Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Justice for the 96

Yesterday (26/4/2016), 30 years after Chernobyl blew up, and 27years since Hillsborough, a jury in Warrington delivered perhaps the most condemnatory set of responses to 16 questions that the UK establishment has ever suffered.

There cannot be justice without truth.  That is why the State acts in the way it does, even today.

Few will have been able to hold back the emotion, partly due to the sheer length of time and hostility the families have had to endure.  And partly that they have, finally, overcome a powerful establishment intent on wearing down and destroying them and their lost loved ones.

Now that reality has returned to the Hillsborough story, attention is quickly - and rightly - turning to those several who modified witness statements, and pursued a 27-year long campaign of falsely blaming Liverpool fans for the tragedy that unfolded.

For me, whilst the lies, cover ups and unlawful killings are terrible, the really important point I see is this: just how quickly the establishment began orchestrating a sophisticated web of deceit and false information, such that these lies were fed, as the tragedy happened, to BBC commentators at the stadium. 

This was no bungled attempt to throw mud.  Those who spun the lies were clearly well-versed and well-supported in what to do when the shit hits the fan.  It's clear a network of advisors and wonks spun into action.  Once the BBC commentators had, in good faith, repeated what the supposedly trustworthy 'authorities' had told them, the lies would propagate like wild fire. 

And so they did, appearing in the infamous Sun headline: 'The Truth'. 

This kind of 'trash the families' approach to dealing with facts that embarrass the State is not limited to enormous catastrophes like Hillsborough.  Indeed, it seems to come straight out of some handbook that all in senior public office have, hidden under their desks for retrieval when needed.

The overall response to those who dare to ask probing questions, criticise or condemn the State - from local council upwards - is to immediately cast doubt on those who are 'stirring', as they would see it.  Lies usually follow, with kagaroo 'investigations', the appointment of friends and colleagues, cast as 'independent', who are paid to prop-up the party line.  And so they do.

This 'shoot the messenger' industry in public office is endemic and destructive.  That it is destructive is, of course, it's whole raison d'etre

But that it is endemic is utterly unacceptable.  These attitudes - and the people who propagate them - belong to a time past.  Indeed, many of them seem not to have really understood they no longer live in the 1970s or 80s, where media management was easy, because the public had no ready and immediate access to the papers and broadcasters.  Today, anyone can alert a material-hungry media to an interesting story as it unfolds.

Justice for the 96 was long overdue.  That much is clear.  Less clear is that those in wider public office are learning any lessons at all about falling on their sword, rather that trashing the public, when they make even the slightest of mistakes.  Let also their legal departments, full of lawyers who have long forgotten their professional duty to the truth, learn that they are not in post to spin-out lies in support of their masters.  From little lies, big tragedies grow.

Let's hope that the terrible conduct of the State, such as it has been during the 27 years of searching for truth in Liverpool, brings much more than peace for the families.  Let's hope it opens the door wide open on the ways of the State, and just why it prefers to blame the affected, rather than stand up for justice.

Above all, let's hope it brings lasting change to accountability.

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Gareth Winston Roberts - Reprise.

Yes folks, no sooner than you thought ol' GWR was ready to meet the Grim Reaper, than he pops up in local meetings recently.

Missed him?  He's planning to come back from the Amlwch shadows.

Accompanied by long-term associate and solicitor, Myrddin Owens, GWR has bounced back from some illness, believed to be cancer, and started banging desks on County Council issues again.

GWR was, apparently, full of his old enthusiasm for power, and kept repeating "I haven't gone away".  He also had difficulty in comprehending regulations about services spelled out to him.  But that sort of thing comes with age - and a belief in getting his own way.

This, of course, will ring alarm bells in those who hold Roberts responsible for much of Anglesey Council's past woes, from which it is only just now emerging.

So, it seems GWR is the original Comeback Kid, and will be gracing the voting slips, come the next County Council elections, just a year or so away.

Post phoebus, nubila...

Friday, March 11, 2016

What Did The Judge Say to Anglesey Council?

Followers of the ups and downs - mainly downs - of Anglesey County Council will not have missed Judge Gareth Jones' condemnation of that basketcase organisation during 2014.

His Honour Gareth Jones is a Family Court judge who presides over the kinds of cases Anglesey Social Services department bring.

Well, sometimes.

You see, last year, Anglesey Council took it upon itself to prevent a child being returned to his mother after she had spent a short period undergoing treatment for a psychological illness.

That sounds all find and dandy, until you realise that Anglesey had not bothered with applying for a Court Order to keep the child in care.  In other words, it acted outside of - and contrary to - law.

His Honour Gareth Jones.  Not impressed by Anglesey Council.

His Honour Gareth Jones, apparently supporting the efforts of Lord Justice Munby and other senior Family Court judges, took to condemning Anglesey in public.  He said that Anglesey was "not above the law" and that he had formed suspicions from earlier cases that the reason it was apparently acting in this cavalier manner was that it was trying to cut costs by not bothering with proper legal processes.

The Council, for its characteristically ridiculous part, asserted it was "acting in good faith" in the case.

Quite how anyone acts in good faith when they are failing to follow basic elements of the law that dictates their work is anyone's guess.

Even after this public humiliation, this blog became aware of what might appear to outsiders as prejudices in case handling.  In one case seen by this blog, a referral was made to a fairly senior officer.  She forwarded the referral to a colleague, adding - entirely without justification or reason - that "maybe they've [the family] have been opened [complained about] before!"

The use of an excited exclamation mark to conclude the e-mail was deeply troubling.  The family had never been "opened before", and the complaint, when properly considered, was found to met no bar for action, and was later shown to be a complaint from a neighbour with a decade-long list of calls to police about his malicious conduct, of which this was the latest incarnation.

In a later, 2015 case, His Honour Gareth Jones took again to criticising Anglesey Council, this time for failing to make its mind up - he called it an "S-turn" - over how a child ought to have been processed in the care system.

This seems to have been the last straw for Judge Jones, who issued in his judgement on the case the remarkable news that he had "set in train" arrangements for a meeting with Anglesey's senior legal officer and head of Social Services.  It would seem Judge Jones had some form of carpeting in mind.

That was in 2015.  What has happened since?  We don't appear to know.  Anglesey, of course, always keen to suppress bad news, doesn't seem to have made anything public.  A FoI request to it would probably lead to lots of foot-dragging and excuses for not releasing the data.  We've seen that kind of thing an awful lot, and the ICO has taken them to task many a time.

The FoI request acknowledgement from the MoJ.

So, this blog can confirm a request under FoI has been lodged with the Ministry of Justice to reveal details of when this meeting between Judge Jones and Anglesey took place, and what was covered in that meeting.

The outcome will be published here, just as soon as it's received!


The response was received on April 07, 2016.  It asserts that the Ministry of Justice does not hold the information sought.  But, outside of the FoIA, it did ask His Honour Gareth Jones for any response he may wish to make.

HH Gareth Jones was willing to reveal the meeting between himself and Anglesey Council took place on 14th December, 2015, but that no recordings were made, nor minutes taken.

It is disappointing that HH Gareth Jones didn't appear willing to reveal even the general topic of the meeting held with Anglesey, more especially as he has clearly sought to bring Anglesey's failings to the public attention through his statements in judgement texts.  But we can reasonable infer that the topic was dissatisfaction with the Council's Social Services unit, given the very public criticism HH Jones has made in 2014 and again in 2015.

So, it seems that if no recording of the meeting took place, then Anglesey Council will also likely claim they have no information about the meeting.

The very strange and unsatisfactory outcome of this extraordinary meeting that the judge chose to tell the public would happen, is that it happened behind closed doors and nobody appears to have taken any notes.  From the outside, the public might be concerned that this could appear to be an attempt to evade FoIA.

In effect, despite HH Jones' venture into the public arena, the public have nevertheless been kept thoroughly in the dark about a public authority's failings and a Family Court judge's involvement in, apparently, trying to improve matters.

So there you are.  The Telegraph's recent concerns about Family Court secrecy do seem well-founded, with Anglesey Council being avoided any potential embarrassment.  Nice one!

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Taffia's 'Welsh Must' Project is "Social Engineering"

My!  The Welsh Class - the subset of Welsh culture that sees it as their God-given right to force everyone to speak Welsh, is really out in force these past couple of weeks.

A certain Professor Sioned Davies has warned that only by putting Welsh on an equal footing with English - Welsh is currently classed as a 'second language' - can the aim of reversing the decline in Welsh speakers be realised.

Now, I'm all for debate on this, and I hope the Welsh Class, or the Welsh Elite, if you prefer, also have the confidence and decency to listen to others' views.  But I doubt that they have.

First of all, Prof. Davies is an academic and Chair of Welsh at Cardiff University.  She lists a number of published works along the theme of the Mabinogion, and how you might translate those folk stories.
So you might be forgiven for thinking she has a certain view on speaking Welsh.  Her partners on the body appointed by the Welsh Government to 'look into' all this business also seem to have what one might call a predictable view on the subject they were charged with examining.

After all, if we asked a bunch of scientists whether science should be handed more funding, you'd sort-of expect them to conclude that, yes, it does!

Somehow, Prof. Davies report has gotten the ear of the Education Minister in Cardiff, Huw whatshiname - Lewis - that's it - who, according to Cymdeithas Yr Iaith Gymraeg - now thinks every kid should be forced to speak Welsh within five years, and learn school subjects through Welsh, even in those schools who are English medium.  The Welsh Government spin machine claims Lewis's statements do not amount to this, and to say they do is "misleading."  We'll see, won't we?

This, rather unsurprisingly, has shocked many parents, mindful that English medium schools within Wales tend to be busy because numerous parents choose to have their kids educated in an useful, and not useless language.

That wholly odd organisation, Cymdeithas yr Iaith Gymraeg, states in a paper report reproduced online that:

“Indeed, we are pleased that he intends to abolish Welsh as a second language and instead ensure that more and more subjects in English-medium schools are taught through Welsh,” 

That isn't a pleasure that will be shared by many parents across Wales, and it does of course plainly reveal the frankly ludicrous and regressive attitude towards the modern world that this group - and many who quietly support them - holds.

Even though the Welsh Government has its seat of power within an area of Wales where only a tiny proportion of the population speak Welsh, and even fewer speak coherent, proper Welsh, the State is beginning to turn the language screws ever tighter.  The small minority elite who bring about the pressure and mechanisms for these changes are very powerful, because they ride on a self-serving conveyor belt of public sector jobs for life.  Quickly realising that promotion depends on strongly supporting the 'Welsh Must' line, they all fall into line, bleating like so many Welsh hill sheep as they go.

If it's true that Welsh is to be force-fed to kids in school, I hope that parents remember that it is their legal duty that a "suitable and sufficient" education is given to their children.  It is, to my mind, very doubtful anyone can claim that more and more Welsh, with less and less English, is a means of satisfying that obligation.  I say it is a terrible indication that the Welsh Elite have struck back in panic at what is, to them, an unacceptable and offensive decline in speaking this useless language, and are hell-bent on changing things.

A great way to strike back would be to tell your kids to sit there, looking out the window and fail all their Welsh tests and exams.  After all, you don't have to be bothered about not having a Welsh qualification of no practical use, do you?

To all those who justify their Welshy-ism on the claim that it's to "prepare children for further education and the workplace", I say: where are all the Welsh-only speaking jobs, and point out that almost all univerisites in the UK do not need Welsh, thank you very much.

The final word really has to go to an anonymous school governor - and who can blame him for hiding -who rightly comments:

“I think there is an inherent view in the Welsh Establishment that everyone in Wales should have Welsh as their first language, and this is part of that. It’s an attempt at social engineering which I don’t think has any chance of success.”


Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Llanddeusant Community Council - Bleating Where Action is Needed.

Good old Anglesey councillors!

This time, poor old Melin Llynnon - Wales' last working windmill and a vital tourist attraction - is up for grabs.  Anglesey Council simply can't make it pay, so off it goes.  It could even be sold privately.

No more cash to fill the sails...  (Image(C) this blog)

Now, it was quite a long time ago that Anglesey Council invited interested parties to submit their ideas for ways of keeping several sites across the island open, whilst taking them off the accounts.  Everybody had heard of the plans.  They were in the papers, online, people talking about them in the street.

Everybody, that is, apart from Llanddeusant Community Council, who have complained in the last few days that they would have found it "nice" had Llangefni contact them "directly."

It won't do, apparently, for Llanddeusant Community Council to be included, by definition, in Anglesey Council's invitation to "any interested party" to come forward.   Maybe this newfangled democracy stuff isn't to their liking?

That's right, not only are they so slow as to apparently not be like everybody else in knowing about the Great Sell-Off, they want it done in a way that pleases them!  I know the average age of Anglesey councillors is very high, but, come on!

I note that Llanddeusant doesn't mention any good ideas that it might have of its own.  It simply seems content to be moaning about protocol. 

But there you go, that's Anglesey for you.  How very useful!

Friday, October 9, 2015

More Diktats from the Welsh Class.

Recently, I came across this superb piece of writing, that cuts through all the bull about a foreseen Golden Dawn for Wales.

Amongst the text, which is in fact balanced and considered, we find this remarkable cut to the chase:

"...Wales has the UK’s worst child poverty. In this context, Welsh nationalism is the old man in his shed busy with a hobby only he can appreciate whilst his family starves at the dinner table. Language advocates are not responsible for Welsh poverty, but they do not help as they persist with myths that the language has instrumental value to learners. It doesn’t.

Williams, in 1989, the period leading up to the Welsh Language Act, wrote: 

'Thus we are faced with a generation of bilingual school-leavers who have been socialised into believing that their bilingualism is prized by society, which on examination turns out to be a rather narrowly constructed, middle-class public sector society, which rewards its own purveyors of information and knowledge. There are clear class implications in the development of an administrative bureaucracy, which is both the principal agency for change and the principal net beneficiary of change.'"

If you are an objective witness to politics and simply everyday life in Wales, that quote really does get to the heart of what is going on, and has been for decades.  A narrow, powerful and well-paid elite of public servants, with absolute security of employment through peer promotion and support, are continuing to dictate to others, who live a much more precarious life, how they should conduct and express themselves - in Welsh.

Or, as Radio 4 once put it "what is Welsh for?  It is to support an elite."  With rapidly-declining numbers of Welsh speakers, and my experience of Wales over an entire lifetime, and however much it may offend your sensibilities - this is the simple truth about Wales and the role of a language utterly without purpose in the modern, wider world.

Indeed, Welsh has made the Welsh Class elite so blind to any other agenda that now, in the face of panic about declining numbers of speakers, Councils are once again promoting Welsh Academies.  I'm not quite sure who appointed LEA chiefs and councillors as dictators of which language the people of Wales express themselves in.  But it's clear that it's a role they have taken enthusiastically upon themselves, and are hell-bent on spending your tax money in order to prop up their agenda.

And what of languages that really do confer economic and social advantages to our children? What place for Spanish, German, Russian, Mandarin?  Tour any school within Wales and you will be hard pressed to find much mention of these.

The Welsh elite, generally simply Welsh-English bilingual, see no purpose or benefit to them in hardline promotion of 'modern' languages.  As a result, the number of kids leaving school with a useful second language - as opposed to a useless one like Welsh - has halved in just a few years.  Politicians and teachers say it's all about time and money pressures.  The real source of the problem, of course, is themselves - the very ones who have been pushing through their 'Welsh Everwhere, Every Time' policy, to the exclusion of all else.

And, like the 'case continues' legal qualification at the end of Court proceedings reports, I am obliged to say - because this is what I believe - that I have nothing against the Welsh language, and certainly not the Welsh people - for I am one of them.  No, what I am against - and what the Welsh Class elite don't want you to hear - is the creating and continuation of that Welsh Elite who, through their own privilege and power, want you to live the way they have created for you.  That you may not want it - or that it will limit your child's future -  is never a consideration - you will have it, come hell or high water.  That, normally, is a prompt for mutiny.

What struck me in thinking of all this were two thoughts:

(1) That those who live and breathe Welsh, and within themselves are nothing other than believers in being the purest Virgin Welsh, are not motivated primarily by the language they think they are defending.  No, they are primarily motivated by the elitism - i.e. status and money - that speaking pure Welsh brings them.  In other words, the Welsh Class are a pretence: they would quickly turn to something else as a propper-up of their positions if it were threatened.  They are so wedded to the Welsh ideology that I am certain few, if any, realise this; their firm reality is entirely built upon the flaky Welsh myth.

(2) If the Welsh Class take their project so far as many seem already to be doing, then they will destroy that which sustains them.  If more and more Welsh Academies are swept in, and panic initiates more force-feeding of Welsh, then there will, inevitably, be more kids emerging from education with a very good ability in Welsh.  This will create a bigger pool of qualified competitors for jobs and resources in a tank that can only ever be so big in Wales.  In other words, the current Traditional Taffia families will find themselves under pressure from those outside those familial groups and, without further dictatorial controls to exclude them (always possible in Wales), will be farmed off pretty smartish.  Of course, with a net cast wider like this, you could easily end up with a body of highly capable, fluent Welsh speakers who do not share the Taffia's ideology, and move to oust it.  I'm not sure the Taffia appreciate this problem, but if they do, there will be an idea lurking in their minds that they old the levers of power, and will move the goalposts to maintain their position.  It's probably worthwhile to look for evidence of feigned anger and robust measures to turn the language around, whilst in fact, there wasn't a lot of energy put into the success of the language project, so as to ensure the Traditional Taffia are never usurped.  Has this happened along the lines of Pakistan and its 'we'll kick the Taliban, but only so much', so as to ensure the US keep handing out military aid that quickly finds its way into that nation's elite? 

If you like some theory 'cod' with your social 'chips', then this text is a very worthwhile and insightful read.  If you are part of the Welsh Class, of course, you will leave it very angry and offended.  Such are the sensibilities of the Taffia.

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Anglesey Council Fails to Get its House in Order.

Like many folk on Anglesey, I've been on the receiving end of some very strange happenings relating to the people dealing with information requests at Anglesey Council.

Back again...

Dubbed a "basket case council" by Private Eye during its darker times some years ago, Anglesey has struggled to keep up with the times relating to data protection.  So much so that, sixteen years after its introduction, the Data Protection Act still isn't being properly respected at the Council.

The current ramp-up to an ICO Enforcement Notice began in 2011, but the problems go back much, much further than that.  One of the biggest problems was said to be councillors waltzing-in to departmental offices and demanding to see data about people they had no right to see.  This is to be set against a background where, according to a Freedom of Information Act request in 2011, the majority of councillors hadn't even thought about registering as Data Controllers, even though they were obliged to.  A letter to all councillors from the Authority seemed not to have stirred too many into correcting this unacceptable state of affairs.

By now, the Council has attracted the ire of the Commissioner, leading to an Enforcement Notice and three months to get its house in order.

The Council's press office say they were "surprised" to receive the Notice, even though a simple search online shows they were given a Preliminary Notice as recently as August 2015.  Nothing like a bit of feigned indignation, eh boys?