What happened in 1973?

Recently the Department for Exiting the EU released a graph on their Twitter feed with the statement “We have a long and successful history as a trading nation. We’ve seen steady growth in trade as a percentage of GDP in the post-war period”. However, as many of the people’s replies to the tweet asked, what happened in 1973 to speed up the growth?

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UKIP – are we all euro-skeptics now?

I will be adding a poll to this post below to see how people feel about the EU, please take part in it

UKIP have won!  They are the undisputed champions of the elections and are on course for a landslide next year…  It’s difficult to convey irony in writing sometimes, and amongst the hyperbole of the media today, I’m afraid that it might be lost unless i explain my opening sentence.  You see, according to the media something massive has happened in British politics, and in European politics; UKIP are no longer a protest fringe group, but part of the mainstream.

First of all, I don’t deny that UKIP are a force in British politics now.  Yes, they have increased their vote, and also topped the poll (in England), won 23 seats, and increased their vote by 10.99%. However, is this as significant as many would have you believe?  The European elections are seen by many as a protest vote against the governing party (or parties in the case of this year).  UKIP have done well in the Euro elections since 2004, and the fact remains, they have no MPs and are unlikely to win any Westminster seats; or at least not enough to warrant the tag line ‘Political earthquake’.

If (it seems an increasingly big ‘if’ at this moment) Cameron wins an outright majority next year, and a referendum is held on Europe, then the wind will be taken out of the sails of HMS Farage.  Let’s consider another scenario.  It would seem that this result has forced the mainstream parties to consider Europe and it certainly will be an election issue in 2016, at the least the next UK government will push for EU reform.  If it can be demonstrated that the UK has had a good deal out of any reform, then the rise of UKIP with be stopped in its tracks.

However, can we really say that there is something new here in Wales?  The distribution of seats remains one each for Plaid, Labour, Conservative and UKIP.  Labour remains at the top of the poll, and, in fact was close to gaining another seat.  I would contend this morning’s headline on the BBC News Wales website “Wales’ as Eurosceptic as rest of UK”.  It begins with the same line as all other media outlets, how we’re all Euro-skeptics now, yet it goes on to show that 308,401 (508,143 if you include the Tories) people voted for pro EU parties as opposed to 224,917.  I would say that the majority of the people who voted are pro Europe, wouldn’t you?

And how will all of this affect business in Brussels and Strasbourg?  The truth is, UKIP will not have much sway in the European Parliament, it belongs to the EFD grouping, which (at the time of writing) has 38 seats, making it the smallest grouping in the Parliament.

This is how i see it:

  • UKIP have performed better than last time.
  • It certainly is a protest vote against the governing parties.
  • People want reform of the EU – but not out.
  • UKIP will not win many (if any) seats in Westminster.
  • There will be a danger that an ‘in/out’ referendum will be held where turnout is very low and a decision to leave the EU will be taken by around 15% of the electorate.


The end of the Condem coalition.

Shortly after the formation of the ConDem coalition last year I predicted that the government wouldn’t last more than a year. Well, it’s almost a year and the coalition still stands… for now. I might have been a bit hasty in my prediction, however the situation seems more fragile than ever.

The last year has been relatively plain sailing because it’s only now an issue that is close to the Lib Dems’ hearts. I’m not sure why commentators are acting surprised by this though, it was inevitable that the government would be split on the issue of AV.

May will not be a good month for the Lib Dems, they could very well AV slip through their fingers at the same time hundreds of their councillors in England face being turfed out of their wards – and as for the Lib Dems in Wales, well they could possibly find themselves with as little as 2 seats in the Assembly.

With all of these factors considered I feel confident in saying that the Westminster government won’t last until 2015. I would go so far as to say that the coalition won’t be in place this time next year.

(c)The Prime Minister's office

Why I voted yes in the AV referendum

As I am out of the country on the 5th of May, I have voted with a postal ballot for the first time. And I make no bones about it, I voted yes in the AV referendum. People are, at best confused about what is on offer, and at worst, uninterested.

Why then have I voted yes? Well, for the simple reason of it being a fairer vote. Now, before anyone says, “it’s not the fairest way to elect” or “won’t AV hand the election over to the person who came second?”, I will say to them you are correct… in a way.

At the moment, unless a candidate wins more than 50% of the vote, then I would argue that they haven’t got a mandate. True, they do have the largest number of votes, but they do not have the backing of the majority. In an area where a winning candidate gains 40% of the vote, that leaves 60% of the electors opposing the winner – where’s the majority there?

Under AV, although a candidate might not have most votes in the first round, they might very well have so by the final round. It is human nature to have more than one preference, and so why should electing our representatives be any different? Ok, you might have a favorite candidate who you would always vote for, but there might very well be a second candidate, or a third candidate you like.

Under AV the winner WILL have to win 50% of the electors vote – and so a true majority will then back the winning candidate.

Parochialism and devolution

Here’s another letter I sent to the County Times about True Wales’ misleading and extremely parochial argument in Montgomeryshire. Sadly this was not published this week.

Dear Editor,
Why would the fact that Llanidloes has a bypass influence my views on constitutional matters, as Mr Philip Glynn is suggesting? I agree with Mr Glynn that the traffic situation in Newtown is terrible, and I do use the roads around Newtown frequently, so experience the queues often. Traffic planning apart, I fail to see what this has to do with the referendum on clarifying the Welsh legislative system. There is a deference between the government who creates policy and the system within which it works, and the March 3rd vote is about the system, and not policy.

I too am amused by the headline of Mr Glynn’s letter in last weeks edition (18/2/11), which suggest that a no vote in March would bring an end to queues in Newtown! As I have raised on a few occasions in these pages, a no vote would mean that the present situation will remain, including the traffic queues. However, I will not claim that a YES vote will get rid of the queues, because it won’t – after all the vote isn’t about the traffic situation of Newtown. Mr Glynn could, however campaign for the 5th of May Assembly elections where his efforts might pay off and get something done about the terrible queues we all have to endure on a daily basis.

I’m not “having a laugh” by using the term simpler, because it will be simpler without having to send a Legislative Competence Order (LCO) to Westminster in order to pass a law in Wales. Could Mr Glynn explain perhaps why he thinks I’m “having a laugh”? I don’t think that waiting for 3 years to pass a law on child safety on school busses was particularly funny.

Mr Glynn claims that his campaign is a “local campaign, with local issues” – how local does this mean? – should I, a resident of Llanidloes not express a view on a national debate because I don’t live in Newtown? The issues of Assembly powers are the same in Llanidloes as they are in Newtown, and anywhere else in Wales.

A YES vote would be to the benefit for every person in Wales.

A no vote would change nothing – so if you like the way things are now then vote no.

Aled Wyn

True Wales True Lies

Here’s another letter i had published in my local paper.

Here’s some context:  Mr Philip Glynn is apparently the True Wales co-ordinator in the Montgomeryshire area, who, like the organisation he represents, seems to be confused and ill-informed about devolution and the implications of the referendum that will be held on March 3rd.


Dear Editor,

For a man who is very vocal on the referendum, Mr Philip Glynn really doesn’t understand what he is talking about.  A ‘no’ vote in the referendum won’t give anyone a “bloody nose”.  The vote is not to show displeasure with WAG (Welsh Assembly Government) decisions, its about making the legislative process better and less costly to the taxpayers of Wales.

If you wan’t to give the WAG a “Bloody Nose” then you can do so on the 5th of May in the Assembly elections (after all that is what elections are for!).

Why does Mr Glynn not differentiate between the Welsh Assembly Government and the Welsh Assembly?  He says that he would like to see a vote on the existence of the WAG, so what would he do with the Assembly?

Mr Glynn and his True Wales keep putting forward arguments that are full of holes.  So I appeal to the readers of the County Times to look at the facts, which show that a YES vote will benefit us, the everyday hard working people of Wales.

Yours truly,

Aled Wyn

A letter to the County Times

Here’s a letter I sent to the County Times in Montgomeryshire about the misleading behaviour of the True Wales campaign there.

Dear Sir / Madam,

I don’t know why it should surprise me to read a member of the True Wales campaign misleading the readers of your paper.  Philip Glynn seems to be under the impression that a ‘No’ vote on March the 3rd would somehow save the Welsh taxpayer money.  In his article in last weeks County Times (21/1/11) he mentions how “Assembly politicians are content to saddle us with the cost of more politicians” – this, however is not true, the referendum is not about increasing the number of AMs.  In fact a no vote would cost us more, due to the present law making process.  The current law making process is cumbersome and unnecessary, which takes a long time for most things to be passed; in fact it costs us, the taxpayers around £2million per year.  And Mr Glynn is arguing to keep this £2million cost!  A YES vote on March 3rd would remove this costly and longwinded process, giving the democratically elected Assembly the ability to create a law without having to ask for Westminster’s permission to do so.  After all the Government of Wales act 2006 already gives us the right to legislate in these areas, as long as we ask for the right to do so – a YES vote only makes it easier and less expensive to do so.
Mr Glynn also raises the issue of the Assembly being a single chamber legislature, however a ‘No’ vote would not change that. Mr Glynn and True Wales are in fact arguing to keep the Assembly as it is – what they fail to say is that a ‘No’ vote will not get rid of the Assembly, it will only keep things as they are now!
Mr Glynn raises the spectre of a lack of scrutiny within the Assembly, however the British Constitution offers very little in terms of scrutiny at Westminster, yet he offers no opposition to that.
True Wales claim that devolution should be passed on to the individuals and communities of Wales rather than to Cardiff Bay, however they fail to explain how they would do this through a ‘no’ vote.  It would seem that True Wales are contradictory at best, and certainly misleading.
The referendum on March 3rd isn’t about giving Wales more powers, nor is it about independence, it is about making the system of law making simpler, and cheaper.  This is why I (not a member of Mr Glynn’s hated “Political class”) will be voting YES in March the 3rd.
Yours Truly,

Aled Wyn

Cymru dwyieithog!

Fel rhywun sydd wedi bod yn rhan o ymgyrchu dros yr iaith, ac fel rhywun a oedd wedi gweithio am sawl flwyddyn ym maes hybu’r iaith Gymraeg, y nod oedd bob tro i godi statws y Gymraeg i’r un lefel a’r iaith Saesneg. Bob tro’r ddadl oedd bod gan y Gymraeg statws israddol i Saesneg, a bod ‘na ddim hawliau gan siaradwyr Cymraeg i ddewis byw eu bywydau yn eu mamiaith. Fy safiad i, a llawer eraill oedd y dylai’r ddwy iaith fod yn gyfartal, a’u bod ill ddwy yn rhan bwysig a chanolog i ddiwylliant Cymru.

Hyderaf i ddweud bod y safiad hwn dal yn ganolog i’r ffordd rwy’n gweld sefyllfa’r iaith Gymraeg. Mae’r iaith Gymraeg yn rhan o beth sy’n diffinio fi fel unigolyn, ond yn yr un modd mae’r iaith Saesneg hefyd yn fy niffinio fy mhersonoliaeth i. Cefais yr un ddewis i fod yn siaradwr Cymraeg a oedd gen i i fod yn siaradwr Saesneg, dyna beth yw bod yn ddwyieithog yn wirioneddol yn golygu. Ond perodd erthygl gan Daran Hill i mi feddwl am y sefyllfa.

Fel gwnes i, fe ymunodd Daran â grŵp dros bleidlais ‘Ie’ ar Facebook. Roedd y grŵp yn ymweld fel petai yn cael ei harwain gan y werin (be ydi grass roots yng Nghymraeg?). Felly roedd hwn yn ffordd i mi gymryd rhan yn ymgyrch dros ennill y refferendwm. Ond derbyniais i neges o’r grŵp yma (neu o’r crewyr) yn gofyn i mi ymuno a grŵp arall. Y grŵp arall yma oedd grŵp a oedd yn galw ar ddiddymu enwau Saesneg i bentrefi, drefi a dinasoedd Cymru. Yr hyn oedd yn fy mhoeni i a dal yn fy mhoeni i yw pa mor barod oedd lawer i ymuno â’r grŵp yma. Dyma grŵp a oedd yn galw am ddiddymu enwau a oedd cymaint yn rhan o’n diwylliant ni heddiw a oedd yr enwau Cymraeg.

Mae’r hyn sy’n cael ei grybwyll gan y grŵp yma yn rhywbeth hollol wahanol i beth mae’r mudiad iaith wedi bod yn ymgyrchu drosodd. Lle oedd ymgyrchoedd fy ieuenctid i yn galw am rywbeth positif – Cydraddoldeb, y mae’r grŵp yma yn galw am rywbeth negyddol sydd wedi ei selio ar anghydraddoldeb, a’r cysyniad bod un iaith yn uwch ac yn fwy dilys na’r llall.

Mae defnyddio un grŵp ar Facebook i hyrwyddo grŵp hollol gwahanol yn gwanhâi neges y grŵp gyntaf, ac o ganlyniad yn arfogi’r gwrthwynebiad i ymgyrch ‘ie’ yn y refferendwm.

Yn wahanol i Darren Hill mi fydda i yn parhau i fod yn aelod o’r grŵp ‘ie’ ar Facebook gan ei bod wedi tynnu lawer o bobl (grass roots) a phobl ifanc, ond mae fy nisgwyliadau i o’r grŵp wedi cwympo yn sylweddol.