May 262015
 

I have decided to re-visit the May 7th General Election partly because I haven’t posted anything for over a week and partly because much has been said since I published my earlier analysis on the 11th.

A recent example would be what was said by Kim Howells, former MP for Pontypridd, on BBC Radio Wales’ Sunday Supplement programme on May 24th, arguing that Labour didn’t do as badly in Wales as in England because ” . . . people have greater trust in Carwyn Jones and the Welsh Assembly Government . . . “. Which is a strange thing to say. Not Kim Howellsleast because this was a UK General Election, in which Carwyn Jones and his team were sidelined. Even when we had the televised debate of Welsh party leaders Labour was represented by Owen Smith MP not Carwyn Jones AM.

Yet we are expected to believe that when Dai and Sharon Public went to vote each thought, ‘Yes, I know Miliband is a twonk, and the party is run by a metropolitan elite that doesn’t give a toss about people like me, but I shall still vote Labour because I am so impressed with Carl Sargeant, and Lesley Griffiths . . . and then there’s that Theodore Huckle – what a wonderful Counsel General! This argument is – as we political commentators are wont to say – a load of old bollocks.

Though if Howells is right, then it’s a hell of a put-down for the aforementioned Owen Smith and his parliamentary colleagues. And not without irony. For it means that Welsh Labour MPs escaped paying the price for their blind obedience to the metropolitan elite because of the “trust” people have in an Assembly many of them resent as a challenge to their position, an institution many of them do not wish to see attain any further powers.

Though if Howells really believes what he said maybe this chimes with a regularly repeated theory that says Labour in Wales has avoided the fate of its Caledonian comrades because it adapted better to devolution, with part of that adaptation being the development of a kind of ‘nationalism with a small n’ that puts some distance between the Labour Party in Wales and its bosses in London. The “clear red water” suggested by former First Minister Rhodri Morgan. Which if true, only reminds us again of the irony, even hypocrisy, attaching to the attitudes of Labour MPs from Wales.

Something else Kim Howells said was, “If we ever want to be back in government again, we need to win southern England”. This no doubt is the argument we’ve heard over and over since May 7th that says Labour must appeal to the ‘aspirational’. Yet Labour appealing to the aspirational / southern England puts it in direct competition with the Conservative Party, so where does that leave Labour’s traditional heartlands and supporters? And how does a Labour Party winning over voters in the Home Counties with promises of cuts in public services, and the privatisation of the NHS, win back Glasgow and Dundee? Come to that, what would such a party have to say to most Welsh voters? It can’t be done. It’s a circle that cannot be squared.

This is the nightmare scenario for Labour, the day of reckoning that was postponed by the razzmatazz and flim-flam of the Blair era. For almost a century, Labour relied on a unionised working class with a few idealists and romantics from further up the social ladder to smooth over the rough edges. A support base that rapidly declined in the closing decades of the twentieth century. What remains of the unionised working class is no longer umbilicaly tied to the party. The children and grandchildren of those long-gone miners, steelworkers, dockers, etc, either still vote Labour out of habit or, increasingly, don’t vote at all, or else are quite happy to give their votes to other parties.

The only obvious replacement for this lost support appears to be immigrants to the UK. But this is a poisoned chalice. For being supported by immigrants (and doing well in inner cities) allows the Tory media to accuse Labour of being ‘soft on immigration’ and of favouring ‘benefit scroungers’. And there just aren’t enough immigrants, nor a large enough ethnic minority population, for Labour to emulate the Democratic Party in the USA. (The dream of many Labourites.)

If Labour follows the advice that tells it to appeal to the aspirational and to woo southern England then it can kEluned Morganiss Scotland good-bye for ever, and it will haemorrhage support in traditional heartlands south of the border. In this scenario, Labour’s only hope of future success is to replace the Conservative Party by, effectively, becoming more Conservative than the Conservatives. But why should anyone who normally votes Tory consider voting Labour (with its history) even if it promises to deport all foreigners, sterilise the poor, and abolish all taxation?

Let’s go back to former communist and NUM official Kim Howells. He believes the party is in the “deepest crisis” he can remember. He went on, “If the Labour party doesn’t come up with fresh thinking, with some radical analysis of what’s going on in society and what people need out of society, it could well dwindle to a very small number of MPs.” Ed Miliband was “dull”, Labour’s next leader would need to be “much more radical” (while appealing to southern England?) Asked for her views, former MEP Baroness Eluned Morgan ‘admitted the party needed a “thorough rethink”‘ and went on to say that ‘the party needed to readdress the way it approached politics and the way it makes contact with society if it was to move forward successfully’.

Another giving evidence at the open and ongoing inquest was Gerald Holtham – ‘Who he?’, you cry . . . well Holtham is an economist, and regarded by many as one of Labour’s cleverest supporters. Just a few days before Howells and Morgan made their contributions Holtham weighed in with his analysis. It was full of dire warnings about relying on the “tribal” or “sentimental” vote, demanding that the party think hard “about real problems”, warning the party against a “sterile debate”, and then reassuring us that the public is not stupid. This presumably is the same public that we find in areas like Merthyr, Blaenau Gwent, Swansea East and other constituencies; the same public that has voted Labour for three or four generations and is now tempted to take a punt on Ukip. How could anyone possibly think such people are stupid!

Did you ever read such vacuous nonsense in your life? So many words that say nothing? That’s because Howells, Morgan and Holtham are lost, they don’t have a clue! They all have opinions on where Labour went wrong – expressed in cliches and sound bites – but no one has an answer to where Labour goes from here. When you realise what a mess the Labour party is in, you begin to understand why it was almost wiped out in Scotland. But you also begin to realise that it was only saved from worse results in Wales by Plaid Cymru‘s refusal to connect with Welsh voters.

Personally, I suspect that all three are looking to avoid being honest about the Labour Party’s lucky escape on May 7th, though Holtham goes some way towards acknowledging the troubling reality with his remarks about “tribal” and “sentimental” voters. For the way I see it, the Labour Party in Wales is like an old wildebeest, still managing to stay on its legs, and from a distance even looking healthy, but in truth surviving only because there is no predator around to finish it off. Scavengers have had a nip here and there, but ‘Welsh’ LGerald Holthamabour survives because there is no local cousin of the SNP lion to finish it off.

To repeat, Labour’s traditional support is gone and it can never be replaced. Tailoring the party’s message for different audiences – which is what Labour does – is doomed to fail in this age of 24-hour news coverage and social media. By comparison, the Conservative Party can put out the same message from Land’s End to John O’ Groats. (And the SNP the same message from the border to the Northern Isles.)

Here in Wales the Labour Party is in for more disappointment next May in the Assembly elections . . . despite the allure of Carwyn Jones and his cabinet of all the talents. Though the cracks will probably be papered over, and the inevitable delayed, through the “tribal” vote referred to by Holtham. Because with a Tory government in Westminster many of our unstupid Welsh electors will be persuaded to ignore everything wrong with Wales and ‘send a message to London’, again.

So don’t knock it, Holtham. Labour’s “tribal” vote is all that keeps Owen Smith and his gang in the comfort to which they have become so accustomed, and is the guarantee that your party stays top dog down Cardiff docks. Without it, the shadows encroach.

May 162015
 

DAVIES THE DENIER

Reading the Daily Post a couple of days ago I saw that the new MP for Vale of Clwyd, Dr James Davies, campaigned hard on “the decline of Rhyl” and “the NHS”. Which got me wondering . . . how could an anti-devolution Tory possibly benefit from concentrating on these two issues?

The decline of Rhyl is attributable to the growth in cheap, overseas package holidays leading to ‘bucket and spade’ resorts like Rhyl losing their popularity. But this still need not have resulted in the town being surrendered to slum landlords and cross-border agencies to use as a dumping ground for criminals, drug addicts and other undesirables. Such people obviously put a greater strain on local health resources than those who enjoy a less ‘hectic’ lifestyle.DrJamesDavies

Another reason that the health service is under pressure is because large numbers of elderly people move – or are moved by relatives – to Wales. In the area where I live, the coastal stretch between Barmouth and Aberdyfi (including both communities), the 2011 census told us that two-thirds of the population in the 65+ age bracket (which makes up 30.1% of the total population locally) was born in England. (Click here for details.)

A third component becoming ever more apparent is the thousands of people with ‘learning difficulties’ or permanent medical conditions that are being relocated to Wales. This can be attributed to various charities, social housing providers and private landlords lured by the lucre paid by English local authorities and others to take on these vulnerable people, with the burden obviously falling on local services such as health that see none of that money. (This recent piece from Private Eye provides an insight into how councils “package up their vulnerable elderly or disabled people . . . and put them up for online tender”, which can involve moving to another area.)

Given that all these issues put strain on the Welsh NHS, especially in the Vale of Clwyd constituency, and given that all these issues are attributable to our colonial relationship with England, how could an anti-devolution Tory capitalise on them? Who or what did he blame for the problems? The EU? Little green men?

Open your mind to this unbeatable example of surrealist irony: Rhyl drug dealers and the English wrinklies of Prestatyn storming the polling booths to vote for James Davies because they’re angry – bloody angry! – at the decline of Rhyl and the state of the NHS. Only in Wales!

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STAYING IN RHYL

The title to this section does not mean that I’m suggesting people actually stay inKevin John Norman the town (good God!) it just means that this piece is about Rhyl and, in a sense, carries on from the previous section.

I have decided to bow to public demand and compile a new photo collection for my sidebar, to be entitled ‘Residents of Rhyl’. Here’s a specimen who’s been in the news recently for “pleasuring himself” in a public place and will most definitely figure in the new album. (And to think that only last year he was a contender for the ‘Best Dressed Man in Rhyl’ crown.)

For younger readers, ‘pleasuring oneself’ is a rather archaic way of referring to masturbation. Though some sentimentalists may find it rather nice to see these terms of yesteryear being revived.

In his defence, he may have misunderstood the sign for the ‘Pleasure Beach’, perhaps thinking that the ‘Self-‘ bit had fallen off in the wind. And even if it hadn’t, Rhyl and Pleasure in the same sentence would be enough to confuse anyone.

*

A PLAGUE OF DAVIESES

Observant readers will have noticed that the three new Tory MPs elected last week are all named Davies. In addition to Jimbo (above) there was Byron in Gower and Chris in Brecon & Radnor. There was already David Davies as MP for Monmouth, and of course there’s Glyn Davies in Montgomeryshire. Which means that five out of the eleven Tory MPs elected in 2015 are named Davies. And if that wasn’t bad enough, the leader of the Conservatives in the Assembly is Andrew R T Davies! And who’s the Deputy Leader – Paul Davies!!

This is not good. I mean, having so many Tory politicians in Wales is bad for a start, but that so many of the buggers are called Davies takes us into the scary realm of premonition and plagues. For I seem to recall that there’s an obscure Nostradamus quatrain that predicts all sorts of disasters befalling the land when this happens. I’ll try to dig it out for you.

*

STAYING WITH BUGGERS

The late and unlamented George Thomas, Lord Tonypandy, is still making the news. The most recent allegation to surface is that he inappropriately touched a young man on a London to Aberystwyth train many years ago. Well, you’ve got to do something to while away the time, train journeys can be sooo boring.

OK, sorry, but it’s so easy to take the piss, a closet homosexual who gave the game away with his love of the leggings, wigs and all the other nonsense he got to wear as Speaker of the House of Commons and a peer. (Not for nothing was he known as ‘The Danny La Rue of the Rhondda’.) Then there was his truly odious fawning over young Charles Saxe-Coburg-GothaGeorge Thomas during the Investiture period. (Though I bet they never left him alone with the boy!) What’s not so funny is that this bastard was a very influential politician, who had powerful friends and allies, both within Wales and beyond.

When considering cases like Thomas we must remember that all MPs are investigated by the intelligence services. Ostensibly done as security checks this process also uncovers an individual’s likes and dislikes, peccadilloes and weaknesses. Once a weakness is identified, and the embarrassing evidence is gathered, then whoever holds that information has great power over the politician concerned. I think we can be certain that George Thomas’ liking for boys and young men would have come to the attention of such people very early in his political career.

But you mustn’t think that this is a one-sided arrangement, for the ‘victim’ in this situation does not have to worry about being publicly exposed as long as he plays ball. Also, any attempts at blackmailing him will be dealt with. Documents and files can be ‘lost’. People like George Thomas are then free to carry on abusing.

Such arrangements help explain how judges, high-ranking military men, top civil servants, MPs and others could meet regularly for orgies at which young boys were abused and even killed. It was because those involved almost certainly enjoyed the protection of a certain agency and in return did what they were told when those running this agency wanted the favour returned. A practice perhaps developed in Northern Ireland, at the infamous Kincora Boys Home, used for decades as a honey trap.

The United Kingdom is a sick, corrupt and increasingly unequal state. The sooner we get out of it the better.

 *

REVOLVING DOORS

I am indebted to ‘Stan’ of the Neath Ferret site for this latest news from within the Labour Party on the east side of Swansea Bay. Councillor Ms Cari Morgans, who represents the Tonna ward on Neath Port Talbot council, was the office manager for outgoing Neath MP Peter Hain. She is now office manager for Stephen Kinnock, the newly-elected MP for Aberavon. Seeing as we are dealing here with the Labour Party this switch in masters could only have been effected after a full and open selection process . . . a very speedy selection process indeed.

UPDATE 17.05.2015: I am now informed that jobs for new MPs’ staff should be advertised. (Read this.) This is unlikely to have been done in this case because Ms Morgans registered her interest (as Kinnock’s office manager) with Neath Port Talbot council very soon after Kinnock was elected. Which would have allowed no time for advertising the post and selecting the successful candidate after May 7th. Which suggests that any ‘selection process’ was probably completed before Stephen Kinnock was elected MP for Aberavon, or else there was no advertisement and no selection process at all. Which would almost certainly be wrong, if not illegal.

An MP’s office manager, working outside of London, is paid in the range £26,000 – £38,121. But then, I suppose it’s fair in a way that Ms Morgans gets this salary, because I doubt if Port Talbot will see any more of Stephen Kinnock than the Islwyn constituency saw of his father.

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THE INLAND RHYL?

When I first visited Blaenau Ffestiniog back in the 1960s it was quite unnerving. ‘This can’t be north Wales’, I told myself, ‘with its rows of terraced houses and enormous slag heaps this place belongs in the Valleys’. It was my introduction to the slate-quarrying region of the north west, or what, even by that time, had become the former slate-quarrying region.

The slate industry has all but gone, Blaenau’s population has halved, while successive governments in London and Cardiff have done nothing to halt the decline. One result of that decline is thaCN Brennant Blaenau Ffestiniog now has some of the cheapest, if not the cheapest housing to found in Wales outside of the Heads of the Valleys. Cheap property – as in Rhyl – attracts buyers who have no intention of living in Blaenau themselves but are adept at finding tenants of the kind that local authorities and other agencies over the border will pay a lot of money to get rid of. ‘Out of sight, out of mind . . . and somebody else’s problem’. (So look out Heads of the Valleys!)

This week’s Cambrian News (no, I didn’t buy it) carried the latest story about a thug who’s been dumped in Blaenau Ffestiniog. Read it for yourself by clicking to enlarge the image on the right. In addition to what the report tells us Carl Martin Brennan has stabbed a local boy with a bottle, mugged an alcoholic (though not charged), and beat up his girlfriend. Not a welcome addition to any community, so how did he get to Blaenau Ffestiniog, who ‘encouraged’ him to move from Birmingham?

Last year two local men were jailed for over three years each following a vigilante attack on Brennan. Commenting after their trial Detective Sergeant Gerwyn Thomas of North Wales Police said: “I welcome the sentence and hope it will provide the victim and local community with reassurance that North Wales Police will relentlessly pursue those individuals who commit offences of this nature which fortunately are not common in the area”. Which is not how people in Blaenau see it. They want protection against Brennan, not against local lads who were doing the police’s job in protecting them.

In fact, the people of the town are becoming increasingly angry at the charmed life Brennan leads, they wonder who’s protecting him, and how he manages to stay out of prison. They also wonder what sort of system we live under when two young fathers from their community are languishing in prison while Brennan is still strutting the streets of Blaenau, bullying and intimidating people.

Before this saga causes any more misery maybe North Wales Police should start doing its job by looking out for the people it’s supposed to protect rather than baby-sitting a dangerous and violent criminal, for reasons that can only be guessed at. And maybe it’s also time for Cyngor Gwynedd to stop Blaenau turning into a housing benefit sink-hole full of relocated misfits and criminals. Perhaps the newly-elected MP might have something to say on the matter. I certainly don’t pay my council tax to keep the likes of Carl Martin Brennan in a town where no one wants him.

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‘DON’T AFFECT US ROUND ‘ERE’

What I’ve written about Rhyl and Blaenau Ffestiniog is of course not confined to these towns, the problem of undesirables being shunted from England can be found in Colwyn Bay, Barmouth, Holyhead, Fishguard and countless other communities that have seen better days. As for the influx of elderly people this tends to take place in the more agreeable towns and the countryside, though those that move directly into retirement homes can be found anywhere.

People living elsewhere in Wales, particularly city dwellers, might take the view that this doesn’t affect them a) because they’ve already got enough of their own criminals and b) few people retire to Swansea or Cardiff. Wrong. The NHS could almost certainly be providing a better service in Cardiff, Swansea and other major centres if so much of Wales’ NHS funding was not being diverted to hospitals and services in the west, the centre and the north to treat people, many of whom weren’t even living in Wales 10 years ago. It all comes out of one pot.

Another drain on Welsh funding is housing benefit, that bonus for greedy and unscrupulous private landlords. A few figures extracted from this table I used in my recent post To Those That Have Shall Be Given – Housing Benefit! will explain the problem. Powys has a population (mid-year est. 2013) of 132,705, Conwy’s population is 115,835. Yet last year Powys paid out just £8.66m to private landlords in housing benefit while Conwy coughed up £18.11m. Why the difference? Because Conwy contains Llandudno and other coastal towns. Even starker is the difference between Monmouthshire (92,100 & £6.16m) and Denbighshire (94,510 & £17.65m). What’s the difference here? Rhyl is in Denbighshire. But the whole of Wales is paying for Rhyl and similar towns because the ‘Welsh’ Government has to give more in grants to areas being inundated with undesirables from England and this means less for other councils.

On top of which, there is the endless funding poured into Rhyl and other towns for ‘regeneration’ schemes. And those who’ve been brought over the border and dumped in some slum in Holyhead or Denbigh can then jump the housing queue ahead of locals! Which means that Registered Social Landlords such as housing associations are, in many areas, building far more new properties than the local population needs. And who pays for this? YOU DO, no matter where you might be living in Wales. Because of course the ‘Welsh’ Government gives out Social Housing Grant. In the six years 2008 to 2013 the figure was £692m.

This is colonialism of the crudest and most offensive kind. A large country dumps its criminals, its elderly and other dependent groups on a small neighbour – and then gets the neighbour to pay for all this out its own stretched resources! The dumped-on neighbour is too afraid to speak out for fear of being called ‘unwelcoming’, or ‘racist’. (Though it must be said that there are many who welcome this cross-border trafficking as an anglicising strategy; in addition, there are many doing well out of it, not least ‘Welsh’ Labour’s client class in the Third Sector.)

So while there may be a temptation to dismiss what’s being done to Rhyl, Blaenau Ffestiniog and other places as someone else’s problem, it’s not. It’s YOUR problem because it’s happening in YOUR country and one way or another YOU are paying for it, no matter where in Wales you live.

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‘HA, HA, HA, THEY DON’T HAVE THESE IN AUCHTERMUCHTY!’

To end on a lighter note . . . or is it? Judge for yourselves. We all know that the BBC is now thoroughly discredited as an impartial conveyor of news. Its bias was plain for all to see in the Scottish referendum campaign last summer, not so much party political as thoroughly English and Unionist. Well, it was at it again this week, the culprit being Newsnight, and again, it was having a go at the SNP . . . but hoping to get away with it due to its ‘humorous’ approach.

Newsnight on Monday May 11th ran a piece about the new intake of MPs, but then concentrated entirely on the SNP contingent, and had a laugh showing them struggling with complicated things like revolving doors and ticket machines on the Tube. See it here for yourself on BBC iPlayer and start at 43:20. This strikes me as the twenty-first century equivalent of old Punch cartoons showing African chiefs with bones through their noses visiting the imperial capital and being overawed by English superiority and white man’s magic.

Newsnight SNP

May 112015
 

What an incredible election it was, with the Scottish National Party winning 56 out of Scotland’s 59 seats! Without doubt the most amazing election I have watched unfold in some fifty years of following politics. Though partly because of that SNP landslide – plus the collapse of the Liberal Democrats and a swing to the Tories – we now have a Conservative and Unionist PPlaid Cymru 1arty government in London. But as the incoming government has only one MP in Scotland the SNP is already arguing it has no legitimacy to rule Scotland, so we appear to be heading for the constitutional crisis I predicted in my previous post.

Success for the national party was not replicated here in Wales, even with Plaid Cymru’s much more modest ambitions, for it hoped to hold on to its three seats (Arfon, Dwyfor Meirionnydd and Carmarthen East & Dinefwr) and gain anything up to three other seats (Llanelli, Ceredigion and Ynys Môn). In the event, everything stayed the same, and while Ynys Môn went to a recount the results in Llanelli and Ceredigion showed how unrealistic hopes in those areas were. This despite Plaid’s leader Leanne Wood getting more exposure on television, both in Wales and at UK level than any previous leader. But there’s nothing surprising in Plaid Cymru’s failure, for it’s a party that has worked itself into a position from which it just can’t win.

To begin with, Plaid Cymru has refused to challenge the strategy that is turning large parts of Wales into retirement and recreation areas for England – the strategy that (together with anti-Plaid tactical voting) has probably made Ceredigion now unwinnable at Westminster level – because to do so will bring down upon the party condemnation in the English (and ‘Welsh’) Plaid Cymru 2media. In the hope of justifying this wilful neglect of Welsh interests Plaid has to pretend that it can win the support of many of the immigrants, after all, they are now living in Wales so surely they want the best for Wales? No. They remain English, with some becoming more English after moving to Wales. And as Plaid’s candidate in Ceredigion told us, among them are out-and-out racists who see us Welsh as just another inferior people to be ridiculed and shouted at.

The corollary to this desperate desire to be liked (by people who are never going to like us anyway), is that Plaid Cymru has ignored the Welsh people in the areas being colonised. Plaid is now so concerned with avoiding any discussion of white flight, with not offending anyone except Ukip (work that out!), with getting pats on the head from Guardian readers, and with being courted by ‘progressive’ elements, within and without Wales, that it has abandoned it’s raison d’être of defending Welsh interests.

In our urban areas we see the managed decline of the Valleys and the region’s close-on one million people, now offered no better future than becoming dormitory communities for Cardiff. Yet despite a century of decline under Westminster rule, a century of Labour MPs, a century of Labour-controlled local authorities, and a Labour-controlled Notional Assembly for tPlaid Cymru 3he sixteen years of its existence, people in Blaenau Gwent still elected a Labour MP, and those who wanted an alternative to Labour found Ukip and the Tories more attractive than Plaid Cymru! It was the same in Merthyr Tydfil & Rhymney, where Ukip got twice the Plaid vote!

Can we explain this vote for Ukip by the presence of predatory hordes of Poles and Romanians in the Heads of the Valleys taking all the jobs? Or is it attributable to the retired English middle classes, sipping their whisky and sodas up at Dowlais golf club while ranting against Johnny Foreigner? Face it, if Plaid Cymru cannot appeal to voters in areas where just about everyone is Welsh-identifying then where, outside of the shrinking redoubts of the Welsh language, does it have any chance?

This is an incredible and self-destructive position for any political party to have worked itself into. To take for granted your rural heartlands, that are being overrun before your eyes (and in the process, destroying Welsh as a community language) yet, paradoxically, still manage to be rejected by most voters outside those heartlands because they view you as a party oPlaid Cymru 4nly concerned with the Welsh language! This is a party with no future.

Something else we learnt from this election (and the EU election last year) is that the myth of ‘Socialist Wales’ is dead. Wales may have been ‘socialist’ when most of us worked in heavy industry, but this should now be seen as the passing phase it was, with our fathers as victims of circumstance motivated by self-interest rather than ideological socialists. And now ‘Socialist Wales’ is gone. The only socialists left belong to 57 fringe groups . . . and Plaid Cymru. The Labour Party is no longer socialist, so why is Plaid Cymru still flogging this long-expired equine? The clarion call of socialism was rejected by those who voted Labour, and rejected even more emphatically by those who voted Tory and Ukip.

Let us look at one result from last Thursday in an area with which I am familiar. Admittedly the Gower constituency contains Mumbles and the eponymous peninsula, which are relatively affluent areas, but the bulk of the seat’s population is to be found in former industrial suburbs to the west and north of Swansea, towns and villages such as Waunarlwydd, Gowerton, Penclawdd, Gorseinon, Clydach, Pontarddulais. I’ve worked in Waunarlwydd, Gowerton and Clydach; I have sunk many a pint in Penclawdd, Gorseinon and ‘Y Bont’. That these thoroughly Welsh communities would be represented by a Tory MP would have been unthinkable thirty years ago. But it’s happened, because the world has moved on . . . but not Plaid Cymru.Plaid Cymru 5

How do we explain this self-destructive streak? I believe that at the core of Plaid Cymru there is an influential grouping that has beguiled others into rejecting what it chooses to term ‘narrow nationalism’, and persuaded the party to pursue a more ‘inclusive’ and ‘progressive’ agenda. Am I wrong? Just ask yourself, why was doing a deal with the Greens such a major issue in the run-up to the election? I read more about that than I did of any hopes and ambitions Plaid has for Wales. But a confident national party shouldn’t have to worry about the votes of a few thousand lifestyle migrants and hippies, very few of whom would vote for Plaid even if there was a joint candidate in their constituency. (An unsettling truth we first learnt from Mel Witherden, the Green-Plaid candidate for Monmouth back in 1992.)

Clearly, what ‘narrow nationalism’ means is focusing on Welsh issues, something that gives Plaid Cymru nightmares after the kicking given to Ieuan Wyn Jones by Glenys Kinnock on Question Time some years ago over l’affaire Seimon Glyn, Gwilym ab Ioan et al. But Plaid Cymru only operates in Wales, so not to focus on specifically Welsh issues is perverse. Attempts then have to be made to disguise this bizarre strategy by desperately trying to put a ‘Welsh interpretation’ on issues or concerns that emanate from outside of Wales. Hugging Nicola Sturgeon and the Green woman is great television, being ‘anti-austerity’ is a good slogan, but at the end of the day it’s just idle posturing. Being ‘anti-austerity’ is attractive to Plaid because it’s a cross-border issue allowing it to line up with other ‘progressives’ while avoiding Welsh issues. (I hate that fucking word, and the smug, self-satisfied superiority it conveys. ‘Ooo, look at me, Plaid Question markI’m “progressive”, but you’re not’. Maybe those who find the word so attractive should be reminded that it was much-loved by Joe Stalin.)

If I’m wrong about these machinations then someone needs to explain how a political party whose raison d’être is Wales and Welshness consistently refuses to defend Welsh interests. I ask because it doesn’t matter how many Mike Parkers the party attracts the vast majority of English people in Wales – ‘progressive’ or not – are never, ever going to vote for Plaid Cymru. The party’s votes will only ever come from Welsh people, and until the party acknowledges this inescapable truth, and becomes brave enough to speak out for Welsh people, and to take the flak that an anti-colonialist programme will draw, then Plaid Cymru will remain as popular as a pork butcher in Jerusalem.

May 072015
 

I have, reluctantly, voted for Plaid Cymru. I did so because I want to show my support for the Scottish National Party and its mission to destroy this increasingly ugly construct called the Union. A ‘Union’ that was never anything other than England’s mini-empire in these islands but which, in recent decades, has corrupted further into a fiefdom of the City of London that now treats large parts of England herself as backward provinces to be ruled over by those who know best.

I made this decision because even though my views on Plaid Cymru have not changed since writing Plaid Cymru: Ninety Wasted Years this election is all about Scotland and maintaining the Union. Why else would we be hearing of the possibility of a Conservative-Labour coalition? Why else would the tabloids be running front pages in their Scottish editions that simper, ‘WE LOVE YOU, PLEASE STAY!’ while their editions south of the border pander to English nationalism with ‘FUCK OFF YOU SCOTCH BASTARDS!!!!’ (Maybe I exaggerate slightly.)

The reasoning that led me to vote Plaid today was summed up in a tweet I put out earlier, and the sentence with which I ended that tweet can be explained thus. Plaid Cymru contains many ‘pragmatists’, and others whose loyalty to Wales I question. These people will lose sight of the bigger picture to accept a few more crumbs, and at the back of their minds will be the possibility of again serving as Labour’s little helper after next year’s Assembly elections. If crumbs and coalitions come into play then it could transpire that Plaid Cymru will do the dirty on the SNP.

Plaid tweet

Why do I say that this election is all about Scotland? Well, to begin with, tell me what’s happening anywhere else that isn’t influenced by what’s happening in Scotland. Or just ask yourself, why is Labour unlikely to win a majority? It’s because of the seats it’s predicted to lose in Scotland to the SNP. Why are we even talking of a Conservative-Labour coalition of National Unity? it’s because of the threat posed to ‘national’ unity by the SNP. And of course the fact that these traditional enemies are contemplating coalition tells us that there are no longer any ideological differences between them, preserving the Union is the only game in town.

After being in Scotland last September for the independence referendum I wrote a few posts on Scotland, and in Beginning of the End on September 23rd, I wrote, “Scottish independence is guaranteed within a decade, and it probably won’t need a referendum“. Nothing has happened since to make me change my mind. We are entering the most turbulent period in the constitutional history of the United Kingdom since the partition of Ireland in 1920. The next few years will witness the slow, possibly messy, unravelling of the Union, and it will come about because of what is happening in Scotland . . . and the reaction to it in England, and not just from the politicians.

I am confident that five years from now we Welsh will be living under a very different constitutional settlement. How different that settlement is will depend on many factors, not least how Plaid Cymru plays its hand. To lose sight of the bigger picture, or to suffer a loss of nerve, would be catastrophic. Yes, to some extent Plaid Cymru must ride the SNP’s coat-tails, but the next few years will offer the chance of establishing a system in Wales that finally serves Welsh interests.

To throw all that away for crumbs and coalitions, and not to hold out for the bigger prize – as I fear Plaid Cymru will do – tells our masters that we Welsh, as ever, will settle for less, and they will treat us accordingly. So my message to Plaid Cymru is . . .

STICK WITH THE SNP! BREAK THE UNION!

UPDATE 08.05.2015: The election results from Scotland, with the SNP winning 56 out of 59 seats, means that constitutional change is now inevitable. The problem for us is that the abysmal failure of Plaid Cymru might mean that many in London will conclude that Wales is ‘safe’. The best hope may be that the new Tory government makes an issue of ‘reforming how the UK is run’ (including ‘English votes for English laws’) to avoid being seen as capitulating to the SNP.

May 042015
 

We should all be indebted to the Daily Mirror for the work put in to gather a breakdown of the housing benefit being paid to private landlords by every local authority on this septic isle. The figures are for “last year”, though it’s unclear whether this means the calendar year or the financial year ending on March 31st. Either way, we are only interested in the figures for the Welsh councils, but gluttons for statistics can find the full piece here. The table I have produced below gives the bare bones of this scam essential funding  You will see that the bottom line (how nice to use that term literally) gives two totals for two of the columns, this is due to the figures calculated in different ways not agreeing. Any statistician out there is welcome to explain this apparent anomaly.

Let’s start by looking at the national picture I’ve tried to explain in the table. It tells us that, as a general rule, urban authorities pay a lower percentage of their housing benefit to private landlords than more rural authorities, with Torfaen paying just 18.2%. (Though the Vale of Glamorgan, with 49.7% needs some explaining. Unfortunately the VoG council declined to release detailed figures.) The two exceptions to this rule, the two rural authorities paying the lowest percentages, lower than many urban areas, are Monmouthshire (28.6%) and Gwynedd (32.2%). Monmouthshire’s low figure can be accounted for partly by its prosperity, while the figures for both councils are also influenced by a refusal to patronise many of the Labour-allied shysters dealt with below.

The two authorities paying the very highest percentages to private landlords are – and I bet you’d never have guessed! – on the north coast. Conwy pays out 50.8% and Denbighshire 53.2%. (Though not far behind is Ceredigion with 48.2%.) Many unfamiliar with this area will think of these as rural councils but they are overwhelmingly urban, containing Llandudno, Conwy, Prestatyn, Colwyn Bay, and of course – Rhyl! Much of the housing benefit paid here will be going to slum landlords and third sector parasites that have shipped in ‘clients’ from Liverpool and Manchester, then demanded that Wales pays to look after their charges, while also providing said parasites with salaries and pension packages . . . for to demur would be ‘racist’. One such organisation in Conwy, the biggest grossing private landlord, is dealt with below, but Denbighshire came over all coy and named just four out of the top twenty earners on its patch.

Housing benefit tax table

For more detailed results, you’ll see that I have screen captured from the Daily Mirror interactive to make the gallery below. (In order to avoid confusion I have kept to the names – some obviously English – used on the DM website, so it starts with ‘Anglesey’.) Keep your cursor off the image and each of our 22 local authorities will appear for 8 seconds. If you want to study the details for any particular council then leave your cursor on the image or its black surround. If you don’t like the gallery then just click on the name of the council in the details section below to bring up the information. (God! I spoil you!)

A number of councils refused to give out information beyond the total amount paid to private landlords, these shy, retiring types are, Anglesey, Ceredigion, Flintshire, Powys, Rhondda Cynon Taf, Vale of Glamorgan and Wrexham. A mixed bag in terms of the rural / urban divide, culture and language, and also political control. Other councils released only partial information, in that they named some of the private landlords trousering the loot, but not all. Though if I was one of the private landlords named I’d want to know why others were granted anonymity. These councils were Denbighshire, Monmouthshire and Torfaen. So that’s ten of Wales’ twenty-two local authorities withholding information. Not a great start.

 

So let us look a little more closely at the twelve local authorities that made full disclosure, and let’s do it alphabetically.

BLAENAU GWENT: The individuals named mean nothing to me, and this is why I suggest that local knowledge will be needed to identify these people. The same will apply in other areas. The one name I do recognise is Wallich Clifford Ltd, the charity for the ‘homeless’, which received £56,728. Is there that much homelessness in Blaenau Gwent? Not always easy to keep track of Wallich Clifford aka The Wallich and operating under various guises as both a charity and a business. Though top of the list in Blaenau Gwent, by some way, with £263,159, is Ronald Herbert Lawrence. So who is he, one of the Herbert clan?

BRIDGEND: The biggest recipient of housing benefit in Bridgend is . . . well, Bridgend. The council paid itself £685.595, which I don’t quite understand seeing as the council housing stock appears to have been taken over by Valleys to Coast Housing. I suppose it depends when the transfer took place. Someone down that neck of the woods will have the answer. Next in the queue for the easy money vital funding is A1 Lettings of Maesteg, coining no less than £391,410. Wallich Clifford appears again – this time as ‘The Wallich’ – for £139,216.

CAERPHILLY: Again, many of the individuals listed will be known to those familiar with the area. Though the biggest earner by a mile is the Shaw Healthcare Group Ltd of Cardiff which, as the name suggests, specialises in care homes rather than rented accommodation. Shaw scooped £482,792. Second on the list, with a paltry £83,739, is the Care Management Group, an English company with a Welsh branch operation. Are there really that many care homes in Caerphilly? If so, why? And does the absence of The Wallich / Wallich Clifford suggest that there is no homelessness in the borough? Maybe the homeless are all in the care homes!

CARDIFF: The first thing to say about Cardiff is that the amounts paid are surprisingly low given the total figure of over 53 million pounds paid to private landlords, with the top landlord getting just £192,822. So it’s reasonable to assume that there are a great many small- to medium-sized enterprises in the city. Unless I’m missing something? Whatever the answer to that, one of the major earners in Cardiff, with £138,908, is the Reside Housing Association Ltd, a company based in Kingston-upon-Thames. But if there is a local need for the service provided by Reside why doesn’t Cardiff council find a Welsh company to provide that service rather than sending money out of Wales? And despite Cardiff having the largest population of any Welsh council, and despite The Wallich / Wallich Clifford being headquartered in Cardiff, it does not appear on the list of the top private landlords. Why? In fact, the most striking feature of the Cardiff figures is the total absence of the big third sector recipients found elsewhere, especially in Swansea.

CARMARTHENSHIRE: Always ‘interesting’, Carmarthenshire doesn’t let us down by throwing up a major query. The biggest private landlord, with £455,893, is listed as ‘Social Lettings Agency’, which turns out to be an umbrella for a number of local housing associations, Coastal Group, Gwalia, Cantref and others (though, confusingly, Coastal also appears on its own, lower down the list, with a figure of £62,134). Suggesting that the council ruled over by the litigious and overbearing Mark James regards housing associations as private landlords, which I would argue is correct. Carmarthenshire pays 36.8% of its housing benefit to private landlords, compared to Cardiff’s 35.8%. But why don’t housing associations appear in the Cardiff list, and the lists for most of the other authorities?

CONWY: Touchstones 12 is the biggest recipient of housing benefit here with £167,485, and as already stated it makes its money by bringing into northern Wales alcoholics and drug addicts from north west England. Another big earner is Sanctuary Trust, an English charity also dealing with the homeless, alcoholics and drug addicts. Just read the link I’ve provided and see how grateful these parasites are for ‘Welsh’ Government help. And you wonder why Wales is poor! Again, no housing associations listed.

GWYNEDD: Few surprises here. The main recipient being Agorfa / Cefni Lettings. Though it’s not easy to find information about this outfit, certainly I can’t find the website, only ‘company check’ references and a Facebook page. As far as I’m concerned the jury is still out on Agorfa / Cefni, it receives a lot of money but I’d like to know more about the organisations it deals with. The same applies to number two on the list, GISDA. Things are much clearer with another body, one that received £59,027 last year, though I’m surprised to see Nacro Cymru, the organisation for offenders and ex-cons, so active in largely law-abiding Gwynedd.

MERTHYR TYDFIL: Being the smallest of our local authorities in terms of population, and one of the poorest, there’s not a lot of housing benefit to be distributed in Merthyr. The biggest payout was £43,104 to a ‘Mr Evans’, no forename or even an initial. As for the rest, they’re mainly individuals and a few small companies.

NEATH PORT TALBOT: More individuals interspersed with small companies are to be found in NPT, but with six exceptions who all received over £100,000 last year. These are, Tony John & Co (£498,113); Port Talbot YMCA (£240,398), “No local connection required”; Pennaf Sales and Lettings Ltd (£123,753); Parker Estates of Skewen (£118,263); Mr David Breach (£116,330); and I E S Davies Property Rentals (£103,959), which seems to be based in Ceredigion, though of course we can’t check how much business it does on its home patch because Ceredigion won’t release any detailed figures.

NEWPORT: Top of the pops in our third city is ‘Mrs M Payne’, with £181,558, but a quick check on Google turned up nothing. So who is she? We can only assume that Newport City Council knows, if only to send the cheques to the correct address. Second on the list with £148,051 is Newport Mind. Now we all know that Mind is the charity helping those with mental health problems, but why is it a major recipient of housing benefit in Newport but not in other local authority areas? Third on the list with £135,311 is the Libra Investment Property Group, another of those agencies that acts on behalf of landlords and those who’ve taken advantage of ‘Buy to Let’ mortgages. It has offices in Newport and Wolverhampton.

PEMBROKESHIRE: If Carmarthenshire’s dysfunctional council has provided much entertainment over recent years then the same can also be said of Pembrokeshire with the Bryn Parry-Jones saga. Though it doesn’t end with the great man. A case currently being investigated by a number of agencies is that of grants awarded in Pembroke Dock for renovation work that, it is alleged, was never carried out, or certainly did not cost anything like the amount charged. The developer at the centre of the confusion is one Cathal Yell E-Lettings reviewMcCosker, who also trades as E-Lettings of Pembroke Dock. The panel (click to enlarge) shows a review from the Yell E-Lettings page. Anyway, who do you think comes top of the Pembrokeshire list for private landlords in receipt of housing benefit? Yup, leading the pack with £236,834 is Mr Cathal Eamonn McCosker . . . and lower down the list, with a mere £35,248, we find E-Lettings. Compared to McCosker the rest are small fry, though I was taken by the name Graham Perfect.

SWANSEA: Ah! the city of my dreams. At the top of the list, receiving no less than £1,632,262 in 2014 is “Community Lives Consortium” which “provides support for adults with learning disabilities working in partnership with Social Services and Health Agencies” in Swansea and Neath Port Talbot. (Though it seems to receive no housing benefit from NPT!) Now I’m sure this body does good work, but knowing my home town’s reputation for third sector spivery there is bound to be a strong element here of ‘Invent an “ishoo” and then milk the system for all you can get!’.

Second on the list with a whopping £727,426 is Walsingham, yet another outfit providing support for those who cannot look after themselves. Walsingham is an English company, with English partners and suppliers, so this is another dollop of Welsh money leaving the country. Also on the Swansea list we find, inevitably, The Wallich (£588,342) and a host of third sector grant-grabbers such as Cyrenians Cymru (£207,651), Swansea Womens Aid (£190,463), Haven Trust Supporting People Ltd (£135,994), S.Y.S.H.P. (Drws Agored) (£130,161), Cymdeithas Caer Las (£118,801), S.Y.S.H.P. (again!) (£103,525), Black Association of Women Step Out Ltd (BAWSO) (£98,323), Cymdeithas Caer Las (Carmarthen Road Project) (£77,355).

It grieves me to say it, but Swansea is a magnet for third sector shysters. If I’m wrong, then explain to me how other local authorities can manage without all these agencies. If I’m wrong, then explain why organisations such as The Wallich, BAWSO and others, with their headquarters in Cardiff, seem to do all their work in Swansea. Is it – as I have been told, and as the Cardiff figures suggest – that neither Cardiff council nor the ‘Welsh’ Government wants the capital’s streets despoiled with dossers, disabled people and others who might give important visitors the wrong impression? Whatever the answer, it is clear that to justify the grants, the housing benefit and all the other goodies that keep so many in unnecessary jobs the groups operating in Swansea must be importing many of their ‘clients’ because there’s no way Swansea, or the wider conurbation, could provide enough.

*

Some of you reading this will dismiss me as a callous, hard-hearted bastard, but I’m not. This article is prompted by the knowledge that the housing benefit system is a racket that attracts the wrong sort of people to rented housing and the third sector. It is a system that is taken advantage of in so many ways, especially in Wales. For example, in dealing with Swansea I mentioned Walsingham, which received from Swansea council last year £727,426. The Walsingham website tells us that this company operates across WalsinghamEnglandandwales. Yet according to the Daily Mirror article that supplied the figures, this £727,426 from Swansea was Walsingham’s total income from housing benefit. (Click on panel to enlarge.) So why doesn’t Walsingham receive housing benefit for any of its many operations in England?

I genuinely want to believe that housing benefit is being well spent and that people are being helped without those providing the funding – and this means all of us – being taken advantage of. But this is not the case. We have a corrupted housing benefit system in urgent need of reform. And given the colonial relationship between Wales and England Wales will always lose out.

UPDATE 05.05.2015: I should of course have mentioned this in the main article, but it needs to be said. In the table I’ve used subtract the amount paid to private landlords from the total housing benefit and it gives us a figure of £634m. The bulk of this will be going to housing associations. Add this to the amounts paid in Social Housing Grant – and remembering that housing associations also have yet other funding streams! – and we get an idea of how much money is paid to the third sector, which is then promoted as if it was a real economy. It is not, and never will. An over-large third sector is a sure indicator of poverty. And because it cannot generate wealth it guarantees that the poverty persists. And when one country is prepared to take in another country’s ‘problems’ then the problem will be exacerbated.

Apr 262015
 

I am indebted to my old confrère André Jacob for drawing my attention to an upcoming musical event entitled ‘Beyond the Marches’, information for which is reproduced below. You’ll see that I have highlighted a passage that reads, “Six of the finest young folk musicians from Wales and England come together to explore and celebrate the shared history and culture of the two nations”. As you might imagine, this got me thinking about our “shared history and culture” and so, now infused with the spirit of sharing, I feel compelled to share my thoughts with you.

Trac, Beyond the Marches

Let’s look at our ‘shared history’, and where better to begin than with our first contact with the Angles, Saxons, Jutes and Frisians who invaded Romano-Welsh Britain following the collapse of the empire. What this episode tells us is that the ancestors of the modern English introduced themselves as invaders. In the centuries that followed these Germanic peoples pushed west and north, taking more of our territory, killing, expelling or enslaving our people, until we were left with little more than what we today call Wales.

The aggression and conquest continued, until the death of Llywelyn in 1282 and that of his brother Dafydd the following year, their children either killed or imprisoned to ensure no succession. This was followed by a period in which we were treated as second-class citizens in our own country, a colonialist system that an African-American or a Tibetan would understand. This discriminatory system was one of the causes of Glyndŵr’s great war for national liberation that began in 1400 and explains why so many rallied to his cause.

Glyndŵr was unsuccessful but victory at Bosworth in 1485 put a Welshman (of sorts) on the throne of England and things began to look up . . . if only for the Welsh aristocracy and gentry. Harri Tudur and his son Henry VIII decreed that Welshmen would in future be treated exactly the same as Englishmen . . . because there would be no recognition of any distinct Welsh identity.

The next great stage in the ‘shared history’ came with the Industrial Revolution, which saw our people and our natural resources exploited for the glory of imperial England. And so it has continued to the present day when we can now add colonisation to the list.

As for the ‘shared culture’ referred to, where in England can you hear penillion sung? Where are the great English practitioners of cynghanedd to be found? Just as with history’s march, the cultural influences are all one way, as they must always be between a colony and the country that exploits and dominates that colony. So who’s responsible for this insulting nonsense, this pretence that Wales and England are equal, each having influenced the other?

The body organising ‘Beyond the Marches’ is Trac (Traddodiadau Cerdd Cymru / Music Traditions Wales), Charity Commission number 1085422. Trac is also a company limited by guarantee, No 4106014, with the charity’s trustees also acting as directors of the company. Among these director-trustees are “performer, author and TV producer” Eiry Palfrey, Cardiff folk singer Frank Hennessy, radio celeb Huw Stephens, Dafydd Iwan, and the man currently campaigning to be re-elected Labour MP for Cardiff West, Kevin Brennan. Trac is funded by the Arts Council of Wales, the ‘Welsh’ Government and the National Lottery.

Trac appears to be run by director Danny Kilbride, manager Blanche Rowen, with Angharad Jenkins serving as project officer. It might help if I knew a bit more about Danny Kilbride and Blanche Rowen. Kilbride lives in the Mount Pleasant area of Swansea, and the charity is registered at the same address. Though the company is registered at an address in the neighbouring Uplands area. I know little about Blanche Rowen beyond that she performs with a Mike Gulston.

trac staff

It would be easy to think of Trac as something like the cultural organisations one encounters in totalitarian states – funded by the government and designed to keep artists and ‘creatives’ in order to ensure that nothing subversive emerges. Or am I being unkind? Even if I am, and at the very least, Trac carries the hallmarks of a Welsh Third Sector body funded by the Labour Party to serve Labour Party interests and promote the Unionist message. Which makes it look like yet more squalid politicking using public funding.

How else could anyone interpret ‘Beyond the Marches’, a musical event clearly promoting the idea that there is little or no difference between Wales and England? Such a perfect way to push the Unionist, Better Together message. And this being done just days before the general election, with concerts in Aberystwyth on May 2nd, Cardiff on May 3rd, and London on May 4th. Will these concerts end with Rule Britannia and God Save the Queen?

Perhaps next year, before the Assembly elections, Trac can balance things out by organising a few concerts promoting the message that Wales is most definitely a different country to England, and one that has always been abused and exploited by England, so remember this when you go to vote . . . but it ain’t gonna happen.

Apr 202015
 

The previous post, about the disgraceful attack on Plaid Cymru’s Ceredigion candidate Mike Parker by the Cambrian News was, fundamentally, about unsavoury people moving to rural Wales to escape England’s multi-racial towns and cities.

New full reduced

CLICK TO ENLARGE

Some fourteen years ago, in a magazine article, Parker did no more than put in writing what everybody already knew – rural Wales has become the destination of choice for many white flighters who, once they have no ‘darkies’ to hyperventilate them, turn their anglocentric focus onto us Welsh. Though of course their contempt is often dressed up as opposition to ‘nationalism’ . . . an argument undermined by white flighters attacking any expression of Welsh identity as ‘nationalism’. Those being discussed here tend to be middle class, and will usually have bought a property in Wales.

There is of course another kind of influx, one I myself have dealt with more than once. I’m talking now of criminals and undesirables of all kinds, moved to Wales by some agency or charity, and as those in this group can rarely afford to buy a house, or are under some kind of ‘supervision’, they tend to find accommodation with only-in-it-for-the-money housing associations and irresponsible private landlords. This is very lucrative because extra payments await those open-hearted enough to take in ‘vulnerable’ people (i.e. those given to criminal activity) who are being dumped a long way away given a fresh start. A number of such specimens were brought to the attention of a wider public in my posting Neighbours From Hell of June 2013.

But you mustn’t imagine that there are just two, discrete groupings, because there are all sorts of overlaps, giving us, for example, middle class criminals, working class racists, and those who manage to endear themselves to the host community by being both racist and criminal. It’s right to make this clear because those I shall be writing about from now on are most definitely racist and criminal.

*

My attention was drawn to this category by a comment made by ‘Brychan’ to my previous post. In the comment Brychan reminded me of the murder in October 2011 of Gabor Sarkozy, a Hungarian national working as a takeaway delivery driver on the north coast. Sarkozy was kicked to death by James Siree (alternatively Si’Ree), 22, and his uncle Gary Bland, 42. It was the callous and brutal murder of a hard-working family man by two drunken thugs. When I read the reports of the trial, and once I saw that they lived in Rhyl – that favourite dumping ground for England’s undesirables – I wondered about their Gabor Sarkozybackgrounds, though I must have been busy with other things because I didn’t do any checks at the time. ‘Brychan’ did, and I’m thankful to him for putting me on the trail of these scumbags.

Siree is the son of Ian Si’Ree, and lived with his father on Vale Road in Rhyl. When police investigating the murder searched the Si’Ree home they found images on the father’s computer that clearly suggested an interest in under-age girls. He was prosecuted and the case came to court but he escaped quite lightly because, according to Judge Niclas Parry, he had “no convictions for anything similar”. Si’Ree may have had no convictions for that type of offence there had certainly been accusations, as this 2001 report from the Bradford Telegraph & Argus makes clear. This report from the same source, a month later, tells us that Si’Ree has upped sticks from Bradford, but does not tell us where he’s gone.

So we have Si’Ree Snr, the paedophile, Siree Jnr and his uncle the murderers, and then, to give us the expected hat-trick, we learn that the family are also fascists, with Ian Si’Ree actually standing for the BNP at council level (in 2008), Westminster level (2010), and for the Welsh Assembly (2011). Though if this is his Facebook page then he now calls himself Ian John. If I’m wrong, then there is an Ian John living in Rhyl who went to school in Bradford and has photos of James Siree on his Facebook page.

*

What is the system at work here, a system that brings scumbags like the Sirees and Bland to Wales, a system now so obvious that there can be no point it denying its existence? Who is in control of this system, how does it operate, and who in Wales is facilitating it? For the answers to these questions I am indebted, again, to ‘Brychan’, this time for directing me to the Ministry of Justice and its various departments dealing with offenders. You can read what he told me (copied from an e-mail) here.

We have a system that seeks to remove offenders, or persons under investigation, from the immediate area of the alleged offence, and also to resettle those leaving prison. Such requirements would not cause Wales undue problems were it not for the fact that, as ‘Brychan’ puts it, “A housing authority in Ian Si'ReeEngland can say ‘no thanks we’re full’, even to Her Majesty’s Courts and Tribunal Service, but in Wales the housing legislation gives priority to offenders”. The fact that this loophole has not been closed tells me that this legislation was no oversight, it exists for the purpose it serves. Obviously some areas will suffer more than others.

Though we mustn’t pile all the blame for this problem on social housing providers, for private landlords also play a big role. In a town like Rhyl, that has outlived its raison d’être, decline results in many redundant buildings, making it inevitable that ‘investors’ will move in knowing they can maximise their investments by capitalising on the social residue of England’s cities. The same thing is happening in similar communities; I have reported previously on problems in Llanelli; it’s a big – but largely unreported – issue in Blaenau Ffestiniog at the moment; and it’s happening in the Valleys. In fact, any community in Wales with irresponsible housing associations or large numbers of cheap private dwellings for sale risks having offenders, problem families, deviants and misfits dumped on it.

So we understand the mechanics of this phenomenon, but that doesn’t explain why no one speaks out against it.

*

Why don’t the police complain about having a regular influx of criminals from outside their force areas, resulting in more work for forces we are constantly told are ‘over-stretched’? Probably two reasons; first, they can hardly complain against the government department that controls police forces in Englandandwales, and second, they probably get financially compensated.

Social housing providers don’t regard this system as an imposition because they get paid handsomely for taking in offenders and ‘difficult’ tenants, that they will persuade themselves are ‘victims’ of something or other – ‘the system’ a cruel world, global warming – and then wash their hands of the suffering and misery their tenants inflict on the wider community. Private landlords share the same attitude towards high-return offender-tenants. Media outlets and politicians in Wales turn a blind eye because to raise the issue risks allegations of being ‘racist’, or worse, ‘anti-English’. An incredible insight into social and political attitudes prevailing in Wales.

I say this because in other societies there are taboos against using the ‘N word’ and other offensive epithets, but here in Wales it’s the ‘E word’. Using the term ‘English’ runs the risk of attack from media and politicians. To the point where no one must be described as English in a negative context. If Charlie Smith, recently dumped in Barmouth, rapes his 80-year-old neighbour, or is caught selling drugs outside school gates, then Charlie is without nationality . . . but if he rescues a drowning pooch then Charlie will be restored to his Anglo-Saxon patrimony, a true son of Alfred and Harold.

*

Clearly, in answer to the question used as the title for this piece, Gabor Sarkozy was killed by James Siree and Gary Bland. But in the wider sense, Gabor Sarkozy was the victim of the system I’ve described. There are countless other victims, such as the old woman killed in Rhyl for £25 as she made a cup of tea for Wolverhampton murderer George Johnson, and the children raped in Carmarthenshire by the paedophile gang from London re-housed in Wales.

The terrible irony is that this system of exploiting Wales for the benefit of England has been made easier by devolution. In a pre-devolution system with the same law in England and Wales offenders and problem tenants would be spread around in the social housing system (though the pAssembly chamberroblem of private landlords in Rhyl and elsewhere would remain), but different legislation in Wales – supposedly introduced for the benefit of Wales! – has made worse the problem described in this report.

We have a system of sham devolution making it possible for civil servants in Wales – answering to London – to introduce ‘Welsh’ legislation for the benefit of England. Which makes the current system of ‘devolution’ both indefensible and unsustainable. Either we revert to the pre-devolution system of the same laws for Wales and England or we move forward to give Wales real power, but this latter option can only work when we have politicians and civil servants dedicated to putting Welsh interests first. At present, we lack both.

There is no point in politicians continuing to posture and play silly games, going down to Cardiff docks and deluding themselves that they are doing anything useful when in fact the country is run by civil servants serving England’s interests, giving us a system of faux devolution that results in people being murdered, and children raped, a system over which these puffed-up buffoons have no control, and lack the balls to demand control.

Until there is far-reaching change in the relationship between Wales and England the system responsible for the killing of Gabor Sarkozy is guaranteed to claim many more victims.

Apr 132015
 

Thus far, this has been a stultifying election campaign enlivened only by the glorious promise of the SNP destroying the Labour Party in Scotland and then regaining Scotland’s independence. Here in Wales independence is a dream shared by only a few, so we are reduced to taking solace in sideshows and distractions, with explains why I’m reporting here on the two curious incidents, or the two-act farce, in Ceredigion.

First there was the disgraceful smear against Plaid candidate Mike Parker mounted (or fronted) by the Cambrian News, a rag with a long-standing policy of publishing anonymous or fake anti-Welsh letters and, in my area, serving as a mouthpiece for lodge and golf club to rail against ‘the council’ (code for Plaid Cymru) ‘neglecting’ south Meirionnydd. Complaints from men who argue for smaller local authorities on the groundCambrian News Naziss that these would be more ‘democratic’ when what they really want are councils run by . . . well, men like them, handing out planning permissions willy-nilly to each other’s friends and families.

I have no wish to deal with the Cambrian News at any length, so let me try to explain it briefly for anyone unfamiliar with the tale. Mike Parker, the Plaid Cymru candidate in Ceredigion, is an Englishman who, some fifteen years ago, wrote a book in which he said that a number of the English who move to Wales are white flight racists. This suggestion would encourage much head-nodding among the Cambrian News‘ readership so, in order to damage Parker, the story had to be spiced up to the point where the headline screamed: ‘Incomers are ‘Nazis’, says would-be MP’. Clearly implying that Mike Parker is an intolerant, if not unhinged, individual who believes that all English people moving to Wales are followers of Adolf Hitler.

The fact that Mike Parker never even used the term ‘Nazi’ was irrelevant. The use of it by the Cambrian News and others has been justified on the grounds that ‘this is what Parker meant’, or, ‘there can be no other interpretation of Parker’s reference to “Final Solution crackpots”‘. Both wrong. First, attacking someone for what they have written is one thing, but once people start guessing what writers meant, then accusers are on very shaky legal ground. Second, if you read what Mike Parker wrote in Planet in 2001, especially his comparison of rural Wales with those western states of the USA that attract anti-federal government militias, it becomes obvious that the full sentence “To some extent, rural Wales has become the British equivalent of the American mountains (that are) inhabited by a sprinkling of paranoid conspiracy theorists, gun-toting Final Solution crackpots and anti-government obsessives” can only be referring to the USA. (My parenthesis.) Mike Parker is definitely not saying that rural Wales contains small armies of English nutters living in encampments and stockades. Which fatally undermines the excuse given for the use of ‘Nazis’.

The chorus of outrage and condemnation inevitably contained Labour voices. Among them was the dulcet tenor of Peter ‘the Great’ Hain, who repeated the word ‘Nazi’. Alistair Campbell, Tony Blair’s propaganda chief also joined in, before recanting. One contribution came from Parker’s Labour rival, Huw Thomas, a councillor in Cardiff but originally from Ceredigion. Young Huw was outraged by the alleged anti-English sentiment expressed by Parker (himself English, remember!). He fulminated, “These outrageous and deeply offensiveHain Parker tweet remarks are exactly the sort of poisonous rhetoric you’d expect from Ukip, not a party that claims to be progressive and left wing. There should be no place in our politics or our society for such divisive and hateful language. As a Cardi to my core, I’m proud that Wales and Ceredigion have a history of welcoming people from across this island and across the world. These comments are totally at odds with the Ceredigion I know and love.”All good stuff, though I’d recommend that Huw Thomas downplays the “Cardi to my core” bit, Labour’s supporters in Aber Uni and elsewhere might not like being reminded that their candidate is one of the natives.

While all this was going on that Greek bloke Hu Bris must have been lurking close by, hand cupped to his shell-like because, within days, it was Labour’s turn to squirm as the election in Ceredigion took a bizarre twist with revelations about the saintly and ‘welcoming’ Huw Thomas. It came to light that Huw had, during the 2006 World Cup, been much vexed by the proliferation in Ceredigion of cars flaunting England flags. His answer to the problem, aired on a Welsh language website, was to use Tipp-Ex correcting fluid to mimic “bird poo”! (Yes, I know, very weird.) Thomas was forced to admit his silliness, but rather than leave it at that Labour luminaries rallied around, trying to turn this minor disaster in an unwinnable seat into a national triumph, arguing that this was how aAndrews Tipp-Exn apology should be made – in contrast to the unashamedly unapologetic Mike Parker! The Labour Assembly Member for the Rhondda, Leighton Andrews, made himself look really stupid with a couple of tweets to which I couldn’t resist replying. (Click to enlarge.) Now I’m blocked from Porky’s Twitter account as well. These Labour politicos are so sensitive!

What a to-do, eh, boys and girls! So have we learnt anything from all this thud and blunder? Well, if nothing else, the Cambrian News has told us what a disgusting, anti-Welsh rag it is, and why it should be boycotted. BBC Wales, whose newsreaders can’t be bothered to properly pronounce Welsh place names, reminded us that, just like the Secretary of State for Wales, it is the voice of London in Wales. But for me, the real lesson is that when we clear away the party politicking, the posturing and the propaganda it becomes obvious that Parker and Thomas were in fact dealing with the same problem, and agreeing. That this important fact will be ignored by the ‘Welsh’ media tells us all we need to know about its colonial nature.

Mike Parker was saying that there are some very ugly specimens among the English in rural Wales, racists, bigots, and “Little Englanders”. Talking of the England flags that so irked him, Huw Thomas wrote, “It truly shows the degree our society has been infiltrated by incomers who are not ready to integrate. Very often, from what I see, some flying English flags are young people, who have been brought up in Wales, but who are loyal to England”. Elsewhere Thomas refers to such people as “chavs” and “casual racists”. Both men are talking about the influx into rural Wales of people for whom Wales is just a western extension of England, some enlarged Cornwall with even ‘funnier’ names.

What’s more, the English colon isn’t a demon conjured up by Parker and Thomas, for he’s introduced himself to others, as this account by Martin Shipton in the Western Mail makes clear, ‘Like Mr Parker, I was once approached in a pub in rural Wales by an Englishman whose opening conversational gambit was: “Isn’t it great here without any f****** P****?”’ And if you’re the type of English person who is intolerant of other identities, then Welsh is just another non-English identity. The mistake that’s been made – especially by the professional ‘anti-fascists’ of the Left – has been to focus on Nick Griffin and other high-profile individuals – but they were never the problem! (Here’s Shipton’s piece on the Thomas revelation.)

So Mike Parker and Huw Thomas were both talking honestly of English colonisation. That taboo subject that will draw accusations of ‘racism’ against anyone who dares raise it. Making it almost a contemporary Welsh version of The Emperor’s New Clothes . . . but in this version the small boy who blurts out the truth gets run through with a pike. The fact that ‘racism’ has been used so consistently and over such a long period should make it obvious that those behind this tactic will not be found in the offices of local weekly rags, or at BBC ‘Wales’. This denial of rational debate is UK State policy, as is English colonisation itself.

Apr 072015
 

This blog has come into possession of an amazing document, a letter written by Carwyn Jones, First Minister of Wales, addressed to President Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin of Russia. It came about in this manner.

On Monday evening I received what I mistook for another of those phone calls I get so many of . . . sexy-sounding woman . . . heavily-accented voice . . . asking for a brief liaison at a secluded spot, but this one was different. Yes, the voice was sexy and heavily accented, but there was something unusually insistent, almost menacing, in the way she said, ‘Meet me at the ———– junction at midnight. I have something to give you. And come alone!

Intrigued, and more than a little apprehensive, I went as instructed. On arriving at the rendezvous there was no one to be seen . . . then a tall, blonde woman stepped from the shadows, looked furtively around, before delving into her ample bosom to retrieve a letter. I hid my disappointment and hurriedly read it by the moonlight reflected from her deep, grey eyes, immediately realising its importance. But before I could ask her why she was giving it to me a limousine pulled up, she got in, and was gone in a screech of tyres and a cloud of smoke.

So what did the letter say, is it as important as the mystery woman suggested? Judge for yourself as you read it below. Or you can click here to read it online, or get a sooper-dooper downloadable and printable copy.

The letter has been scrutinised by a number of people who have all verified its authenticity. ‘Yes, it’s a letter’, said one respected letter expert. While an authority on typewriters was of the opinion that ‘The letter was typed on a Remington No 16, a model I know is used by Assembly secretarial staff. So I suspect Carwyn Jones stayed on late one night – perhaps after falling asleep – and sneaked into the typing pool. Yes, that must be what happened’. Though one well-placed insider reminded us that, Reminton No 16 typewriter‘Whoever wrote this don’t know shit. Wales isn’t run by elected politicians, it’s run by civil servants and council officers, people Dai Public don’t know and never gets the chance to vote for. Whoever wrote this is delusional’.

The mention of Carwyn Jones’ name to the naval attaché at the Porthmadog consulate elicited the response, ‘Is he the bloke who runs the newsagent on the High Street?’. But in the world of bluff, double-bluff, espionage, smoke and mirrors, spies coming in from the cold, etc., etc., this is the standard Russian response when they want you to think they don’t know what you’re talking about. Confirmed by an expert in the intelligence world, who put it this way. ‘You can never tell with the Russians; sometimes they know, other times they don’t know. So how do you know whether they know or whether they don’t know? Then there’s the known unknowns, and there’s unknown unknowns, if you get my drift. I remember one time in Omsk, or was it Tomsk? Anyway . . . ‘

Regular readers will know that this blog has never been one to pass judgement on the Labour Party and so it is entirely possible that this letter is a forgery, such things have been knownVladimir Putin. (And very recently.) But on the balance of probability the evidence strongly suggests that Carwyn Jones did write the letter, and favours Vladimir Putin over David Cameron, or even Ed Miliband. If so, then this constitutes high treason, which no longer merits the death penalty but still carries a life sentence for anyone conspiring with a foreign power . . . though of course guilt will only be confirmed after a lengthy process of deliberation by readers of the Sun, Daily Mail, Telegraph and similar fora.

This blog therefore concludes that it is in the best interests of all concerned that until he is found guilty the matter is resolved Carwyn Jones should be stripped of all his public duties and be taken to the Tower of London. There to subsist on a diet of Welsh cakes and water – but not the posh one in them blue bottles! He can be replaced by any one of the many dynamic and charismatic members of his cabinet until the elections of May 2016 . . . or until the Russians arrive, whichever is the sooner.

Mar 312015
 

I AM INDEBTED TO ‘STAN’ OF THE NEATH FERRET FOR HELP IN WRITING THIS PIECE

The name Malik will be familiar to regular readers of this blog if only because of Naz Malik, former boss of race relations charity and Labour agitprop outfit the All Wales Ethnic Minority Association (AWEMA). I have written about Naz Malik more than once, so to refresh your memorNaz Malik rugby fanies you might care to work back from this post of September 8th, 2014, published shortly after the end of Malik’s trial.

One of the major issues exposed by the AWEMA scandal was that of nepotism, though of course this is no crime. Indeed, it’s the cornerstone of the family business; but beyond that sphere the favouring of relatives will be judged on the company’s performance, and investors or shareholders will demand changes in the management if it is felt that nepotism is responsible for declining performance and falling profits. Yet in a publicly-funded body, where the money just keeps rolling in, and with no criteria by which to judge performance, it becomes almost inevitable that nepotism will flourish unchecked.

Nepotism goes some way to explaining what went wrong with AWEMA. At CEO was Naz Malik; then there was daughter Tegwen, whose salary shot up from £20,469 in January 2008 to £50,052 in August 2011 for no apparent reason; while another who worked for AWEMA was Naz Malik’s daughter-in-law Ourania Chatsiou who, along with her sister-in-law, was, bizarrely, among the creditors when the funding plug was pulled early in 2012. Though the major creditor, the ‘Welsh’ Government, recently wrote off most of the £300,000 it was still owed by AWEMA. Naz Malik’s wife, Bronwen, and son, Gwion Iqbal, were also involved with AWEMA, as ‘volunteers’.

AWEMA Charity Commission

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Another thread in the AWEMA saga is the Malik family links to the Labour Party. The patriarch himself had entertained hopes of standing for the party, and could be relied on to use the public profile he’d gained from Labour-funded AWEMA to regularly attack ‘racist’ Welsh nationalists. The aforementioned scion of the House, Gwion Iqbal, stood for the party in the elections to the Notional Assembly of 2011. (There used to be a photo available on the internet of Gwion Iqbal canvassing with First Minister Carwyn Jones, but unsurprisingly it seems to have disappeared.)

Something else that always troubled me about AWEMA was the bland statement made on the Charity Commission website that, in addition to operating in Wales, AWEMA had a presence in Kenya and Pakistan! Remember, we were dealing here with EU and UK money allocated to Wales, and yet no one thought to question why AWEMA claimed to be using that money overseas. One answer of course is that Naz Malik had been born in Nairobi to parents of Pakistani, or pre-Partition Indian, heritage. As had Naz Malik’s sister, Fahro. Or rather, that explains the family’s background; while the lack of concern in official quarters can probably be explained by the Labour Party connection.

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I first became aware of Fahro Malik when I saw a link to a charity called Lynk Reach Ltd (Charity No: 1104188) on the AWEMA website. (Lynk Reach Ltd was removed from the Charity Commission Register on January 14th this year.) Its charitable objective was “To advance the education of children and young people 0 – 25 (sic), primarily but not exclusively in London”. There was also a company called Lynk Reach Ltd (Company No: 04678217) Incorporated on the 25th of February 2003. Strangely, FaFahro Malikhro Malik seems not to have been a director of this company, though among the founders was an Anthony Malcolm Finch, a headmaster, who was Fahro Malik’s husband. Finch wrote an internet restaurant guide and died suddenly in February 2007. Someone who joined the company later was Zoe Samia Malik-Kemp. Lynk Reach Ltd is now dissolved.

A connected company was Lynk Ray Ltd (Company No: 04261595) which pre-dates Lynk Reach Ltd, having been Incorporated on July 30th 2001. The founding directors were Anthony Malcolm Finch and Fahro Malik. This company is also dissolved. Finally, we have Lynk Write Ltd, Incorporated June 19th 2003 (Company No: 04804457). The only two directors were Fahro Malik and Anthony Malcolm Finch. This company is also dissolved. The most recent mention I can find for Fahro Malik is on the London Writers’ Café website, from where the photograph comes.

Fahro Malik has escaped the notoriety of brother Naz and the Swansea branch of the clan, but still leaves behind a failed charity and dissolved companies owing money to some poor bugger. Fahro may also regret involving her other brother, Munir, with Lynk Ray Ltd as a director and company secretary from August 3rd, 2007 until the company dissolved, probably towards the end of June, 2013. That’s right, another brother, of whose existence I was unaware until it was brought to my attention by Stan of Neath Ferret. So what’s Munir’s story?

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Munir Malik is another Labour Party stalwart, and has served a couple of non-consecutive terms as a councillor in Bexley, south east London . . . though since his brush with fame he has been deselected from his Thamesmead East ward. To explain . . .

In addition to the Labour Party, for which he also stood as a candidate in the London region Euro elections of 1999 and 2004, Munir Malik was involved with the Co-op Group, serving as a regional representative before being elevated to the National Board. His wife, Kathryn Smith, another Labour councillor in Bexley, was herself on the National Board of the Co-op Group from 1997 to 2008 and on the Board of the Co-op Bank from 2001 to 2009, where she worked with Paul Flowers, the drug-taking Methodist minister and former Co-op Bank chairman. (Also known as ‘the Crystal Methodist’.) Kathryn Smith left the Co-op Bank in 2009 to stand as Labour & Co-operative candidate for Gravesham in the 2010 General Election. A Munir Malikseat that the Tories had won in 2005 by just 654 votes became a safe Tory seat in 2010, with a majority of 9,312. Labour’s loss of votes may have been connected with Smith being done for drunk driving just days before the poll.

Misfortune continued to dog the Malik-Smith household when Munir Malik was forced to resign from the Co-operative Group Board for telling fibs about his qualifications. To be specific, when running for election to the Board he claimed to be a chartered accountant  . . . ‘Oh no he’s not!’ said the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales, ‘and only members of the ICAEW are allowed to call themselves chartered accountants’. Munir sought to explain away this little inconsistency by arguing that what he meant to say was that he had been a chartered accountant . . . until he was struck off for bankruptcy in 1991, and had simply forgotten to prefix his qualification with ‘former’. Something of a habit, apparently, for the ICAEW claimed to have previously warned him to stop claiming to be a chartered accountant. Though Malik countered with: “All my working life has been spent as a former chartered accountant”. Um, yes . . . exactly!

All so predictable, and familiar, for as this Daily Mail piece on the Malik / Flowers fiasco puts it, “Malik belongs to what one insider described as a closed group who have come to dominate the Co-op despite its democratic structure of elected boards” and later, “Former City Minister Lord Myners was appointed to assess the Co-op Group’s system of elections and appointments. He resigned last week in the face of bitter resistance from board members but plans to complete his review”. Sound familiar? Of course it does, for this is another dysfunctional and undemocratic element of the great ‘Labour Movement’, another that preaches democracy but has never seen any need to practice it, especially for its internal procedures. We could be talking here about ‘Welsh’ Labour . . . and we soon will be!

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Piercy Lane

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So where are they now? Well, it seems that the Malik womenfolk have retreated to academia and scholarly pursuits. Fahro Malik, as she told the London Writers’ Café website, is probably researching the family’s journey from the Punjab village of Rohtas via Kenya to Wales and England. Tegwen Malik, Naz’s daughter, is carrying out research in biomimetics (don’t ask me!) at Swansea University, while Naz’s daughter-in-law, Ourania Chatsiou, is also at Swansea Uni, doing post-graduate work. Which serves to remind us, yet again, of the close links between the Labour Party and higher education in Wales, and the mutual back-scratching.

Some of you reading this may be ‘uncomfortable’ with the fact that so many of those dealt with belong to ethnic minorities. Get over it! I’m writing about the Maliks not because of their race, colour or religion but because a) they’ve done wrong, b) they all seem to have Labour Party connections, c) despite the shit they get themselves into, they seem to come up smelling of roses, which, d) allows me to expose, yet again, the squalid relationships between the Labour Party, the Third Sector, academe and other spheres of our national life.

So you mustn’t think that nepotism is confined to persons of Pakistani origin from East Africa, no, no, no, no, no. This is a Labour Party problem, something encountered wherever Labour has power and, more importantly, where Labour has control over funding. For we don’t need to leave Swansea Bay to find celebrated current examples of nepotism encouraged or condoned by ‘Welsh’ Labour where the principals are all of impeccably white and Christian backgrounds.

Let us return to Swansea University, and this time the School of Management. There, the Dean, one Nigel F. Piercy, has appointed his son Niall as Pro-Dean for Research, and his love interest, Nikala Lane, as a Reader in Marketing and Strategy. Party as a result of this blatant nepotism, and partly by being a bit of an arsehole, Piercy has contrived to alienate just about everybody he is supposed to be working with. Yet his position seems secure.Stephen Kinnock

From the Mumbles Road campus one can look across the bay to Port Talbot where, on May 7th, the electors of the Aberavon constituency will be expected to put on their blinkers, empty their minds, and troop like zombies into the polling stations, there they will grasp the stubby brown pencil on a string and come momentarily to life when they see on the ballot paper the magic name KINNOCK. Tears of gratitude will flow as they recall how young Stephen was not parachuted in – as malcontents allege – but walked all the way from his Copenhagen home to vie for the honour of representing Aberavon (‘it is Aberavon, is it?’) and was chosen only after an open and keenly-contested selection process that lasted months.

Because, boys and girls, that’s how the Labour Party operates, and don’t let anybody tell you different. The Labour Party is, to the best interests of Wales . . . what the Ku Klux Klan is to good race relations, what Japanese cuisine is to whales, what the conquistadors were to the civilisations of Mesoamerica, what the iceberg was to the Titanic, what the driving maul is to modern rugby, what the CIA is to privacy, what Rhyl is to Welsh cultural identity, what the Sinclair C5 was to motoring, what China is to Tibet . . . In short, a disaster.