ASW old boss signs for Wolves

The hundreds of former South Wales steelworkers who lost their pensions when ASW went bust will be ecstastic to hear news of their former boss.
Graham Mackenzie, who left the company just before it went bust in 2002, has a nice new job in Wolverhampton.
Mr Mackenzie OBE will chair the proposed new Wolverhampton Development Company.
Wolverhampton City Council Leader, Councillor Roger Lawrence, welcomed Graham’s appointment, saying: “As chairman of the new company Graham will encourage private sector partners to invest in Wolverhampton, thereby increasing the pace and scale of change, whilst ensuring that local people have access to the job opportunities that regeneration brings to the city.”
On Mr Mackenzie’s departure from ASW, the Western Mail reported that he “had overseen a decline in the company’s fortunes as it battled to cope with a multi-million pound debt and oversupply in the global steel market”.
Let’s hope he fares better with the jobless of Wolverhampton.
:: More in Private Eye 1191

Delaney’s retirement

Right-back Mark Delaney’s enforced retirement – having been unable to shake his knee injury – is a blow for Wales.
I used to watch Delaney when he played for Goodwick – before he moved up the line to Carmarthen Town.
He was already 22 by the time he got to Cardiff City so his full professional career (mainly at Aston Villa) has been short.
Everyone knew he was something special in his Goodwick days – and even I recognised his talent.
I wasn’t always so keen-eyed. I once reported on a schoolboys’ international featuring both Simon Davies and Damien Duff – but mentioned neither of them in my write-up.

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Peacemakers

Downing Street’s failure to call for a ceasefire between Israel and Lebanon last summer has been criticised by the foreign affairs select committee.
MPs say a better response in July 2006 could have reduced casualties during the 34 days of slaughter.
One politician who did speak out was Pontypridd MP Kim Howells.
Howells, who is not always appreciated at What Is Wales?, did at least react when confronted with the evidence of Israeli attacks.
“The destruction of the infrastructure, the death of so many children and so many people. These have not been surgical strikes,’ said the Foreign Office Minister on a visit to Beirut.
His words fell on deaf ears in London.
Tony Blair is now a peace envoy to the region.
Still hard to believe that’s not a joke.
Enough to make someone, somewhere die laughing.

But, oh Kim, your remarks last year, still baffle.
Admitting Iraq was “a mess but it’s starting to look like the sort of mess that most of us live in” should surely qualify you for some sort of extended lie down in a dark room.
At least 200 dead yesterday, Kim. Eight million Iraqis in need of emergency aid, according to Oxfam.
It’s not a mess, is it? It’s a tragedy. And looks nothing like where “most of us live” or would want to.

"High tempo" Iraq

Continuing this theme about the strange words used by the arms trade, it is interesting to note that BAE Systems has just announced a first-half profit rise of 27 percent.

Thanks to its upgrades of Bradley fighting vehicles for the US army in Iraq and production of fighter jet parts, its net income rose to £515m.
According to a company statement: “The high tempo of military operations continues to generate growth in requirements for land systems in support of US and UK armed forces deployed on overseas operations.”

On the campaign concerned with the military training academy at St Athan there is more in the current issue of Big Issue Cymru. And for a lot more information on the campaign try here.

No words for Iraq shame

Peace activist Dr Margaret Jones made some headlines last week when she was sentenced for breaking into a US airbase prior to the bombing of Iraq.
Dr Jones was given a six-month curfew order and ordered to wear an electronic tag after her trial at Bristol Crown Court.
The 58-year-old university lecturer used hammers and bolt cutters to disable fuel tankers and trailers used for carrying bombs at RAF Fairford.
She did it to prevent the “murder of innocent civilians”.
The Daily Telegraph, one of the newspapers to report her trial, gave the story 143 words.
In the same week some of the devastation which Dr Jones had been trying to stop came to light in an Oxfam report which described how eight million Iraqis – almost a third of the population – were in need of emergency aid.
It said that 43 per cent were living in “absolute poverty” with malnutrition rates in children have risen from 19 per cent before the 2003 invasion to 28 per cent now.
Nine out of ten Iraqi children show learning difficulties related to psychological trauma. Seventy per cent of Iraqis are without access to adequate water supplies and 80 per cent lack effective sanitation.
The Oxfam report painted a devastating picture of a country in such a dreadful state of breakdown that it is impossible for us to imagine the lives of many there.
Number of words on this report in the Daily Telegraph? None, I’m afraid.

Unanswered questions about Operation Kratos

While top police officers scrabbled over their careers, there were two things that stood out from the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) report into the shooting of Jean Charles de Menezes.
One, because its inclusion illustrates the stark tragedy of this story. The other because it appears not to have been tackled by the IPCC at all.
Firstly, the police gave the 27-year-old Brazilian no instruction “that an innocent man would have understood” before shooting him seven times in the head.
Therefore as IPCC Commissioner Naseem Malik said flatly: “There is no action he could have consciously taken that would have saved him.”
He died in the most brutal and terrifying fashion.
Secondly, that the police were operating a new policy, known as “Operation Kratos”, in which they did not give warnings before firing (a strategy partly developed by Barbara Wilding, of South Wales Police).
This was not tackled by the IPCC in favour of clearing Sir Ian Blair and dumping on Andy Hayman.
However, if the police had still been operating its usual shoot-to-stop policy – effectively a shoot-to-kill but with a warning – Jean Charles would still be alive today.

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No childish politics please, I’m Chris Bryant

Firstly, no it wasn’t the picture that first drew me to this post on Guerrilla Welsh-Fare.
It’s just that it is always so lovely to read about Chris Bryant, as it gives me a chance to relate my favourite stories.
Now, seeing as he is tamping at the priority given to Welsh words over English ones at railway stations in Wales, let’s look back at what last rattled his cage.
Back in January he was miffed at Jill Evans and Leanne Wood’s anti-Trident protests.
“I think trying to get yourself arrested is childish politics,” he said. “They should be representing their constituents. I think it’s a shame they have got their priorities all wrong.”
As I said at the time it is interesting to note what the former churchman sees as ‘childish politics’.
Four years ago exactly I had been carrying out a survey of Welsh MPs to ask whether they would “support British forces taking part in a war on Iraq without the backing of the United Nations?”
Almost all MPs responded.
As did Bryant, but not by answering the question.
“I don’t do surveys,” he said pompously. “I don’t answer silly questions.”

Threat to minimum wage in Wales, follow-up

Huw Lewis AM has responded to last week’s story which raised concerns for the future of the minimum wage in Wales.
The fear is that Gordon Brown is considering proposals to cut the £5.35 wage in areas where living costs are lower and to increase them in London and where costs are higher.
Having Sir Digby Jones, the former head of the CBI in the government, also set alarm bells ringing at What Is Wales? – Diggers has long opposed the minimum wage.
As politicians’ silence on this issue has been deafening, What Is Wales? and Valleys Mam brought the issue up on Huw Lewis’ busy new blog and the Merthyr Tydfil and Rhymney AM was quick to respond.
“I honestly cannot see a situation that would lead Brown to cut the minimum wage in the regions,” stated the AM, who represents one of Wales’ poorest areas.
“I think there is near universal acceptance (apart from on the loony right) that the national minimum wage is a fundamental plank of this country’s social justice agenda; it is crucial to making work worthwhile and therefore hugely important to battling poverty and economic inactivity in constituencies like my own.
“I am not against the idea of exploring a ‘living wage’, nor am I completely appalled by the idea of more support being offered in areas of high pressure.
“I am sure it is more difficult to live on the minimum wage in London (where deeply entrenched poverty still exists) for example – but that cannot come at the price of cuts in areas of deprivation. I would certainly oppose any such move vociferously and I am sure the majority of my Labour colleagues would too.”
There can be no doubting Mr Lewis’ position, then.
However, when he points to members of the loony right’s opposition to the minimum wage, it is hard not to become all-pantomime audience and shout: “He’s behind you!”
Jones is in government now.
Only three years ago, he blustered: “The country’s hard-earned stability will be threatened if we see wage inflation across the board caused by large increases at the lower end.”
He was talking about the rate rising to just £5.35 an hour!
His position has always been that the minimum wage can have a “serious impact” on the economy.
Did Gordon Brown bring him into government just to ignore him?