Thursday, 30 July 2009

The Futility of War - Part 2

Harry Patch put no gloss on bloody conflict

Published Date: 28 July 2009

WAS Harry Patch struck, like me, by the irony of Russian helicopters being loaned to British forces in Afghanistan? The enemies change but the horror of war continues as the deepest stain on human history. Once they begin military conflicts tend to run on until one side has the advantage and negotiations are offered. That point has now thankfully been reached in Afghanistan, but we should not gotten into this position in the first place.

The roots of the present Afghan conflict lie in the great game fought out there between Britain and Russia in the 19th century and the habit it gave the great powers of dabbling in other people's lives for strategic advantage. After the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan the west supported anybody, including the Taliban, who would fight the Russians. After the Soviets withdrew, the CIA continued to train, arm and fund fundamentalists to destabilise Mohammed Najibullah's successor regime.

Najibullah was close to concluding a UN brokered deal with Ahmad Shah Massoud, the charismatic mujahidin leader known as the lion of Panshir, when Massoud was murdered by the Taliban. The repercussions of funding extremists as an easy way of damaging Russian interests are still with us. At the outset, using religious fundamentalists to fight as western provos may have seemed easier and quicker than diplomacy, but it created a Frankenstein which is still costing lives in a situation from which it is hard to withdraw.

Conflicts, once started, continue until it is clear who has the upper hand. Then a deal becomes possible but the bitter consequences can last generations. That is what happened in Northern Ireland where, after a long slow attrition, the IRA and the DUP were eventually compelled to cut a deal which they would have denounced as treachery a few years earlier. The pity is that the conflict was allowed to erupt in the first place - it could have been prevented by reform and compromise in the early years, before the IRA and Sinn Fein gained support.

Harry Patch is honoured as the last WW1 Tommy, a symbol of a noble and remarkable generation - but he put no gloss on the horrors of conflict. "War is organised murder, and nothing else", he said, dismissing Remembrance Day as "just show business". He died last week, shortly after the 90 second anniversary of the start of the battle of Passchendaele in which he fought. Passchendaele lasted until November 1917, killing and crippling hundreds of thousands of men who fought across bloody marshland to take a single ridge.

Britain "won" but Patch took little satisfaction from that. His proudest memory of the battle was that, on the one occasion when he had the opportunity to kill a German, he let the man live. He wrote off the origins of the war as "a family row" and said that victory had not been worth a couple of lives, never mind hundreds of thousands.

That conflict, which few would now say was unavoidable, seeded many of the problems we are still dealing with. Hitler fought on the German side at Passchendaele.
His political rise and the origins of the Second World War can be directly traced to the Treaty of Versailles, which ended the war by imposing crippling reparations on defeated Germany. The bitterness that so much sacrifice by German troops could produce such an outcome led to the scape goating of the Jews and the holocaust.

That in turn fuelled the demand for a Jewish state and the flight of holocaust survivors to Israel, resulting in the long running Middle East crisis and the ongoing horrors of Gaza. WW1 entailed the fall of Tsarist Russia and the Bolshevik revolution. That, in turn, gave us the cold war, a section of which was fought on behalf of the west by Taliban proxies. The Taliban’s victory gave Osama bin Laden a safe base from which to plan the bombing of New York and other western targets as well as creating the conditions for our streets to be flooded with Afghan heroin.

We can all imagine instances where violence seems justified. Patch said he would have shot Hitler given the chance, but victory can seem empty given the cost. Leo Tolstoy, himself an ex serviceman, summed it up in War and Peace:

“The aim of war is murder; the methods of war are spying, treachery, and their encouragement, the ruin of a country’s inhabitants, robbing them or stealing to provision the army, and fraud and falsehood are termed military craft.”

Building up a Cornish National Infrastructure petition.
This morning the online petition total is: 2214
But this figure won’t be nearly enough if we are to convince the Council that there is enough SUPPORT for a modern, multi-functional stadium throughout the Duchy. Our councillors will not see it as a viable proposition and nothing will happen.
The S4C campaign group realises that a figure of over 20,000 signatures would be required in making the Council sit-up and take notice.
IF there are enough people in Cornwall who WANT a Stadium, then surely from a population of over 500,000 it shouldn’t be a problem - and apathy should not be an option!
This is achievable!
If all of us who signed the petition ask just ten friends to do the same - and for those friends to ask another 10 friends - we would make a total of over 20,000!
It is therefore vital that we must:
Encourage ALL family, friends and workmates to sign the online petition.
Email all the contacts in our address book.
Put a link to the S4C website on all our emails and social networking groups/forums. -Twitter/Face book etc:
This is a must for Cornwall and our young people. A telling comment taken from the petition (No 2131) is by James Alexander of Newquay:
‘I am at Truro College studying sport. Please give some serious consideration to this petition. We deserve as good as the rest of the country, yet we have to travel 100’s of miles to stadium out of County to progress in our sports’.
Please insert this link in all your emails:
Again, thank you for your continuing support.
Kind regards,
S4C Campaign

Delaying the Inevitable

Alex Salmond claims that independence for Scotland is "inevitable". I tend to agree with his view, and I suggest further that when Scotland gains its independence Wales will inevitably follow. It depends on the will of the people but as these desires become more widely accepted, as they will, the inevitable will happen. As far as Cornwall is concerned I am aware that the majority of inhabitants are born outside Cornwall and have gone there to settle, and how much they identify with the cause of autonomy remains to be seen.

The biggest stumbling block, however, is the policy of the major British parties, all three of them, to maintain the Union. Both Gordon Brown and David Cameron have voiced their support for and defence of the Union. Nick Clegg for the Liberal Democrats has said that he favours a federation of nations while retaining the British constitution. These parties are essentially British parties, unlike the Welsh and Scots nationalists, which campaign for independence for their respective nations and consequently the dissolution of the Union.

In my view these parties are delaying the inevitable, as the Union is well past its sell-by date. It is the last relic of an English Empire that sought to conquer and subdue its neighbours, namely Scotland which often allied with the French against England, Wales, which fought bravely under Prince Llywelyn I and Owain Glyndwr to stave off the English invasions, Cornwall, which protested under the leadership of Bishop Trelawney, and Ireland, which finally gained its independence after a long struggle but is as yet half-free.

Tuesday, 28 July 2009

In Praise of The Scottish Parliament

You never hear the Scots complaining about their parliament. The Scottish Parliament is lively and dynamic and excels in the quality of its debates. In comparison with the Scottish Parliament the "parliament" at Westminster is but a pale shadow, riven by feuding and fractious politics. Scotland has been blessed with a model parliament where consensus is often achieved through straight talking and good-humoured repartee. The people of Scotland are justifiably proud of their parliament and its concern for their welfare. It is well-equipped for the task of guiding the nation towards independence.


Tomorrow's Wales at the National Eisteddfod: Devolution and the Future of Wales

Tomorrow's Wales and the Electoral Reform Society will jointly host a panel debate at this year's National Eisteddfod at Bala, on the topic 'Devolution and the Future of Wales'.

The event will take place on Friday 7th August between 11.00am - 12.00pm at the Sbardun stand on the Eisteddfod Maes. The debate will be chaired by Meri Huws, Chair of the Welsh Language Board and member of the Tomorrow's Wales Executive, and on the panel will be:

Rebecca Williams, Electoral Reform Society Wales board member;
Hywel Ceri Jones, former Chair of the European Policy Centre;
Elin Wyn, Tomorrow's Wales Development Officer

The event will provide an opportunity to explore issues of importance for the devolution process over the coming period and will include opportunities for the audience to express their views and question the panelists.

We very much hope that you will be able to join us.

Steps Towards the Inevitable

One small step for man....
One giant leap towards a United Ireland.

A United Ireland: How Do We Get There?
St. Anne's Hall - San Francisco, CA
Gerry Adams is joined by internationally acclaimed actress Fionnoula Flanagan, Chair of the California Democratic Party John Burton, renowned Irish artist Robert Ballagh and noted Irish historian Ruan O'Donnell, head of the History Department of Limerick University.

This was an open forum to encourage dialog about how best to achieve a United Ireland. Members of the audience were encouraged to offer ideas.

Dear Friends and supporters,

The highly successful open forum hosted in San Francisco on June 27th is now available for viewing free at click on the link above. Also I would recommend saving the link as this is an outstanding source of information on the topic of a United Ireland. If your were present at the event this is an excellent opportunity to recap on all the points that were made and addressed by the speakers, it is also a great opportunity to share this event with your co workers, friends and family and encourage them to support our goal of "A United Ireland" by joining our email list by sending their email info to This is a small part and very simple to do, please forward this to your contacts now. Thank you.



Sunday, 26 July 2009

The Futility of War

According to the last "Tommy" who recently passed away at the age of 111 "war is organised murder". This man was not a pacifist but a soldier who fought in a war which he did not believe in because society said that is what he should do, to serve his king and his country. It was what society expected and there were many precedents to it. It is one of the aberrations of human nature that man has to prove himself by going to war against fellow man and that he is expected to engage in mass warfare and fight and die in a foreign field for the sake of glory and honour. Note the medals which adorn his jacket. It is time that these attitudes towards the condoning of organised murder were ended for all time. One of the Commandments is "Thou shalt not kill". Since this was written on a tablet of stone in a Middle Eastern desert there has been an endless succession of wars and countless deaths. As the song goes "When will they ever learn?" There is no justification for murder and organised murder is perpetrated by a society that has no concept of the sanctity of life and the responsibility conferred on humankind.

"He was a man of peace who used his great age and fame as the last survivor of the trenches to communicate two simple messages: remember with gratitude and respect those who served on all sides; settle disputes by discussion, not war."

Wednesday, 22 July 2009

Er Cof

Er cof am Pedr Lewis, Gweriniaethwr Cymreig a bu farw heddiw (Gorffennaf 21ain) yn Ysbyty Tywysoges Cymru, Penybont Ar Ogwr. Mwy o wybodaeth i ddilyn maes o law.
Pasiwch y newyddion trist yma'n mlaen.

In memory of Pedr Lewis, Welsh Republican who died today (July 21) at The Princess of Wales Hospital, Penybont ar Ogwr. Further details will be issued in due course. Please pass this sad news on.

Thursday, 16 July 2009

May the Road Rise Up Before You

A united Ireland is possible

Despite the challenges ahead, a dialogue started by Sinn Féin in Westminster this week sets us on a path to Irish reunification

Gerry Adams, Wednesday 15 July 2009 10.00 BST

The single most important issue facing the people of Ireland and Britain is the achievement of Irish unity and the construction of a new relationship between Ireland and Britain based on equality.

Economic crises, however severe, will come and go. Governments will come and go, but for more centuries than any of us care to contemplate Britain's involvement in Ireland has been the source of conflict; partition, discord and division; and great hurt between the people of these islands.

The peace process has delivered an end to conflict and that is to be welcomed and applauded. But the underlying cause of conflict persists – the British government's claim of jurisdiction over a part of Ireland. It is this denial of the Irish people's right to self-determination, freedom and independence that is the core outstanding issue that must be resolved.

Sinn Féin is initiating a conversation this week in Westminster about achieving this. Sinn Féin believes that a national representative democracy in a sovereign reunited Ireland is desirable, viable and achievable in this generation through peaceful and democratic methods.

To succeed in this there are three interlinked challenges facing us. These are: getting the British government to change its policy from one of upholding the union to one of becoming a persuader for Irish unity; getting the Irish government to begin preparations for Irish unity; and engaging with Ulster unionism on the type of Ireland we want to create.

To achieve all of this requires those of us who share these goals to find ways in which we can work together. Is it possible to put in place a formal structured broad front approach to campaign for a united Ireland? Or would it be better to opt for an informal, organic and popular movement based on core principles?

That's a matter for the dialogue we are beginning. Some progress has already been made. The Good Friday Agreement has put in place all-Ireland political institutions which can be enhanced and developed. It contains a legislative, peaceful and democratic mechanism to set up a new and democratic Ireland. Advancing this means reaching out to others, including those who are unionist, and engaging with them on the type of Ireland we want to create.

We need to address the genuine fears and concerns of unionists in a meaningful way. We must be open to listening to unionism, to look at what they mean by their sense of Britishness and be willing to explore and to be open to new concepts.

It is worth noting that within the British system, unionists make up fewer than 2% of the population; they cannot hope to have any significant say in the direction of their own affairs. As 20% of a new Ireland, unionists will be able to assert their full rights and entitlements and exercise real political power and influence.

So, our vision of this new Ireland must be a shared Ireland, an integrated Ireland, an Ireland in which unionists have equal ownership. The shape and structure of that new Ireland must be a matter of agreement.

At the Unite Ireland conference in early June in New York, Professor Brendan O'Leary, in his contribution to this very debate, suggested that republicans and nationalists and unionists should examine the possibilities of some form of federal arrangement. Others may have different ideas and suggestions. This is one part of the debate we must have.

All of this presents a daunting challenge. But it is a challenge I believe we can rise to and meet. This is not about some pie-in-the-sky naive discussion and aspiration, about an unachievable goal or meaningless political outcome. No. This is about solving one of the great unresolved and contentious issues of Britain's colonial past. In preparation for this, Sinn Féin has already held discussions with people in Britain from different sectors; trade unionists, academics, Irish community groups and others, including elected representatives in Westminster and the Welsh and Scottish assemblies.

Next February we will hold a major conference here in Britain to move into the next phase. Of course this conversation, this dialogue, with people here in Britain or in the US or elsewhere will not in itself achieve a united Ireland. That is a matter for agreement between the people who live on the island of Ireland. But British policy toward Ireland is key to unlocking the potential for this change to occur. So, we need the active support of people in Britain.

We need to reach out to the widest possible public opinion, to the trade unions, the business sector, the community and voluntary sector, to the political class, as well as with those of other ethnic minorities who have experienced a similar history of colonisation and immigration.

I believe we can be successful. Why? Think back 20 years. Then my voice could not be heard on the British media – censorship ruled courtesy of Margaret Thatcher. For much of that time I was a banned person – unable to travel to London. British policy was locked into a military/security strategy and a policy of criminalisation, and the conflict was dug in and vicious.

Had I been in London asking for support to build a peace process I would have been thought of as at best naive or just daft. Had I predicted cessations, peace talks, an international agreement, a resolution of issues as difficult as policing and arms, I would have been dismissed by the Guardian and others as crazy.

Well, it happened. All of those difficult and some said, unimaginable goals have been achieved. So – Irish reunification is achievable. With the right strategies and a determined commitment to a united Ireland can happen. Join us in that task.

Campaign For A United Ireland

To be added to our contact list, please email us at

Legislative Competence Delays

Letter from the Wales Office:

Dear Sir/Madam

Thank you for your recent email addressed to the Secretary of State for Wales about the proposed Legislative Competence Order in relation to the Welsh Language. I have been asked to reply.

You expressed concern that the report of the Welsh Affairs Committee on its pre-legislative scrutiny of the proposed Order had not yet been published and asked the Secretary of State to ensure its publication as soon as possible. It is important to note that although the Welsh Affairs Committee has agreed to undertake scrutiny of proposed Orders, this is in addition to its own programme of work. The Secretary of State is grateful to the Committee for its thorough approach to scrutiny and shall be carefully considering its recommendations alongside the recommendations of the National Assembly for Wales Committee. However, the date of publication of the report is entirely a matter for the Welsh Affairs Committee to determine.

Wednesday, 15 July 2009

Political Disintegration and You

A Cornish perpective from Philip Hosking:

Dear friends

British politics is broken. Politicians have got themselves into a mess and can't be trusted to sort it out. That's why I've just written to my MP calling for them to support the Citizens' Convention (Accountability and Ethics) Bill. If made law, this Bill would set up a panel of ordinary people - like a jury - to decide how parliament and government can be made more accountable and ethical. You should write to your MP too:


This isn't about yet another government consultation - the Bill would stop MPs from being able to just ignore the Citizens' Conventions' conclusions. Let's make this happen.


The expenses scandal might have been pushed off the front pages by Brüno and the Ashes, but the problems haven't gone away. The UK's political system is still in a mess.

Many politicians are hoping that the fuss has died down so they can get away with just passing a few minor reforms. We need to act quickly to let them know we still want our say on big changes.

We've teamed up with another campaigning organisation,, to call for a Citizens' Convention of ordinary voters to be given the power to propose changes[1]. Already, thanks to popular pressure, nearly 120 MPs have signed up in support. If enough of us write to our MPs now, we can swell the numbers to a point where the government will have to take action.

Click here to email your MP in less than 3 minutes, and ask them to support a Citizens' convention

By demanding a Citizens' Convention we're saying people outside Westminster must have a proper say on the way that politics works. We need to convince MPs that real reforms need real public input.

So far popular pressure is working. We have already persuaded almost 120 MPs to support the campaign. Our success so far shows that the more people an MP hears from, the more likely they are to support the campaign. Together we can get many more MPs on board.

Tell your MP to sign up in support of a Citizens Convention

Thanks for getting involved,

Peter Facey
Director, Unlock Democracy

PS Hundreds of you have already written to your MP - thanks. If your MP has given you the brush off, we have drafted a list of "frequently used excuses" to help you respond to their objections:

Tuesday, 14 July 2009

Scotland, I can see the future

For Scotland also read Wales, Cornwall, Brittany, Ulster.

It is the British, by whom I mean the Welsh, Scots and Cornish and Mannians, who are the denizens of culture in these islands. The English gave up theirs years ago and retain only the Morris Dancers, the Mummers and the Clog dancers of Lancashire, but little else.

British culture and traditions are the preserve of the Celtic periphery. Even the Northumbrian pipers are essentially Scottish (or British), and the English employ Scottish pipers to lead them into battle and play the bagpipes at expatriate embassy garden parties.

The All Wales Convention

Have your say
If the All Wales Convention is to be a success it is vital that it represents views from individuals and organisations across Wales.
If you would like to join in the debate and tell us what you think of the current powers of the Assembly, and what full law-making powers might mean, please complete the form.

Dweud eich dweud
Os yw Confensiwn Cymru Gyfan am lwyddo mae'n hanfodol ei fod yn cynrychioli barn unigolion a sefydliadau ledled Cymru.
Os hoffech ymuno yn y drafodaeth a mynegi eich barn i ni am bwerau cyfredol y Cynulliad, a beth y gallai pwerau deddfu llawn ei olygu, cwblhewch y ffurflen isod.

Monday, 13 July 2009

The People's Nation States

No apologies for reproducing the comments from Borthlas' blog at

See "Protecting the Union"

John Dixon writes: 'sovereignty' belongs to all of us as citizens; it is for us to determine how much of it we allow any body to exercise. It follows that self-government for Wales is ours as of right, any time the majority of us choose it, and no parliament has the right to deny it if that is what we choose. Melding is not the first 'unionist' to recognise the validity of that viewpoint; but most others seem reluctant to follow that path.

The significance of that alternative approach to 'sovereignty' is both simple and fundamental. Accepting that it's for the people to choose means that the debate about the future of Wales can focus where it should be - on why people should make one choice or the other, rather than on axiomatic statements from both sides which presuppose that one unit is the 'right' one now and for all time.

Truly, sovereignty in the 21st Century resides with the people.
This was not the case in previous centuries in the history of an evolving Britain.
This flawed "unwritten" constitution which we have inherited is in need of revision and drastic overhaul. The incoming Conservative government should make it one of their immediate priorities.

Friday, 10 July 2009

Ireland Unlimited Llangollen 2007

The Llangollen Experience

The International Eisteddfod has been a remarkable success story. It has been going for many years and is a showcase of international culture in a beautiful Welsh setting.
It is an affirmation of the need for peoples of all races and cultures to come together and celebrate, through song and dance, their unique and distinctive national characteristics in a spirit of friendship and harmony. Llangollen is an example of the necessity for nations to maintain and preserve their national differences as well as their shared camaraderie through the expression of artistic excellence. It belies the unworthy sentiments of those who deride their own language and culture and attempt to promote disharmony and disaffection with the land of their birth.

Thursday, 9 July 2009

Storming South to Westminster

James Dornan to fight Glasgow North East

The Scottish National Party has tonight selected City Councillor and Glasgow’s Opposition leader James Dornan as the party’s candidate for the upcoming Glasgow North East by-election.

The Glasgow North East seat is vacant following the resignation of former speaker Michael Martin. No date for the by-election has been set with Labour suggesting they will delay the vote until November.

Cllr Dornan (56), who has two grown up children and two grandchildren represents the Langside ward in the city and became leader of the SNP Group on Glasgow Council following the election of John Mason as SNP MP for Glasgow East in 2008.

Speaking after the selection meeting Cllr Dornan said;

“It is a huge honour to be selected by the SNP to contest the Glasgow North East seat in the upcoming by-election – whenever Labour decide to call it.

“Glasgow North East needs an MP who will speak up for this constituency and fight for the jobs and communities within it.

“As the SNP candidate, I will give my full support to the fight to secure the Diageo jobs at Port Dundas in this constituency – just as I and other SNP members supported those in this community who fought hard to save Glasgow schools from Labour’s axe.

“Where the SNP in Glasgow North East supported families whose schools face closure, Labour neglected their needs and pushed ahead with closure plans over the heads of this community.

“The people of Glasgow North East deserve a strong voice in Westminster that will stand up for them and speak out on the issues that matter in this constituency.

“With a vote for the SNP at this by-election the people of Glasgow North East can ensure they have a real voice at Westminster.”

Tuesday, 7 July 2009

Show me Your I.D.!

Although the government has been forced to backtrack on the issue of introducing Identity Cards, the pilot scheme covering the entire N.W. region of England is going ahead. Furthermore, the issue of ID cards to people in the North-West is voluntary. When the Conservatives are elected into government next year they will not introduce this costly and unnecessary scheme, so why is the Labour government wasting more public money on a pilot scheme when ID cards will not be introduced by either party in power?


Now read this......

Cost of passport set to increase
21 mins ago

Holidaymakers face inflation-busting increases in passport fees.

Fewer people are going abroad as families tighten their belts in the recession, meaning applications for passports were 400,000 below the expected level.

The rises, which will come in to force in September, will see the price of a child passport increase £3 to £49.

Fast-track adult applications, which take a week, will cost 15% more, up £15.50 to £112.50.

Prices have shot up in the last decade. In 1997 a passport cost £18. In 2007 it cost £51 and by last year it was £72.

The cost increases are in part due to the inclusion of biometric technology to improve security.

A Home Office spokesman denied the increase was related to ID cards.

But shadow home Secretary, Chris Grayling, said: "This looks like a blatant attempt to bury part of the cost of the ID scheme in the price of a passport. The Government admits that it has no idea how many people will have to volunteer for ID cards before they cover their costs, so it looks like the cost is being lumped on to our passports."

Immigration Minister Phil Woolas said British passports were a "gold standard" in identity documents. "Since the last fee increase in 2007 the Identity and Passport Service has issued almost eight million first generation ePassports, containing secure chips holding an individual's passport details and facial biometric."

Monday, 6 July 2009

On National Status

It's not that Cornwall became part of England, it's just that the English forgot Cornwall was not part of their country.

It's not that Wales became part of England (in 1535), it's just that the English forgot Wales was not part of their country.

It's not that Brittany became part of France, it's just that the French forgot Brittany was not part of their country.

It's not that Uster became part of Britain, it's just that the English forgot Ulster was not part of their country.

It's not that Scotland became part of the United Kingdom, it's just that the English forgot Scotland was an independent country.

It's not that Mannin - The Isle of Man - became part of the United Kingdom didn't!

Saturday, 4 July 2009

Something To Think About

Rally for a Change – Thursday 9 July

Vote for Change is an exciting new campaign that’s pulling together a coalition of organisations, including Unlock Democracy, to campaign for a change in the way we elect our politicians.

For too long now, British politicians have abused their position of power. In part, that’s been due to the way they’re elected – our system isn’t representative and it’s completely out of date. Changing the system is the only way to make sure this abuse can’t continue.

Did you know that not one MP was elected by a majority of their constituents? How can we have a politics that truly represents the views and interests of the people if the views of the minority hold sway?

We’re supporting Vote for a Change’s campaign for a referendum on reforming the voting system to be held at the same time as the General Election next year. To kick off their campaign, they’re holding a Rally for a Change in London on July 9th at 6.30pm. There will be music from Billy Bragg and a surprise guest, poetry from Dave Neita and a chance to put some politicians on the spot – including Jo Swinson MP (Lib Dem), Peter Tatchell (Green Party) and Gerald Batten MEP (UKIP) as well as speeches from Dave Rowntree (Blur) and Oona King.

For more information and to sign up for five free tickets, Email:

PS Please help spread the word