The title is of course a reference to the past. That’s because the pictures are all of friends and comrades, taken over the past half century. Some by me, others by the late Rhobert ap Steffan (‘Castro’); while the rest are of unknown origin. When I started writing the captions I realised that I was having to use ‘the late’ far too often. So, in the interests of brevity, and to stop me feeling so old and bloody miserable, I have dropped ‘the late’.
I am slowly organising the photographs I’ve accumulated into collections and galleries and will make them available on this site as they’re done. Eventually I hope to have them all catalogued and available via this blog or perhaps on a separate site.
If anyone has information to add, such as names, dates, corrections, even, then please get in touch. Also contact me if you have photos to contribute. If they’re in good nick then please e-mail me a copy. If not in good nick, then how about about letting me work on it? (The original will be untouched.)
For those reading this who are not football (soccer) fans, or may not be familiar with this kind of sectarianism . . . Rangers is a Scottish football club, based in Glasgow. It’s supporters are Protestant and are found mainly in Scotland and among the Scottish-descended Protestants of Northern Ireland (the Scotch-Irish). Rangers’ great rivals are Celtic, also based in Glasgow, but whose supporters are Catholic, mainly of indigenous Irish descent, Celtic’s fans are also to be found mainly in Scotland and Northern Ireland.
Political divisions mirror the religious distinctions, with Rangers fans being supporters of the United Kingdom and sympathetic to the Unionists and Loyalists in the North of Ireland. They fly the ‘union jack’ and assorted variants of the Northern Ireland flag. Celtic fans wave the Irish tricolour and tend to support Irish republicanism. Games between the two clubs always result in some violence and often fatalities, in Scotland and Ireland.
Celtic and Rangers are the two biggest football clubs in Scotland and, partly due to their diaspora support, are among the biggest clubs in the world. Even though both are based in Scotland they have very little to do with that country, both sets of fans being more concerned with Irish history and politics, and the relationship with England and the Union. I give this background information to help you understand the video, in which Rangers fans express their opinions on independence and Scottish National Party leader Alex Salmond. It’s ugly, crude and incoherent.
Before dealing with the hyper-vocal star of the show, let’s consider some of the supporting cast. First, the group at the beginning, with the Saltcoats Loyal flag. The one on the right, perhaps the village idiot on a day out, wants us to believe that Alex Salmond has sexual congress with his grandmother. The remark is so crude and infantile, that the village idiot himself seems embarrassed by what he’s just said.
Or the older man in the company of the vociferous star, who occasionally makes a half-hearted attempt at restraining him. He looks like he’s been over-indulging on the Buckfast. Is he the star’s father, uncle, agent? And what of the guy on the touchline making the strange gesture – is it directed at the camera, or is it a comment on the performance of the star?
What we are seeing here is a set of inherited (possibly acquired) prejudices that stand firm against the buffetings of reality. Listen to the star saying that in Ireland ” . . . they’re living on the streets, mate”. Presumably in marked contrast to his Protestant brethren in the Six Counties, who’re living in the lap of luxury. Reality check: the Republic of Ireland recently overtook the UK in the Legatum Prosperity Index while Northern Ireland remains the poorest part of the UK. But these are just facts, and the people we see in this video have no interest in facts.
Proven by the same man’s “Rule Britannia, yer fuckin’ bastards” rant. Anyone who thinks the Royal Navy still rules the waves is not just living in the past, he’s so divorced from reality that he might benefit from psychiatric help.
Ruling the waves aside, everything comes back to Ireland. The bogey men have always been Irish Catholics, millions of them, all supporting the IRA, and bent on world conquest. Yet now there’s a new threat, in the form of the SNP and independence. This has necessitated a rethink, something that confuses those who prefer a world of unchanging, comforting prejudices. And while earlier centuries gave Loyalists some memorable songs the video proves that the new threat is something that, musically, they haven’t yet come to terms with.
To some extent I suppose these Rangers fans were set up, but no one put those words into their mouths. Which is sad. Partly because those opposed to independence must include decent and sincere people (so how do they feel about being on the same side as these morons?), and partly because there are Rangers fans who support independence.
Now all this could be dismissed as being of no concern to us because it’s happening in Scotland – I certainly would have ignored it – but then came the chilling climax, with the leading man promising that if Scotland did become independent he’d leave – for Wales! But why not Ireland? Almost everything that motivates Rangers fans is tied up with the history and politics of Ireland, or, more specifically, Northern Ireland / ‘Ulster’ / the Six Counties. Their Protestant Loyalist brethren are over there, beleaguered and in need of help. So why come to Wales, a country with which they have no connection?
The reason he gives for choosing Wales over England is that ‘England is letting in all those immigrants’. So we see that our star’s bigotry is not confined to the Catholic Irish. He thinks Wales could be more acceptable to his sensitivities because we have fewer immigrants. Which, by a strange coincidence is why many English move here. (But we mustn’t say this publicly – it makes us ‘racist’!) These final remarks also expose the linkages and overlaps I’ve marked on the map.
So why have I chosen these, what am I trying to say? Of course, the linkages between Orange Lodges, Loyalism and Rangers FC are obvious, others are perhaps less so. For example, we know that Loyalists support Rangers, but so do British National Party and English Defence League members.
There have always been links between Orange Lodges and English Masonic Lodges, often via Scotland. Ukip of course is just the golf club variant of the BNP, and well represented in Freemasonry. Back in the 1980s MI5 tried to reorganise the extreme Right and use it, much as the Italian secret service was doing in Italy at the time, using fascists to commit atrocities that were then blamed on the Left. The inspiration came from fascist refugee Roberto Fiore, friend and mentor to Nick Griffin. Then, during the Troubles, British intelligence and security forces worked closely with Loyalist terrorists.
The term ‘Poppy Fascists’ may seem a bit harsh, but this is no insult to The Fallen; nor am I mocking the ex-serviceman, or the old lady, selling poppies in your local supermarket. I’m using the poppy as a symbol for the unrelenting ‘Britishness’ offensive we’ve suffered in recent years, and shadowy forces that can coerce and intimidate the BBC and other News media – ‘Wear a poppy! or we’ll set the tabloids on you’. Which brings us to the final link or, rather, the London media more generally. The manner in which they deal with immigration, Scotland, Wales, the monarchy and a host of subjects, the way they’ll print anything given them by the police or the intelligence services, condemns them as a propaganda machine, not the independent and questioning media of a healthy democracy.
Let me finish this over-long piece with a thought that might sober up the cast of the video. By this time next year you could be supporting a Union of which Scotland is no longer a part! If that happens, don’t come to Wales, we don’t want you. We have mercifully escaped sectarianism and we don’t want to see it close-up, lashing out in its death-throes.
Though having said that, seeing as these people are undesirables with no local connections, ‘Welsh’ housing associations would almost certainly be fighting to give them accommodation. Perhaps they wouldn’t be the only ones helping Loyalist refugees to re-settle in Wales.
If you scroll down a bit on this blog you’ll find my earlier post about my local weekly rag, the Cambrian News, Media Lies and Propaganda. It dealt with assorted correspondence on the issue of council tax on holiday homes. In particular, the contributions of two English writers, both of whom raised the spectre of an arson campaign, with one suggesting that any increase in council tax would be “racist”.
I also recounted the curious tale of a letter published in the Cambrian News some years ago, a phoney letter comparing youngsters at the National Eisteddfod to the Hitler Youth! I made the point that this letter might have been published in the knowledge that it was phoney, or it could even have been written in the office of the CN.
Finally, I appended a copy of my latest letter to the CN. Without mentioning the ‘Hitler Youth’ episode, I drew attention to the fact that one of the English letters bore the inadequate address ‘Shropshire’, while the other writer was allowed to give the address of a caravan site where he has a mobile home. Which prompted me to ask in my letter: “Does he really live there? If not, why didn’t the Cambrian News publish his real address?”
I concluded my letter with, “Nor must the atmosphere for these debates must be polluted by desperate claims of racism, and slanderous allegations of arson. One way of helping ensure this would be for the Cambrian News to insist that no letter will be published unless it arrives accompanied by the home address and home telephone number of the writer.”
My letter, as published in today’s issue, along with other letters on the same subject, can be found on the right (click to enlarge). I believe the writer Ceri Jones belongs to a local farming family in Cwm Maethlon (alternatively known as ‘Happy Valley’), which runs up into the hills behind Aberdyfi. Andrew Currie is a Green – English, obviously – who lives just up the road from me and has a lot to say for himself. Far too much.
Now if you compare the letter I submitted for publication with what actually appeared in today’s issue, you will note that the CN chose to make a number of changes. Specifically, the reference to accepting a letter with the caravan site address, and also the final paragraph in which I suggested that before publishing any letter the editor should assure herself of its authenticity by insisting on the writer’s full home address and telephone number.
So why were these references to establishing the authenticity of letters submitted for publication edited out? The answer came with a letter published just below those shown above; it came from a Mrs Bowron of Aberdovey (sic), who complained that a letter published the previous week, bearing her name and address, was not in fact written by her!
What a predicament for the Cambrian News! After the fuss I made with the blog and the phone call they had little alternative but to publish my letter; but after their cock-up with ‘Mrs Bowron’s’ letter they were left with no alternative but to publish the letter from the real Mrs Bowron . . . and their apology! Which in turn meant the editor had little option but to redact from my letter criticisms of the CN being, er, careless(?), in establishing the genuineness of letters submitted.
Talk of serendipity! You couldn’t make it up. Priceless!
UPDATE 28.11.13: As might be expected, I was moved to reply to Andrew Currie’s letter (see above). My reply was not published in today’s edition. In fact, there were no letters at all on the subject in today’s Cambrian News, so I assume the editor has decided to end the debate. Even so, here is my response to Andrew Currie. Click to enlarge.
It may be a little out of the way, but the Glyndŵr Garden at St. Peter ad Vincula is well worth a visit. The church is in the village of Pennal, on the A493 between Machynlleth and Aberdyfi. The vicar there for a number of years was of course Geraint ap Iorwerth.
Another Labour big-hitter, former Lord Provost of Glasgow Alex Mosson, has said he’ll be voting Yes in the September 2014 referendum on Scottish independence. I think we’ll see many more such declarations between now and referendum day. I say that partly because leaving the big decisions with London is less attractive than in previous decades simply because the modern Labour Party is so little different to the Tories.
What’s more, with the reduction in the number of Scottish MPs there’ll be a consequential reduction in those MPs’ clout. The days of Scotland sending forty or fifty Labour MPs down to London to influence, if not control, Labour governments is a thing of the past. More and more Scottish Labour supporters are realising that their wishes – be it changes they want made, or services and benefits they want to retain – are more likely to met in Edinburgh than London. Yet devolving more power to Edinburgh will result in even fewer Scottish MPs – with London still retaining control over defence, macroeconomics, foreign affairs and some forms of taxation. When faced with that prospect many Labour supporters will view independence as the better option.
For as The Scotsman said in reporting Alex Mosson’s decision: ‘He (Mosson) said the historic vote next September is “not about the SNP, or Labour or any other political party”. A Yes vote would help boost Scotland’s self confidence, grow the economy and make society fairer, he claimed.’ Exactly. This debate has long past the SNP v The Rest stage. It’s about what’s best for Scotland. Between now and September 18th next year I expect many more Labour supporters to come around to the view that the best option is independence.
BEVERLEY! BEVERLEY! ARE YOU OUT THERE, BEVERLEY?
A couple of months ago someone managed to break into my blog and make a few changes, such as an image of steaming dog turds in the header. Nothing really damaging; it was as if someone was just letting me know they’d been here. I have since changed the Log In password to a load of gobbledygook that even I can’t remember.
Then, in the past couple of weeks, I’ve received a dozen or so e-mails addressed to Beverley@jacothenorth.net. All from banks, or Companies House, with one from H M Revenue and Customs. All official looking and all with attachments. As far as I’m aware there is of course no such e-mail address. I certainly haven’t set up one. So why would anyone else take out such an address? Odd.
But then, as I’ve said before, I am getting unwanted attention from a few sources, with others trying to impersonate me. One being ‘Jacques du Nord’, whose e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org. I have sent an e-mail to that address asking why he or she is impersonating me, but of course I’ve had no reply. Another minor irritant is jaco the north, to whom anyone trying to access my old Google Blogger account is directed. But I’m philosophical about these things, they’re nothing that a bottle of Argie red can’t put into perspective.
Less easy to laugh off is news I received last week from my host (in Dyffryn Silicon, Aberaeron). It seems my blog came under attack on November 12. Many of my host’s clients complained that their websites were slow or at a standstill, with the answer to the problem coming from his server in Texas, who had “restricted” the service “to avoid a complete collapse”. The issue was that my blog had come under sustained attack in the hope of bringing it down. My host traced the culprit’s IP address given him by the server – 126.96.36.199 – to Israel. Which I find rather disappointing, given my support for Israel.
Still, I suppose it’s better than being ignored.
POWER TO THE PLONKERS!
Politicians, political commentators, anoraks, interested bodies, and Uncle Tom Cobbleigh an’ all have been getting excited about today’s announcement of further powers being devolved from London to Cardiff. Among these powers is the ability to set business rates and er, that appears to be it, apart from powers (after a referendum) over income tax. But this would be under a ‘lockstep’ sysyem, which would mean that reducing the lowest rate of tax would have to be applied, penny for penny, in the higher tax bands. Oh yes, there was also mention of borrowing. In other words, a poor country being allowed to go further into debt. But these new powers, we are told, make Wales more like Scotland.
Let me explain why it’s all a load of bollocks. Unlike Scotland, Wales is close to all the major English conurbations bar one. That one, the Tyne-Wear conurbation, is still 150 miles from Glasgow. To a far greater degree than Scotland, Wales suffers from cross-border institutions and ‘arrangements’. Unlike Scotland, Wales lacks her own legal system, education system, financial sector, media, cultural life and other features of nationhood that have, over centuries, created an indigenous middle class which, even though many of its members might oppose independence, will always defend what is uniquely Scottish. Which is why Scots live in Scotland, and we live in Englandandwales.
Giving more power to those buffoons down Cardiff docks is bound to result in that power being misused; is bound to make Wales poorer; and is guaranteed to lock Wales even more firmly into the Englandandwales framework. Let me explain. Thanks to the socialist culture prevailing here there is an obsesssive desire to prove how more ‘caring’ we are than the English, and especially them wicked Tories, to whom we must always send ‘messages’ . . . achieved by, um, voting Labour. The more power (and sources of funding) ‘Wales’ has, then the more freedom the aforementioned buffoons have to show the world what a bunch of altruists inhabit this little corner of Europe.
If the ‘Welsh’ Government has more power to make Wales more ‘caring’, then I can predict with certainty – based on countless examples from the past decade and a half – what will happen. Shysters will slip over the border to take advantage of the funding. The halt and the lame, the workless and the degenerate, will appear as if by magic. Englandandwales bodies will heap upon us fulsome praise for being so caring . . . then transfer their ‘clients’ and ‘service users’ to properties in Wales that our politicians have helped them buy. In short, we shall be taken advantage of. Wales will become both poorer and more English. But to even whisper that we are being exploited, or to dare question why another three busloads of ‘homeless’ ex-cons have turned up in Swansea will make us, not only ‘uncaring’, but ‘racist’.
Increasing the potential for such disaster by giving more powers to a bunch of left-leaning incompetents driven by the desire to please the Third Sector and get Brownie points off the Guardian is not only a mistake – it’s positively bloody dangerous! Which might explain why the UK government has given Carwyn Jones and his gang more rope more powers.
Two weeks ago, soon after it was suggested that Cyngor Gwynedd should consider raising council tax on holiday homes to 200%, two letters appeared in the Meirionnydd edition of the Cambrian News. (Owned by the Trinity Mirror Group.) They can be found on the right, just click to enlarge.
I responded (as did someone else) and my letter was published last week. It’s the one on the left, again, click to enlarge.
This week’s issue carried a third letter on the subject, which can be found on the right. (You know what to do.) In the final paragraph, writer Stephen Smith calls my letter “frightening”, and links me with the burning of second homes! Yet I only mentioned this in order to ridicule the writer of an earlier letter for predicting “property burning starting again”! Either Stephen Smith hasn’t read the earlier letters properly or else he’s deliberately misinterpreting what was said, and by whom. I’m amazed the Cambrian News didn’t delete this grossly offensive final paragraph. It is defamatory and without foundation.
Then there’s the addresses. In publishing my letter the Cambrian News gave my full address minus only the house number. In a street of just twelve houses mine would not be difficult to find. Yet the address for one of the letters published a week earlier, from ‘Pat Beaumont’, is no more specific than ‘Shropshire’. While the letter from Stephen Smith used the address of a caravan site! Why publish a letter from what is clearly not the writer’s permanent address? (Sunbeach Holiday Park in Llwyngwril is owned by Allens Caravans of Warwickshire.)
My initial reaction was to wonder if there really is a Stephen Smith. (There is.) Worth asking because the Cambrian News has ‘form’ when it comes to printing phoney letters. It goes without saying that these are always anti-Welsh or anti-nationalist. The most notorious example in my experience happened about 15 or so years ago. (Regrettably, I have lost the documentation, unless my wife has put it ‘safe’.) A letter was published purporting to have been written by a Jew, who had suffered in the Holocaust, and now lived in ‘Upper State New York’. The writer claimed to have been to the National Eisteddfod and been horrified at what he found. The young people there reminded him of the Hitler Youth!
The letter was riddled with absurdities and inconsistencies. Not least ‘Upper State New York’. For as most of you will know, the term Americans use is ‘Upstate New York’, but that’s not an acceptable mailing address. So I wrote to the editor asking why she hadn’t picked up on the glaring errors that were so obvious to me. The response I got made me suspect that the local editor wasn’t overly concerned with the almost laughable errors. Which then raised uncomfortable questions: Does she agree with the sentiments expressed? Was the letter cooked up in the offices of the Cambrian News?
To cut a long story short, I wrote to the name and address given, making sure to put my return address on the back of my envelope. A couple of weeks later my letter was returned by the US postal authorities with ‘no such address’ written across it . . . and accompanied by two other letters sent from Wales to the same address. One was from a woman prominent at the time in Cymdeithas yr Iaith (can’t recall her name), and the other was from the now deceased wife of prolific letter-writer Trefor Davies of Penrhyndeudraeth. I returned both letters to their writers, and had a nice phone call from Mrs Davies in thanks.
However one cuts this story it is a damning indictment of the Cambrian News. For even if that letter had been genuine, the writer who and what he said he was, the content was such utter, insulting bollocks that the letter should have been immediately binned. It was telling thousands of readers of the Cambrian News that their children and grandchildren were no better than Nazis; that our National Eisteddfod is not a lot different to a Nuremberg Rally; and that Welsh culture is racist and fascistic.
So where does this take us with the debate on council tax for second homes? We are already – in Gwynedd, anyway – having a debate over raising council tax on holiday homes. With power over stamp duty now transferred to the ‘Welsh’ Government it won’t be long before a debate opens on how best to use this new power. Yet there are those who would like to strangle such debates in their infancy by, for example, raising the spectre of an arson campaign. That’s because those I speak of want Wales to remain a colony of England. It would be sad if our media were to collaborate with this agenda. But not surprising.
P.S. If Stephen Smith, of Sunbeach Holiday Park, reads this, then I would like an apology, Mr Smith, for deliberately and provocatively linking my name – in one, unpunctuated sentence – with criminal offences.
UPDATE 16.11.13: I rang the Cambrian News on Friday morning and spoke with the editor. She saw nothing wrong with the final paragraph of Stephen Smith’s letter. Our conversation was brief because she had to go somewhere. Below you’ll find my letter in response to Smith. I shall report later if it was published, and published unedited.
BE SURE TO READ THE UPDATE (15.11.13) AT THE FOOT OF THIS POST
Soon after I’d posted Swansea Council, etc., etc., Part the Fourth on February 25th, it got a comment signed ‘Elena_Handkaart’. (Geddit?) This comment came from e-mail address ‘gretacarbo@————–‘, while four subsequent comments from ‘Elena’ came via ‘portal_bot@————–‘. Five comments in all to this one post. I heard no more from ‘Elena’.
Swansea Labour Party 5 (March 20) and Swansea Labour Party 6: Incest and Sybaritism (April 23) received a number of comments from the same, ‘greta’, e-mail account, but this time signed ‘Nick O’Seer’ (Geddit?) and ‘Greta’. I received a further twenty comments from the same address, all signed ‘Greta’ apart from two, which were signed ‘C Mibabijive’ (Geddit?) and ‘Gonzoland’ (which might mean something to someone out there). Even though these all came from the same e-mail address there were many different IP Addresses. Something else worth noting is that ‘Greta’ seems to respond only to posts concerning Swansea and / or the local Labour Party.
While the first comment from ‘Gonzoland’ came from the ‘gretacarbo’ e-mail address, subsequent comments using that name came from different addresses. The first being daleygleephart@——— and the second a Gmail address with a recognisable name. In total, I received nine comments signed ‘Daley Gleephart’ and all came from the address of that name. More recently, and from the named Gmail address, I have received comments signed ‘Opera Wynn4Me’ (Geddit?) and ‘Dredj and Waffel’. With one ‘Dredj and Waffel’ comment from the ‘daleygleephart’ address, leaving me in no doubt that I was dealing with the same person using a number of aliases.
There may even have been comments from this person that I’ve missed, using yet more aliases. I’m sure there are; for someone with so much to say, and such a talent for aliases, would know no bounds. So who is it? Well, I am ninety-nine per cent certain that it’s a Labour councillor in Swansea. Certainly the Gmail address carries the same name as a Swansea Labour councillor. (I also dug out from old comments a BT address with the same name.)
Seeing as he – unlike ‘Cliffoch’ and a few others – has not been offensive or threatening, I won’t name him. Though I do wonder how many aliases he uses, and how many blogs, newspapers, etc., he posts comments on. If he’s got something to say – and clearly he has – then why doesn’t he say it in his own name? It all seems . . . well, so underhand, so typical of Labour. And of others who oppose us, as I’ve tried to explain in other posts.
Here’s my message to Councillor X. You are welcome to contribute comments to this blog, but you will do so in your own name. Because in future I shall not publish any comments from your host of imaginative aliases.
UPDATE 14.11.13: Received a comment from ‘Jacques du Nord’ using the e-mail address email@example.com. Fame of a kind, I suppose. He joins this one (below) who appeared soon after my Google blog was shut down almost a year ago. And there have been others. Encouraging, in a way. I’m obviously pissing somebody off.
UPDATE 15.11.13:I am now satisfied that the subject of this post, the person who has been posting comments on the blog, using a variety of e-mail addresses and aliases, is not a Labour councillor in Swansea. It is someone else in that city with the same name, who also happens to be a Labour member or supporter. Which explains the confusion. I can’t really say much more, partly because to identify the troll would be to identify the councillor, and vice versa, which I don’t want to do. For as I said in the post, despite being annoying, this troll has not been abusive or threatening so, unlike others I’ve dealt with, he doesn’t deserve to be named.
It all started with a tweet, last week, someone drawing attention to a post on the Bevan Foundation blog. This post, I think. Doesn’t really matter. As you can probably guess, the Bevan Foundation is not a site I visit regularly but, summoning up my courage (and clutching my crucifix) I ventured deep into this forbidding realm of socialist gobbledygook. Soon forgetting about the post that had drawn me hither as my attention was grabbed by other things I read.
In the ‘About Us’ section, we learn that the Bevan Foundation regards itself as an “independent think tank”, is a “company limited by guarantee” and “registered as a charity in 2004”, then: “We take our name from Aneurin Bevan, founder of the NHS and welfare state. Although he was a Labour politician, Aneurin Bevan is today remembered for his achievements to make society fairer”. Which struck me as an odd way of putting it; for it could be read: ‘Despite being a Labour politician Bevan nevertheless believed in fairness’!
(In contrast to the websites of other organisations the Bevan Foundation’s seems somewhat reluctant to give its company number, 04175018; and its charity number, 1104191. This is how it should be done.)
At the foot of the page I came across these two logos. The blue one I recognised from having used it, or something very similar, myself. It is the logo recipients of European Funding must use on their communications, websites, etc. In Wales, this money is usually doled out by the Welsh European Funding Office, set up by the ‘Welsh’ Government to disburse EU funding; though when I spoke with WEFO they denied that The Bevan Foundation had received funding from them. The other logo tells us that the Bevan Foundation has received funding from Communities 2.0, a “digital inclusion project” offering “free training and support to small enterprises”.
In what I confess was a rather cheeky attempt to get further information on funding I submitted a FoI request to The Bevan Foundation, knowing in advance it was exempted from this legislation. Even so, I received a polite reply from Victoria Winckler, Director of the Foundation, which read:
“Thank you for your request under the Freedom of Information Act for information about the Bevan Foundation. The Bevan Foundation is not a public body, nor does it receive sufficient public funding for it to be considered as such, and it is therefore not covered by the Act. You will however find information about the Foundation’s income, including our audited accounts, on the Charity Commission’s website.”
According to the panel, taken from its website, The Bevan Foundation “doesn’t get funding from government or any political party”, yet the ‘Welsh’ Government logo linked to the ERDF logo suggests otherwise. And seeing as Labour has been in power since 1999 it rather undermines the claim to be getting no funding from government or any political party. (Getting the funding at one remove doesn’t change anything.) Equally untrue is the claim that The Foundation is an “independent think tank”. It was set up in 2001 by Labour politicians to counter the Institute for Welsh Affairs, which Labour thinks is too ‘Nashie’. It may have been entirely co-incidental that 2001 was also the year the European lucre started rolling into Wales.
Returning to Communities.2, this funding is distributed by another outfit with Labour links, the Wales Co-operative Centre and a few ‘partner’ organisations (one being the in-a-hole-and-still-digging Carmarthenshire County Council). So where does the Co-op get the money from? Well, that’s the ‘Welsh’ Government again. And where does the ‘Welsh’ Government get the money from? Again, from those generous people on the Continent through the European Regional Development Fund. Two logos, same money, same source.
I sent a further e-mail seeking a breakdown of the rather vague ‘Research income’ given in the documents submitted to the Charity Commission (£60,731 for the year ended 2012; £84,976 for the previous year). This elicited another polite response from Ms Winckler saying that the exact amounts were confidential, but the organisations for which the Foundation had worked could be found elsewhere in the report submitted to the Charity Commission. So I looked. (Incidentally, let me make it clear that I responded in kind. This was a brief but very civilised exchange. So there!)
If I have read and understood the report . . . the bodies for which The Bevan Foundation is doing work are, the Wales TUC and the Wales Co-operative Development Centre. Then, in the ‘Restricted Funds’ section, we learn that it received £4,875 from the ‘Welsh’ Government’s New Ideas Fund, and a further £4,015 from the ‘Welsh’ Government for an ‘Equality Festival’ held in Ebbw Vale in February 2011. (I never got an invite!) Finally, the report also tells us that in 2012/13 the Foundation will be “employing a research office” (sic) thanks to the generosity of (Labour-controlled) Blaenau Gwent County Borough Council. Oh, and the Communities 2.0 grant I mentioned earlier, well, that amounted to a “£4,665.40 package of support by Communities 2.0 to network their computers to a central data storage facility, update their website and for google analytics training. Additionally The Bevan Foundation received 28.5hrs of ICT support and consultancy assistance”. A detailed FoI has also been submitted to the ‘Welsh’ Government asking how much money, and by what routes, has been channelled to The Bevan Foundation, but I ain’t holding my breath on that one. So what have we got? Here’s how I see it.
As the name suggests, The Bevan Foundation is an adjunct to the Labour Party. As such it should not be receiving funding from the Labour Party, the ‘Welsh’ Government, local authorities controlled by Labour, or third parties funded by the ‘Welsh’ Government.
The EU has given Wales money in the expectation that we would use it to drag ourselves out of the spiral of economic and social decline we have suffered for over thirty years. Yet after twelve years of such funding those areas that voted for devolution in 1997, the same areas that qualify for the highest level of EU funding, are poorer now than they were then. This is why . . .
Instead of using the funding to train people in new skills, on infrastructure, and enterprise, the funding is squandered on schemes and projects that are politically correct rather than economically viable, often run by people who were able to smell the funding from a great distance; schemes that create employment only for those running them; schemes that rely solely on EU (and other) funding and are incapable of growth – not least because of duplication – yet a mirage of entrepreneurialism is created by the funding being broken up and re-packaged, passed on to other third sector groups; allowing grant-reliant charities, social enterprises and community groups to be presented as ‘businesses’. And with every scandal it becomes ever clearer that a disproportionate number of those benefitting from this system are Labour Party members and supporters, often using the funding to disseminate Labour Party propaganda, and other information that might be of benefit to the Labour Party.
It truth, the only real achievement of EU funding in Wales has been the underwriting and strengthening of the pre-existing system of Labour Party patronage, cronyism and nepotism. In short, corruption . . . with the added felony of money laundering. What we see today is the party of power, the party holding the purse-strings, rewarding its supporters, as happens in the Third World that Wales will soon join. Though were this happening in Korruptistan then the ‘serious’ publications in London, Newsnight, even, might take an interest . . . but, Wales? nah, who cares?
I am indebted to Andre Jacob for sending me these photos of a demonstration that took place in Kemper (/Quimper), south west Brittany, last Saturday. The demonstration, that attracted 20 – 30,000 people, was over contemporary issues but invoked an earlier period of Breton history with protesters wearing red bonnets. More information on the 17th century revolt can be found here, and a news report of the rally in the English language Lebanon Daily Star. In The Australian it was even described as a “rebellion”! More information can also be found at the Breton Connection.
While this event got global coverage there was nothing in the media this side of the Channel. Odd, really, considering how the English enjoy embarrassing the French. Must have been some other consideration at work.
The photographs were taken by, and therefore belong to, Pierre Morvan (UDB).