Saturday, 10 November 2007
Nov 10 2007 Western Mail
A democratic right to be independent
SIR – I have often wondered why so many people writing in the Western Mail persist in referring to this island as the United Kingdom when it so obviously has so many people, particularly in Scotland and Wales, who claim their democratic right to be independent of Westminster Government.
I note that a Mr J Bufton, a member of the United Kingdom Independence Party (Letters, November 1) is in support of a form of independence, ie British independence from Europe, but does not support any measure of democratic independence for Scotland or Wales from England.
It would seem that Mr Bufton dislikes the situation where his country, at least partially, is controlled from Brussels, but approves of Westminster control of Scotland and Wales, a situation reminiscent of the Balkan States when under the control of Mother Russia, a country which, if memory serves, also referred to itself as a democracy.
Park Prospect, Pontypridd, Rhondda Cynon Taf
SIR – Mr Bufton of Ukip Wales makes a fundamental error when he talks of political parties in the principality supporting or not supporting devolution.
The Just Say No campaign against the introduction of an Assembly in 1999 was supported by Labour, Conservatives and even some Liberal Party members.No one political party could be said to be running it.
In the same way the Vote Yes campaign had a number of supporters including the odd Conservative!
When it comes to a referendum on the granting of further powers to the Assembly I am sure the same situation will occur again.
Many Conservatives like myself, who are appalled that the Welsh Assembly has become an expensive leech on the back of taxpayers delivering no benefits at all for improving our standard of living, will join together with those from other parties of the same opinion to vote No to further powers and if possible Yes for a referendum to abolish the whole thing.
For your correspondent’s information, Nicholas Bourne is not the leader of the Welsh Conservative Party, he is merely the leader of the group of twelve Conservatives in the Welsh Assembly, similar to the way those of us who are councillors elect one of our number to be the leader of our group in those bodies. I can further assure your correspondent that a number of Conservatives who voted in favour of the Assembly last time have now changed their minds and will be voting against whenever the referendum comes along.
COUNCILLOR PETER DAVIES
Court House, Stow Hill, Newport
It’s all history now
SIR – My Welsh history has been gleaned from contributors to this page and it’s scrappy inconsistent and biased.
I would like to read a good history of Wales written by a neutral professional historian, but does it matter what happened in the past?
It does not affect us now.
It’s interesting. It might make us proud or angry but it’s not a useful guide to what we should do now. Life teaches us to let it go and move on.
Our present circumstances and future prospects are what matters now. We can take control of them by turning out at every election and voting for what we want and against what we don’t want.
Our present circumstances are because we did not turn out.
Whittington Street, Tonna, Neath
SIR – It was hugely disappointing that there was no mention on the BBC’s prime time Ten O’Clock News bulletin on Thursday, November 1, concerning the death of Ray Gravell, Wales’ rugby legend, particularly as it had Huw Edwards acting as its anchorman.
Surely, he could have brought some influence upon the programme’s news editor to include a short report on his untimely death and the high esteem Ray Gravell is held throughout the world as a former British Lion.
Instead, viewers were told of the retirement from tennis of Martina Hingis amid rumours of drug-taking during this year’s Wimbledon, when a golden opportunity was being provided to include a news item from Wales onto the BBC network.
Ms Janet Lewis Jones, National Trustee for Wales, reported recently that there is a reluctance by BBC network stations to accept much of the output by BBC Wales.
Here, at least, was an opportunity to broadcast to a wider audience nationally some of the tributes from the world of rugby about one of the icons of the game, but, sadly, it was lost.
St Catherines Road, Port Talbot
Grav’s Cup, it is
SIR – A little known story, if I may, about the late great Ray Gravell.
As the grand sword-bearer of the Gorsedd of Bards, he was due to perform his duties at a National Eisteddfod Proclamation Ceremony a few years ago.
This is held one year and a month before the Eisteddfod itself, in the town where the following year’s Eisteddfod is to be held. It’s therefore a one-afternoon event.
That year, Grav was in South Africa, engaged in his broadcasting duties during a tour by the Lions.
At his own expense, he flew home from Cape Town, performed his Gorsedd duties to perfection, and then returned to resume broadcasting from South Africa.
I’m told that the cost of a return flight would not have been much, if at all, cheaper than one thousand pounds.
The Welsh Rugby Union, so I am informed, propose to mark Wales South Africa fixtures with a Prince William Cup.
Shame on them if they do.
Is not Cwpan Ray Gravell Cup the one and obvious name?
DR ROBYN LEWIS
Rhodfa’s Mor, Nefyn, Gwynedd
Coal House reality
SIR – I was born in the Garw Valley in 1920. We lived in a terraced street with three bedrooms and two rooms downstairs.
Times were extremely hard.
Horses were used intensively, bringing your groceries, milk, veg etc.
Never a handcart.
Miners had no holiday pay. They dreaded the week’s holiday – they had no wages.
Also in the Coal House programme, it was stated miners received free coal.
That was all inaccurate. They paid for the coal – it was deducted from their wage packet.
Charles Road, Monmouth
SIR – As a past chairman of Mid Glamorgan Fire Service I was very sad to hear of the death of the firemen in Warwickshire on Saturday.
May I offer my condolences to all the families, and also to the fire services in general, for this tragic loss.
It’s hard to believe that people impede the fire service when they are trying to save lives by throwing missiles at them.
Please stop this dangerous practice now.
Heol Celyn, Church Village, Rhondda Cynon Taf
No to a GB team
SIR – If the British Olympic Association’s plans for a Great Britain team are adopted it would mean that England, Scotland, Wales and Ulster would lose their separate identities on an unique international stage.
I plead for fair play for all four.
In addition, many in Ulster would prefer to be combined with an all Irish team and that would cause further bitter diversions in that area.
J WYNNE LEWIS
Cae’r Wylan, Nant Bychan, Moelfre, Ynys Môn
SIR – Rhodri Morgan’s recent formal announcement that Forestry Commission land is to be used for wind developments calls into question the FC’s mission statement to protect and expand Wales’ forests and woodlands.
Based on the Cefn Croes experience, thousands of hectares of forest trees will need to be felled prematurely to make way for the massive turbines, access roads, overhead power lines, and associated infrastructure.
This is public land, the National Forest Estate, yet to date no debate within the full Assembly has taken place to discuss this sell-off of public land to the highest bidder.
It’s understood that the options to lease FC land will be offered to companies which are foreign – Spanish, German, Irish.
There will be minimal Welsh input.
Anticipating the opposition of public and press once the implications of this massive sell-off becomes known, Trefor Owen, acting director FC Wales, sought guidance on what line to take (FC Minutes January 2007) ie what spin to put on the announcements for industrialisation of public forests.
What is proposed is probably illegal – the Forestry Act clearly stated that an adequate national reserve of timber needs to be maintained.
DR KAYE LITTLE
(for the Cefn Croes Action Group) Tan y Glog, Cwmystwyth, Ceredigion