Friday, 29 August 2008

Rhondda jokes

Much excitement at the Western Mail today as they get a sniff of a story about a happiness survey. Rhondda Cynon Taf was adjudged to be the least happy area of the UK.

If this is true a clue might lie in the quality of the jokes that the Western Mail quotes:

There were two goldfish in a bowl. One said to the other: “How do you drive this thing then?”

'Two goldfish in a tank', surely?

Spies like us

I always seem to find something to read after clearing out the rubbish and old newspapers when recycling. This leads me on to a type of recycling of my own - old posts.

The following piece is from the South Wales Echo and just happens to have been published on the same day as I announced that Facebook had erased my account. After reading the following article, I suddenly realised that Mr Wagstaff will have to check Jnr's web activity when he's old enough to use a computer. My experience of Facebook may have been one of eradication, but at least the experience didn't go as far as another young mum of Cardiff. Brings a whole new meaning to the modern philosophy of "Every little helps".

CHILDREN as young as eight in South Wales are logging on to social network sites like Facebook, forcing concerned parents to go online to spy on them.

Thousands of schoolchildren claim to be using the popular sites, despite the minimum age for registration on the majority being 13. And nearly two thirds (60%) admit to posting personal information online, such as mobile phone numbers, addresses and where they go to school.

Fears over young social networkers have prompted two thirds (66%) of parents to take matters into their own hands by secretly logging on to their children’s networking page to snoop on them.

An astonishing 34% have even gone as far as setting up their own social networking page to spy on their children, according to research out today from online identity experts Garlik.

Today there were calls for the three biggest sites – Bebo, MySpace and Facebook – to take their age restriction policies more seriously.

But online experts say it is too easy for children to lie about their age on the internet, and instead urged parents and teachers to educate their children about the dangers of using websites for social networking.

Thursday, 28 August 2008

Comment of the Week

It seems that life doesn't begin at 40, according to one reader that commented upon Iain Dale's announcement of the Total Politics Top 40 Welsh Blogs:

Being no 40 on a list of Welsh bloggers is quite a thing. To receive such an accolade is a bit like being singled out as the 40th most pro-democracy member of the Chinese politburo or the 40th most attractive check-out girl in the Croydon branch of Tesco! Respect. Ha ha consider who is number 40 that's probably the most accurate thing ever written.
No. 40. Martin Eaglestone

Martin, don't listen to them [him]!

Total Politics Results: Top 50 LibDem Blogs

Two Welsh blogs have made it into Iain Dale's Top 50 LibDem Blogs list for his Guide to Political Blogging in the UK 2008-9.

8. Peter Black AM
19. Dib Lemming

The full list and entire series can be followed by clicking on the following link to Iain Dale's Diary.

Tuesday, 26 August 2008

Total Politics Results: Top 40 Welsh Blogs

Forty Welsh blogs [a high number, I thought] have made it into Iain Dale's Top 40 Welsh Blogs list for his Guide to Political Blogging in the UK 2008-9.

As Iain puts it "Plaid Cymru will be pleased with their showing in the Welsh Top Blogs list, with 18 of the 40 places going to nationalist blogs." Those Nationalists have far too much time on their hands!

  1. Peter Black AM
  2. Glyn Davies
  3. Ordovicius
  4. Miss Wagstaff Presents
  5. David Cornock
  6. Miserable Old Fart
  7. Cambria Politico
  8. Bethan Jenkins AM
  9. Betsan Powys
  10. Adam Price MP
  11. Cynical Dragon
  12. Vaughan Roderick
  13. Guerilla Welsh Fare
  14. Valleys Mam
  15. Welsh Ramblings
  16. Dib Lemming
  17. Hen Rech Flin
  18. Blog Menai
  19. Lone Voice
  20. Amlwch to Magor
  21. Welsh Blog Index
  22. David Jones MP
  23. Paul Flynn MP
  24. 07.25 to Paddington
  25. Borthlas
  26. Blog Dafael
  27. John Moorcraft
  28. Andrew Nutt
  29. Ceredig
  30. Nicolas Webb
  31. Dylan Jones-Evans
  32. Inside Out @ Swansea
  33. Leighton Andrews AM
  34. Elfyn Llwyd
  35. Huw Lewis AM
  36. Jill Evans MEP
  37. Gwilym Euros Roberts
  38. New Welsh Right
  39. Independence Cymru
  40. Martin Eaglestone

The full list and entire series can be followed by clicking on the following link to Iain Dale's Diary.

Total Politics Results: Non Aligned Blogs

Three Welsh blogs have made it into Iain Dale's Top 20 Non Aligned Blogs list for his Guide to Political Blogging in the UK 2008-9.

6. Miss Wagstaff Presents
9. Cambria Politico
10. Miserable Old Fart

This list excludes Media blogs.

The full list and entire series can be followed by clicking on the following link to Iain Dale's Diary.

Monday, 25 August 2008

Congratulations and Welcome Home

Members of the Great Britain team arrived back in the United Kingdom from China on Monday following their best Olympic performance for 100 years.

We'll be seeing some of you down the bay tomorrow!

Friday, 22 August 2008

Independence versus Part of the Union

Ever wondered what Welsh Labour's views are on the future of Wales, but were too afraid to ask for fear of upsetting a coalition-caring AM? Ask a councillor. How far should Wales travel down the road towards independence? Following Plaid Cymru AM Helen Mary Jones’ essay on the issue, Labour councillor David Rees today presents an alternative view.

I WOULD like to set out for the Welsh people what I believe are the key facts about the devastating impact separation from Britain would have on Wales.

Recent research by Channel 4 News has highlighted the fact that Wales receives £5.4bn more to spend on public services each year than we pay in taxes.

This is the approximate amount of money that Wales spends each year on the entire NHS. This money would disappear from Wales on day one of separation.

There would be no transition period of 20 years. The English Government, as it would be, would, quite rightly, keep this money to spend in England.

What the English Government would do with all this extra money, we cannot know. They could increase public sector pay. This would result in a brain drain from Wales to England of nurses and teachers.

They could slash corporation tax. This would result in Welsh companies being unable to compete and relocating just over the border, taking thousands of jobs with them.

In addition, on day one of independence, Wales would receive its share of what was the United Kingdom’s debt. We can only assume this would be derived on a pro rata basis of the population. Current UK national debt is approximately £500bn. This would mean on day one of Plaid Cymru’s independent Wales, they would have to finance approximately £25bn of debt.

Now I’m not a pessimist by nature, but I can foresee that were this to happen, Plaid Cymru would be going to the International Monetary Fund with the begging bowl on day two of independence.

Helen Mary Jones makes the case for independence by pointing out the relatively high GDPs of countries like Ireland and Norway. What she fails to mention are the true facts behind these figures. Ireland’s relatively current high GDP figures mask the fact that much of this wealth is held by multinationals, which Ireland has attracted with the aid of lavish handouts from European taxpayers. However, money held by multinationals goes back to the parent country of the company and does not get circulated in the domestic economy.

Norway is probably the richest country on earth per head of population. There is one simple reason for this. Norway is surrounded by huge amounts of oil and gas. Norway is the world’s third biggest exporter of oil. Successive governments there have kept hold of the money generated to create the only sovereign wealth fund of any western country, valued at approximately $400bn.

To my knowledge there are no vast reserves of gas and oil off the Welsh coast that we can sell.

What plan would Plaid Cymru have in place to provide jobs to the thousands of civil servants who will surely lose their jobs on day one of independence?

Thousands of civil servants will be jobless from the DVLA, the Office for National Statistics, the Patent Office and Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs Offices.

This would have a devastating effect on those local economies.

How many millions of pounds find their way into the tills of shopkeepers in Swansea from the many staff working at the DVLA?

Thousands of military personal would be jobless and we could very quickly say goodbye to the £16bn training academy in the Vale of Glamorgan.

Plaid Cymru will say people like me talk Wales down. Far from it. All I am doing is highlighting the realistic facts.

The fact is that Wales does very well from being a strong player in the United Kingdom and that the United Kingdom is immensely stronger for having Wales as part of it.

Independence for Plaid is an ideology, nothing else. A dream, if it came true, which would have very serious consequences in 21st century Wales.

The Lord versus St Michael

There's too much free time during recess for letter writing, or so it seems. I haven't blogged on the latest saga involving former short-term Secretary of State for Wales and short-term First Secretary [FM], Alun Michael MP hitting back at the Assembly's rather long-term Presiding Officer. The gist of it is below. From an insider's point of view you're better off reading Peter Black AM's summary and the views of Glyn Davies, and pick out the best bits in order to gain a better understanding of what's really going on.

In The Western Mail on Monday, the National Assembly’s Presiding Officer, Lord Dafydd Elis-Thomas, accused a group of MPs of misrepresenting the facts about the making of new Welsh laws. Today, Alun Michael MP hits back at the claims, labelling them an attempt to undermine devolution.

Thursday, 21 August 2008

Total Politics Results: MP Blogs

Four Welsh MP blogs have made it into Iain Dale's Top 20 MP Blogs list for his Guide to Political Blogging in the UK 2008-9.

6. Adam Price MP
10. David Jones MP
11. Paul Flynn MP
15. Elfyn Llwyd MP

Elfyn Llwyd blogging!?!

The full list and entire series can be followed by clicking on the following link to Iain Dale's Diary.

Total Politics Results: Green Blogs

No Welsh Green blogs have made it into Iain Dale's Top 20 Green Blogs list for his Guide to Political Blogging in the UK 2008-9.

It seems that we only eat greens in Wales.

The full list and entire series can be followed by clicking on the following link to Iain Dale's Diary.

Total Politics Results: Media Blogs

Four Welsh Media blogs have made it into Iain Dale's Top 30 Media Blogs list for his Guide to Political Blogging in the UK 2008-9.

8. David Cornock (BBC, though not an official one)
12. Betsan Powys (BBC)
13. Vaughan Roderick (BBC)
20. 07:25 to Paddington (Western Mail)

The full list and entire series can be followed by clicking on the following link to Iain Dale's Diary.

Reality Show leaves a bad taste in the mouth

Reality show The X Factor has been criticised over claims producers encouraged a teenage contestant from Bridgend to play up the town’s spate of suicides.

Alexandra Davies, 17, from Litchard, Bridgend, was seen on Saturday’s ITV show being voted through to the next round for her performance of Eva Cassidy’s Fields of Gold.

Shortly before she appeared on the programme, viewers heard host Dermot O’Leary introduce her with the words: “Alex’s hometown of Bridgend had bad press recently after a shocking spate of youth suicides. She’s hoping that success today might provide some welcome good news for a town that’s been living under a cloud.”

Immediately afterwards, while talking straight to camera, Alex said: “Because of all the bad press that Bridgend has had recently I just think that getting through would be a good bit of news that we need. Today is a big deal, this is where my confidence needs to deliver and I can prove to myself that I can do this.”

But Alex last night revealed that the references to the suicide were invented after pressurised questioning about the suicides from the show’s producers. “They thought that up when I said I was from Bridgend,” she said. “The producers wanted me to talk about it but I didn’t want to, just in case I offended someone’s family.”

In recent years, talent shows have become synonymous with stories of personal achievement and heartache.

But Saturday’s remarks, aired on prime-time television, angered many in the Bridgend area who think the tragic series of deaths has been mentioned for the benefit of entertainment.

Some say A' level, others say Welsh Baccalaureate

If the Welsh Baccalaureate Qualification is here to stay, then why haven't we heard much about this 'change to the way things are done in England'? The Welsh Assembly Government have recently made this announcement - the only one to be seen!

As young people across Wales eagerly await their results, Education Minister Jane Hutt today [Wednesday 13 August] met some of the first Welsh Baccalaureate graduates at the Senedd.

Graduates had the opportunity to speak to the Minister about their experiences and how studying the qualification helped them get ahead at University.

Minister for Education, Jane Hutt said:
It was fantastic to be able to meet with a few of our first Welsh Baccalaureate graduates. We are extremely proud of our student’s achievements and of our unique Welsh Baccalaureate Qualification, which is proving to be a popular choice amongst young people. It is encouraging to hear students saying how their experiences in studying the qualification helped them with their studies at University.

The Welsh Baccalaureate is increasingly being recognised by both Higher Education Institutions and Employers for the way it develops students into confident, well-rounded individuals, with the skills they need in both Higher Education and employment. I warmly congratulate Hannah, Rhys, Daniel and Michael - their hard work and dedication will stand them in good stead for the future.

The world of Wikipedia offers this citationless description. There's not much of a news update on the official website either. Back to the drawing board for some if 'the powers that be' intend for this qualification to be taken seriously as originally planned.

Another fresh face for the Welsh Blogosphere

The Cwrt

The Cwrt is the place in the Senedd just outside the Members Tea Room where most of the plotting and skullduggery tends to take place.

OK, so I probably should have got out years ago and I probably have an unhealthy appetite for Welsh political gossip. Such is life, there are worse habits.

So, this blog is where I plan to "reveal all" about the murky life we lead in the Cardiff Bay village. Why am I doing it? On the off chance that someone else gives a toss about who's shagging who this week? Partly. It's recess and I'm bored? Yup. Because every ounce of enthusiasm I once had for this place has evaporated and I just don't give a f**k any more? Of course. But my main motivation is simply to try and make life a bit more uncomfortable for the cosy consensual love-in that is Welsh politics.

Obviously, I won't be revealing my identity and you will be getting no clues, other than: I am not one of the "usual suspects", neither am I Arsembly, Seneddwr, Wagstaff or anyone else under a new guise. I am probably the last person anyone would suspect...

He/she started blogging on Saturday, 16 August 2008. Three posts in, and already 18+. Welcome to the Welsh blogosphere, and remember, behave yourself!!!

Quote of the Week: Party differences

Ministers congratulate Welsh Athlete on Olympic Gold Medal

First Minister Rhodri Morgan and Heritage Minister Alun Ffred Jones have congratulated Nicole Cooke on her historic Gold Medal at the Beijing Olympics.

The First Minister said:

Nicole Cookes' Gold medal is a fantastic achievement. I am so pleased for her because she had been planning this for four years since her disappointment in the Athens Games in 2004 when she was outwitted in the final attack.

She has learnt her lesson and was able to time her efforts perfectly. This has brought her, Wales and Britain the honour of an Olympic Gold - the greatest prize in sport.

Nicole has already been a great example to women in Wales, encouraging them to take up physical exercise. From now on she will be forever be a role model as it has been for a very long time, if ever, since a Welsh woman has taken a Gold medal.

Heritage Minister Alun Ffred Jones said:
This is another incredible achievement for one of our great sporting champions.

Despite such dreadful weather conditions, Nicole's strength and sheer determination secured a victory in China that will be celebrated as a great moment in Welsh sporting history for many years to come.

Nicole is a great ambassador for her sport and for Wales and a role model for aspiring young athletes across our nation.
[August 11 2008]

GCSE - Another record year, perhaps?

Congratulations everyone, but I can't help trying to get in there first and predicting that it will be "another record year for results".

Wednesday, 20 August 2008

Leo Abse (1917-2008)

Leo Abse was a Labour Member of Parliament for nearly 30 years (holding the seat for Pontypool from 1958 to 1983 and then Torfaen from 1983 - 1987), and is noted for promoting private member's bills to legalise male homosexual relations and liberalise the divorce laws. Following his retirement from Parliament he wrote a number of books about politics based on his interest in psychoanalysis.

The former Labour MP died at the age of 91, at Charing Cross Hospital, west London, on Tuesday night after a short illness. Rest in Peace.

Health gimmick taken up in millions

As the BBC and Western Mail have reported, the Welsh Assembly Gimmick Government's main gimmick - in order to make it stand out from Westminster - isn't quite going to plan.

The number of prescription items dispensed in Wales rose by 2.9m in the first year of free prescriptions, official figures show.

The number of dispensed items rose 5% from 59.1m in 2006/7 to 62m in 2007/8, the
equivalent to 20 items per person.

The chief medical officer said it showed there was more preventative work and more cancer drugs prescribed. But the Lib Dems said the figures proved their concerns of introducing free

The figures follow a five-year general trend of an increase in items dispensed.

The National Statistics on GP prescribing showed the net cost of the prescribed items was £584m - an increase of 1% on the previous year - and equivalent to £188.90 per head.

Wales' £3 prescription charge was abolished in April last year by the Labour and Plaid Cymru run assembly government.

Wales' Chief Medical Officer Dr Tony Jewell said:

We know that in Wales we have more people with long term illnesses than England. These figures reflect the fact that more preventative work is being undertaken, with GPs prescribing medicines which are helping people manage their chronic conditions and keeping them out of hospital, reducing the cost and pressure on the NHS.

We are also issuing more medicines used to treat cancers, as cancer therapy has improved to a point where, for a number of patients, it is now a chronic condition, plus GPs are helping more patients with diabetes manage their condition under the new enhanced contract.

The figures also show we are increasing access while reducing costs. The net cost per prescription item decreased from £9.80 to £9.42.

But Welsh Lib Dem health spokesperson Jenny Randerson said:

We warned the (assembly) government that giving free prescriptions for all would be disastrous and today's figures have vindicated our position. A 5% increase (in items claimed) is disastrous when the (assembly) government is refusing to fund vital lifesaving drugs. The cost of this gimmick will be with Welsh patients for generations.

While millionaires claim their free paracetamol, the health service will continue to be to stretched to provide life saving services.

Shadow Health Minister Jonathan Morgan, Tory AM, said the figures showed people in Wales were becoming increasingly reliant on prescribed medicine:

The number of prescriptions being issued for cardiovascular problems for example has risen by 141.5% and these are often for the largest, most expensive items. Rather than micro-managing the NHS, the assembly government should be looking at improving the nation's health. Only then, as we become a healthier country, will costs fall.
Opposition politicians immediately said the figures were evidence that the Welsh Assembly Government’s flagship £30m-a-year policy had been a disaster. But doctors said the 2007-08 increases were in line with previous year-on-year rises in prescriptions in Wales and reflected the ongoing poor health of the nation.

Poor Policies on Poverty

The impact of government policy in reducing poverty in Wales in the past 12 years has been “at best marginal”, a leading anti-poverty adviser has claimed.

In an essay entitled Still Living on the Edge? published in the University of Wales Press academic series Contemporary Wales, Prof Dave Adamson, who helped shape the Welsh Assembly Government’s Communities First initiative, claims:

  1. There has been little change in poverty levels in many communities since 1996;
  2. Many adults in deprived areas expect to be limited by illness and this illness is not always due to industrial disease;
  3. Educational failure is the foundation of poverty in Wales, and;
  4. It was difficult to see any specific impact from WAG policies on poverty.
Prof Adamson, of the University of Glamorgan, has also cast doubts on whether the Communities First programme – which has spent millions on seeking to regenerate Wales’ poorest communities – could achieve its stated aims.

In an update to his groundbreaking 1996 essay Living on the Edge, Prof Adamson says:
Specific localities still bear the hallmarks of deep poverty, and the impact of government policy is at best marginal. For the residents of those communities there has been little change since 1996 and they can be seen very clearly to be still ‘living on the edge’.

In reference to statistics which suggest that 25% of the population in Wales at any one time will have failed to achieve five GSCEs, and will continue to fail to benefit from adult educational opportunities, Prof Adamson says:
This educational failure is the foundation of poverty in Wales and relegates a significant proportion of the population to labour market failure and consequent patterns of low income, unemployment and benefit dependency.

The geographical concentration of this population in the most disadvantaged localities in Wales presents an almost insurmountable barrier to the regeneration of our poorest communities.

On the disproportionate health problems of certain Welsh communities, Prof Adamson says:
Contrary to stereotypical expectations, these statistics are not solely the result of injury and industrial disease inherited from coal mining, steel production and heavy manufacturing. Limiting long-term illness is evident in all age groups at higher rates than elsewhere in the UK. Communities First areas I have had first hand experience of include Maerdy (62.2% with long term limiting illness), Penygraig (57.5%), Penywaun (60.8%) and Treherbert (57.9%).

Health aspiration is extremely low and local populations expect adulthood to include illness as a feature of life. Many young people carry caring responsibilities from an early age, with devastating impact on their educational achievement and their own health expectations.

To sit in a public event in such communities is to observe community members in their 30s and 40s with severe mobility problems, respiratory difficulties, obesity, visible dental damage and no expectation that things could be different. The overall impact on the quality of life is immeasurable.

In his analysis of anti-poverty initiatives undertaken by the Assembly Government, Prof Adamson states:
Despite considerable rhetoric to the contrary, Government in Wales has not yet created a more unified and ‘joined up’ approach to poverty which recognises the articulation of education, health and housing within the overall dynamic of poverty.

Responding to UK and Assembly Government aims to halve child poverty by 2010 and eradicate it by 2020, Prof Adamson writes:
Clearly any assessment of progress toward that objective is premature and the 2010 review will be a critical verdict on WAG’s progress towards the 2020 target. It is difficult yet to see any specific impact from WAG derived policies.

On the impact of Communities First, Prof Adamson refers to criticisms made by the Wales Audit Office, which concluded that regeneration policy was over-complicated and had poor strategic links with other policy and funding streams, including Objective One.
Currently, it is clear that whilst many communities have responded with remarkable speed and confidence, this has neither been matched by Assembly Government funding or mainstream programme bending to assist them achieve regeneration of their communities.

A Welsh Assembly Government spokesman said last night that there were no quick fixes to a poverty legacy that stretched back decades:

We are making good progress in tackling poverty and disadvantage across Wales. Child poverty in Wales has declined from 35% to 29% since 1998-99, a steeper decline than the UK average.

However it remains unacceptable that more than a quarter of our children remain in poverty in the 21st century. We acknowledge that education has a tremendous potential to tackle poverty. It is for this reason WAG is implementing innovative programmes like Flying Start and the Foundation Phase in Wales. Communities First Partnerships across Wales are at the heart of regeneration projects in their communities. However they must not be seen as part of an isolated regeneration programme. They complement the considerable work that is going on elsewhere.

We accept that the rate of progress has varied between Communities First areas. This is not surprising as different communities have differing levels of disadvantage and have had varying levels of support over the years to address it.

Elis-Thomas: Time to accept constructive criticism

Catching up with the news, the Western Mail reports on the National Assembly’s Presiding Officer has fired a broadside at an all-party group of MPs, accusing them of misrepresenting the facts about the making of new Welsh laws.

In a letter to Welsh Secretary Paul Murphy, Lord Elis-Thomas, pictured, says claims by members of the Welsh Affairs Committee that they are in danger of being “swamped” by legislative proposals coming from the Assembly are groundless.

Since last year, the Assembly has been able to seek permission from Westminster to make its own laws in defined areas. Permission is granted in the form of Legislative Competence Orders (LCOs) passed by both Houses of Parliament. Prior to approval, draft LCOs are considered by the Welsh Affairs Committee.

In a recent memorandum to Mr Murphy from the committee, MPs suggested the number of LCOs coming through from the Assembly could prove unmanageable. Now Lord Elis-Thomas has intervened to “set the record straight”.

In a letter sent to Mr Murphy on Friday, he refers to the allegation made by the committee that the system is being swamped, stating: “This conclusion, which has attracted much publicity, is, in my opinion, clearly contrary to the evidence actually set out in the memorandum itself.

“The Assembly acquired its new legislative powers on May 25 2007. During the first 12 months following that date, seven proposed LCOs were laid before the Assembly, five of which were proposed by the Assembly Government and two by backbenchers. As the memorandum itself makes clear, only four of these proposed Orders have as yet been referred to the Welsh Affairs Committee.

Or was it entirely constructive, and part pantomime politics?

Tuesday, 19 August 2008

Farewell Bob (1952-2008)

Former BBC Wales sports correspondent Bob Humphrys has died two months after he confirmed he had cancer.

Mr Humphrys, who was 56 and lived in Cardiff, passed away with his family at his bedside.

He had presented Wales Today's sports coverage for 20 years before taking early retirement this year. He was married with three children, and revealed his illness in an article written for the Daily Mail newspaper in June.

His brother John Humphrys, presenter of Radio 4's Today programme, said:
He was a great journalist and a great man and we will all miss him so much.
Pippa met him in the City Centre years ago and thought he was very charming and down to earth. A much-missed personality from Welsh television. Farewell Bob. Rest in Peace.

Monday, 18 August 2008

Rhodri Morgan Appreciation Society

Back in September 2007 a Facebooker set-up the group 'Rhodri Morgan Appreciation Society'. The group had 20 members when the above snapshot was taken in January 2008.

This group is for people who think that Rhodri Morgan has been a great leader of
the Welsh Labour Party and a Brilliant First Minister of Wales. Rhodri Morgan
has lead Wales a progressive direction over his years as First Minister. With
good socialist policies like free prescriptions, or his support for the Welsh
Language, Rhodri Morgan has done a lot to improve Wales, and help the worst off
in Wales.
Still at 20 members at today's date, it seems that not many Facebookers agree with the above statement. Glad to see that Alun Davies AM and Joyce Watson AM are members. Are the other Labour AMs trying to tell us something?

On the plus side for our great leader, only 4 Facebookers belong to Rhodri's other group, 'Is it just just me or does Rhodri Morgan need a new suit?'

A group totally dedicated to the fact old Rhodri has looked shabby in his suit for years. Surely its high time the old man of welsh politics bought a new suit?

Saturday, 16 August 2008

Two years since Rhodri's ‘bonfire’ - Was it all worth it?

This blog is always eager to report and share its opinion on what's regarded as the reckless abolition of Welsh quangos, in what was seen at the time as a 'personal vendetta' by Rhodri Morgan; and the ups-and-downs in the Welsh Assembly Government civil service.

The latest news in the Western Mail raises concerns - again - regarding wasted millions in surplus staff that were made by Alun Cairns AM back in October 2007 . It is that nearly two and a half years after a trio of quangos were “merged” with the Assembly Government, 89 members of staff have still not been allocated permanent jobs.

Last night politicians said it was “ludicrous” that nobody had been made redundant as a result of the mergers.

The Welsh Development Agency, the Wales Tourist Board and the training body Elwa were abolished in April 2006 in Rhodri Morgan’s “Bonfire of the Quangos”.

Around 1,600 people were working for the three bodies at the time the mergers were announced in 2004, but an agreement was reached with unions that compulsory redundancies were to be avoided.

That led to the setting up of a “Central Postings Pool” for displaced former quango employees who had yet to be found a permanent role within the Assembly Government.

It has now emerged that this week there were 89 people still in the pool – although officials were quick to point out that people were coming into and leaving the pool all the time.

Friday, 15 August 2008

Comment of the Week

Reviewing the comments on this blog I came across this piece of public relations:

I have to say, all these attacks on Leighton seem to be driven by jealousy. He is a highly effective and popular local AM who, unlike most of them, also happens to attract half-decent staff who happen to know their arse from their elbow.

Its no coincidence that Huw Lewis and Leighton Andrews have the best researchers in the Labour group. They are talented and exciting politicians who allow their staff the freedom to work on their own initiative so they always attract the most talented, loyal and long-serving helpers.

Carwyn's office, on the other hand...

It seems the role of political researcher is one to promote the leadership of their particular Assembly Member before Rhodri Morgan stands down. Hmm... if I'm a researcher and work for him while he's an AM/Deputy Minister, I wonder what my job description will be when he's Labour Leader/First Minister...

Blog 'Critics' Awards 2008

I did tell you earlier that it's the Awards season. Ordovicius' Blog 'Critics' Awards 2008 offers something different from last year:

Last year I ran the experimental Welsh Blog Awards 2007. Due to my experience with that little experiment I decided late last year to approach the 2008 version from a wholly new direction.Firstly, this year's version will be limited to politics.

Secondly, there is only one category: we'll call it the Best Blog for now, though 'Best Blog Post' would be more correct. The 'award' will have three winners: Gold, Silver and Bronze (like the Olympics, but without the moral ambiguity on Human Rights).

Thirdly, the winners will be selected by a small panel of judges which will be made up of non-bloggers (but blog readers) who are recognised figures in Welsh politics, including academics and commentators. Rather like the AM.PM awards, but for bloggers. These judges will be named once the nominations are in.The nomination process is a simple one: what is being nominated here is your favourite blog post (or blog posts, plural) from 2008 related to Welsh politics. Whether a blog is still running or not is irrelevant, as long as the nominated blog post is one that was published this year. Equally irrelevant is the nationality or geographic location of the blog author: as long as the nominated post is relevant specifically to Welsh politics it qualifies (yes, that means even Iain Dale could win; who knows?).

You can either leave a link to your favourite post(s) in the comments thread, or email them to me, or send me them via facebook. Remember to include hyperlinks and not just a post's title. Blog authors are encouraged to include their favourite post(s) from their own blogs among their nominations.

Due to the (new) nature of this award, it won't be called the 'Welsh Blog Awards 2008'; I'll consult with the judges to come up with a new name for it in the very near future. And no, I won't be on the panel myself.I'd appreciate it if you could get the nominations in by the end of August.

Thursday, 14 August 2008

A' level Education Groundhog Day

Although congratulations are in order, the annual script reading took place today with the announcement of A' level results. The script was dug out, new and improved percentages were routinely pencilled in over the old ones and off they went with glad tidings.

Education Minister Jane Hutt said added her congratulations for the "excellent" achievements:

I was particularly pleased to see the increased participation rates and great results that have been achieved, for example, in maths and ICT.

The hard work of students and the support they receive from teachers and parents has once again paid off and everyone involved can rightly feel proud of what has been achieved.

Situations vacant

Mismanagers wanted:

Wednesday, 13 August 2008

Silliness Unlimited

Northerners in England should be encouraged to move away to the south-east of England in a bid to promote urban depopulation regeneration in northern England, according to wonks at Policy Exchange, one of D-Cam's favoured think-tanks.

This, obviously, will do the Tories' electoral chances no good at all in Wales. The summary to the report, Cities Unlimited, (no one reads these reports, do they?) says,

"The key recommendations from the report are to increase the size of London by allowing landowners the right to convert industrial land into residential land in areas of above average employment; expand Oxford and Cambridge dramatically, just as Liverpool and Manchester expanded in the 19th century and for the Government to roll up current regeneration funding streams and allocate the money direct to local authorities."
The Tories have already activated their 40 degree spin cycle and have publicly disowned the report's conclusions, which one of the authors said would be interpreted as 'barmy'. Quite.

Brothers and Sisters in Arms

The Welsh blogosphere is reasonably small when you compare and consider the size and number of blogs in England and Scotland. We seem to dwindle in numbers from time to time. Some disappear for a while, and some for good. Other blogs seem to take their place, and with mixed success.

You could say that we are a 'family', even to the point of looking out for one another, as it seems from the content of some emails that I've been receiving in recent weeks. It looks as though other family members have also received similar communication having written the following:

...we have already been informed that this blog is being monitored hourly by a large Cardiff legal firm on behalf of the Welsh Assembly Government.
It seems I have also been missed by my brother and sister while offline sorting out problems with this blog. Your concern has not gone unnoticed my siblings, and it appears there are several of us undergoing personal attacks for being anonymous at this time - Hen Ferchetan and Matt Wardman have written excellent posts on the subject.

This blog is going nowhere for the time being, and besides, it took me ages to sort out the new template and alterations. Do you honestly expect me to leave the room once I've redecorated it?

Anonymous complaints received will be passed on. At least I won't be phoning x8298 again [private joke]

Keep on blogging, and happy blogging!

[Look out for comments that I take myself too seriously again - laugh]

Update: Revealing update from Matt Wardman of the Wardman Wire.

Tuesday, 12 August 2008

AM's Expenses: Take a pew

Eight AMs claimed the maximum possible amount of £12,500 for second home expenses in the last financial year.

The detailed expenses breakdown were released to BBC Wales in response to a Freedom of Information request. Atleast one AM will be able to 'take a seat' while she curses the day such requests have to be answered.

Foundation Modern Apprenticeship Scheme

Briefly touched on earlier this year, the Welsh Assembly Government's flagship apprenticeship programme provides the opportunity for young people with limited qualifications, those who are unemployed; or want to change their career; to develop skills and experience to help gain sustainable employment.

6-month placements have been created for 10 candidates (yes, that figure is 10) with 6 based in the Merthyr office and 4 in Cardiff.

First Minister Rhodri Morgan (earlier this year):
The scheme highlights how the location strategy can move skilled public sector jobs* out of Cardiff and provide good career opportunities for young people. Its success will be used to develop apprenticeship opportunities in other Government offices.
* average age of apprentices was 19 and they were given an Admin Assistant workload.

A nice gesture that means well. Based on results like this, in order to achieve fuller employment by 2020 [3020 more like] we would have to keep the birth rate down to a minimum.

Single child families as in China perhaps? That's me counted in at this stage.

Monday, 11 August 2008

Wanted: IT Consultant for Non-IT Girl

I've added the code for this template and can assure you that it isn't meant to look like this. You could say that I've got a few problems that didn't exist at the testing stage - the 'posts' section doesn't come in the same format as the template, and I'm unable to upload a photo in the header.

At the testing stage, when I created a blog from scratch, the formatting was fine and I was able to upload a photo into the header, and use as a banner (Example of template)

Is there a way of applying this template to an established blog and achieve the same formatting, and be able to add a banner as a header without experiencing the above problems?

IT consultants working for the Welsh Assembly Government need not apply [laugh].

Update: Managed to sort out the problems, and created more by losing all my links in the process. I will be restoring all previous links to other blogs over the following few days. If I've missed your blog, please let me know. Thanks for the advice that's been offered.

Iain Dale's Total Politics: Last Chance to Vote

Iain Dale's TOTAL POLITICS is asking for your votes to decide the Top 100 UK Political Blogs.

How to Vote:

  • Either email your Top Ten (ranked from 1 to 10) to (Please type Top 10 in the subject line)
  • Or you can leave your Top Ten in the Comments section of Iain Dale's post (you must be logged in to blogger).
Total Politics and Iain Dale will then compile the Top 100 from those that you send in. Just order them from 1 to 10. Your top blog gets 10 points and your tenth gets 1 point.

The deadline for submitting your Top 10 is Friday August 15th.

Once all the entries are in a lucky dip draw will take place and the winner will be sent £100 worth of political books!

The rules are simple:
1. Please only vote once
2. Only blogs based in the UK, run by UK residents are eligible or based on UK politics are eligible
3. Votes must be cast before Friday 15 August
4. Blogs chosen must be listed in the Total Politics Blog Directory.
5. You must send a list of TEN blogs, ranked. Any entry containing fewer than ten blogs will not count.
6. Anonymous votes left in the comments will not count. You must give a name

Link to Welsh blogs
Link to All Political blogs

Sunday, 10 August 2008

Taken Offline

Miss Wagstaff Presents will be taken offline for short periods now and again over the next few days in order to carry out changes to the overall look of the blog. Wish me luck.

Update: You'll have to bear with me as the update of the blog layout is an ongoing process. As you can see the layout of posts should be improved and my banner is missing. Now this didn't happen in practice.

I've also rearranged some of the blog links. If you've noticed that a link to your blog is no longer here, please get in touch.

Wales' and Britain's New Olympian

Congratulations to Nicole Cooke on winning the gold medal in the Women's Cycling Road Race today, doing Wales proud in the process. We've known it for years, and today the world also knows just how good she is as an athlete. This Bridgend girl deserved to win an Olympic Gold Medal, and Britain's first gold medal of the Beijing Olympics.

Tragedy in Antigua

Going off tangent from politics, I couldn't help but notice that the police officer heading the inquiry into the murders of a British honeymoon couple in Antigua has quit. This will be of little or no comfort to both families during their time of grief. My second thought - after trying to get my head around what the families must be going through at the moment - was one of cynicism. I can't help thinking that the two resignations are a desperate attempt by the island to save its tourism industry. Let's hope that their replacements and assistance from the UK will bring about a speedy but just arrest.

It also sickens me to hear that their families have been hounded for their stories by the insensitive element of the media, when they should be left alone to come to terms with their sad and tragic loss. May they both rest in peace.

The island's minister of justice said Detective Chief Ron Scott had resigned for personal reasons. The Canadian officer had been appointed in February to head and reform the local force.

Mr Scott had been supervising the inquiry into the fatal shootings of Ben and Catherine Mullany, both 31 and from south Wales.

The couple from Pontardawe in the Swansea Valley, were shot in their hotel cottage on 28 July, the last day of their honeymoon, in what police think was a robbery which went wrong. Catherine Mullany, who was training to become a GP, was killed instantly after being shot in the head.

Her husband, a University of the West of England physiotherapy student, died a week later after being airlifted to hospital in Swansea in a critical condition.

Several people have been questioned in connection with their deaths.

Mr Scott is the second top officer to resign in a month - Michael O'Neil, the former deputy commissioner left earlier.

Justice Minister Colin Derrick said a replacement for Mr O'Neil had been identified and was due on the island shortly.

Saturday, 9 August 2008

Changing, not for change's sake

I've talked many times about changing the look of this blog. Sometimes family, friends, work, and even my lack of IT skills get in the way. I can't continue to pass the blame.

Some question whether bloggers are a dying breed, while others attempt to criticise the way we choose to blog (thanks to Peter Black AM and Al Iguana for their views). I obviously intend to post on this at some point. For now, I intend to stop putting off until tomorrow what I can do today, and work on the layout of this blog before I go any further.

The content, contributors (which may increase), enthusiasm, and support for blogging and bloggers will remain the same. In the meantime blogging may be light (I've said that before) while I work on the overall look of 'Miss Wagstaff Presents' over the next week.

Friday, 8 August 2008

How can I possibly forget...The Riddler

The Riddler

to pierce the artifice in Welsh Politics. The Riddler - A former member of parliament now living in Wales. Now very bored.
and his classic...

"While the boards say impressed things from a willing serrated tongue in a pitch pippa would not spit the pips of an orange land the sycamore cladding will object in sly computer waves through its dark slate."

Thursday, 7 August 2008

Fresh faces for the Blogosphere

A warm and open-armed welcome to:

Brother Tecwyn

I am a member of the Labour party and a committed socialist. I stand kinda halfway between Old and New Labour. I am a Christian, am Welsh and speak the language fluently. But don’t get me wrong. I offensive, like my women and drink too much. And, controversially, I don't always follow the party line. You could say I'm the nionist Rhodri Glyn Thomas, but you'd be wrong.
Rhetoric Innes

A West Wales Lib Dem gives his thoughts on various subjects (MW: including me).
Up the Valleys (which has been around for a while. I've been slow on the uptake)
Just a personal blog, covering whatever topic I feel like ranting about today

Second Annual Welsh Blog Index Awards

It must be the Awards season as The Welsh Blog Index has recently made an announcement and encouraging all Welsh bloggers to post on the item. The site is an excellent source for blog round ups in Wales.

It's time for the second annual Welsh Blog Index awards. Nominations will close at 12.00pm on August 31st with the winners announced on September 1st.

Please email your nominations to

The categories are:

  • Best Politicians Blog
  • Best Media Blog
  • Best Other Blog
  • Best Welsh Language Blog
  • Best Newcomer (for blogs that were established after August 15th 2007):
  • Most Improved Blog
There will be at least one new winner as last years best other political blog Normal Mouth has now left us.

Wednesday, 6 August 2008

DotCYM, an unsavoury opportunity for some

A £20,000 grant to secure a "dot cym" internet address for Wales is to be given by the assembly government.

Deputy First Minister Ieuan Wyn Jones said the money was to support the DotCYM campaign for a Welsh version of the .com or endings. He said it would "open up new marketing opportunities and help promote the Wales brand."
Broadcasters on BBC Wales news were reluctant to pronounce the proposed "dot CYM" type internet address. Instead, spelling out the name as "dot C-Y-M"

I wonder why this could be. Surely it couldn't be down to the opportunity for some on the World Wide Web. Just goes to show that some things are not thought through from start to finish.

Leighton jumping ship... again!

Matt Withers from 'Wales on Sunday' in a new post on his blog, 'All aboard the Miliband Express' speculates on

... the growing number of Labourites, seeing the way the prevailing wind is blowing, are being lured by the fresh face, boyish charms and fighting talk of Foreign Secretary David Miliband.

Rhodri Morgan thinks any kind of leadership bid would be "suicide". But at least one of his Labour ministers is keen to be intellectually linked to the man known as 'Brains'. Here's a press release sent out by Deputy Regeneration Minister Leighton Andrews today:

LABOUR Minister Leighton Andrews [MW: an outside, outside contender for leader of Welsh Labour] says that that genuine community empowerment must be at the heart of the next phase of devolution.

The Rhondda AM, who co-ordinated the successful Yes for Wales campaign in 1997 will speak of the need for "double devolution" - echoing a phrase first used by Foreign Secretary David Miliband in his role as Environment Secretary in February 2006.

Speaking during a Community Housing Cymru debate at the National Eisteddfod in Cardiff, Mr Andrews will say:"It is not just about transferring law-making powers from Westminster to the Assembly - we should be championing the transfer of more power to our communities as well. Double devolution, in other words."

Gosh - and this from the man who once wrote: "The success of Gordon Brown as the new Prime Minister provides a strong lesson for Welsh Labour on how to renew itself in office seamlessly. We must ensure that we build on the platform that Gordon Brown has built for us."

They say that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, or even loose endorsement in this case. If you can switch from one political party to another in order to suit your needs and political outlook, why not from one leader to another within one party?

Welsh Politics needs an Open Culture in the Welsh Assembly Government

Interesting new post from Matt Wardman which I think may be of interest to readers of this blog. Read for yourselves:

I had an exchange with Tom Watson MP, who launched the debate that lead to eventual creation of the Principles for Participation Online for Civil Servants, before my interview with Radio Wales.

In my first post, I said:

I wonder if I can get a statement from Tom Watson by 5:00pm that the Principles for Online Participation apply in Wales as well as England?

This article is to look at Tom’s reply and to ask a couple of questions about the Welsh Assembly Government.

Reply from Tom Watson
I asked:
Tom - can you confirm that Civil Service Principles for Participation Online apply in Wales? CS Code does. I’m on Radio later about CS blogs 03:36 PM August 04, 2008

Tom Replied:
Hi Matt, for civil servants employed by the UK government, yes. People employed by the Assembly have a separate code. That’s devolution. 04:28 PM August 04, 2008

Reading the Runes

Thanks, Tom, for a quick reply (another use for Twitter). So the facts are as follows:
  1. The Welsh Assembly Government has adopted the UK Civil Service Code practically verbatim (Welsh Civil Service Code, UK Civil Service Code - both as at July 2008, both small PDF files). The “separate” code is roughly different in replacing “Westminster” with “Cardiff”.
  2. The Principles for Participation Online are short and sweet.
I went into these differences in detail here.

The question then becomes:
The Principles for Participation Online have now been out for some time (since around June 19th), so why can’t they just be adopted straight into the system in Wales - as is already the precedent with the substantive Civil Service Code?

Taking Action
If I was an employee of the W.A.G. I’d be asking management for confirmation that the Principles for Participation Online apply. Who knows, they might say “Yes“.

If I was a blogging AM, I’d be thinking about asking a few questions to clarify the situation, and hopefully precipitate some action.

If I was an employee of part of the UK-wide Civil Service in Wales (DVLA, maybe?), I’d be informing my management that they applied - perhaps via a Union (or my blog!) if I was worried of being accused of being a tall poppy.

The Most Important Point
The Principles for Online Participation could represent a good step forward - as they allow a lot of leeway for local decision making. But I still think this is mainly about a change to a culture of encouraging political debate rather than stifling it.

The most important point is the last one I mentioned in the Radio discussion - at a time when the rhetoric is calling for more political participation, why are bloggers (who are doing just that) still getting chopped off at the knee? View it from a slightly different angle, and political (or professional) blogs by Civil Servants could be a triumph of open government. It would certainly beat winning a jar of bath salts in a prize draw for voting.

Another good start would be to unblock ALL blogs in ALL Civil Service establishments. Regulate reading during working hours - fine, but at lunchtime? Come on, boys and girls … let’s have some changes.

Not supported by the Assembly Government

Too many things in Wales have 'Supported by the Assembly Government' written on them. It may come as a great surprise to you that this blog isn't one of them.

Miss Wagstaff Presents... 'Not supported by the Assembly Government'.

Thanks to Dotcommentator for the idea and Matt Wardman for the logo.

Tuesday, 5 August 2008

The Radio Audio of blogging civil servants, and Miss Wagstaff on Facebook

In case you missed the discussion on 'Good Evening Wales' about recent events in the Welsh blogosphere and Facebook, Matt Wardman has kindly placed the audio on his blog.

We were talking about the restrictions on blogging Civil Servants in Wales, in the light of Miss Wagstaff’s expulsion from Facebook.

I’m delighted that Peter Black AM was more controversial than I was. Welsh Assembly Government “stalinist” indeed - ouch!

The only missing point that perhaps needed to be made was a detailed one that the Christopher Glamorganshire sacking case happened before the “Principles for Participation Online” were officially adopted in England.

I also didn’t get the chance to suggest that the Welsh Assembly Government are perhaps having their internal culture inspired too much by the Torchwood programme episodes set in the 1940s. A problem of working too close to a film set, perhaps.

Peter Black’s final point about the need for consultation with employees is excellent, and it seems to me that - if the Welsh Assembly Government can adopt the Civil Service Code itself with virtually no changes - then it can’t be very difficult to adopt a 79-word set of principles (warning: pic of Government Minister at end of link !).

Monday, 4 August 2008

Live at 17:30 - Good Evening Wales: Welsh Blogging and Facebook

Unfortunately, I'm unavailable for comment, however, my old blogging friend Matt Wardman will be taking part in the radio programme, Good Evening Wales a little later today (just after 5:30) talking about Welsh Political Blogging by Civil Servants from the point of view of an “outsider”, as a result of the coverage he has been giving to the Christopher Glamorganshire case in Wales, and also the Civil Serf case before that.

Matt writes:

I expect to be talking about the difference in attitudes to political blogging by Civil Servants in England and Wales. I am told that Peter Black AM will be joining us.

I think this is the first time in my life that I will have been on the Radio with a real politician. Is that good or bad?

I wonder if I can get a statement from Tom Watson by 5:00pm that the Principles for Online Participation apply in Wales as well as England?

Good Evening Wales are doing this piece because a Welsh Political Blogger - Miss Wagstaff - has been thrown off Facebook because allegations had been made that she was running a “Fake Account”.

You can read the account here. The serious point was that they just swallowed the allegations hook, line and sinker and took action with even checking. That looks far too reminiscent of what many webhosts do in respond to letters alleging defamation for me to be comfortable with it.

As Miss W says, "Why not raise the question with me of the possibility of ‘real and fake names’ in the first instance - before deactivation."

Research Question
Anyway - do you know anyone else that this has happened to, since Facebook seem to be making more than a little of an arse of themselves on this one. The problem seems to be one of action taken on the basis of allegations with no fact checking. I’ve been digging for a few minutes and I have found:

Last December Facebook told Steve Webb MP that he was an imposter and deleted his account. That may be true of the new Lib Dem satellite tracking policy pretending not to be Big Brother, but I think I believe that Steve Webb MP is himself.

Valleys Mam has also had problems.

Does anybody know of any others that are interesting or amusing?

I note that Genghis Kahn has an account. Presumably he is impersonating Alistair Campbell.

Any more for any more?

Two weeks to go

There are two weeks left to get your votes in. Don't forget to vote for some Welsh blogs.

Sunday, 3 August 2008

Witanagemot Awards 2008

The votes have been counted, just over 300 of them, and the results are in (Last year's results here (pdf)). How did your favourite blog do?

Political Blog: By Affiliation
Best blog by a politician (MP, MSP, AM, Cllr, etc.)
John Redwood
Tom Harris
Nadine Dorries

Best Labour Party supporting blog
Bob Piper
Paul Linford
Tom Harris

Best Conservative Party supporting blog
Iain Dale
Letters from a Tory
Conservative Home

Best Liberal Democrat Party supporting blog
Norfolk Blogger
LibDem Voice
Liberal England

Best minor party blog (UKIP, nationalists, Green, BNP, etc.)
Devil's Kitchen
Wonko's World

Political Blog: By Alignment
Best right-wing blog
Devil's Kitchen
Iain Dale
Guido Fawkes

Best left-wing blog
Ministry of Truth
Harry's Place
Liberal Conspiracy

Best centre-ground blog
Paul linford
Political Betting
Wardman Wire

Political Blog: By Location
Best English political blog
Iain Dale
Devil's Kitchen
Little Man in a Toque

Best Scottish political blog
Mr Eugenides
Adam Smith was a Socialist
Freedom and Whisky

Best Irish political blog
Slugger O'Toole
United Irelander
Guido Fawkes

Best Northern Irish political blog
Slugger O'Toole
A Pint of Unionist Lite
A Tangled Web

Best Welsh political blog
Glyn Davies
Peter Black

Best Foreign political blog (by foreigner outside the British Isles)
Daily Kos
India Uncut
Kiwi Blog

Best Ex-pat political blog (by Brit outside the UK or non-Brit resident in the British Isles)
Last Ditch
Tim Worstall
Remittance Man

Best Local political blog for local people (city / town / provincial)
Edinburgh sucks
Waendel Journal
West Brom Blog

Political Blog: By Main Stream Media, Organisation or Campaign
Best Political Blog run from a main stream media website (TV, Radio, Magazine, Newspaper)
Spectator Coffee House
Comment is Free
Brian Taylor & Nick Robinson

Best blog by a professional journalist
Nick Robinson
Benedict Brogan
Brian Taylor

Best Campaigning Blog
Burning Our Money
Taxpayers Alliance

Best Blog by non-media organisation
Adam Smith Institute
Labour Home

Political Blog: By Subject Matter
Best Election coverage / Polling Blog
Political Betting
UK Polling Report
Iain Dale

Best Westminster Village Gossip
Iain Dale
Guido Fawkes
Political Betting

Best Holyrood Gossip
Brian Taylor
Scottish Tory Boy
Crap Holyrood Chat

Best Cardiff Bay Gossip
Miss Wagstaff
Glyn Davies
Peter Black

Best Northern Ireland coverage/Stormont Gossip
Slugger O'Toole
A Tangled Web
Modern Unionist Voice

Best Economics Blog
Tim Worstall
Burning Our Money

Best Blog Dealing with Religious Matters
Archbishop Cranmer
Ruth Gledhill
Libby Purves

Best Human Rights/Civil Liberties Blog
Devil's Kitchen
Liberal Conspiracy

Best Foreign Affairs (including Iraq and Afghan wars)
Harry's Place
Devil's Kitchen

Best Constitutional Reform Blog
Our Kingdom
EU Referendum

Best Environmental/Green Issues Blog
Two Doctors
The Daily Maybe
The Difference

Best Law and Order Blog
The Policeman's Blog
Police Inspector Blog

Best Libertarian Blog
Devil's Kitchen
Guido Fawkes
Last Ditch

Best anti-EU blog
EU Referendum
Devil's Kitchen
England Expects & Eurealist

Best pro-EU blog
Jon Worth
Richard Corbett

Best Political Satire
Daily Mash
Guido Fawkes
Nanny Knows Best

Best coverage and analysis of politics and current affairs
Iain Dale
Guido Fawkes
Political Betting

Best English nationalist blog
Little Man in a Toque
Wonko's World
CEP News Blog

Best Scottish nationalist blog
Adam Smith was a Socialist
SNP Tactical Voting

Best Irish nationalist blog
United Irelander
Splintered Sunrise
El Blognador

Best Welsh nationalist blog
Miserable Old Fart

Best British nationalist blog
A Pint of Unionist Lite
Nationalist News

Political Blog: Miscellaneous
Best discussion / Community (which blog generates the best comment threads)
Political Betting
Devil's Kitchen
Guido Fawkes

Best multiple author/group blog
Harry's Place
Devil's Kitchen
Spectator Coffee House

Blogger most likely to vote for a donkey if you slapped the correct colour rosette on it
Iain Dale
Chris Paul
Neil Harding

Most vindictive political blogger
Devil's Kitchen
Guido Fawkes
Tim Ireland

Blogger most deserving of a book deal
Mr Eugenides
Dizzy Thinks
Devil's Kitchen

Best Blog design
Devil's Kitchen
Iain Dale

Best new blog (a new addition to the blogosphere in 2008)
Letters from a Tory
Tom Harris
The Happy Blog of Harriet Harman

Blogger you would most like to share a pint with
Devil's Kitchen
Guido Fawkes
Linford / Worstall

Blogger you would most like to shag
Bethan Jenkins
Iain Dale / Devil's Kitchen

Blogger with the best sense of humour
Devil's Kitchen
Guido Fawkes
Mr Eugenides

Blogger most desperate to win blogging awards
Iain Dale
Guido Fawkes

Blogger that you never agree with
Dirty European Socialist
Tim Montgomerie
Recess Monkey

Most dyslexic blogger
Dizzy Thinks
Terry Kelly

Blogger most likely to be suffering from Tourette's syndrome
Devil's Kitchen
Terry Kelly
Old Holborn

Blogger most likely to have bi-polar disorder
Devil's Kitchen
Tim Ireland
Nadine Dorries

Shouldn't be allowed to own a computer, let alone have a blog
Dirty European Socialist
Tim Ireland
Nadine Dorries

Most missed (retirement from the world of blogging)
Reactionary Snob
EU Serf
Normal Mouth

Political Blog: Overall
The British Isles' best political blog
Iain Dale
Devil's Kitchen
Guido Fawkes

The British Isles' most influential political blog
Guido Fawkes
Iain Dale
Political Betting

Political Blog: Witanagemot Club
How often do you read The Witanagemot Club?
Daily 9.50% Occasionally 31.5% Often 15.5% Rarely 13% What? 30.5%

Which is your favourite Witanagemot Club blog?
Iain Dale
Devil's Kitchen
Wonko's World

BBC UK Politics

BBC Welsh Politics


Welsh Political News

UK News from Times Online

Telegraph Politics


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