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Monday, September 03, 2012

An occasional round-up of Welsh blogposts Part Four

This is the fourth in a series of reviews of Welsh blog posts that have caught my eye over the last month.

The Institute for Welsh Affairs blog 'Click on Wales' is always thought provoking and original. This post by Meic Stephens about Dafydd Jenkin, the major authority on the laws of the tenth Century Hywel Dda, is no exception.

Mr. Stephens looks at Dafydd Jenkins' work in putting together a composite text of the Law of Hywel Dda as well as his involvement with Plaid Cymru during the time of Saunders Lewis and his role in seeking official status for the Welsh language:

During World War II Dafydd Jenkins, a committed pacifist, registered as a conscientious objector on Christian grounds and was ordered to work on the land, his first experience of farming and his introduction to the tradition of agricultural co-operation which had long been practised in Cardiganshire. He was one of the contributors to a series of pamphlets published by Cymdeithas Heddychwyr Cymru, a Welsh equivalent of the Peace Pledge Union.

In the Parliament for Wales Campaign launched in 1951 on an all-party basis under the chairmanship of Megan Lloyd George, the Liberal MP for Anglesey, Dafydd Jenkins played a prominent part. A quarter of a million people declared themselves in favour of an elected, legislative Parliament. However, the initiative failed, largely because, of the 36 MPs representing constituencies in Wales, only six supported it, of whom five were Labour members in defiance of their Party’s policy, but partly because the British political system cannot be changed by petition alone.

Swansea Liberal Democrat, Dr Maria Pretzler has an authorative and interesting post on her blog, also cross-posted on Freedom Central, in which she examines the state of Welsh Higher Education:

But let us look at the rest of this statement, claiming that state funding in Wales will be higher than in England. This is correct, but it doesn’t mean that Welsh universities will get more money than those in England. Whatever one thinks of the new fees regime in England, one ought to stick to the facts, and fact is that most of the teaching grant has been withdrawn and replaced by income from higher fees. In Wales, the fees haven’t been raised, and so the grant remains, which is why it is, and has to be, higher than in England. However, what Leighton Andrews isn’t saying is that Wales can’t afford a teaching grant high enough to make up for the significant shortfall. Only a significant influx of full-fee paying students from England could do that, and at last count, English teenagers haven’t been willing to help out Leighton Andrews in sufficient numbers. Not many people (apart from Leighton Andrews, perhaps) will be surprised.

Over at the 'A Change of Personnel' blog, the question is posed: 'Why the silence over AWEMA?' The blog asks are two highly critical verdicts of the conduct and management of the former Chief Executive Nas Malik and Chair Dr Rita Austin involving unfair dismissal and sexual harassment while running a tax payer funded organisation with links to the governing party not worth commenting on? The answer appears to be no but, as a comment points out, for very good reason:

The employment tribunals were serious affairs, but the meatier stuff will likely be in that WAO report you mention. It looks as though Naz Malik will have to pay the compensation himself.

I also want to know which Welsh Government minister(s) signed off cheques to AWEMA after the initial warnings all those years ago.

Obviously you can't make accusations without hard evidence even if it's fairly easy to work out who was where at the time, but it could be someone who's on the current Welsh Government front bench. This has some way to go yet.

Meanwhile, Ceredigion County Council Chair, Councillor Mark Cole, has turned 30 and celebrated with friends on the beach in Tenby. Apart from my surprise that the weather held up for them, his blog post is notable for his acceptance of the aging process:

It doesn't bother me one jot. I've always taken life with a slight pinch of salt and a great dose of irony. We don't know what's around the corner and so we must embrace life with a zestful love and thanks for being so fortunate when others in the world are markedly less so.

So if anyone did mistake my self-depracating ironic humour for that of someone lamenting the passing of time, you couldn't have been further from the truth. My 20s were indeed a wonderful time but that is now in the past and I wouldn't wish to re-live it. Life is for the here and now.

So, 30s? Bring it on!

The debate about a Severn barrage has quietened down over the summer months but is guaranteed to reappear, once the cabinet reshuffle has taken place and Cameron has had his meeting with Peter Hain. Plaid Cymru's Ian Titherington though, is anxious to remind us that there are alternatives:

I note with interest that talk of building the huge Severn barrage has re-commenced and with respect, I can understand why. Many who are dubious about many elements of its construction and cost are slowly being won over, due to the promise of thousands of jobs at a time when Wales is desperate for work and investment. Many are also frustrated that after much fuss about choosing tidal lagoons as an alternative, no progress appears to have been made in this direction.

I have sympathy for such views, but see a fundamental flaw in this position. From an engineering perspective, there are two options for huge energy production and choosing one will effectively rule out the other. There is already a working tidal barrage in France that has proved its worth, but no such example of a tidal lagoon. Only when a comparison is made of the two options, should we press ahead with the vast investment required.

Finally, the Plaid Wrecsam blog has some thoughts on the cost of democracy, prompted by the potential refurbishment of the House of Commons:

Where are these cynical letter writers now that it has been decided that the Houses of Parliament need a refurbishment at a cost of £3 billion! This is a phenomenal figure compared to the £70 million it cost to build the National Assembly and the £414 million to build the Scottish Parliament; in fact a refurbishment will cost 6 times the building costs of the Senedd and the Scottish Parliament put together and the silence is deafening!

It is all a matter of perspective I suppose.
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