Sunday, December 31, 2006

Rhodri's words for May

Welsh party leaders have given the Western Mail some thoughts for next May. Rhodri's response included the following Q&A :

Q How do you hope to persuade the people of Wales to vote for you?

A 'The choice for people next May is between Labour, with a clear intent to implement a strong set of manifesto commitments, and a not-very rainbow coalition of the other three parties, to be cobbled together after the election and very likely led by the Tories.

'Not since the secret ballot was introduced 130 years ago have the Tories won a majority in a general election in Wales.

'Could they be leading a coalition government or will the very prospect that it might happen ensure that voters come out in their droves to make sure the nightmare doesn't come about?'

Saturday, December 30, 2006

Iraq - a cross section of coverage

I did not support the invasion of Iraq, but have felt the UK has a responsibility to see matters to some from of close given the action taken. From a distance the hanging of Saddam, in some ways, now seems a relatively minor issue compared to the desperate need to restore some form of normality.

On the day of Saddam's demise I thought a cross section of coverage might be useful in exploring why the Iraq decision will remain part of Blair's legacy, whatever the final outcome.

Saddam's end - the death of a dictator

Archbishop Williams reflections on the decision to go to war

One Lib Dems view

What Bush is reported to have said.

"sent to hell" says Sun

"God is great" reports Independent

Al Jazeera reports his death

Reuters report

Each and every one of us will have a view on these events but there can be little doubting the effect of mass media coverage on modern life.

Crisis for the A470 ?

Users of the A470 and the delightful journey across Wales may fear this news in the Guardian. (but after a while you learn of the local cafes and pubs offering a more genuine product - hence the Chef's problems ?)

Friday, December 29, 2006

Glyn keeps flying flag for "Rainbow coalition"

Tory AM Glyn Davies continues to set out the case for the Rainbow coalition after May 2007 with the Tories as "power brokers":

"Rainbow Coalitions - The Case For.

I see that ThinkScotland, a right-of-centre 'thinktank' is being extensively reported in today's Herald as recommending the Scottish Tories to contemplate a 'rainbow coalition' with the SNP and the Green Party to form a Scottish Government after the Scottish Parliamentary elections next May. This seems to me to be sound thinking, which has more than a passing relevance to Wales.If democracy is to become at all meaningful in either Scotland or Wales, there must be some prospect of a non-Labour Government. Unless there is a seismic shift in voting patterns, this cannot occur unless there is some form of agreement between the SNP and the Tories in Scotland - and between Plaid Cymru and the Tories in Wales. It may suit the short-term electoral strategy of both the SNP and Plaid Cymru to paint the Tories as right-wing anti-devolutionists but the reality is that over the last 7 years, the Tories in both Scotland and Wales have changed beyond recognition from the anti-devolution Tories of 1997. Many of us see making a success of devolution as the best way to strenghthen the union. There is a lot more common ground than one might think.

The next 4 months are going to be an interesting period in Scottish and Welsh politics. Every party will be seeking to portray itself as distinctive, while striving to maximise the number of MSPs and AMs - while at the same time assessing how the arithmatic is going to work out. Things look particularly interesting in Scotland because current polls indicate that the ruling Labour/Lib Dem coalition will not have enough seats to carry on - and the Tories may finish up as power brokers.So what is going to happen in Wales. It seems likely that Labour is going to lose several seats and be unable to continue as a minority government. For political reasons, I cannot rule out the prospect of the Tories winning over half the seats but (and I hope that I will not be portrayed as unduly defeatist) I do concede the possibility that we might not quite make it this time. Surely, neither the Lib Dems nor Plaid Cymru will want to keep a defeated Rhodri Morgan in office. I just have this feeling that the Welsh Conservatives will be an important part of in the shake-up come next May".

This is serious - what if he sings like a Bee Gee !

The media are having a Christmas flare up over the Blair's holiday and I fear this could be serious.

What if her emerges from Miami singing like Robin Gibb and the Bee Gees !! I must only hope that the PM did not take his guitar on holiday.

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Electoral Commission's early resolution

The Electoral Commission have issued an early resolution for us all to take on board as we approach 2007.

Saturday, December 23, 2006

Enjoy Christmas

As it is time for a family Christmas I am signing off for a few days. Season's greetings to you all and let us see what news the Christmas/ New Year brings.

Friday, December 22, 2006

Cymad - more departures

I have from time to time blogged about the questions surrounding the enterprise company, limited by guarantee called Cymad, although with care given imminent court proceedings involving the Chief Executive.

Several investigations seem to be ongoing and with a company Board dominated by senior local members of Plaid Cymru, much falling out between these former comrades. This weeks local press carries stories about two more departures from the company Board (both prominent Plaid people again), and people starting to squeal about the way that the company carries out its business. One (former) Director confirms the recent DTI "raid".

How long can Plaid's 4 senior elected representatives : Alun Ffred Jones, Dafydd Elis Thomas, Hywel Willaims and Elfyn Llwyd remain quiet ? Oh and I suppose we had better include Dafydd Wigley as he is on Plaid's regional list for North Wales and must be concerned at developments on his home patch.

As`they say in the military - it is on your watch chaps !!

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Unfair, misguided and unreasonable

It seems that at least one company who have spent significant resources developing proposals for a leisure complex near Llanberis has decided to give a public airing to their concerns over Gwynedd's decision about the Glynrhonwy quarry.

As I said previously we are tired of Plaid Cymru complaining about the local economy, jobs, the position regarding GVA in the Welsh economy but who fail to vote for jobs and economic improvement.

Vote Labour - Get Labour

I have had several interesting discussions this week in the wake of the Assembly budget vote. Labour delivering a budget for Wales, and Plaid sitting on their hands.

However one message is very clear - to avoid all this nonsense then vote Labour to get a Labour administration.

To vote any other way could give several (uncertain) combinations, but only Labour can deliver a programme based on manifesto commitments. That is the test on May 3rd 2007, and it is in seats like Arfon that the voters can help make the real differece.

One thing is for certain I will not sit on my hands come the important votes.

Monday, December 18, 2006

Politics goes on

We are in to the week before Christmas but the politics must go on. A meeting with Sue Essex the Assembly Finance Minister and local Labour councillors tonight. Wide ranging discussion over the Assembly budget discussions, council tax. Police precept, social housing grant, small business support and many other topics.

A great Minister who will be greatly missed as she steps down in May 2007.

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Early Christmas

Christmas arrives early at the Hawthorns - thank you Coventry.

Meanwhile bubbles are bursting for Leighton Andrews AM and Cardiff City.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Gwynedd Council - months standing still

Wel its seems that having spent a lot of time, and retained costly consultants, and in spite of Plaid Cymru's constant compliants about a lack of job opportunities they can't quite make up thier minds whether to welcome a major new project at Glynrhonwy. Can someone please resuce us from this inactivity !

Why didn't they just sell the site months ago, and what cash might be offered to help the hard pressed local council tax payers ? - as the council keep reminding us.

More activity at Cymad

Some of you may be aware of previous activity involving the Cymad agency. Today's Daily Post runs a story about possible involvement by the DTI.

I have asked the 4 Plaid Cymru representatives (Alun Ffred Jones, Hywel Williams, Dafydd Elis Thomas and Elfyn Llwyd) to help sort this situation out, given that the company's Board has spent millions of pounds in public money and is dominated by members of Plaid's local hierarchy.

If some issues are not resolved voluntarily then Plaid must accept all the consequences.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Meanwhile....Press v Blog

On the national blogging scene it seems that the Tory Iain Dale is following some interesting stuff about the Information Commissioner and our press. This is information law being turned back on the papers, and an interesting example of the bloggers new influence.

"EXCLUSIVE: Press Stand Accused of Illegal Activity

Following up my story yesterday (HERE) on the scandalous conduct of many of our national newspapers and journalists I can now exclusively reveal the contents of a report to be submitted to Parliament tomorrow by the Information Commissioner, which outlines the extent to which our national newspapers - and their journalists - are breaking the law to obtain confidential information illegally.1. Daily Mail - 952 incidents by 58 different journalists2. Sunday People - 802 incidents by 50 different journalists3. Daily Mirror - 681 incidents by 45 different journalists4. Mail on Sunday - 266 incidents by 33 different journalists5. News of the World - 182 different incidents by 19 different journalistsYesterday on Lord it was revealed through a Freedom of Information request that 305 different journalists had been identified during Operation Motorman as using one particular agency to obtain confidential information like telephone records, bank account details and medical records.I can reveal that following this FOI request from Lord Ashcroft the Information Commissioner has decided that the disclosure of further information is in the public interest and will now be submitting a special report to Parliament tomorrow.From the 'league table' figures above it would seem that the Daily Mail and the Sunday People are the chief miscreants here. However, it's not quite so simple. Virtually all newspapers used the agency in Hampshire which was raided during Operation Motorman, but we all know there are other similar agencies. So this is clearly the one which was most used by the Mail, but there are no doubt others which its rivals use, possibly just as often.There are several questions arising from this. If the authorities know the details of which newspapers use these agencies to break the law on their behalf, and if the agencies know which journalists have engaged their services, why are they not all joining News of the World reporter Clive Goodman in the dock this week? Goodman was caught out (and has pleaded guilty) intercepting mobile phone calls of the rich and famous, in particular the Royal Family.So far as I am aware no charges have been laid against any newspaper or journalist. I am no lawyer and I do not know what the charges would be, but after the report is laid before Parliament tomorrow, do not be surprised if there are some fairly serious repercussions. After all, the Information Commissioner is pressing for a two year jail sentence for any journalist or editor caught soliciting illegal information of this sort.To me this is a huge story, but for obvious reasons I do not expect to read about it in our national newspapers tomorrow. It is therefore important that the Blogosphere does a viral marketing job on this story and transmits it as widely as possible. Go to it"

I did !

Labour budget carries

Well in spite of the fever and speculation it was practical politics that won the day and the people of Wales, their public and voluntary services now have the certainty of budgets required for sensible management of delivery in 2007-2008.

I did an interview with the BBC at tea time in which they tried to play the budget vote as some big Plaid/Labour issue in areas like Arfon where we go head to head. I just don't see it, a budget vote is simply practical politics.

However we are reminded yet again that people can vote for Labour on May 3rd 2007 and get a Labour administration in the Asembly. A vote for any other party leads to uncertainty and lack of direction.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

We wait and see

Reports abound as to tomorrow's vote on the Assembly budget. We await the votes and I simply hope the vital funding required by our public services to plan for health, social care, voluntary services etc is not ruined by posturing in this pre election period.

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Tory-Plaid coalition - chapter 559

Thanks to Leighton Andrews AM for picking up the words of Ieuan Wyn Jones on today's Politics Show (10.12.06). The people of Arfon have been warned yet again !

Saturday, December 09, 2006

The main man joins campaign !

The campaign was recently supported by 'mini santa' - but today the main man was in town !
It was Saturday morning in Bethesda to join the Dyffryn Ogwen branch at their Christmas fayre.
Is is compulsory for all candiidates to wear the main man's suit ?
Here I am joined by local MP Betty Williams for a cuddle under the Christmas tree.

Sensible contribution

This is what was said in Dafydd Iwan's contribution :

Notes: Transcript of Dafydd Iwan interview, Richard Evans BBC Radio Wales phone-in, 29/11/06: RE:

They would have to get out would they, the British Military presence in Wales would have to leave?
DI: Well yes and mean I think there's a big issue here
RE: And what about the jobs involved with that
DI Well we have to rethink, I mean we'd obviously have to have a civil force here in Wales. Because you know I mean most of this land, a century ago people were forced out of their farmhouses in Trawsfynydd so that the army could blow their houses up and practice their military manoeuvres. We've had over a century of this, actually taking land in the Epynt by force for military purposes. Now that age is over. Obviously we do have to train our troops and we do have to have a civil force in Wales. But in the gradual development of Welsh autonomy we will have to come to an arrangement with the British state about these lands and much of it can be returned. But the jobs, I mean the jobs, Ireland is a prime example of how with very little resources they have created a vibrant economy because they can create the conducive conditions and we can do the same in Wales.

So what is this "civil force" and how will it be established ?. Will it have planes and boats etc. How big is it ?

Thursday, December 07, 2006

No Defence !

No, not a reference to Leeds Utd but I have just been catching up with Plaid's comments about UK defence facilities in Wales and I am sure Dafydd iwan was calling for a closure/reduction of this presence in Wales.

What a great policy for North West Wales - RAF Valley, Capel Curig, Llanfairpwll, rehab facilities, Army bases and training centres etc etc what a great boost for the Welsh economy.

So Dafydd in removing/renegotiaiting defence work in Wales can I ask :

Will Plaid close RAF Valley ?
If not how many jobs are required at this defence base ?
Wil that number sustain a major air defence establishment ?
What investment is lost ?
What economic impact do your plans have in North West Wales?

When these are answered we'll try some more.

More insights

It is the wake of debates like the current Assembly budget that blogs give some useful insights.
Leighton Andrews AM added his thoughts. He also highlights what Tory AM Alun Cairns had to say. Aren't these Tories just desperate for some power in spite of their track record, and lack of suppoort in Wales.


Today's Caernarfon Herald carries a letter about the Labour v Plaid campaign in Arfon and sets out my response to one of their councillors. The letter states:

"The voters in the new seat of Arfon will have a clear choice come the Welsh Assembly elections of May 2007 and it seems that Dyfed Edwards and I have common ground in realising the real choice lies between Labour and Plaid Cymru. In Labour's case the people of Arfon will know they have a candidate who wishes to represent them, while in Plaid Cymru's case, we have written evidence from Dafydd Iwan, that Alun Ffred Jones was being preferred for Dwyfor-Meirionnydd. It was Lord Elis-Thomas who spolit that plan !" (see link here)

"If they so wish the people of Arfon can have a committed candidate, who can help deliver a majority for Welsh Labour.

As one commentator suggested they also have the option of Vote Eaglestone-Get Wigley given that they will have two votes in May 2007. The idea that Plaid Cymru can win the constituencies and the regional list seat is not realistic as the voting system does not tend to work that way. Its all to play for Arfon"

Of course if Dafydd Iwan/Alun Ffred Jones wish to deny the article and letter quoted we will all look forward to their response.

Ken makes a interesting point

Ken Livingstone blogs in the Guardian and exposes some Tory contradictions. Watch out Welsh pensioners !!

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Gordon's help on troubled waters ?

Some money from Gordon might sort out yesterday's debate ? But I hope Sue Essex and Rhodri remember Labour's priorities.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Other thoughts

Huw Lewis AM has his say.

Peter Black has his say from opposition groups.

Glyn Davies has his say and suggests Plaid will think twice !!

History shows - Plaid back the Tories

Well the media are getting excited over the Assembly budget discussions as the process approaches its closing phase. All I know is that when the crunch comes we see Plaid Cymru voting with the Tories to damage Labour. Will we see hstory repeat itself ?

Sunday, December 03, 2006

Perceptive comment in Observer

Andrew Rawnsley has a piece in the Observer on David Cameron's initial 12 months and he concludes with the following paragrpah full of insight :

"In his first 12 months, David Cameron produced many more photo-opportunities than he did policies. By this time next year, he needs to have got the ratio the other way around. He has to start planting some trees as well as hugging them".

By the way, if policies are 12 months away, where does that leave the Welsh Tories for May's elections ?

Saturday, December 02, 2006

Climate Change evidence

David Milibands blog at DEFRA has posted up some useful links about climate change. Sobering reading.


When Sky Sports said that Kevin Philips had managed the "miss of his career" I feared the worst but a late goal from the Mighty Hartson puts the Baggies back in the mix in a very competetive Championship.

Friday, December 01, 2006

But what defines the opposition ?

So Rhodri has fleshed out what Welsh Labour will do should we retain the confidence of the people of Wales in the polls next May. The opposition always get excited at such moments which I feel really shows how important they know Labour's words are in defining the direction of travel for Wales.

However we might equally ask the oposition if they don't like, or agree, with Rhodri's broad canvas where is their coalition taking Wales ? In a series of speeches Rhodri is clearly setting a clear agenda, supported by a strong platform of policies passed at the recent special conference.

What are the Tory-Plaid coalition going to offer ?