Friday, December 31, 2004

Christmas- the festival the dare not speak its name

There was no mention of "Christmas" on the card I received from the Ethnic Business Support Programme (a publicly funded race body) this year. No surprise as Christmas is a Christian religious festival and wishing someone "Merry Christmas" is now taboo within many organisations in case it "causes offence to non-Christians."

However the EBSP seem to be operating double standards, as earlier this year they sent out cards wishing everyone "Eid Mubarak" (Blessed Eid) to celebrate the end of the Muslim festival of Ramadan.If Christianity is not to be afforded the same respect as other religious festivals from a public body then this would seem to be clear case of religious discrimination.

I won't be holding my breath waiting for anyone to take action but in the meantime I would like to wish members of all faiths and none a very Happy New Year.

Thursday, December 30, 2004

Welsh Assembly should make disaster donation

Welsh Assembly should donate to Tsunami Appeal

The British government deserve credit for making the welcome decision fpr the increased amount of aid promised for the rescue efforts and to help rebuild the effected areas, but the international agencies have made it clear that billions not millions will be needed.

We have a moral obligation to try and do something to help. Apart from anything else this is a tragedy which will touch the lives of many Welsh families. We received an email this morning from my brother to say he was alright. He missed the tidal wave in Phuket by just 20 minutes. For many others the agony of being unable to contact loved ones goes on.

There is no reason why the Welsh Assembly should not pledge to make an additional sum available on top of what is being provided by the Government. Clearly we do not have the same level of resources, but with a budget of around £14billion a year we could certainly offer something and if we were to do so hopefully other devolved bodies would follow suit.

I have written to Rhodri Morgan for this to be given urgent consideration. I am sure that every member of the Assembly would support the idea of making a generous donation from Wales.

Wednesday, December 29, 2004

The disaster in Asia

It is impossible not to be overwhelmed with sympathy for those who have lost their lives in South East Asia. I sincerely hope that the Government will greatly increase the paltry offer of £1million aid to the region as well as increasing the numbers of staff in the call centre dealing with enquiries from relatives of British holiday makers. My brother was near Phuket when the tidal wave struck and fortunately rang to say he was alright shortly afterwards although we have been unable to contact him since. I can only imagine the anguish being suffered by relatives who have heard nothing.

Monday, December 27, 2004

Monmouthshire Hunt Meet

Over 1000 people turned up in Abergavenny this morning to support the Monmouthshire Hunt Boxing Day Meet (one day late becuase it was Sunday yesterday.) This was the biggest crowd by far which I have ever seen and there is no doubt that was partly due to the anger felt in rural areas at the hypocrisy of those who voted to ban hunting in the face of government evidence which states that a ban on hunting could be bad for the welfare of the fox - because it will face extermination by less pleasant means such as gassing or snaring. Meanwhile other practices which have raised far greater animal welfare concerns from the government's own advisors are allowed to continue.

Sunday, December 26, 2004

My Christmas of crime

I have just committed a crime which could shortly land me a five year prison sentence! This morning I carried a woodsaw back to my neighbor 2 doors down having used it to trim down the Christmas tree. Under proposals to bring in a minimum sentence of 5 years imprisonment for anyone carrying a knife, borrowing sharp implements from your neighbour's could well become a high risk activity. Lest anyone thinks I am exaggerating there is already a case pending against a former investment banker who was found to have a Swiss Army knife in his briefcase after a random search of his car. .

There have been a series of tragic incidents involving the use of knives recently and there is no doubt something should be done. But a mandatory 5 year sentence for anyone found carrying a knife could see fisherman, campers and many more thrown into prison. What is needed are long mandatory sentence, without parole, for those who carry out crimes with knives or who inflict injuries on members of the public with them.

Thursday, December 23, 2004

Schools not laptops

Torfaen councilors have been busy this week discussing the closure of Ponthir School
I have been in touch with the Council to point out that this is a first rate school fully supported by the parents and asking why the Council want to close it - I suspect the reasons are financial.
Parents wondering about how they will get their children, some as young as 4, to a school several miles away are unlikely to be impressed by the fact that councilors have been considering another important (to them) matter this week - how much to spend on their personal laptops!

Wednesday, December 22, 2004

New Blog

This is my first attempt at what I hope might become a regular short comment on current affairs both in and out of the Welsh Assembly. I was inspired by Peter Black the affable Liberal Democrat Assembly Member who I have the pleasure of sitting next to in the Assembly debating chamber. Peter regularly uses his column to denounce my speeches and suggested that this might be a useful way of getting my own back!