LEAVING the European Union and ensuring the best future for Wales post-Brexit was the central theme amongst speakers and delegates at the Plaid Cymru Annual Conference in Llangollen last week (Oct 21-23).
The party faithful travelled from all corners of the nation to hear a series of key note speeches and debate party policy – a rare ritual at party conferences these days.
Amongst the speakers was Anglesey Assembly Member Rhun ap Iorwerth, who called for a united voice in Wales to protect the country’s future after Brexit. He said: “We share one future.” – A reference to Plaid Cymru representing all citizens of Wales, irrespective of how they voted in the EU Referendum.
He said: “It’s interesting to note that the first Eisteddfod of Iolo Morgannwg’s revival took place in London – at Primrose Hill.
“Well, if back then in 1792 it was the voices of Welsh poets and singers filling the air, it’s time that London and the Westminster Government heard another Welsh voice – a united voice – uniting those who voted to leave as well as those that voted to remain in June’s referendum – a voice saying to the UK Government ‘deliver an exit that works for Wales as well as it possibly can’.
“Yes, Wales voted to leave, but I don’t think Wales wants to take leave of its senses when it comes to our economic future,” he added.
Motions debated at conference on the Friday (Oct 21) included greater emphasis on housing policy, tackling micro plastic waste, a citizen’s income and the steel industry in Wales.
Speaking on the steel motion and addressing a conference for the first time was new party member Scott Bamsey, a Port Talbot steel worker who wanted the party to support modernisation of the industry, and establishing a dedicated steel research and development centre in the new Innovation Campus at Swansea University.
Also commenting on steel over the weekend was Carmarthenshire Assembly Member Adam Price, who said: “The potential merger of Tata and ThyssenKrupp poses a significant threat to the steel workforce and the unions in the UK and Germany are rightly concerned. Both the Unite and Community unions, as well as the Welsh Government, have all noted their concerns at the potentially devastating effect on steel communities across Wales. The Chief Executive of ThyssenKrupp has himself said that such a merger would take capacity out of the steel industry.
“Protecting the steel industry in Wales is a priority and, in doing that, we need to protect the workforce. If Tata and ThyssenKrupp fail to commit to protecting jobs at existing Tata plants, then the UK Government needs to intervene to prevent the merger in order to safeguard the industry. No merger should be allowed to go ahead without assurances about jobs and the future of Tata’s plants,” he added.
Women’s pensions, local government reorganisation and the NHS were the key motion discussions on the second day of conference (Oct 22), as well as the address from Party Leader, Leanne Wood AM.
Arfon Jones, a former police inspector who was elected as Plaid Cymru’s Police and Crime Commissioner for the North Wales constabulary in May 2016, took to the conference stage to outline his priorities to tackle substance misuse, domestic abuse, modern slavery and greater transparency and answerability in the police force.
He revealed his determination to break the cycle of re-offending. Mr Jones said: “65% of boys whose father is in jail offend and children with imprisoned parents are twice as likely to suffer mental health problems and do less well in school.”
Partnership working to reduce re-offending by ensuring that ex-prisoners were successfully reintegrated into society was a priority. “Although not directly a police matter, ensuring that former offenders don’t repeat their previous criminality is essential if we’re going to break the cycle and make our society safer. That also means using our £12m budget for reducing substance misuse across the region as wisely as possible,” he added.
Plaid Cymru’s programme for the local council elections will be focused on empowering Welsh communities, Plaid Cymru leader Leanne Wood told conference delegates.
Ms Wood said that after the vote to leave the European Union, it was more important than ever that we empower communities to take local control and become more self-sufficient.
Hers is the only party with a plan to protect and secure the Welsh national interest after the vote to leave the European Union, Leanne Wood said, calling on Plaid Cymru members keep unity in order to take her optimistic message to people ahead of the local elections.
Plaid Cymru leader Leanne Wood said: “The way we will survive and thrive post-Brexit is by doing more for ourselves. By being more self-sufficient. More co-operative in our approach.
“You can expect to see from us from next May a ‘programme of opportunity’ – to get our communities into being ready and resilient for the new situation we are in.
“Plaid Cymru’s role has always been to protect and secure the Welsh national interest. Despite the challenges and uncertainties thrown up by Brexit, we are optimistic.
“We have a clear and detailed policy programme which is designed to build our nation and give confidence to our people.
“Alone out of all of the parties in the Assembly, the Party of Wales responded to the EU referendum vote in a way that shows we are ready and up for the challenge.
“Like me, you support Plaid Cymru because you believe in Wales. You believe in our capacity to look after our best national interests.
“Conference, let us take this message of conviction from this hall today, out into our communities.
“Plaid Cymru will make a difference. And Wales will move forward, stronger.”
Lecture considers the future of war
INTERNATIONALLY renowned war scholar and military conflict expert, Professor Christopher Coker delivered this year’s Kenneth N. Waltz Annual Lecture on Thursday (Nov 16).
Christopher Coker, Professor of International Relations at the London School of Economics and Political Science, is a prolific author on all aspects of war. He is a former NATO Fellow, a former twice serving member of the Council of the Royal United Services Institute, and a regular lecturer at Defence Colleges in the UK, US, Rome, Singapore, and Tokyo.
In his lecture entitled ‘Still ‘The Human Thing’? Thucydides, Waltz & the Future of War”, Professor Coker discussed war as a feature of what we call ‘human nature’ or ‘humanity’ in general, while focusing on urgent contemporary issues such as possible changes in the nature of war by the blurring of the distinction between humans and machines.
He also considered how, as Artificial Intelligence becomes ever more a fact of life, the traditional functions and forms of war could change, discussing such questions as: will we still need war and will war still need us?
Talking ahead of the the event, Professor Ken Booth of Aberystwyth University said: “Chris Coker is a very imaginative, interesting, and controversial thinker. Intellectually ambitious, he always addresses the biggest questions. The titles of some of his most recent books attest to this: Future War, Can War be Eliminated?, Warrior Geeks: how 21st Century Technology is Changing the Way We Fight and Think about War, The Improbable War: China, the US, and the Logic of Great Power Conflict and Men at War: what Fiction tells us about Conflict. We can be sure of a fascinating and challenging lecture about a supremely important area of human behaviour.”
The Kenneth N. Waltz Annual Lecture brings distinguished scholars to Aberystwyth to talk about issues that were central to the concerns of the late Ken Waltz, the leading theorist of international relations over many decades.
Hosted by the David Davies Memorial Institute and the Department of International Politics, this year’s lecture was held in the Main Hall in the International Politics Building on the Penglais Campus.
Youth Service invited to international training event
TWO Youth Workers from Ceredigion Youth Service have been selected to represent the UK on a week’s training opportunity in Horažd’ovice in the Czech Republic.
‘The danger of a Single Story’ is a training course funded by Erasmus+, that combines stories, media, global education and active citizenship to empower trainers, educators and youth workers with the tools to educate young people on issues such as cyberbullying, hate speech, and online harassment.
Elen James, Head of Youth Engagement and Continuing Education, said: “We are extremely proud of both Rebeca Davies and Guto Crompton, 270 people had applied, for 24 places, 2 were allocated for the UK and both places have been assigned to Ceredigion Youth Service staff.
“This is an excellent training opportunity for them, which will inform them and encourage them to reflect on the evolution of media and the consequences that it has on the formation of stereotypes and prejudices. We wish them all the best in Prague!”
Rebeca Davies and Guto Crompton will join 22 other Youth Workers from Cyprus, Czech Republic, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovenia, Spain and Turkey. The week will be hosted at the PROUD Environmental Centre approximately 120km from Prague, from Sunday (Nov 19) for a week.
Rebeca Davies, School Based Youth Worker said: “I’m really looking forward to visiting Prague, and meeting other Youth Workers from across the World. It will be a fantastic opportunity to learn new tools and techniques to encourage and empower young people back here in Ceredigion.”
Guto Crompton, School Based Youth Worker added: “I’m looking forward to learning more about different Youth Work methods and approaches. I’m also eager to develop a greater awareness around education, active citizenship and democracy.”
Cabinet member for Learning Services, Children and Young People’s Partnership, Councillor Catrin Miles, commented: “As a Council, we are very proud of the hard work of our Youth Service to the young people of the county. This will be a very important and worthwhile opportunity for Rebeca and Guto to represent Ceredigion and Wales and we wish them all the best at the event.”
Pot Noodles bought with theft proceeds
ON WEDNESDAY (Nov 15), Aberystwyth Magistrates’ Court heard that a 23-year-old man stole an HDMI cable from a store and sold it for a tenner to buy ten Pot Noodles.
Joel Alexander Owens, of Portland Street in Aberystwyth, pleaded guilty to stealing alcohol to the value of £24.96 belonging to his hometown’s B&M Bargains on June 29. He also admitted stealing an HDMI cable to the value of £14 belonging to Tesco in Aberystwyth on September 24.
Prosecuting, Helen Tench said a staff member at B&M was notified by a member of the public about a male who left the store without paying for items.
CCTV footage was checked, which showed Owens select a number of alcoholic items and leaving the store without making any payments.
Police officers later viewed the footage and identified the defendant.
On October 14, a member of staff at Tesco was informed of the incident at B&M. The Tesco CCTV footage was viewed as a result and the defendant was seen removing an HDMI cable from its box on September 24 and leaving without paying.
Ms Tench said Owens was interviewed on October 19, where he admitted committing the offences in his personal statement.
The defendant also admitted he sold the HDMI cable for £10 in order to buy ten Pot Noodles.
Defending, Katy Hanson said Owens pleaded guilty at the first opportunity and admitted to stealing beer and cider from B&M.
Probation officer Julian Davies stated that the defendant was currently serving a 12-month community order for two previous offences of theft and a breach of a conditional discharge.
Aberystwyth magistrates revoked Owens community order and imposed a 12-month community order with 20 rehabilitation activity requirement days and a four-week curfew.
Owens was told to pay prosecution costs of £85, compensation of £14 to Tesco and compensation of £24.96 to B&M Bargains.
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