Adam Price M.P., Plaid Cymru Treasury Spokesman, conducted himself with great aplomb last night on the BBC programme "Question Time". His comments went down very well with the audience and he received considerable applause. He was supported by other members of the panel. In contrast Mr Alexander's contributions were received in silence. His assertions that the government is doing everything that is necessary and "what it takes" were seen as empty platitudes, which indeed they are.
More on Greenland's independence:
Friday, 28 November 2008
Thursday, 27 November 2008
Greenland is about to become an independent nation. Certain links with Denmark however will be maintained. Presumably it will be the 28th member of the European Union.
It appears that the divorce will be amicable.
Greenland: Further cracks in ties with Denmark?
Greenland, the world's largest island, is to vote Tuesday on whether it wants greater independence from Denmark, which colonized it nearly 300 years ago.
Greenland - 2,200,000 square kilometers, or 850,000 square miles, some 80 percent of which is covered by ice - has steadily been gaining more autonomy for decades and has had its own home-rule government since 1979. But it still depends on Denmark for much of its budget and is bound by Danish decisions in a variety of policy areas.
If it passes, the referendum on Tuesday will pave the way for Greenland's eventual independence from Denmark. The measure would allow Greenlanders to be recognized as a separate people under international law; make the Eskimo-Inuit tongue known as Greenlandic the island's official language; and give the home-rule government the option of taking more responsibility over areas like justice, defense and foreign affairs.
Perhaps more importantly, a "yes" vote would allow Greenland the opportunity to wean itself from its annual grant of $550 million by giving it control of the revenues from potential oil, gas and mineral finds. Experts say that huge quantities of natural resources are lurking offshore and under Greenland's melting ice cap, but it remains to be seen exactly what is there and how much it is worth.
Native Greenlanders have been talking about independence for years, but not until now has the island felt emboldened to take the next step toward it.
Polls show that the proposals have overwhelming support among Greenland's population of more than 56,000, nearly 90 percent of whom are native-born Inuits. About 39,000 people are eligible to vote.
"The future of Greenland is being strengthened a lot with this," said Hans Jakob Helms, political adviser to Lars Emil Johansen, one of two Greenlandic members of the Danish Parliament. "This allows the Greenlandic people to decide themselves if, at a later date, they want independence."
Greenland has come a long way economically in the last few decades. But while 60 percent of its people live in the six largest towns, the rest live in more than 120 isolated, austere settlements and trading posts that have perhaps one store apiece and few job opportunities.
Outside the towns, people make their living by hunting and fishing. There is no national road network, and people rely on boats and planes to travel - weather permitting - from one area to another. Besides several dialects of Greenlandic, English and Danish is spoken.
Greenlanders stress that it may be several decades before Greenland is able to declare complete independence from Denmark but said that the vote was the next step in a long evolution toward that goal.
"Home rule was a compromise," Helms said. "It's a simple fact that home rule has reached its limit and there's a need for more room for self-government."
(acknowledgments to Ray Bell)
Posted by Alan Jones at 03:09
Saturday, 22 November 2008
The Scottish Parliament (bar Lord George Foulkes and the Labour members) have voted to reject the U.K. government's proposed introduction of mandatory I.D. cards on the grounds of:
intrusion on civil liberties;
the great cost of funding (4.8 billion - possibly increasing to 18 billion);
discriminatory acts concerning ethnic minorities;
no necessity as passports, licences, credit cards etc contain data;
no evidence of an affect on terrorism as terrorists use valid i.d.s;
public unpopularity with the introduction of I.D. cards;
the present economic situation and a loomimg recession.
The Scottish Parliament sends a clear message to Westminster that Identity Cards are not wanted, not needed and not warranted.
Posted by Alan Jones at 09:17
Thursday, 20 November 2008
20 November 2008
Making history in Welsh
Plaid MEP Jill Evans, who has campaigned for many years for official status for the Welsh language at European Union level, has welcomed today's first speech in Welsh at the EU Council of Ministers. (NOTE - see Timeline below).
Welsh Heritage Minister Alun Ffred Jones will speak Welsh at a ministerial meeting of the EU's Culture Council in Brussels on Thursday where interpretation will be provided into other languages.
Speaking ahead of the meeting the Plaid MEP said:
"I'm delighted that today the Welsh language is finally getting the same recognition as other European languages. I've been campaigning for official status for Welsh in Europe for many years. This is literally making history in Welsh.
"This is of huge symbolic importance and will raise the profile of Wales as a nation on the European stage. I congratulate Alun Ffred Jones and the One Wales Government for making it happen. I also want to thank all of the organisations and individuals in Wales who have given such strong support to this campaign.
"In spite of those who laughed at the idea, including then Prime Minister Tony Blair, and despite opposition from the other parties, we have come a long way. But this isn't the end of the story. I'm still pushing the European Parliament to adopt similar new rules for Welsh. The fact that other European bodies have done it shows that it is both possible and practical."
diwedd / ends
Timeline for Gaining Co-Official Status for the Welsh Language in Europe
November 2004: Jill becomes first person to legally speak Welsh in European Parliament following rule changes led by her parliamentary group.
* March 2005: called for EU Constitution to be translated into Welsh. Jill Evans and Elfyn Llwyd meet UK government to press case for recognition of Welsh language. Announcement marks the first step in winning co-official EU status.
June 2005: Spoke in Welsh in European Parliament during debate with Tony Blair during UK EU Presidency.
June 2005: Decision by Europe 's Foreign Ministers on framework for co-official status for Catalan, Galician and Basque. Citizens can correspond with EU institutions in these languages and they can be spoken with interpretation in most of the institutions. Jill called on UK government to follow this example for Welsh.
August 2005: distributed language information packs, asking people to write to Jack Straw, Foreign Secretary, calling for Welsh to be given the same rights as Catalan, Basque and Galician.
September 2005: Jill and Hywel Williams MP hold meetings in Brussels as part of Plaid Cymru's campaign to improve the status of the Welsh language in the EU.
November 2005: UK presidency signs agreement for Catalan, Basque and Galician to be given co-official status, and so can be used in official meetings and correspondence.
June 2006: Welsh Assembly's European Affairs Committee announce they are to consider a proposal for limited use of Welsh in EU institutions.
July 2006: Jill writes to Rhodri Morgan asking him to follow Spain 's example and ensure the UK government covers translating costs.
November 2006: Jill makes the case for co-official status to the Assembly's European Affairs Committee, by live video link from Brussels .
January 2007: EU Commissioner for multi-lingualism appointed
June 2007: Commitment to get co-official status for Welsh is in the One Wales coalition agreement, first put forward by Jill.
June 2008: Jill launches appeal asking organisations in Wales to write to President of the European Parliament, stating their support for the right to communicate with the Parliament in Welsh.
July 2008: Welsh made a co-official language in the EU Council.
September 2008: Jill meets with President of the European Parliament to discuss making Welsh co-official in Parliament.
November 2008: Heritage Minister Alun Ffred Jones to address Council in Welsh for the first time.
Posted by Alan Jones at 08:14
Monday, 17 November 2008
BRETONS UNDER ATTACK
On Monday three Breton activists - Gael Roblin, Kristian Georgeault and Paskal Laize - will appear in a special court in Paris accused of being implicated in the Breton Revolutionary Army (ARB) and the bombing of a MacDonalds restaurant in Quevert in 2000.
Gael was released from prison in 2004, Paskal in 2005, because there was no evidence to link either of them to the Quevert bombing. Gael and Paskal strenuously deny any involvement with the ARB and both served four and five years respectively, in remand, awaiting trial,for a crime neither committed.
Kristian on the other hand does not deny that he was involved with the ARB in the past. He served six years in prison for admitting his association with the ARB. But not a shred of evidence links Kristian to the Quevert bombing.
There are those who will say that there is no smoke without fire. But this would be to misunderstand the motives for the previous trial, to ignore its findings, as well as misundertand the motives for the current re-trial.
After the Quevert bomb went off in 2000 the French state - flailing about wildly and indiscriminately because they didnt know who did it and because public outrage in Paris demanded Breton heads to be cracked - came down hard on ALL activists who supported Breton independence.
Over a hundred Breton activists were arrested in the weeks following the 2000 bombing. Paris was screaming for revenge. Nine prominent Breton actvists were immediately detained without trial. The subsequent trial in 2004 of Gael, Paskal and Kristian was a political show trial with no other purpose than to justify the 2000 crackdown and appease the Paris media that "something was being done".
Now the Paris prosecutors, egged on by the viciously anti-Breton President, Nicholas Sarkozy, are once again stirring up anti-Breton sentiments.
Brittany is a country of 4 million people - a Celtic country roughly comparable in size to Scotland, Ireland or Wales - with its own indigenous Celtic language and culture. The French government are utterly opposed to the break up the French state and routinely attack Breton activists, as well as trying to suppress the Breton language. This is another such attack. One of many.
If there was any evidence that Gael, Kristian or Paskal had been involved in the Quevert bombing I would not be writing this article. But not a scrap of evidence exists. This is why I would hope that anyone who agrees with the principle of natural justice will follow this trial, raise it where possible/necessary, and send messages of solidarity and support to the three falsely-accused Bretons.
There is a rally today in Rennes to demonstrate solidarity with the three accused. I'll post photos and updates of the trial next week.
Posted by Alan Jones at 03:15
Saturday, 15 November 2008
Is there such a thing as British nationality, Mr Brown et alii?
It follows that if Wales, England and Scotland are nations (which they are (?)) there cannot be a British nation also.
Politicians constantly refer to "this country" and "our nation" when they mean Britain.
There is no logic in calling Britain a nation - surely Britain is a state.
Posted by Alan Jones at 02:44
Thursday, 13 November 2008
COUNCIL WARNS STAFF ABOUT USING OFFENSIVE TERM 'BRITISH'
UNDER FIRE: Former MP Ron Davies
Wednesday November 12,2008
By Martin Evans Have your say(31)
A STORM erupted last night after a council warned staff about referring to people as being British – in case they found it offensive. Town hall bosses said that the term suggested a "false sense of unity" and could upset those from Scotland, Wales and Ireland as well as members of ethnic minorities. The document warns about using the word "British" alongside other offensive terms such as "negro", "spastic" and "half-caste". The advice, presented to 9,000 staff at Caerphilly Council in South Wales, is contained in a training booklet about equality offering tips on communicating with the public.
Critics have blasted the idea as completely unacceptable. Welsh rugby legend Gareth Edwards said: "This is political correctness gone absolutely mad. It is utter nonsense to ban staff from using the word British. Lance Corporal Connick "I'm very proud to be Welsh and if anybody asks me where I'm from, I'll say Wales. But I'm also British and I've played for the British Lions and I'm very proud of that as well. I have no issue with being called British."
Falklands veteran Simon Weston, who was born in Caerphilly, said: "I am proud to call myself a British Welshman. "I just do not know what is going on with Caerphilly Council but guidelines like this are simply ludicrous. Since when was calling
someone British offensive? We are British, that is the simple fact of the matter and whatever is done to try to break us up we have survived. "Welsh soldiers, no matter what regiment they are in, are members of the British Army and they are very proud of that fact." Falklands hero Denzil Connick, 51, who lives within the council's jurisdiction, blasted the ban as "utter nonsense".
Lance Corporal Connick, who lost a leg in the conflict, said: "I always refer to myself as Welsh-British. I have my Welsh heritage but I am proud to be British. "It is utter nonsense to ban staff from using the word British."
Philip Davies, Tory MP for Shipley in West Yorkshire, said he could not understand what was to be gained from such an initiative. He added: "The term British is a unifying term not a divisive one and we ought to be promoting the idea of everybody feeling British rather than looking for reasons to drive us apart." Mr Davies said he thought that the council's "priority ought to be improving services and keeping council tax bills down".
The guide was compiled by the independent Valleys Race Equality Council directed by shamed former Caerphilly MP Ron Davies. The book said that "many Scots, Welsh and Irish resist being called British". It added that people from ethnic minorities should be called "British Asians" or "Chinese British".
Mr Davies, who resigned from his post as Secretary of State for Wales in 1998 after being mugged at a notorious gay cruising spot on Clapham Common, south London, defended the leaflet. "It's just for information, there's no advice or instruction," said Mr Davies, who is an Independent cabinet member on the council.
"Of this council's employees, 3,900 describe themselves as white British, whereas 5,400 describe themselves as white Welsh. So this information is very much in accordance with the way that people in Caerphilly identify themselves."
A council spokesman said: "We are committed to equality and we always try to ensure that everyone is treated equally, regardless of sex, race or religion." He added that the information in the guidebook was "not a direct instruction to staff about what phrases they can and cannot use in the workplace".
Posted by Alan Jones at 06:14
Tuesday, 11 November 2008
Self-rule for Cornwall
Like Wales and Scotland, Cornwall considers itself a separate Celtic nation – so why shouldn't it have independence?
by Peter Tatchell
o Peter Tatchell
o guardian.co.uk, Monday November 10 2008 20.30 GMT
o Article history
Cornish nationalists are preparing a legal challenge to the UK government's decision to refuse the people of Cornwall national minority status. They argue that Cornwall is a separate Celtic nation, similar to Wales and Scotland, and that their political, economic and cultural rights have been diminished by rule from Westminster. The aim is devolution, with a Cornish parliament. Why not?
Last year, both the Commission for Racial Equality (pdf) and the Council of Europe (pdf) urged the UK government to reconsider its non-recognition of Cornish national identity.
To finance a legal challenge in the European Court of Human Rights, a Cornish "fighting fund" has been established, with the aim of raising £100,000.
This new battle for Cornish rights comes 500 years after the Charter of Pardon of 1508, under which the English Crown accepted a degree of Cornish autonomy.
This was an English concession following the rebellion against King Henry VII in 1497, when a 15,000-strong Cornish volunteer army marched on London to protest onerous taxation and oppressive rule. Although the Cornish were defeated, fear of further uprisings prompted the English establishment to abandon its centralising machinations and allow Cornwall greater rights within the Tudor state.
The 1508 Charter implicitly recognised Cornwall's ancient elected Stannary Parliament and accepted its right to veto English law that was prejudicial to the interests of the tin-mining Cornish people - who comprised much of the local population at the time - and to their heirs and successors in perpetuity.
By including this veto in the 1508 Charter, the English monarchy was, in effect, guaranteeing a substantial degree of control over Cornish affairs to the Stannary Parliament.
Indeed, in 1977, the British government acknowledged that recognition of the Stannary Parliament and its right of veto has never been withdrawn.
The quest for Cornish devolved government is driven by deprivation. Rule from Westminster has seen Cornwall decline, from being at the forefront of the industrial revolution, to becoming one of the poorest regions of Europe, now qualifying for EU assistance to make up the shortfall in funding from Whitehall.
In the October 2001 issue of Business Age Magazine, Kevin Cahill wrote a feature headed: The Killing of Cornwall. He noted that the Treasury extracts £1.95bn in taxes out of Cornwall's GDP of £3.6 billion. However, the Treasury returns less than £1.65 billion, so there is a net loss to Cornwall of £300 million. This extraction of wealth is happening in a region of England where earnings are 24% below the national average.
Many people view Cornwall as little more than an extension of the optimistically misnamed "English Riviera" – a pleasant tourist destination. In reality, it is a by-word for low wages, unskilled McJobs and house prices that are out of the reach of many local people.
Allied with this economic impoverishment has been the centralisation and transfer out of Cornwall of decision-making institutions and government offices – together with the skilled jobs they entail – to various undemocratic and faceless south-west England regional quangos, which are run by unelected, unaccountable London appointees.
Westminster's frequent concern for poverty and under-development in the north-east of England is not replicated when it comes to the relative lack of state resources earmarked to tackle deprivation in Cornwall.
Successive London governments have shown little respect for distant Cornwall, or its people, identity, history or culture. It is a far away place about which they know little and about which they seem to care even less. How else can the decades and centuries of neglect be explained?
Nationalists argue that Cornwall is a subjugated nation, in much the same way that Scotland and Wales once were. Not only is the historic Cornish flag – a white cross on a black background – excluded from the Union Jack; until not so long ago Cornish people needed planning permission to fly it.
Comparisons with Scotland and Wales are valid. After all, Cornwall has all the basic cultural attributes of a nation: its own distinct Celtic language, history, festivals, cuisine, music, dance and sports.
Many Cornish people perceive themselves to be other than English. Despite the government's resistance, under Commission for Racial Equality (pdf) and Council of Europe guidelines (pdf) they qualify for recognition as a national minority.
Cornwall county council commissioned a Mori poll in 2003 which showed 55% of Cornish people in favour of a democratically elected, fully devolved regional assembly for Cornwall (an increase from the 46% in favour in a 2002 poll). Earlier, in 2000, the Cornish Constitutional Convention launched a campaign which resulted in a petition signed by 50,000 people calling for a fully devolved Cornish assembly.
Further evidence of the rising tide of Cornish nationalism is the result of the 2001 UK census. It shows that a sizeable proportion of the population defined themselves foremost as Cornish, rather than English or British. Even though it was not a tick box option in the census, 37,000 people wrote Cornish on their forms.
Cornish nationalism finds political expression in Mebyon Kernow (MK), a political party campaigning for a self-rule Cornish parliament. Although its electoral support is currently small, many commentators believe that under a proportionally representative voting system support for MK would grow significantly.
Cornwall was once separate and self-governing. If the Cornish people want autonomy and it would improve their lives, why shouldn't they have self-rule once again? Malta, with only 400,000 people, is an independent state within the EU. Why not Cornwall?
Posted by Alan Jones at 04:00
Friday, 7 November 2008
Thursday, 6 November 2008
Tomorrow we hope to see a repeat of the change which swept across America and brought some sanity into the US political scene. We can only hope to wake up in the morning to a new dawn and to hear of a resounding win for the SNP in Scotland.
Posted by Alan Jones at 08:34
Wednesday, 5 November 2008
'Great hope that Barack Obama will breathe new life into US foreign policy'
Plaid Cymru have sent congratulations Barack Obama follow his historic presidential election victory in the USA. Wales’ Deputy First Minister Ieuan Wyn Jones said that there is now an expectation that the new President will fulfil the plans that he has laid out before his people. Plaid International Affairs Spokesperson Jill Evans MEP said that there was great hope that Barack Obama would breathe new life into US foreign policy.
Jill Evans MEP, who is also Plaid Vice-President, said that Senator Obama’s victory should now herald an end to the Foreign Policy followed by the current American administration.
Jill represents the whole of Wales in the European Parliament. She said:
“There is great hope that Barack Obama will breathe new life into US foreign policy after the division, war mongering and unilateral action of the Bush years. Bridges need to be built and friendships renewed in international relations, based on trust and shared values. The rhetoric has been lofty and inspiring, hopes and spirits have been raised but now it's time for delivery.
“Amongst President Obama's top foreign policy priorities will be restarting the Israeli Palestinian peace process, dealing with Iran's nuclear programme and the withdrawal of troops from Iraq. In these issues and others he has shown every indication of being fairer and more open minded than his predecessor who so severely tarnished America's reputation around the world.
“We also need to see more of an emphasis on a strengthened United Nations which was sidelined by President Bush with such disastrous consequences.”
diwedd / ends
We will now watch with great interest the result of the Glenrothes by-election in Scotland. Pob hwyl i chwi, Peter Grant, SNP.
Posted by Alan Jones at 08:41
As widely predicted, our man won the election in America. Congratulations to Barack Obama, a Man of the 21st Century! On Thursday we look for a similar result in Glenrothes, Scotland. Change is in the air, and the world is awakening to the realities of the present age. Obama speaks with conviction and displays the kind of moral integrity which all politicians should note. These are the qualities we should look for in our own politicians. The peoples of Britain would do well to look to Barack Obama and America for inspiration. The Parties for Scotland and Wales would do well to copy the campaign tactics of the Democrats which were a lesson in political strategy and logistics, and greatly involved the use of You Tube and the internet.
Posted by Alan Jones at 01:37
Tuesday, 4 November 2008
The election to be held in America tomorrow will be a wake-up call for the world - the election on Thursday at Glenrothes will be a wake-up call for Britain. Nothing will ever be the same. The voice of sanity and expectancy will not be stifled. Times will be hard but we will pull through as humanity gropes towards a sense of its true destiny.
Barack Obama will be the next president of the United States and Peter Grant will be at Westminster fighting the cause of Alba (which others know to be Scotland).
Posted by Alan Jones at 02:15