Sunday, February 26, 2012

Four tackles and a flash of brilliance.

Mrs D has already decided that my epitaph will be 'He didn't have time'. And I don't. Certainly not to blog as I used to. Still time marches on and perhaps the future may deliver time. I'm beginning some active farming again year (to reconnect) and hope there will be a time to sow, a time to reap, and a time to blog. I could not let yesterday's great match pass without committing my thoughts to print.

The first great moment was the ankle tap by Strettle, a brilliant effort which saved England being beaten by 30 points. The second tackle was the physics-defying ankles grab by Warburton on Tuilagi which saved Wales from defeat. The third was the flattening of England's new outstanding young stand-off Farrell by George North. I remember JPR doing the same thing to Mike Gibson in the 70s. I loved the wry look on his dad's face when it happened. And the fourth was Leigh Halfpenny's desperate dive at Strettle's feet at the death. Four brilliant moments. And then there was the flash of brilliance from Scott Williams to win the silverware.

Who were the top performers. I gave the only 9 to Warburton (again). Several 8s. Halfpenny who missed an easy kick (and with it a 9); Farrell who only missed his 9 because he played just 60 minutes, Tuilagi who always looked a threat, Barritt who tackled like a demon, George North for the first 20 awesome minutes and Adam Jones for just doing what Adam Jones always does.

It was a great game of rugby. England played very well, particularly the way they were up so quick in defence, snuffing out the powerful Welsh runners before they could get going. To win away at Twickenham is a rare achievement. There was much silly talk about Wales winning easily, but not in my mind. At the start of the 6 Nations, I thought Twickenham might be too big an ask. But I also thought that if we were to beat England, Wales would win the Grand Slam. The French game is going to be very tasty indeed.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Tribute to Lord Hooson.

Lord Hooson, one of Montgomeryshire's greatest ever citizens has died aged 87. I feel a sense of great sadness, and sympathy for his wife Shirley, Lady Hooson, who along with Emlyn were great personal friends.

Emlyn Hooson was a brilliant man in every field he entered. He was a very successful barrister, who became Britain's youngest ever Q.C., and he was the hugely respected MP for Montgomeryshire from 1962 until 1979. He is still remembered with affection today in the Houses of Parliament, across all parties.

I knew Emlyn for about 40 years, and though he belonged to a different political party, I never found cause to have a cross word with him. He was logical in debate, determined in his opinion, and unfailingly polite and generous of spirit. I will never forget my conversations with him about his own personal memories of his friends, Churchill, Lloyd George, and Aneurin Bevan.

Emlyn Hooson was also a great supporter of the Welsh Language, it being his first language, and also of the National Eisteddfod. My last conversation with Emlyn, a few weeks ago was wholly in Welsh. Montgomeryshire has lost one of its special people, and I've lost a good friend.

Thursday, February 09, 2012

My Letter to Sec of State at DECC about wind farms

Last week 101 Conservative MPs wrote to the Prime Minister expressing their concerns about the scale of subsidy being handed over to giant energy companies (usually foreign) to enable them to build uneconomic wind farms and their concern about the bias in the planning system against local objectors. Although I was an enthusiastic supporter of this letter, I could not sign it myself without resigning my position as a PPS. Following discussion with the Whip's Office, I sent a personal letter to the Sec. of State at the Dep't of Energy and Climate Change. By the time my letter landed on the DECC desk, the recipient in the big chair turned out to be Ed Davey, rather than Chris Huhne. Anyway, my letter was not confidential and it follows;

"Dear Secretary of State,
Over the last few months I have been approached by a large number of constituents who have raised their concern about the level of support there is available for onshore wind energy generation.

In these financially straightened times, my constituents believe it is unwise to make consumers pay, through taxpayer subsidy, for inefficient and intermittent energy production that typifies onshore wind turbines.

In the ongoing review of renewable energy subsidies, my constituencies have asked me to ensure that the Coalition Government considers dramatically cutting the subsidy for onshore wind and spreading the savings made between other types of reliable renewable energy production and energy efficiency measures.

Finally, recent planning appeals have approved wind farm developments with inspectors citing renewable energy targets as being more important than planning considerations. Taken to its logical conclusion, this means that it is impossible to defeat applications through the planning system. My constituents urge you to ensure that planning inspectors know that the views of local people and long established planning requirements should always be taken into account.

Yours sincerely. Glyn Davies. MP for Montgomeryshire.

I suppose you could look at my letter as No 102 on the list. Intestingly, all Conservative Assembly Members have tonight signed a letter supporting the MP's letter of last week. There is no doubt that there is a real antipathy to onshore wind blowing up in the Conservaive Party.

Sunday, February 05, 2012

'101 Tories revolt over wind farms' - Telegraph Today.

Lot of media coverage today of the letter sent to the Prime Minister asking for a reduction in the level of subsidy given to wind farm developers, and a rebalancing of planning rules in favour of those who oppose these monstrosities. 101 Conservatives have signed it, including the 3 Welsh Conservative MPs I share an office with, Guto Bebb, Alun Cairns and Simon Hart. This letter is only the latest step in the growing concern amongst MPs about what is becoming seen as a policy in drastic need of change.

Better give you some background to this letter. About two weeks ago, my colleague, Chris Heaton-Harris, Conservative MP for Daventry arranged an ad hoc meeting of Tory MPs. He and I were the 'top table' but Chris is very much the public face of this. He's extremely effective and respected (despite the fact that he's a soccer referee most weekends !) Mine is a support role. Almost 40 MPs turned up - more than we expected. It was agreed to write a letter to the Prime Minister outlining our concerns. Chris (and a few others) agreed to put the letter together, and last week it was placed before MPs asking for their support. 101 signing up was beyond anyone's wildest dreams. The scale of opposition and concern is even greater than we thought. A small number of Labour and Lib Dem MPs asked to sign up as well, though there has not been any real effort to take it cross party yet. That could well be the next step.

Some people have asked me why my name is not on the list. Problem for me is that I am a PPS, and we cannot vote against the Government, or sign petitions etc. that can be seen to oppose Gov't policy. Well, I can actually, but I would have to resign first. Chris discussed the position of PPSs with the Whip's Office, and it was agreed that I should write a personal letter to the Secretaries of State responsible for wind farms and planning, Chris Huhne and Eric Pickles. My letter was less 'general' and more related to my constituency, which it seems is acceptable. I sent my letters off last Wed, same day as multi signed letter was sent. Its not a secret letter, and I will post it on this blog as soon as I can (I just don't have a copy with me tonight).

The next step will be to build on the publicity attracted by the letter to the Prime Minister. I will not be at Westminster until late Tues, evening, but intend to discuss next steps with Chris H-H as soon as I can. From my perspective, we are making progress in saving our country from punishing the fuel poor, diminishing UK business competitiveness, undermining economic recovery, and ruining our landscapes.

Saturday, February 04, 2012

Two Big Assembly Stories in Today's WM

Two really significant Assembly stories in today's Western Mail. Both have been written by David Williamson. His first report informs us that the Welsh Government is moving out of its space in Gwydyr House, home to the Wales Office (and opposite Downing St.) to a new location half a mile away along Victoria St. He reports that the annual cost of this move will be £270,000. Find this a bit hard to believe - that the Welsh Government intend to spend so much on a London office when every budget head is under pressure. It seems that Andrew R T Davies and his team of Conservative AMs are none too impressed, so we'll hear more about this over the next few days. I sense this could be a 'hot' topic.

Its worth quoting what the Welsh Gov't has released to David in response. "its to promote international trade and investment opportunities; continue to develop relationships and visibility with the UK Government, embassies and other important organisations and public bodies; and provide a hot desk base for ministers and officials on official business." - all at a price of £270,000 per annum. They must be very prestigious offices. Looking forward to an invitation.

The second significant article by David Williamson today tells us about the submission of the Welsh Liberal Democrats to the Silk Commission. This matters because the Lib Dems are in Coalition at Westminster, and are reported to be Carwyn Jones' preferred coalition partners in Wales. Anyway, the Lib Dems want to see the Assembly taking responsibility for 50% of income tax raised in Wales, with ability to vary the total rate by at least 3p. They also want the Assembly to have complete control over taxes that affect the Assembly's responsibility, the power to vary business rates, and new borrowing powers to spend on infrastructure projects - all this being a steps on the road to a federal UK. This is seriuosly radical stuff. Paul Silk is going to have his work cut out to come up with the first part of his report, advising how fiscal responsibility be vested in the Assembly by the end of the year.

Friday, February 03, 2012

2012 Six Nations - Prediction Time.

Tomorrow, the 2012 Six Nations Tournament kicks off. Its prediction time. Even though Wales were the best team at the World Cup, I just cannot see us winning the championship. And the main reason is Gethin Jenkins. We just do not have enough strength in depth to replace his towering talent. We need both Adam Jones and Jenkins playing for our front row to provide the base to deliver victory against the Irish and the French. Sunday's back row battle has the potential to be something glorious to behold, but Ferris, O'Brien will be on the front foot more often than Warburton and Faletau. Tomorrow is a defining game for us. If we win, my predictions go haywire and anything's possible even the Grand Slam. But tonight, I sense its third place for Wales, with that depending on beating England at Twickenham - which history tells us is never easy, even if it were to be England Ladies..

No-one knows what to expect of England. Despite their wealth of clubs, money and players, England are in a mess. The team is too inexperienced, and it will lose at Murrayfield - but improve as the season progresses. Tomorrow, the Scots will be all over Charlie Hodgson like foxhounds. They will run at him like bullocks. England will finish 4th, Scotland 5th and Italy 6th. Still cannot see Italy making the impact we all want to see.

This weekend its 20-12 to Ireland, (hope I'm wrong) 30-20 to Scotland and 30-12 to France(Italy leading at half-time).