Butterflies and an AyePad

Bella Caledonia has been running a competition for the best independence poster, and the twenty that have made it onto the shortlist can be seen on this page.

There are two that I particularly like. The first is one that I've shown before and is well worth showing again.

 
     
 

The second is by G Connelly:

 
     

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No love

Better Together, the group campaigning for a No vote in the Scottish independence referendum, launched a video aimed at women voters yesterday. It was immediately described as "insulting" by the Yes campaign because it portrayed women as "daft ditherers" ... although it's hardly likely that either side would have anything good to say about what the other side produces.

What surprised me, however, was what Blair McDougall, the director of the No campaign, said at the launch:

"The key factor for people isn't the love of our country – as both Yes and No voters love Scotland. The key factor is the love of our families."

Which can only mean that he thinks those who vote No love their families, but that those who vote Yes don't love their families.

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Scotland Yet

If you can carve out an hour-and-a-half, I'd recommend using it to watch this film from Rough Justice Films. This is what they have to say about it:

Scotland Yet is a feature length documentary that takes a radically different approach to the debate on Scottish independence.

Blissfully free of sound bites, politicians and statistics, Scotland Yet examines the sum of several personal stories from across the nation to explore the many reasons why we find ourselves at such an historic impasse.

Filled with remarkable characters and sparkling with collective imagination, vision and humour, this is the story of a society that’s beginning to see itself in a whole new light. From the old to the young, from veteran activists to bold artists, Scotland Yet delves into the past, documents the present and asks poignant questions about Scotland’s future.

This film focuses on the real referendum debate, the one taking place in the streets, homes and communities across Scotland. It documents the most important discussion we have ever had, as democracy, place, what we have here and what we lack, come to the fore.

A coming of age story about a whole society: Scotland Yet is a unique and radical cinematic journey about a country that will never be the same again.

     

Click the four-arrow button at the bottom right to watch it in full screen mode.

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Welsh Language GCSE Results, 2014

Each year at this time I take a look at what the GCSE results can tell us about the way Welsh is taught in our schools.

There are three different types of Welsh GCSE: Welsh First Language, Welsh Second Language (full course) and Welsh Second Language (short course). However a substantial number of Year 11 students, even though they study Welsh, still do not take any Welsh GCSE. The number of entries for each can therefore be used as one indicator of the state of Welsh teaching in our schools.

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This year the figures are again quite positive. Although the size of the cohort has decreased by about 1,100 compared with last year, the overall number taking Welsh GCSEs has increased by more than 200, and the number of students not taking any form of Welsh GCSE has fallen from 5,768 to 4,447 ... its lowest level ever in both numerical and percentage terms. These are the figures:

Total number of students aged 15 at start of year
35,262 (was 36,361) ... down 1,099

Welsh First Language
5,591 entries (15.86% of year) ... was 5,636 (15.50%) ... down 45 (up 0.36%p)

Welsh Second Language (full course)
10,566 entries (29.94% of year) ... was 10,183 (28.01%) ... up 383 (up 1.93%p)

Welsh Second Language (short course)
14,668 entries (41.60% of year) ... was 14,774 (40.63%) ... down 106 (up 0.97%p)

Total Welsh Entries
30,815 entries (87.39% of year) ... was 30,593 (84.14%) ... up 222 (up 3.25%p)

Number who did not take any Welsh GCSE
4,447 (12.61% of year) ... was 5,768 (15.86%) ... down 1,321 (down 3.25%p)

Source for GCSE results
Source for Cohort Size (Maintained Schools)
Source for Cohort Size (Independent Schools)

The graphs below show how the numbers and percentages have changed over the last couple of decades, and a spreadsheet with full details is available here:

Although the Welsh First Language entry is down very slightly in numerical terms, it has again risen in percentage terms. The long term trend should continue steadily upwards. The latest figure for Year 2 assessments in WFL is 22.4% of the cohort and, given the new emphasis on continuation between primary and secondary school, this should mean that the figure for WFL GCSE entries will be comfortably over 20% when these pupils reach Year 11.

In terms of Welsh Second Language teaching the percentage entries for both full and short course GCSEs have risen, but it is encouraging to note the significant increase in those taking the full GCSE rather than the short GCSE. It probably won't be very long before the short course is phased out altogether, and the challenge will be to make sure that pupils do in fact take the full GCSE exam rather than opt out of taking any exam in Welsh at all.

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Cardiff's re-think on WM school places

For those who might have missed it—and because the news doesn't seem to have been reported anywhere in English—I thought I'd re-post this report from Newyddion 9 yesterday evening.

     

Each local authority is required to produce a Welsh in Education Strategic Plan which, among other things, details how they intend to increase the provision of Welsh-medium education in their area. Cardiff's WESP (available here) had said that it intended to create another 47 reception places over the next three years, broken down as follows:

Ysgol Glan Ceubal ... 2 new places
Ysgol y Wern ... 15 new places
New school in Grangetown/Butetown ... 30 new places

Total ... 47 new places

But this has now been revised to:

Ysgol Glan Ceubal ... 2 new places
Ysgol y Wern ... 15 new places
New school in Grangetown/Butetown ... 60 new places
Splott/Adamsdown ... 30 new places

Total ... 107 new places

In addition to this, an extra 15 reception places would be available by refusing children who live in Rhondda Cynon Taf access to Ysgol Gwaelod y Garth ... although I think this would be a retrograde move as it is the most convenient school for Taff's Well, just across the river.

I've searched for details of the new plan, but haven't been able to find any so far. However I think it's fairly clear how the additional places would be provided.

First, it must mean that the new WM school for Grangetown/Butetown is going to be a two-form entry school from the outset. Cardiff produced a shortlist of six possible sites back in March, and I looked at each of these in some detail in this post. As I see it, the only two viable options for this new WM school are the Channel View Leisure Centre site in Grangetown (in turquoise) and the site immediately north of County Hall (in yellow).

     

Second, the most obvious way of expanding provision in Splott/Adamsdown is by increasing the size of the existing Ysgol Glan Morfa from one- to two-form entry.

Ysgol Glan Morfa shares a site with the English-medium Moorlands Primary (and Nursery) School. In the picture below Moorlands Primary is the two storey building, Moorlands Nursery is the single story building in the top left, and Glan Morfa is at the bottom.

     

On the right of the picture is a building which used to be a library but is now empty, although the grounds are used as a play area. My guess is that this would be used to provide the additional accommodation to make Glan Morfa into a two form entry school. The building is not in particularly good condition, so it might well be better to demolish it than try to refurbish it. But it was quite a handsome building in its day, and if it were up to me I'd look at a way of keeping the façade, but building something completely new behind it.

     

All in all, it is very good news indeed that Cardiff Council have re-thought their original plans, and are now aiming to provide more than double the number of new WM reception places originally proposed. These 107 new reception places will, as children move up through these schools, mean an extra capacity of 749 WM primary places. It will also make it all the more necessary for Cardiff to have a fourth WM secondary school.

The other piece of good news is that Cardiff intend to open the new Grangetown/Butetown school by 2016 rather than 2017 as previously proposed.

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Europe's Dirty Thirty

A new report has been published today highlighting the thirty power stations in the EU with the highest CO2 emissions. Nine of these thirty are in the UK, including our own Aberthaw. The report itself, plus additional maps and graphics, can be downloaded from this page.

     

In terms of polution, burning coal is just about the worst possible way of generating electricity. Coal-fired power stations are the single biggest global source of greenhouse gas emissions, accounting for 40% of global energy production, but fully 70% of global energy sector emissions.

Burning any fossil fuel to produce electricity is bad, but burning coal is much worse than burning gas for these reasons.

• First, burning gas typically emits about 400g CO2/kWh, but burning coal typically emits 780-990g CO2/kWh (see p41 of this document).

• Second, as well as CO2, burning coal also releases nitrogen oxides, sulphur dioxide, dust and heavy metals such as mercury and arsenic into the atmosphere, which are major causes of acid rain and ground level ozone (smog), and are associated with a range of human health problems including asthma and cancer. Although the EU has gone some way towards limiting these other emissions, they are an inherent part of burning coal.

• Third, coal is not a particularly flexible way of generating electricity in response to changes in the pattern of demand at different times of the day. This makes it (and of course nuclear) unsuitable to use alongside renewables, most of which are intermittent.

For these three reasons, we must wean ourselves away from using coal to generate electricity, especially as we can easily produce more than all the electricity we consume in Wales from renewable sources. We must be looking to close coal-fired power stations such as Aberthaw, and we must make the decision to keep the coal reserves we have left in Wales in the ground. There is no reason at all for Wales to be among the dirty countries of Europe.

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How Plaid Cymru Works - 26

This is the twenty-sixth tranche of emails from the correspondence between various people in Plaid Cymru and myself, following a complaint about what I had written on the subject of the Ynys Môn by-election last year. For easy reference, I've put together the all the previous correspondence on this page.

From: Jocelyn Davies
Sent: Tuesday, 1 July 2014, 9:51pm
To: Michael Haggett
Cc: Rhuanedd Richards
Subject: Fwd: Second Appeal

Michael

I'm forwarding the email below from Rhuanedd, and thank you for email you sent me earlier this evening. I'll arrange for it to be circulated it to the other panel members.

Best wishes

Jocelyn

Begin forwarded message:

From: Rhuanedd Richards
Sent: Tuesday, 1 July 2014, 9:29am
To: Jocelyn Davies
Subject: Fw: Second Appeal

Dear Jocelyn

Would you be so kind as to send this on to Michael please. I sent a ‘read receipt’ with the email yesterday morning in light of the problems with the previous email but I haven’t received anything to confirm that it has been read. I am not aware of any current problems with our email system but Michael may want to check the way his computer is filtering emails in case they are going somewhere other than his inbox.

Thank you

Rhuanedd

 
From: Rhuanedd Richards
Sent: Monday, 30 June 2014, 9:22am
To: Michael Haggett
Cc: Jocelyn Davies
Subject: Re: Second Appeal

Dear Michael

I’m grateful to Jocelyn for passing on the email that you did not receive and to you for confirming the grounds of the appeal.

The names of those who will serve on the Appeal Panel, as confirmed by the National Executive Committee, are Jocelyn Davies (Chair), Rebeca Lewis and Alun Ffred Jones.

Kind regards

Rhuanedd

From: Michael Haggett
Sent: Wednesday, 2 July 2014, 10:43pm
To: Jocelyn Davies
Cc: Rhuanedd Richards, Leanne Wood, Nerys Evans
Subject: Re: Second Appeal

Dear Jocelyn

Thank you for forwarding a copy of Rhuanedd's email of 30 June. If you had read the chain of previous correspondence in my email to you yesterday (which was copied to Rhuanedd) you would have seen that I had received it. But I don't mind confirming it again.

Best regards

Michael

From: ---------- [member of staff at Ty Gwynfor]
Sent: Friday, 4 July 2014, 10:30am
To: Michael Haggett
Cc: Jocelyn Davies
Subject: Decision of Appeal Panel

Message sent of behalf of Jocelyn Davies

Dear Michael

Please see attached the decision of the Appeal Panel, July 2nd 2014.

Kind regards

JD Notification of Decision of Appeal Panel, 020714

Appeal Panel 2rd July 2014

 
Decision on MH appeal against Judgement of the Hearing Panel formal hearing on 17th June 2014

 
The Background

A complaint was lodged by EJ in August 2013 following the Ynys Mon by-election. EJ claimed that comments by MH on his public blog during the campaign period undermined the integrity of the candidate resulting in negative attention for Plaid Cymru; MH’s comments were used against the Party by political opponents; and was the subject of a national newspaper article. EJ also claimed the blog content deliberately undermined not only the candidate but also national and local efforts on Ynys Mon and brought the Party into disrepute.

The complaint proceeded to a Panel Hearing following an investigation in December 2013. The Hearing Panel upheld EJ’s complaint and found MH in breach of the relevant Standing Orders. There followed an appeal by MH on procedural grounds and a reliance on factual inaccuracies.

The appeal was held in January 2014 and found in favour of MH in that there had been (i) a failure to inform him of the agreed timetable and (ii) potential factual inaccuracies may have been presented to the Hearing Panel. The Appeal Panel determined that the complaint should restart from the point prior to any possible problems occurring. The decision of the Hearing panel was rescinded.

A second Hearing Panel was set up in April 2014 and a second investigation was initiated. A formal hearing was held in June 2014 which upheld EJ’s complaint and additionally found MH in breach of Standing Orders in relation to behaviour towards the Hearing Panel and placing information about the disciplinary process in the public domain. The Hearing panel concluded MH’s membership of the Party should be suspended for two years and any future application for membership should be subject to scrutiny by the Membership, Disciplinary and Standards Panel.

 
The Appeal

This Panel was convened in order to deal with MH’s appeal against the decision of the Hearing Panel. Conflicts of interest and prior involvement had depleted the availability of any members of the MDSP. A member must have the right of appeal and so it was decided to invite myself, along with Alun Ffred Jones AM and Rebeca Lewis, who are both NEC members, to form an Appeal Panel. I was invited to Chair as I had served on the Assembly’s Standards Committee for a number of years.

MH appealed on the procedural unfairness grounds and on factual inaccuracies potentially influencing the decision. The Standing Orders on the Right to Appeal are explicit that an appeal will not be a re-hearing of the case but contain no details on how an Appeal Hearing shall be conducted. I decided to proceed utilizing, as far as reasonably practicable, the Assembly’s procedures in dealing with appeals which have been developed over time with the assistance of the independent Standards Commissioners. The broad thrust of it provided a useful guide. The Party may want to consider developing a Code of Procedures to assist future Hearing Panels and Appeal Panels.

A paper hearing was convened on 2nd July. We considered:-

The MH appeal bundle
EJ’s complaint
The Investigation Report
The Hearing Panel Judgement
Information placed in the public domain by MH

Bearing in mind that this hearing is not a re-opening of the case, we agreed we should consider whether or not the Hearing Panel addressed the question of whether MH brought, or potentially brought, the Party into disrepute by the comments EJ complained of; if they drew any conclusions from factual inaccuracies which, if they were known at the time, would have likely led to a different outcome; and if there were procedural irregularities that may have prejudiced a fair and impartial hearing.

Before considering these we noted the dismay and frustration of the Hearing Panel as evident in their Judgement that MH had placed a verbatim record of the correspondence sent to him by them into the public domain in direct contravention of Standing Orders. They decided that they would consider that action as an extension of the complaint they were considering. We concluded they were entitled to take into consideration MH’s behaviour towards them during the process in their deliberations.

We found the Hearing Panel did address the central question of whether MH brought or potentially brought the Party into disrepute. In fact they make a reference to “the core subject matter” and the evidence before them on specific comments made.

In assessing whether factual inaccuracies had been relied upon we considered the Investigator’s Report. It states that no response was received from MH in the course of it being compiled. MH disputes this, evidencing an email he sent to the Investigator. Evidence of sending is not evidence of receiving. However, the Investigator’s findings of fact relies entirely on blog posts that were within the public domain that MH posted. The Panel makes little reference to the Investigator’s Report other than they formally received it at the Hearing. They do not give significant weight, if any, to the reference that was written without response from MH. They make several references to the fact that they themselves had not received responses from MH despite their requests. We therefore concluded the outcome was not significantly influenced by the Report’s reference to MH not responding to the Investigator.

The Investigation Report concludes that, in the view of the Investigator, MH’s actions, i.e. the published blog posts, were damaging or potentially damaging to the public reputation of the Party. We felt this was not a matter for the Investigator as investigations should be confined to establishing facts rather than expressing opinion. We feel it is for the Hearing Panel to draw its own conclusions. However, the Judgement makes it clear that the Panel found evidence in the complaint; in the report; and in the public domain in addition to their own experience that led them to their own conclusion. We did not feel the Investigator’s opinion influenced the conclusions reached by the Hearing Panel. For the avoidance of doubt we suggest that future investigations are confined to establishing facts.

We considered if any procedural irregularities had occurred by reference to the Standing Orders. We found the Hearing Panel followed the procedure as laid down, to the letter. For example, the Investigator’s Report was not shared with MH prior to this appeal. Nor was it shared with EJ. The Standing Orders makes it clear that the formal hearing will “receive and examine the report from the Investigating Officer”. It appears from a strict reading of that Standing Order that there is no expectation of sharing the report findings beforehand and the Investigator’s report does not represent the case against those who are subject to any complaint. We therefore concluded that MH was not disadvantaged.

In contrast to that, the Standing Orders are silent on how Appeal Hearings are to be conducted and I had no hesitation in sending MH the Investigation Report. It is our view that had the Report been shared beforehand the accusation that the Investigator was not impartial might not have arisen at all as the Report is clearly even-handed and fair. We therefore recommend a re-visiting of the standing Orders to rectify this so that all parties have access to reports prior to any Hearing in the future.

The Hearing Panel took the precaution of also posting a copy of their electronic communications to MH and sending it via recorded delivery. Evidence of sending is not evidence of receiving. However, the Judgement makes the point that the electronic version appeared on MH’s public blog. We agree with the Hearing Panel this is proof MH received it. We concluded it was irrelevant that MH did not also receive, for some reason we do not know, the hard copy version and no unfairness resulted to MH from not having both versions.

 
Conclusion

This Appeal Panel found no procedural irregularities nor did we find that the Hearing Panel relied on any factual inaccuracies when they addressed the central question as to whether MH’s actions brought or potentially brought the Party into disrepute. We found the Hearing Panel’s conclusions were based on the facts before them. We therefore dismiss the Appeal.

In doing so we recommend that the Party revisit the Standing Orders in light of experience and produce a Code of Practice to assist in any future disciplinary proceedings and we would be pleased to assist in that if required.
 

Jocelyn Davies

3rd July 2014

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