Guest Post by Hendy wind farm protesters

DOWN THE RABBIT HOLE

Jac has written about the Hendy and Bryn Blaen wind farms fiasco previously in Corruption in the wind and updates (here and here).

Since November last year Powys residents have been living an Alice in Wonderland adventure, though now we have perhaps moved on from Lewis Carroll to Franz Kafka.

To set the scene: planning regulations require construction in accordance with the permission granted. That means one should develop according to approved plans, within the red line boundary and abide by any conditions attached to the permission. If this is not followed development is unlawful and potentially the developer could lose their permission. At Hendy wind farm the developer also needs separate common land permissions for his access across Llandegley Rhos to the wind farm site. A planning authority can enforce against a breach of planning conditions, but only if it is expedient to do so. (Expedient: adjective meaning, “convenient and practical although possibly improper or immoral”.) That is in the real world; here we are in Powys, in Wales.

The developer is chasing a subsidy deadline of 31st January which apparently allows only one turbine erected out of seven to commission but it does not have to have a grid connection. So why bother with the niceties of regulations when pound signs beckon? Publicly Njord Energy Ltd or Hendy Wind Farm Ltd, anyway, Steven Radford, maintains he is not being unlawful and he’s a responsible developer and that those nasty local residents are victimising him.

Before the last of the discharge of conditions applications was submitted the developer had made a construction compound outside of the red line boundary. The public complained to Powys Development Management.

Next an access track appeared, still outside of the permitted development. The public complained to Powys Development Management and pointed out how their own department had relentlessly pursued enforcement of an adjacent landowner for over five years, even taking him to court. We received an email from the planning officer, it was fine, the developer had told them this was permitted development so Powys could not enforce, although a breach of conditions case was opened.

The developer “re-stoned” the track across the common. It rained and it rained but turbine foundation works progressed apace. The public complained to Powys Development Management. The public complained to Natural Resources Wales. Lots of round straw bales appeared in ditches and streams to catch sediment. Sheep on the common land could not believe their luck, graziers are not allowed to feed them on the common. Meanwhile the track across the common, widened by heavy use of lorries, turned to mud. A culvert collapsed. Natural Resources Wales made the developer repair it.

Feasting sheep, click to enlarge

Meanwhile, Powys had sought counsel’s advice which is: there needs to be evidence of environmental harm otherwise it is not expedient to enforce.

Concrete pouring was imminent. The concrete would be irreversible damage to land at the headwaters of a river that is part of the River Wye SAC. Brecon and Radnor CPRW decided to apply for an injunction. A temporary injunction was granted until a court hearing three days later. The developer sent a letter to court stating that they believed that they had done nothing unlawful. The development was predicated on the subsidies and if they failed to commission by the deadline, they would have to apply for bigger wind turbines. Also, concrete pour must be completed by 4th January to allow for erection and commissioning of the wind turbine.

Letter from Hendy Wind Farm Ltd solicitor to CPRW solicitor. Click to enlarge.

At the court hearing Justice Garnham agreed that concreting the foundation was irreversible nevertheless he asked what the cut-off date for concrete pour would be to get subsidy. Then, with miraculous timing, an email from NRW was sent to court stating the concrete pour would be okay as long as it followed the methodology submitted. That was the end of any injunction.

Concrete pour day, the 3rd of January, arrived and Powys residents turned out to meet and greet the mixer lorries whilst exercising their Open Access rights on the common track. The police and extra security drafted in to deal with the rabble found them a real handful. For goodness sake, they also exercised their right to use the bridleway which crosses the track on the common.

‘She’s a real handful – will four of us be enough?’ (Click to enlarge)

It all got a bit boisterous and a tragedy was narrowly averted when one lady ended up on the ground and if she had not been quick would have gone under the wheels of a lorry. The video, which was uploaded to YouTube, shows the lorry slowing then speeding away, yet Steven Radford when recently challenged by the local AM, Kirsty Williams, claimed the lorry stopped. Should’ve gone to Specsavers. This riotous assembly caused such a delay that a second meet and greet the mixer lorries had to take place on 8th January. Luckily, because NRW had okayed the concrete pour it was still not expedient to enforce.

What of Hendy Wind Farm’s letter to court stating that concreting must be completed by 4th January in order to allow the “cure” before erection and commissioning of the lonely wind turbine? Was that an honest misunderstanding of civil engineering technicalities?

After all that excitement a few days of gentle activity around the turbine base getting it all landscaped and ready for the turbine components lulled us all before the surprise appearance of abnormal load access plan “version 4” on 17th January. Why wait for daylight to arrive when you can work in the dark beside the A44? By the end of day hedges had been removed, trees felled, soil moved and a new track onto the common was almost made. Extraordinary that this just happened to be the same day as planning officers were at the monthly planning meeting. Please, do not be worried about these latest works because a workman on site told a community councillor it can be put back when they have finished.

Removed hedge, click to enlarge

Having made a site visit planning officers are pondering the expediency of enforcement for this new access because it has no planning permission, but if they can hang it out just a little longer the abnormal loads, temporary traffic restrictions for which seem to have been expedited, will be here after which it would not be expedient to enforce because all the damage has already been done.

click to enlarge

Anyway, why use enforcement when they can just ask the developer to apply for retrospective planning permission to rectify all the misdemeanours. It will then be expedient to approve any application because the council is too poor to go around the merry go round again.

You may be wondering where are the politicians and press in all of this? UK newspapers are apparently not interested in the scam a FTSE listed company is pulling, enabled by an extraordinarily lax accreditation loophole. The local press has kept the story alive and BBC Wales have done a couple of short news items including one about Bryn Blaen wind farm not producing any electricity since it was finished in early February 2018. Ofgem claims this wind farm is not accredited but they do have submissions for electricity export for Feb and March 2018. Has Bryn Blaen registered for accreditation but not yet received that in full because of grid connection problems? But they must have had a grid connection at the time of commissioning or else how did they manage to submit output for two months? Anyway, news is, there is a flurry of activity on the wind farm. Will it really be operational by 31st January as promised? There is that all important date again.

Labour politicians in the “Welsh Government” are all hiding behind Brecon and Radnor CPRW’s S288 challenge to Lesley Griffiths decision to approve the wind farm. Can they really not differentiate between a challenge to the permission and questions from local residents about lawful procedure of enforcement?

Previously Lesley Griffiths, Labour, could not say anything but Julie James, Labour, Minister for Housing and Local Government now has planning in her remit but cannot say anything. Did our new FM spot a conflict of interest in the fact that under Carwyn Jones the Minister for Energy also had the power to decide energy projects? Eluned Morgan, Labour, one of our regional AMs is of course now a minister so cannot say anything. Joyce Watson, Labour, a regional AM has remained eerily silent. Kirsty Williams, Lib, Minister for Education and Brecon and Radnor AM, can and has supported local residents. Neil Hamilton, UKIP, regional AM has been supportive but encountered the same Alice in Wonderland experience.

Our local politicians, not to be outdone, have also entered the rabbit hole. The leader of PCC, Rosemarie Harris, keeps quoting “expediency” whilst at the same time has asked WG for more money to help finance the monitoring of the fiasco they themselves have facilitated.

The local County Councillor, in whose ward the wind farm sits, was sponsored to become a CC by a landowner with an interest in the wind farm. Before being elected as a county councillor in 2017 he was not a politician but has had a meteoric rise to Cabinet being the portfolio holder for Economy and Planning. Under which conflict of interest have his occasional visits to the wind farm site been made?

What of the contractors, Jones Bros of Ruthin? A visit to their website does not enlighten on the Hendy or Bryn Blaen projects yet they tell us all about other wind farm projects they have been involved in. Why would a high profile contractor knowingly work on an unlawful development?

Saturday 19 January, crane for erecting turbine arrives. Click to enlarge

Then there are those stalwart Guardians of the Common; local residents out there in all weathers and sometimes in the dark. At first the protests were amicable then Dyfed Powys Police turned up saying that they were in possession of a sworn affidavit from the landowner of the common. Since then their attitude changed. A quick trip to Carmarthen headquarters the same day failed to locate the affidavit. An FOI submitted on 12th December to see the affidavit has resulted in a reply on 14th January to say they need more time to decide if they are even prepared to confirm or deny that the alleged affidavit actually exists. Some locals have already seen it!

As they say, follow the money.

♦ end ♦

Jac adds: I can understand perfectly the involvement of developers and investors in onshore wind turbines – money in the form of subsidies from the UK government.

I also understand the motivation of the UK government in giving such subsidies. On the one hand it’s a bit of ‘greenwash’ to keep environmentalists happy, and on the other hand it puts a lot of money the way of important people like David Cameron’s father-in-law, the Duke of Beaufort, FTSE-listed companies, etc.

But what I cannot understand is why any body or individual claiming to be serving Welsh interests would help these parasites desecrate our country. Lesley Griffiths, in allowing the Hendy scam to proceed, argued that it was ‘in the national interest’. But how does Wales benefit?

So obvious is the scam that – as we see with Bryn Blaen – it doesn’t matter whether the turbines turn or not, the subsidies keep rolling in! So we are paying for turbines that aren’t even generating anything!

And on the subject of paying . . . I assume the developers are paying for the heavies they’ve brought in to rough up old dears, but who’s paying for the police? I guess it’s us, again.

So let’s recap: The ‘Welsh Government’ is encouraging the desecration of our country with wind turbines that produce negligible amounts of electricity – sometimes none at all – and we have to pay for it, not only in the damage caused by thousands of tons of concrete, and access roads driven across pristine landscapes, but also in the deaths of birds and bats (when the turbines turn). Yet this is all justified in the name of ‘environmentalism’!

As if that wasn’t bad enough, we have to pay for the subsidies through our electricity bills and now we also have to pay for Welsh police to ensure that this con can be perpetrated.

One great irony is that the Labour Party has always been luke-warm to wind energy (certainly the more ‘traditional’ elements in the party), yet here it is bending over backwards to force these monstrosities on us. Somebody is obviously applying pressure on the management team down Cardiff docks.

Though one party that has had a decades-long love affair with these monsters is Plaid Cymru. It would be nice to report that the scales have finally fallen from their eyes and from now on Plaid will prioritise Welsh interests.

But I can’t.

Delyth Jewell AM: a clarification

Last night, on learning that Delyth Jewell was to succeed the late Steffan Lewis as the AM for the South Wales East region, I checked her Twitter account and put out a tweet which was soon ‘answered’ by Leanne Wood AM, the former leader of Plaid Cymru.

Delyth Jewell’s Twitter account describes her thus: “Campaigner on women’s rights and international development. @ActionAidUK  Formerly @CitizensAdvice and  @HouseofCommons”. So she’s from the third sector and has, presumably, worked as a spad, unless ‘House of Commons’ means that she was employed directly by that source of endless entertainment.

click to enlarge

On reflection, the tweet I put out could have been worded better, and I shall clarify below why I have misgivings about Ms Jewell’s elevation. But no disrespect was meant to Ms Jewell, personally, for I don’t know her. (Though that never seems to deter my detractors.) She may turn out to be an excellent Assembly Member, but her background, and professed interests, do not fill me with confidence, as I shall explain.

But then, some might think that Leanne Wood’s tweet was a little OTT as well, maybe abusing her position of influence. Perhaps it even qualifies as the kind of ‘bullying’ we hear so much about from Cardiff Bay (another source of endless entertainment).

Now let me move on to my real target.

THE THIRD SECTOR

The reason I was moved to tweet about Delyth Jewell was because she is now an AM with declared interests of “women’s rights and international development”. Taking the second first, the ‘Welsh Government’ has no international development programme.

God Almighty! the Labour Party is running Wales into the ground, what advice could they possibly offer any other country?

As for “women’s rights”, I assume this links with her job with ActionAid, a worthy undertaking, no doubt, but this is a concern already well represented in the Assembly.

Are these the interests she’ll be pursuing in the Assembly, or will she be focusing on those things her constituents are more concerned with? You know, those mundane things that boring, poor people go on about – jobs, homes, health, education, getting from A to B . . .

Anyone familiar with this blog will know that I have criticised the third sector in Wales for many years. There are a number of fundamental problems with the third sector which can be easily listed:

  • It uses a great deal of public funding. Hundreds of millions of pounds are poured every year into ventures that a child could see will never be viable. It’s no coincidence that these money pits are usually run by Labour and/or Plaid Cymru supporters.
  • That’s because the third sector is an almost exclusively socialist sphere that, in Wales, brings together Plaid Cymru and the local branch of the Labour Party. In addition to funding ‘projects’ run by Labour/Plaid Cymru supporters third sector organisations provide many jobs for Labour and Plaid Cymru supporters. It’s called cronyism.
  • The third sector is a ‘treadmill’, by which I mean that no organisation can ever solve the problem it claims to be tackling. To do so would result in a loss of funding and salaries. Which means, for example, that if Wales can’t supply enough ‘clients’ for a third sector body then these will be brought into Wales (and funded from the Welsh public purse).
  • Which in turn means that, far from alleviating poverty, deprivation, homelessness, substance abuse, and a host of other ills the third sector nurtures, even exaggerates them, for its own benefit.
  • In Wales the third sector operates in an Englandandwales framework; since 1999 this has resulted in many hundreds of third sector professionals moving to Wales to take advantage of: a) the generous funding available and b) the almost total absence of ‘Welsh Government’ oversight and accountability.
  • The third sector serves as a substitute economy. Given the almost exclusively socialist outlook of those controlling the third sector it is anti-business yet tries to promote itself as something commercial.
  • The third sector has far too much influence with the ‘Welsh Government’ and other funders, and with it comes the shadowy, possibly sinister, organisation Common Purpose.
  • The third sector is one of the pillars of the Union in Wales and therefore a major obstacle to independence.

Most of that should have been easily understood, but perhaps the last point needs explaining.

All my life I have wanted Wales to be independent. I mention this so that no one should think I started taking an interest after Brexit, or when it dawned on me that an independence bandwagon had started trundling, and if I couldn’t take over the reins then I’d better start my own.

Looking back to the Scottish independence referendum of 2014, the one argument that Unionists and the Better Together campaign could not use was, ‘Scotland can’t afford independence’, because everyone agreed she could, and that was one reason the vote was so close.

Here in Wales the ‘can’t afford it’ argument sways far too many voters, and the reason for this is, it’s the truth – Wales is a poor country. In support of his/her argument, any opponent of independence would point to the size of the third sector. For it’s generally accepted that the size of the third sector, the numbers ‘needing help’, is an indicator of a country’s economic and social health.

Throw in the percentage of jobs in the public sector and other non-commercial spheres of the economy, add quality of the housing stock, health levels, education standards, transport links and infrastructure, and any impartial observer would conclude that Wales is a basket-case country, Cloud-cuckoo Land could make a better case for independence.

And yet, why can this picture be presented, and who benefits?

  • The Conservative and Unionist party, whether in government or not, can see the advantage in Wales having a bloated third sector. For it: a) gives the impression of poverty that makes any thought of independence absurd, and, b) makes many thousands of potentially troublesome people dependent on handouts from the public purse
  • The English Labour Party in Wales is as Unionist as the Conservatives. But with the added incentive of a) being able to use the third sector to provide direct employment and funding for its supporters and, b) being able to capitalise on the poverty and deprivation made evident by a bloated third sector to garner votes by blaming ‘Them wicked Tories’ and sending ‘messages to London’. (Message reads: ‘We are your loyal servants, and we will keep Wales poor to maintain the Union. For England and St. George [Thomas]!)
  • Plaid Cymru should be able to see through this scam, one would have hoped, but no, Plaid Cymru has swallowed it hook, line and sinker. And Plaid was easily caught; for being a socialist party, an anti-business party, it is delighted to see vast amounts of funding squandered on the third sector, ‘Cos it ‘elps people in need, innit’ . . . without ever joining up the dots and understanding why those people are in need.

Which is why the Welsh Assembly, and Wales, needs another representative of the third sector like the Uighurs need more concentration camps. That is what I meant to say.

If what I’ve written here offends anyone, then I really don’t fucking care. If you mistake the shackles that bind you for delicate gold bracelets then you’re never going to break them. By being so supportive of the third sector Plaid Cymru is supporting the Union, for the dependency ‘economy’ is one of England’s best weapons.

Wales is a wealthy country made poor by her enemies. For those claiming to be her children and her friends to stupidly celebrate and capitalise on that poverty rather than seek to build a healthy economy is a betrayal.

♦ end ♦

 

 

The left and Europe, Brexit, independence

I felt compelled to put finger to keyboard because I’m tired of hearing arguments for the EU but against the totality of Europe. The kind of people guilty of this are now taking an increased interest in Welsh independence.

To re-state my position – in June 2016 I voted to leave the EU. My reasons for doing so were set out in ‘EU Referendum: Why I Want Out!’ and a few days later, after the result was known, I followed up with ‘Brexit, Wexit: Things Can Only Get Better!’

What I hope to explain is that despite being a Brexiteer I regard myself as a European, and that’s because I see Wales as part of a wider European civilisation. This being so, Wales cannot leave Europe, we can only exit the European Union.

THE LEFT AND EUROPE

For me, there are two main variants of the left. On the one hand we have the hard left, or old left, some of whom may even be ‘tankies’, still mourning the demise of the USSR. Then we also have the soft or new left, who like to view themselves as ‘progressives’, but who I often view as the ‘butterfly’ left, flitting from one colourful issue to the next.

Another difference would be that, unattractive as it was, the old left, the Marxists and the Trotskyists had a coherent ideological basis in the writings of assorted philosophers and political theoreticians.

By comparison, the new left is almost without form or ideological substance, being made up of those who believe that what’s important to them, or the latest popular issue, is of vital importance to humanity (whether humanity is interested or not). Which often makes the soft left appear to be nothing more than a loose alliance of single-issue groups – ‘We’ll support you if you support us’.

The Labour Party contains both varieties, with the old left perhaps in the ascendant under Corbyn, but Plaid Cymru is very much home to the latter.

In the good old days of the Soviet Union the hard left had an example to hold up as an alternative to the Western model. An idyll exemplified for me by Peter Sellers’ shop steward in I’m All Right Jack, who dreams of Russia as, ” . . . all them corn fields and ballet in the evening.” A line that never fails to make me smile.

” . . . all them corn fields and ballet in the evening.” click to enlarge

The economic collapse of the USSR discredited the hard left’s alternative model, and opened the door to the soft left, with no obvious political agenda beyond changing the West from within through social and cultural pressure.

Even in the good old days of the Soviet Union, among elements of the left, hostility to the capitalist model spilled over into a rejection of the achievements of ‘decadent’ Europe and its offshoots.

As with the old, so with the new, which often dismisses centuries of human achievement as being all about ‘dead white men’.

Yes, these achievements often went hand in hand with colonisation, exploitation and even slavery, but millions of Europeans were also enslaved, by Turks and North Africans. How many today have heard of the Sack of Baltimore in west Cork? Communities from Cyprus to Iceland suffered from Muslim slave-raids.

The Crimea, the fate of which now so vexes Western governments, was taken by the Russians in 1774 to stop the peninsula being used by its Tatar population to export thousands of captured Russians and Ukrainians into Turkish slavery every year.

By even using the term ‘European civilisation’ I will have had a few leftists reaching for their smelling salts (or whatever they use), for it will have conjured up images of wicked capitalists, oppressors and colonialists, pith helmets and shackles.

Their chosen interpretation of Europe is as distorted as their view on almost everything else. It’s chiaroscuro without the light. In its distortions the touchy-feely left can ignore the genocide being practised by China against the Uighurs yet hold up something said by a politician of the right as a crime against humanity.

This comment (possibly to a piece on Nation.Cymru) refers to Steve Bannon. Now I accept that Bannon is not everybody’s cup of tea, but remarks like this display a myopic ignorance of history that is truly worrying. Click to enlarge.

For them, crimes can only be committed by white men. When it comes to global warming it’s rapacious white men destroying the planet, never developing economies with their coal-fired power stations, or third world countries destroying vast areas of forest every year.

This ‘blame Whitey’ approach betrays another dangerous failing of the soft left, and that is the refusal to accept that the past is another country, they did things differently there; which results in them judging people from previous eras by contemporary mores.

The fact that someone in 1887 was homophobic makes them a creature of their time, not a monster to be vilified by immature individuals who are easily outraged. I’ll let you in on a little secret – back in 1887 most people were homophobic.

To conclude: I’m proud to be a European. I reject the European Union.

THE LEFT AND BREXIT

The hard or old left has usually been hostile to the Common Market and then the European Union, the ‘Rich Man’s Club’ as Marxists were wont to call it. But the real reason for the hard left’s hostility was the same as my original enthusiasm – we both saw the EU as a bulwark against the Soviet bloc.

Three decades after the demise of the USSR the comrades of the hard left still have a lingering affection for Russia. The fact that Putin is viewed as a threat by the West goes some way to explaining the hard left’s ambivalence towards the EU, and Corbyn’s refusal to take a stand on a second referendum, or anything.

The other consideration for the hard left, and Jeremy Corbyn, is that Labour voters from Sunderland to Stoke to Swansea voted for Brexit. They also voted against out-of-touch elites, so Labour really can’t afford to be perceived as aligning with the metropolitan elite.

Jeremy Corbyn and his supporters need to hold on to their middle class support, their ethnic minority support, and their white working class support if they are to form a government. And the largest of those three constituencies remains the white working class in post-industrial areas.

click to enlarge

Generally speaking, the soft left wants the UK and Wales to remain in the European Union. This they regard as the only option for ‘progressives’. This is why we hear them berating Brexiteers as ‘gammons’, ‘racists’, ‘Nazis’, and calling for a ‘People’s Vote’.

The soft left can afford to be openly hostile to Brexit and those who support it partly because these ‘progressives’ are free of electoral concerns and partly because they have ‘disengaged’ themselves from the white working class they regard as irredeemably stupid and reactionary. For the reasons already given, Labour and the old left behave differently.

Whether or not they had achieved this status before the Brexit vote, the new left, the ‘progressives’, have certainly become the patronising metropolitan elite those who voted for Brexit wanted to punish.

I outlined earlier the soft left’s largely negative view of Europe and its history, culture, and contribution to humanity, so why is it supportive of the EU? I can only assume that in their minds there must be some disconnect between the Europe of the Borgias and Wagner with the European Union. For isn’t the European Union Napoleon’s (even Hitler’s) dream realised?

Apparently not.

And that’s because the soft left regards the EU as ‘progressive’. The EU is perceived as breaking down national barriers, welcoming migrants, and generally being a force for good in the world.

Which is fair enough, and entirely consistent with the soft left’s wider – dare I say, globalist? – outlook, but perhaps inconsistent with support for Welsh independence.

THE LEFT AND INDEPENDENCE

As I hoped when I voted for Brexit in 2016, the utter cock-up that politicians are making of the process has both increased the demand for Scottish independence and the likelihood of Irish reunification.

Wales has not been immune to this counter-London shift in public opinion, and now we see a marked increase in support for Welsh independence. This has taken a number of forms including the formation of Ein Gwlad, a new, Wales-focused nationalist party, and also YesCymru, a group campaigning for independence.

YesCymru now seems to have been joined by other groups. One being IndyCymru and, more recently, Undod, and it’s on the second of these I wish to focus. Undod is a socialist grouping, perhaps formed following a failed takeover of YesCymru.

I have no problem with Undod being socialist, as far as I’m concerned, the more the merrier, with just one proviso – the desire for independence must transcend all that divides us.

Which is why I was disappointed to read on Nation.Cymru the old-style sloganising about, “international solidarity . . . unfettered capitalism . . . foreign capital . . . rising threat of the far-right in Wales and beyond . . . excesses of Tory rule . . . “.

A disappointment compounded by seeing no reference to the Labour Party that has mis-managed Wales for two decades. Admittedly, in its conclusion, the article says, “Devolution has shown itself to be incapable of protecting us against the excesses of Tory rule”, without mentioning that devolution could have done more – as it has in Scotland in recent years – had it not been for the Labour Party.

click to enlarge

And the dismissal of “foreign capital” I find odd. Given the traditional neglect of Wales from London (whichever party was in power), and the cowardice and incompetence of the English Labour Party in Wales in its managing of devolution, had it not been for companies and capital from Germany, the USA, Japan, France and other countries investing in Wales we’d have been in an even worse mess.

I’m at a loss to understand how a socialist Wales, which I assume would be hostile to both indigenous entrepreneurialism and foreign investment plans to sustain us. Answers on a postcard, please. (But for God’s sake, don’t tell me it’s state-owned industries!)

Even so . . .

I have said it before, and I will repeat it here – I would accept a Welsh socialist republic if that was the route to independence. I say that because for me, independence is the priority, everything else can be worked out later.

Obviously I would not be happy in a socialist republic and I would seek to make changes, but after we had won our independence; and in the meantime I would defend that socialist republic against all external threats.

Finally, we must consider Catalonia. Over the past year or so I have noticed members of the soft left advocate independence for Wales, remaining in the EU, and support for an independent Catalonia. I’m unclear how such a position can be intellectually rationalised, but some obviously have no problem with it.

From where I stand, anyone belonging to a small European nation within the EU, and seeking independence for that nation, should have been disgusted both by the Spanish state’s treatment of Catalan political leaders and also by the EU’s silence.

click to enlarge

You can read here what the great Breton singer Alan Stivell recently said. I feel the same. (For those too young to remember, here he is singing Tri Martolod.) Like me, Stivell wants a Europe that respects all identities. Not a Europe that promotes homogenisation and tolerates or encourages state terror.

The new/soft/touchy-feely/butterfly/’progressive’ left is wrong about lots of things. Certainly wrong about Europe, and the European Union. Despite this unpromising start we can only hope that its approach to independence is more clear-headed, and sincere.

But I want to make this absolutely clear: anyone imposing ideological preconditions on the kind of Welsh independence they will accept is clearly more concerned with ideology than with Wales, and therefore does not truly believe in Welsh independence.

♦ end ♦

 

Neil McEvoy, Plaid Cymru, deja vu all over again

INTRODUCTION

In a few days time Neil McEvoy, the Assembly Member for the South Wales Central region, is up before the beak, in the form of Sir Roderick Evans, the Standards Commissioner. The charge is that McEvoy used equipment the Assembly had provided for constituency work for party political purposes.

Reported here just before Christmas by BBC Wales. I was even moved to contribute a tweet myself.

click to enlarge

The story that I’m about to relate is complicated, compiled from a number of sources, but an internal consistency becomes evident as interwoven threads emerge. Also certain attitudes I have written about before.

One of those threads is that there are people across the political spectrum who wish that boat-rocking Neil McEvoy would just go away . . . but if he won’t do the decent thing with a 37 bus then they’ll have to do it themselves.

And this hostility seems to transcend party divides, uniting those who huff and puff, play silly games, and in reality do nothing but oversee the continuing  decline of Wales.

But let us start at the beginning.

THE ACCUSED

Neil McEvoy is one of the most easily recognised politicians in the Assembly. He’s certainly popular with people who take no more than a passing interest in politics, and that’s because he is seen to stick it to the man. Regularly. God knows Wales doesn’t have many other politicians doing this.

His background is Arab-Irish-English, just the sort of candidate Plaid Cymru has been looking for to make the breakthrough in Cardiff, or so you might have thought. And his arrival in Plaid was followed by something of a breakthrough.

Before McEvoy joined the party in 2003 Plaid Cymru had just one seat in Cardiff (Creigiau) and little chance of success anywhere else. Yet from 2008 to 2012 Plaid Cymru – with seven seats – was in a ruling coalition with the Liberal Democrats and Neil McEvoy served as deputy council leader.

By the council elections of 2017 Neil McEvoy and the two other Plaid candidates for the Fairwater ward were elected with the biggest Plaid vote in any ward in Wales, while in the wider Cardiff West constituency Plaid came second to Labour in every other ward, winning the average popular vote.

The picture is equally impressive on the national stage.

In 2016 Neil McEvoy was elected Assembly Member for the South Wales Central region. He also stood for the Cardiff West constituency and almost doubled the Plaid Cymru vote from his own showing in 2011.

In fact, McEvoy came close to sparing us the embarrassment of Mark Drakeford as first minister. If the current trend continues then there’s a strong chance that McEvoy will beat Drakeford in the 2021 election.

Though of course some will argue that this growth in support would have happened without Neil McEvoy.

In addition to the bare numbers provided by elections Neil McEvoy has shaken things up in other ways:

This helps explain why those who believe devolution is nothing but a system that allows local ‘friendlies’ to manage Wales on England’s behalf – without engaging the excitable natives – regard Neil McEvoy as dangerous, and that’s why they’ll go to any lengths to damage him.

For example, back in March 2017, at the instigation of the Labour Party and its third sector cronies Plaid Cymru suspended Neil McEvoy on a trumped up charge of ‘bullying’. (In reality, he was standing up to City Hall for a constituent.)

The picture below shows former Labour councillor Paul Mitchell holding a copy of the local newspaper at a gathering of Labourites celebrating McEvoy’s misfortune. (Interesting that they felt the need to hide behind curtains that were the height of fashion in 1960s East Germany.)

click to enlarge

If every picture tells a story then the message from this one is, never underestimate how much the Labour Party hates Neil McEvoy, and the lengths they’ll go to to destroy him. Equally, never forget how eager Plaid Cymru is to appease the English Labour Party in Wales.

THE ACCUSER

Michael Deem is not a name familiar to many of you, but he’s central to this story, for it was Deem who made the complaint to the Standards Commissioner.

What know we of Mr Deem?

Well, he seems to have emerged from the gloom in 2015, saying he was interested in what Plaid Cymru was doing and wanted to be part of it, and was welcomed into the fold. In July 2016 he became manager of Neil McEvoy’s Cardiff West constituency office.

His rise within the party continued and after prime minister May called an election for June 2017 in the hope of boosting her majority he was hurriedly adopted as the Cardiff West candidate. Deem and Plaid Cymru suffered a bad defeat, coming a poor third, with less than 10 per cent of the vote.

Making enquiries into Michael Deem proved interesting. For it’s not often I get to write about an Asda selling champion. According to his Linkedin profile he’s still working for Asda, but I’m told he’s now working for HMRC, so he appears to have abandoned Linkedin.

click to enlarge

Fortunately, some photographs exist of Michael Deem during his Asda days. He was something of a flag-waver. Of course, this can’t be held against him, he probably had no choice in the matter . . . but he still seems very enthusiastic.

The montage below contains two photos of him waving the flag for Asda and Britain, another shows him outside Buckingham Palace, while the fourth has him waving that flag again, but this time there seems to be no Asda connection, it looks like his own choice. Where is he?

click to enlarge

As I’ve said, he was office manager for Neil McEvoy – and a disaster in the job. One of his primary duties was dealing with constituents’ casework, which he claimed to be doing but rarely did. This had consequences, such as one constituent losing out on his pension. There were dozens of other complaints.

And of course, this ‘negligence’ (if such it was) reflected badly on Neil McEvoy.

In addition to neglecting his duties he enjoyed playing the petty tyrant, especially towards a young female employee. Even throwing things at her! This was witnessed and reported by a member of the public.

Then there were the mood swings. And the debts Deem ran up that his employer, Neil McEvoy, had to pay out of his own pocket. And let’s not forget the time he was reported to the Information Commissioner for copying and sharing highly confidential information. There were unauthorised holidays . . .

After being suspended in July 2017 Deem joined the trade union Unite which I have described before as the Labour Party by another name. It wasn’t long before the workings of Plaid Cymru’s Cardiff West constituency office were being discussed in Labour circles.

After a protracted process Deem was eventually sacked early in 2018. His appeal was dismissed by the Assembly’s Legal Service. He then threatened McEvoy with an Employment Tribunal unless he (Deem) was paid £8,000. McEvoy told Deem – via ACAS – that he was prepared to go to a Tribunal. That was the end of the matter and Unite withdrew its support.

By August 2018 Deem was using his Facebook page to appeal for advice. Now what I find interesting about this appeal is Deem’s belief that he’s going to be a UK media sensation for putting the boot into McEvoy! Is it all being done for publicity?

click to enlarge

Or is he just deluded, for Michael Deem is a young man with a high opinion of himself, and a bully when he can get away with it?

For while he was useless at his job he was good at promoting himself. This explains being selected for Cardiff West in the 2017 Westminster election. In that campaign he refused all advice from Neil McEvoy who knew the constituency so well and he came a very poor third. Having pinned his hopes on becoming an MP his attitude towards Neil McEvoy and the constituency office deteriorated even further.

click to enlarge

Michael Deem effectively did himself out of a job, but he’s never going to accept that. What’s more, given that his dispute is with Neil McEvoy there will be no shortage of people encouraging him to believe that he’s the latest victim of an ogre.

If the Standards Commissioner rejects Deem’s complaint we can probably expect McEvoy’s enemies in Plaid Cymru to find some old biddy who’ll claim she was elbowed in the face by Neil McEvoy when they were reaching for the parsnips in Tesco. Or maybe some child will sob to BBC Wales cameras that Neil McEvoy ran over ‘Freddy’, his pet cockroach, while speeding through Splott in his (almost certainly uninsured) car.

What do you mean, I’m being ridiculous? Check out the things that have been said about Neil McEvoy by Leanne Wood and her cronies, by the Labour Party, by Deryn, by the harridans of the third sector. Also, what they’ve persuaded others to say. And they’re still at it!

But the relationship was not always so fraught.

THE MCEVOY ENIGMA

When Neil McEvoy was simply a Cardiff councillor and an aspiring Assembly Member he could be encouraged just like any other Plaid candidate. But when he was elected to the Assembly in 2016, and more importantly when he started making waves, then he became a danger.

That’s because there are too many in Plaid Cymru with a bipolar view of politics. On the one hand they see the ‘progressives’ of the left (Plaid, Labour, Greens), while on the other hand are arrayed the forces of reaction (Tories, Ukip, Beelzebub and me). The Welsh dimension does not intrude into this paradigm.

Guided by this alignment Plaid Cymru see it as their duty to link with Labour and Greens (both very English parties) to fight the enemy in some ideological precursor to Armageddon.

This makes Neil McEvoy, a charismatic and confrontational politician, doing the best for his constituents and his country, a threat that has to be dealt with. For in addition to the eternal struggle against the forces of darkness there are many cushy jobs in the third sector and elsewhere to consider, sinecures in revivified quangos, peerages even; plus lucrative contracts within the gift of the ‘Welsh’ and UK governments. All these are dependent on Plaid Cymru not making waves.

It has been relatively easy for Plaid Cymru to isolate Neil McEvoy because he doesn’t belong to any of the cliques making up the party. Which I would loosely define as the cultural-linguistic wing, the environmentalist wing, and the niche socialist wing.

These classifications are not mutually exclusive, of course, but no matter how much they may overlap the fact remains that Neil McEvoy fits into none of them. He is just a Cardiff boy who knows his city and its people better than anyone who’s moved to Cardiff from Ceredigion or Gwynedd.

He also knows what’s wrong with Cardiff, and with Wales . . . and who’s to blame. But wearing bipolar lenses makes Plaid Cymru think Labour is blameless.

Picture courtesy of BBC Wales, click to enlarge

For most of the half century and more that I’ve been observing Plaid Cymru the cry has been, ‘How can we appeal to the South?’ It could now be argued that the Valleys are winnable, which leaves the cities of the coast.

Where Neil McEvoy has made the breakthrough in appealing to the natives of Kerdiff (bless ’em!). For he is one of their own and so they listen to him, and they like what they hear, so they vote for him.

Plaid Cymru should be delighted, but no; for the reasons I’ve already given, his popular appeal unsettles the party hierarchy . . . and of course it threatens the re-election of first minister Mark Drakeford.

Which explains why the attacks from Leanne Wood’s disciples continue. Here’s a truly bizarre one that came out of the blue on Thursday from Cyffin Thomas and others. Thomas “writes monthly-ish articles for the Lampeter Grapevine.

click to enlarge

What provoked this? What the hell were they trying to say to the first AM of colour born in Wales? Does being gay and socialist give you licence to say anything? Can you imagine the outcry from my many ‘progressive’ admirers if I’d said something like that? Or if I’d used black images?

We’re dealing with hypocrites here. Hypocrites who’ve been allowed to hide behind their rainbow flags, or their gender, or what they imagine to be the moral superiority bestowed by ‘socialism’, and they’ve got away with lies and insults for too long.

Neil McEvoy was expelled from the Plaid Assembly group in January 2018 – almost certainly as a result of a campaign orchestrated by the Labour-Plaid Cymru smear machine and PR company Deryn – and his expulsion from the party for 18 months in March (later reduced to 12 months), were entirely predictable. An excuse would have been found. Any excuse.

With his period of expulsion drawing to a close some new excuse for excluding Neil McEvoy had to be found. And that’s all you need to know about this allegation by Michael Deem. A charge levelled by a dismissed employee who is almost certainly being egged on by others.

In essence, the ‘charge’ is that a former Plaid Cymru AM used his office for the benefit of . . . Plaid Cymru! The complaint made by a Plaid Cymru member.

Nobody disputes that Neil McEvoy works hard for his constituents, so it seems bloody strange to me that the former office manager would complain about the office he himself was supposed to be running.

WE’VE BEEN HERE BEFORE

However we look at it, this case reflects badly on Plaid Cymru, yet it doesn’t surprise me one bit.

For as I’ve told you before, I have long believed that there is an element within Plaid Cymru determined to scupper any threat of real success. A grouping that regards the prospect of independence with horror.

Those I’m referring to want Plaid Cymru to:

  1. ignore Welsh issues – ‘ugly nationalism’ – or else frame them in a British or global context
  2. maintain a level of support just enough to inhibit the emergence of a true nationalist party

Making Plaid Cymru the perfect ‘nationalist party’ . . . from London’s perspective.

Cast your mind back to the removal of Dafydd Wigley in 2000. He had just led Plaid Cymru to its greatest ever success in the first Assembly elections of 1999. But before the cheering had died down elements within Plaid Cymru were working to remove their party’s greatest electoral asset . . . and to replace him with Ieuan Wyn Jones!

click to enlarge

The excuse used was Wigley’s heart condition, and his general health. Nineteen years later he’s fit and well, leading an active life and regularly attending the House of Lords.

I’m not saying that Neil McEvoy is as important to Plaid Cymru’s electoral success as Dafydd Wigley, but there is a parallel to be drawn.

I suggest that because Plaid Cymru prefers corporate blandness to individual sparkle; and craves the kind of ‘respectability’ it believes is only achieved by not offending authority. Given the mess Wales is in, such an approach is little more than self-serving defeatism.

This is why, when Neil McEvoy was elected to the Assembly, I wrote in Assembly Elections 2016: Hopes and Ashes: “I just hope that the Plaid establishment doesn’t ‘get to’ him. Plaid Cymru needs more Neil McEvoys and fewer sons of the manse and masters of cynghanedd, and fewer entryists using the party to promote socialist, environmentalist and other agendas.”

The Plaid establishment clearly did ‘get to’ Neil McEvoy, but he resisted, and when he wouldn’t bend to their will they sought to attack him at every opportunity. Just ask yourself – whose interest is being served by Plaid Cymru and its nefarious allies continually undermining such an electoral asset?

Worked it out yet?

If there’s a young firebrand out there wanting to give the system a kick in the nuts, then Uncle Jac’s advice would be: ‘Don’t waste your time with a compromised establishment party that will only stab you in the back if you look like achieving anything. Try your luck with Ein Gwlad’.

I’m even tempted to offer the same advice to Neil McEvoy. But I suspect he’s more loyal to Plaid Cymru than certain elements of Plaid Cymru are to him, or the party.

♦ end ♦

UPDATE 07.01.2019: Soon after posting this article I received an e-mail notification of a comment to my Facebook page. Unfortunately, the comment – in response to Delaney M Christian – had been pulled before I could see it.

click to enlarge

Llinos Price is one of those to whom I referred in the article, a woman dangerously obsessed with Neil McEvoy and determined to damage him. Last year she started a petition against him.

click to enlarge

When she’s not sticking pins into her voodoo doll of Neil McEvoy her day job appears to be with the Woodland Trust. That is the same Woodland Trust involved with George Monbiot and his gang, using the management team in Cardiff docks to take money off Welsh farmers and hand it to a replacement population in the form of ‘re-wilders’ and other would-be colonists involved in the Summit to Sea scam.

I wrote about it in The Welsh Clearances.

It never ceases to amaze me how many of the prissy and self-regarding devolution elite, so profuse in their loyalties to Wales, seem to fall in with the ugliest and most blatantly colonialist organisations and projects. Maybe ethnic cleansing is now ‘progressive’.

They really do need to step back from the Bay Bubble and take a long hard look at where Wales is headed.