Tuesday, 22 September 2009

General Election Night.

I have followed with some interest the debate surrounding “General Election Night”. As you can imagine I have followed many “election nights” on T.V as well as attending many counts themselves.

I found myself launched into the debate following a letter from The Electoral Commission which outlined their position. First of all I can understand entirely the most important issue is ensuring an accurate result.

Overall though, I cannot see any benefit from these proposed changes. I have found over many years most counts to be extremely well organised, the returning officers more than comfortable with the mission and no questions surrounding the result.

The rush and excitement of an election night, despite falling turnouts is still, I feel, engrained into our political culture. We also find ourselves in a 24/7 digital age, love it or loathe it - news is pretty much instant and to delay the result seems very much a backward step!

In fact the more I consider my response, the more I find my decision on this issue clear. We cannot allow delayed counts to ruin one of the great facets of British Democracy, Election night. It’s a very British event to overturn a Government in one night.

In short – Keep Calm and Carry on – lets keep Election Night.

Monday, 14 September 2009

New Plaid No Difference

So Plaid are clearly focused on taking the country forward into the past or should that be backwards into the future?.

The usual whinge about Unionist parties indicating that for all the talk of difference they haven't changed. Same old obsession, same old Plaid.

Plaids are in government after all... What have they achieved? For example what have they done in terms of protection of the language?-- no help for a Welsh language daily newspaper and as yet no response from their leader to my letter suggesting concerted action to protect the retention of the Welsh language in plenary proceedings.

No progress on constitutional reform.
No laptops even!

Meanwhile we are developing policies on help for small businesses, more power for schools, help for hospices, help for pensioners and promotion of walking and cycling ( both green and healthy ) .

Other policies on social justice and education and culture will follow shortly.

We could spend valuable time raking over the distant past, barely discernible on the horizon (including Plaid Cymru's) or we can focus on the future - far more challenging, far more relevant and far more necessary.

That's what we are going to do.

Tuesday, 8 September 2009

What a day!

Started off by crossing London to leave my luggage at Euston Station so I could both go to the One Day International against Australia at Lords and catch the train that evening to Aberystwyth.

Great day ahead so I thought….. Got to Lords, entered the ground and found that our group was two down. Where were Keith and Judith? No panic, empty seats indicated they hadn’t arrived yet. Time goes on and, after much frantic texting, two strangers take the seats. First thought, they have obviously mugged Keith and Judith for their tickets! Should I work up the courage to confront them?

No this is Lords, obvious Keith and Judith are somewhere else in the ground and we hadn’t noticed that the tickets weren’t consecutive. Causing a scene just wouldn’t be cricket!

The cricket goes well and Australia’s run rate is pretty poor by the time they are all out at lunchtime. Alarmingly no reply texts or calls from Keith and Judith. Could ‘the muggers’ have their phone too?

Spend lunchtime touring the ground regretting carrying Judith’s heavyish birthday present to the ground which was opened by Lords security staff and knocked around!

Back to the cricket, after all the search of the ground was always going to be a ‘needle in a haystack’ job - destined to fail. Continue to glare at ‘the muggers’.

Mid afternoon and England still on top when I leave to get the train to Aberystwyth. A long queue at left luggage just as there was this morning when I left the suitcase. Never mind I thought, still plenty of time to catch the train.

Horrors, lightening strikes and the train is delayed.. The quick change at Birmingham International becomes simply impossible. The only logical thing to do is to change the ticket to Monday. Annoyed that I could have stayed to see England triumph…..

This feeling was short lived as seeing a chap in an MCC tie I ask him how the game ended and he tells me of the England batting collapse!

Later that evening I look at my mobile to find a message from Keith and Judith that they had left their mobile at home and were in the next stand throughout the game.

Much relived I didn’t make, or more likely attempt to make, a citizens arrest of those innocent muggers. Will suggest that we have fall back arrangements for the next match like taking our mobiles with us!

A dubious Westminster Rainbow?

So Adam Price has woken up to the likelihood of a Conservative victory in the General Election and is setting out Plaid's stall for a Westminster rainbow coalition. Not sure if this involves the Lib Dems too! Has he checked if they've altered their position on tied votes? Also his hand has been weakened by many Plaid AMs saying they would never do a deal with the Tories.

Needless to say the Conservative party is campaigning to win outright at the General and that must remain a very real nay likely outcome but the change of tone of the approach is an interesting one.

Adam is right about Labour's decline though that hasn't suddenly happened. It has suddenly become apparent but has been a long remorseless process.

In these circumstances and given the very staid nature of the Assembly coalition which has in two plus years failed to deliver any constitutional change demanded by Plaid and little or nothing on the language too it is surprising that he should still favour a deal with the so called left.. A coalition that has failed to provide assistance for a Welsh language daily newspaper, for example, and has cancelled the policy of no top up fees for Welsh students is scarcely what Plaid said it wanted in a dancing partner.

I do agree that the treatment of Dafydd Wigley has been reprehensible. Plaid's willingness, though belated, to take a part in the second chamber at Westminster should have been welcomed. It is widely recognised that Dafydd Wigley could have made indeed could still make a significant contribution in the House of Lords, a point often made by John Major, who was, of course, famously paired with Dafydd.

Monday, 7 September 2009

Recycling Policy

I see some councils are rewarding residents for recycling. This is being trialled in Windsor and Maidenhead, Runcorn and Widnes and some London boroughs.

The aim is to weigh recyclable waste and to reward residents with redeemable points that can be used at shops.

Sounds like a good idea. Incentives are better than punishments in trying to win hearts and minds.

Be good to see Welsh councils following suit.

BBC and Climate Change

Now I am a fan of the Beeb. Not unqualified, like most of humanity except his immediate relations I believe that Jonathan Ross is paid too much. Yet all in all I can't help feeling thet the BBC is, in general, rather a good thing.

I am mysified, however, as to why the BBC with its public service responsibilities should drop a day of programmes about climate change because it did not believe it should take sides in the debate on climate change.

What debate? There may well be a debate about what we should do to counter the effect of climate change and perhaps a disagreement about the timescale of the threat. In just the same way there may well be a debate about how to tackle global poverty but there is surely no serious debate about whether we face a serious threat.

I do hope the BBC is willing to front up on a serious campaign on climate change and urge people to take individual action to contribute to seeing off this serious threat. I will even allow Jonathan Ross to host it-- if absolutely necessary.

This extraordinary ordinary man

Sir Nicholas Winton is a good advertisement for old age and a particularly powerful promotion for humanity.

There he was at Liverpool Street station at age 100 bright eyed and alert welcoming some of the 669 refugee Jewish children and their descendants whom he had helped to save from the clutches of Hitler and Nazism 70 years ago.

In the midst of all the horror and despair of that awful episode in world history there he was a young British Shindler making a massive difference as an individual.

Remarkably he even kept this all quiet from his wife and family for 40 years until his wife discovered some papers in an old briefcase in 1999.

The man is a towering hero.

Wednesday, 2 September 2009

Active Citizens

Today I have been reading about 'guilty greens' -- apparently that is most of us. We are doing what we can to live environmentally friendly lives but feel we should be doing more. I must say I find that rather encouraging . How bleak the future would look if either people were unconcerned about climate change or thought that we were all doing enough. How right it is too that we do not leave it all to governments. Certainly they have their part to play and we are right to lobby them to do so but that is not the totality of what needs to be done.

More journeys on foot and by bike and by train, fuel efficient car, energy efficiency, turning down the heating, no use of the standyby button -these are to be my watchword as I sign up to this campaign which was launched yesterday at the Tate Modern in London.

I hope others do similarly. Individuals and organisations can sign up. Good to see Tottenham Hotspur FC in the vanguard as well as museums and culural centres like the Sage Gateshead and Hospitals and councils too. I hope many Welsh institutions as well as individuals sign up as well.
The campaign which was launched yesterday to persuade us all to cut our emissions by 10 per cent in 2010.

You can sign up to 10:10 at http://www.1010uk.org/


So one of the guests feted to celebrate the 40 years of Colonel Gaddafi in Tripoli was Robert Mugabe.

It seems a fitting recognition of the event.