Thursday 8 June 2023

Following Select Committees

Departmental Select Committees have come a long way since they were established in the late 1970s - I've enjoyed following their progress. If you want information about an issue - Committee Reports are an excellent source. There are good links via https://www.parliament.uk/about/how/committees/select/ Attendance in person is possible at Westminster - but getting cheap train tickets is difficult because of the starting times. Living in Milton Keynes means pre-purchasing a very early morning ticket, or getting a coach, also at an ungodly hour - and hanging around in the Westminster area before entering by the visitos entrance. If you do go - make sure you know where the hearing is being held. Some require entrance into Portcullis House (facing the river), whilst some are via the main visitors entrance opposite Westminster Abbey. Be prepared to queue! Thankfully live & recorded broadcasts are available at https://www.parliamentlive.tv/Commons https://www.google.com/url?sa=t&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&source=web&cd=&ved=2ahUKEwi18-Gc5rP_AhV9TkEAHRiBBL0Q1bUFegQIHBAA&url=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.alamy.com%2Fstock-photo%2Fselect-committee.html&usg=AOvVaw1A6KO8X4ikeaOmn18JT4fa

Wednesday 7 June 2023

A New Look, a New Focus

When I began this blog, back at the turn of the century, I was a Lecturer in Law; and also in British & European Politics & Government. Additionally I worked at Westminster - first for a couple of MPs and latterly for two members of the House of Lords. I had been a Parliamentary Candidate twice (Blaby 2001, 2005). Subsequently I stood for Parliament in 2019 in the neighboring constituency (to my home in Milton Keynes) of Buckingham. I am now fully retired. Much has changed since I kept this blog on a regular basis. I'm older, hopefully a bit wiser. I've done some more broadcasting, but now am pretty free to do whatever I want. I grow increasing concerned at the direction that politics in Britain (and in other parts of the World) have taken. I used to love political campaigning - and have campaigned frequently in the UK and the USA. You can read previous posts describing those activities and my observations. Campaigning has developed as academics have researched into the effectiveness of different tools and tactics. My fear is that Political Consultants, and Politicians themselves, have learnt what works - but without considering the consequences. Naked manipulation has become the order of the day - but its effectiveness has declined. Today we are less trusting, less sympathetic to what our representatives do - sometimes with good cause. We have more opportunity to express our views - but have less influence in decision making. I started reading Andrew Blick and Peter Hennessy's "The Bonfire of the Decencies" this morning. they begin by saying "Our central thesis is that mechanisms for the upholding of constitutional principles in the United Kingdom are deficient and require an overhaul." Written Constitutions, with Separation of Powers, are failing in other countries too - the USA is a case in point. But France may see a lurch towards right wing authoritarian government in the next elections - some member states of the EU already have leaders who have little respect for democracy. Can the tide be turned? Or is Democracy destined to die a painful death? I remain optimistic. We have fought for rights and freedoms in the past. It won't be pleasant or comfortable - but it can be done. what can we learn from the struggles of our ancestors? The "New" Washminster will look at how institutions are changing, and at how we can learn from the struggles of previous centuries. I value your observations and suggestions. Let's engage in conversations about how we can attain a better future. David

Monday 22 May 2023

Washminster to return

a quick heads up - Washminster is set to return shortly. pictures & text to follow.

Wednesday 6 October 2021

The Story of Wales


 This is the first episode of a superb BBC/Open University Series about the history of Wales. It is based on Jon Gower's excellent book of the same name. I hope that the BBC will restore the series to the BBC iPlayer (which is where I first discovered it), or re-release the set of DVDs. The series opened my eyes to the depth of the riches of Welsh History - and I have consequently purchased a number of books about different aspects of that history - & have joined the Carmarthenshire Antiquarian Society and extended my membership of the Council of British Archaeology to CBA Wales

There are some excellent books available on Welsh History - from  John Davies' "A History of Wales", to books about specific periods or events. David Williams' book about the Rebecca Riots and Gwyn A Williams' "The Merthyr Rising" are two favourites of mine - and I'm just about to start on a book about the Newport Rising of 1839. 

Welsh history does not, of course, exist in a vacuum - and the interaction between Welsh and English history is fascinating - from the conflicts that involved King Oswald and other Northumbrian Kings with other Anglo-Saxon and Welsh Kings (Max Adam's "The King in the North" is excellent) to Welsh influence on Alfred the Great and the interactions leading up to Edward I's invasion. Owain Glyndŵr has been written about by a number of writers - and this year I've managed to visit some of the sites associated with his life (Sycharth, Glyndyfrdwy, Harlech Castle and Six Ashes (which Glyndŵr sought to reach (but was blocked) - and was associated with a prophecy attributed to Merlin). 

Tuesday 28 September 2021

Edward F Dafis

 These are videos of two songs I played on Spectrum on Air by the aforesaid Welsh pop group - with lyrics in English and Welsh. They can be a great aid to learning the language.