Friday, 31 July 2009

Aung San Suu Kyi

The Burmese regime states that it is committed to fair and free elections. Yet the trial of Aung San Suu Kyi continues and a verdict is now expected on August I1th.

Sadly there is no chance that she will be allowed to stand in these elections, that is how free and fair they are.

Crosfield House

I am very saddened that the Royal British Legion is putting its care home in Rhayader on the market.

I am seeking a meeting with the Royal British Legion about the future of the home. I have to say though that I have had meetings before and had reassurances about the long term future of the home.

The Royal British Legion must act speedily to reassure the residents in the home and their relatives. This is a prime concern. The home is also the largest employer in Rhayader and this is a huge concern too therefore.

I have written to the minister asking her to place pressure on the British Legion.

Very bad news.

Sarah Millington

Well done Sarah on topping the poll for the by-election for Llandrindod town council last night. This follows her great success in winning Llandrindod South in last year's county council elections

Great news

Thursday, 30 July 2009

Whose side are the Government on?

I am sure many others share my bemusement, my horror and my vicarious shame that the British government is challenging awards of compensation made to British service men.
Corporal Anthony Duncan of the Light Dragoons had been awarded compensation for being shot in Iraq and is now back on the frontline in Afghanistan.

The Defence Secretary is seeking a reduction in the amount of compensation and in another award to another serviceman.

In fact claims from injured service personnel can take ages to process and cause angst and stress to the injured and their families.

The government should hang its head in shame.

I find it extraordinary that he Defence Secretary and the governemnt should be fighting to reduce the compensation paid to injured personnel. Nothing should be too good for those injured in the service of their country.

Our excellent armed forces

The United Kingdom is very well served by our totally professional armed forces. Regardless of political decisions that are made with which individuals may disagree we owe it to our armed forces (who are independent of politics) who serve in our name to supply them with the very best equipment to do their job regardless of cost. It is that simple. That has not been happening and it is a stain on our government that that is so.

Importantly we also owe it to our armed forces to support them to the hilt. I was dismayed at a Plaid Cymru AM's attack on the army alleging that it was targeting recruitment at deprived areas of Wales This is extremely patronising to the superb recruits who may enlist from such communities . It is also undermining of the finest armed forces in he world who do not of course practise press gang tactics which are still used in other parts of the world. If any Plaid Cymru politician or anybody else for that matter has any evidence of improper process in recruitment then they should supply the evidence of this. They should support our armed forces otherwise they should shut up. They should not indulge in this constant sniping and undermining of everything that our armed forces do.

Sadly Plaid Cymru is at best ambivalent about defence of Britain. Some Plaid Cymru members question the proposed development of a Defence Academy in St Athan for example. They should be slapped down by their party leader. It is time also for their coalition allies who, like the Conservative Party, are committed to the defence of Britain and to the St Athan development and who like us believe in the Union of our nations and the need to defend the United Kingdom to have a quiet word with Plaid Cymru about the subversive effect that this all has on our defence and those who serve in our armed forces.

For too long Plaid Cymru has been running with the nationalist unilateralist anti defence hares and hunting with the pro defence jobs hounds. Where do they stand on this?

Of course this two faced Janus approach is not unique Similarly they are anti the union of our countries but seeking more money from Westminster, against nuclear power in Wales except in the Assembly leader's Ynys Mon seat.
Time for a quite word in their ear by their coalition colleagues methinks

Monday, 27 July 2009

Lee Kuan Yew at 85

One of my political heroes, up there with Mikhail Gorbachev and President Obama has just had a landmark birthday.

In that difficult assessment between authority and personal freedom I suspect he draws the line closer to authority than I do but one cannot deny his and Singapore's success. The fact that the two in that context are virtually synonymous says it all.

A Cambridge trained barrister he returned to Singapore after qualification. He defeated the Communists in Singapore with Malay and British help. He won with others freedom from the colonial power, Britain and then from Malaysia. Singapore then proceeded to outpace and outperform Malaysia.

He was Prime Minister of the country through a period of remarkable growth, stability and personal prosperity. He was succeeded by Goh Chok Tong. who was in his turn succeeded by Lee Tsien Loong, the great man's son. Lee Kuan Yew as Prime Minister Mentor still has his hand on the tiller and Singapore remains prosperous secure and strong. Singapore also has four languages though only Mandarin and English are used regularly. It also has a relatively young and multi-racial population. Weren't we warned of that? That was a potentially explosive mix, not a bad record and no sign that the light is dimming or that retirement is calling.

Friday, 24 July 2009

Review of the week… death threats, the BNP and the Royal Welsh Show

I write this review hearing the news that we have taken Norwich North in the most recent by-election success, 16% swing… well done Chloe and her team!

This week however has seen some high and low points; I started off in the Royal Welsh Show, the most significant agricultural show in the UK bar none. Another year another success – congrats to all involved. Monday started with a veiled death threat which I duly notified to the police. With typical efficiency they were there to meet me at the Royal Welsh. No clues as to who sent the threat but the police are on the trail.

Monday however soon improved with great meetings with the FUW and NFU Cymru, First Milk and tasting the fantastic Pembrokeshire cheese. One thing became obvious very quickly, we need a food champion in Wales and we must have honest labelling, food produced not processed in Wales must be labelled Welsh.

The week then moved on to more domestic assembly issues, interviewing for the post of researcher for the Conservative Group. What a field, any one could have been easily appointed and done a fantastic job. Yet another sign that the Welsh Assembly is becoming engrained in the political world and maturing as an institution, the quality and quantity of applicants for the post was a tribute.

Following a day of interviewing, I headed back home to Aberystwyth to meet constituents and visit organisations on the way. Yesterday saw a day out and about in Ceredigion with Lisa Francis. I met with the Chief Executive and Leader of Ceredigion County Council, very productive and clear they have a vision of the way forward for our county.

I arrived at home in Aber to find a complaint which will see me before standards again, apparently comments which I have made on this blog have upset supporters / members of the BNP… I’ve been here before and cannot say I mind.

This all leads me to here… typing this blog on my blackberry on the Aberystwyth to Shrewsbury line…

I have just passed Carno on the train and phoned the office to chase up the state of play on the campaign to re-open that station. We really need investment in Mid Wales, it was at the core of what would have been the rainbow coalition and it is one of the greatest let downs so far from the Lab/Plaid Coalition. It seems business in the Welsh Assembly Government means more neglect of Mid Wales!

Equipping our armed forces!

“We must support our troops”. That statement almost goes without saying, something nobody can argue with! However I fear this noble aim is becoming politicised. It seems Gordon Brown is unable to admit that inadequacies exist in terms of helicopters and other necessary equipment. We have seen the argument first hand this week and I feel sure that this is only the tip of the iceberg.

Foreign Office minister Lord Malloch Brown has rowed back on comments made in a Daily Telegraph interview that the UK did not have enough helicopters. I am sure he was right the first time, we need greater resources. We have a right and duty to question the motives of a war before we engage our enemies but when our troops are in the field we must resource them, support them and welcome them home with open arms.

I pay tribute to all our Armed Forces, be they in the field or not – thank you and I feel ashamed that our Government is letting them down.

Friday, 17 July 2009


To truly represent the country we seek to serve, the Conservative Party needs to elect men and women from all backgrounds which reflect it.

David Cameron recognised that when he became leader. That’s why he took steps to promote the brightest and best from all sections of British society as Conservative candidates for the next General Election.

As party leader in the Assembly I am acutely aware that in Wales we have failed to match those bold ambitions.

It is a matter of great regret to me that over three Assembly terms only three out of the 19 Welsh Conservative AMs have been women. Had it not been for Angela Burns’ magnificent win in Carmarthen West and South Pembrokeshire in 2007 this poor record would be even worse.

That’s why I’ve felt for a long time that the way in which we choose candidates for the 2011 Assembly elections must be different from previous campaigns. The imbalance in our representation in the Senedd cannot go on, otherwise as a party we will rightly be open to criticism of a boys-only club, a white, male preserve which can only reflect a certain section of society no matter how good the policies and no matter how well-intentioned.

In the coming weeks I plan to take these concerns to the Conservative Party’s Welsh management board for their consideration.

I will be proposing:

The establishment of a priority list of candidates for target seats, with specific emphasis on getting more women and people from ethnic minorities into winnable positions. This list will be drawn up from approved candidates by the Welsh Conservatives’ board of management

Local associations in target seats to ensure at least half of those candidates put forward for final selection to be women or from an ethnic minority background

Mentoring and training for candidates, and also for local associations

For regional lists the first available vacancy should be a woman or ethnic minority candidate. Where there is no incumbent the top spot on the regional list should go to a woman or ethnic minority candidate

We need to get serious about who we choose to represent us in the Assembly. We have had some excellent candidates – men and women – at the last three Assembly elections but I believe we can go further and do more. The 2011 elections will be a key test for the Welsh Conservatives and we must rise to that challenge in what we say, what we do, and how we look.

The experience of our selection for the European Parliament is a salutary one. We have an excellent new MEP in Kay Swinburne, who started her role representing Wales and Britain just a few days ago.

In Westminster terms we have selected several women in winnable Welsh seats for the next General Election. It has not gone un-noticed, however, that there has never been a woman Welsh Conservative MP. We aim to change that whenever Gordon Brown has the courage to call the election.

That said, in terms of Parliamentary selections in Wales the balance is still predominantly towards men, and we have so far failed to select any candidate from an ethnic minority background this time, male or female.

I understand some members of the party may be uncomfortable with my proposals. But let me reassure them that I do not support the introduction of all women shortlists as Labour has done to their cost.

Local associations must still be allowed to choose the candidate they think will best serve their interests. What I am proposing is giving local associations a helping hand in making the Welsh Conservative Party more representative and more diverse.

We have allowed the other parties in the Assembly to steal a march on us in terms of the representation of women and people from ethnic minorities. I believe it’s high time we played catch-up.

Monday, 6 July 2009


There appears to be some co-ordinated campaign targeted against David Cameron accusing him of being a closet communist because of his support for Unite Against Fascism!!

It is vital we all do Unite Against Fascism. The qualified success of the BNP in winning two seats in the European Parliament was a wake up call.

I have received a number of e mails purporting to be a spontaneous outpouring of horror at David Cameron's leftwing links but all written in virtually identical terms. I have also received a number directed specifically at me.

While the BNP may not have made the breakthrough that the National Front has made in France they are more than a ghastly end of pier show that we can shrug off. They need to be seen off. Their creed of hatred should have no part in British politics. When the likes of Bernie Ecclestone come up with their mantra - Hitler wasn't all bad, they legitimise the horrific doctrine of the BNP. Hitler was all bad incidentally not to say totally evil.

Those who vote for the BNP vote, of course, for the legacy of Hitler. It really is that simple.

Assembly Reform

We should have a Standing Committee on Assembly Reform. There has been a step change in Assembly business in the third Assembly compared with the first two. The Assembly Commission has a long list of other tasks to accomplish. The Committee should be made up of the PO/DPO, backbenchers and some committee chairs and should be able to call witnesses and experts.

It may want to look at :-

1. How we can ensure Assembly questions are crisper - answers too very often;

2. Ways of requiring the attendance of ministers at committees when called;

3. Sanctions to be applied where a minister makes an Assembly announcement outside of the Chamber during Assembly terms;

4. More flexible and extended sitting times in the chamber when this is needed;

5. Improving institutional links with Westminster and Holyrood and Stormont too;

6. And no doubt many other matters as well.