Just who are the ‘buffoons’ on Welsh labour’s new blog?

buffoon?

buffoon?

Welsh labour’s new blog Aneurin Glyndwr is crap. That’s the consensus among journalists and the wider blogging community in Wales. From the risible duo of MEPs Eluned Morgan and Glenys Kinnock trashing Tom Jones’ hit Delilah – ditched due to copyright infringement – to puerile comments about other politicians, including south Wales anarchists, this blog is certainly not the ‘modern platform for the politics of the progressive left’. You can’t even leave comments which flatly contradicts the authors’ proud boast of creating ‘a positive and constructive debate about the future of Wales’.

So what of labour’s claim that south Wales anarchists are buffoons? We invite readers to consider the issues we’ve raised  and make their own minds up.

buffoon?
buffoon?

Back in January we revealed the hypocrisy of our assembly members (AMs) whose £10 million pension pot (paid for with our money) is being invested in companies which are among the world’s worst polluters and human rights violaters and include Shell, BHP Billiton and Atlas Copco.

Since the last assembly elections we’ve campaigned against the abuse by AMs of the £12,000 per annum additional costs allowance, which permits a number of them to trouser serious amounts of money, buying and selling second homes at the taxpayers’ expense. Welsh labour’s Huw Lewis and Lynne Neagle are among the culprits.

We highlighted the scandalous 10.2% hike in salaries accepted by the majority of AMs in 2008 when public sector workers were being forced to accept increases worth a fraction of their political masters. Let’s see if our hard-pressed AMs take a pay rise this year as thousands of people all over Wales are thrown on the unemployment scrapheap. No prizes for guessing what the answer to that question will be…

We’ve consistently exposed the crass behaviour of south Wales police.

We vigorously opposed the illegal war against Iraq, while welsh labour politicians dithered.

buffoon?

buffoon?

We’ve written extensively about the growing militarisation of Wales, a pet project of Rhodri Morgan. Wales is now home to 180 arms and aerospace companies, a very worrying development in our opinion and one which needs to be stopped. Millions of pounds of taxpayers’ money are being channelled to weapons manufacturers, such as Raytheon and BAE systems, with links to some of the most brutal regimes in the world, including Israel. In the meantime the welsh economy is left to go down the pan.

buffoon?

buffoon?

Perhaps those behind the blog: Peter Hain, found guilty of a ‘serious and substantial’ breach of parliamentary regulations after failing to declare £100,000 of donations to his dismal deputy leadership campaign, MEP Eluned Morgan, ex-Plaid Cymru member, Alun Davies AM, who accepts ‘hospitality’ from US burger chain Macdonald’s – flying in the face of assembly attempts to tackle obesity – free clothes and opera tickets, and ex-liberal democrat Leighton ‘piggy’ Andrews may like to respond to the issues ‘buffoons’ like us have raised?

They’re free, of course, to leave comments on our blog.

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The Iraq war – a fading memory?

bombing-baghdad-iraq-shock-and-aweI don’t know, I haven’t looked at the issues

Rhodri Morgan, first minister, Welsh assembly government, when asked if he supported the Iraq war.

 

 

At the start of the Iraq war, I suppose I could be considered a veteran of many direct action protests. But it had been a while since I’d got involved in anything like that. I’d heard some of the anarchists planned to go into Cardiff city centre when war was declared and blockade the road. So I headed down, determined to see what was happening but slightly uneasy about getting stuck in. When I got there, it was late afternoon but still sunny. Protesters had  shut down Duke Street by the side of the castle. They had handcuffed themselves to each other, spread across the road and covered their arms with plastic guttering – more difficult to separate them! The cops were completely baffled. The Red Choir sung away in solidarity. Cars beeped their horns, and it was like the general public hadn’t seen anything like it. I sat down with the people who had locked themselves down and chatted. We were surrounded by crowds of people on the road. We joked and I passed them water. They were in good spirits. Later, when night came down, the blockade ended and lots of people just anarchist-demo-iraqran amok in the city centre with the cops chasing them. There was a right mixed bag of people: “ordinary-looking” folk,  anarchists, Muslims, people who were pissed off with the fact the war started…..The baton had been passed over to another generation and a completely different set of people. It was the start of a whole different focus for the protest movement.

 

My whole life changed when my husband was killed during the events of 2004. He was returning home after work, when fighting broke out between armed groups and coalition forces. A stray bullet killed him instantly. I ran out of the house followed by my children, and I will never forget the sight of my husband lying dead in our street. I had been a happy wife, taking care of our 5 children at home; my husband had always cared for us. Suddenly everything became my responsibility. I felt lost, I had no support, and I did not know how to face the outside world alone. crying_iraqi_womanMy 16-year-old son had to leave school to earn a living as a cleaner, there was no other choice. One day as my son worked, there was shooting and because he was just a child, he became scared and ran to the street. A sniper shot him in the head and killed him.

Um Mohammed, Falluja

 

To date 1,320,110 Iraqis have died as a result of the war, according to Just Foreign Policy. The figure is based on the 2006 Lancet report.

I have asked you to meet me many times – Sedgefield council in particular at the start of this campaign. I have asked you for a full, open and public debate between us about the war on Iraq.

Now I understand a little more easily why you refuse – not Sedgefield Election Countonly because you are vulnerable on so many counts about the legality of the war, not only because, maybe, your conscience troubles you, not only because you are the Prime Minister and I am merely a retired paramedic of little consequence.

No, you refuse to meet me because to you, the dead are not people; the dead are not names; the dead are not even numbers.

Reg Keys to Tony Blair. Reg Keys’ son, Tom, was a soldier who died in the Iraq war, aged 20.

Total number of countries who participated in “Coalition for the Immediate Disarmament of Iraq” at the start of the war: 31, including the United States.

Current number in coalition: 4 – United States, United Kingdom, Australia, Romania.

I’ve got no difficulty with the conflict in Iraq being a major part of what I’ve done.

Tony Blair during an interview in May 2007

 

glascoedThe strongest memory for me was when we went to carry out a ‘weapons inspection’ at the BAE bomb factory in Glascoed in the run up to the war. A group of us approached the site only to be met with a security guard standing behind the fence. We stood there for a few minutes then turned away. But as we were leaving something happened. Some sort of realisation spread through the group that we weren’t going to let one guard get the better of us. We stopped, turned round and walked back to the fence. Then we climbed over it and spread out over the site and carried out our ‘inspection’ until the cops turned up. We’d won and it felt fantastic.

 

As of November 2008, 2.8 million Iraqis were displaced inside Iraq.

 

Days before the invasion a few of us decided to disrupt the Welsh assembly. We had to sit in the visitors’ gallery for 45 minutes listening to assembly members going on about carrots or something before our time came. My legs turned to jelly as I sat there waiting. Then, at exactly 2.45, we got up and jumped over the barrier into the chamber shouting at the politicians, telling them to do something to stop this war happening. It was one of the most exhilerating moments of my life. We demonstrated until guards pushed us to the ground and dragged us away…no doubt to the relief of the assembly members who could get back to talking about important issues of the day…

 

We are against all wars. All wars are against us

  

Who killed Nikkita Walters and Katie-Jo Davies?

The movers and shakers of the Welsh weapons industry will gather on Tuesday 7 April 2009 for the annual Aerolink Wales arms fair. Organisers promise ‘a host of new opportunities for our attendees’ plus a very pleasant stay – at the taxpayers’ expense, of course – in the 4 star Vale of Glamorgan Hotel and Spa.

But just who are the people intent on putting Wales at the forefront of the global arms trade?

Here's to more death and destruction!

Here's to more death and destruction!

First minister, Rhodri Morgan, makes no bones of his support for the Welsh war machine. In early February 2009 he was in north Wales offering support to Saygrove Electronics Ltd, which produces missile systems. Two weeks before that he visited Hawker Beechcraft in Broughton, which makes the spy planes that patrol the skies above Afghanistan and Iraq.

And when the announcement of the new military academy at St Athan was made on the steps of the Senedd in 2007, Rhodri and Welsh politicians from all parties were queuing in front of the TV cameras to express their delight at the £14 billion project, hailed as the saviour of the south Wales economy.

Ieuan Wyn Jones, country lawyer turned arms dealer

Ieuan Wyn Jones, country lawyer turned government arms dealer

Now that the academy looks doomed to fail, Rhodri and Ieuan ‘deputy dawg’ Wyn Jones, his Plaid Cymru sidekick and minister for enterprise, innovation and networks, will no doubt be using Aerolink 2009 to push for companies to set up at the ParcAberporth UAV technology park near Aberystwyth, where unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), such as the Hermes 450 made by Israeli firm Elbit Systems, are tested. According to the technology park’s website a ‘generous and comprehensive support structure [is] available to occupiers’. By May 2008 £8.7 million of our money had gone towards making Parc Aberporth one of Europe’s leading military testing centres, attracting not just Israeli UAV manufacturers but many others from around the world.

Mark Norris, head of aerospace and defence, IBW; director of AWF

Mark Norris, head of aerospace and defence, IBW; director of AWF

Making sure Rhodri and Ieuan’s pledges are turned into action is the job of Mark Norris, head of aerospace and defence at International Business Wales (IBW), a government department under the direct supervision of Wyn Jones which offers ‘an unrivalled package of skills, sites and support’ to the arms industry. IBW is a main sponsor of Aerolink 2009 so Mr Norris will, no doubt, be courted by representatives of arms manufacturers from around the world eager for handouts. Yet far from providing the ‘unbiased’ eye of a civil servant out to get the best deal for the taxpayer, Norris is indisputably on the side of the arms industry, demonstrated by the fact that he just happens to be a director of Aerospace Wales Forum Ltd (AWF), a private lobbying company – yet in receipt of public money – run by CEO John Whalley, whose thirty years of experience at BAE Systems, the UK’s premier arms manufacturer, put him and his lobbying outfit at the heart of the Welsh arms industry.

John Whalley, ex-BAE Systems and CEO of Aerospace Wales Forum

John Whalley, ex-BAE Systems and CEO of Aerospace Wales Forum

Politicians and manufacturers would be lost without the research and development (R&D) expertise of Wales’ top universities. Cardiff and Swansea universities have received at least £7 million of public money to help private companies develop their weapons capability. In addition, Bangor and Aberystwyth universities (along with Swansea) got £17 million of taxpayers’ money last year to work on the Tyciant project which aims to develop further UAV technologies.

Getting our children involved in the war effort is the task of John Steele, University of Glamorgan academic, director of AWF and representative of the Society of British Aerospace Companies (SBAC). At a Welsh assembly science policy review meeting in 2005 Mr Steele, in his role as ‘coordinating and implementing a Welsh academic and skills aerospace strategy,’ declared the national curriculum as ‘too prescriptive and too soft’. His solution?  ‘Mathematics, Science and Innovative skills must underpin any future education system’. Fellow AWF director John Whalley’s former employer, BAE Systems, has taken Steele’s words to heart by opening an ‘education’ centre at its Glascoed bomb-making factory where primary school children are promised ‘a unique learning experience to bring the subject of World War 2 to life’.

military academic, AWF director, representative of SBAC

John Steele, military academic, AWF director, SBAC people and management board

Luckily the children can leave the bomb factory and go home at the end of the day. Not so fortunate were air cadets Nikkita Walters and Katie-Jo Davies, the teenage cousins from Gilfach Goch, killed above the skies of St Athan during one of the RAF’s ‘First Flight experiences‘.

            As Rhodri Morgan, Ieuan Wyn Jones, Mark Norris, John Whalley and John Steele cut deals over wine and canapés at Aerolink Wales 2009, dreaming of the world’s biggest and brashest training camp, serving the armies and airforces of the world, we wonder if any of them will pause to remember Nikkita and Katie-Jo…

St Athan Slaughter School Plans Unravel

rhodri-morgan-celebrating

Here's to more death and destruction!

Two years ago Westminster politicians, Ministry of Defence top brass and their cronies in big business were slapping each other on the back about a new military training academy in St Athan in the Vale of Glamorgan. In Wales first Minister Rhodri Morgan popped the champagne corks on the Senedd steps and the Welsh media crowed about a £14 billion contract and around 6,000 new ‘high-quality’ jobs.

It’s taken a while, but the plan is now unravelling as it becomes clear it’ll be a complete failure.

South Wales anarchists have been saying this all along, of course. The deal would mean the privatisation of military training. The power to train soldiers, navy and airmen and women would be handed to a bunch of dodgy arms dealers who make up the Metrix Consortium; companies like Raytheon, who manufacture cluster bombs which kill thousands of civilians.

We talked to the unions representing those who train the army and found out most of the instructors were against it, too. They didn’t want to move to St Athan, and they didn’t want to work for private companies.

Researchers looked at the jobs claims and found out that the 6,000 figure was pie in the sky – most of the ‘new’ jobs would be relocated from other parts of the UK and the small number left over for locals would be low-skilled service jobs such as cooking and cleaning up after trainees.

We went to the Vale and talked to residents and found out there’d been no proper consultation and that hardly anyone had any idea of the scale of the new academy. They had no idea that St Athan would be turned into a massive garrison town through which every new member of the UK’s armed forces would pass.

Slowly, everyone else seems to be catching up with us! A string of setbacks has meant that the project looks in danger of going under. The lucrative ‘phase 2’ of the project was scrapped much to the annoyance of its supporters. Staff at the Open University,  who are involved with the consortium of ‘defence firms’ behind the project, have started to complain about consorting with such scum. The scheme is running over budget with the price rising from £11bn to £12bn and senior MOD officials have joined opposition in the rank and file, one senior general describing it as ‘Alice in Wonderland’. A top air force officer complained that allowing companies to profit from military training would lead to cost-cutting and would put UK forces in danger. Tory MP Mark Pritchard has said that moving training from RAF Cosford to St Athan ‘would put frontline operations at risk‘ and others have questioned how realistic the plans are. And, most damaging, the MOD’s senior defence training review board has voiced serious concerns about the viability of the plans, suggesting it is not affordable, and it poses ‘intolerable’ risks.

This time, we actually quite like saying ‘we told you so’!