Thursday, May 31, 2007

Rainbow over the "Big Brother" house

Am I the first to get there and should there be a prize offered for the best narrative linking events in the Bay with the new series of Big Brother ? My opening pathetic effort .....

So far in the big brother house............

Rhodri invited Mike to join him in the big brother house, and perhaps even Ieaun, but definitely not Nick. However a few unWISE words were used and Mike and Ieuan turned round and went to talk to Nick about choosing an alternative head for the big brother house.

Rhodri was lonely for a few days as the other house mates considered their options. Mike thought it was agood idea to have someone apart from Rhodri as head, but when he asked the people who helped put him in the big brother house they said no. (and then yes). But by then the rainbow had passed over the big brother house until another day.

Rhodri was suddenly alone in the big brother house and decided he might as well become the head of the house.

Davina Elis Thomas called the big brother house to order, no one was ejected, and Rhodri became the head.

But when is the first eviction night ????

Small nation - big country ?

Wales is not a big nation and it is easy to get carried away by the arguments about whether the Cabinet should represent the geogrpahy of Wales, or use the skills/experience as the First Minister sees fit. However there is no arguing it is quite a big country with difficult geography and, in spite of the new air link, there is a need to feel connected with power in the democracy.

That is why I will look for Deputy Minister from the North to join Carl Sargeant in the work of the new government. Far from being a show stopper but important in how we are perceived.

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Useful overview

I suppose one major benefit of blogging is catching up with those in our midst who offer some overview. That is why I now find this link useful.

I must learn how to add links to my blog in the near future !

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Strange world

If Britain and Libya can find enough common ground to do business then it is strange indeed that progressive forces cannot find enough common issues in Wales to build bridges for the common good.

Yes I know many a heated word is exchanged during (and sometimes after) elections but there must be enough common territory to find a political platform for government that takes Wales forward without the Tories. And yes I accept that will take some tolerance on all sides.

After the ups and downs that moved us from failed agreements, failed rainbows to minority government to renewed (?) rainbow then I think those in favour of further devolved powers have to be careful the people don't become cheesed off with the whole thing - and turn against more powers for the soap opera that is Cardiff Bay.

Monday, May 28, 2007

Letter refelcts on election messages

Thursday's Caernarfon Herald carried a letter in which I tried to reflect on election messages and more recent events :

"During the recent Assembly election campaign I warned voters on two key issues. Firstly I warned that to see Mr Wigley elected they would need to vote Eaglestone in Arfon, as Plaid could not have success in both the regional list and in the constituencies. I was proved right and I suspect some people now feel short changed by Plaid's campaign.

However of far greater significance I warned that a vote for Plaid Cymru could be a vote for the Tories. Despite all the bluff and bluster we now see the possibility that this warning might also prove correct. I know that these things can change quickly when negotiating such political agreements, but did the people of Arfon really vote to see the Conservatives back in power"

Oh dear

As`they say in football circles - I am as sick as a parrot.

I suspect that will see the end of much of the current squad, including Koumas, and we face a difficult task to rebuild.

Sunday, May 27, 2007

The soap opera continues ...

So I turned my back for a few hours to enjoy a family BBQ and when I return I find the Lib Dems have put life back in the soap opera - this is getting better than Dallas and I keep expecting to wake up in a shower and hear someone say it was dream.

On Wednesday the following comment was left on my blog :

"The Lib Dems are the party of PR & coalition government - yet when the opportunity arises they haven't got the balls to jump in with you - or with us.

Useless, pointless, runt party"

Someone else said

"But, as Menai says, the Lib Dems are pointless. How is anyone, Labour, Plaid or Tory, supposed to run a country with these giggling idiots running loose? " (Well it seems Ieaun might be expecting too !)

Rhys Llwyd reports after Plaid's national council that some in Pliad remain upbeat and looking to a fresh rainbow.

So perhap more diplomatic words will now be required !!

And I am left wondering how Rhodri can pursue a "progressive concensus" if all the other 3 want is to scheme a route to making the Rainbow their new reality ?.

I suppose bets should be taken on what event will trigger the vote ?

A health reform or more likely I supose the whole budget process this Autumn ?.

Saturday, May 26, 2007

48 hours to go !

No not the end of the new Assembly Government (but then again who knows given recent uncertainties!) but the build up to the Championship play off final on Monday and the mighty Baggiies demolishing Derby.

Of course this depends on the pitch being in decent condition, and Koumaas stepping up to the mark and proving himslef on a big stage.

It is of course fitting that on eof the great names of football are involved in the opening games at the new Wembly keeping the great traditions alive etc etc

Friday, May 25, 2007

Rhodri starts the third term

The BBC has this picture of First Minister Rhodri Morgan addressing the new Assembly.
Meanwhile the Lib Dems are preparing to meet and have another change of thought ??
So I suppose we could see the build up to insecurity and uncertainty by the time of the budget unless Rhodri can make a reality of his wish for a progressive concensus.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

How to build a bridge ?

If Rhodri is elected tomorrow then it is time for deep breath, step back from the intemperate comments, and build some bridges on common issues. Patience, tolerance and perhaps some skills that are not given as much prominence in the battles of election periods.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Sylwadau Vaughan

Roedd Vaughan Rodercik wedi sylwebu ar cynnig Llafur i Plaid - cyn i'r grwp cae y drws.

Egg on face ??

Have just heard about the Lib Dem meeting in LLandrindod Wells and it seems the rainbow won't even make it to the weekend - so I'm not sure who and how - but there is egg on faces somewhere !

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Change the masthead

Some may be familiar withe the blog Brit Nat in Wales WATCH !which has spent much energy exposing the alleged horrors of Brit Nats on the Welsh nation.

Its masthead can be seen above - but hang on is that not Bourne and German - now diehard friends of Welsh nationalsim ?
Time to change the masthead, and change many of those words written in previous postings !
Oh dear.

Seeds of destruction - or a necessary bit of dissent ?

After Ieuan suspended talks with Labour the BBC reported as follows :

"Leanne Wood, Bethan Jenkins, Helen Mary Jones and Nerys Evans said they were against a coalition with the Tories. Leanne Wood said:

"It is with regret that we do not agree with the decision made in our group meeting. We respectfully disagree.

"We fought this election on a platform to deliver a proper Parliament for our nation. A deal with the Conservatives would undermine the chance of delivering that goal."

Helen Mary Jones added there was a clash of values and principles between Plaid and the Tories, and that the AMs who opposed the move had thought "long and hard about making a public statement".

"But, we think it is now right that we seek to convince our members to oppose what we believe would be a mistaken decision," she said.

So it seems the seeds of destreuction for the rainbow may have been sown, or is this just a necessary distraction before bowing to the democratic views of party members this weekend.

Of course it also means some saw Labour's reported 28 page offer as a basis for business, while a majority of the others have the smell of government chairs (do they smell?) in their nostrils.

I suspect a number of phone calls will be made before this weekend's conference votes.

If it doesn't stack up I'd better get another pair of shoes ready for another campaign ahead !.

Monday, May 21, 2007

Plaid thoughts in more detail

On further reflection the weekend posting by menaiblog deserves a fuller airing as it neatly explores some of the dynamic behind the potential Rainbow agreement. it usefully gives Labour some food for thought and defines some parameters of the debate.

"I'll let you in on a bit of a secret here Martin.I've talked to very many Plaid members in the North about this - & I'm amazed at how ready people are to look at the idea - people that I would have regarded as being staunchly anti Tory.Now, there are a number of reasons for this.

For example Labour aren't really engaging with us on the issue - they're just offering us the honour of keeping them in government from the outside. Rhodri wants meaningful negotiations, but it seems that Leighton, Huw & the boys won't let him play dice.Also the Labour campaign - centred as it was on the vote Plaid get Tory nonsense has conditioned people to expect the Tories in government.

Then there's the fact that we've just had two, none too successful Labour terms.But I'd hazard a guess that one of the main reasons for the sea change is simple human psychology. People get pissed off at seeing their party, it's core beliefs & it's public representatives (decent, honest people to a man) lied about, vilified, insulted & demonised on a daily basis.

The Tories don't do this, the Lib Dems do it sometimes - but much of Labour in Wales defines itself in terms of it's hatred of Plaid. This blog is in some ways a reflection of this mentality.Your behaviour before the election, during the election & since the election might well turn out to have rather a higher price than you expected".

Plaid activists need to reflect on the long term impact of lining up with the centre right Tories, their hisitory in Wales and whether the best interests of the people of Wales will be met by a journey over the rainbow.

Shipton talks up coalition

The Western Mail note tensions, but see progress on the Rainbow coalition. The reference to the Plaid meeting in Caernarfon reflects feedback from menaiblog over the weekend, who feels plaid activists are warm towards the idea.

However the devil could be in the detail about issues like the strength of commitment that can be reached on a new Welsh Language Act etc. After the Tories warm words during the election what will they actually sign up for ?

It is interesting t0 note that the voices used in the Western Mial are the Dewis group (Cynnog and Dafydd W etc) - what does Dafydd Iwan have to say as he seems to have gobe off the radar over the last six months ?

Sunday, May 20, 2007

The return of Hague ?

I suppose we should open a book on how long it takes for William Hague (remember him ?) to appear on our TVs welcoming the Tories return to power in Wales should the "rainbow" appear over Wales.

This is the prospect Plaid activists must consider as, I am told, they warm to the idea of coalition with the Tories. Hague as a current Tory shadow minister would be entitled to link himself directly to Bourne et al, and as a former SOS for Wales, I am sure have views to share.

I would say 7 days at the outside.

Shooting ourselves in the foot ?

Menaiblog rounds off a comment with the following statement

"Your behaviour before the election, during the election & since the election might well turn out to have rather a higher price than you expected".

Who knows, perhaps some heavy handed comments have been made as people reflected on the effect of Labour's reduced seats and some did not sound like overtures too partnership.

However it will remain a significant few days because once the "rainbow" firm up any preliminary understanding as a more formal agreement then the political dynamics will change for a very long time.

However in response to menaiblog it sems the price to be paid is the Tories back in power, and that will be thanks to Plaid.

However a week remains a long time in polticis.......

Saturday, May 19, 2007

A week can be a long time in politics

While some in the media start guessing about Cabinet choices others are striking a more cautious note but I would think such junior voices are unlikely to upset any leadership plotting.

Meanwhile it could be an interesting weekend as I understand Labour and Plaid have not suspended communications so dialogue can continue, unlike the suspenders put on by the Lib Dems. Indeed if things don't stack up then the Lib Dems could come racing back to polish off the 19 pages of preparation they made earlier this week.

Award for the most oblique reference goes to Tomos Livingstone for the use of Keyser Soze in explaining the potential rainbow.

Others see some significance in the rainbow, but doubt the stamina.

and so on and so on.

I think a week may still be a long time in politics.........

Friday, May 18, 2007

Who's future in the balance ?

"There's an opportunity to get Conservative policies on the statute book" said Alun Cairns on Wales Today tonight as he reflected on the potential for a Rainbow coalition.

I can see why Ieaun and Alun Ffred's generation see the Ministerial limousines as atractive as I assume 40 years of nationalism has been waiting for this sort of moment. It is why Cynog and Dafydd formed the pressure group Dewis a few years back.

But judging by comments left on my blog during the election campaign do Plaid activists really see their future with the Tories ?

I wait and see.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

A simple question requiring a response from AMs and MPs

There is a letter in today's Caernarfon Herald from I owen stating :

"In any normal job anyone who has been convicted of false accounting would be expected to lose their job.

Especially if the job meant being in charge of huge amounts of grant money.

The question needs to be asked - why is Elwyn Vaughan's situation any different ?

Not only has he kept his job, but he has glowing praie from the board of Cymad".

It is now just over 12 months since I called for an investigation in to Cymad.Can I suggest that the AMs and MPs (the Lord Elis Thomas, Elfyn Llwyd, Hywel Williams and Alun Ffred Jones) should have something to say on the situation ? Why their silence ?

It is noted that the board of Cymad contains many people who are active and prominent in Plaid Cymru. It is noted Elwyn Vaughan was Plaid's Director of elections in the 2003 elections. The Cymad subsidiary company (Galw) ran Plaid's election call centre in the 2003 campaign. The call centre was set up with grant support from Plaid lead Gwynedd Council.

I am left wondering who knows what about who ?

Perhaps it is time for Lord Elis Thomas to tell us all what issues he took to the auditor general for Wales and whether the questions have been satisfied ?

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Wembley Wembley

Yes I know its over Offa's Dyke and my nat friends will tell me supporting an English league team is wrong but the mighty Baggies are off to the new Wembley. Superb. What a pity (!) we had to beat Wolves to get there.

Monday, May 14, 2007

Keeping it in the family

Funy guy posted a comment that deserves a full posting.

"I have just read the Caernarfon Herald and see that none other than Dafydd Iwan is heading Gwynedd Council's Gwobrau Gwynedd / Gwynedd Business awards for 2007.My question is simple, how can he be the front man in their publicity campaign and still have his own business (Sain) entered and apparently being short listed to the final?All this smells of a rat and makes you think how legitimate this and the competition in general is.Surely people inovled in this competiton (which is advertised as being a prestegious event) can also put his own company in the hat. Usually, when companies such as Cadbury's or Rowntree's run competitions, everyone involved (including family members are excluded) Dafydd Iwan and his company SAIN, should be ashamed of themselves. But then again should we be surprised about Plaid and Gwynedd Council's actions?My statement is simple, Sain should be removed from the competiton forthwith and Dafydd removed from Gwynedd - No not Gwynedd Council, but Gwynedd in General.

Concerned Resident of Gwynedd"

So I checked and sure enough there is DI on page 25 of the Herald smiling happily at the prospect of collecting a business award from his council (Creative Industries Award). I note the judging is independent of the council and see no reasaon why this successful businessman should not collect a gong from his council. Perhaps we can arrange an award for another of his succsessful companies, Arianrhod, as well given the success that was recently revealed about their property portfolio in Caernarfon.

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Land of 'Lord of the rings' offers ideas

The Welsh Labour Executive, at its regular quarterly meeting,Saturday welcomed The Honourable Pete Hodgson, Health Minister in the New Zealand Labour-led government.

Mr Hodgson is visiting Wales as part of a wider set of engagements in the United Kingdom. He will discuss the practical experience of governing in a system which, since 1996, has been based on the same form of proportional representation list as we now have in Wales. Mr Hodgson said:

"Our experience is that there are a number of different ways in which stable government can be achieved, even when no single party has a majority. Formal coalition is only one of a number of options in which stability and partnership can he achieved. There are ways in which parties outside the government can play a constructive part in pursuing their own policy aims, and which help guarantee reliable and responsive administration.

"Over the last eight years, we in the Labour party of New Zealand have been able to form a number of different alliances with other parties in order to put an agreed programme of policy and legislation through our Parliament. We have learned that different arrangements have to be made to suit different circumstances, and that there are many different ways in which parties can work together effectively. I am very pleased to have had this chance to meet up with Rhodri Morgan and to share our very positive experience from New Zealand with Labour Party colleagues here in Wales."

First Minister Rhodri Morgan said: "Pete has been on a whistle-stop tour of the UK. I was very pleased to have been able to take him to see Cardiff Blues play rugby last evening. His experiences at the top of New Zealand politics clearly demonstrate that stable and successful government can be achieved in a system like ours - but that this outcome depends on progressive parties being willing to work together in arrangements which are more flexible than those produced by conventional first-past-the-post politics. We are having to learn those lessons very fast in Wales, and I am working hard to make sure that Wales has a government at the Assembly which takes us forward over the next four years."

Saturday, May 12, 2007

Off line - Rail Ale

For some reason my system went off line but today it was followed by some real, or rail ale on the Welsh Highland Railway.

I suspect that finally cleared the election out of the system.

Now for the play offs against Wolves.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Plaid supporters should have listened !

Well over the months I tried to suggest that you had to vote Eaglestone to get Wigley. I was derided by some, rattled a few of those who knew the realistic prospects for DW from number 2 on the North Wales list, but in the end I don't think people yet understand the ins and outs of the current system of PR.

An article in the Welsh language magazine Golwg, with some associated blogging activity, shows the issue has caused some pain in Plaid.

Of more interest will be the reaction of the electorate, many of whom were told, and beleived, they were voting twice for Plaid in order to get Wigley - and were short changed

On reflection I have to accept the Wigley tactic may have worked for Plaid in 2007 ,but again ??

(indeed can Plaid's strategy really be based on wheeling out Wigley - Soviet style - every four years !)

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Blair stays on !

Well not really it seems but it will be of interest to see what is said tomorrow and what happens in the coming weeks. I think we simply need Gordon in the hot seat asap to put his stamp on government.

Much will be said and mountains of words written (like these!) about the Blair era, but in reality it is in the nature of politics that we must get on with the here and now.

The here and now includes the ongoing Assembly negotiations which, whatever his personal views, the Blair era delivered via the devolution referendum. I still think the visits he made in his "golden era" to soft areas like Wrexham proved vital in the final referendum result.

Without that I would not have had the priviledge of being Labour's first Assembly candidate in Arfon. But more importantly I point to : national minimum wage, record investment in the NHS, a cracking economic record on economic stability, progressive policies in a range of social projects that mean we should be proud of 3 election victories and in the end thankful to Blair.

I still feel the big decision on Iraq was a negative and know from personal experience some will always see this single act as overshadowing all the positives when viewing the Blair era. In spite of this negative, recent election results show that on balance, if we are not careful, the country is unlikely to turn from Blair/Brown to a more socialist state but to the Tories. That is a harsh reality that has shaped my personal politics since the early 1990's.

That is why I see the the nationalist vote as such a waste - but that is for another time. We now await the deluge of words on Blair !

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

This looks familiar

Well the election is over, some recovery was acheived over the bank holiday weekend, and then back to work this morning.

The work on the Local Development Plan has to be progressed, some affordable housing negotiations need pushing along, discussion about improving the co-ordination of our work on the Wales spatial plan and preparations for a report to the Council's Executive Committee next week. That looked familiar.

This evening took my 8 year old daughter to play football at Cae Glyn in Caernarfon. Last game of the season for the under 9's.

That's what you do when you don't get elected - and it felt quite relaxing after the hectic activity of recent weeks.

Meanwhile following news and blogging tittle tattle about the Assembly discussions. Surely the real business is behind closed doors.

Monday, May 07, 2007

Does "partnership" or "agreement" need relative silence ?

Given the various combination of understandings that could be reached in the coming week then perhaps it all needs some calm heads, and hard bargaining. Not in the Lib Dems its seems where Peter Black has decided the series of consistent 6's (seats) in Assembly elections is not good enough.

There's only six of them, but they fall in three groups - the pro Mike German, Anti Mike German and those who are yet to jump in public. It seems lile politics of the old left where on occassions we seemed to have more factions than actual people.

Friday, May 04, 2007

PR system needs changing suggests Wigley

Just listening to "Newyddion" (Welsh language news) on S4C and I am sure Wigley has just criticised the system of PR.

Some personal reflection : Having now contested two Assembly elections I have seen Labour gather the highest level of votes in the North Wales region, but end up with no additional seats. This is a little strange for the following reason. After each election members of Plaid Cymru, the Tories and the Lib Dems can all feel some attachment to the Assembly via a North Wales list member(s). In spite of stacking up the support Labour supporters in areas like, the old Caernarfon, and now the new Arfon have no such link. I always felt that was a little unfair.

I don't think Dafydd has much to moan about at least he can talk to his North Wales regional AM. As a Labour supporting elector I have no such option. That does feel comparatively unfair.


12 hours later. I have squeezed in a post election interview with "Hacio" and spent a little time running over the results. While at a glance the final numbers look similar to the position before everyone's election efforts, there have clearly been a number of tense counts all over Wales. However within the numbers we can see there are a number of new faces now facing the challenge of working out the next step for their parties.

I take a rather simple view of this. Rhodri Morgan is our leader, he is popular across political divides and will trust him (and back him) in his decision that I know will follow a period of consultation with those who made in to the new Assembly team and other party colleagues.

4.15am !

Back from the count and watching Rhodri's acceptance speech.

Arfon is disapointing but I can only note how Plaid motivated their vote while we struggled in some key wards.

So Arfon will wake up to a Plaid Cyrmu AM. I offer congratulations to Alun Ffred Jones and wish him, and his children, all the best for the important work ahead.

I will return tomorrow with more detailed thoughts.

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

A helping hand

A member has found a special weapon to help them exercise their democratic right. There is plenty of lead in that pencil.

Over to you !!

So the months of campaigning are over. The shoes are worn out and the leaflets distributed.

It is now over to you. Let us hope people use their votes - democracy requires participation.

Helping democracy ?

Its 2007 and we have all sorts of legislation to help voters reach the polls, including disability legislation. How the hell did Gwynedd Council end up with the following nonsense in a key ward in the city of Bangor ?

Representations have been made, and the Electoral Commission asked to look at situation. They had better put up some damn good signs to help the voters tomorrow.

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Vote Plaid and you can get the Tories confirms Ieaun

E-politix has Plaid's leader seeming to confirm that Plaid will be willing to do a deal with the Tories.

The Guardian on Blair

Th.e Guardian reports that Blair has set date for departure announcement and endorsed Brown,,2069539,00.html

Vote Eaglestone - Get Wigley !

Gareth toook a route that is problematic, but everyone must remember that the best way of securing Wigley's return is to vote Eaglestone in Arfon. As Welsh Labour said

"Gareth Thomas has made it clear that this is not support for Plaid Cyrmu, but for one individual list candidate."There does seem to be a movement in North Wales of "vote Labour, get Wigley" - from those who would like to see Dafydd Wigley as a regional AM."

"Indeed, even members of Plaid Cymru are telling us that they would be prepared to sacrifice Ieuan Wyn Jones or Alun Ffred Jones, in order to see Dafydd Wigley elected."

BBC profile

I have just caught up with the BBC profile of the new constituency of Arfon . I almost got a mention from them, but have less coverage than UKIP's tribal chief !

Must have upset John at some point !!

Rhodri's final lap of Wales

In some ways I felt a certain emotion at welcoming Rhodri to Bangor this morning at the start of his final tour of 2007 campaign (assuming the Assembly does not hit meltdown and dissolve itself !!). This is of course his last full campaign as our First Minister and the warmth shown to him, across the political spectrum, is a rare gift for a politician of his standing.
Here he is working the mic with our final message (big secret it was vote Labour !) and dealing with the media.
Diolch Rhodri mae yn fraint gweithio gyda ti. Thank you Rhodri it is an honour to work with you.