Thursday, July 31, 2008

Donny hits the campaign trail????

Recent profiles have suggested that David Miliband was compared to Donny Osmond in his younger days - I know not. However having missed his appearance with Jeremy Vine I saw the Newnisght coverage. I don't think such things happen by mistake in modern politics. We'll see.

However my advice is still to go on holiday!

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Feeling the heat

It is the ongoing squeeze on energy prices which shows the heat will not go away, and how the same impacts would affect any colour of Government at present. I'll hazard a guess that returning energy to the public sector is not likely on any foreseeable time horizon and so we must get used to higher energy prices.

While this undoubtedly will make many more people conscious of energy efficiency (a good thing) there are many who will struggle, or some elderly who will perceive a need to not use energy even when necessary for their well being.

Energy supply and food production have come back with a vengance.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Its the silly season

As Ordovicius himself admits in a post here it is the 'silly season'. Well after the time in Warwick I have been catching up on Welsh blogging over the last week and I found another example of the silly season here.
It seems I have changed allegiance and joined Llais Gwynedd. Must say I didn't notice and will have to update my membership!
It strikes me there is a strangely intolerant streak in some nationalist blogs who feel they can dish it out at will, but when voices are raised in criticism or opposition it gets a bit uncomfortable. Some things said by Llais Gwynedd have struck a chord, as have some things said by other political groups/parties, but that can hardly equate to switching allegiance.
I assume this outburst was prompted by welcoming Gwilym Euros to the world of blogging. Orovicius must learn blogging is a tolerant world of many different views.

Not totally sure on this one Ffred

The new Culture Minister has weighed in to the Olympics. Part of his rationale being :

"If money is taken out then to promote one activity in one specific area then I think that is wrong."

Well does that principle not equally apply to the Ryder Cup in Wales, or any site of excellence that we might choose to promote. The Millennium Centre or the National Botanic Gardens being other potential examples. Do they not receive funding to "promote one activity in one specific area".

So the Olympics is perhaps a larger scale version but it is a rare visit that it makes to the UK. My expectation would be to see Lottery funds prioritised to nations ans regions after the Olympics so we can catch up with any monies 'lost' in the build up to 2012.

The Minsiters energy might be better used driving for every possible positive spin off from the Games and the associated activity.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Go on your holidays........

My advice to Labour MPs is to head off on their holidays and stop the speculative discussion over Gordon Brown. The Party and the Government need a period of respite over the Summer so that a process of rebuilding is available over the winter in preparation for the Euro elections next year. (yes the next elections are not that far away..).
Having been at the Warwick negotiations over the weekend it seems that we have a platform of ideas ready for the next election and to take forward our work in the coming years. Leadership debates and the nonsense about 'union power', so beloved by the media, are distractions. Effective government is the best solution.
Does anyone truly believe that the country would go back to the 70's? (Tory placards in Warwick!!).Nonsense.
So have nice holidays, recharge your batteries and come back fresh to move us forward. Meanwhile us humble workers will still be at our desks etc.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Hard work goes on.

A break in postings as I was one of those people locked away at the University of Warwick hammering out key issue for the next manifesto. My biggest reflection is that, in spite of the dark political clouds which have gathered, the National Policy Forum went about its business in a very serious and hard headed manner. Yes lots of late night negotiations and agreements to be reached but the NPF did manage to complete its business in the face of intense political and bureaucratic pressures. Thousands of amendments, endless meetings to seek concensus and a final session to vote on outstanding amendments. All Party's have a debt of gratitude for their staff - Labour has an incredible thank you to its staff this weekend and they got a standing ovation for their effort (and lack of sleep).
Of course I have little doubt the papers want a "Brown caves in" or "Party split" headline. It didn't happen, whatever is written. The Forum signed up to the documents ready for conference in September.
So lets get back to governance and running the country.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

"No stickiness of any significance"

It is little phrases like this which make me wonder whether I missed my vocation in the media (misspillings and all!).

Why faced with a minor security breach would people wish to comment on "no stickiness of any significance". Very strange.

What if it had been significant ? A real sticky situation......

Minor stickiness ? A mild pasting ......

It could go on and on.

"Feast" of football

We could hardly contain our excitement as the grass grew in Shropshire. Anyway having gone 2-0 down, and sent some of us to the bar, the Baggies woke up and ended up with a pre season 2-2 draw. The joys of pre season football ...........

Tuesday, July 22, 2008


The appointment of a local politician to a Cabinet deserves recognition. So llongyfarchiadau to Alun Ffred Jones AM on his appointment to the Assembly Government.

Over Offa's Dyke.......

Yes the fever has struck and no time for that serious political blogging. Shrewsbury beckons tonight as the mighty Baggies continue the build up to the new Premiership season ..............

Monday, July 21, 2008

Cangen Bontnewydd in a froth

Welfare reform has always been a difficult subject. There are a generation of Labour activists (myself included) who find it difficult to move beyond the Tebbit/Thatcher years and who have a twitch when Labour enter this territory.
Yet over recent years we have worked hard to create a spirit in which being available for work, and overcoming the perils of inactivity, have been challenged in creative ways. Being active is good for any number of reasons and steps to promote activity I will support.
So the knee jerk reaction of Bontnewydd Plaid Cymru (for which we can read Rhydian) is perhaps not fully balanced, but will no doubt fire up Hywel Williams campaigning for the coming months.
These proposals have a long way to go. It is strange that a "Green Paper" should generate such hostiity and Rhydian will be aware that many a rough edge will be removed before we get to the "Act". This could be an interesting debate for some time to come.

Bangor at leading edge

Pleasing to see the research monies awarded to Bangor University to help learn more about climate change. Bangor has a number of leading edge subjects and being part of this network can only help develop the knowledge and research base in North West Wales.
Anyone considering their future career prospects whether on a local, national or global scale could do worse than the "environment" whether climate change, oceans, design, architecture, planning or design.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Parademics ready!

Due to a work commitment I did not make my annual appearance in the village 10k run earlier this month (phew!!). But the time has come to face my fears, dust down the trainers and start preparing for a 10k on Anglesey in September (not the marathon!).

So yet more competition for precious time - but this one will hopefully have more health benefits than blogging.

Paramedics get ready ...........

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Time for Ffred?

Political and life incidents can hit us all in different ways and the resignation of Culture Minister Rhodri Glyn leaves me a little confused. It is difficult not to assume there is more to it than meets the eye and I wish him all the best. Everyone is in trouble if Ministers have to resign bcause of "gaffes"- we are only human after all.

Let us also hope Alun Ffred Jones has his house in order if he is to step forward as the new Minister.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Back to work - football

So back to the job but so many e-mails. Is this the modern plague of working life. We have stopped talking and just e-mail each other!

Anyway the Baggies are doing the bizz and strengthening the defence. Good news.

So after a hectic week the pub will win tonight. Short posting as a result!

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Croeso Gwilym

Croeso to Gwilym Euros Roberts the Llais Gwynedd councillor in Gwynedd. Juding by some of the insults already in blog land by Plaid Cymru supporters this might prove interesting. Amdani Gwilym!

Day 2

So back to the picket line at 7am for day two of the local government pay dispute. Am I alone in thinking the media and public tone leans to the sympathetic ? A few reflections:
a) a two day strike is not the point in itself,
b) the level of support has taken employers by surprise,
c) more stayed away on day 2 than day 1,
d) it is a means to an end (i.e a better pay rise than 2.45%)
e) the will be resolved by talking , not striking,
f) the employers have to agree to hold talks to review their previous "final offer" to allow the wheels to turn,
The more action that is forced on employees the higher the final settlement bar will rise - my advice to the employers (and any government Minister passing by this blog) is get the wheels moving soon.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

2.45% - no thanks

So across Wales council workers have put up their picket lines, closed civic centres, many schools etc in protest at the local government employers "final offer" of 2.45% . The effect seems to have been significant and a further day of action takes place tomorrow. Pictured are a couple of shots from Llangefni and the pickets outside the council HQ.
So I hear you shout what about the politics of this ? Well I think it is a dispute that should have been avoided. For not significant amounts, enough could have been done to make people feel a touch more comfortable and, as inflation has risen, 2.45% does not look too clever.But the politics also includes the fact that the council employers now have a significant Tory voice and I wonder do they want to settle or drag Brown/Labour in to the battle?.
If I was the relevant Westminster Minister - this is not a devolved issue - I would ask people to get round the table, see this year in the context of a three year pay deal (rather than a one off) and bring extra money in to year one.
But I'm not the negotiator so I have to see how the employers respond after two days of dispute.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

The cheque book is out....

With moves for new goal keeper afoot the Baggies are also strengthening other areas of defence. It was the most worrying aspect of last season - lots of goals scored, but lots conceded.

Eve of a strike

Wednesday and Thursday will see industrial action by UNISON members over the pay negotiations in local government for England and Wales. Members voted to reject the "final offer" and action remains the final tool to persuade the employers that council workers require a larger increase. I hope to bring you pictures from the picket line.
I hope there are not many dissenting voices in this organisation!

"Planning Aid Wales"

Town and country planning can be a bemusing topic full of regulations, procedures and professional jargon (this last characterictic not being confined to planning!) so I was pleased to travel to the Senedd yesterday for the launch of Planning Aid Wales new website and AGM. The offering of support and advice to community and disadvantged groups, town and community councils and others is very important, and empowering people vital to the health of democracy.
So the next time you face a major planning issue and are looking for advice and support consider Planning Aid Wales.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Impact of blogging

The Observer runs another of the stories about bloggers impacting on"mainstream" writers, this time fears for the future of "critics". These are amusing little stories, but as far as I can see informed opinion will always have a role while newspapers continue to survive. That is perhpas the bigger challenge as we have entered the blackberry/ipod age.
In spite of the depth and breath of material accessible via the web there remains something reassuring about picking up a newspaper and happily skimming/reading at will. It is also convenient to carry round and disposed of (recycled of course) at moment of choosing.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Footbal happiness ......

Yes I accept it is not earth shattering news, and the 08/09 football season is still some weeks away, but I can't help smiling at the news that the 2008-2009 season on Sky Sports will start with the Arsenal v WBA game. Yes, Sky need the quality teams on the box to get the season off to a flying start, and obviously to maximise the advertising revenue with the Baggies global brand!

Tom Bodden of the Daily Post will already be quaking at the 2nd game - WBA v Everton as the aggregate score in the Baggies last Premiership season was 6-2 to the Albion (I don't often mention that useless fact in front of the Blue noses in my house!).

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Passing the torch!!!

We all have moments in life when the baton is passed to the next generation and we have to face our mortality! This week I have reflected on my eldest daughter attending a festival with her friends (Wakestock) and 'Dad' not being there.

I had my youth at Donnington Park, various Apollos, Stafford Bingley Hall, Thin Lizy, AC/DC etc.

The torch of youth has passed on - it is time for my slippers and a glass of port.............

Hope someone knows the answers!

When a fundamental political question is asked I think it helps if someone has some idea of the possible answer. Reviewing the Barnett formula became a mantra that formed part of the One Wales agreement. With the chair being announced I hope that we know the direction of travel.

A review that ends up in Whitehall/Cariff Bay impasse will help no one and cost taxpayers in Wales a few quid in the process. So I hope we have pragmatic thinkers to help the forthcoming review, who can negotiate a good deal. I must check who is the union rep on the group!

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Look over your shoulder Don

There are a number of things that could be concerning Labour MPs at present, and a focus on some big UK issues is advisable as we seek to address the global credit crunch, downturn in the UK economy, pay disputes needing some government intervention, a big by election in Scotland, all might be good things to start with.

Quite why Don Touhig should let rip at the One Wales Government as one year passes by is therefore a little strange, if not out of character. Don the Welsh party voted for the One Wales government, they are going about their business and I was not aware that Edwina Hart, Jane Davidson and others were not making their mark.

Sometimes it does not help to stand in the green house throwing stones!

Monday, July 07, 2008

Rural housing

An interesting consultation was today issued by Minister Jane Davidson regarding several elements of housing policy for rural Wales. It has both a political and professional interest and is certain to get a number of lobby groups hot under the collar.
Not yet policy, but following consultation changes to national policy are proposed. Some worthy principles around succession planning in farming, affordable homes etc. It will be interesting to see how 'planning' copes with the consequences of what I feel is potentially a significant shift in policy, with the outcome largely in the hands of Wales planning authorities, not the Minister.
Ponderosa a go-go or sensible planned reaction. We`wait to see !

Sunday, July 06, 2008

Glasgow, Labour policy and all that stuff

For those journalists who have not foreseen this yet then let us pick up an interesting link from all the speculation about Labour's forthcoming by election in Glasgow East. I have to admit that I am finding the thirst for damaging Brown quite mystifying but I suppose there is long evidence that an element of politics is often driven by the 'smell of blood'.
Anyway the interesting link is that on the morning (and weekend) after the Glasgow result many of Labour's representatives will gather in the 'National Policy Forum' to start finalising policy for the next Westminster election. As one of the reps for Wales I'l be in attendance and have spent recent days working through the headaches of paperwork such a role brings. Hence blogging was a little quiet midweek.
A by election victory will give some fresh opportunity to focus on the policy debate of the coming years, but another defeat will provide lots of distraction from talking about the future to the electoral issues of the here and now.

Saturday, July 05, 2008

From health to high jinks!

So while people gathered on a hill in Tredegar to remember Bevan's great act Y Felinheli had its annual carnival day. Dodging the showers and basking in periods of sun it seems good fun has been had by all. Thanks to the organisers.


On the 60th anniversary of the NHS this seems a suitable way of saying thanks to the founding father. I am pleased to see UNISON is a sponsor given the union's membership in the NHS.

I suppose we all have ways to be thankful for the unique qualities of the NHS. I would simply like to say thank you to all those staff who serve us all in times of need.