Friday, May 31, 2013

And in the red corner fighitng for,,,, err,,,,,

People across South Wales are at last beginning to wake up to the fact that there are substantial changes proposed in health provision across the region.   The grandly named ‘SouthWales Programme’ will see a centralisation across five centres of specialist services.  Consultant led maternity, neonatal, in patient paediatric and severe trauma services will be lost from some hospitals.

The ‘best fit’ option as described in the consultation document means the Royal Glamorgan in Llantrisant would lose these services.  The health board have become very touchy when people have described this as their preferred option, they say it is not, it is just the ‘best fit.’  Go figure!

Over the coming weeks there will be a territorial battle between supporters of the Royal Glamorgan and  the Princess of Wales hospital in Bridgend.  Not only residents will be taking to the streets, but politicians of all hues will be locking horns, not just party against party, but internal clashes too. 

In the red corner, fighting for the Princess of Wales, we have the Labour party, and in the err red corner fighting for the Royal Glamorgan we have, err, the Labour party.

Strange really as the party responsible for setting all this in motion and indeed for failing to do anything about staff shortages for years is, um, the Labour party.

The idea of devolution still has not hit home with many people in Wales.  Aided by a UK dominated media and a Labour leaning local press there is much confusion as to who is responsible.  The Labour party like to add to this confusion blaming the UK Government for absolutely everything.  Pontypridd MP Owen Smith is leading the pack in this, to the extent that it is getting really boring. 

Meanwhile Leighton Andrews and Slick Mick Antoniw have leapt forward like Batman and Robin, underpants outside their trousers, to fight for their local services.  Bit late really, especially in Slick’s case.  He couldn’t even be bothered to put in a submission to the original public engagement exercise, although is trying to claim he did.  Problem is the letter he says he wrote is on the RCT Labour campaign website and is dated a month after the consultation ended.

Along with Chris Bryant MP for the Rhondda (who knows a thing or two about underpants in public) they came dashing across our tv screens like the four horsemen of the apocalypse launching their campaign  - Labour for the Royal Glamorgan. 

Except of course ‘Labour’ weren’t, just RCT Labour.  Someone apart from me obviously cottoned on to this problem pretty quickly, because the Labour4royalglam Facebook and Twitter accounts they had set up disappeared as quickly as they had arrived.

Having set up the so called campaign in a flurry of tv activity what have they done since?  Precious little it seems. Away from the glare of the tv cameras Chris Bryant is already saying he thinks it is all a done deal anyway.  So much for fighting our corner.

Slick is a little upright about the while issue, so much so that he threatened to block me from his twitter account if I didn’t stop posting in his opinion ‘inane’ comments - apparently direct political questioning is ‘trolling’ according to him.  Not something I’ll be losing any sleep about.

Sunday, May 12, 2013

The State of Independents

Finally in the list of candidates for the Rhondda ward by election we have the ‘Independent’ candidate Bob Fox, a former Town and County Councillor in The Graig. Well, sort of independent, because this is where lines get a little burred.

Mr Fox is part of a local group known as RAG -  the Ratepayers Action Group.  Their Facebook group refers to ‘our candidate’ without naming him, yet there is little else relating to him or to the election.

As I have raved a little about on previous occasions, RCT RAG seem to be a little confused as to their purpose.

They don’t seem to have achieved a great deal at all, nor really become involved in anything locally.  Their Facebook site consists of posts from their Chairman on his own personal anti Tory crusade attacking the UK Government on anything and everything.  The Labour Council’s hike in Council Tax has gone unremarked, as has the Labour Police Commissioner’s 7% rise in the Police precept. 

The cutback in services in RCT has not brought forward a murmur of dissent from this group whose intention is allegedly to stick up for the Ratepayers of RCT. 

They have apparently not noticed the appalling statistics regarding the ambulance service in RCT, nor the unacceptable waiting lists for hospital treatment which are the responsibility of the Welsh Labour Government. Oh yes, they are Independent all right!!

I haven’t seen the latest election leaflet from their candidate but am told that in it he is jumping on the bandwagon of the paddling pool campaign, claiming to have been fighting to save it.  Well if that is the case he has been pretty quiet about it until now.

RAG appears to be a collection of misfits who are not at all sure about which direction they wish to proceed in.  Two of their members were elected to the County Council last year, in Tylorstown and Tonyrefail, but there seems to be little interaction between them and the group these days.  One of their Councillors sits in a group with Welsh Lib Dem Councillor Mike Powell and Tory Joel James. The other sits alone, not aligned to any group.

There really needs to be some clarification.  Is Mr Fox an Independent or is he standing on behalf of a group? And if that group is standing candidates at election then no matter how much they try to deny it then they are political. 

The Pluralist party – coming soon to an election near you – or not!

The ‘Pluralist Party’ appears on the ballot paper for the forthcoming Rhondda ward Town Council  by election.   Their website states:

 We are different from other parties in that out members don’t support us – we support our members. Our members consist only of those who are elected or standing for election. This makes it easier to avoid conflicts of interest between the party members and the public.

“Each of our candidates stand on their own manifesto and then the party’s agenda for government comes out of win-win bargaining that takes the best bits from the manifestos of those who were elected – in other words it is the people who decide our policies through voting for the candidates we field. Unlike most other parties, we don’t mind supporting more candidates than there are positions as it should be for the people to have the final say who they vote for and not a political party.”

“Different” they say – oh yes they are definitely that. Officially registered with the Electoral Commission The ‘Party’ membership seems to consist of one person at present, as members ‘consist only of those who are elected or standing for election.’ 

They were registered in 2012 as a minority party with Jonathan Bishop as the Party Leader, Mark Beech as the Nominating Officer and no other officers at all. 

Mr Beech is a former candidate for the Raving Monster Loony Party (I kid thee not) who, according to the ‘Crocels News’ site (yet another one of Jon Bishop’s many guises)

 “ [Mark Beech] has put himself down on a ballot paper as ‘BEECH, MARK WILLIAM (commonly known as ‘The Good Knight, Sir Nos Da’)”

 Now I am all for democracy and getting as many people involved in the electoral system as possible, but really, does this further the democratic cause?   I can't see this one catching on.

Another day, another election...

Well campaigning in the Pontypridd Town Council by election is well under way.  The Rhondda ward vacancy came about following the death of the sitting Labour Town Councillor in January this year. In contrast to many town / community council seats last May this one is hotly contested with a grand total of 6 candidates.

Our candidate is Amanda Jones who joined the Party earlier this year having worked closely alongside Cllr Mike Powell and myself on the campaign to save Pontypridd paddling pool.  She took the decision to join because she said we were the only ones trying to do anything positive in the area.

The Labour party are of course contesting the seat, and both the local MP and AM have been out on the streets there, with photos appearing on twitter to prove it, and presumably remind people what Slick Antoniw in particular looks like.  The photos include the person who is presumably the candidate, and two members of staff which suggests maybe that their active membership base is a little low at present.  The last time Oily and Slick and their team took to the streets in such force was in Trallwn last May to try and unseat Mike Powell – it didn’t have the desired effect.

The Tories are standing a candidate in what is previously unknown territory for them, their current vote share coming more from the western end of the constituency.  We haven’t heard reports of their activity as yet.

The Plaid candidate stood for them in the Cilfynydd County Council election last May and the Rhondda ward at Town level.  Plaid have been wiped out at County Council level in the Pontypridd constituency, and almost lost their deposit in the 2010 general election, so will be keen to make any sort of gain.

Then we have the two ‘non mainsteam’ candidates to coin a phrase, which quite frankly make me wonder about the democratic process, but I think they are deserving of their very own entries, so more later!