Archive for November, 2009

Golwg Column: Learn to say ‘no’

It’s hard to say ‘no’.

But its much harder to say ‘no’ on the international stage. Especially to some one with some influence in this world like the United States.

It’s such a powerful country and has such an influence on our lives. In every sense of the word it is a big country, economically, politically, militarily and culturally.

Oh yes, its not child’s play to say ‘no’ to the US.

But ‘no’ is what Harold Wilson said in the 1960s about the Vietnam war.

The United States were determined to stop communist North Vietnam from taking over the south of the country. And Lyndon Johnston, US President at the time was urging Britain to send its armed forces to Vietnam to fight along side the American forces. Despite being threatened and cajoled by Johnston, Wilson stood his ground and refused.

Consequently, no British soldier spilt his blood in that conflict. History shows that Wilson’s decision was a wise one. Ho Chi Minh’s army defeated the American giant. It was madness for the American’s to be involved.

Harold Wilson was the last British Prime Minister to say ‘no’. Oh for a statesman of his kind today.

The history of Britain for the rest of the twentieth century and in this century was of Prime Ministers, with little back bone, yielding to America.

Now the world see us as America’s poodle. As a consequence we’ve been or are fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Despite a large number of the nation protesting against the Iraq war, Tony Blair preferred bestowing his favors on Bush than listen to his own people. He’d rather mislead us than refuse his friend in the White House.

And who paid the price? Our young people. In Afghanistan alone 120 British soldiers have been killed since 2001. In Iraq there were 1.2 million deaths overall in that war.

At last there is an inquiry into Britain’s role in Iraq and hopefully we will see its conclusions. The hope is we’ll find out the truth.

Daily there are voices raised about the foolishness of being in Afghanistan. The latest is that of Kim Howells who has reached the conclusion that our efforts there are wasted. Pulling out would be the wisest move.

Even Gordon Brown has come to the conclusion that we need an exit strategy.

Its not an exit strategy that is required, but a strategy to deal with the influence of our ‘friend’ across the Atlantic.

We should learn to say “No”.

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No goals Bangor

Another disappointing performance by the Blues. If they can’t win at home against a club like Connah’s Quay they have little hope of staying in the top league at the end of the season. They are currently 11th, not good enough for salvation.

Their only hope, it would seem, is to join in the political campaign to scrap the changes the Welsh FA are proposing to the league structure. Perhaps they would be better off putting their collective energies into that ‘cos clearly they haven’t any energy for their campaign on the pitch. They could hardly have less success.

Perhaps a call to their local Assembly Member, sports minister Alun Ffred Jones might be a useful start. He might be persuaded to pressure the league officials to change their proposals. On second thought with his experience on ‘C’mon Midfield’ he could perhaps combine his political career with a coaching one. After all many of the successful clubs in Spain and Italy are run by politicians.

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A real referendum

There seems a lot of chat at the moment about the referendum on more powers. Sorry, lets be clear, despite all the heat there is not much light, more powers are not on offer.

What’s on offer is a tidying up exercise. That is, should we cut Westminster out of the law making process. To that question, the answer surely, must be ‘yes’.

The current system is a cumbersome system. A system that is both costly in time and effort. Those charged with holding the governments of Westminster and Cardiff Bay to account could use their time to greater purpose. It must be despiriting, even to them, to waste their time in going backwards and forward on LCOs in order, at some time in the future for the Welsh, to pass a measure [law].

Laws are needed when they are needed. They are not passed to act as some dubious virility symbol. for politicians.

Now a referendum on more powers would be worth dragging the people of Wales out to vote for.

And what should be on offer. Well, all the powers that Scotland have, or are about to have, would be a good start.

Yes, taxation powers, law and order and all things that would make for real home rule.

What an achievement it would be to put Lloyd George’s nineteenth century agenda to bedat last. All be it over a hundred years later.

Yes, bring it on. A referendum on real powers would even get me excited.

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