Wales, the unmourned death of devolution

PLEASE APPRECIATE THAT I GET SENT MORE INFORMATION AND LEADS THAN I CAN USE. I TRY TO RESPOND TO EVERYONE WHO CONTACTS ME BUT I CANNOT POSSIBLY USE EVERY BIT OF INFORMATION I’M SENT. DIOLCH YN FAWR

In this post I’m going to look at the latest YouGov for ITV/Cardiff University poll. There’s a clue to where we’re going in the title of this piece.

Obviously I’ll focus on devolution, so it makes sense to remind ourselves why we have devolution. Younger readers especially should stick with it because they might learn something.

Then I shall move on to consider what we do now that devolution has come to the end of the line.

INNOVATION DESIGNED TO MAINTAIN THE STATUS QUO

Devolution did not come about following a period of political upheaval or unrest, there was no ‘Nation on the March’. Devolution was thrust upon Wales because it served the interests of the Labour Party. Later, even the Conservatives could see benefits in maintaining a management team in Cardiff docks.

To understand the genesis of devolution we need to go back to the Conservative and Unionist Party led by Margaret Thatcher coming to power in May 1979. Under her leadership the party was re-elected in 1983 and again in 1987. Even after she was deposed in November 1990 the party went on to win the 1992 general election led by John Major.

Major’s victory was a surprise to most people, including many Conservatives. But none were as shocked as the Labour Party – who can forget Labour leader Neil Kinnock’s triumphalism at the now famous Sheffield rally.

Mr and Mrs Kinnock were compensated for this and other embarrassments, first by being shunted off to Brussels (where he served as Commissioner and she as MEP), and more recently to the House of Lords. But they remain committed to the struggle against privilege and inequality.

The old socialist tactic of ‘fighting the system from within’. ‘Well, all right!’ Click to enlarge

Each year of Tory rule made devolution more attractive to the Labour Party’s hierarchy . . . based of course on the assumption that a Scottish Parliament and a Welsh Assembly would always have Labour majorities.

The thinking was that devolution would give Labour two redoubts when not in power at Westminster. With many also believing that devolution would defeat the nationalists in both countries. George Robertson, Labour’s Defence Secretary and NATO General Secretary, believed back then that devolution, ‘will kill nationalism stone dead.

How wrong he was, certainly about his native Scotland.

The point to remember here is that devolution was introduced by the Labour Party to serve the interests of the Labour Party. What might be best for Scotland and Wales did not enter into Labour’s thinking.

When the Tories came back to power in Westminster in 2010 they were faced with two very different situations in Scotland and Wales.

The SNP had been in government in Scotland since 2007 and any attempt to remove powers from Holyrood, or do away with devolution entirely, could have made a mildly annoying situation a lot more difficult. Whereas in Wales there was a coalition between Labour and Plaid Cymru, which meant that Wales was ‘secure’, she could be ignored.

THE POLL

The results that were released a week or so ago covered a wide range of questions. Most attention has focused on two findings; the percentage wanting independence and the percentage wanting to do away with devolution altogether. Here are the full findings.

The figures quoted tend to vary so I’ll go with this WalesOnline piece by Ruth Molaski. And that’s where the figures below come from.

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Though the figure in favour of independence is claimed to reach 27% when don’t knows are omitted and other adjustments made. Applying the same refinements it’s claimed that 33% would vote to abolish the Assembly were they given the chance in a referendum.

As Wrecsam Plaid Cymru councillor Carrie Harper says in this Nation.Cymru piece these figures point to “a polarisation of views amongst Welsh voters”. Which I suppose it does, at first sight. But looking at them from another angle what appear to be polar opposites do in fact agree – they reject devolution.

Due to many factors, including Brexit.

I’ve argued – from the time I voted for Brexit – that a difficult and damaging Brexit, resulting in Scotland leaving the UK and Ireland reuniting, will force on Wales the choice between being trapped in Englandandwales and considering independence.

In fact, that was one of the reasons that I voted for Brexit.

Given the impact events in Scotland could have on Wales I was surprised by the way the question below was framed in the poll.

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Surely, it should have tried to establish whether Scotland becoming independent would make Welsh people more likely to support the independence option? So why the obtuse question about positive or negative – are we talking about batteries?

As it’s worded, I would obviously answer ‘very positive’. Whereas a BritNat would answer ‘very negative’. But we would be saying the same thing in that we agree Scottish independence will increase the chances of Welsh independence. But the findings, as they’re displayed, don’t show that.

Why wasn’t the question better worded?

A SYSTEM NOT DESIGNED TO DELIVER NOT DELIVERING

In her article Carrie Harper says that there is a feeling in the north east that ‘Cardiff doesn’t care’. I can tell her that this sentiment is not restricted to her home patch – it’s the same in Swansea, the Valleys, Gwynedd, Pembrokeshire, Powys.

In economic terms devolution has failed every part of Wales but Cardiff.

And yet, we keep electing Assembly Members to represent us who promise the earth, then they go down to Cardiff . . . and perpetuate this Cardiff-centric system. They betray us every time, no matter where we live and no matter which party we vote for.

One reason Cardiff’s done well out of devolution is because it’s used as a ‘showcase’. Visiting dignitaries, politicians, entertainers, rugby and football fans, etc, go no further than Cardiff. They see the investment, the cranes on the skyline and think, ‘Oh! devolution must be working for Wales’.

Click to enlarge

Using Cardiff as a showcase city, to give a false impression of prosperity and progress, is symptomatic of a more general problem with the ‘Welsh Government’, that of show over substance. At it’s worst, it’s virtue signalling. But it’s not confined to the Labour Party.

Looking at the self-styled ‘progressive’ parties – Labour, Plaid Cymru, Lib Dems – I see parties playing to a gallery made up of a tiny minority within Wales and a much bigger audience outside of Wales with which that minority identifies.

What I mean is, giving a vote to the toe-rag doing time for robbing your Nan might get favourable column inches in the Guardian but Dai Public doesn’t support it and it does sod all to improve his life.

The ‘Welsh Government’ has declared a climate emergency. Of course it won’t make any difference on a global scale, not when Japan is planning to build 22 coal-burning power stations, and China many more. It’s not even as if the ‘Welsh Government’ takes its own declaration seriously, because if it did it would organise a functioning system of public transport, and it wouldn’t be funding Aston Martin to come here to make cars with gas-guzzling V12 engines.

But Aston Martin is more likely to go bust than it is to set up in Wales. It will join a long, long list of failed investments, money wasted, by politicians who know nothing about business and are terrified of Wales having a successful indigenous economy because it would lose them votes and give the natives the wrong ideas.

So we are served up empty rhetoric and futile gestures.

Not only do the ‘progressive’ parties ignore the interests of Welsh people but very often they introduce ‘Ooh look at us – aren’t we virtuous’ legislation that actually works against the interests of Wales.

For example, people entering care homes in Wales can keep £50,000 before they have to start paying for their care. The figure for England is £22,500. This is one reason that Wales sees an influx of retirees and elderly people from England adding to the burden on our NHS. Our ‘progressives’ would like to do away entirely with care home charges.

Money to fund this generosity must come from other budgets; which helps explain why our infrastructure is so poor, why our kids don’t get the education they deserve.

But now the ‘Welsh Government’ wants to punish us even more by introducing a tax to help fund care for the elderly and disabled . . . many of whom have been attracted to Wales by the £50,000 limit, free prescriptions and other gestures.

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Abolishing care home fees will result in an epidemic of granny dumping, they’ll be queuing at the border. It will be a disaster because the ‘progressives’ will not introduce a residency qualification to stop the system being abused. That would be ‘discriminatory’. (Truth is, they’re terrified of headlines in the Sun and the Daily Mail reading ‘Welsh bastards discriminate against our brave grannies . . . Dunkirk . . . Vera Lynn . . . )

And to expose how damaging devolution is, the Conservatives and the Brexit Party would support this economic insanity because they rely on the Invasion of the Wrinklies (PG) to provide much of their support.

You have to conclude that any administration planning to introduce a tax on a poor people to subsidise richer people moving to their country must hold the electorate of that poor country in utter contempt.

Another reason Wales is poor and badly run is because of the power of the third sector. Here in Wales – uniquely – the third sector has a role in government. The Wales Council for Voluntary Action, which serves as the umbrella body for the third sector, and operates almost as a department of the ‘Welsh Government’, is quite open about its role.

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This is why Wales has the biggest third sector on Earth, filled with leeching luvvies pulling down huge salaries to ‘combat’ problems they’ll never solve because it would put them out of a job; and to ensure they have enough ‘clients’ they import many of them from England.

The third sector coupled with Wales’ colonial relationship with England explains why the towns of the north coast have the biggest drugs rehabilitation industry in the known world.

Thanks to organisations such as Cais Ltd, based in Llandudno, which owns a number of properties, and is funded to the tune of £2.9m a year by the Wales European Funding Office . . . then there’s £1.6m from the NHS, £1.7m from local authorities, and a few million from other sources.

The Cais entry on the Charity Commission website says under the Documents tab that this company operates in ‘Wales And The Marches’. But the map found under the Operations tab tells the truth.

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Money given to Wales by the EU to raise standards is being used to further lower standards by importing drug addicts, alcoholics, criminals and God knows what else from north west England.

The driving principle of devolution seems to be using Wales for the benefit of just about everybody but the Welsh.

That’s why we have wind turbines that don’t turn, and hydro schemes that locals aren’t allowed to know anything about‘Saving the planet, innit’.

‘Rural initiatives’ mean tasteless and culturally damaging tourism developments, zip wires and the like. Or else it’s turfing Welsh farmers off their ancestral land at the behest of George Monbiot and his cohorts with the Summit to Sea scam aka ‘Lebensraum for Guardian readers’.

The ‘Welsh Government’ pushes through housing developments that Wales doesn’t need, funds housing associations many of which prefer not to have Welsh tenants, and does nothing while Welsh communities die when every property that comes up for sale is bought as a holiday or retirement home.

Wales is being turned into a retirement and recreation area for England, a dumping ground for England’s problems, and the pot of gold at rainbow’s end for every crook and shyster looking to make easy money.

But nothing is ever done for the Welsh.

Our politicians are insulated from the system they oversee by hiding away in Cardiff Bay, a world unto itself, hermetically sealed from reality. Where truth is whatever the third sector or the lobbyists decide best serves their interests.

An ugly place where reputations can be destroyed. And men. A cess-pit of corruption and treachery Wales can no longer afford.

AT THE CROSSROADS

There is nothing to be said in favour of devolution. After twenty years it should be obvious to all that it has failed the Welsh nation on every conceivable level. Yes, I talk of a nation; because without it there is no Wales.

Of course the Labour Party is largely to blame, but things would be no better with Plaid Cymru in control. If anything, things would be worse; for not only is Plaid Cymru further to the left than Labour, it has also been infiltrated by ‘woke’ lunatics.

Wales needs new political parties, fresh faces, and a whole new approach to running this country. No more virtue signalling, no more niche politics, no more identity politics, no more pretending that caving in to hedge funds is ‘saving the planet’, and no more ‘influence’ from the third sector.

What I’ve always said about devolution is now the accepted view of a majority of Welsh people, as the poll showed. The only question is which course we take from here. There are only two real options.

As I’ve already said, after Scottish independence and Irish reunification we can either submit to Englandandwales or else we go for independence. Devolution is dead. Nobody killed it, nobody needed to kill it, it destroyed itself.

Few will mourn its passing.

Time to get our people thinking about independence, and to do that we must have political parties grounded in the real world, in Welsh communities, determined to serve those communities and this nation of communities. These new parties must be ready to contest the 2021 Assembly elections.

And the more the merrier. Because with four or five Unionist parties run from London, and Plaid Cymru having such a narrow appeal, independence was impossible to achieve. Let’s broaden the appeal and shift the focus of debate away from London and the UK so that independence becomes the issue in Wales as it is in Scotland.

From now on Welsh politics must be about Wales, and the Welsh people. Let’s offer our people a real choice. No more, ‘What Unionist party should I vote for?’ but instead, ‘Which of the independence parties shall I choose?’

Spread the word! Devolution is dead! It’s time to move on!

♦ end ♦

 

71 thoughts on “Wales, the unmourned death of devolution

  1. Wynne

    Lord Kinnock
    Total salary + allowances + annual pension
    £2,679,038

    Baroness Kinnock
    Total salary + allowances + annual pension
    £5,473, 663

    I think it would be a logical assumption that they will not need to visit a food bank.

    1. Stan

      I could weep for those poor Kinnocks, struggling to make ends meet. In the last full accounting year for expenses paid out to those robbing barons and baronesses in the House of Lords (2018/2019) the Kinnocks jointly pulled in £50,935 – that’s all untaxed income for them to add to those wonderful EU and UK public sector pensions they’ve accumulated. It was by their standards a fairly modest year in income for adorning those ermined benches. They are normally up there with Lord Hain in terms of their take off the taxpayer. In 2018/2019 Hain pulled in £45,140 for attendances in the Lords. Entirely tax free. Plus a modest £4,912 for travelling expenses, which actually included several hundreds of pounds paid for his spouse’s travel as well. Lord Hain also declares interests in other remunerated roles which include 2 directorships (one NED in a natural gas company – in South Africa, where else?), and 8 other sources of remuneration. Bloody hell, who’d be his accountant? Oh, and let’s not forget that all three are paid (quite rightly), full UK old age pension in addition. Socialism, eh? But nearly all the bastards there are at it, these aren’t the only ones by a long stretch. Time to clean out the stables, the shit off those donkeys is beyond a joke now.

  2. Dr John Ball

    Amen!
    We may well be reaching a momentous moment in our nation’s life and I entirely agree; it’s independence or we will cease to exist as a nation.
    I do worry though. Plaid Cymru’s conversion to independence is clearly a cynical ploy to gain a few more list seats. Seeing the strength of Yes Cymru (and others), paying lip service to independence will, they hope con enough people to supporting them, especially with the “promise” of a referendum in ten years time after a Plaid Cymru government is elected. Sorry…..I had to stop for a minute, the laughter took over. And ten years is enough time for the momentum to go away…..
    A few more list seats (occupied by the party faithful) will do nicely…..don’t even attempt to win any constituencies.
    There is no better evidence of Plaid Cymru’s true nationalist colours than Cardiff West. Whether you like Neil McCevoy or not (show me any organisation within which everyone gets on) he is a nationalist who believes in independence and could very easily send a strong message of hope by defeating the current First Minister.
    But no. Plaid Cymru intend to stand against Neil in 2021; an act that not only undermines the national cause, but is an act of spite.

    1. Nice to hear from you, John.

      Some of the responses I’ve had to this post, on Twitter and Facebook, are really funny. None funnier than the suggestion that new independence parties will ‘split the nationalist vote’. For God’s sake, in the December election Plaid Cymru candidates couldn’t manage a single second place outside Y Fro Gymraeg. That’s despite a swing against Labour. Yet for decades we’ve been hearing that once Labour started to falter Plaid Cymru would be the beneficiary.

      Well it ain’t gonna happen. And yet, despite Labour losing support there are still hundreds of thousands of Welsh voters who – for tribal and historical reasons – will not vote for the Conservatives. They might vote Ukip or Brexit Party, but NEVER Conservative. There are sizeable chunks of Wales where Plaid Cymru has little or no presence – Swansea, for example. (Think back to us canvassing in Swansea in the 60s, believing we were at the start of something wonderful.) There are votes out there that Plaid Cymru will never gain, and I’m not even sure they’re trying.

      A couple of new parties can change the whole debate and provide alternative visions of independence; they can reach out to those voters who have lost faith in Labour, won’t vote Conservative, and think Plaid Cymru is a party for Welsh-speaking rustics and oddball socialists. New parties can also reach out to those Plaid Cymru regards with contempt in its belief that only socialists want – or should be allowed to want! – independence.

      With the SNP swatting aside all opposition, with Sinn Fein topping the polls in Ireland, with BoJo and his mates in complete control, Wales needs to focus as never before on what’s best for Wales. I believe that there are many, many people out there ready to be converted to the cause of independence. But they need to hear a number of voices offering a number of visions.

      Plaid Cymru has had long enough to get its message across, and it’s failed. It’s time now for others to be given their chance.

  3. Dafis

    Can’t disagree with the general direction of your closing statement/sentiment – “Spread the word! Devolution is dead! It’s time to move on!” .

    This should not be confused with closing or abandoning Y Cynulliad/Senedd whatever else you may wish to call it. Granted that Y Cynulliad and most of its present members don’t do much at all to defend and improve the general condition of people’s lives here in Wales. However its elimination would introduced even more risk into the equation and leave us high and dry. Given that we have another Cynulliad election in 2021 this is an opportunity, perhaps our last, to engage in a “big push” especially as we have GwladGwlad and WNP stepping into the arena for the first time. If all they do is take votes off Plaid then we might as well acknowledge that it’s going to be a very long march and let the London mob act as they see fit. Plaid might be content with that outcome !

    However as things stand with a degree of instability creeping into the political picture parties with a solid community presence may well attract voters, even voters who historically couldn’t be bothered. This might work in favour of our 2 new parties who don’t suffer from the grey suited,creepy jargonised image of the established parties.

    Thus we could end up with a hung Cynulliad with scope for kicking up a real fuss rather than mouthing a monthly ration of platitudes about “same old same old”. The real joy would be to see McEvoy nail Cardiff West for WNP.

    One 5 year round would enable the right minded politicians to highlight the folly of our relationship with Westminster and create a detailed vision on how to take us out.

    1. I agree, Dafis, and that’s what I’m saying – next year’s election is important for new independence parties to discredit the existing system and gain a foothold in the Cynulliad. But I’m also pointing out that external factors could be so influential, none more so than Scotland becoming independent.

      Another imponderable is the Labour Party. Strange noises have been heard from that quarter of late. If the UK starts breaking up, and if Boris Johnson’s government turns out to be as damaging for Wales as some predict, then the Bruvvers could be in the van.

  4. Simon Gruffydd

    ‘Lebensraum for Guardian readers’ That made me laugh!

    But seriously, partly due to the post-Brexit vote fiasco, partly due to 20 odd years of national decline under the guiding hand of the Cardiff Bay bubble, the disillusionment with politics and politicians in general, not just devolution, have reached to an all-time low.

    I suspect turnout in 2021 will be record level lows, less that 50% of eligible voters – unless something extraordinary comes along.

    I don’t think more political parties, more manifestos, more “visions and promises of a more prosperous Wales” and more rosette wearing politicians knocking on the front door will cut the cake.

    Perhaps it is time to think outside of the ‘party political’ box?

    1. I’m not sure what you’re suggesting with thinking ‘outside the box’, but I agree that respect for politicians and faith in devolution are at all-time lows. And this is why it’s a good time to launch new parties with different visions.

  5. Stan

    This is an excellent and timely article, Jac. Should be compulsory reading and debate in all those sixth forms and colleges throughout Wales now that those 16 – 18 year olds will have a vote. Not much chance of it getting on to the new curriculum though, I’m afraid. Too many vested interests have to be protected.

    I have always given my vote to Plaid at Assembly elections. I have nearly always given them my vote at local elections and GEs.

    At the last GE (December just gone) I spoiled my ballot paper for the first time ever because there was not a candidate or party I felt comfortable with any longer. Plaid are unlikely to ever have my vote again. There are a number of reasons. These include sheer frustration at the ineptitude of the party as an electoral fighting machine (they couldn’t kick a ball into an open goal from 2 metres, let’s be honest); their closeness to Welsh Labour in the Senedd (they are meant to be in opposition, not best mates); the increasingly socialist and “woke” drift of the party which won’t do them any favours in the long run – if you want an independent Wales you won’t deliver it just on the back of left wing voters, with the progressives and their identity and niche politics; and last but not least, their stance on the Brexit vote at the last election, and their pact with the Lib Dems and Greens. How did a nationalist party ever fall into that trap?

    Come the next election, be it Assembly, GE or local, my vote will go elsewhere. Here’s to alternatives, the new kids on the block. They should be encouraged in every way possible, and let’s be fair, the bar’s not set very high by the other traditional parties in the frame. One thing that elections right across Europe and wider have shown in recent years (with Southern Ireland only this weekend) is that predicting what comes next is a mug’s game. Anything can happen. And probably will. It’s all to play for.

    1. Devolution has clearly failed. Labour’s century of dominance in Wales may be coming to an end. Plaid Cymru has never made the breakthrough it needs, and is unlikely to ever do so. This is why we need new parties.

      And that’s without considering the external factors of Scottish Independence, Irish reunification, chlorinated chicken and having to sell your house to afford to have your appendix removed.

      There has never been a better time to launch new parties with something different to say.

  6. Dafis

    “Wales Council for Voluntary Action, which serves as the umbrella body for the third sector” … if that’s the case that it’s about voluntary action why do so many people take juicy salaries and benefits packages out of that sector ?

    It’s a bit like the Mafia calling itself The benevolent society for distressed Sicilians !

  7. Wrexhamian

    I’ve felt for some time that AMs are actually more comfortable with the lack of media coverage of their activities as a result of there being virtually no Welsh mass media and no Welsh control over broadcasting, and the consequent paucity of information that the public receives concerning what goes on in the Senedd. Since what goes on in the Senedd is largely lip service and going through the motions, then the lack of public awareness (and of public interest) suits our elected representatives very well. It would seem that practically the only well-informed section of Welsh society is the Third Sector hierarchy and the odd community councillor who sits up late to watch the half hour per fortnight of Senedd ‘debates’ on the Parliament channel. Nice one, Blair!

    1. Our AMs have been able to get away with their incompetence, their failure to address the real issues, for 20 years. That’s a good run. But people only have to look around, or think of their own circumstances, and the difficulties faced by their families and their communities, to know that something’s not right.

      For as we all know: you can fool some of the people all of the time, you can fool all of the people some of the time, but you can’t fool all of the people all of the time.

  8. Dafis

    McEvoy says in your tweet column that – “….. Homelessness is such a problem in Wales, because so many people make a living out of it. Too many CEOs on big money. They have a vested interest in it continuing.” Spot on. You can add “poverty” to that list with 3rd sector wonks earning big money spending government money on themselves while poverty carries on at a gallop. And the esteemed geniuses at Y Cynulliad think they are doing a grand job. What a wonderful world we live in. More distorted mirrors please.

  9. CapM

    “Devolution is dead” – I interpret what you’ve written as that by “dead” you mean that it fails to provide an effective stepping stone to independence. Therefore you want it to be killed off and Cymru returned to complete rule from Westminster because you think that would be a more effective stepping stone to independence.

    There’s plenty in what you’ve written about why you think Devolution fails.
    There’s a call to arms “Wales needs new political parties, fresh faces, and a whole new approach to running this country” but if that’s in Westminster rather than Caerdydd then I think such a call to arms is as much use as that old Scottish World Cup song was “and we’ll really shake em up when we win the Worrld Cup”:
    But I don’t see anything in what you’ve written that presents your logic or method for this independence via Westminster rule route.

    .

    1. I’m saying we’re at a crossroads. Devolution has obviously failed and there are few people prepared to defend the status quo – apart from those doing well out of devolution, who happen to be be the same people responsible for it failing the country as a whole.

      This has resulted in a growing demand to abolish the Assembly. Which is inevitable, and has nothing to do with me. What I’m saying is that I agree devolution has failed so let’s move in the opposite direction, towards independence. And we need new parties and fresh voices because there’s no way that Plaid Cymru, with its demonstrably limited appeal, is going to achieve independence.

  10. CapM

    “Devolution has obviously failed and there are few people prepared to defend the status quo”
    The evidence doesn’t agree with you – latest poll- of those that expressed an opinion two thirds supported devolution.

    The demand for abolishing the Senedd is greatest amongst those who choose a British or English identity for themselves and those who vote Conservative who feel that if Cymru was independent they would never get to have a Conservative government in charge.
    Smothering and snuffing out Devolution is so blatantly a British Nationalist project or preparations for future a Englandandwales that I cannot understand why any Welsh nationalist would even contemplate encouraging it.

    Again you haven’t given any logic or method by which you think independence can be achieved by scrapping devolution then leap frogging over the void to full independence..

    You also refer to the Welsh Government” six times in your article. You’re correct it is the “Welsh Government” but I find it strange that you chose not to refer to it as the “Labour Government” which is also correct. It’s as though you feel that by association blaming the existence of Y Senedd is more appropriate that blaming the party of government in the Senedd.

    1. The figures I quoted were that 27% favour independence and 33% would abolish the Assembly. These were the adjusted figures used by a number of news outlets. They give a total of 60%. Looking at the unadjusted figures quoted by WalesOnline we see just 24% wanting to leave things as they are. Where is your support for the status quo? Assembly poll

      Yes, I refer to ‘Welsh Government’ – do people need to be told that Labour’s running things? And the situation wouldn’t be any better with Plaid Cymru in charge, or with a ‘progressive’ alliance. Devolution is not designed to serve Wales’ interests, and you splitting hairs won’t change that.

      “Logic or method”, he wants! If you’re expecting me to set out every step along the road to independence then you’ll be disappointed. There are political parties now that will do that. (And Plaid Cymru should have been doing it for decades.) I’m preparing the ground by showing that the current system has failed and should no longer be supported. Inevitably that means that I will often agree with anti-Welsh elements wanting to adsorb Wales into England. And if we agree that ‘Welsh’ Labour is a bunch of incompetent, lying buffoons, and that too many in Plaid Cymru identify with them as fellow-socialists, then that’s it – we agree.

      But obviously, as the situation in the UK deteriorates, as unrest grows in Scotland, as the demand for a united Ireland – taken up in the EU and the USA – becomes a crescendo, and Wales sinks further into the mire, then we will be on opposite sides in a straight fight between independence and assimilation.

      On this blog I deal with subjects, projects and individuals that the politicians and the media either ignore or accept unquestioningly. Read my pieces last week on the Old Defensible Barracks. Today the Western Mail ran a full-page article on the subject. You could tell it was a re-hashed press handout because when the reporter tried to add a personal touch she located the Barracks in Milford Haven not Pembroke Dock! https://drive.google.com/file/d/1PBxs77e4OggJCBzW8OxM5IY03vFqueVz/view?usp=sharing

      Cut me some slack, son; I’m just one guy having his say.

      1. CapM

        The status quo being unsupported by 60% is made up of two percentages that are not mutually exclusive. Those polled might support independence and support devolution. I’m one of those. What the poll does clearly indicate is that given a straight question abolish the Senedd or keep the Senedd 25% said yes and 47% said no. Excluding those that did not answer it’s about 2:1 for keeping the Senedd. That’s a big majority for keeping the status quo of having devolution. That’s different to being critical of how poorly Labour is running Cymru.

        “Yes, I refer to ‘Welsh Government’ – do people need to be told that Labour’s running things?”
        They clearly do as a recent poll showed that over 40% of people in Cymru thought the NHS here was run by the Tory Government in London! And we have Labour AMs,MPs and even a Minister in the Labour Government protesting against Hospital Trusts that answer to the Labour Government!

        “If you’re expecting me to set out every step along the road to independence then you’ll be disappointed.”
        Just the logic that explains why you think independence would be more effectively gained if we were governed completely from Westminster and the political method/methods you think would work in that environment that can’t work now we have Devolution.

        “Cut me some slack, son; I’m just one guy having his say “
        Your say on devolution amounts to – Abandon ship. Now I’m sure there are some that will cut you some slack and take a leap over the side without question. Others won’t.

        1. I’m not necessarily arguing that we’d have a better chance of achieving independence from the ‘standing start’ of direct rule from London, maybe I’m playing devil’s advocate, but we’re sure as hell making no progress towards independence from the position of devolution. As Big Gee says, “Devolution is a blind alley”. Scotland shows that it could have been different, but not with the parties we currently have.

          So, because devolution has failed to deliver any material benefits to the Welsh people and it has failed to progress us towards independence, there is nothing to be said in its favour. There is no logical reason to keep devolution. As more and more people wise up to that fact the calls to abolish the Assembly will grow, no matter what I write.

          If the choice is between keeping devolution and abolishing the Assembly, then the latter option is likely to win. Which is why the choice must be between abolishing the Assembly and independence. I hope that when that day comes enough of us will choose independence. But for that to happen we need new and more persuasive voices for independence than Plaid Cymru.

          Given the media we have (or lack) any rational arguments in favour of independence will be ignored, dismissed or drowned out, so for most people it’ll come down to emotion – ‘Do you want Wales to be part of England?’ With Scotland gone I believe enough will want independence.

          1. CapM

            “maybe I’m playing devil’s advocate,”
            You can only be playing devil’s advocate if you really support devolution. So which is it, you’re playing devil’s advocate or you want to see devolution scrapped? There’s no “maybe” you know one way or the other what you want.

            Devolution is not responsible for the record of the Governments that have governed.
            Devolution is not responsible for the record of the political parties that are represented in the Senedd.
            Devolution is not responsible for the way the electorate votes in Senedd Elections.
            Responsibility lies with those governments, political parties and certainly not least of all with voters.

            Choosing to abolish the Senedd would be an abdication of what responsibility we have and returning it to Westminster. Which by some logic you avoid stating would lead to us to demanding we take on the total responsibility that full independence would require
            .
            I think that you’re letting your misdirected antipathy towards Devolution dictate your pathway to independence. Devolution taken away or threatened would result in far more “emotion” to be tapped that Devolution given up.

            1. I’m playing devil’s advocate by bigging up assimilation in the hope that it drives people towards independence.

              I don’t think I’ve ever advocated London taking back control. What I have said is that given the choice many – myself included – would find it very difficult to vote to keep devolution on its record over the past twenty years. You can blame Labour as much as you like, but most people will blame devolution, and few will think that Plaid Cymru could improve things.

              I have also mentioned the possibility of the London government simply doing away with devolution by edict. Such a move would generate more support for devolution than would be seen in a referendum. So we agree on something! Isn’t that nice?

              Let me put it as simply as possible. I want independence. I have wanted independence all my life. But I know independence is impossible from where we are today with the parties we have at present. It will need some deus ex machina, whether that is Scottish independence or the threat from London to sweep away devolution and make us into West England, also new parties to capitalise.

    2. Big Gee

      Devolution is a blind alley, that many of us got diverted into, unwittingly thinking it was a stepping stone to eventual independence. It was in fact a confidence trick, cleverly concocted by Bliar and and his cronies – NOT to give the nations that make up the UK some semi ‘freedom’ and autonomy, but a far reaching clever ploy to keep the Union intact. As I say a diversion up a blind alley that would be very difficult to reverse out of.

      I’m a hardcore republican, and the very concept of royalty is an anathema to me and many others. However, when you study the way the nations that broke away from the Empire set about the task, it follows a precedence. It’s also the way for example, that ‘independent’ states in the USA managed to establish their home territory as it were.

      The sequence of events is:
      1. Compile a CONSTITUTION for your country
      2. Get that constitution accepted by the people of your country
      3. Demand independence (in our case via a referendum)
      4. Declare independence.

      As a nation we’ve jumped into this, and been side tracked with devolution, and then demands for independence etc. and thereby have put the cart before the horse. We have to stop and think it through once more. the way we’ve tackled it up until now has been very naive and amateurish. There is a way of going about this that we have overlooked.

      The first step is to gather together the best patriotic, legal minds in Wales, to work on a comprehensive constitution, for a future independent nation. Once that is done and dusted we have a legal foundation to set about getting our independence from London. It is a signal of intent.

      To this end a website is currently under construction, it’s URL address is convention.cymru. It is not yet complete, but will be in the very near future. It is designed as a nucleus to gather in those who are capable of drafting up a Constitution of Wales – more about that later.

      I have been convinced by Welsh patriots in the legal profession that the best way to get independence is to aim for dominion status. Up until now the very words ‘dominion status’ would cause me to baulk. However, the argument is very logical and convincing. I have increasingly been convinced that it is the only way to wrestle away from direct rule by England (either ‘direct’ in the true meaning of the word, or by remote control via our crippled and contrived Senedd, run by descendants of the Bliar era).

      Here’s a short video clip, where Elystan Morgan (former QC, judge and a lord in the upper chamber) gives his view on dominion status. I believe Elystan was probably the most capable MP that ever represented Ceredigion, a converted Plaid member who was totally overlooked by the riff raff in that party, and that consequently forced him to join the Labour party, but a nationalist and and true patriot he remains all the same.

      Think big and be brave’ up till now Welsh politicians have been happy to accept crumbs and powers devolved in dribs and drabs“.

      Softly, softly catchee monkey . . .

  11. Stan

    Off topic but WTF is going on with Plaid Cymru? I see this evening reports of a senior Plaid staffer, close to Adam Price, and a man who is also a county councillor, setting up closed Facebook groups in the name of the Welsh National Party? If true, surely this would break all sorts of rules, and one wonders just what the intention was? Even more so, how did they think they’d get away with it? There must be a simple explanation, surely?

    If I’m not mistaken the man in question is regarded as a sort of election guru and winning talisman and was sent into NPT last year to give advice to local Plaid on effective election strategy. That’s a fucking good ‘un.

      1. Stan

        Very true. For me one of the tragedies is that Welsh Labour must be watching all this and rubbing their hands with glee. At one time I naively thought that the answer to Wales’ problems was to kick Welsh Labour into touch and replace it with something better. Plaid Cymru seemed the obvious alternative. How wrong I was.

  12. Keith Parry.

    The Facebook group set up in the name the of Welsh National Party is set up by a person described as connected with Westminster. Search on Facebook and you will see the name of this person who is not only founder but all three members of the closed group.
    The future of Wales could be in the hands of the Welsh National Party led by a man who has proved he can win in the big cities in the south.. A man who won one of the four by-elections on Cardiff City Council last year despite the incompetence and obstruction of central Plaid Cymru. In three other by-elections in Cardiff where McEvoy took no part, Plaid got five percent of the vote.
    If it can get traction the WNP will transform Wales. Plaid Cymru had three MPs in 1975. It now has four. In 2016 it had twelve AMs it now has ten. In 1999 it was ahead of the SNP. Now the SNP is on the brinks of independence and Plaid Cymru is nowhere. What has Plaid been doing for the last twenty years? Supporting the Labour Party.
    Plaid Cymru is the party yesterday’s men and women.
    WNP offers a chance to build a new effective party in Wales to end London rule.

  13. Brychan

    I see FM Mark Drakeford has commented on Boris Johnson’s HS2 anouncement today saying that Wales has been “systematically neglected”. This is true. What’s also true is that HS2 was originally a Labour brainchild. They commissioned the case assessment for HS2 in 2009. The development company High Speed Two Limited (HS2) Limited was set up by the DfT by the then Labour Government.

    http://webarchive.nationalarchives.gov.uk/20100203063942/http://www.dft.gov.uk/pgr/rail/pi/highspeedtwo/highspeedtwo.pdf

    Drakeford also says that the “Tories great train robbery of Wales needs to come to an end.”. Also true, but all the Tories are doing is implementing Labours plans. He also identifies that ‘consequential funding’ for railway investment in Wales is not included in the plans due it not being devolved, unlike Scotland and Northern Ireland. I also point out that his party designed it that way.

    1. Neil Singleton

      In SW Evening Post today (which is now nothing but a Labour propaganda sheet – Trinity Mirror, with a Corbynista editor) the cost of a Cardiff to Swansea electrification programme is put at £400 million, with no explanation of the potential “benefit” of such expenditure. As an estimate of the cost published last year was £700 million, perhaps someone at the EP can explain how the cost has reduced so dramatically. The essential information, whether it is £400 million or (more likely) £700+ million, is that the project would reduce the journey time between Cardiff and Swansea by THREE WHOLE MINUTES!!!!! Not much cost benefit there.

      1. Politicians are talking about a transport system for the 21st century yet railways are 19th century technology. And as you say, knocking a few minutes off the journey time doesn’t justify the expenditure. HS2 is simply the same problem magnified. And in any system, any country, where all roads and railways are designed to serve one dominant city, it will be that city that benefits from HS2. Northern England would benefit far more from a Mersey-Humber-Tyne system linking the major cities.

        And the cost is about three times what continental countries pay for similar projects. On the continent, with integrated national rail systems, all the skills needed are ‘in-house’. Thanks to privatisation and fragmentation every job must be contracted, in each franchise area, and contractors must recruit sub-contractors, and so on – all adding to the cost.

        I support the free market and capitalism, but I have enough sense to realise that certain infrastructure and services should never be nationalised.

        1. Brychan

          High speed trains weigh 400tonnes and travel at 140mph. It takes six miles to bring the train from line speed to stop. A important degradation is net journey time of long distance routes is having to stop or slow at intermediate or commuter stations.

          This was recognised in the 1990s. So was designed a high speed ‘flyover loop’ at Ashford in Kent for the Eurostar. The French insisted on it. Here it is…

          https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5flmq7vILZM%5Bremovetoplay%5D
          Down line to Paris.

          https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wMfahONeT2k%5Bremovetoplay%5D
          Up line to London.

          The largest loss of time on GWML is stops at Didcott and Reading. No such flyovers were built. Even considered for the Reading station rebuild. The UK government decided that servicing commuters to London from the Thames valley on fast lines was more important than journey times to Wales and the West county.

          1. I agree entirely, this is the pragmatic, practical socialism that improves the lives of ordinary people. It’s what the Labour Party was built on. It’s the Labour party I remember growing up with in the ’50s and ’60s. This is not dilettante, ishoo ‘socialism’; it’s rooted in the concerns of real people in the real world.

            And it has deep roots in Irish nationalism. Because when you’re fighting for a people that has historically been oppressed, dispossessed, discriminated against, butchered, left to starve, then depending on where you stand and how you view it, that struggle can be socialist, nationalist, anti-colonialist or all three.

            And this is where Irish nationalism was successful, whether fighting against the eviction of tenant farmers or on behalf of Dublin dockers, all these individual and superficially disparate struggles fed into the national struggle, which promoted the view that the only sure way for the Irish people to achieve justice was by breaking the English connection.

          2. Neil Singleton

            It was in the early 90’s that there was a (secret) plan to terminate inter-city trains from Paddington at Cardiff, where passengers would transfer to “Sprinter Trains” to continue their journeys westward. It was calculated that the rapid acceleration and deceleration of the Sprinters would reduce Cardiff to Swansea journey time by 15-20 minutes. The downside was the perceived psychological/or real disadvantage to the economies of areas west of Cardiff by having to change trains from a high speed one to railcars. The whistle was blown on this plan by someone travelling back from Paddington and overhearing an intense conversation between 4 high ranking rail employees, who were discussing how to win the PR battle in terms of what was goiing to be proposed. The whistle blower reported this conversation to Gareth Wardell MP for Gower and Chairman of the Welsh Affairs Committee. He took this issue up with the rail authorities who were somewhat miffed that the “gaff had been blown”, and the idea was quietly dropped. Goes to show that it depends HOW journey times are cut, and the carrying out of a consequential analysis before introducing such plans.

      2. Brychan

        It should be noted that the electrification of some of the tracks near Swansea including at Maliphant siding and depot was already installed before the UK government cancelled it. The OHLE was then removed and Hitachi downgraded the new deport at Maliphant that they had already built there.

        The decaying remnants of the SW Evening Post may mot be aware of this as it’s a Swansea based journal in name only, edited in Cardiff and who’s physical output is printed near Birmingham.

        https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Swansea_Maliphant_depot#/media/File:2018_at_Swansea_Maliphant_depot_-_from_footbridge.JPG
        Swansea 2018.

        The electrification does not increase line speed which applies due to curves in the track. When the electric motors draw power from a 25Kw cable the motors can produce considerably more torque, hence much faster acceleration from rest. Braking is also regenerative. This is what makes the journey is faster. It also allows more trains to run on any given section of track, increasing capacity and resilliance.

        It also helps to prevent delays due to “following a late train in front”

  14. Dafis

    Having focussed a great deal on the duplicity of Labour A.M’s with their antics protesting against their own government’s failures to manage NHS services and resources in Wales, it is only fair to shift the spotlight onto Leanne Wood who seems to feel left out ( or is that far left out) in the who can posture the most race that seems to be an endless feature of the echo chamber down the Bay. Reading that she is now likely to withhold support of an amendment today just because it is tabled by Mr McEvoy suggests that she is no longer fit for purpose. Next year the people of Rhondda should dump her unceremoniously into that tip for useless politicians and pick someone with a touch more ethics and sanity to represent them.

  15. CapM

    To Jac
    “I’m playing devil’s advocate by bigging up assimilation in the hope that it drives people towards independence.”
    Playing devil’s advocate on assimilation would have you bigging up the positives and necessity of assimilation!! Your article’s title is “Wales, the unmourned death of devolution”.

    “I don’t think I’ve ever advocated London taking back control.”
    Scapping devolution means London taking back control whether you advocate it or not.

    “You can blame Labour as much as you like, but most people will blame devolution,.”
    As I pointed out previously the latest poll evidence doesn’t back you up – 2 to 1 support devolution. Which is significantly more than the barely over 50% that voted for it in the first place.

    ” the London government simply doing away with devolution by edict. Such a move would generate more support for devolution”
    It would also generate more support for independence as would the threat of doing away with devolution.

    “It will need some deus ex machina.”
    I think that is probably a reasonable forecast. But you’ve not given a reason why this deus ex machina would find it easier if the Senedd had been given up by us.

    1. Haven’t you got a home to go to?

      Point by repetitive bloody point . . .

      My belief is that Labour and Plaid Cymru have screwed up devolution so badly that given the choice between continuing with devolution and improving conditions by doing away with devolution most people would choose the latter.

      The prospect of scrapping devolution forces on us the choice of going forward or backward. Don’t you get it?

      We can argue forever about interpreting poll figures, they’re rarely unambiguous.

      I meant to say ‘independence’.

      I did not say, nor did I infer, that the deus ex machina influence would be linked with the abolition of the Assembly. Scottish independence would influence political thinking in Wales irrespective of the constitutional arrangement.

      More than once I mention that another ingredient for the mix is new parties. You chose to ignore this. I wonder why?

      1. CapM

        “Haven’t you got a home to go to?”
        Yes therefore I’ll only respond to last sentence of your comment.

        “More than once I mention that another ingredient for the mix is new parties. You chose to ignore this. I wonder why?”

        I wonder why you want these new parties to have to struggle with First Past the Post elections to get MPs to Westminster rather than enter proportional representation elections for regional list AMs to the Senedd. It’s like you want to make things even more challenging for them

        Have you ever discussed your abolish the Senedd idea with those running those new parties.

        1. The party I helped launch, Gwlad, stood for Westminster last December in those seats Plaid Cymru had abandoned. This was a one-off. My understanding is that they will not contest future Westminster elections.

          You seem to be unwilling to distinguish between what I have written and what you wish to believe I have written. I will spell it out for you one last time. Do you understand? – one last time!

          I have not advocated abolishing the Assembly. What I have said is that if the new government in London decided to abolish the Assembly then I – and many others – would find it very difficult to make a case for retaining the Assembly based on its record over the past 20 years.

          I have also said that such a threat might be the shock needed for us to re-evaluate our relationship with England. With other factors brought into play, such as events in Scotland and Ireland, this could be our best chance of independence.

          However you cut it, whatever outcome you want, Wales declining further under lacklustre and unambitious (for Wales) politicians should be no one’s preferred choice. Yet that is what we face with Labour in control, Plaid Cymru as the largest party, or a coalition of the two.

          Which is why I welcome the new parties. For they and/or the effect they’ll have are the best hope of breaking the log-jam.

          Now go away.

          1. CapM

            “I have also said that such a threat [Westminster abolishing the Senedd] might be the shock needed for us to re-evaluate our relationship with England”.

            That only works if people in Cymru support the existence of the Senedd and it works better the more people there are supporting it.

            If the threat materializes the pro independence strategy of those critical of the outcomes of devolution should be to do a bit of nose holding and use the threat to devolution ie taking away democracy from Cymru as a reason for independence. Rather than taking the position – well it was crap anyway.

            Also you might like to consider what you would advocate for the Senedd in a future independent Cymru whose governments fell short or went against your ambitions for the country.

            1. Whether anyone supported devolution or not is irrelevant. The shock of Scottish independence and Irish unification – plus perhaps a few years of Tory rule – will be enough to cause anyone to rethink Wales’ relationship with England.

              “Well it was crap anyway” For once we agree. It doesn’t matter how many silly word games you play, devolution is crap, it has failed on every level, and it would have made no difference which party was in control.

              I have always said that I would accept a Welsh Socialist Republic if it meant independence. Independence is the objective and NO preconditions must be applied. Once independence was established, and Wales universally recognised as a sovereign state, then I would want to introduce a more sensible approach to organising society and running an economy.

              This subject is now exhausted, and you have obviously run of ways in which to ask the same, silly questions. So go away!

  16. Jonesy

    https://carmarthenplanning.blogspot.com/ – off subject – but worth a read as to how some Plaid Cymru individuals run things in Carmarthenshire County Council – this is one of the reasons I tore up my membership form when it arrived end of last year. After 40 years of membership and support

  17. roger jones

    Who would have thought it – Sinn Fein do well in Ireland on a socialist agenda with a popular leader will focus the minds in Wales on the success or failure on devolution and whether we need independence or slide back into the English system

    With Sinn Fein in Ireland and Boris in the UK who needs an official opposition in Westminster – Boris will mess it up himself reference to todays’ reshuffle

    Uk will be England on its own with Wales or without Wales that’s the big question

    1. Brychan

      Sinn Fein does not get its ‘left wing’ credentials from trendy middle class wokery and student campus ‘ishoo’s. It’s considered left wing because it concentrates on campaigns for social housing, healthcare, social justice and national concerns affecting ordinary people. This has meant that they have ‘conquered’ the working class vote of cities like Dublin. It’s exactly the opposite of the direction of Plaid Cymru, but more like what the SNP achieved in Glasgow.

      1. Dai Protheroe

        “concentrates on campaigns for social housing, healthcare, social justice and national concerns affecting ordinary people”

        Wasn’t there a former Plaid AM that fitted that description and is now pursuing similar in a new political party? Too in touch with the proles for Plaid’s liking.

        1. Dafis

          Telling Plaid to learn lessons from Sinn Fein is pretty pointless.

          SF are obviously engaged in highlighting and tackling real social problems at home and pay secondary attention to some of the problems that are arising in other parts of the world. “Putting our own house in order first because it’s within our reach to do so” seems like an overload of common sense, but these people are coming from a very low position to being up there mixing it with the parties who thought they had the divine right to run their country. Equally SF are making headway in the North despite a sustained barrage of negative comment about the history of the IRA from Unionist sources.

          As Dai says only Neil seems to be matching the effort of SF. I wish him all the best as I seriously believe that only his crew and the Gwlad activists can ever a produce a result to match that of SF in due course.

          1. Brychan

            Can anyone tell me what sort of pregnancy prevents an AM from attending and voting in a Senedd plenary on the A&E provision at Welsh hospitals?

            http://www.senedd.tv/Meeting/Archive/b9c1bfd0-4d16-4b4c-94b5-90fe8c7ff88f?autostart=True
            12/02/2020
            From 1:36

            But is the kind of pregnancy which allows the said AM to chair a Culture and Media Committee for which flows free Rhianna tickets and invites to niche film festivals?

            http://www.senedd.tv/Meeting/Archive/04b83f1a-bb59-4add-a2ed-d3e17aabfa19?autostart=True
            13/02/2020.
            Throughout.

            1. Dafis

              On a separate theme, in that Culture & Media Committee did any member use the Welsh language during the 65 minutes or so? I didn’t want to send myself off to sleep so didn’t listen beyond first few minutes and odd intervals when likes of DET had something to say. A number of those in attendance are Welsh speakers, varying degrees of fluency, did I miss any bouts of native speech or have they all lapsed into the colonial patois ?

  18. Vlad the Inhaler

    Oh dear!
    I do wish Jac would learn to understand tables before he draws conclusions.

    Firstly the overall majority in favour of devolution is (47-24) = 23%.
    This is considerably higher than the marginal vote in favour when devolution was put to a referendum. So a massive improvement there.

    Secondly if you look at the figures in the age range brackets (in the full report) you will see that devolution is much more popular amongst the young.
    In the age range 16-24 the majority in favour of devolution is (58-18) = 40%.
    In the age range 25-49 the majority in favour of devolution is (47-17) = 30%.

    It’s only when you get up to the Gerry Hatricks (people of Jac’s age) that the percentage in favour declines to 2% . But, as Jac keeps telling us, these are probably retirees from England distorting the figures.

    So the conclusion is that devolution is very popular in Wales amongst the Welsh and is nowhere near dead, despite Jac’s attempt to Gerry-mander (geddit ?) the results.

    Also in the figures, but curiously not mentioned by Brexit supporting Jac, is the revelation in the question:
    “To what extent do you support or oppose the UK leaving the EU on 31st January 2020?”

    In the age range 16-24 the majority in favour of Remain is (62-19) = 43%.
    In the age range 25-49 the majority in favour of Remain is (45-31) = 12%.

    Again it’s the GHs that swing the vote with 68 to 23 in favour of Leave.

    But even then the final average vote splits 42:42 for Remain:Leave

    So Wales is no longer in favour of Leaving the EU.

    1. Now listen, Mush, it’s Saturday night, the wife and grandson have retired (at last) leaving the TV to me and Mr Gordon. I might return to destroy your arguments – and attempts at humour! – on the morrow.

    2. Brychan

      Vlad, why are you still banging on about Remain? We have left the EU.

      This happened on 31/01/2020. A transition period is now in place. Should the UK as a whole, or any independent state within wishes to join the EU, a new application for membership is required.

      The question therefore should be “Should Wales join the EU?”

    3. I am not revisiting the minutiae of the figures. There were so many questions, framed in different way, and asked of different age groups, in different regions, that many different conclusions could be drawn.

      You seem determined to establish that there’s a majority for keeping the Assembly. Among those you claim support devolution are the ones who want the Assembly to have less power! How is that supporting devolution? And if I was you I wouldn’t count on many of those who answered ‘leave things as they are’ being strong supporters either, they were taking the easy option. Which really leaves you with those who want an Assembly with more power. How many are there?

      As for age groups, yes, they’re interesting, but every fool knows that am individual’s views move to the right as they mature. How many 50-year-olds do you see wearing Che Guevara T-shirts? And even if this weren’t the case, there are still more of your ‘Gerry Hatricks’ (You are a one!) and they’re more likely to haul themselves to a polling station.

      The headline figures remain (‘remain’ – see what I did then?). There are more in favour of independence and more wanting to abolish the Assembly. And let me correct you, because not all those wanting to abolish the Assembly, maybe not even a majority, are from England. There are plenty in the Valleys and Swansea who can see that compared to Cardiff their areas have lost out. So they jump in the wrong direction, but they can be won over.

      Anyway, you lost out on Brexit, my advice now is that if you don’t want to lose out on devolution you’d do your damnedest to ensure that it delivers for every part of Wales. Otherwise it’s a straight fight between independence and assimilation. It’s a fight I believe – with a little help from elsewhere – we can win.

  19. Brychan

    To give an example of how ‘devolution’ is failing we need to look no further than the dead bodies of Welsh people being washed down the Afon Tawe.

    In January, the Sec of State for Defence issued guidance to the Welsh Government, the Scottish Government and local authorities/civil authority in the regions of England of the availability of British Army assistance in dealing with flooding. It is called MACA – Military Aid to the Civil Authorities.

    On the approach of storm Dennis, MACA was initiated by local authorities in the north of England where Amber flood warnings had been issued. This resulted in both regular and reserve forces being deployed in West Yorkshire to bolster flood defences and help sandbag residential properties liable to flood.

    Despite parts of the South Wales valleys having a more urgent Red flood warning – danger to life – Lesley Griffiths, the Environment minister, did not request MACA. There was no free military assistance to Wales. So far, only one fatality has been recorded in the upper Swansea valley, however, there is still an emergency situation in the central valleys as the clean up begins.

    It should also be noted that the Rhigos mountain road was closed over the weekend due to floods and landslips. This is the access point the Welsh Government suggest for residents of Rhondda to access A&E services at PCH hospital in Merthyr. This is the reality of devolution under a Labour Government.

    Lesley Griffiths, has instead been making tweets. One about her attendance at Tybawb with ‘Help for Heroes’ and another about the Fishing Patrol Vessel Lonestar, protecting Liberia’s coastal waters off Africa.

    1. Dafis

      The flabby dopey response of “our Government” is sadly so typical of them. Last night I saw a clip of our esteemed First Minister at his bureaucratic best mumbling some crap about there being an established formula for working out assistance to local authorities. By the time they work that one out we will most likely have enjoyed another handful of storms ! Love to see him try explaining all that nonsense to those people who had to be evacuated urgently from their ruined homes down in Nantgarw and elsewhere. They, Drakeford, Griffiths and others, are all remote useless cnuts.

      1. Brychan

        I see that Mark Drakeford, FM, has issued a statement and says “The Welsh Government had a £350m flood and coastal defence budget, and all the defences succeeded.”
        https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-wales-51524643

        Here is a picture of Llanrwst, last weekend, after a £7m flood prevention scheme.
        https://img-s-msn-com.akamaized.net/tenant/amp/entityid/BBZOljf.img

        Here it the petition, I urge all to sign.
        https://www.change.org/p/welsh-government-conwy-council-natural-resources-wales-effective-flood-degecce-and-flood-management-for-llanrwst

      2. Brychan

        I notice that multi-millionaire and resident of Los Angeles has started a fund raising campaign on the back of the flooding. The cash will be snaffled up by WCVA and there’s no published criteria on how this cash will be distributed.

        https://www.gofundme.com/f/helpwalesafterstormdennis

        The problem has arisen because his Labour Party mates in the Welsh Government slashed the budget on flood prevention, with the help of Plaid Cymru who voted the cuts through.

        https://www.gofundme.com/f/helpwalesafterstormdennis

        The flooding is even worse in some areas where Natural Recourses Wales conducted clear felling trees. In Pentre, Rhondda, the off-cuts of this clear felling was left in the culverts.

        1. I have just put out a tweet reminding people that WCVA is an arm of the ‘Welsh Government’, so them asking for help for flood relief is not a lot different to AMs and MPs protesting about the NHS.

        2. Brychan

          Leasley Griffiths AM, the minister for environment has been blaming the recent flood on ‘climate change’. So I decided to see if there’s any data to substantiate this claim.

          “We’re getting wetter.”

          The annual rainfall summary suggests otherwise. A small ‘upward’ tend is well within average annual variance. Since 1984 there has been two exceptionally wet years, 1992 and 2012 but four exceptionally dry years, 1990, 1996, 2003, 2011.

          http://www.zen40267.zen.co.uk/rainfall/rainfall_charts.html?year=summary&units=imperial

          There is no evidence whatsoever that we are getting more rain. There is a high atmospheric wind which brings anticyclones in from the west, called the ‘jet stream’, which curves around our latitude. When this wind is to the south we get cold dry winters, when this wind is to the north we get warm dry winters, but when this wind is directly over Wales, we get lots of rain.

          “Weather is getting extreme”.

          The national river flow archive records the volume of rainfall which flows down the rivers of England and most of Wales (where huge parts of England gets it’s water). The latest hydrological survey says that “river flows were generally in the normal range” and for 2020, it was “the sixth warmest January for the UK since 1884”.

          https://nrfa.ceh.ac.uk/news-and-media/news/hydrological-summary-january-2020-published

          There is a claim that there is a specific weather peak that affected Taf catchments (storm Dennis) and one in the Conwy catchments (storm Ciara) but strangely, NRW has not published any data to suggest this is ‘exceptional’ compared with other “wet” years.

          So what is the significant change from previous wet years in these catchments?

          NRW has conducted clear felling of trees at Coed Gwydir and Coed Morgannwg in 2018/19 which previously acted as upstream sponges. An additional change on previous wet years is that there are 72 punctures in the peat substrate in the upper Taf catchments in the form of Penycymoedd wind farm and the associated clear fetting of forest and the construction of miles of access tracks.

          There was no observed ‘exceptional’ affect on the Gwendreath, Amman, Loughor, Tawe, Dulais, Neath, Afan, Llynfi, Garw, Ogmore catchments to the west, nor the Rhymney, Sirhowey, Ebbw or Llwyd catchments to the east.

          God picked on RCT.

          https://i2-prod.walesonline.co.uk/incoming/article6663481.ece/ALTERNATES/s1227b/w7trehafod1979.jpg
          Trehafod 1979.

          The flood level in the Taf ctachment was not as high as that experienced in December 1979 when four people died and thousands of homes were ravaged by water. This was when rainfall was higher than under storm Dennis.

          Strangely, in the north, the Met Office has a full weather station at Ysbyty Ifan and at Capel Curig. It’s the most studied hydrology in the whole of the British Islands. Yet NRW, the main customer for this data, have not published anything to justify the ‘exceptional’ events over storm Ciara.

          1. There was a similar issue at Talybont, north of Aberystwyth in 2012. Unprecedented flooding . . . not long after wind turbines had been erected in the hills behind the village.
            https://www.dailypost.co.uk/news/local-news/flooding-talybont-community-six-months-2644739

            Understandably, those who had supported erecting the wind turbines, and given permission for them, refused to link the wind turbines with the flooding.

            We could now be in a vicious circle where the flooding consequences of wind turbines are blamed on ‘climate change’ and used as an excuse to erect more turbines.

            1. Brychan

              It’s not just the turbine footprint piercing the peat sponge; it’s also the access tracks, the cable trenches and the clear felling of trees on site. Bizarrely, Chris Underpants MP was on BBC Radio this morning and he blamed the Coal Authority for the landslide at Tylorstown.

              This is despite the Coal Authority confirming last week that it was not on their patch. The land in question had been adopted by RCT council 25 years ago and was under a fully funded reclamation programme; however, the council cancelled the funding for the final stage (tree planting) when the Welsh Government ended the Landscape Reclamation Scheme in 2015.

              He also mentioned the flooding in the Fawr at Pentre. Clear felling by NRW above the village and leaving the tailings in the culvert caused this. This was the cause of the flooding there. Strangely he mentioned that a number of cars had been damaged as a result of this flood that were un-insured. There’s a name for someone with an un-insured car on the road – a criminal. Those that were insured can claim. No doubt the insurance companies will sue NRW for loss because of negligent cause.

              Dwr Cymru, fair do’s, have already made payments in Porth, where they admitted to not fixing drainage outlets from some of the streets to the river, and ‘backflow’ covers not maintained. NRW or Lesley Griffiths, the minister, should do likewise.

              Meanwhile the whole ‘blame Westminster’ machine of Labour in Wales is in full flow.

            2. Brychan

              Here is a photo of a cable trench that are used to connect wind turbines. These trenches not only house the power cable, but also the control circuit. You will notice the soil strata have different colours. Some trenches are also back filled with a layer of ballast chippings for stability.

              https://www.conservefor.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2017/03/DSCF6245-705×529.jpg
              Trench.

              When the upper peat layer acts as a sponge (black) and is punctured so provides access for rainwater into the lower level postglacial permeable strata (brown), then below this is a layer of impermeable glacial boulder clay. Rainwater has access to the permeable layer. Not only is an underground stream created longitudinally along the trench line, but also allows for lateral flow within the sandwich creating new springs which outcrops on the slope.

              http://arcusconsulting.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2017/02/cable-trench-istock.jpg
              Cable.

              The trench changes a peat layer which previously acted as a sponge into an underground watercourse which flow into existing streams. Run-off can be measured in hours rather than weeks and any cables laid under access tracks are housed in polypropylene pipes, which also short-circuit existing water courses. The matrix of inter-connector trenches are specifically designed to flow down slopes, to prevent sumping.

            3. Brychan

              Here is the promotional video of the Penycymoedd wind farm site made in 2014. You will see the areas of Coed Morgannwg that were clear felled. It shows the root of just one turbine (there were 76 of these), the new access tracks, on-site concrete stations and the plant laidage areas.

              https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uPA5BS9ARlE%5Bremovetoplay%5D
              Drone Footage.

              This destruction of the natural hydrology streaches from Cwmdare, Maerdy, Rhigos, Bwlch, to Glyncorrwg. The main feed water couse for the Dare and both Rhondda rivers.

              https://www.google.co.uk/maps/@51.6964786,-3.5840677,5987m/data=!3m1!1e3
              Satellite View.

              There was no possibility for detailed hydrology and impact assessment because it was “fixed” before the project started. A memorandum of understanding was signed between NRW and Vattenfall on 21 May 2015.

              https://naturalresources.wales/about-us/news-and-events/news/green-light-for-renewable-energy-in-wales/?lang=en

              This is one of the perils of merging the Environment Agency (policing role on developments and flooding) and the Forestry Commission and Nature Conservation. Once NRW, being a merged body, has entered into agreement there is little scope for assessing adverse impacts.

            4. Brychan

              Longitudinal outflow is prevented by site design. You make sure the trenches follow the natural contours, in the same way as clay lined canals were constructed in the 18th century. Where there is a break in contour, you create dams in the form of a U-shaped plastic disk, which act like locks on an old canal.

              Lateral outflow can be stopped with a technique is called ‘bunding’. A plastic sheet is used to line the sides of the trench up from impervious base clay layer and up to the natural peat level. This seals away the sandy layer between the strata that would otherwise act as a rapid drainage course. The peat, which is excavated separately, can then be used to re-fill and cap the excavation. Additional bunds should also be constructed in parallel to cable (or pipe) trenches, and capped with a traditional bund of willow lattice which will degrade once stability has returned.

              https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0wXbhcl-Mi8%5Bremovetoplay%5D

              The video is an example from Scotland, bunds created specifically to preserve the properties of peat bogs after the clear felling of forestry plantations. Bunding is an old Dutch term where willow and reed bindles were used historically to dam the polder. It’s something any engineer will be familiar with assuming NRW was not run by idiots.

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