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


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.