Wednesday, 5 May 2010

The real stitch up!

For once I agree with Tony Blair. For the first time since around 2001. Vote with your heart this election. David Cameron of course has been quick to warn voters against this. Warning of political stitch up should there be a hung/balanced parliament. But then he would. For without a clear majority he'll be unable to decimate the welfare state, part privatize the education system, build more nuclear power stations, stop and search immigrants, encourage the election of reactionary police chiefs, underfund devolved government and communities, and let the richest in society off inheritance tax. All of which are pretty much manifesto pledges once you read between the blue veined lines.

Of course the real stitch up is not the possibility of hung parliament. It is the system which has since 1950 allowed the tories to take on average 40% of the popular vote but maintain an average of 46% of the parliamentary seats. What is 6% among cronies? It is an average head start of at least 36 seats, and assuming Labour enjoy a similar advantage we have 12% or around 65 seats in the UK parliament that are taken out of the democratic equation before even a vote is cast. If this is democracy then I'm champion the Wonder Horse. For me the current situation is an abuse every bit as bad as the 2 member constituencies that existed prior to the Representation Of the People Act of 1948.

The stitch up Mr Cameron is the privilege and bias throughout our society that gives your ilk an unfair crack of the whip. This imbalance can only be undone by the people.

So yeah, vote with your hearts. And if you live in Wales vote with your heads too. Vote Plaid.

My sources for the stats above are here and I guess are more or less accurate:

Tuesday, 4 May 2010

A post in haste

It is demanding wok keeping a blog going with no time to spare. Even when I have a moment so much has passed it seems difficult to prioritise what to write about.

So let's keep this simple and succinct

Of all the parties in wales Plaid have the most socialist and radical agenda. Disillusioned labour voters not preocuupied with immigration paranoias need to look no further.

For those who vote on pragmatics rather than ideals- of all the principle parties in Wales only Plaid are committed to protecting Wales and our communities from the cuts outlined by the other 3 parties- ensuring Wales hets equal treatment with other parts of the UK. There are, if you like, £300 million reasons to vote Plaid.

A vote for Plaid is a vote for protection of public services, a vote for electoral reform, a vote for the anti- war movement, a vote for the environment, and a vote against the private sector interests who practically bankrupted the UK and now stand to profit while we pay more in tax. A vote for Plaid is a vote for the democratic left and a vote for Welsh communities.

On Thursday therefore- Vote Plaid.


Wednesday, 10 March 2010

Brown Strikes Football and PR

A bit of a random post this- a far from inclusive summary of things that have been on my mind since my last post.

Firstly just a cursory message of support for those public sector workers on the picket lines last week. If the prospect of being laid off in these grim times (still grim even if not still an official recession) were not bad enough- the prospect of being laid off for considerably less than was previously agreed contractually is even more grim. I would like to know what the governments official stance is on large employers trying to renegotiate redundancy terms before cutbacks? It is a bit like offering workers an umbrella on a rainy day then, as it clouds over, replacing it with a cocktail stick parasol. (albeit a cocktail parasol worth up to £60,000 or the equivalent of three years service whatever is lower).

The principle issue of the strike however is not really the detail of the redundancy package- but the fact that the government should make such explicit preparations to lay off so many public sector workers. bakers create the crisis, the public carry the cost, and public servants pay off the debt. It is hardly fair, and fairness is what we should demand of our politicians. Besides, in order for the government's fresh redundancy proposals to be necessary a significant proportion of public sector works face the prospect of the dole queue. With that in mind the strike deserves our support.

Secondly Brown. Poor old Gordon Brown. No sooner has he finished his tete a tete with Piers Morgan than he tries to elbow in next to Adrian Chiles onMatch of the Day. One would hope Brown had more significant things on his mind than Theo Walcott's disappointing form in world cup year. Although his take on Portsmouth's current financial woes would be genuinely interesting.

Brown's PR problems are well documented. It seems the paparazzi cannot resist snapping his face in midst contortion. Brown initially tried to improve his public image by taking smiling classes, and wearing a maniacal grin as false a Tony Blair's. He overlooked the fact the public did not take to Blair's grin- we always knew it was false. We were subdued by the inscrutable control of his emotions- Blair only ever had/has two expressions. Manic false smile or mock grave concern. As false as these expressions are they were somehow more convincing than Brown's tutored emoting. No matter how many prime time shows Brown appears on he just lacks the charm to play the part of man of the people. And charm just can't be learned on the lap of PR gurus.

This is the principle difference between the Brown and Blair. Charm. And there ability to sound and look plausible and likeable when falsifying. There was never a gaping ideological gulf between them. Put simply Blair was just a more convincing liar than Brown. He tricked more voters (this one back in 1997) with his lies and media-spun truths than Brown can and will. It was merely a flagrant abuse of his talent for partial truths/lies which led to Blair's political demise. Brown's will most probably come as result of being a less convincing liar at than either Blair or Cameron.

This is the soul of cynicism at the heart of my political engagement. Overall it is probably healthier to assume our politicians are misleading us and to let them prove otherwise. To do this requires that the electorate demonstrate greater faith in the political process than we currently have (not trust in the politicians but faith in the process!). And with that faith comes greater expectation, and subsequent accountability on the side of those elected. We need to expect more from our leaders- and they need to be held up to account more rigourously. This requires a level of dialogue and engagement that can't be attained through PR channels- MoTd, This Morning, the Piers Morgan show, or any tabloid newspaper. We do not need our leaders to have greater visibility- we do not need to feel that we 'know' them. Power itself needs to be disseminated from the centre to the people, and in order for this to be meaningful we need a devolved government with proper powers. Hence Plaid in Wales innit.

Thursday, 4 March 2010

Tory's show their form (again)

As this sorry sagademonstrates somethings never change. If it is not George Osbourne languishing on billionaire's yachts it is the whole damn tory party whoring the already dubious British 'honours' system, in exchange for some tax exempt cash to bolster their election campaign.

Cameron may well claim the tories are some latter day party of the people, but only if those people are wheeling heads of industry, who have been dodging taxes in one of the poorer countries of Central America for years. To quote the Belize Prime Minister on Ashcrofts supposed tax dodging there.

"Ashcroft is an extremely powerful man. His net worth may well be equal to Belize's entire GDP. He is nobody to cross."

Ashcroft's reluctance to contribute in eglatarian fashion should have come as no surprise to the Tories. And their pleads of ignorance in this case reflect either incompetence or corruption- or most probably both.

Wednesday, 3 March 2010

The fantastic 4?

4 labour councillors have announced their resignation over the fact that a probable lameduck candidate (maybe tamsin dunwoody) is being parachuted into Islwyn now Don Touhig is resigning. I like parachuted in- it conjures up images of Tasmin Dunwoody making her way from Crewe on a Mary Poppins style umbrella.

Aside from the issues of in-fighting there is something peculiar about these resignations.

Presumably the 4 councillors are worried about the new candidate lacking independence from central office. This is to neatly overlook the fact that Don, bless his hypocritical reversible coloured socks (red outside blue inside) has pretty much towed the labour party whipping line since the outset. There is already no independence of mind or conscience in the Islwyn labour party. He even contrived to vote against laws to stop climate change, like only Labour MPs in safe seats can.

Clearly a vote for Steffan Lewis, Plaid's candidate in Islwyn, can be the only way to ensure a vote in the Westminster elections will be a vote for an independent minded candidate. Accordingly I would hope (but not expect) the labour 4 to be joining the plaid ranks soon *doesn't hold breath*.

Sunday, 21 February 2010

The Plaid International

Contrary to what one might suspect from the title of this post Plaid have not developed an election manifesto and policy document comparable to the genius of Guy Debord. Nothing as wild as that is at foot yet. However there is anti-war humanitarianism in the ether.

Elfyn Llwyd has been speaking about Afghanistan. A great time for him to re-emphasise his own and Plaid's deep suspicion to this conflict. For those of you that still care to remember the facts of the UK's incessant warfare over the last decade, the Afghan campaign was initially justified, sneakily, by an understandable emotional response to Sept 11th. Afghanistan was, they said, the coalface of the war on terror. This seems to be forgotten now, and most people would struggle to to tell you the aim of this conflict. The war has however been criticized by those on the left from the outset as being a de-facto means to impose Western control on fossil fuel resources.

An ongoing conflict like this is in some way unavoidable given the material condition of the UKs economy of course. Here in Britain we have a war economy, dependent on the defence industry, so it is only logically fair to assume that we will be either directly engaged or supporting conflict somewhere in the world for the foreseeable future. If we weren't the wheels would fall off BAE, Senergy and countless others

As the Party of Wales Plaid always maintains an international outlook, and has a proud tradition of peace, in stark and consistent opposition to all the other principle parties in Wales. Adam Price's campaign for Blair's impeachment for war crimes back in 2004 being a great example.

For those in Wales with conscience (and we are very several!) the militarism inherent in British history is an anathema (WW2 withstanding). And the practical denouncements and actions of Plaid's elected representatives indicate a wider aspiration that gets to our very core. The vast majority of people desire peace, and abhor war. Yet the challenge is how to bring about a society that fulfills this uncomplicated yet deeply problematic aspiration. While not the answer to this age old dilemma itself, the advancement of devolution in the united Kingdom is one way to bring the pacifistic ideal from the realms of the hypothetical to possible fruition. The devolution of defence powers to properly democratic national parliaments would encourage a dialogue and co-operation across these islands. It would encourage more interaction with our european neighbours, and in short the kind of self interested campaign based on US neo-liberal aims that we have the misfortune to witness now would be close to impossible. Crucially devolution could stimulate the kind of economic development and accountability that could sever the UK's dependency on the arms sales- by variously nationalising the defence industry at first, then transforming its infrastucture from within.

These are big dreams of course. Huge dreams. They look pretty damn difficult to attain even to me. They undoubtedly look impossible to attain by many, and undesirable aims in the first place by others. They are dangerous dreams. But unless you can dream huge dreams like this, and make some efforts towards their satisfaction, then there is no point engaging with the politics of our age for any reason expect personal self aggrandisement.

The question remains however- of how to bring these aims to be. It starts with small gestures. The phased withdrawal from Afghanistan would be a start. A vote for Plaid in Wales come election day would be another.

After a geography imposed hiatus...

The plaid newport blog is back.

I know you've all missed me!