Archive for Wales

Wales to get tax raising powers

St George is Cross

The British government is planning to give the Welsh government the same powers to vary income tax as the Scottish government and control over landfill tax and stamp duty.

David Cameron said:

Today we are announcing more power for the Welsh people and the Welsh government. Power that’s about building this country up, power that’s about making sure we have real accountable government here in Wales.

The English people still have no government and no power. There is no accountable government here in England, just an unaccountable British government full of politicians that can’t be held to account at the ballot box by a single person in England making decisions affecting the lives of English people.

He then went on to announce that the 2014 NATO summit will be held in Wales:

Scotland has got the Commonwealth Games, London had the Olympics, Northern Ireland the G8, now it’s Wales’ turn.

The Olympics were the British Olympics, nothing to do with England. The whole thing was about the British so when is it England’s turn?

The Welsh First Minister doesn’t want devolution of income tax until the Barnett Bribe is reformed to provide “fairer” funding for Wales (by which he means more English money being given to Wales):

Today is an important day for Wales. We are now being treated like equals in the UK.

We are not in favour of devolution of income tax until the Barnett formula is reformed to provide fairer funding for Wales.

Treated like equals in the UK?  Being treated the same as the English is hardly something to aspire to: the only nation in Europe with no government of its own, northing more than a source of income for the British government to fund its spending addiction.

Welsh MEP says English should give more money to Wales

But not for equal funding

Welsh Labour MEP, Derek Vaughan, has called for the English to give even more money to Wales to make up for a £400m cut in EU funding agreed by the British.

When the EU budget was “cut”, as well as our contributions going up the amount of money we get back from the EU was also cut.  As Wales is a net recipient of EU funding that means that the Welsh lose more funding per capita than the English and it’s this funding reduction agreed by the British government that Derek Vaughan thinks the English should compensate them for.

Wales already gets nearly £1,400 more in per capita public spending than England so Vaughan can sod off.  It’s about time the rest of the UK started paying their own bills and stopped leaching off the English taxpayer.

Man beaten to within 5″ of his life in Wales for being English

A 27 year old Englishman has been beaten to a pulp and left for dead in Wales for being English.

Paul Meehan was born in London, grew up in Cardiff but now lives in Birmingham.  He was waiting at a taxi rank when he was attacked after the group heard the brummie twang in his accent.  Doctors had to remove a 5″ section of his skull to relieve the pressure on his brain.

Increasing anglophobia over the last decade or so has been recognised but the bulk of the increase in racially motivated attacks against English people has been in Scotland where a 2003 survey found that a quarter of English people living in Scotland had experienced racially motivated harassment or discrimination.  There are a number of prominent examples of that latent anglophobia translating into physical violence in the disabled Englishman who was dragged out of his car and beaten up in Scotland, the half English/half Scottish boy punched in the face in a park in Scotland for wearing an England football shirt, the English carer for a Scottish friend who had his windows smashed and was assaulted for being English.  But the most damning indictment was probably when the head of once of the Scottish police forces said that anti-English attacks had reached epidemic proportions in his force’s area.

However, that violent anglophobia has tended not to manifest itself so much in Wales.  In fact, the worst thing that I recall happening in Wales wasn’t even an assault on a person, it was a horse being slashed a few years ago.  Hopefully this racist attack isn’t the start of a souring of Anglo-Welsh relations.

Man attacked in Cardiff for being English (c) The Sun

Global Warming in Wales

It’s been global warming it down for a couple of days now, especially in Wales where they’ve had 6″ of rain in 24 hours when they’d normally expect only 3″.

The worst of the rain has been centred in and around Aberystwyth where people have had to be evacuated from their homes and a holiday park is completely underwater. My sister, brother-in-law and nephew are currently in Llanrhystud which is a few miles out side of Aberystwyth and luckily escaped the flooding (although the River Wyre does flow through a culvert under the town so they’re not quite out of the water yet so to speak).

Earlier this evening Aberystwyth was effectively cut off from the south and parts of the centre of town are flooded as you can see from this picture of the Morissons supermarket which is strategically located at the foot of a very steep hill.


Morissons Aberystwyth Flooded

Rain in Wales in June … it’s so unusual, it just has to be climate change.

The BBC has made Bristol Welsh

Last year the BBC moved filming of Casualty from Bristol, where the programme is based, to Cardiff.

Since moving to Wales, most of the extras are now Welsh – presumably recruited from the local population.  We now have the ludicrous situation where, if you watch Casualty, you would be led to believe that most people in Bristol are Welsh.

When the filming of Dr Who was moved to the same studios in Cardiff, the Doctor suddenly found himself talking to an awful lot of Welsh people and spending a lot of time in Welsh towns and villages.  No doubt the new series of Upstairs Downstairs that is being filmed there will be based in a London full of Welsh people as well.

The BBC’s desperation to spread the British brand through the “nations and regions” has ruined one of its flagship programmes and frankly, I couldn’t care less if I never see Casualty again.

When will someone make the case for the union?

So, I suppose it’s about time I blogged about the Scottish independence referendum as it’s been in the news for a week or so.

Basically, this is the story so far:

Alex Salmond has been dicking about for a few years saying they’re going to hold a referendum on Scottish independence but keeps putting it off because a) they won’t vote for independence and b) the longer he threatens it, the more he can screw out of the Brits at our expense.

Salmond knows that the Scots won’t vote for independence so he’s come up with a great wheeze: devolution max.  Devolution max is almost, but not quite, a confederation between Scotland and “Britain”.  The Scottish government would be almost on a par with the British government, Salmond and Cameron would meet each other as equals rather than provincial administrator and imperial overlord.

Cameron got fed up with Salmond dicking about and told him he’s got to have his referendum sooner rather than later and he can’t offer devolution max, just a yes/no to independence.  Salmond told the media London was dictating to Scotland; Cameron said he wasn’t dictating, he was merely telling the Scottish government what they can and can’t do in a dictatorial manner (I’ve paraphrased slightly).

At some point the British government decided that after years of indecision, an independence referendum held by the Scottish government would be illegal.  Nobody has offered an opinion as to what they would do if Salmond held his referendum and ended up as Prime Minister of the Kingdom of Scotland – the thing about a unilateral declaration of independence is that it’s, well, unilateral.  Salmond retaliated by saying he’d order the Scottish police not to man polling stations if the ballot papers didn’t have his options on them (yes, he can do that but technically the British Home Secretary trumps the Scottish First Minister which would make for an interesting pissing contest wouldn’t it?).

The brief posturing is over with no clear winner and now the two sides are setting out their stalls.  The Brits are making the case for the union to the Scots, humming Rule Britannia whilst Britishly tearfully extolling the British virtues of the British union and good old British Britishness in British Britain and British Scotland.  Some of them are suggesting wrecking manoeuvres such as giving people in England a vote on Scottish independence as well, although they seem to have gone quiet since Survation (an up-and-coming polling company with a very good record so far on political polls) found that more people in England want to see Scotland declare independence than Scots.

The Scottish nationalists are doing what they usually do – confusing England with “Britain”, throwing some random numbers on paper to show they’re subsidising England and … well, that’s about it but even so the Survation poll says that Salmond is quite comprehensively winning the “referendum war”.

Unsurprisingly and true to form for the Brits, virtually nobody is thinking about England in all this.  The Labour MP for Torfaen in Wales, Paul Murphy, has called for the balkanisation of England by resurrecting Prescott’s rejected local government reorganisation with regional assemblies but that’s about as far as it goes.  Other than that it’s been Scotland, Scotland, Scotland as if the future of the UK and the relationships between the member states in it are the exclusive domain of the Scots.

I don’t want a vote on Scottish independence because it’s Scotland’s business but if Scotland has a referendum then a referendum should also be held on English independence, Welsh independence and Northern Irish independence.  If the union is to continue then it should be because most of the people in all four member states want it to, not because 4 million voters in Scotland say so.

I would love to hear the British nationalists making the case for the union to England like they are for Scotland.  I would love to hear them explain why we should stay in a union where we have no voice, where £20bn of our taxes are taken from us on threat of imprisonment and given to the other three member states of the UK to spend on things that we can’t afford, where politicians elected in another country are allowed to introduce and vote on laws that only apply to England when they can’t even vote on the same things in the country they were elected in and where we are generally robbed, put upon and despised.  I’d love to hear them make the case for that union because right now all I’m hearing is Scotland, Scotland, Scotland when quite frankly I couldn’t give a damn whether they stay or go.

The celtic dog has been wagging the English tail for too long and it has to stop.  The British establishment is full of people who are, quite frankly, irrationally fanatical about Scotland.  They are 5m people (and falling), we are 51m and increasing.  They spend the money, we foot the bill.  They have an inferiority complex, we have to make ourselves subservient to them to make them feel better.  The obsession is with what the Scots want, forgetting that actually it’s England that would make or break the union.

So what’s the answer?  It’s quite simple …

Hold the referendum in Scotland with the three options – independence, current level of devolution or “devolution max”.  At the same time, hold a referendum in England, Wales and Northern Ireland offering the same choices (“current level of devolution” in England being what the Scots have now).  This will result in an English Parliament being created.  Take out the unconstitutional, unworkable English Votes on English Laws fudge (there’s no point trying to implement something that can’t work, it’s just wasting time and money) and support for devolution in England is overwhelming.  This may result in assymetry as it’s not guaranteed that all four member states of the UK will vote for devolution max (I’m thinking of NI here) but it would be through choice, not because the British government is prejudiced against one country.

This raises the spectre of one or more member states of the UK voting for independence.  Scotland is probably less likely to vote for independence than England despite the overt nationalism north of the border.  Of the four member states of the UK, only England pays its own way and only England would thrive outside of the union.  Despite the protestations of some Scots, they do extremely well out of the union whilst England does extremely badly out of it.  If one or more member states vote for independence then the British government should be prepared with a firm plan for a British confederation.  I won’t dwell on the virtues of a confederation, just follow the link.

The independence of one member state would raise some interesting challenges when it comes to the inheritance of treaties.  For instance, who would keep the UK’s seat on the UN Security Council?  If Scotland declared independence then “Britain” would probably still exist for a short time and once it fell apart, England would naturally be the successor state.  But if England declared independence and Scotland didn’t, “Britain” wouldn’t last any longer but Scotland would naturally be the successor state.  Salmond wants to demilitarise Scotland and on the international stage Scotland is a non-entity (“Scotland, isn’t that in England?” – you get the picture) – the UN isn’t going to have a bunch of whining skirt wearing with delusions of grandeur on the UN Security Council.

EU membership is another question that needs considering.  Scotland is the most europhile member state of the UK, it would probably want to remain a member.  The EU would want to keep England to pay the bills.  New countries joining the EU have to agree to join the €uro – Scotland might not be too fussed about joining the €uro but England?  It’s unthinkable.

What about the British Overseas Territories?  Who will inherit those?  If a confederation can successfully be created then problem solved.  If not, it’s open for negotiation – they may opt for independence, they may choose their own “protector” to pay fealty to.

The Vienna Convention on Succession of States in Respect of Treaties says that it’s basically up to succeeding states to decide who takes on what treaties with the assumption that if no agreement is made, all the treaties currently in force will apply to all successor states.  That means that the default position is that all member states of the UK declaring independence would remain members of the EU, UN, NATO and party to all the other treaties the UK has signed up to since 1978 unless they agree to divvy them up.  Contrary to what British politicians say, independence of any of the member states of the UK does not necessarily mean losing the memberships of international bodies the UK currently holds.

None of the perceived problems are insurmountable so what reason is there for the union to continue?  This is the case the British unionists have to make to all of us, not just the Scots and this is precisely what won’t happen.  The British are so obsessed with what the Scots want that they won’t see what’s happening under their noses until it’s too late.

£30m Olympics bribe for Scotland, Wales & NI

On Wednesday the British government finally announced the West Lothian Question commission that they promised over a year ago, yesterday they gave a practical demonstration of why it’s so desperately needed.

Olympic BribesScotland, Wales and Northern Ireland have negotiated a £30.2m bonus from the British government because the British government have spent money in London for the British Olympics.  No extra money will be spent in the rest of England where local authorities are facing cuts of about a quarter over the next few years.

The money is being handed over because of what is called Barnett Consequentials – the technical name for giving Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland a big wedge of cash just because the British government have spent some money in England.  Barnett Consequentials are part of the balancing mechanism to ensure Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland continue to get the same outrageous level of subsidy at England’s expense no matter how much capital investment the British spend in England.

Paying Barnett Consequentials because of the Olympics is a bloody liberty though because they’re not the English Olympics, they’re the British Olympics.  England doesn’t have a Olympic team and the British government’s investment in London is for their Olympics, not for London or for England.  Some of the facilities that are being built for the Olympics are going to be relocated to Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland and some of the events are even being held in those countries.  They will “benefit” from the British Olympics as much as the rest of England.

The British government shouldn’t have paid any Barnett money to Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland for the British Olympics but there was nobody at the meeting representing English interests.  As a consequence (excuse the pun), £30.2m of English taxpayers’ money is going to be handed over to the Scots, Welsh and Northern Irish for no other reason than because the British spent some money in England for their Olympic vanity project.  This has only happened because there is no English government to represent English interests, saying “no, this is your Olympic games, we’re not paying your bribes”.

There are no details as yet on who will be on the West Lothian Commission, what they will consider and whether an English Parliament will be ruled out immediately or when they report in 2013.

The British have lost Wales

There is a misguided belief in “Britain” amongst the political classes, a belief that below the surface there is a common British identity that unites us all and will stave off the forces of celtic nationalism.  Their obsession with celtic nationalism and indifference to English nationalism will come back to bite them in the arse but that’s a different topic.

I’ve just got back from a fortnight’s holiday – the first week was spent in Somerset and the second week in Ceredigion (or Cardiganshire as it used to be called).  There was an abundance of English flags in Somerset (Burnham-on-Sea to be exact) but not to the exclusion of the British flag, just a lot more St George’s Crosses than the butchers apron.  Wales was different though (at least the part of Wales we stayed in) – the only British flag I saw was, ironically, outside the Welsh Assembly building in Aberystwyth where it occupied one of the “other” flag poles to the side of the Welsh flag, the other “other” pole sporting the ring of stars logo of the EU.

Flags aren’t the only symbol of nationhood and cultural independence of course and this is where the Welsh have the English at an advantage: the Welsh language.  People in the street, in cafés and shops spoke Welsh to each other.  Not just old people who grew up in a time when Welsh communities were often isolated and the Welsh language survived simply because they weren’t exposed to English, it was people my age and most importantly, young people.  Welsh kids sitting in cafés with their family quite easily swapped and changed between English and Welsh depending on who they were talking to without hesitation and they are the ones who will decide what the de facto first language of Wales is in a decade or so.

Road signs are an indication of the change in the status of the Welsh language.  Dual-language signs were permitted in 1965, a national roll-out started in 1972 and until relatively recently they have generally been in the form of English road signs with Welsh translations.  The opposite is now true in most of Wales – the road signs are in Welsh with English translations.  English speakers are accommodated alongside Welsh rather than the other way round such as you might find in arab countries where the latinised version place names are included underneath the arabic.

English being the lingua franca of international trade and diplomacy has many advantages on the world stage but at home it takes away one of the most obvious things that unites a people and sets them apart from their neighbours.  If England had a unique language of its own in everyday use – pockets of Old English speakers, perhaps, that could be used as a starting point – then the English identity would be a lot stronger than it is now and we wouldn’t be facing problems such as the threat from Britification and the public’s willingness to accept institutional discrimination as the price of the union.

Wales, like Scotland, has been lost by the British.  The symbols of British cultural imperialism that you see in England just don’t exist in the celtic nations.  The companies and political parties investing in Britishness are limiting themselves to an increasingly narrow section of English society who still believe in Britain.  Support for English devolution is consistently falling just shy of the 70% mark whilst support for English independence has jumped to 36% in a Comres poll published in July this year.  A TNS-BMRB opinion poll published in June this year showed that support for Scottish independence has risen to 37% (51% in people under 24) and in Wales the most recent opinion poll I can find is 2007 which shows support for independence at just 12%.  Support for devolution in Scotland was 70% in a 2009 Populus poll, the Welsh referendum on extending devolution this year was 64.5% and the last poll I’ve seen in England was 67%.  Support for devolution in England is higher than in Wales and almost as high as Scotland.  But the independence figure is the one that is most interesting – almost as many English people support English independence as Scots do for Scotland (and significantly more than support Welsh independence) but the rate at which support for independence is increasing in England far outstrips any increase in support that Scotland has ever seen.

Companies have already realised that Britain is a toxic brand in Scotland and Wales which is why you will rarely find anything overtly British in shops and supermarkets outside of England.  The same goes for political parties – there is not a single -England arm of any UK political party but they all have -Scotland and -Wales arms.  Charities and non-profit organisations are the same – there is an Age Scotland, Age Cymru and Age UK; there is a British Medical Association (BMA) Scotland, BMA Wales and plain old “the BMA” for England.  What they have failed to notice is the increasing irrelevance and even opposition to “Brand Britain” in England and that will cost them dearly in the very near future.

The union could still have a place in our future, albeit in a significantly different form to the current union but it will only survive the next few years if it is reconfigured on the basis of fairness, equality and respect for all the people of these four nations.  There is a small (and I mean small – a couple of years at the most) window of opportunity for the British to save their union but they will need to put their imperial past behind them and start thinking the unthinkable: most of “Britain” isn’t British any more.

The case for a British Confederation

Yesterday I explained that I don’t want a vote on Scottish independence and predicted how Alex Salmond would approach “independence” for Scotland.

If I am right about my prediction of what form Scottish “independence” will take is right – ie. a confederation – then that’s not necessarily a bad thing.  The ideal way to govern the UK is with a confederation where the home nations voluntarily pool resources and responsibility for matters that they choose to co-operate on such as defence and foreign affairs.  This differs from federation or the current system of devolution in place in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland in that the powers the confederal government has are passed up from the countries that are part of it rather than being passed down from a federal government.  It’s an important differentiation because it means the members of the confederation retain their independence and sovereignty within parameters agreed by those members rather than being told what independence and sovereignty they are allowed from the centre.  But such a confederation would have to be between England, Scotland, Wales and perhaps Northern Ireland, not between Scotland and “Britain”.

This isn’t just idle conjecture on my part, I have been giving the idea of a confederation thought for some time now.  Here’s how I see it working:

An elected confederal “senate” would replace the House of Lords dealing with defence, foreign affairs and whatever else is handed up to the confederal government and an independent English Parliament would govern England as a sovereign nation within the confederation.  Scotland and Wales would similarly be governed as sovereign nations by their own government.

Northern Ireland is a bit of an oddity and might not choose to take part in a confederal government in the same way.  Clearly unification with the Republic is not the answer – it would alienate and antagonise at least half the population and it’s not in the spirit of the Good Friday Agreement – so why not give Northern Ireland the same status as the Channel Islands and the Isle of Man and make it a Crown Dependency, governing itself as it does now with the confederal government responsible for its defence and jointly for foreign affairs as it is for the Channel Islands and the Isle of Man?

The confederation would be the legal successor to the union, taking over the UK’s seat on the UN, NATO, the EU and any other organisation the UK is a member of unless the members agree that one of their number should become the successor state instead such as Scotland taking over the UK’s membership of the EU as the most europhile nation in the UK.  It would also mean that the Crown Dependencies and Overseas Territories (Falklands, Bermuda, etc.) would work in the same way and could even become members of the confederation on equal terms to England, Scotland and Wales.

The confederal government could be funded by subscription from its members or by direct taxation.  A customs union and Shengen-type agreement would maintain the free movement of goods and people.  A confederal government would need very few politicians, perhaps even being made up of appointees from the national governments and the national governments should be unicameral, resulting in a net reductions of politicians.

A confederation also neatly sidesteps the issue of a federation being unconstitutional under English law.  One of the key properties of a federation is that the existence of the devolved legislatures are protected by law in perpetuity.  Under the English constitution, no British Parliament may bind its successor making it impossible to legislate in this way.  A new English Parliament for an independent England wouldn’t need an Act of the British Parliament to protect its existence, nor would it need an Act of the English Parliament to do so as its existence would be implicit in the fact that England would be an independent, sovereign nation voluntarily delegating powers to a “British Confederation”.  The English and Scottish Crowns can remain united in a personal union as they did before the 1707 Act of Union and the Queen can remain Head of State either through being Head of State of the confederation or the members in their own right.

The members of the confederation would be free to pursue their own economic policies, raising or lowering taxes, increasing or decreasing spending.  Scotland can become the socialist republic it strives to be, England can continue down the road of free market enlightenment.  Scotland can go nuclear-free, England can keep the lights on.

One of the criticisms of supporters of an English Parliament is that they never come up with anything other than a nebulous idea about self-government.  In the case of the Campaign for an English Parliament that’s deliberate because, to paraphrase the Scottish Claim of Right, they quite rightly say that it’s for the people of England to determine the best form of government for themselves.  Well I’m a person of England and I think this is the best form of government for my country.  Discuss.

I don’t want a vote on Scottish independence

So it’s a couple of weeks since the SNP romped home to a comprehensive victory in the Scottish Parliament elections and there’s still no sign of an independence referendum but there is still plenty of talk about what the “independence” will be and who should have a vote.

Alex Salmond Laughing

So I sez "Aye, give us a coupla billion and we wunnae hold the referendum". I didnae expect him tae do it!

Scotland will never be independent, even if it leaves this union because the SNP intends Scotland to be a member of the EU, leaving a union it has a disproportionate amount of control over for a union in which it will be a tiny irrelevant voice.  But that’s a decision for the Scots to make and if they choose to take that path then more fool them.

Alex Salmond has already been talking down independence and suggesting what will be, in all but name, a confederation of Scotland and “Britain” in which Scotland remains in a union voluntarily and on their own terms with “Britain”.  Presumably he has looked at Dubai’s bailout of Abu Dhabi and decided to hedge his bets.

Lots of people are demanding a vote in Scotland’s independence referendum, arguing that if the union is to be dissolved then it’s not just the Scots who should  be able to vote on it.  I disagree for two very good reasons:

Firstly, whether Scotland decides to declare independence or not is Scotland’s business – a declaration of independence is an affirmation of sovereignty and you can’t affirm your sovereignty by asking for someone else’s permission.  The UK or “Britain” isn’t a country, it’s a union of countries and if one of them decides it no longer wants to be in that union, it’s nobody’s decision but their own.

Secondly, Scottish independence won’t mean the end of the union, the Brits will keep “Britain” going for as long as possible in a sad parody of its former self like Serbia federating with Montenegro and calling itself Yugoslavia not because the Serbian people identified themselves as Yugoslavian but because the Serbian political class that dominated Yugoslavia refused to accept the reality of post-Yugoslav Serbia.  The same will happen in England – the British political class will refuse to accept the reality that they have put Scotland on such a high pedestal that the union will seem irrelevant without them and will do whatever it takes to keep “Britain” in existence that little bit longer.

To ensure that Scotland stays in some form of union with “Britain”, the Scots will be comprehensively bribed.  The union started with England paying Scotland’s national debt and a bribe on top to be shared amongst the Scottish people which was promptly stolen by Scotland’s great and good and the end of the union will similarly marked by a Scottish cash bonanza at the expense of the English taxpayer.

The day after the SNP won the Scottish election, David Cameron gave Scotland a £2bn bung for no other reason than Alex Salmond had won the election.  This is the first of many bribes from the British government and it won’t just be handing over billions on pounds of English money, it will be political concessions as well – more independence, a greater say in what happens in England, more Scottish representation at Westminster, more Scots in key British cabinet positions, more British (English) government departments located in Scotland, more “respect” for Scotland.  The divorce settlement will cost England dearly if it is negotiated between the Brits and the Scots.

I don’t want a vote on Scottish independence (although I would vote yes if I did) because it’s none of my business as an Englishman living in England.  I am agnostic about the union – if the union survives or if England stays in it or not is something I won’t lose any sleep over but if the union survives and if England stays in it then it has to be on equal terms with Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland with an English Parliament and fiscal autonomy, just the same as Scotland.  But if the terms of the union – and England’s relationship with the other members – are to be fundamentally renegotiated then that renegotiation has to be done between England and the rest of the UK, not “Britain”.

The British can’t be relied up to represent English interests, we must have an English government to negotiate on our behalf.

More powers for Welsh government

Wales had its second devolution referendum yesterday, this time on whether the Welsh government should be able to pass laws on devolved areas without involving the British government.

The Welsh have had their second referendum, the Scots are due for their third soon on increased powers recommended by the Calman Commission and I don’t even know how many the Northern Irish have had but it’s a fair few.  The English, however, are still refused a referendum on devolution by the British government.

Last night I predicted that the result would be around 70% in favour give or take 5% with about a 50% turnout.  The turnout is looking low with 600k votes from 18 of the 22 electoral districts.  With approximately 2.26m registered voters in  Wales, turnout is going to be about 35% so I was a bit out on the turnout but so far it’s looking like about 62% in favour of increased powers so I wasn’t that far out!

I am genuinely pleased for the Welsh in gaining extra powers from the British government, I just hope it makes more English people site up and take notice of the fact that the Brits refuse to give us equal rights in this so-called “United” Kingdom.

Lib Dims launch “diversity fund” for minority candidates in Wales

Lib Dim Welsh Assembly member, Kirsty Williams AM, has set up a Welsh Lib Dim Diversity Fund and her colleague, Peter Black AM, is soliciting £100 donations for the fund.

The “Diversity Fund” has been set up to raise money to fund election campaigns for female, ethnic minority, disabled and disadvantaged Lib Dim candidates in Wales.

I have asked Peter Black several times on Facebook why black, female or disabled people need or deserve more money for election campaigns.  Do elections cost more money for such people in Wales?  His answer?  It’s an “internal matter” and he doesn’t have to answer to me.
Well no Peter, you don’t have to answer but by not answering you look like a mealy-mouthed politician who’s been caught out making a tit of himself in a desperate search for a good headline.  Elections cost the same whether or not you are a “minority” candidate so there is no need for extra money for any candidate.

But there’s quite an important point that I would like to make, along the lines of the one I’ve made about the Ministry for Inequality and the institutional discrimination contained within it and the Equality Bill it has produced.  By grouping all the various “minorities” together, they actually form the majority and by focussing resources, legislation and policy on them, you turn white men into the under-represented, discriminated-against minority.  This is why positive discrimination is such a fallicy.

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Shropshire MPs complaining about unfair treatment of the English

The following story graced the front page of Wednesday night’s Shropshire Star:

MP’s bid for equal rights at factories

Workers at a Japanese car part factory in Shropshire are not receiving the same state aid in the current economic climate as their Welsh counterparts, an MP has claimed.

Shimizu UK has operations in Hortonwood, Telford, and Welshpool.

However, while its Welsh staff receive taxpayer-funded subsidies for their earnings and efforts to boost their skills – those at the English site do not.

Mark Pritchard, The Wrekin MP, whose constituency includes Hortonwood, today demanded a fair deal and similar assistance for his constituents as well.

The Tory MP raised the issue with Welsh Secretary Paul Murphy in the Commons.

He said: “The Secretary of State will know that Shimizu – a fone Japanese company – has a factory in Welshpool and also in Hortonwood in my constituency.

“But the difference is, on the Welsh side of the border they receive taxpayer subsidies for wages and training.

“That is good news obviously for people in jobs in Wales, but what about the people of Shropshire and my constituentsm who would like to see a similar subsidy from the regional develpment agency?”

Mr Murphy said there were “plenty” of schemes to turn to for assistance, including Train 2 Gain.

He said: “There are plenty of schemes – it is important that you make your constituents aware of them.”

The irony is, the Conservatives today announced that they will abolish all the regional quangos if they win the next election, including the regional development agencies.

Today I wrote the following to the four Conservative MP’s in Shropshire (there’s no point writing to the Labour MP, David Wright, any more as he rarely replies and when he does it’s usually spin or he answers a question you haven’t asked) as follows:

Dear MP,

Yesterday, Mark Pritchard had the following exchange with the British Secretary for State for Wales:

Mark Pritchard: What discussions he has had with ministerial colleagues and the Welsh Assembly Government on schemes to assist businesses in Wales during the economic downturn. [261330]

The Secretary of State for Wales (Mr. Paul Murphy): I refer the hon. Gentleman to the answer that I gave the hon. Member for Ceredigion (Mark Williams).

Mark Pritchard: I am delighted to have given the Secretary of State more time to think about his answer. He knows that Shimizu, a fine Japanese company, has factories in Welshpool and in Hortonwood in my constituency. The difference is that, on the Welsh side of the border, it receives taxpayer subsidies for wages and training. That is good news; we want people in jobs in Wales, but what about the people of Shropshire and my constituents, who would like a similar subsidy from the regional development agency?

Mr. Murphy: As the hon. Gentleman knows, one great benefit of devolution is that we can have several schemes to help businesses in Wales that might not be available in England. However, there are also effective schemes across the border in England, such as Train to Gain, the help that the Department for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform gives small and medium-sized enterprises, and the Department for Work and Pensions schemes. There are plenty of schemes—it is important that the hon. Gentleman makes his constituents aware of them.

This raises an important point and one that is going to get more focus, especially as the economic situation worsens.

Last week Daniel was quoted quite justifiably complaining about the £2m per year cost of treating Welsh patients at the Royal Shrewsbury Hospital. Co-incidentally, I received a letter from the Royal Shrewsbury Hospital that same week confirming that the new kidney cancer wonder drug that the Welsh government have approved for NHS use could be given to a Welsh patient in the Royal Shrewsbury Hospital whilst an English patient would be refused it. Is this another benefit of devolution? It is for the Welsh.

As the economy gets worse, the Scottish and Welsh governments are spending more of their subsidy on propping up their businesses. There is no equivalent focus on English businesses from the British government, the focus is on UK-wide measures.

The Bank of England has magicked a few billion pounds out of thin air and used it to buy assets off British banks so that they will have enough capital to start lending again. The Royal Bank of Scotland has pledged £1.7bn to start offering mortgages – but only in Scotland. RBS is a Scottish bank first and foremost, they’re only British when they need rescuing from bankruptcy. The same applies to HBOS – both RBS and HBOS pledged to sacrifice jobs in England to save them in Scotland.

I’m afraid the regional development agencies (which David Cameron says he will abolish) just won’t cut it when it comes to addressing the democratic deficit in England or providing support to the English economy. An unelected regional quango with a few million pounds of funding pales in comparison to the national governments of Scotland and Wales with multi-billion pound budgets, the ability to pass its own legislation and directly elected politicians elected to represent the interests of the people that elected them.

What England needs and what England wants is an English government with English politicians elected by English people to represent English interests. We don’t need a Prime Minister and Chancellor elected in Scotland, unaccountable to English voters and having signed the Scottish Claim of Right, pledging to put the interests of Scotland first and foremost in all their acts and deliberations. We don’t need MPs elected in Scotland, unaccountable to English voters, casting the deciding votes on devolved subjects such as university top-up fees, foundation hospitals and the new runway at Heathrow.

Before you give the usual speech about how we’re stronger together than apart and our shared values, ask yourself what the union is doing for your constituents right now. Billions of pounds is being spent on Scotland and Wales at the expense of England. Legislation that only affects England is being passed by Scottish MPs that have no right to vote on the same matters in their own constituencies. Scottish and Welsh businesses are not only benefitting from the British government’s UK-wide efforts to combat the recession but they are also benefitting from their own government’s efforts. You are already seeing – and questioning – the benefits to Scottish and Welsh people from having their own devolved governments. Why would you want to deny those same benefits to your own constituents?

The case for an English Parliament is growing stronger as every day goes by and support for it is increasing year on year. It is no longer a subject for academics and political anoraks, it is a mainstream subject talked about in pubs, workplaces and schools. Are you going to stand on the Welsh border like a modern-day Canute and demand that the tide of change turns back or are you going to accept that things are going to change whether you want them to or not? England is being failed and you can do something about it – support the Campaign for an English Parliament while there is still an England to support.

I would welcome the opportunity to meet with you personally and discuss this further.

Stuart Parr

When I got home tonight and picked up the paper, Daniel Kawczynski was on the front page again, this time in a similar vein to Mark Pritchard last night. How am I supposed to keep up!

Pleading for the future

Fifteen firms appeal to MP for help to survive

Up to 15 Shrewsbury businesses have approached their MP in a desperate bit to avoid folding because of problems with their banks, it has been claimed.

Shrewsbury MP Daniel Kawczynski said he had faced the “extraordinary” situation of being asked by companies to pleasd with bank bosses to allow mre time for payments to be made and stave off unreasonable demands.

He said that Wrekin was not the only company to have faced sever pressure from the banks and has called for the government to do more to help firms in trouble.

“I am currently involved in negotiation with banks with regard to 15 Shrewsbury firms who are having difficultues with their banks,” he added.

“These companies have asked me personally to get involved and I am writing to banks and arranging for Shrwsbury businesses to meet with their bank managers.

“It is quite an extraordinary situation when local firms are asking for the suppor of their MP to stop them going to the wall.”

The Tory MP said that since the recession took hol, he has been approached by an increasing number of businesses who are suffering because of a decline in demand whilst struggling to access credit.

A Meet the Buyer event is being held for businesses in the construction industry, which will take place on March 27 at the Shirehall.

The Chamber of Commerce will offer a presentation and short interview slots explaining how contracting and procurement services are arranged by Shropshire Council.

The reference to “Wrekin” is Wrekin Construction, a local construction company that has just gone bust with the loss of around 1,100 direct and indirect jobs. Despite having £40m of orders on its books for this year and enough money coming to them to pay their £2.8m overdraft off by the end of the week, the Royal Bank of Scotland refused to give them a few days extra to pay it. The Department for Business, Enterprise & Regulatory Reform – an English department of the British government – will now have to pay £5m in redundancy payments because the company is in administration. Yet in the same week, RBS pledges to spend £1.7bn on loaning new mortgages in Scotland – as is usually the case: Scottish first, British second.

St Davids Day

To all my Welsh readers – Happy St David’s Day, isn’t it?

To celebrate, here’s a picture of some of the finest Welsh totty …

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Value for money, isn’t it?

HM Court Service introduced the Libra computer system in December last year 7 years late and £260m over budget but it went live without the ability to issue a summons in Welsh, which has been a legal requirement since 1967.

The service says it intends to add the functionality in by September this year at a cost of around £4m and in the meantime it is having summonses translated by the Ministry of Justice.  So far the MoJ have spent £425 on translating summonses meaning it will take 1,569 years to recoup the £4m cost of automating the translations.

Talk about pissing money up the wall.

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Why do we need a specific NHS violence law?

The Ministry of Justice has decided to include Wales in a new bill to introduce specific offences relating to mental and physical abuse in hospitals.  The Welsh government said they didn’t need the law but some Liebour MPs and a peer complained and the MoJ has changed its mind.

I’ve spent a lot more than average an amount of time in hospitals and I apreciate the work that doctors and nurses do, often putting themselves in dangerous situations for the public good.  The same goes for policemen, firemen, etc.  But do we need specific laws relating to individual groups of people?

It is already against the law to physically or mentally abuse someone.  Whether that someone is a nurse, a policeman, asian or white, it is still against the law.  The problem is not with the law as it stands, it is with the way that judges are guided by politicians.

Politicians impose minimum and maximum punishments for crimes so judges can’t decide to punish somebody who’s assaulted a nurse harsher than someone who’s assaulted a drug dealer.  So when people complain that hundreds of doctors and nurses a day are being assaulted and that they’re getting away with lenient sentences, their answer is to make a new law introducing a specific offence and a different punishment.  But the crime is still the same – an offence against the person contrary to common law.

With new offences being created at an alarming rate and people falling foul of daft, ill-thought out and politically-motivated laws, what we really need is for a major cull of these offences and for politicians to butt out and let judges get on with their jobs.  There is no need for specific offences relating to specific groups of people.  There is no need for specific offences relating to “motivation”.  Offences like racially aggravated assault are no different to any other assault other than the fact that it’s politically expedient to look like it’s being taken more seriously.  Physically assaulting a nurse is no different to assaulting a shop keeper but it makes the British government look like they’re caring for people who carry out a public service.

I’m not a nurse, I’m not a doctor, I’m not a fireman, I’m not a politician, I’m not black.  I’m white and I’m English and that means that if I got mugged whilst taking the dog out for a walk or walking across the car park or sat at my desk at work, the British government considers my pain and suffering to be less important than that of a nurse or a fireman or an immigrant.  Why?

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Wales gets primary legislation powers

The Welsh Assembly has been given the power to pass primary legislation to help people with learning difficulties.

AM’s currently draw up new laws but they have to be rubber stamped by the British government before they actually become law.  In Scotland they make their own laws in their own parliament.

There are another nine orders waiting to go through which will give the Welsh Assembly primary law making powers in other areas.

Scotland got its own government after a break of 300 years and Wales after 500 years.  England is still the only country in Europe that doesn’t have its own government.

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Anti-English attack injures horse

How can these English-hating Celts justify attacking a defenceless animal? Will we see any politicians apologising for the actions of these scum? Don’t hold your breath.

Anti-English attack injures horse

A horse’s face was slashed and anti-English graffiti daubed on a stables owned by a Cardiff woman who had moved to a village in west Wales.

Alison Hayes, who was born in the Welsh capital, found her seven-month-old pony with a 4in (10cm) wound on its face.

As she helped the animal at her land in Tegryn, near Crymych, Pembrokeshire, she also noticed graffiti written in slang Welsh saying “English out”.

Dyfed-Powys Police are investigating the attack.

Mrs Hayes and her husband moved to the area last year with the intention of opening a riding stables.

But she was shocked when she discovered their pony, Hope, with a bleeding wound on her nose.

“It is awful, she is very frightened,” she explained.

“She has a 4in piece of flesh hanging of her face.
Graffiti was sprayed on the stables

“I just can’t understand it – I’m from Cardiff, I was born there. My mother and father are both Welsh – what’s going on?

“This is a Welsh-speaking area and they might have mistaken our Cardiff accents for English, that is all I can think,” she added.

“This was an incredibly cruel thing to do. Hope is a beautiful, friendly animal and she was slashed across the face and mouth.

“The motivation of these people was ridiculous and to take it out on an innocent horse was wicked.

“Hope loved being around people but now I can’t get near her. She is terrified.”

A few Welshies are of the considered opinion that because the Welsh phrase sprayed on the wall wasn’t proper Welsh, rather some nonsense generated by a translation website, that it can’t be Welsh nationalists that did it. In fact, a comment on one website said it must be ultra right wing English nationalists to blame because it was duff Welsh. Indeed, so convinced are they of this argument that Smiling under the Buses thinks I must be an anti-Welsh blogger (despite being part Welsh myself!) and one commentator on the CEP blog, where this was cross-posted, asked if the post was going to be edited because the facts had been thrown in doubt!

I’m an English nationalists – quite a committed one I hope you’d agree – but I don’t speak Anglo Saxon. You don’t have to speak Anglo Saxon to be an English nationalist and you don’t have to speak Welsh to be a Welsh nationalist. The fact that the Welsh graffiti is probably duff (it was suggested by locals that it was very old Welsh) doesn’t mean it wasn’t the work of English-hating Welsh nationalists, it just means that it was probably the work of English-hating Welsh nationalists that don’t speak Welsh.

Update 2:
Smiling under the Buses is a Wrexham fan which means that I’m duty bound to loath and detest him and wish him a fiery eternity in the depths of Hades.

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St Davids Day

Bore da.

I’d like to wish my Welsh readers a happy St Davids Day. Isn’it? Lovely.
As we’re so close to Wales here in Shropshire, I popped over the border to see if they were celebrating.

I didn’t have much time so I only managed to get the picture on the right …

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A passenger sevice between Ebbw Vale and Cardiff has been restored for the first time in 46 years.

The line has been used by freight trains but to make it suitable for passenger trains 18 miles of track had to be refitted at a cost of …




Count the zeroes, that’s 35 million pounds for an 18 mile stretch of track.

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