Wednesday, 19 December 2018

Why Plaid Cymru Needs To Prepare For A Hard Brexit

Hello there. Hope you're feeling well today.

Everything I'm going to say next I've said before. But things seem to be a lot more heightened now with the government talking about sending in troops in the event of a no-deal long dark entrance of the soul Brexit (they speak of 3,500 which if you think about it seems remarkably low in case of shortages of food or medicines).

Let me say also this again. No nationalist wishes for a hard Brexit. For the damage it will cause to families across Wales will be substantial and it will not be clear when the pain it will cause will end.

But that needed and having been said. Plaid Cymru should politically prepare for a hard Brexit. For it will not be the party that failed to negotiate with the EU a workable deal (the Conservatives) or the party that has sat on it's hands whilst being unable to sort out a clear policy of it's own (Labour).

In the event of a hard Brexit the Welsh voter will not vote Conservative. But they should also be reminded that Welsh Labour were happy to let Theresa May's pathetic withering of a government have Welsh powers for seven years. The Finance Minister at the time? The new First minister Mark Drakeford.

Secretary of state for Wales and social slug Alun "Chucky" Cairns is warning Welsh businesses they should prepare for a hard Brexit. Of course if the Conservatives had done their job as the UK government such preparation would have been made months, if not years before March 29th next year. The sheer bare faced cheek of Chucky has plumbed new depths.

Which is why Plaid should make a position as the only alternative to the Unionist parties that would have brought Wales to this position crystal clear. They would have created the misery that hard Brexit would bring so in Wales it would be Plaid and Plaid only that could offer an alternative.

And that alternative would be independence.

For Plaid Cymru would simply say that if Hard Brexit has brought Wales to a disastrous situation then Wales would need to sort out it's problems away from the Union. Independence would not be simple solution. Mistakes will be made. But independence would bring solutions tailored  for Wales not Westminster's messy patchwork that brought the situation in the first place.

Plaid also will need to be unashamedly populist about this. But there's nothing wrong with populism if the cause is just.

So I say again nobody with a brain wants a hard Brexit. But should it happen Plaid must be ready to offer hope where the other parties offer failure.

Until the next time.

Tuesday, 18 December 2018

My Barber Voted Leave And Doesn't Want A Fresh Referendum

Hello there. Hope you're feeling well today.

The thing about Christmas is this. Even the curmudgeons amongst us (two thumbs pointing at this guy) have to prepare for it in one way or another. We have been invited to a Christmas Day dinner by brother-in-law and his partner where various other people will be attending. I have to smarten myself up and this starts with my hair, which looked like a bundle of silvery spiders fighting.

So this morning I went to the barbers to get my hair cut. And as is the way of such things we started a conversation which began with Christmas. Despite my earlier view of people spending money as if it was the last supper before an execution things do not appear to have resolved themselves that way (as my earlier post on the lack of office parties in Cardiff refers).

This malaise appears to have hit online retailers. ASOS has spoken of losses in this period. This surprised me. Largely as I thought my daughter's purchases gave them a healthy profit.

Then however, and I can't exactly say this word for word, he told me that he voted to Leave and that there shouldn't be a another ballot. I, as regular readers know, voted Remain and told him so. I also said there should be a second referendum as the choice was now clear. Remain, Theresa May's deal or the long dark Brexit of the soul that the rightwingers in the Tory party seem to prefer.

He did not agree and questioned the long term effect in this disunited kingdom. I responded by saying that potentially Brexit could devastate jobs throughout Wales. I sighted (as I have in this blog before) the Ford engine factory in Bridgend as an example.

Now all of the above implies a full blown argument. This was not the case. Certainly from my side that definitely wasn't going to occur. If only because he was holding a sharp object by my face. No it was perfectly amicable. It resolved itself by using the tactic the British government seems to have deployed for most of the negotiations with the EU by just simply pretending it didn't exist.

But for most of the rest of the time there was silence as he cut my hair. My opinion of him and his of me appeared to have changed irrevocably.

Of course he is going to cut my hair again. He did a good job. But the reason why I'm writing about this is that it illustrates how split this disunited kingdom truly is. Such conversations will continue as the deadline day approaches and will probably increase with intensity.

2019 has the potential of being a very unpleasant year indeed.

Until the next time.

The Near Midnight Meanderings On A Movie With A Microwave Meal Part 12: Fools Rush In (1997)

Hello there. Hope you're feeling well today.

Imagine if you will you're Matthew Perry at the height of you fame thanks to Friends.

You get a call from your agent. A Hollywood producer offers you a lot of money to be the top billing in a motion picture. You play a character not that different from Chandler Bing AND Selma Hayek is going to be your leading lady.

Bet that decision didn't take long.

Fools Rush In is that movie. A tale of two people who have a one night stand. Selma discovers that she's pregnant and once he learns this Matthew Perry decides to propose marriage which she accepts. Two people then from different nations (she's Mexican though living in the US) planning after a one stand for a baby. A plot which predates Sharon Horgan's Catastrophe.

So in essence it's a romantic comedy. And it's not a spoiler to say that the plot basically goes through the standard Romcom hoops. It doesn't really matter though. You allow it to wash over you and it's a pleasant way to pass the time. Even though you wonder whether in real life Selma Hayek would chose Perry. After all I suspect there would be plenty of American men (and let's not be homophobic here women as well) who would be happy to become Mexican citizens if it meant she was going to be their partner.

Still of the twelve films I've chatted about in this series this is only the third I've truly liked. A quiet unassuming comedy....well there we go....enough said.


Sometimes your perception of a book, film or TV changes thanks to subsequent events. Let's look at this movie again but from a different angle. A Mexican and an American come together to form a relationship. He has to get used to some aspects of Mexican culture (the large family and an interesting taste in home décor gets gentle ribbing here) but American life is not seen as perfection either.

Sure there are problems with the relationship. But no one accuses anyone else of being drug dealers or rapists or suggests building a wall between them. Sure this is Hollywood but they work their issues out like proper adults.

So perhaps this amiable little comedy can, in the age of Trump, be seen as entertainment for the resistance against him?

Let's hope so.

Until the next time.

Sunday, 16 December 2018

The Government Of Switzerland Might Declare War On Me For Saying This But Watches....Why?

Hello there. Hope you're feeling well today.

Yesterday in moment at work where there was nothing to do I noticed a copy of The Times Saturday magazine on it's lonesome and out of curiosity opened it.

On the inside cover there was an ad for a Rolex watch A Rolex "Cosmograph Daytona" to be precise (whatever that means).

You know sometimes in life questions emerge in your brain as if jolted by something you've seen. This was the case for me here. The question (as revealed in this post title) is simple. Watches...why?

Now before I go on I'm not talking about those people who collect watches. I might not understand the collection but I get the passion for collecting. Similarly I'm not talking about those who wear an expensive watch for special occasions in the same way men used to wear cufflinks (remember them?). No I'm talking about wearing it in the not so wonderful Brexit eve everyday.

I recently read an article which said that John Lewis were no longer going to stock alarm clocks because people used their mobile phones for that purpose (it also said they were no longer going to stock DVD players either which seemed odd to me given that not everywhere has high speed broadband but that's by the by). I get that. I use my mobile for that very purpose.

And I also use it as a watch.

Being old enough to remember when mobile phones didn't exist, let alone when they were small enough for you to put in a pocket, I can tell you that wearing a watch wasn't great. It felt like you were being handcuffed to time. I remember when returning home from school/work my first action would always be to take it off. Now however I just take my mobile out of my pocket, check the time and then put it back. Simple.

What about the Apple watch and the like you might ask? What about it? I don't care how tech savvy you are paying for a bill contactlessly by watch makes you look like an idiot.

So if watch sales are down (I don't know and care less) then good. Let watches be put on the curiosities of history along with the sun dial.

And if you so happen to look for a group of hitmen from Switzerland trying to hunt me down they'd be easy to spot.

They'll be wearing Rolex Cosmograph Daytonas.

Until the next time.

It Needs To Be Said Again...Carwyn Jones Needs To Resign From The Senedd Not Just As First Minister

I don't often like to repeat something in this blog, but I must admit to have been annoyed by the attention Carwyn Jones has got in his last few days as First Minister of Wales.

Fly on the wall documentary (not seen it but wife says his house is untidy), programmes analysing his leadership, a round of applause from the Senedd on his last day as First Minster (tried to think of why. Reckon it's for his achievements as a Master of illusion). All is leading up to the inevitable question "Mark who?"

But we'll leave Red Cairns for another day and focus back on Jones wearing his seasonal Shifty Santa look. He will be leaving the Senedd as Assembly Member for Bridgend in a few years time.

And he should resign from that post now.

Because of the latest band of cuts local government grants from Cardiff Bay Bridgend council have said that that cuts to services for the people will have to be made. This is despite there having been extra money found by someone apparently in the back of a sofa for Bridgend (and other councils).

Now despite the Welsh government blaming the monies they get from Westminister the councils blame the Welsh government. So essentially Welsh Labour are blaming Welsh Labour.

But let's focus on Bridgend. Let's say these cuts are made. Bridgend voters would expect their Assembly Member to be banging his fist arguing for more money for the region he represents.

But he can't. Because he was the First Minister when the cuts to the grants were made.

So if he cannot defend the people of Bridgend from the cuts the council are threatening to impose then why is he an Assembly Member ? Surely the voters of Bridgend require somebody who is not tied from fighting for their interests because of the associations of the past.

That's why if he was an honourable man Carwyn Jones should resign from the Senedd now.

But he probably won't though.

Until the next time.

Saturday, 15 December 2018

The Insomniac Meandering Post : Wet And Windy Edition

Hello there. Hope you're feeling well today.

Out there it's wet and it's windy. I think I've said before that weather forecasters seem to be good at forecasting bad weather. True again today.

Anyway with everyday that passes Brexit looks like the car crash where no one can apply the brakes. Thing is a second referendum would allow the brakes to be put. But no one in power wants to out their foot on the pedal.

And I say this again. There are some people on this side of the water gloating about the Gilets Jeune protests in France. But if Brexit happens and turns out to be a disaster this will be Britain.

More anecdotal evidence about Brexit. A few posts back I chatted about the lack of people in a Cardiff Bay restaurant despite this being Christmas office party season. Well the wife tells me that a colleague at work has told her exactly the same thing. The effect of Brexit Eve then.

In Wales Mark "Corbyn Disciple" Drakeford is now officially First Minister and showed off his new cabinet. Quite frankly IKEA could have done a better job. But what's important to mark up here is that a Libdem is still the education minister. Showing up again the disaster that Labour have done on the issue.

The other interesting thing is the creation of a minister responsible for North Wales. Presumably taking a campaign promise from another contender in that election Eluned Morgan. Thing is though Labour have not just failed North Wales. They have failed EVERYWHERE.

In my list of things I hate about Christmas I've forgotten to mention lights on people's houses. I'm not talking about small twinkly lights across a front door. No I'm talking about full blown Las Vegas here. I mean what is it with that?

Really windy out there. And wet.

Anyway wife's awake. Surprisingly early.

Until the next time.

Friday, 14 December 2018

Radio Ga Ga In Ceredigion

Hello there. Hope you're feeling well today.

Now let me make full disclosure here. I have never listened to Radio Ceredigion being a local radio station (and when I mean local I mean I don't and never have lived  there). All I have listened to with regard to Nation Radio is those halcyon days when pressing the button on the DAB radio (now dead - Alexa  - other such machines are available - have really killed it off) before moving on to the channel I wanted. The same company owes both stations.

But Radio Ceredigion broadcast some Welsh language programming which was important as it provided the Welsh speaker with choice. And when I say choice I'm talking about only it appears on Sunday evenings. Well choice no more as the regulator OFCOM agreed to changes in the licence allowing Nation Radio to take over the frequency despite acknowledging that that there was barely little evidence it would benefit listeners.

Nation Radio argued that the area could not sustain two commercial radio stations. Well in all honesty I don't know. What I do know is this. Nation radio is the sort of radio station you feel you've heard across the disunited kingdom. The sort of station which taken as a whole appears to have made from a tenplate. Radio Ceredigion broadcasting in the Welsh language, even if only on a Sunday evening, made it different.

I'm not going to the defend it's English language output. Purely on the grounds that I don't know what it's like and how "local" it is. So it's up to others living in the area to battle for that. But I feel there is a need to put pressure on Nation Radio's bosses to opt-out of the main channel for Welsh language programming in an area let's not forget where a high proportion speaks the indigenous tongue.

It is after all broadcast on Sunday evenings. I suspect the ratings are not high. But then again I suspect the ratings are not high for Nation Radio either. Why? Because it's a Sunday evening. Most people would be watching stuff like Strictly Come Dancing or Call The Midwife. So this "it's not commercial" argument does not wash.

Also whether through accident or design this decision is anti-Welsh. After all in London being a multicultural city there are many radio stations broadcasting in languages other than English (such as Greek). And yet a region where there is a high proportion of Welsh speakers loses a chance to hear it on a Sunday evening? How can this be remotely be considered fair?

As I've discussed before media issues are not a devolved issue. If this decision was considered by a body based in Wales I'm sure it would have been rejected. At the very least there would have been an insistence on Welsh language programming. But no. London has allowed a Welsh speaking area to lose a Welsh speaking outlet and it doesn't really care.

So really the only logical response is whether you're listening in English or Welsh to boycott Nation Radio until it allows Welsh language programming to continue in Ceredigion. Ultimately a commercial company will only be influenced by commercial pressures.

Until the next time.