A new week and a new round-up:

So the Government’s long-awaited and frankly ill-judged shake-up of the benefits system is launched with plenty of predictable headlines and comments about getting “cheats” and “scroungers” back into work.

If only life was that simple. Yes there are some horrendous examples of those who cheat the system and yes they inevitably grab the lion share of the coverage.

But the Government’s welfare reform – along with the Tories’ stated aim to be even tougher – is as confusing as it is confused.

All the talk is of getting long-term claimants back into work trough new testing procedures.

But there are genuine concerns that the new procedures, assessments and testing will cause more harm for genuine claimants, rather than tackling the minority who cheat the system.

A leading “urban thinker” (whatever that is) says Birmingham’s progress is being stifled by small-town politics and ineffective leadership.

Dermot Finch, director of the Centre for Cities thinktank, says such a parochial attitude will ensure the city remains ignored on the world stage. He also claims there is little hope of improving Birmingham’s image without a complete change in mindset.

He’s right. But do we really need a top urban thinker to tell us stuff that has been plainly and depressingly obvious for a number of years?

And finally an issue that is ridiculously close to my heart and has absolutely no basis in common sense or rational thought – Welsh rugby.

I enjoyed watching Cardiff Blues defeat Leicester Tigers in the EDF Energy Cup on Saturday afternoon. It was a deserved win, but the big issue over the weekend was the civil war breaking out in Welsh rugby yet again.

We have an unhappy ability to self-destruct when things are going well. So after winning the Grand Slam last season, we’re now witnessing an almighty row between the four Welsh regions and the Welsh Rugby Union.

It has got personal, it has become a pathetic battle of egos, it is difficult to see a happy compromise and the players (as ever) are caught in the middle.

Quite why the four regions saw fit to invite such a divisive figure as David Moffett to represent their interests is mystifying.

The WRU is not entirely blameless and both sides need taking down a peg or two.

Less than a fortnight before Wales take on the world champions (South Africa), quickly followed by Australia and New Zealand, the focus is on the willy waving of the principal characters and not preparing the right team to take on the big three sides.

It can be hard enough being a Welsh rugby fan without indulging in such enthusiastic foot shooting.


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