Sheroes, Herstory and LeadHerShip*: The Weird World of Helen Mary Jones

Jac’s Introduction:

In the previous post I wrote that there are women in Plaid Cymru, and Cardiff Bay, playing gender politics, by which I meant they use their gender, ‘discrimination’ and all manner of evils, to promote themselves.

This is about one of them, Helen Mary Jones, former AM for Llanelli, and one of the party’s leading lights. I now hand you over to our guest writer, who wishes to remain anonymous.

*LeadHerShip is the name of a competition currently being run by Chwarae Teg, one of the women’s groups we are about to encounter.

Plaid Cymru has always prided itself on being a party of the grass roots, the ordinary rank and file members who dig into their pockets to keep the show afloat, turn up to meetings, deliver leaflets and knock on doors. They are overwhelmingly a decent bunch who care deeply about their communities and are often surprisingly well informed about events and issues further afield.

The fallout from the Neil McEvoy affair has left them feeling a mixture of bewilderment and anger. One prominent supporter was recently moved to write on social media, “Whoever is bullying and whoever the ‘angels’ are…I could not think of a worse place to work than in the Cardiff Bay political bubble. Disappointment. Yuck.”

The party’s rank and file are not the narrow-minded, bigoted, anti-Sais hambons that Labour and the Brit media like to portray, but the Plaid heartlands are a world away from the swish restaurants and watering holes of Cardiff Bay, and the Neil McEvoy affair has exposed the chasm which exists between ordinary members and some of the party’s elite who roar around in shiny Jaguars and Range Rovers and hobnob with Labour insiders, third sector fat cats and arrogant lobbyists.

One of the many threads in the McEvoy affair was a reminder that Deryn, the consultancy firm which is now home to so many Labour and Plaid “strong women”, lobbied for a firm that pulled in £113 million in government money.

Y Cynulliad was not supposed to be like this, but we are waking up to the realisation that Cardiff Bay has happily adopted many of the worst characteristics of Westminster: the limitless greed, cronyism, secrecy, backbiting and revolving doors between the world of lobbyists, third sector bosses, politicians and their army of SpAds and spin merchants.

Helen Mary Jones may no longer be an AM, but she remains an active and major player in Plaid, as the McEvoy affair reminds us, and in many ways she epitomises the gulf which exists between the grass roots and some of the party’s big beasts.

Weighing into the McEvoy row again a couple of days ago, she tweeted that this was all about “men objecting to women gaining power and influence and coming together to change things for vulnerable women like victims of abuse. Some men don’t like that. I wonder why?”

When it was pointed out to her that her powerful and influential friends at Deryn had screwed £113 million out of the public purse at a time when many charities helping the most vulnerable are facing cuts, Helen Mary fell uncharacteristically silent.

The former AM for Llanelli is certainly a prolific tweeter, and her Twitter feed gives a good insight into how she sees the world, as she tweets and retweets an avalanche of messages to her followers every day.

An analysis of her huge output over a few days shows that gender politics dominate. Roughly five times as many of her tweets fall into this category as official Plaid announcements and publicity, which come in a very distant second. Issues relating to children and young people trail in third place, with everything else that is happening in Wales and the rest of the world making up the residue. Catalonia and the Kurds merit several mentions, but you will find nothing about independence closer to home.

She is clearly keen on history, but only it seems if it’s women’s history. No doubt she would argue that this is adressing the balance after milennia of male oppression, but the result is a view of the past which is just as absurd and skewed as the idea that only men shaped the world around us.

On average, Helen Mary tweets about one “shero” from the past every day. Here’s one of them:

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This is a world where women are either “strong women” or victims, and all men are actual or potential rapists and abusers. But there is hope, as ‘Goody Veneer’, one of Helen Mary’s favourite Twitterati tells us:

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Anyone foolish enough to express even a hint of dissent will be dismissed as an “angry man” or misogynist, as only a man would disagree with Helen Mary and her friends, although quite what most of Plaid’s female grass roots supporters not following her on Twitter would make of these wilder shores of gender politics is another matter.

Perhaps they will be joining Helen Mary and other strong women in Bristol for this forthcoming event. Or perhaps not.

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Closer to home, Helen Mary has released a torrent of tweets to celebrate the 40th anniversary shindig of Welsh Women’s Aid, one of the plethora of women’s groups she supports. A handful of them are listed in the tweet above, but this is just the tip of the iceberg, and as Helen Mary tells us on her Twitter feed, new women’s groups and charities are springing up all the time.

As if we did not have enough of them already, some newly established women’s charities in England are also planning to set up shop here to meet what would seem to be inexhaustible demand. Not that the “Welsh” ones, such as Chwarae Teg, Welsh Women’s Aid or WEN Wales bother with the Welsh language, despite receiving hefty dollops of Welsh government dosh, so setting up shop for bodies such as Women’s Place UK should be easy enough.

The need for so many different groups and charities echoes the politics of The Life of Brian, where minute doctrinal differences and squabbles gave rise to the Judean People’s Liberation Front, the People’s Liberation Front of Judea and numerous other splinter groups.

The key difference, of course, is that the Roman Empire was not funding all of those liberation groups, but the minutiae of competing gender political dogmas help to justify all those generously remunerated chief executive and managerial posts. After all, since losing Llanelli, this is where Helen Mary has re-built her post Assembly career, first, allegedly after a brief spell claiming job seekers’ allowance, with a job as chief executive of Youth Cymru, and currently as deputy director of the Morgan Academy at Swansea University.

For those readers unfamiliar with the work of the academy, this is what it says on the tin. Warning – may contain nuts:

The Morgan Academy, named after the late Rhodri Morgan, former First Minister of Wales and Swansea University Chancellor, is a research-based think tank created to deal with the pressing ‘wicked issues’ of public policy in Wales and the wider World. Based in Swansea University, it will work across subject disciplines. As well as promoting critical thinking, it will work collaboratively to promote innovative evidence-based policy.

It is from this academic perch, with its breath-taking views of the sea, that Helen Mary now spends a lot of her time, much of it apparently on Twitter.

In addition to the recent Welsh Women’s Aid gala, Helen Mary has also been preoccupied by the sordid President’s Club Dinner in London, an event which yields more Jones tweets and retweets than you can shake a stick at. On the other hand she is completely silent on the recent spate of abandoned rape prosecutions and the CPS’s decision to conduct a major review of disclosure procedures because, presumably, the idea that women are not always victims is not in tune with the narrative.

But we have only skimmed the surface of the world according to Helen Mary. Let’s take a deep breath and take a closer look at some of the gender controversies which she is so keen to share with the world, beginning with a rare tweet written by our shero in Welsh. Well, sort of:

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To save anyone from reaching for Google Translate, it translates (literally) as, “Juice am this woman. I am woman here. We. Them. Us.”

You would expect nothing less from a leading figure in academe, where in the constant swirl of competing identities it is easy to confuse “ni” (us) and “nhw” (them).

And language is important. You don’t need to be an angry heterosexual man to fall foul of some of Helen Mary’s “strong women”.

Pink News, which describes itself as “the world’s most read LGBT digital media publisher”, gets a bashing for referring to a same sex couple when any fool could see from the picture that they were lesbians. In the eyes of some of Helen Mary’s friends, this betrays a sinister male agenda.

Another Helen Mary favourite, Ruth Serwotka (“Labour Left. SocialistFeminist.network”), spells it out even more clearly:

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Serwotka touches here (no smut intended) on a current major preoccupation of Helen Mary’s strong women because the Labour Party is apparently planning to add “certified” transgender women (a.k.a. non-natal women) to its all-women shortlists, some of whom may be in possession of a penis.

As another stalwart of Helen Mary’s Twitter feed puts it succinctly:

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Let Bea Campbell, another leading light, explain:

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Anyone suggesting that this sounds like a witch hunt risks being stoned to death.

But let’s stay with Bea for a moment, as she explains what this is all about:

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Note Bea’s pioneering deconstruction of the testosterone fuelled rules of punctuation.

But this is serious stuff. It seems that a mob of transgender activists recently shouted down and heckled, abused even, some women at one of those countless conferences and workshops which are such a feature of these groups, forcing those strong women to meet in secret to discuss whatever it was they were going to discuss.

This outrage may explain some of these other Helen Mary retweets:

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No, I don’t understand either. A beefy Scottish kilt-wearing werewolf, perhaps?

Perhaps Young Crone can shed some light on matters… :

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Now that we have cleared that up, let’s hear from another Helen Mary regular called Michael Conroy, who probably has a penis:

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If two legs were bad and four legs good on Orwell’s Animal Farm, penises are definitely not required any more in this neck of the Twitter woods:

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Fortunately, as another of Helen Mary’s Twitter friends reminds us, women do not have penises:

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But as Helen Mary reminded us a couple of days ago, vaginas are what we need to talk about:

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But that’s enough genitalia for one day. Let’s turn to knitting instead where Helen Mary is following the Great Pussy Hat Controversy. Pussy hats, for all those living in ignorance in the backwoods of Ceredigion, are pink woolly hats which make the wearer look a little bit like a cat (albeit a skinned cat).

The hats are a symbol of the women’s movement to some, while to others they are the work of the He-devil himself:

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But there we must leave the world of Helen Mary Jones.

She is now taking bookings for talks at Merched y Wawr and Cymdeithas y Chwiorydd. Or possibly not.

♦ end ♦

Jac says . . .

Where to start? I don’t want to say too much otherwise I’ll be accused again of being ‘anti women’.

I am a product of the binary, patriarchal tyranny we must all now rise up against. But what do you expect, for as an impressionable child I attended my local flea-pit and imagined that the men and boys around me all wanted to be Burt Lancaster or Robert Mitchum, with the females all wanting to be swept off their feet by these and other trench-coated screen idols.

As I grew older I learnt that some women prefer women and some men prefer men, and I was always easy with that, but Helen Mary Jones and her friends open up whole new dimensions.

For now it seems there are countless sexual or gender identities and self-identifications. Many of HMJ’s Twitter contacts seem to believe that penises and vaginas – and their removal – should be available on demand; on the NHS, I suppose – but why stop at one? Why not two or three for everybody, applied like tattoos?

If nothing else it would open up a whole new world of personal insults.

Joking aside, Helen Mary Jones is regrettably not alone in Plaid Cymru, there are others with her genital and gender fixations. Then there are those who obsess on other issues. Wales hardly enters their thinking.

While agreeing that some men would be happier as women, and some women happier as men, I also believe that anyone this obsessed with what she and others have between their legs may need help. The threat of this woman again becoming a politician, elected by people unaware of her obsessions, must be ended.

The third sector has mushroomed in Wales since devolution, with all manner of oddballs and shysters given easy access to our public money. We don’t want to add to this carnival of grotesques by Helen Mary Jones encouraging her Twitter acquaintances to Wales. 

Plaid Cymru and the defenestration of Neil McEvoy

Most of you will be aware that after a protracted and amateurish ‘process’ Plaid Cymru has now expelled Neil McEvoy from its Assembly group. This will have surprised absolutely no one. But what is it all about, what’s the real story?

From speaking with Neil McEvoy and others, and from my own research, this is my interpretation of an affair that reflects badly on devolution, also on Plaid Cymru, the Labour Party, and the third sector, while telling us much about the anti-democratic manoeuvrings and poisonous environment of Cardiff Bay.

The biggest problem I found in researching this piece – something I’ve been doing, off and on, for months – was not the scarcity of evidence but the overwhelming amount of it. Which meant that I had to stick to the straight and narrow without being detoured by personal animosities and other distractions.

IN THE BEGINNING

I don’t think we need to go back any further than November 2011 to find the time when Neil McEvoy made himself a host of powerful enemies, people who have pursued him ever since, and would now appear to have him down . . . though I wouldn’t bet on it.

What he did with a Facebook post and tweet about men being denied access to their children, and his criticism of Welsh Women’s Aid – run then by Labour’s Paula Hardy and today still packed with party members including the former MP for Swansea East, Siân James – was to threaten a system that relied on unquestioning acceptance of certain dicta, in this case – ‘All men are bastards, and all women are victims’.

This particular dictum wrings an unquestioning acceptance out of politicians and others which is then used to cultivate an ever-growing number of third sector bodies – as new ‘niches’ are found to exploit – with hundreds of crony jobs and all paid for from the public purse. And who would dare argue – for aren’t they ‘helping vulnerable women’.

Though it’s worth remembering that McEvoy was not without support from the very same quarter where most wanted him lynched, as this piece reminds us. It’s about Erin Pizzey, who had founded the UK’s first women’s refuge in London, in 1971.

This woman has been a doyenne of the women’s rights movement since the term ‘battered wives’ was coined and has expressed strong views on the narrow interpretation that only women can be victims of domestic violence. She has also been very critical of what she terms ‘aggressive feminism’.

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Predictably, this has made Pizzey unpopular with those who use their gender as a weapon in securing personal advancement, often in the absence of ability or qualifications. And especially with those who view someone else’s domestic abuse as a good career move for them.

Following the self-interested attacks from various third sector bodies back in 2011 the Labour Party predictably came down on a Plaid Cymru politician. But it didn’t end there, because McEvoy was suspended by his own party.

Here we see the first inkling of something beneath the surface suggesting that the political differences we are asked to believe in, the Punch and Judy shows of electioneering and political debate, may be just a sham.

THE POLITICS OF IT 1

Neil McEvoy was first elected as a Labour councillor for the Riverside ward on Cardiff city council in 1999, becoming vice-chair of the Labour group. In 2003 he left to join Plaid Cymru and lost his seat in the 2004 elections.

In 2008 he was back on the council, representing the Fairwater ward. With Plaid now running the council in coalition with the Lib Dems he served as deputy council leader from 2008 – 2012. Although Labour returned to power in 2012 McEvoy retained his Fairwater seat, coming top out of 13 candidates with 16% of the total vote.

Neil McEvoy entered the Assembly in 2016 by the regional route, becoming an AM for South Wales Central. Although the regional vote is difficult to interpret, few doubt that Plaid’s good showing was due to McEvoy being on the regional list.

(In the first round of voting for the South Wales Central list he actually beat party leader Leanne Wood.)

At the same election he also stood for the Cardiff West constituency, where he increased the Plaid vote by 11.9% and slashed the Labour majority.

Roll on to 2017 and in defending his Fairwater seat Neil McEvoy took Plaid Cymru to previously unscaled heights and a humiliating defeat for Labour. He upped his percentage of the vote to 20%, with the leading Labour candidate trailing way behind on 9%.

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What makes this result so impressive is that just before the council elections – in March, in fact – a Cardiff Council (i.e. Labour) tribunal found that a throwaway remark McEvoy had made to a council official amounted to ‘bullying’.

Plaid Cymru joined in by suspending him from the Plaid Cymru Assembly group. Plaid chairman Alun Ffred Jones, thought that the ludicrous charge was “serious because it involves bullying”. (Alun Ffred is one of those men so devoid of animation that watching him I think back to the old Soviet Union and the undead politburo members atop Lenin’s tomb. A fur hat and a few snowflakes would complete that rather unsettling image.)

The timing and co-ordination of these attacks was of course coincidental.

THE POLITICS OF IT 2

Were he or she reading this then I’m sure that the foreign correspondent of Maritza Plovdiv would be thinking (in Bulgarian) ‘Wow! at last Plaid Cymru has a politician who can stick it to the Labour Party, take them on and beat them on their own turf. Let the good times roll!’

In truth, since Neil McEvoy arrived in the Assembly, Plaid Cymru’s faint-hearts have behaved as if they’d been handed a bomb. For a number of reasons.

To begin with, I don’t think they understand McEvoy. For while Plaid may have many members in Cardiff nowadays, and there may be a thriving Welsh language scene in the city, this is largely due to the population movement that has enfeebled our rural areas.

But Neil McEvoy didn’t move down from Pwllheli or up from Crymych, he’s Kerdiff through and through, with his Irish/Yemeni/English/Welsh background. And this is his strength, for he appeals to Cardiff voters who might not engage with Carys or Rhodri.

Nor did he come to Plaid by any of the usual routes. By which I mean, he certainly hasn’t come from the language movement, he isn’t an environmentalist or a hard leftie infiltrator, nor is he a professional politician who started out as a party worker or spad, and he certainly didn’t emerge from the third sector.

So in many ways, Neil McEvoy is a one-off, an enigma; and for all their talk of ‘the people’, when presented with a genuine man of the people Plaid Cymru’s upper echelons are horrified.

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That’s because Neil McEvoy – like most of us reading this – realises that the real enemy in Wales is the Labour Party, not the Conservatives. And so he attacks the Labour Party and its corrupt system again and again. This is why Plaid Cymru is on the verge of expelling him from the party.

It is no exaggeration to make a comparison with the palace coup against Dafydd Wigley in 2000, for once again Plaid Cymru is thinking of getting rid of its most popular politician and its greatest electoral asset.

And once again, the move may be prompted by influences external to the party.

ALL PROGRESSIVES TOGETHER

In the collective mindset of the Plaid Cymru leadership and hierarchy being ‘progressive’ – and/or being viewed by others as ‘progressive’ – is more important than doing what’s best for Wales. Posturing.

Giving the finger to the US president, saving the planet, arguing that only fascists and racists want us to leave the EU, supporting every -ism that rolls off the left-liberal production line, and getting good coverage in the Guardian, are much more important than serving Wales.

Despite professing love for, and faith in, ‘the people’, progressives don’t really trust hoi polloi to do what’s best (especially since Brexit, Trump, and a host of other recent disappointments). Far better that a progressive elite should run things in the best interests of the untutored mob.

This has given Wales the kind of paternalistic statism we have always known from Labour, with Plaid Cymru latching on to Labour’s coat-tails in recent decades. Industry and commerce are inimical to this model because companies and even individual entrepreneurs cannot be easily controlled, and so both Labour and Plaid Cymru – despite regular protestations to the contrary – are anti-business.

There was a time when Labour could exercise this control through the workforces of major industries and trade unions, but with the passing of the traditional working class it has tried to maintain its hold by breaking society down into ethnic, sexual and other ‘deprived’ or ‘oppressed’ groups – all of which must be defended!

This helps explain the rise of the third sector which, especially in Wales, now fills the role vacated by the trade unions as Labour support troops. Plaid Cymru dutifully goes along with this . . . on condition that enough of its people get a slice of the third sector pie.

It’s no surprise then that one of the complainants against Neil McEvoy is Frances Beecher of homelessness company Llamau (of which I have writ many times). Her complaints are laughable, and tell us how contrived this witch-hunt is, and who’s behind it.

FRANCES BEECHER, Courtesy of WalesOnline, click to enlarge

For example, “he was ‘bullish, difficult and aggressive’ at the charity’s public election hustings in May 20”, we are told. Er, so a politician spoke up at a public meeting! God Almighty – let’s get the bastard!

This ‘social worker politics’ ensures that Wales remains poor, for which Labour and Plaid Cymru blame the Tories (even when they aren’t in power), and the poverty allows the Tories to point to Wales and use it as a warning of what happens if you vote Labour.

So everybody wins – except Wales.

Let’s also remember that relying on more money from the UK government proves that Plaid Cymru doesn’t want independence. Dependent devolution with few responsibilities and plenty of perks is far more amenable.

‘STRONG WOMEN’

Of all the -isms Plaid Cymru has adopted over recent decades none is currently more pernicious and self-harming than the aggressive and intolerant form of feminism now stalking Cardiff Bay.

It manifests itself in a number of ways, and it transcends party boundaries to the advantage of Labour.

In November 2015 I wrote this mixed-bag post, and you should scroll down to the section ‘Sophie Howe, more Labour cronyism’. Howe, a Labour time-server, had been deputy PCC for South Wales to Alun Michael, the former Labour MP, then a new post was created for her, that of Future Generations Commissioner.

This new post linked with the Well-being of Future Generations (Wales) Act 2015, legislation tied in with the OnePlanet nonsense that opened rural Wales up to hippy lebensraum. Because it involved hippies, and offered no benefits whatsoever to Welsh people, it was supported enthusiastically by Plaid Cymru.

Neil McEvoy (who I referred to in the piece as “a rising star within Plaid Cymru”), criticised the appointment for what it was – Labour cronyism. Others in Plaid Cymru saw it differently, like then AM Jocelyn Davies.

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It was the Jocelyn Davies view that prevailed in Plaid Cymru and provided me with an insight into certain attitudes that allowed gender and perceptions of solidarity to over-ride the political differences most of us imagined existed. The political differences we were asked to vote for at election times.

With the death of Carl Sargeant and other recent developments we now know that things are even worse than justifying political cronyism for no better reason than that the appointee is “a strong woman”.

The agenda takes many forms. For example, there is currently a petition calling for Neil McEvoy not to be reinstated to the Plaid Cymru Assembly group. It is addressed to party leader Leanne Wood, but is it her decision alone?

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Even though it claims to be the work of ‘Concerned Welsh Women’ it’s pulling in signatures from around the world, so obviously the petition has been widely publicised in feminist circles and the Labour Party.

The word on the street is that this petition was started by another ‘strong woman’, in the form of Helen Mary Jones, sometime AM for Llanelli. She of course denies it. Though I find it interesting how many times her rebuttal reduces the whole business to a men versus women issue.

At one point she refers to Neil McEvoy as “Neil McAvoy”. Being unable to even get his name right might suggest he’s almost incidental to something bigger.

Whether Helen Mary Jones did start the petition or not she told a friend of mine once, “I have more friends in the Labour Party than in Plaid Cymru”. Make of that what you will.

Helen Mary Jones was AM for Llanelli. The seat where the great rugby coach Carwyn James once stood, and where Plaid Cymru had one of its strongest branches . . . until the general election of 2017, when the candidate selected by the local party was turfed out to make way for a woman candidate imposed by Cardiff HQ.

The imposed candidate lost, the local branch imploded, and Plaid Cymru is withering away in Llanelli.

UPDATE 25.01.2018: It seems that the petition has been taken down.

LOBBYISTS

The late Carl Sargeant complained about being bullied from within the office of Labour leader and First Minister Carwyn Jones in 2014. The finger points at former television journalist Jo Kiernan, who left at the end of 2015. This report of her departure makes it clear she was loathed by many people even in her own party.

When she left the office of the First Minister Jo Kiernan went to lobbying firm Deryn, from where the bullying and undermining of Carl Sargeant continued. The ‘Welsh’ media is reluctant to say this, so let us be thankful for Guido Fawkes. Jo Kiernan also served as a consultant to Llamau.

Though whether the continued bullying came from Kiernan alone will perhaps be established in coming months. It may be significant that Jo Kiernan’s Twitter account went silent around the time of Carl Sargeant’s death, but the tweets preserved suggest she too is ‘a strong woman’.

If we look to the six leading players at Deryn we see four with Labour backgrounds, Cathy Owens, Huw Roberts, Jo Kiernan and Vicki Evans, and two from Plaid Cymru, Nerys Evans and Elin Llŷr.

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In July 2016 Neil McEvoy drew attention to what he, and many others, considered to be a conflict of interest involving Nerys Evans. He also called for a register of lobbyists. Which would have seen his card marked, yet again.

Early in 2017 Neil McEvoy further endeared himself to Deryn by revealing that Ofcom’s Welsh operation had awarded a contract to Deryn without any tendering process, and this looked bad seeing as two Deryn directors – Nerys Evans and Huw Roberts – sat on the Ofcom Wales board.

The Ofcom contract with Deryn was terminated in August.

These third world shenanigans feed into the continuum, Labour/Plaid Cymru-lobbyists-third sector. With people, overwhelmingly women, floating between the different parts as if they were one. Though of course the continuum is restricted to Labour and Plaid Cymru personnel.

Which inevitably results in political differences blurring, or disappearing altogether. The priorities are influencing political decisions (often for personal gain) and milking the public purse. And God help anybody, like Neil McEvoy, who becomes aware of this corruption and starts blowing the whistle.

This explains why Plaid Cymru is so anaemic, so reluctant to confront Labour. It could even be that through channels like Deryn Labour is to some extent controlling Plaid Cymru. Certainly Nerys Evans is a very close friend of Leanne Wood.

One thing’s for sure, when it comes to election times, and we are asked to choose between Labour and Plaid Cymru, there is no choice, they’re one and the same; combining to keep Wales poor so they get votes by blaming the Tories while their friends in the third sector feather their nests from exploiting our deprivation. (And, where necessary, importing more!)

Neil McEvoy knows this. Neil McEvoy wants to expose this. And it’s the reason Neil McEvoy is now being targeted: Discredit the messenger and hope that the message dies with his political career. But it won’t work. Too many people are waking up to the incestuous relationships and the wider corruption down Cardiff Bay.

Neil McEvoy will emerge from this stronger and more popular, but the careers of many of his detractors will suffer, and I’ll enjoy writing about it. Because you’ve brought it on yourselves!

♦ end ♦

 

Lammas revisited (but not in the flesh, obviously)

COMMUNITY HUB

In my earlier post, Hippies and associated problems, I dealt at some length with the drop-out, cash-in white settlers of Lammas in Pembrokeshire. More information has come to light that I feel merits this little update.

To begin with, I wasn’t aware that the project had received, in 2009, a kick-start of £350,000 from the Department of Energy and Climate Change (superseded in July 2016 by the Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy).

As you’ll have read in the article I’ve linked to the money was given specifically for the Community Hub. But the article tells us that the first house on the site cost just £4,000, and seeing as the community hub would also have been built by volunteers, I really can’t believe that it would have cost £350,000. (I hope the UK government asked for receipts.)

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Come to that, why was the UK Government funding a project like this in Wales?

So what is the Community Hub used for?

The Hub’s own Facebook page tells us  it’s an “Educational research centre in Glandwr (sic), Pembrokeshire, United Kingdom”. And on the ‘About’ page we are told, “The Hub is a unique Off-Grid resource for the wider local community, it supports land based livelihoods at Tir-y-Gafel and promotes low impact living.”

The ‘local community’, eh, but how true is that?

To judge by the photographs, reviews and comments on that Facebook page there are no visitors from the local community and few from Wales other than those who share the lifestyle of the Lammas residents. Which means that with no ‘outsiders’ visiting the £350,000 Community Hub is nothing more than a very expensive meeting place for hippies.

I was alerted to this funding by A.E. with this report from the Off-grid site. Read it carefully, there are some chilling passages in there, none more so than a remark attributed to Paul Wimbush, who seems to be the local chief or shaman – “We have an unprecedented opportunity here to transform rural Wales”, he said.

I was also struck by the bit that reads, “The nine families (at Lammas) come from all walks, of life – we have a teacher, a nurse and they have come from a semi-detached house in Liverpool and a top-floor flat in Bath, for example.” Yes, but none of them come from Wales.

Which means that we have the English government, with ‘Welsh’ Labour and Plaid Cymru support, funding English hippies to settle in Wales; with the English Planning Inspectorate overruling any attempt by local planning authorities to enforce regulations.

Lammas, Red Pig Farm and all the other settlements springing up faster than the mushrooms they grow expose Plaid Cymru for what it has become. For given the choice between an eco-village of English hippies and a Welsh village modern Plaid Cymru will choose the hippies every time.

EARTH CENTRE, TEMPLE, OR DWELLINGHOUSE?

There is currently a major building being erected on the Lammas site, though what it is is open to speculation. This video from Hoppi Wimbush’ Facebook page shows the erection of a building some 6 metres or 20 feet high to the eaves. (Click on ‘expand’ box in bottom right corner to view it in full screen.)

 

In this post from her Facebook page (below) she refers to the construction as the ‘Earth Centre’. In the video she calls it a ‘temple’. Suggesting that it is a religious or spiritual building of some kind, and yet . . .

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The planning permission granted for that building describes it as a ‘dwellinghouse’. The front elevation below shows the full extent of this ‘dwellinghouse’, with the section shown in the video and the Facebook picture shaded in yellow.

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By any criterion, and no matter what it is, this is a bloody big building. You or I would never be allowed such a substantial structure in open country . . . in our own country. But then, we aren’t middle-class English hippies.

Given that there is every likelihood this building, when completed, will be far more than a ‘dwellinghouse’, I suggest that Pembrokeshire County Council planners hot-foot it over to Lammas pronto and find out what the hell is going on.

UPDATE 19.01.2018: I think this information confirms that what’s being erected now, the central part of ‘Maes Melangell’, is definitely a temple. This must surely contravene and invalidate the planning permission granted for a dwellinghouse.

I think somebody’s taking the piss, like they have been since they first invited themselves into our country.

But let me conclude with this warning to planning officials – or anyone mad enough to visit Lammas without good reason – take your own food and drink! And try not to touch anything unless wearing surgical gloves.

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♦ end ♦

 

‘Llais y Sais’ – what you’re missing!

Llais y Sais (Voice of the English) is an alternative name for our much-reviled and laughingly self-styled ‘National Newspaper of Wales’. It’s readership has plummeted over the years and I think it’s now down to me and some old bird in Ponty.

Yes, I still read it, but then, I’m a masochist; I have to be to stay in Wales and witness the idiocy, duplicity and corruption at all levels of our national life. What’s more, as a blogger, I feel it’s my duty to read it so that you may be spared, with me bringing you the occasional report here or on Twitter. (God! the things I do for you.)

Today is your lucky day because I’m going to give you four stories from today’s issue. So relax, and enjoy.

BIGOT FODDER

First up is a strange little story about someone complaining that a Santa Claus couldn’t speak Welsh. Does this really merit half a page?

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As I suggest, this is a curious non-story designed to get the likes of Jacques Protic and Clements of Llangyfelach pounding their keyboards. It’s news value is zero, especially weeks after Christmas, which makes it nothing more than a ‘Welsh bastards!’ story designed to suggest intolerance or extremism on the part of Welsh speakers.

Which makes it entirely predictable that this ‘story’ originated with English Heritage West (aka Cadw) and ended up in Llais y Sais.

‘A BIGOT WRITES . . . ‘

It would be easy to dismiss this reader’s letter from today’s issue as more bigot fodder . . . but it comes from a bigot.

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If I’m reading this letter correctly, then Dennis Coughlin believes that ‘Welsh’ Labour’s undemocratic internal processes are there to keep in power “dominant quasi-nationalists whose raison d’etre is to placate those of a direct lineage to the sons of Owen Glendower”. He seems to hate things Welsh so much that he can’t even bring himself to write Owain Glyndŵr.

As if that wasn’t enough, in his final paragraph he goes on to accuse these ‘quasi-nationalists’ of racism, for there’s no other way to interpret his reference to skin colour.

And yet, this idiot does represent traditional Labour in Wales – the anti-Welsh Labour Party of George Thomas and Neil Kinnock. That party we’d hoped was behind us . . . but maybe it’s just been biding its time.

Is he a member of the Labour Party, and if so, will he be disciplined? And why did Llais y Sais publish such a disgraceful, anti-Welsh smear?

Out of curiosity I Googled ‘Dennis Coughlin’, and came up with this letter, published by Llais y Sais on January 8th. This man clearly has a problem with the Welsh language. Rather than pander to it maybe Llais y Sais should have a word with his family.

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And not publish any more bigoted garbage like the two letters it’s published this week from Dennis Coughlin.

TAX AND SPEND

A regular columnist in Llais y Sais is economist Dylan Jones-Evans. I read him with no great enthusiasm but it helps pass the time. In today’s piece he again attacked the possibility – no more at this stage – of the ‘Welsh’ Government introducing a tourism tax.

Some of what he’s written deserves comment.

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As you may know, I support a tourism tax because I would like to see the money raised spent on those areas suffering excessive levels of tourism. I live in such an area and I know that the great majority of local people see no benefit from tourism.

Worse, they are disadvantaged in a number of ways: tourism provides low skill, low pay and often seasonal employment; tourism results in people wanting to settle, which leads to higher house prices and, due to the age profile of these immigrants, increased strain on our NHS and other services; tourism also results in Anglicisation; then we have the issues of traffic congestion, environmental degradation, waste, etc.

So if we are to have a tourism tax then I would want to see the revenue collected used to alleviate some of these problems, perhaps by helping local young people get on the housing ladder.

But Dylan Jones-Evans questions if the revenue from a tourist tax, “will really go towards improving the tourism facilities as promised”. Promised by whom? What is the point of levying a tax on tourism only to put it straight back into tourism?

Any tourism tax in Wales must be compensatory or it’s not worth bothering.

Elsewhere he tells us that “the tourism industry generates nearly £9bn for the economy and supports around 242,000 jobs”. Which if nothing else, reminds us that when it comes to tourism figures can be plucked out of thin air, because there is no independent source for figures on tourism and no trustworthy verification.

To illustrate the problem, and even though Dylan Jones-Evans tells us that tourism “supports” 242,000 jobs, StatsWales gives a figure of just 131,300 jobs in “tourism-related industries”, for 2015, so your guess is as good as mine as to where his figure came from.

Perhaps it came from some body run by tourism operators, which looks at towns like Llandudno and Tenby, or areas like Snowdonia and Gower, and concludes that everyone working there must be involved in tourism. Deceitful and deliberately misleading.

And the same can be said for the figure of £9bn.

‘AS LONG AS HE’S FROM CARDIFF’

As you probably know, I’m a football fan. Obviously I support the Swans and Wales, but I also watch games involving other clubs and countries. In this year’s World Cup I shall again be supporting Argentina, though I had hoped to be swearing at the telly wearing red, but a combination of bad luck and cynical Irish tactics put paid to that prospect.

So football coverage is one reason I buy Llais y Sais, though even this is marred by the contributions of Paul Abbandonato, ‘Head of Sport’, no less. But I should be used to it because I remember when that shyster Sam Hammam took over Cardiff City Abbandonato went into overdrive using photos of the National Stadium and insisting that Cardiff City would soon need to play there because they’d be entertaining the likes of Barcelona.

Hammam it was who played his role in Swans-Bluebirds relations by insisting that Swans’ fans should switch their allegiance to Cardiff City. And Abbandonato lapped it up. Abbandonato is not just biased towards the football club, he’s something of a Cardiff nationalist, singing from the ‘Welsh’ media’s Cardiff über Alles song sheet.

Today’s contribution from Abbandonato was in keeping with all that has preceded it except that it wasn’t a report or a preview of a game, instead it was an attempt to influence a decision soon to be made by the Football Association of Wales.

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As far as Abbandonato is concerned the FAW’s decision is between Ryan Giggs and Craig Bellamy, there’s nobody else in the frame.

Though if you read the article there is – given its subject matter – one glaring lacuna, and that is that despite bigging up his favourites he has nothing to say about their experience. Because quite simply they have none. Which means that Abbandonato wants our national football team to be managed by a man with no experience and for no better reason than that he comes from Cardiff.

But there are other considerations, especially with Giggs. To begin with, I don’t think most fans would accept him due to his reluctance to turn out for the national team when selected (which he has blamed on his manager at Manchester United, Sir Alex Ferguson).

But then there’s a question mark over what kind of a man he is. I’m referring now to his eight-year affair with his brother Rhodri’s wife, which seems to have taken its toll on his brother. Do we really want such a man in charge of our national football team, and impressionable young men?

I believe that following the performance of our national team in Euro 2016 the FAW could aim a bit higher and get a top coach, someone with experience. So I urge the FAW not to be swayed by Abbandonato and the Cardiff lobby and to cast the net wider, find an experienced coach and a man we can all respect.

UPDATE 16.01.2017: And lo! it came to pass as predicted that the selection committee empowered by the FAW did appoint the aforementioned Ryan Giggs as the new manager of our national football team. The media was forced to admit that the news was not welcomed by all Welsh fans but tried to play down the hostility.

Unfortunately for the BBC it ran a poll which showed that only a minority thought it was a good decision. And this, remember, was on the UK BBC website, which means that a lot of Manchester United fans would have voted ‘Yes’ for a club legend. Which tells us that most Welsh fans oppose the decision.

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So there you are, I’ve reminded you why you no longer read Llais y Sais – I bet you’re glad!

♦ end ♦

Hippies and associated problems

LAMMAS

I hope you’ve got over your amazement on hearing about the fire at the Lammas ‘ecovillage’ in Pembrokeshire, and wondering how such buildings were allowed in the first place.

The truth is it’s because the ‘Welsh’ Government dances to the hippy tune, even legislating for them with nonsense like One Wales: One Planet and Well-being of Future Generations (Wales) Act 2015, which in practice are little more than hippy magnets.

Bad enough, but by following links and making connections, it becomes clear how these hippy settlements link with other colonial operations in ripping off the Welsh public purse and arrogantly claiming to have the answers to ‘problems’ the inhabitants of the Welsh countryside didn’t realise existed.

Let’s stick with Lammas for a minute. Which we see here described as an “off-grid ecovillage”.

Something repeated on the Lammas website, where we read: “Electrical power is generated from a series of micro photovoltaic installations along with a 27kW hydro generator. Heating power is supplied from timber (either waste timber from our woodland management or from short-rotation-coppice biomass plantations). Domestic water comes from a private spring and other water needs are predominantly met from harvesting rainwater.”

So it’s off-grid in terms of its electrical supply, and self-sufficient in water, apparently. Though I’m a little confused by the wording, which reads, “Domestic water comes from a private spring and other water needs are predominantly met from harvesting rainwater.” ‘Predominantly’ is not exclusively, and suggests the spring and harvested rainwater are supplemented in some way.

Is water toted from a nearby stream or is there a mains water supply to Lammas?

Worth asking because reports on the recent fire mention a ‘junction box’. Again, this could be explained by the solar, hydro or biomass power, but it also raises the prospect of a mains electricity supply.

Note that the account I’ve linked to in the Telegraph quotes Jasmine Dale, who lived in the house, saying, ” . . . we know the feeling, our first home burnt down . . . “. We also read, ” . . . there have been three similar incidents in Pembrokeshire in the last year.” Bloody hell!

What do these fires have in common, could it be something to do with the way certain buildings are constructed? I ask because someone drew my attention to a Facebook exchange on the subject of the Lammas fire.

Hoppi Wimbush is the wife of Paul, and with her husband is one of the founders of Lammas/Tir y Gafel. What she has to say is very interesting. “The corridors acted like a chimney” suggests that there were no internal doors, certainly no fire doors. All accounts I’ve read suggest that the fire took hold very quickly and burned fiercely. So, again, what might have caused that?

The answer may come, unintentionally, from Rachel Shiamh, who says in the Facebook conversation, “As we all know, straw bale buildings are not a high fire risk . . . “. Now I know that we are dealing here with people who prefer an alternative lifestyle, but this woman also demands an alternative reality, because straw bales are inherently flammable, and to pretend otherwise is insane!

So why is Rachel Shiamh spouting such nonsense? – because she is of course a proselytiser for ‘strawbale’ construction.

UPDATE 09.01.2018: Just days after the Lammas fire the English Planning Inspectorate overruled Pembrokeshire county council to give planning permission to another ‘low impact smallholding’ in the county. Significantly, the inspector used both pieces of legislation I mentioned above to justify her decision.

UPDATE 16.01.2018: If you’re tempted to visit Lammas – for God’s sake don’t eat there!

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ANOTHER LAMMAS!

You’ll have read that Rachel Shiamh thanks David Thorpe, so who might he be? To begin with, we see that he’s another denizen of Alternative Reality who also believes that strawbale buildings are just fine.

. . . no, they just burn better

Beyond that, David Thorpe manages the Calon Cymru Network based in Llandeilo. It’s a community interest company registered with Companies House. While there are no eye-watering amounts of money involved (yet) there are ambitious plans.

In the immediate future, this recent tweet suggests that someone plans an ecovillage, another Lammas, in the Tywi valley.

Regular readers may be struck by the venue for this meeting last Sunday about a new ecovillage, for it’s at the former YMCA building in Llandovery run by Jill Tatman, which has been told by the YMCA organisation to stop using the YMCA label. I wrote about it a couple of months back, scroll down to the section Llandovery YMCA.

So where might this new ecovillage be located?

I suspect that it’s at Coed Tal-y-Lan aka Red Pig Farm. And if that sounds familiar then it’s because I also wrote about the place and those involved back in September 2016, in The Green Smokescreen, which I urge you to read, in order to understand the kind of people we’re dealing with. Not just the shyster-hippies but the politicians, in Labour and Plaid Cymru, who back them.

The Englishman James Scrivens, and the Danish woman Sara Tommerup, who run Red Pig Farm also use the names Agroecology Land Trust and Black Mountain Food Hub. Sara is – perhaps predictably – a ‘graduate’ of the Centre for Alternative Technology.

The Black Mountain Food Hub had a Twitter account that seemed to think Wales is in England. Quaint!

As you might expect, I went to the Land Registry website for the details on Red Pig Farm or Coed Tal-y-Lan, but what came up for that post code was ‘Pentre Bach’, so I took a chance and bought it.

The title document then confuses the issue a little further by giving the name of the property as Tan-Y-Lan Woodlands, which is obviously a part-Anglicisation of Coed Tan-y-Lan, and is owned by Christopher John Cooper of Ammanford. And although I was able to download the title document from the Land Registry website, there was no outline plan to accompany it, as is normally the case.

So who is Christopher John Cooper? And is Red Pig Farm on his property, perhaps formerly known as Pentre Bach? If Red Pig Farm is not on the land owned by Cooper then why isn’t it registered separately with the Land Registry?

The picture is further complicated by 192.com which suggests that also based at Red Pig Farm are S E & E O Williams, who appear to be genuine Welsh farmers.

In a final attempt to make some sense of what the place is called and who might own it, I went to the Companies House entry for Red Pig Farm Ltd . . . though the company changed its name in December to Coed Talylan Ltd. The company had been known as Red Pig Farm Ltd since June 2016, before which it was Agroecology Land Initiative Ltd.

There have also been a few changes of address since Incorporation in February 2015, with the first registered address being in Stroud, Gloucestershire. In June 2015 the address changed to Werndolau Farm, Golden Grove, Carmarthen SA32 8NE (which seems to be linked to Red Pig Farm via the Black Mountain Food Hub). In May 2016 the address was settled as Red Pig Farm.

So who owns what and how are they connected? And how many different names are there for this property? Answers on a postcard, please . . .

MORE ALTERNATIVE REALITY

Ecovillages and all the other elements of this strategy are being encouraged, so we are told by the ‘Welsh’ Government and those involved, to do something about global warming, and who can argue with that? So let’s give it some thought.

Let’s focus on 76 acres of unused land in north Pembrokeshire, land that has no carbon footprint. Then a bunch of people move in from England. They clear that land, cut down trees, burn wood to create smoke, produce human and animal waste including methane, and create a substantial carbon footprint where there was none before.

Clearly, Lammas and other communities, like the one planned for Red Pig Farm, because they develop unused land and are populated exclusively by incomers, increase Wales’ carbon footprint. Which means that the fundamental premiss of the whole strategy is – as we environmentalists are wont to say after a glass or five of Malbec – utter bollocks.

The counter-argument might be that this encouraged degradation is a price worth paying for the educational role played by places like Lammas in helping Wales become more environmentally friendly. But there is little if any interaction with the indigenous population to facilitate an educational role.

We know this because the only people who attend the courses run by Lammas, or volunteer to work on these ecovillages and similar schemes, are people just like those running them – members of the English middle class hoping to find their own bit of land in Wales and move in . . . to build more fire-traps like those at Lammas.

By moving to Wales those involved with Lammas, Red Pig Farm and similar ventures increase Wales’ carbon footprint but of course they reduce England’s; so is our ‘Welsh’ Government legislating to make England a greener and pleasanter land by attracting these people to Wales?

♦ end ♦

 

Decisions made in haste . . .

A DEATH IN THE FAMILY

Welsh politics was recently rocked by the tragic death of Carl Sargeant, the Assembly Member for Alyn and Deeside, who took his own life after being suspended by the party following allegations that he had behaved improperly towards women.

The whole case was bizarre and the spotlight soon turned on certain creatures lurking in the office of First Minister Carwyn Jones, who were accused of back-stabbing and bullying, with Carl Sargeant being presented as a victim of this behaviour rather than the perpetrator of any offences himself.

Understandably, with a man taking his own life over vague allegations that seem not to have been properly investigated, or even explained to him, the spotlight also fell on Carwyn Jones, the man who employed the alleged bullies and back-stabbers.

Feelings in Sargeant’s constituency party ran high, and it was no surprise when Carwyn Jones, First Minister of the ‘Welsh’ Government and leader of the Labour Party in Wales, was told by the family not to attend the funeral of a Labour Party Assembly Member.

But what’s done is done, now we move on.

THE SON ALSO RISES

Last night the local branch of the party selected Carl Sargeant’s son Jack to stand in the by-election on Tuesday the sixth of February. This was obviously a show of solidarity with the family, and a pitch for the sympathy vote, but whether it makes sense on any other level is open to question.

I don’t know Jack Sargeant – I doubt if many do – but that doesn’t seem to matter; what does seem to matter is ‘honouring’ his dead father and sticking it to Carwyn Jones. Though how that is to be achieved without damaging the party Carl Sargeant loved is also open to question

Those reservations aside, the selection seems to have been largely welcomed among the bruvvers. Here’s a tweet from Peter Hughes who represents the trade union Unite in the South West Region (of England). For those unfamiliar with Unite, it seems to be a union popular with Labour politicians.

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In the thank you speech he made last night young Jack made such play of being a local candidate for local people that I thought for a minute we were in Royston Vasey (League of Gentlemen). Which again, raises a question – for is Jack standing for the ‘Welsh’ Labour Party led by the hated Carwyn Jones or is he the candidate for some new and local incarnation of Labour? Perhaps even an Independent?

If elected, will Jack trot down to Cardiff and take the Labour whip, and orders from Carwyn Jones? If he does, then what was all the fuss about? And if he doesn’t, then the voters of Alyn and Deeside will have been duped into voting for what they believed was a Labour candidate.

Quite frankly, the selection of Jack Sargeant was pure theatre. A decision made on emotional grounds. Emotion, like anger and alcohol often results in decisions that are soon regretted.

Apart from being Carl Sargeant’s son in what other way is Jack Sargeant qualified to be the candidate and, most likely, the Assembly Member, for Alyn and Deeside?

ALTERNATIVES

The Royston Vasey theme continued with attacks from the Labour/Sargeant camp on other parties’ candidates for not being local. The Plaid Cymru candidate, Councillor Carrie Harper, was singled out for being from faraway Wrecsam.

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Clearly, there is anger in the constituency over the way Carl Sargeant was treated by the Labour Party, so the obvious outlet for that anger would be to vote for any party other than Labour.

So is Labour being its traditional devious self by asking people to vote Labour . . . or rather, to vote for Jack Sargeant and forget that he’s the Labour candidate. For I guarantee that it will be the Sargeant name rather than ‘Labour Party’ that we’ll hear in the campaign.

We can but hope that what passes for the ‘Welsh media’ does it’s job between now and February 6th.

  • ‘Tell us, Jack; if elected, will you shake hands with Carwyn Jones?’
  • ‘Come to that – will you even be a member of the Labour group in the Assembly?’
  • ‘You say that if elected you want to investigate the events leading up to your father’s death, but you must appreciate that the more waves you make the more damage you’ll do to the party your father loved.’
  • ‘Apart from being your father’s son what qualifies you to be the candidate for Alyn and Deeside?’
  • ‘Isn’t there a risk that your selection might be seen as a succession rather than as part of the democratic process?’
  • ‘If elected, and after the anger has subsided, what will you have to offer the people of Alyn and Deeside?’

I expect Jack Sargeant to be elected. He will arrive in the snake-pit that is Cardiff Bay full of purpose . . . until emissaries for Carwyn Jones get to work on him. Avuncular arms will be felt on his young shoulders and messages intoned: ‘Terrible mistake . . . culprits will be punished . . . Carwyn didn’t know . . . lovely man, your dad, we all loved him . . . think of the party . . . Brexit . . . Tory bastards . . . ‘.

And we shall hear little more of young Jack Sargeant.

The alternative scenario is that the boy goes down to Cardiff with vengeance in his heart and causes chaos. The Labour Party in Wales splits along its Welsh/British fault line and politics in Wales suddenly becomes interesting.

♦ end ♦