When I was on Pontypridd Town Council another councillor, Colin Gregory, proposed a motion that a dedicated war memorial be put in Ynysangharad War Memorial Park. I seconded this motion, as he can verify, and the ball was set in motion.
Following that resolution I proposed a number of additional proposals. I proposed that the war memorial also include the miners and other members of the Land Army that contributed. Despite another councillor, Steven Rosser, seconding my motion it was not passed. Being a Co-operative Party councillor at the time, I also said that it should be funded by public subscriptions. This was passed. Yet even though it went into action I am resentful that none of the credit for the policy was given to me. I was not invited to any events and others claimed the credit. Because of this I did not take part in my own policy.
There were a number of other things on the council that others took credit for even though I proposed them. For instance as soon as I was elected to the council I asked the Town Council’s clerk to put on the agenda about having a Charter between RCT Council and Pontypridd Town Council. This went through yet others, like Steve Carter who was Mayor, too the credit.
I read a blog post by Karen Roberts, who seems to be the de facto election agent for Amanda Jones, who is a candidate for the Rhondda Ward election.
The post, which appears to be about the Pluralist Party I co-founded, concludes with the following:
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.
What does Karen Roberts mean by this? Does she not think a Pluralist Party that seeks to reduce the size of standing politicians who engulf the membership of political parties and discourage peaceful congress is a good idea?
She critiques our membership policy of only having candidates and councillors as members. That is because we believe having a permanent membership – a grassroots – is not good for democracy.
I joined New Labour in 1997 expecting it to be a pragmatic party that would make parties only when needed to solve the problems of the day. But on leaving and reflecting in 2011 it seems it was far from it. It seemed the only reason Labour members wanted power was to impose their policies on others. My view is that policies should be made as and when the public need them. If I were to be elected by the people of the Rhondda Ward I will seek to use the council as a way to get their issues heard. It should not be for councillors to make policies on the hoof, but to meet the needs of those who elected them.
It seems from Karen Roberts’s post that all she cares about is getting Amanda Jones elected so that Amanda Jones can push the Liberal Democratic Party’s agenda. My party does not have an agenda beyond our value system of being a party of the people – Wales’s People’s Party. If the people of the Rhondda Ward elect me, they will be electing someone who represents them, not a political party, nor myself as with many so-called Independents.
I posted a comment on the Facebook page of Amanda Jones, who is standing for the Liberal Democrats in the Rhondda Ward by-election.
On her ‘Vote Amanda Jones for Rhondda Ward’ page I stated my record in policies relating to the Museum, underneath a post of Amanda Jones photographed at the museum and it was delted.
My comments included mentioning the face that I secured the support of members of a different party when town councillor for Treforest to have the broken Santa light that is displayed on the side of the museum replaced.
Amanda Jones seems to want to gain public support for initiatives she showed no interesting prior to this election, yet puts censorship before the sort of debate true democrats fight for.
When I was on the town council I co-operated with people of all parties and none to do the best for the town, but it seems pluralism and cooperation are not things that are on Amanda Jones’s agenda.
I have to agree with the findings of the Office for National Statistics on the difficulties facing young people in Wales today (“Exam stress, cyber bullying and body image – why children today are not happy“, April 4).
Many people say the “Justin Bieber effect” means people thinking they are more important than they are, as the Canadian singing sensation is presented. I would say instead it should reflect the sickness in our own country that any young person who is successful is bullied and abused by those who despise the fact they were not afforded the same opportunities.
We seem to be creating a nation of “narcissists by proxy“. Anyone who is perceived as successful or gifted is forced to defend themselves from abuse, whether on or offline, as the NSO found.
Young people, as I have experienced personally, are put in a position where you have to tell people “how great you are” in order to counteract them telling you “how bad you are”.
Most people in this position will split their mind so like narcissists they can pay attention only to the good sides of them. Is it right we as a nation are forcing our young compatriots to develop psychiatric conditions just because we want to elect parties that need us to be in poverty and resentful of the rich, just so they can stay in power?
I read an interesting account of an experienced councillor on Mail Online ahead of this year’s elections on May 2 or hopefully in my case May 30. I find myself agreeing with a lot of what Robin Page is saying.
Idealist notions of democracy cannot be found on councils, whether town and community council’s where I have experience, or county councils, where in the case of Rhonda Cynon Taf County Council I’m not sure whether I want to seek election to any more – even though I have done so for 2 elections – 2004 and 2008. I didn’t stand in 2012 for very much the same reason that disillusioned Robin Page – the party members vote in block by deciding before the meeting. When Labour have a majority – which they nearly always do – if you are not Labour you will never get anything passed. This is what Robin Page said in his article:
At the same time, councils have become depressingly politicised. Gradually, the party machines have edged out Independent councillors. Today, there are only seven of us left out of 57.
The Tories are in power and they vote as a block. They join the Lib Dems for ‘pre-meeting meetings’ to decide the agenda.
The result is a shamocracy in which the public rarely hears the real issues. Free speech becomes stifled. For example, I once dared to scold another councillor for risking accusations of impropriety by attending a ‘soirée’ hosted by a property developer.
The election I am hoping to stand in – in the Rhondda ward of Pontypridd Town council – was a by-election called following the death of Labour stalwart Pam Harper. Some things I remember Pam Harper saying was “We don’t support opposition” – The ideals expressed in the Labour Party rules about “co-operation” were clearly lost on her. For a scientist like me the council was far from what I wanted.
When I was in the Labour Group they would meet one or two days before the council meeting to decide how to vote. In essence it didn’t matter how good the arguments were during the meeting, as Labour had the majority the vote would go their way – so long as they had the numbers on the night. One could argue that they were there to represent the Labour Party and not the public.
The news service of my Group of companies – Crocels News – has recently been reporting on ‘Wicigate,’ which is looking at how politicians and other public figures edit Wikipedia in their own interest.
When one of the articles of Crocels News were added to Wikipedia they were removed by an editor of Wikipedia. This editor said the reason was that Crocels News was “not a reliable source.”
Wikipedia seems to think it is a law unto itself. I have experienced these problems with it
- Users say something defamatory about you or your brand on Wikipedia
- You are not allowed to remove the edit, because that is conflict of Internet.
- The Wikimedia Foundation does not let you have the details of the person defaming you or your brand
- You are not able to threaten legal action to people on Wikipedia according to their rules
But here is what the law says:
- United States: The Telecommunications Act 1996 as confirmed by Lunney v Prodigy (1999) says that Wikipedia’s ISP is not responsible for content on its platform, but WIkipedia is responsible.
- United Kingdom: The Defamation Act 1996 as confirmed by Godfrey v Demon Internet (2001) says that both Wikimedia and their ISP is liable for a claim of defamation.
In the United Kingdom a new Defamation Act will mean that it will be possible to ask a provider for the details of those who are defaming someone so that action can be taken. In terms of Internet trolling I think this will make things worse. Even if a person asks for the details of someone and it is provided that person still has to take them to court. And, equally companies like Amazon who may be allowing defamatory reviews to be posted in the review sections of their website, may not hand the details over, knowing it is unlikely they are going to be sued, and if they are they can afford to win. So it will either be an Act that provides free speech or it could also be seen as allowing unchallenged speech.
Being a webmaster I like the fact that my ISP will not feel the need to shutdown my website when they receive a threat, but equally as someone who has been defamed, other websites will have the same sysop prerogative, meaning when I or my companies are actually victims of trolling we will have little recourse.
The state funding of Atheism has got to stop. Academics like Chris French and Richard Dawkins have money and facilities from universities which they used to push their Atheist views on to others.
Chris French runs the ‘Anomalistic Psychology Research Unit,’ where he does research to prove the opinions ‘psychics’ and other religious or spiritual groups wrong. He even gets to go on TV and the radio to promote his religious faith – Atheism – that is the believe there is no God and there is no supernatural occurrences.
Richard Dawkins is the Charles Simonyi Professor of the Public Understanding of Science at Oxford University. He also uses this publicly funded institution as a platform to preach Atheism to the masses, giving him a basis to publish works such as ‘The God Delusion’ and have the credibility associated with the University to make his opinions appear more valid than they actually are.
Chris French and Richard Dawkins’s view are in an epistemological and ontological sense no more valid than any of those made by theologists of any religious denomination. As individuals we all construct the world differently – we all have our own version of the truth.
Why should Chris French and Richard Dawkins be getting public money to promote their religious opinions? It is wrong that people in this country are forced into poverty or forced to work to the point they are not able to manifest any religious faith or lack of, yet Richard Dawkins and Chris French are on a perpetual academic jolly to promote their unproven religious convictions?
He who does not work, nor shall he eat. Those who have so much state welfare they don’t need to work are free riders. Those who have inherited so much they don’t need to work are free riders. Those who get more for working less are free riders. Thatcher tried to end the free rider problem with indirect taxes and the community charge – but that is not what the free riders who make up the unsqueezed top and bottom wanted!
As a species haven’t changed in 200,000 years and probably never will, so the system must. Being here not even 1% of the time the planet has existed we are very primitive and have not grown out of being selfish, lazy, greedy, etc. however mad we drive ourselves trying not to be. Our laws exist to help us not be these things we are driven to be.
On that basis *the system* needs to change to encourage the best sides of us to come out and to discourage these bad sides from surfacing. The system is broken and in my lifetime Thatcher and Blair specifically tried to radically change things, leading Major and Brown to pick up the pieces, and in all cases we are left with what we started with – a system that promotes greed, laziness and selfish behaviour.
I have fought the system trying to use it as a hand-up when all the time it is forcing one to have a hand-out. I had to find ways to get work experience without giving up incapacity benefit to finding ways to develop my business without losing financial stability I know it is difficult.
So “he who does not work, nor shall he eat” – If someone is not in education, employment or training, with employment including voluntary work as I managed to get, he should not get benefits. Again, he who does not work, nor shall he eat. If someone is so rich that they are not pro-actively contributing to the economy as a working class person then they should be taxed until they do need to! “He who works should eat today, for tomorrow we shall die“!
There was this joke that the Conservative Party conducted voter identification in Pontypridd asking people who they intended to vote for – they said: “I’m Labour butt!” – The Tory reported back: “They are Labour, but with reservations”!
I was a member of the Pontypridd Labour Party over 14 years – when New Labour was taking off with Tony Blair and when it ended with Ed Miliband – with a short gap being when I lived in the Ogmore constituency.
As former Pontypridd Assembly Member Jane Davidson told me, “The Labour Party is like a tribe, you don’t talk about us to people outside of it and you stand by them no matter what.” This was not appealing to me as someone who is principled and tries to be objective.
Keir Hardie might have been one of the founders of the Labour Party, but the one we have today is certainly no stones throw a way – more like ten mountains! The Labour Party as now exists can be seen to be a party of parties, or more so a tribe of cliques. Most people in the Labour Party want Labour candidates elected at all costs. As I found to my expense, they care more about selecting people who will toe the line and gull the public into voting for them than someone who actually believes in the labour movement, but needs to develop their skills a bit more first – like I needed to and live I have done.
The Labour Party that exists today seemed to care not about the values of its founders, such as equality for all people, they put getting into officer above any of his values. I was gulled by Tony Blair that the Labour Party had changed from hating businesses and the rich to wanting to create a national where all can achieve their potential as most others were. As one Labour insider told me, “Changing Clause IV was more about making Tony Blair electable, rather than changing the Labour Party.” As I have said previously, I believed whole heartedly in this move to have Keir Hardie’s values reflected in a modern context, but few others did, and I was basically banging my head against the wall for 14 years trying to convince the ‘Pontypridd Tafias‘ and ‘Welsh Labour‘ to reform, and they never planned to.
To understand why, one needs to understand the Pontypridd Tafias that exist, which work like the many cliques that exist elsewhere in the reminisces of Keir Hardie’s Labour Party.
- The Llantwit Fardre Tafia is the most powerful in Pontypridd. Headed by Graham Stacey and the second in command John David they control this mid territory in the ward (called Pontypridd Central BLP).
- The Beddau and Ty Nat Tafia is the second most powerful in Pontypridd. Led by Clayton Lewis with Ricky Yeo as second in command, they control the Northern tribe of the ‘Pontypridd South West BLP’.
- The Pontyclun Tafia controls much of the Southern territories of ‘Pontypridd South West BLP’ including Pontyclun, Talbot Green and Llantrisant. They do not get on with the Beddau and Ty Nant Tafia, other than that they want to control their own territories in Pontypridd South West BLP instead of being a single Branch. It is led by Paul Griffiths with Geoff Woodington being second in command.
- The Taff Vale Tafia is one of the most complex in the constituency. The tribal nature is always shifting. Unlike many of the BLPs they can co-operate within that BLP (i.e. Pontypridd South East) whilst maintaining their cliques. The Southern tribe in Taffs Well is led by Jill Bonnetto, but the Northern tribe is more complex. The Treforest ward in the North is always in conflict with the mid-territories of Hawthorn and Rhydyfelin. The Treforest ward was once occupied by Avril Reid who was separate to the other wards. Once she was disposed in the second half of 2008 she joined forces with Maureen Webber from Rhydyfelin and Thereasa Bates from Hawthorn. This clique still exists to the day and Treforest remains marginalised, being controlled by local businessman Steve Powderhill.
- The Greater Pontypridd Tafia is one of the most confused in the constituency. It’s head for many years has been Christine Raybould, who tries to hold together the former tribes of Trallwn, Pontypridd Town and the Rhondda Ward. Following the revolution of the Great Nick Wall, the Pontypridd Town clique’s solidarity was challenged by the creation of the ‘Pontypridd North East BLP’ and their nights of champagne socialism in the Manor House of Geoff Lloyd became more symbolic as they slowly lost their power to the BLP. There appears to be no clear leader among this Tafia, with Steve Carter trying to claim Trallwn as his own as the Pontypridd Town contender due to the failure of Rhydyfelin-based Allan Bevan to capture it from their opponent Mike Powell. Allan Bevan has tried to take back this seat since losing it to Powell by supporting calls for parking in the Park which falls within Trallwn, but which Steve Carter tries to claim ownership of.
The Pontypridd Tafia are representative of much of the Labour Party today. The BLPs that exist (Branch Labour Parties) only ever have three people at them. No matter how small or big the BLPs are, Morton’s Law, named after Treforest’s treasurer John Morton, says there is no branch so small that it can’t split itself into opposing factions.
If you want to get on in the Labour Party you need to appeal to all the factions within a particular locality, which in the case of Pontypridd is the Tafia’s. Former council leader Russell Roberts did this – having leaders from all the Tafia’s in his cabinet (including opposing members like John David and Clayton Lewis). Former MP Kim Howells was able to appeal to all as well – convincing the Llantwit Fardre Tafia he could be guided by them. Jane Davidson on the other hand was detested by the Lantwit Fardre Tafia, who only supported her because she “was Labour Butt.” Davidson refused to speak again the building of a new private school in the Pontypridd Central BLP area, citing ‘conflict of interest’ and she promised a Church Village Bypass, which wasn’t delivered until after she quit.
These Tafia’s exist on a knife edge. There are only a handful of people who turn up at the Annual General Meetings. These are just enough to keep the Tafia in power, but as I and my friends showed in Treforest, if a few people who believe in the cause can get their friends to join and take over the BLPs, the power enjoyed by the Tafias to appoint their own boys (or girls if lucky) into the positions where they keep their power could be destroyed. That in my view is the only democracy left in the Labour Party – for new members to join and kick out the old guard.
The bedroom tax is in simple terms a provision where the UK Government wants people who live in government maintained housing (i.e. council houses) to lose some of their housing subsidies (i.e. Housing Benefit) if their home has more rooms than the government deems they should.
One of the things I always say is “possession is 9/10ths of the law,” so who ever has possession has the highest bargaining power.
The government have position of the Housing Benefit, the council house users have possession of their property.
So, in strategic terms, if someone needs the government to pay for their Housing Benefit, such as to a private landlord, it is easier for the private landlord to get their property back, as your benefits can be easily stopped so you may be forced to starve. But when one is living in a government maintained home, where you pay money to the government using money from the government, it is you that has possession.
Having a home is the most important thing for a life off benefits, as it gives you the security to literally weather the storm. If you refuse to pay the rent on your council house they will stop both your benefits, but you will still have possession of the house until they get a court order to evict you.
If every council house user in the country in that position said, “Screw you!” to the government in terms of leaving their home it would take the government years to bring everyone before the courts and to evict them! In that time many people will have exercised ‘squatters rights.’
The thing that brought Hitler down as a leader was that he tried to fight too many battles at the same time, and lost most of them. As we heard this week the thing that kept Maggie up for so long as a leader was that she got the timing of her battles right.
One does not need to see the riots of 2011 to take the country back from the aristocrats, simply to use the capitalist system and free market against them. People can easily take back their country if they unite and give the authorities more battles to fight than they can handle.
The problem Marx found was that the factory workers had a Hobson choice – they didn’t have to work for their pittance as they had the option of not working and starving. The problem is therefore of lacking the security that comes from owning one’s own home and the ability to survive that comes from being part of a self-sustaining community.
If one withdraws ones labour, providing one can have one’s basic needs met, in terms of food, shelter, sanitation and also Internet access, such as from a self-sustaining community, then one can walk away from capitalism and the state easily.
People are criticising food banks as being evidence of a failing state – I would say they are an example of a progressive society. In the same way the Anglican Church would take food out to the poor during Harvest, there is no reason why one cannot have that compassion and sense of community today, outside of a Church structure.
Capitalism and the market are based on supply and demand. Together people can create a disequilibrium where by increasing demand for something they can undermine it by reducing the supply available. As a People, communities can prevent any government policy by collectively refusing to accept it. There are only so many cases a court can hear, so if everyone stood together and refused to do what the government wanted then the policy would become unenforceable.
In a socialist society, as I believe we have now, it is impossible to break out of the system because one depends on it for welfare. It is only by getting rid of dependence on the State and the Corporations and being interdependent on one another that people can truly be free.