Monday, June 30, 2008

Adolygiad o lyfr Marc Morris - ‘A Great and Terrible King. Edward I and the Forging of Britain’. Cyhoeddwyd yn rhifyn Mai o Barn.


Yn draddodiadol, dydi’r rhan fwyaf o Gymry ddim yn rhyw hoff iawn o Edward I. A dweud y gwir, mae yna ganran go helaeth o bobl yn ei gasau. Wedi’r cyfan, dyma’r Brenin canoloesol a oedd yn teyrnasu dros Loegr pan goncrwyd Cymru ym 1282-83. Ef wnaeth sicrhau fod pen ein harwr cenedlaethol, Llywelyn ap Gruffydd neu Llywelyn ein Llyw Olaf, yn cael ei arddangos ar ben Twr Llundain hyd nes bod y brain wedi bwyta pob un tamaid o gnawd oddi arno. A phwy all anwybyddu’r holl gestyll a adeiladodd ledled y wlad, megis rhai Caernarfon, Conwy, Biwmares a Harlech? Efallai fod y cestyll hyn yn ddefnyddiol bellach o ran dennu twristiaid i Gymru, ond mae nifer ohona ni yn ymwybodol iawn o’u harwyddocad. I ddarostwng y Cymry y’i codwyd ac i sicrhau ein hufudd-dod i Goron Lloegr. Does ryfedd felly fod cyn gymaint ohona ni’n llawn dirmyg tuag at Edward I, hyd yn oed ganrifoedd ar ôl ei farwolaeth.

Er i mi wneud TGAU a lefel A mewn Hanes tra yn yr ysgol, chefais i erioed wers hanes swyddogol ynglŷn â hanes Cymru yn yr oesoedd canol. Yn wir, prin y cefais ddysgu dim am hanes fy ngwlad fy hun yn ystod unrhyw gyfnod – ffaith sydd yn dal i fy nghynddeiriogi hyd at heddiw. Yn hytrach, tra’n astudio ‘Cerddi’r Cywilydd’ gan Gerallt Lloyd Owen fel rhan o fy nghwrs lefel A yn y Gymraeg y ces fy nghyflwyniad ffurfiol cyntaf i’r cyfnod. Dysgais y gyfrol honno o farddoniaeth ar fy nghof, a chreodd gryn argraff arnai. Dechreuais eilyn-addoli Llywelyn a casau Edward I am yr hyn a wnaeth i Gymru. ‘Roedd hi’n 1997 ac ‘roedd refferendwm y Cynulliad ar y gorwel. Er fy mod yn rhy ifanc i bleidleisio, ro’n i’n grediniol mai dyma oedd cyfle Cymru i ddial ar y Saeson am yr hyn yr oeddan nhw wedi ei wneud i Gymru ar ddiwedd y drydedd ganrif ar ddeg ac ro’n i’n fwy na hapus i leisio’r farn honno.

Dwi’n siwr y byddwch yn falch o wybod nad ydw i cweit mor eithafol a hynny bellach. Ar ol cwbwlhau fy lefel A, esh i draw i’r Iwerddon i ddilyn gradd mewn Hanes yr Oesoedd Canol a Gwleidyddiaeth yng Ngoleg y Drindod, Dulyn. Yno, am y tro cyntaf erioed, y cefais fy nghyflwyno i hanes Cymru o bersbectif hollol wahanol. Er bod rhai o fy narlithwyr yn ei chael hi’n anodd yngan enwau rhai o’n harweinwyr canol-oesol, roedda nhw’n deall pwysigrwydd rhoddi hanes y cyfnod o fewn cyd-destun ehangach. Sicrhaodd hyn fod ein dealltwriaeth a’n dehongliad ni fel myfyrwyr o ddigwyddiadau’r cyfnod yn llawer mwy cytbwys. Yn wir, y wers bwysicaf a ddysgais oedd na ellid canolbwyntio’n unig ar yr hyn oedd yn digwydd o fewn Cymru os am amgyffred y darlun cyflawn. Hefyd, doedd rhai o’n harweinwyr a’n harwyr ninnau ddim yn berffaith. Roedda nhw’n ddynol ffaeledig fel pawb arall. Yn wir, dwi ddim yn siwr bellach pa mor hoff fyswn i o Llywelyn ein Llyw Olaf taswn i’n byw yng Ngwynedd yn ystod ei deyrnasaiad. ‘Roedd o’n codi trethi hallt ar drigolion yr ardal, ac o’r herwydd ‘roedd yn gymeriad eithaf amhoblogaidd erbyn diwedd ei oes.

Oherwydd fy niddordeb yn y cyfnod, roeddwn i’n hynod o falch cael y cyfle i adolygu cyfrol Marc Morris ar Edward I. Wedi’r cyfan, fe drawsnewidiodd Edward hanes ynysoedd Prydain yn ystod ei deyrnasiad. ‘Roedd yn gyfnod cyffrous, ac mae yna nifer o lyfrau difyr wedi eu hysgrifennu am yr hyn a ddigwyddodd. Yn wir, wedi gweld teitl y llyfr – ‘A Great and Terrible King. Edward I and the Forging of Britain’ – ‘roedd gen i ddisgwyliadau uchel i’r gyfrol. ‘Roeddwn i’n disgwyl thriller.

Mae Morris yn hanesydd cydnabyddiedig a gwbwlhaodd ei ddoethuriaeth yn Rhydychen. Yn wir, R. R. Davies a Michael Prestiwch, dau ‘Dduw’ yng ngolwg nifer o haneswyr yr oesoedd canol, oedd arholwyr ei ddoethuriath. Morris hefyd oedd cyflwynydd y gyfres Castles a ddarlledwyd ar Sianel Pedwar yn 2003. Rhaid imi gyfaddef nad oeddwn yn ffan mawr o’r gyfres honno, yn aml gan nad oeddwn yn cytuno rhyw lawer gyda dehongliadau Morris o hanes rhai o’r cestyll Cymreig. Yn wir, dwi’n cofio meddwl ei fod yn nodweddiadol o hanesydd Seisnig. A dyna wrth gwrs ydi o. Er gwaetha’r ffaith mai Marc gydag ‘c’ yn hytrach na ‘k’ ydi Morris, does ganddo ddim cysylltiad â Chymru. Mae’n cael rhyw fath o faddeuant am bod ei Dad yn Wyddel - ond fel arall Sais ydi o sy’n abrenigo’n bennaf ar hanes Lloegr. A digon teg yw hynny.

Ei fwriad yn y gyfrol hon oedd ysgrifennu bywgraffiad o Edward I – y bywgraffiad cronolegol cyntaf ohono i gael ei ysgrifennu ers cyn y rhyfel byd cyntaf. ‘Roedd Powicke a Prestwich, sef dau arbenigwr mawr yr ugeinfed ganrif ar Edward I, ill dau wedi ysgrifennu bywgraffiadau neu astudiaethau oedd yn edrych ar deyrnasiad Edward yn ol themau unigol. Difyr felly oedd syniad Morris o fynd ati i ysgrifennu cyfrol oedd yn dilyn hanes Edward o’r crud i’r bedd..

Mae yna ôl ymchwil manwl a thrylwyr ar yr astudiaeth. Yn wir, dydw i ddim wedi dod ar draws unrhywbeth amlwg y mae Morris wedi anghofio ei grybwyll. Dwi wedi dysgu nifer o bethau buddiol wrth ddarllen y gyfrol. Er enghraifft, do’n i erioed wedi ystyried cyn hyn pam bod Edward I yn cael ei alw’n Edward I pan oedd brenhinoedd eraill gyda’r un enw wedi teyrnasu cyn hynny, megis Edward y Cyffesydd? Yn wir, yn ol Morris, Edward IV oedd Edward I mewn gwirionedd. Er mwyn datrys hyn, gallwn ddweud mai ef oedd y Brenin cyntaf i arddel yr enw Edward wedi’r concwest Normanaidd ym 1169, ac felly ei bod yn gwneud synnwyr i’w alw’n Edward I.

Difyr hefyd yw’r pwyslais a roddodd Morris ar y ffordd y gwnaeth Edward I ymdrin ag Iddewon yn ystod ei deyrnasiad. Ymhell cyn dyddiau Hitler,‘roedd Edward wedi eu herlid a’u lladd wrth eu miloedd. Er bod hyn eisioes wedi cael sylw mewn amryw o astudiaethau, mae Morris yn gwneud cyfiawnder â’r anghyfiawnder amlwg hwnnw, drwy ei osod o fewn cyd-destun y cyfnod. Nid yw’n barnu a dadansoddi’r hyn a wnaeth Edward yn unol â safonnau heddiw, gan felly fod mor gytbwys ag mae modd bod “[Edward] was, it is true, the first European leader to carry out an expulsion on a nationwide scale, but this only goes to show that he was a powerful leader of a preconsciously united Kingdom”.

Rhoddir sylw digonol gan Morris i holl frwydrau Edward yng Ngymru, yr Alban a Ffrainc ynghyd a’r croesgadau amrywiol y bu’n rhan ohonynt. Mae’n rhestru’n gronolegol yr hyn ddigwyddodd mewn ffordd deg iawn, gan dynnu sylw at wendidau a chryfderau pob carfan wahanol. Ond eto, nid yw’n dod a’r brwydrau gwaedlyd hyn na’r cymeriadau oedd yn rhan ohonynt, megis Llywelyn, Robert Bruce, William Wallace ynghyd a Philip IV o Ffrainc, yn fyw i’r darllenydd. Yn wir, er mod i wedi dysgu llawer amdanyn nhw oll, dydw i ddim yn teimlo fy mod i’n gwybod rhyw lawer amdanyn nhw mewn gwirionedd. Arwynebol hefyd yw’r hyn y mae’n ei ddweud ynglyn a pherthynas Edward gyda’r wahanol ranbarthau a chymeriadau. Esh i’n flin iawn fwy nag unwaith efo Morris am ei fynych gyfeiriadau at yr Alban a Chymru fel ‘celtic cousins’ , heb esbonio arwyddocad hynny na chwaith egluro pam yr oedd yn dweud hynny. Ymddangosai hyn braidd yn or-syml fel dadansoddiad. Gyda chymaint bellach wedi ei ysgrifennu am gydberthynas y gwahanol wledydd a rhanbarthau o fewn ynysoedd Prydain yn yr oesoedd canol, roeddwn yn disgwyl gwell.

Dyma wendid pennaf y llyfr. Er bod y ffeithiau i gyd yno, mae ’r ymdriniaeth a’r dehongliad yn eithaf arwynebol. Mae yna dueddiad, gan ei fod wedi ei ysgrifennu’n gronolegol, iddi ymddangos fel petai Morris yn rhestru yn hytrach na dadansoddi’r hyn ddigwyddodd. Dyma pam, dwi’n amau, y gwnes i syrthio i gysgu droeon wrth ddarllen y llyfr. Er fy mod yn cael y ffeithiau yn hynod ddifyr, ynghyd a’r cynnwys, doedd dim ynglyn a’r arddull yn fy nghyffroi. ‘Roedd y pennodau’n hir, ac yn waeth na dim, yn feichus a llafurus i’w darllen hefyd. Tydi hynny byth yn arwydd da. Dwi’n cofio rhuthro i ddarllen llyfr hanes Cymru R. R. Davies, The Age of Conquest, er gwaetha’r ffaith ei fod yn lyfr eithaf trwm. Does dim rhaid i hanes y canol oesoedd gael ei ysgrifennu mewn arddull mor ddi-fflach. Yn hynny o beth, dwi’n feirniadol iawn o Morris.

Efallai felly mai prif broblem yr astudiaeth yw’r ffaith bod yr awdur wedi dewis ymdriniath gronolegol yn hytrach na thematig. Dwi’n meddwl y byddai ei ysgrifennu yn thematig wedi ysgafnhau rhywfaint ar y llyfr, gan ei wneud yn llai llethol. Byddai hefyd wedi rhoi cyfle i Morris gynnig mwy o ddehongliadau yn hytrach na dim ond adrodd hanes yr hyn a ddigwyddodd.

Serch hynny, mewn rhyw ffordd od, dwi’n meddwl bod Morris yn llwyddo i wneud cyfiawnder ag Edward ei hunan. Mae’n ei bortreadu mewn ffordd gydymdeimladol, ac yn tynnu sylw at yr hyn a gyflawnodd Edward yn ystod ei deyrnasiad. Yn hynny o beth, byddwn yn awgrymu bod y llyfr hwn yn fan cychwyn da i unrhyw un sydd eisiau gwneud ymchwil pellach i fywyd Edward. Mae’n gosod sylfaen gadarn gan ei fod yn dilyn gyrfa y brenin hwn o’r cychwyn i’r diwedd. Yn bersonol, fodd bynnag, credaf bod llyfrau Powicke a Prestwich dipyn difyrrach os mai dim ond un llyfr am Edward I mae rhywun eisiau ei ddarllen. Er nad ydi llyfr Morris ymhell o fod yn fethiant, dwi’n ei chael hi’n anodd iawn ei argymell gan na wnaeth fy ysbrydoli mewn unrhyw ffordd. Heblaw, wrth gwrs, eich bod chi’n insomniac. Os felly, dwi’n awgrymu’n gryf iawn eich bod yn prynu copi, a hynny ar fyrder. Gewch chi noson wych o gwsg!

Friday, June 27, 2008

Lembit Opik = idiot

Is it just me, or is there anyone else out there wondering how the hell this man is still an MP? All I ever see him doing is posing with his very cheeky fiancee. He always has this stupid, awkward grin on his face and she's there, posing next to him (usually with her twin sister) in ridiculously tiny outfits which five year old girls might wear to fancy dress parties if they were allowed to dress themselves without any guidance. I honestly believe its disrespectful to his constituency and his constituents that he seems far more interested in becoming a celebrity rather than doing his best for them, as he should be.

Being an MP is an honour. There's so much good you can achieve in that position which will have an impact on local people. You shouldn't become one in the hope that you'll become a celebrity. Indeed, if you're an MP and you're regularly appearing in celebrity gossip magazines rather than the good old Daily Post or the Western Mail, or even Farmers Weekly, then you should be asking yourself some serious questions. You should not be revelling in it.

A few weeks ago, during a Welsh Grand Committee meeting, Lembit Opik was spotted reading intently. And his magazine of choice? OK or Hello magazine. Seriously. During a debate about Wales, that was his main concern. Its not good enough, and if I was one of his constituents and I ever saw him in a newsagents, I'd grab a copy of either magazine and hit him over the head with it.

He also has a terrible habit of popping in to debates at parliament rather than staying for their full duration. As a result, he often makes the most ridiculous comments which have no relevance to the subject under discussion. Yet, every time he does this, its noted that he's spoken. He can then say to his constituents that he's spoken so many times on different issues. What they don't realise is that there's no substance to those contributions and, therefore, he's not ensuring that the opinions of his constituents are adequately and properly relayed to Parliament. This following quote from a debate last Wednesday is a classic:

"Lembit Öpik: I am grateful to the Minister for giving way to me, and I shall be brief. He mentioned the public's right to be heard, but many people are worried about how areas subject to flooding and standing water are handled. Is he confident that the new planning process will give local residents the opportunity to have their opinions heard before the Environment Agency turns an area into a standing water flood plain?

John Healey: I rather regret giving way to the hon. Gentleman now, as he has a habit of coming in halfway through a debate and going off half-cocked. The Bill does not cover those matters, nor does it touch that part of the planning system."

If you have any relatives in Montgomeryshire, please point these things out to them. They deserve better. And no, Sian Lloyd hasn't paid me to say this in case you were wondering!

Ha ha...

Sorry, but I can't help but have a little giggle this morning after seeing the results of the Henley by-election last night. Labour was fifth! That's even worse than the fourth position they feared... Actually quite scary that even the BNP beat them. I'm starting to think even Plaid Cymru could have done better than Labour if we'd put up a candidate for Boris Johnson's old seat!

Its quite shocking how quickly Labour's support has disintegrated since Gordon Brown became Prime Minister an exact year ago to today. I doubt there will be many celebrations to mark the occasion at Downing Street. I think Gordon Brown would probably hit anyone who dared present him with a birthday cake today - or at the very least dunk their heads into it! It just proves that you can never get too big for your boots as a political party, or ever dare to take public support for granted. Honestly, after 1997, I thought it would be at least another 18 years before we'd see a Conservative government. It just seemed totally inconceivable that the Tories would be able to pose a serious threat to Labour within a decade. At least one thing has remained constant in British politics in that time. The Lib Dems are as stagnant as ever!

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Planning Bill


The Planning Bill is being debated in parliament this afternoon, and I'm shocked that only a handful of MPs are in the chamber. One of the MPs I work for, Elfyn Llwyd, was on the committee for the bill and I'm glad to see him in the chamber, putting his opinions forward. Rightly so, he opposes a number of elements within the bill which will, if passed, actually make the planning process even less democratic than it is now! And that's certainly saying something...

We still don't know who the people on the IPC - who would have most of the decision making powers - will be. We also don't have any guarantee that this bill won't infringe on some of the Assembly's decision making powers in this regard... And also, there's the whole issue that nuclear power stations could now be built far easier.

It always makes me worry about any politicial decision when the Sun newspaper comes out firmly in support of a bill. And that's what happened this morning: http://www.thesun.co.uk/sol/homepage/news/article1337600.ece. Is anyone else even more concerned about this bill after reading that?!

Yet again, here I am wishing people would vote on the basis of common sense and logic and oppose yet another ridiculous bill rather than voting the way their bosses are telling them to. And by bosses, I mean Brown and co rather than their actual bosses - the voters. Doesn't Labour realise that this is exactly why they are losing support? MPs need to start taking decisions which are in the best interest of the people who elected them. The government shouldn't automatically win every vote. A true democracy relies on a government winning and losing votes after a case has been argued and won or lost. Surely, its not just me who'd like to see politics going back to basics and operating on such a basis?!

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Trwsgwl

Fel gwyr unrhyw un sydd yn fy adnabod yn dda, dwi'n hynod o drwsgwl a dwi hefyd yn cleisio'n hawdd. Dyna pam, heddiw, dwi'n gleisiau drostaf ac yn gorfod gwisgo dillad sydd yn cuddio fy mreichiau a fy nghoesau. Fel arall, dwi'n siwr fysa pobl yn meddwl mod i'n 'cage fighter' rhyngwladol yn fy amser sbar - ddim cweit y ddelwedd orau i gael pan yda chi'n trio edrych yn barchus o gwmpas San Steffan.

Nesh i lwyddo i gael y rhai diweddaraf mewn ffordd sydd yn fy ngwneud i wrido. Roeddwn yn digwydd bod yn teithio nol neithiwr ar yr un tube a fy Aelod Seneddol lleol, Albert Owen. Er ein bod ni'n dau yn perthyn i ddwy blaid wahanol ac er yr hoffwn fod yn ymgeisydd ym Mon rhyw ddiwrnod, cawsom sgwrs iawn. Hynny yw, tan nesh i golli fy malans yn llwyr a disgyn drosodd. Doeddwn i ddim yn gwybod beth i'w ddweud, heblaw cyfaddef fy mod yn hynod o drwsgwl ac nad oedd hyn yn rhywbeth anghyffredin yn fy mywyd. Wrth gwrs, fe aeth pethau hyd yn oed yn waeth. Wrth gamu oddi ar y tube fe wnaeth strap fy mag falu. A do mi welodd Albert hyn hefyd. Dwi'n cochi rwan wrth feddwl pa mor ddi-drefn oeddwn i'n ymddangos. Dwi jest yn gobeithio bod o ddim yn meddwl mod i'n feddw ac yn derbyn fy esboniad mai jest anhygoel o drwsgwl ydw i! Siwr fydd o ofn hyd yn oed dweud helo yn y dyfodol...

Felly os welwch chi fi gyda clais neu cleisiau mawr rhyw dro, fyddwch chi'n dallt rwan nad oes unrhywbeth dramatig wedi digwydd. Fel hyn ydw i'n anffodus. A wel... Mae na bethau gwaeth na ambell i glais yn y byd yma!

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Ireland and the Lisbon Treaty. Hmm...

I've been pondering over this issue for a few days, and thinking if I should post something about it. After all, I did live in Ireland for seven years and if I was still there, I would have had a vote last week. And how would I have voted? Well, like the vast majority of my friends, I would have voted 'Yes'. Not that I agree with everything that's contained in the treaty, but I do believe in Europe. I also believe in progress, and I think that's what this treaty will achieve if it is ever ratified.

I know many of my Irish friends are extremely disappointed with the result. They have been angered by the lies told by the 'No' campaign in order to scaremonger people and force a No vote. It also didn't help that Murdoch's newspapers came out, as you would accept, typically xenophobic and anti-Europe. I wish people would stop being swayed by what the 'Sun' thinks! Its so frustrating!

Ireland has always been a strong supporter of Europe and has, of course, benefited hugely from being a member of the EU. But this Treaty tried to push too many things through at once, thus giving the no campaign ample opportunity to spin the argument. People thought that if they voted yes, abortion would be legalised in Ireland and that Irish men would be forced to fight in an EU army. Crazy! And yet, these lies managed to sway the result...

Plaid Cymru were firmly in favour of a referendum on the treaty, and I think that would have been wise. The treaty will have implications on all of our lives and as such, should be considered carefully and democratically. However, would the No campaign here in the UK have been any wiser or fairer? I suspect not, given that the Sun has even more of a sway here. Indeed, I think its fair to assume that the No camp would have won my by a larger margin here which is a depressing thought.

Wales as an independent state within the European Union could flourish, and I hope that we don't start adopting negative attitudes towards it just because of this treaty. Indeed, we have often used Ireland as an example of how a small nation can benefit from being a member of the EU. Lessons do need to be learned from last week's vote, and Wales should keep an eye on what's happening over in the Emerald Isle. Let's hope that this shock wave leads to the strengthening and democratising of the EU, rather than undermining it.

Buzzzzz.... Don't kill the honey bee (but wasps are ok)!


There's a debate in Westminster Hall today about the future of the bee industry. Its not something I'd ever thought about before, but given that I do like honey and even had some on my porridge this morning, I thought I'd read up about it.

It seems our bees are under threat. A deadly virus spread by the Varroa mite is threatening them, and as a result Britain's bee population has been drastically reduced. Given that in 2001 there were around 4000 beekeepers in Wales, with approximately 20,000 hives, and that it is now estimated that up to 60% of their stock has been eradicated, something needs to be done urgently if we are to protect the industry.

Luckily for the Welsh beekeepers, the Welsh Assembly Government (WAG) has expressed its commitment to helping to save endangered bees. Indeed, WAG annualy contributes £280, 825 to the Central Science Laboratory (CSL) and the National Bee Unit (NBU), which funds eight Seasonal Bee Inspectors during the summer and one Regional Bee Inspector full time, to control bee disease in Wales and to improve beekeeping education and husbandry practices. Some of this cost is reclaimed from the EU under the Honey Programme.

There is one way all of us can help the plight of the poor bee though, and that's by not killing them unnecessarily. Indeed, Tom Pegg from the Pembrokeshire Bee Keepers Association was quoted in the Daily Post recently, urging people to try and recognise the difference between the honey bee and a wasp before killing them dead. So, my message to you - its fine to kill wasps, but if you like honey and want to see the production of it continue in Wales, be mindful of swatting a bee with your newspaper!

Thursday, June 12, 2008

David Davis


I'm in shock! For the first, and probably the last time in my life, I agree with something a Tory has said and done. I think David Davis has been amazingly brave to resign as a Member of Parliament after last night's vote, which saw the Government narrowly win the vote to increase the number of days terrorist suspects can be detained without charge from 28 to 42. Indeed, I'd go as far as to say I admire him for it. At last, a politician (other than a Plaid Cymru one) has taken a stance about the erosion of civil liberties, and is pushing the issue to the forefront of the political agenda. This is exactly what I was hoping for when I was writing my 1984 entry yesterday. I just hope people will take notice, and that it will have some impact on future decisions.

It will be interesting to see what happens in the by-election, and see who will run against Davis. I think Clegg has done his first sensible thing since becoming the leader of the Lib Dems in saying that they won't be putting up a candidate against him. It could turn into a straight Labour-Tory fight: I certainly wouldn't want to be in the shoes of that Labour candidate! I doubt he or she will even get their deposit back...

Of course, it could all backfire. Gladstone is a hero of Davis', who was of course famous himself for campaigning on a single issue. The public could well turn against him for forcing them to consider one issue. Nobody likes being dictated to, and no he may well come to regret taking such a firm stance.

I'm looking forward to seeing the coverage on this in tomorrow's newspapers. Let's hope the emphasis is on civil liberties, rather than the implications this decision will have on Cameron and Brown. Hmmm... I think we have an interesting time ahead!

http://petitions.pm.gov.uk/42daylimit/

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

1984

George Orwell's book has become synonymous to the world we live in today, especially since the Labour party came into government in 1997. Its frightening to think the degree to which our civil liberties have eroded since then, all in the name of course of making our communities safer. Only, that strategy is obviously not working. Our streets are getting more dangerous by the day. Indeed, people have to be constantly on guard even in our most rural societies. Schools aren't even safe, and our Dr's and nurses get attacked daily, let alone the police, fighterfighters and paramedics - all of whom should be respected for the services they provide us. The world's just gone crazy!

Something is fudamentally wrong, and its frightening me to see that the UK government are happy to pursue similar policies. Ok, so tabloids are more than happy to constantly scaremonger about crime and offer right wing extreme solutions but where are those Labour politicians who are proposing real and effective solutions?

Simply clamping down and passing more and more laws that allow the state to spy on us or restrict our lives isn't right. And why aren't more people speaking out against it? It seems to me that freedom of speech is fastly disappearing. Any one who speaks out is seen as an annoyance, and the apathy in Britain today is shocking. Even good investigative journalism is becoming a thing of the past, and there are very few people willing to take a stance these days.

Laws such as extending the number of days in which you can detain a terrorist suspect without charge from 28 to 42 are just insane. How do you define a terrorist? Could a language activist end up in that category one day? Or just someone who's displaying eccentric tendencies?

I think this Labour government would be happy to strip away everyone's individuality and force us just to become some boring clones, who can't think for ourselves and never object to anything. And even if we do want to object, we won't be able to do so as the system won't allow it. What's being proposed in the Planning Bill is a perfect example of that...

I hope people truly start to realise what's going on and begin taking an active role in politics before we really do turn into a 1984 society. We cannot let fiction become a reality. Personally, I feel that by strengthening the devolution process, Wales will be able to withstand this threat. Bring on the referendum and pray to god (anyone of them) that we win it!

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Diwedd cyfnod...

Fe fuodd fy hen ewythr, Yncl George, farw echnos. Brawd Nain oedd o, ac er nad oedd wedi bod gant y cant ers tro ac er ei fod yn ei wythdegau, mae dal yn drist iawn nad ydio mwyach hefo ni. Roedd o'n ddyn hyfryd, gyda synnwyr digrifwch anhygoel (fel y byddech yn disgwyl os ydych yn nabod unrhyw aelod o'r teulu Anwyl!). Roeddwn i'n ei addoli pan oeddwn yn hogan fach, fel yr oedd fy Mam i pan oedd hithau'n fach. Yn wir, wedi i Dad fy Mam farw pan oedd hi'n naw oed, fe fu hi'n agos iawn at Yngl George. Ef wnaeth ei hebrwng i'r capel pan oedd hi'n priodi fy Nhad, a dwi'n gwybod bod hynny wedi golygu lot iddi hi.

Os dwi'n onest, ef oedd un o fy hoff berthnasau. Mae yna un rheswm amlwg iawn am hyn... Pan o'n i'n iau, 'roedd o'n arfer rhedeg garej yn Llanbrynmair (yr un jest cyn ichi fynd dros Clywedog sydd bellach wedi cau) ac roedd ganddo gwt fel rhan o'r busnes oedd yn llawn losin neu da-da. Nefoedd i unrhyw blentyn! 'Roedd o'n arfer bod yn hael iawn gyda fi a fy nghyfneither, ac fel gwyr unrhyw un, mae losin yn ffordd dda iawn i gael at calon unrhyw un o dan ddeuddeg oed. 'Roedd o hefyd yn hynod o annwyl gyda ni, ac yn llawn straeon difyr. Fydd hi'n chwith iawn hebddo...

[My great Uncle George, one of my Grandmothers brothers, died this week. He was a wonderful man - a real prankster, kind hearted and interesting. He will be greatly missed by us all in the family).

Monday, June 9, 2008

Dychwelyd i Lundain...

Roeddwn i'n Nghymru am y penwythnos, a mae'n rhaid imi gyfaddef nad oeddwn yn edrych ymlaen i ddychwelyd i Lundain neithwir. A dweud y gwir, roeddwn yn teimlo reit ddigalon ar y tren ac yn meddwl am yr holl siwrne pa mor braf fyddai medru aros yng ngwlad y gan yn hytrach na dychwelyd i'r ddinas fawr ddrwg. Gwir, 'roedd rhesymau personol yn rhan o'r rheswm pam nad oeddwn eisiau gadael Cymru ond hefyd, roeddwn wir wedi mwynhau a gwerthfawrogi prydferthwch ein gwlad. Mae yna lefydd gwirioneddol ogoneddus yno, a doedd y syniad o adael cefn gwlad a mynd nol i ganol dinas wir ddim yn apelio. Yn wir, yr unig beth go iawn oedd yn rhoi hwb imi ddychwelyd oedd fy swydd. Dwi wir yn mwynhau pob eiliad ohoni, a dyna'r unig apel o ran bod yn Llundain os dwi'n onest.

Er bod fy nghalon yn teimlo'n drom wrth gyrraedd Paddington, cefais fy siomi ar yr ochr ochrau wrth drafeilio nol i fy fflat ar y bws. 'Roedd Llundain yn llawn bywyd. 'Roedd hi wedi bod yn hynod o braf o ran tywydd ddoe, ac roedd pawb allan yn eu dillad haf, rhai wrthi'n dychwelyd o'r parc gyda basged picnic ac eraill dal i fwynhau yn nhafarndai'r ddinas. Roedd rheini i gyd yn orlawn, a pawb allan yn mwynhau Bulmers yn bennaf - gyda rhew wrth gwrs. Hefyd, roedd yna BBQs yn mynd ymlaen mewn nifer o dai a pawb oeddwn i'n eu pashio ar y stryd yn gwenu o glust i glust. Yn sydyn, doedd Llundain ddim yn ymddangos mor amhersonol a'r arfer. Yn wir, roedd yna ran ohonof yn eithaf balch o'r ffaith fy mod yn cael cyfle i fyw yma, am gyfnod o leiaf. Efallai bod fy nghalon yng Nghymru, ond tra dwi yn y swydd yma, dwi'n meddwl bod rhaid imi ddechrau gwerthfawrogi Llundain a cymeryd mantais o'r hyn sydd gan y ddinas i'w gynnig. Hyd yn oed os mai yfed Cider tu allan i dafarn ar ddiwrnod braf yw hynny!

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Cuba


What an amazing place! I returned home just under a week ago after my first ever visit there, and I must say that it exceeded my high expectations. It was a phenomenal place - full of history, amazing weather, beautiful beaches, delicious and decadent cocktails and above all a vibrancy that I've never witnessed anywhere else on earth (not even in maes b, during the national eisteddfod!).

I went over on a Plaid Cymru organised trip but which we all individually paid for, with ordinary party members, some staff, a number of councillors, three AMs (including one Minister) and two MPs. It was quite a mix of people from different areas in Wales (Gogs and Hwntws alike) and we certainly had quite a bonding experience, from swimming in the heavenly Caribbean sea, visiting a school, listening to various communist party members giving us the official party lines (there were quite a few of those!), drinking mojitos, singing hen wlad fy nhadau in the British Embassy and drinking the place dry of rum for the first time in its history, learning to salsa, walking aroung Havana and generally just soaking up the Cuban atmosphere.

It is a poor country, and its very obvious that the embargoes imposed by the US has had a detrimental effect on the economy. Even many the houses in the rich area of Havana looked in need of some serious work and a lick of paint, and you could smell sewage when walking around some of the back streets. Cats and dogs looked scarily scrawny, and money making scams were to be seen everywhere. Despite this, what struck me the most was that the people, on the whole, seemed happy. They were so welcoming and kind and made us feel most at ease there - almost as though we were real comrades. They certainly all put us to shame with their dancing too - salsa is far sexier to watch than our normal disco dancing!

I've been tasked with writing up a diary of the week, and once I've put the finishing touches to it, I'll post it up here but I thought I'd give you a little taster for now. I hope I've wet your appetite to read more about the trip!