Gwefan Ymgyrch / Campaign Website

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Have you visited the campaign website yet?

Tuesday, 30 June 2009

Supporters of Ceredigion Peripatetic Music

Tuition provided by Ceredigion Peripatetic Music Teachers is one of the most successful and effective services in the portfolio of Ceredigion County Council. It allows individuals to learn and develop music instrument playing skills; to work with others as part of an orchestra, band, ensemble or choir; and to achieve the highest musical standards. There is nothing but admiration for the service throughout Wales and beyond. Proposals by Ceredigion County Council Cabinet to reorganise and refinance the service are of grave concern to pupils, former pupils, teachers and parents alike. In no way should the service be diminished in any form. Reservations have been expressed about the financial assumptions used in the reorganisation and the stand taken by senior service managers and councillors responsible for the decision making process. It may not be a case of ‘the lunatics in charge of the asylum’ but it’s certainly a case of ‘the bean counters in charge of education’. This should not be so. We need to show support for the peripatetic teachers and to campaign for maintaining the service as it stands. I have set up a Facebook Group to campaign on the matter. Please join.

Back to Lib Dem hipocrisy watch !

Where do the Liberal Democrats stand on affordable housing? The Lib Dem councillor responsible for finance in Cardiff, Mark Stephens, declared that the Welsh Government must drop support for affordable housing while their Assembly spokesperson Peter Black has blogged saying that the One Wales government is not doing enough for affordable housing. They say one thing in one area and the complete opposite in another. Their national policy is to attack the Wales Government for not doing enough for affordable housing whilst when they get into power they argue for funding for affordable housing to be cut.
Affordable housing is a major issue in Ceredigion and we must question where they stand?

Wednesday, 17 June 2009

Beulah airspace

Visit with Cllr Lyndon Lloyd to the South Ceredigion idyll that suffers from excess traffic like all rural villages. Lyndon asserts that the road through Beulah is the easiest access from Aberporth to the M4 thus from my one evening's experience of holiday and light industry traffic, I can well believe it. What will he say if after the Consultation on an airspace change to establish segregated airspace for the Wales Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) environment its decided that RED ROUTE ONE flies directly over Beulah airspace!

You cannot compare the UAS with military jets but any flying object poses some risk. I am no expert but I hope that those affected and those with expertise respond before the closing date of 28th July. I need to read the consultation document just to educate myself on the implications.

Aberystwyth Show 2009

Bring out the weather, bring out the people - such a contrast from the previous week in a decidedly wet YFC rally (and such a pity as its often the highlight of the year for many).
In the distant past my experiment with showing sheep wasn't a spectacular success and I have nothing but admiration for the dedication and perseverance of the exhibitors throughout the showing season. I spent most of the afternoon with Elin Jones AM and Cllr Ellen a Gwynn, Leader of the Plaid Group on Ceredigion County Council socialising and talking with other show goers. Brief synopsis - NFU, FUW, sheep lines, vintage machinery, others congratulating Plaid on the excellent Euro election result in Ceredigion, RWAS Sioe'r Cardis to buy a well designed fundraising rugby shirt from Dilys Morgan (of Farmer's Market marmalade fame), raffle tickets for said event from Huw Tudor, drew in-show raffle for Eisteddfod yr Urdd 2010, chat with Dai Jones, Llanilar.
Best comment of the afternoon "... did you see the Lib Dem spin on last week's (euro) election result? I have just seen Mark Williams and if they use the same spin this week then the Tivyside will read 'ROCK STAR VISITS ABERYSTWYTH SHOW'...". Good Ceredigion humour, great stuff!!!
There are wonderful pictures on this link.

Monday, 15 June 2009

Iraq War Inquiry

Holding the Inquiry into the Iraq War in private will deny those who have lost loved ones with closure on a desperate affair. Neither will it explain all the unecessary deaths and neither will it provide an open explanation on why Tony Blair placed military forces in the way of harm. The best desriptions so far - from the Stop the War Coalition's Lindsey German 'a bucket of whitewash' and from Plaid Cymru's Adam Price 'The government that tried to keep MPs expenses under wraps is now doing the same over Iraq.'
Gordon Brown doesn't realise that it never was a case of apportioning blame rather a case of apportioning truth.

Investing in the Railways

Today the Association of Train Operating Companies (Atoc) published proposals to reopen some of the railway lines shut by Beeching in the 1960's. Its unfortunate that the report does not extend to Scotland or particularly to Wales since movement between the main North Wales, Mid Wales and South Wales network is not possible without travel into England. It does highlight the 'centrist one nation' thinking of Beeching at the time when a premium was placed on links with London rather than on intraregion movement. Maintaining the Aberystwyth - Carmarthen line and the Afonwen - Caernarfon link would have ensured the intraregional integrity that would serve Wales well today.
The document itself is worth a read but I am not sure what the Secretary of Sate for Transport will make of the paragraph in Chapter 2 -
"... The study does not include Scotland, which is the responsibility of Transport Scotland, nor does it include Wales, where Welsh Assembly Government has developed a strategy for transport in Wales. It focuses on major towns or settlements in England, which has no equivalent strategic national authority considering rail capacity in relation to local or regional needs.." The emphasis is mine!
I detect again a centrist urban approach in this document, take a look at the key factors considerd in the methodology in Chapter 4
  • Population growth (ONS forecasts)
  • Percentage of population living in urban areas (ONS)
  • Percentage of work trips by rail
  • Station usage (station entries per person)
  • Car use (vehicle km per person)
  • Traffic intensity (approximation for road congestion)
  • Number of congested road links (DfT data)
  • Population per station (thousands)
  • Number of settlements (>15,000 pop) not rail connected.
If at the outset the model is based on urban criteria then it is unlikely that rural areas will gain much from the proposals. The BBC report is here.
While I welcome the report, I regret the opportunity that Government has missed in dealing with the economic crisis. A Green New Deal would include development of the energy and transport infrastructure, provide work during the crisis and have a impact in years to come.
Have a look at this interesting article as well :- Railways and Rural Development in England and Wales, 1850-1914

Friday, 12 June 2009

Euro Election Charts

Share between parties in Ceredigion

Majority of winning party by constituency in Wales

% share of vote for winning party by constituency in Wales

Tuesday, 9 June 2009

PM to unveil voting reform plan

It seems that Gordon Brown sees no other way to hold on to power. Long overdue but it will be interesting which model he opts for. Rumour Control says its the Alternative Vote. This will upset the Tories since all their electoral planning is based on first past the post system. Frankly there isn't enough time to consult and implement before the General Election but we could have a referendum on the same day. Wait and see. Apparently Jack Straw is quite an expert on voting systems.

European elections - aftermath

As one who has had a scientific training, comparative analysis techniques are a frequent friend but you need data in order to get a statistically significant answer. There is no central site collating all the constituency european results but thanks to Golwg I found the relevant data last night!
To begin with I will concentrate on conclusions for Ceredigion;
  • The Plaid Cymru share of the vote in Ceredigion (35.1%) is the 5th largest in Wales with only Caernarfon (49.3%), Meirionydd Nant Conwy (44.3%); Carmarthen East and Dinefwr (38.5%) and Monmouth (38.0%) recording higher proportions. Note that the first 3 seats listed are Plaid Cymru Seats in the Assembly and Parliament and Monmouth is Conservative;
  • The % majority over the party that came second is the 9th largest in Wales at 16.1%;
  • The absolute size of the majority (3082) is the 6th largest in Wales
In the context of the 2009 elections this is an above average top end performance which lines us up nicely for the General Election. The share of the vote is down on the last european election but that was probably on the high side for european results as it coincided with County Council Elections where we had candidates in all but a few seats, and followed a pretty acrimonious Mayoral Referendum which galvanized the electorate.
Where are the Liberal Democrats in all of this? Well if you read their press release they you would have thought they had won! What they fail to tell you in this release is the proportion of their vote this time around (19%) compared to Plaid on 35% and that they have only once since 1989 topped Plaid's proportion of the vote, that being the 2005 General Election. Considering that they hold the Parliamentary Seat and Mark Williams played such a prominent role in fronting the Ceredigion Campaign then 19% is a pretty low return on the invested political capital. If we put it in the context of other Lib Dem seats then
  • The Liberal Democrats were 9.4% behind the Conservative victors in Montgomeryshire and 1.5% behind UKIP;
  • The Liberal Democrats were 6.3% behind the Conservative victors in Brecon and Radnor (seat of Welsh Lib Dem Leader Kirsty Williams)
  • The Liberal Democrats were 16.1% behind Plaid Cymru in Ceredigion.
The Lib Dem defeat in Ceredigion is a far more substantial affair than any of the other Mid Wales seats. Its true that all political parties put a spin on electoral results but when that spin concentrates on the opposition to the degree seen by the Lib Dem response in Ceredigion it is a confirmation that they have little to shout about and are way below where they should be if they are to retain Mark Williams as an MP. I would say that wouldn't I but the BBC analysts say the same
.....Plaid is that it polled well in seats it hopes to win at the next Westminster election, it picked up more votes than Labour in Llanelli and Ynys Mon and was were well ahead of the Lib Dems in Ceredigion - a key target seat.
The European election results were particularly bad for the Liberal Democrats, who were completely incapable of capitalising from Labour's failures, only mustering a minuscule 0.2% increase in their vote share on a day when the overall turnout was the lowest on record. More worrying for them is the fact that they have fallen behind to the Tories and Plaid Cymru in three out of the four seats they currently hold at Westminster and they face the prospect of having Jenny Willott in Cardiff Central as a sole Welsh Liberal Democrat MP, if current figures are repeated at the next election. On these results Lembit Opik would be convincingly beaten by the former Tory AM Glyn Davies in Montgomeryshire, Roger Williams in Brecon and Radnorshire would also lose to the Tories and Plaid Cymru would unseat Mark Williams in Ceredigion.
In the Wales context Labour are at the wrong end of a seismic whalloping. The arrogance of Labour in power, a collapsing party machine, dismay at MP behaviour over expenses all contribute not to a singular Tory victory but to Plaid Cymru which increased its vote as well. I did expect it to be much closer between UKIP and the Lib Dems for the 4th seat and must admit had mixed thoughts about the result. I agree with the Lib Dem position on Europe rather than UKIP but tactically didn't want to see the Lib Dems gaining to much to crow about either, better the second seat went to Plaid but that wasn't to be.
I'll end with a quote from Prof Richard Wyn Jones, director of the Wales Governance Centre at Cardiff University, in the Western Mail today;
“There are differential voting patterns. The context for European elections is very much linked to Westminster and the UK as a whole, and we can therefore take pointers to the coming general election.
“People in Plaid seem to be pretty depressed about their performance, but they have no reason to be. They weren’t far behind Labour and did well in the seats they hope to win at the general election. I’m sure they will do very well at the next Assembly election.”
I'm not depressed and am happy with his summary!

Sunday, 7 June 2009

Euro Election update

It seems Plaid Cymru is doing well in the important seats of Ynys Mon, Llanelli and Aberconwy as well as here in Ceredigion.

Ceredigion European Election Result

The result for Ceredigion is
Plaid Cymru 6725
Liberal Democrats 3642
Conservative 2869
UKIP 1755
Green 1481
Labour 1329
The Plaid Cymru majority over the Lib Dems is 3083 and considering the effort put in by the Lib Dems to come first this time, it must be quite a disappointment for them. This was very much a prequel to the General Election next year since every Lib Dem leaflet and letter had some reference to Mark Williams, 19% for the sitting MP is an erosion of political capital and not a story that appeals to Lib Dems. The results tie in with our own polling where Conservatives have done well, if they recoup the majority of votes that went to UKIP then they are well placed to challenge for 2nd place. Labour are down and there seems to be a direct transfer of votes from Lab to Lib Dems.
Its confirmation that the electorate believes that Plaid Cymru is delivering for Ceredigion but lets not take anything for granted. A satisfying campaign that sets us up nicely for the General Election but there's lots of work to be done before then.

Friday, 5 June 2009

Minister for Europe - lets devolve it quickly

As one who supports a pro European Party and believes in european integration, the post of Minister for Europe is an important one. Why has Gordon Brown appointed Glenys Kinnock? Kinnock plc have made a fortune from the EU, she has shown no leadership as an MEP and remains like her husband an antagonistic figure in Wales and beyond. Expect superficial confrontation from the newly ennobled Lady. This finally convinces me that Labour in Westminster has run out of ideas and people.
The Welsh Assembly Government had better sort out an European Office soon as they will get no help from the Lady.

Elin, Glastir and the FUW

Another trip with Elin today (Friday) in her role as Ceredigion AM to meet the Ceredigion Branch of the FUW and discuss the new Glastir Scheme at TyNewydd, Cwmystwyth, the farm of Brynmor Morgan Chairman of FUW Ceredigion. The session opened with tea and cake! then an impressive presentations by Owen Jenkins, FUW Officer here in Ceredigion, outlining the pros and cons of the new scheme, locking carbon in the uplands and outstanding issues with IACS classification of Common Land. The presentation by Elin outlined the principles of the scheme since no detail have yet been worked out, there followed an informative question and answer session. I still think that the detail when decided will need to address the cash flow implications of change and I hope that the collaborative discussions between the NFU, FUW and civil servants will sort out a workable scheme that farmers feel able to subscribe to. Its important. Equally important is getting a Young Entrants scheme off the ground.
A comparison with Spain was raised in how they have to deal with climate change and lack of water. This is where I see opportunity rather than threat, Spain has a substantial sheep flock which will reduce in size if temperatures rise in the Mediterranean region. Reduced supply means more market opportunity for farmers in regions with plentiful water, sound familiar? I see a possible opportunity for Welsh sheep farmers.

Tuesday, 2 June 2009

Dissolution of Parliament

An early opportunity to call a General Election will arise next week when Plaid Cymru and the SNP instigate a debate to dissolve Parliament. Surely the Labour Party sense that their time is up and rather than hang on for an unecessary 9 months why not give birth to a new Parliament now. Total reform of a discredited political system and removing MP's who abuse the system is a priority. The shopping list of reform (I couldn't resist this pun!) in Westminster should not start or end with expenses but be expanded to include reform of the House of Lords, reform of the first past the post system, fixed parliaments and curbing the Royal prerogative.

In praise of Cllr Sue Jones-Davies

While supporting by handing out leaflets in Aberystwyth I had the opportunity today to congratulate Sue on her time as Mayor of Aberystwyth. As well as bringing a dignity and level-headedness to the role she also brought a bit of celebrity as well. The coup of inviting Terry Jones and Michael Palin to Aberystwyth and relaunch The Life of Brian gave Aber a positive profile that will have done much good to tourism. However this is not what I shall remember, rather the oration she gave at the funeral of Cllr Owen Jones (Penparcau) which struck such a tender, dignified and majestic note. Its a hard act to follow.

Monday, 1 June 2009

MP's Communication Allowance

I agree with most commentators and probably all candidates that the £10,000 Communication Allowance given to MP's from the Taxpayer's purse is nothing more than a free re-election gift to the campaign coffers. Having done some research I came up with the above graphic for the constituencies around Ceredigion.

Plaid Cymru MP's are pretty prudent with this allowance but it must be Liberal Democrat policy to spend this allowance to its utmost. It would be churlish of me to omit a reference that Plaid MP's did get into a little bit of trouble with it just before the Assembly elections in 2007. Its the totals I am concerned with here.

In the USA the generous communication and other allowances given to Senators make it virtually impossible to shift the said representatives. It is undemocratic if we allow the same situation to develop here in the UK Parliament, by the way no such allowance exists in the Assembly.

If elected as the MP for Ceredigion I would not use this Allowance, I don't believe in it.

No surprise....

Why am I not suprised! Typical behaviour 'Lib Dem apology over swear word' . I'm just waiting to see the ' your babies' leaflets in Ceredigion this week. Lepoards and spots!

Note the 'FOCUS' banner we have seen here in Ceredigion.