Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Dafydd Wigley in Machynlleth!


Well, a great start to my day today - met Dafydd Wigley in Machynlleth. Dafydd is a hero of mine and a true inspiration for us candidates. He's been a great support, and it is greatly appreciated.

Everyone was very excited to see Dafydd Wigley in Machynlleth and it gave my campaign a boost without a shadow of a doubt. If only he could be on the campaign trail all the time in Montgomeryshire - he certainly would win me a lot of votes! Great reaction though and definitely there is a mood for change in the air. I think we'll be seeing a lot more Plaid votes this time if canvassing reports are to believed!

Back to work tomorrow until the election is called, and then unpaid leave from work so I'll be campaigning full time for the duration of the campaign. Can't wait for it now! Should be an interesting battle.

Still no response from the Lib Dems to my questions - well other than an anonymous post that was way below the belt even for them. Think I must have hit a nerve if they attack a first time candidate in such an extreme way. So, I'll wait another day and see what comes. Presuming the answer is no though, and that Lembit didn't forgo his salary whilst he was on a cruise whilst parliament was sitting. But still willing to be corrected if he did actually do the honorable thing and repay his salary for that time.


Saturday, March 27, 2010

A letter to Kirsty

Hello all. This is a letter I emailed to Kirsty Williams yesterday. Since there was no response to my blog post earlier in the week, I thought I better pursue the matter as I think the people of Montgomeryshire have a right to know. Will let you know if I hear back!


Dear Ms Williams,

I am writing to seek clarification about an issue which I think is crucially important, and goes to the very heart of politics. I read with interest earlier this week your press release related to the decision by Plaid Cymru and Labour Assembly Members not to cross the PCS picket line, in which you stated:

“It is easy for Labour and Plaid Cymru AM’s to cancel Assembly business but people will rightly expect that as a matter of principle, if they refuse to cross the picket line to work, they should forgo part of their salary in proportion to the amount of time they spent not working, just like everyone else who was on strike.

“Being on strike means not working and if you’re not working, you shouldn’t be paid – it’s as simple as that. Those Labour and Plaid Cymru AMs who essentially had ‘days off’ should not be paid for the time they were not doing what they are being paid to do."

I would argue that your demand is unreasonable, given that Plaid Cymru and Labour AM’s did continue to work within their constituencies during this day, and thus fulfilled their duties as AM’s to represent and work for their constituents.

However, I do agree with the principle that if an AM or MP don’t fulfil their duties and are in actual fact not working when they should be (and aren’t ill) that they should forgo part of their salary. Which is exactly why I’m asking for your clarification regarding the issue below.
It has been widely reported that the MP for Montgomeryshire, Lembit Opik (my opponent in the upcoming election) went on a paid for cruise whilst parliament was sitting. Since he was obviously not representing his constituents as he should have been, and was in actual fact not working, did Mr Opik forgo his salary for that time? Similarly, are you confident that if he has missed crucial parliamentary or constituency business whilst doing any of the below (taken from http://www.theyworkforyou.com/mp/lembit_opik/montgomeryshire#register) that he has repaid a portion of his salary:

Parliamentary adviser to the Caravan Club of Great Britain. (£5,001-£10,000)
16 January 2010, payment of £6000. Hours: 100 hrs. (Registered 2 February 2010)
Training for the National School of Government. (Up to £5,000)
Broadcasting fees from the BBC. (Up to £5,000)
Fees from ITV for television appearances. (£5,001-£10,000)
Fees for training work for Luther Pendragon.
Journalism for the Daily Sport. (Up to £5,000)
July 2009, received payment of £1600. Hours: 8 hrs. (Registered 2 February 2010)
August 2009, received payment of £1600. Hours: 8 hrs. (Registered 2 February 2010)
September 2009, received payment of £1600. Hours: 8 hrs. (Registered 2 February 2010)
October 2009, received payment of £1600. Hours: 8 hrs. (Registered 2 February 2010)
November 2009, received payment of £1600. Hours: 8 hrs. (Registered 2 February 2010)
December 2009, received payment of £1600. Hours: 8 hrs. (Registered 2 February 2010)
January 2010, received payment of £1600. Hours: 8 hrs. (Registered 2 February 2010)
Payments for articles for Mail on Sunday newspaper, Associated Newspapers Ltd, 2 Derry Street, London W8 5TT:
£1000, 13 August 2009. Hours: 6 hrs. (Registered 2 February 2010)
£1000, 2 September 2009. Hours: 6 hrs. (Registered 2 February 2010)
£20,000 received 9 March 2009. Hours: 40 hrs. (Registered 4 March 2010)
Television appearances arranged via Personal Appearances, 20 North Mount, 1147-1161 High Road, Whetstone, London N20 OPH:
£1000, 'Cash in the Attic', 9 June 2009. Hours: 8 hrs. (Registered 2 February 2010)
£984, 'The King is Dead', 31 July 2009. Hours: 3 hrs. (Registered 2 February 2010)
£400, 'Big Brothers Little Brother', 11 August 2009. Hours: 1 hr. (Registered 2 February 2010)
£191.25, 'The End of the Year Show', 30 October 2009. Hours: 2 hrs. (Registered 9 February 2010)
Payment of £150 for political seminar for GovNet Communications, 3rd Floor, St James Buildings, 79 Oxford Street, Manchester M1 6PP, 23 July 2009. Hours: 1 hr. (Registered 2 February 2010)
Payment of £2000 (plus £390 food and accommodation) for after dinner speech and informal seminar for Avery Healthcare Ltd, 1b Basset Court, Loake Close, Grange Park, Northampton NN4 5EZ, 24 November 2009. Hours: 4 hrs. (Registered 2 February 2010)
Speaking engagement for (Cunard) Carnival plc, 5 Gainsford Street, London SE1 2NE, 29 November-4 December 2009. Hospitality, accommodation and travel to the value of £5752. Hours: 10 hrs. (Registered 2 February 2010)

If the answer is yes, and that Mr Opik has repaid a portion of his salary, then I can only commend you as a party for acting honourably and please forgive my questions. However, if he has not I would ask you as the Leader of the Welsh Liberal Democrats to demand and ensure that he does so, in line with your comments earlier this week. Far too many people have become disillusioned with politics, and think all politicians are crooks. We all have a duty to restore the public’s faith in their representatives by practicing what we preach.

Regards,

Heledd Fychan

Friday, March 26, 2010

Snob!

Now, I never expected that I'd ever call the Ynys Mon MP, Albert Owen, a snob but that's exactly what he is after calling for the Sun to be banned on Dau o'r Bae today! He was scornful of the fact that I'd dared quote the Sun's headline from Thursday - "Darling just screwed more people than JT, Ashley, Mark Owen and Tiger Woods" - during the debate about the budget.

Personally, I'm surprised to see Mr Owen speak so negatively about The Sun. Many of his constituents read it daily, and I find it extremely snobbish that he would disregard their paper of choice in this way. Whilst I don't always agree with the Sun, I do enjoy reading it occasionally and think it gives an invaluable insight into how the majority of people in the UK feel about certain issues. It gives a glimpse into how people are thinking and we can't, as politicians, disregard how influential the paper can be. After all, who can forget the famous headline after the 1992 election - 'It's the Sun Wot Won It'!

But I don't just read it for the insight if truth be told. I've always loved to read up on the celebrity gossip, as well as what's coming up in the soaps. Well, how boring would I be to talk to if I only read the Economist and the Financial Times. Though I do enjoy them as well, I think my friends appreciate the fact that I don't just talk about serious stuff to them all the time and can also indulge in discussing the latest scandals.

So, Albert. Stop being a snob! Appreciate it for what it is. And if you do want to call on one of the papers to be banned, please let it be the Daily Sport. At least then we wouldn't have to read Lembit Opik's weekly drivel in it then!

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

A question to the Lib Dems

Just read the press release sent out by Kirsty Williams today relating to the fact that Labour and Plaid are respecting the PCS strike tomorrow and not working in the assembly (though of course still working as AM's). It was also picked up by Vaughan Roderick in his blog.

In case you haven't seen it, this was the quote from Kirsty:

“It is easy for Labour and Plaid Cymru AM’s to cancel Assembly business but people will rightly expect that as a matter of principle, if they refuse to cross the picket line to work, they should forgo part of their salary in proportion to the amount of time they spent not working, just like everyone else who was on strike.

“Being on strike means not working and if you’re not working, you shouldn’t be paid – it’s as simple as that. Those Labour and Plaid Cymru AMs who essentially had ‘days off’ should not be paid for the time they were not doing what they are being paid to do."

A question then: did the Lib Dems demand that Lembit Opik forgo part of the salary he receives as an MP when he was off on a fully paid for cruise whilst Parliament was sitting? In case you've forgotten the story, here's the link once again. If they did, then fair play to them. If not, then why not given Kirsty's comments today? After all - Plaid and Labour AM's will be doing constituency work and supporting their constituents who are on strike. Very different to going on a fully paid for cruise rather than representing your constituents don't you think... To steal some of Kirsty's words, I'd say: "Being on a cruise whilst parliament is sitting means not working and if you’re not working, you shouldn’t be paid – it’s as simple as that."

I'd also be interested to know if Mick Bates was forced to forgo his salary when he was sent home from the Assembly to hide after his A & E punch up... Just asking. Anyone know the answer to this?

Oh - and one last quote from Kirsty's press release today: "If there is work to do, we will be there to do our job and represent the people of Wales.”

Seems a shame her own MP's and AM's don't always adhere to that...

Cymeryd deryn glan iawn i ganu!

Oh - and just out of interest as well, I presume Lembit didn't miss any important meetings in his constituency or anything in parliament when earning the following. And if he did, did he forgo his parliamentary salary?

Parliamentary adviser to the Caravan Club of Great Britain. (£5,001-£10,000)
16 January 2010, payment of £6000. Hours: 100 hrs. (Registered 2 February 2010)
Training for the National School of Government. (Up to £5,000)
Broadcasting fees from the BBC. (Up to £5,000)
Fees from ITV for television appearances. (£5,001-£10,000)
Fees for training work for Luther Pendragon.
Journalism for the Daily Sport. (Up to £5,000)
July 2009, received payment of £1600. Hours: 8 hrs. (Registered 2 February 2010)
August 2009, received payment of £1600. Hours: 8 hrs. (Registered 2 February 2010)
September 2009, received payment of £1600. Hours: 8 hrs. (Registered 2 February 2010)
October 2009, received payment of £1600. Hours: 8 hrs. (Registered 2 February 2010)
November 2009, received payment of £1600. Hours: 8 hrs. (Registered 2 February 2010)
December 2009, received payment of £1600. Hours: 8 hrs. (Registered 2 February 2010)
January 2010, received payment of £1600. Hours: 8 hrs. (Registered 2 February 2010)
Payments for articles for Mail on Sunday newspaper, Associated Newspapers Ltd, 2 Derry Street, London W8 5TT:
£1000, 13 August 2009. Hours: 6 hrs. (Registered 2 February 2010)
£1000, 2 September 2009. Hours: 6 hrs. (Registered 2 February 2010)
£20,000 received 9 March 2009. Hours: 40 hrs. (Registered 4 March 2010)
Television appearances arranged via Personal Appearances, 20 North Mount, 1147-1161 High Road, Whetstone, London N20 OPH:
£1000, 'Cash in the Attic', 9 June 2009. Hours: 8 hrs. (Registered 2 February 2010)
£984, 'The King is Dead', 31 July 2009. Hours: 3 hrs. (Registered 2 February 2010)
£400, 'Big Brothers Little Brother', 11 August 2009. Hours: 1 hr. (Registered 2 February 2010)
£191.25, 'The End of the Year Show', 30 October 2009. Hours: 2 hrs. (Registered 9 February 2010)
Payment of £150 for political seminar for GovNet Communications, 3rd Floor, St James Buildings, 79 Oxford Street, Manchester M1 6PP, 23 July 2009. Hours: 1 hr. (Registered 2 February 2010)
Payment of £2000 (plus £390 food and accommodation) for after dinner speech and informal seminar for Avery Healthcare Ltd, 1b Basset Court, Loake Close, Grange Park, Northampton NN4 5EZ, 24 November 2009. Hours: 4 hrs. (Registered 2 February 2010)
Speaking engagement for (Cunard) Carnival plc, 5 Gainsford Street, London SE1 2NE, 29 November-4 December 2009. Hospitality, accommodation and travel to the value of £5752. Hours: 10 hrs. (Registered 2 February 2010)

Friday, March 19, 2010

Heart breaking...

I was moved by David Cornock's blog posts yesterday about the ordeal his poor Mother went through in the hands of a gang who bullied her out of her life savings. I thought the family were brave to speak out and raise awareness about this issue. I'm sure it was extremely difficult for them, and it makes me angry to think what she must have gone through. As David warned on the news yesterday - it can happen to anyone.

Unfortunately, there are far too many scumbags out there who are willing to take advantage of the most vulnerable within our society. Every time I visit my grandmother, she shows me a copy of some letter or another that has come through trying to con her out of some money or tells me about someone's who called or even visited offering services at a ridiculous price. These people target the elderly specifically, and will try anything to trick them or bully them out of money. It's completely unacceptable and I think more needs to be done to raise awareness of such scams and punish those who are caught doing so. We also need to make the elderly more aware of how to complain if they do feel threatened - simply pointing them in a direction of a website is not effective as the vast majority are not online. And often when they do get through to someone on a phone line to complain, they're not really listened to unless it's extremely serious and usually they're asked to write in about their experiences. Nothing seems to get done.

The elderly are far too often ignored by our society and as such, are isolated. No matter how good you may be as a family member at keeping in touch and visiting, often its not possible to be with them 24/7 and good conmen have a knack on knowing when best to get them by themselves.

We need to give them a voice, and as this tragic story highlights, make it easier for them to seek support. No one should be bullied and threatened in this manner, and no one should have to suffer in silence.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Campaign Website Live! Gwefan yr Ymgyrch yn fyw!




http://www.heleddfychan.org

I'd welcome any feedback, comments or queries. Thank you to a local Montgomeryshire company, 27stars, for their brilliant system and help in developing this website. I'm delighted with it and will be singing their praises to everyone!

Byddwn yn gwerthfawrogi eich barn neu cwestiynnau yn deillio i'r wefan. Diolch i'r cwmni lleol o Faldwyn, 27stars, am eu system wych ac am eu holl help yn llunio'r wefan. Dwi wrth fy modd hefo fo a byddaf yn canu eu clodydd i bawb!

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Welsh Food Alliance Q and A

Well, an interesting evening tonight - a hustings organised by the Welsh Food Alliance, around the broad theme of ‘a diet, which is sustainable in being good for health, the environment and the economy’. It was an all female panel and the other speakers were Jane Davidson, Jenny Randerson and Angela Burns. So three AM's and me - a first for me, and a huge honour to represent Plaid. It was a hugely enjoyable and stimulating discussion, and a number of improtant issues were discussed from the procurement of food, food wastage, school meals, feeding the elderly and so on.

So many of the things we need to do in this area are simple,and we all have a responsibility. Small steps can be taken, from using a recycable bag when we're doing our shopping rather than using plastic ones, not wasting food, buying more local produce... As I said - simple but effective.

Hand in hand, however, is the need to ensure that everyone has equal access to sustainable food. We may all know by now that we need to eat a balanced and healthy diet, but it can often be more expensive to feed a family healthily rather than rely on ready meals or frozen food. So whilst we may preach to people about making better choices, we also need to enable them through giving proper wages to be able to afford doing so.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Hanesyddol

Dyna'r unig ffordd i ddisgrifio heddiw. Mae Mesur Iaith Llywodraeth Cymru o'r diwedd wedi cael ei gyflwyno i'r Cynulliad ar gyfer cael ei ystyried. Pa mor ffantastig ydi hynny? Deddf ynglyn a'n hiaith wedi ei gwneud yn ein gwlad ein hunain - hen blydi pryd ac achos i ni gyd ddathlu!

Dyma unwaith eto brofi bod Plaid yn llwyddo i gael pethau pendant wedi eu gwneud ers dod yn rhan o Lywodraeth Cymru. Dwi'n gwybod bod rhai yn hoffi cwyno heddiw gan ddweud nad ydi o'n mynd ddigon pell, ond y gwir ydi, mae hwn yn gam pwysig ac mi fydd hyn yn gwneud gwahaniaeth cadarnhaol i'r iaith. A gwahaniaeth gwirioneddol hefyd. Mi ydw i'n edrych ymlaen yn arw i weld sut bydd y broses yn dod at ei gilydd rwan, a gweld sut bydd rol y Comisiynydd iaith yn datblygu.

Mae o'n rhwystredig clywed rhai o bobl Cymdeithas yr Iaith yn dweud bod Alun Ffred a'r Blaid wedi bradychu Cymru heddiw gan nad ydi'r union bethau oedda nhw isho yn y mesur. Pam na wnewch chi sylweddoli - DA NI GYD AR YR UN OCHR!! Eisiau'r gorau i'r Gymraeg mae pawb ohona ni, a mae hyn yn newydd da. Mae yna gyfle i bawb fynegi barn rwan, a mi fydd yna gyfle i adeiladu ar be sy'n cael ei gynnig heddiw yn y dyfodol. Y gwir ydi - mae hwn yn gam cyntaf anferthol gan blaid sydd y partner lleiaf mewn llywodraeth sydd gyda hawliau deddfu cyfyngiedig.

Felly - plis rwan - gawn ni beidio ymladd ymgysg ein gilydd fel Cymry Cymraeg? Dwi erioed wedi bod yn aelod o Gymdeithas yr Iaith ond wrth gwrs dwi'n hynod ddiolchgar o'r gwaith pwysig mae nhw wedi ei wneud o ran y Gymraeg dros y blynyddoedd. Gweithio hefo'n gilydd nid brwydro sydd ei angen a mae o wir yn fy ngwylltio gweld pobl yn troi ar y rhai sydd yn trio cyflawni yr union run petha a nhw. Yn bersonol, dwi'n falch heddiw o fod yn Gymraes Gymraeg ac i fod yn aelod o Blaid Cymru. Nid dyma'r amser i bwdu na thrin y Blaid fel gelyn pam mae hi'r unig blaid sydd yn brwydro o ran y Gymraeg o gwbwl ac sydd wedi llwyddo i greu deddf fydd yn gwneud gwahaniaeth i'r Gymraeg! Mae Cymru wedi aeddfedu yn aruthrol yn wleidyddol ers dyfodiad y Cynulliad ac mae angen i'r drafodaeth hon adlewyrchu hynny.

Bring on independence!

The decision not to include Plaid Cymru and the SNP in the leaders debate in the run up to the General Election is proof that Wales and Scotland will always be treated as second-rate within the current UK system of governance. It's a complete and utter disgrace, and what's being proposed is insulting not only to the parties themselves but also the people of Wales and Scotland. Their excuse in pathetic and I find it surprising that anyone can keep a straight face when they say that Nick Clegg could become the next Prime Minister and that's why he's been included!

All the polls are currently pointing to a hung parliament - which could well see Plaid Cymru and SNP playing a key role in the next parliament. Something which the Lib Dems can only dream about. Why then exclude them from these debates? The broadcasters have a duty to give the people of the UK an accurate reflection of the choices they face and by not doing so, they are acting unfairly and undemocraticaly.

The truth is that in Wales the vast majority of people watch UK network programmes and read UK newspapers. By not giving Plaid Cymru and the SNP a voice on UK wide programmes the broadcasters are actually showing bias towards the parties who are involved. Even UKIP, the BNP and the Greens will have more of a voice which seems unjust to anyone from any party who believes in democracy.

I am dreaming of the day when we have a proper parliament in Wales with full law making powers so we don't have to send anyone to Westminster. Wales and the people of Wales will never be respected under the current set up, and the attitude of the broadcasters to this debate is evident of that. Personally, I won't be watching them and rather, will be hitting the campaign trail to ensure the people of Montgomeryshire will at least have an opportunity to hear what Plaid Cymru has to say.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Dydd Gwyl Dewi Hapus i bawb!

Wel, gobeithio bo chi gyd yn cael diwrnod da - jest damia bod o ddim yn wyl y banc i ni gyd gael dathlu yn iawn! Newyddion gwych o ran pol piniwn y BBC heddiw sydd yn dangos y byddai 56% yn cefnogi pwerau deddfu llawn i'r Cynulliad. Jest damia nad dyna fydd y refferendwm nesaf yma'n ei ofyn!

Ond yn sicr, mae yna hyder newydd yng Nghymru ers dyfodiad y Cynulliad. Mae hyn yn cael ei adlewyrchu yn y pol piniwn heddiw a'r ffaith fod yna fwy a fwy o bobl i'w gweld yn dathlu dydd Gwyl Dewi eleni na dwi'n ei gofio erioed o'r blaen. Mae'n hunaniaeth ni wastad wedi bod yn gryf, ond heb os, da ni'n hapus rwan i ddangos i'r byd pwy yda ni a bod yn falch o hynny. A law yn llaw hefo hynny, mae ganddo ni'r hyder i fod eisiau llywodraethu ein hunain yn hytrach na gadael i San Steffan ein rheoli.

Digon o bethau i ni eu dathlu heddiw felly! Dydd Gwyl Dewi hapus i bawb.