Dec 282017
 

LET NOT FIDO AND TIDDLES DIE IN VAIN

In the year just past, and indeed over many years, people have accused me of being negative, and challenging me to come up with solutions rather than just banging on about how awful the situation is in Wales.

Well, to begin with, I defy anyone to look around Wales today and be positive. Our country is in one hell of a mess. The only people I can think of who might try to put a gloss on the situation are apologists for ‘Welsh’ Labour down in Cardiff docks and apologists for the Tory regime in Westminster.

Not forgetting of course those parasites who see Welsh deprivation as an opportunity for them to milk the public purse in order to enrich and promote themselves by building up third sector businesses. More on them later.

And with so many politicians, civil servants and others claiming to be dedicated to making things better in Wales why look to poor old Jac to come up with the answers?

I have even been accused of nihilism! For those unsure what I’m talking about, nihilism is the belief that all existing political and social structures must be destroyed in order to build something better. At its most extreme it can be the belief that existence itself is pointless. A more moderate form might be extreme cynicism or scepticism, to which I would plead guilty

In 19th century Russia Nihilism took a political form, and on this blog I have confessed a sneaking regard for Sergey Gennadiyevich Nechayev but I myself have never preached nihilism. What I have argued is that others are taking us in a direction that might engender nihilistic thoughts and if so then we should be ready to exploit the opportunities this will offer.

By way of example, if Brexit leads to the disaster many are predicting, and we are reduced to eating our domestic pets then, rather than bemoaning our luck and damning those who voted for Brexit, those of us who prioritise the interests of Wales should be ready to view the demise of Fido and Tiddles as opportunities rather than tragedies.

Of course a decline in living standards resulting from Brexit will cause our two BritLeft parties to attack the Tories in a UK-focused debate, in which they will argue that they’re ‘doing it for Wales’.

Bollocks! they’ll just be engaging in a bit of Tory-bashing. What Welsh nationalists should do is exploit the confusion to argue that this latest debacle just reminds us that the Union and devolution do not serve Wales, therefore independence is the only sensible option.

That is what I have said, and what I believe; and while it argues for escaping the British system it does not advocate destroying it, therefore I don’t regard anything I’ve written as being nihilistic. It is nothing more or less than being prepared to take advantage of a dire situation that might arise.

A QUICK COMPARISON BETWEEN MONACO AND WALES

Whimsical? Have I been overdoing it on the Argie red? Possibly, but indulge me all the same.

One guaranteed objection will be that Monaco is not a ‘real country’, Well, it’s a principality, and hasn’t Lord Elis Thomas just reminded us that Wales too is a principality. But Monaco is a member of the UN, with many other powers and representations we associate with ‘real countries’, so while it may not have a national rugby team Monaco is in many ways much more of a country than Wales.

Here’s a helpful table I’ve drawn up to explain some of the differences.

click to enlarge

With eighty times Monaco’s population Wales’ Gross Domestic Product is just ten times that of Monaco. It will be argued that this too is not a valid comparison because Monaco is the playground of millionaires, a place of extravagant wealth and tax-avoiders, and as such a hell on earth to be reviled by those preferring to cherish and exploit poverty. (And God knows we have too many of those in Wales!)

And yet, being the contrarian I am, I shall make a few comparisons.

Over the years I have pointed out the insanity of encouraging elderly English people to move to Wales because of the obvious damage this influx causes to our NHS and associated services, and yet, we see that the percentage of the population over the age of 65 is much higher in Monaco than in Wales, but Monaco is infinitely more prosperous than Wales. So why is this?

Now we encounter two major differences between Wales and Monaco. First, I would bet my house that the elderly in Monaco are healthier than the elderly in Wales, for no better reason than rich people are always healthier than poor people. (And of course the climate also helps.)

Second, as this article from Pacific Prime tells us, “Foreign nationals immigrating to Monaco without employment must have full private health insurance. Proof of such cover will be needed to be granted a residency permit by the Monegasque authorities”. Monaco is not alone is demanding private health cover for elderly and sick people wanting to settle.

Rich people create jobs. Tens of thousands of people commute every day from France and Italy to jobs in Monaco. That’s in addition to the jobs done by native Monegasques (whose language is now being taught in schools).

Far from being a capitalist hell Monaco is a small principality made up of the comfortably off, the wealthy and the super-rich.

Tourism is another area in which it’s worth making a comparison. Monaco relies to a greater extent on tourism than Wales, but whereas in Monaco it’s Russian oligarchs or Saudi princes dropping a few million at roulette before roaring off in gold-plated Lambos, here it’s endless rows of ugly caravans stuffed with people determined to spend as little as possible in ‘Woiles’ before heading back to Brum in the people carrier.

But the real difference, which goes a long way to explaining why one is rich and the other is poor, is the mentality prevailing among those running these vastly different principalities.

Monaco (click to enlarge)

As we’ve seen, Monaco is welcoming, as long as you can afford the most expensive real estate on earth – where a one-bed apartment sells for $8.1m (but with much of the cheaper housing reserved for locals) – and as long as you also have private health care. Otherwise, it’s a case of, ‘Sling yer hook, matey!’ (or however that may be rendered in French or Monegasque).

By comparison, Wales is a poor country, with many of our own problems contributing to that poverty, and yet the ‘Welsh’ Government through its third sector is making Wales poorer by importing more of the problems that impoverish us.

Monaco attracts millionaires who make the place richer while Wales scours England for deadbeats to make us poorer.

The real worry is that there are too many who prefer to see Wales poor.

SOME SUGGESTIONS FOR OUR POLITICIANS FOR 2018 AND BEYOND

First, realise that poverty is not a virtue to be celebrated and exploited. Poverty is a national insult to be done away with, and the surest way of doing that is by putting Welsh interests first and building a real economy.

Second, understand that a real economy is not built on a corrupt and overblown third sector, or a ‘tourism industry’ that is just a low skill, low pay, low value activity, overseen by a whoremonger ‘government’ selling us and our homeland off in some demeaning Dutch auction.

Wales needs a diversified and indigenous economy built on twenty-first century industries, as the response below to a recent tweet of mine tells us. (STEM is an acronym for science, technology, engineering and mathematics.) This is the only remedy to the poverty and deprivation we see in so many parts of our homeland.

While that should be the medium-term ambition, there are still measures that Carwyn (if he survives) and his assemblage of buffoons could be implementing in the short term.

There’s an old saying to encourage young entrepreneurs, ‘Nobody ever got rich working for somebody else’. The same applies to countries. So instead of managing Wales on behalf of England, why doesn’t the ‘Welsh’ Government try something different – like governing Wales for the benefit of us Welsh?

THINKS

1/ Thousands of cost-free jobs could be guaranteed by introducing local recruitment legislation. By which I mean insisting that local people fill the vacancies in their areas. At present, all manner of organisations import staff from outside Wales. This costs our people jobs, therefore it must end.

The excuse often used to justify this practice is that it’s ‘difficult to find local people with the training or expertise needed’. So let’s identify these skills shortages and give local people the skills needed. (Unless of course some other agenda is being served by such practices.)

2/ Next, why don’t we take the countless millions of pounds currently wasted on the third sector, which spends that money importing criminals, drug addicts, problem families, the homeless and others from England, and use that money to encourage indigenous SMEs.

3/ Our shambolic social housing system squanders tens of millions every year on housing that Wales doesn’t need because housing associations operate in an Englandandwales framework and are linked into chains that include probation companies and others. Introduce a five-year residency (in Wales) qualification for social housing and use the money saved on infrastructure projects.

4/ Instead of surrendering the northern part of our country to the Mersey Dee Alliance why not have a northern city region based on Wrecsam. Improve communications to the town and thereby ensure that more Welsh money stays in Wales.

5/ Why not a national planning presumption against properties that target retirees from England? Those being built by housing associations, with public money, could be stopped almost immediately.

The money saved here, and in our NHS, could be used to better educate our kids – as Ireland and other countries have done – because you can’t build a twenty-first century economy with a twentieth-century education system.

6/ Buy a tidy map and realise that Wales extends beyond Cardiff.

All the above ideas could be implemented quite easily and would be of immense benefit to Wales without disadvantaging or discriminating against anyone now living here. But there are too many who want to keep Wales poor.

These include those who can capitalise electorally on our poverty and deprivation (by blaming someone else), and those who can use them to build up third sector bodies providing publicly-funded jobs for them and their cronies.

Selfish and venal though they may be, those motivations are easy to understand because of that. More worrying are those – and Plaid Cymru seems to have rather too many of them – who wallow sentimentally in poverty as if it was part of our heritage. For others it brings some kind of spiritual uplift, as if poverty is the rock-strewn path to the moral high ground. (First left after the sunlit uplands of socialism.)

(Of course, when I say ‘wallow’, you have to understand that it’s always others who actually do the wallowing.)

So here’s a message for our people: Socialism is a doctrine that thrives on human misery, exploitation, oppression . . . but realises it’s better to exploit these ills than remedy them. Nowhere exemplifies this better than Wales, so wise up and stop voting for those with vested interests in keeping Wales poor.

Blwyddyn Newydd Dda

 

  76 Responses to “2018, A Few Thoughts”

  1.  

    Interesting read as always, are you mellowing or just becoming more mainstream?

    A welsh only focus in light of Brexit is vital as even the civil service analysis for Wales ranges (depending on sectors) from awful to catastrophic, but ive yet to see any new thinking or ideas. And we don’t have a lot of time to sell this brave new welsh independent world either because when the shit hits the fan it’ll be loudest voices who’ll get heard and they need to be welsh only ones – not EnglandandWales ones.

    I know the Monaco comparison was tongue in cheek, but there was another country celebrating independence in 2017 that’s worth a look at and that’s Finland. The 100th anniversary got no coverage in the UK or welsh press, but Bella Gwalia has a short write up https://bellagwalia.org/2017/11/16/dare-to-dream-and-believe-the-impossible/ and a longer piece from last year entitled ‘Finland &Wales DID have a lot in common. Not anymore. Find out why’ https://bellagwalia.org/2016/12/08/finland-wales-did-have-a-lot-in-common-not-anymore-find-out-why/ both worth a read

    Blwyddyn Newydd Dda pawb

  2.  

    I think the Wales / Monaco comparison is an interesting one. Food for thought as they say.

    I think an even more interesting comparison would be between the relative prosperity levels between Wales and the Isle of Man, inhabited by around 60,000 people I think. Although called a Crown Dependency, they are by and large, self-governing, with their own currency (which is not accepted as legal tender in Britain), and their own legislative parliament, governed, in the main, by independents, not political parties.

    I don’t have the any figures to hand but I have sailed and spent time there on a number of occasions over the years. The first thing you notice is the sense of general prosperity and contentment there. A very pleasant place.

    Some people say that going to the Isle of Man is like going back in time. Having never joined the EU, they still deliver their milk to your door in pint bottles. No plastic litre jugs there.

    Compared to Wales, this little island nation with its own money and independent parliament thrives. And no, I don’t think their keen to get into the EU Single Market …

    •  

      I read this earlier. It might interest you.

      •  

        Isle of Man may enjoy a notional degree of independence but its dependency on global financial services ( nice euphemism for tax dodging by extremely rich folk ) is not good for long term viability. Every society needs real value added activity otherwise it ends up as a high dependency service economy. Not my ideal vision for the future.

        •  

          I agree entirely, I simply provided that link because I’d read the piece earlier in the day and it linked with the comment from Glasiad.

          •  

            When the credit crunch comes in earnest, I think the Isle of Man, with its farming and fisheries, will be far better off than Monaco. As far as I am aware, the Isle of Man is also developing crypto-currency business and research, which will very likely be the future of money in 5 to 10 years. I keep some of my funds there 🙂

  3.  

    Good thought provoking stuff as ever. Me, I’m an anarchist but I have my nihilistic days …

    So “Population living below poverty level : 23%”. How is this defined? (Just wondering if I’m “poor” or not).

    “I would bet my house …” “‘Ouse? You ‘ad ‘ouse??” So clearly you’re not exactly poor yourself. And this caravan phobia? Clearly you’ve never had to live in one. I’m afraid it all sounds just a little too “I’m alrigh Jack” for my taste.

    Much the same goes for health insurance. Most ‘ordinary’ folk in the UK, I would imagine, still rely on the NHS. After all you don’t get to choose whether you pay contributions, and aren’t there arrangements for British people who go abroad, at least in most civilised countries. So why should Wales, independent or not, be a special case?

    “More worrying are those … who wallow sentimentally in poverty as if it was part of our heritage.” Ireland seems to have got over this one, and indeed is apparently doing surprisingly well these days. Even to the extent that many can stomach the idea of taking on the North. (They must have stronger stomachs than I have!) :
    https://sluggerotoole.com/2017/12/28/poll-records-another-jump-in-support-for-irish-unity/

    In fact a comparison between Wales and the Irish Republic might be well worth doing.

    So I wish you all a successful new year, what with the new party and all it should at least bring Interesting Times 😉

    Blwyddyn Newydd dda i chi ‘gyd 🙂

    •  

      I am a poor man who owns a house because he was able to buy it under Right to Buy, which is why I oppose infantile leftist wankers playing games and getting back at a dead woman by seeking to abolish RtB. I have also lived in a caravan, with my wife and two small children, during the winter. It was not great.

      However, my opposition to caravans as a foundation of tourism is purely economic, environmental and aesthetic.

      As for the Republic retaking the Six Counties, the ones to worry should be the Scots, for Irish reunification could well prompt a reverse Plantation. Think of all those Rangers supporters coming home! We are the people!

      •  

        Zero Hours benefits some people. Does have some pros. RtB benefits some as well. Its just its exploited and the politicians are too fucking thick to work out ways to make it work for the benefit of those who don’t abuse the system – which is the majority of us. Plaid don’t fix issues they just go along with the crowd hoping the crowd will follow them. Imagine that… sheep guiding sheep. Cannot imagine it? Because it doesn’t realistically happen.

        •  

          Most sensible opposition to zero hours contracts is against those that are exclusive, basically demanding that employees be bound to one company where they can be employed, or not, on a whim. Obviously this has a huge impact on an individual’s ability to make a living, not helped by the incoming disaster that is Universal Credit which many people on zero hours contracts will be forced to rely on to supplement the atrocious low wages most zero hours workers are paid. Were a system of unconditional basic income substituted for Universal Credit then zero hours would begin to make a lot of sense, but even then only of they were not exclusive, and allowed a worker to have multiple zero hours contracts and accept or decline work offered by any of those employers based on their availability.

          Even worse kinds of contracts, in my opinion, are those that offer a certain number of core hours but require the worker to be ‘on call’ and obliged to work when the employer demands. This variety of exploitative contract doesn’t seem to have been addressed adequately, and if anything, are better candidates for banning than zero hours contracts which really just need the more exploitative exclusivity requirements removing.

          On the subject of RtB, it’s true that many have benefited from this scheme, but once again, I think that the more exploitative aspects need to be dealt with. I see absolutely no reason why housing built at public expense should be allowed to become a financial asset. First and foremost a house is a home, and that is what it should remain as. Any speculation, particularly where a discount has been applied on purchase, should be dealt with by means of, firstly, a timing element where the property cannot be sold for a period of time, which needs to be substantial, (> 10 years ) and then hefty taxation on any real increase in sale value. It should go without saying that any financial receipts accrued by local authorities from such sales should be ring fenced and used to provide further social housing in the area. If Thatcher had not banned the use of receipts for building more social housing to replace that lost through RtB then I suspect the widespread opposition would have been much more muted. It seems to be a peculiarity of the Brit Left to be opposed to right to buy, as, believe it or not, many of the former Eastern Bloc countries actually persuaded people to take on the responsibility for housing themselves, especially in more rural areas, providing easy access to materials etc. In Romania under Ceaușescu I believe it became compulsory to buy one’s own state provided apartment, and once they’d bumped him off and got rid of ‘communism’ the state basically gave apartments away to tenants for free. I would suggest, having listened to many members Brit Left spouting on about property that they don’t usually have the first clue about what they are talking about. Quite simply, in much of the Eastern Bloc, housing was regarded as personal property, rather like clothes, cars etc, and not what the Americans call real estate. Of course, land couldn’t be owned in Eastern Bloc countries, so only the buildings upon them were owned, and the people living in them had tenure. A rather good idea, not allowing land to be owned,but allowing tenure, as it’s the ownership of land that is at base largely responsible for the gross social inequalities in our world.

          •  

            Most sensible opposition to zero hours contracts is against those that are exclusive, basically demanding that employees be bound to one company

            Exactly.

            I have my main job and work for two other companies on ZHC. They post work and individuals registered with them can bid for all or parts of it if they feel like. And that’s exactly how it should be. The law needs changing so that you are only obligated to a company for the hours in your contract and they have no right of exclusivity beyond that.

  4.  

    I’d say everyone is guilty of Nihilism to a certain extent. Is the WAG a step towards self governance? Because it wasn’t intended to be that way. So would we not wipe it and anyone who has sat in it away as we would a colonial administration? Isn’t the change from a Constitutional Monarchy into a Republic rather nihilistic? I’m trying to think of one Republic that wasn’t born from the utter destruction of what came before.

    Brexit is most certainly an opportunity. Maybe the biggest opportunity. Although I sense Plaid are going to play off the struggle afterwards to say “I told you we should have stayed in the EU” to gain support. But I sense thats going to be their line for the foreseeable future whether we remain with the UK or leave. That is kind of how I’ve always envisaged Independence – a pro-EU party and pro-Union party ripping the country up trying to sell away our sovereignty. Ultimately why I kind of feel removing it all is where it needs to go.

    I don’t trust any of them with the future of our nation – and I think Republicanism could end us up in a similar situation as some of the Latin American nations are unto the USA. Each election may see us in the pocket of England or the EU with our own people missing out due to foreign lobbyists. Those who sit in the Assembly – including some Plaid AM’s are part of the same elite we’re trying to remove. It’s just not worth the risk to keep it as is. It’s not worth the risk to put the legacy solely in the hands of elected politicians – those who actively seek power and position. Most, due to the nature of political parties are little better than sheep and by now you’d think people realise that a Wolf always comes along.

    Politically everything needs to be kept fluid with our identity ultimately being what binds us and guides us as one nation. Not a written constitution… because I look at the Yanks with theirs and see something which makes me feel uncomfortable. Ideas are forever – that is why the English Crown survives – pieces of paper can be interpreted, can hold back progress and the best of intentions can lose context over time – and pieces of paper can ultimately be burned.

  5.  

    It seems there’s a blood-bath going on in the HE sector in Wales.

    You wrote about this months ago:

    •  

      Culls at our bloated, over-funded and alien universities should be welcomed by all right-thinking Welsh people.

  6.  

    I think the culls are happening for the wrong reasons ie as RW Jones says……the ” haemorrhaging (of) our brightest and best at the age of 18″.

    •  

      We are exporting our brightest and best and importing third-raters, but that’s how colonies are supposed to operate. Nothing to be surprised about.

    •  

      It is important that any radical “shocks” to the present level of resourcing in HE get used to reconfigure these universities to serve a real worthwhile purpose rather than rewarding relatively few elitist academics and their useless pet projects. So many senior people, vice chancellors and assorted professors, deans etc have been extremely well rewarded on account of having to confront the so called challenges of global markets. The fact that so few of them have been able to show any kind of margin or return on their antics seems to have been missed altogether by the idiots that contrived to pay the big bucks in the first place.

      I have no objection to rewarding people well where there is clear unfudged evidence of performance but most of these goons live in a world where “rewards” is a word reduced to utter ambiguity and the entire game is about elasticity of rules and pulling the wool. It makes matters even worse that all this salary and benefits inflation has occurred when we are supposed to living through restraint and austerity. No doubt the excuses trotted out will be the same as ever but it is high time that we, the paying public, got value for money from these wankers. In my book well rewarded bin men, hospital porters, front line nurses, ambulance/ paramedics, school teachers and so many others are all of more importance than this cluster of self obsessed senior academics.

      No doubt they will contrive to pass the grief onto junior academics who actually deliver any teaching content and do the leg work on research projects. NO dopey bugger in government down the Bay or in Whitehall/Westminster has the slightest bit of interest in really sinking his/her teeth into this lot as many of them get cushy little numbers on governing bodies of these institutions when they go out to grass.

  7.  

    Thanks for this Jac, there is so much here of interest to me that I could comment on that I’d bang on for far too long, so I’ll just make a few points about things close to my heart as Diana the Princess of Wales would have said.

    STEM subjects. They are being robustly promoted at present partly in reaction to the years of Oxbridge snobbery in HE which resulted in the notion that ‘gentlemen don’t work’ – only nerds did science or engineering, the really ambitious people did PPE with a view to a job in the Cabinet, other more staid folk did medicine or law. Sadly because our HE sector has now been wrecked by years of fuckwittery, we have the likes of Hilary Lappin-Scott, Pro VC of Swansea University being wheeled out to promote STEM subjects, particularly to girls. Lappin-Scott is a microbiologist and girls were never under-represented in biology – Lappin-Scott did not break any gender stereotypes herself. Neither is she a good advert. She was employed as the PVC for Research at Bangor when I worked there – she virtually destroyed the place single-handedly in less than two years. It was widely accepted that she was so fucking damaging that the VC sacked her, although a confidentiality agreement prevented anyone from discussing what happened. I heard a bit, but I’m not going to detail it all here…Lappin-Scott was no hot shot scientist – she was going nowhere in her previous institution – Exeter – so she condescended to come to Wales. She was anti-Welsh, completely hostile to the Welsh language, dishonest and a loud-mouthed bully. She made allegiances with the worst senior members of staff in Bangor, including some who were frankly corrupt. Lappin-Scott attempted to shut down five departments in her pursuit of the STEM agenda. They were all departments containing academics with far stronger reputations that Lappin-Scott – she was so ignorant that she didn’t understand how eminent some of the people whom she proposed to sack were.

    There is much dead wood at Bangor University – as there is at Aber, Swansea and every university in the UK now and I agree that many people need to go. Sadly because the HE sector is now run virtually entirely by people like Lappin-Scott, the people who most need to go will not. They will preserve their own jobs and the jobs of their friends and the people who toady to them – they will target high achievers in more junior roles who are frankly showing them up for the lame fools that they are, or the staff on short term contracts. The UCU will fight tooth and nail to defend the jobs of the mediocrities who achieved senior roles on the basis of their bullying and/or toadying. That is why none of the ‘reforms’ that are being suggested for HE will work. The fuckwits are in control Jac and they are not going to go anywhere. The situation is so bad in universities that I keep meeting the brightest and the best who have left their jobs in universities on the grounds that there is no place for innovation or critical thinking in those institutions any longer.

    A cautionary word re STEM in general. I have absolutely no knowledge of engineering but my first career was in biomedical research and I worked in the London medical schools. Research fraud was absolutely rampant, medical interventions were being promoted on the basis of fraud and deceit but all that mattered was whether it hit Gov’t policy and would therefore release more Gov’t grant funding or could be marketed to a drug company. Some of the people that I worked with are now in the Lords making the legislation to suit their friends and one – Patrick Vallance – has just left his job as Research Director at GSK to take up the post as Chief Scientific Advisor to the Westminster Gov’t. The ‘life sciences’ are a huge industry and because of their link with the sacred cow that is the NHS – which no-one dares critique although that is full of malpractice as well – the life sciences tell Gov’ts what to do. As for the contribution that they make to the UK economy – er, they usually demand enormous quantities of dosh before they’ll agree to open a plant and then they ramp up the prices of the drugs for the NHS market and if the Gov’t doesn’t pay there’ll be a massive PR campaign which will involve telling people that they’ll die of cancer because the naughty old Gov’t won’t ‘fund the treatment’.

    There was an excellent example of this in Wales recently. Remember Irfon the nurse from Gwynedd who locked horns with Carwyn because Irfon had cancer and the Welsh Gov’t had refused to pay for the cancer drug that Irfon thought would save his life? Irfon moved to England where he was given the drug. Lots of dreadful publicity for Carwyn, the Westminster Gov’t stressing that people from Wales were moving to England because the NHS in Wales is so crap. Irfon died anyway. Because Irfon was sadly terminally ill – the drug that he thought would save his life was very expensive and clinically ineffective which is why for once someone in the Welsh NHShad made a sensible decision and had refused to fund it. No-one, especially not any politician, dared point this out. A further irony was that ‘nurse Irfon’ was a manager of the children’s mental health services for the Betsi, mental health services that for years grossly abused patients and are now in special measures after an abuse scandal. I had a friend who was actually a student in the lecture theatre when Nurse Irfon walked in and ORDERED those students to nominate him for an award because it would make the ‘service’ – which was allowing children to die from neglect – look good when it was coming under fire. The life sciences hold Gov’ts of all colours over a barrel, no-one can control them because if they are challenged there’ll be a stream of Top Doctors and Angels appearing in the media telling the general public that they’ll die.

    Even the ‘charitable’ funding of medical research is not sound. One huge funder is a man called Lord David Sainsbury who has funded a massive neurosciences unit at UCL to ‘find cures for mental illnesses’. Sainsbury was a friend of the SDP and David Owen, then became a friend of Blair. Sainsbury gave millions to New Labour and then bagged a peerage. He was the first peer to be interviewed in the cash for peerages scandal. Sainsbury also gave millions to Cambridge University to ‘fund research’ – he is now Chancellor of Cambridge University.

    It is corrupt as fuck Jac and because it’s the NHS and people lives no-one will utter a word.

    Regarding zero-hour contracts – yes they do work for some people, but the problem is that in a neoliberal capitalist economy where VERY big business calls the shots and Govt’s are in hoc to those businesses, people who cannot survive on and do not want zero hours contracts are forced to take them. Last year when I was still living in Wales I was struck by the job market in Aberystwyth – go to Aber to get a proper job to escape the casual tourist economy that exists near Jac’s house? You’ll end up on a zero hours contract, there isn’t much else on offer. It’s why the old farts in Aberystwyth University will fight tooth and nail in the face of redundancies – no-one else is going to pay them 40K or more a year anywhere else in Aber.

    By the way, I note that one of the depts under threat at Aber is the International Politics dept – yes, that’s a good one, doing exciting things, but there’ll be a Lappin-Scott at the top who for personal reasons has decided that International Politics has to go. The mediocre old farts will reign supreme.

    By the way, don’t be too starry-eyed about the Isle of Man. It’s a dangerous example for people who live in Wales. When I worked at Bangor University one of the most obnoxious arrogant anti-Welsh people there was the Professor of Global Finance no less, a John Thornton. Thornton treated Bangor and Wales like something he’d stepped in – he banged on about having worked for the World Bank and the fool that ran Bangor Business School, a Ted Gardner, had begged Thornton to come and work at Bangor. Thornton became head of the Business School, treated people like crap, told staff to write references for students whom they did not know because the reference was ‘part of the package’ and waved through a PhD thesis that he knew was plagiarised. Then he named and shamed a member of staff for ‘under-performing’ – they were on maternity leave. I always wondered what Thornton was doing in Bangor – he lived in Chester and Washington DC (!) – and made it quite clear that we were just a bunch of plebs. I was told that he hung onto the position because he could clock up huge speaking fees for businesses in Wales. I was in the audience at an IWA event when the odious Thornton told everyone that Wales’s best chance of survival was to turn itself into a tax haven like the Isle of Man. Presumably so the likes of him could have their third homes there and rip off the local businesses whilst the rest of the population gets a job as a servant in his third home.

    •  

      Sally, thank you for this illuminating comment, though it was sad to read of Irfon’s background. Don’t worry about the IoM – I’m under illusions. I posted the link for the reason given in another comment.

  8.  

    Yn Gyntaf Blwyddyn Newydd Dda i chi gyd (a bit early I know)

    Jac,

    Loved the Wales vs Monaco bit as you say slightly whimsical but food for thought. However, on a more serious note, as others have commented, there are quite few examples of smaller independent countries ( Finland, Denmark, Ireland, etc) who appear to be doing much better than Wales

    As I have said before I am a late convert to Independence, and I to be frank the break up of the UK is something I personally still struggle with, and perhaps there may be some kind of federal system which might offer an alternative to full sovereignty ( although personally I doubt it).

    I had an interesting conversation over the festive with an old University friend of mine, who now works for a “right of center” think tank, who offered an interesting view on the failure of Welsh devolution to deliver any significant benefits for the people of Wales, and on the efforts of the “Welsh Government”. The jist of his argument was as follows:

    Tony Blair wanted to give devolution to Scotland, because he thought (wrongly) that in so doing he would “lance the boil” that was the SNP and keep Labour’s traditional swathe of Scottish MP’s. However he wanted to avoid Scottish devolution being seen as a first step to full independence, so on the “buy one get one free” principal we got the assembly to make it look like part of a wider constitutional settlement.

    However, we got an assembly with no fundraising powers, which was given responsibility over things that the vast majority of people don’t care about, and who’s powers were always going to be limited by the wider England and Wales legal system which hampered their abilities to make a real difference. Yes we got a few headline changes ( free prescriptions), but nothing of genuine significance when it comes to “the big stuff” like taxation, industrial strategy etc, and we also lost access to some things, for example the trials and tribulations of Welsh residents wanting to use English GP’s have been well documented.

    I digress somewhat at this point, but I was amazed to be told some months ago that Moorfields Eye Hospital in London apparently no longer accepts NHS patients from Wales, because NHS Wales will not fund them ( expect in exceptional circumstances) because similar facilities are available in Wales.

    Now I’m sure there are some very competent eye surgeons in Wales, but I cannot believe they offer the level of skill and expertise of a world renowned center like Moorefields. If I was still living in Wales, and needed access to this service I would feel pretty aggrieved that having contributed to the NHS for something like 40 years, I was only entitled to use part of the “national” structure I had paid for!!!!!

    Anyway back to my friends analysis, having created the assembly, you then needed people to fill it, and having got themselves elected these people then needed something to do, and politicians being politicians, if you give them responsibility for an area (let’s say tourism) they will fill their days dreaming up new policies and plans for that area, yes in their heart of hears they many know that what they are doing is not that important, but as “the big stuff” is off limits they have to do something, and as they have little or no revenue raising powers all their doing is continually rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic. Think of the parallel that European Parliament, an “advisory” body with no law making powers whose 700 plus members have managed to keep themselves and their staffs gainfully employed over many years, despite less than 50% of the electorate across Europe bothering to vote for them, and the members being all but invisible on either a national or international level (Mr Frarrage apart)

    If they then add in a built in Labour/Plaid majority in the assembly and what you have a bunch of largely well intentioned Socialists (of one hue or another) keeping themselves busy in The Bay, while the rest of Wales either a) ignores them, b) tries to get on with life despite them c) tries to make a few bob out of the gravy train or d) moves away.

    As per the 1992 Clinton message when it comes time to vote there is only one thing that really matters to most people “its the economy stupid” and until we can control the economy in Wales nothing will change. What unites countries like Finland, Denmark and Ireland (and for that matter) Monaco is being able to make economic decisions that work for them, and not for the larger next door neighbor.

    The fear I have is that the Welsh political classes are simply not up to challenge of running the economy, what we will I fear end up with something akin to where Scotland seems to be heading, a political landscape dominated by the thinking of the left, a high spend, high tax regime, where the poor and downtrodden workers are to be protected from the ruthless gale of capitalism, and where anyone with the skill and determination to make a success of things, is going to be declared as the enemy and taxed until they squeak. while creating a tax haven a la Monaco is not the answer for Wales, neither is harking back to the 70’s. An era which sadly I think many in Wales still seem to view through rose tinted glasses.

    •  

      I always knew that Blair gave Wales devolution to disguise the fact that Labour and others were getting worried about the SNP but wanted to disguise their concern.

      We are now stuck with the worst possible kind of devolution. Not enough power to bring about real change, but enough power to make things worse, and all run by a soft left consensus that has absolutely no idea of how to run a country or organise an economy. AMs strut and posture in the Assembly while Wales is run on a day-to-day basis by civil servants answering to London and a third sector serving no one but itself.

      Which is why Wales is poorer and worse off by every yardstick than she was in 1999. Yet when I argued that devolution had failed I was accused of being a nihilist or siding with Ukip and other anti-Welsh elements! The only people outside of those directly benefiting who thinks that devolution is a success are those who just want a maypole to dance around. Decorative but devoid of any real purpose.

      We either move forward or I shall carry out a threat I have made more than once to campaign for the abolition of the Assembly. If nothing else, such a debate will make people face up to the truth. Even politicians.

      •  

        I suspect that Blair’s enthusiasm for devolution in Wales was done with far more worrying motives Jac. It is believed by many – including me – that Blair wasn’t interested in Wales and was actively hostile to it – remember that film clip of Blair watching TV screaming ‘its the fucking Welsh again’? Blair also knew that his brand of New Labour didn’t touch Wales and the likes of Peter Mandelson were just considered to be from another planet. Wales was a pain to Blair and I think that he actually wanted to dump on it in a big way.

        Remember Ron Davies who was caught in a moment of madness on Clapham Common? The bit that most newspapers didn’t print was that Ron had been allegedly robbed at knife point by a male prostitute called Boogie – Boogie had stolen Ron’s wallet, his House of Commons pass and I think his clothes AND the car. The police found Boogie and interviewed him but he was not charged. So someone was telling porkies. It was Alastair Campbell who advised Blair on how to package it all and Ron quietly resigned without anyone ever finding out what exactly went on. When Ron was caught with his trousers down with Boogie, he was days away from becoming Wales’s First Secretary – Blair had already completed the initial part of the process. Wales had a very lucky escape there.

        Blair knew about the North Wales Paedophile Ring from his links with inner London lawyers – indeed Blair was a junior barrister to the corrupt QC George Carman before he was an MP. Inner London lawyers like Cherie and co knew because the inner London Councils like Southwark and Lambeth were sending their kids on placement to the children’s homes in north Wales – and the kids complained of being abused. No action was taken, either in north Wales or in London. A lot of those inner London Councillors – like Margaret Hodge, Paul Boateng, Tessa Jowell, Mandelson, Jack Straw, Ken Livingstone – became Labour MPs, many of them flag bearers for New Labour. Those kids who were abused in care were sacrificed so that lot could have careers in Gov’t.

        The MPs in south Wales knew about the North Wales Paedophile Ring as well. Successive Secretaries of State from as far back as the 1960s – George Thomas and Cledwyn Hughes – concealed it, as did the likes of Nicholas Edwardes and David Hunt under Thatcher. William Hague under John Major organised the whitewash that was the Waterhouse Report. They ALL knew – Callaghan knew, Kinnock knew, Rhodri knew, they all did. But where would the Labour Party have been if south Wales had turned against Labour – or indeed if anyone had admitted that there had been allegations about George Thomas’s own conduct with boys?

        Ron Davies will have known. Perhaps rather more than the others did…

        When Ron Davies was blown out of the water, Blair imposed Alun Michael – whom no-one wanted as First Secretary but Blair. Alun Michael had lived in north Wales when he was younger and had worked as a journalist. Don’t tell me that he didn’t know about the abuse of kids in care in north Wales. Alun Michael resigned as First Secretary at exactly the same time that the Waterhouse Report was submitted to Gov’t. Job done.

        Wales then got Rhodri – who also knew about the paedophile ring and was keeping quiet as well.

        Blair had no bloody interest in Wales at all – it was a dumping ground for him in every way. The Welsh Assembly was full of stooges – including former social workers Mark Drakeford, Julie Morgan, Jane Hutt as well as Lesley Griffiths who had been one of the Wrexham Councillors who ignored the paedophile ring on her doorstep. But Wales had its Assembly – so as Blair would say, they got what they wanted. The real business could carry on in Westminster.

    •  

      In reply to Taffyman2 :

      By way of comparison, here’s a link to a blog I read earlier today going over how Scotland has been treated in recent years. While things are not nearly so dire as seems to be the case for Wales, nevertheless the very same Westminster attitudes are on display … e.g. :
      “On the morning after you voted No things changed dramatically. The trap had been sprung. You were invisible again. Suddenly all the rhetoric was about England. Scotland had caved in so they didn’t need to bother about convincing you anymore. It was a day of English Votes for English Laws initiating a clear attempt to change the goalposts so that Scotland could never be so close to so much power ever again, even to the extent that a Scottish politician will never again be Prime Minister.”
      “By voting No you sent Westminster a clear signal that Scotland has no respect for itself therefore it can just be walked all over. The British State only understands power… ”
      “Every promise they made you before 18th September 2014 was backtracked on, wormed out of, and diluted, resulting in the farcical half-soaked Smith Commission giving Scotland control over the colour of its signposts, and very little else. Even now, three years later, the Scottish Government has control of only 15% of the public revenue and expenditure of the economy of Scotland. Westminster firmly retains the economic levers of control.”

      Read it all here :
      https://itisintruthnotforglory.wordpress.com/2017/12/29/consider-the-facts/

  9.  

    Fucking hell – you’re an admirer of Sergei Nechaev – just one more heave and you’ll be a Bakuninist – welcome comrade!
    Talking of Swansea – there’s been remarkably little analysis of why the city lost yet another city of culture bid – all those baleful faces gathered in the Heist bar seeing their gravy train for the next 4 years de-railed at Coventry.
    The bid was risible consisting of endless regeneration guff about the artists in the Volcano arty farty building at top of high street who’s identical artwash crap can be seen in any city in the uk and left chief judge Phil Redmond very underwhelmed.
    Secondly was the enlisting of every celebrity from the city to back the bid – culminating in the gushing video from Catherine zetajones about her undying love for Swansea – recorded in Los Angeles. The swanse punters never got a look in – vast swathes from townhill to penlan gotnot a nod – all the art was down the Volcano.
    I sent a wonderful you tube clip of the Swansea east Side marching jazz band to th city f culture bosses – its tragic heroic in showing their spirited comeback from unfair disqualification at the word championships – not a dry eye in the house for all who see it – but the kids from port tenant couldn’t get a look in at the city of culture wankfest.
    Sergei Bone

    •  

      I’ve been an admirer of Nechaev for many years. Single-mindedness like that is remarkable.

      That Volcano Theatre is in the old Lewis Lewis building. Another new place on High Street I’m told is attracting those of an artistic bent – plus the usual poseurs – is The Hyst.

      •  

        aah- the artistic bent – more jac o’the beanstalk than…

        •  

          Ioan Richard has been in touch, wants me to convey to you his best wishes, and to let you know he eventually made Lord Mayor, getting to sit on Tyssul Lewis’s old throne.

  10.  

    Great example [again] of Wales being the testing ground for England. Now floating the idea of landlord [residential] being compulsorily registered.

    This ;legislation has been passed in the Assembly now law and a new tenancy act coming through.
    Don’t our AM’s realise what is going on. They are being fed ideas and legislation by civil servants to enact and as you’ve said look superior towards Westmninster when that’s where it started in the first place. Don’t they remember poll tax was trialled in Wales and Scotland before England.

    •  

      Exactly. And if a ‘Welsh’ initiative is found not to work, or be too expensive, then it’s not introduced in England. Free prescriptions being an example.

    •  

      RentSmart Wales is a scam first and foremost. A device to levy funds out of the private sector lettings market while purporting to be spearheading a drive to improve quality of the “tenant experience”. In reality the Cynulliad’s antics on this matter is up there with the “best” examples of woolly thinking. Registration and conformance does very little to address the problem of bad landlords. Good and fairly good landlords were already treating their tenants with an even handed approach because a happy tenant is generally a good tenant.
      Bad landlords, like bad tenants, are almost always deviant. They ignore legal obligations, and any contractual obligations found in tenancy agreements are observed by accident. So, bad landlords are not likely to pay any attention to the pronouncements of RentSmart Wales. All this crap is run incidentally from Cardiff City Council as some kind of designated subcontractor for Cynulliad.

      •  

        Why do we have to look at England for examples of best practice or be a testing ground?

        In Germany, where over half the population live in private rental accommodation there are a number of laws to regulate, improve, and safeguard. Young people tend to get their first home under “Wohngemeinschaft” a form of apartment share scheme, then move up the ‘private rental ladder’ with “Mietschuldenfreiheitsbescheinigung” a kind of statutory good tenancy certificate, which works a bit like a no-claims-bonus. This is used in ‘tenancy rights’ as once the tenancy has begun, the landlord can only end it by evicting the tenant through the courts, good certification puts the ball in the court of the tenant. All the legislation is bound in the 2001 Tenancy Reform Act, Mietrechtsreformgesetz.

        Perhaps civil servants in Cardiff Bay should go to other places in Europe rather than take ‘advice’ from their superiors in London. Here’s the world standard..

        http://www.bvc.dk/SiteCollectionDocuments/Analyser/The_German_Private_Rented_Sector_web.pdf

        The above document is was from the Danish Centre for Housing Economics when Denmark was looking to legislate for their domestic requirements and how the German model was the best framework for their needs.

      •  

        You refer to Rent Smart Wales Dafis. When the Bill was sent to the Assembly for scrutiny Welsh Government estimated that 10 employees would be required to administer the system in Cardiff City Council. They ended up employing 100 and, as the system is meant to be self-financing, registration fee, licensing fee, training fee etc. can only move in one direction. I believe the charging scheme is subject to annual review.

        •  

          Wynne No doubt you are right. All these scams have a nasty habit of fees etc going through the roof. It cost us c.£240 at time of initial registration & training. Load of bollocks for 1 property which was inherited and couldn’t be sold after parent’s death because Government fucked up the economy in 2007/08 and we were lumbered. Fortunately our tenants have been O.K and I suspect this reflects the majority of tenant/landlord relationships and didn’t need this kind of bureaucratic interference. Yet another busybody job creation scheme from the add value by charging fees ideas people. Time those bastards got put out with shovels and other hand tools to clear up the mess on our roads and streets.

          •  

            ……and for a postscript ……. I just caught sight of your tweet about Rowntree Foundation and Bevan Foundation setting out to eradicate poverty ! More likely to exploit poverty and freeload for as many government contracts as they can muster writing bullshit reports about re distribution strategies and similar vacuous ideas. FFS before getting round to sharing the cake can someone get his/her head out of his/her arse and bake the fuckin’ thing, but there again that involves real work. Tut, how naive of me !

  11.  

    Had a chat today with a New Zealander. When they abolished their internal market subsidies in agriculture (farm payment subsidy similar to the Common Agricultural Policy in the EU) everyone predicted disaster. In fact the opposite was the case. They just stopped growing stuff which was un-economic and unsuitable for the terrain and climate, like grain crops. They concentrated on what was most suitable for their terrain and climate like sheep and cattle and reduced costly artificial inputs like supplemental feed. It worked in New Zealand, so why can’t it work in Wales? Come to think of it, the best place to grow grain crops are the Steppes of Russia/Ukriane as well as the Great Plains of America. Cut the subsidies to the English grain growers in England and import the wheat, corn, maize, rapeseed. The rest of the world transport this in massive bulk shipping. The best and only port for this is Milford Haven which has the draught. A site is currently vacant and ideal for grain silos in the form of a closed oil refinery. Pembroke Dock can be the bakery and brewery of Brexit, with all the jobs that entails. Brexit will not stop the growth of all-year lush pastures in Carmarthenshire for cattle, just remove the subsidies to indoor intensive milk factories on the English fens and Somerset swamps. Brexit will neither change the upland sheep pastures of the Cambrian mountains, it’s as lush as Kiwi. Wales has a climate and terrain similar to New Zealand, but nobody says they cannot be independent. I voted remain, but changed my mind about the EU after Catalonia. Wales has no say in Brexit, but in agriculture we can plan for what happens when it arrives, better than whinging from the sidelines.

    •  

      Nothing wrong with the analysis Brychan, but Wales could only do that if it controls its imports and exports and we don’t, its not devolved. The New Zealand model was also developed over a number of years and lots of farms went out of business, the process wasn’t painless.

      In contrast Wales has 5 maybe 6 years max to change the entire way it farms or we will be totally dependent on large English farms and high tariff imports from countries like the Netherlands to feed ourselves. Is any party brave enough to advocate this?

      I’ve no love for welsh farmers, a majority voted Brexit and will put themselves and their industry out of business, but we do need them as post Brexit the only people who’ll be produce food in post Wales will be those rich enough to do it, those doing it as a hobby and those offering niche high end products,Halen Mon, Noms Noms Chocolate etc. Family farms are the ones most at risk of closing and being bought up.

      Why would this be the case, politics of course Welsh farmers tend to vote Liberal or Plaid Cymru not Tory (although some do) and the large scale English farmers who do vote Tory will need unfettered markets after Brexit after losing subsidies, the customer union and tariff free Singe Market and Wales is no one on their hit list – Welsh farmers will have no help from UK or Welsh Government to counter act this. the Welsh Farming Unions are flapping like old women, Labour isn’t bothered surprise surprise, they are just waiting to blame it all on the Tories.

      That’s the future we are facing and its real, it puts Wales’s food security in jeopardy, another headache for us Welsh independence supporters, who wants to sell a dream of an independent Wales totally dependent on others for food?

      i’m not pro or anti Brexit, but there is an awful lot of wishful thinking going on both sides about what Brexit will or wont mean for Wales, what’s missing are cold hard facts for voters to decide who to back and who to kick to the curb from now on. I see none on of this from any Welsh party, Think Tank or University.

      •  

        If Welsh family farms go to the wall then I can’t really see them being replaced by NZ-style ranches, more likely they’ll be bought up by the likes of Bear Grylls and rural Wales will become even more of a retirement and recreation area for England.

        •  

          A ship load of under-priced steel from China is called ‘dumping’. A ship load of under-priced lamb from New Zealand is called ‘quota’. Nothing to do with skin colour or empire? That would be racist.

          As for food security. The ‘Brexit-kick-back’ arrangement being requested of the British government by the Labour Party in Cardiff Bay, that’s not a new policy. It used to be called Trevellions’ corn. Here’s the song..

  12.  

    Wales exports £300 million worth of agricultural products mainly beef and lamb and very little else.
    Compare this to the Netherlands with a land mass double that of tiny Wales, exports a massive $79 billion worth of
    grown high value products, second only to the U.S.
    The Netherlands had a long term plan and focused on investment in scientific know how at Wageningen University & Research. All we’d get here in Wales from the Labour dimwits would be a bung of a few millions over five years to some university agri department and a state of the art greenhouse in some impoverished Labour constituency in the hope that someone will come along and rent it.

    •  

      Farming and Labour go together like me and the third sector.

    •  

      If the Netherlands had a similar geography to Wales (with its hills and mountains) the Dutch would have a hard time producing billions of tulips, no matter how much hamster jam they use as nutrient.
      Cannabis growing and processing into safe, no additives, tablets would be Wales’ suitable cash crop.

  13.  

    ‘Socialism’ means many things to many people. Blanket condemnation isn’t as useful as observing some key distinctions.

    I’ve no time for the social-workers-for-all socialism of Ms Wood & Co. I’ve a lot of time for those foundation projects necessary to transform Wales from a colony into a functioning national economy and which can only be achieved through State planning. All the main roads, railways and power lines of Wales run east-west. English rule will never alter that and neither will the free market. Nationalism therefore is socialist by definition, even if only as a transitory expedient. The distinction from Labour, were it allowed to exist, would lie in who benefits from whose brand of socialism.

    In other words, from whose priorities. The question is whether an independent Wales can afford both a generous welfare state and real control over its critical productive infrastructure. How will it choose?

    •  

      The comments about Blair may well be true and what we see now reflect in practice what he said about devolution which was his base for selling it, he said and I quote “we need devolution IN ORDER TO KEEP THE UNION”
      That’s it. And it’s working

  14.  

    Brychan’s comments about New Zealand and agriculture is part of the picture as they stopped having farms and now have ranches, the exodus from the countryside and the knock on effect was significant
    Also much of NZ unlike Wales has 2 growing seasons and therefore do not need to buy in or produce crops/feed for winter
    Their subsidy does however go on through the back door, their government subsidises transport (of lamb to UK) in the same way the French govt have, as a gesture, reduced upfront subsidy to dairy farmers…but they subsidise the electricity, reduce taxes etc thro’ the back door
    We should change our use of language also, the subsidy was never for agriculture it was to help to keep the price of food down, admittedly it has got well out of hand and I say that as a farmer
    The “green” part of the CAP money, ‘subsidy’, is to keep the countryside as it is with nice little fields and hedges etc otherwise it would be far easier and cheaper to rip the lot out and ranch it aka NZ and more profitable
    We ‘subsidise’ agriculture but we invest in industry, agriculture is not an industry then? (we’ve just subsidised Aston Martin and Airbus, sorry invested in)
    Indeed it goes further, we invest in roads but we subsidise railways!

    •  

      Gwyn – you sound as if you could be our agriculture spokesman for the New Party.

      Interested? 😉

      Click HERE

    •  

      The investment/subsidy to various industrial “enterprises” is even more insidious in that it transfers “profit/wealth” to the private “investor” and ultimately to the financial institutions that backs him/her, while the downside risks/losses are fielded by the government that pays out financial inducements. Very entrepreneurial. No wonder these bastards like Wales.

    •  

      A subsidy is usually an ongoing payment and a grant is usually a one off. CAP subsidies have made farmers commercially lazy it has been too easy to carry on doing what they have always done. French wine growers have rested too long on their subsidised laurels and have seen southern hemisphere producers take a large part of their market share. a lot of French wine produced now is undrinkable. While farmers in Britain have been too busy falling over themselves at land auctions pushing up land prices a band of small distillers have grown the gin industry into an almost £500 million a year exporter surpassing beef. Subsidies have left welsh farming with a bow of too few strings.

      Grants to industry are just a bung , the Irish used their EU funds to educate their young in the IT skills that the businesses they intended to woo needed. If Google or Apple moved Ireland would still have their skilled workforce whereas with Aston Martin and TVR if they fail we’ll be left with empty factory space because UK industries don’t like investing in skills because they’re usually run by accountants rather than engineers as in Germany. In 2009 Scottish Power former Manweb took on their first intake of apprentice lines men and engineers in 25 years.

    •  

      @GWYN = I’m a blue collar socialist. (I’m also a member of Plaid becuase there’s no alternative – yet 😉 )
      Leanne Wood would be best employed in a circus along with all the rest of the public sector middle-class pointless twats that run Plaid or aspire to. They can’t even see why Plaid has failed to advance despite owning mirrors.

      How on earth can some moron who has spent there life in the public sector tell a corner shop owner they know more about business.

  15.  

    Can you end your spat with Phil Parry in 2018. Whatever you may think of him he has a raft of awards as a journalist.

    Abandoning the secrecy over your meetings might help your cause as well.

    The meeting of your new party was a non event.

    Happy New Year.

    •  

      “Can you end your spat with Phil Parry in 2018?”

      That’s got to be a wind-up surely, Michael. Or were you smoking some seriously good stuff when you hit the keyboard? Please let me know where you got it!

      In case anyone new here missed them, Parry’s articles were a bunch of poorly researched, even more poorly written, conglomeration of bitter, possibly libellous jibes, oft repeated, to assassinate the character of Royston Jones and even strayed beyond that to bring in his family. My recollection is that “Jac” requested a right to reply on the inspiring website run by the journalist whom you describe as having “a raft of awards”. He never had the courtesy of a reply.

      •  

        This is how it goes . . . I ignore Parry, but every so often he dredges up the same old stuff, rearranges it, possibly introduces something new, and attacks me. I defend myself.

        He pretends to be appalled that I used a photo of Cayo Evans holding a gun – yet he has now published that photo – without permission! – more times than I have!

        He always instigates these exchanges so it would make more sense for Clintergate to write to Parry’s blog asking him to end the ‘spat’. I’d be quite happy to have nothing to do with him.

    •  

      “A raft of awards”! Bollocks! In the small and incestuous world of the ‘Welsh’ media everybody gets awards.

      Seeing as you’re so interested, the new party is progressing very nicely and we shall announce ourselves when good and ready.

  16.  

    Our farmers voted out for perfectly sensible reasons. The CAP is a one size fits all system designed to control agriculture in various ways and subsidise food prices. Like all the “EU” money Wales got it was all paid for by the UK taxpayers and simply returned to us under EU administration. The £350million per week on the side of the red bus is the amount the UK pay into the EU but dont get back as CAP, structural fund etc goes mainly I am told into the CAP funds of the poorer EU countries – Republic of Ireland, Italy, Spain, the Eastern European Countries, the Balkans etc.

    Remainers may generously affirm that we should be, as a form of foreign charitable aid, be supporting the poor countries of Europe by agricultural subsidies. Here in Carmarthenshire, we feel poor enough, and the reality of being undercut in price on much of our own farm produce,and paying for the privilege through our own taxes , does not go down well. Our NHS could certainly do with the money but in Wales it needs better management as well.

    Having done quite a lot of door to door canvassing during the EU Referendum Campaign I would say that leavers did not think leaving would be easy, but were prepared to take a hit. Their reasons for leaving were varied, some political, some economic and some just thoroughly pissed off with our appalling standard of government at most levels. I must admit that before the campaign I did not think that farmers as a group would be so supportive of leaving, but although small in numbers they made up for it in enthusiasm..

    We have a small family farm and get very little subsidy and that for environmental work. only. The chance to get a more sensible agricultural policy for Wales is there, but may not happen . Other, bigger factors are in play. The weather is changing faster than we humans, our domestic animals and some of our flora and fauna can adapt to it. We are having to make changes fast, and I don’t know if it will work out. The last thing we need as farmers is problematic EU regulation with no prospect of variation and endless paperwork, some of which we cannot submit online or by post but have to keep ready for inspection at any time. A full assessment of what we are producing at the moment , what we need to do for the environment and where we should be expanding/contracting would be nice.

    I’m not spending much thinking time on the possibilities of a soft, hard or chewy Brexit over New Year, and politics may be very different by the time Brexit actually happens. But I think I’ll be devoting a lot of time in 2018 to finding ways to keep our farm working despite climate change.

    Great Blog Jac!
    Keep up the good work!

    •  

      Sian, there’s an example of new farming techniques in Carmarthenshire. You may be familiar with the land in question as it’s between Pembrey, Cefn Sidan and the Gwendraeth estuary.

      It consists of (a) some prime pasture 30%, (b) marginal land prone to fresh water flood in winter, the site of an old WW2 airfield, 40%, and (c) nearest the coast, a salt-water morfa making up the final 30%. I had expected to see cows on the prime pasture in winter topped up with silage, the stock moved to the marginal pasture in spring when the grass starts growing, then, the cows moved onto the morfa, marginal pasture recovery, with the silage cropped on the prime land in high summer. This to me is ‘farming’.

      Since the agri-schemes were modified by the Welsh Government, the prime pasture is now used to grow horses. The council who own the nearby country park pay the farmer to provide pony trekking for tourists in summer. This attracts the ‘tourism’ part of the rural payments grant. The marginal section of land is now used as an off-road racetrack for rally cars and grows what appears to be part-used vehicle tyres to mark out the race track. This attracts the ‘sport’ element of the rural payments grant. Meanwhile, on the morfa, a strange man appears every fortnight who has a wooden frame measuring 1m square which he lays on the ground, twties down, and counts the little flowers within the said frame. He inputs the data onto a spreadsheet and sends it to Cardiff. He’s got the code letters NRW stamped on the back of his fleece jacket and has to dodge the displaced cows. (I’m not making this up!) Apparently helps to prevent global warming by offsetting the carbon dioxide produced by the Typhoon fighter jets that do mock bombing runs on the local sewage plant. The one that feeds the cockles.

      Please can you explain these new Carmarthenshire farming techniques?

      There’s also some confused badgers hiding in the forest. They see Vauxhall Crosa Evo 1.6i drivers the dip their wellies into bowls of disinfectant to prevent bTB, but strangely enough, not their vehicle tyres. It’s called bio-security. I don’t blame the farmer, he’s just doing what the government directs. Of course, the next stage of these new farming techniques is to plant chalets on the prime pasture to augment the ‘country park’, put static caravans on the marginal land, and then hand over the morfa to the wildlife trust (third sector).

      •  

        You couldn’t make that up ! But it happens here in Wales where there is a continuous moan about “lack of resources” yet the poor application of what we already have produces this kind of nightmare scene.

        Blwyddyn Newydd Dda to Jac and all the commenters, and an injection of sanity and clarity of vision for those who desparately need it in positions of power.

  17.  

    Blwyddyn Newydd Dda Mr Jones and to all blog followers. And best wishes to the new party.

  18.  

    No knighthood in New Years Honours list then Jac, for your services in exposing rogues and shysters who have descended on Wales due to easy access to public funds. Perhaps the letter has been delayed in the post. Or maybe next year. Are you comfortable with having a sword placed on your shoulder and hearing the words “Arise Sir Jac”. Mind you, there are some out there that have previously been on the receiving end of your astute observations, that would prefer to swing the sword in a rapid horizontal motion [decapitation ISIS style] !!

    Blwyddyn Newydd Dda i bawb.

    •  

      It’s the same every year, Wynne, so fortunately I’m used to it.

    •  

      Elsewhere in Betty’s list appears one M.Jukes esq recipient of the Queen’s Police Medal.Today he formally succeeds Peter Vaughan as Chief Constable South Wales Police.Now Matt Jukes is relatively youthful, thank goodness, so we should not expect him to march off into retirement within the next 3-5 years which has become the habitual pattern for Chiefs of Plodforces all over the shop not just here in De Cymru. With a bit of luck De Cymru may get 10 years out of young Matt unless of course he gets another promotion to a bigger more prestigious force ( no harm in ambition ).

      My gripe is aimed at all those appointments that only last 2 or 3 years before the anointed one buggers off into retirement ! That final promotion does wonders to the boy ( or girl) ‘s pension calculation and like most good public servants they spend a lot of energy and time working out how to max that retirement package to the last bean. While lots of people have endured painful surgery to their pension schemes in the name of efficiency, cost reduction, austerity etc etc it would be very reassuring to learn that senior public servants like our Chief Constables have also experienced the urge to share in the misery of austerity and moved over to some modified final salary computation or indeed to a life time averaging method which serves to dilute sharply the impact of a few last years in that well rewarded top job.

      Any one with some working knowledge of comp and benefits within the Police Service ? Must be visible somewhere in the “public domain “.

      •  

        Nah….they’re making out like bandits. Mind you, it will all collapse one day and possibly that day is not too far off. That’s all in my humble opinion of course.

  19.  

    This article may be of interest. I came across two lots of English people over Christmas who had moved to Ceredigion/Carmarthenshire. Seemed fairly well off both lots. But they both complained of England having changed. I guess they mean by immigration. One guy said that he wanted to blow the Severn Bridge up once he had crossed it. Oh the irony.

    https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2017/dec/29/londoners-leaving-capital-for-brighton-birmingham-and-bristol

    •  

      Yet the Guardian article makes no mention of white flight, which might be the prime motive for people moving to rural Wales, but of course few will admit to it except with allusion and euphemism such as England ‘having changed’.

      •  

        I see the rural squat, Lammas (called an eco-village by the posh English who moved there) has gone up in flames. One of the reasons why planning permission was initially refused back in 2008 was over fire safety. The squatters said this was a ‘technicality’ and that their fuel supply was coppiced willow and elephant grass (named after the Preseli elephant). They also argued that there was not a fire risk due to their water supply being obtained by rooftops. I was wondering who picks up the cost of putting out this ‘low-impact’ inferno?

        http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-wales-south-west-wales-42535594

        The council taxpayers who are native to the area get a bill each year (due to increase 12% this year) to fund the Mid and West Wales Fire service, so I hope an invoice for extinguishing this fire will be sent to the tax avoidance scheme they run called a CIC.

        Of course, we all know this ‘sustainable low impact village’ is nothing of the sort. It’s just a bunch of urban spongers from England who are squatting in West Wales. They pay nothing into providing local services (like the fire brigade and NHS), which makes them a burden on the local community.

        Did the fire engine run on eco-dust made from the flower fairies?

        •  

          Most likely an insurance fiddle. Location lost its novelty value, spoilt brats and their camp followers decide to torch it as it wasn’t likely to sell at the kind of price they might dream of. At least their insurance company ought to get a big bill for Fire &Rescue Services, which might just wake them up to possibility of a fraudulent claim. Might get a place in a Welsh jail to see how the other half lives.

        •  

          Probably worth adding that all the households at Lammas do pay council tax, albeit at Band A due to the low rateable values of their dwellings. It’s not correct to say they pay nothing into providing local services. As for insurance, I wouldn’t be surprised if, being a long term, low cost, ‘self-build’ there wasn’t any insurance. Anyway – losing a home to fire, especially a self-build is a personal tragedy. Reading the BBC report, it’s interesting to see the fireman talking up the ‘workmanship’ in the build, this wasn’t just a squat – it was on Channel 4’s Grand Design last year.

          •  

            As for Channel 4’s Grand Design last year, English people settling in Wales always seem to make it on to television.

            •  

              They can all join the rehousing queue in England. But there’s a problem. When wealthy boroughs like Kensington can’t get round to rehoming the Grenfell victims expats who migrated to some far off colony in West Wales won’t get near the raffle for homes !! Looks like more business for Jac’s pals in Pembrokeshire Housing Scams Group setting up a nice cluster of residences that meet the aspirations of this bunch of eco-tossers who would look down their noses at the sort of habitation the local Welshie yokel has to put up with.

          •  

            Just to correct you RossK. The dwellings were built without planning permission, which was applied for retrospectively which took a number of years to obtain, and specific changes to building regulations to allow these sub-standard constructions to be legally occupied. While this process was taking place, which was a number of years, no council tax was payable. The reason that only minimal council tax is payable now, is that the site, and main communal areas are classed as a tax free business premises under their ‘community’ provident society charitable status. As regards the fire risk, an interesting independent study was undertaken on the Lammas community. It is here..

            http://lammas.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2013/03/Ian-McIver-Investigating-the-application-of-building-regulations-at-Lammas-2014.pdf

            You will see that concerns were raised about the fire risks due to section 54 exemptions to building regulations. Essentially, they are a fire risk and dangerous to be occupied as a permanent dwelling. It took over 20 fire fighters and numerous appliances over 10 hours to bring the inferno under control, with a particular issue raised by the Mid and west Wales Fire Service, that being the nature of straw bales used in the walls. Fire-fighters had to remain in attendance for many hours to ‘dampen down’ to prevent re-ignition. While these fire fighters and equipment were on-site, the rest of the population of West Wales were at risk. There should be an immediate inspection of all ‘One Planet’ category dwellings in Wales for fire risk and all occupants evicted for their own safety until they obtain standard fire risk standards.

            Fortunately, in this instance, the residents were absent at their primary home addresses in England, so there were no casualties. Of note, is that from April of this year such premises in Pembrokeshire should be charged 200% of full council tax being a second home. In this way, they might contribute at least something to the substantial bill they have imposed on the shoulders of the native population of Wales.

            •  

              Interesting comments Brychan and interesting photographs of the settlement included in the report you linked to. A few notes below as my contribution to the debate. I believe UK government has recently concluded [following the tragic events in London] that the current Building Regulations are not “fit for purpose”. Building Regulations is a devolved function. Any future changes to the regulations in England my not necessarily apply to Wales. In my view Building Regulation departments should be statutory consultees in the Town & Country Planning process. Here we have an eco settlement granted planning permission where there has always been concerns regarding non compliance with building regulations [straw bale walls and use of non stress graded timber in roof construction etc.]. Any amendments required to comply with building regulations often require a re-design which has planning implications, so why no consultation at planning stage. Highway and drainage are material planning considerations and require consultation so why are building regulations also not taken into consideration by town planners.

              Developers in Wales have found a loophole in the Building Regulations that has enabled them to avoid installing sprinklers in new build. By pre-registering sites they are locked into an older version of the regulations. I wonder if future eco settlements in Wales will be exempt from sprinkler legislation. Perhaps a F O I request to Welsh Government may provide the answer. May be a good time to raise the issue following the fire in London and a fire in an eco settlement in Wales.

              Just my thoughts on the subject.

              •  

                Further to my previous note I have now received a prompt reply from Welsh Government confirming that under building regulations fire suppression equipment [sprinklers] are required on all new build low impact developments {eco dwellings] in Wales. This may cause a few technical issues if mains water supply is not available on some of these remote sites.

        •  

          Gosh – I hope that fire hasn’t affected the production of their Flower Power Organics range of creams for the human body. They do a nice looking Joint and Muscle Rub with Cayenne Pepper and Ginger for £7.99. Just be careful where you rub it into the Mrs would be my advice. Better still is a nice hot water bottle in my humble opinion. And you’ll have less complaints.

  20.  

    Not sure if you’ve seen the Scotland in Union data dump that Bella Caledonia and Wings Over Scotland were sent over the New Year. The data exposes the landed gentry, super wealthy and establishment figures who are funding the ‘campaign group’ to save the Union. There are some legal wranglings going on about publishing the full data, but there are some details from the two websites.

    Wings over Scotland’s article https://wingsoverscotland.com/the-tools-of-the-union/#more-100555

    Bella Caledonia’s http://bellacaledonia.org.uk/2017/12/31/scotland-in-union-data-dump/

    If its happening in Scotland its bound to happen in Wales, if we ever get our act together to seriously campaign and fight for our independence.

  21.  

    Good to read that Labour have seen some sense in picking Sargeant jnr to stand for his dad’s old seat. With a bit of luck he’ll give anyone else daring to stand a damn good pasting as any party putting up candidates are tacitly approving of the way Carwyn treated Carl. No doubt Carwyn will be gushing all over Jack when he turns up at the Bay. Behaviour reminiscent of a ageing Mafia don, without the style.

    •  

      Actually, I shall be putting out a piece on the selection of Jack Sargeant later today. And I have to say that I disagree with you, Dafis.

      •  

        not for the first time ! look forward to whatever extra bit of intel you are able to provide.

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