On Tuesday, February 6th, there will be a by-election in the Alyn and Deeside constituency following the death of sitting Assembly Member Carl Sargeant of the Labour Party.
The facts in the public domain are that on November 7th last year Sargeant took his own life four days after being forced to step down from his post of Cabinet Secretary for Communities and Children. This was linked with allegations of sexual harassment or misconduct.
The death and the circumstances surrounding it have been covered extensively, but with the ‘Welsh’ media being its usual cowardly self when honest reporting carries any risk of annoying the Labour Party. Fortunately, there are other sources who can not be intimidated by the bruvvers.
Guido Fawkes reported that Sargeant was being ‘bullied’ back in 2014 by someone in Carwyn Jones’ office, almost certainly Jo Kiernan or others working with/for her. Jo Kiernan left her post after the May 2016 Assembly elections.
Then, news of Sargeant’s sacking was leaked to a number of quarters in the media and elsewhere before he himself had met with Carwyn Jones. Again, the finger points to the First Minister’s staff.
Due to the circumstances of his death Sargeant post mortem has been turned into something of a saint, and a victim. So it may be time to put the record straight.
THERE’S BULLIES AND THERE’S BULLIES
First, let’s look at the allegations of ‘bullying’.
I find it difficult to believe that Kiernan or anyone else on Carwyn Jones’s staff could physically bully a burly individual like Carl Sargeant, so what we are talking about here is almost certainly something different. I suggest that it was psychological pressure or mind games, with which an unsophisticated man like Sargeant was ill-equipped to deal.
From what I know of him he was very much Old Labour, of the Labour Club rather than the bistro, mushy peas rather than guacamole. Which makes it no surprise to learn that his home town of Connah’s Quay has a fine example of such an establishment.
The sort of place where the ‘made men’ of the local Labour Party hang out, to be approached by supplicants seeking advice, or a favour (or maybe asking to have somebody whacked). Where for every ideologically committed party member you will find three or four who are in the locally dominant party in order to boost their standing in the community, while bringing in a little extra money.
Ah! those Labour clubs of yore – where are they now? Gone, most of them, thank God. Which makes Connah’s Quay something of a throwback, a curiosity. And this I think accounts for Carl Sargeant’s problems with Carwyn Jones’ back-room staff who, if not New Labour, were certainly less antediluvian than the denizens of Connah’s Quay Labour Club with whom Sargeant was familiar.
No doubt what these sophisticates did qualifies as ‘bullying’ (what doesn’t nowadays?) but it might have been no more than a few clever and devious people being nasty to a man they viewed as a dinosaur. They may even have seen it as a game.
Unless of course they choose to employ the Nuremberg Defence by arguing that they were only obeying orders.
THE MAN HIMSELF
From the information I’ve received I’m prepared now to say that despite what many want us to believe, Carl Sargeant was no saint.
One incident of bullying that’s been reported has Sargeant’s hand on an intern’s throat with the intern pinned to a wall and Sargeant screaming at him. The crime? – getting Sargeant’s lunch order wrong.
He is said to have been in a relationship with a woman running a very prominent women’s organisation; an organisation that received a grant not unadjacent to £400,000. When she ended the relationship Sargeant made life difficult for her.
There were other relationships, a number with civil servants, who left their jobs at some cost to the public purse.
One source told me of great mirth among Flintshire councillors when Sargeant’s wife found out about his swordsmanship and to pacify her he had to shell out on a cruise.
Less funny are persistent rumours of dodgy procurement deals that are said to have somehow benefited Sargeant’s extended family and friends. It’s even rumoured that BBC Wales was investigating these allegations until the Labour Party took out an injunction.
Most civil servants are mystified by Sargeant’s beatification, for his department had the highest absence and sickness rates, with two senior civil servants taking early retirement, again, at some cost to the public purse.
It’s even been suggested that Sargeant was stitched up because Carwyn Jones wished to clear a path for his anointed successor, Vaughan – ‘I’m black, I am’ – Gething. Though it now looks as if the timing of his own departure may no longer be in the First Minister’s hands.
And yet, despite his many failings, I am assured that the final allegations made against Carl Sargeant, those that got him sacked, and perhaps led to his suicide, were fabricated.
THOSE IN THE SHADOWS
Given that Jo Kiernan was long gone from Carwyn Jones’ office when Sargeant was dismissed she was unlikely to have leaked the news . . . but may still have been involved.
For after leaving the employ of our Beloved Leader she betook herself unto Deryn Consulting, where she must have felt right at home among schemers and plotters just like herself, almost all of them with political experience and therefore a great interest in events in the Bay.
The word in the corridors and conference rooms is that the whispering campaign against Sargeant continued when Kiernan teamed up with Deryn (which might suggest that her antipathy was personal as well as – or rather than – political). He reciprocated by refusing to employ Deryn.
But Deryn wields (or used to wield) considerable political clout, and perhaps Sargeant underestimated his adversary, for few now doubt that Deryn was instrumental in his downfall, with some singling Cathy Owens out for special mention.
Guido Fawkes tells us, “Cathy Owens, head of Deryn and herself a former special adviser who was embroiled in an earlier bullying scandal, took to the BBC in the days before Carl’s death to allege sexual harassment from an unnamed politician. She pointedly did not rule out Sargeant from her unsupported allegations as part of a concerted campaign to try and humiliate and discredit him.”
If the name Deryn rings a bell it’s because it’s the same company that has been involved in trying to destroy both the reputation and the political career of Assembly Member Neil McEvoy. I wrote about it just over a week ago in Plaid Cymru and the defenestration of Neil McEvoy.
I regard Deryn as a very dangerous organisation: A danger to democracy, and a threat to people’s faith in politics. That Deryn is so influential is indicative of how in less than twenty years devolution has been corrupted.
THE SON ALSO RISES
And now we face a by-election on Tuesday to elect another Assembly Member for Alyn and Deeside.
As the name suggests, the constituency straddles Afon Dyfrdwy and runs east to the border and Chester, while also running south to Llay, Gwersyllt and Coedpoeth on the outskirts of Wrecsam.
I’ve always thought of the northern section as a rather bleak and characterless area, unattractive industrial towns and dormitory communities, the western edge of the Cheshire Plain, somewhere to pass through on the way to somewhere else.
But there you go, that’s just the opinion of someone lucky enough to have been born and raised in a city of hills and beaches.
Given the short time frame between the death and the by-election, further shortened by the Christmas and New Year holiday, plus the circumstances occasioning the by-election, Labour may have had little alternative but to choose Carl Sargeant’s son, Jack.
And it might have seemed like a wise choice.
For young Jack offers everything: ‘You want to vote Labour – vote for young Jack Sargeant’. ‘You want to give Labour a gentle kicking for the way they treated poor old Carl – vote for his son, Jack’. This is bloody clever, worthy of Baldrick. Let’s hope it gangs agley like the schemes of Blackadder’s dogsbody.
My advice to the voters of Alyn and Deeside is this. If you want to show your anger at the unnecessary death of Carl Sargeant then don’t vote for the party instrumental in his death. Don’t vote Labour.
Of course, you may believe what young Jack says about going down to Cardiff Bay and getting the truth about what happened to his father. If so, just think about that for a minute. If they were too much for Carl Sargeant then they’ll eat the boy alive. So again, Don’t vote Labour.
Think of young Jack and put his welfare first – Don’t vote Labour.
I’ve mentioned Deryn and the treatment meted out to both Carl Sargeant and Neil McEvoy, so I hope you’re getting the message. Cardiff Bay – and here I include politicians, advisers, lobbyists, third sector parasites – is now a national disgrace, an embarrassment to us all.
Not only is it corrupt to its stinking core but it has cost us billions of pounds as money has been diverted to unworthy causes because those getting the money are well connected, or because they’re shagging so-and-so. Yes, there is to be an investigation into how the case was handled by Carwyn Jones, but I’m not holding my breath because ‘investigations’ down there reveal nothing.
Wales is now the poorest country in Europe, and the most corrupt. And it can all be traced back to the Labour Party and Cardiff Bay. Is there something in the air? Because even before we had devolution Cardiff Bay gave us the biggest case of corruption in Welsh history. I wrote about it here in Corruption Bay.
There have always been sound economic and other arguments for moving the Assembly out of Cardiff, preferably to somewhere more central like Aberystwyth or Llandrindod. If we did that then investment and jobs would be far more likely to be spread fairly around the country.
Not only that, but if we moved the Assembly then other investment would surely follow, such as road and rail communications. Allowing our Assembly Members to jump on a train and be home in a couple of hours.
For Cardiff Bay is detached from the city and even more isolated from the country it claims to serve. It has become a world unto itself, with its own mores, its own distorted standards, all of which are damaging Wales.
Had he not been exposed to the temptations of Sodom-in-the-Bay poor Carl Sargeant would be downing a pint this weekend in Connah’s Quay Labour Club, and the voters of Alyn and Deeside wouldn’t be voting on Tuesday.
Cardiff Bay killed Carl Sargeant.
♦ end ♦
UPDATE 08.02.2018: In one of the most bizarre election results in recent Welsh history Jack Sargeant was elected as the new Assembly Member for Alyn and Deeside. Thanks to the untimely death of his father he was able to increase Labour’s majority over that gained by his father in 2016.
We now wait to see whether he falls into line as a loyal AM to leader Carwyn Jones, or whether he keeps to his promise to get at the truth about his father’s suspension. If it’s the latter then the Labour Party in Wales, and certain semi-detached ‘helpers’ it has used, such as lobbyists and third sector bodies, could be in for a rocky spell.
We can but hope.