Showing posts from February, 2010


Posted on This is My Truth on 24 February In an masterfully understated sentence the Commons Culture Select Committee today concluded that the Press Complaints Commission "is widely viewed as lacking credibility and authority". Its unanimous report on press standards accuses Rupert Murdoch's senior executives of concealing the truth about the extent of illegal phone hacking by journalists on the News of the World. The cross-party committee of MPs found that "a culture undoubtedly did exist in the newsroom of News of the World and other newspapers at the time which at best turned a blind eye to illegal activities such as phone-hacking and blagging and at worst actively condoned it". But the Press Complaints Commission had already looked into the same allegations that the committee examined and cleared the tabloid. The PCC had rushed out a report purporting to exonerate the News of the World that took the paper's claims of innocence at face value. "We

Gerry puts out the candles

Posted on This is My Truth on 20 February Gerald Holtham has a forensic mind. The former IPPR head who came close to heading the WDA in the early days of the Labour Government has established his effeciveness in distilling a complex argument in his Commission's first report on funding. Today he used the same skill to gently but brutally unpick some of the loose thinking around the replacing the Barnett formula. At a meeting in Plaid Cymru's conference in Cardiff Holtham disarmingly pulled apart many of the assumptions of his hosts. Every time Helen Mary Jones or Dafydd Wigley lit a flame of hope, Holtham gently placed his fingers on the wick and extinguished it. A fair share for Wales? You'll be lucky. Though Wales is £300m under-funded by his calculations the Treasury say that's within the margin of error and would quickly disappear with a different set of assumptions. But the real problem is that using the same calulation Scotland gets £4.2bn-a-year more than it

The Establishment

Posted on This is My Truth on 19 February As Rachel Banner digs out her Leo Abse press cuttings and evokes the horror of the Welsh Establishment pushing for greater devolution to feather their own nest, it got me thinking: what do you have to do to join this illustrious group? Apart from the obligatory house in Pontcanna (though the boundaries are edging wider these days), and the second home in Pembrokeshire, what else is on the checklist for joining the crachach? Here's a start, feel free to add your own: A Kyffin Williams original, naturally A copy of the Welsh Encyclopedia A Melyn Tregwynt blanket A fondness for skiing (can't beat a slippery slope) Anything else?

A Professor writes...

Posted on This is My Truth on 16 February His may not be a name widely known outside the Cardiff Bay bubble, but Mark Drakeford has been a key figure in Welsh Government over the last decade. On Saturday he's likely to be selected as the Labour candidate for Cardiff West at the next Assembly elections - succeeding the man he's been advising. A very thoughtful man, he was the one who effectivley made Rhodri Morgan's Governments hang together - ideologically and organisationally. The Professor of social policy at Cardiff University gave a short lecture to the Labour Grassroots ginger group at the end of January which I have just come across on the web It is an interesting read on a number of levels, but the point that struck me particularly was his fear that without strong political leadership over how to deal with spending cuts the civil service will lead the way in crudely slashing schemes they were never keen on in the first place. Or as Prof Drakeford put it "unl

Is no news good news?

Posted on This is My Truth on 4th February As the panel considering the future of ITV news packed up and headed out of town last night, the word on the street was 'citizen journalism'. All three bidders for the £6 Million pilot to provide Welsh news for the third channel promised to democratise news provision by opening up news gathering to the masses. Who needs professionals when you can have amateurs? Of course it could all go pear shaped as the Tories have promised to unpick any contract signed if they win the General Election. But regardless of the outcome an important principle has been recognised. Wales needs more than the BBC to provide a 'plurality' of news coverage, and if the market can't provide it then the State has a role. But clearly it is not just broadcasting that presents a problem. Less than 1% of the population now read the Western Mail. The business model of the regional press is imploding across the world. As the Guardian’s Alan Rusbridger

The consequences of a No vote

Posted on This is My Truth on 2 February So it looks like there will be a referendum in either October or March. I'm still not entirely convinced of the wisdom of this course, as previously discussed. But if it going to happen then it needs to be won. In my view perhaps one of the most misleading points made by True Wales is that voting No will have no negative consequences. That somehow we'll be able to carry on as before. Irrespective whether you think a Yes vote will give the Assembly the tools it needs, it is certain that a No vote will be a damaging reverse in the devolution process. We already know that Whitehall mandarins needs little excuse to sideline Welsh affairs. If there is a no vote within the next 12 months the slow and complicated system of law making will get even worse. Whitehall will feel emboldened and legitimised in frustrating the Assembly's requests. So the status quo is not an option. Forward or back, that's the option. And lets not preten