BBC BLOGS - Betsan's Blog
« Previous | Main | Next »

Trendless fluctuations

Betsan Powys | 19:46 UK time, Friday, 16 November 2007

I learned a new phrase this week : 'trendless fluctuation'. I heard it at a breakfast seminar on Wednesday and despite the early hour and torrent of bar charts, it's stuck with me for some reason.

I was reminded of it just now listening to Radio Wales' Called to Order. Not because I spotted a so-called 'trendless fluctuation' - and no, I doubt whether anyone other than a social scientist would be capable of that - but because I thought I spotted a very definite trend.

It kicked off down in Bournemouth at the Labour Party conference: pro-Plaid leadership spinning from Labour. Plaid Ministers had so far been, well, pretty impressive, said with surprise rather than reluctance. Ieuan Wyn Jones was conducting himself well. The inference here that they'd expected the man to be out of his depth but that so far, he was waving not drowing.

But Plaid Cymru as a party? Forget 'em. The snatched conversations over coffee and between fringe events suggested little had changed there.

I've spotted the same kind of inference from one or two Labour politicians since then and tonight on Called to Order, there it was again. Wayne David MP praising Ieuan Wyn Jones AM as 'a real diplomat', a man who is 'playing the part' of deputy leader of his country very well.

But Plaid Cymru as a party? Forget 'em. A party torn between the constructivists (good) and the destructivists (bad). Here's what he actually said:

"I think there's a clear divide now inside Plaid Cymru between, if you like, the constructivists - those people who want to engage in government.

Ieuan Wyn Jones is up in Westminster this week, you know, a real diplomat playing the part extremely well as deputy first minister.

And you've got the destructivists, if you like, those who want to, you know, fight against the establishment, end the defence training academy in St. Athan, that's Jill Evans MEP, and Adam Price, who wants to scrap the Welsh Office, have a referendum as quickly as you can and all the rest of it.

And there's a clear division, clear tension, now inside Plaid Cymru."

So as partners in coalition? They're ok. As a party that could actually lead the country? Pull the other one.

Does that work?

And has anyone else spotted the trend?

Comments   Post your comment

Does that work?

I don't know - does the anatomising of Labour into Unionist and Nationalist factions work? It probably does to certain audiences, as does a wild/pragmatic dichotomy of Plaid to others.

Both contain an element of truth. The emphasis of both are hugely in the interests of the opposing sides of the coalition.

  • 2.
  • At 09:52 AM on 17 Nov 2007,
  • Lyn David Thomas wrote:

Its quite a well worn path this, praise the individual but condemn the organisation, make it clear that the destructive element is the majority in the party and that the party is badly divided. Simple really, the problem comes when the party in question fails to act in that way. While at the same time its clear to all that the Labour Party is the body with the real splits, between increasingly devo skeptic MPs and their dwindling band of supporters in the Assembly and the devo enthusiast bulk of the Labour Assembly members. The grass roots membership of the Labour party is deeply skeptical about the coalition but happy to hang on to power, just as long as no credit goes to Plaid. I predict that the effect that you have highlighted will be played out at length over the next four years as AMs from Labour try to paper over the cracks. Its actions like this that help hold up the illusion of a united Labour Party. I also predict we will see more guerrilla strikes against the coalition, Plaid baiting if you like, such as was seen over Welsh announcements at Cardiff General Rail Station from Labour MPs, plus lots of delays on LCO from MPs, all in the name of increased scrutiny.

  • 3.
  • At 10:34 AM on 17 Nov 2007,
  • John R. Walker wrote:

Where have you been all these years Betsan? Plaid has been pulling itself apart in public since, at least, 2001...

It's great fun to watch - the view is much better from up here in Gwynedd, though!

Now Cllr. Simon Glyn is reported to have resigned from Plaid and I'm expecting a quite a few more to follow as the abject failure of 3-4 decades of Plaid Gwynedd's policies becomes plainer for all to see. This schools closure issue is just the tip of the mis-management iceberg...

Where I fundamentally disagree with Wayne David MP is that Plaid shouldn't be thought of in terms of 'constructive' or 'destructive' personalities because Plaid policies are fundamentally destructive - Plaid is a hard-left international socialist Party intent upon breaking up the United Kingdom and handing the reigns of power to the unelected tranzis in the EU and the UN. A few moderate sounding voices doesn't change that! If anybody had any lingering doubts, that defence paper floated out this week by Jill Evans MEP should help to clarify their minds! Cloud, cuckoo, and land come to mind...

It doesn't matter whether Plaid play the short game or the long game - they are still, ultimately, a destructive force in British politics and they should be marginalised by the 'Brits' at every opportunity.

But, going back to the coalition, I keep asking myself who is the REAL nationalist - Rhodri Morgan or Ieuan Wyn Jones?

  • 4.
  • At 11:28 AM on 17 Nov 2007,
  • Richard Harris wrote:

Betsan ~ I have heard Petro O' Hain and others using the same device. The "mature" and reponsible Nationalist leaders (IWJ, Cynog, Wigley etc....who really KNOW about London reality ) set against the extremist (and crazed) Plaid Bangorite followers who threaten the British way of life as we know out in the Waitrose Vale. And who are only held in check by the dreamy promise of "Independyence" next Wednesday. Or sooner.

Mind you, Plaid's angry "Statesmen" themselves soon bend to the wheel of convention...and reward. Not sure about "the ladies"!

It was ever thus in Politico Land.

"trendless fluctuation" = "Called to Order" = "flatulence"


  • 5.
  • At 01:31 AM on 20 Nov 2007,
  • Alistair Cook wrote:

Dear Betsan,

I would like to hear John Walker talk more about what he means by:

"...handing the reigns of power to the unelected tranzis in the EU and the UN."

Whilst the arguments about the EU are fairly well rehearsed inside and outside the media, I am not quite sure what he is talking about when he speak of the United Nations (presuming that's what his acronym stands for) in this context.

Please encourage him to explain. Cheers,

  • 6.
  • At 02:53 PM on 22 Nov 2007,
  • John R. Walker wrote:

Alistair Cook:

I thought for a minute you were going to pull me up on my spelling! It should, of course, have been reins of power even if the powerful do tend to reign over us. Where I live it just rains...

I'm a bit surprised that somebody taking the time to read a political trivia blog wouldn't be aware that the UN affects our lives in much the same way as the EU. I don't actually agree that these issues have been "well rehearsed" by the media at all - I think they have done a shallow and generally badly researched job of keeping the public informed over many years. And that's without even mentioning bias...

Most people are by now familiar with the concept that about 80% of the Law currently entering the UK statute book is handed down from the EU Commission, without proper scrutiny or debate within the EU, and that most of that Law is never debated by our elected MPs in the UK Parliament, either, as it is simply enacted via Statutory Instruments.

Like you, many people seem unaware that successive British governments have also given away the UK's sovereignty by making international agreements and treaties with other transnational non-governmental organisations (NGOs) like the UN. When people think of the UN they usually think of the Security Council, but that is just a tiny part of what the UN does. British governments have signed up to numerous international agreements, councils, conventions, treaties etc. over the years, some of which are binding upon us through International Law. In this way they have given away some of the people's democratic rights to the unelected tranzis in the UN in the same way that they have given away our democratic rights to the unelected tranzis in the EU Commission. And they did it all without asking us first!

Both the UN and the EU are run by unelected placemen which some of us call tranzis as a derogatory term for transnationals - so called because their authority crosses international borders and they do not necessarily represent their country of origin or their people. Many people think Peter Mandelson is the UK's man on the EU Commission but he isn't! All Commissioners agree to forfeit their right to represent their country of origin and represent ONLY the best interests of the EU Commission.

I'll give you an example of how a WAG local initiative in Wales, that looks like a good idea, is potentially contributing to the ever increasing DEMOCRATIC DEFICIT the British people have to endure. I guess most people would probably think that the Office of the Children's Commissioner for Wales would use the Law of England and Wales as its frame of reference for determining whether children's rights are being abused. Wrong! OK - then it'll be EU Law? Wrong again! Since 1989 children's rights in the UK have been determined according to The United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child - all 54 Articles and 2 annexes of it! Why - because the British government signed up to the
Convention and much of it is binding under International Law? They have placed UN Law above British Law in the same way that the Treaty of Rome put EU law above British Law.

Let's say for the purpose of argument that the unelected Children's Commissioner for Wales makes a ruling under UN Law which costs your Council a lot of money. That goes directly onto your Council Tax and indirectly onto my general taxation. No taxation without representation and all that... Let's say you are very unhappy about the decision so you consult your elected Councillor - but he is powerless to represent you because the Council's hands are also tied by UN Law! So you contact your elected Assembly Member but he is also powerless to represent you because the WAG is also tied by UN Law! So you contact your elected MP but he is also powerless to represent you because the UK government is also tied by UN Law! So you contact your elected MEP but he is powerless to represent you! Actually MEPs are virtually powerless to represent us - period! And your elected representative at the UN is??? Correct - you haven't got one! Hopefully, by now, you have fully grasped the nature of the problems we all face.

We go to the time, effort, trouble, and expense to elect these layers of politicians, and we pay through the nose to keep them in the style to which they have regrettably become accustomed, but successive governments have given away the rights of these politicians to represent us fully, and the rights of the public to be represented fully by them, and they have handed our democratic rights over to a bunch of unelected foreigners who do not necessarily live or think the same way as we do. This applies over an incredibly wide spectrum of what most of us would like to think of as OUR lives... This democratic deficit has made democracy as we think of it in the UK into a complete sham!

Every few years the aspiring politicians come round asking for our votes. They are very good at telling us what they will do for us but they almost exclusively neglect to mention all the things they can't do for us! UKIP and the BNP are probably the only Parties which produce election material which makes it clear that large parts of UK public policy can no longer be determined by British politicians.

Having Law made at the UN is arguably worse than having Law made by the EU. At the UN you can have delegates from countries which tolerate female genital mutilation voting on children's rights, or delegates from countries where rape is endemic voting on women's rights, etc. etc. I don't know about you but I never voted for any of this...

For these reasons, many of us who have campaigned for years to take the UK out of the EU also want to repeal most of the other undemocratic international treaties our governments have signed up to so that we can go back to making our own Laws, based on our own traditions and generally high moral values, and so that we can actually vote in and vote out the people directly responsible for making these Laws. But, as things stand, the average man in the street is almost powerless - all we are expected to do is to pay and obey...

  • 7.
  • At 10:22 AM on 25 Nov 2007,
  • Alistair Cook wrote:

Dear John,

Thanks for your detailed response. You seem to think that you don't have control over what treaties and conventions the UK government enters into. The UK is still a representative democracy which has elections about every five years. The government is elected on a manifesto commitment and then is asked to honour them throughout its term. If it doesn't and the population is unhappy with it then they can vote them out of power. (Equally, the UK government can withdraw from treaties and conventions).

If you are worried about customary international law then the age old question of how to enforce it comes into play. Given who the most powerful states are at present, I don't think they are in any hurry to question UK human rights.

Your example mentions not having voted for the UN Convention on the rights of the Child. I don't know how you voted in 1997 but it was a labour party manifesto commitment to sign on to that. Given their great majority at that election then they certainly had the mandate to sign on to it along with its other pledges.

Given that many people don't vote at general elections (although it is over 50% at the moment) I can't imagine turnout for frequent referenda to be over 50%. Once it falls below that line then its legitimacy is called into question, which seems to be your worry. The UK representative model is not perfect but it currently offers legitimate governments who are voted for by its citizens.

Thinking about the parties you mention, what ever happened to Veritas? That's another gem you forgot to mention :-)

This post is closed to new comments.

BBC © 2014 The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.