh Language Board claims that the census increases might give false optimism for the fate of the language because heads of households might think that because their offspring do Welsh in school that they are more capable in the language than is practically true, so the census results are very subjective.

I agree.

The problem with the WLB's report is that it is also based on self reporting and is probably as subjective as the Census results. Many first language Welsh speakers feel that their Welsh isn't good enough, despite the fact that they use the language naturally and properly on a daily basis, so they don't declare themselves as fluent.

A few years ago I was in a pub in Llanrwst where two women were complaining to me about an advert for a job in a local retirement home being advertised as one where an ability to speak Welsh is essential. They thought that this unfairly discriminated against them because they were prohibited from applying for the job. The complaint was made in very down to earth colloquial Welsh. When I asked them what the problem was they both replied that our Welsh isn't good enough! They didn't perceive themselves as matching the WLB's fluency threshold, despite being native Welsh speakers!

For us to be able to measure how the language is fairing and in order to enhance its use we need a much more objective way of measuring language skills than either the Census or the WLB's surveys!

I live in a village where the 2001 Census claims that about 35% of the villagers speak Welsh.

I can make a case that puts this as a gross underestimation. I suspect that around 90% of my neighbours understand and use Welsh terms such as "croeso", "bore da", "iechyd da", "paned", "Ysgol", "Ysbyty" etc daily. They know how to spell Betws y Coed, and live in streets called Ffordd---, Rhes---, Bryn---, Maes--- know how to pronounce them properly and know their meaning – I think that such people should be encouraged to consider themselves as Welsh Speakers, as owners of the language and stakeholders in its future.

I could also make the case that the 35% is a gross over exaggeration. I very much doubt that 35% of the villagers actually converse in Welsh on a daily basis, feel comfortable speaking Welsh or would prefer to speak Welsh rather than English.

We can't have an objective assessment that covers everybody in Wales, but a generic Welsh in the Workplace qualification which ranges from the greeting knowledge that 90% have at level one to the specialist proofreading knowledge that perhaps 1% have at level 7, that tells the people of Wales when the Welsh that they know is good enough and encourages them to improve on it might be a step in the right direction.


Poems and Politics- Liverpool Lullaby by Stan Kelly

A discussion on the Better Nation Blog about proposals for the Scottish Parliament to make smacking children illegal reminded me of this poignant poem by Stan Kelly. It is about an abused child who is likely to grow up to become a replica of his abusive father, but his Ma' still loves him to bits because he is her baby.

A fantastic poem, made into a fantastic song by Cilla Black:

Oh you are a mucky kid,
Dirty as a dustbin lid.
When he hears the things that you did,
You'll gerra belt from your Da.
Oh you have your father's nose,
So crimson in the dark it glows,
If you're not asleep when the boozers close,
You'll gerra belt from your Da.

You look so scruffy lying there
Strawberry-jam tarts in yer hair,
In all the world you haven't a care
And I have got so many.
It's quite a struggle every day
Living on your father's pay,
The begger drinks it all away
And leaves me without any.

Although you have no silver spoon,
Better days are coming soon
Our Nelly's working at the Lune
And she gets paid on Friday.
Perhaps one day we'll have a splash,
When Littlewoods provide the cash,
We'll get a house in Knotty Ash
And buy your Da a brewery.

Oh you are a mucky kid,
Dirty as a dustbin lid.
When he hears the things that you did
You'll gerra belt from your Da.
Oh you have your father's face,
You're growing up a real hard case,
But there's no one can take your place,
.... Go fast asleep for yer Mammy.


Right v Left or Best for Wales?

As a part of Click on Wales' season of post about the position of Plaid Cymru, there is an interesting article by Gwion Owain about Plaid Cymru's Socialist Platform.

There is also an interesting response to the post from Glyn Beddau on the National Left Blog.

Being a one nation conservative type nationalist I don't agree entirely with either post, but I tend to favour Gwion's position.

I hate Socialism with a capital H A T E! So why wrap those Plaid policies that I agree with in a wrapping that I will chuck in the bin before opening?

I was a member of Plaid in the days that it was seen as the nonconformist chapels at prayer. When Dr Gwynfor Evans was the president of the Congregationalist Union, when the Rev Dr Tudur Jones, was vice president, when the Rev D Pennar Davies and the Rev Poet O.M.Lloyd were the backbone of the party. I was a member of the party when the young Dafydd Elis Thomas discarded the tradition of his father's generation by turning Plaid into a, so called, Socialist Party!

What's odd is that in changing Plaid from a chapel party to a lefties party Plaid's values have hardly changed at all, so why insist on calling a value socialist in order to piss me and my like off and alienate us?

Why not call policies Best for Wales and entice both right wing nationalists, like me, and my socialist friends in the national cause to support them?


Vote Leanne Wood

Anybody who has ever read this blog will know that Ms Wood and I are poles apart politically.

I won't bother to go into specifics, because a simple Google search can do a better job, and a Google search will show, without doubt, that Ms Wood and I are not bedfellows – by a long, long, long way!

I'm a right winger; Leanne is very much to my antipathy –she's a horrid lefty!

I hate left wing politics in my belly, my heart and my brain, but there is a warmth in all my organs that burns warmer than left v right and that is the fire for Welsh independence

The only person who is four square on independence in the Plaid leadership poll is Leanne.

I am almost tempted to re-join the party and start a Hydro for Leanne group – in order to to embarrass her! (Note for youngsters: Hydro was the right wing group in Plaid before you or Ms Wood were even born)

Let there be no doubt, I will oppose Leanne's leftism, but at least I will have a principal to oppose if Leanne is elected party leader, rather than the wishy washy nothing that the other candidates seem to be offering.

And in real politics, Plaid has had a leader to ignore for the last 10 years.

Leanne's strength is you can love her or hate her but you cannot ignore her!

And Plaid's problem over recent years is that it has been ignored!

Just try to ignore Ms Wood at your peril!


Jobs, Schemes and Political Backbone

When I left school without the A levels that I needed to fulfil my academic dreams I was put on a job creation programme in my local library. I loved the scheme whilst it lasted!

I learned more in those six months than I had learned in a previous lifetime of school. There was something almost magical in handling so many books. Even without reading them, just stamping a book with this book is the property of Gwynedd Council and knowing on which shelf to place it gave me new information about the latitude of human knowledge, experience and insight. It was probably the most influential six months of my life!

But it was still cheap, and useless, labour!

It was a scheme that would never have allowed me to become a librarian or to get even the lowest job in a library. After six months of infatuation with the process I was kicked out because my term had ended, and some other person was inducted to the joys of librarianship in my stead with the same non chance of having a career in the library service.

Pointless really!

Given the resignations of the Apprenticeship Tsars I hope that the Westminster Government will look again at the meaning of apprenticeship and give young people the hope of gaining employment as electricians, plumbers, mechanics, librarians etc, rather than doing what Mrs Thatcher did – dangling the smell of such jobs under their noses in the knowledge that those jobs were never going to be available to them!

But I doubt it – getting kids through schemes, in order to keep them off the streets for a few months is easy politics – giving them meaningful apprenticeships that will lead to lifelong skills and employment is a real challenge that the ConDem Government is too frightened to contemplate.


The Six Nations in the North

All of the under twenty - Six Nations home Welsh Rugby international games this year and next, will be played at the new Eirias Park stadium in Colwyn Bay. I would like to urge all supporters of the oval ball in the North to try to attend one or more of these matches.

Attending an international match in Cardiff given the cost of transport, ticket and accommodation is way beyond many of us! For only Five Quid we can support Wales on Eirias Park in Six Nations Internationals!

OK – it's just the under 20's –but many of those from Wales and the opposing teams will be the stars of rugby's future and you can boast I was there when the heir to Barry John played his very first game for Wales - etc

More importantly, a good show of support may keep these games in Colwyn Bay beyond 2013, and may also prove to some of the southern-centric members of the WRU, that supporting and developing Rugby in the North will be beneficial for all of Welsh Rugby.

Tickets are available from Conwy Council, Venue Cymru and most Tesco stores in the north of Wales


What is the Labour and Tory Vision for an Independent Scotland?

In trying to follow the Scottish Independence referendum debate, there is one strain of argument that confuses me. It is the argument where Unionists (usually) ask questions about the policies that an Independent Scottish Government would follow, which are sometimes answered, quite authoritively, by Nationalists.

Questions like:

What sort of currency would an independent Scotland have?

What would Scotland's defence policies be? If England went to War would Scotland Support England? How many Aeroplanes would the Scots Air Force have?

How would Scotland deal with welfare and benefits? Would taxes be higher, lower, or similar?

What sort of economic policies would an Independent Scotland follow? What would Scotland's international relations be like?

They are all fair questions, I suppose. They may be questions that an "undecided" might want an answer to. They might be questions that a truly independent commentator (if such a creature exists) might be able to guess at by looking at the historic polity of Scotland.

But are they questions for the YES side alone?

I think not.

If Scotland votes Yes the answers to these questions will not just be in the hands of the Yes voters. Those who vote No and those who don't vote will also live in an independent Scotland and their opinions will still count in an independent Scotland.

The idea that the SNP should be forced to answer these policy questions whilst the unionists snigger is bad for the possible future of Scottish politics.

If Scotland votes Yes the first elected independent parliament may not be formed by the SNP. Voters may think that, having achieved its goal, the SNP is defunct. There may be a Labour Government, possibly even a Conservative Government in the newly Independent Holyrood Parliament.

In order to get the fullest possible picture of what an independent Scotland might look like those who oppose Scottish Independence should surely tell us how they would run an independent Scotland should the referendum vote go against them!


Glan Conwy May 2012 Elections

I have been receiving odd e-mails, comments etc, that suggest that I might be standing election for a New Nationalist Party, as an Independent Nationalist a Plaid Candidate or even as a Conservative Party Candidate for the Llansanffraid ward of Conwy County Council next May!

NONE of these rumours are true! I will vote for and give my wholehearted support to the re-election of Graham (Gas) Rees, regardless of whoever else is standing, on the County ballot!

I will be putting my name forward as a candidate for the Community Council as a truly independent candidate, and that means as independent of The Gas Man as much as independent of the established parties!

I will be standing in my own name on my own ticket - but I hope that I can count on your support!