Independence Index

Your in-depth guide to Welsh independence.


The latest news, debates and reports from the Senedd.


The major local political stories and developments from Bridgend county.


We gave AMs law-making powers; this is what's being done with them.

Committee Inquiries

Detailed scrutiny of how Wales is being run.

Election 2016

All the build-up, details and analysis of the National Assembly election 2016.

Saturday, 13 February 2016

The Main Event

Earlier this week, Plaid Cymru took the unusual step of splitting their weekly debate allocation into two equally important and interesting ones – the first dealing with the Wales & Borders franchise, the second with major sporting events.

Thursday, 11 February 2016

Senedd Spanks The Banks

The World's Local Bank?
(Pic : Wales Online)
In what looks set to be the penultimate topical members debate of the Fourth Assembly, yesterday AMs discussed bank closures. I'll come back to another interesting and topical debate later this week.

Monday, 8 February 2016

Assembly petitions reforms outlined

As attentions turn to the Fifth Assembly, a Petitions Committee review
has recommended a number of improvements to the petitions system.
(Pic : National Assembly of Wales)

(Told you so.)

The National Assembly's e-petitions system, launched in 2007, has become one of the main ways the public and organisations influence decisions made on our behalf.

Saturday, 6 February 2016

Vice Nation : Tattoos & Piercings

(Pic : Daily Post)
Tattoos and various "body modifications" have exploded in popularity over the last 10-15 years, and it now seems as though a sizable minority of people have one in some way, shape or form.

Thursday, 4 February 2016

British military might deployed to defeat Weather

"Ooh, I just know that something good is gonna happ...."
(Pic : via Vimeo)

At least 30 people have been killed by wind and rain on British soil in the past five years. That stands compared to 2 deaths related to terrorism and 0 deaths resulting from the military actions of a foreign power.

Tuesday, 2 February 2016

The Great Cardiff Airport Swindle?

Were the Welsh Government diddled when they nationalised Cardiff Airport in 2013?
(Pic : Wales Online)

As others have said, the Welsh Government's reputation when it comes to spending public money has taken a big hit over the last few days, and brings what I said in Wales reacts to steel job cuts all the more into focus:

Sunday, 31 January 2016

Senedd/Election Watch - January 2016

  • Jonathan Edwards MP (Plaid, Carms E. & Dinefwr) criticised the formula used to determine rail fares after regulated fares – such as season tickets – rose by 1.1%. He said, “Calculating prices based on Retail Price Index (RPI) is an unpopular system which has attracted criticism from respected economists.”

Friday, 29 January 2016

Live From Angel Street - January Communities Committee

The next webcast Bridgend Council (BCBC) meeting I'm going to focus on is the Community, Environment & Leisure Scrutiny Committee, held on Wednesday (27th January) – you can watch it he....

Wednesday, 27 January 2016

Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap V : The Inquiry

(Pic : BBC Wales)
Yesterday, the Public Accounts Committee published their forensic report into the failed Regeneration Investment Fund for Wales (RIFW)....and it makes really, really grim reading for the Welsh Government (pdf).

Tuesday, 26 January 2016

Assembly rejects Trade Union Bill

It's a no from the Assembly....
(Pic : BBC Wales)

Earlier today, the National Assembly voted on the UK Government's highly-controversial Trade Union Bill, which most AMs – and the Welsh Government - roundly criticised last year (AMs take swipe at Trade Union Bill).

Saturday, 23 January 2016

A Mayor for Cardiff?

Should Cardiff have a directly-elected mayor?
(Pic : Cardiff City Hall)
It's a question that could be put to electors in the capital if a new campaign succeeds in getting the right number of signatures to trigger a local referendum on the issue.

Thursday, 21 January 2016

Local Democracy petition given short shrift by AMs

(Pic : Carmarthenshire Planning)

When it comes to rotten boroughs in Wales, there's one that stands head and shoulders above any other and that's Carmarthenshire, which is being run in a manner similar to Saudi Arabia; there's a token elected body but an unelected monarch calls the shots.

Tuesday, 19 January 2016

Wales reacts to steel job cuts

(Pic : Wales Online)
As you're all probably more than aware, yesterday Tata Steel Europe announced 1,050 redundancies at steelworks in Wales and England:

Monday, 18 January 2016

Live From Angel Street - January Planning Committee

Lights! Camera!....

It's been a long time coming but, at long last, Bridgend Council (BCBC) have begun the live streaming and recording of council meetings (Camera Shy).

Saturday, 16 January 2016

Campaign Launched to Reintroduce Bullying

Journalists knew they were in for something different when Serious Business Party members started 'cropping' them and other guests as they entered the hall : tripping them up from behind by using a strong, sweeping kick.

Instead of canapés, the assembled audience were given Chinese burns, charley horses and noogies.

After the introductory rough-housing, they were directed by the party's Director of Communications - an ex-nightclub bouncer wearing a mortarboard – to sit cross-legged in the centre of the hall in silence. As always there were a few stragglers, like Nick Servini, who was sour-faced after being picked last for British Bulldog and having his crisp sandwiches stolen.

The party had pulled out all the stops to impress the media, but they were interrupted by what sounded like a foghorn playing the opening bars to the theme tune to Deep Space Nine against the wooden floor tiles. The tentative silence didn't last very long.

"Alright, who was that?" the director asks. "Shipton, I'm looking at you!"

"It wasn't me!"

Little did the assembled press pack realise that party members had infiltrated their group, "Hmmmmm, my chin's itching," one of the suspicious-looking non-journalists said whilst stroking an imaginary Tutankhamun beard, "chinny rec-kon it's a conspiracy?"

"Yes," another one said, "Ha ha fatty, you are fat!" Turning their attention to the rest , they roll a £1 coin in front of the journalists, one of whom makes the mistake of picking it up. "Jew bundle! You're such a Jew! Zionist murderer!"

An ambitious woman journalist, who's starting to get annoyed by the undignified position the group find themselves in, shouts, "We were told this was a serious policy announcement not a...."

"Ooooooh," the infiltrator says, wafting a hand in front of their nose. "It reeks of muff in here, doesn't it? Kippers. Kippers and cheese."

It was then that the Serious Business Party decided to announce their campaign to reintroduce bullying, which has already garnered full support from The Conservatives, Momentum and the Daily Mail.

"For decades we've been trying to convince ourselves that bullying is a bad thing. Instead, it's one of the United Kingdom's great institutions. We built an empire out of our ability to cause mischief and destroy the self-respect of other peoples, and one of the best places to develop that honed lack of empathy and over-compensating belligerence is our school system - private or state.

"Patriotic headteachers know this and that's why there's been no effort to clamp down on it. If ordinary Brits and their leaders lose their ability to project their own insecurities onto other people, where will it lead us? Do we really want to be as secure in ourselves and happy with our place in the world as the bloody Swiss?

"It's political correctness gone maaaaaaad."

Party goons whoop and applaud like chimps.

"So we are proud to announce that if you elect Serious Business AMs in May, we'll immediately get to work on a ring-fenced fund to train a new generation of salt of the earth, old-fashioned school bullies - with names like 'Gripper Thomas', 'C**thammer Chris' or 'Jose Mourinho'.

"The Serious Business Party are disappointed that our young people don't have the necessary skills to intimidate people in the workplace.

"Despite this, we've heard good things from one local authority-that-will-remain-nameless where an employee was treated with a fundamental lack of dignity by someone whose management style seems to consist of shouting and ostracism.

"Some might say that if you have to shout at someone to get them to do things when they're four feet in front of you – and you're not a sergeant major or in a stadium with 60,000 people making a racket - you're probably not a very good manager.

"We say, we won't rest until there's a Wales where everyone dreads using social media or going to work or school in the morning, and where redundancy or the warm embrace of death seem heaven-sent."

Another round of applause.

"No child should leave school without knowing how to make someone else feel three feet tall, especially midgets.

"Rest assured, whether you're a wog, ginger, four-eyes, pole-smoker, canyon-yodeller, fatty, mong - or wearing a particularly expensive coat - the Serious Business Party will be one step ahead of you with an outstretched leg, ready to break your nose on the floor."

"Don't you think it's convenient that there's no universally accepted insult for angry, middle-to-elder aged straight white men?" one of the guests asks.

"Don't be such a bigoted cockwomble! We used to be listened to, because we thought we were the only people worth listening too. But angry, middle-to-elder aged straight white men have been discriminated against for far too long. It's time we fought back, and we'll do that be voting Serious Business."

"I think we learned something today," Prof. Yogi Plopp – who was amongst the audience - says, "As exemplified earlier, calling someone a Jew as if it's an insult, or a Zionist, is soooo 1930s Germany, as is accusing whole groups of people of possessing certain traits, whatever that group of people might be – Mexicans, Muslims, the English, Welsh-speakers, Man United fans....

"The holy grail is to be able to say something bigoted without actually coming across as a bigot as a result. It's a challenge comedy scientists have been working on for centuries and they still haven't figured it out. The brains trust on Twitter and Facebook haven't figured it out yet either.

"Until there's a breakthrough, people who can't address an issue properly and simply resort to name-calling, gossip or labels at the first opportunity probably aren't worth listening to. Also, media formats with a 140-character limit, or where news competes directly with cat pictures and photos of food, probably aren't good platforms to discuss social and political issues, y'know?"

"Wrong!" the party spokesperson thundered back. "What we actually learned is that there is no such thing as a 'safe space' and people are more than capable of being complete and utter arseholes at any time, in any place, to anyone. When being an arsehole is properly directed it can even lead to profound change - sometimes good, sometimes bad.

"To think we tend to look down on nations which mandate that people can only say nice things about the government and politicians. If you can't handle it, you probably shouldn't be in public life or broadcast every single detail of your existence over a hyper-connected communications system, y'know?"

"Well we can't both be right...." Prof. Plopp said, before he was cut off.

"Agreed", the party spokesperson replied, somewhat deflated that their bullying campaign had ended before it had properly began. "If only there was some way we could disagree with people or facts without resorting to irrelevant personal insults or macho strong-arming?"

Looking at his own school uniform and those worn by party infiltrators, Prof. Plopp suggested, "We could try acting like adults."

Thursday, 14 January 2016

Assembly unites over changes to Draft Wales Bill

(Pic : Wales Online)
In what will probably be the final say AMs will have before the full Wales Bill is introduced in the UK Parliament – presumably in the next few months – and probably the last (serious) discussion on the constitution of the Fourth Assembly, AMs recently debated the recommendations of the Constitutional & Legislative Affairs Committee report on the draft Wales Bill (pdf).

Tuesday, 12 January 2016

EU Referendum : The IWA Debate

We still don't know when the referendum will be held on the UK's membership of the European Union but, to much fanfare, the first Welsh debate was hosted last night in Cardiff by the Institute of Welsh Affairs (IWA) and Cardiff University, with the First Minister lining up against UKIP leader, Nigel Farage MEP.

Monday, 11 January 2016

Say Your Prayers

Oh Lord, please bless this Powerpoint presentation by BT....
(Pic : SLAYER!)
Should local authorities hold prayers before council meetings?