I'm the Hen Ferchetan. This is my take on the world through the eyes of Wales. While mostly about Welsh politics (that most famous of dour topics!) I try to scatter some humour around, but I doubt anyone but me will find it funny! Have a read, and if it bores you then feel free to never come back!

Sunday, 29 June 2008

What's Up Doc?

First of all, a massive congratulations to the Doctor Who team in Cardiff. While debate rages on over whether David Tennant really has made his last Doctor Who appearance or not you have to be amazed at the fact that BBC Wales have managed to keep all this quiet.

When someone dies in Corrie, Eastenders or even Pobol y Cwm - everyone knows about it. Pictures of the crash/murder/fire (no-one dies of cancer in these places do they?!) will have been plastered over Hello and OK (or at least Golwg!) and the only question left for those watching the programme will be whodunnit?

If David Tennant's reign really is over then the amount of work the production team have gone to in announcing his new contract, having him on set while filming the Christmas special etc is astonishing. It would be a work of genius to be honest - catching everyone off guard in a major TV series is hard enough, doing so when people have been talking about Tennant leaving for at least a year is incredible.

On the other hand, if there is another twist to the tale in the final episode and Tennat is here to stay (and unlike Ordovicius and Peter Black I suspect there is such a twist, there must be a reason we keep seeing that old hand of the Doctor in the TARDIS) BBC Wales and Russel T Davies still have to be applauded for keeping everyone guessing.

Bye Bye Wendy, Wendy Bye Bye

Another day, another disaster for Gordon Brown - surely he must be wondering which God he has pissed off in a previous life. Scottish Labour leader Wendy Alexander has resigned following Holyrood's Standards Committee's decision to suspend her from the Scottish Parliament for one day. A Labour leadership contest is Christmas come early for the SNP, especially since there's no obvious candidate to replace Wendy. In a situation similar to Rhodri in Cardiff Wendy has attracted so much media attention that the people underneath her are relatively unknown. Alex Salmond will be delighted to be the only recognisable face left!

It has to be asked though, WHY has Wendy resigned? I don't get it. She's been mired in financial "scandals" for a year now - you'll remember her dodgy offshore donation just before Hain bit the bullet and the failures to disclose donations occurred at the same time. She should have resigned then, as Hain (eventually) did. But she didn't, she clung on. So why is she resigning now? A one day suspension is a very tame punishment (specially seeing as how it was handed down by what Wendy insists is a party political motivated committee), and Wendy seems sure that Parliament won't approve it - so why the resignation?

Firstly there's the fact that Parliament probably will approve it. Both the SNP and Lib Dem members of the committee voted for the suspension and you'd expect both parties to do so in a full vote as well. But the fact still remains that it's only a one day suspension.

Has she just had enough? It must have hurt like hell when her party (outside Holyrood) hung her out to dry on the referendum issue - has she decided to sod them all and quit?

Has there been pressure on her to quit? Without Wendy, Labour will find it easier to vote against the SNP's single question referendum bill. With her they would have struggled to vote against it after she so loudly called on the SNP to "bring it on".

One thing is for sure, not many political leaders have had Wendy's opportunity to choose which scandal she'll use as her reason for resigning!

Note: The Miserable Old Fart asks the same question

Friday, 27 June 2008

Let's Get Ready to Rumble!

Many people, both supporters and opponents of Plaid, will be watching with interest the nationalists' internal election of a "Llywydd" (President). Since the job was split from Assembly Leader in 2003 the role has been held by folk-singer/businessman/ex-councillor Dafydd Iwan. This is a position that has been held by Gwynfor Evans as well as the "three Dafydd's of Plaid" (Iwan, the Lord and the Lord-to-be) but since Plaid put an end to their triple-leader mess and installed Ieuan Wyn as the Party leader the role is seriously downgraded.

From what I understand the role is now as leader of the voluntary wing, something that you would expect Dafydd Iwan to be quite good at - his strength has always seemed to be his ability to motivate the masses. But after the recent council elections, where Dafydd Iwan seemed to ave motivated the masses (or at least some of the masses) to vote for the "anyone but Plaid" Llais Gwynedd - his position has been in doubt. He now has a challenger for the role, Plaid's Parliamentary leader Elfyn Llwyd. Plaid's internal rules forces an election for the post every now and then, and that's what they're going to have now.

Who will win? Elfyn Llwyd has managed to avoid controversy and slip-ups throughout his career but it's fair to say that to a lot of people he seems, well, boring! there's also questions about him sharing the workload between being an MP, parliamentary leader and president. On the other hand while Dafydd Iwan can never be written off as boring and has plenty of time on his hands since May, but he's carrying a lot of baggage.

Elfyn Llwyd has the support of SNP leader Alex Salmond, who has said
"Elfyn is a politician who combines passion and commitment with a thorough knowledge of the parliamentary process… I’ve worked closely with him during my time at Westminster and I know he has always had the best interest of Wales first and foremost in his mind. I am proud to call him a colleague and also a friend.”

but who will have the support of the Plaid members? I do not have the fainest of ideas, but there's no doubt that Labour for one will be looking at the fight very closely, hoping for a long bitter fight to put a bit of a prang in the Plaid bubble.

By-Elections Everywhere

By-elections seems to be the order of the month, first we have a new Tory in Boris' old seat - no surprise there. The biggest story from Henley is that Labour lost their deposit, failing to get even 5% of the vote. To compound the misery on brown's 1 year anniversary Labour actually got 5th in Henley - behind the Greens and the BNP and only just ahead of UKIP.

At least Labour can be safe in the knowledge that they won't lose their deposit in the next by-election - that of David Davis - but only because they haven't put up a candidate, neither have the Lib Dems. Plenty of others have stepped into the fold though - the ex-shadow Home Secretary will have TWENTY-FIVE challengers! Half of them are independents, the others include a candidate for the National Front Britain for the British, the Miss Great Britain Party (does exactly what it says on the tin) the Church of the Militant Elvis Party (I kid you not!) and a candidate for The Official Monster Raving Loony Party (who were only 800 or so votes behind Labour in Henley!) who is actually called Mad Cow-Girl!

One by-election to watch in Wales, the Rheidiol seat in the middle of Aberystwyth will be contested on 10th July. A lib Dem retained the seat in the recent elections but resigned within a month after being arrested and cautioned. Even though the Lib Dems had more than twice the Plaid votes last time round, the Councillor had a strong personal vote and therefore Plaid are hopeful here. Victory for them will not only give them bragging rights over a big part of Ceredigion's biggest town before the big general election fight to come, it will also put them 1 seat away from a majority on the Council. Both the Libs and Plaid have shown their desire to win this seat with both parties putting forward ex Mayors of Aberystwyth. With a third ex-Mayor standing as an independent this will be a pretty interesting battle.

Tuesday, 17 June 2008

The only DJ in the village?

The BBC website has a listing for BBC Radio Cymru's programmes, one of which is on Saturday afternoon hosted by long-time DJ Dafydd Du. Here's the bilingual listing for that programme...

21 Jun 2008 12:30 -15:00
BBC Radio Cymru
Cerddoriaeth a sgwrs gyda Dafydd Du.
Music and chat with Daffyd Du.

I guess the Little Britain influence is strong at the BBC. Seriously though, which BBC idiot translated the correct Dafydd to the dodgy Daffyd!

An area the size of...

Here's an interesting teaching programme showing the effect a meteor would have if it impacted on Earth. You have to choose the speed, angle, density and material of the meteor and then it shows how large the impact site would be.

I have to say i had a bit of a shock when I reached the end and saw where the programme makers decided the meteor should hit!

Resigning Tories

Two Tory resignations over the past week, both of them wrong as far as I'm concerned.

First came David Davis (without an "e"). He resigned because of the 42 day disgrace played out in Parliament last week. After Brown managed to buy enough votes from his rebels and Ulster Unionists (offering them things that had nothing to do with 42 days) Davis was so disgusted he resigned his seat and intends to stand a by-election on this single issue. First of all I have to say that he deserves our applause. I find it oh so cynical of many people to try and work out what the hidden motive is. Is he positioning himself for the leadership? Is he trying to damage Cameron? For once it seems that a politician has sacrificed a top job for what he believes in, credit must go where credit is due.

But even though I agree totally with Davis' view on 42 days, and even though I hope that his resignation will spur the debate against the proposed law, I think he is wrong to resign. If every MP who disagreed with a vote resigned we'd be out of MP's within a week. The whole point of having MP's is that they debate the matters before them and vote as they see fit. While there's no doubt that the government never won the 42 day argument, and only won thanks to their purchase power, the vote was won. Davis has to accept that, and should be using his power to convince the Lords to vote down the law, not using his time to beat a Miss World wannabe and an ex-editor of the Sun!

The second resignation is that of Alun Cairns following his "greasy wops" comment. Again i think that the resignation was wrong. Cairns was an idiot, a bloody idiot, for what he said. But he apologised within seconds and no-one is suggesting that there was malice in the words. To end the guy's career over it is way overreacting. On a side note though, I note that while Cairns resigned his front bench posts, it was David Cameron's decision to suspend him as a MP candidate. No word about his position as an AM. Does the London Tory Party think that Cairns is unfit to be an MP but is fine as an AM?

On a similar note, I watched the infamous Anne Robinson Room 101 appearance on YouTube yesterday and I can't remember what the fuss was about. It was only the baying audience that was truly offensive, Robinson's comments were more of a compliment than an insult!

Note: I'm sure Vaughan never thought his nae would appear in the Italian print!

Wednesday, 11 June 2008

PR vs Liberty

It seems that Brown has won his popularity contest to get the 42 day limit on terrorist suspects. This is a disgrace, it's a total disgrace. I haven't sworn on this blog since I started it, but I'm seriously close to doing so now.

In the face of abysmal polls, Brown has decided he needs to look tough, tough on crime, tough on Labour Rebels and tough on National Security. Because Brown wants to look tough, we will now (subject to the Lords' approval) have a law on our books allowing the police to hold a person in a cell for a month and a half (that sounds much longer than 42 days doesn't it!) without evidence that they are a criminal.

And that's what bugs me most about this. We keep getting told that these powers will only be used to hold terrorists in extreme cases. But this is not a law to hold terrorists, it's a law to hold suspects who the Police do not have enough evidence to charge. In other words people who the police have no case against. Whatever happened to innocent until proven guilty!

The police chiefs have said they need these powers. They tell us that they need more time these days because computers are hard to crack and terrorists' computers are harder because they're all in Arabic. Are they honestly telling us that if they get a computer filled with terrorist plans - it will take them a month and a half to workout what it says? That fills you with confidence doesn't it!

What's more, while the police chiefs supported Brown, everyone else did not. The Crown Prosecution Service, the people who have to look at the evidence the Police have gathered and decide whether to charge or not, don't want this law. Lord Goldsmith, the ex-Advocate general (the government's top lawyer) doesn't want this law. Scotland's Lord Advocate doesn't want it. The Equality and Human Rights Commission (the government's own Commission!) doesn't want it and says it's illegal!

Two years ago the government raised the maximum non-charge detention from 14 to 28 (having been upped from 7 to 14 in 2003). Now they say they need 14 more days. Really? Even though there has never yet been a need to detain someone for 28 days?

Let;s hope the Lords have enough guts to stand up to this disgrace.

And there's more. Another of Brown's new laws is that it is now illegal to be in possession of a drawing of a child in a sexual position. A DRAWING! Apparently all you need to be a peado these days is a blank sheet of A4 paper and a HB Pencil.

This is nothing more than a PR exercise by a desperate Brown. What's next, bringing back the death penalty?

Tuesday, 10 June 2008

Updated Blogroll

I've added a few names to the blogroll (it was woefully small!) - I only add blogs which i actually bother to read but if anyone has a suggestion of something I missed I'll go take a look.

The Blogs on the list now are:

0725 to Paddington, A Welsh View, Adam Price, Bethan Jenkins, Blog Menai (C), Blog Swyddogol (C), Ceredig, Cynical Dragon, Damon Lord, Glyn Davies (ex) AM, Guerrilla Welsh Fare, Hen Rech Flin, Luke Young, Miserable Old Fart, Miss Wagstaff, Normal Mouth, Ordovicius, Paul Flynn, Peter Black, Southpaw Grammar, Tiger Tales, Valleys Mam, Welsh Lobbyist

Friday, 6 June 2008

Installation Irony

Catalan electricians and sign installers have been working hard in the Place de George Orwell (George Orwell's Square) in Barcelona...

Oh the irony!

Thursday, 5 June 2008

A British Day (or is that Days?)

London Immigration Minister Liam Byrne must have thought that he was giving a boost to Brown's ridiculous "Britsh Day" campaign by preparing to suggest to the Labour think-tank Progress that it should land on an existing bank holiday. In fact, he had a particular day already chosen:

"I myself have become convinced that the August Bank Holiday weekend - what some have called 'the great British weekend' - has the virtue of being in the summer, and already being a bank holiday,"

Byrne thinks that the idea of a British Day has "really caught on". (It will be interesting to see the result of a YouGov poll currently being carried out into opinions on the idea)

Unfortuantely for Byrne however, his plan hit a bump even before he made the planned speach. Without even bothering to hide their giggles, the SNP pointed out that the August Bank Holiday will be held on 25th August in Wales, England and NI......but on 5th August in Scotland. Hardly a celebration of our unity within the United Kingdom if Scotland "celebrates" it 20 days before the rest of us is it!

Tuesday, 3 June 2008

Welsh Speaker Prefered

Some rumours about a Labour AM spending some time at Nant Gwrtheyrn (Welsh language teaching centre). Credit must go where credit is due - nice to know that another of our AM's will one day be able to speak Welsh.

As for who the AM is, and what reason he might have for picking up Welsh in 2008 - anyone fancy having a look at that list of top contenders for the top job when Rhodri's retires?

Edit: Post number 100 for the Hen Ferchetan!


As of last night Facebook is now available in the Welsh language. I got one hell of a surprise to log into Facebook this morning and find everything written in Welsh! Apparently it is not finished yet, there are 17,000 phrases still to be translated (down from 20,000 last night).

Facebook has a very clever way of translating itself. Instead of paying huge sums to a translator and then suffering the wrath of users who don't like the translations used Facebook lets the users do the hard work themselves. Facebook chooses what languages it wants itself translated into (Welsh is one of about 35, many of which are different Chinese languages) and then lists all words and phrases used in the system. Normal users then offer translations, while other users vote on which translations they prefer.

As far as I can find out, the process for translating into Welsh only started a week or two ago (when only the basic words were up fro translation). Phrases only started to be translated last night, and already enough has been done to fill my News Feed with Welsh.

Congratulations to those who have been translating - anyone else with any time to spare (be it 5 mins or an hour) go vote on translations!

Note: If your Facebook is still in English, all you need to do to get it translated is to add the "Translations" application (just use search) and choose Cymraeg. It will switch automatically. Enter this application then to help with the translating.