Thursday, October 04, 2007

Lord cymrumark?

The entertaining if not always accurate thoughts of oscar blog ( points out I have lost as many elections as Lord Roger I wonder if I might get a place in the house of lords if Plaid decides to start sending people to the great politicians graveyard.....Lord Cymrumark has a certain ring to it....

Thursday, August 02, 2007

Learn something new every day...

I am very grateful to the Owain Glyn Dwr communicates weblong for the following:

"Such is the long historical traditional links of the game of Rugby with Prince Owain Glyndŵr. Indeed, as was recorded by 18th century antiquarian Iolo Morgannwg, It is a little known historical fact that the game of rugby was actually invented by the Welsh - when in 1315, Llywelyn Bren, Lord of Senghenydd, cut off an English tax collector’s head and tossed it to a gathered crowd of local Welsh, who upon being chased by English soldiers, gleefully ran around tossing the unfortunate tax collector’s head to each other until, finally, one of Llywelyn Bren’s sons drop kicked the head over the gate of Caerffili Castle. Thus, not only was the game of Rugby invented in Wales but Caerffili was, indeed, the very first rugby Club (named the Llywelyn Bren XV of course) in the entire world - if not the universe. Tom Brown and Rugby school is no more than an English Imperialist Invention. You don’t believe it? Trust to the truth of Iolo the Remembrancer!"

P.S. Please note I am not in anyway advocating the slaughtering of tax inspectors nor seeking in anyway to undermine their very considerable efforts to raise the revenues we all need etc. Some of my best friends are tax collectors and I have always publicly defended their role. They have often been treated as second class citizens,even in the bible, and should of course enjoy the same opportunities as the rest of us. I hope that clears up any possible misunderstanding.

Monday, July 23, 2007

Going to the pub...

is very educational in Llandudno. Two conversations stood out last week: one I overheard to of the regulars in my local haunt discussing the merits of the single transferable voting system. I have never heard anyone in a pub discuss this in the 28 years I have been visiting the pub.

Two. I was joking that living on the side of the Orme was good news what with all the rain etc. I was told that last time llandudno flooded the water ran down the Orme flooding houses and gardens no more boasting and I am investing in buckets....

Monday, July 09, 2007

As one of the 18....

As I posted below I both spoke and voted against the coalition with Labour. However I am more than happy to accept the decision and came away from National Council in positive mood.

There is a great deal in the document to be excited about and it is vital that Plaid get on with the job of selling our achievements.

We need to focus on communicating what we will bring to the new government to our supporters and the wider public.

The debate was very good natured and served to unify the party around its decision. It was much harder headed than I expected. Although nobody made the point explicitly it is clear that we will enter the coalition to make it work and realise it wont be perfect and we wont get everything we want even if its in the document. However if the Labour party drags its heels on so many issues as to delay real progress the Plaid leadership no that the broader party will support putting Labour into opposition.

Whilst it would be nice to have had a choice between the two deals the political reality is that it would have been impossible for the National Council to push the assembly group into a decision it did not want. It also would not have been a proper choice as the two documents were not drawn up at the same time with the result that the Red/Green document was inevitably better.

Whilst I have become frustrated over the past weeks with some members on the left of Plaid I respect their position and accept that this is by far the easiest option for the party. If we had opted for the Rainbow and it fell apart the damage would have been enormous. If it comes to it I think we can extricate ourselves from this with a lot less damage.
Adam Price an apology.

First rule of public debate: If you have a go at someone and then find out you were wrong, say sorry.

On the post below I suggested "Adam Price and friends" had ensured that we could not have a choice between the "rainbow" and "Red/Green" . In fact it was due to the party rules that had been set out some time ago. Everybody agreed that we need to look at the process to see how it can be improved and I am happy to set the record straight.

In fairness to Adam, whilst revealing he reads this blog, he made no mention of me having a pop at him. Nobody has asked me to apologise but I think it appropriate.

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

7 4 July 7th.

Adam Price set out seven reasons to vote for the Red green deal. He says that its easy to vote no to things but harder to vote yes. It will be impossible for supporters of the "rainbow" to vote yes for the rainbow on Saturday because Adam and friends have made this impossible. Therefore we have to vote no to the "red green" proposal.

Here are seven reasons to vote no:

1. A Parliament and the future of devolution.

The incompetence of the Labour assembly government threatens the whole devolution project. A new Plaid led government would breathe new life into politics in wales and give us a real chance of winning the referendum. The biggest boost to our chances of course is if there is a Tory government in Westminster as more Labour activists will support a parliament. If Gordon Brown wins another term Labour MPs Lords etc will lead the fight against a parliament unless we are running a successful government we will lose.

2. To lead not follow.

Looking at countries that use PR and usually have coalition government a very clear patten emerges. You either lead the government or opposition or take on the role of a junior partner. if you become a junior partner you are stuck with that role. Your party never grows very much and you have no chance of ever leading a government. The evidence is that if Plaid backs the Red green deal we will NEVER get the chance to lead a government. Do we see our future as an adjunct to the Labour party with an ever weakening negotiating position? We should either lead the government or the opposition.

3. The policy programme.

In terms of the things that Plaid wanted the two programmes are very similar. One Wales offers more on housing but under the "Rainbow" we could have taken an axe to the huge number of bodies in the Health Service and local government leeching money from front line services. Another six months to a year in opposition would give us the chance to re-vist the All wales accord and sort out the costings. One Wales offers some nice rhetoric on halting privatisation but the Tories could never have got any privatisation plans through a cabinet dominated by Plaid and the Lib dems.

4. Do you want a Tory V Labour fight in 2011?

Handing the Tories the role of chief opposition is idiotic. The public will see a Labour government in all but name fighting the Tories. We will vanish from sight. Although most of our vote will stay loyal whatever we do we need to hold onto the "anti Labour" vote and the protest vote that will either switch to the Lib dems, peoples voice or stop at home. Opting for the Rainbow would have kept Wales a Plaid Vrs Labour fight as would remaining in opposition.

5. Its time for a change.

When the negotiations started Rhodri Morgan said an opion poll should be held to see what was the preferred option of the public. An ICM poll showed that the Rainbow was the preferred option. Going against the grain of public opinion is sometimes essential in this case it serves no useful purpose.

6. Lack of stability.

Proponents of the deal claim the Lib dems are unstable, cannot be trusted and may have a new leader within a year. The Lib dem assembly group and special conference voted for the rainbow and they served for three years in a coalition despite huge divisions in their ranks.

Who will be first minister in 2009? We dont know as Rhodri Morgan is standing down. All Labour have to do is string us along for two years then their MPs can get a first Minister of their choice. Under Labour's bizarre election process MPs have a huge say in picking the first minsiter. We can bet they will pick an anti Plaid one to dump us now they have divided the "Rainbow" partners thus ensuring the survival of a Labour minority government after 2009.

7. Building the movement.

For Plaid to achive its objectives we have to build a broad based movement that can appeal to all who make their home in Wales. Becoming a small ultra-leftist adjunct to the Labour party will not enable us to do so. A Plaid led government would show the people of Wales that whilst we care deeply about the language, Trident missiles etc we can make a positive difference for everyone who lives in Wales.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

interesting but...

Have now seen the document agreed with Labour.

It has more detail compared with the all Wales acchord. However there is little in it that could not also have gone into the Rainbow agreement. There is some rhetoric about the market in nhs which is nice to see but does not really get us anywhere.

The commitment on the hospitals is vague and still talks about the nonsense of no closures until community services are in place. Most of the services cannot be provided "in the community" the issue is about single site provision and lack of access to services.

There is some vague talk about a governance commission to review the number of bodies governing Wales. Will Labour vote to make their buddies unemployed? Guess we will wait and see.Clearly wales has to many councils and to many bodies looking at the NHs but as most of these are run or set up by Labour its hard to see them being prepared to dismantle them.

There is lots of talk of the need to buld trust. Labour could start by telling us what Lord Kinnock plans to do in a referendum for a welsh parliament or which dungeon they plan to lock him in.:)

The reality as set out below has not changed. Its not a bad programme as such but we will probably become the third party in the assembly in 2011 if wqe agree this.

Red and green should never be seen.....

Sad news as the Plaid assembly group votes to prop up or join a failing and unpopular Labour government. The consequences of this decision will last for a generation unless national council halts the process on July 7th.

Why will I be voting against this proposal at National Council and urging others to do the same.

1. Faced with the choice between being the dominant partner in a coalition and a junior partner you always choose to be the dominant partner in order to control the media agenda which is key to modern government.

2. If the rainbow had been proposed the left would have turned up to national council urging us to remember the 80's the miners strike etc. So the key message is remember 79. In the 79referendum virtually the entire Welsh Labour party campaigned against Labour's policy of an assembly. We are expected to believe that Welsh labour MPs will campaign to reduce the number of MPs. Lord Kinnock attended the meeting of Welsh MPs that told Rhodri to do a deal with the LIb dems instead. Will Labour expell him if he campaigns for a no vote? Of course not nor will they expell their councillors or MPs who do the same. I assume a date has been agreed for the referendum if not what the hell are we playing at. Only the election of a Tory government in westminster would get Labour on board for a yes vote.

3. Becoming a junior partner to labour sends out to very negative messages. a) We cannot manage on our own without a bigger goodbye to independence and goodbye to the idea of a Plaid led government.b) We want a Welsh parliament so we can have permanent Labour government. The message we send out is that we dont want real change in Wales so what is the point in voting?

I am shocked that people on the left of our party will back this nonsese. I work nightshifts stacking shelves in a supermarket for £8 an hour. Most of the people I work with are former Labour voters who stopped voting Labour because their tax money goes to pay for huge numbers of "managers" quangos etc in the public sector and not on service improvements. For self proclaimed "socialists" to support the theft of my colleagues pay to fund 22 Local health Board chief executives £100,000 pa for example would be disgusting. Therefore I look forward to seeing how the new government plans to axe these bodies to free funds for front line services.
If there is no plan then the socialists need to explain themselves.

All in all not a happy day.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Rainbow Warrior

I have waited a while before commenting on the various options open to Plaid and to the internal debate within the party about what happens next. However the time for silence and reflection is over.

Plaid enjoyed a fairly successful election night and the fact that even at their height the Tories cannot overtake us in terms of seats, or even get that close, shows we are firly established as the second party in Wales. So what next?

I find the whole debate quite difficult for one reason only. Although I am not a socialist I often find myself in agreement with the "socialist" wing of the party. In 2003 I spent a lot of time, and money, helping Helen mary Jones in Llanelli (i was living in leicester at the time) and many of the friends I have made in the party are now amongst those who favour a deal with Labour.

I cannot for the life of me understand why it is that people I otherwise have the utmost respect for would prefer to see a Labour first minister rather than a Plaid one. Let us not delude ourselves that there is another choice, following the "no deal" approach favoured by Jill Evans and others (the Peter Black approach :) ) is effectively making a choice of a Labour first minister over a Plaid one and gaining nothing in return.

Going cap in hand to Labour asking for a couple of cabinet seats and a referendum on a partial parliament is deeply unattractive and will send out the wrong message about our party. We urge the people of Wales to have the confidence to shake of britishness and have our own government yet when faced with the choice of leading a government or playing second fiddle to labour the left want the second fiddle option. Its a left wing version of the "welsh cringe". Horrible to behold in people you admire.

A deal with Labour will deliver nothing of value. Rhodri Morgan willl be gone in two years so any long term promises he makes are worthless. It was Labour policy in 1979 to support the Yes campaign in the referendum yet virtually the entire Welsh labour party campaigned against it. The notion that the Labour "campaigning machine" will be thrown behind a "yes" campaign which if successful would reduce the number of MP's Labour sends to Westminster is laughable. Labour will promise much and deliver little just as they did in 1979.

The likely arrival of a Tory government in Westminster will perhaps concentrate the minds of the so called "nationalist" wing of the Labour party. It would be in the interest of a Tory government to have a Welsh parliament and reduce the number of MPs from wales, it would be in the broader Welsh interest to have a parliament to protect it from the worst access of a Tory westminster government and enough people in welsh Labour will see that.

So a "rainbow" it must be. I detect a growing appetite in the party for government and frustration amonsgt activists as to why it is taking so long to deliver. For those that foam at the mouth at the prospect of the Tories supporting a Plaid first minister I ask them do you have a serious alternative? the answer thus far is none.

Social democrats and Christian democrats work together in many parts of europe. The Tories in wales are now much closer to a "christian democrat party" and Plaid is very much in the Social Democrat tradition. The "socialist" left in Plaid is I suspect not as socialist as they proclaim anyway. Is their vision of an independent Wales one in which the state controls every aspect of life? Or is it the one the rest of us share where a government ensures basic needs are met, cultural and language diversity is encouraged,that there are not huge gaps in wealth between individuals, that the market is policed effectively and the environment protected. The vision that all in Plaid can sign up to and not just socialists.