Adam Price’s Blog

The Blog of Adam Price AS/MP, Carmarthen East and Dinefwr

Adam Price MP / AS - Carmarthen East and Dinefwr

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Archive for September, 2008

25th September 2008

Uncivil service

The idea of a Welsh Sovereign Wealth Fund got a big Western Mail thumbs up today - and the kind of tepid response from the Welsh Civil Service that we used to get in the Raj-like days of the Welsh Office.  However, I’m sure that Ieuan will be more receptive to the idea than the predictably negative prose of another stolidly anonymous Assembly Spokesperson (”the unelected in pursuit of the unelectable”) suggests.  An LCO may not be the right technical solution as there would probably need to be an amendment to the Coal Industry Act 1994 and the Petroleum Act 1998.  There would probably also need to be an amendment to the Government of Wales Act 2006, and an explicit agreement that the Westminster Government wouldn’t simply use Section 120 of the Act - which gives the unilateral right to the London Government simply to re-appropriate any monies received by the Welsh Government - to recoup the royalties.  These are detailed issues that are best looked at by the Holtham Commission on Funding and Finance and I am writing to the Chair to ask if he will meet me to discuss them. 

But if we will the end, surely we should be able to will the means.  These are, after all, substantial sums we are talking about.  A kind of Objective One without the form-filling.  Eden Energy, the Australian company that has entered into a joint venture with the Welsh-based Coastal Oil and Gas Ltd, to explore the potential for coal-bed methane in the South Wales Coalfield - the largest coalfield in the UK - expects big things from the licenses it already holds for exploitation of Welsh gas reserves.  The South Wales coalfield is the gassiest in Europe.  A report prepared for the company by RISC Pty Ltd estimates CBM resources of between 380 and 680 petajoules from the PEDL 100 license area that the company holds.   DBERR estimates 1 petajoule will be worth approximately £5 million  by 2010.  The PEDL 100 area therefore has the potential of generating between £2 and £3 billion.  This represents 20-25% of the company’s licenses for the South Wales coalfield, so this joint venture alone could be looking at realising, on  an upper estimate and given rising prices, a total of £15 billion.  And that’s without considering the potential for other companies in as yet unlicensed areas.                 

Ieuan, I’m sure, will want to tap into that potential, whatever excuses the nay-sayers come up with.

Colofn Golwg

Mae 2008 yn flwyddyn i’w hanghofio i Ewrop.  Yn gyntaf colli’r refferendwm yn yr Iwerddon, yna colli cwpan Ryder i’r Americanwyr ar gwrs golff o’r enw Valhalla.  Ac eto mae’r ffaith bod tim sy’n cynnwys Daniaid, Swediaid, Sbaenwyr, Saeson a Gwyddelod yn medru cyd-chwarae gyda’r fath angerdd o dan faner y ddeuddeg seren aur a miloedd o’i cyd-ddinasyddion (achos Cyfansoddiad neu beidio, dyna’r hyn ydyn nhw) yn eu hannog ymlaen – a’r darllenwr Daily Mail mwyaf ewro-sgeptig yn eu plith – yn dangos nad yw’r prosiect Ewropeaidd wedi chwythu ei blwc yn llwyr. 

Ond bendithied bobl bach Iwerddon.  Yn yr unig refferenwm gynhaliwyd ar Gytundeb Lisbon, fe ddanfonon nhw neges glir at yr ewrocratiaid, y pleidiau mawr a’r gwledydd mawr sydd wedi dod a ni i’r cul-de-sac presennol, Digwydd bod, yn Iwerddon hefyd ddwy flynedd yn ol ennillwyd y Cwpan Ryder o dan arweinyddiaeth Ian Woosnam, y tro cyntaf i Gymro arwain Ewrop i fuddugolieth ers Macsen Wledig.  Daw cyfle arall mewn dwy flynedd, wrth gwrs, pan fydd llygaid y byd yn troi am dridiau i’r Maenor Celtiadd yma yng Nghymru. 

Wrth gwrs, mae angen mwy na gornest golff bob dwy flynedd i adeiladu’r Ewrop newydd.  Wel dyma chi tri cynnig i’n cymrodyr cyfandirol:  tim Ewropeaidd nid yn unig yng ngolff a thennis ond rygbi hefyd– ochr yn ochr os nad yn lle y Llewod Prydeinig a Gwyddelig – yn chwarae a thimoedd o ddeheudir y byd unwaith y flwyddyn. Gall chwaraeon llai pwysig fel pel-droed ddilyn yn ei sgil. Yn ail, cyfle i bob person ifanc – nid dim ond myfyrwyr prifysgol – dreulio bwlyddyn tramor gyda nawdd o’r Undeb Ewropeaidd – rhyw fath o Erasmus y Bobl ar gyfer Ewrop y Bobl. 

Gyda etholiadau Ewrop ar y gorwel, mae angen arweinwyr wedi eu hethol gan y bobl – nid eu hapwyntio.  Mae angen i Senedd Ewrop fynnu mai nhw – nid y gwladwriaethau - fydd yn penodi Llywydd nesaf y Comisiwn Ewropeaidd.   I’r perwyl yma mae Grwp Ceidwadol  y Senedd wedi enwebu Manuel Barroso ar gyfer ail dymor.  Os ydi’r “Sosialwyr” am wneud yn siwr bod Eluned Morgan yn colli ei sedd (fel mae’n debyg o wneud) fe allen nhw enwebu Tony Blair.  Ond pwy fydd ymgeisydd Plaid Cymru a’r Grwp Gwyrdd?  Fy ffefryn i efallai fyddai Jose Bove, y ffarmwr ac ymgyrchydd o Ffrainc neu Olivier Besancenot, y dyn post o’r un wlad, a fel Bove yn gyn-ymgeisydd arlywyddol:  dau ddyn bach yn erbyn y cyfundrefnau mawr – rhyw fath o fersiwn cyfandirol o Dafydd Iwan.           

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2008 is a year to forget for Europe. First of all, losing the referendum in Ireland and then the European team being defeated by the Americans in the Ryder Cup tournament on a golf course called Valhalla. And yet, the fact that the team was made up of Danes, Swedes, Spaniards, Englishmen and Irishmen, and that they all played passionately under the European banner with thousands of their co-citizens (despite the Constitution issue, that’s what they are) cheering them on - with even the most euro-sceptic Daily Mail reader’s amongst them - proves that the European project isn’t completely over yet.

But bless the people of Ireland. In the only referendum to take place on the Lisbon Treaty, they sent a clear message to the Eurocrats, the large political parties and the big countries who’ve brought us into this present day cul-de-sac. Just by chance, it was also in Ireland that the European team won the Ryder Cup two years ago under the leadership of Ian Woosnam, the first time a Welshman has led European to victory since the days of Macsen Wledig. There will be another opportunity of course in two years time when the world’s eyes will turn for three days towards the Celtic Manor here in Wales.

Of course, we do need more than just one golfing tournament every two year’s to build a new Europe. Here’s three suggestions to our contiental brothers: an European team not only for golf and tennis but also Rugby - side by side if not instead of the British and Irish Lions - playing against teams from every corner of the world once a year. Less important sports like football could also follow. Secondly, an opportunity for every young person - not just university students - to spend a year abroad under European Union sponsorship - a type of Erasmus scheme for the People of Europe.

And thirdly, with the European elections now looming, we need leaders who are elected by the people and not appointed. The European Parliament must insist that they - and not the states - will appoint the next President of the European Commission. This is why the Conservative Group in the Parliament have nominated Manuel Barroso for a second terms. If the “Socialists” want to ensure that Eluned Morgan loses her seat (as seems likely) they could nominate Tony Blair. But who will be Plaid Cymru and their Group’s nominee? My favourite perhaps would be Jose Bove, the farmer and campaigner from France or Oliver Besancenot, the postman from the same country and like Bove, a former Presidential candidate: two small men against the regime - an  European version of Dafydd Iwan.

24th September 2008

Couers de Lions?

 In tomorrow’s Golwg among other things (some tongue in cheek, it is all after all my birthday week) I commit what is, in rugby circles, a cardinal sin in questioning the existence of the British (and Irish) Lions.  What I actually suggest is that this touring ‘home nations’ occasional side is superseded by a standing European team which would play a series every two years, alternately home and away, against a Southern Hemisphere XV: a sort of Ryder Cup for rugby. 

I have to confess that my motivation for this is half sporting, half identity-politics.  For me, it’s difficult to identify fully with a Lions side which even with the name change in 2001 is something of a (crooked line-out) throw back to a by-gone imperial age: even one managed by the great Gerald Davies, and which, if the online poll on the Lions site is right, will be captained by a Welshman - maybe one of the two Lions tourists who have been nominated as IRB players of the world (Da Iawn, Shane, yn arbennig!).  Sport trumps politics, of course,  even for Welsh nationalists - Carwyn James coached the Lions a year after standing for Plaid in Llanelli.  For many rugby internationals, being selected for the Lions is not some badge of identity but an accolade of sporting excellence.   

But the world has changed - and rugby with it.  The expansion of the Five Nations into Six in the last decade, the success of the Heineken Cup and the experience of the likes of Gareth Thomas and Stephen Jones in France have turned rugby from being an essentially British phenomenon to an important part of European sporting identity that deserves to be lionised through its own Continent-wide team.  The idea is not a new one: as Alan Watkins - a fellow TyCroes boy like me - has pointed out ad hoc European XVs have existed from time to time, but the idea has never been given permanent expression.  With Wales providing the home ground and possibly captain for the next Ryder Cup, then why not innovate further and initiate a new tradition on Welsh turf: another European team (again captained by a Welshman) taking on a team from the Southern hemisphere?

19th September 2008

Colofn Golwg

Mae’r economi Gymreig yn teimlo fel ei bod hi’n “mynd nôl i’r dyfodol” gyda’r newyddion bod yr hir-arfaethedig Glofa Fawr ym Margam ar fin agor. Yn fwy arwyddocaol fyth mae cwmni drilio o Awstralia wedi datgan eu bod nhw wedi darganfod digon o nwy yng ngwythiennau yr hen faes glo i gyflenwi holl anghenion ynni Cymru am gan mlynedd.

Ar adeg o ansicrwydd llethol am ddiogelwch ein cyflenwad ynni mae hyn yn newyddion amserol iawn. Ac wrth gwrs, y codiad ym mhris tanwydd ffosil ar y farchnad fyd-eang, wedi ei yrru gan dwf aruthrol Tseina, sydd wrth wraidd yr atgyfodiad Lasurusaidd yn y diwydiant glo Cymreig. Mae’r potensial am gyflogaeth mewn ardaloedd sydd dal heb ddod dros fachlud y diwydiannau trymion yn yr 80au yn sylweddol.

Ac eto erys rhai pryderon. Am wlad fach mae Cymru – trwy generadu’r glo ar gyfer y Chwyldro Diwydiannol – wedi cyfrannu mwy na’i siâr yn barod at y gyflafan hinsawdd sydd yn ein wynebu. Ydyn ni nawr am roi rhagor o halen ar y briw? Mae yna rym i’r ddadl fel y cydnabu’r rheithgor yn yr achos difrod troseddol wedi’r protestiadau yng ngorsaf ynni glo Kingsnorth yn ddiweddar. Ac eto os ydi Tseina yn adeiladu un gorsaf generadu glo yr wythnos ar gyfartaledd, onid y blaenoriaeth – tra wrth gwrs yn symud mor gyflym at ynni adnewyddol y gallwn ni – ydi ymchwilio mewn i dechnoleg dal a storio carbon gall negydu’r all-yrannau o leiaf am gannoedd o flynyddoedd. Wrth wneud ein defnydd ni o lo yn garbon-niwtral gallwn ni wneud yr un peth ar eu cyfer nhw. Trueni nad yw’r Llywodraeth (Brydeinig) yn cymeryd y dechnoleg hon o ddifri. Tra’n gwario £2.8 biliwn y flwyddyn ar ddelio gyda gwastraff niwcliar, fydd dim yn cael ei wario eleni ar ddal a storio carbon.

Cwestiwn arall sy’n codi ydi’r budd economaidd ddaw i Gymru. Ychydig o fudd ddeilliodd o oes aur y diwydiant glo i’r bobl a fu yn gweithio ynddo, ac er bod gweithwyr-perchnogion y Twr wedi llwyddo i newid hynny, rhaid meddwl am yr effaith ehangach ar yr economi Gymreig. Onid ydi’r glo a’r nwy sydd o dan ein traed yn perthyn yn y lle cyntaf i bobl Cymru? Oni ddylai’r Cynulliad felly bwyso am Gronfa Glo a Nwy Cymreig, yn debyg i gronfeydd sofran Norwy a gwledydd y Gwlff, i gymeryd canran o’r elw a’i fuddsoddi yn y dyfodol pan ddaw y glo – a hynny’n derfynol – i ben?

17th September 2008

the curse of the conference season

With the blogoshphere thick with the rumours of a new opinion poll about to show the Tories on 52%, Labour on 24% and the Lib Dems on 12% it seems as if it just got a lot worse for Nick Clegg and Gordon Brown.  This Conference was meant to be an opportunity to project Nick Clegg and the Lib Dem’s new Euro-sceptic, tax-cutting positioning, but Cameron-lite just doesn’t seem to be to the taste of the electorate.  on this showing the joint Plaid-SNP group with 25-30 seats would overtake the Lib Dems to occupy the Front Bench and become the second largest Opposition party.

Meanwhile, Gordon Brown’s woes just won’t go away.  Another Scottish MP is rumoured to be about to resign as a PPS.  Why are all his Scottish colleagues deserting Brown? Is it because they’ve already been to Glenrothes and can see the writing on the wall?  Labour has never fared well in an economic crisis.  Think Ramsay MacDonald and 1929 - at the following General Election Labour split and was left with a rump of fifty or so MPs.  In 1967 the badly handled devaluation of the pound left Harold Wilson’s reputation seriously  damaged.  And Jim Callaghan’s famous Crisis? What Crisis?  quip as he returned begging bowl in hand from a trip to the IMF was the beginning of the end for the last Labour Government.

But if ever there was a Labour Prime Minister that should have been able to weather an economic storm it should have been the former Iron Chancellor.  Labour Party members must be scratching their heads in disbelief. 

In England the disaffected former Labour voters appear to be going Tory not Lib Dem, and in Wales Plaid are getting a huge uplift.  Expect Labour to lose their second seat in Europe to us, to come third behind us and the Tories in Aberconwy and to lose Llanelli and Ynys Mon in a Summer General Election called by a new Labour Prime Minister.

Now where’s that draft mainfesto………