I'm the Hen Ferchetan. This is my take on the world through the eyes of Wales. While mostly about Welsh politics (that most famous of dour topics!) I try to scatter some humour around, but I doubt anyone but me will find it funny! Have a read, and if it bores you then feel free to never come back!

Friday, 30 October 2009

Hello and Goodbye!

As I heavily hinted to in the last post I am back in Wales and ready to turn my hand to blogging again.The new Amlwch to Magor can be found at:

www.amlwch-magor.blogspot.com

If your blog list still links to this site please can you change it to the new address (please, pretty please!)

Also it seems that both Welsh Political News and the Welsh Political Index have both died a death while I'm away - can anyone tell me if there's still a good Welsh political blog aggregator out there for me to get back to speed on who's still blogging and which new people I need to catch up on?

This will be the last post on this address, so goodbye and see you HERE!

Sunday, 4 January 2009

Priorities

As you'll have noticed, this blog has been neglected for a month or two now. As I mentioned in a few previous posts, personal life took away the Hen Ferchetan's time and I simply could not devote the time to post here regularly. A blog commenting on political news needs to be active every day or it's a pointless exercise so I put it on hold until the New Year.

Well the New Year has arrived, and my circumstances have changed again. Work commitments of the man of the house means that, for a short period at least, the Hen Ferchetan will not be living in Wales, or in the UK for that matter. So I'm afraid to say that the Hen Ferchetan won't be here for the European Elections and, depending on when Gordon dares go for it, may not be here for the next General Election. While I could still post snippets every now and then from my temporary home I won't be able to give the blog the time and attention it needs and deserves. I'm therefore signing off. While the usual bunch of anons will give their usual smile of glee at seeing another blogger depart, there's no doubt that the Hen Ferchetan will return - but not in 2009.

Have a great year, and I'll see you all in 2010. Hwyl fawr!

Tuesday, 9 December 2008

First Female Party Leader

So Kirsty "Rainbow-Wrecker" Williams eases to victory in the all-female Lib Dem leadership campaign by some 60% to 40%. I won't comment much for now because I'm still off blogging until the Christmas holidays (although it certainly does make the Labour Leadership contest a damn sight more interesting as Kirsty will be clearly be pressing the One Wales Government skeptics (i.e. Huw Lewis) to dump Plaid and restart the Lib-Lab if he wins). I'll let Confused for Cardiff have the last word (for now) on this one:

Kirsty's new Shadow Shadow Cabinet

Wednesday, 3 December 2008

Comings and Goings

So the Welsh political blogosphere loses a prominent blogger in Ordovicius. As the most regular poster around it can only be a loss, good luck to him with whatever will now take up all that time.

Thankfully the loss of one blogger is offset by the re-gain of another. The Cynical Dragon is back after he realised that retirement isn't all that it's cracked up to be. As one of my favorite blogs I'm glad to see him back.

As for this blog, I haven't posted regularly for a month or so now. Some of you will be disappointed to know that I'm not quite ready to follow Ordo into retirement just yet. Personal problems have been keeping me away and will continue to do so for a short while. I'll be back before the New Year and by February my problems will have either been solved or become such a mess that I stop caring about them and blog to take my mind off them!

Tuesday, 18 November 2008

My Word is Gospel

Peter Hain 2006:
He said that there was "no way" Labour would introduce proportional representation (PR) in local elections.
Rhodri Morgan 2008:
“The only way in which this is going to happen is through proportional representation – a form of election which would, undoubtedly, improve our representation in counties such as Pembrokeshire, Ceredigion, Ynys Môn and Gwynedd,”


Peter Hain March 2007:
Asked by Plaid's Adam Price to clarify his position on a Labour-Plaid coalition, Mr Hain said: "I'm ruling it out.
Peter Hain 17th May 2007:
Asked by BBC Radio Wales whether his party could do a deal with Plaid or the Conservatives, Mr Hain replied "certainly not".
BBC July 2007:
Labour has voted by a big margin to back an historic coalition with Plaid Cymru in the Welsh assembly.


Adam Price 2007:

He (Hain) quite regularly takes a different view to those who actually make the decisions

Monday, 17 November 2008

Rhodri Gets Tough

So finally, at long last, after 8 years and one month into his job, Rhodri Morgan grows some cahoones. In an essay he wrote for a new book on Welsh politics the First Minister finally bites back at a few parts of the Labour Party that he has usually lain down before.

Firstly he launches a pretty damning critic of the Blair and Brown legacy. He ridicules Brown's attempts to convince us all that being British means tolerance and decency by pointing to New Labour's record of:
"bulging prisons, record incarceration of children, fortress-like asylum policies, and a progressive erosion of the distinction between ‘anti-social’ behaviour (where solutions ought to be sought primarily through social policy)and criminal conduct (which falls to be dealt with by the criminal justice system) provides an uncertain background of evidence.”
Damning stuff. He also criticises the attack on Iraq, something which he embarrassingly refused to do a few years back (when it actually mattered). But Rhodri isn't finished yet, he then turns to his own Welsh party.

Echoing views that Eluned Morgan and Carwyn Jones said in February's Welsh Labour Conference (but which they later backtracked on in the Western Mail letter page) Rhodri states that a big reason for Labour's collapse in West Wales (they do not hold an Assembly seat West of Swansea) was their public image of being anti-Welsh language. While Rhodri is careful enough to state that he doesn't believe his party is anti-Welsh language his admission that:
"it would be foolish to deny that, from time to time, strands in the party have acted in ways which have given it credibility"
is as subtle as a sledgehammer. Strands in the party? Now I wonder who he could possibly be talking about there?

It's very interesting to see Rhodri's admission that the Tories have managed to reposition themselves in front of Labour in the "pro-Welsh language" front. This would have been unimaginable only a few years ago, but there's no doubt that Welsh-speakers now feel that Labour is the party who opposes their quest for more rights not the Tories.

There are two reasons for this; yes the Tories, in the Assembly at least, have repositioned themselves well to the fore of Labour on this issue and, as Welsh-speaking Tories will always be quick to remind you, it was the Tories that (eventually) gave us the Welsh Language Act and S4C.

Perhaps more importantly though, they only have 3 Welsh MP's at the moment. So while Labour's numerous MP's lash out at the Welsh language from London, their Tory counterparts don't get much publicity when they do the same. So while the Tories in the Assembly have managed to redeem themselves to some extent, their MP's haven't - they're just being ignored. When, as is likely, the Tories find themselves with many additional Welsh MP's come the next election, it will be interesting to see if we'll still be thinking of them as pro-Welsh language?

So with the looming Cardiff v Westminster fight is about to begin over the Welsh Language LCO (believe me, the Housing LCO bickering is merely an undercard compared to the mess that the next one could cause) Rhodri has drawn a pretty big line in the sand. The question is what side of that line will the reminder of his party stand?

Wednesday, 12 November 2008

AM's Trusted With the truth

The Western Mail has a two page spread today about a Committee on Standards in Public life survey on public perceptions of honesty. The article is headed "Our Assembly Members seen as less honest than local MP's" which, on first glance, suggests that the public prefer their MP's to AM's. The key word though is "local".

Even though the survey did find that people trusted their local MP to tell the truth more than local AM (49% v 41%) in every other part of the survey Assembly Members were the ones held in better regard.

As a whole MP's were given a 30% trustworthy rating, compared to 35% for AM's. Interestingly UK government ministers received less than general MP's (29%) but Welsh Assembly Ministers significantly more than their backbench colleagues (41%) .

In encouraging news for Welsh Ministers they outscored their London rivals in every category:

Dedicated to doing a good job for the public - 49 v 40
Competent 42 v 40
Set good example 39 v 31
Do not use powers for own gain 44 v 39
Use public money wisely 34 v 27
Explain reasons for decisions 29 v 24
Tell the truth 32 v 26
In touch with public 33 v 22
Do not take bribes 58 v 55
Own up to mistakes 10 v 13

Of course, both set of politicians come off worse against most other professions, with doctors, headteachers and judges leading the way.

For some reason the Western Mail has decided to ignore all those results and stick to the one single figure that MP's trump AM's on for their headline! Could that be the reason why, right at the bottom of the trustworthy pile, well below both AM's and MP's, come tabloid journalists!

Thursday, 6 November 2008

The Forgotten Earthquake

In all the hype and excitement of the American elections, even over here, we all seemed to have forgotten that the Glenrothes election is today. The count has started and the word that's spreading is that the SNP will turn the Labour 10,000 majority to a 1,000 majority of their own.

Labour are already trying to turn such a result into a "win", saying that the defeat would have been much worse a few months ago. Sorry but I can't buy that. While they may well have lost by a large amount a few months ago, losing a 10,000 majority is nothing close to a win, it's embarrassing.

Who knows though, the count is still young, Labour may well keep the seat.

Whichever way the result goes though, it won't have as much effect as we thought when the seat became vacant. This was supposed to be Brown's saviour or executioner. But with all the focus on Barck Obama's victory, Glenrothes has slipped from the front pages and, win or lose, won't have any substantial effect on Brown and Labour's ratngs.

Update: Rumours have now switched to say that Labour may hang on. Brown may well rue his decision to "bury" the poll by having it in the same week as the US election. If they are going to win it Labour could have done with having the by-election dominate the news instead of being ignored for weeks.

Wednesday, 5 November 2008

Coat-Tail Hanger On

Blog post by Lib Dem Leadership contender Kirsty Williams:
As the world turns to a new generation of leaders with Barack in America and Tavish Scott and Nick Clegg in Scotland and the UK there should be no doubt about the opportunity we Welsh Liberal Democrats find ahead of us.
Ouch. Just...ouch! What price Barack Obama makes a speech this week about how great it is that the world is turning to people like him, Tavish and Nick! I'll give you 4,000-1 odds!

President-Elect Obama

Barack Hussain Obama - the soon to be 44th President of the United States of America. It was an incredible night of drama an emotion, even from the Hen Ferchetan's living room thousands of miles away.

It was all over as soon as Ohio was called for the Democrat but nobody in our house dared call it until Virginia came in a few minutes before 4am Wales time. Waiting for California to put Obama over the edge was then a mere formality, followed by telephone calls to jubilant friends and family in the States.

It's incredible that states like Virginia and (probably) North Carolina found themselves in the Blue column. Even more incredible is Indiana, where Obama turned a 20% defeat in for Kerry in 2004 to a 0.9% victory. Yes demographics have changed all over the US in the past 4 years,but that remains a HUGE swing.

Both McCain and Obama's speeches were of the highest quality. McCain returned to the humble man of 2000, the candidate many people wanted him to be again this year. Obama has a lot of pressure on him now. He's promised Change, he's promised unity, he's promised to remake America brick by brick. Will he be able to live up to the hype? We'll wait and see.

Tuesday, 4 November 2008

Owain Who?

We all know the stereotype of the estate agent that embellishes a bit on the history or quality of a property they want to sell, but when it comes to McCartneys Estate Agents in Knighton, Powys they may well be able to argue that their apparent blunder is no more than another Western Mail mess up.

In the Western Mail story today we find out that McCartneys are selling Castle Hill for a client of theirs. Local tradition has it that King Arthur was married on the mountain. The Western Mail's report also tells us that:
These days there’s not much to separate it from thousands of other grassy hills that dot rural Wales – other than the buried remains of a Norman castle destroyed by Owain Glyndŵr’s forces...the Normans built a castle on the hill as a way of keeping the troublesome local population in check. But it was unsuccessful in its design, and was consigned to ruin after Owain Glyndŵr’s forces laid waste to it in 1262.
Problem is of course Owain Glyndŵr never saw Knucklas Castle, let alone destroy it. How do I know this? Owain Glyndŵr was not born in 1262, and not for another 95 or so years!

A quick history check tells us that it was Llywelyn Ein Llyw Olaf's men who destroyed the Castle, led by his general Owain ap Madoc!

What makes the mistake even more careless is that it quotes the Estate Agent's description of the property:
Available evidence suggested that Knucklas Castle was of a square construction with substantial stone walls and a circular tower at each corner. Its purpose was to remind the more or less hostile Welsh population who was in charge. It was attacked in 1262. The castle is last mentioned in contemporary records in 1316.
This description is taken nearly word for word from the Castle Wales' entry on Knucklas Castle:
...available evidence suggested that Knucklas Castle was basically a square construction with substantial stone walls and a circular tower at each corner. Its purpose was to remind the more or less hostile Welsh population who was in charge..The castle is last mentioned in contemporary records in 1316...
The next half of that last sentence on the Castle Wales website reads:
...it is very unlikely it was anything more than a ruin by the time of Owain Glyndwr's revolt in 1402.
Good old Western Mail, as trustworthy as always!

Obama Wins!

Two US towns have declared their results for the presidential elections. In Dixville Notch, New Hampshire 40 years of Republican rule has ended after the townspeople voted for Obama by 15 votes to 6.

In the other town to traditionally open and close voting early - Hart's Location - Obama's 17 votes beat McCain's 10. With Ron Paul winning two votes the town was able to declare 100% turnout and an Obama victory!

Other US towns, Cities and Precincts are so slow compared to those two bustling towns and won't start reporting results until at least 11pm our time!

Slow Seperatists

According to a study by the University of Edinburgh and the UK Medical Research Council Plaid voters were thicker than their Lib Dem, Labour and Tory counterparts at the age of 10.

Some good news (at last) for the Liberal Democrats is that their voters were the brainiest kids from the main parties (only the Greens had brighter kids growing into voters). The Tories pipped Labour to third place with Plaid voters strolling in 5th, marginally ahead of their Scottish counterparts. UKIP and non-voters were low IQ children while, unsurprisingly, BNP voters were the least intelligent as children!

The "research" tested 6,000 UK kids aged 10 and then, 24 years later, asked them who they voted for in 2001.

Of course, if you believe such research has any bearing on reality then you're not even smarter than a ten year old kid who'll grow up to be a BNP voter!

Saturday, 1 November 2008

Ya Halfwits

The Scymraeg sign that came into existence due to an automated reply e-mail has now been taken down. Showing us poor blogs how it's done the mainsream media in the guise of the BBC and Western Mail finally got the story today. Yahoo even made it their main news on their UK homepage. Only problem is, someone in Yahoo can't seem to read English, let alone Welsh. The picture they've used for their story is not the sign in question, it's the sign at Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwllllantyseiliogogogoch Railway Station - a sign that has so little to do with the main story it's not even a bilingual sign (there being no English name for the long named village!)

Do as we Say, Not as we Do

David Cameron - 21st October
Lots of our small businesses provide goods and services to local authorities, with payment normally coming within 30 days. But Brentwood and Castlepoint councils have led the way in reducing this to just 20 days. These 10 days can make all the difference in paying bills and staff, and helping businesses survive, and I want more local authorities to take it up
Western Mail - 1st November

A flagship Conservative council has been criticised for paying less than 40% of its bills on time. Monmouthshire Council, one of two Welsh authorities controlled by the Conservatives, has a record twice as bad as the Welsh average. County halls are supposed to pay all uncontested invoices – bills for everything from school meal suppliers to management consultants – within 30 days. In 2007-08 Monmouthshire paid just 39.9% of bills within this period.
Oops, someone didn't get the memo Dave!

Thursday, 30 October 2008

Praise You!

A good spot by the "What Is Wales And What It Is For?" blog today.

The Mule recently printed a nice glossy magazine informing us of the up and coming Welsh business to watch out for, their so called "Fast Growth 50". One page of the magazine was dedicated to the re-born blogger and Tory politician Professor Dylan Jones-Evans. A very flattering piece apparently, Prof Jones Evans was described as a "passionate champion who is ahead of his time".

The founder and Director of the Fast Growth 50 project and editor of the magazine? Professor Dylan Jones-Evans!

Time to Type

Right then, while the home concerns are still there, I need to push them to the back of my mind for a while so I'm back. Let's catch up...

Gordon Brown and David Cameron have decided that the most important thing for our leader and leader-in-waiting to address this week is not the economic crisis that has left thousands of the Welsh workforce unemployed (along with the the rest of the UK), it's not the fact that they're going to have to make huge decisions about Iraq once Obama (probably) wins on Tuesday, it's not even the fact that their respective darlings Mandelson and Osbourne have been cavorting around on yachts causing trouble. Oh no, the big issue that our leaders have made sure they address is the fact that two BBC radio hosts told someone that one of them had slept with his granddaughter. A revelation so shocking to the show's listeners that 2 of them felt the need to complain. Two. While remembering that there shouldn't really be a bandwagon over the matter in the first place (who are the Sun to express disgust at such thing, have you read their celebrity gossip column?) we certainly don't want Brown and Cameron' jumping on to it! And shock horror, David Davies MP has also called on Brand and Ross to resign. The man is like a machine, any hint of newspaper coverage and there he is, calling on someone to resign!

Talking about the "True" Wales founder, Welsh Ramblings points us towards a Daily Mail story reporting on the Monmouth MP telling the National BLACK Police Association that they were as racist as the apartheid regime in South Africa because only black policemen could join the National BLACK Police Association. While David Davies must be hurt by the negative press, I a have a feeling that what will hurt him most is the fact that it's his best friends in the Daily Mail who are lampooning him and that they had the nerve to say this:
"Many members had expected the more famous former shadow home secretary to be speaking and few recognised his namesake, who is also a member of the Home Affairs Select Committee, when he stood up to speak."
Ouch!

Update: As Ordovicius points out, Alan Williams MP for Swansea West and Father of the House is also named in the piece as "a dud"

David Davies isn't the only Welsh MP who has had a bit of a kicking by the Mail this week. Ceredigion Lib Dem MP Mark Williams won't have enjoyed the paper's column on worthless MP's. I'm sure that this quote won't be appearing on the Lib Dems pamphlet come the next election:
"On the LibDem benches, meanwhile, we are assured that one Mark Williams sits for the electors of Ceredigion (Cardiganshire in old money). Does he? Could have fooled me. What makes this all the worse is that the alleged Mr Williams - who may well be Inspector Clouseau, for all we know - won his seat at the last general election by ousting Plaid Cymru's Simon Thomas, an outstanding parliamentarian"
Again - ouch!

Down the bay I missed the whole Lord Dafydd vs London fight. The story's been well covered by now so I won;t go too far into it apart from noting that this must be one of the first occasions in the history of the Assembly where Dafydd Ellis-Thomas caused a stir and was actually supported by all the AM's! There's no doubt that the Lord was right on this one, but whether he won or not is harder to tell. While some pro-devolutionists believe that the LCO mess will be a big boost to the Yes campaign (whenever it is created!) I don't believe it will be. Most people have no idea how the LCO's work and don't read such stories in the Mule (if they read it at all). This is a story read by us anoraks and no-one else I feel.

Welsh Ramblings also quotes this exchange from the floor of the Commons. For all those who refer to the Assembly as a talking shop, have a read of this:
Richard Younger-Ross MP: ... Blue Peter was important to me as a child ... I remember those wonderful moments with the elephant, the gentleman sniffing, John Noakes, the dogs — what were their names?

Lembit Opik MP: The Blue Peter dogs since the inception of the programme were called Petra, Patch, Shep, Goldie, Bonnie, Mabel and Lucy. There was also a dog called Meg, but it was not an official Blue Peter dog. It belonged to Matt Baker and frequently appeared on the show, so including that one, there were eight dogs.

Mr. Deputy Speaker: Order. That is a detail which could possibly be left for Committee.
Nice to know Lembit is as focused on the important things as Brown, Cameron and David Davies!

Right then. What next?

Tuesday, 28 October 2008

The Dangers of Auto-Reply

A quick post to keep you entertained while I'm on my break, the Flickr group Scymraeg has had this truly beautiful sign uploaded recently.
The English is clear enough, and the Welsh is grammatically perfect. I assume that whoever was in charge of creating the sign e-mailed their usual translator asking him what "No entry for heavy goods vehicles. Residential sites only" was in Welsh. He must have received a very swift response and immediately ordered the sign and had it put up.

Unfortunately the reply he received wasn't quite what he expected. The Welsh part of the sign says:

I am currently out of the office. Send any work to be translated.

Oops!

Sunday, 26 October 2008

Have a Break

I know there's been a huge dip in posts recently, the Hen Ferchetan has some family issues to sort out which is succeeding in blocking politics from my mind for the time being, even with such whoppers as the LCO arguments and Osbourne and Mandelson's mischief making filling up the news pages!

I'll be back soon enough, speak to you soon!

Wednesday, 15 October 2008

Give Me a H!

So True Wales have decided that one line of attack they will use to make people vote "No" is to remind us voter about all those AM's with their snouts in the trough spending all those expenses. It could prove an useful argument for them, after all what voter wants to see their money being used to fund someones excessive second home, food and hotel expenditure?

It could be worse you know. Imagine if those AM's claimed 5 times more expenses than they currently do! Sound insane? Well it is possible, all they need to do is change to a very similar job in London. If they want advice about how to do so, then I know who they can ask...

Average AM Expenses Claim inc Travel: £6,682.73
Maximum Expenses Claim inc Travel Made by any AM: £12,500
True Wales Founder David Davies MP Expenses Claim inc Travel: £33,375

% of AM's claiming more than 99% of the maximum allowance: 16%
% of maximum allowance claimed by True Wales Founder David Davies MP: 99.96%

Can I hear someone saying "hypocrite"?

(David Davies MP Expenses figures from here)

Monday, 13 October 2008

Hoorah!

The Lords have amended the government's terror legislation to remove the extension of the time limit for detention without charge.

It comes to something when we have to depend on the unelected, elderly, white, posh males (majority speaking) to bring sense and justice back to the fore.

Hopefully the matter is now dead, and Gordon Brown won;t try to push his evil pet-project through with the Parliament Acts

Check Facts? Nah, Who Cares!

The anti-Brunstrom campaign continues with a Tory MP and London Media bursting in mock outrage against North Wales Police' Chief new policy to remove "Police" from squad cars and leave them with just "Heddlu". First up let me state the obvious, North Wales Police don't have such a policy and, if they did, it would be illegal as Police forces in Wales are required to be bilingual.

The comments attributed to Brunstrom came from a forum on the Welsh language where he was discussing the lack of the word "Heddlu" on squad cars when he first started. He said that people who resisted the addition of the Welsh had argued that it was dangerous and people could die due to misunderstandings. He pointed out that if that argument held any water, which it doesn't, then in areas where most were first speakers Welsh it should have been in Welsh only.

Cue Tory MP and London Media.

David Jones, Tory MP for Clwyd West, had a chat with the Sun, who printed the story under the heading Take 'police' off all my cop cars. The Tory said:
"We cannot allow this nonsense to continue. It's bad for community relations and it's got to stop"
Reading the article it is sad but predictable that the Sun totally misstates his words. They state:

"Mr Brunstrom rejected claims that English visitors would not understand what the police cars were if they were marked only as ‘Heddlu’.

He said: “There were many false arguments that people would die if Heddlu was used.

“It was absolute arrogant nonsense.” Now that's not what Brunstrom said. While the quotes are correct, he was not referring to it being a false argument that people would die if it was only marked as Heddlu, he was referring to the old argument when people objected to making the cars bilingual. But hey, when has The Sun ever bothered about getting it's facts right.

Unsurprisingly the story was then picked up by the usual hit squad of the Mail and the Times, using the same quote in the same distorted way.

The best quote though comes on the BBC website The BBC, unlike the other three bastions of journalism, bothered to check the facts with North Wales Police before just writing a story. North Wales Police explained what I have done above, namely that there is no such policy and there will be no such policy, and quite right too. Of course the rent-a-quote Tory MP couldn't accept he was wrong and insisted that he stood by his comments, even though they made no sense once the facts were revealed.

The quote I enjoyed though was not from David Jones MP but from Jeanette Miller, president and chief executive of the Association of Motor Offence Lawyers. She said that there was no doubt that removing the word Police would cause problems:

"I think there would be a good argument that a motorist was unaware of any requirement to stop if the word police is removed from signage on police cars"
It's a car with blue and yellow stripes, a huge blue flashing light at the top, a loud siren and two uniformed coppers inside - I wonder what it could be!

The Irony of Truth

The laughably named True Wales now have a website! It doesn't contain much yet, but it's already a step further than the Yes campaign. Interesting to read their Vision Statement though:

VISION STATEMENT

Our Wales is a beautiful, diverse country which belongs to all who live here. There are many versions of 'Welshness', all to be respected and celebrated. We believe in equality and fairness for all citizens, regardless of linguistic preference, ethnicity, faith, political persuasion or gender.

There is no place in our Wales for discrimination or prejudice against any group or country. We value all the settlers who have contributed to our cultural diversity and our shared heritage within the United Kingdom.

True Wales advocates:

  • spending priorities that reflect the needs of all the people
  • restoration of a cohesive, tolerant society
  • no increase in the current number of AMs and MPs
  • keeping the Secretary of State for Wales
  • the maintenance of a strong position within the United Kingdom
  • that any application to draw down Legislative Competence Orders from the United Kingdom Government must have the support of the majority of Welsh people
Wait a second..."restoration of a cohesive, tolerant society"? "No place for discrimination or prejudice"? I thought this was supposed to be a No campaign for the referendum? Is the implication supposed to be therefore that those who want a Yes vote are discriminatory, prejudiced bigots? That's the picture True Wales seems to be painting.

It's also interesting to note their vision that every LCO should have a referendum on it. Are they mad? We're talking anything between 5 and 11 LCO's a year, how many millions do they intend to spend on referendums (seeing as how they've declared themselves the protector of public money)?

Betsan also comments on the lies and slights of hand printed in the No Campaign's first door to door leaflets. It makes a mockery of their name, "True" Wales indeed. It's also interesting to note which part of Wales has received these scaremongering pamphlets. The leafy suburbs of the South-East, the most likely of areas to vote No and therefore the least likely to pick up on the spin and deceit in the No leaflets.

The problem is that while the two Davids are peddling lies and innuendo the Yes campaign is still waiting to be launched. What's that saying about lies being able to run twice around the world before the truth puts it's shoes on? We need a Yes Campaign now, not tomorrow.

Sunday, 12 October 2008

Martin, You Forgot Your Pen!

Wales' 40th best blogger (apparently) Martin Eaglestone has resigned as Labour prospective Parliamentary candidate for Arfon.

Martin states personal reasons for his resignation and having lost four elections in a row I guess that kind of thing does get personal. Arfon is, technically, a Labour seat. Although it has a Plaid Cymru sitting MP it's boundaries have been withdrawn to the extent that the seat is considered a very marginal Labour one.

Having been trounced in the first post-boundary change election (Assembly 2007) there was no way Martin Eaglestone was going to "retain" the seat for Labour. So what is Labour's plan? Have they found a heavyweight candidate and therefore forced Martin to step down? (Betty Williams will certainly have some free time come the next election, and she does have roots in the area) or will they now effectively concede the seat and pick an unknown young candidate to "train him up" for the next set of elections?

With Llais Gwynedd winning seats on the Council, do Labour think that their best option is to pick a sacrificial lamb and hope the anti-Plaid coalition called under the Llais Gwynedd banner will unseat Hywel Williams? I Doubt it, if Llais Gwynedd have a chance anywhere (and I don't think that they do mind) it would be Elfyn Llwyd they'd be targeting, not Hywel Williams.

Update: It is now apparent that Martin's decision to step down was, unusually for politics, purely personal. I hope you'll enjoy your life outside of politics Martin.

Lover's Tiff

A final note for now, it seems that two of our small world's heavyweights, Most Improved/Best New Blog and Sauregurkenzeit Award winner Pippa Wagstaff and Best Welsh Political and Best Welsh Nationalist Blog Ordovicius have a bit of a lover's tiff going, with Welsh Ramblings also getting in the mix.

Pippa's Monarchist post set it off and I have to say I can see where the criticism came from. While there's clearly an argument to be made for the Monarchy, it's not the one Pippa made, and it's certainly not one that needs to be preached with such arrogance. And while we all enjoy the occasional bash at the Lord of Wales that is our Presiding Officer, when Pippa labels him the "self-appointed Lord Protector" in a pro-Charlie post, you have to ask who she's talking about, our elected AM and Presiding Officer or the bloke who was given his title at birth?

I don't know, I always assumed Miss Wagstaff Presents to be a Tory blog at heart, but with
subtlety and wit and with a clear dedication to not preaching a party line (unlike plenty of Plaid and Labour blogs). There seems to be a bit less of the former and a bit more of the latter recently, I do hope it's only a short blip.

Heard It All Before

A reader pointed me in the direction of a Daily Post column from last month where writer Tom Boden commented on Adam Price's Assembly ambitions, ending his piece with:
"But as we are at it, how about Carmarthen East AM Rhodri Glyn Thomas - of the lit cigar pub scandal - deciding to stand down from the Assembly, swapping his candidate's role with Mr Price, who could then sweep into Cardiff Bay? You saw it here first."
Two months too late I'm afraid Mr Boden:
"One final note on this whole saga, there is one possible after-effect that needs be considered. In 3 years it's National Assembly election time again - will Rhodri Glyn be standing? Having been a minister and now returned to the back benches will he have the desire for another 4 years? If not then it would open up an Assembly candidacy spot in Carmathen East and Dinefwr. Can anyone think of a politician from that area who may be looking for an Assembly seat come 2011?"

Poll Ponderings

Next up is a new poll data for us to pore through. The Assembly Commission's huge poll asked people, once again, about their views on the Welsh Assembly, a Parliament and independence.

Andrew R T Davies will take a small fall from his high horse with the news that support for independence doubles in the under 24's, but much more interesting is the party by party data, but any pleasure Plaid will get from that would be cancelled out by the fact that the poll states that only 27% of their own voters want independence.

Peter Hain told us just last week that:
“Welsh Labour members – and even more Welsh Labour voters – are currently overwhelmingly against an early referendum, and I do not see that changing for some years to come.”
Some asked at the time where he got that piece of information from and it seems even more codswallop than before today as the poll discovers that only a third of Labour voters would vote No. 50% of Labour voters want a Parliament or independence. As I said last week, Peter Hain is nowhere near the wavelength that his party's members are on.

The most bizarre finding though is that 2% of Plaid voters want to scrap devolution all together. Do they know who they're voting for?!

Note: The call for a Yes campaign increased today with the launch of an online cross-party group calling for a referendum, see here. Not being a Facebookian myself I can't join but I hope you do!

All Change

Right then, a whole basket of topics to talk about today so let's start with the hello's and goodbyes.

Jane Davidson will be off in 2011. The ex-Education Minister has told Labour's Pontypridd branch that she's giving up the job. Not a sniff of a scandal around Davidson so there's no reason to treat it as anything other than early retirement.

Mike German has also, finally, stepped down. The race to be his replacement begins and we should have the first female party leader in the Assembly by December. In his goodbye speech to the party faithful he stated that the Union was "dead" and that the only options for the future was a federalised UK or an independent Wales. He warned that Wales was in danger of getting left behind in the devolution race, echoing Peter Black's recent call for a Yes Campaign.

Jenny Randerson immediately put her hand up as a candidate which, after Kirsty declared herself to be a candidate last month, means that the Lib Dems have a contest. Peter Black has immediately written Randerson off as "more of the same" but she has collected heavyweight support in the shape of the Lib Dems only "safe" MP, Jenny Willot and the leader of Cardiff Council Rodney Berman. Unfortunately for her though she's also attracted the support of serial loser-backer Lembit Opik. Unsurprisingly Peter Black, a staunch Kirsty backer, immediately declared his support for Opik's opponent for the UK party presidency!

Even though Ordovicius clearly thinks otherwise I'll give the Libs the benefit of the doubt and state that this could be an interesting contest. It will be the first leadership contest between two females for one thing and, as the UK Lib Dems have showed us over and over, when it comes to Lib Dem leadership issues they can be pretty nasty with each other.

Thursday, 9 October 2008

Flynn's Words of Wisdom

"No, No, We're Welsh, Welsh and Welsh and even more Welsh and our association alongside Scotland and Northern Ireland's party line is that we want to keep our independence and that is so important to us."
Bryan Flynn, U21 Wales Coach when asked whether he supports a Team GB for 2012.

British Olympic Association Chief Simon Clegg stated on Dragon's Eye today that politicians like Plaid's Adam Price and Labour's Lesley Griffiths were "jumping on a bandwagon, this is a sports issue not political". I have three issues with that. Firstly where was Clegg's objections when UK Minister for Sports Andy Burham says:
"I just hope we can overcome any differences and bring a strong British football team to the London Olympics."
Secondly, of course this is political not a sports issue. If it was merely a sports issue the BOA would listen to British football fans and shelve the whole idea. They would listen to the Welsh, English, Scottish and Northern Irish fan Federations, all of whom are against the very notion of Team GB. Finally, seeing as how the definition of jumping on the bandwagon is following the crowd, is Simon Clegg admitting what we all know anyway, that the crowd doesn't want a Team GB?

And by the way, when Dragon's Eye tells us that the FAW's worries over losing independence exist despite Sebb Blatter giving reassurance to the contrary they're simply lying. Blatter, the President of FIFA, has made such comments in the past, 5 whole years ago, but his most recent comments on the subject is this:
"If you start to put together a combined team for the Olympics, the question will automatically come up that there are four different associations so how can they play in one team. If this is the case then why the hell do they have four associations and four votes and their own vice-presidency? This will put into question all the privileges that the British associations have been given by the Congress in 1946"
Sorry BBC, but I'm not "reassured"!