At the risk of boring you with yet more news of Swansea Labour Party, I must pass on the latest I’ve heard. For it seems the comrades may have started falling out amongst themselves. To explain. Next Thursday, May 9th, will see the AGM of the council. Ahead of that fun gathering – do try to make it! – the various parties are holding their own AGMs. All is not sweetness and light within Labour ranks, for a number of reasons.
To begin with, last year, when the current, inspiring crop of Labour councillors was elected there was a departure from procedure in the selecting of the cabinet. Instead of the Labour group electing the cabinet it is suggested that David Phillips, the Labour leader, selected the cabinet himself . . . so it was no surprise that the first cabinet member appointed was Sybil Crouch, or, as others know her, Mrs Phillips. There were many mutterings at the time, but so grateful was Labour to have regained control of Swansea that considerations of party unity prevailed. Nevertheless, many Labourites have borne a grudge against Phillips since that time.
Another little issue over which Il Duce has upset his cohorts is the length and terms of his tenure as Leader of the Labour group and, by extension, the council. Many of the brothers and sisters were under the impression that the Man of Vision was in place for a year, with his position to be reviewed, or possibly re-confirmed, at this year’s AGM. ‘Not so’, says he, ‘Nothing to discuss. I’m the king of the castle, and I’m staying as long as I want’. The mutterings now grow in volume. And other problems may be just around the corner, possibly partisans lurking in the shadows.
Dennis James, the Lord Mayor of Swansea, died a couple of days ago. This will mean a by-election in his Llansamlet ward. Speculation mounts as to who will be the Labour candidate. One suggestion is a glorious return for Lawrence Bailey, former Swansea Labour Leader who left under a cloud when porn was found on his council-issue computer, plus hundreds of letters to the Evening Post which, although written by Bailey, purported to be from concerned citizens. Not universally liked, Bailey, but a shrewd operator.
The other name I’m hearing is Bob Clay, former Labour MP for Sunderland North, who moved to Swansea a few years ago. His wife, Uta, is one of the sitting Labour councillors for Llansamlet, so there would be a certain bookend symmetry in him also representing the ward . . . and of course it would fit with current Labour policy of having councillors who know sod all about the city. He has already been putting himself about with his involvement in the campaign against a second Travellers’ site in Llansamlet.
Then again, maybe Il Duce has got another student lined up. Talking of which, the three student-councillors I criticised in an earlier post have been tweeting much less frequently since that post appeared; and the tweets are of a more ‘mature’ nature. Did someone have a word with them?
It pains me to admit that, hitherto, I may have treated the Labour regime in Swansea with a certain levity unbecoming the seriousness of the situation. For the latest news paints a picture of democracy under a growing threat in the land of the Jacks. Among the information sent me was a copy of a letter submitted to the Evening Post by a Swansea councillor. (Click to enlarge.) The councillor in his letter talks of the “far left” and the behaviour he describes can only be compared to the rabble-rousers used by oppressive regimes to intimidate opponents.
For it would now appear that gangs of unkempt malcontents are roaming the city at the behest of the interlopers’ regime, terrorising opponents and interfering with people going about their lawful occasions. The letter clearly states that these ‘Marxist’ irregulars only target non-Labour politicians and events. Of course, the regime will deny any responsibility for these hirelings. That’s the attraction of using ‘deniables’.
Perhaps more worrying is the fact that this letter was not published by the Beans on Toast. Which is odd, for local rags are always looking for letters, quotes and other pearls from local tribunes . . . if only in the hope they’ll say something stupid, or contentious. So why was this letter, from a Swansea councillor, not published in Swansea’s daily paper?
Because, I suggest, it was critical of the Labour Party, and made a link between Labour and the ‘Marxist’ rabble-rousers. Why do I say that? Because the new editor of the Beans is Jonathan Roberts, former editor of the Carmarthen Journal. Under his leadership the CJ became the out-house publication for the Nazi-Soviet pact on Goal Hill controlled by Mark James. Seeing as the Journal Roberts left is little more than James’ mouthpiece it’s worth asking if he’s been installed in Swansea to carry out a similar role on behalf of Swansea Labour Party? Cos the boy got form when it comes to censorship and sucking up to Labour.
Leaving Swansea for a minute (always painful, I know), what we see there, and in Carmarthenshire, is part of a wider trend of Labour control resulting in corruption and censorship, and a general contempt for those outside of Labour circles, something I commented on in my previous post. Even Glyn Davies, the easy-going MP for Montgomeryshire, was moved to tweet this week about Wales being a one-party state. Read it here. Then there was the amazing case of the Labour councillor in Llandudno who threatened to have a publican’s license taken away because he refused to serve her after hours. What I find really worrying in this incident is that the woman even wrote to Carwyn Jones slagging off the publican . . . yet the First Minister, or his advisers, did not regard this vendetta as reason to remove a clearly vindictive woman obviously unsuited to be a political representative. That nothing was done suggests Labour accepts behaviour like this. (Which of course, those of us d’un age know only too well.)
In his unpublished letter the Swansea councillor refers to a genie, but I suggest that what’s happening in Swansea has passed beyond pantomime. It is currently on the fringes of farce, heading inexorably towards tragedy. There is still time to avert this disaster but outside intervention is needed. So will Labour HQ investigate links between certain members of Swansea Labour Party and law-breaking extremists? (The stick Labour has used to beat Plaid Cymru for 50 or 60 years.) Or can Labour rely on the ‘Welsh’ media to keep a lid on everything?
UPDATE 29.04.13: More information regarding the Evening Post and the suspected political bias of its new editor, Jonathan Roberts. First, Labour councillor John Bayliss had a particularly bitchy letter published recently in which he made a personal attack on a non-Labour councillor. At least four of the vilified councillor’s constituents wrote to the Post in his defence. Not one of the letters was published.
Moving round the Bay to Neath Port Talbot, a non-Labour councillor there has recently submitted two letters for publication, both critical of the NPT Labour administration, neither of them was published. The first time this has ever happened to this councillor.
The evidence is stacking up that the Beans on Toast is now a Labour-supporting newspaper. Which it’s perfectly entitled to be. What is not acceptable, when it’s an area’s only daily newspaper, is that the editor should suppress other opinions and criticism of the Labour Party. This is censorship. But then, Roberts would have had a good grounding in censorship techniques in Carmarthen.
More news from the soap opera that is Swansea Labour Party. You will recall that in earlier episodes we met those bright young things Pearleen Sangha (@PearleenSangha), “Big fan of Ray-Ban eyewear”; Mitchell Theaker (@mitchelltheaker), “Labourite and gin lover”; and John Bayliss (@JohnCBayliss), “LGBT campaigner”; all students at Swansea University when they were elected to the council last May. (Click to enlarge images.) These three are devoted to, in order of precedence: 1/ preening and promoting themselves, 2/ helping the good times roll, 3/ student politics, 4/ the internal bitching of the Labour Party (at a ‘national’ level), 5/ assorted right-on causes, 6/ enriching the shysters of the wind con racket.
Although, nominally, Swansea councillors, these three don’t give a lot of thought to the city and its people. Swansea council merely gives them a platform from which to giggle and gossip with slightly more credibility about what really interests them . . . be that gin, Gay ‘rights’, bars and restaurants, the next yoof commissar of the Labour Party, feminism, name-dropping, recipies, etc., etc. That’s the thing you notice when you look over their tweets, there are virtually no references to the city they’re supposed to be serving, unless it can be used to promote one of their pet causes. Other than that, it’s all about enjoying themselves, but only with ‘their people’, as I’ll explain. Something else I should have mentioned is that they have opinions, on everything. They know nothing, but give out their views on everything. Take Pearleen Sangha, an American, living in Wales, but she has taken sides in the Scottish independence debate. No prizes for guessing . . .
They even use a cash-strapped city’s money to promote those ’causes’, and possibly to promote their friends. For it is rumoured that the soon to be announced GLBT Officer for the city will be a ‘friend’ of John Bayliss. Now of course, our three – and, it must be said, there are others – will argue that this new post is ‘serving Swansea’ . . . leaving us to wonder how the city could possibly have managed in the past without such an appointee.
And they do get about! This year alone, Pearleen Sangha has been home to California for a wedding, and was also in Leicester for the conference of Labour Yoof. A busy girl, Pearleen. Too busy to be a councillor on Saturdays, as one of her constituents found out recently – “Do you know what day it is?” the impudent constituent was told. I mean, bothering your globe-trotting councillor as she prepares for dinner with friends! Mitchell Theaker has been to India for a few weeks, empathising and meeting “bigwigs”. While John Bayliss has been home in Sussex for a while helping Labour candidates in the elections there next month. Of course it can be argued that while Bayliss is away the Uplands ward is in the delicate and fragrant hands of comrade Pearleen . . . unless of course anybody wants help on a Saturday. (The large photo of Councillor Bayliss below is taken from his blog. Quite frankly, it’s toe-curlingly embarrassing. He looks like ‘the podgy one’ from a boy band, feigning modesty as he’s hailed by the total membership of his fan club.)
More thoughtful – cynical? (do I attract cynics?) – readers may at this point be asking themselves, ‘California, Leicester, India, Sussex . . . what the fuck has this got to do with running Swansea?’ A question more and more people are asking, even within the Labour Party.
Another thing you’ll notice by going through their tweets is that the Labour Party isn’t just the political party they belong to, it’s everything they are. They live on Planet Labour. One tweeter from the Labour Yoof shindig claimed that one third of all the people he knew were at the conference! That’s sad, and worrying. For here we have an organisation that has virtually cut itself off from the rest of society and whose members only mix with ‘their own’. This is New Labour’s gift to us all – a class of professional politicians for whom the talents of being glib and photogenic, being astute at networking and ruthless in back-stabbing, count for more than understanding life outside the bubble. As it must, for they know nothing of life outside the bubble. It’s odious; almost incestuous.
Yet these middle-class kids are helping run Swansea. They puff and posture as the defenders of the downtrodden, people they would never mix with socially, but to whom they must pander because that’s where their votes come from. And it’s all feigned, all hypocrisy. All done to justify their hedonistic, gossipy lifestyles which, let me remind you, are being paid for by the citizens of Swansea.
Before we can achieve independence from England we must gain independence from a Labour Party that becomes less and less Welsh every year. As the Party fills up with careerists and chancers from outside Wales, and the disconnect between the party apparatus and its captive vote increases year on year, there is no longer any reason for Welsh people to vote Labour. If only we could offer them a viable alternative!
UPDATE 24.04.13: Someone phoned me to ask, ‘Why are they allowed to get away with it?’, meaning why aren’t the lotus eaters being reined in. The leader of the Labour group on Swansea council, and the council itself, is a scouser named David Phillips. I’m using a photo here that I’ve run across more than once. It shows him, steely-eyed, looking into the distance for foes to crush and challenges to overcome. Mussolini liked to be photographed in a similar pose. (I wonder how Phillips would look in a helmet?)
You will remember that I wrote about him a while ago, when it was realised he wasn’t allowed to use the letters after his name that he’d been using to impress people since washing up in Swansea. Around the same time I heard that he’d turned up for the funeral of a former Labour councillor in a long, flapping, white trench coat, looking like an extra from a film noir. (Everyone else was in black.) And it should go without saying that his wife, Sybil Crouch, is also on the council, and a cabinet member.
So it would be pointless hoping for intervention from that quarter. Phillips is just another poseur. Swansea Labour Party is full of them now, all trying desperately to impress each other. They can’t pronounce Cwmrhydyceirw or Waunarlwydd, they know nothing of the history of Swansea, they don’t understand its people, but none of that matters. All that matters is that Labour now controls Swansea again. My city reduced to a ‘scalp’.This is ‘Welsh’ Labour 2013.
I have almost enjoyed reading the Wasting Mule’s coverage this week of Cardiff’s promotion to the Premier League. It has been relatively restrained, almost balanced. There has been no ‘Bigger than Barcelona’ nonsense, and no insulting attempts to suggest that all Welsh people should support the club. Maybe that all belongs to the era of previous owner Sam Hammam and the excitable Paul Abbandonato acting as his amanuensis. I hope so. Here are my thoughts on Cardiff’s achievement and prospects.
Let me start by saying – and there is no way of avoiding this – that the quality of the teams in the Championship this year, and consequently the standard of the football played, has been pretty poor. Every time Cardiff faltered the chasing pack went into collective foot-shooting mode. But they proved capable of screwing up even without Cardiff getting them in a tizzy. Last night, for example, Hull had the chance, at home to bottom club Bristol City, of securing second place and automatic promotion, but could only eke out an embarrassing 0 – 0 draw. This lack of quality in the Championship this season will not prepare Cardiff well for the much more testing Premier League next season.
Inevitably, there have been comparisons with Swansea. One theory propounded by more than one I’ve read is that Cardiff are guaranteed more success than the Swans because Cardiff is bigger, or has a bigger ‘catchment area’. Rhodri Morgan, in his Wasting Mule column today,* seemed to be arguing that Cardiff will be successful because of “the chimney pots issue”! Then he went on to say, “Provided Cardiff establishes itself in the top tier, that status will be enormously helpful in attracting conferences and tourists to Cardiff, in competition with Edinburgh, Dublin, Bristol and top European cities”. (Barcelona?)
Though if that linkage of Premiership status and international recognition were true, then when can we expect to see the G8 meeting in Sunderland, or the Bilderbergers gathering (behind closed doors, of course) in Stoke-on-Trent? The truth is that sporting success and economic prosperity have little influence on each other. Just think East Germany. And if that’s not enough to convince you then remind yourself that during the time Liverpool FC was the most successful club in Europe the city was in permanent and almost terminal economic decline. On the other side of the coin, Munich and Milan would be prosperous cities even without successful football clubs.
If comparisons favourable to Cardiff have been made in terms of size and catchment areas, one aspect of the game the ‘Welsh’ media has been somewhat more reluctant to explore is the financial models of the two clubs. After nearly going out of business a decade ago, the Swans were rescued by a consortium of local businessmen determined to run the club responsibly. The fans also have a big share in the club’s ownership, and a director on the Board. Last month the club posted a profit of £15.9m for the second half of 2012. (And this figure does not include the potential sale value of the players.) Swansea City Football Club is therefore locally owned, responsibly run, does not pay outlandish transfer fees or exorbitant wages, makes modest profits, and does not owe a penny to anyone. By comparison, Cardiff is owned by Vincent Tan, a Malaysian businessman no one had heard of a couple of years ago (and had probably not heard of Cardiff), and is said to still owe tens of millions of pounds to various creditors, including Sam Hammam. According to a reader’s letter in today’s WM, the figure is £83.1m.
Whatever the true figure, Vincent Tan has promised Malky Mackay £25m for new players in the close season. Which sounds good . . . until you remember that Queens Park Rangers have spent much more than that on players this season, and they are bottom of the Premier League tonight, virtually guaranteed to be relegated. Let’s now go beyond finances to look at other aspects of the two clubs.
Swansea have consistently been praised for their continental, possession style, of play. But this didn’t happen overnight. The club’s owners not only decided on a new financial model but also a different style of playing the game. What you see today began with the managership of Roberto Martinez, continued under Paulo Sousa, then Brendan Rogers, and now Michael Laudrup. A multilingual Spaniard, A multilingual Portuguese, an Irishman who speaks fluent Spanish, and a Dane who was one of the greatest players of his generation, speaks Italian and Spanish, and is a great ‘pull’ for players who might not otherwise come to Swansea. By comparison, and with the best will in the world, I don’t think Cardiff have the continental contacts to land a player like Michu for £2m. And excellent manager though he might be, Malky Mackay is unknown on the continent, and therefore has no reputation to trade on.
Aside from comparisons of Swansea and Cardiff, there is another issue worth considering. There have been background rumblings about Swansea’s ‘right’, as a Welsh club, to be in the English Premiership; and this can only increase now that there are two Welsh clubs there. The noises won’t come from Manchester United or Chelsea, but from those ‘big’ clubs that have known better days, but now find themselves in the Championship, or even lower. And with English particularism on the rise, perhaps we can anticipate Nigel Farage chasing votes by banging the ‘Welsh Out!’ drum in cities such as Leeds, Nottingham, Derby and Leicester. A bit far-fetched, maybe; but I still predict that those who objected to the presence of one Welsh club in the Premier League can only become more vocal now there are two. And maybe they’ll attract new voices. If so, then this could have unforeseeable consequences.
I wish Cardiff City well, and I’m looking forward to the Swans’ games against them next season, but I urge the Cardiff fans not to get carried away. Enjoy the promotion success by all means, but also remember that reaching the Premier League can be the easy bit . . . it’s staying there that’s usually the problem. Just ask Blackpool, QPR, or half the teams you’re leaving behind in the Championship. Now for the really serious bit. As a Swans fan I know that whatever else might befall the club, it’s in safe hands and almost guaranteed to stay solvent. But if I was a Cardiff fan, my biggest worry would be, what would happen if Vincent Tan went bankrupt or just decided to walk away?
* The print version was somewhat less restrained, and headed: ‘Bluebirds’ boost could transform our capital into a roaring Celtic Tiger’. (That’s more like it! Move over Barcelona!)
Earlier this week a party of schoolchildren from Tywyn, Meirionnydd, returning home from a trip to France, was delivered by mistake to Towyn on the north coast, almost 80 miles away. The story provided the local edition of the Cambrian News with its front page lead, and the story also made it to the BBC News and Wales Online.
A spokesman for the company that owns the bus, Llew Jones International Coaches of Llanrwst, explained the mistake by saying that the driver was “not from the area” and put Towyn not Tywyn into his SatNav. By ‘area’ I suspect the Llew Jones spokesman means Wales, for any driver familiar with northern Wales would, on hearing the name, ask himself, ‘Is that Tywyn or Towyn?’ And having established which one it was, would not need SatNav.
An irony here is that at one time the name of Tywyn was spelt the same way as the other place, but partly to avoid confusion the Meirionnydd community reverted to its correct Welsh spelling over forty years ago. The native Welsh welcomed the change, but there is noticeable resistance from the English who’ve moved to the area. Many of whom view the change of spelling as a concession to extremists, and perhaps the first step on the slippery slope to English colonists being murdered in their beds.
This resistance makes itself manifest in the names of those organisations with – how can I put it? – a very ‘British’ outlook, or run by persons susceptible to this unfortunate attitude. Such as the Towyn and Aberdovey Royal Air Forces Association. When at one go you can corrupt two Welsh place names then you know it’s due to more than just carelessness. For there is something fundamental at stake here – the Englishman’s ancient and God-given right to go abroad and mangle the local languages.
I guarantee that this week down in the bar of Abbaduvet golf club local RAFA members and others have been harrumphing into their whisky and sodas and reminding all and sundry that this would never have happened in ‘their day’, perhaps when returning from a raid on some defenceless German city. Never for one minute conceding that their intransigence and hostility to things Welsh is still contributing to the confusion that results in cock-ups like this.
Before finishing, another irony I’ve just noticed is that the Cambrian News made a big thing of coach company Llew Jones’ driver getting Welsh spellings wrong but, at the foot of their online version of the story, I found this:
UPDATE 20.04.13: I hear that the driver involved has been dismissed. Some might think that’s a bit harsh. Maybe the fault lies with his employer, for recruiting someone to drive around Wales who clearly doesn’t know our country. But nowadays, ignorance of Wales seems to be no obstacle to landing a job here, whether it’s as a coach driver, a council chief executive, a policeman or a postman. Which means cock-ups are inevitable; most of which – unlike this one – can be brushed under the carpet.
NUMBER ONE, PENSION SERVICE: My mother is resident in a council-run retirement home. Seeing as State Pensions increased in April the council wants to know by how much my mother’s pension has gone up so they can re-calculate her payments. Fair enough. Problem being that despite the fact that everyone should have been informed by the Pension Service of their increase by the end of March, my mother has received nothing.
So last week I went on the internet, put in the correct post code, and came up with the details for the Swansea office of the Pensions Service. Using my dainty and impeccably manicured digit I telephoned the number given. Eventually I reached a live, unrecorded, human being, to whom I explained my predicament. After repeating that all notifications had been sent out long ago the woman on the other end of the line finally accepted that my mother had not received hers, and that this was why I was ringing.
In the hope of being helpful I suggested that she tell me the the address to which the notification would be sent in order for me to confirm that it was correct. She: “Oh, can’t do that”. Me: “But if you sent the original notification to the wrong address then you’re going to repeat the mistake”. Silence. Me: “Why can’t you tell me the address – I’m her son, for God’s sake!” She: “I’ll have to put you on to the supervisor”. (I felt like saying that had no desire to mount her supervisor, but I bit my tongue.) From the supervisor I got the same metronomic response. Which I could have understood if I’d been asking MI6 for the names of their operatives in Dushanbe . . . but I was asking these bloody women to give me the address of a retirement home in Gwynedd!
I’ve just phoned the Pension Service again. To be told that “it takes seven to ten working days”. Why should it take that long to do something that should have been done properly by the end of bloody March! And another thing. Although the telephone number given on the web page suggested I would be put through to the Swansea office, the three women I spoke with (two last week and one today) all had north west English accents, making it very unlikely that they are based in the City of the Blest.
NUMBER TWO, WELSH EUROPEAN FUNDING OFFICE: About thirteen years ago I allowed myself to be talked into raising money for a new community centre in the village. After a few false starts, and once I was allowed free rein, I got into my stride and raised the necessary lucre. The major funder was the Welsh European Funding Office. Which, if nothing else, proves that some EU funding is well spent. For our now self-funding community centre provides jobs, facilities and amenities for the community seven days a week. Anyway, last month, out of the blue, came a letter from WEFO’s Aberystwyth office saying that they wanted to call and check on how the money had been spent.
The meeting went ahead last week. Fortunately, I had kept all the paperwork they needed and was able to answer the questions. (I managed to steer the inquisitor away from my six-week fact-finding mission to Tahiti.) I was not surprised to learn that this visit should have been made in 2009 or 2010, rather than eight years after the building had opened. The meeting ended with the WEFO official giving me an e-mail address to which I would send copies of invoices and other documents requested. Which I did . . . but they didn’t get through, because the WEFO Internet system does not accept e-mails with attachments.
Or perhaps not from unverified sources, which I could understand. But if so, then it should be possible for a member of WEFO’s staff to contact their IT department and say, ‘Let this one through, please, I’m waiting for this information’. How hard can it be? Anyway, once we’d realised what the problem was WEFO sent me an envelope, with two first class stamps. Then I had to print out the various bits of paperwork, put them in the envelope. and mail the envelope. Money and time wasted, unnecessary delay, me frustrated, and all so bloody avoidable.
How can WEFO, or any organisation, operate at anything approaching maximum efficiency when people like me cannot e-mail the information WEFO itself is asking for! No wonder they’re years behind with their work. And perhaps this goes some way to explaining why we ‘qualify’ for a third round of EU Structural Funds.
Today I got my reply (see panel). Now, in fairness, I knew that this information was available on the Office of National Statistics website, and has been for a few months, but that’s not the point. These are important figures relating to Wales, so I have every right to expect to find them on a website devoted to Welsh statistics.
Given the data available on the site, the obvious obsession with race and gender, my guess would be that this site is maintained by someone more concerned with observing political correctness than with providing information. And given the absence of the figures I wanted, maybe no friend of the Welsh. Then again, perhaps it was a political decision not to offer these damning and alarming figures.
Though, surely, if there are figures to tell us how many Afro-Caribbeans, women and other groups are employed by the Mid and West Wales Fire and Rescue Service then it must be possible to tell us how many English are employed, and in what ranks? And how many of the top civil servants in Wales are English? Senior police officers . . . academics . . . doctors and other medical staff . . . senior officers in local government, BBC, etc., etc. Could it be that StatsWales is a bit like our media and our politicians, treating us as mushrooms? Keeping us in the dark by withholding the really damning stuff that would lay bare colonial Wales, while feeding us regular dollops of shit in the form of what they deem it safe to tell us.
About a month ago I wrote a piece on the failure of yet another “helping people back into employment” initiative set up by the Welsh Government. This £36m scheme called Genesis was launched in 2010, and although declared officially deceased it seems to be taking a long time a-dying. With its death-throes still attracting morbid curiosity and asinine comment. Made painfully clear by the article in today’s Mule. (Click to enlarge.)
According to Deputy Minister for Skills and Employment Jeff Cuthbert: “While Genesis helped many people to develop their confidence and self-esteem to find work now or in the future, we cannot ignore the fact that the programme was continuing to underperform”. Listen, Cuthbert, do you know what really helps people with their confidence and self-esteem? A job. A decent bloody job. Not wasting time on some poxy ‘course’ designed solely to provide funding for Labour’s Estuary English-speaking cronies.
Cuthbert continued: “One of the key aims of the programme was to support hard-to-reach groups into employment and performance figures showed that this objective was simply not being met for the project as a whole and did not compare favourably with other programmes delivering to similar groups of participants”.“Other programmes delivering to similar groups of participants“. Think about that, readers. Might the fundamental problem with Genesis have been that it was trying to duplicate the work already being done by other agencies? Because in answer to an FoI request I submitted the Welsh Government confessed that it was funding no less than thirty “helping people back into employment” schemes across Wales. (See right, click to enlarge.)
We were then reminded that despite yet another Third Sector funding fiasco Jeff Cuthbert has at least retained his sense of humour, for he said: ” . . . we will ensure that we integrate the best practice from Genesis into the development of future programmes”.“Best practice“ be buggered! You’re pulling the plug on it becuse it was a total and utter bloody failure! What I find even more worrying is the reference to “future programmes”. For this suggests you’ve learnt nothing, and will continue to pour money into the funding black hole (sucks in everything, gives nothing back) that is the Third Sector.
What the Genesis fiasco has exposed, yet again, is that Labour’s antipathy to business and the employment that a healthy economy provides is one of the major reasons for Wales’ relative poverty. This is what “clear red water” really means – an anti-business Labour Government in Cardiff. Labour prefers to keep Wales poor so it can capitalise on the poverty for its own political ends and further use it to provide a cottage industry for its cronies and supporters.
For me, the big question now has to be, ‘For how much longer will the EU keep pouring money into the black hole of the Third Sector?’ The first two rounds of Structural Funds were wasted, and that’s why we now qualify for a third round. To avoid yet more wasted funding, shouldn’t the EU examine the possibility of allocating the money to Wales but have it disbursed by some agency independent of the Welsh Government? Why should ‘Welsh’ Labour be given so many chances to screw up?
UPDATE 17.04.2013:I recently came into possession of this document (Mutuals) telling us that the Welsh Management is keen to push Co-operative and mutual ventures. I have no insurmountable objections to these kind of undertakings, but I do have a few observations.
First, this seems to be further proof of ‘Welsh’ Labour’s irrational hostility to a real economy; you know, business, private enterprise, capitalism. The giveaway for me is in the use of the term, “the co-operative and mutual economy”. Second, shouldn’t co-operatives be spontaneous, grass-roots creations? Redundant workers saying, ‘Let’s have a buy-out and run the business as a co-operative’. But not in Wales. Here we see again ‘Welsh’ Labour’s top-down, Statist approach to everything – ‘You will have Co-operatives! Is that understood?’ A mentality not a lot different to Stalin imposing collective farms.
If the logo at the bottom of the page is anything to go by then it seems that the poor EU is also paying for this latest departure from reality. How much longer are our continental cousins going to fund Labour’s delusion that prosperity can be created without a healthy commercial economy?
Before settling down to write this piece – in what was probably a futile attempt to whet appetites – I tweeted that, “Thatcher and the Left needed each other like two drunks”, by which I meant that each used the other for support, even justification. Maybe exhausted heavyweight boxers would have been a better analogy; and if I’d used that, then it would allow me to say that socialism is down and out while Thatcherism is still standing, triumphant.
Let us cast our minds back to pre-Thatcher times. Those on the Left too young to remember seem to view this period as when the Left was powerful and we lived in a more ‘caring’ society. Bollocks! The UK was alternately ‘governed’ (I use the term very loosely) by a Conservative Party that had lost its way and an equally enervated Labour Party in hock to trade unions. The trade unions of the ‘closed shop‘ and the political levy whose power Mrs Thatcher curbed . . . and for which most people – including trade union members – were grateful. I was a union member myself, I attended meetings, and more than once I saw how ‘a dedicated few’ could take control. Resulting in trade unions pursuing political agendas subversive of democracy rather than serving the interests of their members. With trade union bosses being celebrities in their own right and big-time political players. To the stage where I used to get really pissed off with hearing some little git with a Napoleon complex mouthing off on TV and threatening to bring down a democratically elected government.
So Mrs Thatcher helped free the Labour Party and the population at large from the trade unions, but the rest of her legacy is rather more mixed in lasting value. Because if New Labour was a thoroughbred foal then its parentage would be ‘By Bilderberg out of Maggie’. For Mrs Thatcher is undoubtedly responsible for New Labour; the worst bunch of sociopaths and emotionally crippled control freaks I have known in my lifetime. That anyone could ever have believed in and trusted Blair, Mandelson and the other con men remains one of the great mysteries of modern politics. Just remind yourself of those excruciating soirees at No 10, where Tony and Cherie would try to play JFK and Jackie to assorted luvvies and ‘celebs’ . . . remember them? Just writing about it still causes me to shudder.
For her own party Mrs Thatcher was also a mixed blessing. She may have rescued the Conservatives from Ted Heath, she may have given them eighteen years of government, but she also took the party away from the grandees to make it more welcoming to the ‘aspirational’; with a less charitable interpretation being that the Conservative Party became more materialistic, abandoning the one-nation Toryism of the past and repopulating the party with the spivs and the swivel-eyed who helped gain it the soubriquet of ‘the nasty party’.
Since her death I have read so much myopic condemnation, much of it from stand-ups and spads (whose opinions I value so highly). One criticism is that many of the council properties sold to their tenants under the Right to Buy scheme are now owned by major property companies. Which may be true, but overlooks the fact that Labour had thirteen years in power to do something about that. It did nothing. Perhaps the greatest proof of her influence over New Labour is that she is still being attacked from the Left for policies and legislation that New Labour in power never thought of reversing. Or maybe it tells us that the terms ‘Labour’ and ‘the Left’ are now forever divorced. If true, then that is some achievement for the grocer’s daughter.
Other criticisms may be more justified. While I could not oppose privatising utilities on ideological grounds, replacing a State-owned monopoly with an unregulated cartel of private companies, diverting profits to major shareholders, rather than using them to improve infrastructure and reduce consumers’ bills, is no improvement at all; certainly not for the consumer, in whose name the privatisation was carried through. Furthermore, once Mrs Thatcher got the taste for privatisation it went too far. The break-up of the railway network was a disaster in more ways than one. Not only did it give us a confusing system of competing companies and separate infrastructure, it also made a mockery of privatisation by having to be regularly baled out with taxpayers’ money.
Even so, she was a towering political figure because she broke with the past and she shaped the future. Britain in 1990 was as different to Britain in 1980 as Britain in 1980 was to Britain in 1930. Britain in 2013 is still Thatcher’s creation. And in the absence of total economic meltdown leading to a collapse of social order, everyone knows there’s no going back. Of course she had help along the way; because when you can count among your opponents Callaghan, Foot, Galtieri, Kinnock, Scargill and others, then you know you were born under a lucky star. I suspect there were times when even she couldn’t believe her luck, looking at the incompetent and inadequate men she had ranged against her. With enemies like these, who needs friends?
Seeing as this is a Welsh nationalist blog I suppose I am expected to ask what Margaret Thatcher did to, or for, Wales? The answer is, not a lot. Wales may have suffered as a result of her policies, but I don’t think she was in any way anti-Welsh. I don’t think she singled us out, in the way she did the Irish and the Scots, for special treatment. If you want to find the anti-Welsh, the quislings and the traitors, it’s best to look in the Labour Party.
Yet Welsh Leftists, faux socialists and others, still use Margaret Thatcher to frighten Welsh electors – or at least, the more gullible, who vote for what they believe are socialist parties – into believing that the only defence against Thatcherism is to vote Labour, or Plaid Cymru, even Liberal Democrat. But even if Welsh Labour was a socialist party determined to roll back ‘Thatcherism’, it would be futile for Welsh people to vote Labour in Wales because the UK Labour Party is Thatcherite. Consequently, the only way Wales can truly defend itself from ‘Thatcherism’ is through independence, which of course ‘Welsh’ Labour opposes.
Margaret Thatcher’s influence on Wales may have been substantial but it was tangential and unintentional. By comparison, Labour’s damaging influence is direct and deliberate, year in year out. Who undermined the devolution referendum in 1979 – Margaret Thatcher or Neil Kinnock, George Thomas and the rest of the Labour gang? Who has been responsible for squandering the EU and other funding that has come to Wales since 2000 – Margaret Thatcher or the Labour Party and its cronies in the Third Sector? Who fought against holding the 2011 referendum on greater powers for the Assembly – Margaret Thatcher or Peter Hain and others in ‘Welsh’ Labour? For a century, the real enemy of Wales, and the biggest threat to Welsh nationhood, has been the Labour Party, which is always looking for somebody else to blame. Don’t you be deflected or distracted from the truth. Because until enough of us grasp that truth there is no hope for Wales.
Yesterday I received an interesting, possibly threatening, e-mail relating to something I wrote, in response to a comment, on March 23rd. Also, messages to my Facebook account telling me that the e-mail had been sent. Curiously, the e-mail was sent to two accounts I do not use, one being closed and the other able only to receive (not send) mail. The writer addresses me as “Mr Davies”! Whatever, let us examine the contents of the e-mail, reproduced on the right, click to enlarge.
The e-mail is from Malcolm Kinzett, father of ‘Rocking’ Rene Kinzett, former leader of the Conservative and Unionist faction on Swansea council. More specifically, my comment of March 23rd, and Kinzett pere‘s complaint, concerns his other son, Richard Kinzett, jailed for a serious assault on an off-duty copper outside the Uplands Tavern in Swansea.
The passage in question, written by me in response to ‘Macsen’, and as quoted by Malcolm Kinzett, reads:“Seeing as you may know him (‘Rocking’ Rene), Macsen, you probably remember the time his brother came to visit, and stabbed an off-duty copper in an Uplands pub. At the trial Rene swore his sibling was a saint, and that he (‘Rocking’ Rene, no less) would ensure the boy behaved himself if let off. At the end of the trial the brother’s previous was read out . . . a right thug, who was sent down for a long stretch”.
To which Malcolm Kinzett says: “The part underlined is libelous given that it is a published statement which defames two named individuals in a manner that causes a reasonable person to think worse of them. As you may know, a private individual must only prove negligence to collect compensatory damages, rather than malice. The “off duty policeman” you refer to was not stabbed and René never spoke for his brother like you have stated in the trial at Swansea Crown Court. Indeed, he only spoke the once at the Magistrates Court during the bail hearing and NOT at the trial and all he said then was that he would be letting Richard stay with him at his house whilst on bail. I would ask you to please prove to me that René Kinzett swore his sibling was a saint and that his brother would behave himself if let off. The statements attesting to this in your blog comment are all completely untrue but as you have stated it as true to anyone who reads your blog, you have defamed the two named”.
After reading that I now realise I was wrong in what I wrote. A number of corrections are required. The attack took place outside the pub, after Richard Kinzett had been ejected. ‘Rocking’ Rene spoke up for his brother at the magistrates court hearing, not at the Crown Court trial. I said Kinzett was sent down “for a long stretch”, maybe I should have made it clear that he was actually sentenced to life. The father also claims that his son did not stab the off-duty policeman. According to the Evening Post (March 23, 2005), “He used a knife to wound an off-duty police officer in the face”. Which I suppose could mean that it was not technically a stab wound, maybe a slash. Even so, we’re splitting hairs here. Which leaves only the bit about “Rene swore his sibling was a saint”. I’m prepared to accept that he didn’t use the word ‘saint’, but he would obviously have painted a good picture of his brother in order to get him bail. I therefore retract the bit about ‘Rocking’ Rene describing his brother as a saint “to get him off”. And, er, that’s the extent of my apology. Now it’s my turn.
Malcolm – don’t mind if I call you Malcolm, do you? – I’m a father myself (and a grandfather), so I understand that the fruits of our loins don’t always live up to our expectations. In your case, you’ve had a real bum deal; the lesser disappointment is a knife-wielding thug while the real heart-breaker must be the one who belongs to the same party as Cameron and Osborne. Words are not enough to convey my sympathy. Though, of course, these facts make an absolute bollocks of your suggestion that I have “defamed” either of them! So let’s move on from your groundless and rather silly complaint.
I made fair comment in a public forum to which you could have contributed. Instead, you chose to make enquiries about me and then made a ludicrous threat of legal action. At least, I’m hoping it was a threat of legal action. For some might interpret “I will have no choice but to act upon it” and “I will act, you can be sure of that”, as threats against my person, given your son’s record, and the fact that these statements were made in private correspondence.
I have considered your complaint and given my response. The matter is at an end. I want no further contact with you or your family. Though if you pursue this issue, or seek to defame me in other fora, then I shall reconsider my options.
I have written recently – and at some length – about the changing composition of the Labour Party back in my home town. (See postings for February and March.) No longer do we see dockers, tinplate workers and other toilers selflessly contributing to the running of the ugly lovely town. Instead we see, increasingly, what may be termed ‘professional politicians’.
By which I mean, people who began their political involvement in school; so much so that these activities distracted them from their studies and precluded entry to a good university, which then resulted in them coming to Swansea, where they continued their political activities, even extended them, to also act as gofers for local politicians. The next step then is to branch out on one’s own, either in Swansea local politics or else by starting one’s negotiation of the labyrinthine innards of the Labour Party. It goes without saying that almost all those of whom I speak are Englanders. Such as young Simon Darvill, who was recently elected chairman of Young Labour.
So what is going on inside Labour? With the ilk of Prescott being phased out we increasingly see a party made up of besuited and smarmy career politicians who’ve never done a ‘real job’, and consequently have to rely on focus groups and other means to learn what ‘ordinary people’ think. (Then pretend they care.) This is clearly true at the UK level, increasingly so at the Welsh level and now, it seems, filtering down to local government level. (That the trend is less obvious in the Valleys is largely due to the lack of universities there.) But this trend does not seem to be confined to Wales.
The Labour leader of Newcastle city council appeared a few weeks ago on Newsnight and I was surprised to see (and hear) that he is from southern England! Is the Labour Party in such a poor state that Tyneside, one of its traditional bastions, can no longer produce its own leaders? Or is there another explanation? Is the control freak Labour Party now training cadres to be sent out around ‘the country’? We know that ‘parachuting’ in parliamentary candidates is common practice, but has it filtered down to lower levels of government?
NO JOBS FOR THE BOYOS
Whenever a multinational company starts smooching politicians and communities in order to get planning permission to erect wind turbines it invariably does so promising jobs. The company hoping to erect wind turbines on Mynydd y Gwair (see February posts) is German company RWE Npower Renewables. Looking through the jobs advertised on its website I see that apart from those on offer in Germany, there are vacancies in Reading, Swindon and Iverness (sic). None in Wales.
The RWE website also provided news of a conference held to discuss the worrying resistance in Wales to wind turbines. Did you know that consent rates for onshore windfarms is 67% in Scotland, 40% in England, but only 18% in Wales? Isn’t that something to be proud of! So a meeting – sponsored by RWE – was called in January to see what could be done to break this Welsh resistance. Read an account of the meeting here. Note also who was in attendance.
THE POVERTY PARTY
Today the wife and I took a spin to Rhuthun, a town we both like. (Though a socialist of my acquaintance thinks it’s ‘chintzy’!) En route, and because our area escaped the worst of the snow, we were surprised to see the white stuff still piled up on Bala High Street. And of course, being a woman, she complained when I pulled up alongside one of the piles and gave her instructions to go buy me a newspaper. “Can’t open the door”, she moaned. “What’s the bloody window for, woman?”
On the way home, instead of taking the direct route back to Bala, I decided to head over towards Cerrigydrudion (and there join the A5). Boy! even today, after a week of sunshine, the drifts were still massive, and in places encroaching onto the road. I began to get some appreciation of what the people of the north east had been through recently, especially the farmers. After getting home I switched on the BBC 1 Welsh News, in time to hear Alun Davies AM, Minister for Natural Resources and Food, defend the Welsh Management’s decision not to give financial aid to the farmers who had lost stock in the recent snowfall.
He justified the decision with the following words: “You don’t create a strong business base by throwing public money at every problem you face”. Just think about that for a minute. This is a spokesman for a Labour administration, and a Labour Party that has done precisely that – throw public money at problems – since the Assembly came into being fourteen years ago. So what’s different about the farmers? Well, for a start, farmers don’t vote Labour, unlike the parasites who make up our Third Sector. To many within Labour the Welsh countryside should exist as envisioned by former AM Jane Davidson – a place of recreation and retreat for the English middle classes. Welsh farmers are brutes who threaten this idyll with, bulls . . . blocked paths . . . speaking Welsh . . . commercial milking parlours . . . noisy tractors . . . just being there, basically.
Labour, the party that keeps Wales poor in order to blame the Tories and stay in power. What a bunch of lying scumbags they are. And to think, until today’s imbecilic and insulting utterance, Alun Davies seemed one of the more acceptable Labour AMs.