Tuesday, 20 August 2019

BBC's Peter Taylor is a terrorist sympathiser!

The veteran correspondent writes in the latest Radio Times:

"Thinking of how traumatic events can radicalise young people, it occurred to me that had I been a Catholic/nationalist teenager in Londonderry/Derry that day, I. too, might have considered joining the IRA"

Clearly Taylor must now be sacked by the BBC, his "My Journey Through the Troubles" canned and the tag "IRA man" appear alongside his name whenever it appears in the media from now on.

Monday, 19 August 2019

The conspiracy theory

I love a good conspiracy theory, and Brexit offers scope for so many. My favourite centres on party advantage, that Corbyn anticipates advantage for Labour when the UK crashes out of the EU, but that the people behind the Cummings-Johnson axis have thought further ahead.

Why has Corbyn swithered over Brexit? Apparently, it is to keep his party together, because his voters in Wales and northern England are seen to be Leavers, while those in the more prosperous areas of the country, especially his new, younger, members are ardent Remainers. Plumping for one side would antagonise the other. His own instinct is against the EU, but he could at least embrace the idea of a further referendum and submit to its verdict, which would pass off the responsibility for a decision.

But it is as if he deliberately wants to run the clock down so that the UK would enter a period of disorder and he could safely blame the Tories or the Liberal Democrats. The old Stalinist in him believes in the maxim attributed to Lenin, "Worse is better": communism would not follow capitalism naturally in prosperous societies as Marx believed, but that the proletariat would turn to socialism as a last resort only as the economy crashed around them. He would win a post-Brexit election in a landslide.

However, so far Cummings planning has been detailed and well thought-out. The real endgame, and why Johnson has also appeared to do nothing to prevent the slide to a "no-deal" Brexit is that UK under a Corbynite socialist government would be so dire that a right-wing coup was inevitable.

How far-fetched is this theory? We shall find out all too soon.

Sunday, 18 August 2019

Brexit: the battle lines become clearer

Jeremy Corbyn was recently at the Centre for Alternative Technology making all the right noises about a green industrial and energy future. It was good to see Jane Dodds responding positively to his party's policy.

But of course local correspondents took the opportunity to quiz the Labour leader about Brexit and its effect on Wales, given Mark Drakeford's public support for a fresh referendum and the first minister's obvious leaning towards remaining in the EU. Sadly, Corbyn's core position, that we should have no more than "a very close trading relationship with Europe" has not changed, in spite of all the spin that the slick Labour machine and his friends at the Guardian and the Independent have put on it. So Jo Swinson was quite right to object to his claim to be the right man to head a government of national unity (GNU). (By the way, where did GNU come from all of a sudden? It seems to be a media invention. It has certainly been seized on by virtually all the press.)

It would be wrong to entrust government, however interim, to a man who is in favour of Brexit in spite of the evidence that the public mood has changed and continues to change. And let us be clear.  There is only one deal on the table, the May-Barnier withdrawal agreement which guarantees that the border across Ireland remains open. The EU27 will not reopen negotiations for Corbyn, Johnson or anyone. Unless Corbyn changes his mind on May-Barnier - which would still require some fancy footwork in Parliament and a further delay to the withdrawal date - a No Deal Brexit is what we are bound for, unless of course the Article 50 letter is withdrawn.

Jo Swinson has pointed out what the Corbyn sycophants should have made plain to him, that he is a divisive figure and would not command a majority in the Commons. Importantly, no Conservative MP has come forward to commit to any government led by Corbyn. Jo has suggested - not demanded, as Labour implies - that the person commanding traditionally the most respect in the House, the Father, Kenneth Clarke, or alternatively the Mother, Harriet Harman, would be the one most likely to command a majority in these troubled times. Clarke, although a long-time committed Remainer, has declared that he would accept May-Barnier if it would end the deadlock in the Commons, thus displaying a flexibility which Corbyn has not. Jo Swinson has also reinforced her non-tribal approach by declaring her readiness to have talks with Corbyn about the situation.

Incidentally, the attacks on Jo Swinson have not only misrepresented her position and that of the Lib Dems, they have also verged on the misogynistic. That mistrust of women, which has prevented them ever electing a woman leader, clearly still lies deep within the Labour Party. All the other parties represented in Westminster have had female leaders. Plaid Cymru now has as parliamentary leader Liz Saville Roberts who has impressed in her short time in the Commons. I would seriously suggest that if for whatever reason members of the two main parties cannot command a majority as a leader of GNU, she would be an admirable alternative. Leading a small parliamentary group, she can clearly have no long-term ambitions to be leader of the UK and therefore no power of patronage which can cause resentment. She is also independent of the conservative/socialist battle. Although she is against a No Deal Brexit - and thus in line with the only clear expression of the House of Commons to date - she has gone along with her party's pro- and anti-EU U-turns, so can be seen as neutral in that respect.

The current prime minister (whom I have taken to calling "the Johnson" echoing the slang of his birth-place) and his eminence grise Dominic Cummings will of course do all they can to thwart a reversal of the Brexit decision. They will certainly attack GNU, one of whose aims must be to arrange a further referendum and seek an extension of the withdrawal date to accommodate it (always assuming the 27 have not lost patience with the UK by now). There are too many weapons in their hands for those of us who support EU membership to feel comfortable.

Friday, 16 August 2019

Repair Café in Neath

I was clearly not the only one who could see the crying need for Neath's own repair café ("Make do and Mend", last month). Thanks to Coastal Housing, one will shortly be starting in Waunceirch (watch this space) and Seven Sisters RFC are sponsoring one there starting in October.

Thursday, 15 August 2019

Revised gender arithmetic

The decision by Sarah Wollaston to join the Liberal Democrats came as no surprise to those who have followed her career since being elected for Totnes, one of two MPs having been selected as candidates following an open primary. The only surprise is that she lingered so long in the half-way house of The Independent Group. It seems that she was taking her time to make sure that she was accepted by her local Liberal Democrat party and possibly to explain her position to those close to her who had supported her as a Conservative. In April, before she even left an increasingly reactionary Conservative party, she made clear to the House that she moved from soft Leave to Remain as a result of chairing:
the Health and Social Care Committee, I heard the evidence of harm week in, week out, and I came to the view that I was wrong. I was not afraid to say that. In fact, many colleagues said to me, “Don’t tell people that you’ve changed your mind. Just put a cross in a different box. It will be very bad for your political career if you change your mind.” It is astonishing that we have come to that—that parliamentarians are not honest and are not prepared to change their mind when they have looked at the evidence. We focus on the idea that this is all about a WTO Brexit and trade, but from chairing the Health and Social Care Committee it became obvious to me that there is clear evidence of harm to social care, science and research from unpicking a close relationship that has brought enormous benefits for more than four decades. I looked at the harm that Brexit would cause to science and research. There is no version of Brexit that will benefit science and research, improve the situation for our health and social care workforce, or do anything positive for NHS funding.

Anyway, I make it that the Liberal Democrats now have fourteen MPs plus Stephen Lloyd who for complicated reasons currently sits as an Independent. Of those, six are women, a percentage of 40%.


"A mother who lost her baby while giving birth has described the moment she found out he had died.

"Arthur Wyn Jones died at Glangwili Hospital in Carmarthen in March 2017 as his mother Kara Jones, a diabetic, gave birth.

"She said she had been pleading for an early delivery because she knew something was wrong, but was told it was 'normal'.

"'I didn't meet Arthur. I never met him, I never held him,' Ms Jones, from Ceredigion, said.

"A report by Hywel Dda health board said 'numerous missed opportunities to acknowledge the complexity of the pregnancy' were likely to have contributed to his death."

Glangwili was not an isolated case. In 2012, Kirsty Williams drew attention to the fact that the stillbirth rate had not improved in the 20 years to that date, in spite of the advances in foetal medicine.There had in fact been an upward spike in Wales. There is more in a Western Mail report.

Wednesday, 14 August 2019

Chuka shows more of his LD nature

He has been a long-standing supporter of electoral reform, it seems. There is a video of a relevant interview by the Lib Dem who hopes to take over Kate Hoey's Vauxhall seat.