Here is the translation of the Blog below, that I have promised to a few people!
Last week, I was heartened to hear that Leanne Wood, Assembly member for South Wales Central, had put her name forward to stand in the Plaid Cymru leadership elections in 2012. Being of Rhondda stock myself, I know Leanne well, as my family hails from the same village, Pen-y-graig. And like many a young Plaid member, I’ll be behind Leanne one hundred per cent.
Leanne is a natural choice for many on many counts. Like me, she’s a socialist, a nationalist, a republican, a keen environmentalist, and importantly she has experience of life outside politics. Her experience working for the Probation Service and for Women’s Aid shows that she understands the serious problems facing many parts of our society. Those who doubt her skills in the Welsh language may be pleased to her that she has been hugely supportive of Cymdeithas yr Iaith campaigns – much more so than many a fluent Welsh-speaking AM from the West. Leanne’s vision for a Greenprint for the Valleys that would radically change the Welsh economy puts economic regeneration and green issues on the forefront of her political agenda. Moreover, Leanne’s love towards Pen-y-graig, the Rhondda and her nation sets an excellent foundation in her bid to become the leader of our national party.
I am aware that many of the more traditional members in Plaid Cymru will be dubious of Leanne’s ability to lead our party. Even though Leanne is learning Welsh, she is not a fluent speaker, and after all, Leanne doesn’t have a traditional, rural background. Leanne is a valley girl, an area where Plaid Cymru has succeeded in becoming a credible party of opposition but has not progressed to become a first choice for many voters. But that is the exact reason why I believe that she is what we need in Plaid Cymru. What is needed is somebody who can represent the interests of everybody in Wales – not only the farmer and the Welsh speaker, but also the hairdresser from Caerffili and the Nurse from Aberdare.
As a Welsh speaker, born and bred in the Valleys, (I represent both sides of the party in that respect!) I am convinced that Leanne has the ability to lead our party into victory in the Assembly elections of 2016. This is our opportunity to change the party – not to lead our party astray, as many more traditional members may believe, but back to the radical and nationalist values of Plaid Cymru. After all, it was in Valleys that the red flag was waved for the first time – and I hope that it’ll be a Valley girl that’ll be the one to restore the radical values of our party and our nation in 2012.
This is a blog by Emyr Gruffydd, the Chairman of Cymru X Caerdydd. These views are entirely my own.
Wythnos ddiwethaf, roedd hi'n hynod o galonogol i mi gael clywed bod Leanne Wood, Aelod Cynulliad dros Ganol De Cymru, wedi cyhoeddi ei bod yn bwriadu sefyll am arweinyddiaeth Plaid Cymru yn 2012. Yn ferch o Ben-y-graig yn y Rhondda, rwy'n nabod Leanne yn dda, gan bod fy nheulu i yn hannu o'r un pentref. Ac fel nifer i aelod ifanc o'r Blaid, rwy'n bwriadu cefnogi ei hymgais gant y cant.
Mae Leanne yn ddewis naturiol i mi am nifer o resymau. Fel fi, mae hi'n sosialydd, yn genedlaetholwraig cadarn, yn gefnogwraig brwd o achosion gwyrdd, yn weriniaethwraig, ac yn bwysig iawn, mae ganddi brofiad o fywyd y tu allan i wleidyddiaeth. Mae ei phrofiad yn gweithio yn y Gwasanaeth Prawf ac i elusen Cymorth i Ferched yn dangos ei bod yn deall problemau dyrus ein cymdeithas. I'r rhai sydd yn cwestiynu safon Cymraeg Leanne Wood, mae hi wedi bod yn hynod gefnogol i ymgyrchoedd Cymdeithas yr Iaith - yn llawer mwy cefnogol na nifer i AC Plaid Cymru o'r Gorllewin sy'n rhugl ei Gymraeg. Mae gweleidgaeth Leanne am Gynllun Gwyrdd i drawsnewid economi Cymru yn rhoi materion gwyrdd ac adfywio'r economi yn glir ar ei hagenda wleidyddol. Yn ogystal â hyn, mae cariad Leanne tuag at Ben-y-graig, at y Rhondda ac at ei chenedl yn gosod sylfaen ardderchog i'w bwriad i arwain ein Plaid genedlaethol.
Bydd nifer o aelodau mwy traddodiadol Plaid Cymru yn debygol o fod braidd yn amheus o allu Leanne i arwain y Blaid. Er bod Leanne yn dysgu Cymraeg, nid yw'n siarad yr iaith yn hollol rhugl, ac wedi'r cyfan, does dim cefndir gwledig, traddodiadol gan Leanne. Merch o'r Cymoedd yw hi, ardal lle mae Plaid Cymru wedi sefydlu ei hun yn wrthblaid cadarn ond heb dorri trwyddo i fod yn ddewis cyntaf i nifer o etholwyr. Ond dyma pam rwyf yn credu taw hi ydy'r union beth sydd angen ar Blaid Cymru. Yr hyn sydd angen yw rhywun sydd yn cynrhychioli buddiannau pob un person yng Nghymru - nid yn unig buddiannau'r ffermwr a'r Cymro Cymraeg, ond hefyd rhai y ferch trin gwallt o Gaerffili a'r nyrs o Aberdâr.
Fel Cymro Cymraeg sydd wedi fy ngeni a'm magu yn y Cymoedd, rwy'n gwbl argyhoeddiedig mai gyda Leanne mae'r gallu i arwain ein Plaid i fuddugoliaeth yn etholiadau'r Cynulliad yn 2016. Dyma ein cyfle ni i newid cyfeiriad ein Plaid - nid i arwain ein mudiad cenedlaethol ar gyfeiliorn, fel y dywed nifer o'n haelodau mwy traddodiadol, ond yn hytrach yn ôl at werthoedd radical, cenedlaetholgar Plaid Cymru. Wedi'r cyfan, yng Nghymoedd y De y chwifiwyd y faner goch am y tro cyntaf - ac rwy'n fawr obeithiol mai merch o Gymoedd y De bydd yn gyfrifol am ail-ddeffro gwreiddiau radical ein cenedl a'n Plaid yn 2012.
>Gan Emyr Gruffydd, Cadeirydd Cangen Cymru X.Caerdydd. Dim barn Cymru X yw hyn o reidrwydd. >
This is a blog by Emyr Gruffydd, the Chairman of Cymru X Caerdydd, in support of Leanne Wood's campaign for leader. This is not necessarily the opinion of Cymru X.
Hoffai'r Pwyllgor Gwaith Cenedlaethol estyn longyfarchiadau cynnes iawn at ddau o aelodau CymruX, sydd hefyd ar bwyllgor CymruX Caerdydd (Myfyrwyr Plaid Cymru), Emyr Gruffydd a Dan Lawrence yn eu llwyddiant yn is-etholiadau Cyngor Myfyrwyr Prifysgol Caerdydd.
The National Executive Committee wishes to extend its congratulations to two of CymruX's members, who are also committee members of CymruX Cardiff (Plaid Cymru Students), Emyr Gruffydd and Dan Lawrence, in their success in Cardiff University's Student Council by-elections.
Chwilio am rywbeth i'w wneud heno? Dewch draw i noson gymdeithasol CymruX Caerdydd (Myfyrwyr Plaid Cymru) am 7yh ym Mango's (yn agos at dafarn y Flora yng Nghatays, Caerdydd) i gwrdd, trafod a mwynhau gyda'ch cyd-genedlaetholwyr!
Looking for something to do tonight? Come to the CymruX Cardiff (Plaid Cymru Students) social evening at 7pm in Mango's (near the Flora in Cathays, Cardiff) to meet, talk and enjoy with your fellow nationalists!
On the eve of the Royal Wedding and as the media frenzy intensifies I almost feel sorry for this old institution. It seems almost inevitable that it will end in the wrong way, it wont be a new surge of rationality and liberty that finally defeats it, it will be cynicism. There are some things around this Royal Wedding that I like, a sense of national occasion (British in this case however), a renewed sense of community and of course the celebration of two people committing their lives to each other. Some things that many people now seem to think are unimportant ideas.
I did initially think that the responses of most people I had talked to about it was a positive thing “I couldn't really care less” seems to be the stock phrase. But I am slightly worried that this doesn't for a lot of people relate to a concern for more democratic and republican principles but a genuine lack of respect for anything associated with the state or what one might call the establishment. If only we were sceptical of it rather than cynical, but it seems part of a wider trend.
I will watch the Royal Wedding mainly because I find it interesting and I wish William Windsor and Catherine Middleton all the best for their future together. If only that future didn't mean that one day somebody I have no choice over will have to sign off legislation created in our National Assembly. When will we finally wake up and look at this system for what it is, not only unfair on the people who live under it because of what it implies, but also unfair on those for whom it was initially constructed because of what it robs from them – a normal life.
On that point I wish William and Catherine the best of luck for the future. From the little I have seen of them they seem like good people who have a quiet strength, something they will both need in the strange world that Kate has opted to become a part of.
By Daniel Lawrence Non-Portfolio member - National Executive Commitee
In the past week I have finally got my hands on an iPhone4. It’s amazing that over the last 12 months my once “fashionable phone” now looks like a brick in comparison. But this has got me thinking, just how influential is mobile technology when it comes to politics? Will things like the iPad2 and Internet Ready TV’s really impact the way in which politicians communicate with voters?
A close friend of mine Mark Wray, a home automation specialist from Cardiff, was explaining just how much politics will benefit from a rise in mobile phone and digital technology. He believes that young people will become more actively involved with politics through the growth of social media, particularly with new technology around the home.
Mark Wray, Managing Director of Smarta Technology said: “The growth in internet ready televisions, smartphones and tablet devices has brought social media away from the study or bedroom and into the living rooms of households across the country. When installing home automation systems nearly every component can now communicate directly with the internet, whether it’s a touch screen control panel on a wall or a new line of 3D Televisions. This will no doubt contribute to a transformation in the way in which advertising and communication messages are received around the home. Giving political parties a fresh opportunity to communicate with voters”
With such a high usage of social media worldwide where an expected 2 billion people actively online at any one point and with nearly 1 in 5 people now a proud owner of a Smartphone, its become essential for political parties to embrace social media marketing as part of an ongoing public relations strategy. Many would argue that there has never been more communications between politicians and voters. The recent Yes For Wales Campaign successfully used online marketing tools including viral videos on Twitter and Facebook to raise awareness of the issues facing Wales in order to promote a Yes vote in the assembly election.
“In the next decade there will be a significant transformation in the way in which social media is accessed from home. With Home Automation now being pre installed into many new build houses, it’s provided a fresh opportunity for businesses, charities and political parties to interact with a range of different members of the public. Home Automation will enable markets to be segmented into different groups including age, sex and social classes, which will significantly effect digital marketing." Mr. Wray Continued.
Although the rise in accessible social media at home is likely to encourage more young people to get involved with politics in the future, social media can also be a communication tool that can significantly damage a reputation of an individual or party. With the recent case of politician Colin Elsbury whom was instructed to pay out £53,000 to town councilor Eddie Talbot after he wrongfully tweeted his rival had been thrown out of a polling station last June. Proving that a miss communication on twitter can result in significant consequences.
To what extent home automation systems will transform politics in the future may still be unclear, but it’s not unwise to consider the significant affects that internet ready televisions, games consoles, iPads, Smart Phones and even iPods are already having on politics on a regional and national level. A further growth in home-based technology will undoubtedly change politics in the future and it may be the case that the parties that are first to adapt to this change will reap the biggest rewards. For more information about social media in a smart home please visit http://www.smartatechnology.co.uk/
*This post was created by Gerwyn Holmes, a supporter of Cymru X.
So its all over. All the build up (or lack of it), the expected result (maybe better than expected) and we now have a proper parliament, with primary legislative powers (almost). So why do I feel slightly deflated about it all, I certainly didn't on Friday night when celebrating our much deserved win.
I think it is possibly a number of things. Firstly that for those of us interested in politics, I'd kind of been looking forward to this referendum for some time. I remember going to a Tommorow's Wales event maybe a couple of years ago where the move from Part 3 to Part 4 of the Government of Wales Act 2006 was the main topic of debate (it makes you wonder how a referendum on such a topic got even 35% of voters to the polls?). It was to me then as it is now such a painfully obvious choice, and thankfully we got the right result. But how could 36% of people vote No? I suppose the debate did become more about a number of other things as all such referendums inevitably do. It became a question of scrutiny, it became a question of competence (of the Government and the Welsh people), and finally it became a question of the devolution journey.
On a slight aside, the question of whether there is an agenda on the part of some towards a nationalist future was often raised by the No campaign (even though one of the parties makes that their clear aim). In the classic style of all conspiracy theorists they tried to plant in the public's mind the idea of a sinister and power hungry establishment that were itching to pull up anchor and sail the good ship Cambria away from England and to the promised land. It was rarely raised by Yes campaigners the equally obvious agenda of many No campaigners, often denied, who wished the assembly wasn't there or that it could slowly be eroded until it went away, no matter the consequences for Wales (if you watched David Williams post referendum TV program, one of them wanted to blow it up or burn it down. I don't think he was that serious, good old Len!).
So it is over, I feel I worked quite hard and played my part. But like all of the things in your life that you make a big deal, it soon becomes clear when its over that it wont make as big a difference as you first expect. Don't get me wrong, this is a major and important step forward for Wales. But for me my life wont in the short term be drastically altered. Hopefully we wont see a raft of legislation just for the sake of it, I'm sure we wont as our politicians aren't quite as daft as some make out. So I wont feel the primary legislative powers of our soon to be elected representatives add to the weight of needless bureaucracy already resting heavily on our heads.
What seemed more important was the shift in attitude that the results seemed to portray, as they were announced, followed by cheers it seemed that the unclothed zeitgeist of Wales was on display, well the zeitgeist of the 35% that bothered to vote, but it still seemed important. The speeches of the party leaders and Roger Lewis summed it up. Something that we had struggled for for centuries was happening, not that we were getting more power to legislate, but that Wales was uniting behind something. Not entirely, we cant get too carried away, but as county after county returned Yes verdicts it seemed, to coin a phrase we had one Wales, slowly uniting behind the institution that housed our democracy. The ancient sparring kingdoms and principalities united, the rural and the urban united, the welsh speaking and English speaking welsh united. The differences were still there if you bothered to look at the results closely, but it was fading. A transport network geared east to west could not hold back a shared and growing sense of shared history and culture. Only the apathetic spoiled the party. We may be coming to terms with Wales as a political nation, but the majority of the nation still gets its media and much therefore of its thought and culture from the British media. This is a dangerous problem in terms of Welsh democracy, and the low turnout in this poll is just one sign.
Unless you are interested in Welsh politics as I obviously am, then you probably would have voted in the referendum on a couple of very simplistic ideas. Both the Yes and No campaigns tried to make it about these simple matters in order to capture our imaginations, to varying effect. Laws that only effect the people of Wales should be made in Wales, vote No to the slippery slope, give our Assembly Members the tools to do the job, don't give them any more power they don't deserve it. We heard all these simplistic arguments, and the standard of debate was poor as a result. But it is hard to grip the imagination of people who don't really care much for what happens in Cardiff Bay unless it directly affects them, especially when the British media pretty much ignores anything going on in Wales which they might deem a bit too parochial, and not the fundamental battle of ideas that it could have been. The stronger the press and the media of a country the greater the potential for good quality debate. As in all referendums both sides normally have some good points or stumble on them accidentally, no matter how kooky or outlandish they seem, and we should take heed of them as we go forward. Wales needs better forums for its future debates if it is going to engage the majority of its people and come to good decisions. How to achieve this I'm not sure, but the online sphere played a vital role in this last referendum and if we can engage more people through it all the better. But the old fashioned mediums of TV and newspaper still dominate.
To come back to my original thoughts on why I quickly realised that we cannot celebrate for too long, and the long hard slog of politics and government must continue. We have to up our game, we always will. Those of us who try to steer public opinion through all mediums including politics have a challenge ahead. We now have a proper Assembly as some of us have long wanted. We will probably want more, more powers for Wales (or should that be “in” Wales, sorry Luke!), but we must use what we currently have well in the years ahead if we hope to go any further.
I think it suddenly dawned on me, that we cant sit idly by and let others do it. All of us who voted Yes on Thursday the 3rd of March 2011 have a duty to ourselves and our country to take responsibility for what we do next. Its quite a depressing thought really, I was quite happy for others to get on and do it for me.
To end with, I have been thinking over the last couple of days of a couple of quotes from 2 films I like (this time its the American media shaping my thoughts). A classic line in Spider-man is: “with great power comes great responsibility”, sorry about the obvious cliché I have just concerned you with. But in my favourite film of the moment Kick Ass we get this expansion “with no power comes no responsibility........except that wasn't true”.
Daniel Lawrence Cardiff
Daniel Lawrence is a Non-Portfolio Member of the National Executive Committee. He writes in a personal capacity.
There is a problem of confusion amongst a lot of welsh people with regards to what the referendum is about. Neither the Yes or No sides help the situation with some of the comments that are made by some (although I do think the Yes campaign are doing a better job of trying to stick to the facts than True Wales who seem to be purposely muddying the water). However, referendums are rarely fought with everyone knowing the full facts, and they are regularly won or lost on very different questions to the one asked (usually the popularity of the government of the day).
Firstly, I doubt the author of the post has actually read the Western mail lately, but I read it most days and I have in the last few weeks found it difficult to find a day where the referendum hasn't been mentioned. I'm suprised WM readers arent sick of it by now (I'd imagine a number are). The main problem is as she mentions that not enough people read the WM or other welsh newspapers.
I agree that speed is not synonomous with effectiveness, however it can be very important, and can be a strength of unicameral legislatures where it means there is no possibility of legislative deadlock and it can produce a simpler more efficient system (what we have at the present is neither). Other unicameral parliaments in Europe include the Riksdag in Sweden and the Storting in Norway to name just two, and they seem to cope well enough. It is not a strange or unique set up in a democracy.
It is not a question of thinking that Welsh people are the only people who can make Wales a better place, just that they are best placed to. It is a basic principle of Democracy, and it is not something to be mocked.
I believe the author is right in some of her criticisms of the lack of dynamism in the Assembly and the poor performance in a number of areas since its set up in 1999. Their is also a critique to be made of the quality of some of our Assembly members. However, the author then illogically says we should stay with the same system which has helped produce this by voting no, before ridiculing the Welsh people's elected Assembly as a child compared to its wiser older brother in London. If we want to improve the quality of our politics we first need some confidence in ourselves and our ability to learn from our mistakes.
She then moves on in the typically cynical fashion of those who want a No vote by saying that democracy wont be improved. She may be right (I personally dont think so), but what is the alternative? A No vote would send us backwards, but how far and how fast? To the days of an all powerful secretary of state who might not represent a Welsh constituency or have even been voted for by anyone in Wales. Or even further, to the days when Wales had no institutional devolution (we're talking decades here), when the rule of the majority in the UK parliament meant that a Welsh nation couldnt exist, and if it wanted to it was powerless.
This is why this referendum is so vitally important. It is not about Independence (as True Wales wants you to think) which would require a further referendum and which would probably be beaten. It is a great shame that it is not engaging the vast bulk of the Welsh populace because it is about something very important. It is about a very basic principle of governance and democracy, that it should be clear where power lie's and the people should know this and understand it. A No vote keeps us in this state of confusion, a Yes vote makes the system simpler and makes it clearer where power lie's.
It has been said before that there is nowhere else in the world where a system like this operates (for that you have to go back to 15th century Ireland), where one elected parliament has to effectively check on another parliament in areas of responsibility it has already seceded to it. It is for a very good reason that this is the case.