If we believe certain politicians in Europe, the USA and elsewhere, then Russia controls cyberspace. Vlad the Influencer is dabbling here, sticking his oar in there, getting Trump elected in the USA and boosting support for all manner of other candidates. It do make ew think.
Or maybe not . . . seeing as those who tell us these things are politicians and journalists, two sub-species whose members, in the affections of the public, come somewhere below Honest John down his auto ‘showroom’ behind the abattoir. In other words, lying bastards.
Another reason it all falls down is because we are asked to believe that those making these claims against Mr Putin – and the countries these accusers represent – have never themselves tried to influence events outside of their own borders, ever. So it’s not just lies, it’s rank hypocrisy.
The truth is that almost every country tries to influence events outside its borders. With smaller countries it may be no more than an irredentist squabble with a neighbour, but when we come to the big players, the scope becomes global. The bigger the stage, the bigger the lie: invasion becomes ‘humanitarian intervention’ and regime change is ‘restoring democracy’ (often to countries that have never known democracy!).
Now if larger countries are prepared to destabilise or invade other countries in their national interest then it stands to reason that they won’t hesitate to defend themselves from what they perceive to be internal threats.
With the UK this has taken many forms in recent decades. For example, in the 1980s, under Margaret Thatcher, we saw the naked power of the state used to provoke and then crush the National Union of Mineworkers. In Northern Ireland we saw detention without trial and a shoot to kill policy, but also the Royal Ulster Constabulary and the British military and intelligence services co-operating with Loyalist terrorists.
Since the demise of the NUM and peace coming to the Six Counties the perceived threats to the UK have changed, and to meet those new threats we see modified responses. Though one constant among responses is propaganda, which has become more pervasive thanks to modern technology.
To the point where the propaganda offensive mounted to tarnish the SNP and ensure a No vote in the Scottish independence referendum reached a level of state-sponsored lying unknown in Europe since the end of the Cold War.
BELIEVE US – BRITISH IS BEST!
Over the past ten or twelve years we have seen the rise of the SNP, the West has experienced Islamic terrorism (partly in response to military interventions in the Middle East), and to top it all we had the economic collapse of 2008.
After giving these matters a great deal of thought our masters decided that what was needed was a campaign to promote our shared Britishness, then, in response to the faltering economy, suggest that we’re all suffering equally. (Well I did warn you that these are lying bastards.)
Television companies played their part by going into overdrive. In the final year of the ruling Labour–Lib Dem coalition in the Scottish Parliament (to May 3, 2007) there were just 25 television programmes with ‘Britain’ or ‘British’ in the title. Between January 2013 and January 2014, with the SNP controlling the Scottish Parliament and the independence referendum looming, Islamic extremism increasing, and the economy up Shit Creek, the number of ‘Britain’ / ‘British’ programmes had rocketed to 516!
Another response appropriated the humble poppy. When I was young older people wore poppies in November because they had known men who had died in both world wars. It was sincere, and done without affectation or fanfare – and certainly not because they were trying to make a political point.
With our masters’ growing insecurity we saw the poppy transformed into a symbol of British nationalism and unity. This transformation reached its apogee of tastelessness and blatant, Sun-style ‘patriotism’ with the weeping window.
Like I say, it’s called propaganda. On the one hand, it’s intended to comfort (in troubled times) those who have bought in to the messages of state propaganda, and reinforce those messages with which the converted have been inculcated since childhood. On the other hand, this orgy of BritNat patriotism is also designed to win over those who are sceptical of that state propaganda. Finally, it targets by exclusion those who reject the BritNat message; seeking to intimidate and silence them.
Here in Wales, it seems the only way BritNats can express their loyalty to Britain is by rejecting and attacking anything distinctively Welsh, which will invariably be dismissed as ‘nationalism’ (and therefore divisive). For there seems to be no place in this ‘Britain’ for anything that is not English, other than Orange-Loyalism which it is hoped will help secure Scotland and part of Ireland. Proving, yet again, that ‘Britishness’ in Wales is just another word for Englishness.
Seeing as I’ve mentioned Orange-Loyalism some reading this may be tempted to remind me that the Democratic Unionist Party almost swept the (Protestant/Unionist) board in the recent general election. (True, and Sinn Féin did sweep the board on the other side.) But I would remind them that a) the DUP got just 36% of the vote and b) this was the first election ever in which Unionist parties and candidates failed to get a majority of the vote (49.2%). The writing would appear to be on the wall.
When Sinn Féin becomes the largest party, and if the Six Counties experiences its Algeria moment, where will the hard-line Unionists embark for, or perhaps the question should be – where will the British state resettle them?
THERE REALLY ARE ‘KEYBOARD WARRIORS’!
One casualty of this rise in intolerant Britishness has been the consensus Wales so recently enjoyed on certain issues such as the Welsh language. For in recent years, and perhaps especially in the past year or so, we have seen a tide of bigotry rise to challenge that consensus. And yet, when we analyse this tide it’s difficult to identify other than a few – very busy! – individuals, for so much of the rising hostility to the Welsh language is anonymous.
Though as I say, there are some who can be identified. How could I ignore the indefatigable Jacques Protic, bigot extraordinaire, who can turn any discussion, on any subject, into an attack on the Welsh language. Someone who got a mention in a recent post was Julian Ruck, who now has a platform for his hatred of things Welsh with a weekly column in the South Wales Evening Post. Another worth mentioning would be Michaela Beddows, leading light in the campaign against bilingual education in Llangennech.
Let me give a recent example. Here’s a ‘Welsh’ Assembly blog by Manon Antoniazzi about diversity and inclusion. It makes no mention of the Welsh language but still attracts ‘John Jones’. And Protic is supported here by the aforementioned Michaela Beddows of Llangennech, she who invited Ukip down and even flirted with the EDL.
But it goes beyond individuals and the SWEP, with the Western Mail living up to its Llais y Sais epithet when it ran a disgusting piece on the Llangennech school affair, suggesting that Cymdeithas yr Iaith members had gone around slashing tyres. It soon climbed down.
Articles supporting the anti-Welsh lobby in Llangennech also appeared in Private Eye and the Guardian. Private Eye, that anti-establishment publication forever laying into fat cats and corrupt politicians, and the Guardian, the voice of liberal reason. Who’d have thought they would be supporting a bunch of bigots in Llangennech?
In fact, the Guardian report caused great angst for those who believe that the people who attack us are simply ignorant of the situation, or else they’ve been misled; give them the facts and – being reasonable people – they will be won over. This is the apologist mindset that simply encourages further attacks.
The truth – that Plaid Cymru and others refuse to accept – is that when the bottom line is defending the Union, and dealing with any perceived threat to the cultural and other unity they believe must underpin the Union, there’s no difference between the English left, right and centre.
More recently I’ve noticed a change in the offensive of offensiveness. For a start, there seem to be more of the enemy and the attacks seem to take two main forms. They’re either an attack on Welsh or bilingual education, often suggesting that children taught in Welsh leave school unable to speak English! or else the criticism is over the amount of money ‘wasted’ on bilingual signs, etc., that could be spent on sick kiddies . . . puppies . . . fluffy kittens . . . (reaches for onion).
There is no doubt in my mind that many of those who have joined the fray in recent years, bemoaning the fact that children are dying of malnutrition and old people freezing to death because of the money wasted on the Welsh language, are working for the British state.
As this article from Private Eye earlier this year tells us, the British army now has its 77th Brigade, dedicated to ‘psy-ops’ (psychological operations). Predictably perhaps, 42% of the outfit will be reservists, but less predictably, the 77th will include “civvies with a penchant for tweeting and trolling on Facebook”. To Twitter and Facebook we can add assorted websites.
“Civvies with a penchant for tweeting and trolling on Facebook”. How would that work, how would the 77th Brigade recruit such people? Do men in dark glasses turn up and say, ‘We’ve been following your career on Twitter and Facebook, we’re very impressed, you’re just the kind of anti-Welsh bigot we’re looking for – sign here!’
So the boys and girls down the local TA Centre, who used to train to repel the Ivans, may now be tweeting in support of Jacques and Jools. (Jacques and Jools may even be on the payroll!) And as the article tells us, the 77th Brigade joins existing units in the army, navy and the air force . . . and then there’s MI5 . . . and MI6 . . . and GCHQ. And of course, with smart phones and iPads, they can all work from home, or on a train – anywhere!
If that wasn’t bad enough then it’s made easy for them by certain websites which don’t ask those making comments or showing ‘Like’/’Dislike’ or ↑↓ to prove they aren’t robots. Among them, perhaps the two most visited sites in Wales, WalesOnline and the BBC.
Something that may have puzzled you is that an anonymous comment to these sites, badly written and expressing lunatic views on devolution, the Welsh language, or blaming laverbread for the decline in the nation’s morals, might quickly gather a dozen shows of support. Rest assured, there aren’t that many nutters out there, these are almost certainly computer generated.
Now that you know, why were you ever surprised that Trinity Mirror and the BritNat Bullshit Corporation should make it easy for the 77th Brigade and others to promote their anti-Welsh agenda? It would be very easy for them to use Captcha – as I do on this blog – to ensure that all comments and shows of support or disapproval were genuine, but they choose not to.
Back in April I wrote English Tourism in the Colony of Wales, which focused on Gavin Lee Woodhouse and ‘Bear’ Grylls, and their plans for the Afan Valley Adventure Resort. I wondered in that post why the ‘Welsh’ Government – even given its record of doing business with numerous crooks – was involved with an obvious spiv like Woodhouse.
Why is the ‘Welsh’ Government prepared to hand over a valuable piece of land in the Afan Valley to a man with a net worth of minus six million pounds? A man who starts and dissolves companies more often than some people change their socks. Over a hundred to date. And yet he seems to have been a late starter; for he’s 39 now but according to Company Check he didn’t start his first company until he was 34. What else do we know about him?
A company closely associated with Woodhouse is Properties of the World, run by Jean Ann Liggett, this company helps “property buyers make informed decisions on select UK properties, ensuring their purchases tick all the boxes”, as Liggett’s Linkedin profile tells us.
Ms Liggett is an American, whose family was involved in property back in Ohio. She herself has sold property in North Africa, and has worked for some interesting companies; among them Sunsplash Homes, which lasted for less than three years but “sold properties all over the world”.
Though the Linkedin profile tells us that since January 1985 she has also worked as a media planner for Ogilvy and Mather, a major US advertising agency, founded by Englishman David Mackenzie Ogilvy, regarded as the Father of Advertising. I say ‘English’, but Ogilvy and Mackenzie are of course Highland names, and that’s where his father came from.
During WWII Ogilvy worked for British Intelligence, hardly surprising because there’s no real difference between propaganda and advertising, both want you to buy their ‘product’. Which explains why, in the Britishness offensive we’re currently enduring, so many businesses – perhaps advised by companies like Ogilvy – cover their products in union jacks and other BritNat symbols.
In addition to helping Woodhouse make “informed decisions on select UK properties”, such as Plas Glynllifon, Liggett went into business with him, briefly. The company was MBI London NW8 Ltd, another of Woodhouse’s short-lived enterprises, lasting barely a year and doing nothing, or so it would appear.
But it’s Liggett’s other companies I want to concentrate on, because these throw up an interesting name. Let’s look first at Sunsplash Homes, the company selling property all over the world. If we look at the founding directors we see three names, among them, Barbara Z Kahan. Turning to Properties of the World, the only director other than Liggett was Barbara Kahan.
Kahan ‘lends’ her name to help form companies (and resigns the same day the company is Incorporated). Allegations have been made, in the Times and elsewhere, that she helps those who might have difficulty setting up a UK company – though God knows it’s easy enough! – form companies for nefarious purposes. In a nutshell, money laundering.
My source suggests that the answer to why the ‘Welsh’ Government is involved with a chancer like Woodhouse at the Afan Valley Adventure Resort may lie with his partner, Grylls, who contributes the Bear Grylls Survival Academy to the package. He already has one such establishment on Llŷn.
Grylls is a regular presence on the television screens of those who like to watch overpaid and well-connected self-publicists. Fortunately, I don’t watch any programmes on which he is likely to appear. But his background is interesting.
On his mother’s side, his roots are in Donaghadee in County Down, Northern Ireland, where he spent his early years. His maternal grandmother and maternal great-grandfather were both Ulster Unionist MPs. His father, Sir William Michael John Grylls MP, was caught up in the same cash-for-questions affair that netted our very own Neil Hamilton AM. (Christine Hamilton was Grylls’ secretary.)
Grylls Senior was very well connected, his father had been a brigadier in 15th/19th the King’s Royal Hussars, he himself served in the Royal Marines and belonged to the exclusive Royal Yacht Squadron. His son, Edward Michael ‘Bear’ Grylls, went to prep school and Eton, did a few years in the SAS, is now Chief Scout, a lieutenant commander in the Royal Naval Reserve, and holds the same honorary rank in the Royal Marines Reserve.
There can’t be many outside of the Sachsen-Coburg und Gothas who better represents the establishment and the Union. It can only be a matter of time before ‘Bear’ Grylls is knighted, ennobled, and finally made a saint. There’s no question that Grylls, with his ‘pull’, can get anything he wants out of the ‘Welsh’ Government.
AN INVESTMENT OPPORTUNITY
It could be that Woodhouse has now served his purpose, or may have bitten off more than he can chew, for he appears to have been promoted sideways in favour of Peter Moore, former MD of Center Parcs. Moore coming on board suggests that Caerau Parc, the name that now seems to have been adopted for the venture, is a nod to his former employer rather than a show of respect for the Welsh language.
But whoever’s running the show, and whatever it’s called, this project will attract those looking to avoid taxes and other irritations by investing in UK property. These needn’t be tyrants from the -stans and their families, or Russian oligarchs, just well-to-do people, of the kind Liggett and Grylls have mixed with all their lives, seeking a little nest egg, as the Properties of the World website makes clear.
In addition, the Elite Investor Club website reminds potential investors that the lodges at Caerau Parc are free from stamp duty, and, “If you have a buy-to-let property that you are worried about after all the recent tax changes you may be able to part exchange it against a lodge at Afan Valley”. So it’s also seeking to attract the buy-to-let types?
Though I’m not sure if those involved in this scam scheme realise that in April 2018 stamp duty will be replaced in Wales by the Land Transaction Tax, to be administered by the ‘Welsh’ Government. But then, they’ve probably had assurances from Cardiff Bay that nothing will change . . . it never does.
Because the term ‘holiday homes’ carries a lot of baggage in Wales this project had to be dressed up as something more than property investment, which is where ‘Bear’ Grylls comes into the picture.
We know that the London property market launders many billions of pounds, it’s only natural that those seeking a UK property investment, but who can’t afford London prices, will look elsewhere. With Ms Liggett’s contacts I’m sure we’ll see some interesting buyers turn up for the lodges at Caerau Parc.
In fact, the whole Caerau Parc project of 900 lodges could be a money-laundering operation in itself.
THE BIG LIE
Wales is under attack today as never before. Our country is slowly being dismembered and we Welsh replaced as its inhabitants. One of the principle engines of our destruction is tourism. Yet we are asked to welcome an ‘industry’ that ignores our identity, treats our homeland as a playground, and marginalises us by encouraging colonisation.
Caerau Parc is typical of ‘Welsh’ tourism. The land on which it stands is owned by the UK state and managed by its Cardiff branch office. Those seeking to make money from this venture – Woodhouse, Grylls, Moore – are all English, or in the case of Liggett, American. Those who’ll buy the lodge-investments will almost certainly come from outside of Wales. The top jobs, the permanent jobs, have already been allocated to English ex-military types and the well connected.
So what will be left for us Welsh at Caerau Parc? Well, as usual, we’ll get the shitty jobs, the low paid jobs, the seasonal jobs; for this is how tourism in Wales operates. Wales in 2017 is treated little different to Africa or India a century ago. It seems that Wales exists for no other reason than to enrich our English masters.
Yet those apologists for colonialism in the so-called ‘Welsh Government’, jumped-up little shites like Ken Skates, tell us we should be ever so grateful for this! We should be thankful that rapacious bastards like Woodhouse and Grylls have come to gorge themselves on the carcass of Wales.
But then, we are lied to at every level, whether it’s the Westminster government, BBC Wales, Llais y Sais, or Carwyn Jones and his band of the hopeless. Welsh public life is thoroughly corrupt. The problems facing us are so entrenched, in both our national life and our collective psyche, that nothing will change by a different party running the Notional Assembly.
The current system is beyond tinkering with, it must be swept away entirely and a new Wales created in its place. Let’s start that revolution by rejecting Caerau Parc and all other forms of colonialist tourism. Let’s make it clear that we shall no longer accept it, nor shall we celebrate our subjection.
Woodhouse’s Northern Powerhouse website tells us, “Proposals will be available to view from 20th – 28th July at Cymmer Afan Community Library, Station Road, Cymmer, Port Talbot, NPT, SA13 3HR during normal opening hours”.
Why not pop along and tell them what you think of this project. There’s no need to be rude; ‘Fuck off, you exploitive, colonialist bastards!’ should suffice.
While I was away I picked up a copy of the Evening Post, a Swansea institution that has gone downhill in recent years. The ‘paper I knew long ago used to bring out its first edition around midday, with further editions up to and including the ‘Final’ or ‘Late Night Final’. You knew which edition it was by the number of windows filled in on the Mumbles lighthouse image at the top right of the front page. One window filled for the first edition . . .
Then of course there was the Sporting Post on Saturday night, with young boys racing from pub to pub to sell their allotted copies. In competition with them were the ladies of the Sally Ann with bundles of War Cry, and occasionally, yours truly with a band of Plaidistas, offloading Welsh Nation. The competition was fierce! (Though unlike the paper-sellers and the bonneted ladies I could – and did – partake of liquid refreshment to keep me going.)
In those days, long before the internet, before pubs had wall to wall television, but after bookies became legal in 1960, the pubs downtown seemed to be filled in the afternoons with men reading newspapers, men of studious mien, a pencil in one hand and often a half-smoked fag behind an ear. The real professionals had a fag behind one ear and a spare pencil behind the other.
I am of course referring now to aficionados of the turf, the sport of kings . . . and of layabouts dreaming of easy money. For members of the latter group to know which nag had won the 2:30 at Doncaster required the ‘Stop Press’ entry on latest edition of the Post, and it was quite common to see breathless groups of men waiting at the Post‘s various delivery points in anticipation of sudden wealth. All gone.
In recent years, printing was moved out of the city, the Evening Post became a morning paper, and what had once been the Welsh daily with the largest circulation lost its crown to the Daily Post. Then, in what might prove to be the coup de grace the Post was taken over by Trinity Mirror, and is now controlled from Cardiff, its online presence merged with Llais y Sais and the Echo in WalesOnline.
If further proof was needed of the Post‘s downward slide it came when I saw that Julian Ruck now has a weekly column. Here’s his effort from the 7th. (Click to enlarge.)
Before considering what he wrote let’s look at how he’s described by the Post: “Julian Ruck is a novelist, broadcaster, political commentator and guest public speaker”.
His ‘novels’ are excruciating pot-boilers that he publishes himself but nobody buys. “Broadcaster”? Mmm, has anyone seen or heard him ‘broadcast’ – or have I been lucky? “Political Commentator”; well, I’m a political commentator, everyone who expresses a political opinion is a political commentator, the term means nothing. “Guest public speaker” is a curious phrase, why not just ‘public speaker’? I suppose it’s trying to say that he gets invited to places. (Twice?)
As for what he has to say, well, here’s a sample, “Dear me, this Welsh bit is getting a bit tedious isn’t it?” The senior language of this island, the language spoken in London when the English were still Germans, is reduced to “this Welsh bit”. What a twat!
Later he describes Welsh as “a foreign tongue”, which is not only offensive but also inaccurate. Because you see, Ruck, it wouldn’t matter if no one spoke Welsh – it would still be the national language of Wales. That’s because it is unique to Wales, it is the ancestral language of the Welsh, and for most of our history it defined Welsh nationality. English may now be the majority language of Wales, but it can never be the national language.
It would be easy to dismiss Ruck as a pompous little prick, a snob, but I feel rather sorry for him. He’s bitter because he’s been denied the success he feels he deserves. His search for a scapegoat has led him to a conspiracy of Welsh speakers who produce dastardly schemes to deny us the wit and wisdom of Julian Ruck. This leads to him hating the Welsh language itself and all those who speak it . . . maybe he thinks all Welsh speakers are in on the conspiracy.
Face it, Ruck, you’re a crap writer and a mercenary bigot, an opinionated nobody. But to give your attacks some credibility you have to be bigged up into a popular writer, someone whose opinion matters.
Though it says a lot about modern Wales that it’s the Labour-supporting, Welsh-hating, Trinity Mirror Group that provides you with a platform for your BritNat bigotry.
P.S. I’m informed that Ruck’s latest column, on the 14th, was used to attack Welsh language education. Why does anyone buy a rag from Trinity Mirror?
Now let’s turn to others who share Ruck’s attitude to the Welsh language, I’m talking now of those connected with Tales With a Twist.
Thanks to the Electoral Commission I now know that distributing election material lacking an imprint is not an offence; the offence lies in publishing and printing election material without an imprint. But of course, without an imprint, it’s very, very difficult to prove who wrote and printed the document being distributed. Something of a Catch-22 situation.
Which is why I asked the Electoral Commission to give me examples of successful prosecutions for not having an imprint. The response was: ” . . . where the material is a newspaper advertisement we can contact the newspaper for the details of the person who placed the advertisement.” Obviously, but with the best will in the world, someone would have to be really, really stupid to put election material that lacked an imprint in a newspaper advertisement. And would a newspaper accept such an advertisement, knowing that it broke the law?
Though one possibility intrigues me. What if I was to write and run off a few hundred copies of a leaflet ahead of the next general election, a leaflet claiming that the local Labour candidate attends the same Penrhyndeudraeth coven as the Conservative candidate, where they romp around bollock naked, beating each other with riding crops – but the leaflets never left my house.
According to the Electoral Commission I would have committed an offence, even though no one would read what I’d written. Which is absurd, because what I’d written and printed could only influence electors if it was distributed, yet distributing unattributed election material is not an offence. Am I alone in thinking that the law has got this the wrong way round?
Anyway, things are moving, slowly. North Wales Police seem to be interested. I now have copies of issues 1 and 2 of Tales With a Twist, proving that we are dealing with a campaign rather than a one-off, and even though Councillor Louise Hughes has denied distributing the leaflets I have statements that a) confirm she was distributing them in Trawsfynydd on April 28, and b) that she gave copies to Steven Churchman, the Lib Dem councillor. Other statements are promised.
As for who printed the leaflets, well we all know who that was. What’s more, when I spoke with the DC in Caernarfon on Thursday afternoon we discussed the printer and yet neither of us needed to mention his name. He is – to quote Donald Rumsfeld – a known known.
I have a feeling this may not be over.
PLAID CYMRU & THE SNP
Many of you reading this may get a warm glow from watching Leanne Wood hugging Nicola Sturgeon, but how realistic is it to compare Plaid Cymru with the Scottish National Party? I got to wondering how their results since the first elections to the devolved bodies in 1999 compared.
In 1999 Plaid did marginally better than the SNP; point three of a percentage point lower in the constituency vote but over three percentage points higher in the regional/list vote. A good showing.
In 2003 both parties lost support. Plaid Cymru’s performance can be largely attributed to the palace coup that removed Dafydd Wigley, Plaid’s most popular ever leader. The fall in support for the SNP is due to a number of factors, certainly a change of leader also played a part, though most would agree that John Swinney was a more inspiring replacement for Alex Salmond than Ieuan Wyn Jones was for Dafydd Wigley.
The picture in Scotland was further complicated by what could be explained, perhaps paradoxically, as a falling off in support for the SNP, but the electorate still returned more MSPs in favour of independence.
For while the SNP lost 8 seats in 2003 the Scottish Greens gained 6 seats and Tommy Sheridan’s Scottish Socialists increased their tally by 5. Which meant that there were 40 MSPs (out of 129) supporting independence after the 2003 election against 37 in 1999.
When we move on to 2007 we see the gulf opening. Plaid Cymru improves marginally on 2003 but nothing like the increase that was expected with an unpopular Labour government in Westminster, whereas the SNP’s support increased by almost 50% to make it the largest party.
The election of 2011 is remarkable in that, in Wales, with the Tories now in power in London, many Welsh voters were persuaded to ‘send a message to Lundun, innit’ by voting Labour. By comparison, in Scotland, a Tory government in London did nothing for Labour as the SNP romped home with a majority of the seats.
Most recently, in 2016, the SNP may have lost six seats (and its majority) but in terms of votes there was a fall of only 2.3% in the regional share but an increase of 1.1% in the constituency vote. Add in the two Scottish Green representatives and there is still a pro-independence majority of 65 MSPs in Holyrood.
Here in Wales, Plaid Cymru may have improved on its dismal performance in 2011 (if it hadn’t, then it might have been time to call it a day), partly due to having a new leader in Leanne Wood, but still got less than half the SNP’s share of the vote, leaving the 1999 result looking like a lost golden age.
In Scotland, the issue for a decade or more, and the issue still dominating political debate, is independence. Here in Wales we have a ‘national’ party that would prefer not to debate independence (or colonisation, or exploitation, or anything that might upset or annoy anyone), a party that is bumping along the bottom and going nowhere.
You know my view, I gave up on Plaid Cymru years ago. With Wales falling apart around us, suffering attacks from all quarters, how much longer can you continue supporting a party going nowhere, a party that will sabotage itself if there’s any possibility of success? (Believe me, it will!)
(You’ll notice that I’ve spared Plaid Cymru’s embarrassment by sticking with the devolved vote, not comparing the relative showings for Westminster elections, in which Plaid does even worse.)
In the interests of clarity this whole section was re-written 17.07.2017
WHAT WE KNOW
There were unpleasant scenes in Monkton, Pembrokeshire, on Tuesday night and Wednesday morning last week when a crowd gathered to protest about a paedophile the crowd believed was living at Gwilliam Court. As is invariably the case in such incidents the crowd included some seeking an excuse for trouble, these being responsible for allegedly setting bins on fire, letting down the tyres on police vehicles and other mischief.
Despite the behaviour of these idiots there was a genuine cause for concern, for the woman allegedly living in Gwilliam Court was identified (though not named) by both the Sun and the Daily Mail as Amber Roderick. Her record would cause any parent to worry about her presence on their estate. And yet there are so many questions about the whole business.
On the assumption that we are dealing with Roderick let’s look at her most recent conviction, at Reading Crown Court in January 2012. As the Crown Prosecution Service summary tells us, she was jailed for a minimum of four years and placed on the Sex Offenders’ Register. This NACRO document tells us that anyone imprisoned for 30 months or more stays on the register “indefinitely”.
It became clear from police and council statements that if it was Roderick – now going by the name of Bridget McGinley – then she was not the tenant of the property in Monkton, the tenant being a man with whom she was co-habiting.
But then, to confuse matters, in this report from the Pembrokeshire Herald Superintendent Ian John of Dyfed Powys Police, says, “The two residents of that flat, as it stands, neither of those two people, were actually currently on the sex offender’s register. The facts are, they were not on the sex offender’s register. It would be inappropriate for me to go into specific detail, but what I will say, the lady who moved in with the gentleman who is the tenant of the flat, was not required to record her movements, as she would have been if she was on the sex offenders register.”
Superintendent John’s convoluted statement suggests three options. 1/ Somebody made a terrible mistake, stirring up a mob when it was not Amber Roderick/Bridget McGinley in that flat, 2/ If it was her, then she has somehow been taken off the Sex Offenders’ Register, 3/ Superintendent John is mistaken.
Also quoted in the Pembrokeshire Herald report is ‘Annalee’ who seems to suggest that in Wales offenders remain on the Sex Offenders Register for only five years, with the clear implication that in Scotland and England the period is longer. Is this true?
Well, after consulting the NACRO document again I believe that in the case that ‘Annalee’ refers to, the age of the offender, and the sentence handed down, meant that he stayed on the register for only five years. And it would have been the same in England. (I can’t speak for Scotland.)
Something else that struck people about the Herald report was local councillor Pearl Llewellyn saying, “I was told by Pembrokeshire County Council not to get involved or to come to these meetings, but I have, because my daughter lived in Monkton.” But she’s the elected representative of these people! Why would the council – and what does she mean by “the council”? – tell her not to get involved?
There are obviously questions to answer, not least – who owns the property in question; is it Pembrokeshire County Council or Pembrokeshire Housing Association? Or is it perhaps a third party, a private landlord, or even an offshore entity leasing property to social landlords, such as I exposed in Link Holdings (Gibraltar) Ltd?
Someone with whom I’m in contact is having great difficulty getting an answer to that simple question from Pembrokeshire County Council.
In the original version of this section I quoted the Housing (Wales) Act 2014 70 (1) (j) which says that sex offenders and others coming out of prison get preferential treatment in the allocation of social housing.
I was pulled up and pointed to the preamble reading, “a person who has a local connection with the area of the local housing authority . . . “. This is not worth the paper it’s printed on. After years of studying the operations of social landlords I know that no ‘local connection’ is needed to be housed by social landlords in Wales.
If the Llansiadwel Housing Association is offered two or three times the normal rate to house a paedophile from Newcastle who’s never set foot in Wales they’ll jump at it.
To understand the truth of what I’m saying you only have to consider the case in Monkton. If it was Roderick/McGinley living there, then it’s reasonable to assume that the tenant was the boyfriend identified in Reading Crown Court as Patrick Maughan and sentenced to six years in prison at the same trial. Both could have been recently released, and neither has a local connection to Pembrokeshire.
As I say, there are just so many questions. The best way to clear things up, to placate the residents of Monkton, and to restore faith in the council, is for both the council and the police to come clean and give the full details of this case.
Also, for social housing providers and other agencies to stop dumping undesirables from England in Wales, no matter what financial and other incentives are offered.
On the 28th of March 2007, I was arrested by the police in broad daylight, and in full view of the public. I was handcuffed, bundled into the back of a patrol car and whisked away to Aberystwyth Police Station – just like all other nasty and dangerous common criminals.
The arresting officer, an immigrant from the Midlands, called PC MICHAEL ROBERT WESTBURY – who, according to a detective inspector friend of mine, whom I had a conversation with some time later, said that Westbury (he apparently also has a cousin, or similar relative, in the police force here – so there’s two of them) is one of a small army of lazy policemen, (in fact I think the words he used were “a lazy prick who’s a pain in the arse of the local force”), transfer in to quiet backwaters like Aberystwyth, from places like Birmingham, because it’s easy work in sleepy mid Wales – offering a quiet risk free working life up to retirement age in scenic surroundings; but they also have an overwhelming need to show the ‘native woolly back’ policemen how the job should be done properly, as they (apparently) have been used to doing it in the big cities, before they transferred here. I personally think that a lot of them are also white flight racist dross that embeds itself in our communities, with a strong white (English) supremacist attitude – even towards the white skinned ‘foreign’ speaking indigenous natives of our country. There’s no restriction on any of them becoming policemen – despite their often racist attitudes.
PC Westbury sat with me in the back seat of the patrol car, I suppose it was in case I tried to escape by jumping out of a speeding car in handcuffs, or attempted to slit the throat of the driver! As they do I suppose in those big cities to the east of us. The whole scene was witnessed by all the shoppers in the vicinity, and there was quite a few of them. However, being a Wednesday, thankfully, it was not the busiest shopping day in town, but busy enough for a big embarrassment. Some, I’m sure, would have recognised me, and must have wondered what the hell I’d been up to, and what terrible crime I must have committed to trigger this kind of action – although there was no fracas in force, nor raised voices and certainly no gunshots or screams heard during the arrest! Scenes like that (in that shopping area) are usually indicative of what often happens when an abusive drunk or an aggressive shop-lifter resists arrest. I was neither, but you can bet some thought I was.
I refused to accept an English only worded parking ticket from the parking attendant in the Rheidol Retail Park, and refused to communicate with him, or the arresting officer in the language of their queen. The sign that warned the public about parking restrictions in the Rheidol Retail Park was also written in English only. Note that this was just ten years ago, a full fourteen years after the introduction of The 1993 Welsh language Act. For the reader’s information – quote:
The Welsh Language Act 1993, is an Act of the Parliament of the United Kingdom, which puts the Welsh language on an equal footing with the English language in Wales.
The Laws in Wales Acts 1535–1542 had made English the only language of the law courts and other aspects of public administration in Wales. The Welsh Courts Act 1942 had given the right to use Welsh in courts providing that the Welsh speaker was under a disadvantage in having to speak English, but this was very narrowly defined by subsequent case law. The Welsh Language Act 1967, overturned these decisions and gave rise to the concept of ‘equal validity’ between the Welsh and English languages. As a result, Governmental Departments began preparing documents in Welsh, and following a campaign of destroying or vandalising unilingual English road signs by members of Cymdeithas yr Iaith Gymraeg (The Welsh Language Society), local councils were allowed to provide many bilingual signs in Wales. It was however the Welsh Language Act 1993 which established that ‘in the course of public business and the administration of justice, so far as is reasonably practicable, the Welsh and English languages are to be treated on the basis of equality.‘ Welsh Language Act 1993 – source Wikepedia 2017.
So what were the chain of events that led to the arrest?
I had pulled up in a quiet corner of the car park to allow my wife to go into a shop and was minding my own business. The wife incidentally is English (well mixed Welsh/ Irish parentage actually – although classified as English) and originally from Birkenhead. I only add that bit, to emphasise the fact that I am totally anti racist – before someone responds with accusations of racism being involved on my part here. I HATE the way we are treated as a colonised country by England and the attitude of Brit Nats who colonise and abuse our country and it’s natives. I do NOT hate English people on the basis of their race. Just to be clear on that point, before I go further.
After a few minutes a dour faced parking attendant approached my car and gestured for me to wind my window down. I obliged and he asked me – in English – if I was aware that I had parked in a restricted area. I replied in my mother tongue, that I had not actually noticed the sign, and in any case, if I had noticed it and it was not displayed in the official native language of my country, then I would have ignored it anyway. He responded with a curt, “I don’t speak Welsh, so you’ll have to talk to me in English”. I replied again in my native tongue that his failure to understand me was his problem and not mine. He then said in English “I know you can understand me, if you don’t move, I’ll give you a ticket”. Talk of red rags & bulls! However with great restraint, I politely replied that that was his prerogative, but unless he addressed me in my language of choice, then he could stick his ticket where the sun doesn’t shine. At this point he took out his little book and started scribbling, I wound up the car window. He then stuck the ticket under one of the windscreen wipers. I quietly got out of the car, read the ticket, and noted that it was in English, with not a word of Welsh written or printed on it. Consequently, I screwed up the ticket and stuffed it in the top pocket of the parking attendant’s coat (much to his horror – perhaps he feared I was going to stuff it into one of his orifices), whilst telling him calmly to go away and procreate, preferably on the other side of Offa’s Dyke. He reacted by saying that I had assaulted him with my action, and that he was now going to call the police. I invited him to do whatever he thought necessary. By then the wife had returned and I slowly drove around to the other side of the car park so that she could go into Lidl’s.
Whilst sitting quietly in the car, again minding my own business and listening to Radio Cymru, I heard a police siren, then I caught sight of the patrol car, complete with blue flashing light & siren. PC Westbury screeched to a halt in front of me and leapt out of the car – I was half expecting him to be armed, considering the song and dance that he was engaging in during the development of this perceived ’emergency’. Again I was gestured to wind down my window. Now we all have this ability to be able to gauge the mood of a person by the look on their face. Rather than the dour, ‘fed up with life’ and miserable look on the parking attendant’s face a short time earlier, I immediately picked up on anger and rage this time. With hindsight it was obvious that it was not the screwing up of the ticket and stuffing it in the pocket of the parking attendant’s pocket that had disturbed PC Westbury, but probably the fact that I had made a fool of one of his co-patriots, and he was about to make an example of me for being such a mutinous, bolshie ‘Welsh nashie’. How dare I!
Anyway, the conversation went along similar lines to the earlier conversion I’d had with the attendant. With Westbury laying the law down in English and me responding in Welsh. Finally he said “listen, if you don’t respond to me in English I’ll arrest you” I shrugged my shoulders and turned my palms upwards. At this, his fuse blew, he opened my car door and shouted for me to get out. Then came the caution “I’m arresting you on suspicion of common assault and a breach of the peace, you do not have to say anything but it may harm your defence if you do not mention when questioned something you later rely on in court . . . blah, blah, blah . . .” Click, click, handcuffs on. Wife dropped her shopping in Lidl, rushed out gaping to see me being scurried away in the back of the police car.
At the police station
The custody sergeant was a seasoned old campaigner from Talgarreg – who had been around the block a few times and was close to retirement I would guess. Westbury went through the process of explaining that he had arrested me for suspected assault on a ticket warden in the Rheidol Retail Park’s private car park. The heavily moustached sergeant (classic Victorian ‘Bobby’ look) turned to me and asked if I had anything to say. I for my part explained in Welsh that I had actually been arrested because I had refused to converse with the arresting PC in English. He rolled his eyes heaven-wards and a wry smile crossed his face. I guess he recognised who I was, as I had been quite a regular mini pantomime villain ‘celebrity’ on the TV and in newspapers since 2002 due to my infamous political work whilst I was a national vice president of Plaid Cymru, the chair of Plaid Cymru Ceredigion, and the horror politician who had the temerity to say (what everyone actually knew but said nothing) that Wales had become the dumping ground for oddballs, social misfits and society dropouts in recent years (see the photo & caption at the head of this paragraph). I was also quite well known for my close association with Cymuned in those days – who were blazing a trail at the time. He also, I assume, knew the individual who had made the arrest very well from past experience, and it just added to his woes for the day.
He answered in Welsh saying that this was all a bit infantile (I presume he meant on PC Westbury’s part), however he told me that as I had been officially cautioned and arrested he had no option but to ‘process’ me. It was evident that he was miffed with Westbury, because, the first thing he said was I don’t think there’s a need for those constable – pointing to the handcuffs. He then asked me to empty my pockets, Westbury quickly interjected with “be careful sarge” – as if I might pull out a grenade launcher or AK47 or some similar weapon from my jacket pocket once the cuffs were off! Sergeant Thomas (I believe he was a Thomas from memory, although I might be mistaken – it’s been a while) responded with “I don’t think we’re likely to get attacked here constable” – slyly winking at me. If it wasn’t all so serious, you couldn’t be blamed for breaking out in an underwear wetting laughing fit of incredulity over the whole farce.
Next up, the process of taking fingerprints, palm prints, shoe prints and of course a DNA sample. Sgt. Thomas then asked if I wanted a solicitor I said “certainly”, quick as a flash he said “a Welsh speaking one I presume?”. I said “wrth gwrs!”. By this time Westbury was fast starting to feel like a pork pie in a Jewish wedding. To try and recover control of the situation he said “shall I put him in a cell sarge?”. Sgt Thomas: “no I don’t think that that’ll be necessary constable, he can keep me company here, I could do with someone to chat to!”. And that’s how I spent the rest of the afternoon, chatting to Sgt. Thomas about how times had changed, who we both knew, who I knew in Talgarreg, and how utterly stupid the whole situation was. He explained that this was purely down to unnecessary bureaucracy and an ignorance of cultural understanding, and insensitivities towards the natives and their language by police incomers. He said that all this had become more pronounced since the influx of ‘foreign’ police imports from over the border that had increasingly been taking place over quite a few years. He said it was nothing like this in his day and he would be glad when he retired to be out of it. Quite enjoyable really watching characters being dragged in and processed at the custody desk. Mostly drunks, crack-heads and shop-lifters – REAL criminals! Mostly English immigrants by their accents, although one drunk was Welsh!
The Legal Representation Bit
Now, the only proficient Welsh speaking solicitor that could be found was Iestyn Davies at the Evans – Roberts law firm in Machynlleth. They said they would send someone down to Aberystwyth police station to brief me – as and when they had someone available. They also told me not to take part in any interviews and not to sign any statements until their man arrived. This was code for ‘make yourself comfortable, we’ll get someone there before the morning!’. This was about 2 o’clock in the afternoon. In fact their first reaction when I told them why I was at the station was “you’re joking – this isn’t serious is it?”. It seemed that they were a bit hesitant, because they thought it was the work of a prankster. I’d declined using my own solicitor, because I would have had to pay for him, instead I insisted on a Welsh speaking ‘duty’ solicitor that the police used – why should I pay for this nonsense from my own pocket?
Tracking down a solicitor in Aberystwyth had proved futile. When told that the ‘prisoner’ (me) wanted to conduct everything in Welsh – including any future court hearings, they had shied off. It was apparent that there were some floating around who could parler the ‘lingo’ but were obviously not so confident in their prowess of written work and especially not written legal work. I realised that this was a marathon in the making.
Fitness for custody and questioning
In the mean time my beloved had hoofed it down to the police station from Lidl’s. She was making a nuisance of herself in the police station reception area, demanding to know what the hell I had been arrested for, and further demanded to see me. Apparently that does not fit in to the protocols of custody. Anything she wanted me to know, or that I wanted her to know, had to be relayed via station officers. She then informed them that I was a diabetes sufferer, and if they did not care for my food and fluid intake, they could be held responsible for my health condition. That instigated another mini panic amongst my incarcerators. After a team huddle in the corner, they decided that they would have to get a doctor in – to establish if I was fit enough for questioning and detention.
Yes you guessed it, this required the services of a police approved doctor who was fluent in Welsh. More panic and more frantic phone calls. After about two hours of this ‘doctor hunt’, Sgt. Thomas came to plead with me, asking whether I would accept a Polish speaking doctor instead. I burst out laughing, “does he also speak Welsh?” I asked, “well no” he said, “but he’s not English”. Oh dear, then started the lesson for Sgt. Thomas that this was NOT about what race the doctor was, but what I simply wanted was to be examined by someone who spoke to me in my own language. You’re not really the brightest light bulb in the room I thought – despite being a pleasant chappie. Strange how these things always seem to boil down to race. Couldn’t they see that all I was doing was exercising my legal, and statutory human rights in my own country? To save having to be bunked up overnight in a cell, I relented and said I would agree to being examined by the Polish Dr.
He duly arrived and set about the examination. He confirmed that I had raised glucose levels in my blood, but I was coherent, not drunk, and totally sane. Small relief there! He also insisted that I was fed at regular intervals with low sugar diabetic diet ingredients, got given plenty of fluids on demand (so pots of tea on demand – great), and I was to be given access to my medication, which just happened to be at home in Aberaeron. Emergency prescription written up on the spot for Metformin, that someone had to trundle to the pharmacy to get. During all this experience, the Polish Doc seemed intrigued with my tale of why I had been arrested. When I explained it all to him his face lit up. He could relate fully to my predicament, having been under Soviet rule for years, and having to submit to the use of the Russian language in his native Poland. He also spoke of the secret police, and how his people were treated during Soviet occupation. I think he would have stayed there for a week chatting to me if he could. He warmly shook my hand, said I needed to carry on the good fight for freedom and finally left. I felt I’d found a kindred spirit, he’d also helped while the time away, whilst I still waited for the ‘legal beagle’ to turn up.
The Interview and statement taking
Finally the ‘legal beagle’ from Machynlleth showed up, a long time after his usual office hours. He was still bemused by the whole event, and could hardly believe it. Totally on-side and greatly supportive of my stand (as you’d expect from a Welsh Nationalist born in the town of Owain Glyndŵr’s original parliament building). He set about arranging my police interview, after giving me a quick run-down of what to say and what not to say under caution. He also said that the whole thing was a total waste of time, as he didn’t believe that the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) would entertain such a ludicrous application for prosecution by the police.
Panic number three set in. Sgt Thomas with duties at the custody desk couldn’t take part. The only other Welsh speaking officers available were not confident enough in their linguistic skills in the minority language of the colony to conduct an interview, much less be able to write up the statement. Now the hunt was on again, this time to find a native born officer who was fluent enough in Welsh to conduct the interview. Finally, they managed to track down a young Welsh speaking female officer, but had to wait for her to come on duty. So the minutes continued to tick over into hours, in the company of Sgt. Thomas and a by now, very bored, tired and fed-up looking solicitor.
Eventually the work shift changed. Sgt. Thomas wished me well as he left for home, saying not to worry, as he couldn’t imagine the case going to court. A young policewoman conducted the interview (halting repeatedly to ask the solicitor & I how to spell certain words). I signed it and then had to wait for the new custody sergeant to process it. I was told that I was to be released on bail, and unless I turned up at the station periodically a warrant would be issued for my arrest. Happy days. I left at about half past eight at night, having been detained for a full seven hours.
I turned up to answer bail for months on end. About fifty percent of the time it was a wasted journey, because there wasn’t a Welsh speaking officer available to deal with me every time I presented myself. I was getting to know swathes of officers, and the whole issue became quite a popular topic at the station. Most of the native policemen were extremely supportive, and it became a big joke generally amongst them – mostly at Westbury’s expense.
However, the CPS DID eventually decide TO prosecute. However court hearing after court hearing was postponed, until (I guess) someone somewhere decided that this farce had to be kicked into touch. My solicitor, over many months and lots of letters down the line, received the final letter from the CPS declaring that they were going to drop it, due to lack of evidence. The decision was probably based on costs as well, because the penny dropped that the eventual hearing would have required full translation services, the witness statements of Westbury & the parking attendant would have to be translated into Welsh, and the hearing would have to be conducted in Welsh, and all verbal testimony by the monoglots translated in court. Plus more importantly the publicity would have been caustic.
I had great plans of making a real whoo-ha of the matter, as soon as the court case was over. However my health at that time, had become very poor, I suffer with Behçet’s disease, apart from other problems like diabetes etc. I also had a major heart attack not long after this circus had closed. So, without the inclination, due to fatigue, and being too poorly to put any energy into the campaign I let it drift. Finally it became such an old issue that it was not worth pursuing. Had the situation been different, I was going to make a formal police complaint (I still have the form). Involve the IPCC, the Board for Racial Equality and of course I was going to pepper press releases to politicians, the TV companies & papers. However it was not to be – a missed opportunity sadly.
You know how it works. A CCTV camera takes a snapshot of your number plate as you enter the car park. It then takes another picture as you leave. The information is relayed (by a private company without your permission) to ParkingEye (PE) whose registered Office is 40 Eaton Avenue, Buckshaw Village, Chorley, Lancashire, PR7 7NA. If the interval between the first and second photo is greater than two hours, you get a letter from these parasites demanding £50 or £85 if you don’t pay fast enough. It’s not a fine. Fines can only be legally imposed by Governments (local or central, through by-laws). You are not breaking any laws, so it’s not a police matter, it’s a civil matter between you and PE. In fact, this is a demand by menaces, because if you don’t pay they threaten to apply to a County Court (small claims division in Northampton) for the recovery of the money they say is owed to them. Most people pay on demand. Those that do go to court often have the case dismissed (e.g. 28/03/2014 DDJ Potts dismissed claim 3DJ13428, ParkingEye v Williams as PE could not produce a contract in court). However it’s a big money generating industry, despite the ones that slip the net.
My son and I, in separate cars, but at the same time got caught a few weeks back. We had over run our time limit by a few minutes. Guess where? Yes, Rheidol Retail Park. They’ve given up on employing parking attendants (I like to think that I may have had a small part to play in that – as described above). In any case, the land owner (and that’s where it gets really interesting – as I’ll disclose in a minute), has engaged PE via their property management company in London, to guard their car park property for them, and pocket the money generated. Paying PE a commission I assume. It will amaze you where the money actually lands up.
When they first took over the contract, PE put up their notices in English only. Many must have complained about this. I know that I got caught twice. I entered into correspondence with them – in my native Welsh of course – pointing out the equal status of Welsh and English in Wales etc. They responded in English, demanding I translated my letters into English for their convenience – some hope! After ping-ponging these letters they gave up on both occasions. It’s surprising what the realisation of what may be involved does to these ignorant parasites, especially when they consider the cost of translators. Moving the hearing to a court in Wales at the request of the defendant, and having the hearing conducted in Welsh – it acts like DDT on mosquitoes (or in their case maggots).
Anyway, they seem to have seen the error of their ways and all signage is now bilingual. One little victory for us at least, but they still have problems with bilingual correspondence. Now following this latest experience, I decided to do some research. Apparently a good way forward is to contact the actual land owner who deploys PE. It is often the company that has the shopping property, who provides the car park for the convenience of it’s shoppers. They will more often than not get their contractor PE, to drop the issue, simply because it’s not good business to aggravate your customers who may stop spending with you. Others who are caught in this trap, but who who are not so savvy, or would prefer to pay the bill to get rid of the hassle, just do so. This, however, is not the land ownership case when it comes to the Rheidol Retail Park car parks. Most people wrongly assume the car parks are the property of the Council, they are not. Others assume the land owner is either Lidl, Iceland or Argos – again – wrong.
The land is owned by Downham Properties Ltd.This is an UK tax dodging off-shore company registered in Jersey. They are the owners of the land in Aberystwyth that the Rheidol Retail Park car parks are located on.
However the trail does not end there. Downham Properties Ltd. use a property management company in London to manage their business, Fletcher King, 61 Conduit Street, London, W1S 2GB. It is they presumably who hire the dogs (ParkingEye) to collect the revenues from the locals on behalf of their client, the Rheidol Retail Park landowner – Downham Properties Ltd.
PE have been the subject of a Ceredigion Trading Standards investigation on more than one occasion. However, as usual, nothing seems to have come of it to date.
Local businesses in Aberystwyth have called for the car parks to be taken over by Ceredigion County Council. The council dodged the issue by saying they are on private property – haven’t they ever heard of compulsory hire/ purchase by local councils?
So, the situation is: Downham Properties Limited, who are obviously a UK tax dodging company registered in Jersey, have bought the land in our country. They in turn use a property management company in London to manage the site in our country. The property management company contracts out the work to PE – based in Lancashire – to fleece locals of money that supports not one but three companies, and their profit margins are huge, hence the reason they’re registered off-shore to DODGE taxes on their profits.
Now in a normal country (and we haven’t been ‘normal’ since the Acts of Union of 1536 & 42, as we are colonised, decimated culturally, linguistically & historically treated as second class citizens in our own country), this would never be allowed to happen. Then to cap it all the peasants are sodomised financially by the likes of Downham Properties Ltd. who – even in the eyes of our colonisers – are a pariah.
Now shouldn’t the Plaid Cymru leader of Ceredigion County Council address this problem on a local level? Much more so now that Ceredigion also has a new Plaid MP. Let’s not hold our breath though, whilst waiting for some action, we could all perish in the process – and our language & culture will disappear along with us.
On the 17th of July I sent an e-mail to Ben Lake, MP for Ceredigion, with carbon copies to:
Dafydd Llywelyn (Plaid Cymru Police Commissioner for Dyfed Powys Constabulary)
Arfon Jones ((Plaid Cymru Police Commissioner for the North Wales Constabulary) and
Ellen ap Gwynne (Plaid’s overall council leader for Ceredigion County Council)
Inviting them to read this post, as I felt that the contents should be of interest/ serious concern to them. I received two automated ‘message received’ reports, one from Dafydd Llywelyn and the other from Ben Lake’s office at Westminster.
At the time I quipped on this Blog that we shouldn’t hold our breath for a response. However, whilst I still haven’t received a written response from the two commissioners or the council leader, Ben Lake MP – much to his credit – sent me a lengthy reply, which unusually for politicians, did not duck the issue or make excuses. Rather, he fully sympathised with the contents, and further assured me that he would investigate further and would act on the results of his inquiries.
You can view the contents of my original correspondence, and Ben Lake’s response by cliking HERE.
I have to humbly withdraw the comment I rather flippantly made previously, which indicated a suggested and probable negative non response that I had anticipated from the Plaid ‘quartet’. That is not the case, and I am glad to report that Ben Lake’s reply was not only supportive and genuine but also friendly and down to earth. The young man has greatly elevated his status in my eyes.
I still await a reply from the other three. Perhaps what we are seeing here is a new generation of Plaid politicians that might be drawing away from the typical ‘sons of the manse’ types that we have become so used to within Plaid, or the ‘socialist’ types who just curl their tail around Labour’s leg and purr! These two types – whom I have been a harsh detractor of in the past, need to be replaced with genuine representatives of our people, who will fight with a bit of tenacity for our freedom and independence. There does seem to be a little nucleus forming with the likes of Adam Price, Neil Mc Evoy plus a few others, and now possibly Ben Lake perhaps?
This blog – or rather, its writer – is taking a break for a week or 10 days.
I shall return to the keyboard before then if ‘Welsh’ Labour does something of benefit to Wales, if Plaid Cymru wakes up to the fact that being Welsh is its sole selling point, or if some Third Sector crook has his/her collar felt.
As none of these possibilities is likely to materialise in the next 10 days, or indeed the next 10 years, I feel confident that I can enjoy my break, and the wife and I can get away for a few days.
While away I shall not be answering e-mails, so anyone wishing to contact me has the option of Twitter DM @jacothenorth or else being patient until I return.
But if it’s really, really, really important then e-mail Big Gee on ITsupport@sccambria.com and he’ll give you my mobile number.
Tourism is a subject I’ve written about more than once, and so I think my views are pretty well known. But in case anyone’s failed to get the message . . . tourism in Wales is exploitive, tasteless, disruptive, damaging to Welsh identity and culture, destructive of our physical environment, and far too little of the wealth it generates reaches Welsh people. Tourism in Wales is one of the more obvious manifestations of colonialism.
Which is why I was encouraged to read this morning about Eryri in future being treated with “respect”. Remarkably, this is the very word I have used in my previous criticisms of the damage being done to the area by crude and exploitive tourism.
The word was used by Helen Pye, the Snowdonia National Park’s former head warden for Snowdon who is now manager of the Snowdon Partnership, a group representing various interests that has produced a draft plan for the area which invites comments. It’s a fascinating document and I urge you all to read it, and to submit your comments before Friday’s deadline.
The document tells us, for example, that Snowdon is a “national asset” . . . without stating which nation is being referred to. But as it goes on to say, ” . . . the most visited mountain in the UK.” it’s reasonable to assume that we are here discussing the mythic UKish nation.
A remarkable, and worrying, statistic may be found on page 20, which tells us that between 2013 and 2015 the percentage of first-time hill walkers attempting Yr Wyddfa doubled from 10% to 20%. Which no doubt contributes to some of the more alarming statistics found elsewhere in the report.
Page 43 bears out my criticism of tourism providing low-wage and seasonal employment, and contributing little to the overall economy of an area, with: “Tourism to Yr Wyddfa is estimated to contribute £69m of economic benefit per annum. There are low rates of full-time employment and low median wages in the Park”.
Though my spirits were briefly raised when I read, on page 48,“Invasive species are being controlled”, under the “Where do we want to be by 2030?” heading . . . only to realise that the draft was not referring to tourists.
All of which can be grouped under the ‘Playground Wales’ umbrella. Organisations which insist that attracting unsustainable numbers of tourists, and encouraging many to settle, has no damaging consequences for Welsh identity, social cohesion, and the natural environment.
Not a lot different to tobacco companies back in the ’60s and ’70s arguing that cigarettes were not harmful to health. If you have a vested interested in denying what it is becoming clear to everyone else then that’s what you do . . . and just hope you get away with it.
TREN BACH YR WYDDFA
After writing the name I got to wondering a bit more about the Snowdon Mountain Railway, which not only owns the train to the summit but also runs the cafe close by the summit.
Reading the website one of the first things that struck me about the early days of the railway was the almost total absence of Welsh involvement. This was all happening in spite of us, or over our heads. But then, that’s colonialism; a whole nation treated as if it has learning difficulties, unable to do anything for itself.
The initial excursion in 1896 of No 1 Ladas, owned by the Snowdon Mountain Tramroad and Hotels Company Ltd, was not a great success, for the train left the track. Fortunately there was just one fatality, Ellis Griffith Roberts of Llanberis.
This episode is so wonderfully emblematic of ‘Welsh’ tourism. Not only were those making the money English, even the driver of the derailed train, William Pickles, was brought in from Yorkshire (with his nephew to serve as fireman). And as is the case 120 years later, it’s the Welsh who suffer.
The company number quoted on the website is 00042476 which, when typed into the Companies House site, takes us here. We can see that this company is based in Liverpool, and has been dormant for many years. Not only that, but since 2001 the company has got by without auditors. (You’ll note that this decision was taken at a meeting in Ripon, North Yorkshire. Perhaps in deference to Will Pickles and his nephew.)
Which means that one of Wales’ major tourism enterprises is run by an unaudited, dormant company. So who owns this outfit? Well, the answer seems to be, according to this document, that the shares – all 1,803,690 (10p shares) – are owned by Heritage Great Britain PLC of the same Liverpool address.
Heritage Great Britain plc is a holding company and we are also told that, “The Group undertakes the operation of various landmark and other day visitor attractions situated in the Isle of Wight, Cornwall, North Wales, and holiday accommodation in Scotland through a joint venture”.
So who owns Heritage Great Britain plc? According to this document, as at 5 April 2016 all 5,213,371 £1 shares are held by Cherberry Ltd. Which is where the trail almost goes dead. Because if you type ‘Cherberry Ltd’ into the Companies House website you draw a blank . . . for Cherberry was registered in May 1996 in Jersey.
Naturally – you know me, nosey bastard! – I went to the website of the Jersey Financial Services Commission to see what I could learn about Cherberry Ltd . . . which was not a lot. Other than the fact that the trail goes on to Dukla Ltd of Gibraltar, as set out in this document. The Dukla Articles of Association are dated August 2015. Having paid out £4 for the Jersey documents I was in no mood to splash out more than thirty quid a time for the Gibraltar docs.
And even if I’d bought some Gibraltar documents then I might have found that they led on to the Caymans or the British Virgin Islands. Which raises a few questions.
First, the Snowdon Mountain Railway Ltd leases the cafe at the summit, Hafod Eryri, from the Snowdonia National Park. This ‘visitor centre’ opened 12 June 2009 and was built at considerable cost. Given who owns it it’s safe to assume that a great deal of public funding was involved. How do those funders – probably using your money and mine – feel about this publicly-funded asset now being leased to a company based God knows where?
Second, the Snowdonia Mountain Railway ferries a few hundred thousand people between Llanberis and the summit every year. In the event of an accident, how easy would it be to hold to account a company we’ve traced to Gibraltar, a company that through yet more changes of name and ownership may ultimately be located even further afield?
Are Cyngor Gwynedd and the ‘Welsh’ Government satisfied that adequate insurance is in place to cover all eventualities? Satisfied that culpability can be apportioned and justice satisfied when the guilty party or parties may be beyond UK jurisdiction?
The principal characters in the Snowdon Mountain Railway, in the forms of the three current directors are, Gary Johnson, Allan James Stuart Leech and Peter Miles Johnson-Treherne; the last of whom can be founded listed on other documents as Peter Treherne or Peter Johnson-Treherne.
The same three crop up running the Snowdon Mountain Tramroad and Hotels Company Ltd (where Gary Johnson now becomes Gary Andrew Johnson). You’ll remember that this is the name of the company for which the luckless William Pickles and his nephew worked back in 1896. (Though of course they were lucky compared to poor Ellis Griffith Roberts.) So what does this company do?
In a word, nothing, for it became dormant almost from the date of its Incorporation on 22 May 2013. And as we read in the Annual Report and Accounts dated 31 January 2014, “The company is a wholly owned subsidiary of Heritage Great Britain plc which is registered in England and Wales. The ultimate parent company, Cherberry Ltd, is registered in Jersey . . . “.
Something that puzzled me was, given the ages of the three I’ve named, and their relatively late entrances, who was running the show before they got involved? Part of the answer came from the former directors of the Snowdon Mountain Railway Ltd, for among them I found the information below.
Kevin Ronald Leech (born August 1943) is probably the father of current director Allan James Stuart Leech (born October 1972). Leech Senior’s Jersey address is the same address given for Cherberry Ltd.
UPDATE 04.07.2017: I am indebted to Simon Hillman for providing (in a comment below) more information on Kevin Leech. I suggest you read this Telegraph article from October 2002 and this Guardian piece from January 2014. This is the man who might still own the Snowdon Mountain Railway through a network of offshore companies, and the man to whom the Snowdonia National Park has leased Hafod Eryri. Cause for concern.
RESPECT HAS TO BE EARNED
The fundamental problem exposed here is one we find in other parts of Wales, and indeed, around the world. To wit: A beautiful area attracts tourists, the more tourists that come, the more degraded and less beautiful that area becomes. This combination of tourism and degradation is unavoidable.
Among those refusing to concede this universal truth we may find some denying that there is a limit to how many tourists an area can accommodate, especially when they don’t live in the area and run their businesses through offshore companies.
If Ms Pye and her Snowdon Partnership are serious about showing respect for Yr Wyddfa then the answer is simple: rather than searching for the alchemist’s stone of attracting a limitless number of tourists and expecting them to cause no harm, accept that the problem is too many tourists and start limiting the numbers.
By all means encourage responsible walkers to ascend the mountain, but for God’s sake don’t make it easy for every lazy bastard to get there on a bloody railway – and then encourage them to fill their fat faces in the cafe at the top!
So make a start by demolishing the pissoir at the peak, after all, this is owned by the Snowdonia National Park Authority and was paid for from the Welsh public purse. With the visitor centre gone there’ll be less incentive for the obese and the idle to get the train to the summit.
If money was found for the carbuncle now desecrating the skyline then money can be found to buy out the Snowdon Mountain Railway, by compulsory purchase if necessary. Once bought, the rolling stock can be flogged off and the tracks torn up to restore Yr Wyddfa to something approaching its natural state.
Anything less is simply tinkering with the problem; so if that’s what’s happening then don’t build people’s hopes up by using words like ‘respect’. Use the word that I fear already describes the Snowdon Partnership and its draft plan – fudge.