Independence Index

Your in-depth guide to Welsh independence.

Assembly

The latest news, debates and reports from the Senedd. (Fourth Assembly stories are under 'Archive').

Bridgend

The major local political stories and developments from Bridgend county.

Laws

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

Committee Inquiries

Detailed scrutiny of how Wales is being run. (Fourth Assembly inquiries are under 'Archive').

Vice Nation: Sex

How could an independent Wales deal with issues surrounding sex?

Friday, 30 September 2016

Senedd Watch - September 2016


  • Education Secretary, Kirsty Williams (Lib Dem, Brecon & Radnor), announced government funding for Techniquest – a science education charity with sites in Cardiff and Wrexham – would end from 2021. Around a third of its £3.3million annual income is from government grants.

Thursday, 29 September 2016

AMs press for "decisive action" on Bovine TB

(Pic : The Guardian)
The issue of precisely how to deal with Bovine tuberculosis is one of the longest-running sagas in post-devolution Wales, and something that has become a serious threat to the livelihoods of dairy and beef farmers, even if they're compensated for the loss of livestock.

Wednesday, 28 September 2016

Senedd debates draft BBC Charter

(Pic : BBC Wales)

Yesterday, the National Assembly discussed the draft version of the BBC's new Royal Charter, which will set out operating conditions and public service remit for the broadcaster (and also has a knock-on impact on S4C). It comes amidst long-standing concerns over how the BBC portrays and serves Welsh audiences.

Tuesday, 27 September 2016

FMQs : Mindfulness, Tourism & Winter is Coming



Health dominated today's FMQs, with questions on plenty of other matters too. It's going to be a busy week, with more on the Diamond Review, BBC Draft charter and Bovine TB in the next few posts....but there wasn't a mention of Brexit!

Saturday, 24 September 2016

The Big Brexit To Do List

Before Brexit can happen, we need to know what needs to be done beforehand.

I'm getting as fed up with the endless hot air surrounding Brexit as much as you probably are. This will be my final post on Brexit for the foreseeable future. I'm also considering ignoring any future statements/questions on this in the Senedd as nothing's actually happened yet and nobody seems to be in a rush to make anything happen either
.

Thursday, 22 September 2016

Bad Grammar?

(Pic : BBC)

There's been a lot of discussion in the UK press over the proposed expansion of grammar schools in England and Cornwall. Judging by the initial reaction the idea isn't as popular as some people might like to think it is, but it was inevitable it would be debated in the Senedd.

Tuesday, 20 September 2016

FMQs : Refugees, Vetoes & Bloody Brexit



The weekly theatre of Carwyn Jones' questioning by AMs rolls into town yet again.

Saturday, 17 September 2016

Boundary Commission Carves-Up Wales

Would you like a slice of De Clwyd a Gogledd Sir Faldwyn?
(Pic : iceandtime.net)

Earlier this week, the Boundary Commission for Wales unveiled their draft proposals for a reorganisation of the 40 Westminister constituencies in Wales.

Thursday, 15 September 2016

Law to replace stamp duty introduced

(Pic : policyexpert.co.uk)

The first piece of legislation of the Fifth Assembly was introduced on Tuesday (13th September) by Finance & Local Government Secretary, Mark Drakeford (Lab, Cardiff West) – the snappily-titled Land Transaction Tax & Anti-avoidance of Devolved Taxes Bill.

Tuesday, 13 September 2016

FMQs : Back to the Grind



Summer recess is over. AMs have returned to take their seats in the Senedd.

Sunday, 11 September 2016

Welsh Political Tropes

(Pic : Tv Tropes)

The new Assembly year officially starts on Monday. Yay. No doubt many of you have been bored during the down time or found something better to do. If you haven't done that, you might've spent time on TV Tropes – equally one of the best and worst sites there is.

Tropes are, broadly-speaking, recurring plot devices or stereotypes of concepts rather than phrases. They can equally be applied to works of fiction or real life, so I've decided to come up with some for Welsh politics.

The Proud Welshman/Welshwoman – A distant cousin to "I'm not a racist, but..." How proud someone is to be Welsh will be cited by them just before they say something that proves they're not proud to be Welsh at all. Their natural evolutionary progression is to become the Self-Loathing Welshman/woman.

The Valleys Thatcherite – The ultimate political contrarian. Either they were one of the hardcore who actually supported the Conservative party through the 1970s and 1980s, or they're simply too young to remember it. If they're brave enough to man the trenches and stand for the Tories (or, nowadays, UKIP too) in certain inhospitable parts of Wales, it'll no doubt improve their chances of landing in a safe Home Counties seat in future.

The 90 Minute Nationalist – Unless it involves a ball, Wales is shite. Will passionately support Welsh national teams for the duration of a match. Will belt out a tone deaf, drunken rendition of the national anthem too. Will also pour scorn on any idea that a country with its own football or rugby teams neither of which, by rights, should even exist can possibly have its own foreign policy or military....like most the teams they play against.

Nye's Nihilists – Men and women of a certain age who venerate Aneurin Bevan and have a rose-tinted view of Old Labour socialism but produce bile that wouldn't be out of place in the NF. They'll happily tell you all that's wrong with the world but will offer absolutely no ideas on what can be done to make things right (apart from abolishing all forms of government).

The Codeswitching Pub – Pubs, usually located in north west Wales, where the regulars - upon sniffing out an approaching anglophone patron - will switch to speaking Welsh. You've got to assume the victims of this nationally-instituted prank have their ears to the door (or bat-like hearing), making sure everyone inside is speaking English before calling the rest of their party over.

The Piggybacker
– Using membership of a party to push personal ideas not the ideology or policies of the party itself: a nationalist who doesn't believe in independence for example but is more concerned about green issues,  Independent politicians who act as though they're a party, or a socialist who espouses views closer to the Conservatives on welfare. Usually it's done for convenience to ensure they're selected to run but it means there's probably a large number of people - particularly at local government level - who are in the wrong party for the wrong reasons.

The Vast Majority – A mythical majoritarian element of the population whose views render all other options obsolete. These views are usually not based on any polling or empirical evidence, but drawn through telepathy between politicians and the public, which miraculously lines up with what the politician thinks.

MOUNT CAPSLOCK – Behind the otherwise calm veneer is a chip on their shoulder the size of a surfboard. Somehow manages to get into a volcanic anger over the silliest of things, with everything either being a "conspiracy by the Welsh elite" or an "insult to Wales". Regularly found in comments sections on online news sites.

The Party Drone – Your news feed will be assimilated; resistance is futile. Everything their leader or favourite politician does is spectacular, whether it's a bumbled speech or their latest curry fart. Doesn't realise they're in a collective consciousness where they mainly share their views with people exactly like themselves. Useful during an election; ignored for the rest of the year.

Gone Native
– Someone who moves to Wales and adopts the culture and traits of the people around them to the point of, in come circumstances, considering themselves more Welsh than the Welsh. Generally, these are seen as the "good kind" of migrant – whether from England or elsewhere. Their ideological opposite is....

Mr & Mrs Lebensraum"The trouble with Wales is the Welsh". Publicly or privately believes Wales is in an unbreakable anschluss with England – which doesn't exactly bode well for their opinions on other matters like race or the Welsh language. Fails to appreciate the irony of their often-held anti-immigration views.

The Crachach – Non-titled petty gentry who find their way into influential positions in the arts, media, civil society or politics based on patronage, cronyism and/or nepotism - usually such positions are vaguely titled but almost always high-paying. Small-c conservatives, very protective of their own and the only way you can join is by either marrying or being born into it.

The Good-Intentioned Rent-a-Mob – You'll recognise them by the loudhailer permanently attached to their face, and their weak grip due to the carpal tunnel syndrome they've got from holding up placards for hours on end. It never achieves anything but at least they got off their arse and did something.

A Gazette Problem – An otherwise unusual issue deemed important enough to make the front page of the local press. Sometimes it really is important – like fundraising for an unfathomably rare disease; but most of the time it's accompanied by photos of either an elderly man pointing at a pothole or big pile of dog poo, or lots of children standing in the street with their arms folded.

The Committee Man/Woman – The Welsh solution to every problem is to form a committee (other names include: working group, advisory group, task and finish group) and this is the way the political establishment makes you a "made man/woman". Get your arse in a chair; the connections you make will set you up for life. Blazer with badges optional.

The Honours Sellout
– Someone at the top of Welsh society, particularly in the arts or politics, who switches from being a humble voice of rebellion or change to a less than humble voice of the establishment once an honour, senior office or title is dangled in front of them.

The Sanctimonious Blogger
– An audience of tens; an ego in the stratosphere. Knows "what's really going on" through a mixture of logical fallacies, tin foil headware and winging it. Wastes countless hours that could've been spent becoming a better human being by doing things like drawing up a list of political tropes. Inwardly wants to die.

Thursday, 8 September 2016

A Guide to the Welsh Third Sector

(Pic : Barnardo's)


I'm going to guess most people reading this know what the Third Sector is as it's been in and out of the headlines – directly and indirectly – for many years, having become a friendlier face of private involvement in public services and alternative to top-down state planning.

Wednesday, 7 September 2016

Ford cuts Bridgend investment

(Pic : Wales Online)

I suppose I'm obliged to comment on Ford's recent announcement they're to scale back a future investment at their engine plant in Bridgend, which currently employs 1,850 people.

Tuesday, 6 September 2016

Boring, Boring Senedd

(Pic : topnews.in)

He hasn't been in there long, but one of the new intake of AMs – Steffan Lewis AM (Plaid, South Wales East) – caused (a bit of) a ruckus a few weeks ago after claiming Assembly proceedings were "dull to watch".

Monday, 5 September 2016

The race to replace Mel Nott

(Pic : Wales Online)

Update : 10th October 2016 - The new leader of Bridgend Council was announced on 5th October. Read more here.

Cllr. Mel Nott (Lab, Sarn) recently announced his intention to stand down as Bridgend Council leader on October 5th and subsequently stand down as a councillor at next year's local elections. He's been in the role since 2008 and, at age 73, this wasn't exactly a shock announcement - with some grumbles behind the scenes about his leadership (or perhaps a sense of fatigue).

Saturday, 3 September 2016

Why was the Commonwealth Games bid ditched?

Not coming to a town or city near you....
(Pic : ITV Wales)

Towards the end of July, Economy & Infrastructure Secretary, Ken Skates (Lab, Clwyd South), announced that a speculative Welsh bid to host the 2026 Commonwealth Games would not go ahead following a feasibility study - a 12-page summary of which was released on July 26th (pdf).

Thursday, 1 September 2016

Bridgend Summer Round-Up

One of the biggest stories in Bridgend over the summer has been a campaign
to improve safety along the A48 Bridgend bypass following a fatal accident in July.
(Pic : via Google Earth)

Time for a brief catch-up with some of the main stories and planning developments over the last few months in Bridgend - and early next week I'll offer my thoughts on Mel Nott's announcement that he's standing down as Bridgend Council leader in October.