Saturday, September 30, 2006

Tory backs health reforms

I have caught up with the comments of Tory AM Glyn Davies when he wrote in his blog about the current health reforms :

"And Lee's item on the NHS was well done too. We have all signed up to the Wanless health service reform agenda. We know that the 'no-change' approach is killing thousands of people. We know that there must be some rationalisation of services if we want the best value for money in the NHS. I think we all need to press the integrity button in this debate".

Plaid Cymru calling

Leighton Andrews AM has an interesting angle on the Chris Bryant spoof diary in the Guardian. No doubt some in Plaid Cymru were frothing with excitement at the revelations being made - except it was a spoof !

It seems Leighton's team Cardiff are keeping up their head of steam for the Autumn!
Meanwhile the Baggies keep up my theory of keeping home wins as the return route to the Premiership.

A reminder

I thought this piece in today's Guardian was noteworthy.

Friday, September 29, 2006

This is why.

The latest increase in the national minimum wage shows why Labour is important.

Yes there is a need to use enforce and I have concerns over the situation affecting agency workers from Europe but the basic policy is a fundamental reason for existence. It also exposed the fundamental problem of the Tories who use to rant about millions of jobs being lost. And as I recall Plaid Cymru went home early at the time of the critical votes that pushed the legislation through.

Thursday, September 28, 2006

Son et luminere approaches the futures bright

As we approach October let us remember the forthcoming son et luminere in Caernarfon.

No I'm not on commission but we need to make sure this type of project is a success for the benefit of the beautiful and historic town.

Mae angen sicrhau bod y digwyddiad yma yn llwyddiant er lles ein dref.

Remember - the future's bright

Remember that as we enter October it will be agreat time to plan a visit to Caernarfon. The son et luminere show is the perfect time. No I'm not on commission but I do feel this type of event needs to succeed. Go on come and visit our beautiful historic town.

Mae'n amser sicrhau bod y son et luminere yn llwyddiant. Y fath o digwyddiad sydd yn haeddu ein cefnogaeth.

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Big Opportunity - Big responsibility

At the foot of Snowdon, in the Arfon constituency, there is the opportunity to develop a major mixed use leisure development in a former slate quarry. Plaid Cymru lead Gwynedd Council has marketed the site, invited expressions of interest and are now evaluating two key options.

One of the projects provides a big opportunity for a major injection of private capital, with the chance to put the area on the international map. It could help transform the economy of the area with a wide range of job opportunities.

Will this opportunity be grasped ?

I hope so - but I also fear the echoes of the same Council when it ran scared of big decisions like they did over Pwllheli marina.

It is a big opportunity and carries a big responsibility. They often lecture us on the economic problems of North West Wales.

Are Plaid Cymru up to the task ?

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Lennon without McCartney

I think it was Bono who referred to Blair and Brown as Lennon and McCartney of politics. Well Brown did well in my view given the media vultures hovering for a slip. Blair meanwhile is a master of the modern media/political platform.

My hope is that as the transition evolves Brown will unfold his wings and we will see the depth of the politician who I feel will be our next leader.

Monday, September 25, 2006

House recovering

The Eaglestone house is just recovering from running a combined total of 32. (something) miles yesterday. One member of the family had trained for some months and ran the Anglesey marathon, the other is a little overweigth but managed the Anglesey 10K. You can work out which might be which - but my time was 1.15 !

Saturday, September 23, 2006

Away draws - home wins (my boring theory)

Baggies 2-2 at Luton. Keeps up my general theory for the season, and avoids 'club in crisis' headlines.

No comment required !

The BBc report as follows :

"Showbiz entrance for Iwan speech

Shock tactics at the Brangwyn Hall on Saturday, as party president Dafydd Iwan propelled himself towards the conference platform.

With lights dimmed, and music blaring, he brought a touch of showbiz to the proceedings

He marched in from the back of the hall, to the surprise of the delegates who have become accustomed to a more traditional back-stage entrance.

However, the hardened hacks of the Welsh press pack were struck by the fact that Mr Iwan was led to the stage by two flanks of t-shirted "Cymru-X" young party workers, marching in a military style which was more than reminiscent of the presentational style of the politics of the 1930s".

Cymad and Plaid (chapter 2)

The Western Mail tells us that Elfyn Llwyd MP has told his conference

"Elfyn Llwyd got a standing ovation when he called for a “return to honest politics” at the Plaid conference in Swansea".

Anything "honest" you would like to tell us about Cymad Mr llwyd ?

Friday, September 22, 2006

"Tell it as it is" - Dafydd El and Cymad

Guto Thomas of the BBC has an interesting take on Plaid Cymru's conference.

But with the leader today asking his people "to tell it as it is", will the great Lord Elis Thomas tell us more about events at Cymad ?

Sorry - say that again Ieuan !

The Western mail reports that IWJs speech to the conference of the Party of Wales included :

“Wherever people come from, wherever they were born, whatever their background, our message to the people of Wales – whoever you are or whatever your background, whatever your language, whatever background you come from – you are part of the project that is modern Wales.”

I assume with the caveat that you shouldn't bother applying for a job with the brothers and sisters in Gwynedd.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Mainstream and blog as close partners

Today's Western Mail contains more evidence that the mainstream media and the world of blogging are feeding off each other, if a little tensely at times !. North Wales Chief Constable Richard Brunstrom has been blogging over recent weeks and I am sure he has found it a very useful way of generating some debate in the media, even hostile reaction. Today's Western Mail is not all sweetness and light :

A simple, naive media? Come off it BrunstromSep
21 2006
Western Mail

North Wales chief constable Richard Brunstrom thinks the media is giving him too hard a time. Well, asks Political Editor Tomos Livingstone, shouldn't he do a bit more to help himself?

RICHARD BRUNSTROM is probably the best-known policeman in Britain - I bet more people know his name than that of Sir Ian Blair, the man who runs the Metropolitan Police.

He made his name with a war on speeding drivers, and yesterday he opened up a new front: a war on the press.

Mr Brunstrom, writing on his blog on the North Wales Police website, said TV news was 'an insult to our intelligence' and the rest of the media 'crave sensationalism and controversy for its own sake'.

Crikey. One wonders if this was the same Mr Brunstrom who dispatched officers to Downing Street after allegations that Tony Blair said something nasty about the Welsh. Perhaps he's forgotten that the only reason those claims came to light was because they were leaked to the Mail on Sunday newspaper.

And this is the same chief constable who called in the press back in 2003 to launch an on-camera attack on a pensioner who had complained about a speeding fine. I remember feeling my intelligence wasn't being given much respect that day either.

Mr Brunstrom owes his title of top-recognised cop - or Prif Copyn to give him his recently-adopted Bardic name - largely due to his ability to get his message across in the media. Because his views are often controversial (and not for their own sake either), he succeeds.

But now this is what he thinks are the problems of the media.

'First, the media's naive and simplistic wish to provide 'balance', which leads to equal airtime for flat-earthers on any topic you care to name despite the weight of evidence.

'Second, they crave sensationalism and controversy for its own sake, often based on out-of-context and simplistic soundbites. This has had a dreadfully debilitating effect on media standards.'

The future, he says is the internet rather than the 'skewed and jaundiced' newspapers and TV.

Relations between police and the press everywhere have always been strained. Most officers know they need some help from the press to solve crime, but are traditionally cagey about giving away too much. Journalists often have to employ a lot of skill (old fashioned stuff like building contacts and asking questions - it's very effective) to get information from forces that are now institutionally secretive.

In North Wales this has got a long way out of hand. On one weekend in August, we know, thanks to the Freedom of Information Act - and journalists at our sister paper the Daily Post in North Wales asking questions - that 1,577 incidents were recorded, but the only ones the press were told about in response to queries were a road accident and a charity race.

Mr Brunstrom thinks it's better to use the internet to get his corporate message across. Fine - why not put a lot more information about real crimes and stories on the website then? And the 'traditional' media might not be so hostile if the police were more helpful.

Swirling in the midst of his attack on the press there is an interesting debate to be had; yes, more people use the internet to get their news - but traditional media brands are still often more reliable and can offer much more.

There is a problem too with the fabled 'balance' on broadcast news in particular - but Mr Brunstrom can't really complain, given that he has benefited from the need to offer opposing views. His position on drugs and on speeding are not exactly mainstream within the police force.

I'm sure he wouldn't just want the Government view on drugs on the TV news every time - and neither should anyone else.

And yes, 24-hour news has led to too many talking heads spouting forth about whatever the topic is, instead of new information.

But Mr Brunstrom's attack just isn't coherent enough to make sense. He's taking a gamble that most people will agree with him, but his experience should teach him that has rarely turned out to be the case".

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Pulling Together

The Daily Post has been running letters on the small business/ entrepreunarial / trade union / economy debate. I have decided to chip in as follows if the Post choose to print it.

"Dear editor,

In recent days we have seen a debate involving the Federation of Small Business, Wales TUC and a Conservative Assembly candidate with each looking for a weakness in the others case. I do feel however that our main aim for the coming years must be to harness the energy of small business, the organisational ability of trade unions with the need to take forward the skills agenda, with what Rhodri Morgan has called the "can do" mentality. We will gain most for Wales if we avoid seeing these as conflicting agendas, but accept the challenge of working together for the common good. The employer, the union and the entrepreneur have much to gain from each other and we must avoid building false barriers between us.

Martin Eaglestone

Prospective Assembly Candidate

Labour Party

Arfon constituency"

Robbo - was it the tortoise connection ?

I have it from a good and reliable source that one of Robbo's family recently lost their tortoise in Red House Park, Great Bar, West Bromwich. After many days fruitless searching the tortoise was returned by a stranger who found it in the car park - and the finder had a lovely bunch of flowers in return.

But was the misplaced tortoise the source of Robbo's downfall ? We wait to hear.

This is not a story you'll hear on Sky Sports !!

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

FT - a bit more depth

You don't have to agree or disagree but I feel this weeks analysis by the Financial Times of the economy/UK over the lst ten years is worth reading. Issues around productivity and Britain's position in the globalised economy, as aganst regional policy. point to many of the tensions that we face in Wales. Perhaps it helps point to Brown's significant skills for economic management but also the tensions that play ay the heart of the Labour movement.

Monday, September 18, 2006

Thanks Robbo

Having watched Robson's years as a West Brom player it is disapointing to see him depart. However football is a harsh game and if the fans/board have doubts over his ability to motivate the players for the months ahead then change seems inevitable.

I somehow feel a message may be on the way to me from Leihgton Andrews AM who is flying high with Cardiff. It is a long season however and the Baggies have a good enough start to see us through.

Sunday, September 17, 2006

Vote now - Penyrorsedd

Big interest in the Restoration final - there is only one winner. Vote now for PenyrOrsedd

Fame ! - of`sorts (Mid table respectability in the Top 100)

For those of us who take an interest in blogging there are several blogs that tend to draw a lot of attention, and in turn help to generate the wider interest in bloggers news, views and comments. These blogs seem to include Guido Fawkes, Recess Monkey and Iain Dale in addition to those I sometimes mention here in Wales, including Peter Black and Leighton Andrews.

Although of a different political colour Iain Dale has developed a reputation that spans the blogging and mainstream media. He has published a guide to blogging and in spite of only joinig the bloggers ranks in recent times how pleasant to find myself named in Labour's top 100.

What this joyful news means for the people of the Arfon constituency we wait to see - but perhaps we are communicating with more people than we realised ! Hello to you all.

Saturday, September 16, 2006

Could "big" and "local" find some common ground ?

Following a recent criticism of my 'local' Tesco I was interested in the article in today's Guardian. Over the years we have heard much of the power of supermarkets but if we could bring the need for change (global warming/food miles) together with local produce there is an improved situation ahead. However before any attacks, yes I do shop at Tesco.

However if rural Wales could find a profitable relationship with supermarkets then we all win.

Lib Dems fight in a phone box

I have said before that Peter Black runs a blog that I often find entertaining. However given that there are so few of them they could meet in a phone box, their tax debate seems to be warming up, judging by today's posting.

"Outraged" locals

The Arfon election team are in a full week of campaiging (more of this next week)as we head towards the election of May 2007. This seems to have upset one local website and the political neutrality of the "news" report is clear to us all !!

My discussion with the editor continues, but so far those who have "inundated" him with complaints have not come forward for a response.

Entrepreur required - mae angen pobl fusnes

This article in the Western Mail today reminds us all that life as a campaigner can sometimes be cruel and unforgiving ! :

Sticky moment for CymunedSep 16 2006

"Western Mail

THE "anti-colonisation" group Cymuned is promoting a website that attacks Wales' increasingly "Anglo- American" culture - with stickers made in the US.

In an email sent out to subscribers, Cymuned wrote, "Put a website sticker on the back of your car - and others are available at for very low prices."

The Welsh-language version of the CaruCymru website then goes on to note how Cymuned's members love Wales' "language, culture, history and people" before warning of the dangers of Welsh culture increasingly becoming "uniform" and "Anglo-American".

A Cymuned spokesman explained that the stickers are "Sent from America, because unfortunately no company in Wales offers this service yet - as soon as they do, we'll switch suppliers."

Dyma eich cyfle - mae rhaid bod rhywun yn gallu helpu Cymuned gyda broblem yma. Ewch ati.....

Friday, September 15, 2006

Legendary Pete's Eats

A great evening in the company of some 40 members in the legendary Pete's Eats in Llanberis. Good feeling, and good campaign vibe, for the months ahead as we lead up to the Assembly election of May 2007. If you are in North Wales, and especially our Arfon constituency, this place is a must for you.

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Clare - it's about the medium term

I have been out campaigning all day and returned home (20.00 hrs plus) to hear about Clare Short's views. The last time I saw her in the flesh was when she was sadly custard pied at Bangor University, which was unfortunate given she was to talk about her valuable work on international development issues.

Like my comments on the RMT, I feel Clare should have made her stance (as did Robin Cook) before today - not using this exit as some grandstand moment.

I will still have have time to listen to her views on these international matters where she has great experience, but do feel she is wrong in trying to stab us when the whole Blair thing is near an end.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

I kid you not !

I know we are approaching a change of leadership. However having seen an advert in the local press regarding the entertainment on 15th September I had not realised the many talents of the Deputy PM - has this moonlighting been declared in the register of interests ?.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

"Capital Eye"

Nice to see Tom Bodden in the Daily Post (page 14) picking up on Rhodri's visit with me to the Maesgeirchen estate,Bangor. It is one of surely Rhodri's great attractions that he stil takes to the streets and, in my judgement, is genuinely interested in what people have to say.

Man announces retirement - people walk out !

I have been involved with trade unions for aboout 25 years now, but my comrades still confuse me on occassions. Blair has announced his retirement and our task is to influence the next phase of Labour policy. I'm not sure how that is helped by walking out ? Perhaps they should have walked out in protest before and it might have had some effect, not as he retires !

Man announces retirement - people walk out !

I have been involved with trade unions for aboout 25 years now, but my comrades still confuse me on occassions. Blair has announced his retirement and our task is to influence the next phase of Labour policy. I'm not sure how that is helped by walking out ? Perhaps they should have walked out in protest before and it might have had some effect, not as he retires !

Monday, September 11, 2006

Pie in the sky

Glad to see the Western Mail followed up the article on Plaid's conference. I find Helen Mary's comment that they start quietly and build up a little strange- why not shorten the conference to the core business - rather than show the people of Wales a quarter fall hall (or three quarters empty).

Sunday, September 10, 2006

Leighton's high and lows

It seems that Labour colleague Leighton Andrews AM has returned from a holiday in Frnace but the sun may have gone to his head as, on the 7th September, he allowed the short term joy of topping the championship carry him away ! Meanwhile the Baggies deliver a 2-0 home win against Leicester. (home wins/away draws and the long slog to promotion)

Meanwhile Leighton has been getting on with what people expect from their Labour representatives - not infighting - but fighting the job cuts at Burberrys factory in the Rhonnda.

Saturday, September 09, 2006

Councillors "claim" 3-2 win

Well the sun shone, there were no serious injuries and the Gwynedd Councillors (plus guests) team claimed a 3-2 win over staff from the Assembly government office in Caernarfon. This was ably assisted by two red cards for the Assembly staff (sneezing at the wrong time or some similar serious offence!. All good fun and a few more ££ for the Ysgol Pendalar Appeal.

That is what Labour wil miss

I know we have entered the "end game",(my previous postings suggest that is the right decision)but having watched Blair's contribution at the Progress conference it shows what we will miss when he has moved on.

I know he has made decisions we don't always like, but there are not many leaders who can deal with a situation like he has just done.

Friday, September 08, 2006

Hype ?

"Let's not beleive the hype in the media" - Lembit Opik (Sky News) 11.37pm.

Another interesting perspective on Blair/Brown/Clarke.

Call for the sponge !

Well its early to bed tonight (ha ! ha!) as tomorrow afternoon I join the local councillors for a charity football match to raise funds for equipment for the new special needs school (Ysgol Pendalar.) So for those photo opportunities not to be missed its the football field at Ysgol Hendre, Caernarfon at 14.00 hrs- see you there.

Thursday, September 07, 2006

Outside the bubble ?

Tonight (Thursday) I was joined by First Minister Rhodri Morgan for a quick "blitz" in a strong Labour ward in Bangor, North Wales. In some 200 doors three people raised Tony Blair with us.

Two people were pretty upset at Blair's treatment by Labour MPs, and one thought that on balance it was time to go. Otherwise people seemed pleased to see us.

We also met the committee talking about the future funding needs of their healthy living centre. That was their reality tonight - not events in London.

I know the leadersip is important, but this was an interesting perspective on the events of recent days.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Light distraction - Plaid's "big year"

As light distraction from internal debate don't overlook Elfyn Llwyd's interview with e-politix.

Elfyn - what about Cymad ?- Llwyd may indeed face a big year but can Plaid expect to make gains when,unlike 1999, the Tories have at least rememberd what the ballot box is for ?.

Rhodri's prophetic words

On 10th August Rhodri Morgan told e-politix

"Morgan on Labour leadership

Question: Will the ongoing wrangling over the leadership of the UK Labour Party adversely affect your chances at next year's assembly election?

Rhodri Morgan: Yes. Split parties never win elections. If the electorate gets the feeling that there is interminable wrangling and division over the succession then that is very unhelpful in the run up to the Scottish and Welsh elections in May next year.

We need clarity over the succession of some sort. It is now very much up to the prime minister because the cards are all in his hands and he won a working majority and it is up to him.

We all know that interminable wrangling creates a perception that we are a divided party, and divided parties never do well in elections.

Clarity is the key thing but we have to see what happens in the autumn and winter.

I am sure that the prime minister is very conscious of the fact that the key mid-term test for any Labour government now is not by-elections caused by the untimely death or resignation of an MP, it's the Welsh and Scottish elections. They are a giant mid-term test.

They are almost always at the mid-term difficult period, two years after a general election, 2007 is not going to be any different and they will be very tough for that reason.

Almost all governments are unpopular mid-term and somehow or other we have to make sure Labour in Wales and Scotland are not too badly affected by that".

But I doubt if anyone quite foresaw what is happening today.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Blair - the celtic influence

I suppose it is both the potential (and danger) of the blog that as political events unfold a thought can be shared, and only time will tell whether it proves accurate. I have watched Newsnight and Sky News and see the Sun headline is running hard.

I suspect that much of this London centric coverage is underplaying the importnace of the political reality here in Wales and Scotland, particularly with the elections of May 2007 looming. Rhodri Morgan was right to suggest that if Blair was going he should go in time for the devolved elections - it makes total sense.

So my current guess that is that if the needs of the Party are to feature strongly in the transition process, then the date will be even sooner than the Sun suggests. That will be the hard reaility of our political process - another feature of devolution that perhaps had not been foreseen.

Thank you for 3 victories Tony - they will not be forgotten in Labour history. But politics can be a cold and calculating business. Whoever succeeeds you will not be an easy act to follow, particularly given your ability at many key moments to say words that resonate with the British people.

Forget Wales - sort out Cymad

It seems that the "row" involving Dafydd Elis Thomas has taken another turn. I simply suggest that the good lord stops worrying about Wales and sorts out his own patch. Dafydd - sort out Cymad, the elephant on your doorstep !

Worthwhile effort

Just saw Alan Pugh, our Assembly Minister's posting about his forthcoming cycling effort. Well done Alaun and a cheque will be in the post.

Exit strategy

The views of a prospective candiidate, who has not won an election, may not be central to the Prime Minister's deliberations but my thouights on the leadership are as follows :

The recent pressure for clarification on the leadership question has reached a stage where the Prime Minister must now give his party and the wider country clarity on the way ahead. I feel this has become inevitable as a result of the various letters leaked to the press and the debate surrounding the leadership I feel it is now time for Tony Blair to leave the role of Prime Minister in a way which retains his dignity and with the Party also able to acknowledge his great achievement in leading Labour to three general election victories.

Not to have that clarity can only cause us further problems and that must be avoided if we are to fight the Welsh and Scottish elections without unnecessary distraction.

That is the text of my press release on the matter but whether it is of much interest amongst all the other stories we wait to see.

Monday, September 04, 2006

Will it add up - does it matter in Wales ?

I tend to find that the emerging policy suggestions of the Tories do stretch my belief as nothing in their handling of public services would suggest these ideas will be experienced in practise.

However elements of these suggestions - e.g. the alignment of health and social care- we can see already happening in Wales. In addition the Labour lead Assembly has taken avery different route to Engalnd in the measurement of service performance. The fact that the policy announcement covers much devolved territory means it is all a little academic to people in Wales. Policy in these areas will be determined via a non Tory Assembly.

Sunday, September 03, 2006

Y Grael - lighting the way

Great news that Y Grael have managed to pull together the Son et Luminere show called Merlin's Magical Quest for Caernarfon in October. After the success of the Summer's big wheel it shows the untapped potential of the town and how a critical mass must be created to move the town forward. John Thirsk deserves our congratulations and let us hope all goes well in the coming weeks in the build up to October 27th and 28th.

Show faith, buy the tickets, this needs to succeed.

Saturday, September 02, 2006

Consultancy magic ??

This article on the front page of the Guardian rings bells with a more general problem that I feel has affected decision makers at many levels of public service and local government. Over the last 20 years I would suggest,from experience, that there has been an increasing trend to require money to be spent on consultants as if their word is somehow more trustworthy than the mainstream of council workers/civil servants. I fear the same is true with objective one spending and many a consultant has earned a nice fee examining/recommending projects for European funding.

Of course consultants can bring benefits : specific expertise, additional capacity for peak/extra demands, a breadth of knowledge of the wider scene and an element of valuable challenge - but I often wonder whether the money spent always justifies the sums involved. (Or perhaps I'm just an old fashioned public sector worker closed to new ideas)

Goodbye "Jigsaw", Hello "Rainbow"

A letter in this morning's post to tell the family that the dolphin we sponsor (Jigsaw) has moved on from the Moray Firth and taken up residence in St Andrews. As a result the Whale and Dolphin Conservation Society have moved our support to Rainbow. She has two calves (Prism and Raindrop) and is "a terrific hunter of salmon and sea trout".

Swim happily you beautiful creatures.

Friday, September 01, 2006

With secrets like this !

A "secret" is defined in my dictionary as something that is "kept hidden". The discussion about Dafydd El on the front of today's Western Mail would seem to fail that first test !

I suppose in a democracy it is also a little arrogant to talk about what happens after May 2007. Perhaps the balot box should speak first.

With issue like the ongoing investigations at Cymad yet to be fully explored perhaps the good lord should worry a litle more about his own patch rather than the issues described inthe Western Mail.