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!

Wednesday, 30 July 2008

Brick by Brick

Having mentioned Plaid Cymru's new plush office being built down the Bay I now find out that the nationalists are providing a one off sensational offer to their supporters. For just £50 you can Adopt a Brick at the new Tŷ Gwynfor.

For your £50 you will get your name on a plaque in the new building and a personalized adoption certificate signed by the President of Plaid - doesn't Trading Standards rules insist that they make it clear which President that is? Imagine your crushing disappointment if you were looking forward to your Dafydd Iwan certificate and it ended up being signed by Elfyn Llwyd!

While all this may be an extremely attractive offer, if you're a Plaid supporter and want to really help them get that office building up then take my advice and head over to Brickfind.co.uk - you'll get a good 76 bricks for your £50 quid there!

Double Blow

BBC: Sikh girl wins bangle law battle

As I noted when this story first came to the fore this is pathetic. I would now advise all children in schools with a no-jewellery restriction similar to Aberdare's Girls School to wear whatever the hell they want to School now. If anyone challenges you, just say that your religious faith demands that you wear them between the hours of 9am and 3.30pm every weekday. Call your faith whatever you want, I hear that the Flying Spaghetti Monster and Invisible Pink Unicorn are popular these days but you can make your own up. If the school claims that you're just making it up take them to the High Court where I'm sure Mr Justice Silber will agree that it is not the School's place to determine what is a real religion and what is not!

BBC: AMs reject organ 'consent' scheme

This is another story that grabbed my attention recently. Unfortunately the Health, Wellbeing and Local Government Committee has voted against recommending a system of presumed consent by 6 votes to 3. Wimps.

Congratulations to Plaid Cymru AM's Helen Mary Jones and Dr Dai Lloyd and Lib Dem AM Jenny Randerson for voting for presumed consent. Tories Jonathan Morgan and Nick Ramsay should be ashamed of themselves, along with Labour AM's Lorraine Barrett, Irene James, Ann Jones and Val Lloyd.

I'm glad to say though that after writing my earlier post on this topic, I registered as an Organ donor straight away!

Goodbye Mr M?

The annual rumours about the death of the the Welsh Office are making the rounds again with several of the London papers (and the Wales on Sunday) reporting that the Ministry for Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland will be merged into a Ministry of the Nations.

Plaid Cymru and the Tories have lashed out, insisting that this is a snub to Wales and will delay the progress of LCO's through Parliament. Labour MP Paul Flynn went on to the airwaves saying that such a move made perfect sense while Plaid's Parliamentary Leader Elfyn Llwyd disagreed, saying that

I believe it would be foolish to take this step at this moment in time
Cheryl Gillian, Tory Shadow Welsh Minister agreed with Plaid, saying that:
Quite frankly, if Labour does make that move it will say everything about what Wales means to Labour
Now wait a second! We've got (apparently) Labour for the closure and Plaid and the Tories slating them for it? Here's a historical pop quiz for you:

1. Between 2003 and 2005, who was the Tory Shadow Welsh Minister?

Answer: They didn't have one!

2. Only 10 months ago, who argued for the close of the Welsh Office, stating that:
Today the Wales Office is acting as a brake on the Assembly Government’s ambitions, doing the bidding of Whitehall departments in seeking to restrict the legislative powers passed to Cardiff Bay
Answer: Plaid Cymru MP Adam Price

3. Which party responded to Adam Price's call to close the Welsh Office with the words:
This is typically ill thought through hyperbole from Adam Price, which may make a good headline but demonstrates a total ignorance
Answer: Yep, that would be Labour (through ex-Welsh Minister Peter Hain)

How times change! Personally I agree with Paul Flynn, we don't need a Welsh Office any more. When Peter Hain was the Governor of Wales the Welsh Office was not Wales' voice in the Cabinet, it was the Cabinet's voice in Wales. Since Paul Murphy took charge it's not even the Cabinet's voice in Wales, it's just trundling along, apparently doing nothing. Ask yourself this, when was the last time you saw Paul Murphy on the news?

As a final note on this topic, the Western Mail has always had a rigid formula to writing political stories, it goes like this:

1. Party A says this (10 paragraphs)
2. Party B is angry that Party A said that (3 paragraphs)
3. Party C disagrees with Party A (1 paragraph)
4. The Lib Dems said something or other (1 sentence)

While it's a pretty boring formula, it makes writing articles very easy for the "journalists" at the paper, as long as they make sure they write down the quotes right. It now seems that they can't even do that right! I'm pretty sure that Tory Cheryl Gillian was saying she'd be disappointed if Labour closed GWYDYR House (Welsh Office's London HQ) not, as the Western Mail says, GWYNFOR House (Plaid's Cardiff HQ, about to be vacated for plush new offices down the Bay (also called Tŷ Gwynfor!)) (Hat tip: Miss Wagstaff Presents)

Swansea Sweep

In a letter to the Swansea Evening Post, Plaid Cymru Councillor Darren Price rebuts the paper's earlier editorial that he claims "talked Wales down". He insists that as an independent country Wales could equal Iceland as he believes "Literacy, life-expectancy and income levels there are first rate"

Fair enough, I prefer Tesco myself but each to their own.

Monday, 28 July 2008

Unionism "Overrun"?

Following on from yesterday's post about the Plaid Cymru "landslide" in Welsh blogs, it seems that this isn't a phenonemum exclusive to Wales. Northern Ireland Unionst blog "Pint of Unionist Lite" notes:
Online, be it in the comments-zones in newspapers like The Scotsman, in the nationwide online arenas like "Our Kingdom", in the lower blog regions, Unionism is being absolutely overrun and slaughtered by its nationalist critics. It seems sometimes that there's only about half dozen or so of us Unionists from Northern Ireland who're the only ones in the blogosphere caring enough about the continuance of the United Kingdom to devote the time needed each day to put our case across to the wider audience. Well then, are we, in reality, on our own? If not, then when are we going to see a bit more online help from our brothers in England, Scotland and Wales?

Federal Friends?

A couple of the newspapers today are winking and nudging about informal talks between David Cameron's Tories and the SNP about what happens after Labour are removed from government sometime in the next two years.

The Tories' worry is that Glasgow East has proven that Alex Salmond knows exactly what he's doing in delaying the independence referendum until after the next General Election. They have looked at the by-election results and have come to two conclusions:

1. They will win the next general election with a comfortable majority, and

2. Scottish voters now see the SNP as the alternative to Labour, leaving the Tories with only a couple of seats up north

The Tories know damn well what the result of that will be. Alex Salmond will have a field day (or, to be more specific, a field year!) and will not miss a single opportunity to decry the Tory government's lack of mandate in Scotland. While this may or may not result in a yes vote for independent it would undoubtedly make David Cameron's first year in office very very hard.

The Herald states that:

It would benefit the Conservative Party on both sides of the border if David Cameron pre-empted this by having informal, exploratory talks with First Minister Salmond about granting far more powers, which must include taxation to the Scottish Government, while making it clear that unless a referendum decided otherwise, this would occur within the Union.

But the London Daily Mail goes further, saying that such talks are already ongoing:

That is why, I can reveal, allies of Cameron have entered into informal talks with the SNP over recent months. Their objective is to save the union by working out a new kind of constitutional settlement for Scotland...An incoming Tory administration would need to meet Alex Salmond's demands that the Scottish Parliament should have massive new powers over taxation and public spending. In domestic terms, a Scottish administration would be entirely self-governing and have complete command over economic policy. And yet the union could be maintained through the retention of shared armed forces, and foreign policy, and the monarchy.

Is this the start of a Federal UK instead of full blow independence? And where does it leave Wales?

Sunday, 27 July 2008

Calling All Labourites

Ordovicius notes the demise of the Llanelli Journal. Coming swiftly after the end of Normal Mouth and Southpaw Grammar this now leaves us with no non-politician (or, in Martin Eaglestone's case, wannabe-politician) blog from the Welsh Labour side of the spectrum.

While Ordovicius, being a Plaid blogger, makes the point that the majority of regularly updated Welsh blogs are now from the nationalists it's not something anyone should be too happy with. We need blogs from all over the spectrum - neutral (or at least allegedly neutral), Labour, Nationalists, Tory and even the Lib Dems.

So if any Labourites out there have considered starting a blog but decided against it - now's your time!

Friday, 25 July 2008

Scottish Review

So what does today's "off the scale" result in Glasgow East actually mean?

For Labour, there's not much of a debate. It's a disaster, totally unmitigated. There can be no positive spin on it. Is it the death knell of Gordon Brown? Could be, but it will be a very long knell - he's going nowhere until 2010. Although battered and bruised at the moment, Labour aren't stupid. They know that there is no chance in hell that the voters would accept a third Prime Minister in one term. having one "un-elected" Premier hurt them, having another one would be suicide. There's also the fact of course that no-one can think of a credible alternative to Brown.

Which leaves Labour in a bit of a limbo. Brown will plod along until the autumn, the try and regain the initiative in the Autumn. Barring some miracle he'll fight an election as late as possible (2010) and lose. Prime Minister Cameron it will be.

The harder question is what does the result mean for the Union? Most of the newspapers and media have gone out of their way to stress that this was not a vote on independence and in that they are correct. This was a fight on the economy and on governments' records.

What I find harder to agree with however is that this was just another by-election shock, only newsworthy because of the size of the old majority. This election was not a run of the mill by-election. This cannot be explained away as a mid-term protest against the government. For the first time ever in UK politics this was an election not between government and opposition, but between government and government.

By voting for the SNP the people of Glasgow weren't telling Labour they'd rather have SNP running the show in London, they were telling the London government that at the moment they preferred the Scottish government. This ws not merely a protest vote against the UK government, it was also a confidence vote in Holyrood's government. And that's why this election, although not fought on constitutional matters, does have some real significance to that debate.

In a way it is a clear indication to the SNP that their decision to hold off an independence referendum until they'd served a (nearly) full term is vindicated. Any debate/argument/campaign between the SNP and Labour are no longer seen as a Scottish spat, it's seen as Scotland vs London. With every such conflicts, 2010 seems set to be more and more unsettling for the Union.

Self-deluder of the day is Tory Underground who believes that by winning by only 365 votes "the results were bad for the SNP"!

The Nightmare Continues

John Mason, SNP - 11,277
Margaret Curran, Labour - 10,912

Waw. Poor Brown.

Thursday, 24 July 2008

The Numbers Game

MP's have today called on the Welsh Assembly to stop sending them so many pesky LCO's request. Apparently the Assembly's thirst for new power has caught the MP's off guard, and they just cannot keep up with the workload. There are 11 LCO's working their way through the complicated mess of a system at the moment, and the MP's are throwing their toys out of the pram, insisting that they only expected four or five.

Back in late 2006 the Lord that is our Presiding Officer suggested that the Assembly would propose 18 LCO's during the first year of the new system. His prediction was shouted down by Labour, who insisted that:

"We've been working on the assumption of about four or five.This is a little bit wide of the mark from Dafydd Elis-Thomas"

In fact, according to Peter Black, 18 was a much more accurate figure and that the Assembly would have reached it if the One Wales Government weren't holding back.

This fresh moaning from the MP's only serves as further evidence that the whole Devolution 1.1 dreamt up by Rhodri and Peter Hain (remember him!) to keep their MP's happy was always going to be a mess. The UK Parliament passed 31 acts last year, the Scottish Parliament 17. Did they really expect the Assembly to only want to legislate on 4 matters per year?

The so-called "senior Labour figure" back in 2006 went on to stick the boot into the Presiding Officer by stating:

"It's worth remembering that he's quite far away from the process of deciding how the new system will work."

Looking at how things panned out you must wonder whether it was the MP's who have been a bit far away from the process of how the system works!

Tuesday, 22 July 2008

Jones Jones Jones

One of the headlines announcing Alun Ffred Jones' rise to the Cabinet comes from The Stage website. It says: Jones appointed Wales’ Heritage Minister after shock departure of Thomas.

Now I know the headline just a teeny bit on the long winded side, but it made me realise that all 3 of Plaid's ministers are Jones' now - Ieuan Wyn, Elin and now Alun Ffred. The highest ranking Thomas is now Labour's Gwenda, deputy-minister for Social Services.

I'm struggling very hard not to be as predictable as making a joke about keeping up!

And The New Minister is...

Alun Ffred Jones - surprise surprise!

The AM for Caernarfon has been confirmed as the new minister for Culture. Alun Ffred said that he is
determined to build on the strong foundations laid by Rhodri Glyn Thomas, and to deliver on the commitments set out in One Wales
and he hopes that he will
contribute to the objectives of this government of uniting our nation, spreading prosperity and building confidence in our ability to take good decisions in the
interest of Wales
Interestingly, Ieuan Wyn Jones stated that
We are fortunate that he bring such wide experience with him as well as his
commitment as our deputy group leader to delivering One Wales.
Have I missed something in the past or has Rhodri Glyn also stepped down as Plaid's deputy group leader then?

Anyway, congratulations to the new Minister and good luck to him in his first order of business - being protested at by the Welsh Language Society at the Eisteddfod (I assume!)

While we're on the subject of new additions, congratulations to the Celtic Crusaders Rugby league team who will be a Super League team from next season

Monday, 21 July 2008

Words of Advice

Early Day Motions are a bizarre tool of the London Parliament. They're basically way for MP's to make statements about anything and everything they want to. EDM's in the past few days have go from the USA's use of Music as torture (claiming it to be an infringement of the musicians human rights), the removal of US nukes from UK soil and congratulating Lewis Hamilton on winning the British Grand Prix!

Two EDM's this week should raise a few eyebrows down in the Bay. They are signed by, among others, 7 Labour MP's representing Welsh constituencies. Chief protagonists it seems are ex-First Secretary Alun Michael and Paul Flynn. The text of the first EDM is:
That this House congratulates the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs for his principled stand in rejecting calls for a widespread cull of badgers; notes that the evidence shows that such a cull would do nothing to help eradicate bovine tuberculosis and would be likely to make matters worse; considers that he is right to take his decision in accordance with science; and hopes that the Minister for Rural Affairs in the National Assembly for Wales will set aside her intention to allow a cull, and return to an evidence-based approach.

Just in case everyone didn't quite get the message, another EDM was quickly drafted and signed, this one not even trying to appear courteous to Elin Jones and the Welsh Assembly Government:

That this House applauds the courageous decision of the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs to reject the irrational, evidence-free calls for the mass slaughter of badgers; notes that after a wholesale cull of badgers in the Irish Republic bovine tuberculosis levels are higher there than in Northern Ireland where no cull took place; agrees with the Independent Scientific Group's conclusion, after a 10-year study, that badger culling cannot meaningfully contribute to the future control of bovine tuberculosis; welcomes the Government's search for an effective vaccine; calls on farmers to reduce unnecessary cattle movements that increase the susceptibility of cattle to cattle infections; and regrets the cheap populism of those who demand a cull of badgers that is likely to increase the spread of bovine tuberculosis.
Cheap populism? Ouch!

A Man Walks Into a Bar...

Not sure where to start on the Rhodri Glyn Thomas resignation "scandal". It must go down as one the most bizarre resignations in recent times. Clearly, as everyone with half a brain can see, his position didn't become untenable because he walked into a pub carrying a cigar. If he had refused to put the cigar out, or caused some great scene then it would make some kind of sense. To resign after simply apologising and taking the offending butt outside is laughable.

So why are Plaid now looking for a new minister? Some bloggers seem to believe there's a dark secret yet to come out, I can't see it myself but who knows. Plaid's office is insisting that the curious incident of the cigar was the "straw that broke the camel's back" for the "accident-prone" minister. That doesn't quite ring true either. While tales of the Culture Minister's flamboyant nights out have been circulating since the dawn of time he has, largely, been gaffe free during his time as minister. The excruciating Welsh Book of the Year incident apart I can't recall a single embarrassing mishap during Rhodri's time as an AM, let alone as a Minister. There's also never been any suggestion anywhere, by anyone, that Rhodri's nights of drinking has ever spilled over to affect his work.

In truth, this seems like a reshuffle that Ieuan Wyn Jones has been contemplating for a while. He might not have been ready to execute it quite this soon, but I can't believe that it was a spur of the moment job. There are two reasons why Plaid would want a new minister in the Culture seat. Firstly there might have been concerns that Rhodri Glyn was a scandal waiting to happen. I don't quite buy into this line, as I said above he has proven himself apt at staying out of any major trouble.

The second, and more plausible reason, is that Plaid wanted to draw a line under some certain issues. While Elin Jones has made the Agricultural job her own and earned plaudits by pretty much everyone, the Culture post was always going to be a hot potato for Plaid for one single reason, its remit contains the Welsh language. Do too much for the language and they'd be reinforcing their image in certain parts of the country as a party for Welsh speakers only. Do too little for the Welsh language and they'd be angering their core vote. There's no doubt that in the eyes of many in the Plaid "heartlands" Rhodri Glyn did a little too much of the latter and not enough of the former. The funding of Y Byd and the delay in a Welsh Language LCO has angered a lot of traditional Plaid voters with many claiming to be disillusioned with their party's first stint in power. Getting rid of Rhodri Glyn puts some sort of a line under the Welsh Daily, but the new man's standing with Plaid's core vote will be very dependent on how fast, and how far, he can get the Welsh LCO.

And who might that new man be? It seems that there's no point looking further than Arfon's Alun Ffred Jones. He's one of the few Plaid AM's (if not the only one?) to have actually ran anything in his career (Gwynedd Council) and his previous career in broadcasting is perfect for the Culture brief which includes broadcasting. He is also a Welsh speaker, surely a must for any Plaid Culture minister. While the usual description of "competent but uncharismatic" seems to be very qualified praise there is a lot of respect for Mr Jones' potential in the bay and it will be interesting to see how he pans out as a minister.

One final note on this whole saga, there is one possible after-effect that needs be considered. In 3 years it's National Assembly election time again - will Rhodri Glyn be standing? Having been a minister and now returned to the back benches will he have the desire for another 4 years? If not then it would open up an Assembly candidacy spot in Carmathen East and Dinefwr. Can anyone think of a politician from that area who may be looking for an Assembly seat come 2011?

Wednesday, 16 July 2008

Monumental Waste MEME

Both Valleys Mam and The Welsh Lobbyist have tagged me in the £200k waste not want not MEME. After a breach Google check to work out what a MEME even was (I am relatively new to this stuff remember!) I see that it's been started by Matt Wardman following Tom Harris MP's ascertain that David Davis' by-election was a monumental waste of money.

As the search for pointless wastes of £200,000 of our money has spread we've had Helicopters and Henry VII (Wardman), The Welsh Convention (Miss Wagstaff), The Aneurin Bevan NHS (Cynical Dragon), North Wales' consultants (Welsh Lobbyist) and Bed Blockers (Valleys Mam).
So here's mine:
£199,761 - cost of Monarchy to the people of Wales every 8 and a half days (including official cost, The Times' estimated security cost, Prince of Wales' unpaid tax and costs to local Councils to host Royal visits.)
I tag Damon Lord and O'Neill.

Spot the Difference

New Labour's campaign in Glasgow East has received a timely boost with an IBM poll putting them 15 points up on the SNP. Even with some analysts casting doubt on the figures it's still good news for them. So what better way for Labour to protect this lead than to place their feet firmly in their mouths.

Here's an article that appeared on their candidate's blog recently:

It didn't take long for someone to point out that there was no way on earth that man was a 97 years old! What miracle anti-aging cream do they use in Glasgow East these days? The article states that he "doesn't look a day past 70" - well why should he, you see it turns out that Mr McGuiness, while also being a prominent Labour activist that got an MBE for his work, is just 67. Easy mistake to make right. Someone must have just turned the 6 upside down - no big deal. But the article states that Mr McGuiness fought in WWII - a true war hero supporting Labour. Now that's perfectly plausible for a 97 year old, but for a 67 year old? He'd have been 6 years old when WWII ended!

Guido ran the story and very soon the Labour machine had changed its website. Here's what it looks like now. As you can see Mr George McGuiness has been replaced by Mr John Hipson , and a new picture thrown in to boot.

The article is now headed "We owe it to John Hipson to vote...", Perhaps a more suitable headline would be "We owe it to John Hipson to remember who he is... "!

Friday, 11 July 2008

Knifedge Councils

While David Davis' stroll to re-election takes the headlines in the London papers today, Wales had two Council by-elections yesterday, both in Councils with a very tight balance between those in control and the opposition.

In the Rheidiol ward of Aberystwyth Ceredigion Plaid Cymru gained a seat from the Lib Dems. This was a strong Lib Dem seat which was won just two months ago with 46% of the vote. The Lib Dems were hit with the resignation of their councillor after he was cautioned by the Police, and Plaid took advantage.

The result leaves Ceredigion Council on a knifedge. Plaid have 20 seats, Lib Dem and the Independents 21 seats with 1 Labour Councillor.

There will be no change in the running of the Council, but the Lib Dem/Independents must be hoping to God that none of their Councillors has to step down during the next 4 years!

The other election was in West Risca in Caerphilly. The seat was vacant after the long serving Labour councillor died within days of the election. Labour held the seat comfortably yesterday, and this brings them back to 31 councillors, the same as Plaid. Plaid remain in control of the Council due to support from 2 of the 9 independents.

One of those two independents is Ron Davies. Rumours of a switch to Plaid have been circulating long before he joined their government in Caerphilly. His appearance at Plaid's One Wales Government anniversary party this week will do nothing to quell those rumours!

Thursday, 10 July 2008

The End of Englandandwales

The first Welsh made law since the days of Hywel Dda is about to come into force. The NHS Redress Bill, a bill making it easier to receive compensation after negligent treatment from the NHS, is awaiting the Royal Seal - the final stage of enacting any law.

A new Seal has been designed for the Queen to stamp the law. It features the Crown, the four lions standard, the words "Pleidiol Wyf I'm Gwlad" and, bizarrely, the four plants of the Home Nations - English Rose, Welsh Leek, Irish Clover and Scottish Thistle.
Although there's been Wales-Only laws before in modern times (e.g. Welsh Language Act 1993) this is the first piece of law made by Wales for Wales.
While UK laws will still refer to Englandandwales, on the approval of this first Welsh law both England and Wales will finally be separate legal entities - at least in Civil law.

But Officer, the Sign Told Me To!

This is a sign, a number of which have been placed around Swansea. The translation of it is, technically speaking, totally correct. Check a dictionary and you will find that:

Zone = Parth
Tow = Halio
Away = Ymaith

Even the grammar is correct, with the word for Zone placed before the "Tow Away".

This sign though is a perfect example of why translations should be done by people who can speak both languages, not by an English speaker with a dictionary. Because to any Welsh speaking reader, this sign does not say "Tow Away Zone".

It says "Wank Away Zone".

Sunday, 6 July 2008

Fueling My Cynicism

Just three days ago a joint Plaid Cymru and SNP amendment to the Finance Bill was rejected after Labour, Lib Dems and Tories refused to support it.

The amendment was a Fuel Duty Regulator to help combat rising petrol/diesel prices. According to the Western Mail the Regulator would work like this
any extra cash raised for the Treasury from VAT on petrol or diesel as a result of the higher pump prices would be spent on an equivalent cut in fuel duty.

Today the Conservatives proposed changes to combat the rise in petrol/diesel prices. The BBC describes it like this

Shadow chancellor George Osborne told the BBC the party was looking at plans to cut fuel duty when oil prices rise and increase it when prices fall.

So on a nationalist backed vote to lower fuel duty when petrol prices are high the Tories refuse to support, yet three days later they bring out plans to lower fuel duty when petrol prices are high.

Don't you just love party politics?

Thursday, 3 July 2008

I'm Lazy, You Die

I am not an organ donor. I don't carry an organ donor card. Why? Have i got a religious objection to my body being harvested after death? Nope. Am I sickened by the idea of being buried without some parts of me? Nope. Am I afraid that my family's trauma would be intensified by seeing parts of me put into others? Nope. In truth, the reason that I haven't got an organ donor card is that I am lazy. I have never bothered to fill in the forms or call the number or whatever it is you do to get a card.

That's pathetic I know, but I'm pretty sure that I'm far from being the only person who's laziness has prevented them sorting out organ donation. When I realise that one Welsh person dies every fortnight because they couldn't find an organ to transplant it shames me. But not enough to take 5minutes to get it sorted.

That's why I hope the Welsh Government bite the bullet and bring in the "opt-out" system that they've been talking about for ages. Such a system would mean that we are all potential organ donors, unless we make a point of opting out. So the lazy among us would automatically become life-savers instead of organ-wasters. It's a controversial move, and I can understand the argument of the critics that such an important thing should be decided by every person and not thrust on us.

That argument doesn't hold water though. There's three kind of people when it comes to organ donating. Those who have made a point of getting a card, those who have made a point of not getting a card, and the rest of us who want to make a point but can't get off our fat arses long enough to do so (e.g. me). Under an opt out system those who really want to give will still give, those who object will opt out and the rest of us who don't see it as a massive question of morals will become givers, possibly saving 150 additional people each year.

It seems that public opinion is staring to align with the government's plans. A recent poll had 48% of Welsh people supporting an opt out system.

While the 48% is what makes the headline, the poll has another figure which is a much stronger argument in favour of a new system. Only 11% of respondents did not want their organs removed after death. 72% wanted to donate, while 12% wanted their family to decide. 72% of the Welsh population is 2.16m people. The amount of registered donors in Wales is currently at 780,000. That's 1.38m lazy people who, like me, could be depriving others of life.

Sod this, I'm getting a card right now.

Wednesday, 2 July 2008

The Secrecy of Rape

Plaid AM Nerys Evans sent a questionnaire to all sitting AM's asking about domestic violence and rape. While staticians would point out that 60 is hardly a good sample for a poll, that wasn't the point. The point was to create publicity around a much more detailed poll on the same subject that was released today.

As a PR move, it certainly worked and has got people talking about the issue and both polls. 3 of the 8 AM's who replied admitted to having been raped in the past. None had been to the Police.

We always hear the statistics that few rape victims make a police complaints. We hear these facts so often we have become numb to them. It's interesting how the anonymous revelations of 3 of our AM's have hammered home the dire message with so much more force than a poll of 700 regular people.

Fair play to the 3 for being honest in their replies.

Bookies' Favorite

As I mentioned a few posts ago Gordon Brown is facing a by-election in Glasgow after the sitting Labur MP resigned due to ill health. Coming straight after Wendy Alexander stepped down it is a very inconvenient distraction. But after two sounding defeats in recent by-election (losing Crewe & Nantwich to th Tories and coming 5th in Henley) surely they can't lose Glasgow East. This constituency, created in 2005,is solid Labour. Just three years ago David Marshall won a 13.507 majority over the SNP, taking nearly 61% of the vote. If labour hold reasonably comfortably, as you'd expect with such a majority, then it would give Gordon a much needed boost.

Thing is, Labour are in a seriously big hole at the moment, and the way things have been going for Brown, and how Salmond is riding high these days, would you really bet against the SNP snatching Glasgow East? The bookies think not. Ladbrokes have the SNP as 8/13 favorites while Paddy Power puts them at an even shorter 4/7. Looking at odds like those the candidates for the top Labour job in Scotland must be asking themselves is it worth it!

And The Winner is...

A highly embarrassing moment for our Minister of Culture as he announced the winner of Welsh Book of the Year last night. Watching the video of the announcement is true car crash television as Rhodri Glyn announced the wrong name, then corrected himself as the "winner" approached the stage to applause.

Even though we've seen it happen many times before, you can't help but cringe when you watch it.

While Labour AM's habits of hitting the wrong voting button may be a gaffe with a much more serious consequence, they're lucky that there's no camera there to record the pure embarrassment of that exact second when everyone realises the mistake has been made!

You have to ask though, what idiot put the name of the runner up on the same card as the winner! It would never happen at the Oscars!