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WHO SAID THE ENGLISH ARE ARROGANT AND OPINIONATED?

Nauseatingly pious letter in today's Wasting Mule from someone in Machynlleth condemning "hysteria around the Welsh language". Basically just more supercilious crap from a white settler who 'detests all forms of nationalism' . . . and then, when you scratch the surface, you find the meusli-munching wing of the EDL.

It's difficult to know what prompted this intervention, because the writer gives no clue; which may be odd but not surprising, seeing as I'm not aware of anglophones having their tongues ripped out in the Dyfi valley or anywhere else. So this appears to be just another Anglosupremacist saying, 'Fuck the Welsh language'.

The letter writer, a Simon Wood, then tells us, "I am recently moved to Wales from Hackney". (Oh goody! Aren't we lucky, children!) So another uninvited guest in our country who has no hesitation in writing to a Welsh newspaper telling us primitive natives how to think.

Googling 'Simon Wood' I came up with what has to be the same man on a BBC web page, where he wrote in 2008: "Seriously considering moving to Mach but am hesitating as I don't speak Welsh and wonder how that will affect my employment prospects". Which is a load of bollocks. It's obvious he already knew Machynlleth (note the use of "Mach"), he probably had friends there, so he knew that plenty of English people like him had settled in the area and found work. So, in reality, he's having a go, suggesting that the Welsh language is a deterrent to talented people (like him) moving to Wales. (If only!)

Seeing as Wood and I are almost neighbours I shall look out for future shafts of enlightenment in the local press; for opinionated bastards like him just can't resist telling the world what they think on subjects they know sod all about.

'POWER TO THE PEOPLE!'

I don't like prying into other people's problems, let alone gloating over their misfortune. (Well, not unless they've really pissed me off.) But it was impossible to escape the spat last week between the new Plaid Cymru leader, Leanne Wood, and former leader, Dafydd Elis Thomas.

Once in a while I offer mild - yet always constructive - criticism of Plaid Cymru. More specifically, I focus on those elements of party policy or strategy that I feel are holding Plaid Cymru back. Specifically, socialism. So I was disappointed to read Dafydd Elis Thomas quoted last week as saying, “I am very anxious that the forces of the left should work together in the interests of Wales . . . ".

"Forces of the left"!!! Aw, for fuck's sake . . . that's pure Citizen Smith. Please, please, Dafydd; tell me you were misquoted. Because when I read that I was transported back to the '60s, and it was somewhat unnerving. (I no longer fit into my flares, for one thing. And I've lost my 'granny glasses'.) Nobody talks like that nowadays, no one in the West; no one under the age of 60; and certainly not a peer of the realm. Pull yourself together for God's sake! If you carry on talking about the Left, and socialism, you'll frighten off your suitors in the Labour and Unionist Party.

MUSICAL INTERLUDE

Padraig Lalor
Padraig Lalor is an accomplished singer-songwriter, originally from West Belfast, who now lives in Rhydaman (Ammanford). He's also a mate of mine. Much of Paddy's music is, inevitably, influenced by his background, and the troubled city in which he grew up. Though with his most recent CD, Ismay's Dream, he goes back further into Belfast's past, to 1912, in fact, and the launch of the Titanic.

Occasionally he lets himself go off on a more lighthearted tangent. As with this song about the Swans. Which, I should add, has received the stamp of approval from the Liberty Stadium. (Just think, the great Huw Jenkins might be humming it right now.)

The lyrics are almost self-explanatory until we get to the final verse; so, for those who don't get it . . . Brendan Rodgers, the former manager of the Swans (with Liverpool since last month) was manager at Reading before coming to Wales in July 2010. The Reading club is owned by Sir John Madejski. In the 2011 Championship play-off semi-final Swansea beat Nottingham Forest before beating Reading in the Wembley Final. Reading - as you all know - are nicknamed, 'The Royals'. Geddit!

More information on Paddy, and his music, can be found here, www.padraiglalor.com. And here's the link to where you can hear Paddy sing his composition. So what are you waiting for - join in!


BACK TO NORMAL


Well, well; whatever happened to the cross-party unity of the Yes campaign? For within a matter of days of the referendum result being declared they're at each other's throats again.

First, Cheryl Gillan, our beloved Secretary of State for Wales warns against a "slate curtain" descending 'twixt us and our nearest and dearest; then Assembly Presiding Officer, Dafydd Elis Thomas, argues that there is now no need for a Secretary of State; for which he is attacked by both Cheryl Gillan and the equally well-coiffed Peter Hain, Labour's Shadow Secretary of State, with the aforementioned La Gillan accusing DET of "following a separatist agenda"; while Kirsty Williams, leader of the Assembly Lib Dems, rails against the "political elite" in Cardiff Bay (which, one can only assume, did not exist when her party was in coalition with Labour).

So it's back to normal for the run-in to the Assembly elections on May 5th. For which we should all be grateful. Because there was something weird and unnerving about seeing our politicians united in a way that is normally only known when facing a serious external threat. When I wasn't being freaked out by seeing these buggers smiling at each other and holding hands I was half-expecting the bombs to start dropping.

But not only are they back to their usual bickering, the intellectual and rhetorical standards are also being maintained. Why "slate curtain"? Back in the Cold War I could understand 'iron curtain' and 'bamboo curtain', but as, with a few exceptions, slate was quarried almost exclusively in Gwynedd is Gillan taking the 76% Yes vote in that region a little too seriously, and anticipating seccession? This woman is priceless . . . not to be taken seriously, but still priceless. A worthy addition to the long and laughable list of Tory Secretaries of State.

As for Hain, well, his credibility is long gone. First he brings in and vigorously defends the absurd LCO system; then he argues that a referendum can not be won for at least a decade; then he accuses Plaid Cymru of foolishly forcing the referendum but, once won, he tries to take credit for the Yes result! How much longer will the Labour Party allow this slippery and increasingly distrusted man to remain in the senior ranks of the party?

As for Dafydd El, well what can one say? With all the gravitas that has accreted to him in recent years he merely stated the obvious. The post of Secretary of State for Wales is a governor-general type of office. It owes more to the 19th century than to the 21st. So put away the pith helmet and allocate the money wasted on the Wales Office to where it can be better used.

UPDATE 1 08.03.11

After writing the above blog I bought my Wasting Mule this morning to be confronted with the front page headline 'Assembly culture attacked as unfit for future'. This story was based on an anonymous letter purportedly received by the WM from "a senior manager within the Assembly government" claiming to speak on behalf of a number of colleagues. The criticisms in this letter were backed up by that man of a thousand quotes and former Labour devo-sceptic, now 'political consultant', Jeff Jones.

Since the referendum result was declared just 4 days ago we have seen an avalanche of criticism and dire warnings (see above); everything from "slate curtain" to, today, allegations of "cronyism", which comes very close to accusing our AMs of illegal activity. If that is what is being said then perhaps the police should be involved.

Now it would be nice to think that those making these attacks have Wales's best interests at heart and want the Assembly to deliver. They don't. Gillan! Hain! Jeff Jones! Don't make me laugh. What we are seeing is a rearguard action by the defeated and the threatened.

However - and as I have said on countless occasions - we need a better quality of AM. We need fewer would-be politicians coming straight from college to work as aides and assistants. We need more 'real' people who have lived life outside the 'bubble'. The socialist consensus in the Assembly must stop squandering money on village halls, narrow gauge railways and 'refuges' for women who are attracted to violent men. For while such expenditure might gain brownie points from the vocal and grossly over-influential 'third sector', it is no way to run a twenty-first century economy.

So, yes, let us criticise the Assembly and our AMs; but let us do it because we want a better Wales that gives us even more control over our nation's future. Finally, let us - and others - have the wit to differentiate between this positive and patriotic demand for better and the grumbling resentment we hear from those who would be quite happy to see Wales assimilated into England.

UPDATE 2 08.03.11

Wild-eyed and ranting: Peter Hain
Just when you thought it couldn't get any worse, up pops Peter Hain to attack Deputy First Minister, Ieuan Wyn Jones, in the most personal and obnoxious manner. Does this tell us who was behind the secret briefings against IWJ last month, in the run-up to the referendum? What's clear is that Hain has lost it; he knows that he is becoming increasingly irrelevant in Welsh politics, and with no role elsewhere likely to be offered him. What a wonderful thought that is! Cherish it, my children!

More interesting, and less predictable, was First Minister, Carwyn Jones's, response to Hain's venomous outburst. "I am the leader of the Welsh Labour Party" (so shut your fat gob, Hain). Will the Yes vote last Thursday be the blade to finally cleave the Labour Party between pro- and anti-devolutionists, thereby freeing us forever from the likes of Touhig, Kinnock and Hain?

It could be that we are now entering one of the most interesting periods in recent Welsh history. Last Thurday's referendum may turn out to have consequences way beyond the ditching of Legislative Competence Orders . . . remember them? Yes, ostensibly that's what it was all about; but the hysterical responses to the Yes vote tell me that the losers believe it was about much, much more.

BACK TO NORMAL


Well, well; whatever happened to the cross-party unity of the Yes campaign? For within a matter of days of the referendum result being declared they're at each other's throats again.

First, Cheryl Gillan, our beloved Secretary of State for Wales warns against a "slate curtain" descending 'twixt us and our nearest and dearest; then Assembly Presiding Officer, Dafydd Elis Thomas, argues that there is now no need for a Secretary of State; for which he is attacked by both Cheryl Gillan and the equally well-coiffed Peter Hain, Labour's Shadow Secretary of State, with the aforementioned La Gillan accusing DET of "following a separatist agenda"; while Kirsty Williams, leader of the Assembly Lib Dems, rails against the "political elite" in Cardiff Bay (which, one can only assume, did not exist when her party was in coalition with Labour).

So it's back to normal for the run-in to the Assembly elections on May 5th. For which we should all be grateful. Because there was something weird and unnerving about seeing our politicians united in a way that is normally only known when facing a serious external threat. When I wasn't being freaked out by seeing these buggers smiling at each other and holding hands I was half-expecting the bombs to start dropping.

But not only are they back to their usual bickering, the intellectual and rhetorical standards are also being maintained. Why "slate curtain"? Back in the Cold War I could understand 'iron curtain' and 'bamboo curtain', but as, with a few exceptions, slate was quarried almost exclusively in Gwynedd is Gillan taking the 76% Yes vote in that region a little too seriously, and anticipating seccession? This woman is priceless . . . not to be taken seriously, but still priceless. A worthy addition to the long and laughable list of Tory Secretaries of State.

As for Hain, well, his credibility is long gone. First he brings in and vigorously defends the absurd LCO system; then he argues that a referendum can not be won for at least a decade; then he accuses Plaid Cymru of foolishly forcing the referendum but, once won, he tries to take credit for the Yes result! How much longer will the Labour Party allow this slippery and increasingly distrusted man to remain in the senior ranks of the party?

As for Dafydd El, well what can one say? With all the gravitas that has accreted to him in recent years he merely stated the obvious. The post of Secretary of State for Wales is a governor-general type of office. It owes more to the 19th century than to the 21st. So put away the pith helmet and allocate the money wasted on the Wales Office to where it can be better used.

GOODBYE TRUE WALES


We, the Welsh people, have delivered a conclusive endorsement of devolution and also made clear our wish to see the Assembly have greater influence in the running of our country. There can be no other interpretation of the decisive Yes vote on Thursday. But of course, the enemies of Wales and Welsh nationhood will try to paint a different picture.

The graceless and embittered Rachel Banner is already trying to use the 35.6% turnout to discredit the overwhelming 63.5% Yes vote. The same argument that she and her odious cronies have been using since 1997, when we had the referendum to set up an Assembly. It won't work. There will be countless (and incredible) reasons to explain people not voting on Thursday, or forgetting to vote, or refusing to vote. But if True Wales wants to delude itself that all those who did not vote backed them, or that their supporters were prevented from getting to the polling stations by road blocks thrown up by slippery slopers (I love that term!), then that's fine by me.

But whatever they chose to do let them remember that it was their decision not to become the official No campaign that helped stifle debate and thereby contributed to the low turnout. As a cynical old bastard who's known too many shysters and flim-flam merchants in his time my guess would be that this was their long game. They knew there'd be a Yes vote; so rather than engage openly and honestly they chose to snipe from behind a smokescreen of lies, smears and innuendo. Hoping that without official campaigns there would be a relatively low turnout that would allow them to do what they are doing now - challenge the legitimacy of the result.

But this referendum was not just about LCOs and devolution, it was about attitudes to Wales and our place as a distinct nation within the wider framework of the UK, Europe and the world. True Wales represents a viewpoint that is, thankfully, dying. It is the George Thomas and Neil Kinnock idea that 'Welshness' is dangerous if in the wrong hands, or left to itself. It must be controlled and directed by politicians like them. It's OK to switch it on for rugby internationals, St. David's Day, investitures, or rousing people against the Tories (to vote Labour). But it must be a 'manageable' and subservient 'Welshness' that knows its place in the greater scheme of things because, at root, they really don't like Welshness at all. They would be much happier if Welsh national identity just faded away, leaving us little different to Geordies.

Thankfully, George Thomas is dead, and no one has taken Neil Kinnock seriously since his performance at the Sheffield rally on All Fools' Day 1992. But True Wales took up the tattered banner of cymrophobia not realising, or refusing to accept, that Wales had changed. Now, thank God! they have paid the price. So they can either admit defeat and give up, retreat deeper into their fantasy world, or do the honest thing and join the other enemies of Wales in Ukip or the BNP. It really doesn't matter. For no one cares. True Wales and all it stands for has been discredited and is now irrelevant. Cymru am Byth!

UNAFFORDABLE HOMES

A story I just noticed on the BBC Wales website says that Mid Wales Housing (MWH) is to receive £3.2m from the Assembly's Capital Investment Fund to build 50 new 'affordable' homes in Newtown. Which raises a number of questions.

  • Why is a housing association being given this money, for housing associations always boast about being "self-financing"? 
  • Will WAG, or anyone other than MWH itself, monitor the allocation of these properties? For if, as I strongly suspect, the tenants for these properties suddenly appear from over the border, then WAG will, effectively, be funding English colonisation.
  • Mid Wales Housing (MWH) - in partnership with the RSPB - has bid for the £11m Vyrnwy estate. If new housing is needed in Newtown why doesn't MWH use the money it plans to squander on grouse moors and trout fishing?
  • Following on from that, why is WAG giving money from an overstretched public purse to a housing housing association that clearly has money to burn?

The announcement was made by Deputy Minister for Housing and Regeneration, Jocelyn Davies AM. Now Ms. Davies is a Plaid Cymru Member of our glorious One Wales coalition administration. Some time ago her party demanded that WAG be given power over housing, which I supported . . . until I heard the reason Plaid gave for wanting such power - they wanted to ban the Right to Buy legislation! Despite all the good reasons for wanting such authority Plaid ignored these to focus on a bit of socialist-jealousy ideology.

I live in a small, scenically attractive village in southern Snowdonia. Back in 1986 I decided to buy the council house in which I lived, because prices here were, even then, already beyond me and most  locals. Had it not been for the Right to Buy legislation I, and many of my neighbours - all Welsh - would never have become home-owners. I have paid off the mortgage and made improvements to my home - loft conversion, conservatory, porch, etc - so that my home is now worth some £200,000+, but without the Right to Buy legislation I would probably still be someone's tenant. Is tenancy in their own communities Plaid's dream for the voters it has taken for granted for too long?

It must be, for Plaid refuses to address the wider issue of rural housing. Or rather, it pretends to be solving it by supporting housing associations, which then import tenants from England; so that even Welsh people wanting an 'affordable home' find themselves outscored in the evil points system by the problem family from Birmingham and the criminal just released from Walton or Strangeways.

Housing in Wales is a shambles, and everywhere working against the Welsh national interest. Yet Plaid Cymru wants WAG to have control over housing for no better reason than it gives them the opportunity to go 'nah-nah-nah-nah-nah' to a senile old woman. Jesus! Why did I ever think that this party had the answers to my people's problems?

ADDENDUM 10.02.11

Maybe I should have said that Plaid's argument for wanting to do away with the Right to Buy legislation was that there is not enough social housing in Wales. Which sounds fine, but there is more than enough, there is a superabundance of social housing. The problem is that the insane - 'anyone but locals' - points system I have referred to ad nauseum ensures that in many areas there are always locals looking for somewhere to live because they are being queue-jumped by undesirables from over the border, and because there is a never-ending queue of such people.

The answer to the problem is to do away with the system that gives priority in Welsh social housing to the types of people no self-respecting country would allow in! Make strong local connections the most important criterion for allocating social housing tenancies. This would save millions of pounds every year and make life better in countless Welsh communities currently blighted by the insane social housing policies afflicting Wales. WAG wanted the authority over housing, let them now use that authority in the Welsh interest. Otherwise, what is the point in having that power?

ESCAPE THE WEDDING CAMP

I am delighted to bring you the first details of a gathering open to all those wishing to escape the ludicrous excesses we can expect from the Saxe-Coburg-Gotha nuptials on April 29th. A camp is arranged at Llwyngwern farm, just off the A487, a few miles north of Machynlleth. Next door, in fact, to the Centre for Alternative Technology.

The camp is being organised by Balchder Cymru (Pride of Wales), a group centred in the north east but with members across the country. It will run from Thursday the 28th of April to Sunday May 1st. Cost of pitching your tent (for 2 persons) will be £10 per night with an additional cost of £1 per person per night.

So you don't have to join in some local knees-up with a gaggle of knicker-wetting old sprouts, nor cast yourself adrift in a small boat. Salvation is at hand! For both your mental and physical wellbeing, the best option is to get away from the wedding with like-minded people around roaring campfires, enjoying a barbeque, patriotic music and good Welsh beer.

At the time of writing this the entertainment and other arrangements are still being made. If you want to keep up to date, or if you can contribute anything, e-mail adamann00@hotmail.com. And spread the word!

UPDATE 15.02.11

More details in today's Daily Post.

UPDATE 21.02.11

Republic, the English anti-monarchist group is also organising alternatives http://www.republic.org.uk/. According to the comment added to this post they're planning one in Cardiff. Which is very good of them. But if there is to be an anti-Wedding event in Cardiff it should be Welsh. So you people down there - pull your fingers out!

UPDATE 22.02.11

The event has now made it to the BBC Wales website. And it contains an interesting quote from a local councillor.

'Machynlleth town councillor, Gill Baldwin, said: "I would think it would be in pretty poor taste if they decided to hold a march through Machynlleth on the day of the Royal Wedding. 

"I'm a great believer in Royalty and they do a lot for this country."'

Of course they do, love . . . but apart from costing us a lot of money I can't think of anything at the moment. Oh, unless the Royal Touch can still cure scrofula? Is that what you're referring to?

God Almighty! sometimes you've got to remind yourself that we're living in the twenty-first century.

DO THEY REALLY WANT US TO VOTE YES?

Just when you think the stupidity, the inconsistencies, and the deception, over "affordable housing" can get no more insulting to the intelligence of our people along comes Welsh Post, which dropped through my letter-box this morning. Published by 'Yes for Wales' this modest, four-page, bilingual tabloid sets out (what it's promoter, Daran Hill, doubtless considers to be good) reasons for voting Yes on March 3rd. Apart from 'Rugby players say Yes', Business says Yes', 'Man at bus stop says "what referendum?"', the only policy area touched on is "affordable housing". If this is the best reason the Yes campaign can offer then it's very worrying.

Click on the picture to enlarge it and you'll see what I mean. Take the fourth paragraph, where it says, "The powers that the Assembly asked for would have let Wales deal with some of the problems in areas of high housing demand. This would have safeguarded more houses for local people who can't afford to buy". (My italics.) But the Assembly has given no indication that it intends changing the social housing rules so that locals get priority over people - too often undesirables - from over the border. Nor has the Assembly said anything about reserving open market affordable homes for locals, despite this being the excuse given for making builders include "affordable homes" in almost every new housing development.

In the final paragraph, Plaid Cymru AM Jocelyn Davies says, "The current system is really letting the people of Wales down". Of course it is! And we know why. But you politicians are offering no promises that giving the Assembly powers over housing would change anything for "the people of Wales". Will you AMs insist that strong local connections take priority over all other considerations in awarding social housing tenancies? Will you demand that private sector "affordable homes" are reserved for local people, those who were born in the area or have at least lived there for a couple of decades? Will you do anything to curb the massive growth of flats and the like designed to attract social security claimants? The answer is No to all the above - so why give you the power?

Here's the bottom line. As things stand social housing in Wales is a bottomless pit into which public funding is being poured because there is an inexhaustible supply of would-be tenants over the border ready to take advantage of the rules by which social housing providers here operate. Change those rules and we will save tens of millions of pounds every year, and in so doing protect Welsh identity. A win-win situation. But the Assembly has no plans to serve the Welsh interest by changing the rules. Consequently, the prospect of a Yes vote resulting in the Assembly having more power to further entrench the anti-Welsh "affordable housing" system becomes a good reason for voting No.

THE PANTOMIME HORSE PARTY

Earlier this week a blogger commented upon the gulf between Conservative politicians and their rank and file, especially in places like Ynys Môn. I was moved (I often am) to describe the arrangement as somewhat akin to a pantomime horse. Today's publication in the Wasting Mule of the findings by the YouGov poll for S4C on referendum voting intentions proved my point. For despite the Conservative and Unionist Party's AMs, and most of its Welsh MPs, being united in calling for a Yes vote 75 per cent of the party's voters intend voting No.

The problem can be explained thus. In recent years the Conservative Party in Wales has made massive strides in making the party appear more Welsh and, therefore, its leaders hope, more attractive to Welsh voters. But the great majority of Welsh people still regard the Tories as an alien, if not an 'enemy', organisation. This means that with little Welsh support the party is, especially in rural areas, forced to rely upon the votes of English immigrants, large numbers of whom resent being reminded that they even live in Wales. These English represent the rear end of the 'pantomime horse', with the Welsh politicians being the front end. 

This is obviously a dangerous situation for the Conservatives. For this disconnection could result in a number of unpalatable outcomes. For example, with Ukip articulating most Tory voters views better than the party they actually vote for, what is to stop a haemorrhaging of support to Ukip at Assembly elections, as happened to some degree at the 2009 Euro elections? On the other hand, what happens if the party tries to fall into step with its supporters? It could emerge as the Welsh equivalent of the Ulster Unionist Party or the Democratic Unionist Party, with all that that could entail. 

One thing is sure - this pantomime horse party has a very uncertain future. Any party so out of step with the majority of its supporters is in trouble; and when there's a viable alternative party just waiting to pick up the votes, it could be in serious trouble.

FIVE GREEN FIELDS


Congratulations to Ireland for beating England in the Cricket World Cup being held in India, largely due to Kevin O'Brien hitting the fastest century in World Cup history. Yes, I'll repeat that: Ireland have just beaten England at cricket.

Kevin O'Brien
How are Wales doing, you ask? Alas! gentle reader, I fear there is no Welsh team flying the flag for us over there. You see, we are 'represented' by the England and Wales Cricket Board . . . in other words, England is our team.  Though apart from a mention in the body's official name no one would ever know that Wales exists. Even the Board's website address - http://www.ecb.co.uk/ - says it all.

Which means that, in a sense, Ireland has just beaten Wales, too; so we Taffs should be dejected, unhappy . . . but somehow I don't see it like that. I'm over the moon, me - the Paddies have just stuck it up the Sais! At cricket!

The blame for this, yet another, 'For "Wales", see "England"' situation, can be laid firmly at the door of the shoneens down in Cardiff who turned Glamorgan County Cricket Club into Cardiff City Cricket Club, and then demanded Welsh public money to turn Sophia Gardens into the Swalec Stadium, a ground fit for Test matches. (England Test matches, of course.) All done to 'promote Wales on a world stage'. Though hosting the two England v Pakistan Twenty/20 matches resulted in Cardiff City Cricket Club posting a financial loss last year. (No doubt they'll be back with the begging bowl very soon; if not directly to the Assembly then to Cardiff City Council, which will claim it back from the Assembly.)

Astute readers will by now have noticed the flaw in the shoneens' 'promote Wales on a world stage' argument. Because apart from a few Wisden saddoes who the hell knows that the England team also represents Wales? What's more, staging England Test matches in Cardiff doesn't register overseas because it's the England team playing, and so viewers around the world assume that Cardiff is somewhere north of Birmingham.

Obviously Wales would be better promoted if - like Ireland, the Netherlands and Canada - we had our own national team at the World Cup. Especially as this World Cup is being played in India, a cricket-mad country and one of the biggest and fastest-growing economies on earth. But the shoneens and those who think like them don't really give a shit about Wales. In fact, they're rather anti-Welsh; this is all about further integrating Wales into England.

Yet given the media exposure Ireland is now enjoying in India, and the many cricket-loving Indian investors, entrepreneurs and industrialists who are viewing Ireland in a very positive light, Ireland could do very well financially from this World Cup. By comparison, what will Wales get out of it? Exactly! Because Welsh cricket is run by a bunch of blazered buffoons who put England's interests before ours, and because our politicians and our media can't see how we lose out by being stuck with the England and Wales Cricket Board.

Perhaps more importantly, what does it say about us, as a nation, that we allow such organisations to 'represent' us? Even if you're not a cricket fan, you can surely see the insulting absurdity inherent in the England and Wales Cricket Board? If you do nothing else, make a note of this body for future reference.

BNP SAYS 'NO', JAC SAYS 'YES'

Regular readers of this blog may have noticed that Old Jac has been somewhat reluctant to vote Yes for a number of reasons, among them: the Assembly's Cardiff-centricty, it's refusal to tackle the real housing crisis in Wales, and what might delicately be described as a perception - I shall put it no stronger - that many of our tribunes down in Cardiff docks are not of the highest intellectual calibre.

However, this very day I decided to commit myself to voting Yes, and I now urge my millions of faithful readers to do the same. Those of a less than charitable bent may now be thinking, 'Why the sudden conversion, you two-faced old bastard?' so you deserve an explanation. And you shall have one. Yes, indeedy.

First off, upon entering my favourite café this morning for a mug of their brain-twirling black coffee I espied my old mucker Dafydd El. (He tried to escape but I had him trapped on a corner table.) A couple of minutes talking to him and thinking of things that had been and I said to myself: 'OK, mush; it's not what you want . . . it's a lot less than you want . . . but by God! we've come a way since Tryweryn'. Put into that perspective, maybe there's only one way for a good Welshman to vote.

When I got home I switched on my computer to learn that the British National Party has come out in support of a No vote. Using the incredible and specious argument that, as a federalist party, it can do other. Quite so; impeccable logic.

This led me to musing about those now lined up on the No side; and it appeared to me that in such company True Wales comes across as a reasonable and sensible outfit, with rational arguments put forward by likeable people with no axes to grind, people who love all things Welsh, wishing only the best for my people . . . at which point I pulled myself together and made the decision to definitely vote YES!

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