Saturday 28 April 2007

Tuesday 24 April 2007

Our Welsh Identity

Over the years, successive UK governments have tried to defuse Welsh identity by creating cross-border institutions such as Manweb, TWW etc. The private sector has also done the same thing – I used to work for a Company with their Welsh ‘regional’ office in Bridgend. Then Wales was reorganized as part of their South West and North West regions, and as well as losing 20 jobs, a little bit of Wales disappeared. I am also a member of a professional organization which has a South Wales region, but in which North Wales is considered part of Merseyside although that would explain the accent…;0)

I suggest that one of the new laws that our incoming AMs could consider, is a ‘Respect of National Boundary’ act. Make it a requirement that any organization employing more than say 50 staff in Wales, or having a membership of more than say 100, is obliged to structure itself on a Wales (or regional within Wales) basis. Accounts and economic data should be published on a Wales-only basis, and we might find out a bit more about our economy. In practical terms this would involve companies doing little more than adding a few lines to their Excel spreadsheets. I am not suggesting that companies must open a dedicated Welsh office, but they might find it beneficial to do so, and it would certainly help protect those that are already here.

In the future Wales may have a different tax regime to England, and by establishing the necessary structures now, it will ease the pain of transition in the future.

No more combining Cardiff with Bristol, Wrexham with Chester, or Aberystwyth with Shrewsbury.
We must respect, enforce and celebrate our Welsh identity.

Saturday 21 April 2007

Leanne Wood calls for an Independent Parliament for Wales

Great to see Leanne Wood's comments regarding independence on the Blamerbell Briefs blog.

Leanne is Plaid Cymru's Assembly member for South Wales Central.

QUESTION: Please explain, in detail, how Plaid Cymru would fund, in an Independent Wales, all the current services provided by the Welsh Assembly Government at current and projected spending levels PLUS the welfare state, pensions, defence, policing and security, foreign affairs, international trade relations, Broadcasting in general, and all other reserved matters.

ANSWER: Via taxation, the way all countries do. Six member states of the European Union are smaller than Wales. Eight of the ten richest countries in the world have a population of less than 10 million, including all 5 Nordic countries. An independent Wales could clearly pay its own way. I believe the people of Wales are no less talented than the people of Ireland and that we could successfully run our own affairs. An independent Wales would have the option of reducing the defence budget, re-prioritising public services.

QUESTION: How would you like to see the assembly develop in the future?

ANSWER: I would like it to become an independent parliament.

Monday 16 April 2007

A Nuclear Wales

It has been widely reported that because of concerns about Scottish independence the Ministry of Defence is considering relocating the Trident submarine fleet and their lovely nuclear missiles away from Faslane, Scotland.

What has not been reported so widely is that there are four possible alternative sites under consideration - including one in Wales!

Presumably this is in Milford Haven - can you imagine the consequences of a nuclear tipped submarine bumping into one of those huge LNG tankers ?????

This is another compelling reason to campaign for Welsh independence - before we are blown off the map altogether!!!!!!

Thursday 12 April 2007

My Favourite Blog

Blamerbell suggested a short time ago that one can make a league table of Welsh blogs by counting the number of links and comments that a blog receives. If this is the case my favourite blog isn't in the top 10 of Welsh blogs, but it deserves to be.

Wales World Nation should be compulsive reading for anybody interested in Welsh affairs.

I don't know who writes it, but who ever it is deserves a medal for services to Wales.

Unlike most political type blogs Wales World Nation isn't full of political backstabbing; all posts follow a simple formula: "this is what a small successful independent nation has done" and then a short comment along the lines of "Wales could do that too, if only it had the freedom to do so."

If Wales World Nation isn't in your links and feeds yet put it there. You won't be disappointed.

Tuesday 10 April 2007

Affordable freedom + Attractive tax rates

Two more excellent letters in the Western Mail today:

Affordable freedom

SIR - In his attack on Plaid AM Dai Lloyd, Martyn Williams (Letters, April 3) questions how a future Plaid government would "squeeze £11bn [the size of the Assembly's current block grant from Westminster] out of a Welsh population of three million people".

Using the writer's own figures, there are almost two million Welsh residents of working age, ie actual or potential income-taxpayers, and £11bn divided by two million is £5,500. A lot of money? Well, divide into twelve monthly instalments and you now have around £460 per month. Readers might like to check their latest payslips for tax deductions. You could earn around £30,000 gross a year and pay this in income tax. Many of us in steady employment would be fairly pleased to find that we could get decent public services in Wales at this level of direct tax contribution. Then, of course, we have NI, VAT and the numerous other duties on consumables.

I'm very grateful to Mr Williams for reminding me how affordable independence actually could be, and for making me ask yet again: "What on earth is Westminster doing with all our money?"

Ian Hughes
Morganstown, Cardiff

Attractive tax rates

AS Merfyn Thomas says in his letter (April 7) Wales would be a self-supporting country if independent.

He makes many valid points but may I add another very important point. Currently companies operating in Wales pay corporation tax to the London Exchequer. When Wales is independent they will pay this tax to a Welsh Exchequer, and if this independent Wales cut corporation taxes, as small, quicker, acting-on-their-feet countries do, these companies would expand here whenever they could plus more new companies would be encouraged to relocate here.

Lower ongoing tax rates, plus attractive capital tax allowances attract business more than one-off grants, ask any genuine business person. Plus, of course, our extremely important indigenous businesses would benefit and they are often the backbone of rural economies. Locally, where I live, we have two major oil refineries. Does Wales benefit from their profitable business? The answer is a huge no as far as corporation tax is concerned. Soon there will be major LNG developments here also. Again will Wales receive corporation tax benefits? No, they will flow to London.

And might I leave readers with a final thought.

How does the Isle of Man and the Channel Islands manage without the support of the London government? The answer, although they are smaller than Wales, is very nicely thank you.

Neyland, Pembrokeshire

Saturday 7 April 2007

Wales Green Party - Pro independence?

From Sanddef Rhyferys' Blog, original story from our Welsh language sister blog:

In a reply to my facebook pal Hedd Gwynfor, Plaid Werdd - the Green Party, have affirmed that they support Welsh Independence, making them a nationalist alternative to Plaid Cymru.

Sounds good, but in reality the Greens have still some way to go. For a start, they don't seem to have realised that the assembly has moved to the new Senedd building; and secondly they have to learn that making a website bilingual doesn't mean just translating the titles and links into Welsh -the content has to be bilingual as well.

But I don't think Plaid Cymru will be losing any sleep. Now, if there was a centre right Welsh nationalist party, then that might tempt some voters away (both from Plaid Cymru and the Welsh Tories), but such is not the case. And the Greens -whether we are talking about the Welsh Greens or the UK Greens- have a long, long, long way to go before they can even hope to approach the political quality of the German Greens, or produce a statesman of the same calliber as former German Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer.

Sunday 1 April 2007

The thoughts of Alan ap Sion

I recently received an email from Alan ap Sion, who had just returned to Wales after nearly 50 years, in which he raised some very interesting points. I asked him if he wanted to contribute to this blog. Here are his thoughts:

Since my recent return to Wales after a period of 46 years I have observed many changes, some for the good, others for the bad. What brought me back, after so many years? - Call it "hiraeth". It was a decision that was made for me, not one that I consciously made.

I am living actually in front of the school where I did my teaching practice, in Porth Tywyn. I even taught Welsh there at the time, but then I travelled the world; living and working in nine countries and rapidly lost my Welsh. Now I have to brush up on it and it is returning little by little. I need to make friends and meet Welsh speakers so that I can fully integrate.

Last week I visited the Plaid Cymru office in Llanelli and met Dyfrig, then rejoined the party. I was sorry to note, however, that the three mountains are no longer the logo, as I thought it was a good one.

I have many ideas for Wales, and they do very much tie in with Plaid's policies. I think the first priority is to absolutely emphasise as the main consideration "power to the people", as the individual is aware of being manipulated by commercial and monetary matters, whether from councils or big corporations and utility companies. Labour, which used to be a unifying force, has lost a lot of its appeal, particularly in the valleys of South Wales. This should be evident in the forthcoming elections.

That is where the effort has to be exerted. Government is always trumpeting and proclaiming democracy and its virtues, but actually there is little true democracy in the so-called democratic states. I see Plaid as the only democratic movement in Wales. Britain and America are even proudly attempting to impose democracy on other nations, such as Iraq. Obviously this is not working. No wonder they are alienating people who see their own development and raison d'etre to be increasingly threatened from without.

As Gwynfor did, I see Wales as a Celtic nation among the community of nations, yet it must work on removing the remaining elements of Anglicisation and dependence upon its larger neighbour. It needs to nourish its roots and rich heritage without antagonising those who have made Wales their chosen home. This is also the dilemma of the Baltic States, for so long dominated by the Soviet Union. At least now Wales has its boundaries. The Kurds and the Lapps have none.

The next concern is communication, establishing the infrastructure to link the north with the south, without having to cross the border to travel from one place to the other. Then, the institutions such as the National Health Service, the Police, and all services should be separated from Whitehall, and controlled from Cardiff. Ireland is the example to follow, as that country has achieved remarkable success, nationally and economically and is known and widely respected across the world.

Schools should not be segregated into English schools and Welsh schools, in my opinion. They should be truly bilingual schools, and Welsh given prominence, as the national language. There needs to be a unifying and cohesive movement across Wales, which will bring the nation together and maintain its independent structure.

Finally, I must mention the subject of place names. There is no reason why towns and cities in Wales should be portrayed with two names. Other countries do not practice this. First of all, the people are the Cymry and the country is Cymru. Its language, one of the oldest in Europe, is Cymraeg. Cardigan is Aberteifi, Carmarthen is Caerfyrddin, Kidwelly is Cydweli and so on. As things stand these alternative names are a relic of colonisation.

I see Cymru as being on the threshold of its great future as a nation among nations. Our forefathers succeeded in turning back the tide, at the time of the country's slide towards oblivion. "Wythnos yng Nghymru Fydd", the book by Islwyn Ffowc Elis, depicted the state of the nation four or five decades ago. Much progress has been achieved but so much more needs to be done before the spirits of Arthur and Glyndwr return to inspire the nation to accept its rightful destiny.