Sunday, March 27, 2005

Axe the Council Tax

Over the last week or so the campaign team have been out and about delivering thousands of our a3 leaflet. The leaflet features details of two of our campaigns. The first is about the "right to a home" and gives information about our housing policies. Check out www.plaidcymru.org for more information on this.

The second is our petition to scrap the council tax. We have had "re-banding " in Wales a year or so before it hits England. The assembly has had to throw money at compensating people who have gone up two bands. I guess this is due to the imminent general election as no doubt the money could be put to better use. This campaign seems to be the one that is hurting both Labour and the Conservatives. Labour are beginning to panic in Wales as the full impact of the re-banding is being felt and Plaid steps up its campaigning for Local Income Tax to replace Council Tax.

Labour have had some rather desperate letters in the local press making very bizarre claims about who will pay more etc. It helps give us a bit more publicity on a good issue for us.

Expect a bigger swing away from labour in Wales thanks to the council tax and their mis-handling of the NHS.

Thursday, March 24, 2005

Cynon Valley

"How many current MPs have left school at 16, been in the forces, lived on a council estate for a large part of their lives, had kids at a young age, been on benefits, been divorced, worked shifts in a factory, been in debt and then tried hard and succeeded at achieving their dream job. Geraint has the credentials and integrity that most of the Westminster mob lack."

Check out www.geraintbenny.co.uk

Looks like Geraint may be starting the fight back in the Valleys....Labour out organised us in 2003 and 2004 but my spies down the RCT tell me that Plaid are getting their act together steadily. Well worth giving Geraint a hand...or a donation ...or at the very least your vote!!

Rap for the Railways!

The RMT union are running a series of events to promote bringing rail back into public ownership. Quite rightly they are highlighting how much more it costs the tax payer to run the railways than it did when rail was a nationalised industry. Thats our tax money going into the pockets of shareowners in return for an expensive shoddy service.

As a non-motorist I have to use the railways a lot. On the whole the north wales line is fairly good but could use some serious improvements.

Check out the RMt at www.rmt.org.uk

Prestatyn High Street

Had a fine day on Tuesday talking to shop keepers and passers by on Prestatyn High Street.

Very friendly response. However one or two of the obviously Tory supporting business people were smiling through gritted teeth most people were pleased to see me, chatted happily and asked questions…. always a positive sign.

What surprised me though was the level of venom spat at Tony Blair by a couple of people who told me they had always voted Labour. Clearly very, very, angry.

Later in the day I spoke to two other “usually” Labour voters one genuine undecided starting to lean towards us and the other switching for the first time. Even if its only in ones or twos the steady trickle helps.

The whole day was a success mainly due to the energy and diligence of my colleague Sophia Drew who is very well organised and very much at the heart of many community activities. Fun to work with Sophia makes things seem easy.

Now back to writing my election address.

Saturday, March 19, 2005

its not just a game......a nation waits..

I spent most of yesterday dressed as a dragon.

I was outside an "event" drumming up support. Probably half of the 1000 or so people made comments about needing the dragon at todays rugby match in cardiff.

I will be glued to the tv.....wearing my rugby shirt etc...

All good fun of course but the level of sheer joy at the Welsh performances this year reflect just how important the game is here.

Rugby Union is very different in wales compared to England. RU in England with a few honourable exceptions has never been a peoples or grass roots sport. Largely dominated by the public school ethos few of its professional clubs can balance the books...most attract few supporters (Leicester struggle to get 20,000) even after winning the world cup. In Wales rugby was very much a community game with huge numbers of people watching or involved in some ways. The various steel workers, teachers, miners, vandrivers and doctors enjoyed giving the effete public school boys a good beating on a regular basis.

Although the game was healthy at grass roots level replacing the great teams of the seventies was always going to be difficult. Then came "professionalism". With rugby in england attacting its supporters from the wealthiest parts of society it didnt matter that the clubs didnt break even in most cases. LOts of sponsorship came in (though hardly made on commercial grounds alone) so lots of full time players. In Wales professionalism nearly destroyed the game. The regions have never won the public affections accept perhaps Llanelli which has made much of its welsh speaking history to pull in support from north and west wales.

Rugby has become something of an analogy for the relationship between England and Wales. The English pushed for professionalism because it suited their interests and out look. It wreaked havoc in Wales. The English become the dominant side in the Five later six nations as the home countries are no longer competing on equal terms. As in rugby so in so many spheres of public life. Decisions that benefit some, possibly even a majority in England wreak havoc in Wales.

So we wait with baited breath to see what happens this afternoon. Wales have played some glorious rugby at its best a stunning mixture of the beautiful and the brutal. A victory today sends out a message world wide that Wales are back as a world power in rugby. All across the nation people of every background will be pulling on their red shirts and be ready for the biggest party for many a long year.

Plenty of politicians in Wales seek to play up the regional differences in Wales for their own interests ignoring the fact that our differences are less than in most (independent!) countries in Europe. The national rugby team has just as much support in the North as in the South in the West as in the east and across the language groups. Rugby gives us a sense of what we could be as a nation and, deep down inside, everyone wearing a red shirt and cheering on the welsh team knows it.

Sex and drugs and rock and roll

Stunningly original headline I know...bet you have never seen it before etc....

David Blunkett has been in the press again recently....there are few people I have never met who I feel an intense dislike to in politics but he is one of them.

He was an utterly useless Home secretary who has presided over the shambolic collapse of the immigration system thus helping fuel the far right.......working in crime reduction up till a year ago I watched more and more paper work more and more funding streams (why not just one big one with one set of paper work?) more and more stupid short term headline chasing intiatives...

His personal life is an offense to the world. He used to blather on about parental responsibility and personal morality......his repeated interventions are doing nothing to help the children he may or may not have some biological relationship with (so what? they have a family...butt out Blunkett if you want kids have them with someone who is single or married to you ......)

On the drugs front I learn from the local press that the legalise cannabis party will have a candidate in Vale of Clwyd. Not sure the rest of us should be to worried as I guess the people who really care about this issue will be to stoned to vote........still if it provokes an intelligent debate it can do some good.....

Also in our local press I spotted a photo of Mike Peters amongst parents and local dignatories at the opening of a childrens play area. The Alarm front man is one of our local celebreties and he has a good reputation for helping out with community activities. The Alarm are still going strong...check out www.thealarm.com their annual event (the gathering) brings hundreds of people from Britain Europe and the Usa to Llandudno boosting the local economy at a quiet time of year....sound bloke Mr Peters.

Have happy memories of two great Alarm gigs in leicester in the 1989-1991 period.....hot sweaty nights at de montfort hall, de montfort uny student union and then late night drinks in the Attic drinking den......

Job Cuts in North Wales

Gordon Browns axe is falling on a number of civil service jobs in North wales. When I first heard about reductions in the civil service I guess my first reaction was the same as most people. A few less mandarins, special advisiors and all those people who think up fantastic new strategies, performance management frameworks etc etc with the intent of sapping the energy (and at times the will to live) of all who work in the public sector.

Of course what we have in said is reductions in front line services. All benefit enquiries will now be done from a call centre. Having been a benefit claiment a few times I know just how ludicrous this is. Benefit forms are a challenge to anyone let alone someone who may have some literacy problems. This will hit some very vulnerable people. The advantage of the old office system was when things inevitably went wrong you could go in and wait till things got sorted. With a call centre it will be easy to fob people off........not a smart move.

Not sure whats happening with the pension service office in Rhyl but rumours abound of a move to Colwyn Bay. The job centres are being reduced in number etc. So lots of money taken out of the local economy and a reduced service.

If you think Gordon Brown is the answer to your prayers...dream on...

Thursday, March 17, 2005

Free Speech?

Some of the posts below are cut and pasted from party press releases as we have had a bit of a crazy day or two.

Adam Price....what the hell is happening? Under what rule is Adam suspended? The word misled does not appear in the book of rules for the House of Commons...Erskine May...so what gives?

I find this government a mixture of the laughable and the frightening....the bribe to pensioners is a joke... for one year only...clearly labour are well rattled by the campaign for local income tax.....and this stuff with Adam Price a few days after the monstrous new "anti-terror legislation....very scary stuff....

still it cements Plaid position in Wales as the clear alternative to Labour for those people who worry about little things like freedom of speech the right of MPs to call the prime minister to account and say what we all know...Blair misled the house of commons...the cabinet...the Labour party and more importantly the people of britain about the war in Iraq....he is unfit to be prime minister and the public know it....

A better NHS

NHS hospitals in Wales have reached crisis point due to the failures of the Labour government in Wales assisted during the coalition years by the Liberal Democrats.

The most urgent need for the NHS in Wales is to reduce the immediate pressure on hospitals. We need to ensure that hospital resources are used only where they are the most appropriate and efficient way of responding to people’s needs. At present, hospital beds and staff often have to stand in as substitutes for other forms of care and treatment.

Plaid Cymru, the Party of Wales, calls for -

1. The use of existing capacity - and the development of new capacity - in GP surgeries so that more treatments can be carried out there. Facilities in GP surgeries are generally cheaper to provide than equivalent facilities in hospitals, and are generally more convenient for patients to get to and often more appropriate to their needs.

2. The establishment of new NHS Walk-in Centres and Diagnostic & Treatment Centres and the full utilisation of the potential of our community hospitals in order to take the pressure off hospital Accident and Emergency departments.

3. Steps to be taken to make it easier for people to move out of hospital when their treatment is completed or when hospital is not the best place for them. In particular, there should be a programme of building (or converting existing buildings) of accommodation for care, convalescence, nursing and rehabilitation. It doesn’t always have to be hospital that provides the care.

4. Payments to care/nursing homes by local authorities should be increased by £50 per bed per week. The costs involved will still generally be far less expensive than the use of hospital beds.

5. Improved out-of-hospital care for people with disabilities, particularly in their own homes. There should be free home care for the disabled.

6. Increased support for carers looking after people in their own homes, so that they do not reach a point where putting someone in hospital comes to look like the only practical option. Carers themselves need some care, support, advice, and respite from their responsibilities.

7. A school nurse to be available to every pupil at school so that parents don’t feel it is necessary to involve hospitals in minor problems, but have assessment and treatment for their children easily available.

8. More use of the skills of health professionals other than doctors, more availability of training for them; and improved working conditions. This will make it possible to place less reliance on doctors where they are not the most appropriate people for particular tasks, freeing them up for work where they are the most appropriate people.

Critically urgent steps have to be taken within hospitals to improve the way they currently operate, so that more patients can be treated. We want to see:

9. An increase in the provision of intensive care beds (50 additional beds), to respond more adequately and promptly to the most urgent needs within hospitals.

10. There needs to be co-ordinated planning on an all-Wales level to ensure that capacity is used sensibly, with patients being taken off waiting lists and into treatment where the capacity exists to treat them. Medical Assessment Units should be established in every hospital.

11. No more operations cancelled on the day. Some are currently being cancelled even after the premedication injection! This upsets not only patients but also their relatives and friends, and undermines confidence in the health service. Guarantees must be introduced to ring-fence elective surgery beds in order to protect patients’ interests in this area.

12. A campaign to combat the MRSA “super bugs” – particularly through reversing the privatisation of hospital cleaning services, which have led to a lack of joint working and communication between cleaning staff and medical staff.


In the longer term, there need to be changes to the structure and financial organisation of the NHS in Wales; together with public health and health promotion measures to tackle the underlying causes of ill-health; and changes to secure improvements in dentistry, mental health, and specialised services. Our proposals in this document have, however, focused on steps that can achieve results in hospitals in Wales within the next few years.

The NHS in Wales – and especially our hospitals – has reached crisis point. Urgent action is essential. What better time to send this message loud and clear than election time?

Do nothing budget no use for Wales

This ‘no change’ budget offers nothing for the people of Wales and our economy. It’s clear it was a budget written with conservative middle-England voters in mind. The Chancellor mentioned Britain more than 40 times in his speech but what he really meant was England. The National Sports Foundation is for England only, the free bus passes for pensioners are for English pensioners only, and the proposals for shared equity mortgages only apply in England.

It’s high time that we in Wales got our own Chancellor; someone who will put Wales’ interests first.

The Chancellor’s pre-election sweeteners for pensioners and families will do very little to alleviate poverty levels in Wales. If the government was seriously committed to improving the lives of the elderly they would scrap the unfair council tax all together and replace it with a local income tax based on ability to pay. Plaid Cymru’s proposals for pensioners would guarantee each pensioner a decent standard of living through a citizens’ pension and savings of up to £1,000 per year on their council tax bills.
The £5.3b spent by this government on fighting an illegal war in Iraq would be much better spent on providing more and better quality affordable housing and on improving our schools and hospitals.

This year we have a record £42b trade deficit. With an economy like ours which is heavily reliant on exports, such a large trade deficit is very bad news. Manufacturing output was down in the last two quarters and in general over the next couple of years, growth is expected to slow down. This no change budget fails to address this deficit which leaves the Welsh economy in a very vulnerable position.

This was the Chancellor’s last opportunity to find the missing millions for the ASW workers and he has failed to do so. This is extremely sad news for the ASW workers who have fought for years to claim what is rightfully theirs.”

This was a very disappointing budget in terms of the environment, especially following the Chancellor’s speech yesterday where he claimed he would put the environment at the heart of his economic policy. Increasing the air passenger duty would have been one way for the Chancellor to tackle the environmental damage caused by the rapid growth in air transport but it’s clear the environment is simply not a priority for this New Labour Government.

you must not say misled...

Plaid Cymru’s Adam Price MP, who leads the campaign to impeach the UK Prime Minister Tony Blair, has today (Thursday 17 March) been expelled from Parliament for claiming that the Prime Minister ‘misled’ the people and parliament over the Iraq war.
Adam Price MP commented: “Most people now believe that the Prime Minister deliberately deceived parliament and the people. He even deceived members of his own cabinet in taking us to war two years ago. But the rules of the game in Westminster mean we cannot say what most of us think. The Prime Minister misled and MPs must be able to debate the issue.
“We will not let Tony Blair’s lies and deceit be forgotten. One hundred thousand people have died in the course of this conflict. We must take a stand. I will not be gagged and Parliament should not allow itself to be silenced.
“Tony Blair has misled this country time and time again – we cannot let this conduct continue unchecked. It is our duty as Members of Parliament to hold the Prime Minister to account and restore the people's faith in the democratic process.
“The Prime Minister can expel me from the House of Commons, he can try to silence me, but he will never silence those who marched two years ago, those who speak in the ordinary pubs, shops and workplace around the world. They know the truth. They will not be silenced by the authorities, they will speak up and make themselves heard.
"I call on everyone who sees that truth to join our campaign to impeach Tony Blair at www.impeachblair.org” Notes to Editors The Speaker's Office is yet to clarify the exact nature of the Mr Price's ban, according to the Speaker's Office the words used by Mr Price in the Chamber are not covered under the House rules or in Erskine May. Mr Price is expecting to receive confirmation this afternoon of the exact nature of his ban.

Tuesday, March 15, 2005

Blogging for a Better Wales

Wales is really quite a cool place to be. Both the North and the South have a mixture of very lively cultures, are generally friendly places but have a few problems that need addressing.

The Lib/Lab/Con candidates all offer the same thing....managed decline. Under the conservatives Welsh wealth fell by by 0.4% per year under New Labour its been 0.8%

At the same time House prices have soared. In counties like Conwy and Denbighshire prices are massively out of reach for most first time buyers and there is little public housing available for rent. There is a flight of young people from North Wales in particular as people look for something other than minimum wage jobs.

At times I am astonished that a Labour government in Cardiff and a adminstration in Tony's talking shop in Cardiff can care so little about its own people who stuck buy them throughout the 80/90s (misguidedly in my view but I understand why). Apart from the state of the NHs in Wales, the wretched council tax and the declinging economy....there is also the cuts in the supporting people programme the determination to get rid of council housing, and on and on....

So we will be using this election to set our alternative and ask people to support us....tomorrows posts will be on our policies for housing and the NHS and some stuff about the general approach of the Plaid..

Monday, March 14, 2005

Croeso/welcome

Greetings. Thanks for stopping by to have a look at my contributions to this site.

I am delighted that John has decided to set up this blog and will keep posting on a regular basis. Whilst it will be mostly political I will probably wander off topic now and again.

I am the Plaid Cymru-the party of Wales candidate for the Vale of Clwyd constituency although the views expressed here will mainly be the party "line" it will be my perspective on it. I hope the blog helps people to understand a bit more about Plaid cymru and what we are about. Hopefully all the bloggers here will contribute to raising the quality of political debate. I am as much a point scorer as anyone and will have a pop at the other parties from time to time. By and large I hope to keep it informative and entertaining.