Welsh Labour

Aug 172015
 

This post re-visits a subject I dealt with in September 2012. (Unfortunately, the original comments and other features were lost when Google pulled the plug on my earAssembly elections maplier blog in December 2012. See sidebar) The reason I am returning to the subject is that, on the one hand, there has been no change for the better, yet on the other hand, there has been a change for the worse. Put it together and it gives a stronger case in 2015 for regional parties than when I originally mooted the idea almost three years ago.

There are a number of reasons for promoting the case for regional parties standing in the ‘Welsh’ Assembly elections of 2016. I try to deal with them in the various sections below. The map on the right will help you understand the boundaries, click on it to enlarge it.

1. SHAM DEVOLUTION

The first of those reasons is one that I dealt with back in 2012, namely that devolution is a sham. Wales is more firmly under England’s control than ever, but now it’s done through civil servants taking orders from London yet doubling as ‘advisors’ to the self-deluding ‘ministers’ of the ‘Welsh’ Government. In reality, of course, these civil servants / advisors are relaying orders. It is a charade of the kind we would have found in the old East Germany, or any country run by a regime reliant on US support.

Among the many agencies of this sham devolution I have dealt with, one that has received more attention than most, is the Planning Inspectorate. (To find the many articles I have written on the subject type ‘Planning Inspectorate’ in the Search box at the top of the sidebar.) It is this agency that facilitates the colonisation of Wales with its bullying of our local councillors (or working with alien and eager senior officers), justifying building new homes we don’t need with ludicrously inflated population ‘projections’, or reduced household (size) estimates.Thickett Planing Resource

To keep up the pretence of ‘devolution’ the Planning Inspectorate maintains an office in Cardiff, it even has a few Welsh planning inspectors, but this is all window-dressing. As we saw with the review of the Local Development Plan for Denbighshire. Two inspectors were involved in assessing the protests of the local council, which argued that the 2011 census showed the county did not need the number of new homes the Planning Inspectorate had demanded. Read about it here.

The two inspectors involved in the ‘assessment’ of March 2014 were Anthony Thickett (see panel) and Gwynedd Thomas. Within a few months Thickett was appointed chief inspector for the Wales region of the Planning Inspectorate. Poor old Gwynedd Thomas was there just to add a little local colour, in the hope of disguising that this was part of the colonisation process, and all determined in London.

It doesn’t matter how we look at, What we have in Wales is a system designed to frustrate Welsh ambitions rather than satisfy them. It is a system of devolution for the benefit of England. And this explains why the ‘Welsh’ Government can do nothing to serve Welsh interests if that might work against English interests, yet agencies like the Planning Inspectorate are daily working in England’s interests against Wales.

The ‘Welsh’ Government is, like poor Gwynedd Thomas, nothing more than a fig leaf for this colonialist reality; it’s only real power lies in being able to distribute funding handed down to it. Yet far too much of this money currently goes to Cardiff or to Labour’s cronies and hangers-on in our irredeemably corrupt Third Sector.

2. THE ‘WELSH’ LABOUR PARTY

Sham devolution of course needs willing participants in the country being flim-flammed, and this is where the ‘Welsh’ Labour Party comes into the picture. Over many, many years I have made my feelings known on this, the most corrupt political party in the Western world, but if anyone is still in any doubt as to the nature of the beast, then let them read Why I Detest the ‘Welsh’ Labour Party, The ‘Welsh’ Labour Party and its Evil Empire, Merthyr: All Aboard the ‘Welsh’ Labour Gravy Train, or more recently, ‘Welsh’ Labour and Social Enterprises – All Fall Down!.

It is the ‘Welsh’ Labour Party that, for sixteen years, has fronted the colonialist system of sham devolution I just mentioned. This explains why the only time we see the self-styled First Minister on UK-wide television is when he’s proving how loyal we Welsh are despite devolution (which for some reason, still worries many English!). Such as welcoming Bet Windsor to Wales, or spouting BritNat bollocks during last year’s Scottish independence referendum campaign. The man is an embarrassment to all right-thinking Welsh.

One feature of this sham devolution is the growth of Cardiff, due to it serving as the ‘capital’, and because so much of the colonial bureaucracy is centred there. Though this can have a damaging effect on other areas.

I travel around Wales much more than most people, and one thing that strikes me whether I’m in Llandudno, Newtown or Haverfordwest is that on any contract connected with or funded by an agency based in Cardiff, the hoardings tell me that the estate agent dealing with the sale or, in the case of a new project, the company that drew up the plans and others, will also be found in Cardiff. Suggesting to me that companies based in Cardiff have an unfair advantage when it comes to these civil servants drawing up lists of ‘approved’ estate agents, contractors, architects, and others, or else we dealing with a form of favouritism that comes close to corruption. But this Cardiff bias can take other forms.

A Puppet Regime

I am indebted to a correspondent in regular contact with the aforementioned civil servants for a recent example of the way Cardiff is favoured above other areas. Regular readers of this blog will be aware of the Housing (Wales) Act 2014. Among the provisions of the Act is a new register of private landlords. This work – and the jobs it will generate – has been allocated to Cardiff City Council, without any tendering process. Why should the richest area of Wales be gifted yet more jobs when this work could have been done by any local authority? And who made the decision?

Though an irony in this situation is that even the Conservative and Unionist Party, the party of the City and big business, has finally conceded that England has an economic imbalance, with too much of the country’s wealth and power accumulated in London and the south east. Hence the talk of investing hundreds of billions of pounds in HS2 and Northern ‘Powerhouses’. Yet here in Wales, we are replicating the system England is now seeking to remedy!

3. PLAID CYMRU

My feelings on Plaid are equally well documented. I suppose Plaid Cymru: Ninety Wasted Years, from October last year, sums it up as well as anything I’ve written, but use the Search box atop the sidebar to find other posts. Nothing has improved since I wrote that piece. In this year’s General Election Plaid Cymru again performed miserably, dealt with in Election 2015: Plaid Cymru Fails, Again.

And from all quarters comes news that that Plaid Cymru continues to be the most impotent ‘national’ party in Europe, afraid of upsetting anyone. Here’s one recent example that says it pretty well.

Followers of Welsh public life will be aware of a growing problem in local government that sees senior officers take over the running of certain councils. Nowhere has this trend been more apparent than in Carmarthenshire, where the council has for some years been run by the chief executive, Mark James, with the approval of the leaders of the parties in coalition there, Labour and ‘Independents’. But recently, after a change of leadership in the local Labour Party, there was a falling-out between the former love-birds and Independent leader Meryl Gravel began smooching Plaid Cymru, which resulted in a new coalition between the two.

With Plaid Cymru the larger of the parties, and Plaid’s Emlyn Dole named council leader in May, most people expected things to change in Carmarthenshire but that, alas, has not happened. It appears to be business as before, as this little cameo, received from a reliable source, illustrates.

The trade union Unison, ” . . . had to wait 2 months to get a meeting with Dole. There were a number of items on the agenda (employment issues and the council’s plans for publicly owned assets such as Parc Howard in Llanelli). To Unison’s surprise, waiting to greet them in Dole’s office was Mark James, although the union had asked for a private meeting with the leader. The meeting did not go well.”

Emlyn Dole’s submission to The Ultimate Authority may be connected with his little ‘difficulty’, for Plaid’s leader in the seat where Gwynfor Evans won that famous 1966 victory has been caught flouting planning regulations. But never mind, for Plaid Cymru has not forgotten its primary role – sticking up for Labour. As I reminded people in my June 28th post Vote Plaid Cymru – Get Labour’, and as Plaid itself continues to remind us.

Just last Saturday, at the commemoration of the 1911 Llanelli Riots, local Labour MP Nia Griffith was getting a bit of stick from some in the crowd for making a big noise about the Tories’ austerity measures but neglecting to inform her listeners that she had abstained when presented with the chance to show her ‘opposition’ in the House of Commons vote a few weeks ago. Who rode to her rescue? Helen Mary Jones, the Plaid candidate for Llanelli in next year’s Assembly election, and Vaughan Williams, who failed so miserably to win the seat in May this year.

Plaid Cymru is now more of an asset to England than to Wales. From England’s perspective Plaid Cymru is the perfect ‘in-our-pocket’ regional party. That’s because it can still attract the votes of many who want independence / greater devolution, or who care about Welsh cultural identity, but for all sorts of reasons Plaid Cymru will never get more than 25% of the vote, even in the most favourable circumstances, yet – in the absence of an alternative – it can still be presented as ‘the Welsh nationalist party’.

If there was any danger of Plaid Cymru collapsing, perhaps due to the emergence of that alternative national party, then it would be in our masters’ interests to keep Plaid Cymru alive. It may already be happening.

4. UKIP

Finally we come to perhaps the major difference today from the situation prevailing when I wrote the earlier piece on regional parties back in December 2012. Then there was a perception that Ukip, being primarily an anti-EU party, would do well in European elections, but only European elections.

The General Election earlier this year taught us the fallacy of that belief as we saw the Ukip vote in Wales reach 13.6%, and in so doing exceed the Plaid Cymru share of the vote. But this increase in Ukip vote has been aided by the collapse of the Liberal Democrats and a weakening of the Labour Party, which was of course almost wiped out in Scotland. To help you understand how things have changed I’ve compiled a table showing the vote shares for the major parties in Wales over the five most recent elections. (The two figures shown for 2011 represent the constituency vote and the regional vote.)

Share of vote

The Labour Party is in turmoil and, as I write this, looking likely to elect Jeremy Corbyn as leader; the Lib Dems are unlikely to recover any time soon, if ever; and Plaid Cymru seems doomed to a slow, lingering death. Few of those turning away from Labour and Lib Dems find Plaid Cymru attractive (hardly surprising seeing as long-time Plaid Cymru voters are deserting the party), and while some of those abandoning Labour, Lib Dems and Plaid will simply not vote, many will turn to the Tories or Ukip.

One thing’s for sure, Labour will definitely not have a majority after next year’s election, and may have difficulty forming a coalition with Plaid Cymru and / or Liberal Democrats. Taking us into uncharted territory, but also presenting great opportunities.

REGIONAL PARTIES

Regional parties contesting regional list seats are the only possible way to address the various problems listed above, the only way to ensure a more equitable Wales in which Labour is not completely dominant, with the added advantage of checking the advance of Ukip.

We can be sure that Ukip will view the list for the north as one its best hopes of winning Assembly seats, especially with the party’s local hetman, Nathan Gill MEP, being domiciled on Ynys Môn. So the first regional party I want to propose is for the north. Yes, I can already hear people asking, ‘What does Arfon have in common with Deeside?’ Short answer would be that across the north you will hear, ‘Everything is down south’. This will be Ukip’s message next year to northern voters. It can also be Strategic Development Plans 2the message of an alliance made up of people with roots in northern Wales, committed to serving the area, and hopefully objecting to the A55 corridor becoming a planned commuter belt. Because we can be sure Ukip won’t object! Neither will the other parties. (Click on image to enlarge.)

Another area where Ukip did well in 2014 and again this year is the Valleys. While the elected leaders in the region seem happy to surrender to Cardiff’s city state ambitions I’m sure there are many others in the Valleys who believe their towns and villages deserve better than a future as dormitory communities. This could be one message for a Valleys grouping. Another message for Labour could be, ‘Instead of using EU and other funding to help your cronies capitalise on our deprivation, use it to help us and our communities – the reason the EU gave it to us’.

The third region is obviously the Swansea Bay conurbation.

What I am suggesting is not formal political parties in the accepted sense. I am arguing for ad hoc regional groups with no ambitions beyond using their voice to demand fair shares for all, something that could perhaps be monitored by publishing regular figures for public spending and jobs created in each region. Because as I say, the only real power in this system of sham devolution is the power to divvy up the hand-outs. Which means that going down to Cardiff docks to play politics, to pretend that it’s a real parliament, is a waste of time. Focus on the money.

The suggestion of regional parties has both greater urgency and greater potential now than when I first mooted the subject because of the decline of three parties and the unattractiveness of those likely to gain from that decline. (And here I include the Greens.) I further predict that regional parties would get support from some of those who would not otherwise vote next year. And there’s guaranteed publicity in the interest that can be predicted from the local media.

To gather enough like-minded individuals in order to compile a raft of regional list candidates should be relatively easy, there’s no great expense involved, and for just nine months of work the rewards could be great. And with Welsh politics in a state of flux not seen in living memory, who knows where it might lead? And if that doesn’t persuade you, then do you really want to vote for any of the failed parties, or the unattractive alternatives I’ve dealt with here?

Aug 122015
 

In February I posted ‘Welsh’ Labour And A Milking System Unknown To Farmers, which recently received a very interesting comment from ‘Brychan’, a regular contributor to this blog. He drew our attention to Monwel, a social enterprise in Glyn Ebwy making road signs and similar products. He also provided this link to a story that appeared last week in the South Wales Argus (Newport). It seems that no one in our ‘national’ media has yet taken up the story, which explains why most of you reading this will not have heard of Monwel.

Monwel grew out of Blaenau Gwent Council’s sign-making department. In the dystopian economic landscape of ‘Welsh’ Labour social enterprises and Third Sector rackets are viewed as commercial enterprises. However you choose to view it, Monwel, the registered company, was Incorporated on November 9th 2012, Company Number 08284345. The four directors at the time of Incorporation were David Michael Davies, Mrs Leslie Scott Barr, Mr Andrew Richards and Mrs Colleen Andrews. Mrs Barr doubles as managing director, which means, presumably, that she is involved in the day-to-day running of Monwel which, according to Company Check, has a net worth of £-53,983.

Monwell Directors

Beyond the fact that he lives in Brynmawr, I know little of David Michael Davies. Leslie Scott Barr was, ‘Brychan’ told me, “a bridal shop owner from Motherwell in Scotland”! Andrew Richards is the man who does the introduction on the video we see on the Monwel website, and appears to have been the Chairman. Mrs Colleen Andrews is presumably the same person who was a director of Tredegar-based Rainbow Community Enterprises, another Heads of the Valleys outfit, where husband Wayne is still a director.

The mission statement for Rainbow Community Enterprises is typical of the vacuous, politically correct bullshit such organisations use: “Our aim is to benefit the surrounding areas through sustainable development of community projects that foster social inclusion and community participation regardless of age, gender, sexuality, ethnicity, disability or social status, and to work in partnership with other community, voluntary and statutory organisations to further these objects”. Now that you’ve read it, do you have any better understanding of what Rainbow Community Enterprises actually does . . . apart from keeping a few Labour loyalists in what they hope will be mistaken for gainful employment? More on Rainbow later.

As the graphic tells us, within a few months of Monwel Ltd setting up Councillor Haydn Leslie Trollope joined the Board (20.05.2013). Richards and Andrews ceased to be directors on May 31st this year, while two new directors joined in February last year, these being Councillor Jennifer Morgan JP and Mr John Anthony Bennett of Worcester, an ‘expert’ in social enterprises. It’s reasonable to assume that Bennett was piped on board when the crew of the good ship Monwel began to discern Shit Creek on the horizon. Someone else who was briefly aboard (10.02.2014 – 26.09.2014) was Paul Byard, the Wales representative for the Engineering Employers Federation. It’s reasonable to assume that he too was recruited in a trouble-shooting role, and may have jumped ship as he too saw Shit Creek draw ever nearer.

The current board of Monwel is comprised of Councillors Trollope and Morgan, David Michael Davies, the ‘expert’ Bennett, and our cousin from Yr Hen Ogledd, Mrs Barr. Davies and Barr are the only directors who’ve been with Monwel from the start which, let’s remind ourselves, was less than three years ago. Although I’m sure she enjoys the bracing upland air of north Gwent Mrs Barr also experiences the atmosphere of Port Talbot, where she has, since February 2014, been a director with Dewis Housing, which specialises in helping young people in the 16 to 25 age bracket.

More interestingly, perhaps, when she isn’t running social enterprises Mrs Barr advertises her talents as a ‘spiritualist medium’. Now you know me, boys and girls, I’m not one to be judgemental, and what Mrs Barr gets up to in her spare time is her own business. I reproduce here for you Mrs Barr’s Facebook page. Though that background, surely it’s not Ebbw Vale . . . even on a bad day?

Leslie Scott Bass Spiritualist

As recently as March this year our ghost-botherer picked up three awards on behalf of her company at some do in a posh nosh joint in the Vale. To quote from the article linked to here, “Ebbw Vale-based Monwel has picked up three awards in recognition of its success in turning a loss-making public sector service into a profit-making social enterprise in the space of just over a year.” It gets better: “The road traffic sign manufacturer won the Large Social Enterprise category and shared best overall Social Enterprise 2010-2015, while managing director Leslie Barr also won the Women in Enterprise category.”

The bash in the Vale was organised by the “EU-funded South East Wales Community Economic Development programme, run by a six valleys local authorities’ consortium of Merthyr Tydfil, Bridgend, Blaenau Gwent, Caerphilly, Rhondda Cynon Taf and Torfaen”. Has anyone ever heard of this outfit? What the hell does it do . . . apart from organising bun fights awards ceremonies? In fairness, the SEWCED website does claim to have created 100 jobs . . . a figure that presumably includes the 30+ being made redundant at Monwel. Not a lot for the £6.4m SEWCED claims to have invested, but then, awards ceremonies don’t come cheap . . .

The article also informs us that Mrs Barr “ran her own bridal and evening wear and children’s clothing business” which, the Argus article goes on to tell us, gave her the “experience to help Monwel become a social enterprise away from local authority control”! Of course it did, measuring women up for wedding dresses and hiring out tuxedos and kilts is the perfect training for the intimately related activity of bashing out road signs.

More to the point, these awards were being showered on Mrs Barr and Monwel when the company was already in deep schtuck. And if Monwel was regarded as an exemplar among social enterprises, what the hell does that tell us about the rest of them? Dishing out prizes to Monwel is like awarding Best Bird in Show to John Cleese’s Norwegian Blue!

Clearly, Monwel is another for us to add to the already long list of failed social enterprises and Third Sector funding sink-holes. And it may not end there. Earlier in this post I referred to Rainbow Community Enterprises in Tredegar. This is run by Wayne Andrews, husband of recently-resigned Monwel director Colleen Andrews, who at one time was herself a director at Rainbow. According to Company Check, Rainbow’s net worth has declined from £-4,630 in 2012 to £-11,635 in 2013 to £-15,931 in 2014. This is another ‘company’ hurtling to oblivion. It came close last September, when a notification of strike-off appeared in the London Gazette, only to be discontinued a month later. The two directors (in addition to Andrews) are Ian Marc Anthony Morgan and Raymond Davies.

Rainbow Community Enterprises

Morgan appears to be a young employee with no other directorships, but Raymond Davies has been involved in a number of companies in the area, among them Graig Rhosyn Cleaning Services Ltd of Bedwas, now known as grcleaning, Company Number 06828778. His time as a director, which ended in December last year, overlapped for a few months with Colleen Andrews, who remains a director. And guess what? – yes, grcleaning is also funded by SEWCED! Despite the change of name, and the glowing report in the Argus, grcleaning is another company where liabilities exceed combined assets and cash.

Curiously, Rainbow Community Enterprises shares an address with C A Metal Recycling Ltd, which appears to be a commercial outfit with just one director – Wayne Andrews. Although the Registered Address for C A Metal Recycling Ltd is a private house in New Tredegar the company operates out of Unit 15A of the Capital Valley Eco Park in Rhymni. Rainbow’s address is Unit 15. The private address in New Tredegar, and the added ‘A’, are attempts to disguise that the two companies share premises. Further established by the fact that the telephone number given on the (one-page) Rainbow website, above, is the same number as that given for C A Metal Recycling in the extract from Google, below.

Should a social enterprise in receipt of public funding share premises with a private company, and should the owner of that private company also be a director of the social enterprise? I have never come across an arrangement like this before.

In fact, I cannot believe that those disbursing the EU funding would not have raised objections to this undesirable proximity, unless of course the funding was distributed by the local representatives of the South East Wales Community Economic Development programme, in other words, the local Labour Party machine. Googling Rainbow Community Enterprises brings up what you see in the panel below.

C A Google

Almost as an aside, one who left the board of Rainbow at the end of last year was John Michael Bungay. Despite his unusual name it’s difficult to get information on Bungay other than that he lives up on the border, in or near a village called Coedway. He was also, for eight months in 2007, director at Torino Enterprises, Company No 03754420 which, despite the name (Torino being Turin in Italian), is based in Capel Bangor, just outside Aberystwyth, and is run by Edward Phillip Owen Evans and Howard Wyn Evans. Torino is in the business of warehousing and storage units. The first notification of strike-off action for Torino appeared in the London Gazette on June 11th.

But then, according to Yell (see below) and other sources, there seems to be another Torino Enterprises in Rhymni! Not only that, but it is based in Unit 15 of the Capital Valley Eco Park, and described as a ‘property management company’. Bloody hell! it must be getting crowded in Unit 15, what with Rainbow, C A Metal Recycling and now Torino all jostling for space. Not only that but Bungay was simultaneously working for Rainbow and Torino! Who pays the rent? Or is the unit rent free, seeing as Rainbow is a social enterprise? Or maybe Rainbow owns Unit 15?

Torino Yell

It’s difficult to understand what’s going on here. Googling ‘Torino Enterprises’ brings up only the Gwent operation. Yet Companies House and Company Check both tell us that the company is registered to the address in Capel Bangor. (There was another Torino Enterprises in Wexford, Ireland, though this seems to be dissolved, with no information available.)

There is clearly a connection, if only via John Michael Bungay, between Torino Enterprises of Aberystwyth and whatever is going on under the same name in Rhymni. Despite leaving the Capel Bangor operation in 2007 was he still representing Torino Enterprises years later in Gwent? And is there a connection between the impending demise of Monwel, the striking off of Torino Enterprises, and the near-certain collapse of Rainbow in the very near future? If there’s no connection then it’s one hell of a coincidence.

I mentioned that the mysterious Mr Bungay lived up near the border, well, very fittingly his address is given as Tŷ Cudd (the secret or hidden house).

No matter where we look in this Gwent tale we find the dirty fingers of ‘Welsh’ Labour everywhere. Dishing out EU funding to ‘social enterprises’ that have Labour councillors and supporters as directors and management. These social enterprises then give each other ‘work’ in the vain hope that this sleight of hand, this shuffling money around, will be mistaken for genuine economic activity.

In truth, it is just another example of how Labour controls Wales through its dependency culture. EU funding that is supposed to be invested in real business, and infrastructure, and training, is being cynically employed to create a whole sector of Welsh life beholden to, and therefore loyal to, the Labour Party. An incestuous, unproductive and, inevitably, corrupt sector of our national life.

Jul 022015
 

In recent years I have published many posts arguing that devolution is a sham. That’s because Wales is run by departments of the UK government in London. Decisions made by these departments are then implemented by civil servants based in Wales. These civil servants are, invariably, ‘advisers’ to  ‘Welsh Ministers’, but the true relationship is more like puppeteer and puppet.

A perfect example, and one that I have dealt with more than once, is the Planning Inspectorate. We are asked to believe that Wales has its own Planning Inspectorate, based in Cardiff, answering to the ‘Welsh’ Government. The truth is that the Planning Inspectorate, responsible for forcing Planning Inspectoratetens of thousands of unneeded new dwellings on Welsh local authorities (in order to encourage English colonisation) is part of the Department for Communities and Local Government in London, with a branch office in Cardiff. The Planning Inspectorate takes orders from London; and gives orders to Cardiff.

*

This situation of Wales being run by civil servants on behalf of the London government has been in place as long as we’ve had devolution. Usually it just rumbles along in the background, unnoticed, but recently Wales has seen two very important pieces of legislation that have exposed this system as never before.

One new law is the Housing (Wales) Act 2014. Now while this legislation plays to the gallery with tough talk on private landlords, protecting vulnerable tenants, etc., these are distractions from the real purpose of the Bill, which is to confirm beyond any lingering doubt that social housing in Wales is now part of an Englandandwales system. Which means that someone who qualifies for social housing anywhere in England can be allocated a property in Wales. A policy so insidious and damaging that housing associations, especially in rural areas, are now building and buying properties – with Welsh public funding – for which there is no local demand!

The Housing (Wales) Act contains thirty-nine references to ‘England’ By comparison, the Housing (Scotland) Bill has not one. Though absent from the Welsh Bill is any reference to the Welsh language, providing further proof that this is ‘Welsh’ legislation designed to serve England’s interests, as is so much else done by the ‘Welsh’ Government.

Such as the funding that has gone into the Deeside Industrial Park, that runs almost up to the border, providing jobs for north west England and keeping the resultant mess, noise and traffic out of leafy Cheshire. Then there’s our failing NHS, especially in the north, which the UK prime minister and local Tory politicians have capitalised on, yet only a ‘racist’ would make the obvious connection between a failing health service and many tens of thousands of elderly English people moving into the affected region.

And the impression given that Wales is doing things differently, being tougher on private landlords, is just so much flim-flam, as I discovered a couple of days ago when making enquiries about the regulation of private landlords. Here’s the link, but the screen capture below makes it clear enough that – despite the Housing (Wales) Act – England and Wales are covered by the same legislation, but not Scotland.

Private Landlords

The second piece of legislation worth highlighting is the Planning (Wales) Bill. This again was designed to bring Wales into line with England. As was made clear by the (now defunct) Infrastructure Planning Commission (IPC) in its December 2013 Newsletter. Unfortunately the link provided in the newsletter is no longer working, so I can’t offer it to you, but among the things it said was ” . . . many of the proposed reforms resonate with those introduced in England.” And later, “Again reflecting change in England . . . “.

As might be expected, in its original form, this legislation also neglected to take any account of the Welsh language. That’s because, as with the Housing (Wales) Act 2014, it is English legislation, drawn up by English civil servants, for England, who neither understand nor care about Wales, who then stick ‘(Wales)’ in the title and tell some ‘Welsh Minister’ to run with  it.

*

Those clowns down Cardiff docks masquerading as the ‘Welsh’ Government must know what’s going on, this explains why so many of them are reluctant to give interviews to explain or defend the legislation they’ve announced – they don’t understand it, and they don’t understand it because they had no input to it. But in return they are allowed – perhaps even encouraged – to introduce pet schemes for the sole purpose of giving the impression they’re in charge.Puppet regime

For who can forget the rejoicing – and the global media attention – that attended the abolition of ferret licences back in 2006. While the Zeppelin service between Penclawdd and Amlwch that took off in 2010 was universally welcomed . . . especially in Penclawdd and Amlwch. Now I hear that next year, just before the election, our ‘Welsh’ Government plans to bring in a vote-winning policy of free toothbrushes for the over 90s. Verily! our cup runneth over.

OK, so I’m taking the piss, but it’s publicity-grabbing and largely valueless legislation such as free prescriptions that the ‘Welsh’ Government is allowed to introduce as a reward for acting as puppets. These ‘giveaways’ are then used to distract us from the more weighty English legislation with ‘(Wales)’ in the name that is constantly being pushed through by civil servants of whom we know nothing.

*

To conclude . . . The post-devolution era sees a regular stream of England-only legislation in areas that have been ‘devolved’. What happens is, that after a decent interval, and in the interests of an undeclared policy of ‘harmonisation’, this England-only legislation is re-packaged with ‘(Wales)’ in the name and passes through the Assembly. To disguise what’s being done the re-packaged law may differ in a few minor details, but never in anything of substance. End result? The same laws in both countries for the convenience of the Planning Inspectorate and countless other Englandandwales organisations.

After sixteen years of devolution it is clear that Wales is not allowed to have separate legislation that is meaningfully different to England’s unless the ‘Welsh’ law actually benefits England. This is the sham of devolution, the polar opposite to what it was promised devolution would deliver, and it explains how ‘devolution’ is helping assimilate Wales into England more effectively than the Fraser Welshpre-devolution system, for now it’s easier to introduce Wales-specific laws to achieve that assimilation. With the added attraction that because these laws have ‘(Wales)’ in the name too many people are misled into believing they’re designed to serve Welsh interests.

And yet if you think about it, there should be nothing here to surprise anyone. Since the introduction of this non-devolution, implementing the ethnocidal planning policies of a non-existent ‘Welsh’ Planning Inspectorate, the Notional Assembly has been under the control of the ‘Welsh’ Labour Party. So we have a sham devolution run by a fake party, for a country that will soon exist nowhere outside of our imaginations.

Jun 182015
 

A report just produced by the ‘Welsh’ Labour Government, Inquiry into Poverty in Wales: Poverty and Inequality tells us, among other things, that 23% of the population still lives in relative poverty, and while the situation is improving in England and Scotland there is no sign of improvement in Wales. In response, the ‘Welsh’ Government protests that it has “committed £323m to tackling poverty this year alone”. I shall return to this ‘commitment’ anon.

This latest report merely reinforces other reports, and evidence from a host of sources, telling us that our land is poor and becoming – relative to Scotland and England – poorer. For example, earlier this year the Wales TUC produced a report on the Living Wage, with its findings published on a constituency basis. It found that in Cardiff North just 11.4% of jobs pay less than the Living Wage, but in Gower the figure rises to 45%, while Dwyfor Meirionnydd gives the worst figure, at 51%. In both of these areas tourism undoubtedly plays a role in depressing wage levels.

The statistics already dealt with tie in with other findings that tell us Wales has the lowest levels of working-age employment and the highest rates of economic inactivity to be found on this island. But what can you expect? In my previous post I dealt with a non-working, benefit-dependent population being deliberately brought in to Dyffryn Teifi – and the same thing is happening all over Wales. Housing associations and others are importing from England white trash that England is more than happy to be rid of. While in the post before that I dealt with the unsustainable numbers of elderly people moving into Wales, and the inevitable effect this is having on the NHS and other services.

*

Another piece that caught my eye today concerned Rhondda Life Ltd. Plaid Cymru – for once doing something right – finally got hold of a report from December 2012 that the party claimed the ‘Welsh’ Government had refused to release. (Though much of the information was already in the public domain by 2012, soon after the funding plug was pulled.) The report made it clear that RLL was yet another disaster of the kind we have become so familiar with in Wales: Labour Party hacks and hangers-on receiving obscene amounts of public money for doomed projects in desperate efforts to be seen to be doing something, and failing miserably to achieve anything other than secure tidy salaries and good pensions for themselves.

Running the Rhondda Life show in Ferndale was Travers Merrill. An optimist, our Travers, for while RLL was hurtling, out of control towards the buffers he reassured passengers that it was merely keeping to schedule. For just three months before an auditors’ financial review found Travers Merrillliabilities of £106,555 Merrill was insisting, “RLL is solvent for the following reasons. It has detailed cash flow forecasts; robust internal accounting procedures; detailed financial records; budgetary and corporate plans; no continuing loss-making activities; excess assets over liabilities; no loan or interest defaults on payments; rigid and regular financial activity monitoring; no unpaid tax liabilities; strong governance and management.” Nice try, Trav.

Travers Merrill is married to Rose Mutale Nyoni Merrill OBE (or combinations thereof) who is CEO of BAWSO, a well-funded Third Sector outfit catering for Mrs Merrill and her friends ethnic minority women in need of help. In addition, she was involved with MEWN, another ethnic minority women’s charity based in Swansea, which has also breathed its last. Though before it took ill and expired I – impetuous fool that I am! – suggested that MEWN might reasonably be viewed as a replacement for AWEMA – as if anyone could replace Naz Malik! How much Argie plonk had I drunk when I wrote that?!

Mr and Mrs Travers Merrill are known to have strong – if almost covert – Labour connections, but what is perhaps more interesting about them is that they also have a private company. This is ABESU, which, to quote the company’s website, is “a UK charity working in partnership with the ABESU Women’s Housing Co-operative in Zambia to self-build houses and establish sustainable livelihoods”. Zambia is of course Mrs Merrill’s homeland. The latest accounts lodged with the Charity Commission, or rather, the ‘Unaudited Financial Statements’, tell us that the charity “employs no staff in the UK and the administration is provided pro bono (by whom?) with minimal office expenses”. Which is one way of putting it.

Though a few years ago I was approached by a BAWSO insider telling me that much of ABESU’s administrative and secretarial work was being done in the BAWSO office, using equipment and facilities provided for BAWSO out of public funds. Clearly not right. Though of course this explains why ABESU’s “administration is provided pro bono with minimal office expenses” – it’s because it’s provided by us, via the ‘Welsh’ Government and its funding agencies.

AWEMA Charity Commission

Click to Enlarge

But ‘Welsh’ Labour’s generosity doesn’t end there. For the Unaudited Financial Statement for the period ending March 31st 2014 tells us that the ‘Welsh’ Government gave ABESU £2,000 in that year. (Page 12 of accounts.) Confronting us with the obvious question, why is the ‘Welsh’ Government giving £2,000 to an organisation that, by its own admission. employs no staff in the UK? This has echoes of AWEMA operating, with Welsh public funding, in Kenya and Pakistan. And me, cynic that I am, I can’t help wondering – as I do with all charities – how much of the money donated ever reaches those it was given to help.

Whatever the answer, and however you look at it, the Merrills are the perfect Labour-Third Sector family; neither of them Welsh but happily spending millions of pounds of Welsh public funding on others, most of whom are not Welsh either. And with the curious and suspect overlap with a private company that may also be benefiting from our generosity. Well, we know it’s getting at least £2,000. And for those tempted to say, ‘Oh, two thousand pounds isn’t a lot’, how many other organisations are receiving Welsh public funding for projects outside of Wales?

*

Wales is a poor, post-industrial country that has never replaced the heavy industry it lost. With the inevitable result that ours is now a country with unacceptable levels of poverty, suffering a flight of the bright and an ageing population. Yet the ‘Welsh’ Government funds housing associations and others to import more poverty, while also encouraging elderly people to move to Wales! Then, due to the emasculating Left-Green mindset that has reduced Plaid Cymru to an object of ridicule, the party that should be exposing and attacking this truly wondrous strategy that both colonises and impoverishes Wales, actually applauds it! Believing, in its pathetic, socialistic distortions of reality, that Wales is somehow acting as a ‘beacon’ in ‘helping those in need’ . . . bring on the fairies!

And if that wasn’t bad enough, the money that is given to the ‘Welsh’ Government by the EU and the UK government to alleviate that deprivation is wasted on a Third Sector that is nothing more than the Labour Party funding careers for its otherwise unemployable supporters, and guaranteeing their loyalty; supporters who will then shout down opponents and commission surveys that always conclude – the ‘Welsh’ Government should give them more money! This is where the £323 million pounds will be spent this year, not on “tackling poverty” as the ‘Welsh’ Government claims, but on its Third Sector cronies, and on projects and schemes that no Welsh community would miss if they ceased tomorrow.

As I was finishing off this piece, and thinking it couldn’t get any worse, I noticed a tweet from @johnsouthwales telling of a ‘community embankment‘ built in Ammanford as part of the Communities First programme. Tell me this is not real. Tell me I’ll wake up tomorrow and realise that this country I think I live in is really just a bad dream.

May 262015
 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Mar 162015
 

As regular readers will be aware, certain people have been saying all sorts of nasty things about me, even trying to get my collar felt. These attacks almost certainly result from my criticisms of the Labour Party, its scrounging cronies in the Third Sector, and the influence of London-loyal civil servants wielding far too much power in a country we are asked to believe James Pritchardis now running its own affairs in so many spheres.

Unintentionally perhaps, these attacks on me exposed the linkages between the Labour Party, the police, and certain elements of the Labour-supporting media, specifically, Martin Shipton at Media Wales and his venomous little sidekick, Phil Parry at the Wales Eye blog. I am not the only one who has found himself on the receiving end of such machinations. Indeed, the other victim, who has recently been in contact, has suffered more than me, and although now hors de combat still suffers petty harassment and vindictive behaviour, but to cut a long story short . . .

A name mentioned to me, that might suggest – until very recently, anyway – a link between the police and Media Wales, is James Pritchard, see his Linkedin profile here, or here in pdf. You will see that Pritchard, educated at Rydal School, Bae Colwyn, and Swansea University was, between 2001 and 2004, the London Editor of Media Wales, and from January 2013 to October 2014 Assistant Director, Corporate Communications at South Wales Police. After leaving Media Wales Pritchard worked for Westminster City Council for a couple of years, where he gained a brief notoriety for an incident reported here in the Daily Telegraph. And here’s a nice picture of Jimmy (fourth from left, front row), back in Swansea with his London cricket team; though why does his captain refer to him as the “Ageing lothario”!

When he’s not sating his overactive libido Pritchard likes to gamble, in fact, looking at his Twitter account I see that he follows dozens of bookies, tipsters and others associated with the Turf, with many following him! Clearly, Jimmy Boy loves the ladies and the gee-gees, and so can’t help coming across as a bit of a chancer, certainly a swordsman, talking of which, and staying with the police . . .

*

The elections for Police and Crime Commissioners in November 2012 didn’t exactly have people fighting to get into the polling stations. In the South Wales Police area the turnout was a risible 14.7% and it saw Alun Michael, former Labour MP (and, very briefly, First Secretary), get 47% of the first round vote and 54.4% in the second round run-off against his Independent rival Michael Baker. So Alun Michael became the Labour PCC for South Wales with the votes of some 8% of the electorate. A ringing endorsement for him and the Labour Howe tweetParty to take control of the Police and Crime Commissioner office.

Control helped when, in February 2013, Sophie Howe, former Labour councillor and Special Adviser to both Rhodri Morgan and Carwyn Jones was – “after a public advert and open selection process” (i. e. ‘open’ to Labour Party members) – appointed Michael’s deputy. Her Linkedin profile (here in pdf) suggests that like so many others associated with ‘Welsh’ Labour she’s a) a lawyer, and b) has never had a ‘real’ job; by which I mean that all her positions have been gained through her membership of the Labour Party. Though it seems that despite having been close to so many top Labour men she is currently on the cardboard chicken circuit and dodging the gropers while seeking a seat. So with three young children to care for and her other work for the party, it’s reasonable to assume that Deputy PCC is just another political sinecure rather than her first real job.

Despite this being another dreary saga of Labour Party corruption and nepotism, with undesirable linkages and malicious leaking thrown in, this being Labour, the laughs are never far away. For example, Alun Michael appears to have two Twitter accounts, oneSophie Howe other merged as Alun Michael, the other as the PCC, which might seem reasonable enough. Though many PCC tweets go out on his ‘personal’ account! Curiously, he has more followers as himself than as PCC, so is he that interesting?

Naturally, Alun Michael follows Sophie Howe, and as a loyal underling desperately seeking a seat, she reciprocates. But Alun Michael also follows another Sophie Howe, many of whose own followers’ tweets are ‘secured’, suggesting . . . well, I’d rather not think about it. Is this Sophie Howe the deputy PCC’s alter ego or someone else entirely? And if she is a different young woman, why is Alun Michael, the Police and Crime Commission for the South Wales Police, following her?

This idea of the alter ego on Twitter amuses me. Take this from the ‘real’ Sophie Howe, retweeting a tweet of Leighton Andrews (the grotesque on the right in the picture above). The tweet attacks a Plaid Cymru AM who, along with others, had raised the issue of the unhealthy links between the Third Sector and the Labour Party, and how Labour’s private army, dependent on patronage, harasses AMs on behalf of the party. (Andrews chose to deliberately misinterpret this criticism of the Labour – Third Sector nexus as ‘sexism’!) Despite this tweet from Andrews being so obviously party political, it’s apparently OK for the ‘impartial’ Deputy PCC to join in because it’s done on her personal Twitter account!

But then, given the Labour-leaning media that Wales suffers, who’s going to make an issue of such hypocrisy and double standards when it comes from a woman who may officially be the Deputy PCC but, no matter what her title, is always working for the Labour Party, and can brazenly display that bias.

UPDATE 20.03.2015: I have now been informed that Sophie Howe is the daughter of another Labour apparatchik, Peter Howe. He was at one time the office manager for Julie Morgan and, allegedly, something of a bully. Julie Morgan was of course Labour MP for Cardiff North until 2010 and is the wife of Rhodri. Howe was an unsuccessful Labour candidate in 2008 for the Whitchurch and Tongwynlais ward, where electors found him considerably less attractive than his daughter, which might account for him subsequently being passed over by Labour selection panels, something that might have embittered him.

*

The fellow-victim to whom I’ve referred has provided me with an insight from the other side, as it were, having had experience inside the Cardiff bubble. The story he tells substantiates much of what I knew, or had worked out, with other behaviour that I – having led a sheltered and blameless life – never suspected.Howe retweet More of which anon . . .

Let’s take Our Glorious Leader. I’ve always argued that he is a weak and vacillating individual who pipes up only when squeezed like some child’s toy, and then usually with something idiotic like his pre-referendum threat to veto any currency union between the FUK and an independent Scotland following a Yes vote in the independence referendum. As if he could! My contact confirms what I have long suspected, Carwyn Jones is a plaything of his special advisers and civil servants, pulled this way and that, but he always ends up serving the interests of London and the Labour Party.

This is allowed to happen – by the ultimate controllers up in London – because in Wales Labour is the ‘establishment’ party, and viewed as the bulwark against any Scottish-style ‘problems’ (not that Plaid Cymru poses much of a threat). It could be that someone up in London follows the old US State Department dictum and looks at ‘Welsh’ Labour thinking, ‘They may be sons of bitches, but they’re our sons of bitches!’. How else do we explain Labour being allowed to build up a vast network of cronies and hangers-on to support it and keep it in power, with virtually all those making up this network – even the media – dependent to a greater or lesser degree on the public purse? A network whose members contribute nothing to the wealth of Wales other than their spending power, which of course is derived from the public purse in the first place! And you still wonder why Wales is so poor!

This network guarantees Labour – and, consequently, Unionist – control over many aspects of Welsh life. If that makes no sense to you, or you think I’m exaggerating, then just remember that in Scotland at the moment, though obviously to a much lesser degree in Wales, ideological politics is dead, or at least in suspended animation, for what matters is the constitutional debate and holding the Union together. This is why we hear commentators speculate on a previously unthinkable Conservative – Labour coalition. And why people in MI5 and GCHQ who think Hitler was a dangerous liberal will be doing their best – with the help of their tame media – to make Scottish Labour leader Jim Murphy look like a composite of William Wallace, Jimmy Reid and Superman as we near polling day on May 7.

*

While much of what I have learnt lately accords with what I previously knew or suspected, my new source was able to tell me of behaviour of which I was previously unaware; which is hardly surprising, given its nature. I’m talking now about sex. More specifically, a very easy-going attitude that you wouldn’t need to be a maiden aunt to regard as rather shocking. For example, there’s the ex-minister universally known as ‘Shagger ______’. Then there’s the very senior civil servant who likes to film himself having sex, and uses his official credit card to pay for rooms in London where his epic performances can be saved for posterity on video and still footage. In addition, there’s wife-swapping and group sex available down the Bay with very little of this involving, ahem, professionals. For we are talking here of talented and enthusiastic amateurs.

Yet despite Cardiff being a relatively small city, and with the Bay bubble throbbing with scandal, little of this will be reported in the ‘Welsh’ media. The only cases tKeith Davies 2o surface are instances of laddish drunkenness, and incidents where there are witnesses. One gem in this category was provided by the ever-thirsty Keith Davies, AM for Llanelli, when he took some slapper back to his five star hotel. (He has to stay in Cardiff because Llanelli is 700 miles away . . . and his wife lives there.) Here’s a photo of Keith Davies taken at last year’s National Eisteddfod in Llanelli. He’s the one on the floor suffering, according to Labour, from a virus. I know the feeling, I had a ‘virus’ of Argentine red Saturday night, and very nice it was too, Shiraz.

Then, a few weeks ago, while looking into something totally different, I ran across this example of hanky-panky among the comrades. It’s almost as if fidelity and sobriety are rejected as bourgeois values that should not apply to the right-on, morally superior, posture-adopting, self-congratulatory (but still angst-ridden), freedom-loving, eco-friendly paragons of ‘Welsh’ Labour.

And while writing this piece I learnt of this story of a Labour councillor from Cardiff who’s moved 100 miles to Pembrokeshire, but intends to stay on as a councillor and collect her Cardiff council allowances. Though I’m assured by another Cardiff councillor that she is hard-working and dedicated to serving her ward. It is further suggested that she is on the wrong side in the civil war currently raging inside the Cardiff Labour Party. (Who shouted, ‘Arm both sides!‘?) Giving us another example of how Labour operates – make waves, or challenge those in power, and you will, at the very least, be briefed against. But your problems could be even worse if you leave Labour and have the potential to seriously damage the party with your revelations.

Which is what has been happening recently to my fellow-victim, and why he describes the Labour Party in Wales as being like a cult. For just as with a cult, it was after he’d left the party, and his job in the Bay, that his problems really began. Police came to the house he shares with his teenage son over a minute book belonging to a charity he himself had founded and had handed over to someone else eight months previously. Now the thing to understand here is that there was no police investigation into the charity so the whereabouts of that minute book had nothing to do with the police. This heavy-handed visit is inexplicable . . . unless South Wales Police was harrasing him at the behest of ‘Welsh’ Labour. A worrying thought.

But a valid one, because it soon became clear to my contact that he was being watched, and that someone, somewhere, was carefully sifting through his every action and utterance, present and past, in a search for anything that could be used to discredit him. He has been further pursued by the police over trivial and domestic matters. He has suffered electronic and other sabotage, such as being unable to use his credit cards, having unsummoned taxis arrive, and being accused of insane things by persons who appear to be manipulated by Labour’s Third Sector cronies.

In my case, I have recently been called an ‘extremist’, attacked for being a member (forty-odd years ago) of the Free Wales Army, and accused of launching a ‘race hate’ social housing petition (see it in my sidebar) that a) was perfectly reasonable and b) had nothing to do with me. Yet neither Phil Parry nor Martin Shipton would have taken any interest in me, and would certainly not be trying to get me arrested, if I wasn’t a regular critic of their Labour Party and its empire of evil. The question I ask is, are they doing this off their own bat, or are they acting on instructions from within ‘Welsh’ Labour? Either way, I promise to keep them busy.

*

The Labour Party in Wales is now comparable to the ruling party in a crumbling totalitarian state. Due to the absence of any real opposition it is out of control, a law unto itself. There is no independent media to hold it to account beyond a few websites and lone bloggers. Enough power has been devolved from the centre to allow this situation to develop, but we are consistently denied a judicial system that might hold it to account. (Is this coincidence?) And before our eyes we see this party that always places its own survival above the best interests of the people become ever more corrupt and desperate as its power ebbs. This party that once acted as a magnet for idealists now draws careerists, shysters, single-issue obsessives, and probably contains more spin doctors than socialists. Without its regular intake of activists – mainly English – from the universities, the Third Sector, the trade unions and elsewhere, the Labour Party in Wales would find it very difficult to continue functioning at grass roots and local authority level. (This is one reason Labour wants to reduce the number of councils.) But perhaps worst of all, Labour doesn’t seem to understand that it’s doing anything wrong. Or if Labour does understand, then maybe it thinks itself untouchable.

Labour is coming to the end of a long road, but unlike in Scotland there is no obvious successor, so we may be entering a period in Welsh Assembly politics that sees no party enjoy an overall majority. In which case, Plaid Cymru and the Liberal Democrats should start thinking of persuasive excuses if they’re considering going into coalition in 2016 with this corrupt and decadent party that is, in all that really matters, no different to the Conservatives. The reputation of Wales, the prosperity of her people, the integrity of her public life, and the vitality of her democracy, all demand that the Labour Party be denied power, and then the evil empire Labour has created to keep it in power must be dismantled.

Feb 252015
 

After my previous post, Swansea Bay Tidal Lagoon, I have been giving more thought to the subject, and doing a little digging; which has led to a disturbing possibility presenting itself. By which I mean that someone, perhaps even someone local to Swansea Bay, is trying to sabotage this project for their own selfish reasons.

Treading carefully, I have decided to present this post as a combination of incontestable facts, presented as FACT: and limited to the paragraph in bold type following, interspersed with paragraphs containing deductions, assumptions or informed guesswork, before concluding with a reasonable hypothesis extrapolated from what has gone before.

*

FACT: The past week or so has seen a number of stories in the media unfavourable to the Swansea Bay tidal lagoon project. The first appeared in The Telegraph on February 15th, written by Energy Editor, Emily Gosden, and repeated in the Western Mail and WalesOnline on February 17th, about Cornish villagers up in arms over plans to quarry granite for shipping to Swansea Bay. Ms Gosden was at it again on February 21st, attacking on another front with this report arguing that the electricity generated by the tidal lagoon would be hideously expensive. This piece used as its source a submission produced by Citizens Advice.

So we see negative attention suddenly being paid to the Swansea Bay tidal lagoon. The really damaging attack of course came from Citizens Advice.

FACT: Those familiar with recent goings-on in Wales will recall that there was a plan to throw a massive barrage across the Severn Sea from Penarth to Weston-super-Mare. The company behind this project is, or was (it may be in liquidation), Hafren Power. A number of its leading figures left, the former chief executive to form Severn Tidal Energy.

Hain Spanglefish

CLICK TO ENLARGE

FACT: The leading political backer of the Severn Barrage project was, and remains, Peter Hain, Labour MP for Neath. In fact, Hain resigned from the shadow cabinet in May 2012 to concentrate on promoting the project. In June 2013 the House of Commons Energy and Climate Change Committee killed off the barrage proposal with a very critical report. Mr Hain attributed the rejection of his project to the influence of Bristol Port, one of whose owners, David Ord, was a substantial donor to the Conservative Party.

The Spanglefish website devoted to Peter Hain (from which the panel above is extracted) suggests that Hain hopes to resurrect the barrage project when there is a Labour government in Westminster. There is of course a general election in May. The website also suggests that ‘Welsh’ Labour is backing the barrage project.

FACT: In a WalesOnline article from September 2013, linked to above, and again here, “Mr Hain said that while he was convinced the project has no future at present, he hoped it could be resurrected under a future Labour Government.” While this article, from just last month, reported, “He (Hain) remains hopeful that the stalled Severn Barrage project, potentially creating tens of thousands of jobs, could be resurrected”.

Haywod Linkedin

LINKEDIN PROFILE (Click to enlarge)

FACT: The CEO of Citizens Advice is Gillian Guy, who is also chair of the Audit Committee of the National Audit Office.

FACT: Dr Elizabeth Haywood, aka Mrs Peter Hain, and another backer of the barrage project, was on the Remuneration Committee of the Wales Audit Office from July 2011 to March 2014. Since January of this year she has had a personal interest in electricity matters by becoming a non-executive director of Scottish Power Energy Networks Holdings Ltd.

Severn barrage

THE ONCE AND FUTURE SEVERN BARRAGE?

Given that the Wales Audit Office is probably no more independent of the National Audit Office in London than the ‘Welsh’ Government is of Westminster it is entirely reasonable to assume that Dr Haywood of Hafren Power and Gillian Guy of Citizens Advice are known to each other. And would be known to each other even if I’m being unduly cynical about the relationship between the two bodies. (For cynicism is not in my nature!)

FACT: Peter Hain and Elizabeth Haywood are both committed to the Severn barrage project. Additionally, Peter Hain has publicly voiced his opposition to the Swansea Bay tidal lagoon.

If the Swansea Bay tidal lagoon goes ahead, and is successful, others will be built. This will almost certainly be the final nail in the coffin of any Severn barrage, or any other major tidal barrage anywhere under the jurisdiction of the Westminster government. It seems to be a case of either / or but not both.

*

The Severn Barrage project never went away, it has been lying dormant (much like the company behind it, Hafren Power). A cynic – something I’ve already made clear (if only parenthetically), I am not – might interpret the above information thus:

There are two very good reasons for supporters of the Severn Barrage to attack the Swansea Bay tidal lagoon project at this time. First, they are hoping for a Labour victory on May 7th, so in anticipation of that, now is a good time to ‘resurrect’ their project, as has always been the intention. Further, the rival tidal lagoon project is currently at the critical stage of waiting for the Planning Inspectorate to recommend acceptance or refusal to the UK government, after which there is a further three-month period during which the UK government must say yea or nay. So why not kill two birds with one stone by trying to influence the decisions of the Planning Inspectorate and the outgoing UK government, while also reminding a Labour government-in-waiting of the economic bounty that could be lavished by a Severn barrage? And doesn’t it tie in well with all the recent talk of a Cardiff – Bristol city region (with poor old Newport as the spread in the sandwich).

Hain barrage

HAIN QUOTED IN ARTICLE (BY MARTIN SHIPTON) IN WALESONLINE JANUARY 21, 2015

The barrage is said to have, or possibly had, powerful supporters, among them, Tony Blair, Rhodri Morgan and the Notional Assembly. And of course, the Western Mail / WalesOnline, which will support anything that has Labour backing. Making this the ideal time for ‘Welsh’ Labour to clear up the confusion over whether a motion supporting the barrage was passed in the 2014 conference, as is suggested by the Peter Hain tweet below from March 29, 2014. (For some reason I’m blocked from Hain’s Twitter account!) The current briefing against the Swansea Bay tidal lagoon also provides ‘Welsh’ Labour with an opportunity to make clear its position on the project. The same opportunity naturally extends to the Labour MPs and AMs around Swansea Bay . . . though of course we already know where Peter Hain stands.

Hain Labour tweet

PETER HAIN TWEET FROM MARCH 29, 2014. (SUPPLIED BY ‘STAN’)

FACT: Peter Hain and Elizabeth Haywood obviously have considerable experience and contacts in business and politics; in addition, they have a company, Haywood Hain LLP, that specialises in ‘Media and Political Communications’.

I fear there may be more to the recent attacks on the Swansea Bay tidal lagoon project than concern for the tranquility of a Cornish village, or a commendable regard for electricity consumers being ripped off. Big money is at stake, and – speaking for our hypothetical cynic – it could be that certain persons of influence are trying to kill off a very worthwhile and beneficial project for the Swansea Bay region.

Any further information to admin@jacothenorth.net

UPDATE 26.02.2015: As predicted above, Peter Hain has used the report produced by his wife’s former colleague to rubbish the Swansea Bay tidal lagoon and promote the Lazarus Severn barrage in this piece. I know none of us think much of Llais y Sais, but does it have to be so predictably obsequious and revolting!

Feb 102015
 

Campbell mergedLast Friday I started receiving tweets from a Denis Campbell @UKProgressive. A complete stranger to me (thank God!), it was immediately apparent that he is a friend or colleague of Phil Parry at Wales Eye. Some of these tweets are worth repeating here (click to enlarge), the full exchange can be found either on his Twitter timeline or mine.

It seems that Campbell along with Parry and a Dario Llinares are the self-proclaimed UK Progressives. (Though Campbell has a North American accent.) They have a blog, or rather, some kind of news feed, with most of the news – perhaps unsurprisingly – coming from the USA. Better yet (for the masochists among you), these three produce a weekly podcast of comment on politics and current affairs as The Three Three MuckrakersMuckrakers. Not a name I would have chosen, but there you are.

If you’ve got the stomach for it, a list of their podcasts is available here. And here’s a YouTube link to one on Ukip. It was posted over four months ago but has attracted just 130 views, most of which – to judge by the comments – have come from outraged Kippers. Anyway, this whole podcast concept strikes me as being very, very weird. It’s basically three blokes talking to each other, on film, and somehow believing that out there, in the big wide world, somebody cares. I’m holding a £20 note that says there is nobody out there who gives a fuck about what these three self-deluding tossers think about anything.

Something else worth noting is that while I have no doubt they would describe themselves as being anti-war and against militarism, especially that daemon of the Strangelove era the Military-Industrial complex, Campbell does love his martial metaphors and allusions – “When I go into battle against the inept Govt here . . . @WalesEye covering my back!” And “Shoot at one, you shoot at us all.” (Now there’s a thought!) All this from a keyboard warrior; no different to me, you might argue, except that I haven’t always been one.

*

Then, on Sunday, I received a strange tweet from another unrecognised source, which simply read Parry kids tweet#SonofaVermin. I eventually worked out that it must be from Parry’s son. (The boy’s command of the English language is on a par with his pa.) On Monday I received a similar tweet from – presumably – Parry’s daughter. Rather surprised by these interventions I responded to both with the tweet on the left. To explain the reference to ‘Vermin’. This is the word I used to end my previous post. I used it because anyone familiar with Welsh political history will know it’s a word employed by Aneurin Bevan to describe Conservatives. I believe the actual phrase was, ‘lower than vermin’. I then received a few more tweets on the ‘vermin’ theme, presumably from friends of Parry’s kids. I was very Chris Waredisappointed to see Parry rope in his kids and their friends, but then, if the man can report me to the police for things I haven’t done, and get his fat friend on Llais y Sais to repeat those lies, why should I be surprised at anything? Can I now expect a hostile tweet from his Auntie Gwladys? (‘He’s being nasty to me, Auntie Gwlad’.)

Monday saw someone else join in the attack with a series of tweets from a Chris Ware, who lives in ‘Penarth, UK’. I soon established that Ware belongs to the Cardiff menutter tweetdia bubble. The Labour-supporting Cardiff media bubble. We had a fairly heated exchange which Ware concluded by reminding me that “the world has far bigger problems than these tiddly ones in Wales”. Our exchange was obviously being followed because one of Ware’s tweets was re-tweeted twice – once by Phil Parry and once by, er, Wales Eye! Early in this exchange there was an interjection from Wales Eye, favourited by Ware. I publish it, and my response, on the left. (Click to enlarge.)

*

I think we are dealing here with the slithery, sneering, self-righteous soft Left that wet its knickers when Tony and Cherie arrived in Downing Street. In Wales they preach ‘internationalism’ as a way of avoiding the mess their party has made of Wales, preferring to waffle impotently about things over which they can have no influence and then condemn as ‘racist’ anyone wanting to make things better for our people in our country. Because of course, to even suggest that Wales is less than perfect is to condemn the record of their party.

These creatures are to be found everywhere, they almost form a ruling class, representing no one but themselves . . . and of course, the Labour Party, ‘Welsh’ Labour, that rag-bag of third-raters that serves no useful purpose beyond being colonial England’s agent, in return foProtic Labourr which it is allowed to dish out the funding and the jobs to its supporters.

Given that Protic is Labour, as are Parry and Shipton, and so probably are the other two Muckrakers, while the latest poodle to join the attack is most definitely a bruvver, this probably explains why Parry and Shipton have been reading through my blogs, checking old photographs, following my tweets, looking for something to use against me in the hope of discrediting me and what I write about the Labour Party. The only question is whether they’re doing it off their own bat, or whether somebody in the Labour Party has had a word, and asked them to go after me.

Either way, I’m fairly certain now that these attacks on me from Wales Eye and Llais y Sais are retaliation for my attacks on the Labour Party. That being so, I shall not waste any more time on Parry and his gang unless they go too far or unless there are developments in other quarters. With an election approaching it’s only right that I concentrate on putting the boot into ‘Welsh’ Labour, and doing it hard and often.

Dec 272014
 

Despite fierce competition from Channel 17 in Albania and the Nova Scotia Parrot Breeders’ Monthly Jac o’ the North is delighted to have secured exclusive rights to First Minister Carwyn Jones’ end-of-year Review. Enjoy!

                                *Carwyn Jones 9

Hello there, I’m Carwyn Jones, you may not know me, but I’m the First Minister of Wales. More importantly, I also run the local branch of the Labour Party (along with Owen Smith MP and a few other people). I hope you all enjoyed your Christmas, I know I did. It gave me a chance to put my feet up and relax for a change, after another hectic and hugely successful year in Wales. Let’s go through it month by month.

P.S. Jac has kindly added some pictures showing me at work, so click on them to make them bigger.

      *

JANUARY: The Dylan Thomas Centenery Year got off to a wonderful start when documents were found at Transport House showing that Dylan was a lifelong supporter of the Labour Party, joining the party in 1938 while fighting in the Spanish Civil War. Not only that, but a previously unknown poem also came to light. Here’s a brief extract showing both his mastery of pomes and stuff and also his commitment to the party he loved: ‘I’ve always been ronk Labour / Its meeCarwyn Jones 2tings are never missed; / Its nostrums are adhered to, / Even when I’m pissed’. The second verse is playfully romantic: ‘I love the Labour Party, / It’s meetings are such fun, / The branch secretary’s a honey, / I wouldn’t mind giving her one’. Chokes me up, it does. And I bet it brings tears to the eyes of all poetry lovers.

FEBRUARY: It was brought to my attention that some foolish people are campaigning to re-open the Carmarthen to Aberystwyth railway line, possibly even go on to Bangor. It should be obvious to everyone that if you’re travelling by rail from north to south (or even south to north) then the existing route via Norwich is clearly the best option and gives people hours, days even, of extra working time. As the old English saying goes, ‘East to west is always best (especially in Wales)’. Who can argue with this tried and tested legitimisation of colonialism?

MARCH: I was surprised to receive from Mr Sargeant and his friends in the Planning Inspectorate a report saying Wales needs one million new homes by 2025. In fact, I said to him, “This seems like a lot, Carl”. But then it was explained to me that this number is due to our soaring birthrate fuelled by the booming Welsh economy which can only be attributed to 15 years of wonderful WelshCarwyn Jones 3 Labour controlling the Assembly. So when you look at it like that it makes perfect sense. In fact, a million may not be enough. (Which is what the Planning Inspectorate is already suggesting.)

APRIL: The London media, at the behest of the Coalition government, said terrible things about the Welsh NHS, so let me put a few things straight. The reason Mrs Rhian Evans of Llanrwst’s baby was delivered by the men re-possessing her three-piece suite was not because we had no ambulances available, it was because she tried calling for one in Welsh! Another calumny (a posh word taught to me by Mrs Hutt) being bandied about is that people have to wait ages before being seen by a doctor. Mr Bowen Owen of Ystradgynlais – fleeting cause celébrè of the right-wing English press – would not have spent three weeks in the waiting room if he’d told staff he was deaf. (And it goes without saying that patient confidentiality is our watchword.)

MAY: No, not Mrs May up in London, over whom certain men fantasise. (Ych a fi!) I’m thinking of the European elections, which Labour won with a stonking majority when almost 10% of those elligible to vote in Wales voted Labour. There’s no arguing with a victory of that mCarwyn Jones 4agnitude. Though of course some nit-pickers did try, saying that Ukip got nearly as many votes as us. But that’s to miss the point, because – and I’m not talking about Europe here – on the issue that really matters, Labour and Ukip are gobbing into the same spittoon.

JUNE: Unkind things were also being said about our higher education sector, so let’s put the record straight. To suggest that some of our universities are lowering entry requirements and cutting corners in pursuit of money is both insulting and incorrect. The fact that Aberystwyth now accepts students with two F grades and a new toothbrush should not deflect from the excellent work being done there by the very popular Ms April McMahon and her loyal and supportive staff. As for Glyndŵr university, degrees were not – as was alleged – being sold in Turkmenistan, far from it. The truth is that a Welsh university broke into new markets by respecting local traditions. In this case, courtesy demanded that certain local dignitaries be allowed to take away examination papers and return them at a time of their own choosing. When it was accepted that the fruit of the potentates’ loins Carwyn Jones 7had completed the papers unaided, with everything above board due to the process having been overseen by invigilators provided at said potentates’ expense. How could anyone question such an arrangement?

JULY: Even though I was on holiday with Mrs Carwyn and the kids I couldn’t stop thinking about the job. One day, whilst sipping a mint julep (with shaved ice, natch), I was forced to concede that there are ‘issues’ in local government. That said, all the problems in Caerphilly were clearly the responsibility of the previous Plaid Cymru administration. If they had paid the chief executive a decent whack then there would have been no need for him to conspire arrange to have a massive salary increase from Mr Gezwell Kirby and his Band of Bruvvers in the incoming Labour administration. While down in Carmarthenshire the Independent Party and Plaid Cymru made a terrible mess of things. Later in the year, the leader of Swansea council had my full support . . . until the coup, after which the new leader had my full support. The bottom line is that everywhere you look around Wales you see the same problem – everything going to pot because people won’t let the Labour Party run things unhindered. (Or the chief executive, whichever applies.)Carwyn Jones 8

AUGUST: I went to the National Eisteddfod, held this year in Llanelli. As you can see from the photograph, I was mobbed by hordes of young Labour activists. (Phwoar!) While there I made a firm commitment to defend the Welsh language at all times . . . unless it meant contradicting the Planning Inspectorate, annoying the Secretary of State, pissing off Labour MPs, interfering with the colonisation strategy, damaging the profits of Wimpey, Redrow, Persimmon, etc., or alarming anyone in London. Those minor caveats aside, let there be no questioning of my firm resolve to do everything I can to ensure that Welsh-speaking communities survive and prosper.

SEPTEMBER: First, I summoned all the world’s leaders to a NATO summit in Newport so I could tell them how to deal with ISIS, Putin, Salmond and assorted threats to our perfect Western system. (Thankfully, no one realised there were any ‘protests’ in Newport because they were sabotaged organised by Ms Bartolotti of MI6 the Green Party.) Next, I flew (from Bristol) to Scotland to confront the aforementioned Alex Carwyn Jones 1Salmond and frustrate his dastardly plan to make Scotland democratic, fair and wealthy. (Jesus! think of the trouble that would have caused!) Due to some very nifty work backstage and in the wings (by those I dare not name) the referendum vote was an emphatic and overwhelming No. It was so emphatic and overwhelming that support for the Scottish National Party has now collapsed as Scots have come to their senses and flock to join the Labour Party. Mr Salmond himself is a broken man, and has abandoned all political ambitions to open a barber shop in Kirriemuir.

OCTOBER: Due to the thousands of new businesses that were created by Welsh Labour with the first two rounds of EU Structural Funds, and the hundreds of thousands of jobs that came with them, those nice people in Europe wisely gave us another two billion pounds to continue with our wonderful work. We are open to imaginative suggestions on how to use this money. Applications containing words or phrases not unlike those here listed stand a good chance of scuring funding: ‘eco-‘ / ‘community space’ / ‘CVs’ (as in ‘help with completing . . . for non-existent jobs’) / ‘enviro-‘ / ‘Labour Party’ (as in, ‘I am a member / supporter . . . ‘) / ‘self-esteem’ / ‘Green’ / ‘multicultural’ / ‘holistic’ / ‘LGBT’ / ‘social enterprise’ / ‘England’ (as in, ‘recently moved frobucket 3 am . . . ‘) / ‘raiki’ / ‘not-for-profit’ / ’empowerment’ / ‘real job’ (as in, ‘never had a . . .’).

NOVEMBER: After reading that every Norwegian is now, theoretically, a millionaire, due to the success of Norway’s Sovereign Wealth Fund, I decided we must have one in Wales. (Though I have reservations about using the term ‘sovereign’.) Starting in January, groups of highly-trained financial analysts will be touring the country with state of the art buckets taking up a national collection. So give granny a good shake, slash open the sofa and chairs, and give whatever you can find to Welsh Labour because, deep inside, you know we’ll use it wisely.

DECEMBER: Mr Vincent Tan has made such a favourable impression on Cardiff City fans that we decided to capitalise on his popularity and fast-track him into the Assembly. He’ll be taking over Vaughan Gething’s seat of Kerdiff South and Penarth. We haven’t told Vaughan yet, it’ll be a surprise! . . . a hell of a surprise seeing as we’ve spread a rumour that he’s my annointed successor! (Well, laff!!)

*

2015: I look forward to 2015 with great optimism. Due to the wonderful work of the Welsh Government’s Bread and Circuses Division our boys will either win the Rugby World Cup or fail heroically; either way, if celebrated properly (with the help of our wonderful Welsh media), it should then give us a majority in the Assembly elections of 2016. As if that wasn’t enough, a string of blockbusters will be filmed at Valleywood: cruise liners will make their first, serene appearance on the Llangollen canal; the roar of F1 cars will be heard at the Circuit of Wales; Cardiff International airport will enter an exciting partnership with Bristol and be re-named Bristol (West); thousands of jobs will be created at the Margam Superpit; Llanelli town centre will become the favoured location for post nuclear holocaust movies; and Rhyl will be twinned with any other shit-hole desperate enough for the connection.

Cardiff airport

Take my word for it, 2015 is going to be a great year in Wales. Everywhere you go you’ll hear shoe-shine boys and beggars, bailiffs and food bank staff, whistling that old Harry Secombe number, Every day when I wake up, I thank the Lord I’m Labour.

Oct 152014
 

Former First Minister Rhodri Morgan is getting increasingly crabby in his twilight years. In his Wasting Mule column following the Scottish independence referendum he suggested that Alex Salmond, leader of the Scottish National Party, failed the Richard Nixon ‘Would you buy a second-hand car off this guy?‘ test. A strange way of trying to put down a man widely respected across the political spectrum, both inside Scotland and without. A man regarded as a politician of intellect, ability and commitment to his cause. But then, reading what I’ve just written, and thinking back to the lazy and superficial Rhodri Morgan, a man renowned for soundbites and little else, it was probably just jealousy.

Last Saturday Mr Lightweight was at it again, this time laying into Saunders Lewis, president of Plaid Cymru from 1926, a year after the party’s creation, until 1938. His specific point was that Saunders Lewis made a big mistake in supporting Franco in the Spanish Civil War (1936 – 1939) because had he supported the Republican side – which backed Basque and Catalan self-government – that stance would have resonated beRhodri Morgantter with Welsh people and resulted in increased support for Plaid Cymru, and of course he’s right . . . if one adopts a simplistic interpretation of events coupled with a deliberate mis-reading of history and the benefit of looking back from 2014.

Despite receiving aid and military support from both Mussolini and Hitler Franco was never a fascist himself. He certainly didn’t involve Spain in World War Two. (Although Falangist volunteers did fight on the Eastern Front.) I’ve always viewed Franco as a political animal of a variety we’re unfamiliar with in northern or Protestant Europe, by which I mean an authoritarian, Catholic reactionary. For while the Spanish Civil War may have been an ideological struggle to idealists of Right and Left in other countries, within Spain – certainly from the Nationalist side – the struggle was to maintain Catholic Spain from internal enemies. Due to it having been so ‘politicised’ we tend to forget that this was a war in which religion and the role of the church played a big part. When churches were being torched, nuns raped and priests butchered, it should have surprised no one then – or now – that a convert to Catholicism like Saunders Lewis supported Franco and followed the Vatican line.

As for why ‘Plaid Cymru’ didn’t challenge Saunders Lewis on his position vis-a-vis the Spanish Civil war, as Morgan asks, well the answer seems to have come in a reader’s letter in today’s Wasting Mule. In it, Hywel Davies of Morriston in Swansea says, “As to the claim of the tacit support of Plaid membership for Lewis, Saunders Lewis himself stressed that it was exactly the lack of such support that impelled his resignation as party president in 1938”.

It’s really scraping the barrel for a senior Labour figure to try to smear a political party and a wider movement as fascistic (despite protesting that he’s not doing that) just because of Saunders Lewis’ religious beliefs. Equally deplorable is Morgan reminding us that Lewis once said something favourable about Hitler. Wow! Just about everybody said something favourable about Hitler and Mussolini at some time in the 1930s; whether it was complimenting Hitler for getting Germans back to work or praising Mussolini for making the trains run on time. Far more sinister and self-deluding were those from Morgan’s own political background who travelled to the Soviet Union and came back believing that Stalin was the saviour of mankind, at the very time of show trials and engineered famine!

*

Though Rhodri Morgan’s spiteful little diatribe did serve to make me think about Plaid Cymru, and Saunders Lewis, whose real failing was that he was out of touch with twentieth century Wales. For his ‘Wales’ was restricted to the rural, Welsh-speaking west and the north that my great-grandparents had left a generation or two earlier. Which makes me suspect that someone else he admired – another devout Catholic and dweller in Never-Never land – was Eamon de Valera, who also dreamed of a bucolic Celtic paradise unsullied by anything English . . . such as cities, and industry . . .

And yet, this paradise to which Lewis wanted us all to return was overwhelmingly Protestant, and not just Protestant in the easy-going way of the Anglican church (a body known to my paternal grandmother as ‘them English Catholics’), but a forbidding realm of Saunders Lewisdisputatious sects for whom stained glass windows came close to idolatry and enjoyment of almost any sort could be highly suspect. (A world where, as Gwyn Thomas put it, ‘The only concession to gaiety was a striped shroud’.) Yet to these severe and self-denying country-folk Saunders Lewis, the English-born former army officer and academic who had converted to the smells and bells of Catholicism, was offering himself as the Messiah! There was more chance of Joe Stalin being invited for a few friendly beers down a Nazi bierkeller!

Which is why Rhodri Morgan was wrong to suggest that the political map of Wales would look entirely different today if Saunders Lewis had backed the other side in the Spanish Civil War. Plaid Cymru’s fortunes as a political party, and the refusal of most Welsh to accept the party, go well beyond the position of one man on a short war in a foreign country a long time ago. I say that because I believe Lewis had nothing to offer the urban and industrial areas with their anglophone majorities, and his aloofness and Catholicism meant that few heeded him even in the areas he hoped to speak for. Yet this is typical of Plaid Cymru, for the party has always been out of step with, if not alien to, the majority of Welsh people, due to its refusal to accept the reality of the Wales in which it found itself. Apart, that is, from a few, brief moments, when the party seemed to ‘connect’ . . . before hurriedly and fearfully ‘disconnecting’ again.

*

I joined Plaid Cymru in the mid-1960s, an exciting and turbulent time in Wales; bombs were going off, there were regular protests on the language and other issues with many being imprisoned, we had the tragedy of Aberfan and provocations such as Tryweryn and the Investiture, all of which combined to excite passions and lead many of us to believe that our country was being exploited and our people neglected. Plaid Cymru inevitably benefitted from this bitterness; first, with Gwynfor Evans’ by-election victory in Carmarthen in 1966, and then running Labour close in the by-elections at Rhondda West in 1967 and Caerphilly in 1968.

One strong memory I have of that period is how people could comfortably belong to a number of different organisations; a situation that allowed a card-carrying member of Plaid Cymru to don a combat jacket and forage cap on Friday night and head for the hills with the Free Wales Army. Obviously Gwynfor Evans and mostCayo of the party’s hierarchy disapproved of violence (which Gwynfor regularly attributed to MI5), but at a lower level there was a more ambivalent attitude. In this kaleidoscope, Plaid Cymru was merely the political wing of a much wider movement, a genuinely national movement. I suppose a comparison could be made with the Labour Movement of the time, where many Labour Party members, and certainly trade union officials, also belonged to the Communist Party, and other extreme Left wing groups.

Plaid Cymru’s 1960s momentum was maintained in the General Election of 1970 that saw the party, for the first time, field candidates in all seats and win 11.5% of the vote, though Carmarthen was lost. In the February election of 1974 Plaid won two seats – Caernarfon and Meirionnydd – then held those two and re-gained Carmarthen in the October election of the same year. Other seats – Ynys Môn and Ceredigion – were won in the late ’80s and early ’90s, but the share of the vote slipped, as Plaid retreated into its rural strongholds. Carmarthen was lost again in the 1979 general election but perhaps worse was the shattering defeat for devolution in the referendum of that year. A defeat ensured by a Labour Party campaigning against its own initiative and giving us a first good view of the odious Neil Kinnock and his venomous spouse.

The late 1970s and 1980s also saw Plaid Cymru change, in a number of ways. The party moved perceptibly to the Left. As if that wasn’t bad enough, it also started ‘reaching out’ to minority groups (no, no, not the Welsh) such as Gays, hippies, ban the bomb types and others. I remember one Plaid conference at which Dafydd Elis Thomas, then party leader, became quite emotional over his new best friend, Brig Oubridge, and whoever or whatever he represented. So who was Brig Oubridge? Well, he was an English hippy who, like so many others, had invited himself into Wales, squatted on some land near Llandeilo – ‘Tipi Valley’ – and then demanded to be given legal rights! Read about him here. These are the sort of people Plaid Cymru’s leadership wanted to co-operate with. It’s not a lot different today.

*

Despite this ‘reaching out’ to the non-Welsh Plaid Cymru still managed to be dismissed as ‘the language party’, and this perception – carefully promoted by opponents – has lost the party votes among the anglophone Welsh. But Plaid’s concern for the language is often little more than arguing over legislative minutiae, as if such nit-picking will save the language. It won’t, and Plaid Cymru knows that.

Making the situation in Plaid’s ‘stronghold’ areas today bizarre. On the one hand the indigenous, Welsh-speaking population can see its linguistic and cultural heritage being destroyed by tourism, colonisation, discrimination in employment and other areas . . . so they vote Plaid Cymru Brig Oubridgeas a means of showing they’re still here – ‘Yma o hyd’ – and in the desperate hope that Plaid Cymru will do something to protect what remains of the Fro Gymraeg (the Welsh-speaking areas). But Plaid Cymru has its head so far up the arse of the English Left, the Third Sector, and the Green Men that it won’t do anything to save the Fro. This is a situation that cannot endure. The destruction of the Fro can only result in the collapse of the Plaid vote, and this might come about quite suddenly if enough Plaid voters realise how they’ve been betrayed, or if a genuinely Welsh party was to appear.

But even while Plaid’s heartland areas endure, to be taken seriously as a national party Plaid Cymru needs the ‘breakthrough in the south’. (God! I’ve been hearing that for 50 years.) But of course it’s never happened. Yes, Plaid might have come close in the late 1960s and early 1970s, when it was still a nationalist party, but as I’ve explained, it was carefully steered away towards ‘rainbow alliances’, socialism, and a betrayal of the Welsh people. The only other time Plaid came close to the ‘breakthrough’ was in the first Assembly elections of 1999, and what happened then? – there was a coup against the most charismatic, most popular, and most successful leader the party ever had. On both occasions when Plaid might have pushed on to seriously challenge Labour’s hegemony in Wales it chose instead to make itself less electable. Yet people still wonder why I believe Plaid Cymru was compromised at the very highest levels in the late 1970s or the early 1980s!

To achieve this ‘breakthrough in the south’ Plaid’s leadership believed the party had to be socialist, more socialist than the Labour Party. Which tells me that Plaid Cymru is either deliberately sabotaging its own electoral chances, or that Plaid’s leadership fails to grasp a fundamental truth, which is, the great majority of Welsh who vote Labour do so out of nothing more than habit or self-interest, sometimes both. They do it because parents / grandparents voted Labour, or because they believe that Labour in power in London will ‘look after them’ better than the Tories. But the important thing to understand here is that socialism has nothing to do with it. Which makes any attempt to be more socialist than Labour an exercise in futility.

Plaid Cymru seems unable to accept that there are very few socialists left in Wales, very few indeed among the indigenous working class. In fact, your average working class, Labour-voting, tabloid-reader is very often a conservative and even a racist. Not a violent, Hitler-worshipping nutter, but a person who undemonstratively shares almost all the prejudices of the far Right. The identikit Ukip voter (as the May Euro-elections showed). We all know them. We work with them, we talk with them down the pub.

*

We live in interesting times. Never in my lifetime have ‘London’ parties and Westminster politics been held in such contempt. Scotland is on the brink of independence. A new party is on the rise. Welsh people are beginning to realise that Britain is one of the most corrupt and unequal countries in the western world. This state of flux should provide the perfect opportunity for a radical Welsh party, untainted by corruption, ineptitude and the ‘sameness’ of professional politicians, to make massive inroads into Labour’s Welsh vote . . . but instead, it looks as if the beneficiary will be Ukip, an English nationalist party! What a verdict on 90 years of Plaid Cymru!

A party that started out as a movement to defend Welsh language and culture, and to restore the language to the whole of Wales, has totally failed in that ambition. Within a generation what remains of the Fro Gymraeg will be but a memory. Then came the socialist phase, standing shoulder to shoulder with ‘oppressed minorities’ and seeking to tap into the great socialist tradition of Wales . . . which has achieved absolutely nothing. How can a Welsh political party be in existence for ninety years without realising that its greatest – perhaps its only – selling point is its Welshness? Blame England! – play on Welsh grievances! – stir the passions! – reap the rewards! BGwynfor DET Dafydd Wetter to do that and fail than be a bunch of mealy-mouthed compromisers satisfied with crumbs.

The Scottish National Party enjoys its position of strength, not because it ‘reached out’ to colonising Greens (Scotland has its own pro-independence Green Party), not because it indulged itself in sixth form ‘socialism’, not because it snuggled up to Labour and certainly not because it tried to out-Labour Labour; no, the SNP’s strength is the result of confronting the Labour Party and the British system head-on with a message of hope for the Scottish people. This is why Glasgow voted Yes last month. All Plaid Cymru does is agonise over the nuts and bolts of devolution and whine about the Barnett Formula, (basically, just asking for a bigger begging bowl). Plaid Cymru is a defeatist party; it is a collaborationist party.

The 2016 Assembly elections must be Plaid Cymru’s last chance to make the oft-heralded ‘breakthrough’. It deserves no more chances; ninety years is long enough. As things stand, Plaid Cymru’s greatest ‘achievement’ is taking up the space that should be filled by a genuine nationalist party. If Plaid Cymru fails again in 2016, but tries to carry on as if nothing has happened, then it will only strengthen my belief that the party has been compromised. If that happens, then a new party, a nationalist party, must be created. Wales can’t afford any more ‘blocking’. Time is short.

Sep 252014
 

In times of national crisis, when Britain is under threat or involved in overseas conflict, the BBC gives unquestioning support to the official government line. To all intents and purposes the BBC becomes the mouthpiece of the government, an agent of propaganda. This is understandable, it may even be acceptable, though what is less easy to understand is why a referendum on Scottish independence should have been treated like a war, or why Alex Salmond was put on a par with General Galtieri or Saddam Hussein.George Square

And even when the referendum had been ‘won’ the BBC couldn’t drop its prejudice. On the day following the referendum gangs of Loyalists roamed the streets of Glasgow, attacking peaceful Yes supporters and burning Scottish flags. Many of these thugs – some giving Nazi salutes – had come over from the Six Counties, others had come up from England. Yet the BBC reported it as two groups – one pro independence the other pro Union – both intent on violence. If they’d believed they could have got away with it I’m sure the BBC would have portrayed the pro-independence students and families as the aggressors. It was left to the Herald to give the truth, even identifying a Rangers supporters group involved in organising the violence and encapsulating what really happened in George Square and nearby streets with the memorable phrase, “The heart of Glasgow had gone from Woodstock to Belfast in the space of just one day”.

Of course no one at the BBC would admit to it, nor would anyone in the Conservative Party, or at The Times, or in the Tesco boardroom, or on the trading floor at Deutsche Bank, but those thugs that terrorised central Glasgow last Friday night – violent and malodorous though they might be – are allies, for they’re all found in the great Unionist spectrum. This explains why the BBC and the rest of the London media deliberately misreported those events in Glasgow.

*

If the Scottish referendum presented a very real threat to England’s prestige this wonderful United Kingdom, then it follows that potential or lower level threats must also be dealt with, using the same agencies, primarily the BBC. Yesterday the BBC produced the results of a poll that purported to show that only 3% of people in Wales favoured independence. A quite remarkable finding when compared with other recent polls.

Polls this year by ITV Wales put support for independence at 14% in May and 17% in September. Another poll in September, this one by Face for Business, suggested that support for independence was as high as 29%. Now it would be easy to dismiss this last poll as being wrong . . . though few did, for it seems to have been ignored by the media. I was tempted to dismiss it myself, until I looked into it a little more and found that it provided a breakdown by age group, so I made a comparison with what has been produced for the Scottish Pollsreferendum by Lord Ashcroft Polls, and the concurrence is quite striking.

The little table I drew up unsurprisingly shows that there is more support for independence in the younger age groups, while it falls off dramatically in both countries after the age of 55. Though the fall is greater for some reason in Scotland, where among the 65+ support for independence is 46% of the highest independence supporting age group, while in Wales it’s 51%. This is strange, even more so when we consider that so many English people retire to Wales. (In the area where I live they make up two-thirds of the 65+ age group.) And even if the FfB poll is all to hell, I still don’t fully understand why support for independence in Scotland declines so dramatically in the 65+ bracket.

Whatever the answers, we have to remember that opinion polls are not simply produced to tell us what people are thinking, many are designed to influence how people think, and this explains the BBC poll. Also, to provide ammunition for the defenders of the UK State who, in Wales, love to trot out the lie that, ‘only between five and ten per cent want independence’. (Hang on, is this why the Face for Business poll was totally ignored?) The only way to establish how many people in Wales want independence is to ask them the same question that was asked in Scotland last Thursday (with Wales substituted for Scotland) – ‘Should Wales be an independent country?’ That’s it, one simple question. Anything else, involving multiple choice or ‘answer-guided’ questions, is unacceptable and designed to confuse and mislead.

Among those making political capital out of the BBC’s propaganda poll was Councillor Pearleen Sangha of Swansea (well sort of, as I’ll explain). She re-tweeted @PearleenSangha enthusiastically that within a margin of error there could be nobody in Wales who wants independence. Even making allowances for the fact that Ms Sangha doesn’t know SanghaWales, not even she believes that. But it’s not about what people really believe, is it, we’re talking propaganda here. Councillor Sangha is a staunch defender of the Union, and was up in Scotland for a few weeks campaigning for a No vote. Though seeing as she’s from the USA I can’t help wondering if she’s a UK citizen, and if not, should she have involved herself in a constitutional issue like this. Although nominally a Swansea councillor Sangha is now working for the Labour Party in Cardiff, so her Uplands constituents see very little of her these days. Though perhaps they don’t notice, for even when she was in Swansea she was strictly a Monday to Friday and 9 to 5 councillor. That’s when she was there, because she also likes to take lengthy trips home to California, and being a true party girl, she never misses a Labour conference or knees-up.

UPDATE 27.09.14: I’m told the Evening Post ran a story today (can’t find it on the website)  in which it queried Councillor Sangha’s status. She claims to have resigned as a councillor in July and informed the party leadership, which was then (the recently departed) David Phillips. Yet no one else seems to know about this, certainly no by-election has been called. But despite what she told the Evening Post, on her Twitter account Cllr Sangha is still describiSangha Twitterng herself as a Labour councillor for Uplands! (Click to enlarge.) Lending weight to the suspicion that she is still, officially, a councillor – even though, due to her long absence and appalling attendance, record she shouldn’t be – is the fact that her council e-mail address is still receiving mail. In addition, she is still listed on the council’s website as a councillor. So what’s the story here?

28:09:14: A story on the Evening Post website today tells us that “Uplands councillor Pearleen Sangha steps down from her post”. She is quoted as saying “It is with regret that I have formally tendered my resignation as a Swansea councillor”. Which I take to mean that she’s resigning now, following the recent attention. Though she claims she decided “some time ago” to resign, perhaps at “the end of July”, when she says she informed the “leadership” of her intentions. (‘Leadership’ suggests more than one person, so who exactly did she tell?) She also wants us to know that she has not received her councillor allowance since then – good for her! Though the problem is that she went AWOL long before July, so it looks as if she was getting paid her councillor allowance while she was no longer in Swansea, no longer attending council and committee meetings, no longer serving her constituents. It has been obvious for a year or so that Pearleen Sangha was not doing her job as a Swansea councillor, but the local Labour Party allowed this situation to persist, and for her to collect her councillor allowance – simply because she is working full-time for the party, in Cardiff. What a squalid arrangement! What contempt it shows for the city of Swansea and its people. Yet another example of the Labour Party putting its interests first.

*

Robert Burns wrote a damning indictment of those who sold out his country’s independence in Parcel of Rogues; perhaps it should be updated, or maybe someone should give us a new song for the twenty-first century.

Any new ‘Parcel of Rogues’ would have to mention the British Propaganda Corporation, and the London newspapers . . . you know, those ‘journalists’ who’ve been tapping phones, and bribing bent London coppers, like the ones involved in the murder of Daniel Morgan. And we mustn’t forget the noble and upstanding politicians, most of whom seem to be fiddling their expenses. Sticking with politicians, let’s remember ALL the parties opposed to Scottish independence – Labour, Tory, Lib Dem, Ukip, BNP, National Front, Britain First, and a host of even smaller, loonier parties; plus of course the Unionists and Loyalists across the water. Finally, there was Carwyn ‘the veto’ Jones. Then there’s the supermarkets, the supermarkets that rip off Welsh farmers. And how could we forget the banks, for all of them were opposed to Scottish independence because they feared being properly regulated, as they are just about everywhere outside of the UK and the USA. Have you noticed that the bankers who end up in court are not the ones who nearly wrecked the Western economy but ‘rogue traders’, in other words, those who lose the banks’ money! Then there’s the oil industry, ‘Scottish oil running out’ they screamed . . . then four days after the referendum we learn that they got it wrong. But of course, this was unknown before referendum day! These are just some of the turds to be found floating in the cess-pit of modern Britain, the most corrupt and unequal society in Europe.

If the people of Scotland had known the truth, if they could have relied on an impartial and unbiased media, then Scotland would today be on its way to independence. That’s why Britain’s elite so desperately needed its propaganda machine and its foot-soldiers. But it was so blatant, so clumsily done and so easily exposed, that the backlash has started, and Scotland will be independent within ten years. The changes Britain will see in the coming decade will not end with Scotland. Fasten your seatbelts!

Will those sending not-for-publication comments appreciate that I cannot reply to, for example, anonymous@anonymous. If you want to provide information please e-mail editor@jacothenorth.net.
Jul 032014
 

It’s taken about eight months, but I finally got the information I requested on the Social Housing Grant (SHG). Though let me make it clear that I attach no blame to the Housing and Regeneration section of the ‘Welsh’ Government or the Housing Directorate (which, despite being in Wales is, I believe, an outpost of the UK / England Department for Communities and Local Government); for both have been very helpful. It seems that in the first instance I was asking for too much information, which exceeded the obligations placed on government departments by the Freedom of Information Act, with the delay extenuated by me seSocial Housing Grantnding e-mails to someone who’d left his job but whose e-mail account was still open and accepting incoming e-mails!

As you might have guessed, I’m talking about housing associations, and more especially, how much they receive from the ‘Welsh’ Government through the SHG (click on panel to enlarge). In other words, public funding, money that could – with different priorities – be spent on other things. Between 2008 and 2013 housing associations in Wales were given £692,541,022.51. (I can give you the figure to the exact penny because that’s how it was given to me.) However you look at it, 692 million is a lot of moolah. It could have built a few hospitals, 12 Newtown bypasses, covered most the M4 upgrading, re-opened the Carmarthen-Aberystwyth railway line, or funded a lot of other projects around the country. And remember, that’s just the money received from one funding scheme over six years. There is also the funding prior to 2008 to be considered, funding from other sources, plus the loans that housing associations are allowed to negotiate. Putting it all together makes it clear that social housing is big business, and accounts for a lot of money in a small country like Wales.

Before looking more closely at some of the individual recipients of the ‘Welsh’ Government’s largesse, maybe I should give some background and explain what kind of beast we are dealing with. Anyone over the age of forty-five will remember that social housing used to be the responsibility of the local council; in other words, council houses. Housing associations were usually small organisations supplementing the work of local councils in catering for specific groups, be they disabled ex-servicemen, Jewish widows or distressed gentlefolk. Then came the hammer-blow of Right to Buy legislation (Housing Act 1980) coupled with the inability of councils to use the funding raised to build replacement dwellings. Housing associations were then encouraged into a cannibalistic feeding frenzy that left us with fewer, but bigger organisations while – in Wales at least – they were also stopped from buying existing properties. This seemed to serve a number of purposes: keeping up the stock of social housing, providing work for private builders (as opposed to councils’ own workforces) and, in rural and coastal areas of Wales, ensuring that no cottages or houses that might prove attractive to English buyers became social housing. I believe that my suspicions about the purpose and activities of housing associations began around this time.

The housing associations we see today are either the result of one merger after another of the old units, or else shiny new organisations resulting from councils selling off their housing stocks. All tend to be ‘not for profit’ Industrial and Provident Societies registered with the Financial Conduct Authority, which makes it rather more difficult, and expensive, to get information on them than if they were registered with the Charity Commission or Companies House. (Though there are usually abbreviated accounts on their websites.) In addition, they are not covered by the Freedom of Information Act, even though councils’ housing departments are! Odd, really, that it’s so difficult to get information on bodies receiving so much public funding.

                                                 *

The breakdown, by housing association, can be found below (in PNG format, click to enlarge); or here in Spreadsheet format, with links to each HA website available by clicking on the HA name in the left-hand column. I would suggest opening either file in another window to better follow what I’m going to say. Or just use it to check up on your local housing association. (Right click on the panel, then click on ‘Open link in new window’ or however your browser words it.)

Social Housing full

A quick scan reveals that Wales & West Housing Association got the largest amount in the period covered by the table, no less than £63 million. I had cause to mention Wales and West not long ago, when I learnt that it will Wales & West Housingborrow up to £25m from the UK government, through the Affordable Housing Guarantees, “to build 251 homes in Wales”. (Left, click to enlarge.) Why is the UK government loaning money to a Welsh housing association to build homes in Wales? It doesn’t make sense. The other big gainers are all familiar to me, though some of the smaller ones are eyebrow-raisers, and I always get suspicious when I see ‘Wales’ in the name of any organisation, for it often means an English outfit with a Welsh presence that may be nothing more than a post-box.

Having mentioned mergers earlier, Cymdeithas Tai Clwyd and Cymdeithas Tai Eryri have recently merged to form Grŵp Cynefin which, by happy chance, I wrote about quite recently. The episode in Tywyn tells us quite a lot about how housing associations really operate. In my experience they are devious, if not dishonest; promoting themselves as the answer to society’s ills while operating as ruthless and almost secretive commercial entities. Not only is it difficult to get informaTai Cantreftion about housing associations but what they do put out is often misleading, sometimes deliberately so. Take this sentence, highlighted on page 12 of the 2013 – 14 annual report of Cymdeithas Tai Cantref, which operates out of Castell Newydd Emlyn and covers an area from Machynlleth to just south of Fishguard, and inland as far as Llandovery. Note the use of the deliberately misleading term ‘people living locally’ in the hope that anyone reading it will think it means locals. It does not.

Go down to page 16 and you will read this: “To build new homes, Cantref need (sic) to generate more income and rely less on Social Housing Grant. A successful new initiative to Cantref this year was the introduction of our new student accommodation. We were successful with the submission of 65 units to be part of the Welsh Government’s Revenue Grant programme”. An interesting passage in a number of ways. For it identifies yet another income stream from the ‘Welsh’ Government, given as funding for what is clearly not social housing. Or to put it another way, the almost inevitable coming together of two ways in which Welsh public funding is used for the benefit of England, social housing and higher education.

                                                  *

Soon after starting on this post I bought the latest issue of our weekly rag, the Cambrian News, where I came across this story, involving an outfit to which I just introduced you, Grŵp Cynefin. This time the project is in Harlech, a place close to my heart from having spent a couple of years there, in good company, in good pubs, Cambrian News, Harlech homeswearing flares and hair over my shoulders . . . I even made it to the Coleg once or twice. (I also met the missus there, but we don’t want to spoil a happy memory, do we.) Anyway, click to enlarge and read it for yourself.

Warms the cockles of your heart, no? What callous brute could possibly object to sheltered housing for adults with learning difficulties? Well, me, for one, if there is no local demand for such housing. Because when I read that story I reminded myself that certain agencies in England would pay handsomely to relocate their clients to Wales. If that’s what will happen in Harlech then it will make this development little more than a housing association irresponsibly increasing the load on the Welsh NHS.

The problem here is obvious, it extends across the social housing sector. There is too much knee-jerk reaction on the part of politicos at all levels to requests for funding – with no thought to the bigger picture and the wider implications – when those making the requests exert emotional blackmail by pressing certain buttons. The biggest ‘button’ is social housing itself, beneath which can be found an array of secondary controls that include ‘sheltered housing for adults with learning difficulties’, ‘victims of domestic violence’, alien abductees, etc. (Go on, make up your own, I guarantee nobody will challenge it! It’s money for old rope.) All such requests for funding or planning should be answered by a simple question from our politicians: ‘Is there a demand from within the established local community for these properties?’ If no such demand exists, then funding, planning permission, and all other help should be refused.

Had this rule been followed, in tandem with a locals-only allocation policy, it would have saved lives and avoided many other tragedies, such as that which unfolded in Kidwelly not long ago, in properties owned by the Gwalia Group (£30 million raked in in the period covered). Gwalia housed Colin Batley and his paedophile gang; an appalling episode that reminds us of a darker side to social housing that the touchy-feely, politically correct, social conscience burdened hypocrites running our housing associations would rather not discuss; namely, providing accommodation for known criminals and undesirables from over the border, inflicting them on Welsh communities. Where does this leave the sanctimonious piffle about ‘being committed to serving our communities’? Yet more bollocks from housing associations.

                                                 *

The social housing sector is an unsustainable drain on the Welsh public purse. It soaks up vast amounts of money, providing more dwellings than are needed in many (usually rural) areas and often not enough in other (usually urban) areas. It is made up of semi-secret organisations that are – despite the public funding – private companies in all but name. Too often contracts are given to firms from outside the area of the contract or even from outside Wales, which results a) in a loss of income and jobs to local economies, b) projects taking longer than needed to complete, due to workers having to travel long distances, c) lives put at risk as workers pile into vans for the mad rush home around the time children are leaving school. And all this being done while operating an allocations system that prioritises those who have never set foot in Wales over native-born Welsh. A monster encouraged for 15 years by a political party that is ideologically and emotionally hostile to commercial enterprise and initiative, instead funding its cronies to run housing associations and other third sector chimerae in the hope that the faffings of these charlatans might be mistaken for an economy at work. The truth is, a well-regulated private sector could meet most of Wales’ indigenous social housing Wales needs at a fraction of the cost of housing associations. Housing associations are a drain on the Welsh economy for no discernible return – get rid of them!