Jul 222014
 

If you scroll down my sidebar you’ll see that, under ‘Jac’s Reads’, one of the blogs I follow is Wales Eye, written by Daran Hill, managing director of Positif, a political lobbying firm in Cardiff docks and an integral part of the self-important but ultimately impotent Cardiff bubble. Don’t think I’m being nasty to Daran Hill, I don’t know the man; to the best of my knowledge our paths have never crossed. But today he posted a piece that made me think, ‘Why doesn’t he get it?’

The information for the piece I’m referring to had probably been fed to him by disgruntled BBC journos. It seems that Edwina Hart, the minister for Economy, Science and Transport does not give live interviews, everything must be pre-recorded. The piece on Wales Eye contained much harrumphing about ‘democracy’ and ‘accountabilty’ but none of those expressing their concerns to Hill understood the real reason for Hart not giving live interviews – the truth is, shAlun D dummye doesn’t know what she’s talking about. And she’s not the only one. Let me explain.

Back in January I posted this, about a statement made by Alun Davies, at the time Minister for Natural Resources and Food, trying to explain why he was taking money from Welsh farmers and transferring it to ‘rural development projects’, i.e. subsidising good-lifers, hippies, Greens and others Wales would be better off without. Here’s a link to the excruciating footage of a squirming, stuttering, Alun Davies telling us why he has decided to do this. (Skip past DET’s intro to 2:03.) The thing to note here is the two civil servants flanking Davies, like prison officers with the defendant in the dock, making sure chummy don’t do nuffin stupid.

After watching Davies’s performance I gave him the benefit of the doubt by thinking that he didn’t believe what he was saying, or that he may not even have understood the full implications of what he was saying, and that he was simply repeating, parrot-fashion, what someone had told him to say. The civil servants were there to make sure he didn’t succumb to a debilitating attack of conscience or patriotism that might have rendered him unuseable.

In short, he was no more than a ventriloquist’s dummy, and the same applies to other ‘ministers’ in the absurdly named ‘Welsh Government’. This is why Edwina Hart doesn’t give live interviews – it’s because she can only repeat what she’s been told to say in a recording that can be re-started when she fluffs her lines. Because, obviously, live interviews run the risk of her being asked questions she cannot answer about policies she had no part in formulating.

Edwina dummyThe piece in Wales Eye was prompted by Hart’s announcement of the Newport by-pass, welcomed by very few in Wales (none that I can see outside of Cardiff). The clue to Hart’s camera shyness is that chancellor George Osborne has been consistently urging the ‘Welsh Goverment’ to improve the M4: here on November 29, 2011; April 3, 2013; March 19, 2014 (and there have been other occasions). Make no mistake, this was a decision taken in London; but rather than have London fund it, the ‘Welsh Government’ was given new powers to get into debt! Once the details were worked out the scheme was passed on to civil servants in Wales, who then coached Hart in her delivery. Result: Wales will get at least £1bn into debt, other projects around the country will be shelved, and all to facilitate the flow of English goods into Wales. Wasn’t that good of Mr Cameron and Mr Osborne, children?

Because believe me, that’s what will happen. Improved communications mean that ‘peripheral’ areas can be served and supplied from further away. Always. Take the example of the A55 in the north. Great benefits were promised from this ‘Highway of Opportunity’ by Wyn Roberts et al, but one of the first changes to materialise was the Post Office transferring its sorting office from Bangor to Chester. And the PO was not alone. Once the M4 is improved, depots serving the south from Cardiff and Newport will start to be lost because, for example, if south Wales and the west of England can both be supplied from its Avonmouth depot then Tesco won’t keep its depot in Magor open. In a colonial economy such as Wales, where the overwhelming majority of retailers, utilities, major contractors, financial services, etc., etc., are headquartered in England, improved communications always means job losses. So we are paying £1bn for the economic benefit of England! Welcome to devolved government, ‘Welsh solutions for Welsh problems’.

The bigger problem, as I’ve hinted above, is civil servants operating in Wales but taking orders from London. I have dealt with this in countless posts, often when I write about planning and housing. I remind people that, despite a cupboard in Cardiff, the Planning Inspectorate is an executive agency of the Department for Communities and Local Government in London. The ‘Welsh Government’s own StatsWales also answers to the DCLG. The housing directorates that control social housing and other areas are also subject to the DCLG. They have a presence in Wales, and a ‘relationship’ with Welsh ministers, but it’s a ventriloquist and dummy relationship. This is why Carl Sargeant always looks out of his depth when dealing with LDPs, because just like Edwina Hart he has difficulty remembering details about policies and decisions he had no hand in determining.

It also helps explain why the EU funding has been squandered. In the south it has been wasted on professional grant-chasers, invariably English, who, instead of combating poverty and deprivation, have celebrated it, made a political and social cause of it, in order to secure funding and careers for themselves. As for those they are supposed to be helping . . . well, they’re only a bunch of losers anyway! In the west and the north the EU funding has been used to subsidise the same people who will benefit from the announcement made by Alun Davies back in January. That’s because the complete colonisation of rural Wales faces one last obstacle – too much land is still owned by the natives, farmers and the like. So fund the good-lifers and the Greens to buy land for fluffy environmental projects, protect our countryside from nasty over-grazing (i.e. farming), and let’s turn rural and coastal Wales into a land fit for the jodhpured heroes of the English middle class, escaping those frightful, multi-racial cities.

Welsh Assembly building, Cardiff

All of which makes devolution the biggest load of old bollocks in Welsh political history. We had less interference from London back in the 1950s before we had a Welsh Office or a Secretary of State than we have today, fifteen years into devolution. Because back then we were considered no threat and so we were just left to get on with things. That all changed in the 1960s, as did London’s attitude towards us. The long term policy decided upon was colonisation leading to assimilation. Devolution is just another stage in that process. We have the delusion of a ‘government’ in Cardiff, but the big decisions are taken in London. All part of the wider strategy for Wales: turn Cardiff into one of the more agreeable English provincial cities; allow the north east to merge into England’s north west; oversee the managed decline of the rest of the south (west and north of Cardiff); use rural and coastal Wales as retirement and recreation areas for England.

And that’s why Edwina Hart doesn’t give live interviews – because she’s just a ventriloquist’s dummy. But maybe no more a dummy than those who think this M4 project is good for Wales. Or those who can’t see what’s being done to this country.

  19 Responses to “Dummies, Motorways and Bloodless Genocide”

  1.  

    Excellent analysis -as usual. I can confirm that what you say about the A55 is correct. My own home town is just an extended retirement home for people from the English North-west and Midlands. What are the “National” Party doing about what is happening? Too busy trying to out Labour, “Welsh” Labour!

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      Forget Plaid Cymru, they are part of the problem; not the answer, or even part of it.

    •  

      That was the real purpose of the A55 – to make it easier to get into Wales. The benefits have all gone to England

  2.  

    Magor is a state of the art ambient distribution centre and trunking station, Avonmouth is a state of the art temperature controlled distribution centre, freight flows either way across the bridge from both.

    Who said “they don’t know what they’re talking about?

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      Is that on behalf of Tesco?

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        I don’t think you understand, Magor is an ambient depot that serves Tesco supermarkets all over south Wales, Bristol and the south west of England. Avonmouth is a temperature controlled depot, they serve the same supermarkets with different products, you can’t put bananas with chicken or ice cream with tea!

        There’s no conspiracy Jac it called supply chain. Tesco just closed their big depot in Harlow, does that mean they’re anti Essex? Take a chill pill and stop filling in gaps with fantasy.

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          “You can’t put bananas with chicken or ice cream with tea”. Why not? Supermarkets put them all under the same roof. The same can be done in a depot, even if it means different buildings. Otherwise, quote me the immutable law that says frozen peas must be stored in one place and breakfast cereals 20 miles away. Economies of scale and transportation considerations argue for one depot.

          And anyway, I’m not talking about a Tesco consipracy, I just happened to use Tesco as an example. I’m making the unarguable point that peripheral areas ALWAYS lose out from improved communications; even more so in a State such as we are trapped in where London dominates everything and Wales has a colonial relationship with England.

          So take a chill pill yourself and stop fantasising about me imagining Tesco conspiracies.

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            You can’t deliver tea, chicken, bananas and ice cream on the same trailer for obvious reasons so distribution centres concentrate on their own lines and deliver to a wide area in their zones, that means Tesco Cardiff & Bristol will get all its ambient from Magor and its produce and temperature controlled products from Avonmouth on full trailers.

            Why would Tesco Magor spend millions insulating and fitting evaporators to half its warehouses just to keep Welsh nationalists happy? could you imagine outrage in Exeter if they found out their tinned peas have come on a truck from Wales?

            Take a look at yourself sometimes…that is all.

            •  

              Stop fixating on Tesco and deal with the bigger argument, which is: Peripheral areas ALWAYS lose out economically from ‘improved communications’. Now deal with the issue being discussed or fuck off.

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                You said “If the west of England and south Wales can both be supplied from its Avonmouth depot then Tesco wont keep its depot in Magor open” A direct accusation that Tesco favours England over Wales.

                I’ve proven otherwise, they’re both part of the same chain carrying out different functions. I’m dealing with a direct accusation made so it is relevant.

        •  

          The reason why Tesco closed a distribution centre in Harlow (Essex) is because they don’t want Anglian produce and re-located to Dagenham on the new subsidised London FreePort (containers) which is now shipping in NewZealand lamb and potatoes from Tunisia.

          Please note that while Tesco are moving warehousing away from Wales, Aldi is moving warehousing into Wales.
          Aldi are opening a new 46,000sqm facility at Coryton, near Cardiff.

          This is nothing to do with national boundaries, but the difference between centralised British (Tesco) and decentralised German (Aldi) approaches to logistics. Aldi has a ‘fresh local’ business model, for example, so Pembrokeshire potatoes (in season) are bought and distributed in Wales. In Grimsby, they get (cheap in season) Lincolnshire potatoes. Potatoes of any area are only spread over the distribution network if there is an end of season glut (like Jersey 2014). For non-perishable goods, the warehouse network is ‘balancing’, for example, cans of tuna in Aldi are moved from warehouse to warehouse as stock is drawn down by the stores, rather than central storage. Non-perishable stock lines are balanced across a distributed network rather than held centrally. This not only results in cheaper shelf prices, but less stock lines of out-of-season produce.

          Aldi has a much lower carbon footprint by unit turnover than some of the ‘major’ supermarkets, which appears to have escaped the notice of the ‘green lobby’ of EnglandandWales who are too busy on pretend environmentalism which they see only through middle class spectacles. This continental business model imported by Aldi is mainly as a result of retail taxation and contractual weight loaded towards farmers common on the EU mainland, which incentivises local produce.

          A variation on the Aldi model was pioneered in by the now defunct QuickSave in North Wales. The British operations of Sainsbury donate vast sums to the Labour Party and Tesco to the British Tory party, to prevent the ‘Europeanisation’ of the British supermarket business model. It’s also the reason why they see Chester as a hub for North Wales and Avonmouth as a hub for South Wales. It should also be noted that unlike the ‘British’ supermarkets Aldi Scotland is run as a different supply chain.

          If Tesco followed the Aldi model, they wouldn’t have a distribution centre in Magor nor Avonmouth. They’d have centres at Cross Hands, Cardiff, Ebbw Vale, Yeovil, Exeter, Taunton, and Cirencester. Cheap seasonal food, purchased directly from farming cooperatives, into a distributed warehousing model.

          If an Ystrad girl can argue this in Stasbourg, why can’t a Penygraig girl argue this case in Cardiff?

          •  

            Harlow closed for the same reason as Chespstow because it was a first generation sized depot and too small, others like Didcot and Hinkley are under threat. Dagenham was built on the former Ford plant and is undersized meaning the empty Harlow may have to be reopened. There is absolutely no threat to Magor.

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              At the risk of being offensive (something I always try to avoid) . . . T-h-i-s i-s n-o-t a-b-o-u-t f-u-c-k-i-n-g T-e-s-c-o (apologies, Brychan). How do you know so much, anyway, ‘Dave’; are you the deputy assistant under manager at Cwmbran, or perhaps some nerd who hangs around distribution depots in the middle of the night taking truck numbers? Maybe you enjoy ‘lifts’ with hairy-arsed truck drivers. Whatever the answer, I don’t give a fuck about Tesco. It was just an example I plucked from the ether.

              The thrust of my article – because obviously it’s escaped you – is that devolution is a load of bollocks because Wales is more firmly controlled from London than ever before, and that London exercises power through its civil servants based in Wales, which is why ‘our’ politicians in the Assembly don’t know what they’re talking about. THAT is the matter in hand, not fucking Tesco!

              Don’t waste your time writing any more about Tesco because it will not be published.

  3.  

    Cynical but so on the ball Jac!

    •  

      The more one learns about the way Wales is run, and why, then the more difficult it becones to avoid cynicism.

  4.  

    A very thought provoking article, but it has the ring of truth about it. We sell ourselves far too short in Wales, always so thankful when Westminister deign to chuck us a bone. We need complete independence and nothing less to rescue our country

  5.  

    The following BBC piece talks about high speed rail links. It’s possibly good that Wales is being missed by HS2. I think the same can be made about quicker road routes too.

    “More productive firms in cities like London will be able to serve distant markets in northern cities much more efficiently from their existing base rather than from bases located in the northern cities,” he says

    “So, if the time to market is reduced between London and the northern cities, that is going to mainly benefit firms that are already located in London. That seems to be what happens in most of the cases around the world where these railway lines have been introduced.”

    And if the experience of Seville is any guide for the UK it will take more than just a new train line to get firms to relocate.

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-22441169

    Not sure why BBC Wales/Cymru were creaming themselves when they heard that electrification would cut the journey time from Swansea to London by 30 mins. Sometimes I despair.

    •  

      Absolutely true, and people in the northern English cities are waking up to this.

      If you want to take the extreme example, then look at Wales before the coming of the railways. Small towns, even villages, were self-sufficent; with drapers, tailors, cobblers, bakers, butchers, smiths, and just about every other trade people needed. The railways turned the population of rural Wales into consumers of mass-produced goods from distant factories.

  6.  

    Rofl, thnx for the laugh out loud moments in the comments and just to say i really enjoyed Dave and Brychan’s contributions regarding supply chains, if nothing else Aldi just gained a new infrequent shopper.

    I’m reminded of an article that good ol’ George Monbiot wrote back in the good ol’ days where he declared himself a burgeoning Welsh patriot and talked about the open veins of Wales, there is much synergy with your argument about the M4 Jac, although he writes about the railway network. I’m not sure you’ll thank me for the comparison – with George anyway – but i think it helps develop the debate / argument – http://www.monbiot.com/2008/12/30/the-open-veins-of-wales/

Ok, you’ve read what I think, now what do you have to say?