Jun 292017
 

But first . . .

A LESSON FROM HISTORY

Following victories over the Persians at Salamis (480 BC) and Plataea (479 BC), and with mainland Greece liberated, the Spartans withdrew from their leadership of the wartime alliance. Athens seized the opportunity and in 478 BC created the Delian League.

Athenian greed and heavy-handedness soon made the other city-states realise that what they’d thought was an alliance of equals was nothing of the kind. Everything now flowed to Athens and the other city-states were little more than colonies. The League’s treasury was used to enhance and glorify Athens, funding prestige projects such as the Parthenon.

Courtesy of Ancient History Encyclopedia

Eventually, the other city-states could take no more and rebelled. They appealed to Sparta for help and so began the Peloponnesian War, which ran, in three phases, from 431 BC to 404 BC. At the end of the war Athens was defeated and ruined, Thebes and Corinth even wanted to destroy the city and enslave its citizens, but Sparta said no.

The Peloponnesian War was bloody and destructive. Due to Athenian selfishness the other Greek states were even prepared to seek Persian help in bringing her down and ending the golden age of Greece.

Two news items this week have reminded me of Athens and the Delian League.

BACK TO THE 1960s

The first was that the ‘Welsh’ Government will not back the Circuit of Wales in Ebbw Vale. This is something most of us knew weeks ago, it’s why announcing the decision was postponed until after the general election.

But don’t worry! Economy and Infrastructure Secretary, Ken Skates, softened the blow with: “The Welsh Government is therefore today committing to building a new automotive technology business park in Ebbw Vale, with funding of £100million over 10 years, with the potential to support 1,500 new FTE jobs. We will begin this work with the delivery of 40,000 sq ft of manufacturing space on land currently in public ownership.”

So the ‘Welsh’ Government kills off the Circuit of Wales yet still plans to build an ‘automotive technology park’ in Ebbw Vale. Apart from Ferrari’s Cafe what links does Ebbw Vale now have with the automotive industry? Or to put it another way, after 18 years of devolution and ‘Welsh’ Labour rule we’ve gone back to the 1960s with depressed areas offered nothing better than industrial parks. God Almighty!

But this saga may not be finished, for what if the scheme’s backers are able to find full private funding for the venture, will the ‘Welsh’ Government then support the Circuit of Wales or continue to be obstructive? I know where my money would go.

Let’s be absolutely clear: The Circuit of Wales was not supported by the ‘Welsh’ Government because Ebbw Vale is too far from Cardiff and the project didn’t offer enough benefits to Cardiff.

MAJOR TRAUMA

The nearest major trauma centres to Wales are in Liverpool, Stoke, Birmingham and Bristol. Some time ago the decision was taken that south Wales should have its own trauma centre. The two candidate sites were Morriston Hospital in Swansea and the University Hospital of Wales in Cardiff.

On Wednesday we learnt that some anonymous panel had recommended that the MTC  should be located in Cardiff . . . despite Cardiff being so near to the existing centre in Bristol.

The centres in England are located where they are for the very good reason that patients suffering serious injury or sudden and serious debilitation benefit greatly from being treated within the first hour; in fact, it’s a matter of life or death. This period is referred to as the ‘golden hour’.

The maps (kindly supplied by BBC Wales) below show the ‘golden hour’ distances from those Major Trauma Centres closest to Wales together with the predicted ‘golden hour’ ranges for MTCs located in Cardiff and Swansea.

The first map, for existing MTCs, tells us that Cardiff and Newport are already within the ‘golden hour’ for the Bristol MTC, while anywhere west of Bridgend is not covered.

Turning to the second map, the Cardiff option, we see a slight improvement, in that Swansea Bay is now covered by the ‘golden hour’, but not western Gower, nor, I suspect, Llanelli. What’s more, rather than complementing the Bristol MTC to form a network of coverage – as we see in England – a Cardiff MTC would almost be in competition with Bristol. The overlap is huge.

The Swansea option, however, provides a real improvement, with the ‘golden hour’ now extending deep into Pembrokeshire and reaching the Cardigan Bay coastline. The ranges of the Swansea and Bristol MTCs overlap around Cardiff and Newport, but they don’t duplicate each other to anything like the same extent as the Cardiff option. Swansea and Bristol would complement each other perfectly.

Of course it’s being argued that, ‘Cardiff has this, and Cardiff has that’, to justify a MTC, but anything can be built or transferred. What cannot be changed is geography, and the critical and determining criterion for locating the Major Trauma Centre should be saving lives in the ‘golden hour’. You cannot emphasise the golden hour all the way through the process and then ignore it in order to locate the MTC in Cardiff.

To put a large area of the south west outside the ‘golden hour’ through handing Cardiff yet another prestige project – for that’s how it’s viewed in Cardiff – will be a difficult decision for politicians to defend.

The role of the ‘Welsh’ media in this debate has been somewhat bizarre, though predictable. On Wednesday WalesOnline ran this story. Putting the case for Swansea was Rob Stewart, leader of Swansea council. (Though the story was quickly updated and for some reason Stewart was replaced with Clive Lloyd, his deputy!)

Putting the case for Cardiff – which is what I assume he was doing – was a ‘speed flyer’ named Niall McCann. (Though by the time the story appeared this morning in Llais y Sais McCann’s contribution had disappeared.)

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McCann had shattered his spine speed flying off Pen y Fan and it had been put together by the University Hospital of Wales. McCann opined, “I’m 100% on board with anything that will improve the NHS services on offer. We are a capital city and we should be leading the way in Wales.”

So in the expert opinion of Niall McCann of Cardiff the new MTC should be in Cardiff, ‘Cos Cardiff’s the capital, innit?’ For reasons best known to itself WalesOnline even included in the article a video of McCann speed flying to remind us of the unnecessary risks he takes.

Perhaps the message we were expected to glean from this article was that having injured himself on the Beacons McCann would have been dead or crippled ere the donkey carrying him could have reached an MTC based at Morriston Hospital. If not, then I have no idea what purpose Trinity Mirror thought it was serving by including McCann’s cameo.

Then on Thursday, the BBC rubbed it in with a story headlined “Swansea ’10 to 15 years behind Cardiff’, think tank says”. Obviously unsuited to have a Major Trauma Centre.

TIME TO RETRACE OUR STEPS

But the problems of Wales today go beyond putting all the nation’s eggs in the Cardiff basket, they reach into every corner of our national life. Just look around you and ask what 18 years of devolution have achieved. Go on, and be honest!

Wales is poorer relative to other parts of the state, and other parts of Europe, than she was before we voted for devolution. Outside of Cardiff our urban and post-industrial areas are suffering managed decline, while our rural and coastal areas serve as recreation and retirement areas for England, with the Welsh population, and their identity, marginalised in both situations.

We have a self-styled Labour ‘Government’ in Cardiff docks that refuses to use even the limited powers it has for fear of upsetting anyone in London – including its own MPs and peers! Competing with Labour we have a Conservative Party currently in league with the Orange Order and the UDA, and a ‘national party’ that is, as Martin Shipton described it this morning, “a pressure group”. (And it’s not often I agree with Shippo!) Though it’s questionable whether Plaid Cymru really is challenging Labour.

‘Ah, but we’ve got devolution now, it’s something to build on’, I hear, from those who are in reality satisfied with this simulacrum of self-government, where free suppositories or some such nonsense qualify as radical initiatives. So who’s going to do the ‘building’? We know it won’t be Labour. It will never be the Conservative and Unionist Party. And there’s not a hope in hell of it being the pressure group.

Devolution has delivered a comfortable and undemanding level for ambitious councillors. To serve these politicians we now have a burgeoning and expensive bureaucracy. Because the party in control is Labour devolution has resulted in a vast and corrupt Third Sector sucking up billions of pounds to keep otherwise unemployable Labour supporters in jobs.

Yet we have no media to hold this juggernaut to account. (Though it’s debatable which is worse – the absence of a Welsh media or the constant bigotry exposed in the English media.) There is no real oversight or control of expenditure, and no justice for anyone wronged by this system. Yet if you investigate ‘devolution’ in any depth you soon realise what a sham it is.

For example, the ‘Welsh’ Government pretends it has its own Planning Inspectorate. The truth is that the Planning Inspectorate for Englandandwales answers to the Department for Communities and Local Government in London, it merely has a branch office in Cardiff. Which means that the Local Development Plans for Welsh local authorities are determined in London . . . and the ‘Welsh’ Government goes along with the charade!

P.S. Soon after publishing this post my attention was drawn to a perfect example of the ‘Welsh’ Government’s relationship with the Planning Inspectorate. This development at Llay is part of a wider strategy to turn our north east into commuter territory for north west England. And Carwyn Jones knows it.

The ‘Welsh’ Government and the whole apparatus of devolution soaks up money that could be better spent in Wales, and might be better spent if the useless edifice was swept away. Which is why I plan to start a petition to the UK Parliament asking for a referendum to be held to determine whether we should keep the Welsh Assembly and all that goes with it. (This will be done once a new Petitions Committee is formed.)

Yes, I know such a petition will attract Kippers and other BritNats, but I don’t care, there are bigger issues at stake. On almost every issue that matters we are still ruled from London anyway – so what do we stand to lose? Devolution is used to hide this fact, and to make us believe that we control our own affairs. It acts like some national dose of Prozac.

When you’ve taken a wrong turning you have two choices: either plod on until you fall off a cliff or sink in a bog, or else admit you made a mistake, retrace your steps, and next time make sure you know where you want to go.

Devolution was a wrong turning.

♦ end ♦

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74 Comments on "Devolution as Prozac"

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Mr Weaver
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Um shouldn’t you be creating a petition to abolish Westminster instead Jac? After all Wales has been ruled from westminster for most of its history and it’s westminster government policies which bear most responsibility for wales poverty relative to much of the rest of the uk. It’s not devolution which is to blame for the matters you raise – it is a welsh labour party which has ruled wales since the first elections to the Assembly in 1999.

And it wont be the kippers your petition will attract, the kippers having long since dropped their opposition to devolution for Wales. It will be the dregs of ukip who departed to create the Abolish the Welsh Assembly party and the former members of the south wales national front they accepted into their ranks.

They say politics makes strange bedfellows but you working hand in tandem with every wales hating little englanders to abolish the limited degree of self rule wales has defies belief.

Big Gee
Admin

I agree entirely Mr. Weaver.

Private Partz
Guest

Many thanks for picking up on Trauma Unit issue and how our laughingly called ‘National Media’ are dealing with it. Those maps you are showing up are truly shocking. To set the damn thing up in Cardiff hardly gives any improvement on coverage whereas the Swansea option pulls in coverage as far as the Irish sea!!
In Swansea we are very used to Cardiff centric policies from Welsh Labour but the bastards are playing with lives every time they centralise health in the Capital as the bloody thing is geographically entirely unsiutable and fully covered by sodding Bristol anyway. We think we have it bad but look at the poor sods in Mid and vast swathes of N wales!!
Who are the bloody ‘experts’ coming up with the this recommendation of madness?

Daley Gleephart
Guest

The decision hasn’t been finalised so, a campaign, focusing on why locating the new MTC in Swansea is the better option, is vital.
I read, the other day, that only 5% of adults bother to read about local and regional news in Wales so campaigners will need to think carefully on how to connect with people.

John Young
Guest

Virtually the same arguments were made when the decision was made to centralise neurological services (Morriston better access, better coverage re the treatment time window and so on) and still they opted for the Heath.

And, in the process made future arguments like this more likely to go their way because, surprise surprise, neurology is based there.

Brychan
Guest

It should be noted that the air responder to Niall McCann’s accident on Pen y Fan was the Wales Air Ambulance, which is based near Llanelli. It’s based there for within 20mins coverage of 85% of population. Triangulating to Cardiff was a diversion for this shout, Morriston being in line of return route. Had there been a contiguous or multiple shout for the South Wales chopper at the time of the incident, the McCann diversion would have put other major trauma patients at risk.

The response patch is here…
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I also fail to see how the ‘congestion’ on the eastern section of the M4 makes Bristol further away from Cardiff. The helicopter does not fly through the Brynglas tunnels; it can fly direct, over the sea. There is already a reciprocal arrangement with Bristol MTC for Gwent.

The “anonymous panel” who made this decision were evidently not clinicians. Just politicians bolstering their ‘Capital City Career Status’, a decision not based on the best way of saving lives.

Big Gee
Admin

The problem is not devolution per sey Jac, it’s having Welsh Labour camped in power down the docks in Kerdiff. Building a little London in the south east of Cymru.

What we should be concentrating on is building a true Nationalist party that can evict the rat in he cheese larder. The ‘Hide Behind The Sofa’ party (which, as has rightly been pointed out, is now little more than a dog in the manger pressure group), has neither the power nor the inclination to have a go at driving the rat out – in fact, it’s made a pet of it.

Getting rid of a devolved parliament in Cymru would be a retrospective step in the wrong direction. It’s taken centuries to get this close to something that resembles self rule. We ALL know it’s a shambles, we all know that the idea is right, it’s the implementation that’s wrong.

So I would advise not throwing the baby out with the bath water. If you slowly climb up a ladder with your eyes on an eventual prize – through centuries of struggling – you don’t want to saw off the rungs below you, just because you can’t reach the top at the latest attempt.

If you did reverse devolution, and got rid of Y Senedd, where does that leave you when it comes to the road to independence of your nation? Up shit creek without a paddle.

I’d think very hard before kicking off a petition of that kind – just be careful of what you wish for . . . it would be honey on the fingertips of our enemies.

Think of it this way. If you bought a new car, but put the wrong fuel in it – who would you blame when it wouldn’t go? Would your logic dictate that you scrapped the car?

John Young
Guest

I’m with big gee on this one.

So many times on Swans forums I’ve said to people, it’s not the institution that you get rid of, it’s the people that are running it.

Easy to say I know.

Dafis
Guest

The general tone of comments thus far are supportive of the idea of having a devolved Cynulliad, advancing with a further accumulation of powers to full Senedd which in due course would be the governing institution of an independent nation. Where it’s all gone pear shaped thus far is that the Labour Party has succeeded in hijacking the institution by gaining a sufficient electoral support – occasionally supplemented by highly pliable “opposition” parties who have little or no ambition other than personal reward and “5 minutes on the telly”.

Without reaching anything remotely like a final conclusion on this I suggest that a library should be built as a record of poor governance and maladminstration, particularly misdirection of funds, improper collusion with party “pals” in 3rd sector, investment decision making skewed by political considerations,and any other new scams that might turn up during the next year or two. That information could then be provided to the public and all the opposition groups to see who makes the best use of it and it should be that party, or parties, that attracts support at the next Election. No doubt Labour will be unable to stop behaving as they have done for the last 20 years so it won’t be long before the case studies are bulging with evidence.

If at the end of all that the nation remains wedded to CJ and his cronies then we have to decide whether to throw in the towel or find a guy willing to wear a dodgy waistcoat !!!!!

John Young
Guest

Dafis

A while ago I asked the question of Jac about the idea of a repository (or library) for all things Independence, the idea being that if all info is collected in one place then it would be far easier for people to access and, if it’s easier it’s far more likely to have an effect. A record of Labour’s poor governance and maladministration would appear to be part of that.

I emailed a guy named Hedd at YesCymru who said this ‘That’s a great idea. We’d be more than happy to include a page on our site with links to papers / research such as this. Could you do the research and supply us with the links / pdf documents and then I’ll be able to create the page.’

I then went back to him after contacting oggy and getting his permission for Hedd to access links on his site. I sent the mail on 25/04 but haven’t had a reply.

I’ll chase him again. Does this link in with what you were thinking ?

Daley Gleephart
Guest

MAJOR TRAUMA CENTRE
This seems to be an exercise in reducing the costs of running the MTC at Bristol. Reduced costs for NHS (England).
TIME TO RETRACE OUR STEPS
Wow ! What little that we’ve managed to get, you want to throw away on account of the fact that we don’t control it all?
Well, there’s nothing to stop you organising a petition, Jac, but do you think it’s the right time when looking at May, Davis, Johnson, Gove et al. and the omnishambles they create every time they act of something?

Di-Enw
Guest

On devolution- to campaign for abolition would be about as destructive an own-goal as possible. It would play into the hands of all the people you rightly expose!

Like you, I despise elements of Labour and Plaid too.

I had so much hope for a cross-party YesCymru movement but I despair as it is looking like the same old hippie, green, feminist Plaid types.

Why not try something constructive (Im really trying not to sound condescending- and probably failing!)

Why not try and wrestle some space for people on the right within YesCymru? Set up a fringe event or chapter even.

As a young(ish), centre-right nationalist, it can be a lonely place in Wales.

Iantoddu
Guest

“I had so much hope for a cross-party YesCymru movement but I despair as it is looking like the same old hippie, green, feminist Plaid types.” Is it? Not round here it’s not.
“Why not try and wrestle some space for people on the right within YesCymru? Set up a fringe event or chapter even.”
That was something I considered doing – or rather for people pro leaving Europe round here. But as it happened, people who are pro leave have come along to the groups, and we have a thankfully large range of political opinions, so it will hopefully continue to happen naturally. The groups do tend to be set up on geographical lines – and there’s an argument for saying a Yes Cymru group for right wingers would be missing the point as much as a Yes Cymru group for left-wingers or liberals or remainers. (Not saying no one should. Actually in my view, the more groups the better.)

daffy2012
Guest

The course of action must surely be to change Plaid. But I can see now that there would be a civil war. As Jac says, the left cannot cooperate with anyone. Plaid has pretty much been taken over by them.

Taggart
Guest

Labour or “Welsh Labour” will be in power in perpetuity in Wales (or as long as democracy and/or universal suffrage lasts). They are universally popular in the industrial/ex-industrial valleys and the middle classes in the public/3rd sector of the cities.
It’s probably time to accept failure.

Brychan
Guest

I had a discussion with a Plaid Cymru candidate during the election about the ‘Ebbw Vale racetrack folly’. I pointed out that proper jobs are needed not dodgy projects where locals flip burgers on the minimum wage. The key to Ebbw Vale is its industrial heritage, access to energy, vast amounts of cheap land for industrial development and an abundant and experienced workforce.

My alternative vision is based on the Alstom project. This train manufacturer has just introduced the hydrogen powered “Coradia” trains on Buxtehude–Bremervörde–Bremerhaven–Cuxhaven route. The choice of location in Germany was determined by ‘valley type geography’. Production of hydrogen using the amorphous cobalt oxide electrolytic splitting of water method. Requires abundant water, easy access to electricity (Ebbw Vale is situated on the main 400Kv electricity grid) and a 300m ‘rising stack’ mountainside for hydrogen purification and storage. Ebbw Vale also has a railway line for the pioneer application.

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The thing is if a £300m government punt on a racetrack goes belly-up you have a useless white elephant. If a punt such as Hydrail doesn’t work out you have invested in infrastructure that can apply to other uses, the intellectual property of up-skilling a workforce. It’s that is not easily exported to low wage economies. The expertise could be ‘sold’ to China rather than ‘moved’ to China.

Trouble with ‘politicians’ from the third sector who claim fake international business experience is that they see the economy through coffee shops and poverty subsidies and ‘look down’ on industrial processes. We have the energy, we have the water, we have the geography and we have the workforce. Surely taking the energy from all those wind turbines that have been planted around the heads of the valleys and investing in ground breaking advanced technology, permanent and indiginous. Surely this is ‘sustainable’? But they never listen to the engineers.

What part of the ‘Future Generations Bill’ will be inserted into the Welsh railway franchise? Answers on a postcard Mr Skates. Mari Arthur, go back to the Cardiff skinny latte. Step forward Nigel Copner.

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