Liberal Democrat, Karen Roberts, has admitted she does not have what it takes to fight Labour and Plaid Cymru in the battle for the Rhondda.
Coward Karen blames the fact she is reliant on donations for not taking up the challenge in what is likely to be a straight fight between Leighton Andrews and Leanne Wood. “Unlike the Labour party we do not get thousands of pounds from the unions to campaign, or attract the business finance the Conservatives do,” Karen Roberts claims. “Plaid are pouring resources into the Rhondda to try and get their leader elected there.
“Meanwhile we are reliant solely on the donations of local party members and supporters. We cannot hope to compete.”
Bill Chapman questioned Karen Roberts’s claims. “I had to smile at the feeble excuses made by this lady,” he said. “You don’t need a fortune to campaign, as I know from many years’ experience.“
Rhondda Cynon Taf County Borough Council has announced it is to close 11 schools as part of a 21-century transformation of education in the borough.
Around 7,000 pupils in the borough will be affected by $115m plans to create three “super schools,” following the approval of the plans by the council’s Cabinet.
Porth County Community School, Llwyncelyn Infants, Porth Infants, Porth Junior, Tonypandy Community College, Penygraig Infants, Penygraig Junior, Tonypandy Primary Ysgol Yr Eos, Tonyrefail Comprehensive and Tonyrefail Primary will all close, but councillors hope to convince parents that it will result in improved outcomes for their children.
Councillor Eudine Hanagan is the cabinet member for education and skills. “Education has been delivered in the same way since the 1960s and we need a radical step change to deliver the best possible opportunities for our young people,” she said. “Decisions we have taken previously to reorganise the delivery of education in RCT are already making an impact on attainment levels in the county borough.
“I understand the concerns expressed with the proposals and these are understandable in light of the significant changes which are proposed.”
The changes will result in the creation of new three-to-16 “middle schools” in Porth and Tonypandy, and a new three-to-19 “through school” will be created in Tonyrefail.
Not everyone is happy with the plans, however. Karen Roberts is the Welsh Liberal Democrats’ candidate for the Rhondda constituency in next year’s Welsh Assembly election. “Only one Councillor did turn up and speak against the plans – Welsh Liberal Democrat Councillor Mike Powell,” she said. “Mike represents the Trallwn ward which is not in the affected area, but that doesn’t stop him fighting against something which is so blatantly unfair.”
E-learning expert, Jonathan Bishop, who is intending to contest the South Wales Central region of the Welsh Assembly elections as an independent, says he mostly welcomes the plans. “The creation of these middle and through schools is a step in the right direction and a welcome shift from whole centralisation and separation of sixth forms,” he said. “Extended schools, like Garth Olwg Community Campus, can provide lifelong learning opportunities so that schools are used by the whole community at all hours of the day, and not just for compulsory education.
“The plans put forward by Eudine Hanagan and the RCT cabinet are therefore a step in the right direction as they could eventually become extended schools that the whole community benefit from.”
Cllr Eudine Hanagan agreed that the plans would make a big difference. “These proposals will not only provide better opportunities for our young people and 21st century education facilities to learn in, they will also deliver a major boost to our local economy during their construction,” she said. “This is the biggest single investment in education in Wales which will deliver the best possible school facilities for our young people.
“Parents rightly expressed the same concerns when ‘radical’ changes were considered at the time in Llanharry, for example, and likewise when we changed the delivery of education in Cynon Valley to create the new Aberdare High School.
“Pupils in those two examples are now benefiting from those proposals, and excellent education facilities we have delivered are there for everyone to see and are making a very positive difference.“
A UK Member of Parliament who expressed empathy for the situation of many Palestinians in the Arab tribal territory of Gaza has been reported to the authorities under the Terrorism Act 2006.
David Ward MP, who is the the Liberal Democratic Party MP for Bradford East, said with concern for the people of Gaza under seize from the Benjamin Netanyahu regime occupying the Arab tribal territories: “The big question is – if I lived in #Gaza would I fire a rocket? – probably yes”
Zionist-sympathiser, Nadhim Zahawi MP, who is a member of the British Conservative Party, reported Ward to Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe, who is the Police Commissioner for the London Metropolitan Police. “Freedom of speech is an important right, but it is not an unqualified one,” he said. “Mr Ward’s tweets would appear to be prima facie evidence that he has committed the offence of encouragement of terrorism.”
David Ward defended his comments on BBC Radio 5 Live. “The comment was about understanding why people are firing rockets,” he said. “I am not condoning that.
“In fact, yesterday in the House of Commons I condemned it.
“I’m saying I understand why people are so desperate that they are doing it.“
The United Kingdom Independence Party, a coalition of eurosceptic Britons, had a landslide victory in the United Kingdom in the elections to the European Parliament, topping the polls in terms of number of seats. Amid claims of fascism by the traditional left-right cartel of parties, Twitter users sprung to the defence of the emerging anti-EU force.
The overwhelming opinion of Twitter users was that the claims by the socialist and capitalist political party establishment was unfounded. “I don’t really agree with much UKIP bang on about, but someone clear up to me how they’re racist and fascist exactly?,” asked University of Birmingham student, Carl Raynsford (@CarlR_). “Proud to be from the North West. Labour topped the poll despite the UKIP surge, and the fascist lost his seat. Not so grim up north today,” said Cambridge student, George Morris (@George_B_Morris), referring conversely to the failure of the leader of the British National Party leader Nick Griffin to gain re-election. Writer an actor, Gary Dobbs (@garymartindobbs) added, “Now can people stop calling UKIP fascist and realize it is the E U that is fascist #UKIP“.
UKIP’s first place saw it take 27 per cent of the popular vote, the right-wing cartel party, the Conservatives Party, on 24 per cent, the left-wing cartel party Labour got about 25 per cent, seeing the Green Party beating the UK Government coalition partners, the Liberal Democratic Party, by 7.87 per cent of the vote compared to 6.87 per cent. In Wales the distribution of parities elected stayed the same with Kay Swinburne for the Conservative Party, Derek Vaughan for the Labour Party and Jill Evans for Plaid Cymru, all being re-elected. UKIP retained its seat in Wales, with newly elected Nathan Gill, increasing its share of the vote by 14.76 per cent to 201,983, which is only 4,350 votes short of beating the Wales Labour Party into first position.
A local authority in Wales has been criticised for its heavy handed approach in dealing with Internet trolls, whilst local Liberal Democratic Party members deny all responsibility.
The row follows the creation of Twitter accounts seeking to mock popular councillors Eudine Hanagan and Paul Cannon, both Labour cabinet members at Rhondda Cynon Taf County Borough Council. Following complaints the accounts were renamed. A spokesperson for the council said that impersonating councillors online would not be tolerated. “The council has reported the impersonation of councillors and officers taking place on Twitter. These impersonations have also been reported to the police,” they said. “The council is currently liaising with Twitter in relation to the information behind these accounts.
“The individuals who have been targeted are considering legal action against those involved in setting up these false accounts and the potentially libellous comments being made.
“For the avoidance of any doubt, the council would like to confirm that these accounts are in no way connected to the local authority, councillors or officers being impersonated.”
Allegations were made that Liberal Democrats, Karen Roberts, John Bell and Mike Powell were behind the accounts and the trio are accused of actively creating or supporting the existence of these Twitter accounts. John Bell was the former county borough councillor for Treforest. “I see that RCT at reporting tweeters to police they didn’t do it for me,” he said. “I did not go to the police I went to RCT I don’t waste police time.”
Karen Roberts, who is the campaign manager of the Rhondda Cynon Taf branch of the Liberal Democratic Party was defiant. “If I have anything to say I say it in my own name, like it or not,” she said. “I don’t hide behind fake accounts.” Cllr Mike Powell, the county borough councillor for Trallwn thought the allegations were entertaining. “Love being accused of something I have not done ,” he said. “And the Hanagan/Canon twitter accounts are not of my doing.”
RCT Council were exposed in October 2012 for serving 3 take-down notices on residents in the previous 6 months, and that the authority had forced residents to remove comments on each occasion, even though the law does not allow councils to sue for defamation. Even so, Paul Lucas, the monitoring officer RCT Council, said allegations that the Liberal Democratic Party members were involved in the accounts were not supported by the authority. “I can confirm that the Council has no knowledge and has not speculated as to who might be behind the fake Twitter accounts as it would be inappropriate to do so,” he said.
Internet trolling expert, Jonathan Bishop, says Rhondda Cynon Taf County Borough Council are taking the wrong approach. “I’ve never had anything bad to say about Eudine Hanagan and Paul Cannon, which cannot be said about Karen Roberts, John Bell and Mike Powell, who when I was an inexperienced councillor I reported to the police for abusing me online,” he said. “But the law has changed since then as a result of what is called the ‘Twitter joke trial’ and the CPS’s guidance now says that the law protects these actions as ‘satire,’ so RCT Council are being heavy handed to say the least.”
David Lewis is a self-published author in Pontypridd who supports the Liberal Democratic Party. “Looks like a bit of harmless fun to me,” he said. “Are the claims true though, in which case it can’t be libellous.“
A Liberal Democrat Minister in the House of Lords has been criticised over comments where she called children ‘cunning’ in reference to the lack of awareness in their parents to know how to more carefully monitor their childrens’ technology use.
In response to a question by Labour member of the House of Lords, Baroness Massey of Darwen, about applying age restrictions to video games, Baroness Garden of Frognal said to the House: “The BBFC is indeed involved in this (media ratings). It has just become the independent reviewer of the content of mobile operators and, as the noble Lord says, there is some overlap between what goes on in the film industry and what goes on in the video games industry.
“It is a question all the time of trying to keep one step ahead of cunning children, who have a tendency to be one step ahead of their parents.”
Jonathan Bishop is a researcher in the areas of gamification and Digital Teens who runs the Free Digital Project (www.freedigital.org.uk) and has developed approaches to automatically assign media ratings. “It is immoral for Baroness Garden to attack young people for doing what young people do – test the limits,” he said. “Responsibility for a child’s welfare should in the first instance be with their parents or guardians.
“The role of the government should be to intervene only where the market is failing, and from my point of view, Internet security software is quite advanced, and making parents aware of its availability when accessing relevant public services would be the least invasive approach.
“Current legislation is strong enough to prosecute people for online offences against children, and parliamentarians would do better to support research like what I am doing at Crocels, which will make Internet security software even more advanced, so it is possible for young people to be protected without them being blamed for acting on their natural curiosities when parents are already stretched in trying to have a life for themselves also.“
A candidate in the Rhondda Ward By-election has been criticised for allowing the deletion of comments by a competing candidate from her Facebook Page.
Comments on the Facebook page of Amanda Jones, who is standing for the Liberal Democrats in the Rhondda Ward by-election, were deleted from the page without warning. Comments made by Jonathan Bishop, also known as Dzon, relating to his achievements in relation to Pontypridd Museum, were removed.
Bishop wrote comments on the ‘Vote Amanda Jones for Rhondda Ward’ page on Facebook where Amanda Jones was opportunistically trying to gain favour with the public through posing outside the building, which it is believed she had no involvement with previously.
Comments by Bishop on Amanda Jones’s Facebook campaign page included mentioning the fact that he secured the support of a member of a different party when town councillor for Treforest to have the broken Santa light that is displayed on the side of the museum replaced. “Amanda Jones seems to want to gain public support for initiatives she showed no interesting prior to this election, yet puts censorship before the sort of debate true democrats fight for,” Bishop said. “When I was on the town council I co-operated with people of all parties and none to do the best for the town, but it seems pluralism and cooperation are not things that are on Amanda Jones’s agenda.”
Karen Roberts is the Campaign Manager for RCT Welsh Lib Dems. “I deleted the comment not Amanda,” she said. “The page is set up with a specific purpose in mind – to help promote Amanda as the best representative for the Rhondda ward.
“Other candidates, such as Jonathan or Dzon or whatever he prefers to be known as are perfectly entitled to set up similar pages.”
Bishop secured other policies when he was on Pontypridd Town Council, including a commitment to installing Wi-Fi in the museum and having local engineering students recognised each year with the ‘William Edwards Award.’ He stepped down from Pontypridd Town Council as town councillor for Treforest in May 2012, after successes including the restoration of an underpass in the ward through his Emotivate Project.
Amanda Jones insists she is the right candidate. “The Town Council should put politics aside and be the voice of the community. It should be speaking up for Pontypridd but it appears to be doing very little compared with others,” she blasted. “The Welsh Liberal Democrats are the only ones who have stood up and fought alongside residents to keep the paddling pool. They are not afraid to speak up for what they believe in, and not afraid to talk to people and take their views on board.”
“The Labour party blatantly lied to residents before the Council elections last year.
“They didn’t skirt around the issue, or mislead, or not tell the whole truth. They lied, in black and white.”
“It is why I joined the Party in February and why I am pleased to be standing under a Welsh Liberal Democrat banner.“
The by-election for Pontypridd Town Council is well underway. Following the death of Pam Harper, a by-election was called for the Rhondda Ward and the candidates have been confirmed. The Rhondda ward includes Hopkinstown, Maesycoed, Pantygraigwen, Pwllgwaun and parts of Trehafod.
Heading the ballot paper is Jonathan Bishop, commonly known as Dzôn, a Welsh name pronounced ‘Jon.’ Dzôn has a lot of links with the Rhondda Ward. He went to school there, and his grandfather Ted Bishop worked at the local Ty Mawr Colliery. Dzôn is highly experienced, having served on two local councils, including for Treforest. He is a company director of three limited companies, including Crocels CMG CYF, where he helped restore an underpass in Treforest with public art, including artistically represented aspects of Pontypridd’s mining past.
Second on the ballot paper is Stuart Fisher, who is standing for Plaid Cymru. Stuart has a background in environmentalism, and is a director of the Plaid Cymru Credit Union. Stuart is one of the most experienced candidates in the election after Dzôn. He represented the Hawthorn ward on Pontypridd Town Council until 2012 and is eager to help those in the Rhondda Ward make best use of his experience in public office.
Third on the ballot paper is Robert Fox. Bob is one of the few of the candidates to have served on both the town council and the borough council. In 2001 he joined with RCT council’s two Liberal Democratic Party councillors, Mike Powell and Steve Belzak in addition Talbot Green Councillor Paul Bacarra, to form the Democratic Alliance. Bob’s nomination is supported by Graeme Beard, who along with Jim Davies and now Liberal Democrats Katrina Jones and Karen Roberts joined Bob in the Democratic Alliance Group in 2001. At the time Karen Roberts was the Chairman of the Group. “Hopefully it will result in a greater level of democracy and open government,” she said at the time. “The one thing we all have in common is a desire to improve services and facilities. That’s why we were elected, not to indulge in petty party political arguments.” Since this time Karen Roberts and Katrina Jones have joined with Mike Powell to take over the Liberal Democratic Party’s local branch. In 2009 Karen Roberts accused former Democratic Alliance partner Paul Baccara of Internet trolling. Known as ‘cry trolling,’ she complained when her former coalition partner Baccara said her job with the Liberal Democrats was “a waste of taxpayers money.” Many people agreed with Baccara, who added: “Now go and get a life, which must be difficult as an aged divorcee, but there must be something out there for you.”
Fourth on the list is Amanda Jones for the Liberal Democrats, of which Karen Roberts is still to this day an active member. Amanda Jones is new to public life, only recently joining the Liberal Democrats after being headhunted by them following her involvement in the local paddling pool campaign. Amanda Jones said about her Liberal Democrat membership. “The Welsh Liberal Democrats are the only ones who have stood up and fought alongside residents to keep the paddling pool,” she said. “They are not afraid to speak up for what they believe in, and not afraid to talk to people and take their views on board. It is why I joined the Party in February and why I am pleased to be standing under a Welsh Liberal Democrat banner.”
Fifth on the list is Brian Watts for the Labour Party. The sixth and final candidate is Andrew Williams Jones for the Conservative Party. Commenting on Jones’s nomination, Bob Fox’s nominator, Graeme Beard, said: “A Tory from Pwllgwaun? A definite winner there then!”
A local authority has come under fire following a botched data entry of a candidate’s details in a local by-election in Pontypridd.
Rhondda Cynon Taff County Borough Council recorded the details of former Pontypridd Town Councillor Jonathan Bishop as him wanting to appear on the ballot paper as “Dzon Bishop.” Bishop has never used this name, expecting to appear on the ballot paper as: “BISHOP, JONATHAN EDWARD (commonly known as ‘Dzôn’).”
The notice of candidates standing for election was due to be published today, and Bishop notified the local authority of their mistake yesterday. Huw Davies of the local authority’s electoral services department defending the council’s actions. “When nominations close there is nothing that can be changed,” he said. The Council’s Returning Officer, Keith Griffiths, confirmed this adding: “There is no facility within legislation to amend the ballot paper and thus it will show Dzon.” Laura Ward of the Electoral Commission supported Keith Griffiths: “Part 2. Rule 8(7) [of the The Local Elections (Principal Areas) (England and Wales) Rules 2006] specifically says that the RO [Returning Officer] decision is final.”
Bishop, who has been due to stand for the Pluralist Party for a second time is adamant that the council are being unreasonable. “No one knows me as Dzon Bishop,'” he said. “My full legal name for legal documents and elections has always been ‘Jonathan Edward Bishop,’
“I use the name Dzon, which sounds like ‘Jon’ in informal contexts, including as a pseudonym on the Internet. In Wales I use it with a bridge above the o as in ‘Siôn’
“The nomination officer of my party [Mark Beech] has put< himself down on a ballot paper as ‘BEECH, MARK WILLIAM (commonly known as ‘The Good Knight, Sir Nos Da’)” and I expected the same treatment.
“The fact is because of this inaccuracy if I lose I will have the right to contest the result of the election, and if I were to win, my competitors would have the right to contest the result.
“It is not in the public interest for the council the act this way, and they should correct it as a matter of urgency.
“If legal action was brought against the local authority by any of my competitions, as I as true democrat would support them.”
So far most of the major parties have confirmed their candidate’s nominations. Plaid Cymru have selected former Pontypridd Town Councillor, Stuart Fisher. The Liberal Democrats have selected Amanda Jones, a local activist to contest the election under their banner. The Rhondda ward comprises of Hopkinstown, Maesycoed, Pantygraigwen, Pwllgwaun and parts of Trehafod. The by-election was called following the death of Labour’s Pam Harper.
Karen Roberts is the Campaign Manager for RCT Welsh Lib Dems and a former Plaid Cymru County Borough Councillor. “When the forms are taken in to the office then the officer sits down with the candidate and goes through everything,” she said. “There is a computer screen on which you can see everything that is being entered. You have the chance to correct any mistakes then.
“I know this as I was there with Amanda (Jones) when she took her forms in.
“The elections staff in RCT are, in my experience, very professional and competent.“
Dubbed the 21st century Winston Churchill, the UK Liberal Democrat Member of Parliament for Bradford has received praise from across the political divide on Twitter, but not it seems within his own party.
During the Great Depression in the 1930s, Winston Churchill spent most of his time trying to bring attention to the situation in Nazi Germany, but was not listened to. David Ward MP seems to be to be sitting in the same boat nearly a century later. His Liberal Democratic Party colleagues condemned his comments, which questioned the treatment of Palestinians by Israel and eloquently expressed concerns about the holocaust that is going on in the Occupied Palestinian Territories.
Chris Davies MEP (@ChrisDaviesMEP) was fully supportive of Ward. “Lib Dem leadership quite wrong to ‘reprimand’ David Ward,” he said. “David Ward’s words could have been better chosen, but why do people who have suffered so much now inflict suffering upon Palestinians?”
And Eugene Henry, who described herself as a Labour Party supporter, questioned the intentions of Mr Ward’s party. She said, “David Ward was condemned for condemning atrocities? Lib Dems courting the Jewish vote by any chance?!”
David Ward MP’s original comments that he posted to his website were, “Having visited Auschwitz twice – once with my family and once with local schools – I am saddened that the Jews, who suffered unbelievable levels of persecution during the Holocaust, could within a few years of liberation from the death camps be inflicting atrocities on Palestinians in the new State of Israel and continue to do so on a daily basis in the West Bank and Gaza.”
Palestinian attacks have been argued to be primarily a reaction to Israeli terrorism. It is believed that Israel has killed 12 times more Palestinian children than those Israeli minors killed by Palestinians.
Human rights activist Ashu MG Solo said that David Ward MP’s comments were a welcome change from the Zionist biases that plague the western establishment. “Most western political parties are in the pockets of the pro-Israel lobby composed of Zionist Jews, right-wing Christians, the military industrial complex, Muslim haters, and ignorant voters,” Solo said. “They cover up the truth and call anyone who tells the truth about Israel an ‘anti-Semite.’ David Ward is a courageous politician who is telling people the truth.”
Solo said the truth is that Israel is committing a slow genocide of Palestinians to steal as much of their land as possible. “Israel murders as many Palestinians as it can, makes life hell for Palestinians, and deprives Palestinians of food and water while providing plenty of food and water to Jewish settlers in the Occupied Palestinian Territories,” Solo said. “Western funding and support of Israeli terrorism is the top cause of jihadi terrorism against the west.”
“Israel has been using the holocaust committed by Nazi Germany as an excuse to commit its own holocaust against Palestinians,” Solo said. “One holocaust doesn’t justify another.” Ashu Solo suggested that people should remember, condemn, and combat all holocausts instead of just the one committed by Nazi Germany.