Sunday, September 30, 2018


The recent Old / former New Labour conference might suggest that Labour has got its mojo back and the party now believes that it can win the next Westminster general election. The bearded one has described himself as a democratic socialist - his unionism (not the Trade variety) is never mentioned. 

To be blunt the articulated vision of a democratic socialist UK which does not have a place for our national interest(s) which don't feature on the centralising statist agenda, that’s like something out of the mid to late 1970’s. The problem is that the bearded one's vision / version is neither that democratic or that socialist, at least from a Welsh or Scottish perspective, and neither is is particularly original, visionary  or new - it also never delivered last time, so why should it this time around?

If it were possible to remove the Scottish parliament and our as yet not fully fledged embryonic parliament, I am sure that JC and his Brit Nat centralist ilk would not hesitate for a moment. They would happily lay down their rhetorical lives for Ireland, or Palestine or other deserving blue water causes whilst quietly pining for a centralised British republic; and maintaining an unhealthy patronising metropolitan scorn for any political aspirations aspired too by any of the other nations that inhabit this often rain swept island archipelago.

Yet these so called democratic socialists remain strangely silent when it comes to matters relating to Wales, Scotland or Cornwall or even England for that matter, along with displaying spectacular perhaps Islington or metropolitan centric ignorance or dismissive patronising contempt (worthy of comparison of the rhetoric used by some Russian nationalists with their patronising dismissal of Ukraine and other historic nations in and around Russia) of any and all devolved matters outside of the M25.

Despite the beardy spin, this is the same old centralist enemy - with the same old rebranded statist solutions - which outside of the short term spectacularly failed to deliver for us last time. We, in Wales, have been here before. The centralists have promised much and delivered little that was lasting, save for a faint echos or faint ghosts of long departed industrial and regional development. 

Don’t get me wrong, ending the ideologically driven idiocy that has reduced our railways to a poor dividend profit driven service would / will be a good thing. The problem is that Westminster can not be trusted to leave any rail service to run itself. 

I would prefer the not for dividend profit but independent of day to day, week to week, month to month interference from Westminster, but democratically accountable and democratically responsive model to any Westminster accountable / controlled reborn version of British rail. Personally I would prefer public sector institutions to be run on a not for dividend profit model and firmly at arms length from Westminster.

Our nation, as one of the poorer parts of the European Union, will have received more than £5 billion in so-called structural funds by 2020. The funding from Brussels has been used for a wide variety of diverse infrastructure projects from the Ponty Lido, Swansea University's Bay Campus, the Heads of the Valleys road, Harbour Way link road and the National Sailing Academy at Pwllheli. 

EU funding has also been used to fund educational and training courses and programmes via our Universities and colleges. I still think that the Welsh government should carry out a fully comprehensive review of just exactly on what and how the money has been spent along with examining in detail how the funds were spent and what the end results were - before any future funds are thrown at any potential problems and projects. 

One of the consequences of BREXIT is that this source of funding will cease. The Conservatives have said the new Shared Prosperity Fund is intended to reduce inequalities across the four UK nations. Thats if you believe them, especially considering that they blocked regional aid to Wales in the 1980’s and early 1990’s and considering that one of the underlying feature of the UK has always been that of it's heavy handed unsubtle centralism. 

This centralism has never really gone away despite the roll out of differing levels of devolution to redress the democratic deficit in the late 1990’s.  The civil service, at least in England and Wales, appears to continue to behave as if devolution has not happened. Until there is a Wales based Cymru / Wales focused civil service this state of affairs is likely to continue. 

Some twenty years down the line of all the devolved nations and provinces Scotland still has the best devolutionary deal, followed in second place by Northern Ireland - even in its current suspended state. Wales trails in a poor third - with  a relatively weak devolutionary settlement - something that suits the majority of Labour in Wales representatives in Cardiff Bay and beyond - who lie awake at night dreaming of Labour in Westminster winning and riding to the rescue. 

It’s important to remember that the last time they were in power at Westminster between 1997 and 2010.  Labour had a sizeable majority and pretty much the power to do whatever they wanted to do. Labour in Westminster didn’t come riding to the rescue then, so don't expect them to do so next time. 

Post Brexit both the Conservatives and the party formerly known as New Labour will eagerly grasp the opportunity to build their vision of a new centralist aggressively Brit Nationalist union. The Brit Nat drum will be thoroughly beaten to drum up Brit Nat sentiment and sentimentality / nostalgic pap to drown out any criticism - constructive or otherwise. We should remember that direct Westminster-rule failed to deliver for much of Wales (beyond the shirt-term) for most of my lifetime. 

Even before I was born the great hopes of the future proved to GD unsustainable beyond the medium term - British Nylon Sunners (in Mamhilad, north of Pontypool (gone), BSC / RTB Llanwern (a remnant), East Moors, on the eastern fringe of Cardiff (gone), etc. Post BREXIT it appears that things are only going to get worse as Whitehall ‘Britocrats’ scramble to protect the City of London at all costs, while our manufacturers and exporters are left to sink, swim or go under.

The post BREXIT domestic settlement offers from the Brit Nat perspective of Westminster a real opportunity to actively work to roll back, weaken or undermine the devolutionary settlements within the UK. Certainly relatively recent developments in relation to repatriated 'powers' being returned from Brussels to Westminster have shown how important it is that we actively resist Westminster’s attempts to roll back devolution through the Withdrawal Bill. Plaid's attempts lead by Steffan Lewis in relation to the Continuity Bill were a vital step to ensure Westminster does not ride rough shod over our hard-won right to run our own affairs.

Now it's not just a case of moaning about the incompetence and injustice of what's gone on in previous years, under previous governments (whether Labour (New, Old or revamped), Conservative or Conservative - Liberal Democrat - that's just what has gone before - that's just history. The days of simply rattling the bars of the cage and occasionally doing well in the odd are over - it's time to change or rewrite the rules of the game. At the most basic level we need devolution to actually deliver for our nation - economically, socially and politically. 

As I have said previously the nation can no more be half devolved than a nation can be half free. We need the devolutionary full measure and the tools to do the job and to deliver economic change for our country. We desperately need to engender the politics of hope and a real belief that things can change and get better. 

The quiet Westminster dogmas of the past have failed us - they did not deliver last time and rebadged / revamped by the bearded one they are incapable of delivering in the future. We urgently need real change, it's time for a real new deal, it's time to be radical, because only radical solutions are going to deliver for our people and our nation. 

Wednesday, September 26, 2018


Plaid Cymru MP, Jonathan Edwards, responding to the Labour leader's speech, said:

"The Labour leader failed to mention Wales once in his speech, despite the fact that his party is in government in Wales.

"They have been in charge of our NHS, our schools and local authority funding for 21 years and their leader didn't even see fit to mention any of it in his keynote speech - not even a thank you to the departing First Minister, Carwyn Jones. 

"Corbyn repeated his delusional policy of achieving the exact same benefits of the single market without being members of it and once again focussed on his cynical attempts to force another UK election instead of committing to a genuine people's vote on the final Brexit deal. 

“His opposition to giving people a real say, with the option to remain on the ballot paper, plays directly into the hands of the Tories, who will be able to push through a rigged referendum where the only choice would be between their deeply flawed plans and a disastrous no deal Brexit. Why is the Labour Party so keen to support the dirty work of the Tories? They are both as bad as each other.

"It is clear that for as long as both Westminster parties share the same Brexit policies, the only way we can solve this impasse is to hold a genuine people's vote and give the people the final say."

Monday, September 10, 2018


The bottom line is that we have an under-fire second rate secretary of state, who has consistently failed to stand up for Wales, let alone fight our corner, who is all out of ideas, who has launched an attack on a Party that has done little else but stand up for Wales since its creation. It is worth noting that since the current Secretary of State for Wales, Alun Cairns, took over the post, he has cancelled close to £2 billion worth of investment in infrastructure projects in Wales. As a direct result of these decisions (made in Westminster rather than here in Wales) local businesses, jobs and communities have lost out. Perhaps rather than attacking politicians who put forward solutions, the secretary of state should spend more of his time actually doing his job of developing the Welsh economy. This could go some way to explain why Wales has had to face the cancellation of the Tidal Lagoon and the electrification of the railways whilst he has been in post. Can a man or woman serve too masters well? Wales and Westminster or perhaps Wales and the Conservative Party?  -  the answer is simply no. 

Saturday, September 8, 2018


A water company, Southern Water - which serves customers in south eastern England, has states that customer demand is estimated to be double its available supply by 2020. As a result of climate change, a reduction of the amount of water allowed to be taken from natural sources, and a rise in population demand would outstrip supply. The company's plan for 2020-2025 sets out how it will overcome the deficit  by reducing leakage by 15% and encourage customers to use less water.

This could be good news for Wales, if we had control of our own natural resources and could benefit from a fair price for our water. For amongst our rich resources is the literal stuff of life – water. Water is likely to become a valuable resource for the people of Wales in future years, and who owns, it who controls it, and who benefits is likely to remain one of the key issues, of potential dispute between Westminster and Cardiff Bay. While our country’s voice has been significantly strengthened since 1999, with various Wales related acts, as yet we still do not have the same degree of control of our natural resources as either Scotland or Northern Ireland. 

Not for nothing does the issue of water rightly still understandably raises strong emotions and stirs long memories here in Wales. Some six years ago Boris Johnson (then Mayor of London, lately, after May 2015 an MP, former feign secretary and now with other things on his mind) was wittering on about the need for a network of canals being needed to carry water from the wet North to the dry South (for the ‘wet North’  read ‘Wales).

Cofiwch Dryweryn
Boris's revolutionary thought, not to mention his poor grasp of geography, was not a new idea, back in 1973, what was then the Water Resources Board, a now defunct government agency, wrote a major report that advocated building a whole raft of infrastructure to aid the movement of water, not to mention constructing freshwater storage barrages in the Ouse, Wash and Morecambe Bay, using a network of canals to move water from north to south, extending reservoirs and building new aqueducts, not to mention constructing a series of tunnels to link up river basins to aid the movement of water.

Despite the demise of the Water Resources Board in 1974 (two years before the 1976 drought) and its replacement by regional water management bodies, which were privatised in the 1980’s this issue has never really gone away. In 2006, the Environment Agency produced a report entitled "Do we need large-scale water transfers for south-east England ?" which in a refreshingly honest answer to its own question at the time was an emphatic ‘no’.

That said, faced with a prolonged period of drought in the South East of England, DEFRA itself held a drought summit on the 20th of February of 2012. The then Con Dem Government stated that it remained committed to the remaining legislative measures set out in its Water for Life agenda , which later became the Water Industry (Financial Assistance) Act.

The plan for water in 1973
That is as they say history, but whatever Westminster eventually decides to do in relation to water resources, we in Wales still need to have full democratic control of our own resources. Our resources incidentally should include those parts of our country where Severn Trent Plc runs our natural resources for a fat profit.

This process can begin with repatriating control of the Crown Estates and transferring control of lands in (and off-shore) to the Welsh Government in Cardiff. For the life of me I can see no realistic reason why this feudal anachronism cannot be consigned to the dustbin of history.

We need a whole Wales strategy to develop and to conserve our water supplies and our planning regulations will need to be tweaked or rewritten accordingly. We need to take a long hard look at our water resources and what we get for them and how we can develop them.

I see absolutely no reason why the Welsh people cannot fully benefit from any future exploitation of Welsh resources, including our water. Most politically aware people would not have been particularly shocked to discover that coincidentally that the Government of Wales Act (2006) thanks largely to Peter (now Lord) Hain (amongst others) specifically excluded the Assembly from making any laws relating to water supply – hmm – odd that isn't it?

Now such duplicitous behaviour on the part of New or re-born Old Labour is not to be unexpected. The problem is that it does little to engender any trust or visible demonstration of an understanding of devolution or Wales, especially when the bearded one’s version of Labour starts talking about re-nationalising the Water industry.

Putting Tory and Labour spin and rhetoric aside, the bottom line is that all our water resources should belong to the Welsh people, not to Private corporations or to the UK Government. Any future draft Wales Bill should strengthen the powers that we in Wales have over our natural resources and associated planning processes and devolve control of those parts of the Severn Trent water franchise to Wales.