Friday, 21 March 2008

Paul Murphy to quit?!?

Firstly, I want to apologise for inactivity in blogging, I have not been too well recently, and actually fainted the other day. But feeling better today.

According to the BBC, Paul Murphy is preparing to quit over the controvertial embryo bill. This would be the 3rd Welsh Sectertary for Wales within 4 months, if Paul Murphey was to resign, and would probably end any hope of him returning to cabinet. Of course it is unknown if he will resign yet, or if Gordon Brown will allow his MPs a free vote on this issue, I would imagine that he would, as it could be a disaster if he didn't.

The thing which I find very uncomfortable, is that a Cardinal seems to be able to dictate to MPs how to vote on issues. Britain is meant to be a secular society, and I feel that cardinals shouldn't be allowed to tell MPs to oppose or support something, having an opinion, and telling MPs (other then his local MP, of course) how to vote in a certain way because that is the opinion you have, is not the same thing and is not healthy for a secular democracy.

Furthmore these hybird embryos could help find treatments for many gentic diseases, and therefore, improve the quality of life with many people suffering from such diseases. It could be seen as being immoral and unethcial to vote against it, aswell as for it, which could well be a reason why all parties should give their MPs a free vote.

As I mentioned earlier, I think it could well be a disaster for Prime Minister Gordon Brown, if he doesn't give a free vote, as he would risk loosing ministers, which would be embarassing for the government, and could also make Labour look in a bad light if a number of ministers were to resign because they disgaree with the bill for religious reasons, as the saying goes "we don't do God."

Thursday, 6 March 2008

AMs Pay increase

Assembly members pay increase of 8.3%, while ignoring the Plaid Cymru spin (doubt they would reject it, plus it's very close to local elections.....), I think it is a too much, at a time were other public sector workers are getting relatively small pay increases, if any, the AMs look set to have one well above the rate of inflation. This is a very bad idea as, understandbly, it makes people more resentful.

Of course, if can be argued that the increased responsibilites means they should get a pay rise, however not one that steep, and other public sector workers, usually the ones at the bottom of the ladder, might have increased responibilies with no pay raise, or a very pathetic one.

Politicans speak about building up trust in politics, however that cannot be rebuild aslong as politicans are seen as being on a gravy train, awarding thesmelves huge pay increases, while telling the rest of the public sector that they cannot have a massive increase because of inflation. It seems hyprocritical and just makes all politicans look like they are in it for themselves, while the vast majority of them, from all parties, are doing it out of a spirt of public service.

It is also damaging to the devolution process in itself, at the time when the Assembly is seeking law making powers, it should not look as if they are all in it for themselves. The Welsh public will not accept a law making parliament for Wales, if they see AMs as having snouts in the trough. The Welsh public need to see the Assembly as something uncorrupted, by the scandals that have rocked the other insitutions in the United Kingdom, as were the Assembly Members actually are their to serve the people of Wales, instead of being seen are serving themselves. Those opposed to a law making parliament, could also use this as a example of another pay raise that the politicans in the Assembly would award themselves if they got even more powers, as part of their attack against devolution.

If the Assembly wants to have a good reputation, if the Assembly want to be trusted and seen as being pure, if it is to become a law making Parliament, then these kind of headlines won't help.

Monday, 3 March 2008

Free Parking

The One-Wales government wants to make all NHS parking in Wales Free by April 1st, for staff, paitents and visitors to hospital, after calls from the BMA and paitent groups for it to be made free and end the "tax on sickness."

Now, where as this might look like a good idea on paper, it, in my opinion, will be a very unpragmatic solution to the problem of hospital car parking fees. The problem with this that they will not be able to tell who is using the hospital car parking because they have business at the hospital, and people using the hospital car park for other purposes, such as to go shopping, for example.

This would lead to hospital car parking spaces being filled up by selfish people, forcing paitents and staff to find elsewhere to park, and since most streets have double yellow lines, it could be a bit of a trek to find somewhere else they can park without the risk of getting a ticket, or be clamepd.

A more pragmatic and sensible solution to this would have been to give free parking to staff and paitents, the paitents could with their appointment cards, get another card which they can display in their windscreen that would entitle them to free parking for the day of their appointment.

Then there is a problem of where the cash will come from, will the Assembly government give the hospitals cost to not only cover the lost income from parking fees, but also enough to expand their parking facilities, (if possible, although I cannot imagine Bronglais hopsital in Aberystwyth being able to find anywhere to expand the parking facilites) due to increase in demand on the parking spaces.

Where as free prescriptions, was a good idea, free hospital parking for all is not, and will lead to more trouble in the long term for paitents.

Thursday, 28 February 2008

Thoughts on the BBC Poll

A recent ICM opinin poll for the BBC has shown some increased support for devolution, but still nothing like enough. The poll shows that 49% of people asked want a full law making parliament and 42% against, compared to the 47% for and 44% against a year ago. This shows that the support is going in the right direction, however there is still 9% of people that are undecided, which would be enough, if a significant number of them voted against, to defeat a referendum.

If this trend continues, then there should, hopefully, be a large enough lead to warrent a referendum, however what has to be taken into account is the turn out for any referendum on full-law making powers, and which group would be more likely to go to the polls. If the lead is too narrow, and the turn out is low, it could result in a defeated referendum and set back devolution for a long time. The turnout to the refernedum might be what will win it at the end, and that will be something, I feel, that will be important for the convetion to look at, aswell as the support for or against devolution.

If we will have a refenerdum before 2011, should depend on when it can be best won, and when turnout will be at it's highest amongst yes supporters, blind faith that it can be won no matter when it is held will not help the devolutionist cause, nor will allowing the debate to be hi-jacked by talks of independence and nationalists, it must be kept on the reasons why Wales needs a full-law making parliament, and how that will make the Welsh Assembly a more effective insitution for Wales.

However the best way to put forward a case for devolution is to carry on delivering on public services to the Welsh people and show that Wales is working under the Welsh Assembly and that the Welsh Assembly is able to do it's job and do it well.

UPDATE: Watching Dragon's Eye it seems that a few people are somewhat confused between Full-Law Making Powers and Independnece, any Yes Campaign must make sure that it is clear that full law making powers does not mean independence and will not equal independence.

Tuesday, 26 February 2008

Why it is time for the BBC to "federalise"

In recent years the supposed English bias of the BBC has been a topic of many Welsh politicans, more recently Labour MP Chris Bryant, who has complained about the English bias with the coverage of the Six Nations rugby. This is not the first time that a politican has comaplained about the BBC either, Plaid Cymru MP, Adam Price and former Labour AM Alun Pugh have both also complained about either the coverage of Wales in the BBC News, or the bias of coverage in favour of England.

The evidence of bias is clear in the "Main" BBC News at both 6 o clock and 10 o clock with news reporting about English policy on health and education, yet they usually have nothing refering to Welsh or Scottish policy on the same issues, then there are the sporting events, where, for most of the time, they talk about the England teams and English players.

This is why the BBC need to "federalise" it's news and sports programming, the BBC is currently run from the South East of England, this is not good enough in the devovled era, especally in regards to media coverage of the Welsh Assembly and descions that are made their effecting the lives of the Welsh people. What needs to be done is that they should scrap the "main" BBC News and instead put "Wales Today" on for an hour, reporting on Welsh news, UK wide news and International news within that hour, that way the news can be more relivent to Wales, rather then having to listen to news about "Paitent in England under new government proposals....."

Of course the "federalised" news should, and would still report on UK wide news, such as the unpleasent stuff they usually go on about in the news (murder, death, etc) and of course on International issues that the "Main" BBC news currently reports on, it is not about isolationism in Wales, it about moving the news into the modern, devovled era of the United Kingdom, and making the news more relivant to peoples lifes in Wales. The BBC must not forget that the licence fee is paid for by everyone in the UK, not just the English who are paying it, and it is about time the BBC truely becomes a British Boardcasting Corproration, and not just one with the occasional nods to Wales, Scotland and N.Ireland.