Sunday, December 30, 2007

Thoughts and reflections

It is that time of year when we seek to ignore the seasonal bugs causing ill health and mayhem and offer a few thoughts on the year passing and the prospect for 2008. Gordon Brown offers his thoughts and perhaps it is time to lock away the credit card for a few months !
Meanwhile some people seem just about ready to recognise the leadership change - about time - while others detect a Tory revival. I'm not as sure on this last point as I think the polls reflect the series of unfortunate events that beset Labour in the second half of 2007 rather than any great stride forward by the Tories. Do governments loose elections rather than opponents win ? Well history suggest they can if they don't get their act together.
Cameron has made one major change in reminding the Tories what the democratic contest is about (gaining power for your Party to implement policies) and it is for that reason that we in Labour need to put the last few months behind us and build a solid platform of progressive action during 2008.
In the year now passing a number of things stick with me. The honour of contesting the Assembly seat in Arfon and, in spite of the difficult climate, the pleasure of meeting people to make Labour's case. This new seat is a genuine Westminster marginal and with Plaid's internal wrangles over schools reorganisation it will make for some interesting times ahead.
Of course recent events also make me thankful that we can contest democratic elections where the most heated it can get is a "stunt" outside your political opponents conference . Of course weeks later (well make that a couple of months) and Ieaun passed a Tory test by signing up for coalition with Labour, not the Tories. I happen to think that was a wise decision as it gives Plaid some experience of government, the Assembly Government a reasonably stable base and changed the dynamics of any future post election negotiations. It was perhaps Rhodri's great achievement of the year to make that deal when it often seemed gloomy for Labour. We would have walked away from power at our peril.
In the year ahead it will be a time to steadily build another election campaign, to see if Hywel Williams wants to apologise (he hasn't yet) and welcome numerous visitors to help raise Labour's profile as we build for a victory in the Westminster election.

Saturday, December 29, 2007

Ground three : 5-0 !

In spite of feeling far less than 100%, and after sampling the so called delights of the Premiership it was great to be at the Hawthorns to see the Baggies stuff Scunthorpe 5-0.

In truth much of the football was workmanlike but the goal strikes by Philips (2), Gera and Beattie were quite spectacular. Watch it Sunday morning (ITV) to see some of the best strikes of the day.

Anyway as it involved the Hawthorns here I am at the Astle gates. I am sure Tom Bodden of the Daily Post will recall Jeff Astle with joy (1968 and all that !)

Friday, December 28, 2007

Benn in Caernarfon

It will be interesting to ask how it feels to go from a hate figure for the "middle classes" to one of the nation's favourite uncles, or how it felt to be asked to resign by then Prime Minister Callaghan - as today's papers reveal. Anyway you can have the chance to ask Tony Benn questions at Y Galeri in Caernarfon on Saturday January 26th. UNISON is sponsoring the event and tickets are available from the Galeri box office.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Ground number 2

While the mighty Baggies ran in 4, Tom Bodden will be pleased to read that ground number 2 over the Christmas break was Goodison for Everton's 2-0 win over Bolton. To be fair Everton withstood 15 minutes physical football to then run out easy winners.

Ground 3 will hopefully be the home of fine football for the visit of Scunthorpe.

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Nadolig Llawen

Not a great (night lens) shot but at 7.15 am today this was the full moon looking out from Anglesey over the Menai Strait and the village Christmas Tree.

Nadolig Llawen
Merry Christmas to you all.

First of three ?

An early start took me off with the son to the "Theatre of Dreams" where, to my son's disapointment, a late Man Utd penalty gave them a 2-1 win over Everton. As a neutral I thought Everton battled well but the score probably reflected the balance of the game. After a lively first 15 minutes I thought we might be in for some bad tempered red cards but the players then thought about playing the ball not the man.
Any way if all goes well I may see 3 football grounds over the Christmas Break so updates will follow as and when it happens.

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Rhodri's Christmas message

And here is Rhodri's Christmas message.

Rhodri's thoughts

The BBC posted the following report on an interview with Rhodri Morgan who had a dramatic 2007 and is looking at the period till 2009 when he may step down as First Minister.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Roots.......

Someone recently asked me how I got in to town and country planning and it made me reflect on a number of issues. An awareness of the environment via fishing on the Afon Gwyrfai, and wandering Cefn Du. One specific event I recall was the saving of the Cromlech boulders in the Llanberis Pass. By the wonders of Google I found Harvey Lloyd's recollection of this event.

I know now it has little to do with town planning as such but it was one local event which sparked an awareness of the local environment and via various means I ended up on the Planning course at Birmingham Polytechnic (what them ?).

One little bit of Eryri's splendour and a career in planning - until that is the people have the good sense to overthrow their evil Plaid Cymru dictatorship for a caring face of Labour.....

Excitement mounts...

I don't know whether I can stand the excitement !

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Remembering and being thankful

I noticed on the Oxfam web site a third year progress report on the Tsunami. So as we get stressed about whether a gift arrives, or the crush at the supermarket perhaps we should take a deep breath and be relatively thankful.

I also recall the distress caused to UK citizens from floods and associated events. They should also get our attention this Christmas.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Behind you !

Dave clearly forgot to check with his local treasurer before laying in to Labour for donations.

Yet in truth it seems everyone has problems (various) and I believe everyone would benefit from a burst of sunshine.

Better check what's been happening in my CLP in case a few millionaires have passed by unnoticed !

Monday, December 17, 2007

Christmas drinking games ......

I am sure there is a tv advert in which a drunken man believes he is superman and climbs the scaffolding on the outside of a building........... however assuming this latest stunt was not the reaction to a Friday afternoon "rant" or the Christmas Party I assume a high ranking official undertook the necessary risk assessments before breaking in to his building.

Rumour is he broke in and some cleaner said "oh its just the chief being daft again" !

Saturday, December 15, 2007

On fire !

We are top of the league
We are top of the League

As I recover from the works Christmas Party the glorious Baggies run in 4 against Charlton. Good entertainment but interesting to see we still play football when others team would try and kill the game.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Heartland battle commences - Gwynedd schools

There has been much written and lots of words exchanged, a new political party/group has emerged and things are certainly not as they were. The genie is out of the bottle, the horse has bolted and some may have to put their fiddles in the roof (this will make sense to bilingual readers !)

Gwynedd Council has decided (they had little choice I suspect) to commence formal consultations about school restructuring.

The pattern of much political debate in many communities across Gwynedd, from now until next May, has been set. It is unclear where it will all lead but a number of prominent Plaid Cymru figures will be working hard to save their political skins. While "leaders" may speak for their troops from their high chairs and "portfolio" positions in the Chamber, I suspect it will be a harder sell for the troops as they canvas the doorsteps of many a village.

For my part I feel that "new" schools will generally prove to be attractive propositions (has the capital been secured?), but still I search for some evidence that the widespread federalisation proposed in this paper has a track record on which people can depend.

Please enlighten me if you know better.

ps for any student of politics I think this is a period of debate that is worth recording in detail as, alongside Plaid's entry in to the One Wales government, it is potentially a fault line of historic change in nationalism.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Schools Q&A

The Daily Post ran a q&a article with Gwynedd over the schools debate.

We await to see what happens on Thursday and what concessions Plaid offer themselves to keep Parry Hughes in his job as Leader.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Not good politics

I am unsure what the Police have done to see their pay withheld. Perhaps it is the trade unionist in me that sees the awarding of a pay rise as a simple matter, but the politician in me fails to see any good politics in this for Labour at present.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Unfinished business

While taking on the might of insurers is never easy I hope that Betty Williams MP can find a platform for seeking justice for those who suffered from the dust of our communities slate industry.

Its a windy day !

I hope we are geared up to take best advantage of this announcement, which in spite of voices of opposition that will follow, will help us to a more sustainable future. However such things are never an easy ride.

Sunday, December 09, 2007

I'm sure it was the real thing !


Another shot of Centurions in action


Elvis, Roman Centurions and Father Christmas

No I haven't hit the Christmas sherry, but this morning I joined the trial for a land train service around Caernarfon. There are people with vision and ideas trying to create an artistic force for the continued regeneration of the town and the land train may be one small (if very visible) part of the jigsaw. See here for some idea of a vision.
Anyway a range of people turned out to take part in the trial and here is a cutting of the red tape, by Elvis and Sion Corn, guarded by Roman Centurions as the train enters Palace Street for the first time. (this could become my favourite bizzare photo of the year !)
Like many creative ideas it all needs the "establishment" to come in with support to help move matters forward. Today was a chance to show the Highway Authority the impact on traffic flows as two routes were trialled. Let us hope it can get through risk assessment and find an interesting and valuable addition to the town's tourist offer.
Christmas being serenaded by Elvis - show me that sherry quick !

Saturday, December 08, 2007

In case you missed it...........

Wednesday's posting.

"Lord" Wigley speaks

It was just last Sunday after we heard Elfyn Llwyd's doubts on the schools reorganisation that I questioned how long it would take Dafydd Wigley to speak up for the fortress nation of Gwynedd ?.

Well on cue this week's letters page in the Herald contains a letter from Dafydd Wigley of Bontnewydd that states:

"May I commend the words of Cllr Richard Parry Hughes, leader of Gwynedd Council when he said that - in debating the future of our primary school network, only one thing counts - fulfilling the educational needs of the pupils. Not the convenience of parents; not the interest of teachers; not the demands of communities; not the electoral ambition of councillors, candidates or political parties".

Councillors, parents, teachers and ratepayers are asked to "step back and ponder"

I assume Dafydd means it is important to "ponder" until some time after next May when their happens to be council elections which look increasingly difficult for Plaid in their heartland.

Friday, December 07, 2007

Cymdeithas Cledwyn


Braf oedd gael croesawu Eluned Morgan ASE i Arfon neithiwr i cynnal be fuasai'n gael ei galw yn "grwp ffocws" ar rhan Cymdeithas Cledwyn fel rhan o arolygiad Llafur Cymri o materion sydd yn codi o etholiadau Mis Mai. Trafodaeth diddorol iawn ymysg aelodau Cymraeg ei iaith yma yn Arfon.
Great to welcome Eluned Morgan MEP to Arfon lst night to hold what I suppose would be called a "focus group" for Cymdeithas Cledwyn as part of Welsh Labour's review of issues arising from May's Assembly election. An interesting discussion amongst Welsh speaking Party members from Arfon.
Eluned looked well and was in good form.

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Plaid MP threatened to sue me.


As we know, following investigation by the Parliamentary Commissioner, the Committee on Privileges found that Hywel Williams broke the rules on the use of the Communications Allowance and promised to repay the public monies used to pay for the newspaper adverts. The adverts appeared shortly before May's Assembly elections. How convenient !

Hywel Williams was found to have breached more rules than Adam Price and Elfyn Llwyd as he included a survey within the advert and did not clear the final material with the relevant authorities. There were also doubts that taxpayers monies should be used to pay for large Plaid Cymru logos in the press.

At the time I claimed the adverts broke the rules.

What I can now share with any reader of this blog is that the claim, now upheld, about the misuse of public funds lead to Hywel Williams threatening to sue me !

You will find his letter sent from his home address to my home address on the 26th April above. In spite of his threatened legal action I have extended Hywel the courtesy of blanking out his home address (I'm in the phone book anyway).

What nonsense this proved to be. Indeed what a bully boy tactic that when an opponent claims the rules were broken the response is not debate, but a threat of legal action.

Anyway I feel it is time to share this information. The adverts broke the rules. The Parliamentary Commissioner investigated, and the Committee on Privileges reported.

What a happy way to start our respective campaigns for the next Westminster election - and yes I am writing asking for an apology from Hywel Williams as an unwarranted threat of legal action is not the news a family like to hear during a democratic campaign for an election. Please join me in writing for a public apology if you feel like it.

Gwynedd seems quiet this year ?

I have realised why I feel a bit disorientated before Christmas. At this time of year my weekly papers are usually full of Plaid Cymru councillors telling us all how awful the Labour Assembly is, and complaining till they are blue in the face about how little money the Assembly has given them.

It seems some councils are campaigning hard for a bigger slice of the cake.

Yet in Gwynedd it is relatively peaceful. So I wonder what has happened compared to previous years ?

Perhaps the constant ring of "not enough money" has to become more palatable when your own team - One Wales government - is helping to carve up the cake ?.

Others may not see it, but I believe here is another example of the tone of politics changing here in North West Wales following last May''s election results.

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Bad week gets worse !

WBA2-4 Coventry

Iran and weapons programme

The front page of the Guardian, as updated by Guardian Online means strategy to Iran should be closely considered in the closing phase of the Bush admministration. It is difficult to see how an aggressive strategy could be sustained if our own analysts tell the west the situation is not as bad as feared.

Monday, December 03, 2007

It has hit a big fan !

BBC Newsnight reports on Gordon's meeting with the PLP (Parliamentary Party - MPs) but in an environment where I know "it" has clearly hit the fan BIG time !
Someone told me "I'm bored wuth all this", which is perhaps our best hope of some respite barring Becks and Spice seperating, or Pete Doherty running off to Gretna Green with some member of the Royal Family. Yet politics is about mood music and I admit we are currently out of tune.
It is such a massive irony that as the Party which introduced stricter rules for the funding of political parties/activity that we have fallen flat on our faces and need to get up and dust ourselves down quickly - but I know in politics that is the last thing that our opponents, including the right wing press, want. I just hope that as rules are reformed the activities of Tory front groups are exposed/regulated.
But what we did, in introducing the existing regulations, is a little irrelevant now as the clouds have gathered and we need, in Gordon's words, some sunshine to brighten 2008. Before then my only guess can be that there will be some changes. But I am not convinced it will be easy to quickly transform our historic relationship with the unions - I'm not sure what the unions did wrong !!
So whereas Glyn Davies posts a comment that I have been quiet on this issue, I can see a number of my reactions on the blog - but like other Party members I have been a bit stunned by what I read each day.
Onwards and upwards - soon. It is our only option.

Sunday, December 02, 2007

Elfyn blinks !

Last weekend Dafydd El sepped forward to support school plans and Dafydd Iwan spoke (well wrote) about it this week. With suitable recognition to Ordovicus it seems that Elfyn Llwyd was not listening and may have blinked first. So Parry Hughes is known to have hinted about timetable changes and Elfyn questions whether the direction is right - what size of nationalist fudge will we see come Gwynedd Council's meeting on 13th December?

Happy to receive your suggestions.....

Then again after another round of phone calls and e-mails what will e hear next and from whom ? Perhaps it is even time for the great Wigley to step forward and speak for the fortress nation of Gwynedd ?

Media take

Thought I would catch up with some of the main media takes on the event I attended:

BBC reflects GBs view of reform and I hope the Tories have some answers ready on their third party funders (even if legal at present).

Sky hint more towards the Abrahams and Mendehlson spat which formed no part of the NPF but is part of the outfall that gives the situation an unknown element.

Saturday, December 01, 2007

Man with a mission

A slight break in postings as I attended Labour's National Policy Forum in Heathrow (!), London.
as one of the new reps for Wales. Not quite back for all of match of the day so a few quick impressions.
Gordon seemed to address us openly about the funding problems revelaed this week. He admitted to his anger and fury at what he and Party members had learnt, and gave every impression of being a man with a mission to sort out our problems and also make all parties funding arrangements transparent. It is partly out of our hands of course and that may be part of the frustration we face in the coming weeks as the Police/Electoral Commission complete their week.
Anyway after an honest/private Q&A NPF representatives got on with a range of important seminars as we begin the vital task of shaping policy for our next manifesto.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Plaid's leaders try to find their front foot

No doubt numerous e-mails and phone calls have flown around and Plaid's leaders can clearly see a need to try and get on a front foot on the Gwynedd schools reorgansiation.

Dafydd El on tv telling the people of Meirion-Dwyfor about the benefits of the Gwynedd scheme and now Dafydd Iwan in Barn -see translation here -and in the Caernarfon Herald.

In the Herald letters page Dafydd gets star treatment - i.e. his letter is in a box and he says

"I look forward to a period of well-informed and creative debate as we work together....".

Horses and stable doors come to mind !

Meanwhile the Herald reports another defection from Plaid to Llais y Bobl, that being Alwyn Gruffydd of Porthmadog. (40 years Plaid membership). There is a common theme in many statements - people have not voted Plaid for these years for this outcome.

As I have said before it is the hypocrisy that is doing for Plaid in this debate- even Dafydd Iwan in the Barn piece has to cover his back on his contribution over Ysgol Bryncroes many years ago - see here. The only question is whether they bottle it in the full council, and then what ?

Meanwhile the Herald has created a treasure trove of resources on the issue at

http://www.caernarfonherald.co.uk/

so you can follow the evolving nationalist crisis.

(in honesty at least for some of us its a distraction from Labour's evolving funding crisis !)

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Gathering the points

3 points away from home in the absence of Philips and Miller is very pleasing.

Baggies need to keep in the mix until Feb and then push on. I am feeling very hopeful - on the football front !

Call4cash

My posting about the recent letter asking me to call a phone line at £1.50 a minute to claim a prize has drawn a series of new readers and is an interesting aspect of blogging that helps to keep the "hobby" lively. It seems I am not alone in concerns at this activity and will continue to follow up with Ministers. I see a Trading Standards address has also been posted so I will drop them a note as well.

Thanks - keep any comments coming.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

The Chief - the new Derek and Clive ! (reaction at 23.40)

Watched the 'The Chief' on BBC Wales which dragged me away from keeping a week ahead with Spooks.

David Williams captured some significant journalism and I am sure could not believe the whole biker issue that blew up during filming. All of that that is well known and in the public domain.

What I also found quite remarakable however was the agreement to allow filming of the Friday afternoon rant. After an initial smile at their apparent hurt, I found the ranting about elected representatives quite disturbing, even ranting about them being from England and parachuting in to Wales. I found such ranting by a Chief Constable quite extraordinary. (I also found his theory on Cymuned/Cymdeithas interesting)

I somehow feel the clearly political element of the programme may give Brunstrom more trouble as I am not all sure it is the role of the Chief and his Deputy to sit around, like Derek and Clive (aka Peter Cook and Dudley Moore) ranting in such a way. We wait to see. What does his code say about such matters ?

Vaughan's take over the rainbow

I read this report on the thoughts of Vaughan Roderick with interest - that Plaid lacked the guts to take the Rainbow option. Tactically it may suit them to see some Government action from a minority position.

With my team doing its best to inflict self harm who knows where it is all heading. Cameron must be feeling rather pleased at doing very little and gaining so much. However polls come and polls go.

Monday, November 26, 2007

It never rains - but pours !

Clearly the fates have decided that the Labour leadership should end 2007 being tested in many endless ways. There is no point my blog ducking these issues as we need to get out of this year and improve in 2008.

I was going to blog about the Lord/General who last week spoke out and then this week re appears fronting a Cameron task group - not clever. I'm not sure its worth it just now !

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Joyful youth

Young people often take a lot of unfair criticism but today's annaul club competition at the Bangor Gym Club gave around a 100 young people the chance to display the gymnastic skills they have acquired whether as starter, intermediate or senior gymnast.

My own interest comes via daughters who have competed for several years, including a fractured wrist a few years ago.

A great tribute to the coaches and voluntary helpers and congratulations to everyone concerned..

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Goal feast - lets hope Baggies catch the fever !

Being married to an Evertonian I share the occasional opportunity to accompany Sue to Goodison Park - I'm not sure whether a Baggie should admit this!.

However today was one of those days and what a good choice. 7-1.

The last time I saw a score like this (in professional football) was when WBA stuffed Coventry 7-1 at the Hawthorns back in 1980 (?).

Anyway today's game was enjoyable although the match was aided by Sunderland trying to play football and just shut the door - if not very well at times - and their inability to defend an occasional route one ball.

Arteta is a gem of a player and his touch and skill at times suggests Everton should fear a move from a big (Spanish) club at some point. However I'm told he doesn't make the Spanish team so his face must not fit with someone.

Enjoyable and Everton looked a solid team with good edge.

Anyway lets hope this good luck runs off on the Baggies tomorrow as we take on our old rivals Wolves.

Friday, November 23, 2007

A good use for the new Assembly powers

Today the post office delivered to me a letter stating "This is not circular" in which "Call4cash" invited me to contact them about a series of prizes. Apparently I may have won 15k or a car.

However as always the small print reveals the real prize for this company - "Calls cost £1.50 per minute from a BT landline. Max time 6 min 55secs, calls from other networks may vary".

So a simple suggestion for the use of new Assembly powers for any AM happening to pass by this blog - how about an Order to prevent such activities here in Wales. It is not unlawful at present and there may be so many it is difficult, but do we have to expose people to what, in my opinion, are scams.

At Westminster level I will be taking up the issue to see who is keeping an eye on such premium rate activity.

Sir Emyr v Don - a new punch and judy show

It gets a little bizzare all round. Thursday is action packed anyway for political anoraks with Wales packing in its politics with Question Time and Newnight etc for good measure.

On 'Dragon's Eye' Don continued his, calm, rant about sat navs and devolution. By the time of 'Waterfront' Sir Emyr is qouting his experience of Iraq resolutions in defence of his role in the Wales convention.

I think we all need to calm down !

Yes, in Labour there are a wide variety of views about devolution. As I have said before Labour probably reflects the people of Wales in that respect. Although I don't quite think we are at Iraq resolution levels !

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Happy Christmas Wales !

My attention has been drawn to the perfect Christmas present for Dafydd Iwan and all my nationalist friends which - according to shopping online in China is a Wales flag foldable chair !

The teams not making Europe is one thing but surely this is a step too far .........

Sharing with a new generation

Work took me to Liverpool John Moore's University and a chance to consider the major regeneration work taking place along the waterfront and city centre. Clearly the well established Albert Dock is now only a small part of what the City of Culture 08 will have to offer. However in the best British traditions much of the work will not be completed for Jan o8 and lookis like it has some time to go.
The "lecture" to under graduate and post graduatre students gave a chance for reflection on changes taking place in town and country planning. Indeed I can hardly recall a time when issues central to much planning work : sustainable development, climate change, housing supply and affordable housing, energy and infrastucture were so high on the "political" and policy agendas.

A good chance for reflection and interesting times for those involved with this sector.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Time for Britain ?

Given the general failure of everyone to boost the sale of Brain's, McEwans, John Smith's (what do they drink in N Ireand ?) or Guiness in UK supermarkets next summer is it now time for a"British team" in these European, world and olympic affairs ?

ps its tongue in cheek !

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Plaid breach - update

I thought I'd check out a few reactions to Hywel Williams, and his colleagues breach of the spending rules

Glyn Davies headlines the issue in a hard way,

Ordovicus is a little more factual, but little sympathy,

Peter Black thinks they were caught out- "Guilty as charged"

Paul Flynn lets fly !

Elfyn Llwyd meanwhile is as arrogant as a Lord - perhaps a sign of things to come ? However some clarification is required :

LABOUR today demanded that the parliamentary leader of Plaid Cymru immediately clarify his position over the use of public money to promote Plaid Cymru at the Assembly election. On last night's BBC Good Evening Wales radio programme, Elfyn Llwyd stated that the parliamentary authorities had seen the Plaid Cymru adverts in full before they were published.

But the official report published by the cross-party Committee on Standards and Privileges, the Commons' Director of Operations states that of the three nationalist MPs, only Adam Price submitted the full advert for inspection. Labour whip and MP for Caerphilly Wayne David, in a letter to Elfyn Llwyd this morning, demanded that Plaid Cymru clarified its position.

WAYNE DAVID said: "Plaid Cymru has shown a great deal of arrogance and contempt towards the electorate in its reaction to the report published yesterday by the respected Committee on Standards and Privileges. "Rather than doing the right thing, which was to apologise to the House of Commons and the people of Wales, you have chosen to react in an intemperate way towards anyone who has questioned your use of public money for the purposes of party political campaigning.

"Yesterday evening on BBC Wales' flagship radio programme Good Evening Wales, you stated that Plaid Cymru had submitted its complete adverts to the House of Commons authorities for approval. But yesterday's standards report states clearly that you did not. In fact it quotes the Director of Operations of the House of Commons as saying that you did not. "Moreover, the Report clearly states that you did not indicate to the fees office that the advertisement was going to be placed in a newspaper which circulates well beyond your constituency and that it was to be placed one week before the Assembly election.

"The people of your constituency and other areas of Wales, who will feel rightly aggrieved at your attempt to use their money to fund party political campaigning for Plaid Cymru, will demand to know the truth.

"Who is telling the truth on this matter?"

Records go AWOL

There will be much written about this incident in the coming days. As someone who works in a bureaucracy I often think about the human element of this - what the hell did this man feel when he was told/briefed about the loss of these disks ?
It is difficult to know how one might feel when your staff come to you to say you are managing "an unprecedented" breach of confidentiality, and it has happened (it is suspected) because people have not followed procedures.
If only there was a camera that followed the moments when the staff thought "its only a couple of disks, throw it in the post", and what was happening in the period leading up to that result. If you could bottle the lessons, there is big money to be made in the risk management business.
But the human bit aside, it is a big political issue and the Chancellor has to get on top of it quickly.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Political analysis shared

This posting on the deliberations of blogmenai about Plaid's schools reorganisation is very telling.

It seems that some want to narrow down the crisis to now naming a few people including the Party President !

An interesting strategy.

Political analysis shared

This posting on the deliberations of blogmenai about Plaid's schools reorganisation is very telling.

It seems that some want to narrow down the crisis to now naming a few people including the Party President !

An interesting strategy.

Apologise - don't dig a deeper hole

Perhaps it is typical of the Westminster process that a report on Plaid Cymru's political adverts that were actually published back in April has only just found the light of day. I am calling upon Hywel Williams who is reported as making the biggest transgressions to apologise.

Very few people had any doubt that the adverts were a breach of public spending rules and the months of twisting and turning did not help their cause.

What now happens to Plaid's election spending, as the adverts are a declarable cost, we will wait and see.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Arglwyddi / Lords

Its "Ie" / "Yes".

Well I fail to recall how many words I have heard my nationalist friends rant against this institution.

First One Wales, now this - no wonder Simon Glyn choked on his cornflakes.

Off to the Lords ?

With the "People" uprising across Dwyfor-Meirionnydd perhaps even Elfyn may find a seat in the Lords an attractive proposition at some point in the not too distant future ?

Friday, November 16, 2007

Gwynedd's Leader blinks - or did he ? Is it too late ?

Well the boxers were lined up chin to chin and eye to eye - who blinked first ?

Well the Caernarfon Herald reports firstly that Plaid councillors met in closed session last Monday and are sworn to secrecy.

However it then reports that Richard Parry Hughes blinked in a meeting with Porthmadog Town council on Tuesday when he suggested "big changes" would be made to the report on schools reorganisation.

But we then learn that the "big changes" may be an inaccurate description of the changes, and the emphasis perhaps lies in extending the timetable (guess what -beyond May 2008 !!).

However is it too late ?

People deserting Plaid's sinking ship and reactions in the Daily Post getting personal and bitter. The letters page of the Post and Herald are equally entertaining.

Meanwhile an absolute silence from Hywel Williams MP who seems to be strangely quiet about the crisis. Of course it is now very inconvenient that all this can't be blamed on Labour : did Plaid see this coming when they signed up to One Wales ?

Others suggest I am "dribbling" in my posts on this matter - perhaps as in football I am dribbling towards an open goal........

Thursday, November 15, 2007

World in perspective

The tragic news about the loss of Sion Hardy, who shared my place of work when not at Liverpool University, puts other issues in perspective.

There was shock and gloom at work today at such a loss. Everyone's thoughts are with his family.

Plaid's "political suicide"

No, its not an OTT comment from myself but Councillor Simon Glyn's comments as he uses GOLWG to announce his resignation from Plaid Cymru. I have little doubt that much is being written in blog land about this nationalist crisis in Gwynedd. Here is my little angle.

Firstly I think the schools debate is simply the tipping point. The tension in Plaid has been running for some time and I firmly beleive the roots of this split go back to at least the rise of Cymuned and the debacle over Pwllheli marina. While some people's paths have seperated since Cymuned was formed, the cultural v moderniser divide was evident. Isaid so at thetime, although Plaid rushed to deny it.

Will Plaid be worried ?.

Firstly lets see what happens in Gwynedd council betwen now and Christmas. Final consultation reports are yet to be signed off, and this is a council with a track record of back tracking when the pressure is on. But could they really back down now ? My guess is no -unless of course another council leader is to resign. In addition the de selection, and resignation, of longstanding members like Richard "Moi" Jones was already shifting the sands

Then clearly the council elections of May 2008 are now a real battle ground. Even the prospect of elections in places that may have forgotten what it is like to have a choice of candidates in their county election !

As to any wider implications ? Well Labour knows better than most what happens once the internal concensus is broken, and a rebellion follows. All sorts of consequences can be felt by MPs, AMs and others.

This will keep running......

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Happy days and stupid ideas

So Labour's 47 year old campaign has become a 48 year old campaigner. Happy days with the family, and the Baggies notching up 4 goals last night to mark the eve of the great event.

To be fair a rubbish first half but they got their heads together for the second half and ran out worthy winners.

In politics there was a stupid idea that caught my eye and it escapes me how this system would work in reality. Indeed how would people feel having voted against an increase only to see it happen for 12 months - is another ballot held for the following 12 months. I see recipe for chaos and administrative disaster. Stupid idea.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Remembrance Sunday


Remembrance Sunday in Y Felinheli where there is a good turnout each year and signs that the numbers attending are increasing. Perhaps this is partly a result of the country being involved with ongoing conflicts, but also some recognition that the final links to the generation of the Great War is being lost.


Anyway here is Y Felinheli's war memorial, recently restored by the community council, after this morning's event.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Referendums might only reinforce NIMBYs

A break in postings because I wandered off to Aberteifi and Cei Newydd. In spite of the November wind and storms the dolphins made an appearance of Cei Newydd. Excellent.
I return home and spot an interesting story about a community referendum on a housing scheme just down the coast. I don't want to comment on the specific scheme because there might be good reason both and/or against the development. But in the age when we are pressing hard for more homes and affordable homes I am not sure that a growth of referendums against development will help.
We seem to be in an age when we can mount campaigns to stop new homes being built but not many specific campaigns in favour of specific sites and projects. The climate is not easy and could make it difficult for the One Wales government to deliver their target for affordable homes.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

About my overdraft

Dear Minister,

I sometimes find my overdraft gets in the way of my enjoying life. Can you fling a few quid in my direction so that the quality of my leisure experience here in the North is not impaired.

Many thanks

Martin

Monday, November 05, 2007

Bethan on board with budget

I've been checking contributions on the Assembly budget. Bethan is on board with the budget and its potential implications while Glyn, Davies, after his appearance on radio, detects that Alun Ffred is a little more reticent in his belief in his own government's new role:

"Rhodri Morgan to set out the Government's position - as expected. But then it was over to Alun Ffed Jones for what seemed like a response - which took the biggest chunk of the remaining time. For all the world as if he was representing the 'opposition'. Has the news that Plaid Cymru are now in Government reached the Bangor studio yet?"

Well Glyn knows that Ffred is tied in to the budget, and it will be interesting to hear how his colleagues in Gwynedd Council react over the next few weeks.

Saturday, November 03, 2007

Here we go,here we go, here we go


So after a busy morning in Caernarfon the members of Arfon have now made their choice and my diary will as a result be busier with campaigning activity for the next Westminster election. Tecwyn Thomas the chair of the Wales Labour Party was present and offered his congratulations on my selection as the Prospective Parliamentary Candidate.
I always enjoy the campaigning and with a reasonable assumption this will be a long haul its time to buy several pairs of new shoes !
Dyma Tecwyn Thomas Cadeirydd Plaid Llafur Cymru yn fyn llongyfarch ar gael fyn dewis fel darpar Ymgeisydd Seneddol yn Arfon ar gyfer yr etholiad nesaf i San Steffan. Digon o ymgyrchu o'm flaen ac amser i prynnu sawl par o sgidiau newydd !

Friday, November 02, 2007

The calm before the storm

Well at some point tomorrow the Labour Party members in Arfon will make a decision that could shape my diary for the next few weeks, months or years - or on the other hand somebody else's diary. As with previous selection events it feels like the calm before the storm, and in the end what will be will be.

Anyway it promises to be an interesting few months. Hywel Williams seems to have gone to ground in spite of the schools debate his Party have generated in Gwynedd . On the political front does Hywel think Seimon Glyn should resign from the Plaid Cymru group on Gwynedd council but remain a Party member ? How exactly does that work if a political party is to have any cohesive credibility ?

What does Hywel think about Cymad and the issues around management of the company ? Again he seems very quiet ?

Anyway lets see what happens tomorrow.

What were you doing 25 years ago ?

This article sparked that thought ss back in 1982 the creation of S4C was not on my highlights of the year. I was in post Polytechnic (what that ?) job pursuit mode, probably gigging and having fun. But dman that reference to Thatcher which will ujpset me and remind me what was wrong with whole period.

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Looking to learn

Scottish Parliament had a spat because someone told the BBC about the SNP lead new plans for housing before the Parliament (watch the video and the 'not me guv' effort by the Minister).

I will watch with interest where this goes, especially given the emphasis in the One Wales agreement on affordable housing.

However all over the UK I feel we will need to also harness, influence and cajole the private sector to deliver more affordable products in addition to more traditional measures involving council housing and housing associations.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

I must admit to laughing.......

This news made me laugh at the ironies of life. The offence was also caught in North Wales which adds to the irony. Was it wrong to laugh ?

Monday, October 29, 2007

"monitoring the state of public opinion"

I think this was the term used in the One Wales agreement to provide some context for the proposed referendum on further powers for the Assembly. It seems a sensible get out clause if the skies start to look a little cloudy as the day approaches. Peter Hain seems a little premature in reporting on the state of opinion, but I don't think it requires over reaction.

As from last week we know there is much detailed work to be completed in preparing the ground for any poterntial referendum and people should keep calm heads and focus on that work in the period ahead. That there will be opposition in some quarters to further devolution is not news and part of a mature response will be to get the home work finished in time.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Yawn in the rain

Its 10 to 7 and everyone got excited because a man threw a ball in the NFL game involving some Dolphins taking on New York.

It proves to me why the Americans can keep this game (I registered for tickets - what a lucky escape !) and why it will not replace "soccer", having just enjoyed the action of L'Pool - Arsenal a few minutes ago.

Anyway wins for the Baggies, Caernarfon Town and Bangor City. Albion go to Watford next week for a top of the table clash.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Light entertainment

http://uk.youtube.com/watch?v=oulQwIP9VQQ

Will Plaid back slide ?

The stakes are really high for Plaid in the schools debate. At a national level as part of the 'One Wales' government they cannot over turn the logic that money spent on surplus school places is money being lost to other important public service priorities ( the same as for Labour councils). Yet the issue is far more emotive for traditional supporters of the Party of Wales as I perceive much of their traditional campaigning - while in opposition - was for small schools and rural areas. It was the evil Labour Party who ignored their rural interests etc etc.

It is the stench of hypocrisy that will drive much of the anger that will be vented at Plaid in the coming weeks and months.

Having previously 'persuaded' people on to the Plaid ticket for council elections I wonder how many will suddenly find independence an attractive option before May 2008 ?

Sod the revolution........

As history illustrates many times the seats of power can prove very comfortable and make one start to forget what got you there in the first place. Referendums for independence ? - that can wait, indeeed the people might say no. Time to read and check those endless promises again and see whether they had a caveat - let me enjoy power first.

Friday, October 26, 2007

Local democracy - local responsibility

The schools debate is local democracy at its rawest. It is a councillor's dearest wish to exert an influence over local matters and the organisation of schools is a clear example of the hard choices facing elected members. They also have a responsibility to use public money wisely as there are many competing demands on scarce resources.

Therefore it is a vital few years as decisions are made on future educational patterns.

Of course parts of Gwynedd made a major change many years ago when Coleg Meirion-Dwyfor replaced sixth forms in the more rural areas of Gwynedd. So does this prove change can happen and deliver - or have I missed something important about a decline in post sixteen education in south Gwynedd ?

Gap in postings - it was Goodison's fault

A complicated little story. I had origiinally obtained tickets to go and see White Stripes in Manchetser. Unfortunately that was cancelled as Meg White can't tour. So I ended up, via my wife Sue, with a ticket for Everton's european game at Goodison Park. This is an old fashioned stadium which can produce a good atmosphere, although it was strangely quiet at times last night. Anyway after an average first half the 2nd half livenend up and Everton ran out 3-1 winners. Arteta is a good skilful player and Anichibe seems to have the knock of coming on and making a difference.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

As night follows day.......

Well I only mentioned Denbighshire briefly but it seems the fall out from Gwynedd's school reorganisation is mounting. Of course the dispute is now at its most serious in those heartland areas where former colleagues are now becoming foes. Here is Cllr S Glyn callling for resignation of council leader. I suspect there are a hot few weeks ahead -or will Plaid bottle out and opt for more debate until after May's elections. We wait to see.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Schools debate hotting up for Plaid

From all of this it would seem my prediction of a troublesome time for Plaid is proving ever more correct. Will Denbighshire be the only council to see a new leader in the coming months ?

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Hard life in the Lords

Tiger Tales flagged up this bit of information. I must get my ticket for the Lords sorted soon....

"Thursday, October 11, 2007

Just had a look at the House of Lords' expenses for 2005/06.Assembly Presiding Officer Lord Elis-Thomas attended 21 times and claimed £10,861."

Saturday, October 20, 2007

"the world of the flat-earthers and of the ostriches"

I do not jump to condemn Richard Brunstrom who often decides to lead from the front and is not afraid to confront (perhaps even create) controversy. His contribution to the drugs debate is not one I immediately accept but I will take the time to consider the evidence he has provided via his blog.

To what extent this is the role of a Chief Constable may be debatable and his style is not that of a traditional public servant. Where I think Richard lets himself down in his attitude to those who may hold different views - his blog refers to them as "flat earthers and ostriches". Labelling a significant cross section of the population in this way does not seem language suited to such an important debate, indeed it is a tone of language unbecoming of his role and status. I assume the people he describes as such may include some of his own employees, other chief constables (judging by ACPO reaction) and other folk across our communities. What scope for internal dissent and debate if the boss has already stated publicly he considers you a "flat earther"?. That could be unhealthy for any organisation.

It might include me, but I will consider his evidence without the need to resort to language of such a tone.

Friday, October 19, 2007

Big steps

I will need to read the detail of Gwynedd's school reforms but it seems the council cannot be accused of holding back. We will all await with interest the reaction but I suspect this could prove seismic for Plaid in heartland areas.

There is also the tactic of making a big splah expecting a smaller return.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Public service quality

I suspect a lot of the focus on the BBC will seek to understand how the changes being announced will affect the public service quality of news and related services. In spite of this sort of nonsense the true public service quality that the license payer expects comes from a range of balanced news and current affairs coverage. Or is that just the slanted view of a wanabee politician ?

Some interesting debate on last night's news progammes including those questioning whether we have reached the stage where the shelf life of a public service broadcaster has passed - time eating away at another public sector principle. Reform or die ?

I don't think it can be seen in such simple terms and the details of the announcement may tell us more about where public service broadcasting is heading.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Health across North Wales

Edwina Hart said
Presiding officer, last week I was able to make a statement to Plenary on reconfiguration of health services and structures in South Wales. I indicated, then, that I hoped to return today with a similar statement of progress in relation to issues in North Wales and Powys.

Members will be aware that proposals for service reconfiguration in North Wales have proved controversial across the whole of the area. My approach has been to identify the underlying difficulties which have caused such public disquiet, and to put in place new procedures which, I hope, will allow us to take local populations with us in shaping new , and better services, for North Wales.

Today I want to bring together four strands in that approach, so that Members can be aware of the full picture, as it currently stands.
Firstly, Members will already know, from my oral statement of 25th September , that Michael Williams, then Acting Chair of the Swansea NHS Trust, has been commissioned to undertake a review of consultation processes adopted in relation to service reconfigurations at Prestatyn and Blaenau Ffestiniog. I remain convinced that we have to find new ways of ensuring that consultations are fair, open and thorough and that they are perceived to be so by local patients and clinicians. The Williams report will be with me in December , and I intend to study it carefully, not only for what it will tell us about what took place in Prestatyn and Blaenau Ffestiniog, but for any more general lessons on consultation it may contain. In the same statement I set out new arrangements for consultation on proposals in relation to Llandudno Hospital, making it clear that no services changes should proceed until that new consultation has been completed. That work is now underway, with the CHC in the lead role.

Secondly, I have concluded that in North Wales, as in the South, one of the key reasons why secondary care proposals have run into difficulty, is that plans for developing primary and community health services had been under-developed and under-described. I have therefore asked Dr Christopher Jones, RCT LHB Chair and a General Practitioner himself, to undertake a review of current plans in North Wales for community services and to provide me with a report on their appropriateness for the communities they serve. I want to ensure that primary and community services in North Wales are as strong and as forward-thinking as we can make them. The report which Dr Jones has agreed to produce by December 2007 will help make that happen and, in the process, give confidence to patients that services are being strengthened, rather than diminished.

Thirdly, in reviewing reports of what has taken place so far, and in meeting individuals and groups across North Wales, I have become additionally aware of the importance which clinical governance issues play in some of the decisions which come forward about individual sites and services. The proposed closure of Abergele Hospital, for example, turned, to a large extent, on clinical governance considerations. I have agreed to meet local representatives from Abergele in the near future to hear their views on these proposals, but I have to say today that I cannot ignore the considerable governance concerns about the current services which have been expressed by local clinicians. Presiding Officer, Abergele is only one place in North Wales where these issues have come to the fore. I have decided, as part of my general effort to secure, and bolster, public confidence in bringing about change in the Health Service, to obtain an independent view of those clinical governance issues which are already a matter of public debate from the Academy of Royal Colleges in Wales, and to continue to do so, as and when such matters arise in the future.

Finally, and in order to complete the picture of outstanding work, I turn to a somewhat different issue which has arise in relation to the structural integrity of a major block within Ysbyty Glan Clwyd. While I am pleased to be able to confirm to Members that the building remains safe for its current use, my concerns are that the design of the block is not capable of supporting the improvements in services which will be necessary in the future. I have therefore asked my officials to commission a review into the structural issues in the context of the changes that are proposed for Glan Clwyd hospital and report back to me in December.
Taken together, the four different reports which I have outlined this afternoon will provide vital pieces in the jigsaw of service development which I want to see taking place in North Wales. By January of next year I shall be in a position to take a view on the results of the work I have commissioned and I shall provide members with a further statement at that time.

In the meantime, I repeat the principle which I set out in relation to South Wales services last week. Where there is sound local endorsement of proposals to reform services I do not intend to stand in the way of those reforms proceeding. The completion of the new Porthmadog community hospital and the closure of Bronygarth hospital will go ahead, as will completion of the new hospital at Holywell and the closure of Lluesty and the existing Holywell hospitals, to cite just two examples of developments which are proceeding. Where there is no local agreement, however, as for example at Blaenau Ffestiniog or Flint, then no further change will take place until the work identified earlier has come to fruition.
Presiding Officer, that concludes my up-date of major issues in relation to North Wales. I am as anxious as any Member to make progress towards an agreed and settled set of proposals in every part of the North. But I am even more anxious to do so in a way which demonstrates that local concerns have been listened to carefully and with real respect. I am under no illusions that it will be possible to satisfy every group, or every individual objection to what finally emerges, but I am determined that we do everything we can to find a ways forward which command confidence and credibility amongst patients, staff and the public.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Quitting

No not a reference to Ming, but the implosion that seems to be hitting Plaid Cymru around the schools reorganisation in Gwynedd. With a new political "party" also in the making for next May's council elections it is clear that Plaid face a difficult 9 months as they struggle to reconcile a responsibility for efficient public services with the decline in the numbers of young people in our midst.

Anyway those not wanting to support Plaid's Gwynedd leadership have to face the hard truth that in Dwyor and Meirionnydd there are major school issues, surplus places, that need to be addressed.

Plaid's problem I feel is that they have spent so long going round the issues and the options, that they have lost people's confidence and the ability to act. I suspect it could prove very damaging to them. When it is time to act it is often better to get on with it - ask Ming !

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Blast from the past

In line with the current trends of reliving our youth I am off to Manchester to see Rush. Yes I know they have kept touring but I have to admit this is the first time I have gone to see them since 1982 (?). One way of not reading the Sunday's and all the Brown bunkum. In the same way that polls have turned this way and the other they can as easily turn again.

Perhaps the main lesson is that people are not as sure in their views as they were 10 years ago (no major surprise) and the next General Election will therefore be a different sort of election to those in 2001 and 2005.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Meet the Members

Although we all now know we are not facing a 'snap' election in this (mild) October month the wheel of politics keeps turning. The Arfon constituency is in the process of selecting their next Prospective Parliamentary Candidate and today was "meet the members" at the Celtic Royal Hotel in Caernarfon. Nice turnout and a chance to talk about key issues for the Westminster campaign. We await shortlisting and selection meeting.

ps was it ever going to be a 'snap' election when people had spent over a month deabting it ?

Friday, October 12, 2007

Hywel sends jail somewhere else

Well it seems from the Chronicle that Hywel Williams MP would like a jail in North Wales, but not on his patch. There are a number of pracical issues for the Ferodo site like ownership, its distance from centres of population but I would like a jobs profile/economic impact etc before closing the door.

Cardiff's affordables

Work took me off to Cardiff and an Excellence Wales event on Cardiff CCs affordable housing policies. The coach tour took us past the Millenium Centre, but having missed last night's Dragon Eye (drinking I'm afriad) the significance passed me by.

Anyway we all know of Cardiff's economic boom and the dramatic increase in house building levels (they have built more in one year than Anglsey builds in ten yers) but it seems many of Cardiff's completions are in apartments in the Bay.

That is of little use to local families and not aimed at need - this all sounds a little familiar.

Also much debate amongst housing and planning officers on the coach on how we will all feel in 20 years time about the new apartment blocks that have been put up ?

Anyway worthwhile and always lessons that can be transferred in spite of rural-urban differences.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Prison down the road

It seems that in addition to the new court buildings I looked at t'other day that any naughty boys and girls could then walk to one of the possible sites for a North Wales jail. I await local reaction reaction with interest as I think the Ferodo site formally sites in the area of Y Felinheli community council. The site will also be known to many of you for the long running TGWU dispute.

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Narrow politics of middle ground

It is an oft quoted feature of current political life that much of the battle is for some rather narrow politics in the middle ground. At the moment I can only see the announcement on Inheritance Tax in that vein.

I understand the big picture politics of it all, but it seems to suggest that to those who have we can give more while those in real need, without adequate homes or the homeless, don't get a sniff. But as a society we may reap what we sow. I note Will Hutton outlined some reasons for our recent predicament in last Sunday's Observer.

Monday, October 08, 2007

The "dirty" work of affordable housing

Through my work I spent the day at a WLGA event on affordable housing which was crammed full of presentations, good advice and ideas.

However I left feeling we have enough advice and pointers to good practise. Barring some unforeseen change in the political culture of our nation I feel we have to get down to the daily, solid work of Councils using our housing and planning powers to produce more affordable housing although any extra spending which might emerge from the Spending Review and the so called consequentials would be welcome to local authorities.

Sunday, October 07, 2007

Hywel's extra spending

In the heat of May's Assembly election a few of us kicked up a fuss when MPs like Hywel Williams suddenly took out full adverts in the Daily Post, much of the space being taken up by Plaid Cymru logos, I felt it was election material masqurading as House communications.

Well it seems from here and here that I was not alone. It will be interesting to see how this evolves.

Saturday, October 06, 2007

Overtime on the Sunday papers

Following this I wonder how many Suday papers are busy writing new articles, new angles and trying to recover any early editions distributed from their print rooms ?

Having told a Radio Cymru phone in some days ago that I thought the wise decision was not too go, I was still a little unsure whether to buy some new walking shoes over the weekend. Well now i know the answer and can buy a new CD instead ! Foo Fighters here I come....

Old football habits

There must be a stato somewhere in the world who has counted the number of times a football team equalise only too concede a goal within say five minutes of the equaliser. So Southampton 3-2 Baggies after recovering from a 2-0 defecit.

Well done Cardiff and Swansea and great to see Wrexham getting a win.

And wherever people sit on their nationality I thought the rugby win was an immense tactical victory for that team which beat the Aussies - but the All Blacks will take it all to an extra level.

Friday, October 05, 2007

Investment showing through


Labour's investment in public services is showing through in various ways. In Caernarfon the cranes are up and the new court buildings are taking shape and I called by for a look. Here I am in strange pose (perhaps half in fear of a summons) with a facility that will serve Caernarfon's economy well in the coming years.

Thursday, October 04, 2007

"Fit and ready"


It is a matter for the Labour Party but I am happy to confirm that if Gordon Brown calls an election I am "fit and ready" for a Westminster election. One Wales has changed the dynamic of Welsh politics but in a Westminster context I have little doubt that a devolution sympathetic Labour MP could be important and effective for Arfon.

Here I am checking out the CAST sentre in Parc Menai, Bangor a sign of progress and the new economy in Arfon after the Objective One investment.

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Over to you Gordon

Well the right wing press will rant and rave and other media stoke up the fires - the Sunday's should be a joy to read with their sources and speculation.

However with the Comprehensive Spending Review due Gordon has his ducks lined up.

Over to you Gordon - ?.

"Our Prime Minister"

I resisted the temptation to stay off work for Cameron's speech but on returning home I am sure I heard him refer to "our Prime Minister". Now some "friends" will say this just confirms their fear about Labour's alleged slide to the right. However I think it is also very telling that Cameron refers to Brown in this way - suggesting that not even he anticipates a change in the situation.

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Assembly's helping hand

I am pleased to see that Leighton Andrews AM has been able to announce funding that will see Ty Cegin on the Maesgeirechen estate , Bangor to continue its transformation and vital role within the local community.

Sustainable funding streams are often vital to the long term future of Lottery funded projects and integration with mainstrem services is a way of acheiving this.

Monday, October 01, 2007

Its the way they tell em !

"We have another problem as well. The public does not know that it can trust the Conservatives on the administration of public services."

Philip Hammond - Tory Shadow Treasury

BBC News / politics

Wise move by Tories

I have always beleived that in many constituencies Tories could comfortably vote for Plaid candidates as a safe bet against Labour. I have no doubt that (Lord) Dafydd Wigley's big majorities were based on an appeal across Plaid/Tory boundaries with, I will acknowledge, some Labour supporters thrown in for good measure.

As I have argued before it is possible that this cozy relationship is more strained after the One Wales agreement. This is one element of the additional interest in the Westminster election when it arrives. Welsh Tories clearly see some potential ground to exploit. With Plaid's grip on fortress Gwynedd facing a challenge on several fronts it will be an interesting few weeks/months/years.

Sunday, September 30, 2007

Fight back ????

It is perhaps a sign of the weakness in the Tory's current position that the conference is opended by the phrase "the great Conservative fight back". I cannnot see how the launch of a "fightback" ties in with speculation that this conference sits on the verge of an election. It just feels all wrong tactically from their perspective. Surely they should be sitting on top of a curve, hammering the government, and with the public sweeping in behind.

It is the absence of these forces that must make an election very attractive for Gordon Brown.

Saturday, September 29, 2007

Shining new ground


Being married to a rabid Evertonian I was amused to be sent a picture of their new ground. The sender may have supported the other Merseyside team !

Being NMs guest blogger

Normal Mouth invited me to answer a few questions. You can see my responses here.

(thanks given for not mentioning Cardiff City too often after results this week !)

Entertainment in the sunshine

Not much was expected at the Oval today.A weakened Caernarfon - too many recent headbuts and punches - against table topping Llanelli.

It started badly with Llanelli scoring inside 30 seconds at the Oval before, to most people's surprise, Caernarfon bounced back to lead 3-2 at half time. The entertainment was increased by the number of errors, but Llanelli made fewer in the second half to run out 4-3 winners.

Then I come home to see Wales blow my £12 in the office sweep.

I have some feeling that Fiji were my second team out of the sweep so we are all, unfortunately, Fijians now.

Friday, September 28, 2007

Taking policy up a level

I didn't make it to Bournemouth but monitoring activities via the computer suggests I was successful in election to Labour's national policy forum. Conference approved Gordon Brown's reforms so it will be an interesting period in which to directly participate in national policy development on behalf of Welsh CLPs.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Vaughan well briefed

The BBCs Vaughan Roderick blogs about Welsh Labour's election review and I suspect is well briefed. How do I know? Well as one of those who helped the review group it became clear the Party needed an honest, open assessment so we could learn valuable lessons to strengthen our future activities. Find a translation here.

Clearly the circumstances of the next Assembly elections will be different by 2011 and we will have completed several more sets of elections before that time (Westminster, councils and Europe) but the need for a clear programme of work and activities is made in the report.

The report may well feed a short frenzy of speculation but mature responses will realise that it is valuable for a Party like Labour to reflect, learn and move forward. While Gordon's poll ratings give us a valuable short term boost we must continue to adapt our work to evolving situations.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Waiting for Leighton !

Its only a mickey mouse cup ! I can just hear Leighton Andrews winding up some obsevations on Baggies 2-Cardiff 4........

Keeping the tent large

Eluned Morgan MEP has started to unfold the debate about lessons Welsh Labour may need to absorb after May's Assembly elections. Eluned's point is well made that our electoral strategy has to maintain a broad base and a drift to any comfortable territory on the left could leave the Tories space to prosper. This is one of many difficult issues Welsh Labour must face as we move forward from May 2007.

Blogs offer coverage here, here, here amongst others.

Paul Flynn takes an upbeat view.

Advice taken

So advice taken, blog upgraded, and over the next few days various links will be added. I have got in to practise with a couple of Labour bloggers but will diversify as time allows.

Monday, September 24, 2007

So thats a yes then ?

Lord Wigley of Derby ? Valleys Man notes developments in the Lordships saga. Plaid have become so "New Nationalist" that Lord Dafydd is simply another pragmatic stage of transformation. If the support of the Plaid group is as high a test as is now necessary, then surely its a done deal - or would the Arfon-Anglesey tension in Plaid see an attempt to block Dafydd's Lordship bid ? Unlikely.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

32 miles + - I am the junior partner

The Eaglestones ran 32 miles today and we were sent on our way by Colin Jackson. Nice guy. Anyway to clear up any misunderstanding I am the junior partner and it was Sue who completed the Marathon Mon-Anglesey Marathon, while I made do with the 10k.

I spoke to one man who was completing his circa 250th marathon - Madness on two legs...?

Saturday, September 22, 2007

"A step in the dark"

I have been unsure how I might present today's posting. I have decided as follows.

Today I sat in the company of an IRA bomber and the daughter of a Tory MP.

It was a priviledge because the people concerned were Jo Berry and Patrick Magee who spoke at the All Wales Peace Festival at Y Galeri in Caernarfon. "A step in the dark" was a phrase used by Prof Nick Wheeler at the event to describe that moment when people take a step the consequence of which they cannot be sure, but which can open the door to peace and reconciliation.

Jo Berry is the daughter of Tory MP Sir Anthony Berry who was killed by Patrick Magee with the Brighton bomb in 1984. They stood together to explain how their journey had taken them to find the human face behind the conflict but I'm not sure any words in a blog can convey the power of being present before such witness.

Friday, September 21, 2007

10,000 plus - but time to be more communial

It seems that over 10,000 visits have been made to read over my musings about politics, the Baggies etc etc. I however realise I have not been very communal in my links so over the next week I am taking advice (yes I need techie support) to add some more links. Blogging is simple but I don't find the making of links easy. How sad.

I also think we need a North West Wales/North Wales bloggers get-together, even though it may prove more risky for a Labour blogger!. However I might get a chance to gather some spectrum of views, over a drink, for my pamphlet on Labour, language and rights.

Let me know what you think ?

Galeri bar ?

Are you dancing ?

Well its High School Musical II so I hope you are tuned in and dancing ?

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Belgium on the BBC

My thoughts about beer and chocolates are shared here. If beer is one of the few things keeping them together then Welsh seperatists should presumably produce lots of crap beer ?

10 years ago

Lots of recollections about where people were ten years ago. For my part it was delivering pre-breakfast 'vote today' leaflets in the Maes Barcer estate,Caernarfon and at the end of the day at the Gwynedd area count at Arfon leisure centre. I think someone has footage of Tom Jones (T&G) and myself jumping arm in arm as the 'yes' vote was announced. One of many memories I have with Tom over the years of union/political work.

Prior to that point I also recall the atmosphere going a little colder when some of our nationalist friends thought it was slipping to a 'no'. ? But we are all friends now.

Inside the tent

Glyn makes use of some leaked info which I find perfectly illustrates why the dynamic of Welsh politics changed with the One Wales agreement.

If IWJ and other Plaid politicians now find themselves speaking to official stats rather than the former tactic of pursuing people like Andrew Davies then I see that as a benefit if having them in the tent. Their former motives (perhaps just the role of opposition?) can be queried but what do their activists think - surely their world didn;t improve that quickly ? Or is was never too bad in the first place ?

Oh well welcome to Government and a new maturity.

1-1 and then another Cofis win

Well Bristol City fought back and took an honourable draw with the Baggies. In truth a point away from home against a team high on the adrenelin of promotion is okay.

Meanwhile Caernarfon returned to winning ways away at new entrants Llangefni. My place of campaigning against my place of work.

Now as for Mourinio - well I think he'll land on his feet, and suspect the new manager(s) know the rules (i.e Chamions League within two seaosons or out) .

Nice compo cheque I'm sure !

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

An unwritten rule of capitalsim - they write the rules

After the financial events of the last few days many people are left in wonder at the situation where those people who have earned huge incomes (in various forms) for many years telling all us ordinary folk - for which I will include politicians for now - that the power of the economy is best left to the unfettered private finance, and all will be well.
Keep away you state/politicos as we knows wots best.

Now it seems that state support, and semi nationalsition of debt, (I am sure it is not described as such in our Treasury announcements) is best for all.

In my younger days I would have ranted and raved at such situations but I now just accept that one unwriten rule of our system is that they will at critical times re-write the rules to suit them. And it is probably in all our best intererests that the economy on which we now depend for so much does not throw an even bigger wobble.

No doubt someone has today been cashing in as some investor confidence was restored and share prices increased - will that be handed to us the taxpayers who underwote the cheque called "confidence" ? I somehow suspect not.

Monday, September 17, 2007

Long way to go yet

I didn't manage to get to the Oval on Saturday and therefore missed Caernarfon's first loss of the season. Glyn makes comment but loosing to Rhyl 1-0 is not a disaster and perhaps, in a way, shows some of the improvement made. Still there's a long way to go and everyon emay now be finding their feet.

Meanwhile the mighty Baggies bang in 4 and I say bring on Trundle, Bristol City and all that tomorrow night.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Will people accept Plaid facing two ways ?

One of the big unknowns after the One Wales agreement, and Plaid taking seats in government, is the extent to which ordinary voters will accept Plaid seeking to face in two directions (similar but not the same concerns for Labour as we did it before). IWJ is right to focus on the big change this means for Plaid.

At one level the tactic of putting Labour at semi-arm's length is understandable but many people will not be fooled by conference rhetoric. To deliver each element of our Assembly programme we need each other to be supportive, and, as Labour has the whip hand in London then, for the moment at least, I judge they need us more.

So Adam can sabre rattle as he wants, but Elfyn seems to be talking real politik (step forward Lord Wigley of ??), and Ieuan knows that One Wales (and his future?) sinks or swims by joint effort. Blow it and there is no certainty of a sunnier day on the horizon.

Meanwhile we wait to see how the Assembly events influence the Westminster election process - because in reality noone really knows. It will actually be for Wales an election in a unique context.

Half time - sweep prize under pressure

Cymru - Cymru. There is still hope but my stake in the office sweep looks a little under pressure ! C'mon Cymru.

Friday, September 14, 2007

Only a few years - but so many grey hairs !

Leighton Andrews AM has flagged up the fact that HTV have put coverage of the Assembly referendum on line. A really interesting view and a chance to see how political views can be caught out in a very short period of time.

Original request remians-sensible debate please

I won't go into what suddenly came out of my posting about Labour, language and the rights agenda but I have a genuine ongoing wish to explore the issue.

Needless to say I did not see the Daily Post until a work colleague made a comment about Labour over morning coffee.So if anyone still wishes to post comments (perhaps less likely now??) then I will follow up - it seems I was right to think there may be a debate to iron out.

Monday, September 10, 2007

Review not yet complete

It seems some academics want to wind up Labour as the new Assembly term gets close. A bit strange given that Labour's internal fundamental review,set uo after May's weak result, is ongoing and will have a number of vital things to say. But it cannot be disclosed until the Welsh Executive has met to review the report and the review turned in to a concrete set of actions for Welsh Labour in the coming years. Perhaps we are facing up to big questions but taking time to consider issues in the depth they deserve.

Meanwhile some issue in the Lib Dems only sneaks on to the bottom of page 11 of the Daily Post - a word no one can currently associate withe LDs: leadership.

Sunday, September 09, 2007

Brunstrom blog draws strange comment in Observer

Brunstrom being zapped on his blog is picked up by Porter in The Obersver but with the slightly strange argument that the N Wales Police, and their new baseball caps, are better armed than troops in Afgahnistan. It is this type of sunday paper argument I find a little strange and showing a loss of perspective for what might be an important point (adewquarw resources for the Army).

(anyway after an early wobble Wales won and I remian confisent of collecting my office sweep - provided several other nations have a handicap of at least 50 points!).

Saturday, September 08, 2007

My big opportunity ?


The Caernarfon Herald this week reports an investment opportunity that I may find hard to resist, and I have Plaid lead Gwynedd Council to thank for my current dilemna. It seems that flats in the new, and endlessly debated, Victoria Dock development will soon be available and I will only have to find £690,000 - yes thats nearly seven hundred thousand pounds - to take advantage.
I may need to lower my bedroom matress nearly three inches to grab this golden opportunity !
Any way up above is Rhodri taking a look at the site back in May - perhaps it was the £690,000 that caused the heart scare !
On a more serious note this situation stirs several thoughts.
Firstly when and where will the affordable housing pushed by Gwynedd Council and, we are told, that has been promised in exchange for this development site be delivered ?
Secondly will other homeowners have cause to celebrate as these prices filter in to the local housing market ?
Thirdly if I am forced to hold back my investment due to stock market uncertanties can the project survive ?

Thursday, September 06, 2007

Cymru Cymru

Well the world cup approaches and although I am not much of a rugby fan I am now fully committed to the cause having drawn Cymru in the office sweep. No matter what Woodward says I know Jenks can deliver the big £12 prize for me ! Does anyone feel my 2nd team Fiji have a better chance ?

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Communities First brings more success-ask Max Boyce

It seems that even Max Boyce has felt the power of Communities First with the success of the funding in Maes Barcer bringing new people to Y Galeri to see a perfroming opportunity. This is just one example of how Labour's programme for hard pressed communities can bring success.

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Interesting few months

Many people have been focussed on the coverage about whether Brown will go for an early poll.

However having been away for the Bank Holiday weekend I have been a bit slow in picking up on more local developments of interest. The Herald has run a story announcing the arrival of a new political party that promises to dislodge Plaid Cymru councillors in the elections of May 2008.

I find it a pity that Labour is not seen as a home for the protests of such people but accept this is unlikely to happen in a Gwynedd context. Perhaps one of Plaid's success since 1996 has been to corale many an "independent" under their banner and subject them to the Plaid whip. As`their influence extended they have become the establishment and show many of the traits associated with those who feel beyond reach.

This is fascinating stuff as my guess is a number of those involved with the new party include many Plaid Cymru stalwarts who know where the bodies lie ! There are a number of voices raised in protest at Plaid's actions in Gwynedd and disillusion at a small cabal who effectively wield power.

So it will still be time to start lining up the wards and the candidiates .... interesting times.

Monday, September 03, 2007

All Wales Peace Festival - experiences not to be missed

The All Wales Peace Festival will be held in Caernarfon in Y Galeri on Saturday 22nd September from 12.00 midday onwards.

There will be many interesting activities and speakers that should not be missed including Jo Berry and Patrick Magee. Indeed I was looking at an exhibition for Forgiveness project at Greenbelt and it makes one realise the depth of emotional, political and spiritual journey that many people make.

Anyway the Festival deserves our support.