Friday, January 30, 2009

Result!

You may recall a few months ago that I wrote about Elfyn's campaign about veterans in prison. He was concerned that they weren't being adequately supported once they'd left the army, and that more should be done to help them adapt to 'normal' life. Indeed, it was Elfyn and NAPO who found out that at least one in every ten of prisoners are ex-servicemen. The Government agreed to act on the issue, and now the Tories have today jumped on the band wagon as well.

Obviously, no credit is given to Elfyn but undoubtedly their plan is based on his work. Who said Plaid Cymru achieves nothing in parliament as a small party? Here we have Labour and the Tories both agreeing to take positive steps to help veterans. Now, if we could only get all of them to sign up to Welsh independence... One step at a time eh?

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Skinny = happy?

I was saddened to read in the papers today about the sudden death of an eighteen year old girl who was suffering from anorexia. It's shocking that someone so young and so beautiful, with everything to live for, feels the need to starve herself to death. And unfortunately so many people seem to think that skinny= better.

Take for instance a girl who was on the tube last night. She and her boyfriend were reading the paper, and there was a very unflattering picture of the singer Jessica Simpson printed in it. Yes, she has gained weight but she's not in any way obese. She looks a healthy size 12 or 14. In other words normal. And these two were there, making fun of her saying she was a total fat pig. Then the girl said out loud that she'd rather die than be that size. Her boyfriend agreed, saying he'd dump her if she ever looked like that. They weren't kidding. She then went on to describe how she'd stuffed herself at lunch by having some tuna with a salad, and a yoghurt, before adding - "at least I didn't have any carbs". I could have killed her...

I'm someone who's always struggled with my weight, but in a completely different way. As I've mentioned before, I've been seriously obese in the past (weighing at least seven stone more than I do now) and I find it very difficult to maintain a normal weight. When I did lose a serious amount of weight a few years ago, I became obsessed after a few months. I was exercising like a lunatic and living on negative calories - leading me to faint several times a day - and if I'd eaten a huge meal, I would occasionally make myself sick. Ok, I was slightly thinner than I am now but I was so miserable. I didn't have any energy, I was totally obsessed with my weight and apperance and looked pale and gaunt. It wasn't attractive, and it certainly didn't make me happier. Luckily I was able to realise this, and snap out of it before it became a problem but not everyone is as lucky. I really feel for them as I know how easy it is to develop a problem.

I'd love to be a stone or two lighter, but as I've gotten older, I've become more philosophical about things. As long as I'm healthy and happy, who cares if I don't have the most perfect body and a few lumps and bumps. Once I move to Cardiff, I am going to up my exercise regime and hopefully get much fitter in time for summer. But I won't ever become that obsessed again. There are far worse things to worry about than a few extra pounds. I wish other young women, like that girl on the tube, realised that. We can't all look like models. It's a shame so many of us think we have to in the world we live in today.

That's why I fully support Bethan Jenkins who's promoting the True Beauty Competition and working to raise awareness about eating disorders. Check out the following link for further details.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Breaking News...

Well, I'm moving back to Wales in March. I have a new job working for Amgueddfa Cymru as their policy and advocacy co-ordinator, based in Cardiff. I can't wait! Though my current job is by far the best and most exciting job I've ever had, regular readers will know that I'm not London's biggest fan. Having lived in Ireland for years before London, its also been years since I last lived in the motherland. Time to come home I think.

Don't worry, it's not the end of my involvement with Welsh politics and I will still be posting on this blog. Perhaps I'll now be able to express a few more of my own opinions, without worrying that I'd be embarrassing my members. Well, once I've finished here of course!

I'll post about my experiences here in Parliament at a later date, but for now, I can honestly say its been a privilege to work for the three MPs and also with their various offices. I'll miss visiting the Caernarfon and Dolgellau constituency offices in particular (never got the chance to go to Rhydaman) as that was always great fun and a great source of information! We even exchanged mincemeat recipes there...oh, as well as high brow political discussions of course!

So, I have six weeks left now to finish everything off here and get ready for my new challenge. I wonder what will happen between now and then...

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Cameron plans less MPs

According to the Financial Times today, David Cameron plans to cut down on the number of MPs if he is elected. This means that Wales could lose maybe 10 MPs or more out of the current 40. Once Wales has full legislative powers, then this, of course makes sense. But until that day, such a move would be premature and would deal a serious blow to democracy and mean that Wales, whose voice is already swamped in parliament, would disappear further from the agenda.

Given that the Tory party refuse to commit to further legislative powers, indeed, they even say that they will re-examine if Devolution is necessary if they win the next General Election, how can Cameron seriously be propsing this? It's just a stupid and populist call, and shows, once again, that proper political representation for Wales isn't important to the Tory party. If I was a Welsh Tory, I'd be ashamed of such a proposal and call on my party leader to state clearly his vision for Wales in the future. The electorate deserve to know the truth about what they would do about devolution and also about political representation in Wales. This matter is fartoo important to play about with after the election, and conservative party members and candidates should push for a decision to be made by the leadership on this issue sooner rather than later. Keeping quiet on this issue is not an option if they ever want the people of Wales to be able to trust them.

Friday, January 9, 2009

Education, education, education...

When you work for a political party, you spend the majority of your time reacting to things and rarely get a chance to sit down, plan and think about your own views about different issues. I've been trying to make time recently to really think about the future of devolution in Wales, and how it can be taken forward. Indeed, I've even been asking myself if it's practical for us to ask for an extension in power at this point in time. Questions like these are important I think. It's very easy for an individual to form an opinion, and stick slavishly to it but if you don't question yourself and your beliefs, and take stock of them from time to time, then how can they ever develop? Closing your mind to other viewpoints, even those from different political parties, is a dangerous thing and unfortunately, far too many politicians are guilty of it. They like to claim that they represent 'the views of the people' but how many of them actually listen to the electorate? How many patronise their constituents by telling them what they need, rather than simply asking them?

I also think that there's far too much pressure within political parties on members to follow party lines, and not break rank. I've complained about this before, and would like to see far more backbenchers vote against the Government on issues that they are opposed to rather than striking deals behind closed doors and then voting with the Government so they don't lose face. They're not elected to be yes men or women. They are there to represent their constituency, and that should be foremost in their minds. Of course, you do need discipline within a party. But that doesn't mean that you can't speak out against your party if you disagree. It takes courage or great stupidity to do that in the current political climate, and you're seen as a rebel if you dare agree with someone from a different party or dare criticize one of your own. That shouldn't be the case. Politics should be all about doing the best that you can for the people you represent. I wish that truly was the case...

My personal passions when it comes to politics is education and culture, though I'm also interested in economics and rural affairs issues as well. Of course, there are other important topics such as health, the environment and justice but I'm talking here about my own interests.

I've come to believe that the only way devolution can truly work is if the Assembly is given actual powers, and that we have politicians who can actually do something of worth with those powers. There needs to be a clear vision for Wales, based on realistic and ambitious policies. Without them there is a danger that it will be just a talking shop, making minor changes but not really making a difference. And what's the point of that? We need far-reaching and long terms plans, not ones which are modified with the latest buzzwords in order to win an election every four years. A four year manifesto won't be able to change Wales, and political parties have a responsibility to think about the development of the nation. Something is lacking at the moment, and that something, I believe is forward thinking and planning.

The first area I'd tackle if I was First Minister would be education. It's the key to the future, and also the key to boosting our economy. I believe there needs to be a complete overhaul of the whole education sector. It's not working in its current form. Basic skills and general knowledge are lacking, and standards are definitely dropping. Teachers aren't to blame for this. They are working harder than ever, and are under a huge amount of strain in terms of paper work and so on. They aren't given adequate time to actually teach children properly because of curriculum constraints. No wonder, therefore, that some children are leaving school without the most basic skills.

And don't get me started on University education. I'm horrified at how Universities are turned into businesses, to the detriment of standards. Instead of at looking at the quality of education offered, they are lowering standards and getting rid of what are seen as unprofitable courses, particularly those in the arts, and creating populist and pointless ones. This is dangerous to the development of our country. Culture needs to be protected, and if it's not protected even within Universities, then it is in grave danger.

Governments in every country tend to take a bit by bit approach to education. They look at the university sector and try and reform it. They look at 16-19 education, then maybe 7-11 year olds. That's why there are so many holes in the current system. I think we need to change the way we fundamentally think about education. It needs to be far more fluid, and there should be more emphasis on individuals rather than targets. Nobody has thought about taking the time and effort to look at it as a whole, from beginning to end. Education should be a life-long experience, and we therefore should have a radical approach to reforming a system which is currently letting everybody down.

If we were to re-write the rules when it comes to education and take some bold steps, the benefits to the country within twenty years would be immense. Our economy would flourish, and so would the health and intellect of our population. Culture would not be for the privileged, but just a natural part of life. Most importantly of all, we'd have enough capable politicians to take the country forward.

Obviously, this is just a blog post and a brief overview of what I think needs to happen. I'd be interested in hearing your views about the education system. What would you change if you had your way? What's working, and what isn't? And what are your views about free fees in higher education? This is something we should all be thinking about, and if devolution is to ever work properly and be extended, I believe that education should be at the very heart of it. It would make us better equipped as nation to deal with global economic crashes such as the one we are experiencing now.

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Changing my mind...

I've been adamant since the end of 2007 that the next General Election will take place in 2009, to the extent that it's been my mission for the past few months to convince everyone around me that one will definitely take place within the first six months of 2009. Indeed, I've succeeded to convince the majority. But tonight, I'm filled with doubt for the first time in ages and I'd be interested in hearing your predictions...

After watching his interview on the BBC on Sunday morning, I think he may well stay until 2010. He has a plan for the economy, or at least he seems to think he has one, and I don't think he's the type to let someone else take over. He's too much of a control freak. Even now he's Prime Minister, he still acting as though he's also the Chancellor. All Alistair Darling seems to do is stand there reading statements about the economy whilst wriggling his dark eyebrows. It's obvious that he's Brown's little puppet...

So if you were betting people, when would you say the election will take place? I doubt even Gordon Brown knows himself to be honest, hence why we all seem confused! After all, these are unpredictable times.

Diwedd y gwyliau

Tydi hi'n ddigalon meddwl bod y gwyliau bellach drosodd. Ar ol oes yn edrych ymlaen at fod 'adre ac at y Nadolig, fedra'i ddim coelio bod hi'n amser dychwelyd i Lundain yn barod. Dwi heb wneud chwarter y pethau ro'n i wedi gobeithio eu gwneud, na gweld fy ffrindiau i gyd hyd yn oed. Wrth gwrs, mae 'na reswm am hynny ar ol ein drama teuluol gyda Joe yn yr ysbyty a wedyn gweithio yn nhafarn Mam... Ond eto, mae'n deimlad rhwystredig iawn meddwl bo fi heb gael amser go iawn i wir mwynhau bod adre na chwaith cysgu hanner gymaint a o'n i'n gobeithio ei wneud!

Mae'r ty yn teimlo mor wag rwan bod pawb wedi mynd a bod yr addurniadau wedi eu cadw nol yn y selar. Dwi wrth fy modd pan mae'r goeden i fyny, ac ro'n i'n casau ei rhoi allan heno'n barod i'w hail-gylchu er dwi'n gwybod y bydd Mam yn flin iawn i weld bod ei nodwyddau ym mhobman yn y lolfa. Dydi'n sugnwr llwch ni ddim yn gweithio ar y funud felly dwi 'di bod wrthi ar fy ngliniau yn ceisio eu codi fedul un. Dydi hynny ddim yn gweithio'n dda iawn pan mae yna ganoedd o'r diawled! Cofiwch, er gwaetha fy ngwyno, mae dal well gen i gael coeden go-iawn na un blastig. Mae'n gwneud i'r ty deimlo'n fwy cartrefol yn fy marn i, a rhoi arogl Nadoligaidd i'r lle. Er mae'r canwyllau arogl Nadolig yn help gyda hynny hefyd!

Wrth gadw popeth yn eu bocsus, yr hyn oedd yn mynd drwy fy meddwl oedd be fydd wedi digwydd i mi'n bersonol ac yn y byd rhwng rwan a pam fyddai yn rhoi'r addurniadau fyny tro nesa. Dyna drwg dolig a flwyddyn newydd weithia. Mae rhywun yn cael gormod o amser i feddwl a gor-ddadansoddi popeth. Falla dylwn i felly fod yn ddiolchgar mod i'n dychwelyd i'r gwaith wythnos yma. Wel, o leia wna'i ddim mwydro fy mhen gyda pethau athronyddol wedyn. Ddylwn i fod yn llawer rhy brysur i hynny! Ac ella hefyd y ca'i gyfle i weithredu ar fy addunedau, yn hytrach na jest meddwl amdanynt. Amser a ddengys...

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Blwyddyn Newydd Dda!

Wel, mae 2009 wedi cyrraedd o'r diwedd. Sgwn i be ddigwyddith eleni? Fydd yna etholiad cyffredinol? Wna'i redeg ras fel dwi 'di bod yn dweud y gwna'i? A pa anturiaethau sydd o'n blaenau i gyd?

Gobeithio gewch chi gyd flwyddyn wych. Da chi 'di gwneud unrhyw addunedau? Mi ydw i, ond mae nhw i gyd reit ddiflas.

1. Ail-gychwyn rhedeg a cic focsio- RHAID imi gael yn fwy ffit!

2. Gorffen sgwennu fy nofel

3. Cadw mewn gwell cysylltiad gyda fy ffrindiau a fy nheulu

4. Gwneud fy ngradd 8 Piano

5. Cofio sgwennu ar fy mlog!

O, ac os oes etholiad cyffredinol eleni, wel mae yna chweched hefyd.... Helpu i gynyddu pleidlais Plaid Cymru a sicrhau bod ganddo ni fwy o Aelodau Seneddol! Amser a ddengys...