Elections, Elections and More Elections

This week is a first in UK politics – the first time we will see the election system being used in areas outside the local, national and European governments.

We will go to the ballot box on Thursday 15th November 2013 and this time, it is for the election of the UK Police and Crime Commissioners. The commissioners will work closely with the 41 UK Chief Constables to direct and decide strategic issues relating to policing in their areas.

Who are those seeking to be elected as police and crime commissioners? Across the UK, many of those seeking election are retired politicians from the leading parties and a number have political party associations. It is only a minority who are ‘community’ or ‘independent’ individuals who have not been involved in politics before.

UK residents have had their ballot papers, some publicity has been distributed by the hopeful commissioners and it seems that ‘let the election begin’.

Before Thursday, let us reflect on a number of key issues:

1. Do we need police commissioners? What is the nature of the evidence that we do? What will happen if the commissioner pushes forward on issues that matter to the community and this conflicts with professional advice? The classic capital punishment issue springs to mind.

2. What about accountability? Will this be enhanced with the election of the commissioner? One would certainly expect that the commissioner would be more visible for the community than the police authority system it replaces (the sheer matter of turning up to vote might create this, thus enhancing public accountability, but what about other types of accountability including professional and market forms? What about the commissioner who drives strategic issues on the basis of electoral popularity? We might see a greater focus of policing on our streets and visibility overall but what about the ‘back office’ and national strategies? Can one police force really go off in the pursuit of electoral popularity?

3. What about devolved public services in Wales and Scotland and the new commissioners? Policing is not a devolved matter – however, the commissioners in the devolved areas will relate extensively to the elected bodies there. Will this put pressure on the extension of devolution?

4. Finally, where will it all end? Police today, fire, social services, education and other public services tomorrow. Where will it all end? Commissioners in all public services? How many elections will this involve? Will the different commissioners work together? What would this do for collaborative public services?

When we turn out to vote on Thursday, if indeed we do, think about the significance of this as a first and keep an eye on what happens next…

Professor Catherine Farrell

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What Is and What Ought

It is a primary principle of logic that what is, that is to say what actually exists, should not be confused with what ought, in other words what we intend or believe should be the case. In particular the danger is to assume that because we take something to be the case then in some sense it ought to be the case. I was reminded of this whilst reading Stephen Jay Gould during my annual bath, annual because that’s how long my children claim it takes me. Anyway, whilst partially submerged I passed the hours reading Gould’s article ‘William Jennings Bryan’s Last Campaign’ in the book Bully for Brontosaurus.

William Jennings Bryan was a successful politician and orator, three times candidate for the Presidency and a champion of reform and a champion of reform, particularly favouring the poor and rural communities. However his life and his memory has been forever dominated by an event right at its end, his involvement in the Scopes Trial. It was the Scopes Trial which proved a decisive turning point in the debates about the teaching of evolution and creationism in United States schools. Bryan appeared as an attorney defending Tennessee States right to ban the teaching of evolution as anti-Christian. Gould, who was a leading expert on Darwin and critic of creationism, considered why such a prominant reformer and progressive as Bryan should attack teh teaching of evolution.

The conclusion Gould comes to is that Bryan was not, actually, attacking Darwin’s theory of evolution, which he didn’t really understand, but rather the interpretation and application of it by certain forms of Social Darwinism. In particular, Bryan had come to recognise, quite correctly, that Darwin’s theory had influenced the militaristic and Germanic superiority of the German military leadership before the First World War, indeed Social Darwinism acted as a vindication to the German’s in 1914 in  much the same way that Hitler saw himself prophesied by Nostradamus and occult theory justified the German military in the 1930s. Moreover Bryan also regarded Social Darwinists as advocating individual competition and self-interest in opposition to what he saw as the Christian values of society and community. Unknown to Bryan a healthy Darwin influenced copllectivist movement had existed in the 19th Century led by the likes of Prince Peter Kropotkin, himself analysed by Gould in the same book in his essay ‘Kropotkin was No Crackpot‘.

As Gould points out Bryan was quite legitimately, and with some force, railing not against Darwin himself, who Gould argues as being morally neutral as Darwin is concerned with what is not what ought, but rather those who read a morality, an ought, into their particular interpretations of Darwin, such as the 1914 German high command, or elements of the US power elite. Indeed the text which was used to teach evolution and which Bryan was fighting for Tennesee’s right to stop being taught in their schools, saw the por as parasites on society and has the following paasage which Gould quotes:

Hundreds of families such as those described above exist today, spreading disease, immorality and crime in all parts of this country. The cost to society of such families is severe. Just as certain animals or plants become parasitic on other plants or animals, these families have become parasitic on society. They not only do harm to others by corrupting, stealing or spreading disease, but they are actually protected and cared for by the state out of public money. Largely from them the poorhouse and asylum exist. They take from society, but they give nothing in return. They are true parasites.

If such people were lower animals, we would probably kill them off to prevent them from spreading. Humanity will not aloow this, but we do have the remedy of separating the sexes in asylums or other places and in various ways preventing intermarriage and the possibilities of perpetuating such a low and degenerate race. [G W Hunter A Civic Biology (1914), quoted in Gould, p.429]

Of course such ideas have long thought to be extinct and discarded, but today we seem to be creating a new ought from an is with our view that what markets provide should be seen as an inevitability and a moral good. That the social inequalities we have developed over the past 30 years and from which we now suffer are both inevitable and moraaly justified, but the market is just a mechanism, something which exists in our economy, in other words an is, in just the same way that Darwin’s theory of evolution and the mechanisms which support it are. We can be right or wrong about the operations of evolution, and of markets, but neither evolution nor markets can impart moral necessity, and to regard them as doing so can lead us down dangerous pathways. How far separated, after all, are Hunter’s attitudes above from those expressed by some in the wake of teh summer’s riots? Markets exist, as does evolution, to teh best of our understanding. How we interprete them and how we react to their consequences is not a moral given but a matter of social choice, for us to make.

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A Student Perspective of the Undergraduate Dissertation Conference

Throughout the year there has been discussion of the Undergraduate Dissertation Conference with unwillingness to participate and panicked stressed rumours of presenting in front 100 people started to circulate (in fact there was about 12max). Not a lot of people wanted to do it or more to the point saw any reason for doing it, we didn’t get marked on it so was there any need?

YES, there is. I think it is fair to say a vast majority who I spoke to after the Conference had changed their opinion completely. We all walked away with the constructive feedback from our peers and chair member to consider and it became a valued exercise which we all contributed in. The day turned out to be informative and very useful, allowing you to grasp how far you have come and more importantly how much you have left to do. Personally I am pleased I got the opportunity to participate.

Rebecca Newton

Final Year Course Rep

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Undergraduate Dissertation Conference 2012

We have just completed our second annual Criminology and Social Policy Undegraduate Dissertation Conference, organised this year by myself and Jenny Maher for Criminology, with well over 100 students providing presentations in panels chaired by staff during the day. I was once again struck by the variety and quality of presentations from Social Policy students reflecting their dissertation subjects. These ranged from studies on obesity to youth offenders, from Cardiff Devils’ Ice Hockey fans to Facebook addiction, and I would like to personally thank all of those students who made it in to present on the day despite, in some cases, suffering from winter flu bugs and the transport problems resulting from the weather in the morning.

The day began with registration in the Postgraduate Centre with Colin Morgan from Social Policy and Jenny Maher from Criminology checking names and handing out name badges.

Students gathered to enjoy coffee, tea and biscuits before dispersing to their presentation rooms.

Paul Chambers, our Subject Leader, who chaired two of the Social Policy panels, enjoyed his early morning coffee.

And students from Criminology and Social Policy mingled to await greetings talks from Howard Williamson, Andy Thompson and Tim John.

The Postgraduate Centre provided a fantastic, and appropriate venue for the start of the day, and we are grateful to the University for allowing us its use. The panels were again an excellent opportunity for students to test their work so far, to receive constructive and supportive comments and for staff and fellow students to see how their colleagues and students were coming along. I found the opportuntiy to observe the presentations of the students I am supervising particularly useful and insightful and I hope all the students who involved themselves in the day found it as interesting and useful as I did. Finally a warm thank you to all members of staff who gave their time to chair panels, and an especial thank you to Howard Williamson for services beyond the call of duty, and also to Jenny Maher from Criminology who shouldered a probably disproportionate amount of the organisational burden for the day.

Gerald Taylor

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Public Services students and staff donate 68 presents to the RCT Santa Appeal.

This year Public Services students and staff have donated 68 presents to the Rhondda Cynon Taff Santa Appeal.  The appeal is run every year by RCT in an attempt to make sure that all children receive at least one present at Christmas.  Public Services students have contributed to the appeal for the last three years, but this year they have exceeded their previous records.  Thanks very much to students (their friends who have also contributed), and to staff. The picture above shows the presents being taken to RCT Council for distribution with helps from final year students Kelly Skelton, Michelle Dando and Ben Croxall.

Jennifer Law

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Undergraduate Dissertation Conference

For all our final year final year undergraduate dissertation students our Dissertation Conference is taking place on Wednesday 14th December. registration will take place at 9.00am in the Postgraduate Centre, Ty Crawshay (A block).

The programme for the day for Social Policy students is under the Resources button on Blackboard, along with your presentation groups. For those of you who are not familiar with Ty Crawshay and might have problems finding the Postgraduate Centre then here is a pictoral guide!

Start at Ty Crawshay:


Go to the entrance to the left of the main door:

Go up the stairs to the first floor:

And the Postgraduate Centre is on your left at the top of the stairs on the first floor:

Social policy students will be making their presentations in the rooms which are in the same block as teh International Students Office. If you follow the pathway behind the block leading into B block and turn left the entrance is alongside the International Students Office under the covered path.

The rooms we will be using are B69, B169 and B169a, they look like this:

The Groups, rooms, chairs and times are:

Social Sciences Dissertation Presentations

Wednesday 14th December

Presentation Groups, Social Policy

Each presentation should last 10 minutes with 5 minutes for questions


Presentation Group O: The Effectiveness of the Public Sector

Chair: Colin Morgan

Room: B169 Time 10.00-12.00

Alex Pheby, Michelle Dando, Stacey Ainscow, Tim Ingroville, Godswill Daniels, and Matthew Williams


Presentation Group Q: Individuals and Social Difference

Chair: Andy Thompson

Room: B69 Time: 10.00-12.00

Chelsea Matthews, Laurence Denison, Kayleigh Butt, Lorna-Jane Griffiths, Stephanie-Leigh Parsells, Laurie Cannon, Alex Norman, and Kelly Skelton


Presentation Group T: Sports and Sorts

Chair: Paul Chambers

Room B169a Time 10.00-12.00

Matthew Thomas, Victoria Jenkins, Hana Imiolczyk, Ross Simister, Matthew Coles, Stephen Smith, and Bernardo Lemus


Presentation Group N: Public Service, Targets, Management and Structure

Chair: Steve Williams

Room: B169 Time: 12.30-2.30

Laura Manfield, Benjamin Croxall, Rachel Morrisey, Daniel Till, Annika St John, Rachel Reynolds, and Claire Vaughan


Presentation Group R: Individuals, Image and Society

Chair: Sarah Oerton

Room B69 Time 12.30-2.30

Clare Phillips, Stephen Buckley, Elisha Crowle, Belinda Jones, Chloe Parsons, Brendon Pitman, and Sarah Vincent


Presentation Group S: Reacting to Social Change

Chair: Paul Chambers

Room B169a Time 12.30-2.30

Lyndsay Williams, Rachel Pitman, Rachel Jones, Catherine Davies, Antony Green, Emily Nichols, and Rebecca Newton


Presentation Group P: The Public Sector, Exclusion and Difference

Chair: Catherine Farrell

Room B69 Time 3.00-5.00

Rhian Hopkins, Gareth Booy, Jamie Milner-Hayer, Laurence Richardson, Malcolm Duke, and Yvonne Charles



Look forward to seeing you there!


Gerald Taylor

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Onederful Radio 1

I’ve got the builders in again, increasingly a phrase which sounds like a debilitating rash rather than a hopeful development for the future. Anyway, our builder, Kevin, tends to play his Radio, on one of two channels, Radios 1 and 2 from good old Auntie Beeb, that is the BBC for anyone under 50. Apart from being amazed at the irony of Radio 2 now paying all the music, Led Zeppelin, Pink Floyd, Genesis, Mike Oldfield and so on, which Radio 1 refused to play when I was a teenager, preferring instead the Bay City Rollers, Gary Glitter and the Rubettes, I am also struck at how Radio 1 since its inception in 1967, has managed to be so consistently atrocious in its choice and promotion of music. Instead of playing the best of contemporary music Radio 1 has almost without exception favoured the lowest common denominator, supposedly justified by the ‘charts’. Moreover pathbreaking and music centered presenters like the great John  Peel, and Alexis Korner,  were consistently marginalised in favour of presenters who seemed to consider themselves more important than any music they were playing. I can still remember the way in which Jimmy Saville pronounced the word Showaddywaddy when introducing the group more than I can anything which they actually released.

The great tragedy of all this is that through much of this time British popular music has dominated the world. In the 1960s The Beatles were only a small tip of an incredible iceberg which included the likes of the Rolling Stones, The Who, The Kinks, The Yardbirds, Pink Floyd, Cream, The Moody Blues and a host of others. In the 1970s Britain dominated with the five bands which, as one promoter said, could have sold out an auditorium anywhere in the world, they were: the Rolling Stones, The Who and Pink Floyd, joined by Led Zeppelin and Yes, and behind them were groups like Genesis, and some who made the crossover into the charts and so were more acceptable to the Beeb, like 10cc, David Bowie, Queen,  and Roxy Music. Incidentally many of these bands, including the latter, received their first airing on national radio due to one man: John Peel. Following this we had the rise of punk and New Wave, in which again Britain dominated with groups like the Sex Pistols, The Clash, The Damned, The Buzzcocks, XTC, The Jam, Heaven 17, the Human League, and, again, many more. We even did pretty well in those genres which were more popular in the US than here, like Heavy Metal (where an argument could be made for Deep Purple and even, God forbid, Black Sabbath, as originators), with bands like AC/DC (okay a hybrid I’ll grant but still spiritually Brit), Motorhead, Iron Maiden, Saxon, and Def Leppard.

More recnetly the failings of Radio 1 led to the creation of Radio 6 to highlight contemporary music, and then the threat of its closure for lacking commercialism. Meanwhile the British music industry has become dominated by the sterile conservatism and bland musicality of the monstrous Pop Idol and X-Factor creations led by Simon Cowell. Great for Simon Cowell but dreadful for Britain and for music.

Why was British contemporary music so influential, and so popular, in the 1960s through to the 1990s? I believe the major factor is that British bands had to make their reputations playing live in front of an audience before they could achieve wider success. Indeed for many of them this became part of the band’s creation myth. The Beatles and their legendary residency in Hamburg, the Pink Floyd playing at the Middle Earth club, alongside the likes of Fairport Convention part of a British folk explosion which would inspire Paul Simon, The Rolling Stones originating as Alexis Korner’s session band, Led Zeppelin formed out of that ultimate clubbing band the Yardbirds, even those prog rockers to beat all progs, Yes, started as a live band and musicians like Rick Wakeman were already well known for their live performances with the likes of the Strawbs. This then fed into punk/New Wave and beyond. Britain was lucky on this score. Live national success wasn’t open to bands in the US because you simply can’t play live everywhere in the US, so good live bands got local reputations (state wide or beyond) but only reached a national audience if they were picked up by coast-to-coast radio, giving the music industry a stranglehold of US national popular music. Indeed many US bands made a success of themselves in Europe before going back to the US, Jimi Hendrix is probably the most obvious example, but the likes of Blondie and Talking Heads also traded on European success.

Unfortunately much of this has gone with the move away from pubs and live music clubs as venues, partly due to changes in lifestyle, partly changes in legislation. For the music buisiness this has been welcomed as bands which did not owe their existence and success to the industry machine were inevitably diffcult to control and unpredicatble. The music labels created specialist labels such as Harvest, the initial host of Pink Floyd, Deep Purple and The Move, to isolate such bands, and in the later 1970s so-called independent labels such as Two Tone, Rough Trade and Chsiwick pushed many of the new bands into the popular domain. For the industry these bands are a product and the music is unimportant, the iconic illustration being, of course, when  a top US record executive asked Pink Floyd which of them was Pink.

The point of this long rant for me is quite simply expressed: Why have we got a public service broadcaster, funded from our taxes, which cares more for the priorities and promotes the interests of an unaccountable music busin ess rather than promoting new and original music and engagement with new music in all its forms? In fact, we should not forget, the BBC is a promoter of exclusivity and elite competition as opposed to inclusivity and participation in other areas than music. You only need to consider the current male-only shortlist for Sports Personality of the Year to see that. It is, frankly, incredible that Amir Khan is on this list ahead of the likes of Rebecca Adlington, and what does Chrissie Wellington, three times world ironman (sic) champion, fastest female ironman competitor, need to do to get nominated? Are the small select elite exclusive group of Sports Editors and writers who create this list representative of anyone expcet the sporting elite with whom they regulalry deal? And how many of them are women? Perhaps it’s about time the BBC woke up to inclusion and representation, after all it is a democratically funded public body.


Gerald Taylor

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Farewell Gary Speed

I can’t add a post to the blog like Steve’s below without also adding a brief word about the tragic death of Gary Speed. Football has always been my game, as Rugby has been Steve’s, and at one time we were both slim enough to play them, Steve at a much greater level then I. Whilst I never saw Gary Speed play and he was never a player at one of ‘my’ clubs, I was aware of him as an iconic figure in the game, particularly in Wales, and especially in the past year as manager of the national side, a role in which he was demonstrating tremendous promise. Given this his death is a tragedy for the whole of Wales and has rightly been acknowledged as such.
The nature of his death also points out the stress which leadership creates and the loneliness it can engender. It is only a few years ago that a friend of mine, and a visitor to the University, Mike Todd, the then Chief Constable of Greater Manchester Police Force, died of exposure in Snowdonia. Like Gary, Mike was a genuinely nice guy and clearly in his case the responsibilities of leadership became too much for him to take, and his human failings impossible for him to admit. In both cases the question why two apparently successful, well liked and admired personalities at the top of their professions chose to take their own lives is inescapable.
In my typical fashion I tend to see this in terms of popular culture and it brought to mind Paul Simon’s old song ‘Richard Cory‘. In his song Simon portrays a man who has everything capitalism can offer, money, power, fame, a respectable image and an infamous private life, and yet Richard Cory commits suicide. Of course in Simon’s version there is a pointed class perspective as the song is delivered by one of Richard Cory’s employees whose life is so miserable that he wishes he ‘could be Richard Cory’, that is dead. The point of all this is that it seems clear from such events that in our society being successful, well financially rewarded, famous, admired and respected for some at least does not seem preferable to dying. Maybe we should start asking what it is about our society which makes even its success stories so abject.


Gerald Taylor

Postscript: subsequent to writing the words above I have been reminded of the suicide in November 2009 of German goalkeeper Robert Enke. Robert was the Germany first choice goalkeeper and set to make an imporatnt inpact in the 2010 South Africa World Cup. Subsequently BBC Radio 5 Live produced a documentary about his suicide which received a MIND award for the best factual programme on mental illness. To quote, or rather paraphrase as I am not sure of his precise words, a German psychiatrist from that programme: We have a common belief that success is important and desirable, and we have a common belief that once someone has suffered from mental illness that they can never achieve that success. Our society promoting these ridiculous beliefs means that most of us, those who are not regarded, or who do not regard themselves, as ‘successful’, are under-valued, and mental health is ghettoised and stigmatised, driving many to deny and hide their ‘shameful’ secrets. So much for our other fostered belief that society is supposed to work for the people. Ha!

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The Class of Welsh Rugby

New Zealand’s 2011 Rugby World Cup showed over the summer another rich variety of fortunes and styles of play from the countries involved. We saw some countries play exciting open running rugby whilst others stuck to the power game producing some tedious, slow and uninspiring matches. Putting recent rugby history aside, i.e. the Rugby World Cup since its inception in 1987, concentrating instead on its older and more traditional social history we can see some reasons why different approaches to the game have been taken by separate nations. The prime examples are the England and Wales rugby teams, who are virtual polar opposites with regard to their styles of play. Rather than blaming Martin Johnson or Mike Tindall for England’s poor performances and Wales’ ‘monk-like’ behaviour, we might consider some historical reasons why this is the case as Welsh and English rugby have distinctive differences with regard to their development and history. Drawing on some facts from various academic studies of rugby I argue that class and cultural conflict helped develop rugby in England and Wales in completely different directions resulting in what we see in the rugby World Cup today, with Welsh rugby playing an open style of exciting running rugby and English rugby a boring forward dominated power game.
In Tony Collins’ (2006) fantastic book about the creation of rugby league, Rugby’s Great Split, he argues that class conflict was behind the division of English rugby into two separate northern and southern cultures resulting in the creation of rugby league and rugby union. Rugby was always a popular game in northern England especially in Lancashire and Yorkshire, where early rugby clubs played a rough, open and popular type of rugby. Spectators from all across the north used to flock to these games ending with the northern rugby clubs becoming known as the gate-taking clubs. These clubs not only attracted working class fans but also players who were paid for their time playing rugby in what became known as ‘broken-time’ payments, but this clashed with the amateur gentlemen ethos of the Rugby Football Union in London. The northern clubs were interested in keeping the best players to entertain their growing crowds, whilst the southern English clubs were more interested in the amateur, character and empire building ethos that came from public school rugby (Beynon 2000)[For information on references see Steve Williams]. The conflict between the southern and northern clubs in England led to a northern professional union which eventually would become rugby league; however what it also did was divide the game in England into entertainers in the north and a boring forward power game in the south. In fact there is also an argument which states that the reduction of the northern style of rugby from 15 to 13 players was also made to speed up the game and give runners more room to show off their skills. The point here is that southern England developed in opposition to the working class northern clubs and instead what developed within the southern based Rugby Football Union was a forward orientated game which suited their physical size (Richards 2009) and also their restrained middle class public school roots, whilst the exciting working class northern game was forced into professionalism and eventually a creation of a totally different code of rugby.
Welsh rugby developed in a similar way to their working class brothers in the gate taking clubs of northern England, but the creation of a Welsh governing body helped protect the game in Wales from the destructive middle class attitude inherent in the southern English clubs dominated by the amateur public school ethos. Another hugely helpful element was that the Welsh middle class were more connected to the working classes and they allowed rugby in Wales to grow across the nation without claiming the game as solely their own. In other words they didn’t take a stand against the popularisation of the game in Wales, and in fact appears to have encouraged it in some areas. Therefore Welsh rugby has always been different from southern English rugby union in their approach to the game and this has become ingrained in the Welsh rugby fan’s psyche. Indeed one of the biggest historical facts that made Welsh rugby so different was the development of a different way to play, a ‘Welsh way’ if you like. In the early years of rugby in the latter part of the 19th century there had been many attempts to alter the composition of rugby on the playing field. This had included at times England playing 10 and 9 forwards respectively in various matches, with teams like Wales playing 9 and 8 forwards against them from 1882 onwards (Billot 1970). The English liked to play a game of power with the ball clearly held and controlled by their strong forwards, but Wales liked to run the ball and allowed talented backs to dictate matters. It was in this era that Wales developed their most lasting contribution to rugby, which would eventually be accepted universally by the rugby world. This was the famous ‘Cardiff game’ which consisted of the four three-quarters (two centres) and two half-backs, a fullback and 8 forwards. For years this system was resisted by others, especially England and even the famous Welsh back Arthur ‘Monkey’ Gould didn’t like that system, but it would eventually become the basic shape of all rugby union teams. It was developed by the Cardiff club because they wanted to include Frank Hancock in the team who was known for “his dodginess and proverbial ‘corkscrew runs’ which more than compensated for his relative deficiency of speed” and preferred scoring tries to drop goals (Smith & Williams 1980:61). Ironically Hancock was born in England but settled in Cardiff, and developed this way of playing which has become an archetypal Welsh style firstly to Cardiff team and then the Welsh team. Wales continued to develop a style of rugby that depended on exciting backs and combative forwards winning enough possession for them to use. This type of game continued to excite the Welsh public as they came out in their droves to see them perform and started what became known as the first Golden era. Since then Welsh rugby has had its second Golden era and its ups and downs but the thrust of its game has been exciting back play.
We should therefore not be surprised that well over a century has past and nothing appears to have changed. England still play a physical ten man power game and Wales play their natural running style. Indeed more interestingly Wales have a coaching team insisting that they play an open style of play they are now calling the ‘Welsh way’ with uncompromising tackling and fluent running, and prominent in this new set-up is a former northern Rugby league player Shaun Edwards. Therefore we must not condemn the likes of Mike Tindall and Martin Johnson too harshly or even praise George North, Jamie Roberts and Shane Williams too much for both their styles of play because there are historical reasons why Wales and England play in such different ways.

Steve Williams

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Welcome to a New Academic Year

Hello and welcome back, or just welcome, to academic year 2011-12. We have had a hectic and rewarding summer and hope all of you will enjoy your coming studies.

We now are part of a new Faculty, the Faculty of Business and Society, which segways the old HaSS and Glamorgan Business School bringing politics and public policy back into the business fold and the rest of HaSS into a new relationship with business. This opens new possibilities and opportunities for us and new resources for you as students, the most visible of which is the new reception up in H-block, Hirwaun. We’re looking forward to developing more positive benefits from this relationship.

Despite the inevitable disruption caused by this merger we were left by our graduating third years with excellent NSS (National Student Survey) results. Sociology received an exceptional grading for overall satisfaction with the course, and Social Policy obtained 93% in this category. The latter was the third best result in the University, equal with that of Criminology. We are all delighted that our students recognised our efforts and particular praise is due to outgoing Sociology Award Leader, Steve Williams. This has left us with some legacy to live up to this year, and my colleagues and I are determined to do so.

Recruitment has also gone well and we have a good bunch of first years to welcome onto our courses in Sociology, Public Services and the HND. I welcome you all and look forward to seeing many of you over the coming days and certainly in lectures and seminars from n ext week. We hope you enjoy your time with us and find it as fulfilling as many who have gone before you have done.

Don’t forget as always there is plenty of help and assistance for you to enrich your experience and provide support in times of trouble. Apart from myself as award Leader for Sociology and Politics, and Jennifer Law, Award Leader for Public Services and the HND in Public and Emergency Services, the Faculty Advice Shop has now relocated to H-block, Hirwaun, and you can get further assistance from the Social Policy community on Blackboard, our pages on Glamlife, the University website, including the Learning Resources Centre, the Careers office, our computer services team, and the Module Database. Many of the services on campus are now close to Social Sciences staff base in Ferndale, notably Student Services opposite Ferndale’s entrance, and behind Ferndale the new Meeting Room in X-block with Chaplaincy facilities. Don’t forget if you have any problems, about your studies or which affect your studies, then please talk to us.

I have asked Social Policy staff to contribute to this new blog, and there is much which we can discuss here, so i am hoping for regular comments and not just from me!

All the best,

Gerald Taylor

Award Leader Sociology

Award Leader Politics

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