Political boffin, keen fisherman looking forward to retirement.

Friday, March 30, 2007

Blair to go May the 2nd

Previously this blog has predicted that Blair will start briefing his departure on May the 4th in order to keep Labour's disastrous elections on May the 3rd off the news. Wales Elects blogs that Blair has pencilled in an interview for May the 2nd with the Sun - which it interprets as the big day.

The words 'desperate' and 'Labour' come to mind.

Thursday, March 29, 2007

Tories and the Welsh Way?

The Tories have launched their Assembly election manifesto promising a Welsh Way. Why did they therefore have to send in the cavalry from London in the shape of the boy Cameron?

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

More Labour Negative Campaigning

Right on cue, Wales' own blogespondent reports that labour are now claiming that an independent Wales would be kicked out of the EU. We've heard it all before of course, nothing new here but an usual Labour scare tactic - it's about as new as stale bread.

The assumption is ridiculous of course - if the UK broke up the transition would be seamless. Can anyone remember the difficulty Greenland had in getting out?

Labour's argument is based on the assumption that the Member State, ie the UK, would continue in the event of Scottish or Welsh independence. That presumption is incoherent - i thought the main plank of unionist thought was that all three nations were equal parts. Therefore if one component part decided to grasp its destiny all three would have to reapply. if this isn't the case then Wales or Scotland isn't an equal component.

New Labour when in trouble will always resort to Welsh bashing and talk Wales down. the slight problem they face is that there is a growing sense of confidence amongst the people of Wales. Labour has had its day.

Plaid Manifesto Launch

Yet again Plaid seems to be setting the agenda. They are the first to publish their manifesto, outlining a range of exciting new policies.
On top of the 7 4 ’07 main pledges the party announced new policies such as a national living wage for public sector workers is especially welcome when considering the anti public sector policies of the Government.

The response of the London parties was typical. All three questioned costings. It’s typical London party response of course – whatever the policy. The London parties would make more milage if they tried to debate the issues, but they know they have been caught flat footed to date.
A lot can happen in five weeks of course, but it does seen that Plaid has the wind in their sails. Look out for dirty tricks and more negative campaigning from the London parties as they desperately try and catch up.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Labour’s latest Insult to Welsh Workers

Department of Constitutional Affairs proposals to introduce a differentional regional pay system for court workers has very worrying consequences not only for Welsh public sector workers but for the Welsh economy as a whole.

Preserving uniformity of public sector pay is a principle that must be protected at all costs. Not only is it immoral for the State to pay workers from one part of the UK less for doing the same job, but as the PCS points out it would exacerbate the north – south economic divide.

Wales is particularly at risk as firstly we have a higher proportion of public sector jobs as a percentage of our economic make up than other parts of the UK. And also invariably Welsh workers would be at the bottom of the pay scale.

This Chancellor is responsible for core economic and fiscal policies which have exacerbated the regional wealth inequalities. Yet again we witness how Wales comes bottom of Labour’s priorities.

Monday, March 26, 2007

Plaid on the Move

After a hugely successful spring Conference, Plaid is really looking in good shape for the Assembly elections. Here’s their second election poster – one which portrays the lack of vision of the current Labour Administration.

Here’s a link to an unofficial Plaid broadcast on you tube, and don’t forget the official broadcast on the box tonight which has had such a good write up in the Western Mail today.

update - watch the official Plaid broadcasts here:

Saturday, March 24, 2007

Lib Dems Election Gaffe

The first major election cock up falls to Charles Kennedy and the Lib Dems. On a visit to the Airbus plant in North Wales, Mr Kennedy was full of praise. Only problem, the workers were out on strike over terms and consitions.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Bank of England and Government Began Debt Crisis on Purpose

If anyone needs any confirmation on the cynical dealings of this Chancellor and the Bank of England look no further than the admission of the former Governor of the BoE, Eddie George, that the Monetary Policy Committee deliberately created the fiscal climate for hyper inflation in the housing market and record unsecured debt.

The reasoning is quite obvious, a few years into the newly elected New Labour Government, the UK economy faced recession which was the commonplace in the rest of the Eurozone and the US. Needless to say a recession within the first few years of a newly elected Labour government would have been disastrous for the party.

In a cynical move to boost consumer spending, the Bank of England clearly led by the Treasury, dropped interests rates to stimulate mortgage and credit card borrowing. There was a double whammy of course as property prices rocketed, house owners eager to access equity in their homes borrowed and hence spent more.

Before Labour apologists start harping on about the ‘independence of the Bank of England’ the whole scam was compounded by the decision of the Treasury to change the way inflation was calculated from a more broad based formula to one based on consumer prices. This means that official 'inflation' in the UK has remained low which has sustained lower interest rates and fuelled the borrowing frenzy.

The result is clearly unsustainable, personal unsecured borrowing in the UK is remarkably over £3 trillion. House prices are totally out of proportion – with first time buyers priced out of the market.

It really has been a case of haves and have nots under Labour. There has been wealth redistribution, but from people without property to those lucky enough to own their own homes.

Just goes to show the skewed priorities of Labour – most people in the UK are up to their neck in debt, yet city bonuses have reached record levels.

Correction in the economy is inevitable, inflation is currently on the rise and interest rates will have to follow. The Chancellor knows the economy is living on borrowed time, especially since things aren’t looking to clever across the Atlantic. No wonder he’s in such a rush to get to number 10.

Labour's Can't Deliver their Main Electin Pledge

  1. It’s finally been exposed, Labour can’t deliver their main election pledge. I chanced upon this press notice by Child Poverty campaigners:

    >CPAG Press Release
    >Thursday 15th March 2007
    >For immediate release
    >Commenting on today's announcement by Plaid Cymru of their commitment to
    >the target of ending child poverty by 2020, Kate Green, Chief Executive
    >of Child Poverty Action Group, said:
    >"Plaid's commitment to ending child poverty by 2020 is excellent news
    >and strengthens the growing political consensus that is needed to
    >achieve it.
    >"Despite improvements in recent years, there are still 1 in 4 children
    >in poverty in Wales. Although many of the key decisions needed to end
    >child poverty will be taken in Westminster
    , the target is unlikely to be
    >met without the active commitment of the Welsh Assembly.
    >"We particularly welcome Plaid's recognition that the Government will
    >not meet the target on current policies, so addressing inequality and
    >measures like Plaid's commitment to universal affordable child care will
    >be needed. We hope all parties in the Welsh election will engage in the
    >debate on the new policies needed to end child poverty."
    >Notes to editors
    >* CPAG is a member of the Campaign to End Child Poverty.
    Child poverty campaigners have published a ten point plan which are:

    The Ten Point Plan of the Child Poverty Action Group is:
    All political parties to commit to eradicate child poverty
    Poverty proof policies – make each consistent with eradicating child poverty
    Uprate the combined value of child tax credits and child benefit at least in line with the fastest growing of either prices or earnings. The element of this that is child benefit ought to be maximised
    Increase adult payments within income support in line with those for children
    Reform the administration of tax credits and benefits – ensure they provide the right amount to the right people at the right time
    Ensure all children have full access to the requirements – meals, uniforms and activities – of their education
    Provide benefit entitlements to all UK residents equally, irrespective of immigration status
    Work towards better jobs, not just more jobs
    Introduce free at the point of delivery, good quality universal childcare
    Reduce the disproportionate burden of taxation on poorer families

    Over half of these can only be delivered by London as the last time I looked the Assembly didn’t have powers over the benefits or the taxation system. Plaid’s claim that it’s disingenuous for Labour to give the impression that this can be delivered at Assembly level is more than fair.

    With so much dependant upon what happens in Westminster, what would happen to child poverty levels in Wales if the Tories took control? Their policy on skewing the tax system in favour of married families would have a disastrous effect in Wales – the only country in Western Europe where most children are born outside marriage!

    Plaid is committed to the 20/20 target that is why we are pledging to introduce universal affordable childcare – a policy that the Assembly can deliver and which is identified within the ten point plan of anti child poverty campaigners. The commitment to the 20/20 pledge was done by the Parliamentary group as a part of the party’s alternative budget. A recognition that that’s where the real power lies to deal with this issue.

    Looks like another undeliverable election pledge to me – a seemingly proud Labour tradition.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Ian Titherington blogs

Plaid's Swansea West Candidate has started blogging. Ian is head of Plaid's Trade Union section - Undeb. A committed anti fascist campaigner Ian is making some big waves in Swansea West - no surprise as he is known to be a keen surfer.

Monday, March 19, 2007

New Labour and the Politics of Fear

Below is an article in the Scotsman in relation to Labour's negative campaigning there. We are witnessing the same thing in Wales, perhaps the Scotsman article will provide an insight to Labour's (lack of) strategy here.

How can Labour combat SNP's political blitzkrieg?
EVERY SNP activist in the country has received a glossy, colour calendar wall chart from party headquarters, setting out a detailed, day-by-day timetable for the election campaign.
Destined to become a feature on the wall of every campaign office the party hold, the chart shows every important event of the campaign, from the dates of party election broadcasts to the timing of postal vote forms being dispatched.

It will
allow the local campaigns to chase up every possible vote and, more importantly,
enable the SNP to run a co-ordinated campaign throughout the country, with all
local branches following the same overall pattern but adapting it to local
This is
just one of a number of Nationalist innovations that have left Labour trailing.
Party managers have planned this campaign like a chess game. They want to be at
least one move, hopefully more, ahead of Labour at every stage - and that is
what has happened.
Last week
was a case in point. The Nationalists were preparing for their spring
conference, their last real attempt to finalise campaign plans and generate
publicity and funds. Labour, on the other hand, wanted to overshadow the SNP
conference, so Tony Blair came to Scotland to deliver a harsh
anti-independence warning to Scottish business.
But the
Nationalists were already a step ahead. Alex Salmond knew Sir George Mathewson,
the former chairman of the Royal Bank of Scotland, wanted
to declare his support for the SNP, so Mr Salmond managed to co-ordinate Sir
George's bombshell announcement in The Scotsman with the morning of the Prime
Minister's visit.
Mr Blair
was caught out, he had to go on the defensive and ended up attacking Sir George
himself, rather than the SNP. It was one-nil to the Nationalists before they had
even started their conference. But Mr Salmond wasn't content with that, he had
another trick. Brian Souter, the Stagecoach millionaire, had told Mr Salmond
several weeks ago that he wanted to donate a sizeable amount of cash to the
campaign, but the SNP leader kept this quiet, and kept Mr Souter in the wings.
Saturday, Mr Souter and his massive £500,000 donation were unveiled, giving the
SNP the best possible publicity for its conference, dominating the agenda for
the weekend and building on the impression, started by Sir George, that there
was now real momentum in generating business backing.
It has been
like this for the past eight months. It is as if Mr Salmond's party has planned
its campaign with military efficiency and, at every turn, Labour is being forced
into reacting rather than leading the agenda. The SNP has a clear, and clever,
strategy, to use Mr Salmond's name on every ballot paper to exploit the
proportional representation system to the full. Labour has nothing similar.
The SNP has
developed the most advanced internet database system ever used in British
politics to target voters with pinpoint accuracy: Labour has not. And the SNP
has £1.3 million in its election war chest, with a target of raising £1.75
million: Jack McConnell will fight the election with between £750,000 and £1
Part of
this organisational success comes from fear, even desperation. SNP leaders know
this election is their best chance ever and if they fail this time, serious
questions will be asked as to whether they will ever do it. This fear of
failure, aware that they will never have a better chance of beating Labour, is
driving them on in a way that Labour cannot even contemplate after two terms in
Edinburgh and mid-way through a third term in London.
Cracks are
already starting to show in the Labour campaign. One member of the Chancellor's
team made it clear, last week, that this was Jack McConnell's campaign. "It
always has been," the source said. And if the blame game is starting already in
the Labour campaign, it really is in trouble.
Labour has
been accused of being negative but, in truth, this is not new for a party in
power. It is hard to sell the "vision thing" when you have been in power for two
terms and the public is getting a little tired of you.
"And, if
you do try to promote a new vision, the electorate has the right to ask: "Why
didn't you come up with this before?" So Labour has fallen back on the tried and
tested strategy of engendering fear. Its latest campaign slogan says nothing
about Labour and everything about the Nationalists' agenda: "Break up
Britain and end up broke." This is a
variation on its "Divorce is an expensive business" slogan from the last
election and, at its core, has an assertion that families would face increased
taxes of more than £5,000 a year under independence. Of all Labour's campaign
tactics, this has the most chance of success, simply because it goes to the
heart of what voters fear most - being taxed more. But it is still negative and
it contrasts badly with the SNP's "It's time" message.
Most people
will vote on gut feeling about the politicians running the country, and this is
Labour's problem. Many traditional Labour supporters feel uneasy about the
governments in Holyrood and Westminster and will either find someone else
to vote for - with the nationalist vote the most likely channel of expression
for this protest - or will stay at home.
This is why
Labour has gone negative. It needs to scare voters to such an extent that, above
all, they vote against the SNP, rather than for Labour.
The smiles
at the Glasgow Science Centre yesterday were as big as the Clyde because SNP strategists know that, if they enter the
final weeks of the campaign ahead of Labour, it will be hard for them to lose
that lead by polling day.
But they
also know they have a huge gap to make up. The SNP has only half as many seats
as Labour in the Scottish Parliament. It has to recover the ground it lost to
Labour in 2003, and it has never managed to worry Labour in its central and west
of Scotland heartlands.
Labour has
been losing ground for the past eight months but it has a long way to go before
it loses the election.
So far, the
SNP is doing everything right: it is setting the political agenda, it is
dominating the news agenda and it has not - as yet - made any gaffes of the sort
which crippled its campaign in 1999.
So far, for
the first time in a Scottish election, Scotland's nationalist party is ahead
in every area, including finance, and Labour is playing catch-up. Both parties
are in uncharted waters and the election will ultimately be decided on how each

Miners Compensation - the Great New Labour Lie

It must be election time when Labour politicians start trumpeting compensation payments to former NCB miners for respiratory diseases caused by working underground. What Labour politicians don’t tell you of course is that these payments were only awarded after the newly elected Labour Government in 1997 was defeated in the courts by NACODS South Wales.

It is really scrapping the barrel to claim credit for something when you were dragged kicking and screaming through the courts. Here’s a little question for Labour politicians, if you are so concerned with awarding compensation to miners for the terrible injuries sustained whilst working for the NCB, why don’t you address an anomaly in the initial case and include surface mineworkers in the compensation scheme?

The case is clear; many surface mineworkers worked in the washeries and were probably subjected to dustier conditions than those underground, yet Labour has done nothing to ensure these workers are eligible for rightful compensation.

Why don’t the unions go to court I hear you ask. Following the original court loss the government has made it far harder for class actions of the sort to be won. In the case of surface mineworkers, the Labour Government is refusing to safeguard any claimant from prosecution costs should they lose. The threat of having millions of pounds worth of Government defence costs as a liability is enough to hinder any further compensation claim.

This is nothing less than bullying by Labour. The very least the Government should do is waver costs and let this issue be resolved by the Courts. With the way Labour are harping on about the current scheme you would think that they would just include surface mineworkers in the scheme as an act of good faith and be done with it.

Saturday, March 17, 2007

Da iawn Cymru

Da iawn bois, canlyniad arbennig. Mae'r ffin rhwng ennill a cholli ar y lefel uchaf mor fach. Gobeithio nawr bydd y genedl gyfan yn rhoi cefnogaeth i'r tim a'r rheolwr Gareth Jenkins wrth i ni baratoi ar gyfer cwpan y Byd. Er ei fod o wedi bod yn dymor siomedig, yr unig gem i Gymru chwarae yn wael dost oedd yn erbyn yn yr Alban.

Gyda bach o lwc Lloegr bydd ein gwrthwynebwyr yn yr wyth olaf. Bydd buddigoliaeth heddiw yn sbardun seicolegol pwysig ar gyfer y gem hynny.
Gobeithio geiff Gymru buddigoliaeth arall ar Fai'r 3ydd!!!

Friday, March 16, 2007

Plaid to win Swansea West?

Sources inform me that things are looking good for Plaid in Swansea West in what could be the shock result of the election.

The current incumbent Andrew Davies has been trying to make a name for himself of late with sensationalist attacks on Plaid. Political commentators have viewed this as an early Labour leadership bid – but could his Plaid bashing have more to do with more immediate concerns.

He has a majority of only around 3,000 and is up against Ian Titherington who is a bit of a local hero. Plaid are really turning the screw against Labour’s decision to move neurosurgery to Cardiff in what looks like being the defining issue for the whole Swansea area.

Game on as they say!

Labour Block Steelworkers Compensation

We are all familiar with Labour’s attempt to rewrite history as the deliverers of miners’ respiratory compensation despite being forced into awarding compensation by the Courts. The Department of Work and Pensions are now challenging a High Court Ruling that awarded compensation to the 1,000 former ASW steel workers in Cardiff, who lost all their pension entitlements when the company went bust in 2002.

It was Plaid star Adam Price that discovered the European legislation that showed that the Government had been neglecting its duty. It’s a disgrace that the Labour Government instead of accepting its responsibilities is dragging the issue through every legal avenue. Former ASW employees and other workers who have lost their pension entitlements through no fault of their own deserve better.

You wouldn’t expect anything else from a party reliant on the funding of asset strippers.

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Windfall Tax on Bank Profits

The fat cat culture of the square mile has really gone through the roof under New Labour, unsurprising really from a party that now believes that wealth creation is far more important than wealth redistribution – and accepts Thatcherite individualism as fact.

City bonuses for FTSE CEO’s topped £9bn last year, and the average boss now earns over a 100 times than an average worker.

The UK’s top five banks (HSBC, Royal Banks of Scotland, HBOS, Barclays, Lloyds TSB) posted combined record profits of £38bn last year. A remarkable sum which has quite rightly drawn much criticism from consumer groups about punitive charges and low gains on savings.

I am delighted therefore to see Plaid Cymru proposing a windfall tax on these profits as part of its alternative budget proposals, especially as New Labour refuse to implement such a policy for the banking sector.

In 2000 the Treasury commissioned a report by Don Cruickshank to investigate banking profits. The report concluded that banks at that time were making ‘super normal’ profits to the tune of £3-5bn.

It’s about time those still in the Labour party that harp on about socialism wake up and smell the bacon. Whilst Labour kowtow to big business, at least Plaid is wiling to tackle the greed and excesses of the square mile which is having such a distorting effect on the UK economy as a whole.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Global Warming & Trident – The Great Contradiction

This week’s news agenda has been dominated by two issues. The London parties have been in a frenzy to try and claim the green agenda as their own with the Tories and Labour making some grand announcements. The other big story is Trident.

The Times today runs a very interesting cartoon depicting the great contradiction in the position of the Tories and Labour in particular. On the one hand they are trying to save the planet with greener policies. Yet when it comes to weapons that can destroy the world at a touch of a button, both Cameron and Blair/Brown have no problem in making the case. Even the Lib Dems, in typical fence sitting style, won’t rule out renewing Trident.

The proponents of nuclear weapons need to answer one thing. On what basis would these weapons be used? If for instance a terrorist cell planted a dirty bomb in London, who would the Government retaliate against? The very nature of a terrorist cell is that it is not nation state aligned – the 7 07 bombers for instance were UK citizens – so what would be the retaliation of the UK Government? To nuke the city the terrorists came from, even if it was a UK city? The whole thing is totally insane. If they decided to attack a city in the Middle East the terrorist would have achieved their objective, polarising opinion in the region in favour of the ideology of the terrorists. The fact of the matter is that the nuclear deterrent can not work against terrorism – which the Government admits is the major security threat to these islands.

Proponents of nuclear weapons claim it is an insurance policy, however it can only ‘work’ on a nation state v nation state basis. Many of us would argue that the fact that there wasn’t a nuclear catastrophe during the cold war was down to pure luck rather than design, Gorbachev and Regan subscribe to that and they know what they are talking about.

Say for instance Iran developed a nuclear weapon, they would then still have to find a way of delivering the device via an intercontinental missile to the UK. They are nowhere near being able to develop delivery devices of that kind. The UK Government should know, we are dependent upon the US technology to deliver any nuclear weapons if we decided to use them.

The whole debate is about the vanity of Blair and the cowardice of Brown. Blair wants to secure his legacy and Brown who wants this issue out of the way before his watch. How pathetic the Labour party has become.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Tim Criced Cymreig

Fel cefnogwr criced brwd rwy’n croesawu galwad Plaid Cymru heddiw dros tim Cymreig ar gyfer cystadleuaeth Cwpan y Byd.

Fe fydd gan yr Alban, Iwerddon, Canada, Bermuda, a’r Iseldireoedd timoedd yn cystadlu yn y pencampwriaeth sy’n dechrau heddiw. O ystyried fod yna traddodiad llawer cryfach yng Nghymru, dw i methu deall pam nid oes tim gyda ni yn cystadlu.

Y ddadl yw bod yr ECB (England and Wales Cricket Board) un un gorff, on dos bosib gyda bach o synwhyr cyffredin fe fydd yr ICC a’r ECB yn medru dod i gytundeb gyda galliogu tim Cymreig i gystadlu heb peryglu statws Morgannwg na gem y llidw yng Ngherddi Soffia.

Fe chwareodd tim o Gymru yng nghwpan yr ICC yn y 70au, felly does dim rheswm yn fy nhyb i pam na allai tim o Gymru bod yn chwarae yn y cwpan y byd yma. Mae yna cynsail hanesyddol hollol glir.

Oherwydd y sefyllfa presennol ni fydd un cymro yn chwarae yn y pencampwriaeth. Dychmygwch yr hwb byddai tim Cymreig yn cael ar dablygiad criced yng Nghymru – os bosib hynny ddylai bod ar flaen meddwl y sawl sy’n gweinyddu’r gem.

Monday, March 12, 2007

Trident 2

Nigel Griffiths, the Deputy Leader of the House of Commons has resigned today with a "heavy heart but a clear conscious".

The question is how many more will go before Wednesday. Stephen Pound and Jim Devine are others said to be considering their position within the government.

What's clear is that there will be a Parliamentary Labour party rebellion on Wednesday of sufficient magnitude to force the Government to rely on Tory votes to get them through. What a fitting epitaph for the Blair regime in its final days.

Sunday, March 11, 2007


The debate over whether or not to waste billions on a new nuclear deterrent will dominate Parliamentary politics this week. We will undoubtedly be bombarded by the propaganda of the London hierarchy that a new Trident system is essential for our security – whilst the same politicians preach that small cell terrorism is the major threat facing these islands. Quite how you fight terrorism with nuclear weapons aimed at collective destruction is beyond my understanding.

Undoubtedly if the Government win the vote they will be breaking international law. Any new commitment to Trident will inevitably conflict with our obligations under the nuclear non proliferation treaty.

Below is a letter Mikhail Gorbachev sent to the Times last week. It gives a clear indication of the lunacy with which most of the world views the obsession of the London political elite with proceeding with a new nuclear system at this particular juncture. Remember this is a guy who has had his finger on the button of the world’s second largest nuclear arsenal.

Sir, I want to express my concern over the intention of Tony Blair’s Government to replace the British nuclear arsenal with a new generation of nuclear weapons.
This is happening in an alarming setting: the process of reducing the nuclear arms of the US and Russia has stalled; the negotiations on these issues are virtually frozen. Prominent US political leaders — George Shultz, Henry Kissinger, William Perry and Sam Nunn — have expressed concern over this situation and made specific proposals toward ridding the world of nuclear weapons; President Putin has urged George Bush to negotiate a new agreement to replace the START Treaty.
There is a real danger of proliferation of nuclear weapons. A few days ago, IAEA head Mohamed ElBaradei stated that the agency can provide no assurance as to the absence of undeclared nuclear activities in 30 countries that have not signed safeguards agreements, adding that many states have been slow to conclude and ratify the additional protocol on more effective control.
Under such circumstances, the UK Government’s rush to deploy nuclear missiles whose service life would extend until 2050 is, to say the least, astonishing. The Treaty on Non Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons commits the nuclear power to effective measures of nuclear disarmament. In fact, the entire structure of that treaty, which is already under considerable strain, rests on that commitment.
The decision to deploy new nuclear missiles would be in contradiction to the spirit of the agreements that helped to end the Cold War. At the time, the United Kingdom supported the US-Soviet accords on cuts in strategic, intermediate-range, and tactical nuclear weapons, which have by now resulted in reducing nuclear arsenals by almost two thirds, and pledged that it would be ready to join the process of nuclear reductions at an appropriate moment. Yet the Government’s arguments in support of the proposed replacement contain no mention of that promise. The statement President Reagan and I made in 1985, that “a nuclear war cannot be won and must never be fought”, was in effect a declaration of the need to rid humankind of nuclear weapons. Today it has an even greater urgency. In a world of new threats and challenges, nuclear weapons do not solve real security problems; indeed, reliance on them is becoming increasingly dangerous. Whatever technical measures are taken to prevent nuclear weapons falling into the hands of terrorists or rogue elements and to prevent a nuclear war breaking out as a result of technical failure or accident, such a possibility will be present so long as nuclear weapons exist.
A responsible course of action for the Government would be to postpone the decision on the future of the UK nuclear arsenal at least until the next review conference of the NonProliferation Treaty in 2010.
MIKHAIL GORBACHEVChairman of the Board of Green Cross International Geneva

Thursday, March 8, 2007

Prescribing Diamorphine (Medical Heroin)

Plaid’s decision to announce a proposal to prescribe heroin to long term drug users, pending the results of a pilot in England, is a welcome intervention to the debate on how to deal with the growing drug problem. The Association of Police Officers have called for the same policy as a way of addressing drug related crime which blights so many of our communities. The RSA (a highly distinguished body) today published a report calling for a radical change in the current failing drug policy, including the prescribing of heroin. Diamorphine, to use the medical term, is legally available for GP’s to prescribe already

In initiating this debate on the eve of the Assembly elections, Plaid is showing that it wants to highlight real issues affecting our communities, and support innovative solutions. Let us hope that the cynical opportunism that characterises the politics of the London parties does not raise its ugly head in this of all issues. what's totally clear is that the current policy has totally failed.

update - New Labour's senior press officer in Wales has issued a press notice in the name of the New Labour candidate for Arfon referring to Plaid's 'smack, crackle and pop' plans. Rhodri Morgan and the New Labour leadership need to distance themselves from this sort of sensationalist rubbish - otherwise they'll prove that they are not fit to govern. Is the mentioned spin doctor and the ARfon candidate not aware that their own government is piloting the policy in England? New Labour should rebrand - 'the party of political hypocrities' would be an apt new name.

Wednesday, March 7, 2007

Private equity Firms - There May be Trouble Ahead

The Guardian reports today that a string of corporate private equity deals are expected to collapse during the next financial year. Insolvency experts Ernst & Young have concluded that the complexity of deals and the timing of repayments will undermine companies that under previous ownership structures (ie the non asset stripping kind) might well have survived.

No wonder so many big players in the industry are pouring massive sums into the Labour party. More tax breaks might just be the order of the day!!

Ieuan V Rhodri

Ieuan v Rhodri

According to press reports there was an almighty row in the Assembly yesterday when Plaid Leader Ieuan Wyn Jones gave Rhodri Morgan a roasting on the Government’s appalling economic record in West Wales and the Valleys, Wales’ Objective 1/Convergence fund areas. Rhodri’s rebuttal was that Plaid was essentially miss-interpreting data.

In the public interest therefore please find below a GVA table which shows data on an all Wales basis; West Wales and the Valleys; and East Wales in % terms compared to the UK average. The table was compiled by the ONS i.e the Government’s own statisticians.

GVA per head indices (UK =100).

1995 2000 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005

Wales 84 79 79 78 78 78 78

West Wales & Valleys 74 66 66 65 65 65 N.A.

East Wales 102 100 101 100 100 100 N.A.

Source: ONS 2006.

What seems pretty clear is that wealth levels in Wales’ poorest areas has stagnated; that the trend is downward; and that GVA in most of Wales lies at less than 2/3 of the UK average.

To put things in context, West Wales and the Valleys is the poorest part in the whole of the UK.

Is this what Labour call a proud economic legacy?

Civil Service Job Cuts

The PCS have issued a damning press notice today of the effect of the Chancellors civil service job cull on Wales. The PCS estimates that a third of all civil service jobs in Wales will be lost by 2011. They calculate that this equates to a combined total of 10,000. In a country with a higher proportion of public sector jobs, the economic effects are going to be devastating. The PCS calculate over £300m per annum to the Welsh economy.

The whole plan was put in place by the Chancellor during the last Comprehensive Spending Review in his continued attempt to out tory the Tories. Political positioning is everything to New Labour, and this reckless policy shows they don’t give a damn about public sector workers, service user or local communities. It’s centralisation and rationalisation at its worse.

What sickens me the most is the sight of hypocritical New Labour AMs and candidates in Wales appearing on picket lines the length and breadth of our country feigning solidarity. New Labour in Wales seem quite happy to talk up their partnership with their London bosses when it suits them, then distance themselves from anything unpopular. Well they can’t have it both ways.

Wales deserves better than politicians from London based parties whose first instinct is to kowtow to their London bosses.

Tuesday, March 6, 2007

Labour Dirty Cash 5 - Enter the Fall Guy

It’s been difficult to keep up with the developments in the Cash for Honours case over the last few days. What’s clear is that somebody has leaked a document key to the case. Secondly the Police were eager to stop the publication of the document as it would prejudice their case. The Attorney General then successfully over the weekend and yesterday succeeded in blocking publication of the leak. The Guardian today however has managed to get round the injunction. Their lead story implicates Lord Levy (aka Lord cash point) as trying to pervert the course of justice.

At the beginning of last month I made the case that Levy was being set up as the fall guy for this whole affair. My interpretation is that the leak must have come from 10 Downing St as they try and distance themselves. The only other possible source is the Met, and why would they want to leak a document and then try and get an injunction.

The problem for Blair is that it is hardly credible that Levy would be acting in any capacity without his explicit authorisation.

Conclusion number 1 – don’t raise money for the Labour party
Conclusion number 2 – being best mates by the Prime Minister won’t stop you from getting stitched up
Conclusion number 3 – the PM and his senior staff must be up to their necks in this scandal

Sunday, March 4, 2007

Rhodri Morgan to Join Plaid?

Hot on the heels of his stinging assessment of the damaging effect of a London centric economic system on Wales, Rhodri Morgan concluded his speaking tour of the US by making the case for independence for Wales.

Friday night at Columbia University, New York the First Minister (according to a press notice sent out by his team) said:

“In population terms Wales is bigger than five Member States and not very much smaller than another three. Why should this matter? Because Malta , with a population hardly bigger than Cardiff , has a direct seat at the table and access to the entire EU decision making machinery. It also has a much higher number of MEPs in proportion to its population. “

Thanks for making our case for us yet again Rhodri. I wonder what the unionist wing of the Labour party has to say about their Assembly Leader making the case for full EU membership for Wales, a status the EU term independence – and directly in line with Plaid’s constitutional ambition for our country.

I’m led to believe that the membership form is in the post!

Blair to Announce Exit on May the 4th?

There is growing speculation that Tony Blair will announce his exit date on May the 4th. Why May the 4th? If as expected Labour do badly in Wales, Scotland and the English local government elections, the announcement of his departure will help keep Labour electoral meltdown off the front pages.

Fair play Tony, spinning to the end.

Tory Funding

The Tories in all probability will be the largest spenders come May. David Cameron has amassed a massive war chest with private donations of £17m over the last year.

How has Cameron gone about rebuilding Tory finance? The Guardian reports yesterday that old fashioned dinners and dances have been the key to success. A sliding scale of patrons clubs offer access to different tiers of the Tory leadership. The Leaders club, and a dinner with Cameron will put you back £50k per annum. Nice to see to the Tory Leader keeping to his man of the people image! The average household income in Wales isn’t even half that sum, which means not many people in Wales will be having lunch with the Tory leader.

The Guardian reports claims the key appointment of Aurelia Cecil as head of fundraising. Cecil is a member of the upper echelons of the ruling class. Cecil apparently knows how to run a good party and has brought the fun back into being a Conservative. She is a former girlfriend of Prince Andrew. I guess you can work out the sort of people Cecil has been inviting to her parties.

The relevance for the Assembly elections of course is that the Tories in Wales do not exist as a separate accounting unit. Their campaign will be funded from Tory HQ in London. Nice to know the sources of the funding the Tories will be using over the next 9 weeks to buy Welsh votes.

Friday, March 2, 2007

Real Terms Pay Cut for Nurses as City Bonuses hit £9bn

Yet again we witness the priorities of ‘son of Thatcher’ Gordon Brown. Nurses across the UK this year will have a real terms pay cut, as their annual increase of only 2.5% is way below even the government’s doctored measure of inflation.

At a time when real inflation (energy prices, fuel bills, council tax etc) has been going through the roof, the Chancellor’s stooge like behaviour is going to hit our public servants particularly hard.

City bonuses currently stand at around £9bn per annum, and Gordon Brown has repeatedly refused to intervene to curtail the fat cat culture of the square mile.

Just goes to show the sort of skewed priorities of this New Labour Government.

Clymblaid Glas-Coch

Yn ystod dadl Dydd Gwyl Dewi ddoe yn y Senedd, naeth Adam Price llwyddo tynnu sylwad allwedol allan o Peter Hain. Dwedodd y Gweinidog ni fydd Llafur dan unrhyw amod yn furfio clymblaid gyda Plaid Cymru.

Felly mewn sefyllfa lle mae llafur yn ennill llai na 24 sedd (mae pobol ei hun yn briffio’r wasg gall pethau hyd yn oed yn waeth na hynny) a Rhyddfrydwyr yn methu sicrhau mwyafrif, fe fydd rhaid i’r Blaid Lafur dod i gytundeb gyda’r Ceidwadwyr.