New, Old, Same Old Labour



Jeremy Corbyn may have won the Labour leadership contest, and Labour may have seen an unexpectedly large influx of new members, but how much has really changed at local branch level?

Nothing at all if we examine “Welsh” Labour. Take Labour in Carmarthenshire, for example.

The Emperor’s New Clothes

Immediately after the general election the knives came out for party veteran Kevin Madge, who was also leader of the County Council. The contest was widely regarded as a tussle between the party’s Amman Valley and Llanelli factions, but it later emerged that at least one of Madge’s assassins was much closer to home.

Kevin Madge has spent his entire career of almost 40 years as a full-time Labour councillor, and for most of the last ten years he enjoyed a generous “senior salary” as a member and then leader of the council’s Executive Board, or cabinet, in bed with Meryl Gravell and her Independent rag-bag army of reactionary grannies, rich retired farmers, opportunists and assorted hangers-on.

The rambling, incoherent Madge was never the brightest lamp post in the street, although decades spent wrangling in smoke-filled Labour committee back-rooms clearly taught him a few survival skills.

Meryl and her acolytes sized up their man, clasped him to their ample bosoms, and a long love affair was born in which Madge was nothing more than an impotent mascot pinned to the bonnet of the municipal limousine chauffeured by Chief Executive Mark James, with Lady Gravell ensconced on the plush leather back seat.

Madge Gravell

The result was a scandal-prone, seedy dictatorship which turned Carmarthenshire into an Eldorado for companies sheltering in tax havens, assorted fraudsters, funny handshake merchants, con-artists and big business rip-off merchants, while ordinary voters were left to scrape a living on the minimum wage.

Top council jobs were and still are the preserve of outsiders, swathes of rural communities had the guts ripped out of them as they lost their schools, shops and pubs, the young and talented left in droves for the brighter lights of the big cities, and the Welsh language suffered a catastrophic decline. CBEs, OBEs and MBEs showered down on the elite and their supporters.

Kevin Madge didn’t see it like that, of course, but what eventually did for him was a growing realisation that the party was on a one-way street to electoral disaster as Madge found himself championing a string of extremely unpopular policies, including massive hikes in charges for using council-owned sports pitches, bowling greens and other facilities.

Voters could no longer see the difference between Madge’s party and the crypto-Tories he had snuggled up to for so long.

Having lost the top job, Kevin Madge disappeared from public view for a couple of weeks before returning to the council chamber to blub his way through an interminable valedictory ramble listing his supposed achievements. He now sits on the backbenches nursing his grudges and sharpening his knives.

Madge’s replacement as Labour leader on Carmarthenshire County Council is the very lugubrious Jeff Edmunds whose main activity when not being a councillor is as pastor of a spiritualist church. His expertise in contacting the dead may yet come in very handy.

But the dogs bark, and the caravan moves on. Jeremy Corbyn is now party leader, and in Carmarthenshire the party is reorganising itself. It’s all change, or rather the deckchairs are being rearranged.

A recipe for success

Kevin Madge has just been appointed chair of a new “super branch” encompassing the Amman and Gwendraeth valleys, presumably because someone believes that he is a vote winner.

When he stood for election in the 2007 Assembly election, Kevin Madge saw Labour’s share of the vote decline from 31% to 24%. In 2012 when Labour was bouncing back in local government elections from the catastrophe of the Brown years everywhere else, Labour lost ground in Kevin Madge’s stomping ground in the Amman Valley. In 2015 Carmarthen East and Dinefwr was one of Labour’s top target seats, and the election was contested by Kevin Madge’s young protégé, Calum Higgins. Whereas Labour saw modest advances in most parts of Wales, Madge and Higgins saw Plaid Cymru returned with a significantly increased majority as Labour voters stayed away or switched to Ukip.

Prior to the influx of new members brought about by the recent Labour leadership campaign, Labour’s constituency branches were in dire shape – in Carmarthenshire as in other parts of Wales. Party activists were reduced to a gnarled rump of grizzled veterans with a very sparse sprinkling of younger blood.

Why anyone under the age of 60 would have wanted to join “Welsh” Labour before May 2015 is a question worth asking. The party was about as attractive to average 20-somethings as joining a bowls club, playing bingo or going to a 1950s night at the local working men’s club.

There are strange and rather sad young people who do all those things, but they are few and far between.

The answer is, of course, that unlike bowls clubs and the like, “Welsh” Labour runs a system of patronage which offers all sorts of goodies for anyone who is prepared to go to committee meetings and put up with the smell of wee and the company of poisonous old power junkies.

Open all hours

Let’s meet Shahid Hussain over in Kevin Madge’s heartland in Cwmaman.

Kevin shahid

Shahid is in his early thirties and a budding entrepreneur who runs a garage and a couple of shops. Back in 2012 he stood for election to the County Council. “I’m sexy and I know it”, he told his Twitter followers, who were treated to his views on women, “yids”, rugby (“gay porn”) and older people. Referring to his Plaid opponent, Shahid predicted he would so kick his ass that he might “pop a hip or something”.

Shahid was very proud of the coverage he had been getting in the local rag, but he quickly achieved press coverage which few Welsh politicians, even the heavyweights, could ever dream of. He even made it big on the other side of the Atlantic.

Labour reacted by telling Shahid to delete his Twitter account and tut-tutting. Kevin Madge blamed it all on the “dangerous” Twitter rather than the unpleasant idiot using it, and days later he was back out campaigning for his boy.

Fortunately for the people of Cwmaman, it was Shahid’s ass that was kicked, but all was not lost because he remained a member of Cwmaman Town Council.

The unfortunate Twitter episode was quickly forgotten, and this year Shahid rose to become mayor, from which lofty position he has continued to make waves.

At a public meeting chaired by Shahid to discuss relocating the town’s post office, he opposed a proposal to move it to the community centre.

Kevin Madge shifted uncomfortably and suggested to his boy that he perhaps ought to declare an interest here, as Shahid was known to be seeking the post office franchise for his garage.

“What is this fucking shit?” shouted Shahid, outraged at the implication that there might be anything wrong with using public office to further his business interests.

Not long after that, matters came to a head again when Shahid opposed a planning application for a convenience store run by a partner of Tesco, forgetting to mention that he had submitted his own plans for a convenience store nearby.

At a stormy meeting on 23 October, the town council approved a vote of no confidence in its mayor, by 11 votes to 1. The only councillor to have confidence in the mayor was, erm, Shahid himself. The next stop is expected to be a formal complaint to the Ombudsman.

If this does bring his career in Labour to an end, Shahid can at least be confident of a warm welcome from Ukip.

Shahid is one of Labour’s young guns, but perhaps we should not be too harsh because the older generation of Labour councillors has not always set a good example.

UPDATE 30.10.2015: Despite a near-unanimous vote of no confidence (11 to one, with one abstention), Shahid Hussain is refusing to resign as mayor of Cwmaman, according to a report in the Carmarthenshire Herald today. The matter will now be referred to the Ombudsman for Public Services with all the attendant lengthy delays and legal costs that that will entail.

Dead donkeys

Step forward the reptilian Keri Thomas, Labour’s veteran councillor for Tyisha, Llanelli.

Keri Thomas has been known to drink more than the occasional glass of shandy, and in 2011 he fell seriously ill before receiving a liver transplant.

He took a year off on full pay from the council with the Chief Executive’s blessing. Despite being too ill to campaign, he was nevertheless selected to stand in the 2012 election once again, and was successfully returned, proving the old adage that you could put a red rosette on a dead donkey and it would still romp home in most of Labour’s strongholds.

Thomas recovered sufficiently to take up work again after the 2012 election, and he was soon lashing out at Llanelli’s Polish community for their drinking habits. Unfortunately, a little more than a year later the occasional tipple was starting to take its toll again, and for most of the last two years he has rarely been seen in County Hall except for meetings of the planning committee of which he was a member until recently.

Keri Thomas remains a councillor and, incredibly, a member of one of the scrutiny committees.

Readers of this blog were recently shocked by John Bayliss’s 27% attendance record in Swansea, but Keri Thomas is on course for the worst attendance of any councillor in Wales. According to the council’s own statistics, he has notched up an attendance record of 0% since they began publishing performance data in August.

Staying in Llanelli for a moment, let’s meet Dafen Dolly, or Tegwen Devichand as she is more formally known. Tegwen has led a colourful life, and despite very humble beginnings has managed to become quite a wealthy woman and the grande dame of Llanelli Labour politics.

Dafen Dolly

One of her protégées was Theressa Bowen, a local woman and party activist, and thanks to Tegwen, Theressa became a Labour county councillor for the first time in 2012. Unfortunately a very bitter falling out ensued, with Tegwen accusing Theressa of stealing a stash of valuable jewellery from her home.

Nothing came of the accusation, and no charges were brought, but Theressa promptly upped and left Labour to join Meryl’s Independents. Meryl and Tegwen are not exactly best friends, and Meryl welcomed Theressa with open arms, not least because the defection put Labour and the Independents on level pegging in the County Council. Meryl even let Theressa stay in her exclusive Spanish villa.

The simmering dispute between Tegwen and Theressa boiled over again earlier this year in a very public row in which the two women accused each other of assault, and both complained to the poor old Ombudsman.

The rise, fall, and rise of Ryan

Our trip started in Cwmaman before reaching Llanelli. All aboard for the next stop in Kidwelly where a by-election has been called for 19 November following the death of the previous Labour incumbent.

This is the first Carmarthenshire by-election to be held under the new Corbynista Labour Party, and with all those new members, you would think the party would have been able to come up with an attractive candidate.

Fair play, they did at least try. One new member who had signed up so that he could vote for Jeremy was surprised to receive an e-mail asking if he would like to stand in Kidwelly, even though he lives as far away from Kidwelly as you can get in Carmarthenshire, and has never set foot in the town.

Which brings us to the cautionary tale of Ryan Thomas.

Ryan became a member of Kidwelly Town Council at the tender age of 24, and by 2014 he was deputy mayor and a rising star. A bit like Shahid, in fact.

Ryan and Nia

Unfortunately things went pear-shaped for him at last year’s mayor-making ceremony when he became tired and emotional, made some very rude comments about the mayor’s wife to a young man who turned out to be her son and then groped a 19-year old woman.

The police became involved, charges were eventually laid, and Ryan was committed to trial.

In the meantime, Ryan was suspended by the Labour Party and he resigned from the council.

British justice ground its way slowly, as usual, and many months passed until the morning of the trial itself when Ryan suddenly realised that it had all been a terrible mistake. He made a formal apology which was accepted by the young woman who had waited in vain for so long, and charges were dropped. The judge dismissed the case and entered a verdict of not guilty.

For those readers who sometimes wonder about the subtleties of the legal system, this neatly illustrates the difference between “not guilty” and “innocent”.

That was in August, and there was jubilation in the public gallery as Ryan walked free. He now finds himself selected to stand as the Labour candidate for his town in November.

(Jac says: ‘What an indictment this is of the English judicial system. The horny little sod confessed, eventually, to indecent assault – but was then found ‘not guilty’! When I come to power anyone suspected of being a Labour Party member will – after receiving a good kicking – be sent off for two years of re-education, where this blog will be compulsory reading. Oh yes.’)

CLARIFICATION (see comments) 05.11.2015: In court Ryan Thomas said, “I accept that I was intoxicated and that my conduct may have been inappropriate as a result” . . . “I wish to apologise for any offence caused.” So let us accept that he was found not guilty of groping. And I may have got the charge wrong, though different reports use different terms, including ‘groping’. The fact remains that he apologised for having done something, so what did he apologise for?

A new boy

To find a truly fresh-faced new hopeful on the Labour scene in Carmarthenshire, we will have to return to Llanelli where Lee Waters, until recently director of the Institute for Welsh Affairs, has thrown his hat into the ring to replace Keith Davies as Assembly Member for Llanelli next year. Party-loving Keith is retiring, presumably to spend more time with his Chardonnay.

As director of the IWA, which likes to describe itself as an independent think tank, and a former ITV chief political correspondent, Lee Waters has been able to observe the inner workings of the Labour Party at close quarters, and he will be even more aware than most of the party’s dismal record since 1999, so his decision to throw in his lot with the freak show in Carmarthenshire is hard to see as anything other than a career move.

Neither Waters nor any of the other exhibits we have examined could be described as part of the Corbynite new wave, so where does this leave all those bright-eyed and bushy-tailed new converts and idealists?

The idea that Kevin Madge, Dolly Dafen or any of the other grizzled old guard and their young clients are about to release their grip on the party and hand the reins to a group of newcomers is about as realistic as Jeremy’s chances of entering 10 Downing Street.

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Labour is ok until you become a member . However Llanelli clp are deadly . Anyone joining do so at their healths sake . They take you in then once your elected to any status or title you have no say just their say . All they want are followers who say yes !


Of course not – but your views are so blinkered and prejudiced you must be an out and out Labour donkey in some middle class pink champagne situation in Swansea and probably in some cushy well salaried job you got through the party and possibly one of the outsiders washed up as jetsam and flotsam. Having ranted that – do you support what Lily Summers promotes? Answer please with no sidesteps. Should Deputy Minister Julie James AM have Lily as a key doorstepper? Before that we had the Title of “Arch Pornographer of the Year” bestowed on one Labour smoothy in Swansea.

Daley Gleephart

You mention a blog written by Lily Summers but I cannot find a link. There appears to be a Facebook page written by Lily Summers and the contents cannot be read without logging on. I do not have a Facebook account, never have and never will, so I’ve got no idea about Lily Summers views.
Why don’t you let Jac’s readers know your views about the ‘War on Drugs’ and sex-workers. You’ve gone FullCapsOn above which usually indicates strong feelings and/or tin-foil hat idiocy on the subjects. Let’s see if you’re ‘Halfway to Upminster’ – Your personal attack on me, without a shred of evidence to back the crap, suggests just that.
Glad to be of annoyance to you.
All the best,


Daley Gleephart considers his pathetic anonymous name to be an ANAGRAM of Daily Telegraph – but typical of a Swansea Labour MORON he cannot spell. The FACTS are that Labour in Swansea is full of bandwagon riders like Alan Lloyd a so called expert on recycling for a few meetings a year for £7,000. How about Labour outsiders washed up on Swansea Beach with the general flotsam and jetsam from the local Sewage Works and from places like Liverpool and Suffolk and Sunderland. Lily Summers is one brilliant example – CHAIR of Swansea Labour Students who SUPPORTS SEX WORK and OPPOSES THE WAR ON DRUGS and discusses “ANAL” on her Blog site.. Yet she is a key canvasser for Julie James AM. What does “Gleephart” and the “absent Councillor” have to say about SEX WORK and the WAR ON DRUGS. Never mind Holley, let’s talk about Lily Summers for a moment.

Daley Gleephart

Are you saying that people shouldn’t have views?


To Jac.Much appreciated. To Cydweli Monitor – If that’s the case there are three Plaid Councillors in Llanelli who have been drunk at public ceremonies, 2 of which were involved in a public brawl which was highlighted in all the local papers.. Also what about Plaid Councillor Ruth Price and her frequent inappropriate behaviour? Should they all resign? People get drunk – it happens but normally people do not make political capital out of it. He did not admit to molestation either – he brushed against a fully clothed woman. Also how much should readers of this blog take notice of your post is to be seen with your personal attack of ‘sweaty and clammy’. How mature is that? As I said it is up to the residents of Kidwelly to decide whether or not he is elected.

Cydweli Monitor

You all seem to miss the points. He was drunk at a serious civic ceremony. He admitted to molesting a young lady. He has admitted it. Therefore he is not a suitable person for public office until he can put at least put a decade of incident free years of respectability between this incident. Let him stand for election in year 2025 if he has have a clean record in year 2025 then and then stand again then. Otherwise he and his sweaty clammy Labour supporters should all resign now – yes NOW!. GO NOW! His supporters are taking a traditional disgraceful Labour attitude!


To start with I am not his ‘Mam’, his girlfriend or anything like it. Quite condescending for you to imply that tbh.
I agree with this ‘But from where I’m standing he got pissed and did something silly, in public, to a stranger, for which he has publicly apologised’ I do not agree with this except as far as I am aware was it was not a stranger but that’s being a bit picky. ‘So I didn’t smear him at all’ – This is what you said which is inaccurate and I believe this should be removed from the blog.’The horny little sod confessed, eventually, to indecent assault – but was then found ‘not guilty’! There is no need for anybody to take it up with the CPS as he said it was accidental and she said it was deliberate – that is the only issue and he was found not guilty apologising for his actions even though they were accidental. The world is full of people who have had too much to drink and end up apologising for their actions! As far as him standing for the County Council – he was an excellent town councillor, did a silly thing, so did the honourable thing and resigned. Labour Party suspended him which is the proper course but as he was found not guilty he has returned there is no reason he shouldn’t stand again is there? He did a silly thing and paid dearly for it including the loss of his job. He was not convicted of anything – he left the court without a stain on his record. You have tried to make political capital out of this which is understandable as Labour is not your colour. However, ‘there but for the grace of god go I’ is always something I have lived by and given the recent frenzy of media attention for Plaid Councillor Ruth Price over something stupid she did do you think she should resign given your criticism of the Kidwelly Labour party picking him as their candidate? With regard to your statement following are you saying that the court system is corrupt or that he was given special treatment? ‘What sort of a legal system would we have if everyone brought to court could get off with making some vague and inderminate apology?’
I suspect that, as I said, yesterday, that the judge felt the whole case was a waste of public money and if so I agree with the judge so it was resoved in this way. Personally, I believe that he has shown a lot of courage in standing and it will be up to the judgement of the residents of Kidwelly whether or nor he is elected. At no time was an apology asked for just for the facts to be correct.


Well done whoever dug up the deep buried manure in County Hall, Carmarthen. It is worrying to see how limited the reactions have been from the wild West where nepotism really counts in Planning and Jobs. Wake up Sir Gaer!
Crossing the border to Swansea for an interlude – has anyone noticed that veteran eighty year old Swansea Labour Councilor Alan Lloyd, who retired two years ago, after over forty years as a Swansea fixture, was given a nice little retirement earner as an eighty year old Board Director for Swansea Council’s Waste Company at £7,000 a year for a just a couple of meetings dealing with issues that he knows very little about. Labour certainly looks after its own.
Going back to Carmarthen – this thread of Jac – come on wild west people get stuck into your lot of creeps.

Daley Gleephart

The Evening Post reported a moan from former Council Leader and still Swansea Lib Dem Leader:
What about Holley’s decision to appoint someone who couldn’t read a balance sheet as his Cabinet Member for Finance and also sit him on the Board of Stadco?
What about the Lib Dems and The Kingsway?


Your comments in respect of Ryan Thomas are misguided to say the least.. They leave me wondering if you actually know how the law works. 1. Nobody is found ‘innocent’ – all are found gulity or not guilty except in Scotland where there is a ‘not proven’ alternative verdict.. 2. He was not committed for trial at the Crown Court he elected to be tried at the Crown Court as is the right of any individual who feels they would be better served there than go to the Magistrates Court. 3. I suspect that it was the judge who decided this case was a complete waste of public money and advised counsel on both sides to get it sorted. 4. This could be seen as defamatory -‘What an indictment this is of the English judicial system. The horny little sod confessed, eventually, to indecent assault – but was then found ‘not guilty’! Ryan was not required to change his plea and did not and certainly did not confess to indecent assault. Whilst he is Labour for whom you have no love you should perhaps consider that this was a young man who went through 18 months of hell for accidentally touching a fully clothed woman, while drunk, which was considered ‘inappropriate by the ‘victim’s’ mother. This happens all the time without the person being hauled up into court. I assume you are human and if by any chance, when you have had a few drinks, you brush somebody by mistake that you will not be subject to the same treatment. It’s all very well making fun of people but please have a heart. It’s peoples lives and feelings we are dealing with. Political banter is fine but personal, inaccurate smears are not. Thanks 🙂


Just read somewhere that Ms S Howe has been appointed to some newly created juicy little number created by Llafur Cymru and its lackeys down the Bay. Already enjoying the fruits of senior job with South Wales Police, and advancing her career in a manner which recalls the days of Breshnev & Co in USSR. The notion of elites running a Peoples Republic is still thriving in these parts !


I have just watched a video of a Llanelli Herald meeting with Sian Caich a Carmarthenshire Council member who speaks up against their shenanigans (sound quality not too good but worth listening to). Seems anyone having the temerity to try and hold a spotlight on the wrongdoings of this LA finds themselves silenced by their party whips and of course choice words from the CEO. Coercion and cronyism rules the day and not what is in the public interest.

Don’t the voters of Carmarthenshire know what is happening in their name you may ask, well! no they don’t as the local media are reluctant to upset the LA which runs it’s own monthly publication, delivered to every household monthly (containing it’s own supportive spin). Only local bloggers and now the 2 new weekly local papers Llanelli/Carmarthenshire Heralds try to keep us informed but they have an uphill struggle. Not all newspaper outlets are willing to stock this very outspoken newspaper which gives a platform for dissenting voices. Few voters realise that this paper exists or have even accessed the bloggers. Unless you’ve worked for the LA or found they have acted against you personally, whether as a whistleblower or complainant and having failed to persuade councillors or Assembly members to assist you, do you realise how little they care about your concerns and how easily the officers can persuade them to ignore our concerns; never mind which party they are in; only after this do you start actually trying to find out what is really taking place in County Hall. I do hope your readers in Wales will sign the petition you’ve highlighted (not sure if people outside Wales will have their signatures taken into account).

Frank Little

Reminds me of your earlier post:


That’s what you get from any political party that’s focussed on cutting up the cake but utterly clueless about baking it. Arguably there was a time ( a long way back ! ) when Labour had leadership who had a real interest in fairer distribution but that’s long gone. Now they pal up with assorted spivs and all kinds of deviants, especially those who seem to be “clever with finance”, and sod the consequences.

We in Wales are very lucky in that we have a number of political groupings that fall into this category. Plaid wants to share wealth that doesn’t even exist, while the Libs and Tories would probably give all the dough to a small group of “big name ” businessmen and let them get on with it ! As for UKIP they would probably invite a collection of money launderers, immigrant smugglers, and other tasty types to run their show. Nice to have a bit of choice ?


‘Keep them poor, keep them Labour.’

Moira Lewis

I,ve always known that Labour are devious,ruthless and completely objectionable.They will use any tactics to get elected.

Western Welsh

I remember attending a Plaid do some years ago, I think it was in Ammanford when Adam Price was MP for Dinefwr – I think this is true because Lee Waters, then a journalist, was present and was making sure everyone knew that he had gone to the local school.

At the end of the evening, when a few people had had too much to drink, Lee Waters was holding forth at the bar. Also present was Plaid’s Dafydd Trystan, then the party’s Chief Exec. I have never forgotten the cruel smile on Lee Water’s face when he started making jokes about Trystan’s diminutive stature. He called him a “dwarf” and various other insults where levelled, which only Waters found amusing. An embarrassed silence spread around the room and Trystan, looking utterly humiliated, worked hard to maintain his composure and dignity.

I felt great sympathy for Trystan at that moment and deduced, very quickly, that the bright, young, radical Waters we saw on the telly was a sham – for a rather unpleasant personality seemed to have been revealed after a few drinks. Our opinion of people can be formed on such trivial incidents I know. He’ll have to do a lot to wipe that incident from my memory.

Lee Waters

Jac, thanks for asking me to respond to this, though I suspect I’ll regret getting involved in this discussion. I don’t remember the incident (and I don’t remember attending a Plaid event in Ammanford) but I’ve certainly teased Dafydd plenty over the years. We have been friends since University and remain so. If I’ve caused him any offence he’s never said so.