The on-going row over the report into the Welsh NHS, by Marcus Longley, brings the future of the NHS in Wales, once more, into the public spotlight. Although the report covers many important issues, perhaps the critical issue not considered is whether the NHS in Wales can continue in its present form, in the long term, of being free at the point of consumption and funded from the proceeds of taxation. This may seem a heretical question to ask but asking it must be done.
Despite the gloomy failures of Rio+20 and David Cameron's empty 'greenest government ever' promise, it's good that some parts of the UK can still come up with an enlightened approach. At the moment, it's Wales that provides a bright light in these gloomy times.
Caerfyrddin, my father's county, takes its name from the Roman word for a castle, caer, and the wizard Myrddin - famously in English, Merlin - who was born, they say, in the town of Carmarthen.
When flash floods hit Wales earlier this month necessitating the evacuation of more than 1,000 people, my thoughts immediately returned to the people I met last month in Cagayan de Oro in the Philippines who had also been affected by flooding. I also reflected on the floods that hit my own constituency, Workington in 2009 and how it shook our community.
So it happened. I can tick one of my musical aims for 2012 off the list. It's number three - possibly the most important, definitely the wettest (see what I did there?)
Mervyn Davies--a crucial member of the two finest rugby teams ever assembled, the 1971 and 1974 British Lions, and of the all-time XV of any rugby fan with sense--has died of cancer. To the special men who played with him in those legendary Lions sides, his death was not a surprise.
The Six Nations approaches it's climactic weekend, and it's got me thinking. What makes it so special, what makes it so brilliant and so bloody gut wrenching? It's a bit like house matches at school, they were often more intense and violent than games against other schools. Why?
So in comparison, maybe still acknowledging our Queen isn't all bad. I just don't think she needs a new yacht. Gove said the money wouldn't come from taxpayers but from corporations willing to invest, but hey, Mikey, here's an idea, why not get them to invest in things that benefit the country?
Although many of them have yet to realise it, busy as they are with the ongoing discussions on public sector pensions, the big issue for trade unions in 2012 will be the implementation of regional pay and the break-up of the national pay bargaining schemes.
Four Welsh academics have recently written an excellent paper looking at what happens to Welsh graduates, and students who graduate from Welsh universities. Their careful work helps us to understand something about the development and interaction of the national and regional economies within the United Kingdom.
From yesterday (Monday, 19 December), and for three days, the airwaves of Radio Cymru, the BBC's Welsh language channel, may well be music free.
Britain's financial climate is every bit as chilly as the inclement wintry weather at the moment. Politicians, bankers and business titans are struggling hard to maintain confidence in the economy as evidence mounts of a possible return to recession.
At the Carlton Club's Carlton Lecture, which in the past has been delivered by sitting Prime Ministers, including Margaret Thatcher, the former Conservative party leader, now in the House of Lords as Lord Howard of Lympne, openly criticised the current Justice Secretary, Ken Clarke, by repeating his 1993 mantra, "prison works".
Basically, Hay has been given a choice...the town gets a new school (around 240 pupils) and a "major retailer" who funds the school gets to plonk a "retail development" bang in the middle of Hay. The implications of this affects the future of a small market town filled with individual shops, with no real traffic infrastructure which is bang in the middle of a National Park.
There are many reasons why keeping Welsh on the school curriculum is important, but to me it is vital as it is part of our ancestry. Cultural imperialism and social snobbery forced our grandfathers to murmur Welsh in the playgrounds, but they did, and it is only because they did so that we can speak it out loud all over Wales today.
History is littered with great international teams who have stumbled when so close to the prize. New Zealand post-1987, the great Dutch footballers of...