Archive for the ‘ politics ’ Category

Blowing Up Buzzards: Nature Conservation.

There is not a lot to be said for DEFRA (newly branded today as the Department for the Eradication of Feral Rural Animals). Rarely a season goes by when they fail to infuriate great sections of the British public, while pissing off a fair few Europeans at the same time. Now, having spectacularly failed to impress anyone on the issue of badger culls, the new public enemy of the British rural landscape is the buzzard.

For those unaware, badgers were considered for widespread executions for chemical warfare activities. It appears that secret badger cells had been operating in secure locations, under trees and in prehistoric burial mounds, orchestrating the distribution of the toxin known only as TB, to cattle throughout the country. While there was never any firm evidence of the existence of these weapons of mass inconvenience, badgers were still fingered for on the spot execution.

Now buzzards are on the hit list as well. Their crime, the occasional consumption of baby pheasants. I’m sure we are all in agreement that those terrible buzzards should indeed be lined up against a wall, shot three times to the head, before being disposed of for distribution in canine treat tins for their most heinous crime of eating to stay alive. But wait, there’s more to this story than meets the eye. Why is DEFRA looking to protect these baby pheasants? Well so that they can grow up into slightly bigger pheasants for people to shoot of course.

For the buzzard, I would suggest rehabilitation, rather than incarceration or execution. If buzzards can be trained to emit a horse like laugh, inherit a country estate, master the art of being dressed in tweed by a butler, before equipping themselves with a shotgun, then their rights to blow ten bags of crap out of the same pheasant is perfectly acceptable. If they continue to kill pheasants in a way that is in their nature, then they themselves should, naturally, be exterminated in turn.

As solutions go, it’s about as rational as the initial argument.

Wales: Local Elections.

It was all fairly inevitable in the end. You imagine that even if we had enjoyed a record turnout for voters in the local elections, the results would not have differed much from the final tallies revealed yesterday. Labour clawed back a percentage of their previous losses to the Conservatives, and took a good number of seats from other parties who appeared to be caught up in the wake of an anti-Cameron backlash. So how might everyone be feeling after this mini test of the current electorates mood?

For Labour it was all cheers and dancing in the shadow of Nye Bevan as the liberal democrat strongholds in Cardiff buckled and snapped. Carwyn and that visitor from London Peter Hain were there to eat up the accolades, though neither seemed to play any prominent role whatsoever in the campaigning. Ed Miliband was also congratulated for the impact of his leadership, though perhaps the applause came from those harbouring sentiments along the lines of ‘well done for not completely cocking this up for us’. As senior Tory politicians were quick to note, Labour candidates in many locations could easily have rolled up to the hustings wearing nothing but a red leather gag, spanking themselves with kippers in something remiss of XXX Morris Dancers Gone Wild Special Edition DVD (part of me hopes such a thing exists), and still comfortably win.

For Wales, in time of economic crises, voters have this consistency above all other parts of the world. If things look uncertain, vote Labour, if the economy is a bit shaky, vote Labour, if there is a chance of rain tomorrow, best vote Labour just to be safe. Often there is no rationale to be found in these patterns, it’s simply a case of that’s how it’s always been – and little will change that. So, for all the celebrations in Cardiff city centre, there will be little doubt about many newly elected Labour members, that the real work is about to begin, the challenge of getting elected for many will have been no more taxing than getting out of bed.

So what of Plaid Cymru? This was supposed to be the grand recovery no? The return from the abyss. Despite Leanne Wood leading the most positive campaign of them all, Plaid went on to lose some 40 councillors – where then was the great revival? As has previously been explore in EyeOnWales, asking a new leader to turn a party around in a month is a ludicrous challenge. An indictment on the leadership of Wood? Gibbering nonsense. Plaid was always going to suffer in light of a Labour revival, coupled with the legacy of Ieuan Wyn Jones. Had he of stood aside several months earlier, who knows how Leanne Wood might have shaped the party by now, it’s impossible to say. As much as anything can be concluded, the rotting corpse of Wyn Jones’ leadership can now be finally shovelled out the door, and the work of rebuilding Plaid can officially being.

As for the Tories and the Liberal Democrats in Wales, plenty of losses to choose from, though Rodney Berman’s exit from the Welsh political stage was both the most amusing and welcome development of the night (though how the disastrously inept and self aggrandising figure of Neil McEvoy survived will be a mystery for the ages). Again, no surprises, but really, with the party leaders in general absence, the losses should really have been much greater. Where on earth where Andrew R T Davies and Kirsty Williams? The respective Tory and Lib Dem leaders seemed to almost entirely vanish from the main stage when campaigning got underway. One can only presume that the pair had long since concluded that a series of humiliating losses across the country was inevitable, and that the only appropriate course of action would be to hide out together in one of the Senedd’s basement bathrooms, playing canasta, hoping that by the time they finished, it will all be over and that nobody will have noticed that they weren’t there. What should really worry both is that no, nobody did notice their absence, something which surely cannot bode well for a few years time.

So there we are, the big four in Wales covered, and only one of them is smiling. Yes even their smiles will only have been flown in for the day, before the forced grins would be put back in their packaging, to be saved for a day when those who won their seats might be able to say, ‘we earnt this’, as opposed to saying ‘the Tories are crap…that helped’.

 

Monarchs in Cardiff – Twitterverse Responds.

So, we understand the English monarchy were in town today. Apart from some unnecessary traffic congestion, we didn’t really notice the difference. However, there was an interesting and at times amusing set of twitterings on the subject, some welcoming them, some very much not welcoming them, and a handful of views that were somewhere in between. Frankly, we were a little disappointed by the range of comments, nothing overly incendiary at all in the end, still, the range of comments provide an interesting cross section of views on the visit.

 

Those not so happy said:

bethanjenkins@bethanjenkins

I choose to air my republicanism. I reserve my RIGHT to not go and bow before queen, born to a position of power, who has never been elected.

David Raybould@daveraybould

Going to try to be positive today. Promote the benefits of visiting German royalty.

Simon Coopey@SimonCoopey

Wales has a ‘queen’? I don’t remember voting for one. #gweriniaeth

Al Iguana@aliguana

I know, let’s take a leaf from North Korea’s book and give every child a Union Jack, then get them to line up and wave them at Liz. Oh wait.

Fartpants@halfienoakes

I notice the queen not coming to North Wales on her tour…good #stayinEngland

 

 Those who were in the middle, or just not aware said:

Elizabeth Windsor@Queen_UK

Stand by Wales. Your Queen is coming for you.

Dean Burnett@garwboy

Cardiff Bay is crawling with Police today. Apparently because the Queen is coming. I don’t get how someone this dangerous is head of state

Samantha Bull@raccoonteeth

Why is the queen in Cardiff? I keep seeing tweets about it

Kez@Goleudy

Is it bad that I’m totally unfussed about the Queen visiting Wales? I was more excited when I got a Care Bear back in 1987.

 

 And those who rolled out the red carpet suggested:

suzy davies@suzydavies

Very much looking forward to lunch with Her Majesty later!#diamondjubilee

Daran Hill@DaranHill

A very warm welcome to HM The Queen to Cardiff today. A hero we can all believe in #diamondjubilee

Alex Powell@Alex_D_Powell

Fantastic to see so much support for the monarch in Wales!! Queen starts Wales tour at Llandaff Cathedral in Cardiff http://bbc.in/Ideqah

SorryI’llGetMyCoat@woweegoodstuff

Despite what Republican Leanne Wood and barmy #Plaid Cymru would like us to think we always welcome the Queen to Wales.

‘Gogwatch’ and the execution of the Welsh language.

We were introduced this week to the political musings of Gogwatch, an online community who present themselves as having ‘been set up by a group of people who care passionately about Wales and the Welsh people’. Yet, they qualify their intentions by making clear that they ‘are opposed to how the Welsh language is being forced upon our nation as a matter of principle’. Now, in such stated notions there is nothing inherently wrong you might think; free speech and all that. If you are concerned about the impacts of the forced application of the learning of the Welsh language then you would be standing by your beliefs by speaking out against it yes? Yet when working through the pages of this so called ‘voice of the silent majority’, there appears to be something far more sinister at work.

A selection of titles of Gogwatch blog entries offers a clear indication towards the intent of these people. ‘I come from Pembrokeshire – the Welsh language doesn’t belong here’, ‘Quest for “Welshness” is ruining our children’s education’, ‘Welsh education policy is serving nationalism ― not our children’, ‘Don’t speak Welsh? That’s OK, we might discriminate against you!’, and of course, ‘Dying for the Welsh language?’. The last title is particularly revealing, as Gogwatch attempt to paint a picture, where an emphasis on the support of the Welsh language, is the direct cause of cancer related deaths in Wales! These are pages of fear, constructive scare mongering that would make cold war propaganda experts particularly proud.

While the gibbering anger on display is a source of both concern and amusement, it is the volume of traffic that this savage little entry to the Welsh political blogosphere that should be particularly concerning. While the comments sections of the majority of blog entries include a balance of views and opinions, it is clear that the moderators are siphoning out the more vocal responses that oppose the words of the so called ‘silent majority’…interesting how a group can complain about not being heard, while clearly looking to control the voice of those they claim to control them. Put simply, Gogwatch is not a forum for debate, it is a table upon which sits a royal crest, a rose of England, and a white flag of surrender, with serried ranks of the eager to pleasers, longing to suckle from the white elephant of English language, English culture and English control.

Make no mistake about it Wales, Gogwatch is no friend of the Welsh language – they claim to be a friend of Wales and the Welsh people, yet their intentions are transparent to the extreme. Gogwatch is a friend of the Wales that is no longer Welsh. That is not to say that you must speak Welsh to be Welsh, but a Wales without the Welsh language will no longer be Wales, put simply, it would be England. That is not to say that there is anything inherently wrong with England, but it is culturally distinct and unique from Wales, and the language plays an essential defining role in that distinction. A Wales without Welsh may as well abandon its rugby team, close down the Senedd (which of course Gogwatch would love to do), pull down the flag of the red dragon, place it in a box, then burnt and cast into the Celtic Sea, hoping that the charred remains might wash up upon the shores of Ireland, where someone across the water might recall their once having been a nation known as Wales.

Gogwatch has a single clear unstated goal – the execution of the Wales language. There is nothing balanced about their commentary, nothing inclusive about their community and no intention bar one, to march the Welsh language into a chamber at night when none are looking, and flood it with the toxic gas of the English word, hoping once and for all to finish the job of generations of invaders and traitors to the notion of Wales, the final solution to the problem of the Welsh language, its total and complete extermination.

Sean Penn sets sights on the Falklands.

General Penn plans for his future…

Introducing Carwyn…

This is the latest prototype for First Minister Carwyn Jones, king of the irrelevant, master of indecision, the first minister of limited ambition.

Things we learnt about Newt Gingrich this week…

A case of moon bases and beating China this week for Newt, though voters in Florida seem to not be sharing his enthusiasm for the project.

Klom, the Commission and Cardiff.

Some days it’s hard not to love twitter, few other platforms would allow you to engage in a heated unmoderated exchanges with politicians and civil servants in quite the same way. This week provided an excellent example of just this, as top EU civil servant and general loiterer of Wales, Andy Klom took an exception of sorts to EyeOnWales musings. His attention had been drawn to this entry: http://eye-on-wales.com/2011/12/20/part-14-the-top-ten-worst-welsh-politicians-2011 where we proudly unveiled Klom as the 9th worst Welsh politician or political figure. Now, it’s hard to say whether Klom took exception to being listed, or that he was listed as a politician, and he went to some lengths to elaborate on the fact that he was indeed a civil servant, we assured him that despite his status, his contribution to Wales in 2011 was such a poor investment for Wales that he more than earned his place amongst the politicos. Enjoy the exchange for yourself below:

25 Jan

 AndyKlomEU Andy Klom

@EyeOnWales is trashing me on Twitter&website. I’m 9th in Top10 list of worst Welsh politicians. An honour a Dutchman&civil servant like me.

 AndyKlomEU Andy Klom

@EyeOnWales doesn’t know difference between civil servant and politician. I’m in same league as Andrew RT, Ieuan, Cheryl&Peter. Real honour.

 AndyKlomEU Andy Klom

@EyeOnWales doesn’t know what EU is doing in Wales. Why not check the internet, our website, or just give us a ring? Always welcome folks…

 AndyKlomEU Andy Klom

@EyeOnWales: thanks for replies. Good to know you attended all our recent events, speeches, briefings. Always happy to go the extra mile…

Now there was much to discuss following that exchange, but Klom’s assertion at the end of this exchange, that the EU is doing good work in Wales, and going the ‘extra mile’, required a little more consideration.

Here is the list of official engagements from the EU office in Cardiff in 2011…the location for the office alone should stand as a good indication for where we will be going with this one…:

7 December – “A Federal Europe in the Making? Europe 2020, the European Semester and the Euro Plus Pact”, Pierhead Building, Cardiff Bay

5 December – Putting Wales on the Map, Cardiff City Hall.  A day celebrating the European Year of Volunteering 2011, organised by the Wales Council for Voluntary Action, with support from the EC Office in Wales.

21-22 November – The Graduate Event, Cardiff City Hall: EC staff on hand to give information on EU careers.

21 November – “What does it mean to be European?”, Aberystwyth Arts Centre.  A debate on identity arranged by the Welsh Centre for Intenational Affairs, in collaboration with the EC Office in Wales.

15 November – Wales Forum on Europe: “Towards Europe 2020: How to maximise the opportunities from and influence the new EU programmes in Wales for 2014-2020”.  A conference arranged as part of the EU Committee of the Regions Open Days events by the Welsh Government, with support from the EC Office in Wales. In Cardiff.

10 November – Gwilym Jones, Member of European Commissioner for Agriculture Dacian Cioloş’ Cabinet, visits Wales to speak at the Hybu Cig Cymru Annual Conference and to discuss the CAP reform proposals. Hotel near Cardiff.

22 October – The Language Show Live, London: Staff from the EC Office in Wales will be on hand to answer questions from students and teachers, and to provide publications in Welsh.

20 October – Europe 2020 and the Digital Agenda: “Going local in Wales”.  A conference held at the Wales Millennium Centre (Cardiff), based on the European Union’s Digital Agenda, including keynote speeches from the Welsh Minister for Business, Enterprise, Technology & Science, Edwina Hart, and DG INFSO’s Director for Converged Networks and Services, Megan Richards.  

28 September – ‘Sounds of Europe’: European Day of Languages event at Cardiff University.  An evening celebrating the diverse languages of Europe and beyond.

24 September – EC Office in Wales presence at CILT Cymru’s European Day of Languages celebrations at the Wales Millennium Centre, Cardiff.

14 September – Fourth Mock EU Council, organised by the Welsh Government in collaboration with the EC Office in Wales, involving schools from across the country.  Held in Ty Hywel at the National Assembly in Cardiff.

30 July – 6 August – Information stand at the National Eisteddfod in Wrexham, in conjunction with the Europe Direct Offices in Wrexham and Llangollen and supported by CILT Cymru.

18 – 21 July – EC Office in Wales information stand at the Royal Welsh Show.

13 July – Andy Klom, Head of EC Office in Wales, opened the final of the Routes into Languages Cymru Spelling Bee Competition 2011, organised by Routes into Languages – CILT Cymru. 

4 – 8 July – Information stand at the Llangollen International Musical Eisteddfod, in conjunction with the Europe Direct Centres in Wrexham and Llangollen.

30 May – 4 June – Information stand at the Urdd Eisteddfod in Swansea, in conjunction with British Council Wales.

12 May – Aberystwyth University EuroFun Day, supported by the EC Office in Wales.

9 May – Europe Day!: Cardiff Library hosted day long celebrations including story telling, speeches and workshops.  Later on Cardiff University’s European Documentation Centre hosted its annual EuroQuiz.  Both events were supported by the EC Office in Wales.

17 February – Andy Klom, Head of EC Office in Wales, speaks at opening of new Centre for European Studies at Aberyswyth University.

8 February – Wales, Europe & the World event at Cardiff City Hall.  A schools’ event organised in conjunction with CILT Cymru and Cardiff City Council, involving a series of workshops encouraging young people to engage in Europe.

A list of 20 official engagements, supporting this and that, with some face showing here and there.

11 events hosted in Cardiff,

3 events in Aberystwyth,

1 event in London,

1 non specific speaking role,

4 information stands at major Welsh cultural events.

Now, having been to every Eisteddfod and Royal Welsh Show for some time, there is little to be said for the promotional merits of the EU’s information stands: presentable, quiet, generally empty, as ‘events’ these hold no weight, and can with some ease be dismissed. That leaves a grand total of 16 ‘events’, though those outside of Cardiff largely boil down to Klom and company speaking at openings – and what an impact I’m sure they made on those delegates in attendance. That leaves 11 events in Cardiff, conferences, lectures, and general public engagement of some meaningful level of commitment that went beyond turning up, saying ‘congratulations’ and sipping the free champagne. Frankly, little that the EU office in Wales does outside of Cardiff is worth the train fair to follow their message. If you want to actually engage with the EU in Wales, come to Cardiff. They won’t be going the ‘extra mile’ as Klom likes to put it, but you sure will have to if you don’t live in the capital.

Elin Jones on the Charge.

The Plaid leadership battle has already started to heat up, and with nominations set to close tonight, the campaigning for many has already begun. Elin Jones has led the way this week, coming out with a raft of interesting and almost good ideas regarding Welsh referendums. While it is nice to finally see some assertive action coming from the favourite to take the party leadership, they come with a degree of surprise given Jones’ previous reticence to say anything of substance on anything. We have a theory on where all these clear policies are coming from…

Things we learnt about Newt Gingrich this week…