Mynydd y Gwair

Mar 242017
 

Swansea Labour Party

I have it on good authority that the all-conquering Swansea Labour Party is raring to go in May’s council elections. Well oiled, with palms greased and muscles flexed from Clydach High Street to Caswell Bay. Even as you read this leafleting teams – each member carrying a 90kg rucksack – will be training by racing up and down Kilvey Hill. Platitudes are being practised and – should honeyed words fail – brass knuckles polished.

Well, perhaps I exaggerate.

It is at this point I must apologise to whoever sent me interesting information about the line-up for May . . . information I’m afraid I’ve lost, sorry. The problem is that I’m still trying to get straight after my recent computer disaster. But never mind, I shall press on with what I’ve got.

It seems that things are not well for the bruvvers on my home patch, and even worse as we look around the Bay.

First, the Clays, Bob and Uta, have upped sticks and gone. They drifted into town a few years ago, he’s English and a former MP for Sunderland North, she’s Austrian. They were immediately accepted as candidates by the Labour Party, yet they’ve spent their brief time in the city playing left wing politics and plotting against ‘colleagues’, now they’re moving on having done sod all for Swansea, their only contribution being to keep up Labour numbers on the council.

One of those hoping to replace the Clays in the Llansamlet ward is Maureen ‘Mo’ Sykes, who has appeared in this blog afore, due to her connection with the YMCA. See here, here and here.

Like the Clays and so many of the city’s recent Labour councillors Sykes is not native to Swansea or to Wales. But what the hell! Labour is an internationalist party . . . or was until it realised that most Labour voters went for Brexit due to concerns over immigration. So if Labour don’t fall into line, then those voters will switch to Ukip (even if they remain sceptical about Paul Nuttall’s claim to have scored the winning goal in the 1966 World Cup Final).

Plaid Cymru

‘But, surely’ you cry, ‘Plaid Cymru must be strong in Swansea, and putting up a raft of of inspiring candidates?’ I fear not. The last time the Jack electorate was offered credible Plaid candidates with whom they could identify was when me and my mates stood back in the ’60s and ’70s. You want to know why Plaid Cymru is almost invisible in Swansea?

First, there’s the widespread perception that Plaid is a ‘Cardiff party’. In other words, part of the ‘bubble’ that sees Cardiff get a disproportionate share of investment and everything else. This may be felt in other areas, but is more keenly felt in Cardiff’s only rival.

Second, and another reason that the party has difficulty connecting with ordinary people, is because of its obsession with ‘progressive’ politics and other bollocks that makes it hostage to single-issue obsessives and outright charlatans. Here’s an example.

Mynydd y Gwair

The long saga of Mynydd y Gwair is drawing to a close. A windfarm will soon rise on an unspoilt landscape on the edge of Swansea. Local graziers – all Welsh – will lose out to the German energy company erecting the turbines, and the Duke of Beaufort, who owns the land, much of it acquired in confiscations from Welsh landowners (among them, it is suggested, Owain Glyndŵr). Yet Plaid Cymru has done nothing to help the people of the area.

Plaid Cymru may indeed be ‘the Party of Wales’ but in its pathetic attempt to avoid the ‘narrow nationalist’ slander it refuses to acknowledge the existence of a distinct, Welsh people, promoting instead something called ‘civic nationalism’ which, when used by Plaid Cymru, is just a cop-out.

On Mynydd y Gwair, Plaid’s desperation to avoid the slander, coupled with its support for environmentalist shysters, has led the party to support a German energy company and an English aristocrat against Welsh people.

What sort of a national party is this? Perhaps one for which ‘Wales’ is just a geographical expression.

Plod, Plod, Plodding Along

Before leaving Swansea I must return to the case of Jenny Lee Clarke who, you may remember, was a colleague of Carolyn Harris, now the MP for Swansea East, and claims to have suffered a homophobic assault at the hands of Harris. (An incident that Plaid Cymru, opposed to bullying and homophobia, chose to ignore.)

In what was almost certainly a tit-for-tat move Clarke was accused of stealing money by somehow paying herself more than she was due. I’m not sure when she was initially charged (lost documents again) but I know that she was bailed, and that this initial bail period was extended until November 7th . . . when it was extended again to February 17th . . . now it’s been extended again to May 17th.

. . . for Labour politicians?

If the police have a case then they should take it to court, if they don’t have a case then they should give this poor woman a break and put an end to her worrying. I cannot believe that it takes so long to investigate a single allegation against one woman – it’s not as if we’re dealing with a complicated conspiracy involving offshore accounts used by Russian hackers.

The way the police have treated Jenny Lee Clarke makes them look incompetent. An alternative explanation, seeing as the allegation against Clarke comes from a Labour MP, one against whom she had made a serious allegation, and remembering that the South Wales PCC, Alun Michael, is a former Labour MP, might be that political influence explains this woman’s appalling treatment.

Comrades Lost on the Port Talbot Front

Around the Bay, in Neath Port Talbot, there has been internecine blood-letting on a scale unrecorded since the Peloponnesian War. The ground in Port Talbot is said to be red with the blood of fallen comrades, knives protruding from their backs, with as many as half of the sitting Labour councillors deselected, with perhaps eleven of them planning to stand as Independents in May. This could get really nasty. (Rubs hands gleefully!)

A similar situation is reported from Bridgend council, especially up around Maesteg, and from other areas such as Caerfilli, and Cardiff. It would appear that in some local authority areas ‘Welsh’ Labour is fighting a – largely unreported – civil war.

Llandovery YMCA

Hesitantly now, I cross the mighty Llwchwr into Carmarthenshire, but give Sosban a wide berth, for Cneifiwr is doing a grand job there in exposing the manifest shortcomings of the oddballs, dissemblers and grotesques collectively known as Llanelli Labour Party. I shall instead hie me away to Llandovery.

Intelligence reached me that the con trick going by the name of Llandovery YMCA had closed its doors. I call it a con trick because its greatest achievement has been to pull in hundreds of thousands of pounds of public funding to create non-jobs for good-lifers. I suggest you read Ancestral Turf and The Impoverishment of Wales (scroll down to ‘YMCA Wales’). There you will encounter in a previous incarnation ‘Mo’ Sykes, would-be successor to the Clays.

put up on March 4th, still closed

Of more immediate relevance could be that the driving force behind this scam, one Jill Tatman, is being prevented from returning to work by other trustees after a period looking after her ‘sick’ husband. I’m told that her husband is not sick at all, but perhaps keeping his own company while on bail for – it is alleged – offences involving children.

A great deal of public money has been poured into Llandovery YMCA for the benefit of a small group of recent arrivals. Given that the whole project seems to have folded there should now be an investigation of the accounts and the wider running of this good-lifers’ benefit fund.

In my Ancestral Turf post you will see a video featuring Gill Wright who branched out by taking over the old North Western Hotel, near the railway station, to run as the Level Crossing bunkhouse. Public funding was secured, but again, the venture collapsed, after just two years.

The old pile has now been bought again, this time to be run as a commercial venture, with no public funding involved. How know I this? Because the new owners sent a message to the contact box you’ll see in the sidebar.

I get some very interesting messages through my ‘Contact Me Directly’ box. Oh yes.

Sweet Charity

News from the north, now.

Over the years I’ve dealt with countless examples of the ‘Welsh’ Government blindly throwing money around in the vain hope that this will be mistaken for an economic strategy. As we know, much of this money goes to Labour Party members and hangers-on in the Third Sector; Naz Malik and the family business AWEMA being a classic example.

When it’s not going to Labourites other ways are found to squander public funding, such as showering money on the grant grabbers of Llandovery and their counterparts across the land. I’ve often thought that this group seems to make up for the lack of a Labour presence in rural areas.

For the electoral map tells us that there are fewer opportunities to reward party loyalty when we travel west of Wrecsam and Llanelli, or north of Merthyr. But little outposts of bruvverdom can still be found. One such example would be the patch of Councillor Siôn Wyn Jones in Bethel, a village to the north east of Caernarfon on the B4366.

Now I’m sure that one-time estate agent Siôn is a conscientious councillor working hard for his community, for he never tires of telling people how hard he works and how much money he’s raised for that community. But questions are being asked about his running of the village hall, Neuadd Goffa Bethel.

Back in 2013 the Neuadd was given £294,811.88 in capital grants by the ‘Welsh’ Government for a revamp. Which gave Carwyn Jones the opportunity to venture into Plaid Cymru territory to remind locals how much ‘Welsh’ Labour was doing for them.

The revamped Neuadd is a fine asset for Bethel, but questions persist. Such as, why have no accounts or annual returns been filed with the Charity Commission for two years? And why is Siôn Wyn Jones the sole trustee of the Neuadd? Because the Charity Commission recommends at least three trustees. We know young Siôn is multi-talented, but is he serving as chairman, secretary and treasurer?

I’m sure there are simple answers to these questions and equally sure that Siôn Wyn Jones will ensure that everything is soon tickety-boo. For hark! I hear the returning officer call the candidates to the stage.

‘J Jones’

Those of us who spend too much time on the internet, and especially on sites that deal with Wales, will be familiar with ‘J Jones’, an exceptionally prolific writer whose mission in life seems to be proving that we’d all be eating caviare in the backs of our chauffeur-driven Rollers . . . if only we killed off the Welsh language.

I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again: I believe that ‘J Jones’ is our old friend, that son of the Balkans, Jacques Protic. I say that for a number of reasons. To begin with, over the years Protic has used many aliases, he may even have been Bilingo, for what really brings down the red mist for Protic is kids being taught Welsh, or worse, being educated through the medium of Welsh.

A further link is that ‘J Jones’ claims to be living on Ynys Môn, which, by a strange coincidence, is where Jacques Protic lives.

Until quite recently, Protic and ‘J Jones’ seemed to work as a team, appearing on the same blog or website feeding off each other. But we seem to be reading less from Protic nowadays and more from ‘J Jones’, who may be trying to explain the Protic reticence in the comment below, made in December to a Cardiff University blog by Professor Roger Scully.

Significantly, the police doing “nothing” to protect Jacques Protic from nationalist lynch mobs is a refrain we’ve heard from Protic himself. It has even been taken up by Labour blogger Phil Parry. To savour his take on the persecution of Jacques Protic – and my role in it! – work back from (takes deep breath), If Third-Rate Journalism Reliant On Endless Repetition Was A Crime Then Phil Parry Would Have Been Banged Up Long Ago.

‘J Jones’ of course shares the Protic obsession with education, to the extent that towards the end of 2015 he even commissioned a survey with YouGov into attitudes to Welsh language education. How much does it cost to have your own survey? How much of an obsessive do you have to be to arrange one? Or is someone else paying?

I suggest that newspapers, magazines, blogs and websites, take rather more care than hitherto when dealing with comments and other contributions from ‘J Jones’, if only because he doesn’t exist.

Brexit

To finish, a little contribution from another source who tells me that Whitehall mandarins are in a tizzy because they fear May and her Three Brexiteers may be planning to do a runner so as to avoid the €60bn ‘divorce settlement’ and other punitive measures that Johnny Foreigner will seek to impose.

The scenario runs thus: Once the German elections are out of the way at the end of September a spat will be contrived that will see the UK raise two fingers to her erstwhile partners in the EU and walk away without paying anything.

I’m still trying to get my head around this, and figure out how it might impact on Scotland. Surely it would be a gift for the SNP? And what about us?

I’m sure my erudite and imaginative readers will have opinions on this and the other matters raised in this post.

♦ end ♦

Oct 272015
 

THEN THERE WAS ONE

In my previous post I mentioned that concerns are growing for the whereabouts and reputation of Labour councillor John Charles Bayliss of Swansea. Well, I’m afraid that fresh information only confirms that those fears were well founded.

To recap: John Charles Bayliss came to Swansea as a student, possibly in 2009. He and other students were recruited, in advance of the May 2012 council elections, to support the man who went on to become council leader after Labour won those elections, David ‘Il Duce‘ Phillips (of whom I have written more than once). This recruiting was perhaps done through Phillips’ wife Sybil Crouch, also a councillor, who works at Swansea university.

Among others recruited in this manner were Pearleen Sangha and Mitchell ‘Mitch’ Theaker. Another former student in this coterie of juvenile councillors was Nick Bradley. Phillips and Crouch are from Liverpool, Sangha from California, Bayliss is from Sussex, Bradley from the West Midlands, and Theaker may actually be from somewhere in Wales, though not Swansea. (Read more about them here.) So all were perfectly qualified to run a city they know sod all about. But that’s the state of the ‘Welsh’ Labour Party today, it just cannot find enough local candidates.

Phillips

After two disastrous years in charge Phillips was overthrown in a palace coup. (Here’s an example of how his clique operated.) While mooching around waiting for the job offers to pour in the former council boss tried his hand at fly-tipping before sinking into the obscurity he so richly deserved. Their leader and inspiration thrown down Phillips’ young acolytes started moving out of Swansea, leaving only John Charles Bayliss. Now fears grow that Bayliss has also departed . . . but may be trying to shield the citizenry from the welcome truth sad news.

THE BOY DONE GOOD . . .

Some unkind souls were wont to think that John Boy was nigh-on unemployable, and quite happy to subsist on his council allowances (with perhaps help from his parents) while pursuing his real passions of LGBT causes and enjoying himself. (Though, curiously, all references to his previous enthusiasm for Gay issues have been scrubbed from his Twitter account and other records. How very strange!)

But then, seemingly out of the blue, he found himself a position with flim-flam merchants a PR company called the Remarkable Group. According to the Swansea council website this new position was declared on April 30th this year and officially added to the Register of Members’ Interests on May 6th. Bayliss is now employed as an ‘Account Executive’, but we are not told which account(s) he has responsibility for.

Bayliss Remarkable

Though as I stated in my previous post, I have no doubt that Bayliss was recruited by Remarkable because he is a councillor in Swansea, and in order to ease through the currently stalled Mynydd y Gwair wind farm project for Remarkable’s client RWE Innogy.

 . . . BUT NOT IN SWANSEA

Not long after this appointment Bayliss changed his address from a flat in a house of multiple occupation in Cwmdonkin Terrace, in the Uplands ward he represents, to Cambrian Place in the Maritime Quarter (see picture below); in fact, the very pad where his friend and former council colleague, Mitch Theaker, had lived, vacated when Theaker went to work in the Gulf. But does he really live there? Because it could well be – as was suggested in an e-mail I received on Sunday – that Bayliss works in Bristol during the week and comes back to Swansea after finishing work on Friday. Then again, he might have moved to Bristol altogether and is simply using the Cambrian Place address to deceive people into thinking he still lives in Swansea.

Either way, for a fit and healthy young man with no obvious calls on his time, such as children or elderly parents, and living just a skip and a jump from the civic centre, John Charles Bayliss’s attendance record is appalling . . . or certainly it has become appalling since he got the job in Bristol working on the Mynydd y Gwair wind farm project.

A comment to the previous post by ‘Jobovitch’ tells us that, prior to his taking up employment in Bristol, Bayliss had an attendance record of close on 96%. So I checked, and he’s right. Between 09.11.2014 and 04.05.2016 John Bayliss had an attendance record of 96%, present at 24 out of 25 meetings he was expected to attend. And in the period before that it was 94%. And we find it was also 94% if we go back another six months.

Yet during the most recent six months, the period 04.05.2015 to 27.10.2015, his attendance record plummeted to 27%, to the point where his record was the worst bar just one. (Set out in this document supplied by a reader.)

Cambrian Place

This dramatic change in the attendance record of councillor John Charles Bayliss can be attributed to only one thing: his job with the Remarkable Group, that requires him to live in Bristol.

And yet, at a meeting on May 19th Bayliss was elected vice-chair of the Economy & Investment Cabinet Advisory Committee . . . even though he wasn’t there! He missed further meetings of this committee on June 17th (‘Apologies received’); July 15th (‘Absent’); August 19th (‘Absent’); but he did turn up for the Glyndŵr Day meeting, of what had now been renamed the Development Cabinet Advisory Committee, perhaps because the very first item on the agenda was that, ‘ . . . Councillor J C Bayliss be elected (again?) Vice Chair for the remainder of the Municipal Year’ (’til May 2016). As might be expected, he missed the most recent meeting on October 21st (‘Apologies received’).

Why the hell would the Labour Party in Swansea be so keen to install as vice-chair of an important committee a councillor they must know no longer lives in the city and is not going to turn up for meetings? Does the clue lie with his new employer?

CALCULATIONS

At this point some reading this might be asking, ‘Hang on, if the decision to block the Mynydd y Gwair wind farm was taken at Assembly level, where’s the advantage to the developers in recruiting a Swansea councillor?’ Well, if you read the reasons for turning down the application you’ll see that it hinged on the land lost by the commoners being replaced with acceptable grazing land. This is still being worked on, and the application will almost certainly be re-submitted.

In addition, Bayliss’s great friend and former councillor in the Uplands ward, Pearleen Sangha, is now living and working in Cardiff – for the Labour Party. We can be sure that Bayliss and Sangha, both wind energy fanatics, are in regular contact . . . and who’s to say she isn’t pushing Mynydd y Gwair to persons in or close to the ‘Welsh’ Government? Additionally, Swansea council passed the Mynydd y Gwair application in February 2013 by just three votes. Among those who voted for the application were Bayliss’s friends, Mitchell Theaker, Pearleen Sangha and Nick Bradley . . . all of whom have departed. Council leader at the time David Phillips was also a big supporter, but he’s no longer in a position to threaten, cajole or bribe Labour councillors.

It could well be that if Mynydd y Gwair came before Swansea council tomorrow it would be rejected. That would be a disaster for the developers, because in dealing with the ‘Welsh’ Government one of its strong cards is, ‘Swansea council is in favour’. But things have changed, and that’s why RWE Innogy and Remarkable need a Swansea councillor to tell them who’s for and, more importantly, who’s against – in other words, who they need to work on. This explains why Remarkable recruited John Bayliss.

Though you have to wonder why so many self-declared socialists in the Labour Party in Swansea are keen to cover bleak but lovely Mynydd y Gwair with wind turbines for the benefit of the Beaufort Estate (Prop. Duke of Beaufort). Why is that? Could it be partly personal?

Mynydd y Gwair

I ask because Mynydd y Gwair lies within Mawr, the most rural and sparsely-populated of Swansea’s wards, represented for almost thirty years by Ioan Richard of Craigcefnparc, once a Plaid Cymru councillor (on the old Lliw Valley District Council), like so many genuine nationalists Ioan gave up on Plaid Cymru long ago and has, since local government reorganization in 1996, sat as an Independent on the new City and County of Swansea council.

It would be fair to say that the Labour Party in Swansea doesn’t much like Ioan, he’s been a thorn in their flesh for years. They’ve repaid him in various ways, not least by blocking him from becoming Lord Mayor when his turn came up about a decade ago, a move supported – cheered on, even – by the four councillors Plaid Cymru then had on Swansea council, all of whom have now, thankfully, fallen by the wayside. A procedural change from party political voting to elevation on a simple calculation of seniority finally allowed Ioan to wear the chain in 2011. Ironically, perhaps, the year after next should see David ‘Il Duce‘ Phillips become Lord Mayor, but as a notorious and convicted fly-tipper he is now thankfully disqualified.

Another way Labour displayed its feelings for the councillor from Mawr was in preventing him from voting on the 2013 Mynydd y Gwair debate – an application in his own ward! It was judged that Ioan had ‘pre-determined’ the case by his opposition to the scheme and was therefore not allowed to vote. The student-councillors like Sangha and Bayliss, who had been tweeting their support for the project for months, and who were in contact with Gwenllian Elias, the PR woman for Mynydd y Gwair, were deemed to be approaching the debate with open minds and were allowed to vote!

TIME TO ACT

The situation we find today with John Bayliss is remarkably similar to the one we saw last year with Pearleen Sangha. She too took a job away from Swansea but tried to carry on as if nothing had happened. This was obviously done with the knowledge of the Labour Party – because she was working for the party! Eventually she had to admit the truth and stand down, but had it not been for external pressure then she and the Labour Party would have just carried on, to avoid a ‘messy’ by-election, which Labour lost.

But you mustn’t think that this behaviour is confined to Swansea, as a comment to the previous post from ‘Keri Tyisha’ reminded us. He told us of the 90-year-old councillor in Carmarthenshire suffering from dementia but kept on the council by repeated leaves of absence issued by the chief executive and ruler of the council, Mark James. Again, far better to maintain the pretence that a councillor is doing his or her job than risk a by-election.

Chubby Johhny

In conclusion, Swansea council’s website shows that the attendance record for Councillor John Charles Bayliss has deteriorated alarmingly, from 96% to 27%, and that this deterioration links with his recruitment by the Remarkable Group in Bristol. It is therefore reasonable to assume that Bayliss is living and working in Bristol. That being so, he cannot serve the residents of the Uplands ward in Swansea. He must therefore stand down and a by-election must be held to elect a councillor who can properly serve the ward.

For the longer term, the next reorganisation of local government must be about more than just re-drawing boundaries. It must introduce mechanisms to ensure that the narrow and selfish interests of political parties or chief executives can not be served by deceiving the public into believing that councillors who’ve died, emigrated, been banged up, or are no longer compos mentis, are still serving their community.

Swansea deserves better. Wales deserves better.Swansea your councillors

UPDATE 22:35: Shortly after posting this article, I noticed that the links I’d provided to Swansea council’s website were no longer working. (They were working this morning, that’s how I got the information.) I checked the website and found that everything was working except the section for ‘Your councillors’. I tweeted about it, and got a reply in mid afternoon, but the problem still hasn’t been fixed. Now if I was the suspicious kind . . .

UPDATE 10.11.2015: I have learnt that John C Bayliss is seeking election to the Notional Assembly via the regional list.

Oct 222015
 

In the previous post I wrote about Faerdre Fach farm near Llandysul, the reason for my interest being that the owner, Kate Clamp, had re-named it Happy Donkey Hill, a reference to the donkeys and other animals housed there. That, really, was about all I wanted to say, but comments made by Mrs Clamp persuaded me to persist with this story.

As I pointed out in that earlier post, Mrs Clamp had run a similar enterprise in north east England before delighting us with her presence. This was the Ramshaw Rescue Centre at Low Garth Farm near Bishop Auckland. The report I’ve linked to, from October 2008, says that, Happy%20Donkey%20Hilldue to a neck injury, Mrs Clamp was selling Low Garth Farm, with an asking price of £895,000.

The next reference I found to the Ramshaw Rescue Centre was in this report from December 2010. In it, the Centre’s former kennel manager talks of raising money to buy and re-open the Centre, and is quoted as saying, “The rescue centre, when it was open, was good, but not brilliant – and I want to bring it back and restore and improve its image”. The implication is clear: when run by Mrs Clamp the Ramshaw Rescue Centre did not enjoy a good image.

Whatever the truth of that, we know that in late 2008 she was telling the Northern Echo that a neck injury was forcing her to give up the animal rescue centre at Low Garth Farm. Yet within months we find her in Wales, running exactly the same kind of operation, almost certainly with the same animals. We can safely conclude that her ‘injury’ was imaginary, and so there must have been another reason or reasons for her leaving Low Garth Farm.

*

To my surprise, Kate Clamp made a few comments to my earlier post. You can of course read them for yourself, but I think some of her bon mots are worth extracting to use here.

In her first comment she tells us that she has now bought an “adjoining 31 acres” and, presumably, expects to be commended. Though as I point out, all this means is that yet more of Wales is in foreign ownership. In her next comment she says that my response was, “A very insular and very Welsh response . . . funny how all the successful businesses locally are run by non-Welsh, we spent in excess of £250,000 developing a derelict farm steading and mostly due to unreliable contractors locally used English workmen”.

Kate Clamp comment 2

I asked her to explain how my response was “insular” and “Welsh”, but she did not answer. Just as well perhaps, for she obviously has a very low opinion of us Welsh, and is not shy to express that opinion – we are no good at business, we are lazy workers . . . yet Wales is beautiful and we should be glad to live here (but leave the business of running the country to people like her). This is about as close as you’ll get to hearing someone actually say: ‘Wales is a lovely country . . . pity about the Welsh’.

In her final remarks directed at me (see comments to previous post), and after informing us that, “we” still own Low Garth Farm, she writes, “I am very proud of what we have achieved both in Wales and in England, I have created 2 remarkable businesses from nothing, what is your contribution?”

*

Then, late last night, whilst sipping my Ovaltine, I received a Twitter DM. A curious message, but from a reliable source, telling me that Kate Clamp is the daughter of billionaire Michael Gooley, who made his money with off-the-beaten-track holiday company Trailfinders. Gooley is an important supporter of the Conservative Party and according to this BBC report gave the party £500,000 in the final quarter of last year, in the run-up to the General Election.

I’m not sure how my source stumbled upon this link but she was able to offer support with the tweet below, clearly from Kate Clamp to her brother Tristan Gooley, author of The Natural Navigator. (Obviously a chip off the old block.)

Tristan Gooley tweet

My source was able to direct me towards other supporting evidence, such as this forum discussing Happy Donkey Hill being featured in the Channel Four programme Four in a Bed. There I found a fascinating and revealing comment from ‘Batmanrobin’, which you can read below. (Click to enlarge.) Whoever posted this comment seems to know Kate Clamp, and makes a number of serious allegations. The reference to “Bishop” for Bishop Auckland tells me that ‘Batmanrobin’ is local to that area.

batmanandrobin

One allegation in particular caught my eye, “Donations for the (Ramshaw Rescue) centre was used for cruises and holidays”. I found this interesting because, on the one hand animal rescue centres invariably rely on grants, bequests, donations and other gifts, and are often registered charities, yet I can find nothing on the Charity Commission website for either the Ramshaw Rescue Centre or Faerdre Fach / Happy Donkey Hill. Nor could I find a registered company. Nor anything – charity or company – in the name of Kate Clamp. So how were these ventures organised, what form did they take, and how was the income accounted for and declared?

Then – as is so often the case – a comment from ‘Brychan’ pointed the way. He was able to tell us that the Ramshaw Rescue Centre is still open, and that until very recently the banking was done by a Kate Price. And it seems that at one time she was also known as Kate Wilson. After checking this myself, I’m persuaded that assorted animals are still housed at Low Garth Farm, but I’m not sure if it’s still called Ramshaw Rescue Centre. It may now be run as boarding kennels called 4 Paws Farm. Possibly both rescue centre and boarding kennels.

So now we have four surnames by which the proprietrix of Faerdre Fach has been known: Gooley, Wilson, Price and now Clamp. Are there others? No wonder it’s proving difficult to unearth any information on her. And is ‘Kate’ really her full given name, or is it Catherine / Katherine, Kathleen . . . ?

*

We’ve learnt from Kate Clamp herself that although Low Garth Farm was up for sale in late 2008 it was not sold. As she reprimanded me: “Another grossly misinformed remark about my farm in the North East of England as we still own it!! You really need to research facts before you try to belittle me dear.” So I took her advice and did some research.

First, I wondered who exactly owns Faerdre Fach, and so I went to the Land Registry website. The document I paid £3 for and downloaded told me that the farm had been bought, on February 26th 2009, for £365,000, by Michael William David Gooley CBE.

Faerdre Fach title extract

Next – you’ve guessed it! – I wondered who owned Low Garth Farm. The Land Registry document told me that this property is also registered in the name of Michael William David Gooley CBE. This goes some way to explaining why Kate Cramp didn’t sell Low Garth Farm after all – it was never hers to sell!

*

I think we know enough about Kate Gooley / Wilson / Price / Clamp to make the following assessment.

Despite her claim to be hard-working and successful, what she has was paid for by Tory-funding Daddy. Though that said, he is a real businessman, you can tell that by the fact that he keeps ownership of the properties in which she lives, and where she is allowed to play out her fantasy of being a businesswoman. The fantasies may not end there.

Lady Kate Clamp Facebook

Allegations have been made that donations made to the Ramshaw Rescue Centre were misappropriated. I have no way of knowing whether these serious allegations are true or not, but it’s strange that I can find nothing to tell me how the RRC was constituted. If it was receiving donations then it would need to be registered with the Charity Commission or some other body.

The Clamps departure from Low Garth Farm may have been somewhat hurried, and we know that the excuse given does not ring true because Kate Clamp merely transferred her activities – and perhaps her animals – to Llandysul. So what was the real reason for them moving from the north east of England to the south west of Wales in late 2008 / early 2009? Especially as her new husband Andy Clamp is local to the north east of England.

And yet, as the daughter of a very wealthy man, surely she could, had she so chosen, live the life of a retiring country lady, busying herself with ‘good works’ around the parish. But it looks as if Kate Clamp is, to put it kindly, ‘outgoing’, and loves to be the centre of attention.

Kate Clamp belongs to a restless but well-heeled segment of English society that until relatively recently could enjoy the escape of empire, and lording it over ‘darkies’. Many of them now move to France, and pride themselves on not learning a word of the ‘lingo’; or else they choose Spain, where they shout at waiters – all of whom are, conveniently, named ‘Pedro’. But too many of them end up in Wales, and with the same attitudes.

How much longer do we put up with being treated as some inferior race?

***

IN THE PIPELINE . . .

There are two subjects I’m working on for possible future posts, and I’d appreciate any information.

The first concerns the long-running plan by the Beaufort Estate to erect wind turbines on common grazing land at Mynydd y Gwair, on the northern outskirts of Swansea. Having recently been turned down the developers are appealing, and now mysterious little groups have been haunting central Swansea collecting signatures on vague petitions supporting wind energy.

The approach to passers-by seems to be, ‘Do you want your children / grandchildren to be roasted alive due to global warming? Of course you don’t – so sign our petition!’ No specific mention is made of Mynydd y Gwair but it is strongly believed that the Green extremists collecting these signatures are in the pay of the developers and that these petitions will be presented as ‘evidence’ of public support for the Mynydd y Gwair project. Any information on those who have been deviously collecting signatures in this way would be welcome. Greenpeace and Yes2Wind have been mentioned as being involved. Read here how they operate.

One of the companies involved with the developers, RWE Innogy UK, is the Remarkable Group. As we know, companies such as these like to have someone on the inside, and this explains why Remarkable recently hired Labour councillor John Charles Bayliss. Bayliss is the last of the students recruited a few years ago by a desperate Swansea Labour Party led by David ‘Il Duce’ Phillips to fill gaps in the ranks. I have written of the dear boy many times before.

Bayliss Remarkable

Bayliss is a councillor for the Uplands ward on the west side of the city, but has recently changed his address to one down in the Maritime Quarter which, by a remarkable coincidence, is the very address where his friend and fellow student-councillor Mitchell Theaker dwelt, ere he departed for sunnier climes. But some mutter that Bayliss has himself moved, to Bristol, to be nearer his work with Remarkable. So is John Charles Bayliss still living in Swansea? And if not, why does the Labour Party maintain the pretence that he does?

*

I am also seeking information on Valleys Kids. This is yet another Third Sector outfit run by Labour Party members into which the ‘Welsh’ Government has pumped millions and millions of pounds of EU funding with no discernible benefit for the communities being ‘served’.

From what I can see Valleys Kids is just a glorified but very, very well funded youth club, owning among other properties a nice place on Gower. But Valleys Kids may also have friends in high places, for rumours persist that when the Wales European Funding Office (WEFO) did a random check, and threatened to pull the funding plug, all was smoothed over by a phone call to Tony Blair!

Information on Valleys Kids please to editor@jacothenorth.net.

Mar 202013
 

The leader of the Labour gang now running Swansea council is David Phillips who, despite the name, is English, and from Liverpool. It seems he came to Wales to take a job with Customs and Excise, in Pembrokeshire, some 40 years ago. Leaving after little more than 20 years service he drifted up to Swansea and became an adviser on VAT and similar issues to small businesses. For personal and council purposes Phillips has always signed himself ‘David Phillips AIIT, MInstD’.

The first set of letters stand for Associate of the Institute of Indirect Taxation. Though some unkind souls – even within his own party – questioned whether he should be using this ‘qualification’. Not least because in August last year the Institute of Indirect Taxation merged with the Chartered Institute of Taxation. (You must have seen it on the News!) It was also suggested that his membership of said body hadDavid Phillips lapsed years before the merger.

The Institute of Directors on the other hand is extant and going strong. A global body catering mainly for those on the boards of large companies . . . odd, because Phillips the tax adviser was never much more than a one-man band. There was also the problem that claiming to belong to this organisation, and perhaps having shared a fat cigar with these oppressors of the proletariat, did not go down well on the barricades with the more right-on members of Swansea Labour Party.

Anyway, things came to a head recently when an FoI was lodged asking for clarification of these letters and whether the Great Leader was entitled to flaunt them. The response was swift and Ealing-esque. Staff at the Civic Centre swung into action deleting AIIT and MInstD from all publications, physical and electronic. So we can safely assume that Phillips was not entitled to use these letters.

Leaving me to ask: What sort of man tries to impress people with letters after his name that he is not entitled to use? (And should such a man be a council leader?) Having been responsible for the expense, will Phillips now recompense the council tax payers of Swansea for council staff having to spend time covering up his little ‘oversight’?

STAYING IN SWANSEA . . .

Intelligence reaches me of regular deliveries of wind turbines through the docks, bound for Brechfa Forest, Mynydd y Betws and other sites. These turbines are coming in from, Spain, China, the USA and Denmark. On foreign-crewed and foreign-owned ships that do a quick turnaround, thereby denying the local bars and massage parlours a chance to lighten the sailors’ wallets.

The turbines then cause massive traffic problems as they are transported on specialist haulage units brought in from outside of Wales, to be erected by construction crews also from outside of Wales. Once up, they will be milking the subsidies making massive profits for their foreign owners. Often on land owned by government agencies (Forestry Commission) or English absentee landlords (Duke of Beaufort). And of course, once erected, they will not provide any employment. So who in Wales – dockers apart – benefits from these rapacious, ugly monsters? I link this with the above story because of course Swansea Labour Party is in love with wind turbines, and recently voted to inflict them on Mynydd y Gwair.

Of perhaps greater concern is a rumour circulating locally that not all the wind turbines arriving in Swansea docks and / or being erected in Wales are new. If so, is any agency empowered to monitor these turbines, check that they are up to scratch? And seeing as the effective working life of a new turbine was recently lowered from 25 to 15 or 16 years, what is the life expectancy of a second-hand machine? How could it be calculated? And who’s going to remove them and engage in genuine environmentalism – by repairing the damage done – when they cease to be of use?

Feb 252013
 

Following on from the previous post I have now written to the Welsh Government asking that the Mynydd y Gwair project be ‘called in’ due to the many irregularities attaching to the February 7th vote and other, linked issues.

For if the Council’s legal officers strongly advised Councillor Ioan Richard (of the affected ward) to absent himself from the debate then there were a number on the other side as obviously predetermined to vote in favour as Councillor Richard was to vote against, so were they given the same advice? And if so, why were they allowed to ignore that advice? All explained in the letter here. A further copy, with a covering letter, has been sent to the Public Services Ombudsman for Wales.

Looking at the wider picture, the Mynydd y Gwair case, and what I’ve learnt about the state of the Swansea Labour Party in the past couple of weeks, it fits in with a wider picture of the Labour Party in Wales. It is a party increasingly reliant upon a regular influx of non-Welsh candidates in order to keep up the appearance of strength. What’s interesting, is how it achieves and maintains that influx.

I began this series of posts with a fit of nostalgia by recalling the Labour Party I knew back in Swansea when I was growing up there in the 1950s and 1960s. Few of our local councillors and activists impressed me in a positive way, but at least I knew them. I knew who they were. Or if I didn’t, then the chances were that my father knew them, or worked with one of the Brother’s brothers. Most Labour councillors of that era started their political careers in the trade unions, blue collar trade unions catering for the working classes.

Despite their many shortcomings no one could argue that our local councillors did not know their patch, and did not want the best for Swansea. Looking back to those days, the Labour Party I knew back then was, through the trade unions and other activities, part and parcel of the lives and experiences of those who supported the party. Not so today.

THE ‘PAINTED SHELL’ PARTY

I have chosen this metaphor because the more I think of today’s Labour Party the more I see an empty but cleverly decorated shell where once there had been something less attractively adorned but with more content. A party today still able to rely on the ‘donkey’ vote, but with the problem that ‘donkey’ voters rarely join the party, let alone become candidates. Thus leaving Labour dependent on other avenues for many of its representatives.

One route for that supply, obvious when we consider Swansea, is higher education. With two universities and a few other colleges the higher education sector is a valuable source of council candidates for Labour in Swansea. This applies elsewhere in Wales and may go some way to explaining why the ‘Welsh’ Government is so keen on giving Wales a higher education sector grotesquely and damagingly in excess of what a small country needs.

Then, when we look at another route, the Third Sector, and strip away all the political correctness and touchy-feely nonsense, what we see is naked politics. An overlarge Third Sector such as we suffer in Wales attracts a steady inflow of individuals to take advantage of sinecures, jobs and funding handed out by the party they belong to or support.

Making the Third Sector a system of political patronage, plain and simple. Nothing more than a party in power with money to disburse rewarding its friends and supporters. This kind of mild corruption is found all over the world, but it’s rare to find it practised so blatantly in Protestant Europe. In return for this largesse the Labour Party has a ready supply of candidates.

Which means that since the first round of EU Objective One funding in 2000 the Welsh economy and the welfare of our people have taken a back seat to the Labour Party’s ‘patronage-results-in-candidates’ system. That’s bad enough, but understandable in a selfish kind of way. What’s unforgivable is that both the Liberal Democrats and Plaid Cymru have supported this corruption . . . and being the unprincipled chancers or deluded ‘socialists’ they are, would do so again, tomorrow, given the opportunity.

Something else that struck me as I trawled through the available information on Swansea’s new intake of Labour councillors was how many of them belonged to trade unions. Or rather, a single trade union, Unite. And how many are members of the Co-operative party. Which provides another stark contrast with the days of my youth.

For I recall horny-handed sons of toil (unless of course they were shop stewards) who belonged to the TGWU or the NUR, and who drank in the Dockers Club. But today’s skinny latte Labour Party, to maintain the pretence of a link with the hoi-polloi, has union representation from a white collar union that has as members people who’ve never done what most people would regard as work! Somehow I can’t see their names being stitched onto the union banner by candlelight prior to the dawn assault on the bastions of capitalist oppression.

This final observation (no, not the candlelight stitching) brings me to the ugly reality of professional politicians; which is where academe, Third Sector and white collar unions inexorably takes us. To the realisation that we now have a class of people – especially within the Labour Party – who got involved in student politics then, on leaving university became an ‘adviser’ to an MP or AM, or worked for a trade union or a grant-guzzling Third Sector body and, then, without venturing into the ‘real world’ inhabited by un-networked mortals like thee and me, go on to ‘represent’ us in our local authority, or else in Cardiff, London or Brussels.

Throw in the loose canon or crank who nevertheless knows how to play the selection process and you can understand how the Labour Party on Swansea City Council is what it is today: a repulsive collection of carpetbaggers, trendies, oddballs and single-issue obsessives exploiting the indigenous ‘donkey’ vote in order to serve constituencies such as the GLBT community.

I leave you all to consider this. Due to the assorted machinations listed above it could be that the Conservative Party is today, for the first time ever, more representative of the Welsh nation than the Labour Party.

 

UPDATE 27.02.2013: More information has come to light that has resulted in me making another complaint to the Public Services Ombudsman for Wales. To explain.

Just before Christmas all Swansea’s councillors received a copy of a book, The Wind Farm Scam, by Dr. John Etherington. The book was sent by the organisation leading the resistance to the Mynydd y Gwair wind turbines, SOCME (Save Our Common Mountain Environment).

One councillor, young John Charles Bayliss (who has cropped up here quite often of late!) was mightily unimpressed with this Yuletide gift. So unimpressed that he was moved to tweet. My interpretation of this tweet is as follows. The Bayliss, coalreference to “coal” I take to mean that the book should be burned. “#Scientificallyilliterate” is probably his opinion of those who sent the book, or possibly Dr. Etherington. While “#BuggerOff” can only be his response to those who kindly sent him the book. Such ingratitude! (The picture referred to in the tweet is simply the front cover of the book with the SOCME complimentary slip.)

This tweet for me is proof positive that as early as December 11th (and almost certainly long before) Bayliss was predetermined to vote in favour of wind turbines on Mynydd y Gwair. That being so, John Charles Bayliss is another councillor who should not have voted on February 7th.

Feb 212013
 

Are you sitting comfortably? Good. Because what follows gets a bit complicated. That said, I believe there is now enough evidence to question the legitimacy of the decision taken by Swansea council on February 7th to allow RWE to erect wind turbines on Mynydd y Gwair, common land owned by the Duke of Beaufort on the city’s northern outskirts. My previous posts this month on Swansea council are, in chronological order, here and here.

Perhaps the first thing to make clear is that the long-serving local councillor, Ioan Richard, was not allowed to vote on February 7th because he had previously shown his opposition to the project. In other words, he’d been open and honest about his position. The same may not be the case for a number of those who voted to grant planning permission.

My attention has been drawn to the fact that RWE’s Renewables Developer for Mynydd y Gwair, Gwenllian Elias, tweets as @gwenll_elias, and among her 59 followers are Councillor Mitchell Theaker (@mitchelltheaker) and Councillor Pearleen Sangha (@PearleenSangha). She reciprocates Sangha 2by following them. (Another Swansea councillor Ms Elias follows is Nick Bradley (@CllrNickBradley) the council’s number one West Bromwich Albion fan.) On the night of (possibly the day after) the Mynydd y Gwair vote, Pearleen Sangha tweeted her joy at the outcome of the council meeting . . . and her tweet was almost immediately retweeted by Gwenllian Elias of RWE! Great minds, eh!

Now this may be harmless enough, perhaps nothing more than contact limited to Twitter. Alternatively, it could suggest that Elias, Sangha and Theaker were known to each other before the vote was taken. In which case it puts a totally different complexion on the matter. For if they knew each other before the vote then, seeing as both Sangha and Theaker voted for the bird and bat mincers, they were as ‘compromised’ as Councillor Richard in that their minds were also made up long before the discussion of the matter, and the vote, on February 7th. If that was the case then they should not have been allowed to vote.

Now let us turn to Llansamlet’s very own advocate of permanent revolution, Councillor Uta Clay, who has come in for a bit of a hammering of late, partly for stoutly defending the Duke of Beaufort’s financial interests, and partly for making silly remarks during the February 7th debate. This letter is just one of a number I am told have appeared in the Evening Post. As the letter suggests, how could this woman, who has only been in Swansea for five minutes, be so silly and insulting as to slur ordinary Welsh protesters as belonging to the “privileged few”. A category to which an English nobleman apparently does not belong! (Is this making sense?)

You also have to ask why, after the local party had the good sense to deselect her, and suspend her and her husband, some unnamed authority representing ‘London’ stepped in to insist the Clays’ suspensions be lifted and she be reinstated as candidate for the May 2012 council elections. What happened to devolution? What happened to ‘Welsh’ Labour?

Someone else who’s only been in Swansea for five minutes is New Zealander Andrew Hore, ‘Elite Performance Director’ at the Ospreys. (Not to be confused with the Andrew Hore who did the dirty on Bradley Davies last autumn) Hore was allowed to speak at the February 7th meeting in favour of the Mynydd y Gwair money machine. RWE sponsors the Ospreys, and a number of councillors are season ticket holders at the Ospreys; others have received ‘hospitality’. Which looks a bit . . . er . . . iffy? Here is a (PDF) link to an interesting exchange between Edwina Hart, a local AM, and Patrick Arran, Head of Legal, Democratic Services and Procurement at Swansea council, in which Ms Hart questions why Hore was allowed to speak at the council meeting. A good question.

Then, today, a letter appeared in the Wasting Mule from a Swansea councillor – one who actually knows the city, and can pronounce Mynydd y Gwair! What Councillor Tyler-Lloyd is (perhaps unwittingly) alluding to is a system now becoming dominant in Welsh political and public life. It begins with civil servants in London or Cardiff issuing diktats. When this is done in London it’s invariably done on the instructions of  politicians; when it’s done in Cardiff it’s too often done on orders from London and presented to the self-styled Welsh Government as a fait accompli. (Well, what do you expect? If Welsh Labour won’t stand up to ‘London’ on matters of internal party discipline do you really think they’re going to challenge Sir Humphrey in Whitehall?) These diktats then become Gospel for senior officers in local government who use them – and the threat of the expense involved in challenging them – to silence debate and stifle opposition. R.I.P. Welsh local democracy.

As it takes hold we see this process leading to situations such as that which has been played out in a London courtroom this week, as Fuehrer James of Carmarthenshire County Council sues – with public money – a blogger who dared criticise his regime. Or the cabinet of Labour-controlled Caerffili council meeting behind closed doors to give whopping pay rises to senior officers . . . at the insistence of the chief executive – i.e. the major beneficiary!

The wider and more worrying picture though is of a Wales in which we have the chimera of devolution while the reality sees us Welsh becoming increasingly marginalised and silenced across the land. In the rural areas the picture is stark, and villages and small towns are taken over by English colonists, but even in the city of Swansea we see it happening.

For one interpretation of that vote on the 7th of this month would be thart it was a victory for those who view our homeland as a resource to exploit, or else the political equivalent of a sandpit, somewhere to start one’s political career. On the one hand we had an English lord whose family has been robbing us for centuries, a German company here to milk the absurd subsidies paid for so-called ‘renewable energy’, a bunch of ex-student politicians that include a GLTB fanatic, a Californian, a West Brom supporter, another with an interest in cadets, then there’s a New Zealander working for the local rugby team (most of whose supporters still don’t understand what his bloody job is), and assorted other drifters, misfits and parasites who know fuck all about the city I love.

All these were allowed to speak, despite many if not all having already made up their minds on the issue or, worse, having a vested financial or other interest in seeing wind turbines on lovely Mynydd y Gwair. Yet, the councillor in whose ward Mynydd y Gwair is to be found, who had no financial or other interest, who had been open and honest in his opposition, and who represented the views of the overwhelming majority of his constituents – that is, those directly affected by the industrialisation of Mynydd y Gwair – was thrown out of the council chamber.

Where does this leave democracy, local or otherwise? And given that virtually all those on the one side of this debate were foreign, and almost all those on the other side were Welsh, what does it tell us about our country today? And our place in it?

UPDATE 23.02.2013: Interesting comments to the post from Jeff Jones and James Dunkley. Both question whether Councillor Ioan Richard was given the correct legal advice by the council officer(s). (Jeff Jones is the former leader of Bridgend Council who now works as a local government consultant.) They aren’t the only ones asking these questions. If Cllr Richard was wrongly told to leave the chamber then it must call into question either the competence or the impartiality of the person who gave that advice. (Patrick Arran. See the link in the post to his exchange with Edwina Hart AM.)       

Gwenllian Elias, the RWE Npower project officer for Mynydd y Gwair’s CV reads: 2007, left Cardiff University with BSc in Geography and Planning. September 2007 to September 2008 Planner with Newport City Council. September 2008 to August 2009 Planner with City and County of Swansea Council. August 2009 to April 2010 Planning Liason Officer with the Environment Agency. April 2010 to present Renewables Developer with RWE Npower Renewables Ltd. Looks like a planned career course: gain the background knowledge and contacts in the public sector before heading into the private sector and the serious money. And all done in less than three years.

The behaviour of certain councillors at the February 7th meeting, the near certainty of them being predetermined to vote in favour of the Mynydd y Gwair development, plus their established links with RWE’s project officer, has been referred to the Local Government Ombudsman for Wales.

Feb 142013
 

In a previous post I talked of the eclectic nature of the ruling Labour group on Swansea council. Of how it seems increasingly to be composed of people who neither know the city nor care much for it. Strangers who, by one route or another, have washed up on Swansea Bay and are simply using the Labour Party and the council to exercise whatever bee they have in their bonnet.

Dealing with the vote to allow bird choppers on Mynydd y Gwair, ancient common land on the northern outskirts of Swansea, I mentioned one Labour councillor who called the objectors rich, 4 x 4 driving nimbies. The irony of that absurd accusation is that the objectors were local Welsh graziers while the beneficiaries of the council’s planning consent will be the Duke of Beaufort and German energy giant RWE.

So I feel no inhibition in naming this woman as councillor Uta Clay, representing the Llansamlet ward. An interesting woman, Uta. Austrian by birth she’s been in Swansea for some four years, living with her husband, who is perhaps even more interesting. For he is Robert Alan Clay, educated at Bedford School and Gonville and Caius College, Cambridge. Better known as Bob Clay, he is the former Labour MP for Sunderland North.

The Clays turned up in Swansea some four years ago, after wearing out their welcome in Hereford. They first lived in a converted barn at Rhydypandy, just outside Morriston, from where they began their political manoeuvrings. These included organising a protest rally at the Brangwyn Hall in October 2010. Also, turning up to council meetings, where Bob Clay, with his booming voice and upper class English accent would regularly harangue and insult Chris Holley, Leader of the then Liberal Democrat-led coalition running Swansea. After promoting themselves so assiduously it was no surprise when Uta Clay was selected, in February 2011, to stand for Labour in the Llansamlet ward in the May 2012 council elections. That the Clays didn’t live in Llansamlet was remedied when they moved there that August.

Not satisfied with her being a mere candidate, Bob and Uta Clay tried to take over the branch completely. These attempts resulted in much disharmony among the comrades, and led to Uta Clay being deselected in November. Welsh Labour got involved, and brokered a deal on the understanding that future election material would only be produced by the local party, and would promote all four Labour candidates in the ward.

This failed to disperse the poisonous atmosphere in the Llansamlet ward which finally resulted in the suspension of the whole branch in January 2012. But a month later peace broke out again and it was agreed that all four candidates (including Uta Clay) could stand in the May 3rd council elections. So that was that? Well, no. In mid-March, and contrary to the agreement brokered by Welsh Labour, a separate leaflet was put out on behalf of Uta Clay. The police got involved due to the attacks made in the leaflet on the sitting Independent councillor. The Clays were again suspended. Now the saga takes a very, very strange twist.

The suspension was lifted after an intervention by the Labour Party in London! According to Uta Clay the unauthorised – possibly slanderous – leaflet was put out by her husband, and was therefore nothing at all to do with her! The Labour Party accepted this, and re-instated her as a candidate!

As a senior Labour Party source put it: “This whole thing stinks to high heaven. The local Labour Party did everything by the book, and had the support of the Labour Party in Wales. But pressure has been brought to bear (from outside Wales) to get these suspensions overturned. It’s an outrage that loyal party members have been treated like dirt to accommodate two people who were campaigning against the Labour Party only a few years ago.”

This being a reference to the Clays campaigning with George ‘Indefatigability’ Galloway and his ‘Respeck’ party in the 2004 European Parliament elections. So why did these two Trotskyists get support from Labour in London to over-rule Welsh Labour and the local party, guaranteeing that Uta Clay stood in the council elections? How often does ‘London’ get involved in ward-level squabbles, and in Wales?

The Clays continue to entertain. Most notably with their involvement in the campaign to stop a second Traveller site being established in the Llansamlet ward. A few months ago they turned up at the official Traveller site asking those living there to move to Felindre or Fforestfach. Bringing with them a typed letter to the council asking for relocation that simply needed Travellers’ signatures. The Travellers complained to the council that Bob Clay had suggested they might “not be safe” if they stayed on the official site. The council reported the incident to the police. You must admit, Travellers complaining of being intimidated is unusual. Equally odd is seeing defenders of the underdog jumping on the anti-gypsy bandwagon.

Which brings us back to last week’s vote on the Duke of Beaufort’s subsidy farm at Mynydd y Gwair. A long meeting during which Uta Clay ‘lost it’ and turned on the objectors in the public gallery, calling them nimbies, saying they were all rich people with  expensive off-road vehicles. For these and even more offensive remarks Uta Clay has been reported to the Local Government Ombudsman. But she was not alone.

Also jeering the Welsh objectors were two of Swansea’s ex-student councillors, John Bayliss and his good friend Mitchell Theaker behaving like immature hooligans. Bayliss sits on the council to promote Gay issues, while Theaker confesses an interest in reserves and cadets.

The message I take from this sorry business is that in the matter of the Clays, Welsh Labour meekly submitted to orders from its masters in London. It is therefore reasonable to conclude that this happens in other spheres and at other times. Which means that the ‘Welsh Government’ is nothing but a puppet regime controlled from London. I have always argued that devolution is a sham, this case provides yet more support for that belief.

Looking at the wider picture, I can’t help but wonder what Swansea Labour stalwarts like Byron Owen, Robert Francis-Davies, Ceinwen Thomas and others feel about their party having been taken over by this freak show of GLBT zealots, manipulative academics, embittered Trots and assorted oddballs who’ve turned up out of the blue. How can this shower possibly be serving a city they do not know, they do not understand, and they do not care about?

Looking beyond Swansea, from Wrecsam to Caerffili to Caerfyrddin, we see the Labour Party failing to attract the quality of member that would have filled its ranks in earlier generations, leaving itself easy prey to entryists and others hoping to use the party to promote their own agendas. Thanks to the ‘donkey’ vote Labour may still appear strong, but it’s increasingly clear that this is a facade, one that can only be maintained at ward, branch and local authority level by surrendering to the sort of people now running Swansea.

Wouldn’t it be great if we had a nationalist party to prick this ‘bubble’!

Feb 072013
 

When I was growing up in Swansea the Labour Party seemed to be everywhere, through the presence of its members and supporters in just about every organisation in the locality. Not least the local council. Though this influence was not confined to the public sector and local government; for at times it was difficult to determine who controlled some local companies, was it those who, nominally, owned these companies, or was it the trade unions? Whatever the answer, jobs, homes, and other ‘favours’ could be gained by knowing a local foot soldier; while being on friendly terms with a ‘capo’ could open many doors.

As I got to know our local Labour activists I found most of them very unattractive. (Maybe I was too idealistic. Or perhaps my standards of personal hygiene were too high.) But for whatever reason, they came across as grubby little men, drunk on what power they possessed, and determined to show off, or abuse, that power at every opportunity. They could mouth the class war slogans but the lack of deeper political understanding was obvious once the debate moved beyond slogans and rehearsed arguments. Equally obvious was the absence of principle. Most seemed driven by greed and envy. I often thought that they didn’t really want to raise up the masses so much as bring down the ‘nobs’. And if they’d won the football pools, or been left a tidy sum by Auntie Bessie in Chicago, then it would have been a case of, ‘The working class can kiss my arse . . .’. In other words, they were victims of circumstance, unhappy with their lot, looking for easy answers . . . and nothing provides more easily digestible answers for the uncomprehending ‘victims of the system’ than socialism.

These thoughts have come to me a few times recently as my attention has been drawn to the composition of the Labour Party in Swansea today. The most striking thing is the almost total absence of class warriors. Strange, really, when one considers that the gulf between rich and poor is greater today than at any time in recent history. The cloth caps have been replaced with the kind of headgear favoured by Afghans or Andean peasants. At times it seems not so much New Labour as New Age Labour.

The Leader is a Liverpudlian and there are many other councillors from outside Wales, even an Austrian. There are students fresh out of college, one from California. Then there are students who graduated in earlier years, including one who lists among his Interests “my beloved West Bromwich Albion”! There are also academics among the Labour group, making it clear that Swansea’s centres of higher education are a vital source of recruits for the local Labour Party. Another Labour councillor, born in Southend, is glad to be “back by the sea once more”. Ah, that’s nice.

One of the young ex-students, elected last year for a bedsit land ward on the west side of the city seems to be solely interested in Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, and Trans-sexual (GLBT) matters, if his Twitter account is anything to go by. And this, ‘pet issues’ approach to politics, is found throughout the group. Making the controlling Labour group on Swansea council look like an eclectic collection of individuals held together by a belief that they represent ‘progressive’ elements that only the Labour Party can accommodate. Another interpretation would be that the Swansea Labour Party has lost out in a Faustian pact to people who have now taken over its organisation, structures and soul to promote their own agendas.

Don’t get me wrong, a little outside blood is always beneficial, whether to improve the breeding stock, or to introduce new thinking, but there comes a point beyond which the balance tips and the new element ousts the old. This is what appears to be happening with the Swansea Labour Party. It’s almost as if New Labour’s practice of ‘parachuting’ favourites into safe seats has reached down to ward level. Perhaps it has, for a number of these thrusting, ex-student councillors work for local MPs and AMs. A word in the right ear?

Now of course, even if the Labour group was made up entirely of persons born and bred in Swansea, lifelong Swans fans, etc., etc., these would still have their pet subjects, their hobby-horses, but at least they would know and be committed to the city of Swansea. When there are so many in the ruling group on the city council that a) don’t really know or understand the area and b) are pursuing their own agendas, then we have to ask how well that city can possibly be served by such an administration.

And when we add Swansea Labour’s profile to the well-documented – even award-winning (Private Eye) – troubled councils of Carmarthenshire, Ynys Môn, Caerffili and Wrecsam . . . and when we consider rule by cabinet, or the dictatorship of a chief executive; and when we spread this over the absurd number of twenty-two local authorities in a country of just three million people, then we realise that Welsh local government isn’t just in a mess, it needs to be dismantled and built again from scratch. And among the many changes so desperately needed, why not insist on ten years residence in an area before anyone can stand for the local council?

And yet, knowing Swansea as I do, and Wales, and the origins of the Labour Party, maybe what we see in Swansea today is simply the clock being turned back. Let me explain. I grew up in what amounted to a localised one-party state; yet from my grandparents and people of their generation I came to learn that what I regarded as the established order was, to them, something relatively recent in origin. And not entirely welcome.

In the nineteenth century we Welsh supported the Liberal Party, even when most of us were denied a vote. This loyalty was taken with them by rural immigrants to the industrial areas (like four of my great-grandparents, who came up from Carmarthenshire and Cardiganshire). Inevitably, the ‘human reservoir’ of south west Wales eventually began to dry up; so by the end of the century the workers needed in the southern industries came increasingly from England’s western counties, Ireland, and beyond. This new wave of immigrants found the Liberal Party less attractive than their Welsh workmates; for to them the Liberal Party was part of a ‘package’ that took in the Welsh language and the nonconformist chapels. This new element in Welsh society rejected that ‘package’ and looked for another political party. It arrived with amazingly good timing in the form of the Labour Party.

Which resulted in many of the older Welsh people in the industrial south in the first half of the twentieth century, especially – but not exclusively – those with roots in the Welsh-speaking rural areas, still regarding the Labour Party as something ‘alien’. For it had no Welsh ‘roots’, Labour had merely appropriated the Merthyr Rising, the Chartist Rebellion in Newport, and other specifically Welsh events as heralds of its own Coming. Ignoring the uncomfortable facts that Dic Penderyn may not have spoken English, and that the Newport Chartists called for a Silurian Republic. Labour to many people of my grandparents’ age and background was an English-Irish concoction that had displaced ‘their’ party. Of course this perception had weakened over time, as Welsh people joined the party. Yet even though they themselves may now have voted Labour – due to it having become the only viable opposition to the Tories – they still felt a certain pang of guilt, knowing that their parents and grandparents would have disapproved.

From the other side, due to its non-Welsh roots, and its rejection of the ‘package’, there was always within the Labour Party, particularly in the south east, a lurking suspicion of Welshness, with undisguised anti-Welshness often breaking to the surface. This has persisted to the present day. It goes a long way to explaining why a Welsh Government refuses to manage Wales in the interests of the Welsh. It explains the squandering of precious funding on the Third Sector shysters of the ‘Poverty Industry’. It explains the defeat of devolution in 1979. It goes a long way to explaining why Wales has no financial institutions of her own, few indigenous industries, and a colonial relationship with England. Only a political party with the origins and outlook of ‘Welsh’ Labour could facilitate and celebrate the exploitation of Welsh resources by arguing that to do otherwise would be to give in to ‘narrow nationalism’.

I didn’t intend to give a history lesson here, but maybe Welsh people, inside and outside the Labour Party, should better understand this schizophrenic monster that bestraddles our country. And remember that for every Cledwyn Hughes there was a Neil Kinnock. For every Gwilym Prys Davies a George Thomas. Of course, this will mean nothing to those I started off writing about. Which, I suppose, proves my point.

UPDATE 08.02.13 Last night Swansea council voted to allow wind turbines on Mynydd y Gwair on the northern outskirts of the city. During the debate it was argued that Mynydd y Gwair is a valuable recreation area, where people can walk and enjoy the views looking up towards the Brecon Beacons or out over the Severn Sea. One Labour councillor disagreed. In her Llansamlet ward people can’t afford cars, and so are unable to reach Mynydd y Gwair, which she seemed to think was reserved for rich people with 4 x 4s.

The land in question is owned by the Duke of Beaufort, one of the richest men in England, who owns a great deal of land around Swansea. Four years ago he was paid £280,000 by Swansea council for graciously allowing a new footbridge over the River Tawe, near the Liberty Stadium. The Mynydd y Gwair turbines will be erected – and the subsidies milked – by the massive German company RWE. So to spite the protesting local rich folks – in reality, farmers with old pick-ups grazing sheep on the mountain – the Swansea Labour Party decided to destroy a beauty spot and in so doing further enrich an English lord and a German multinational.

This defeat of the Welsh is doubtless being celebrated today by the brothers and sisters of Swansea’s English Labour Party. They can crack open another bottle of organic llama piss and congratulate themselves on ensuring that in the years ahead vast sums of money will be pumped to such deserving and needy recipients. While those poor souls in Llansamlet, condemned to poverty and public transport, will be paying for it all through rocketing electricity bills.