Housing associations: subsidiaries, partners, etc

PLEASE APPRECIATE THAT I GET SENT MORE INFORMATION AND LEADS THAN I CAN USE. I TRY TO RESPOND TO EVERYONE WHO CONTACTS ME BUT I CANNOT POSSIBLY USE EVERY BIT OF INFORMATION I’M SENT. DIOLCH YN FAWR

Social housing is an issue I’ve written about many times over the years, and I make no apologies for returning to the subject again. For the old problems remain and new ones are emerging.

The old problems are:

  • An ‘arms race’ among housing associations to build more and more properties (often where there is little local need) to deter predators from swallowing them up.
  • Certain housing associations being very close to the Labour management team in Cardiff docks with this closeness giving them an unfair advantage over competitors.
  •  I say ‘competitors’ because, unlike the old system of the local council being the major or sole provider of social rented housing in a locality, we now have any number of housing associations operating in the same area.
  • Social tenancy allocations in Wales being made on an Englandandwales basis.

WARNING: This report gets complicated given all the players and different commercial entities. So sit up straight and pay attention!

‘BUILD THEM AND THEY WILL COME’

Cartrefi Conwy Cyf came into existence in 2008 with the transfer of Conwy council’s housing stock. In 2015 it branched out with the creation of a subsidiary, Creating Enterprise CIC (Community Interest Company).

Creating Enterprise CIC is now seeking ‘new income streams’ on the north coast, an area where north west England likes to dump its social problems.

What could possibly go wrong?

From the Creating Enterprise CIC Accounts. Click to enlarge

And Creating Enterprise CIC would appear to have found new sources of income, for the latest accounts tell us that turnover increased by over 700% between 2017 and 2019. That is impressive.

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As stated, Creating Enterprise is a subsidiary of Cartrefi Conwy (and many or even most of its ’employees’ may be Cartrefi Conwy tenants) that maintains and upgrades Cartrefi Conwy properties. Nothing unusual in that, many housing associations have in-house maintenance teams.

But there’s not much profit in such an arrangement, it’s just a housing association giving work to a wholly-owned subsidiary. The only way to make money is for the subsidiary to branch out. Which is what has happened with Creating Enterprise CIC.

But now it gets a bit complicated.

For while Companies House confirms that Creating Enterprise CIC exists, and with a charge held by Cartrefi Conwy that confirms CE’s subsidiary status, there is another Companies House entry for Creating Enterprise CIC, linking it with Calon Homes LLP. Explained in the panel below taken from Creating Enterprise CIC’s accounts.

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As you’re read, the other partner in Calon Homes LLP is Brenig Developments Limited. There is a charge against Calon Homes LLP held by Creating Enterprise CIC, which in turn has a charge held by Cartrefi Conwy. Which means that, ultimately, housing association Cartrefi Conwy is in partnership with private company Brenig Developments.

Curiously, there is another, and different, Companies House entry for Brenig Developments Ltd suggesting that it’s a dormant company. To confuse matters further there is also a Brenig Construction Limited and a Brenig Homes Ltd. (None of which should be confused with Brenig Fish & Chips of Tregaron. Pass the vinegar!)

First question: Why did Cartrefi Conwy Cyf, via Creating Enterprise CIC, go into partnership with a dormant company?

Second question: There is an outstanding charge against Brenig Homes Ltd with Kennah Motor Credit Ltd, of Cheshire, a dissolved company. But why would a building firm seek credit from an auto finance company?

Third question: This report from Wales247 in September tells us that Calon Homes is building 11 houses in Middlewich, Cheshire. Why is a company half-owned by a publicly-funded Welsh housing association building private dwellings in England?

Fourth question: The architects involved with Calon Homes’ 111 Conwy properties mentioned in the Wales247 report are Base Architecture and Design, which is expanding. Does this (from the report I’ve linked to) give the game away, “Conwy is a thriving area with a lot of development and investment going on, particularly along the A55 corridor through to Anglesey,”

Fifth question: Why do we also read of Base Architecture and Design, “Its clients in the region include Brenig Construction, one of North Wales’ leading civil engineering and construction companies”? At 31.10.2018 Brenig Construction Ltd had a net book value of just £84,637.

Sixth question: This report, from last Thursday, tells us that Creating Enterprise is “in partnership with Norfolk-based Beattie Passive”. The only Beattie Passive company in Norfolk is Beattie Passive Norse Ltd. This company has ‘accumulated losses’ of £4,589,441. That’s £4.5m.

What we have here is a publicly-funded housing association – whose assets consist primarily of a stock transfer of council housing – playing at being a private company through subsidiaries and partnerships. Cartrefi Conwy justifies building properties for commuters, retirees and others from over the border by arguing that its share of the profits from this work will be used to build social housing.

But is that a sensible model? Let’s say Cartrefi Conwy lends Creating Enterprise CIC one million pounds that in turn is lent to Calon Homes to build in partnership with a private company. And let’s say that the profit on that project is £500,000. After being split with the private developer, and after admin, staff, and other costs are taken out by Creating Enterprise and Calon Homes, Cartrefi Conwy might be lucky to get back £50,000 for social housing. So why not just spend the original £1m on social housing?

The true purpose is building open market housing along the A55 commuter/retirement belt. And when we realise that most of Cartrefi Conwy’s other efforts go into providing care homes, retirement bungalows and flats, it becomes clear that it’s just an agency for the further colonisation of Wales.

OLD AND NEW

In the introduction I listed the established problems with ‘social housing’ in Wales. Having got this far you’ll know that the new problems stem from diversification.

But the problem is not confined to Cartrefi Conwy. Let’s go to the other end of the country and look at Mill Bay Homes in Pembrokeshire, a private company and a subsidiary of Ateb (formerly Pembrokeshire Housing). Despite being a private company Mill Bay has a “revolving credit facility with the parent”, Ateb.

Which in practice means that money held by Ateb that should be used to provide social housing is loaned to Mill Bay to build homes for ‘investors‘, ‘retirees‘ and others, including holiday home buyers. (Check those links.)

Clearly, the system in Pembrokeshire differs from that up north in that instead of entering into a partnership via a subsidiary with a private company, with the subsidiary getting 50% of the profits, Ateb loans money directly to in-house subsidiary MBH, which does the building.

From the Mill Bay Homes accounts 2019. All that money could have been spent on social housing rather than on building holiday homes and properties for investors and retirees. Click to enlarge

But much of Mill Bay Homes’ profits will be eaten up by its own running costs, for it is after all a separate company with its own staff and overheads. Unless MBH is selling its properties at greatly inflated prices it’s difficult to see how it can ever repay Ateb.

An example of how Mill Bay Homes operates is its St Davids’ development. Due to the demand from England for property in and around St Davids most locals experience great difficulty in finding a place to buy at a price they can afford.

Yes, a small number of properties on the new development are reserved for locals (with a very narrow definition of ‘local’) and a small window in which to apply. Otherwise, it’s “32 executive dwellings . . . 2, 3 and 4 bedroom bungalows.”

Executive homes and retirement bungalows. Just what local first-time buyers are looking for!

Mill Bay claims to be meeting the local need in St Davids but in reality it’s just capitalising on the external demand.

But nobody cares, for there is neither regulation nor oversight of housing associations.

An example would be the ‘Welsh Government’s ‘Shared Ownership Wales’ scheme – a disguised form of leasehold – that should only be offered by Registered Social Landlords (registered with WG); yet it’s available in St Davids and elsewhere through Mill Bay Homes, a private company that is not a RSL.

And all the while we hear politicians complain about the lack of social housing, and how we must build more – so more money is given to housing associations . . . and spent on ‘diversification’.

Let’s face it, we are in the same position with ‘social housing’ as we are with the third sector – keep a problem alive and publicised in order to keep the funding flowing. If housing associations wanted to meet the demand for social housing – i.e. for good quality rented accommodation – then they would not be launching subsidiaries.

The bottom line is that social housing in Wales has been privatised, and to pretend otherwise is deceitful. I tried to explain it last year in The Privatisation of Welsh Housing Associations.

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Finally, those who think that it’s better to see private housing built by Welsh housing associations than by major English companies should think again. For they don’t challenge Persimmon, Wimpey, and the rest, they complement them by building the smaller developments that the volume builders can’t be bothered with.

The social housing system in Wales is broken, it no longer serves its original purpose. So we need a new system to provide affordable rented accommodation.

♦ end ♦

 

GE2019: runners, riders and early fallers

PLEASE APPRECIATE THAT I GET SENT MORE INFORMATION AND LEADS THAN I CAN USE. I TRY TO RESPOND TO EVERYONE WHO CONTACTS ME BUT I CANNOT POSSIBLY USE EVERY BIT OF INFORMATION I’M SENT. DIOLCH YN FAWR

There’s to be a general election on December 12 (haven’t you heard!) and already the parties are stumbling, mainly over their selection processes, or lack of them.

Looking beyond candidate selection, I can honestly say that none of the four established parties in Wales has emerged with any credit.

THE CONSERVATIVE AND UNIONIST PARTY

Things got off to a bad start when news leaked that the Assembly candidate for the Vale of Glamorgan, Ross England, had sabotaged a rape trial involving a friend by regaling the court with details of his own relationship with the complainant.

This prompted the judge to say: “You have managed single-handed, and I have no doubt it was deliberate on your part, to sabotage this trial . . . get out of my court.”

Now even though England was the candidate for the Welsh Assembly his behaviour impacted on GE 2019 because the Conservative Party had endorsed him as a candidate knowing what he had done.

Image courtesy of BBC Wales. Click to enlarge

When the facts became known, the furore resulted in England being suspended by the party, and his sponsor, Alun Cairns, standing down as Secretary of State for Wales. Though Cairns dug in his substantial heels to remain the candidate for the Vale.

Things didn’t get any better for the Tories.

I don’t always trust what I read on Nation.Cymru but I’ll accept that a third of the Tory candidates in Wales are domiciled in England. It could even be more, with one or two hiding behind accommodation addresses. But there’s nothing surprising about this.

For this is the old imperial way. Send some promising young chap off to a far-flung corner of the empire, and if he survives the mosquitoes and doesn’t start a bush war then mark him down for advancement. BoJo himself has been through the system, standing for Clwyd South in 1997.

I can imagine the scene in Tory Central Office. ‘Now then, Fothergill, I hear you want to be an MP, eh. Well we’re sending you to this place in Wales . . . nice scenery, I’m told. If the natives don’t eat you and you make it back then, who knows, we could find you a nice little seat in the shires or some agreeable suburb’.

Which is why we have a number of ‘Fothergills’ every election.

Sometimes of course, the party just gets overtaken by events and has little alternative but to parachute in a candidate who’ll need a trusty native guide. This is what has happened in Ynys Môn.

For reasons that may never become clear the Tories on the island initially selected Chris Davies as their candidate. Superficially, it makes sense, because the man was MP for Brecon and Radnor . . . until his conviction for fraudulent expenses claims. There was a successful petition to recall him and he lost the subsequent by-election.

When Davies was forced out from Ynys Môn Central Office had to come up with a replacement pretty damn quick. And so they produced Virginia Crosbie, who knows Wales like the back of her hand, having previously been parachuted into the Rhondda in 2017.

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You’ll see that according to this bio (from which the panel above was extracted), she did very well in the Rhondda, increasing the party’s vote by 58%. Though I can’t help thinking that the way that’s phrased is designed to mislead, because most people like to know a party’s percentage share of the total vote, which is something entirely different.

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What Virginia Crosbie did in the Rhondda in 2017 was to increase the Conservative vote from 2,116 in 2015 (6.7% of the total vote) to 3,333 (10.1%). With most of the increase coming from post-referendum, ‘job done’ Ukip; whose vote dived from 3,998 (12.7%) in 2015 to 880 (2.7%) in 2017. And there was also a higher turnout in 2017.

Which tends to put things into a rather different perspective. But never mind, for Virginia Crosbie might still be worth a punt in Ynys Môn where the Tories came second in 2017, and with Labour MP Albert Owen standing down it’s a wide open race.

Then, just when the Conservative and Unionist Party must have thought the worst was over, their deputy chairman, Lee Canning, defected to the Abolish the Welsh Assembly Party. Here’s Canning’s resignation letter – the boy been bullied!

Let’s finish this section with Francesca O’Brien who’s standing in the target constituency of Gower, briefly held for the Tories by Byron Davies until he was defeated – in a dirty campaign – by shrinking violet Tonia Antoniazzi of Labour. Francesca believes that poor people should be ‘put down’.

Small wonder that senior Tory AM Nick Ramsay felt there were ‘lessons to be learnt’. Amen to that, brother.

LABOUR PARTY

The Labour Party’s customary talent for shooting itself in the foot remains undiminished, and as much as I enjoy putting the old size 9s into ‘Welsh’ Labour the cock-up I’m about to relate may be attributable to HQ. (If indeed cock-up it be.)

On Sunday news broke that the party’s candidate in Carmarthen East and Dinefwr, Maria Carroll, had run a Facebook page advising Labour Party members who had been suspended or otherwise disciplined over anti-Semitism, Holocaust denial and other issues currently bedevilling the bruvvers.

There seemed to be genuine concern over this. Alun Davies, AM for Blaenau Gwent, hoped that ‘Welsh’ Labour would deal with Ms Carroll. Some hope! It was referred to London, who responded with ‘Nothing to see here, move along’.

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Which got me wondering about Maria Carroll. So I tried to find out more, but apart from non-specific references to the NHS, trade unions, charities (i.e. third sector), there was very little. I dug up this Linkedin profile, which might be her. If so, then it appears she still works for the NHS in England.

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Though I seem to recall reading somewhere that she had bought a little shop in the constituency, possibly in Cilycwm. Which might suggest that she has either retired to or is planning to retire to this village north of Llandovery, an area suffering a high level of English colonisation.

Making the ‘local’ Labour Party about as local to the area as I am to Chelsea. For Labour in rural Wales is increasingly reliant on the local college or university, an influx of 1960s generation retirees (still playing at being radical), transferred trade unionists, meme sahibs who’ve gone ‘rogue’, assorted freaks and exhibitionists, etc.

Exemplified by the protest in Haverfordwest last week, organised by Pembrokeshire People’s Assembly (PPA) and Momentum West Wales, against local MP Stephen Crabb. The convener for the PPA quoted in this report is Jim Scott. In a different guise Scott is a leading light in the Green Party of Englandandwales.

Also at the rally was the Labour candidate, Phillipa Thompson. This co-operation between Greens and Labour explains why the planet-savers have stuffed Plaid Cymru by pulling their candidates in Sir Benfro and telling their supporters to vote Labour.

Anti-Tory rally in Haverfordwest. There may be no one in this photograph who was born in Pembrokeshire, for in addition to the ‘local’ Greens and other weirdos leftie activists were shipped down – it’s said – from Swansea. Note the old, ‘Space yourselves out so it’ll look as if there’s more of us’ tactic. Click to enlarge

But I’ve digressed, back to Maria Carroll.

It seems pretty obvious that she has been imposed on ‘Welsh’ Labour by their London masters. It’s equally reasonable to assume that she is favoured by Momentum. And she wants us to believe that while she herself is not anti-Semitic, she’s prepared to help those who are.

Other than that, Maria Carroll’s defence seems to be that it was all a long time ago . . . but perhaps it wasn’t, for she seems to have still been involved last month.

This case exposes yet again how impotent ‘Welsh’ Labour is, even in Wales. Labour Party HQ in London wanted Maria Carroll to stand in Carmarthen East and Dinefwr, and that’s what happened.

Who is she? Where’s she from? What’s her background? Does she know anything about the constituency? Who cares? Certainly not those who’ll be out canvassing for Maria Carroll; for like her, most of them will be new to Wales.

STOP PRESS: Fingers are now also being pointed at Cardiff councillor Darren Williams, said to be the operator of the Welsh Labour Grassroots (Momentum) Twitter account, which rushed to Maria Carroll’s defence.

Questions are being asked by Euan Phillips, spokesperson for Labour Against anti-Semitism and AM Alun Davies.

While much of this can be put down to Labour in-fighting it nevertheless reaffirms that Labour has a problem with anti-Semitism, one that won’t go away any time soon.

UPDATE: I now learn that Maria Rose Carroll stood for the county council in the Cilycwm ward in 2017, losing to an Independent. She is said to be into ‘herbal remedies’ and is given to impromptu dancing. I leave readers to draw their own conclusions as to whether there may be a connection.

When not paying homage to Terpsichore I’m told she deals out ‘personal advice and counselling’. Which I suppose we already knew.

THE REMAIN ALLIANCE

This is the pact between the Liberal Democrats, Plaid Cymru and the Greens to fight Brexit and persuade people to vote for the candidate who opposes Brexit. Which is both absurd and insulting on a number of levels:

  • Without the Labour Party what is essentially an anti-Tory pact is pointless.
  • It’s anti-democratic in that the Lib Dems have said they want a second referendum on EU membership . . . and if the electorate votes to leave, again, then they’ll just refuse to accept that decision.
  • Wales voted to leave the EU in June 2016.
  • The Greens are a deeply un-Welsh if not anti-Welsh party or grouping. Last year members in Wales had the chance to set up a Wales Green Party, but they voted to stay part of the England Green Party. And as we’ve seen in Pembrokeshire, the English Greens in our midst would rather cut off their dreadlocks than vote for Plaid Cymru.
  • What’s more, Plaid Cymru, a party of the left, has done a deal with the Liberal Democrats, the party that was in coalition with David Cameron’s Tories, 2010 – 2016, and whose leader, Jo Swinson, is now doing deals with the Tories against the SNP and refusing to allow a second independence referendum.

This is Through the Looking-Glass politics, where nothing is what it seems, but those who’ve stepped through have chosen to immerse themselves in some alternative reality.

As you know, I write about the Lib Dems as little as possible, regarding them as unprincipled political whores and the worst possible advertisement for a multi-party political system and proportional representation.

Whereas the Greens in Wales are a colonialist excrescence on the Welsh body politic, so let us be thankful that they are largely irrelevant in the wider scheme of things.

Though this irrelevance has not deterred Plaid Cymru from becoming besotted with the Greens in recent decades. The infatuation can be traced back to Dafydd Elis Thomas’s tenure as leader in the 1980s. I remember one particularly ghastly Plaid conference where hippy chieftain Brig Oubridge was feted. Éminence grise Cynog Dafis was another who fell under the Green spell.

Oubridge has since relocated from Tipi Valley, like some latter-day bluestone he has made the journey from south west Wales to Salisbury Plain. Where he stood in the 2017 general election, coming a very distant fourth, but at least he beat ‘Arthur Pendragon’. (Though isn’t that lèse majesté?)

But now to focus on Plaid Cymru, a party that has given me a lot to write about.

You know things have gone to hell when one of the party’s most capable politicians says what you read in the panel below. Wales is one the poorest countries in Europe, yet rather than try to improve the lives of those who belong here Plaid Cymru prefers to play gesture politics by pretending that Wales can accept, take care of, and integrate, an unspecified number of people from God knows where.

For Plaid Cymru, ‘refugee’ is anyone who claims to be a refugee. It’s code for open borders. Click to enlarge.

I’m not sure if Sahar Al-Faifi qualifies a a refugee, but she’s certainly caused Plaid Cymru embarrassment in recent days. To explain . . .

Last Friday, Plaid Cymru put out a tweet using Al-Faifi to promote its party political broadcast later that day in which she appeared. This attracted the usual response from the usual suspects, but also more measured criticism from other quarters, for it soon emerged that she had an anti-Semitic past.

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I think it was @bubblewales that first broke the news she was a wrong ‘un with this piece. Expanded on here. It was then taken up by Guido Fawkes and others. On Monday, as her Plaid Cymru defenders began to fall silent, Sahar Al-Faifi issued an ‘apology’.

A very brief ‘apology’ followed by a wonderful example of whataboutery. Click to enlarge

You’ll note that she claims to have taken “anti-Semitism training, both formally through the (Jewish) Board of Deputies and informally with Jewish colleagues”.

But then things took another turn for the worse for her, and for Plaid Cymru, when the Board of Deputies issued a statement in which we read: “We met Sahar Al-Faifi to confront her over concerns we had over antisemitic social media postings . . . Ms Al-Faifi apologised to us and made some amendments to her social media output. However, we were clear that the situation still remained unsatisfactory”.

It seems there was no formal training in anti-Semitism. In the statement you’ll note mention of an organisation called MEND (Muslim Engagement and Development), to which Ms Al-Faifi belongs, being described as a “highly problematic organisation whose activity risks increasing hostility and suspicion between the Jewish and Muslim communities”.

‘Counter-extremism’ organisation Quilliam International had more to say on MEND. The article was advertised with the hard-hitting tweet below. Had Plaid Cymru been ‘mainstreaming’ Islamist extremists?

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Sahar Al-Faifi has now been suspended by Plaid Cymru, but how did they get themselves into such a mess in the first place? I think we can go back to Liz Saville Roberts’ wish to turn Wales into a nation of ‘sanctuary’.

Plaid Cymru is up on the moral high ground where the air is too thin to allow clear thinking. So when someone like Sahar Al-Faifi shows an interest in the party they see a woman in a niqab who must be a victim of something or other, and who will make Plaid look good to those they’re anxious to impress. So she’s accepted without question.

More cautious minds might think that an educated single woman living in the West choosing to dress like that might be making a political statement. A simple enquiry would then have established that she is the local representative for MEND, and someone who has expressed anti-Semitic views . . . at which point alarm bells should have rung.

And consider this. At the same time as party leader Adam Price was getting stick for quite rightly stating that Wales is a colony of England (though I disagree with him about reparations) others in Plaid Cymru were laying out the red carpet for a woman who clearly believes that there can be no white victims of colonialism.

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Another mystery is why certain influential grouplets in Plaid Cymru rushed to her defence. What sort of treatment do gays, transsexuals and others think they’d receive under the rule or influence of Al-Faifi and her friends?

Plaid Cymru has now reached the stage where we Welsh, needing decent housing and jobs, being marginalised by colonisation, living in the poorest country in Europe, are a distraction from the more important things in this world – a world that Plaid Cymru must save!

Plaid Cymru has betrayed the Welsh nation in order to be regarded as ‘progressive’ by our enemies. I hope they get humiliated in GE2019. Because that’s what they deserve.

Though my fear is that Plaid’s self-destruction may be disguised by the upsurge in support for independence and the lack of an alternative for nationalists. At least Gwlad Gwlad is standing in a few seats.

CONCLUSION

A lot of what I’ve written about is faux outrage in the fevered conditions of an election campaign. Social media just adds fuel to the flames. Something silly said years ago after a glass of two should not be used to destroy a reputation today.

Yet anti-Semitism is something altogether different, not least because I see a bizarre and disturbing parallel between anti-Semitism today and what has gone before.

Hitler hated the Jews because he believed they controlled the economic life of Germany. Today’s socialists use Zionism and the West Bank as fig leaves but much of their animosity towards the Jews is attributable to the same, age-old perception of the usurer Jew’s role in the hated capitalist system.

This also helps explain why extreme variants of Islam get such an easy ride from many Western leftists.

Both the Labour Party and Plaid Cymru must learn that anti-Semitism is no more acceptable when mouthed by an educated woman of colour in a niqab or a business suit than when it’s barked by a thuggish white man in jackboots wearing a swastika armband.

♦ end ♦

 

‘Serious breach of trust’

PLEASE APPRECIATE THAT I GET SENT MORE INFORMATION AND LEADS THAN I CAN USE. I TRY TO RESPOND TO EVERYONE WHO CONTACTS ME BUT I CANNOT POSSIBLY USE EVERY BIT OF INFORMATION I’M SENT. DIOLCH YN FAWR

“Serious breach of trust” is how Y Llywydd (Speaker) Elin Jones described Neil McEvoy’s behaviour in recording conversations, on his mobile phone, between Standards Commissioner Sir Roderick Evans and his staff. Recordings made while Neil McEvoy himself was out of the room.

Breach of trust is a serious allegation, but something having a moral dimension rather than being criminal offence. But either way, it presupposes there being trust to be breached. In this case there wasn’t.

For what Neil McEvoy’s recordings proved is that he was never going to get a fair hearing from the Commissioner. Suspecting this is what persuaded him to make the recordings.

And yet, despite the recordings proving that McEvoy was fully justified in making them, the colonial Establishment has closed ranks to condemn him.

Clue: the recording device is in Neil McEvoy’s hand, no need to ‘sweep’ anywhere. Image courtesy of BBC Wales. Click to enlarge.

Elin Jones also demanded that the whole place be swept for covert listening devices, “and asking South Wales Police to investigate how such recordings were obtained”. (Just as long as they don’t find my bugs in the Deryn offices!)

This was all going on in a rather feisty session at the Senedd.

Which prompted our erstwhile First Minister, Carwyn Jones, to chip in from the moral high ground he is known to inhabit. Carwyn was appalled . . . appalled, he was. And he tweeted it so that the world might know how appalled he was.

And, predictably, he was supported by another resident of the sunlit uplands, the former leader of Plaid Cymru, Leanne Wood. She too found it “appalling”. (They’re beginning to sound like outraged old biddies being interviewed by Fishguard’s finest newshound, Hugh Pugh.)

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So what exactly are they so appalled about? Is it Neil McEvoy? Is it covert recordings? Misogyny (again!)? Cardiff City sacking Neil Warnock? Has the AMs canteen run out of laverbread paté?

Let me tell you what they’re appalled about – the threat to the cosy Labour-Plaid Cymru consensus that has dominated the Assembly for 20 years and allowed Wales to slide towards third world status.

It appears that what appalled Carwyn Jones – or maybe it was just one of many things – was Brexit Party AM Mark Reckless. He was asked by Jones to consider whether he had acted ‘morally’ in refusing to be force-fed bullshit. (That moral dimension again!)

What he means is that he would have told Elin Jones to throw Mark Reckless out. Click to enlarge

There was a swift response, and from an unexpected quarter, one that reminded us of Carwyn Jones’s role in the suicide of his Labour colleague Carl Sargeant, just days after Jones and his aides claimed to have received ‘complaints’ about Sargeant’s behaviour that were then used to justify Sargeant’s sacking.

Almost immediately after hearing the news of Sargeant’s death Jones made two long phone calls to lobbying firm Deryn, where we find individuals who were implicated in both building the ‘case’ against Carl Sargeant and also in releasing news of his sacking to the media – before Sargeant himself had been told!

The response I just referred to came from Carl Sargeant’s sister.

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There was eventually an inquiry into the leaking of information about Carl Sargeant’s sacking, but the findings have not been made public. Neil McEvoy tried to have the findings released in September, but Labour blocked it, helped by Plaid Cymru.

Why did Plaid Cymru support the Labour Party? Because certain Plaid Cymru people are also very close to Deryn, which often appears to act as a ‘bridge’ between the two parties. And then there’s the third sector, to which both parties are wedded. The third sector can always be relied on to provide volunteers to make ‘complaints’ against politicians and others in the Labour-Plaid cross-hairs.

Given that the Labour Party and Plaid Cymru – plus the crony networks they have built up – comprise the colonial management team, filling their boots and dreaming of ‘honours’ while ensuring that Wales doesn’t drift towards a Scotland scenario, it’s understandable that they enjoy the full support of the colonial media.

You’ll recall that Elin Jones demanded that the police investigate Neil McEvoy for daring to prove that he was being stitched up. Well, later on the Tuesday evening, McEvoy put out a tweet after contacting South Wales Police.

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That should have been the end of it, surely? No.

Having my morning coffee in Aberystwyth on Wednesday I was confronted by this front page in Llais y Sais. Now you might argue that this went to press before Neil McEvoy put out that tweet on Tuesday evening, but you’d be wrong.

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And it’s also worth pointing out that the online version was still telling us on Wednesday that SWP was investigating Neil McEvoy.

It was the same over on the Talfan Davies news channel. As late as 9:30 on Wednesday evening people could read what you see below. It might still be there when you’re reading this.

It’s that covert and invisible listening device again! Click to enlarge

Why would the Western Mail and BBC Wales want the public to believe what they themselves knew to be untrue? Because, as I say, they represent the colonial media; Neil McEvoy is seen as a threat to the colonial management team, therefore he must be undermined and discredited.

This is the fake news you keep hearing about, and it’s got sod all to do with my old mucker Vladimir Vladimirovitch.

I began this piece by using Elin Jones’s accusation that Neil McEvoy was guilty of a serious breach of trust. Let me tell her and her Plaid Cymru colleagues about breaching trust.

In the early hours of September 19th, 1997, I was sitting in my living room with my son, and both of us cheered the Carmarthen referendum result that gave us devolution as if it was an injury time goal for the Swans, or a last-gasp conversion to win the Grand Slam.

There’s been nothing to cheer since. Devolution has failed Wales, and Plaid Cymru hasn’t even tried to make it work.

Instead, they’ve chased rainbows, tilted at windmills, postured and pontificated, while Wales decays due to neglect and deprivation, betrayal and colonisation.

Plaid Cymru has failed a nation by spending twenty years with its head up Labour’s arse. Now that is a serious breach of trust. For which it will soon be punished.

♦ end ♦

 

Staying in Llangefni

PLEASE APPRECIATE THAT I GET SENT MORE INFORMATION AND LEADS THAN I CAN USE. I TRY TO RESPOND TO EVERYONE WHO CONTACTS ME BUT I CANNOT POSSIBLY USE EVERY BIT OF INFORMATION I’M SENT. DIOLCH YN FAWR

I never thought I’d be saying this, but following the previous post on the sale of the Shire Hall, we are staying in Llangefni!

The old town took a bit of a hit last month with the closure of the Marco Cable Management plant. Losing 40 jobs may not seem like a big deal to many of you, but in a small town like Llangefni it matters a lot. And just a few years earlier there had been more than 70 working there.

As recently as September 2015 the company was talking of expanding. And here’s general manager Brian Pigott talking to BBC Wales earlier that year in a similarly optimistic mood.

So what went wrong?

An old friend back in Swansea was moved to write to the self-styled ‘Welsh Government’ asking if Marco Cable Management had received any public funding. Or rather, how much funding, because it could almost be guaranteed that funding was provided as an inducement for the company to set up on Ynys Môn in 2003.

The reply he got from the Department for Economy and Transport (Prop. K. Skates) can be read here. You’ll see that the company received at least £1,191,771.68. In addition, there was funding from the county council and HSBC.

Though it was the parent company Marco Gearing Ltd that received the funding. Which I thought was a bit odd, so I went to the Companies House website to check on them both. I learnt that Marco Gearing Ltd was formed in April 2002, while Marco Cable Management Ltd was born July 2003.

Something else I thought was odd – though it probably explains the funding going to the parent company – was that throughout its existence Marco Cable Management Ltd, the name under which the factory operated, was a dormant company.

MARCO GEARING LTD

Let’s start at the beginning, with parent company Marco Gearing Ltd. What does the name mean? Who or what is Marco? And does ‘Gearing’ refer to a gear system on a car or machine or is it used here in the financial sense?

From the start on 9 April 2002, Lillian Turner MacGregor of Betws yn Rhos, Abergele was a director of the company, with chartered accountant Philip Matthew Deakin as secretary, but he left 24 May. (Deakin has been involved in many companies since Marco Gearing.)

Deakin was replaced by Andrew Ian MacGregor as secretary, and in November the family group was completed by Ian Charles MacGregor coming aboard as the second director. For I suspect that Ian Charles is Lillian Turner MacGregor’s husband and Andrew Ian is their son.

July 2003, coinciding with the launch of Marco Cable Management Ltd, saw both a major share issue and Terry Deakin of Colwyn Bay joining the board. After Deakin’s arrival the share distribution was 230,000 with Ian Charles MacGregor, 120,010 with Lillian Turner MacGregor and 50,000 each with Deakin and his wife Janet.

Deakin’s other active directorship was with the National Zoological Society of Wales, better known as the Welsh Mountain Zoo in Colwyn Bay. Though he had been in business for himself with a number of companies. It could be that the Deakin we met earlier, who served briefly as secretary, is his son.

There were two further appointments to the board of Marco Gearing on 22 April 2010. These were Bernard James Pigott (the ‘Brian’ of the video?), and Paul Stewart Diggins of Buckinghamshire, who may have been the sales director.

MARCO CABLE MANAGEMENT LTD

Turning to Marco Cable Management Ltd, the sole director, from Incorporation 17 July 2003 was Lillian Turner MacGregor, with Andrew Ian MacGregor as secretary.

There were just 9 shares and these were held by Mrs MacGregor, with what appears to be a further issue of a single share a year later in 2004.

And that was it, the company filed accounts for a dormant company every year, there were returns filed showing the shareholder, and then, on 18 May 2017, we saw the MacGregors step down and two new directors arrive. These were Carl Edward Jones and Paul Graham Merrick.

So who are Messrs Jones and Merrick, who also joined Marco Cable Management Ltd on the same day?

THE YANKS ARE COMING!

On 7 July 2017 all the shares in Marco Gearing Ltd were transferred to Unistrut Ltd of West Bromwich. (Though it took until 11 April 2018 before the information was notified to Companies House.) Unistrut Ltd is a subsidiary of Atkore International, of Chicago.

The takeover of the Marco group shown in the Unistrut figures. Image courtesy of Endole. Click to enlarge.

Which means that some time between May and July 2017 the Llangefni factory of Marco Cable Management Ltd was taken over by an American company – but no one seemed to notice! Or rather, there are a number of references to the takeover in the specialist press – here, here and here – but I can find nothing reported in the ‘Welsh media’.

Didn’t our Welsh journalists know? Did the workforce in Llangefni know? Did the council and the ‘Welsh Government’ – both owed money by the Marco group – know that the decision on whether a Welsh factory closed now lay with faceless men in Chicago?

The MacGregor family sold out to an acquisitive and ruthless US corporation that they must have known would soon close down a competitor in a peripheral location. Did they feel no obligation to the workers who had given so much?

It seems that Carl Jones, who joined Atkore in 2011 has spent the years since then acquiring UK companies such as Marco Cable Management Ltd for his American bosses. The most recent would seem to be Modern Associates Ltd. Again, working with Paul Merrick.

And we have no defence whatsoever against predators like these. I’m surprised they didn’t ask the ‘Welsh Government’ for a grant to close down the factory. I’m sure they would have been given one.

THE ‘WELSH ECONOMY’.

So another factory closes, more Welsh workers lose their jobs, Cyngor Ynys Môn has lost money, so has the ‘Welsh Government, and there remain two outstanding debentures held by HSBC Bank against Marco Gearing Ltd (which might account for the ‘liabilities’ in the graphic above).

Just another paragraph in the ever-growing volume ‘How Not to Run an Economy’, by the ‘Welsh Government’.

I’m writing this on the day that Citizen Woodhouse made the news again. The man who bought Welsh hotels then sold the rooms off individually with the promise of huge returns. A child of four could have seen that he was a con artist, but the ‘Welsh Government’ promised him £500,000 for his Caer Rhun hotel near Llanrwst, and then, because they lack the critical reasoning of a four-year-old, those clowns down Corruption Bay gave him a few hundred acres of public land for his Afan Valley Adventure Resort.

Click to enlarge

In the previous post we looked at the sale of Llangefni’s Shire Hall to The Man From God Knows Where* who, according to North Wales Live, is a wheeling-dealing miracle-worker set to bestow the riches of the Orient on poor old Llangefni.

Just over the water we have the crooks of Bryn Llys; and just a few miles from them is Plas Glynllifon and the Williams gang, now being replaced by Myles Cunliffe and his cohorts. Further east we see Clwyd and the A55 corridor being turned into Commuterland.

Elsewhere we have zip wires, or hippies, or retirees, or social dumping, or . . .

There’s room, and funding, jobs and housing, for everybody . . . except us Welsh.

I’m told that the Brummie manager of Transport for Wales’ Machynlleth depot has just hired an apprentice – from Blackburn! Despite any number of local lads wanting the job.

Wales is being overrun and colonised but never mind, let’s suck up to Guardian readers by doing a deal with the party that will back a minority Tory government and revoke the Government of Wales Act.

Down south the news is no better. TVR will not be coming to Ebbw Vale, and Aston Martin is about to go belly-up. Cardiff airport is in the wrong place – but never mind, let’s pour in more public money.

Decisions made by arseholes. And hypocrites. The kind of people who condemn others for withholding the truth or subverting democracy while protecting themselves and their lobbyist and third sector friends by refusing us the truth on the circumstances surrounding Carl Sargeant’s death.

Wales doesn’t need any more elections or referendums, what we need is a revolution of the soul, to reject this whole stinking colonialist system, and those down Cardiff Bay who profit from maintaining it.

♦ end ♦

*The Man From God-Knows Where is a poem, one of Cayo’s favourites.

 

Not another one!

PLEASE APPRECIATE THAT I GET SENT MORE INFORMATION AND LEADS THAN I CAN USE. I TRY TO RESPOND TO EVERYONE WHO CONTACTS ME BUT I CANNOT POSSIBLY USE EVERY BIT OF INFORMATION I’M SENT. DIOLCH YN FAWR

This is just a quickie that I want to get out before too much damage is done. This report from North Wales Live tells us that a property hot-shot has bought the Shire Hall in Llangefni. Nice little town, Llangefni, the wife enjoys a trip there. We always pop up to the Kyffin Williams gallery for a few hours. But enough of me and the missus.

You’ll note that the report I’ve linked to is written by Owen Hughes, the NWL business correspondent, who I’ve mentioned before. He it was who gave Paul and Rowena Williams of Plas Glynllifon write-up after uncritical write-up, so I thought I’d fire a warning shot across his bows before he steams ahead with this latest Titanic.

The man in question, the ‘property developer’, is Tristan Haynes or, to give him his full name, Tristan Scott Haynes. Who, in the report, is said to be: “Based in Bedfordshire, the managing director of Chief Properties – who also runs a successful haulage firm – had never been to Anglesey before identifying Shire Hall as a possible location.”

So let’s look at Chief Properties Ltd. A company formed in August 2018, which means there are no accounts filed, nothing. This company was almost certainly formed specifically to buy Llangefni’s Shire Hall, which went for sale a couple of months earlier. The company seems to own no other property, and it has no record of contracts completed, work done, or anything else.

But the Companies House entry can tell us that Haynes has taken out two loans with Together Commercial Finance Ltd to buy the Shire Hall, and if that lender sounds familiar then it’s probably because it’s where Paul and Rowena Williams went for loans when the big banks started turning them down.

Then there’s the “successful haulage firm” that Haynes is said to run. Would this be Falcon Transportation Ltd, from which he resigned in February 2018 and to which he made a comeback in February 2019?

Click to enlarge

There are of course many different ways of gauging success, but I don’t think Eddie Stobart need lose any sleep over a company with net assets of £21,802.

Elsewhere in his encomium Owen Hughes tells us, “Tristan (they’re on first name terms!), who grew up in South Africa, the US and the Middle East before travelling the world as an Olympic-level windsurfer, spotted the Glanhwfa Road site when searching for a refurbishment project.”

Though it might be understandable why we didn’t read about Bullet Strategies Ltd, another Haynes company, seeing as he never got around to telling Companies House what kind of business it was. Formed January 2013, dissolved September 2014 with nothing filed.

We’ve read that Haynes was an ‘Olympic-level windsurfer’, so perhaps that’s why he was in Malta, where he got involved in a road rage incident that saw him being sent down in January 2010 for four years. Then there was the strange case of his ‘escape’.

I don’t know about you, boys and girls, but I’m beginning to have that old familiar feeling about Tristan. I mean, what do we know about him? The short answer is – nothing.

Except that he has a vague and perhaps unverifiable background. He’s a kung-fu expert who was convicted of beating up a couple of old men on Malta. His property company is new and reliant on borrowed money. He seems to have no experience relevant to the project he talks about for the Shire Hall. His haulage firm – despite what Owen Hughes tells us – is hardly a glittering success. And then there’s Bullet Strategies Ltd, what the hell was that about?

The global HQ of Chief Properties and Falcon Transportation, 135-137 Tavistock Street, Bedford. Image courtesy of Google. Click to enlarge.

Here’s Jac’s advice. To the good people of Llangefni – keep an eye on your Shire Hall.

To the county council – according to the Land Registry the sale may not have gone through yet – it certainly hasn’t been registered – so there may still be time to call it off. I know you’re desperate to offload this building, but this deal is almost guaranteed to turn out badly – for you!

To the self-styled ‘Welsh Government’ – don’t give this guy a penny of our money!

To Owen Hughes and the rest of the ‘Welsh media’ – for God’s sake do a few simple checks before going into raptures about people you know nothing about. You could save us all a lot of heartache and money, and yourselves embarrassment.

The bigger question must be why Wales keeps attracting these people. The short answer is that a poor country with plenty of surplus property going for a song will always attract chancers and worse.

The only remedy is independence and the economic uplift it will provide, plus the restrictions that can be placed on foreign ownership. But in the meantime, as a colony, we must expect more like Paul Williams, and Myles Cunliffe, and Gavin Woodhouse, and Tristan Haynes, and . . . 

♦ end ♦

 

Swansea Disloyals

PLEASE APPRECIATE THAT I GET SENT MORE INFORMATION AND LEADS THAN I CAN USE. I TRY TO RESPOND TO EVERYONE WHO CONTACTS ME BUT I CANNOT POSSIBLY USE EVERY BIT OF INFORMATION I’M SENT. DIOLCH YN FAWR

This post is a bit out of the ordinary, and rather personal. I felt it needed to be written as a response to those using the behaviour of a tiny minority to smear the reputation of my home city and its people. Also, in the hope of explaining why we have this minority.

NEVER JUST A GAME

A week yesterday, Swansea City hosted Cardiff City at the Liberty Stadium and beat the visitors 1 – 0. But the game itself was almost overshadowed by a few unsavoury postings on social media and incidents in the real world.

One widely reported posting concerned a ‘boarding pass’ for Emiliano Sala, the Argentine player Cardiff signed from Nantes, who was killed when the aircraft in which he was a passenger went down near the Channel Islands in January. (Available here if you want to see it.)

There was also criticism from certain quarters about union flags being flown by some Swans supporters – and their support for Glasgow Rangers and Ulster Loyalists – to imply that Swansea is a bastion of far right Unionism.

These were opposite the Railway Inn on Siloh Road, Landore, near to the Liberty Stadium. The use of a Union flag is a giveaway. Click to enlarge.

Passions are always high around these derby games, but many think that things have got worse in recent years. Which would be strange, for – isolated incidents of racism aside – football seems to be moving in the opposite direction, certainly with fewer cases of violence between rival groups of supporters.

So why is the rivalry getting more bitter and why have we seem a move to the Unionist far right from certain Swansea fans? The two phenomena are linked, as I’ll explain.

MEMORY LANE

As stated, there has always been rivalry between the fans of the Swans and the Bluebirds. I speak as an old North Banker from the ’60s, when the old Vetch Field occasionally saw bigger crowds than the Liberty Stadium can hold today. A loyal supporter who was at Anfield for the 1964 FA Cup victory, and then suffered the disappointment of the semi-final defeat on a Villa Park quagmire.

I can still smell the cigar smoke from Christmas games and remember the crowd singing Roy Orbison’s It’s Over when the Swans went two or three goals up. (Which may not have been too often, I admit.)

But the point is, me and my mates supported the Swans and we supported Wales, and that was it. It was football pure and simple, no politics, no divided loyalties, no foreign causes.

In the days of which I speak there was a certain confidence to be found in Swansea, a belief that our town was every bit as good as Cardiff or anywhere else. Cardiff’s ‘capital’ status meant little. There were plenty of good jobs and you could tell the boss to do something physically impossible on a Friday afternoon and walk into another job on Monday morning.

From 1899 OS map. Though Swansea Town AFC was not formed until 1912.. Click to enlarge

It was the age of winkle-pickers or chisel toes and ‘Italian’ suits, the Mumbles Mile; while down the Vetch it was Herbie Williams, Jimmie Mac and Brian Evans. Good times.

Though I admit that in later years I often drifted to St Helens and the Whites, which was just a short walk away, but the Swans were never far from my heart. First love and all that, I suppose.

But that’s enough of Memory Lane, let me now try to explain why I believe we’ve seen the emergence of UDA supporters on the banks of the Tawe.

A CITY BETRAYED

Despite the Swans making it to the old First Division under John Toshack for a couple of seasons in the early 80s, the confidence I just mentioned seemed to evaporate as the decade wore on and a number of factors contributed to a growing feeling that Swansea was losing out to Cardiff.

I’ve mentioned St Helens, that wonderful sporting arena on the Mumbles Road; not only was it home to Swansea RFC, but also to Glamorgan County Cricket Club. In fact, it was regarded as the natural home to GCCC seeing as the western part of the county and the adjoining area of Carmarthenshire around Llanelli produced most of Glamorgan’s players. And because the wider Swansea area was the home of Welsh cricket St Helens was where the county got its biggest crowds.

Glamorgan v West Indies, August 1950, St Helens, Swansea. Click to enlarge.

And yet, in a perverse decision that somehow foretold the future, GCCC gradually moved its centre of gravity east to Sophia Gardens (now the Swalec Stadium) in Cardiff, and St Helens was allocated fewer and fewer games.

A move that went hand in hand with Welsh cricket becoming less Welsh in every way. We saw fewer Welsh players in the team and the ‘Welsh’ cricket authorities willingly sacrificed our national team in order that Cardiff could host England test matches.

Then came the devolution referendum of September 1997, in which Swansea voted for devolution yet Cardiff – despite knowing it would get the benefits – voted against. I recall watching the late Hywel Teifi Edwards (father to the BBC’s Huw) being interviewed on television as the results came in and getting very angry about it, demanding that the Assembly should now go to Swansea.

What followed convinced many Swansea people that they’d been shafted.

It was always assumed that the new Assembly would be housed in Cardiff City Hall, but a bizarre dispute blew up between Ron Davies, then Secretary of State for Wales, and Russell Goodway, leader of Cardiff council. Davies alleged that Cardiff council was asking too much for City Hall, so negotiations ended and he launched a competition to find a different home for the Assembly.

The ‘winner’ was Swansea’s Guildhall, free since the new County Hall had been built on Oystermouth Road, and available at the right price. But none of that mattered – the Assembly ended up in Cardiff Bay.

All engineered by Lord Crickhowell, of Associated British Ports, which had benefited so handsomely from the public purse via the Cardiff Bay Development Corporation that had revamped ABP-owned Cardiff docks. Edwards had hoped to top it off with a new opera house, but lost out to the Millennium Stadium.

Click to enlarge

The Assembly would be an acceptable consolation prize (despite Edwards and his mates being opposed to devolution), especially as the new institution would be using Crickhowell House while the Assembly building was built. In fact, the self-styled ‘Welsh Government’ will be leasing Crickhowell House (or Tŷ Hywel, as it’s now called) until at least 2032.

The ‘dispute’ between Russell Goodway and Ron Davies was contrived, the ‘competition’ to find a home for the Assembly was a sham, both done to manoeuvre the Assembly down to Cardiff Bay. (All explained here in ‘Corruption Bay’, which I compiled almost 20 yeas ago.)

Swansea has been losing out ever since. A more recent example would be the decision to locate the major trauma centre for southern Wales in Cardiff, despite Swansea being geographically central, and Cardiff being so close to and already covered by the existing centres in Bristol. This decision was not made on medical or public health grounds. It will cost lives.

Now you might argue that other parts of Wales have lost out under devolution, and you’d be right. But nowhere is the sense of betrayal felt more keenly than in Swansea – because Swansea always had more to lose, and further to fall. And it hurts.

This failure of devolution has had consequences. As I shall now explain.

THE FAR RIGHT CAPITALISES

Like everywhere else, Swansea has always had a far right element. But because Cardiff fans don’t carry Union flags and a small number of Swansea fans do there is, as I said earlier, an attempt to besmirch the whole city and traduce its people.

But how did we arrive at this situation?

Two decades of non-stop investment have reconciled most Cardiffians to devolution, while the influx from the west and the north – to fill some of the many well-paid jobs created by devolution – has also helped Cymricise the city.

Swansea, on the other hand, has taken a different route.

Repeated kicks in the teeth have left almost all Swansea people feeling that their city has been betrayed and abandoned. Some Jacks have responded by rejecting not just devolution but Wales itself, and by exploiting the prevailing frustration to draw impressionable youngsters into something very ugly.

Of course, it can be argued that issues such as the tidal lagoon, or the failure to electrify the railway line, were the fault of Westminster, not the Assembly. But London has always been there, big, wealthy, dominating; whereas Cardiff’s growth in prosperity and size are seen as a direct result of devolution, and at the expense of Swansea.

Which, predictably, results in a rejection of – and often a hatred for – Cardiff.

I first became aware of the Swansea Loyals ten or more years ago, from their website, which gloried in members’ visits to Glasgow and Belfast. And while earlier manifestations of the far right in Wales had sought to incorporate Welsh symbols and identity into an essentially English or British message, what differentiated the Swansea Loyals is their focus on Scotland and Ireland.

Of course the Loyalist tradition has its roots in Ireland, and is long established in Scotland, but totally absent from Wales, which serves to reinforce Swansea Loyals’ rejection of things Welsh.

East Swansea Loyal sees the win against Cardiff as a victory over Wales! Click to enlarge.

It’s this that has angered so many on social media lately.

Maybe we need to remember that in the 1990s Cardiff was the capital of the far right in Wales, with ‘Wyn Davies’ and his Welsh Distributist Movement, the band Violent Storm and others. And who can forget footballer and Bluebirds fan Dai Thomas being arrested at Euro 2000. Was he there supporting England or just there for the violence? He was jailed a couple of years later for being a twat at a Cardiff game.

Despite Cardiff’s former pre-eminence, by the time the BNP membership list was leaked in November 2008 (Wales extract here) it was clear that Swansea had now stolen the crown 99% of the city’s population didn’t want.

Another gem in which our hero gives further proof of how uncomfortable he is in the 21st century. Note also the attempt – ‘hen’ – at Parliamo Glasgow. Click to enlarge.

So if you want to understand why a certain section of Swansea City fans wave Union flags and reject Welsh identity, why they identify with Glasgow Rangers and Loyalist paramilitaries, then the answer lies in a football rivalry being taken to another level by people of a far right political persuasion exploiting the fact that their city has been given a raw deal.

And because just about everyone in Swansea feels this way critics should be thankful that these Loyalists are so few in number. Swansea remains as Welsh as ever, but I doubt very much that the city would vote to retain this Cardiff-centric form of devolution if there was a referendum tomorrow.

THE BIGGER PICTURE

Despite their protestations of being British, to most people in Wales and England there is something rather alien and off-putting about Loyalist flute bands, Lambeg drums and Orange marches. They seem to come from another place and a different culture. Maybe even a different century.

Yet during The Troubles Loyalism began to influence the far right in England. With that influence among England football supporters made clear time after time with the chanting of ‘No Surrender to the IRA’, which bemused locals in cities unlucky enough to have them visit.

An Eve of Twelfth (of July) bonfire in East Belfast. Click to enlarge

Connections were made. And persist

The violence for which England football fans are notorious attracts the far right in Wales, and also perhaps those – like Dai Thomas – only interested in a brawl. Here’s another tweet from East Swansea Loyal, this one gleefully anticipating violence in Prague after England had lost to the Czech Republic last month.

Click to enlarge

The link between the far right and football violence is almost inevitable given the opportunities football provides to mix with and recruit pumped up young men looking for an outlet or a focus for their aggression. Which is why the armed forces provide another fertile recruiting ground.

But what’s wrong with that, they’ll argue, for only a ‘Fenian’ or a ‘separatist’ would complain about displaying the UK flag. And why shouldn’t guys from Swansea support Glasgow Rangers? Similarly, there’s nothing wrong with going to Belfast to socialise with others who believe in the Union (The fact that the hosts have a penchant for balaclavas and baseball bats is neither here nor there.)

Another retweet from East Swansea Loyal. Click to enlarge

Swansea City is not the only football club south of the border to have a ‘Loyal’ element. In recent years they have sprung up in a number of places, and for the same reason – the far right sees Loyalism as a cloak of respectability. Wrap yourself in the flag, sing GSTQ, attach yourself to mainstream Unionism, and you can get away with a lot more than you could if you were just a bigot without a cause.

But to what are they ‘Loyal’? Essentially, a system in Ireland that saw the indigenous population dispossessed and discriminated against, with this system maintained by violence. British imperialism in a nutshell.

There’s no question that the city of Swansea has had a raw deal in recent decades; but the culprits are in London and Cardiff, so the answers won’t be found in Glasgow and Belfast. 

Which makes it a great pity that instead of fighting for their city a small number of football hooligans has decided to further damage Swansea by joining bigots promoting a discredited cause.

LOOKING AHEAD

If you watched the recent BBC series Spotlight on the Troubles: A Secret History you’ll know that during that period Loyalist paramilitaries were armed and directed by the RUC, the British army, and the intelligence services. If you didn’t watch it, then I urge you to do so, it’s an excellent series.

The Troubles may be over but the British state faces new challenges. For Brexit has unleashed a wave of English nationalism, and also a response, which combined threaten to break up the United Kingdom. So there’s a good chance that the British state will employ the far right, Loyalists and the like, in the years ahead.

It’s been done before, not just in the Six Counties but also in England, after Roberto Fiore washed up in London in 1981 and became big pals with Nick Griffin. Fiore brought with him first-hand knowledge of cooperation between extreme right wing terrorists and state intelligence services.

There will be a Scottish independence referendum next year. The greater the likelihood of the Scots voting for independence, the dirtier the state will fight. And if there’s a vote for independence then it’ll be unrestricted warfare.

Across the water, there could be a vote for reunification. Which will not be welcomed by those the Swansea Loyals admire, so how will they react? They’ll probably resort to violence and they’ll have support from the far right in Britain, but will the state help them, or have they outlived their usefulness?

And what of Wales? We see a growing appetite for independence that cannot yet reach its potential because, a) it is too closely linked with a political party that has hit its ceiling, b) it dissipates its energies on diversionary issues, and c) it deters support by being doctrinaire.

They want us to believe that it’s only about the football, but the sectarian politics always comes through. Thankfully the Twitter account is suspended. Click to enlarge

But independence is the only way forward for Wales. And if Scotland votes to leave the UK then Welsh independence will surely follow. Which might provoke more than just angry tweets from the Swansea Loyals, and graffiti around the Station Inn.

To end on a brighter note . . . when we achieve independence our ‘Loyalists’ can move to the country to which they are really loyal – England. Because principled individuals like them couldn’t possibly remain in an independent Wales, and there’ll be little welcome for them in an independent Scotland or a united Ireland either.

In the meantime, let everybody understand . . .

The ‘Swansea Loyals’ do not represent my city or my people. They are a small gang of bigots and fascists who have cloaked themselves in ‘Loyalism’, turned their backs on Wales, and should be exposed for what they are.

Wales must be united under one flag; the flag of those who are loyal to Wales, and only Wales.

♦ end ♦