Sunday, 28 July 2013

Our AM election -Thursday 1 August

It goes without saying that there is only one candidate we on Ynys Mon should vote for this Thursday.....

And that would be Rhun ap Iorweth, he of Plaid Cymru and an Anglesey lad through and through

You know it makes sense.

Wednesday, 1 May 2013

Right-Wing Push For Austerity Based On Excel Spreadsheet Error

Do you remember the justifications given for the austerity we are all now facing?

George Osborne said in February, 2010 said:

So while private sector debt was the cause of this crisis, public sector debt is likely to be the cause of the next one. As Ken Rogoff himself puts it, “there’s no question that the most significant vulnerability as we emerge from recession is the soaring government debt. It’s very likely that will trigger the next crisis as governments have been stretched so wide.”

The latest research suggests that once debt reaches more than about 90% of GDP the risks of a large negative impact on long term growth become highly significant. If off-balance sheet liabilities such as public sector pensions are included we are already well beyond that. And even on official internationally comparable measures of debt, we are forecast to break through 90% of GDP in just two years time…

To entrench economic stability for the long term, we need fundamental reform of our fiscal policy framework….As I have made clear, our aim will be to eliminate the bulk of the structural current budget deficit over a Parliament.

The key phrase above, is one used by right wing politicians all over the world as justification for their austerity and its:

"The latest research suggests that once debt reaches more than about 90% of GDP the risks of a large negative impact on long term growth become highly significant."

And that research was carried out by economists Carmen Reinhart and Kenneth Rogoff. But there's a problem they got it wrong.

The New Yorker Blog has an excellent summary of where they went wrong.

"To sum up, there may well be a threshold at which high levels of public debt tend to be associated with very bad growth outcomes and financial crises, but it isn’t ninety per cent of G.D.P., or even a hundred per cent. Maybe it’s a hundred and twenty per cent, although that figure isn’t a firm one, either".

And Chris Hayes explains further in this following video:

Friday, 26 April 2013

The current model is broken - bring back the committee.

Ask yourself what is the core function of a Council?

I would reply to deliver high standard services which aspire to meet the expectations of the local ratepayer. And to deliver those services, be they i.e Planning Control or Education you need to employ professional people that know what they are doing.

In other words the day to day running of the Council should be left to those employed to do so, at the head of which would be a Chief Executive and a Board of Directors.

I have always thought the idea of a Council being run by a 'Cabinet' of Councillors was flawed. After all democracy isn't really that good at choosing suitable candidates to be given such powers. If you believe in democracy you must also accept that sometimes we will make the wrong choice.

And if you want a good example of where it has not worked,  that would here on Ynys Môn. You see when you start paying the leader of the Council £45,000 then it becomes something worth fighting for, it's a good earner. So you start asking questions as whom do I need as allies, and what would I have to promise them for their support....etc etc - and you can see already how this can quickly descend to political infighting. After all if you hadn't been chosen as leader, you'd be upset right?'d want to show that they'd made the wrong choice.

And as we know at Ynys Môn this is worse when the Council has no one in overall control, by which I mean, of the main political parties. And you are left with small groups of independents attempting to form coalitions whilst at the same time trying to promote whomever the leader of their small group is, whilst also attempting to discredit any perceived threat. Of course it's then important to be in the winning group of independents, so we have the hoping frog syndrome, after all if you support the new leader he might give you a nice paid cabinet post.

And history records the house of cards soon falls down - as I said the current model is broken, time to bring back the committee.

Wednesday, 24 April 2013

March - a busy month for emergency calls.

I see once again the Welsh Conservatives and their buddies, the Liberal Democrats, are "disgusted" that in March the Welsh Ambulance service failed to reach it's all Wales target of reaching 65% life threatening emergency calls withing 8 minutes. According to the BBC Welsh Liberal Democrat leader Kirsty Williams accused Welsh ministers of failing to address the issue calling the figures an "absolute disgrace".

I've posted in the past that I think the statistics collected are a bit worthless see 999 responce times and pointless statistics.

And we all know what the Conservative led Coalition in England want to do with the NHS - privatise it completely. See BBC House of Lords to debate NHS 'privatisation'

But back to March 2013 - when fast swathes of Wales was covered in deep snow, whilst the rest of us shivered in bitter cold winds, it was not surprising that the number of emergency calls in March where up by 2,069 compared to March 2012.  In fact March 2013 had the highest monthly number of Category A calls since the service classification changes introduced in December 2011.

Something both the BBC "Ambulance delays: Wales targets missed in every area." and the Daily Post  "Ambulance Service misses 999 response time target for most serious calls for tenth month in a row" think not important to point out.

But why let the facts get in the way of a good story or some political point scoring.

For "latest National Statistics produced by the Welsh Government were released on 24 April 2013 according to the arrangements approved by the UK Statistics Authority" see Ambulance services, March 2013.

When asked people of Ynys Môn overall quite happy.

The BBC has an interesting report today on the well-being survey - What are the top five happiest parts of the UK?

It is a digest of the recently published Measuring National Well-being - Where we Live, 2012 by the ONS.

When asked "Overall, how happy did you feel yesterday":

Monday, 15 April 2013

Rescue at Sea - RNLI Peterhead Tamar Lifeboat in action.

The old and the new
It was good to read that the new lifeboat station at Moelfre has finally been given planning permission. See Daily Post - New Moelfre lifeboat station gets green light.

It will house the new Tamar class Lifeboat, named Kiwi, which replaces the old Mersey class lifeboat named Robert & Violet.

You can find out more about the Moelfre Lifeboat at:  RNLI Moelfre Lifeboat Station.

The video below shows the Peterhead Tamar Lifeboat 'The Misses Roberston of Kintail' in action from 2009 and it was the RNLI film of the year.  The little yaught rudder control had become stuck and she could only go in a straight line.

One of the other ships seen in the video is the Far Supporter, and is there in support and to stop large waves from crashing onto the yacht.

Friday, 12 April 2013

Leanne Wood - a natural welsh speaker.

When Plaid Cymru announced whom had won the contest to be the new leader of the party following our Ieuan, I was initially concerned that Leanne Wood's first language was not welsh.

However, judging by the following video, you'd be hard pressed to even know she was a welsh learner, coming across may I add far better in welsh than she does in the english version. In fact her spoken welsh is far better these day than many other so called welsh politician.

FIDEO: Plaid Cymru - Y bont sy'n arwain at ddyfodol gwell.

So da iawn Leanne for showing it's possible to learn and be fluent in welsh.

Friday, 8 March 2013

Dewis Doeth - Choose Well

On Friday the Daily Post ran a report about the A&E at Ysbyty Gwynedd being overloaded one night.

We've all watched Casualty and know it happens sometimes.

In the first place I think it's important to recognise the A&E at Ysbyty Gwynedd is showing its age and is in urgent need of modernisation. And plans to do this are well on the cards: Emergency Department - Refurbishment and New Build (pdf)

Not sure at what stage this vital work is in terms of approval, but it seems Betsi Cadwaladr has submitted the £8.5 million scheme to the Welsh Government for approval.

See Wales Online - £8.5m casualty upgrade planned at Ysbyty Gwynedd

Lets hope these vital works can start soon.

Anyway back to the queuing problem, the Daily Post report quotes Health Board spokeswoman as saying "It is also important to remember that by Choosing Well for the right treatment, patients can help us free up emergency medical care for those facing life threatening illnesses or injuries."

Choosing Well is about all of us taking some responsibility for how we look after ourselves, and if we feel unwell or have an accident that we make the right choice and just don't panic and rush off to A&E :

The Choose Well Website is there to help you make the right decision, their is even an app you can download to your mobile phone.

See also: Betsi Cadwaladr Website

Friday, 1 March 2013

Plaid Cymru and the Living Wage

Plaid Cymru are today holding their Spring Conference at Biwmares, Ynys Môn.

They are also here to launch there campaign for the up and coming May elections at Ynys Môn Council.

According to their website - Plaid Cymru will put transforming the Welsh economy at the heart of its Spring Conference as voters were urged to make Anglesey proud at May’s council elections.

Ieuan Wyn Jones AM said "This is a very important year for Anglesey and for Plaid Cymru as we look forward to the county council elections here in May. Plaid Cymru is taking this election very seriously. It is time for a fresh start on Anglesey Council." 

Note to Ieuan Wyn Jones though.....its Ynys Môn, got it.....Ynys Môn.... not difficult most people can say it, repeat after me it's Ynys Môn. The title of this blog being ironic of course.

Also to be honest with you, I'd take Plaid Cymru a bit more seriously if they asked Bob Parry to retire gracefully, he has far too much baggage for my liking.

One thing for sure Plaid Cymru is right, for it goes without saying improving the welsh economy should be a priority - which brings me to a 'Living Wage' which Plaid Cymru do support and campaign for.

Iain Duncan Smith keeps waffling on about making work more rewarding than being on the dole, but then fails to see that one way of achieving this would be a living wage. And it need not be imposed by government by regulation, the more companies join in and pay a living wage, the better it would be for all of us.

Because the more people we take out of poverty, the less the welfare bill will be, the more disposable income people have the better for the economy it will be.

So that is why I think we should all support the 'Living Wage Campaign' and should you get a prospective candidate knocking on your door on Ynys Môn seeking your support in May, do ask them what their position on the living wage is.

Together we can make a differences

Wednesday, 27 February 2013

NHS in Wales

Aneurin Bevan
Yesterday, Judith Phillips in the Daily Post was all gloom and doom about the NHS in Wales. She does say and I quote "but it seems we have now reached a crisis point where public confidence in those running the NHS in North Wales is at an all time low."

What utter bullshit - yes complete and utter drivel....

Now what do you mean I hear you ask - well lets start with her conclusion and I quote again "but throwing the responsibility for the level of care given by community hospitals onto families and county council social services departments, is in my opinion going to open up yet another can of worms."

Which does rather show she has no clue what she is talking about, that she does not realise that the family and the local council was an integral part of our care system as envisaged when the NHS was established in the very first place.

We should be proud of the NHS, of what it has achieved, but we need also to recognise that in changing times what was the remedy of yesteryear may not be the best use of the 'limited' resources available to us now.

And in reaching those decision as to the future shape of the NHS within Wales they should be based on clear cut clinical opinion, made in the best interest of all of us. Not may I add the straw sample of a deluded correspondent of the Daily Post.

Take community hospitals....lets be honest they have had their day, they are not really the answer to our needs. Let me go further.....the moment someone comes a patient at a community hospital is in reality a sign of failure somewhere else.

We should be truly proud of the welfare system this country has, think....we are all living longer thanks to welfare, we have less infant deaths thanks to welfare.....and just on the simple fact there are more of us, will mean welfare costs will go up.

Which brings me to being old.

Think about....if put simply you have the countries GDP and from that you need to pay for children, adults and pensioners. Are we really in a society that as children demanded to be feed, then when working moaned that everyone else wanted to be fed and in our retirement demand that we are fed again?

Personal responsibility, the ability to plan and care for oneself - that is the aim we all should have. And the majority of us will live full and independent lives.

But sometime along the road we may need assistance, and sometimes we may need care, and sometimes we might even need acute care as we wait for death. Death is inevitable, but it need not be in pain.

We have plenty of care homes, the private sector in the most provide a very good service, and sometimes for some people whom cannot look after themselves that is the best place for them to be.

However what of those with acute needs - such as dementia or alzheimers, what they need is specialised palliative care in purpose built nursing homes. And that is one thing we lack, sufficient nursing homes to care for those who need specialised care, even if just means providing respite for the caring family.

Nursing homes built with the dignity of the patient in mind, with single rooms and trained staff, where someone comes to die because we cared and not because we pushed them aside.

So here in part is my prescription for the NHS:
  • We need local doctor surgeries to be in modern buildings that offer a greater range of services to their patients.
  • We need more district nurses.
  • We need more paramedics.
  • We need more pharmacists, and a consulting room in every pharmacy.
  • We need more doctors
  • We need more palliative care nurses
Now up to now I hope you will see my list is mostly more people not more buildings, if we get the prevention right we would need less buildings so to speak.

But if we need to decide as to priorities in brick and mortar then that would be the need for more acute care nursing homes, to complement and build on the excellent work done by charities such as Marie Curie.

Now I know it wont be popular, but let's be clear beating about the bush...

......Community Hospitals are not the answer. know do try an keep up....

Tuesday, 19 February 2013

Save our libraries

Ynys Môn Council is currently carrying out a consultation on the future of the library services on the island.

I hope you will take part by visiting your  local library or the Councils website - Anglesey Library Survey - you have till 4 March 2013 to do so.

I think libraries are an essential community facility and more should be made of them, so the aim should be longer opening hours and  greater use of the space.

"What is more important in a library than anything else-than everything else-is the fact that it exists. Poet Archibald MacLeish"

See also: Voices for the Library

Monday, 18 February 2013

Household finance squeeze hits lowest income group hardest.

It shouldn't come as a surprise that during a economic downturn the hardest hit are most likely to be the poorest in society.

And latest findings of the Markit Household Finance Index™ (HFI™) show exactly this.

Key points being:
  • Outlook for household finances dips from January’s four-month high
  • Widening divergence in financial trends across the five household income groups
  • Households’ living costs rise at sharpest pace since September 2011
  • Cash availability perceived to have fallen at fastest rate in eight months, and incomes drop again
  • Workplace activity rises at solid pace in February

"February data showed a widening divergence across the five household income groups. The lowest income category saw the sharpest deterioration in their finances for 14 months. Those in the second-lowest group (£15,000 – £23,000) indicated the greatest squeeze on their finances in the survey’s four-year history. By contrast, the remaining three income categories registered slower rates of deterioration than in January, with the highest earners (£57,751+) noting the joint-slowest pace of contraction in a year."

Tim Moore, Senior Economist at Markit and author of the report said:

“There was no let-up in the squeeze on UK household finances during February, as higher living costs and muted wage trends combined to reduce cash availability at the fastest pace since mid-2012. Inflation expectations remain close to their highest since the survey began four years ago, echoing recent warnings from the Bank of England that price pressures will remain elevated in 2013.

“Worsening consumer finances are likely to further rein in spending on the high street and, to complete this circle, latest survey data showed that retail sector workers were the most downbeat about their job security and workplace activity in February.

“The lowest income households saw their financial situation move in an entirely different direction to the highest earners in February, and by a much greater degree than in recent years, according to the survey’s main wellbeing indicators. Widening disparities across the income groups were most prevalent in terms of savings, debt trends and the year-ahead financial outlook.”

Saturday, 16 February 2013

Hislop denies Wales exists

A copyright infringement if I ever saw one

Now I know that Ian Hislop; the most English of educated gents, denies he is in fact welsh, although he is really...though we the welsh are happy he denies it......

But as editor of Private Eye he is taking it a bit far by denying the very existence of Wales.

As in the lack of Wylfa B in the above article, unless that is he thinks it acceptable to dump on Wales....oh hold on by his very denial you could say he's done that already.

Plaid Cymru and indepenence

I see Plaid Cymru are holding a special conference in Aberystwyth to consider a new constitution. see BBC News

I hope they don't think it necessary to ditch or weaken their stance on an independent Wales, or have fallen for the argument; as trumped by the Conservatives in the Scottish independence debate - it'll be hard and painful so don't bother, a self defeating cry if there ever was one.

In my humble opinion at its heart the central goal of Plaid Cymru should be an independent Wales.

And all Plaid Cymru policies should be driven by that main objective an independent Wales.

Nor matter how hard or painful it is - if it means and ends in a independent Wales.

I see no conflict in this idea - that a truly independent Wales standing on its own two feet, a Celtic beacon with its own identity and beliefs would be welcome in the European Family of Nations.

We need to rediscover our voice, our inner strength and re-quench our desire and belief in a independent Wales. Some say it has not been done before, but with these hands we can if we so desire build that road to independence.

And at the front leading the vanguard should be Plaid Cymru.

Wednesday, 13 February 2013

A simple truth - too many horses

Horse meat is used as a substitute for beef because it is cheaper than beef to source. In the UK alone last year 10,000 horses were slaughtered for human consumption.

The plain and simple  fact of the matter is we breed too many horses and ponies.

Lee Hackett, senior executive of welfare at the British Horse Society said in January: “Most of the[. slaughtered horses] will be symptoms of the massive equine population problem in this country. We have simply got too many horses and ponies.”

And too many horses means low prices and poor welfare for animals, I'm sure we've all seen stories of horses been mistreated or abandoned by careless owners.

I think it important we distinguish between say beef cattle specifically breed for human consumption, to the trade in slaughtered horses as the direct consequence of too much breeding.

Time me thinks we regulated the breeding of horses, with an aim to reduce numbers and improve the condition and welfare of horses and ponies in the UK.

See Thousands of British horses slaughtered for European diners.

Thursday, 7 February 2013

Wind turbines

On Wednesday I posted about supplementary planning guidance on wind turbines, and subsequently was asked whether the idea of a bond to cover the eventual decommissioning of  wind turbines was a good idea - do you front load the costs?

My answer no, and let me explain why not.

I think we are in danger of deciding that all wind turbines are bad, and then looking for all reasons why they should be bad.

So one thing that could go wrong is a slight possibility the operator could abandon the wind turbines....and who then pays for the decommissioning and return of the land back to its original state?

And some would point to Hawaii as an example of 'When Wind Farms Go Wrong', where I think a number of 1st generation wind turbines lay rusting and abandoned because they became uneconomical following the discovery of shale gas in the USA.  But the Americans do make a habit of having spectacular boom and bust enterprises, just visit Baltimore.

In the UK with the feed in tariffs I don't see the risk, you know it's a licence to print money isn't it? ... and I have a feeling that a growing business will be the salvaging of old wind turbines...for the copper alone it may be worthwhile.

On Ynys Môn we are talking of individual wind turbines mostly erected by the landowner, mostly farmers, albeit in agreement with an operator. Whether the landowner wants the operator to provide a bond to cover the eventual decommissioning is I think a matter for them. The final responsibility should lie with the landowner.

It shouldn't be of concern to the Planning Authority, as I take the view that the Planning Authority deals with the principles of land use and not the mechanics of land use....i.e. say you've applied for planning permission for a new house, you don't need to satisfy the Council you can afford to build the new house.

And the 'before you ask' disclaimer - I am not a farmer, nor do I have plans to erect a wind turbine, nor do I know of anyone planning to do so either. Personally I cant see what the fuss is about, I think them quite elegant, and in my opinion a small turbine in the wrong place is less green than a large turbine in the right place, and if it helps say make farmers more carbon neutral more the better.

Wednesday, 6 February 2013

What a refreshing change.....

I think we are all fed up of negative stories about immigrants - that they are all feckless layabouts here to scrounge welfare, and how it's the fault of UK being a member of the European Union. That things would be  different if weren't in the EU, you know a bit like Norway. 

I posted about the Norway question before: Should the UK leave the EU and do a Norway?

So it was refreshing to read in The Norway Post "[Norway's] Minister of Labour Anniken Huitfeldt [say she] is pleased with the increased number of immigrant workers who choose to come to Norway. She says the country is in need of even more workers, especially engineers and people from the health sector.

The Minister thinks our growing economy combined with good salaries and working conditions are part of the reason why more workers choose to come here. Huitfeldt also says that she is pleased with the shorter processing times now offered by the UDI, and the close contact they have with the labour market."

Tuesday, 5 February 2013

I don't want to be foreboding...but....

Centrica have had cold feet over UK nuclear power, another firm that's decided  nuclear is too expensive to develop - do you think they maybe have a point? - See Centrica pulls out of new UK nuclear projects

And as we know Cumbria have had cold feet over burial of nuclear waste, and it seems we could have a bit of a problem...if we don't find somewhere we can keep the radioactive waste safe for a very long time. See: No nuclear storage = no Wylfa B?

So I think there's a possibility that Wylfa B might not be built, you know the thing that was going to transform the island...put us on a firmer footing, all them jobs etc etc

I hope therefore someone is actually thinking of a Plan B.. C.. D ....E just in case Wylfa B never happens... if Hitachi cant find the investors, or anyone in fact to run Horizon after they have built the power station - 'cause they've already said they don't want to run it in the long term.

 You know if Wylfa B doesn't get built what happens then?

How stupid are they?

I was listening this morning to Radio Cymru and Dafydd Roberts, spokesperson for EOS and of the established welsh music scene, saying that whilst negotiations are continuing they might allow their music to be played on Radio Cymru.

But sorry how stupid have they been?

They I think over estimated their self importance, that we'd miss Dafydd Iwan reminding us that he was still in that bloody valley, that some of us might actually think Radio Cymru is in fact better with less music. That for welsh music there are alternatives such as Heart FM Anglesey and Gwynedd and Kev Bach int mornings.....And that we didn't realise the reason they don't want mediation is because someone independent might say...well duh actually the BBC offer is in fact fair.

And as for the poets, who are also on a sympathy refusing to partake in Talwrn Y Beirdd....a word of advice - stop thinking the sun shines out of your collective arseses.

The future of the welsh language lies not in protecting the established welsh musac scene but in finding the next Catatonia. You know making it relevant to the 'youth'...and honestly does Mike Stevens do that...honestly?

Monday, 4 February 2013

Britannia Bridge - no third bridge necessary.

I see that the option for a third crossing of the Menai Straits is 'back on the agenda' because it can take 15 minutes to move one mile....see Daily Post.

But that's the costly wrong option.

If you want to know the theoretical capacity of a road, you study similar roads, in fact ideally more than one hundred similar roads, otherwise a thing called the T-Student distribution means the results are in effect meaningless. So you find your one hundred similar roads or more and measure them over a certain period of time, not just once but numerous occasions. And then some very clever mathematicians at TRL the Transport Research Laboratory come up with clever models that explains it all.

But it's not that simple, in studies of Pelican Crossings for instance, you know the one where you press the button and the light turns red....what they have found is that on certain roads the incidents of injury or death is actually higher where there is a pelican crossing. That could be down to we assuming because the green man is flashing it's safe to cross and we don't look or because we are old and can't judge distances that well anymore when we are the driver or pedestrian.

So let's be clear whilst the world is a complex place, sometimes a simple answer is the solution. In the pelican crossing case you realise that on certain roads the answer is to replace them with a zebra crossing, so that both pedestrian and vehicle driver share the same risk, they take more care. In other words sometimes the answer you think is right, as in pelican crossings are surely safer than zebra crossings isn't the case in all circumstances.

I specialised in roundabout design, and I found that in order to increase capacity the answer was in most cases a relative cheap tweak of the design. The solution to a complex problem wasn't necessarily a complex or expensive answer.

And let's be honest in terms of the Britannia Bridge where people take 15 minutes to travel a mile - first of all is that congestion compared to the M25, I doubt it is. And to solve the 15 minutes to travel one mile problem we apparently need a new bridge - really we've got the money to build a new bridge when we cant afford to paint our schools.

Now I've suggested the solution before, that is active traffic control, that we slow approach speeds to the bridge - it was in my post last year, Britannia Bridge and active traffic management.

Think of it as a wine bottle, and your pouring yourself a drink, there is no point rushing it, you need a gentle flow...and to do that sometimes you need to slow the speed of wine leaving the bottle- we regulate the flow, the speed. And there within lies the answer to the log jam on Britannia Bridge you need to control the approach speeds - Simples really....

Why the testing always?

Why do politician seem obsessed with audits, and getting 'Little Johnny' to sit exams, have you ever wondered why?....I was wondering why when I was looking at a Estyn Report into the state of Education on Ynys Môn back in 2012, and .....they started to talk about 'outcomes' which in my book can only mean one thing - economists, you know the people that try to turn the 'real world' into a 'model' based on 'rational decisions and thoughts.'

So I can imagine at some time in the past Estyn will have organised a seminar, and at that seminar Professor Posh Name Loads of Titles will have been invited

And Professor Posh Name will have studied some schools in a thesis which allowed him to reach a conclusion..and suppose...they just happen to agree with your already preconceived ideas. You know the 'bloody hell I knew I was right all along' moment.....And you might forget to question the validity of what Professor Posh Name is saying, you assume his conclusions are correct - take for instance the Nobel Winning Economist Milton Friedman whose ideas are in the large now discredited. So there is a possibility that might say policy was determined on preconceived ideas and a flawed model.

Now further in the report they also talked about costs per pupil, and that means 'accountants'. They are the Auditors and they measure everything. And Terry Pratchett has them spot on in his Discworld series of books.

Let me give you an example: think apple trees - Auditors will ask how does your apple tree compare with the neighbours apple tree. And they'll invent the juice ratio - how much juice per apple. Whereas we might ask how do the apples taste?

And in the world where we measure things, to justify the monies we all are spending 'Little Johnny' needs to be tested, so we can all clap yourself's on the back and say look how good they did....aren't they clever. In a way we are measuring 'success' how successful a school was compared to the 'average' success of all other schools.

But how can you quantify success? - especially if it's a common measure of success for kids, all of whom will have different abilities, who also will have different ideas what success means. It shouldn't mean that just because all the clever kids go to the clever school, the other schools are somehow less successful.

In say a world where success is quantified by height and one day a year they measure height of kids, and have the height model, to compare against to see how much the kids have grown, does is make sense that a school is said to be failing because on the day of the test the tallest kid was off ill. Not forgetting that as Head Teacher it makes sense only to encourage the tall kids to come to my school.

To me it makes no sense putting pressure on primary kids to sit exams, for us to find out something that in the real world is meaningless, you know what's the saying one size doesn't fit all. If I had kids (I don't by the way before you ask) and wanted to know how 'Little Johny' was doing I'd ask the teacher, I'd trust them more than some auditors who visit the school once a year. Or dare I say I'd actually ask 'Little Johnny'. And we know this approach works because it works in Finland, where the key to success is trust in teachers.

For the record of the subjects I talk about above, education and economics I'm an expert in neither - which to some is probably stating the 'bleeding' obvious..

Friday, 1 February 2013

Fancy a bet....

Heads you loose, tails I win

As we know WELFARE is EVIL cause it's the world of the neo-liberal at least.

But it's a sure BET for bookmakers taking advantage of the most disadvantaged in society with their biased fruit machines -see Daily Mail - Taking £1 and giving 70p back: How the fruit machine is ripping off Britain

So somehow the poor on welfare, you know the feckless layabouts are to blame, even though they are ripped off by the gambling industry - who then take the piss further by not paying their proper share in taxes, in classic Milton Friedman  economics, where we are all individuals.

But don't worry we only have to find an additional billion due to this - um we are all in this together... see The Independent.

And yes I know New Labour did relax the gambling laws - idiots.

Thursday, 31 January 2013

The Welsh Language - no shit Sherlock

I see the Welsh intelligentsia are in 'crisis' mode over the recent release of census data for Wales aka 'will nobody think of the children'. And some in the BBC don't help, with their gloom and doom - I heard someone on Radio Cymru actually say that an increase in the number of Welsh speakers in an area due to movement of people was somehow artificial?

Take the rural areas - now you don't need a degree in anthropology to know whats occurring...

Young people are moving to urban areas for a) education and b) jobs and this is reflected in the growth of the Welsh language in Cardiff - you know a thing called urbanisation.. And the more people come to contact with the Welsh language and it's culture the more they see the benefits of allowing their children the chance to learn the language, and of learning the language themselves. Hence why Monmouthshire and Cardiff are seeing an increase in number of Welsh speakers.

So no shit Sherlock logic says you concentrate your efforts on the urban areas - to making Welsh more relevant and accessible to peoples day to day life's,  to where the population is highest and where you will find young working couples with a presentity to allow their children to learn Welsh.

And in the rural areas where the young are leaving to get jobs in urban areas, and the old eventually die, those filling the vacuum will be those seeking a pleasurable retirement, and there is nothing wrong with that, be they Welsh, English, Scottish whatever. The no shit Sherlock logic says in percentage terms an elderly family of 2 will always be lower than a young family with kids. So if the young are moving out and the retires are moving in and the elderly eventually die - you know no shit Sherlock Welsh speakers in rural areas will decline.

Now I'm not saying that Welsh speakers don't want to live in rural communities, far from it the rural idyll is still a dream for many. But there are so many considerations like where will the kids be educated - ease of access to schools and standard of education. And no shit Sherlock Welsh families with kids may be disinclined to return to rural communities 'cause someone thought shutting rural schools was a good idea.

And let's not forget when people move for jobs it could be to anywhere in the world. Over the centuries we Welsh have seen no barrier in our search for work. In England for example, I'm sure we all know relatives whom have formed strong Welsh communities within cities and towns - but whilst we know how many people speak Polish for instance in England, we don't know how many speak Welsh, I wonder why?.

Anyway if you want Welsh speaking people to remain in Wales rather than seeking fortunes elsewhere, like Paul Williams, aka The Druid, who is in Japan to name just one, then we need to improve the economy. So no shit Sherlock the decline in Welsh speakers in Wales is strongly linked to the decline in the Welsh economy....Or its the economy stupid.

Lets not forget that the majority of Welsh people in Wales cannot speak Welsh, but I suspect that if asked a high percentage would like to, and will give many reasons why they have not learnt Welsh, raging from never had the chance to thinking it's too hard.

So no shit Sherlock - if you want people to learn Welsh, first you must speak their language.

Turning to a thing called Pride - why do we tolerate the dismissal of us Welsh especially of  the Welsh language as not important. A bit like saying to a Jew well you could be Catholic couldn't you, most of us here are Catholics don't you know. Ever thought why religious intolerance is given greater weight than language intolerance?

And that's why its important that we also start stop apologising for yourself and start demanding we are treated as equals. That we don't tolerate stupid comments made by stupid people like Ann Robinson or twat face Roger Lewis who think it acceptable to be demeaning to the Welsh.

If we want the Welsh language to thrive, we have to make it happen - that's us the Welsh, by raising the standard of Welsh education, by providing skilled jobs in Wales, by making the Welsh language seem relevant and necessary to youngsters. By rediscovering our 'pride' as in to plagiarizer a quote "Welsh pride is real pride – the sort that requires no justification or excuse."

One thing for certain it wont happen if we blame everyone else for the decline i.e that it's all the fault of immigrants, and neither will it happen at all if all we do is argue amongst yourselves over an ever rescinding puddle in the heat of exposure.

Now get a grid for as you know its no shit Sherlock.

Please note - comments demeaning to the welsh language will not be allowed as a response to this post.

Wednesday, 30 January 2013

No nuclear storage = no Wylfa B?

Has a decision by Cumbria County Council to pull out of feasibility study into underground storage of radioactive waste scuppered plans for Wylfa B?

See Nuclear expansion plan thwarted after Cumbria no vote to underground store

As reported in 2007 "Britain must not go ahead with a new generation of nuclear power stations until it has a "clear and robust" plan in place for dealing with the twin problems of decommissioning and waste treatment, the world's leading energy body warned yesterday. The International Energy Agency also said that any new nuclear programme must be funded entirely from the private sector, without any government subsidy or market intervention."

So it's not looking good at the moment the it will - will not happen saga continues....

See also: BREAKING NEWS: Cumbria County Council says no to nuclear repository plan

My thoughts on UKIP and it's 75% proof..

Who are UKIP exactly? - have you ever thought that, not sure, well neither does the popular media it seems. Of course in one sense it doesn't matter, the more support UKIP have the fewer the Conservatives have. And if the Conservatives don't win an overall majority in 2015 then it's unlikely there will be a IN/OUT referendum on the EU. Unless that is I suppose they form an unholy alliance with UKIP. But is that likely Messrs Farage and Cameron not being best of buddies, though Nigel Farage has said he'd deal with the devil if it got them what they wanted.....interesting that....look and listen: You Tube....

So maybe we should be taking a bit more attention of UKIP, and challenge them whenever we can, especially in social media. Because if you challenge them on the actual detail of their grandstanding the weakness of their argument is soon exposed. But not only that it's also fun, my favorite move at the moment is to quote them Churchill, especially his United States of Europe speech. I wait to see if they add him to a growing list of what the right wing see as traitors ranging from David Cameron to the Her Majesty the Queen.

Now as we know UKIP want out of the EU but why? - I wonder what their website says...

ah here it is the THE TRUTH ABOUT THE in capitals letters so it must be true.

Now let's see did you know that "The EU is a fraud on ALL Europeans". OMG a fraud on ALL Europeans that's half a billion people all victims of fraud. Of course "The European Union seemed a good idea in the 1970s" - but hold on I though the EU was founded on 1 November 1993, and in the 1970's it was the Common Market and that Prime Minister Heath took us into the European Economic Community (EEC), and a key argument behind the conspiracy theory is that in 1975 we voted in for the free market and not the EU, I'm confused now.

Let me think - we didn't vote for the EU but we where thinking the EU seemed a good idea in the 1970's, but we didn't vote for it. And "It’s not just Britain that wants out of the EU. Many other Europeans would vote to leave, if given the chance."

Yes there is a long list isn't there, Greenland they left and Greece, well maybe shouldn't have become a member of the Eurozone in the first place, but even they aren't proposing to leave the European Union. And it seems to me there are more countries joining the EU than leaving or talking of leaving, other than the UK.

Hold on what's that UKIP Wales "New German opinion poll shows majority believe euro membership carries more disadvantages than advantages" - yes but we are not in the single currency are we, so that argument is a bit pointless...other than it got the letters eu in it, they being the devils letters seemingly - EUrope BAD - EU BAD - EUrozone BAD.

Let me introduce UKIP Rule Number 1 - Anything that does not agree with you be they polls, elections,statements of fact etc.. are FRAUD, even more impressive if it's FRAUD against ALL Europeans. Your not just fighting for a small right wing minority you've got ALL Europeans to defend. You know and join in - I'd like to teach the world to sing,  in perfect harmony, i'd like to hold it in my arms and keep it company - oh bless... a will no one think of the children moment there.

But how much does this all cost us - "The EU costs Britain £50 million a day."...that's...where's my calculator...that's..£18,250,000,000 or £18 billion....OMG that's a big number - but also a meaninglessness number, the net contribution of the UK to the EU in 2011 was around £7.4 billion or £21 million a day or 0.00304276% of  UK GDP.

UKIP Rule Number 2 - Numbers when quoted should be big, even if meaningless...also keep in mind Dr.Evil. principle.

Did you realise "The EU means lower wages....because "Open borders have brought cheap labour, lower wages and more unemployment to Britain.

True studies have shown that for low paid jobs - mostly part time seasonal jobs, fruit picking etc.. immigrants do lower wages a little, but they are for jobs that most UK workers wont do 'cause they get more on benefits   and also don't we have the minimum wage. But other than that they actually increase wages, so on balance we are better off. And of course they get paid such a low wage because they are exploited, as they have fewer rights. But we do like our Asparagus don't we, as long as we don't think how they where picked.

Next shock horror open borders means increased crime, ah the classic evil monkey in the cupboard for you there. As we all know crime rates in the UK are falling.

UKIP Rule Number 3 - Blame all problems on immigrants the EU and large multinational corporations.

And now for a classic - the We have no control over immigration

Did you know fact - "almost 500 million EU citizens are entitled to work, live and claim benefits in the UK" OMG when do they arrive, have you a spare room 'cause apparently someone said that all of the EU should move to the UK - Rule 2 in action there - a classic use of a big number.

But there's more - "Britain’s borders are now effectively North Africa, Russia and Turkey; not the White Cliffs of Dover."

Rule Number 4 - Try and link any message with a nostalgic link to the WAR - you know the one and only WAR, so our borders stop at the White Cliffs of Dover, so people of Gibraltar on your bikes.

Do remember "The 1975 referendum was a trick" though not a fraud apparently. And now the EU is making over 70% of our laws - this seems to be pick a number and repeat it often gambit, I've found a claim that in 2001 the Bow Group said that 55% of UK legislation was originated by the EU, and then apparently the German Government calculated in 2005 that about 70% of its laws originated from the European Union. Or in 2009 Conservative MEP Daniel Hannan mentioned 84%; UKIP leader Nigel Farrage said it was 75%, the figure most often mentioned by anti-EU types (such as French National Front leader Jean Marie Le Pen or the Libertas Party) is that 80% of our laws come from the EU, while in a speech elsewhere last week, Conservative leader David Cameron said that “Almost half of all the regulations affecting our businesses come from the EU”.

Confused, well don't be they are all wrong, the website Nosemonkey -   What percentage of laws come from the EU? explains why.

And the UKIP 70-75% claim - does not apply to the percentage of laws in individual member states that stem from the EU, but the percentage of laws that stem from the EU that the European Parliament has a say in. That’s an entirely different kettle of fish – and so the 75% figure can safely be dismissed as based on a (deliberate?) misunderstanding.

Now as we know  the EU is evil (it has the letters EU)  and British MPs have little say on many issues. Unelected Brussels Commissioners have much more power than our own MPs. And of the 27 EU Commissioners, at least eight are ex-Communists.

OMG OMG - unelected Commissioners have more powers than our MPs .....not going to mention MEP's then I see, not going to mention the job Nigel Farage does, 'cause they seem to be voting on something over there in the EU...not going to mention this year EU parliament session....the 3874 votes by democratically elected MEP's of which Nigel voted in 50.28% of take it the UKIP MEP's do something....don't they?

What's that....oh yeah at least eight are ex-Communists and you know what that means SOCIALISM, not only is the EU EVIL but its run by SOCIALISTS - run for the hills people Stalin is taking over, he tricked us all, he's not dead he's coming back. After all Russia need do is just cross our border that we have LOST CONTROL OF (it's next to Russia remember) and we will all be COMMUNISTS. And what of the WHITE CLIFFS OF DOVER then...people or should that be COMRADES ...did you know there are 142 million Russian and it's a gateway to Asia and there are 4 billion of them, they could take over the EU, for every one of us there are 64 of them, think what would happen if they came over here to work.....OMG..OMG......

More to follow.... including "which with other democratic, freedom loving organisations, [...], across Europe." UKIP is working with.

UPDATE: In a rather pathetic letter to the Daily Post on Thursday 31/1/13 John Bell - Con. NW Chair said and I quote  - "In addition, if the EU is to survive as a prosperous trading entity with the rest of  the world, it has to ditch its outdated, central-controlled, highly regulated, bureaucratic, undemocratic one might say, socialist model".  Yes SOCIALISTS.......OMG OMG run for the hills people....

And there was me thinking that the banking collapse of 2008 had something to do with failure in the capitalist model.

Sunday, 27 January 2013

Austerity isn't working?

The narrative we are expected to swallow by the Conservative led Coalition Government and those on the right, is that the UK had a massive structural deficit and that it was all the fault of the previous Labour administration, especially the then Prime Minister Gordon Brown for 'maxing out the countries credit card'. Therefore we were told that there was only one way to our salvation and that was strict austerity - things were so bad, we had to have an emergency budget. For example we were told that last government left the biggest debt in the developed world.

In order to sell the strict austerity package to you and me, we had to be convinced that it was really really bad, and that there is only one way to salvation -  that the reason for cuts in our working conditions, be that working hours or wages or health and safety or job security; or cuts to welfare - is to ensure all our future prosperities, we are all in this together remember, rather than a ideological driven neoliberal approach. See: The Guardian: The march of the neoliberals.

However, the deficit myth is simply wrong, but don't take my word for it, read what Conservative economist Ramesh Patel has to say:

Finally! Exposed! The Deficit Myth! So, David Cameron When Are You Going to Apologise? Exposed! 

Osbornomics Via Childish Proverbs, Idioms, Soundbites, Tricks and Utter Bollocks!

Not that the previous Labour Government should escape blame totally, in the context that during his tenure as Prime Minister Gordon Brown had increased public spending by too much, based on overoptimistic forecasts of the economy. Although he cant be really blamed for not foreseeing the collapse of the world economy in 2008.

In the words of the IMF "[In 2008] [t]he financial meltdown originating in the U.S. mortgage markets reverberated around the world, and led to the deep retrenchment of the world financial markets and the largest global recession in living memory."

And then put simply; because I am in essence a simple man, the money dried up, confidence was lost, nobody trusted what the other said and economy stalled. This required a massive bailout by central banks and governments to stop the world economy falling into a deep depression.

I think it's important to remember that the financial meltdown occurred primarily because we had over leveraged private debt. And not as we are led to believe due to massive public Ramesh Patel says "Labour in 1997 inherited a debt of 42% of GDP. By the start of the global banking crises 2008 the debt had fallen to 35% - a near 22% reduction[..]. Surprisingly, a debt of 42% was not seen as a major problem and yet at 35% the sky was falling down?"

In 2008 world confidence had collapsed, the world economy had in effect stalled -  it needed a kick-start to get going. But with private debt over leveraged and banks not lending to one another, it was down to governments to provide the stimulus to kick-start the world economy. And I'm not just talking about the bailout of the banks, but direct support to businesses to keep workers on during the difficult period etc...

In the UK we had a conventional Keynesian approach to a recession, increased public spending and tax cuts as a means of kick starting the economy. And as such I suppose you could say it was working,.for by the end of 2009 growth had returned, albeit small at 0.4%.

To paraphrase, the Keynesian Model is - you cut the structural deficit during the boom years, and you spend your way out of a recession. However, you cant carry on increasing public spending (in real terms) over the long term, because that could lead to the economy overheating resulting in inflationary pressures reducing the competitiveness of the private sector resulting in a lower GDP and lower tax take.

I think what is often forgotten is that had Labour won in 2010 they also had plans to cut public spending and lower taxes, but that they proposed to do it over a longer period than that proposed by the Conservatives. I recall reading somewhere that the difference between the two parties was around £5 billion, which in the context of GDP of over a trillion is a small drop in the ocean.

In essence I think, we had two approaches a Keynesian approach by Labour and a neoliberal approach by the Conservatives. Neoliberals believing in small government, low taxes and self regulating markets; and that how a person spends their well earned money should be left to the individual.

And in the 'emergency budget' of George Osborne, the Chancellor, the Conservative led coalition Government set in motion strict austerity measures, with an aim of restoring confidence, retaining the UK's AAA rating and eliminating the structural deficit by the 2015/2016 financial year.

Now and again put simply - a central premise of this approach is that by cutting public spending and red tape you make more money available to the private sector who then find it easier to invest which results in a growing economy. And there is evidence from history that shows that in certain circumstances this fiscal contraction approach does indeed result in growth in the economy driven by the private sector.

However, there is a growing consensus amongst economist; I think, that this is not one of those circumstances. Professor Robert J. Shiller gives a much more knowledgeable explanation in his post: Does Austerity Promote Economic Growth?

And it's evidential that Plan A isn't working as explained by Guardian Economics Blog.

'The only plan on the table' had at it's heart a need to inspire confidence in the private sector; especially from overseas investors, that the UK was a safe bet for which to do business with, that the plan was credible not only in the short term but also the long term, and that investment for the long term was also safe in the UK.

Now ask yourself this question - do you think the recent announcement by David Cameron that there is to be an IN/OUT referendum on EU membership in 5 years time, for which he would say YES to staying in the EU only if he gets some powers back, although we ain't sure which powers he's referring to, is it more likely  or less likely that overseas investors will see the UK as a safe bet?

If you want to see how bad the recession of 2008 was compared to others I refer you to the Guardian - Recessions compared: how does Britain's GDP compare to every recession since 1930?.

Not unsurprisingly following such a recession there is a period of low growth, as  you ain't going to recover over night. And growth is key, if you are going to reduce your structural deficit in the long term, you have to accept that initially your structural deficit will grow, by the very simple fact of growth being lower than inflation. (the Bank of England inflation target being 2%)

What you hope to avoid is falling back into recession, because then you will have lower GDP and lower tax receipts and rather than investing in infrastructure for growth, your paying the price for a failed economic policy.

We know there is plenty of private monies available, the Bank of England alone has dumbed £357 billion into the economy, and that large multinational are sitting on trillions, but there seems a reluctance to invest. We know this because lending to SMEs contracted in the three months to November, statistics from the Bank of England show - see Bdaily.

And if the private sector isn't investing, and public confidence is still low as well as disposable income, and export markets are weak and the service sector is still de-leveraging - where will growth come from?

What we need this time is not "austerity" but "investment in growth-boosting infrastructure measures." - not my words but those of Mayor Boris Johnson

Friday, 25 January 2013

They work for us - MEP Wales

Talking of Europe, ever wondered how hard our Welsh MEP's work:

Attendance or voting record in % terms -Click on above to enlarge

Looking at the above chart, pretty hard I'd say - with Derek Vaughan topping the attendance and voting records. All Welsh MEP's break the 3/4 barrier.

Data from Vote Watch Europe, last updated 17/12/2012 - i.e see Derek Vaughan MEP, and information correct at time post published.

Thursday, 24 January 2013

The Common Market and the EU

Let me start by saying that I think we should remain a strong part of Europe, and that Europe is also stronger if the UK remains part of the European family.

In a 'landmark' speech; which I urge you all to read, the 'State of the Union' address of 1941 President Roosevelt said inter alia:

..there is nothing mysterious about the foundations of a healthy and strong democracy. The basic things expected by our people of their political and economic system are simple: 

They are:

Equality of opportunity for youth and for others

Jobs for those who can work

Security for those who need it.

The ending of special privileges for the few.

The preservation of civil liberties for all.

The enjoyment of the fruits of scientific progress in a wider and constantly rising standard of living....

He also set out the four essential human freedoms:

In the future days which we seek to make secure, we look forward to a world founded upon four essential human freedoms.

The first is freedom of speech and expression - everywhere in the world.

The second is freedom of every person to worship God in his own way – everywhere  in the world.

The third is freedom from want – which, translated into world terms, means economic understanding which will secure to every nation a healthy peace time life for its inhabitants – everywhere in the world.

The fourth is freedom from fear – which translated into world terms, means a world-wide reduction of armaments to such a point and in such a thorough fashion than no nation will be in a position to commit an act of physical aggression against any neighbour – anywhere in the world.

And in 1946 in another 'landmark' speech made by Sir Churchill at the University of Zurich, that I have posted about previously - The Council of Europe said:

...Yet all the while there is a remedy which, if it were generally and spontaneously adopted by the great majority of people in many lands, would as if by a miracle transform the whole scene, and would in a few years make all Europe, or the greater part of it, as free and as happy as Switzerland is to-day. What is this sovereign remedy? It is to re-create the European Family, or as much of it as we can, and to provide it with a structure under which it can dwell in peace, in safety and in freedom. We must build a kind of United States of Europe....

I am going to say something that will astonish you. The first step in the recreation of the European Family must be a partnership between France and Germany. In this way only can France recover the moral and cultural leadership of Europe. There can be no revival of Europe without a spiritually great France and a spiritually great Germany. The structure of the United States of Europe, if well and truly built, will be such as to make the material strength of a single state less important. Small nations will count as much as large ones and gain their honour by their contribution to the common cause. The ancient states and principalities of Germany, freely joined together for mutual convenience in a federal system, might take their individual places among the United States of Europe. I shall not try to make a detailed programme for hundreds of millions of people who want to be happy and free, prosperous and safe, who wish to enjoy the four freedoms of which the great President Roosevelt spoke, and live in accordance with the principles embodied in the Atlantic Charter...

And in 1949 he said:

Britain is an integral part of Europe, and we mean to play our part in the revival of her prosperity and greatness. But Britain cannot be thought of as a single state in isolation. She is the founder and centre of a world wide Empire and Commonwealth. We shall never do anything to weaken the ties of blood, of sentiment and tradition and common interests which unite us with other members of the British family of nations.

But nobody is asking us to make such a desertion. For Britain to enter a European Union from which the Empire and Commonwealth would be excluded would not only be impossible but would, in the eyes of Europe, enormously reduce the value of our participation. The Strasbourg recommendations [that is the first session of the Council of Europe] urged the creation of an economic system which will embrace not only the European States, but all those other States and territories elsewhere which are associated with them. 
(Source: Churchill by Roy Jenkins)

In 1957 the European Economic Community was formed, which the UK joined much later in 1974. The Treaty of Rome says in Articles 1 to 3:


By this Treaty, the HIGH CONTRACTING PARTIES establish among themselves a EUROPEAN ECONOMIC COMMUNITY.


The Community shall have as its task, by establishing a common market and progressively approximating the economic policies of Member States, to promote throughout the Community a harmonious development of economic activities, a continuous and balanced expansion, an increase in stability, an accelerated raising of the standard of living and closer relations between the States belonging to it.


For the purposes set out in Article 2, the activities of the Community shall include, as provided in this Treaty and in accordance with the timetable set out therein

(a) the elimination, as between Member States, of customs duties and of quantitative restrictions on the import and export of goods, and of all other measures having equivalent effect;

(b) the establishment of a common customs tariff and of a common commercial policy towards third countries;

(c) the abolition, as between Member States, of obstacles to freedom of movement for persons, services and capital;

(d) the adoption of a common policy in the sphere of agriculture;

(e) the adoption of a common policy in the sphere of transport;

(f) the institution of a system ensuring that competition in the common market is not distorted;

(g) the application of procedures by which the economic policies of Member States can he co-ordinated and disequilibria in their balances of payments remedied;

(h) the approximation of the laws of Member States to the extent required for the proper functioning of the common market;

(i) the creation of a European Social Fund in order to improve employment opportunities for workers and to contribute to the raising of their standard of living;

(j) the establishment of a European Investment Bank to facilitate the economic expansion of the Community by opening up fresh resources;

(k) the association of the overseas countries and territories in order to increase trade and to promote jointly economic and social development.

You see the above,  I hope, sort of throws a light on this idea that somehow we where tricked into or were lied about the European Union. As you can see what is sometimes conviently forgotten is that many things that people object to, such as movement of people goes hand in hand with an economic union, that for instance the free movement of people came about because of economic union, read Articles 48 to 51.

And let's be clear the economic union did concern itself with social issues see Articles 117 to 122.

Put simply our prosperity and peace depends on common policies with Europe, and we would be worse off outside it, and Europe would be worse off without the UK as part of it.

In a previous post I pointed out why we cant do a Norway... Should the UK leave the EU and do a Norway?

And as for Switzerland this is what the CIA Factbook has to say:

"The Swiss have brought their economic practices largely into conformity with the EU's, to enhance their international competitiveness, but some trade protectionism remains, particularly for its small agricultural sector. The fate of the Swiss economy is tightly linked to that of its neighbors in the euro zone, which purchases half of all Swiss exports."

As for referendums which seems the to be in thing these days, aren't elections where you gain a fresh mandate? - this is what a Commission of the Conduct of Referendums had to say in a report in 1996:

....only 25 years ago referendums were regard as unconstitutional; they had no place in the political process....

The principal message of [their] report was:

"..referendums cannot provide a panacea for major political problems; but they can significantly assist governments before controversial legislation is introduced, and they can give greater legitimacy to new policies after legislation had been enacted..."

And in their lies the horn of dilemma for David Cameron, he knows that the UK should remain an essential part of Europe - but he also knows that his party is divided on the matter. Labour on the other hand should remain firm and say no to a referendum and seek a fresh mandate at the next election, by pledging to remain part of the European Union and grow and strengthen ties with it.

That is why UKIP and others want a referendum, because they know at the election ballot box they can't win.

I fear that in order to save the Conservative Party, they are willing to risk the unity and prosperity of the UK, and what of the consequence of this decision on next years Scottish know one argument having being 'don't vote for independence cause that'll mean you'll be out of the EU...if now it has to be amended.... but you needn't worry we might be all out of the EU after 2017.

As the New York Times said recently:

"Domestic politics have regularly trumped broader European concerns throughout the six-decade-long history of the union and its predecessor organizations, to the dismay of those who want to see Europe live up to a commitment in the 1957 Treaty of Rome for an “ever closer union.”

But Mr. Cameron’s pledge to hold a referendum on European Union membership threatens to elevate national political calculations over common interests to an extent that has alarmed even countries that often share British concerns."

Tuesday, 22 January 2013

Has BBC Wales forgotten what its purpose is?

I read with the interest the call by BBC Wales for actors to be given an exemption from the smoking ban in Wales, so that they may be allowed to smoke on set in the interest of 'historical accuracy' - see Smoking ban could force dramas out of Wales, BBC warns

The question is - is 'historical accuracy' that important to such a detail?

There are a lot of things we know people did in the olden days that society in general do not tolerate these days - take language for instance, they are certain words common place in the past that we would not tolerate being used today...and it should be the same with smoking.

Smoking is bad for you, and not only to you but those around you - the link between passive smoking and cancer is beyond doubt. See Cancer Reaserch UK

Which brings me to the purpose of the BBC and it's Royal Charter which says:

3.The BBC’s public nature and its objects

(1)The BBC exists to serve the public interest.

(2)The BBC’s main object is the promotion of its Public Purposes.

And its Public Purposes are (inter alia):

(a) sustaining citizenship and civil society; 

(b) promoting education and learning; 

(c) stimulating creativity and cultural excellence; 

Not forgetting BBC responsibility to protect the health and safety of its employees.

Therefore the BBC purpose is to serve the public interest, and to promote and educate - in example a healthier lifestyle.

Which begs the question has BBC Wales forgotten its purpose? - Is it really necessary for 'historical accuracy' to see someone actually smoke on set? - even when the consequences of smoking are integral to the storyline....of course it isn't.

Would not seeing anyone actually smoke in a period drama make it better or worse, or would the fact that you noticed no one actually smoked mean it was a poorly written drama in the first place?

After all smoking in films and on television does have an affect...the Centres of Disease Control and Prevention in the USA says regarding movies:

Exposure to onscreen smoking in movies increases the probability that youths will start smoking. Youths who are heavily exposed to onscreen smoking are approximately two to three times more likely to begin smoking than youths who are lightly exposed

If it's a choice between promoting public health and protecting employees from passive smoking and so called 'historical accuracy' then public health should trump every time.

Monday, 21 January 2013

A fall in household finance

I suppose we all know it, the Markit Household Finance Index™ on Monday said that [a]round 31% of respondents noted a deterioration in their financial situation, compared to 6% that saw an improvement.

Though when compared to last year those asked were shall we say less pessimistic at the start of this year - The headline Markit Household Finance Index (HFI) picked up to 37.7 in January, from December’s seven-month low of 36.8 - with neutral threshold being 50.

The key points of the Markit Household Finance Index™ for January are:
  • Squeeze on household finances weakens in January…
  • …and respondents are the least pessimistic about year-ahead outlook since September 2012
  • Sentiment regarding ease of access to unsecured credit is least downbeat in four-year survey history
  • Appetite for major purchases falls at slowest pace since October 2010
  • Least marked drop in job security since the start of the survey in early 2009…
  • …but activity at work stagnates and income from employment declines at fastest pace for six months

See also: Reuters - Households slightly less gloomy on finances in January -survey

Saturday, 19 January 2013

UK says no to 'Right to be forgotten'?

Do you remember the proposal for a new European Law that would give consumers the right to be forgotten?

As reported by the Telegraph in January 2012 "Embarrassing, inaccurate or simply personal data will have to be deleted from the internet and company databases if consumers ask, under a new set of European laws."

What is less reported is the British Governments opposition to such a law.

The New York Times reported on Friday, 18 January 2013 that "...[d]uring an informal meeting in Dublin, the ministers expressed reservations about elements of the proposal, which would impose new limits on data collection and profiling and give national regulators the ability to levy hefty fines equal to 2 percent of sales on companies that failed to comply...."


"..According to [a] memo [and summary of the meeting seen by the International Herald Tribune], representatives of Britain, which has one of the largest advertising industries in Europe, repeatedly objected to many elements, citing concern for how the measure would affect the Internet’s development."

As we have known for a long time when it comes to consumer protection versus business interests - business interest will always have the trump card.

To read the full New York Times article: Ministers Express Doubts on Expanding Data Protection Law

Wednesday, 16 January 2013

The Council of Europe

As we wait for that 'landmark speech', I think again that it's important to distinguish between the European Union (EU) and the Council of Europe. The Council of Europe was set up following the Second World War and a desire in all nations for lasting peace.

The following is an extract from the Statute of the Council of Europe:

The Governments of the Kingdom of Belgium, the Kingdom of Denmark, the French Republic, the Irish Republic, the Italian Republic, the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg, the Kingdom of the Netherlands, the Kingdom of Norway, the Kingdom of Sweden and the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland,

Convinced that the pursuit of peace based upon justice and international co-operation is vital for the preservation of human society and civilisation;

Reaffirming their devotion to the spiritual and moral values which are the common heritage of their peoples and the true source of individual freedom, political liberty and the rule of law, principles which form the basis of all genuine democracy;

Believing that, for the maintenance and further realisation of these ideals and in the interests of economic and social progress, there is a need of a closer unity between all like-minded countries of Europe;

Considering that, to respond to this need and to the expressed aspirations of their peoples in this regard, it is necessary forthwith to create an organisation which will bring European States into closer association,

Have in consequence decided to set up a Council of Europe consisting of a committee of representatives of governments and of a consultative assembly, and have for this purpose adopted the following Statute.....

See also Council of Europe

And as we know the European Court of Human Rights is part of the Council of Europe and not the EU. The Council of Europe was founded on 5 May 1949 by the Treaty of London, and in a speech at the University of Zurich on 19 September 1946, Sir Winston Churchill said:

I must now sum up the propositions which are before you. Our constant aim must be to build and fortify the strength of the United Nations Organization. Under and within that world concept we must re-create the European Family in a regional structure called, it may be, the United States of Europe. And the first practical step would be to form a Council of Europe. If at first all the States of Europe are not willing or able to join the Union, we must nevertheless proceed to assemble and combine those who will and those who can. The salvation of the common people of every race and of every land from war or servitude must be established on solid foundations and must be guarded by the readiness of all men and women to die rather than submit to tyranny. In all this urgent work, France and Germany must take the lead together. Great Britain, The British Commonwealth of Nations, mighty America and I trust Soviet Russia - for: then indeed all would be well - must be the friends and sponsors of the new Europe and must champion its right to live and shine.

Therefore I say to you: let Europe arise!

Friday, 11 January 2013

Building a prison on Anglesey would be stupid!!!!

Putting aside that super prisons don't work....talking to BBC News....Andrew Coyle, University of Essex emeritus professor of prison studies and a former governor of Brixton Prison, has "a real feeling of déjà vu" about the latest plan. [The former Labour Government in 2009 scrapped proposals for three 2,500-capacity "Titan" jails.]

He points out that while in opposition, Conservative minister Dominic Grieve criticised Labour's prison proposals as akin to building "giant warehouses".

"We have clear evidence from the chief inspector of prisons and others that the ideal size for a well operating prison is about 500 - to go beyond that and you do begin to warehouse," Prof Coyle warns.

He says the move to giant prisons could "make the situation much worse" for prisoners already spending "too much time in their cells".

The possible locations of a super prison and the relocation of prisoners away from their communities is also a concern.

Mr Coyle says: "There are not 2,000 people in prison in north Wales. And if it is to be built in London, then the cost of both providing the land and building on it is going to be astronomical.

If you asked the question where would you build a prison in North Wales, and a super prison at that, then logic says that the only place to build it would be in Wrecsam. After all North Wales depending on whom you believe has a need for a 500 to 800 capacity prison, which means 1,200 to 1,500  prisoners from England. And surely as the case for a prison in North Wales is the travelling distance for relatives as well as logistics, then it would be rather silly if we then build a prison that would increase the travelling distance for what would be the majority of relatives.

On Anglesey two sites have been suggested, one at Rhosgoch...the former Shell oil terminal.  Sorry, but whoever suggest that site as a suitable location for a prison of any size must be really, really, and I mean really thick...mad utter bonkers.

The other proposed site is Anglesey Aluminum at Holyhead.....well it does have a direct link into the national grid for the electric chair I suppose.

But seriously, I suspect even Holyhead with its rail link and A55 connection would a be logistical no go area for a super prison, not forgetting the cost of clearing the site in the first place.

Now don't get me wrong I don't have any problems with prisons per say, after all travel to Shrewsbury on  train and when you disembark you're within walking distance of the prison, and it doesn't seem to deter know seeing how we should always think of the tourist, apparently....

So please can we stop this utter nonsense - whilst there is a case for a prison for North Wales prisoners in North Wales, in my opinion there is no logical argument that can be put forward that supports a case for a prison on Anglesey.

As for the former Rhosgoch Shell depot, I suggest we turn it into a solar park, akin to the one recently approved at Bodorgan Estate (see BBC News) to bring some income into the Council at least.