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.