Thursday, 31 March 2011

And Now for Something Completely Different...

From Fionnchu - Blogtrotter 
(and when in Ireland...bogtrotter?)

Christmas Humphreys' "Sixty Years of Buddhism in England": Book Review

Six decades spans the coming of Buddhism as a novelty to the island into its hesitant acceptance, during the countercultural efflorescence, as a hip commodity. He compiles the movement's history, as unflagging co-founder of the Buddhist Society in 1924 that overlapped an earlier one founded in 1907.

He follows the Society's fortunes briskly, in a rapid survey of its challenges during both wars, and especially what faced its members when WWII London engulfed, literally, its situation. The men had to choose to serve or not, and Humphreys tells fairly of their decisions, and of the bravery that those in the City had to find within themselves as their Headquarters faced the flames. He learns the lesson of impermanence, to be sure.

Humphreys also shows characteristic wit. He finds at Westminster Cathedral circa 1928 a Catholic Truth Society pamphlet by one G. Willoughby-Meade, "Buddhism in Europe." It opens with a tirade against "a much more insidious foe" than even Spiritualism. Humphreys notes how: "The whole pamphlet is a fine example of the psuedo tolerance of Rome, which advises a careful examination of all other points of view on the unshakable assumption that they are all wrong." (31-2) Its condescending tone towards Buddhist adherents as "little children stumbling in the dark" will not be the last manifestation of the kind of intolerance that Humphreys and his cohorts will face in Britain.

Still, they soldier on as peaceful warriors. He promotes dharma as a harmony of religion (of a non-theistic sense) and science, a rational philosophy rather than dogmatic authority, and one offered "with humility and tolerance, yet as provably true, as tested by thousands of years of experience." (75) He strives to make it understandable for Westerners. Some later have criticized his approach as too humanist, too soft, but for his era, before the widespread transmission of Tibetan and Zen techniques over much of the West, he sought to dispel misunderstandings of a incense-wafting, nihilistic, idol-worshipping, Void-obsessed cult that repelled timid pallid inquirers.

In this, published in 1968, we find an concluding appeal for a more lasting Buddhism than a fad for instant enlightenment by chemicals or charlatans. He advises, against the fervor of that time, for a Buddhist institution to eschew "politics of any kind," but he also encourages each Buddhist to exemplify its deathless precepts in a disciplined, committed fashion. By this, he reckons, more by example than "by useless and generally harmful interference" can be done.

Arguable, but from one who lived through two World Wars and defended and prosecuted many at the Bar, he shows here as in his autobiography (1978's "Both Sides of the Circle"--also reviewed by me) a mature defense of one who sought to go beyond the introverted stance of many of his fellow British Buddhists and who took on moral causes as his own dogged radical in conformist's clothing. He and his colleagues as summarized in this report tried to put down roots within, rather than lay them across, the Western soil where they transplanted Buddha's message "against the darkness now descending on the spiritual world." (84)

Illustration: "Buddhism in England" 5:2 (June 1930) Published by the "Buddhist Lodge" in London, as an early effort of Humphreys and cohort to bring such experts as D.T. Suzuki-- via a publication later under the editorship or Alan Watts-- to the attention of Western audiences. (Posted to Amazon US 4-18-10)

Monday, 28 March 2011

Decoupling from Labour

Ron Davies Spells out the Way Forward for Devolution

Ron Davies has said the process of devolution will continue following the Yes vote in the referendum – and the limits of ambition should only be set by the people of Wales.

Speaking at the party's Spring Conference in Cardiff today, Plaid's Caerphilly Assembly candidate and the architect of devolution, also launched a broadside at Labour accusing them of failing to stand up for Wales over the last decade.

The former Welsh Secretary said:

"On 18th September, 1997, Wales voted by a majority of 6,721 votes to create its own National Assembly. On 3rd March, 2011, Wales voted by a majority of 219,752 to give that Assembly law-making powers. Who says devolution is not a process? And that process will go on as Government evolves and nations redefine their relationship within these islands of Britain.

"Here in Wales we are reasserting our identity and expressing it
through our politics. But those politics have to be inclusive of the
whole nation."

Ron Davies stressed that opponents of law-making powers needed to be "taken with us and be reassured as we build our new systems of law-making and governance".

He went on:

"The limits to our ambitions should only be set by the people of
Wales. This process of building our democracy and a better Wales which goes with it should both challenge us and reassure us. We in Plaid speak for an increasing majority who want a greater degree of self government. After all, we as a party have done so much to get us where we are today."

Ron Davies also laid into Shadow Secretary of State Peter Hain.

"It was so kind and generous of Peter Hain to remind us right at the start of the campaign that we wouldn't be having a referendum at all if it were not for Plaid.

"I am not entirely convinced his intervention was intended to foster inter-party unity in the driver for a 'Yes' vote. In fact, I am not
all convinced.

"If ever there was a case of getting your retaliation in first that
was one. As far as the Labour Party is concerned when it is a choice between party interest or national interest there is only one winner.

"Peter Hain knew full well how de-stabilising his comments could have been but the calculation was 'so what, there's a party game to be played'. Ill-judged and mistimed maybe, but you were right, Peter. Without Plaid there would have been no referendum on 3rd March."

The former Welsh Secretary said that Labour had failed to stand up for Wales during its years in office.

"Pity they didn't stand up for Wales for the last 10 years and help
rebuild our economy or get fair funding for public services. They
couldn't even stand up to their own backbenchers and get us a proper Parliament. Now Labour is adrift. Values abandoned, no direction, no strategy, no plan. They won't even acknowledge how deep our economic and social crisis is. Just spin and excuses." 


Referring to Labour's coalition partner Plaid Cymru Peter Hain called for a majority to "kick nationalists out of government".

A better prospect for Wales would be to kick Labour out of the Assembly, once and for all.

Sunday, 27 March 2011

Plaid Cymru leader Ieuan Wyn Jones's election message

The Plaid Cymru leader tells his spring party conference in Cardiff that they've proved their worth in government.

Related Stories

Plaid Cymru's leader has said "it is time to take responsibility" after 12 years of excuses under Labour.
Ieuan Wyn Jones told his party's spring conference it must "transform Wales".
The assembly election on 5 May was an opportunity to stop Labour managing decline in public services, he said.
Plaid would insist the next 10 years are a "decade of delivery", he told delegates in Cardiff. Mr Jones has been Deputy First Minister in the coalition government with Labour since 2007.
He joked that the two parties had "started divorce proceedings" as they part company to fight May's election.
But in an attack on his coalition partners, he said: "A vote for us on 5 May will ensure that the culture of excuses which has been fostered and bred by the Labour Party for most of the last 12 years will come to an end."

Start Quote

My message to the people of Wales is that it is time to take responsibility”
Ieuan Wyn JonesPlaid Cymru leader
He said Wales needed a government that would stand up to Westminster and Brussels when necessary, but was willing to work with others when the time was right.
"My message to the people of Wales is that it is time to take responsibility. It's time to stop shifting the blame," he said.
"It is time for an end to the culture of excuses which has tarred Welsh government under Labour for most of the past 12 years.
He addressed an audience of the party faithful in a rehersal room at the Wales Millennium Centre, a stone's throw from the assembly in Cardiff Bay.
They applauded a list of Plaid successes in government, including legislation to protect the Welsh language and this month's referendum on direct law-making powers for the assembly - a key commitment in the Labour-Plaid coalition deal.
The speech put education at the centre of Plaid's campaign for the election - a portfolio held by Labour throughout the four years of the coalition.
Bethan Jenkins AM and Nerys Evans AMBethan Jenkins AM during a discussion event and Nerys Evans AM speaking to conference
Raising standards would be the main priority of a Plaid government, Mr Jones said, pledging to concentrate resources on ending illiteracy among primary school leavers.
Recent test results for 15-year-olds showing Wales had slipped down an international league table were "unaccaptable".
He hailed Plaid's plans for the economy, including a proposed not-for-profit company that would fund public infrastructure projects.
Responding to attacks from opponents - who say the plan is not feasible - Mr Jones claimed it was a "bold idea and we have the ambition and the determination to make it happen".
Plaid was not content to "sit back and settle for a situation where people go out of work", he added.
The speech also attacked spending cuts by the UK government.
Although he has stopped short of explicitly ruling out talks with the Conservatives and Liberal Democrats if May's election is inconclusive, Mr Jones has said it would be "difficult" to form a coalition with them in the assembly because of their parties' actions in Westminster.
But Labour has sought to claim that Plaid is prepared to deal with the Tories.
Labour MP Nia Griffith said: "Only one party in Wales has ruled out any deal with the Tories and that is Welsh Labour - the true party of Wales."

Friday, 25 March 2011

All you need to know about the Assembly Elections

From Wikipaedia

National Assembly for Wales election, 2011

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

The National Assembly for Wales election 2011 will be the next election for the National Assembly and the Welsh Assembly Government
The poll will be held on Thursday 5 May 2011 and will decide the incumbency for all the assembly's seats. 
It will be the fourth election for seats in the National Assembly for Wales, (previous elections in 19992003 and 2007
and will be the second election taken under the rules of the Government of Wales Act 2006.



[edit]Opinion polls

Constituency Vote (FPTP)
Firm/ClientSurvey end dateLabPCConLDOthers
YouGov/ITV Wales4–8 March 201148% (+3)19% (-2)20% (-1)7% (NC)7% (+1)
YouGov/ITV Wales24–26 January 201145% (+1)21% (NC)21% (-2)7% (+1)6% (NC)
YouGov/ITV Wales20–22 December 201044% (NC)21% (NC)23% (+2)6% (-3)6% (NC)
YouGov/ITV Wales22–24 November 201044% (NC)21% (NC)21% (+2)9% (NC)6% (-2)
YouGov/ITV Wales25–27 October 201044%21%19%9%8%
2007 General Election32.2%22.4%22.4%14.8%8.2%
Regional Vote (AMS)
Firm/ClientSurvey end dateLabPCConLDUKIPGreenBNPOthers
YouGov/ITV Wales4–8 March 201145% (+4)18% (-3)20% (NC)5% (-3)5% (+1)4% (+2)1% (NC)1% (-2)
YouGov/ITV Wales24–26 January 201141% (-1)21% (NC)20% (-2)8% (+3)4% (-1)2% (-1)1% (NC)3% (+2)
YouGov/ITV Wales20–22 December 201042% (+1)21% (+1)22% (+2)5% (-4)5% (+1)3% (NC)1% (-1)1% (-1)
YouGov/ITV Wales22–24 November 201041% (+1)20% (-3)20% (+2)9% (NC)4% (-2)3% (+1)2% (NC)2% (+1)
YouGov/ITV Wales25–27 October 201040%23%18%9%6%2%2%1%
2007 General Election29.6%21.0%21.4%11.7%4.0%3.5%4.3%4.5%

[edit]Constituency nominations

NB: candidates in BOLD text are the incumbent assembly members. Non incumbents are represented in italics
ConstituencyConservativeLabourLiberal DemocratsPlaid CymruUKIPOthersResult
AberavonTJ MorganDavid ReesHelen Ceri ClarkePaul Nicholls Jones
AberconwyJanet Finch-SaundersEifion Wyn WilliamsMike PriestleyIwan Huws
Alyn and DeesideJohn BellCarl SargeantPeter WilliamsShane Brennan
ArfonChristina ReesRhys JonesAlun Ffred JonesOwain Williams (Llais GwyneddPatrick Byrne(BNP)
Blaenau GwentAlun DaviesMartin BlakebroughDarren JonesJayne Sullivan (Independent Conservative)
Brecon and RadnorshireChris DaviesChris LloydKirsty WilliamsGary Price
BridgendAlex WilliamsCarwyn JonesBriony DaviesTim Thomas
CaerphillyOwen MeredithJeff CuthbertKay DavidRon Davies
Cardiff CentralMatt SmithJenny RathboneNigel HowellsChris Williams
Cardiff NorthJonathan MorganJulie MorganMatt SmithBen Foday
Cardiff South and PenarthBen GrayVaughan GethingSian Anne CliffLiz Musa
Cardiff WestCraig WilliamsMark DrakefordDavid MorganNeil McEvoy
Carmarthen East and DinefwrHenrietta HensherAntony JonesWill GriffithsRhodri Glyn Thomas
Carmarthen West and South PembrokeshireAngela BurnsChristine GwytherSelwyn RunnettNerys Evans
CeredigionLuke EvettsRichard BoudierElizabeth EvansElin JonesChris Simpson (Welsh Green Party)
Clwyd SouthPaul RogersKen SkatesBruce RobertsMabon ap Gwynfor
Clwyd WestDarren MillarCrispin JonesBrian Cossey [2]Eifion Lloyd Jones
Cynon ValleyDaniel Saxton[3]Christine ChapmanIan WaltonDafydd Trystan
DelynMatthew WrightSandy MewiesMichele JonesCarrie Harper
Dwyfor MeirionnyddSimon Baynes [4]Angry MartynSteve ChurchmanLord Elis-ThomasLouise Hughes (Llais GwyneddJosh Clarke(Standing at the back looking stupid Party)
GowerCaroline JonesEdwina HartPeter MayDarren Price
IslwynGwyn PriceSteffan Lewis
LlanelliAndrew MorganKeith DaviesHelen Mary Jones
Merthyr Tydfil and RhymneyChris O'BrienHuw LewisAmy KitcherNoel Turner
MonmouthNick RamsayMark WhitcuttJanet EllardFiona Cross
MontgomeryshireRussell GeorgeNick Colbourne[5]Wyn WilliamsDavid Senior
NeathGwenda ThomasMatthew McCarthyAlun Llewellyn
Newport EastNick WebbJohn GriffithsEd TownsendChris Paul
Newport WestDavid WilliamsRosemary ButlerElizabeth NewtonLyndon Binding
OgmoreMartyn HughesJanice GregoryGerald FrancisDanny Clark
PontypriddJoel JamesMick AntoniwMike PowellIoan Bellin
Preseli PembrokeshirePaul DaviesTerry MillsBob KilmisterRhys Sinnett
RhonddaLeighton AndrewsGeorge SummersSera Evans-Fear
Swansea EastDan BoucherMichael HedgesSam SamuelDic Jones
Swansea WestStephen JenkinsJulie JamesRob SpehtCarl Harris
TorfaenNatasha AsgharLynne NeagleJeff ReesIan Williams (Torfaen People's Democratic Voice)
Vale of ClwydIan GunningAnn JonesHeather PrydderchAlun Lloyd Jones
Vale of GlamorganAngela Jones-EvansJane HuttDamian ChickIan Johnson
WrexhamJohn MarekLesley GriffithsBill BreretonMarc Jones
Ynys MônPaul WilliamsJoe LockIeuan Wyn JonesKatherine Dunkley (Welsh Communist Party)

[edit]Regional lists

[edit]Mid and West Wales

BNPConservativesGreenLabourLiberal DemocratsPlaid CymruUKIP
1.Nick BourneLeila KierschJoyce WatsonWilliam PowellSimon ThomasChristine Williams
2.Lisa FrancisElly FosterMari ReesMark ColeRhys DaviesClive Easton
3.Marilyn ElsonMatthew DorranceEd WilsonLlywelyn ReesNick Powell
4.Rebecca EvansSteffan JohnEllen ap GwynnDavid W Rowlands

[edit]North Wales

BNPConservativesGreenLabourLiberal DemocratsPlaid CymruUKIP
1.Mark IsherwoodDorienne RobinsonGwyneth ThomasAled RobertsLlyr Huws GriffithsNathan Gill
2.Brynle WilliamsTimothy FosterDavid PhillipsEleanor BurnhamHeledd FychanWarwick Nicholson
3.Antoinette SandbachPeter HaigDiane GreenDyfed EdwardsAndrew Haigh
4.Janet HowarthColin HughesLiz Saville-RobertsElwyn Williams

[edit]South Wales Central

BNPConservativesGreenLabourLiberal DemocratsPlaid CymruUKIP
1.Andrew R.T. DaviesJake GriffithsJayne BrencherJohn DixonLeanne WoodKevin Mahoney
2.David MeldingSam CoatesCraig JonesEluned ParrottChris FranksSimon Ziegler
3.Lyn HudsonJohn MatthewsAlex ThomasRachael HitchinsonDelme BowenLaurence Gwyn
4.Matt TownsendJohn DrysdaleElgan MorganRichard GriggTony Jenkins

[edit]South Wales East

BNPConservativesEnglish DemocratsGreenLabourLiberal DemocratsPlaid CymruUKIP
1.William GrahamChristopher WereDebbie WilcoxVeronica GermanJocelyn DaviesDavid J Rowlands
2.Mohammad AsgharPippa BartolottiAnthony HuntPhil HobsonLindsay WhittleNeil (Jock) Greer
3.Caroline OagOwen ClarkeKaren WilkieBleddyn HancockPeter Osbourne
4.Benjamin SmithAllison AylandHefin DavidJohnathan ClarkGareth Dunn
5.Paul PaviaAlan Williams

[edit]South Wales West

BNPConservativesGreenLabourLiberal DemocratsPlaid CymruThe Socialist AlternativeUKIP
1.Suzy DaviesKeith RossAlana DaviesCllr. Peter BlackBethan JenkinsDavid Bevan
2.Byron DaviesHuw EvansGeraint HopkinsStuart RiceDr. David LloydJohn Atkinson
3.Altaf HussainMarie JohnMyfanwy DaviesTim Jenkins
4.Dayne PowellEdward JonesLinet PurcellDavid Rodgers

[edit]Target seats for the main parties

Below are listed all the constituencies which require a swing of less than 7.5% from the 2007 result to change hands.

[edit]Labour Targets

RankConstituencyWinning party 2007Swing to gainLabour's place 2007Result
1Carmarthen West & South PembrokeshireConservative0.172nd
2Clwyd WestConservative3.052nd
3Preseli PembrokeshireConservative5.582nd
4LlanelliPlaid Cymru7.042nd
5Cardiff NorthConservative7.192nd

[edit]Plaid Cymru Targets

RankConstituencyWinning party 2007Swing to gainPC's place 2007Result
1Carmarthen West & South PembrokeshireConservative0.443rd
2Clwyd WestConservative3.333rd
5Preseli PembrokeshireConservative6.923rd

[edit]Conservative Targets

RankConstituencyWinning party 2007Swing to gainCon's place 2007Result
1Vale of GlamorganLabour0.132nd
2Vale of ClwydLabour0.212nd
5Clwyd SouthLabour2.872nd
6Newport WestLabour2.962nd
7AberconwyPlaid Cymru4.092nd
8MontgomeryshireLiberal Democrats4.442nd
9Newport EastLabour4.733rd
10Cardiff South & PenarthLabour5.152nd
13Swansea WestLabour6.583rd
14Cardiff WestLabour6.882nd

[edit]Liberal Democrat Targets

RankConstituencyWinning party 2007Swing to gainLD's place 2007Result
1Newport EastLabour2.202nd
2Swansea WestLabour3.302nd
4CeredigionPlaid Cymru6.572nd