Jun 042018
 

MOLD RIOTS 1869 (Update)

In my previous post I mentioned the Mold Riots of 1869, which resulted in four locals being shot dead by soldiers brought in from Chester, with many more wounded, resulting from unrest at Leeswood Green colliery – situated between Mold and Wrecsam – following the appointment of English manager, John Young, his treatment of the miners and his hostility towards the Welsh language.

Determined to get more information on this episode of Welsh history that has been largely ignored outside of the immediate vicinity, I started trawling the internet. One piece I came across was on the Hiraeth website (a site previously unknown to me), and while the site narrative followed the accepted version there was a curious panel insert offering a very different version.

So curious is it that it deserves to be analysed in some detail.

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First off, the writer of the panel, David Rowe, tells us, “There is no evidence that the use of Cymraeg was banned by Young”. (Note the use of the ‘I’m on your side’ ‘Cymraeg’ rather than ‘Welsh’.)

And yet, the novelist Daniel Owen, who lived in Mold at the time, and wrote about the events in Rhys Lewis, was in no doubt that the curtailing or prohibition of the use of Welsh in the mine was one of the causes of the unrest that culminated in the riots.

So do we believe a Welsh speaker, an observant man native to the area, with no political axe to grind, who almost certainly spoke with those involved, and therefore wrote from first-hand knowledge; or do we believe David Rowe, who comes from north east England, as did John Young?

I know who my money’s on.

Rowe continues, “Indeed, during one of the two trials associated with the events, a number of the defendants were provided with a translator as they did not speak English.” He could well be right, but this is a non-sequitur because the trials were not organised by John Young. This contribution has no value beyond establishing that many of those involved spoke little or no English.

Soon after we read, ” . . . it is also perhaps worth noting that very little is said about the injuries suffered by the army and police prior to them opening fire. Two of the eighteen injured police officers, Superintendent Thomas and Sergeant Dew, never returned to work and of the latter it was reported that ‘his helmet was smashed in, a stone was afterwards found inside it’”

This is almost unbelievable. Rowe seems to be arguing that stones thrown at police and soldiers justified those soldiers firing into a crowd containing women and children, and killing two women!

As for Superintendent Thomas and Sergeant Dew not returning to work, was this due to the severity of their injuries, or did they just take early retirement?

Rowe’s interpretation goes on, “The affair was not supported by Mold townspeople and shopkeepers, and the miners took their business to Wrexham.” Here we have something else that needs to be taken with a dollop of Halen Môn. The miners worked at Leeswood, which lies between Mold and Wrecsam, many of them may have lived nearer to Wrecsam than to Mold, and may always have done their shopping in the larger town.

But the intention is clear – ‘These were a few hotheads ostracised by the local community’. A crude smear.

And yet, for the wrong reason, Rowe may be right. For in Rhys Lewis, Daniel Owen has chapel elder Abel Hughes, say, “But these strikes are a very strange thing. They’re things that have come from the English; they don’t belong to us, and I fear that they will do a lot of harm to this country”. (Translation: SM.)

So if the locals of Mold kept their distance from the strikers this could be because they regarded strikes as an unwanted English importation. Which would mean that the strikers were not behaving in an acceptably Welsh way.

David Rowe concludes with a ‘lived happily ever after’ element in the form of, “(Young) went back to Leeswood Green Colliery and one of the original rioters is later described as being his ‘right hand man’.” Perhaps an attempt at bridge-building forced on Young by the mine-owners?

Though seeing as there were hundreds of rioters this doesn’t really say much.

Interestingly, Rowe neglects to address the matter of Young bringing in English miners and giving them the best diggings. This may have been as much a cause of the trouble, perhaps more so, than Young’s hostility to the Welsh language.

Now I’ve been around long enough to recognise a whitewash when I read it, the sanitisation of historical events to suit a political or other agenda, and that’s exactly what we have here.

To paraphrase David Rowe.

John Young was victimised by a small group of nasty, xenophobic Welsh miners. The behaviour of this malign element was countered with the civilising influence of English soldiers who were provoked beyond endurance and were fully justified in firing on a crowd of (allegedly) unarmed people. Following the riots the strikers were again proven to be just a few hotheads representing no one but themselves when they were shunned by the people of Mold. 

Rowe strikes me as one of those of whom we have too many in Wales today. They move in and in a very short time have taken over local clubs and associations, setting themselves up as experts on all things Welsh, all things local, and because of our inbuilt timidity resulting from centuries of brainwashing, we allow them to get away with it.

But not on this blog, pal.

Malcolm X once said, “Only a fool would let his enemy educate his children” I think we can add, ‘Only a nation of fools would let its history be interpreted by its enemies’.

HOW A COLONIAL ECONOMY OPERATES

Princes Gate

I’m sure many of you have drunk Princes Gate bottled water, I know I have, though I must admit I was never sure where it came from. Now I learn there’s a little place called Princes Gate a couple of miles south east of Narberth in Pembrokeshire, not far from Cold Blow.

And it’s there we find the company run by brothers David and Glyn Jones. It’s in the news because they’ve sold out to Nestlé. Which I find concerning for two reasons.

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To begin with, we see an old story retold – Welsh company starts up, grows, becomes profitable and desirable, with the result that it is bought out, usually by a larger English company, and often closed down, with production moved to England.

Though in the case of Princes Gate the new owner is mega multinational Nestlé, and seeing as it bottles local water production certainly can’t be transferred, though the operation might still be closed down if Nestlé felt it had too many producers of bottled water, or if the market took a dip.

Of more concern for many than job losses is Nestlé’s reputation in the field of water extraction, and how its operations impact on neighbours and the wider environment.

Here are two reports on Nestlé operations in the USA; one in California, and one in Michigan. The allegations are that Nestlé pays a pittance for the right to extract water, extracts more than it should, lowers the water table and affects everyone else, and generally puts its own corporate interests above all other considerations.

Nestlé hasn’t bought Princes Gate to lose money, and given the company’s global track record it’s reasonable to assume that it will seek to increase production. Increasing production can only mean extracting more water, and this will inevitably lower the water table and affect the local environment.

Which is what Princes Gate was accused of doing in 2016. Maybe the effect the increased production was having on neighbours they knew and socialised with held Dai and Glyn Jones back from further expansion. It may be why they’re selling up.

Multinational Nestlé with its army of lawyers and ‘experts’ will have no qualms about pissing off the neighbours.

One to watch, methinks.

Arla ‘Welsh’ Cheese

Moving north, another recent story concerned the Arla cheese plant at Llandyrnog, a few miles east of Denbigh. It seems that the Danish company that owns the plant is transferring production to Devon but will still call the product ‘Welsh cheese’.

This, again, is an old refrain, for many of us will remember the closure of creameries in the south west in the 1970s and 1980s, with politicians doing nothing to help as production was, again, transferred to England. Milk from Carmarthenshire and Pembrokeshire is still heading for the border every day. As one respondent to a tweet I put out said, “You only need to go to Cross Hands (on the A48, just shy of the M4) any day of the week to see tens of articulated tankers filled with Welsh milk destined for dairies in England.”

Picture: BBC Wales (click to enlarge)

Why is this still happening twenty years into devolution? Even allowing for the fact that the Poverty Party cares nothing for rural areas the other parties could surely be applying pressure? Or, come to that, why can’t our farmers organise themselves, as farmers in Ireland and other countries have done, why rely on foreign companies to come in and rip them off?

Raw materials and unfinished good being taken out of a poor country to be finished and profited from in a controlling richer country is the classic definition of a colonial economy.

One the best illustrations of this comes from pre-independence Cuba where the locals were allowed to grow tobacco which was then shipped to Spain in its raw state to be made into cigars. With the jobs and the profits of course accruing to Spain.

Twenty-first century Wales is catching up fast with nineteenth-century Cuba. What a testament that is to English ownership and ‘Welsh’ Labour management of our country!

BACK TO THE FUTURE

Many observers, of a leftist or ‘progressive’ bent, have enjoyed drawing silly parallels lately. For example, the election of Donald Trump is compared to Hitler taking power in 1933, people refusing to be silenced by political correctness are the harbingers of global fascism, and the rise of anti-establishment movements is the first step on the road to totalitarianism.

All bollocks of course, because if there is any parallel to be drawn with the past, certainly in these offshore islands, then we need to go back a few centuries. I’m thinking of a time when England was trying to take complete control over the other countries with varying degrees of support and opposition coming from within those countries.

If we take Ireland in the medieval period, there was support for the English presence from the ‘Old English’, before their position was usurped (because they remained Catholic) by the Protestant Ascendancy, which in turn was replaced by the Presbyterian Scots, mainly in Ulster but also in the other Provinces.

Today the descendants of those settlers from Lowland Scotland wield great power in the UK government, for the Democratic Unionist Party, founded by the Reverend Doctor Ian Kyle Paisley, is keeping Mrs May’s shower afloat. Another face of Unionism-Loyalism is of course the Orange Order.

Among these Loyalists we find some thuggish elements, as we saw in George Square, Glasgow, the day after the independence referendum in September 2014. What we also saw in George Square that day were plenty of fascist salutes, reminding us of how Loyalism and fascism often merge into the ultimate expression of ‘British values’. Something to which critics of ‘nationalism’ seem blind.

The Orangemen are to hold a big march at the end of this month in Cowdenbeath, Fife, and the guest speaker is Arlene Foster, leader of the DUP. This is unusual for a number of reasons, not least that the Orange Order’s attitude towards women has historically mirrored that of the Freemasons, an organisation with which it has always had strong links – ‘Make the tea, doll’.

There can be no question that inviting the leader of the DUP to Scotland is designed to send a message to the SNP about its thinking on a second independence referendum. It might even be a threat. It would be interesting to know if the UK government had a hand in the invitation.

But it could all be counter-productive when we remember the kind of bigots and outright nutters that inhabit the Unionist-royalist-Loyalist-BritNat-fascist continuum. Fortunately, the latest issue of Private Eye reminds us of some of the stars to be found in the Democratic Unionist Party.

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Top of the bill must be the Reverend William ‘Boxcar Willie’ McCrea. As the Eye tells us, “According to official papers released three years ago, after the American air raids on Tripoli in 1986, Boxcar Willie asked the Thatcher government to launch similar missile attacks on the Irish Republic. A memo from an official in the Northern Ireland Office noted: ‘Rev William McCrea urged Libya-style strikes against Dundalk, Drogheda, Crossmaglen and Carrickmore’.”

Which is even more insane than it initially reads – for Crossmaglen and Carrickmore are actually in Northern Ireland; Republican strongholds, admittedly, but still in Northern Ireland. So this lunatic wanted the UK government to bomb parts of the United Kingdom and kill people who were – however reluctantly – British subjects!

And now he’s in the House of Lords. It would be easy to be flippant and say that’s where he belongs, among lots of other old tossers. But he’s there because his party is propping up – and influencing – the UK government. And remember, Boxcar Willie and the DUP represent the acceptable face of Unionism. Just think what the arse-end looks like!

Finally, consider this: there will soon be a Catholic majority in the Six Counties, and this will inevitably be followed by a united Ireland (if Brexit doesn’t do it). As the Unionist-Loyalist Götterdämmerung approaches many of Boxcar Willie’s fervid supporters will be looking for somewhere else to settle. (Unless they decide to go out with an OAS-style bang.)

When that happens I guarantee some will be ‘directed’ to Wales. So maybe you’d better prepare yourself for this sort of thing along Aberystwyth Promenade.

PUTTING FAITH IN CARWYN

The ugly lovely town has taken a few to the nuts of late: first it was the decision not to electrify the railway line from London beyond Cardiff; then, last month, we lost 800 jobs when Virgin Media pulled out; the Swans have been relegated, the Ospreys knocked off their perch; and now it seems we are not getting the tidal lagoon either.

But Carwyn Jones, our beloved and respected First Minister, has reiterated his government’s support for the project with, “The Welsh Government remains committed to the Swansea Bay Tidal Lagoon and we stand ready to provide significant financial backing to help make it a reality”Can’t say fairer than that!

Though I wonder if he’s not giving himself – or his successor – up as a hostage to fortune. Because if, as expected, the UK government pulls the plug this week on the lagoon project then people in Wales, and especially those around Swansea Bay, will expect Carwyn Jones to come riding to the rescue.

But will that happen? And is there anything he can really do?

Picture: Tidal Lagoon Power (click to enlarge)

Carwyn Jones seems to be offering money, but I’m not sure that’s the sticking point. I believe there’d be no difficulty finding funding for the project – if the UK government agrees to take the power produced, which it seems unwilling to do.

Because the sticking point is the ‘strike price’ asked by those operating the lagoon, which according to the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy is significantly higher than the price agreed for electricity supplied by the Hinckley Point nuclear power station in Somerset.

Yet operators Tidal Lagoon Power (TLP) disagree, saying they had previously asked for a 90-year contract with the UK government with an average strike price of £89.90 per megawatt hour. The new nuclear power station at Hinkley Point C in Somerset was given a strike price of £92.50/MWh for 35 years.

It begins to look as if, for whatever reason, the UK government just doesn’t want tidal energy, or maybe it’s tidal energy in Wales it doesn’t want. Either way, it looks as if the project is dead. However . . . if the ‘Welsh’ Government’s money can bring down the strike price it might be difficult for London to remain intransigent.

The announcement later this week will be Mrs May lobbing the ball into Carwyn’s court. It’ll then be up to him how he plays it.

Will it be a thundering cross-court volley leaving Theresa May sprawling? Might it be an elegant backhand drawing oohs and aahs from the sun-drenched crowd? Or will he stumble and smash it into the net, as usual?

♦ end ♦

May 232018
 

SEVERNSIDE

Llais y Sais last Saturday published a curious report – presumably written by Martin Shipton – of a speech made to the Welsh Conservative Spring Conference by Secretary of State for Wales, Alun Cairns (below).

It was almost in the form of an apologia, though of course Cairns didn’t write the article himself. The piece was clearly a response to the criticism he’s received over ‘his’ decision to rename the Second Severn Crossing the Prince of Wales Bridge.

In this post I shall examine what he said and then give my interpretations and opinions.

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Let’s start with Cairns’ reference to “the important connections Wales has with the Royal Family”. These were helpfully listed in the article: Welsh gold, Felinfoel beer and Pembrokeshire corgis. Let’s take them one by one.

Gold. During the Roman empire there were people across Europe wearing Welsh gold. So all this ‘connection’ tells us is that Wales has gold and people like wearing gold. And if I’m not mistaken, the English royals don’t even pay for theirs.

Beer. So Big Ears likes a drop of Feelingfoul (so we’re told), but then he and the rest of his family pretend to like all sorts of things to please people, that’s their job. And there must be a good geographical spread – Pontefract cakes, Highland whisky, Cornish pasties, etc., etc.

Pembrokeshire corgis. Is this supposed to prove love for Wales, or Pembrokeshire? I used to have Airedales, but I didn’t break into Ilkla Moor baht ‘at at the drop of a flat cap.

Let’s be honest, these are not meaningful ‘connections’, this is clutching at straws. So let’s move on.

The Bridge inevitably figures strongly in his oration, as does his beloved Severnside, which he described as a “cross-border economic region”, and went on to laud:

  • A financial services sector worth £2.5bn a year.
  • A creative industry cluster employing 15,000 people, including the BBC drama village in Cardiff Bay and its Natural History Unit in Bristol.
  • The world’s largest compound semiconductor cluster in Newport working with quantum technology at Bristol University.
  • Nine universities with nearly 170,000 students, three of which are members of the Russell Group.
  • The new Qatar Airlines link to Doha which put Cardiff at the heart of this new economic region on the western side of the UK.

Again, desperate stuff, with the claims unclear or impossible to justify.

For example, what does “worth £2.5bn a year” mean? Who calculated that figure?

“Nine universities with nearly 170,000 students” might sound impressive, until you realise that it’s too many of both. Universities are now businesses, turning out too many unemployable young people with degrees nobody wants and debts most of them will never pay off.

But where the wee man went for broke was in having the nerve to mention Cardiff airport after not so long ago prioritising the interests of Bristol airport by refusing to devolve Air Passenger Duty, despite Cardiff Wales airport being in his Vale of Glamorgan constituency!

And as for Qatar Airlines, let’s wait and see what ‘inducements’ were offered by Carwyn Jones and his band of economic whizz-kids. Because some argue that no company using the airport pays its whack, and the ‘Welsh’ Government has to bribe and beg users to come, and then bribe them to stay.

Cairns believes Severnside should be “learning from and achieving the same dynamism as the north Wales/North West axis”. So how’s that working out?

Investment and employment goes to north west England but northern Wales builds thousands of new homes for those wishing to move out of Greater Manchester and Merseyside but who find no welcome in Cheshire communities fearful of over-development resulting in falling property values.

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In addition, the decaying towns of the littoral – particularly Rhyl – will continue their decline as more and more of England’s underclass and criminal elements are dumped there

In addition to commuters and degenerates the north can expect the flood of elderly people to continue until our NHS and social services finally collapse under the strain.

The ‘achievements’ of the Mersey-Dee Alliance are nothing to crow about, much less emulate.

Cairns’ ended his speech with: “The socialist and nationalist parochial and protectionist agenda lacks confidence in our people and stifles the innovation and entrepreneurialism they show. Now, more than ever, we must be confident and outward-looking”.

And this remember was said by a representative of a BritNat government withdrawing inelegantly from the EU, deporting people who’ve lived here for decades, and exploring all sorts of measures to stop Johnny Foreigner coming to live here in the first place.

It would be easy to laugh, but it’s too serious for that.

THE UNION

There are countless synonyms for union: association, alliance, harmony, concord are just a few. Whether it’s a plumbing part or marriage, whether we consider the USA or the Farmers Union of Wales, a union brings together two or more parts for the mutual and equal benefit of those entering into or joining the union.

And yet, by any criterion we apply, Wales is worse off than England, and the gap between us widens every year. Significantly, perhaps, Scotland was not a lot better, but in recent years Scotland’s economy, health service and so many other yardsticks used to measure a country’s well-being have improved relative to England, and left Wales lagging further behind.

Which means that if Alun Cairns was defending the Union then he would be fighting to ensure that Llanelli was as prosperous as Weybridge; that Wales did not lose out in spending on railways and other infrastructure; that we received fair payment for the water that is taken, the electricity exported, that Air Passenger Duty is devolved, and many other things.

But he does none of this, he simply defends the inequalities that make a mockery of the term ‘Union’ with insulting nonsense about corgis and beer. Proving that this is no union as that word is globally understood. It is clearly some other form of political arrangement, one that is less than equal, and this explains why Wales is so much poorer than England.

It is often at this point that the cavalry of the Brit left rides over the hill with, ‘Ah, but there are deprived towns and cities in England – have you ever been to Stoke on Trent, or Blackpool? ‘ Er, yes, I have, but so what? These and all the other run-down towns and districts are England’s problem, and can be remedied with better distribution of the wealth England so obviously possesses.

Wales has no such wealth to distribute, and will never be treated as an equal member of a Union. Wales suffers because she is different; we know it and the difference is recognised by the English, and acknowledged in more ways than the casual racism that has become the norm.

Having mentioned the Brit left in Wales, let’s also remember its foundation myth, which relates how Wales came into existence with the Industrial Revolution, emerging from the void. The same Brit left that has collaborated with Alun Cairns and his predecessors to undermine and impoverish Wales for over a century in order to maintain its fiefdom.

“Take from the colonies”. That’s how it works.

There is no measurable or practical difference between the Labour and Conservative parties in Wales, both seek to keep Wales a colony of England. Making this non-Union they both defend nothing less than a crude and increasingly obvious form of internal colonialism from which they benefit so well.

In addition to the managed decline of our post-industrial areas we see social engineering in our rural areas, accompanied by the ridicule of our language, the changing of our place names, adding up to the destruction of our national identity. All done under the guise of tourism and other idiocies that deliver nothing but minority status for us in our own land.

Political debate in Wales must no longer be shaped by the false paradigm of left and right but by whether Wales remains an impoverished and exploited colony of England or whether we make Wales the country she should be, through independence.

To conclude, Alun Cairns is clearly no Unionist, for you cannot defend what does not exist; Cairns is simply putting a gloss on colonialism and exploitation founded in racism. Which makes him nothing more than a willing mouthpiece for his political masters and his social superiors; those whose predecessors – and not so long ago – traded slaves, and sent children down coal mines.

This cannot continue, the Wales we love will not long survive this system of colonialism. But there is hope, for a new force is emerging in Welsh politics. If you want to be part of this fight against colonialism, this drive for independence, then show your support for Ein Gwlad today.

♦ end ♦

 

Apr 132018
 

A guest post by Aled Gwyn Jôb

‘Tri chynnig i Gymro’ (Three tries for a Welshman) is a very old and much-loved Welsh saying.

Where Leighton Andrews and Mark Drakeford ultimately feared to tread, the Welsh Government’s own inimitable attack dog, Alun Davies, is now all set to get his teeth into Local Government re-organisation.

But, if this to mean anything other than a tokenistic tinkering with the map of Wales once again, surely the process has to involve meaningful change this time round.

It’s an opportunity to look afresh at what local democracy should actually mean today, and how it can manifest itself anew in different parts of Wales. The long neglected link up between health care and social care should definitely be on the agenda, as well as democratic control of social housing, a sector which has grown exponentially over the past few years with little or no local scrutiny attached to it.

With Cardiff having a disproportionate slice of the political and economic cake, there is also a strong case for the creation of perhaps no more than 6 regional authorities to counter-balance the Cardiff-centricity of modern Wales, and those authorities imbued with real powers. Which could even perhaps include some element of tax-varying powers of their own, as is the case with local authorities in the thriving Basque Country.

It’s also high time for some radical thinking where the Welsh language and local government is concerned.

It presents a golden opportunity to implement the idea proposed by Adam Price, the Plaid Cymru AM – i.e. to create ARFOR, a single authority for the Welsh-speaking areas of Ynys Môn, Gwynedd, Ceredigion, and Caerfyrddin, which would operate through the medium of Welsh.

The much-maligned nationalist thinker, Saunders Lewis predicted that the Welsh language would decline faster with a Welsh Government in situ in Cardiff than it would under Westminster control, unless local government first conducted its work through the medium of Welsh in Y Fro Gymraeg.

With less than 5 per cent of deliberations at Y Senedd conducted in Welsh (well below the national 21 per cent of Welsh speakers), Saunders Lewis’ prophecy seems to have been borne out.

Every single party at Y Senedd (even UKIP) pledges strong support for Welsh in public: but the harsh truth after 20 years of devolution is that English has become the governing language in our national parliament. With the best will in the world, this is not going to change any time soon.

A cultural and political counterpoint is sorely needed to provide Cymraeg with real status and power- located in those areas where it remains an everyday living language.

Socio-linguists agree that a minority language requires some form of territorial integrity in order to thrive. Increasing use is now being made of environmental metaphors with a minority language imagined as a plant or flower which has to have a secure habitat in order to be able to breathe, grow and flourish.

If we continue with the environmental metaphor, most of us are all aware that Welsh’s natural habitat has been eroding on a frighteningly fast rate over the past two generations.

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At the time of the 1961 census there were areas within sight of Stradey Park and Llandudno promenade where over 80% of the population spoke Welsh, and the whole of the west apart from south Pembrokeshire was mainly Welsh speaking.

By the 2011 census however, this former solid bank of Welsh speakers across these western counties had dried up alarmingly with Gwynedd down to 64% of  Welsh speakers, Ynys Mon 59%, Ceredigion on 48% and Caerfyrddin down to 44%.

The calamitous retreat of Cymraeg in these heartlands since 1951, has been virtually ignored by all the political parties. Partly of course because of the thorny reality that this decline has been accelerated by an inflow of migration from England- with the vast majority of these incomers not showing any inclination to learn the language of their new country. Not one party, not even Plaid Cymru, has dared to challenge and oppose this hugely destructive process over the years.

But the decline has also been about an exodus of Welsh-speaking people, especially younger people in search of employment opportunities, not available in the traditional Welsh-speaking areas. Cardiff of course has been the main beneficiary of this exodus and although it’s comforting on one level that these people are at least staying in Wales, there can be no denying that this process has denuded their home communities of their  vitality, their energy and their creativity.

The habitat needs to be rewilded, and the best way to start is with an idea

ARFOR could operate with say 60 elected councillors( 15 from the 4 areas). The geographic distances between Caergybi on Ynys Môn and Llanelli in Carmarthenshire need not be a problem in an age of fast-developing video conferencing. Its nominal headquarters could be based, say, in Aberystwyth or even Machynlleth, but with specific departments located in all four areas.

Arfor should be able to draw up a strategic trajectory for its territory in terms of economic development, housing, planning, social care and other key sectors such as food and drink, tourism, entrepreneurship and language regeneration.

The overall plans could then be implemented at a more local level by beefing up the role of present day community councils. These could be re-imagined by reviving the old model of the rural/town district councils (with several local community councils coming together to form these new entities) employing staff to discharge the duties delivered downwards by the central Arfor authority.

This would allow both a regional identity and a local identity to co-exist and co-create a better future for the heartlands which have only known decline, despair and disillusionment for the past two generations.

Cyngor Sir Gwynedd has already pioneered the way, having operated successfully through the medium of Welsh since the mid 90ies. Ynys Môn has declared that they are now going to follow its example. Arfor is half way there already.

As to the predictable concerns that Arfor would “divide” Wales, and re-ignite the old arguments aired in the 1970ies about such an idea, I would argue that the Welsh national identity is much more secure today than back then. That identity is secure enough to be able to live with the thought that different parts of Wales should perhaps be able to do things differently.

And there is no need to fret either that such a development would allow the other 5/6 regional authorities to ignore Welsh, because the Welsh Language Standards passed by Y Senedd recently will ensure that a modicum of bilingualism will remain in the others.

Associate membership of Arfor could also be provided over time to other Welsh-speaking areas, e.g Dyffryn Conwy, Parts of Denbighsire, Powys and Pembrokeshire, who wish to be part of the new entity.

Arfor has the potential to do more to develop the Welsh language than almost any other language success gained over the years, even arguably S4C – now a pale shadow of its former self and shorn of the clout it used to have in Welsh-speaking Wales.

It will give Welsh real political and economic clout in its traditional heartlands. It will provide employment opportunties and career structures for Welsh speakers from all over Wales. It will, at a stroke, make learning Welsh a real, economic and social necessity for incomers to these areas. It is quite literally, the golden bullet as far as language regeneration is concerned in Y Fro Gymraeg.

Cultural regeneration in the heartlands will undoubtedly lead to economic regeneration as well. It can be a magnet for Welsh speakers from all over the UK and wider afield. It can prove an inspiration to Welsh learners all over Wales and beyond to see that Welsh can thrive as a living, community language.

As Alun Davies weighs up his options, and perhaps even his legacy as far as the Welsh language is concerned as an enthusiastic learner himself, he might be tempted to bring that famous Bill Clinton slogan to mind, and re-phrase it to say : “It’s the culture, stupid” in seeking to effect change.

♦ end ♦

Jac chips in . . .

As persuasive as Aled’s argument is, I’m not totally convinced. For two main reasons. First, I’m one of those who believes it would divide Wales. Second, I look to Ireland’s Gaeltacht and I see no great success to emulate.

My fears on dividing Wales can be explained with an anecdote. My wife’s eldest brother lives in Crickhowell. About 20 years ago, with the Meibion Glyndŵr campaign still fresh in the memory, we were visiting and I got talking to my brother-in-law’s eldest son.

He brought up the subject of the campaign and made a forceful point that youngsters of his age in that area were experiencing a similar problem from retirees, good-lifers, commuters and others pushing up local property values – but nobody seemed to care about them because they didn’t speak Welsh.

The realisation of Arfor could result in those sentiments I heard in Crickhowell being raised again. And not just by sincere and sympathetic people like my nephew, but by the growing army of anti-Welsh bigots getting bolder by the day.

Which is why if Arfor does became reality I would like to see legislation introduced to protect anglophone Welsh identities in other rural areas. Otherwise Arfor could alienate people from Rhuddlan to Rhossili.

Now let’s turn to the Gaeltacht, as I guarantee many will do! It seems to be widely acknowledged in Ireland that the whole concept has been a failure. Everybody seems to blame everybody else, but the fact remains that the Gaeltacht is largely symbolic and kept afloat by a state reluctant to admit its abject failure.

The maps below tell their own story. (Available here in PDF format.)

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Maybe a Gaeltacht made up of small, widely separated areas was doomed to fail, and this might be Arfor’s advantage over the Irish model.

But let’s assume that the Arfor project takes off, how is it to be sold to the large, non-Welsh populations in Beddgelert, Betws-y-Coed, Barmouth, Tywyn, Aberdyfi, Borth, New Quay – even Aberystwyth? Will these communities be able to opt out?

Whether these settlements buy in or not to survive Arfor will need positive discrimination in favour of the indigenous population coupled with restrictions on who can move in . . . which would send the English media and its Welsh lapdogs into a feeding frenzy!

As I say, I would prefer to see all-Wales legislation that could protect all areas facing similar problems. A strategy guaranteeing that locals get priority in housing, employment, education, training, grants, and everything else, with nothing forced on these areas unless it is of demonstrable benefit to the local population.

But if we can’t have a national strategy, then I would support Arfor, but my support could never be wholehearted.

Feb 222018
 

BRYNCYNON COMMUNITY REVIVAL STRATEGY LTD

I added an update to the previous post about Empower after learning more about this group, and perhaps what struck me most was the fact that despite the latest Accounts telling us (top of page 4) that “Trustees are elected from Bryncynon and its surrounding areas”, only one of the trustees lives anywhere near Bryncynon.

So I took it upon myself to make enquiries into these non-local trustees, assuming that if they’ve been recruited without knowing the area then they must bring some special talent to the venture. The four, all appointed 31.03.2017, are: Elizabeth Claire Bryan of Brackla, Bridgend; Paul Christopher Maliphant of Whitchurch, Cardiff; David Joseph Haines of Llandaff, Cardiff; and Robert Andrew Dickens of Mitchel Troy, Monmouth.

Ladies first. Elizabeth Claire Bryan is also a Designated Member (partner) in Coherent Light Consulting LLP. The other Designated Member is Michael Haydn Bryan, of Tonteg, Pontypridd, who I assume is her father. Bryan père is involved in a number of other bodies – Arts Factory Ltd of Ferndale, Toogoodtowaste Ltd of Porth, Citizens Advice Rhondda Cynon Taff Ltd, and Ffotogallery Wales Ltd.

Given that these are all reliant on public funding it would be reasonable to assume that Bryan is a Labour Party member or supporter. But on the Companies House website (and elsewhere) he consistently gives his nationality as ‘Welsh’.

As Labour Party members tend to be Welsh only for the duration of a rugby international this might indicate that Bryan is not a bruvver. Someone out there must know.

Either way, Claire Bryan is a consultant.

Next up we have Paul Christopher Maliphant, whose Linkedin profile would suggest that he’s a geologist . . . ideal then for a community venture like Bryncynon Community Revival Strategy Ltd. But he is also a mentor, approved and recommended by the ‘Welsh’ Government.

Above his photo you’ll see a tab for ‘Mentor profiles’. I urge you to click on it and go through some of the bios. God Almighty! it’s frightening, with a worrying number of them having moved here in their twilight years or else they’re not living in Wales at all.

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These mentors are listed alphabetically – by Christian name! Which means they run from Adrian T. Barsby to Yasmin Crawford. So if you’re looking for ‘Wassisname Doyle’ you’d better know that it’s Lindsay Hugh Doyle.

Moving on, the next trustee is David Joseph Haines. Now Dai has an interesting business background . . . in shipping, which must be useful along the bustling quays and wharfs of Cwm Cynon.

The only company he’s involved with that hasn’t sunk or been scuppered is Bryncynon Community Revival Strategy Ltd itself. Quite what he brings to the party is a mystery to me.

The final non-local is Robert Andrew Dickens whose business interests seem to flit between addresses in Monmouth and Aberthaw. I guess what puts the bread on his table now is Safety Technology Ltd.

Though there are disasters in his past, too. Not least Mainline Safety Ltd, which sank with all hands – and a few creditors – off Liverpool some years ago. Merseyside being where Dickens calls home, Southport to be exact.

Bringing up the rear we have the only local trustee in John Matthews, Earth-botherer, former policeman and now bus driver who’s been in post for over ten years. I suppose they had to keep him on to have one trustee who could pronounce Bryncynon.

The ‘Welsh’ Government has obviously stepped in and appointed these new trustees (and in so doing might have broken the rules), perhaps because the Abercynon venture has relied heavily on Communities First funding and this has now come to an end.

But what has it all achieved?

We have areas across Wales like Abercynon in desperate need of help, but the only response from Cardiff Bay is, ‘OK, we’ll give you money to buy an old chapel – turn it into a cafe, crèche and community building – then we’ll send you up a few mentors, and if things are really bad we’ll chuck in a motivator, too. And then, when this pot of money runs out, we’ll look for another one. Tidy, mun’.

All this system achieves is the normalisation of deprivation and the creation of a dependency culture. For politicians it’s being seen to be doing something. For civil servants it’s a box-ticking exercise. And for the third sector it’s just milking the system.

Something in it for everybody . . . except those it’s supposedly helping.

ANONYMOUS LETTERS

Regular readers will have heard me mention Wynne Jones of Cardigan. Wynne is a scourge of the third sector and the civil servants with responsibility for the third sector due to his probing questions and his meticulous record-keeping. I bet there are senior civil servants quaking at the mere mention of his name.

So wary have civil servants now become of Wynne that he is receiving letters with neither signature nor name appended, suggesting that some civil servants don’t want to put their name to the answers they’re providing. Why would that be?

And the same thing is happening to me. Here are a couple of samples. The one on the top was received by Wynne last week and the other was sent to me last month.

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And it’s getting even more strange now with Wynne because he is being asked to discuss things on the telephone, suggesting that some of the civil servants he’s dealing with don’t want to put anything in writing, whether signed or not.

What a situation! What does it tell us about the way Wales is run?

If you’re reading this, Carwyn (and if you’re still FM), what do you think about civil servants answering letters anonymously? I’m sure there must be a rule that says there should be a name attached.

Because when we take over, how will we know who to put on trial?

USING THE MEDIA

In case you missed it, there was a curious story in the media earlier this week about a man accused of being a paedophile because he stayed in a Cheshire hotel with his fourteen-year-old daughter while visiting his cancer-stricken mother. Here’s the WalesOnline report which also tells us that the man’s wife – and presumably the girl’s mother – suffers from multiple sclerosis.

The family lives in the relatively remote Carmarthenshire village of Rhydcymerau, which may be found on the B4337 between Llanybydder and Llansawel. I assumed they had recently moved to the village. A suspicion borne out by his Linkedin profile and these entries from 192.com.

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As I say, this story appeared in WalesOnline and its print version Llais y Sais. And though it was claimed as an Exclusive by the Daily Star it also appeared in the Independent, the Sun, the Express, Mirror and a host of other ‘papers and online sites. Nick Ferrari had a rant about it on LBC, it was reported in Australia, and even beyond the Anglosphere. Here’s a Czech report, a Flemish account, and finally, for good measure, it’s covered here in what I think is Chinese.

This coverage, for what was little more than a misunderstanding, is quite incredible. How was it achieved?

If we look at the photograph above we see that the attribution is “Image: Karl Pollard / SWNS.com”. Which would suggest that the image belongs to Pollard and was distributed by South West News Service, an agency dealing in ‘news’ for those who prefer ‘human interest’ stories.

The Twitter feed, with tales of a hairy-chested woman and a foetus flicking a V-sign, tells us that SWNS is to news reporting what The Jeremy Kyle Show is to intellectual discourse, or am I being too harsh? Whether I am or not, I think it’s reasonable to conclude that after the incident at the Travelodge in Macclesfield Pollard went to SWNS with the story and the pictures.

What’s more, he wasn’t slow about it. The WalesOnline report is datelined 10:20 Monday the 19th and says the incident happened “last week”. The StarSun, Express and Mirror reports are dated Sunday the 18th.

Perhaps this explains why it has been suggested to me there may be something ‘contrived’ about the whole thing. I’m not sure about that because it wasn’t Pollard who called the police, it was staff at the hotel. But then again, he must have realised that a 46-year-old man sharing a bedroom with a 14-year-old girl is guaranteed to attract suspicion.

But it’s how Pollard responded to a misunderstanding that was soon sorted out that causes me disquiet.

Let’s look at the three most important females in Karl Pollard’s life. His mother is gravely ill with cancer, his wife is suffering from multiple sclerosis, and his 14-year-old daughter was, in Pollard’s own words, “distraught” after being questioned by police, so all three would surely have craved peace and quiet.

But no, Pollard goes chasing global exposure for a simple misunderstanding made by sincere people acting out of the best possible motives.

I can’t help thinking that the media got this story arse-backwards.

MASSAGE

As you might imagine, I get a lot of strange messages, from all sorts of people and by a number of different routes. This week has been no different. Here’s one I feel able to share with you.

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Let me start by saying that I know nothing of ‘massage’ in the Tonypandy area (or anywhere else, come to that), nor have I been Googling for such services. So it was easy to dismiss this message as some kind of joke. But then I was drawn to the logo, which made me think the source at least might be kosher.

More than that, a pink butterfly with the body made up of a woman in a tight-fitting dress suggested to me that if it exists then the Women’s Business Club is for women, rather than the wimmin I have written about of late. So I Googled Women’s Business Club and sure enough, it is genuine.

This may have started as someone’s idea of a joke but I was very impressed with what I read on the website, consequently – and even though the heels are killing me – I have now joined and I’m looking forward immensely to the next Wonderbra Session.

♦ end ♦

 

Feb 092018
 

INTRODUCTION

The National Renaissance of the 1960s put the wind up our masters for two main reasons.

First came the shock that there were numbers of Welsh people prepared to use violence and civil disobedience to achieve their political aims, with a far greater number supporting them.

Second, came the more worrying realisation that Welsh nationalism, hitherto regarded as a cultural issue confined to rural districts, was spreading into the more populous urban areas and ‘infecting’ people who spoke little or no Welsh. Perhaps there was even a danger of Pura Wallia being employed as Yeats and others had used the West of Ireland, a magical and unsullied ideal to be brought back to the rest of the land.

Something had to be done. The decision taken was to undermine the influential and inspiring Welshness of those western areas, which then ran from the outskirts of Llanelli in the south to the north coast around Abergele, with salients pushing towards the border.

What was envisioned was a form of social engineering, a kind of ‘watering down’ process, that would make life difficult for many Welsh people while simultaneously encouraging into western Wales large numbers of English.

To the point where the remaining Welsh would be outnumbered, anglicised, and this would result in the political threat they posed and the inspiration they provided being removed. Facilitated by legislation and other means; and if these could be sugar-coated, or disguised, then so much the better.

This is a strategy that Martiniquais poet and political activist Aimé Césaire so memorably described as ‘genocide by substitution‘.

from ‘Shifting Frontiers of France and Francophonie’ (click to enlarge)

Genocide by Substitution is just a more subtle means than outright clearance of killing off a culture and the identifications and loyalties that go with that culture.

THE EARLY YEARS

DEVELOPMENT BOARD FOR RURAL WALES

A good place to start would be the plan in 1965 for a new town of 60,000 or more inhabitants in the Severn valley near the village of Caersws.

Historian Kenneth O. Morgan, in Rebirth of a Nation Wales 1880 – 1980, couldn’t resist linking near-universal local opposition to the plan with Welsh nationalism and racism, “Welsh nationalists and others feared that the population of this new town might be drawn largely from English overspill from the west Midlands . . . that these migrants might be black, brown or yellow in hue”.

Here we have the authentic voice of Old, South Wales, anti-Welsh Labour.

No new town was built, but nearby Newtown was expanded, with a population imported almost exclusively from outside of Wales, and this provided the template for what was now to happen across the region with the creation of the Development Board for Rural Wales.

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The strange thing about the DBRW was that its charter stated it could only give financial and other help to incoming employers . . . and their employees. Which meant that small Welsh companies, family firms, could find themselves being put out of business by an English company that had moved into Wales with DBRW support.

‘But surely’, you ask, ‘these companies moving in provided jobs for local people?’ Well no, because under the ‘key worker’ provisions incoming companies were encouraged to bring their entire workforce with them, with relocation costs funded by the DBRW. On top of which the DBRW provided shiny new housing.

The Development Board for Rural Wales was the most blatant colonisation programme Wales had seen since the period following the Edwardian conquest, yet few dared question its operations for fear of being branded ‘racist’ or economically illiterate. For the DBRW was bringing jobs and people to areas suffering depopulation.

It should not surprise anyone to learn that the outflow of Welsh people from the DBRW region did not abate. Giving us a perfect example of Genocide by Substitution.

The Development Board for Rural Wales was merged with the Welsh Development Agency in 1995.

THE A55

Further north than the fiefdom of the DBRW economic and other development was said to be impossible without the A55 becoming a dual carriageway to Holyhead, for it was the ‘Highway of Opportunity’ (© Wyn Roberts) and would bring undreamed of wealth and opportunities.

One of the first consequences of the road’s upgrade was the closure of the Royal Mail’s Bangor sorting office, with work being transferred to Chester. Here we were, coming towards the end of the twentieth century, with devolution just around the corner, and Chester was reasserting its parasitic relationship with northern Wales.

For what the cheer-leaders for the A55 didn’t understand, or weren’t telling us, was that improved communications invariably result in the closure of ‘outposts’, which become redundant or expendable if their areas can now be served from further away.

Unfortunately, there was plenty of European money available for the A55 because it is a trans-national route linking Ireland with the continent. That it also opened up large areas of Wales to commuters and others from over the border was never considered.

And the spending continues. Another £250m will go into a Deeside Corridor which will help facilitate the Mersey Dee Alliance agenda by further integrating north east Wales with north west England.

LOOKING AROUND

Elsewhere in our rural areas, in the 1970s and 1980s, we saw an economy in decline. In the south west, for example, dairies and creameries closed, and milk was shipped off to England to be processed. Politicians were helpless . . . or at least, they did nothing.

And everywhere we were promised that tourism would be the economic salvation of rural Wales.

I’ve written about tourism many times and I hope I’ve made it clear that there is nothing intrinsically wrong with tourism, it can be a useful part of a diversified economy. But the tourism industry that has developed in Wales was developed to serve England, Wales happened to be conveniently near and became ever nearer with the spread of the railways and then the family car.

Even so, until fairly recently Welsh people did benefit. Many locals – my own late mother-in-law included – brought in some extra money by running a B & B. And back then local businesses such as pubs tended to be locally owned. But somewhere along the way the Welsh seem to have been squeezed out.

I remember a couple of years ago my wife and I stayed at a bed & breakfast in Abersoch, that favourite of the Cheshire Set, and the woman running the establishment told us, quite unprompted, that she was one of only two locals still running B&Bs in the village, yet there must be dozens and dozens of B&Bs in Abersoch.

Abersoch Dingy Week, organised by the Leigh and Lowton Sailing Club of Warrington. The building on the right is the clubhouse of the South Caernarvonshire (sic) Yacht Club (click to enlarge)

What we have in Wales now, masquerading as ‘the Welsh tourism industry’ is largely owned and run by strangers. The lack of decent jobs provided by tourism, coupled with its power to bring a new population into our rural and coastal areas, makes it another element in the overall strategy of Genocide by Substitution.

We have reached the point where tourists can come to certain parts of Wales, spend a week or ten days there, and not meet a Welsh person. Yet we are expected to be so proud of this ‘Welsh tourism’!

THE DEVOLUTION ERA

Those expecting things to get better under devolution were probably naive, they have certainly been disappointed. It may no longer be the blunt and obvious instruments of the DBRW, the A55 and creamery and other closures that inflicts the damage, now it is the stiletto thrusts of a ‘Welsh’ Government operating against the Welsh national interest.

Did I really say, “a ‘Welsh’ Government operating against the Welsh national interest”? Yes I did, and now I shall give some examples of this behaviour, hopefully in chronological order.

Let’s start with One Wales: One Planet, of May 2009. This publication retrospectively gave approval to a number of illegal settlements and the green light to future sustainable communities. Despite grandiose pronouncements about a “sustainable nation” it was really about encouraging those seeking a certain lifestyle to move to Wales.

This was followed in July 2010 by Technical Advice Note 6 Planning for Sustainable Rural Communities. (A Technical Advice Note “provides detailed planning advice”.)

TAN 6 replaced an earlier document that talked only of “Agriculture and Rural Development” but something had obviously changed, new influences were being brought to bear on the ‘Welsh’ Government that had little concern for traditional agriculture, or Welsh farming.

That building centre right, is it Lammas? (click to enlarge)

January 2012 saw former Minister for Environment, Sustainability and Housing  in the ‘Welsh’ Government, Jane Davidson, join the University of Trinity St David’s Institute of Sustainable Practice, Innovation and Resource Effectiveness (INSPIRE). Among its aims is to “contribute to our communities by giving particular regard to issues of sustainable rural communities and the development of south west Wales as a low carbon region.

Davidson, former Labour MP for Pontypridd is from England, where she was privately educated, she knew nothing of Pontypridd when she arrived and little when she left, but being AM for the town allowed her to use her position in the Labour-Plaid Cymru coalition to promote causes dear to the hearts of others like herself.

I’m thinking now of those members of the English middle classes who in times past were given to wearing indecently voluminous khaki shorts and belonged to the Ramblers Association (since re-branded Ramblers). Having been vice-president while a Minister Davidson became President of Ramblers Cymru almost as soon as she left the Assembly in May 2011. She is, predictably, also a Patron of the One Planet Council.

I took a little detour from the One Planet website after seeing the name of another Patron, Paul Taylor, and his connection with the Cwm Harry Land Trust of Newtown, Powys. Another ‘No-Welsh-Need-Apply’ organisation.

The Accounts for the Cwm Harry Land Trust Ltd are overdue at Companies House, but it’s also a charity, No 1100899, though the accounts to the Charity Commission are even further in arrears.

The Accounts for 2015 tell us that the biggest source of income was – surprise! surprise! – the ‘Welsh’ Government, and the biggest outgoing was – never! – salaries. Though another reason for Cwm Harry being in a delicate financial position may be its attempt to buy Moelyci, “a community owned farm in North Wales”, in fact, just outside Tregarth, near Bangor. (Despite being committed to Welsh heritage and culture the Welsh language version of the Moelyci website is, as ever in such cases, under construction.)

The falling through of the Cwm Harry deal for Moelyci is explained here. I hope the ‘Welsh’ Government is keeping a close eye on how Cwm Harry spends our money. It should go without saying that no more public funding should be wasted on Cwm Harry or Moelyci.

This digression started when I saw the name Paul Taylor on the One Planet site. Taylor is, or was, also involved with Home Presteigne, which seems to have folded. But he’s still a busy boy, for he tells us that he’s an “Independent Advisor Community Land Advisor (sic) Service Cymru”. So what’s that?

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At the Royal Welsh Show in late July 2013, John Griffiths, then Minister for Sport and Culture, launched the Community Land Advisory Service Cymru, part of a wider Englandandwales organisation. The Welsh operation had received a £600,000 grant from the Big Lottery’s Climate Change Programme.

CLAS Cymru is “part of a wider Community Land Advisory Service across the UK, which is managed by the Federation of City Farms and Community Gardens but its press release suggests a different role in Wales with,“CLAS Cymru helps new communities to navigate through the challenges associated with finding land, negotiating a lease and obtaining planning.”

Back to the main thread.

While many of the influences behind One Wales: One Planet, TAN 6 and all the offshoots may be external to Wales native Welsh politicians have also chipped in, among them Minister for Natural Resources and Food, Alun Davies, who announced in January 2014 that 15% of EU Common Agricultural Policy Funding would in future be diverted from Pillar 1 (farmers) to Pillar 2 (‘rural development projects’).

The next attack on the population indigenous to the Welsh countryside was the ‘Welsh’ Government’s decision to cancel a £360,000 grant to Wales’ Young Farmers Clubs in January 2015.

Before finishing we need to consider the Well-being of Future Generations Act 2015. To save you reading through the full document, with its bullshit piled high and overhung with impossible dreams interwoven with outright lies, here’s a quick-read Guide and an illustration from it.

The way the priorities are ordered tell you why the Well-being of Future Generations Act is another Hippies’ Charter

Hooray! Wales is going to save the Planet! Or rather, we are going to use the pretext of environmental concerns to encourage hippies and other shysters to move to Wales and become yet another piece in the jigsaw of Genocide by Substitution.

Finally, I was struck by the local branch of the UK government’s BBC mouthpiece putting out this strange article earlier this week which warned us that “rural west and north Wales are the most vulnerable to economic decline as the UK leaves the European Union”.

The example we need to follow, according to the article, is a ‘network’ currently running on Exmoor. “Helping incomers to integrate is part of the network’s ethos, according to its chairman, sheep and beef farmer David Knight. One of their initiatives is a micro-farming group for new owners of smallholdings . . .

Despite everything that the UK and ‘Welsh’ governments have done since the 1970s to undermine the indigenous economy of rural Wales, to destroy the region’s social and cultural integrity, are they now hoping to blame its final eclipse on Brexit!

But no! for it is to be reborn, salvation lies in “incomers”, on “smallholdings”; “new communities” “obtaining planning”.

CONCLUSION

I don’t wish to appear overly cynical, but when so much legislation is churned out by the ‘Welsh’ Government that is clearly designed to draw into Wales those seeking a green or eco-friendly lifestyle, then we are entitled to ask why.

Another reason for suspicion is the contradiction inherent in what is being done. For the purpose of the legislation, and the various initiatives is, we are told, to reduce Wales’ carbon footprint, but by attracting into Wales a whole new population that will keep animals, burn timber and in other ways bother the environment we can only increase Wales’ carbon footprint.

Which means that what is being done only makes sense on an Englandandwales level, which in turn means that a ‘Welsh’ Government is now legislating for Englandandwales by agreeing to take in hundreds, perhaps thousands, of hippies and others that England wants to offload.

I can see the advantage for England in this arrangement, but where’s the benefit to Wales?

On the plus side, I suppose those living in eco-villages might be an improvement on the white trash being imported by some third sector outfits and certain housing associations, or the hypochondriacs and worse attracted by free prescriptions, and the retirees taking over so many communities. And let’s not forget the white flighters and other flag-fliers.

But none of these groups will create wealth, or generate employment. If anything, they will take the Welsh economy in an opposite direction, making Wales poorer by any criteria you care to employ. While also draining the Welsh public purse.

So the motive for encouraging this multi-faceted influx cannot be economic growth or job creation.

During this same period there has been no legislation, not even a vague promise, to defend our rural areas in a way that will protect their Welsh identity. So what is the point of a ‘Welsh’ Government if it only cares for strangers and works against the interests of its own people?

What we are witnessing in the Welsh countryside, and along our coasts, is a crude attempt to remove a perceived or potential political threat posed by a people and their distinct identity, in the manner described by Aimé Césaire – Genocide by Substitution.

♦ end ♦

 

Dec 182017
 

INTRODUCTION

Before you start, let me warn you that this is quite a long piece, it’s long because it deals with the fundamental problems of devolution, and explains why devolution has resulted in Wales becoming poorer.

Though you can console yourselves with the knowledge that unless some bastards really annoy me between now and Hogmanay this will be my last posting of 2017.

Here’s how devolution makes Wales poorer, with a few of the consequences:

  1. Fundamentally, devolution makes Wales poorer due to the way devolution is funded
  2. A problem exacerbated by separate legislation and funding allowing England to impose burdens on Wales that would be impossible without devolution
  3. That said, Wales being poor suits the interests of the Labour Party, which blames others for the state of Wales while exploiting the poverty for electoral gain and to build a crony empire
  4. As there is no party or alliance of parties capable of breaking Labour’s stranglehold Wales is condemned to ever-worsening poverty
  5. With devolution being so disastrous for Wales we are left with only two realistic alternatives: independence or being treated more fairly as part of England

I shall deal with all of the above points but not necessarily separately (or even in that order) because of linkages that I hope become clear.

SHORT-CHANGED

There is no question that Wales is worse off today than when we had the first elections to the Welsh Assembly in May 1999. The evidence is everywhere, and not only is the Wales of 2017 poorer than the Wales of 1999, we are also poorer relative to other parts of the UK than we were in 1999, and falling further behind every year.

It doesn’t really matter which index you use – GVA, GDPwages, child poverty – the picture painted is the same. (While our GVA may have grown faster than the other countries of the UK in recent years that growth seems to be restricted to Cardiff.)

One of the major reasons for Wales’ relative poverty is the funding arrangement known as the Barnett Formula. This article on the BBC Northern Ireland website explains it in simple terms.

Note that it admits, “The figures vary slightly every year, but in 2012-2013 Northern Ireland got the most – £10,876 per head. Scotland got £10,152 per head and Wales, despite being much poorer, got £9,709.” (My underline.)

So we see that, to begin with, Wales is disadvantaged in the allocation of funding, but it gets worse. For in the article we also read, “Some argue a needs-based system – which would take into account factors such as the age of the population and levels of poverty – would be a fairer formula.”

The importance of the reference to “the age of the population” will be explained in a minute.

SCAPEGOAT

Now in any normal country this deteriorating situation might have resulted in a change of government, if not social upheaval, but this is Wales and such things never happen, partly because there’s a scapegoat. For since 2010 there’s been a Conservative government in London, and so for ‘Welsh’ Labour and its little helper it’s all the fault of them wicked Tories.

But Wales had been in decline since the beginning of the devolution era, and from 1999 until 2010 there was a Labour government in London, first led by Tony Blair and then by Gordon Brown. So did Labour and Plaid Cymru blame ‘London’ then? Well, obviously, Labour didn’t, and Plaid’s criticism was usually muted, certainly after the palace coup that removed leader Dafydd Wigley in 2000 (after he’d led his party to its greatest electoral success), and also during the Labour-Plaid coalition of 2007 – 2011.

To reverse this decline would require radical change, but ‘Welsh’ Labour is as afraid of radical change as the stone throwers of Saudi Arabia; for Labour in Wales is a very conservative party. It wants things to stay the same because the status quo serves its interests, with no change countenanced unless it can benefit the party.

‘ . . . and it’all the fault of them wicked Tories up in Lundun’. Bollocks! Try looking closer to home, Leanne.

The other consideration is that change of a radical nature, i.e. Wales doing things for itself, to benefit itself, might unleash demons that could inflame a hitherto resigned populace with ideas of Welsh competence. Clearly, a dangerous road to take for a party that, when it comes to the relationship with England, may be viewed as the DUP without the bowlers and the sashes.

To understand Plaid Cymru you need to know that Plaid today is a bound-for-oblivion alliance of a socially conservative rural grass-roots with a leadership stratum made up of ‘progressives’ fighting UK-wide or even global battles against the forces of darkness.

While Trump is president, Brexit looms, the globe warms, the right marches in Freedonia, and Wales lacks transgender toilets in every coffee shop, Wales is too small and too poor to interest such ‘progressives’.

TAKING ADVANTAGE

I’ve said that Wales will never prosper under devolution, but in the heading to this article I suggest that devolution by its very nature is partly responsible for our decline. So let me explain.

Fundamentally, devolution has made it easier for England to impose financial and other burdens on us that would have been almost impossible prior to 1999. This has inevitably contributed to our decline.

In that article from the BBC Northern Ireland website that I used you read, regarding the Barnett Formula, the suggestion that, “a needs-based system – which would take into account factors such as the age of the population and levels of poverty – would be a fairer formula.”

This would definitely help us in Wales because our population is older than those in the other administrations, and ageing faster. The percentage of our population in the 65+ bracket in 2008 was 21.4%, while in Northern Ireland it was 16.7%, England 19.1%, and Scotland 19.7%.

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A major reason for the high proportion of elderly people in the Welsh population is the large numbers of English people retiring to Wales. And this influx inevitably increases the burden on our NHS and other services.

In some areas a majority of the over 65s was born in England. Here’s a table I compiled a while back using figures gleaned from the 2011 census. In 2011 only 68.8% of the 65+ age group in Wales was actually born here.

In Conwy only 37.1% of the over 65s were born in Wales. That’s a staggering statistic.

click to enlarge

This should be a cause for concern, because every western country worries about the ‘ticking timebomb’ of an ageing population, but don’t worry, because in Wales a rapidly ageing population is seen as a positive.

A letter I received from the Office of the First Minister assured me, “There are almost 800,000 people aged 60 and over in Wales, over a quarter of the population, and, in the next twenty years, this is expected to exceed one million people. The fact that Wales is a nation of older people should be seen as something positive”.

So there you have it, here in Wales we’ve found the right wire to snip in order to de-activate the demographic time-bomb. So why aren’t economists, health professionals and others flocking here from around the world to learn from us? Because it’s all bullshit, that’s why.

And there’s another reason for lying, because to prop up the NHS and related services education and all sorts of other budgets have to be raided. One organisation suffering badly is Natural Resources Wales, which looks after our forests, rivers and other assets.

From £139m in 2013/2014 the ‘Welsh’ Government grant to NRW will fall to £65m in 2019/20. Falling by more than half in six years, in a country supposedly dedicated to protecting the natural environment (if only to attract tourists).

Of course people were retiring to Wales long before we had devolution, but if health services were not devolved then we would almost certainly have seen an increase in funding, but with devolution and the block grant the attitude is, ‘You’ve had your money, it’s up to you how you allocate it’.

This is just one of the ways in which devolution allows England to dump on Wales, but there are many others, which I shall deal with soon.

THE POLITICAL CLASS

As we’ve seen, Labour blames the Conservative government in London for all our ills, and conveniently ignores the fact that it was in power in the UK until 2010 and could have reformed the Barnett Formula. But Labour prefers to exploit Welsh poverty by blaming the Tories for causing it in order to maintain Labour’s hold on Wales.

Plaid Cymru’s position is marginally less discreditable, but in attacking them wicked Tories up in London too many in Plaid tend to forget who runs the administration nearer home. For them, perceptions of ideological solidarity with Labour blur the reality.

Giving us two parties for which what’s best for Wales will always take second place to (for Labour) hanging onto power, and (for Plaid) being a peripheral part of some UK leftist-‘progressive’ front.

On the other side, the Tories turn up to slag off the left and carry tales to their bosses in London for them to use in order to warn English voters of the perils of voting Labour. Former prime minister David Cameron even described the Wales-England border as the “line between life and death” due to the state of the NHS in Wales.

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But Cameron was right, the Welsh NHS is crumbling, and it’s partly due to the influx of elderly English, most of them Tory voters, but he’s not going to admit that, is he?

So we see that the Tories also exploit Wales’ poverty for electoral gain. Great system, eh! – ‘Let’s keep Wales poor so both the main English parties can use it to their advantage’.

We’ve seen that Labour’s response to Wales’ plight is not to reform the Barnett Formula, not to fight the invasion of the blue rinses, not to stand up for Wales in any way. So how does Labour respond?

Well, in addition to blaming everything on them wicked Tories, Labour sets up one organisation after another to ‘combat poverty’, or ‘deprivation’, or ‘discrimination’, or homelessness, or whatever else third sector shysters can persuade civil servants and politicians needs to be combated.

For Labour, the advantage is that those who make up the third sector tend to be on the luvvie left, which makes them natural Labour sympathisers; while the bloated third sector these parasites create also provides opportunities for ‘Welsh’ Labour to practice the patronage and cronyism for which it is rightly famed. Which gives Wales a third sector providing sinecures for both those who could smell the money from afar and failed local politicians and loyal hangers-on.

Labour also responds with gimmicks, especially gimmicks designed to gain favourable reporting in the friendly English media. One that made big news was of course free prescriptions back in 2007. Scotland and Northern Ireland followed suit . . . but not England, where the charge is now £8.60 per item.

Inevitably, this has resulted in a movement of people from England to Wales to take advantage of our generosity, people with long-term medical conditions, which further increase the burden on our NHS. Something that, again, would have been impossible without devolution.

But to talk of such things would make us ‘uncaring’, or ‘selfish’, heinous crimes in a country as rich as Wales.

THE POVERTY SECTOR

I’ve written many times about Registered Social Landlords, more usually known as housing associations, and so I don’t propose to go into any great depth here, suffice it to say that we have a system of social housing so mismanaged and damaging to Welsh interests that it could only have been developed with objectives other than providing good rented accommodation for Welsh people.

For a start, our social housing is – despite ‘devolution’ – part of an Englandandwales system that, through the Housing (Wales) Act 2014, awards priority status to English criminals, drug addicts, problems families and others. To the extent that social housing, especially in some rural towns, is now often referred to as ‘anti-social housing’ due to the problems it imports.

To make matters worse, there is now an ‘arms race’ under way as it becomes obvious that we have too many social housing providers and the number must be reduced. So all manner of ill-considered and irresponsible ‘agreements’ are being entered into with probation companies and other English or cross-border agencies.

Also, in this era of ‘consolidation’, we see Labour blatantly backing housing associations controlled by its supporters – RSLs such as Wales & West, Pobl Group – to expand and take over housing bodies concerned with providing a decent service rather than with spreading ‘Welsh’ Labour influence.

Closely linked with social housing is the ‘homelessness’ racket, that ships in homeless people from England and elsewhere in order to increase the problem of ‘Welsh’ homelessness and guarantee funding increases for third sector bodies, due to another ‘arms race’ under way here.

A letter I recently received from the ‘Welsh’ Government told me there are 48 homelessness agencies operating in Wales and being funded by the WG (though the figure given for the amount of funding involved was wildly – and I hope not deliberately – misleading). This is obviously a ludicrous and unsustainable number and so I can guarantee a cull.

To give specific examples we’ll go to the website of the Wallich, one of the big boys in the homelessness industry with an income for year ended 31 March 2017 of almost £13m, £7.8m of which went on salaries, but still left £2.8m for investments, £938,478 of it in ‘overseas equities’. (Read the accounts for yourselves.)

Here are some Wallich case studies: First, Anthony, who (we are asked to believe) got on the wrong train in Devon and arrived in Cardiff. Then there’s Peter, who (of his own volition, honest) moved from Birmingham to Swansea. Finally, there’s Kerry, a victim of domestic violence with a drink problem herself who made the move from Northern Ireland to Wales, presumably because there were no nearer refuges.

‘Support that Helps’ to provide lots of cushy jobs, overseas investments, and of course, funding to look after many of England’s homeless.

Another major player in the homelessness business is Llamau which is currently reminding us that if you want to stay afloat in a cut-throat market then you’ve got to be innovative, find yourself a niche, get celebs on board. Which is what they believe they’ve done by focusing on homelessness among young people. (Apparently the other 47 homelessness outfits are turning youngsters away!)

And of course, you’ve also got to use the media, something the third sector is very good at, with newspaper articles and a television series. Until quite recently the chair of the Llamau board was Angela Gascoigne, who represents the trans-Severn future planned for our south east.

She has strong links with housing and ex-offender bodies in England, she’s also on the board of the Wales Probation Trust (part of an Englandandwales set-up), and here we find her with Llamau, a body that has suddenly discovered there’s money to be made from housing homeless youngsters.

I assure you, Gasgoigne’s CV dovetailing so perfectly with Llamau’s latest scam scheme is not accidental, for Gascoigne’s English connections provide many of Llamau’s clients.

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Another lesson from Llamau is that if you want to rip off the Welsh public purse, but throw the locals off the scent, choose a Welsh name you can’t properly pronounce while stuffing the board and senior management with your English friends.

There are just too many other examples of how Wales is put upon, how our funding is stolen, for me to deal with them all, but here’s one final example that would be impossible to inflict on Wales without devolution.

I’ve told you that the Housing (Wales) Act 2014 guarantees homeless people and others with no Welsh connections priority treatment, and this explains both the funding wasted by housing associations and the plethora of homelessness organisations currently plaguing Wales. If they don’t ship them in themselves then both encourage homeless people and others to turn up in Wales and demand to be housed.

But in some areas the legislation is so specific that it’s quite striking. For example, if we go to 70 (1) (i) we read that Wales must also give priority to homeless ex-service personnel, but why doesn’t the comparable English legislation make the same demands of English social housing providers? Don’t you find that odd?

One doesn’t need to be ‘uncaring’, or even ‘callous’, to realise that homeless ex-service personnel in England are now being directed to Wales. And that 70 (1) (i) was a deliberate insertion into what is supposed to be Welsh legislation . . . which means it couldn’t have been done without devolution.

And it will of course cost the Welsh public purse a great deal of money. So how the hell did this little sub-clause appear in ‘Welsh’ legislation?

CONCLUSION

I hope I’ve lived up to the promise I made in the Introduction and explained why devolution has been disastrous for Wales, and why things can only get worse.

Only a liar or a fool will argue that devolution delivers for Wales and that we should stick with it, ‘make it work’. It is designed not to work . . . not for Wales, anyway. It’s clear that ‘Welsh’ devolution works better for England than it does for Wales. Labour and its third sector guarantee that.

Which is why I say in the Introduction that if we want to avoid Wales becoming a third world country for our people then we have only two alternatives: either we choose to officially and constitutionally become a part of England, or we push for independence.

If you agree with me that independence is the only acceptable route for anyone who truly cares about Wales, anyone with an ounce of patriotism, then you must also accept that no political party we have today is capable of delivering independence. It’s questionable if any of the parties we know today even wants independence.

Fortunately a new party was recently formed that will argue for Welsh interests to be given priority, for Welsh needs to be met, for Wales to aspire to prosperity and independence rather than virtue signalling poverty.

This new party is Wales’ only hope; perhaps our last hope. The choice is yours, but I urge you to get involved and play your part. Start now by clicking here to register your interest.

Unless of course you’re content with Wales remaining Labour’s poverty-stricken fiefdom and England’s dumped-on colony, where the only growth industry is the third sector, which maintains Labour’s control and facilitates England’s exploitation.

Personally, I think our people deserve better. And I know we can do better – if we give ourselves the chance.

Independence!

♦ end ♦

Nov 072017
 

TO RECAP . . .

I have written many times about social housing in Wales, and of the many problems created by the more irresponsible housing associations. Here are just a few of the problems:

  • Unlike in Scotland, social housing providers in Wales are tied into an Englandandwales system. This results in our housing associations having to give priority treatment to people with no Welsh connections.
  • Many of those being housed by these routes will be ‘problem families’, or young tearaways, they might be drug and alcohol abusers, or they’ll be recently released from prison. These issues will inevitably place a burden on our health service and other facilities while also affecting the quality of life in many Welsh communities.
  • Wales has an ageing population. In a decade or so Wales will be the ‘oldest’ country in western Europe. This also places a strain on our NHS and other services which results in money being taken from education and other budgets. Yet many housing associations, particularly in the north, are using public funding to build housing for the elderly and the infirm brought in from outside of Wales.
  • Despite the recommendations of the Notional Assembly’s Public Accounts Committee social housing providers are still diversifying through unaccountable subsidiaries. This results, for example, in the insane situation in Pembrokeshire where The Pembrokeshire Housing Association is passing public money to its subsidiary, Mill Bay Homes for MBH to build houses for sale on the open market!
  • Many Welsh housing associations lease or rent properties from companies based in tax havens. I explored this connection in Link Holdings (Gibraltar) Ltd. Yet no one in the ‘Welsh’ Government seems to care that Welsh social housing tenants could be living in properties owned by the Mafia, or ISIS.
  • Housing associations form secretive and costly links with Third Sector and other bodies. Some of these links are of questionable legality, of dubious benefit to Wales, but always costly to the Welsh public purse.
  • And that, perhaps, is the biggest worry of all. That no one with responsibility for overseeing social housing bodies, no one who funds them with hundreds of millions of pounds of public money, seems to care how they operate. It’s left to self-evaluation and self-appraisal – box-ticking exercises which of course never find any problems. So everybody’s happy!

NEWS FROM THE NORTH

A taste for what follows may be obtained from the post Bits & Pieces of September 30th. Now here’s the latest:

Paul Diggory, the Chester-based former boss of ailing North Wales Housing, is now promoting himself – something he’s very good at – as a ‘housing and social enterprise freelance‘, which fits in nicely with his role as chair of the Chartered Institute of Housing in Wales.

Diggory gives us one of the two qualifications needed to run a Welsh housing association: either be English like him and the CEOs recently appointed to Valleys to Coast, Bron Afon and Hendre; or else have good links with the Labour Party, which accounts for the appointments of both Trivallis’ new £150,000 a year CEO and the new Board chair, Tracy Myhills, previously CEO at the Welsh Ambulance Trust. (How’d you like that on your CV!)

It should go without saying that if you’re English and a member or supporter of the Labour Party then you get to take your pick of which housing association you’d like to run. Being English but supporting some other party would be acceptable, but if you’re non-Labour Welsh, forget it.

This is how a one-party state operates.

Staying in the north for a minute . . . Not so long ago Labour’s most favoured housing association, Wales & West, built a big new office building in Ewloe, Flintshire, very close to the border.

Courtesy of Google, click to enlarge

Many thought at the time that a Cardiff-based housing association might be over-extending itself with this office block, but no, for since then W&W has not only swallowed up Cantref of Castell Newydd Emlyn, and branched out into Ceredigion, but is also hovering, vulture-like, over ailing HAs across the land.

One housing association viewed as sickly and about to fall is Pennaf. The Pennaf Group is based in Llanelwy (St Asaph) and includes the Clwyd Alyn housing association and Offa, a lettings and management service. A northern source tells me that a couple of factors may be contributing to make Pennaf look a tasty dish.

First, CEO Graham Worthington – also based in Chester! – has just announced his retirement; plus, it seems that Pennaf has been tardy in bringing its 4,500 properties up to Welsh Housing Quality Standard, something it should have done by 2012.

The reason for Pennaf finding itself in this parlous position is I’m told due to spending too much time and money building care and residential homes – i.e. using Welsh public funding to bring in more retirees, so as to put extra strain on the NHS and social services that will result in education and other budgets being raided.

Only in Wales!

WALES & WEST WAY OUT WEST AND WAY OUT OF LINE

I’ve just mentioned that Wales & West snaffled up Cantref of Castell Newydd Emlyn, which operated mainly in Ceredigion, but W&W is also branching out in other ways.

When the ‘Welsh’ Labour Government handed Cantref over to Wales and West part of the dowry was valuable land at Plas Morolwg in Aberystwyth, overlooking the marina and with nice views out to sea. That site is now earmarked for 60 extra care flats. It’s doubtful if Ceredigion needs this development, certainly, it’s suggested that if it goes ahead it will jeopardise Mid Wales Housing’s Cylch Caron project in Tregaron.

But things are never that simple in Ceredigion.

Ceredigion council’s leader, Ellen ap Gwynn of Plaid Cymru, is under intense pressure over the closure of the Bodlondeb care home in Aberystwyth. Motivated by nothing more than a deep and heartfelt concern for the old biddies therein Labour and Lib Dems have taken to protesting against the closure, even recruiting that one-boy rent-a-mob and self-promoting little shite, Owen Jones.

It is further suggested that certain council officials such as strategy officers and planners who – how can I put this? – whose first spoonful might not have been puréed laverbread, are bending over backwards to help an anti-Welsh organisation like Wales & West.

An unholy alliance of Plaid Cymru and Welsh-haters.

Let’s now turn our attention to Lampeter, where Wales and West is very active, and plans yet more expansion. What follows is information for which I offer thanks to someone obviously well-informed about council business.

To begin with, there are widespread concerns in Lampeter that Wales & West is failing to evict its drug-dealing tenants in Bryn Road and North Road. But things are almost certainly going to get worse, for W&W is said to be in the process of buying the old Ffynnonbedr school building in order to build yet more flats in an area of low need. So Lampeter can expect more drug addicts to arrive. Lucky Lampeter!

UPDATE 08.11.2017: A pre-planning consultation notice appeared on the door of the old Ffynnonbedr school today. The architect Geraint John of Cardiff is making the planning statement/application in the name of Hacer Developments of Swansea.

This document – at 5.5 and 5.6 – makes great play of an agreement between Ceredigion council and Cantref in the early part of 2016 and seems to suggest that Cantref is the client. But of course Cantref was taken over by Wales & West over a year ago, but I can find no mention of Wales & West. Understandable given the drug dealers and others W&W has already brought into the town.

As if that wasn’t worrying enough for the good people of Lambed, I hear from a former weekend soldier that the old Territorial Army building – also on Bryn Road – is up for sale, and word is that W&W want to buy this as well. But I bet you’d guessed that already!

I’ve mentioned that Wales & West refuses to evict its lucrative drug-dealing tenants in Lampeter, and for this it has been congratulated by fellow Labour Party members in Shelter Cymru. Mutual back-scratching among Labour-run Third Sector bodies is so prevalent and blatant that they even try to make a virtue of it.

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Elsewhere the tale of evictions is different. For back in Aberystwyth, mainly local 16- and 17-year-olds are being evicted from Wales & West’s Tŷ Curig hostel  . . . to make way for new ‘guests’. Most of these replacements will arrive burdened with ‘issues’, but it is these very ‘issues’ that will allow W&W to charge a hefty fee for housing them – leaving the rest of us to pick up the bill.

Before leaving Wales & West for a moment I should also point out that the new office building wasn’t restricted to Ewloe, for there’s also the new HQ in Cardiff. This too may be in anticipation of expansion, with one of the potential victims rumoured to be Cardiff Community Housing Association, where CEO Kevin Protheroe is about to retire.

WHY DO I SAY ‘ANTI-WELSH’?

I try to be careful in using the right word, and that’s why I have no hesitation in describing Wales & West Housing – and others I’ll soon mention – as anti-Welsh.

Non-Welsh or un-Welsh might imply someone or something having nothing to do with Wales; it might suggest ignorance of Wales’ distinctiveness, possibly ambivalence; but by using anti-Welsh I mean awareness of the Welsh language, and other things that make Wales different, but deliberately seeking to denigrate and undermine them. This certainly applies to Wales & West, which is why I describe W&W as anti-Welsh.

Let’s start with the W&W website – it’s in English only. As is the website of another Labour-run housing association I’ve mentioned, Trivallis (formerly RCT Homes). This is no accident, for when it comes to the Welsh language most Labour Party members and supporters agree with Neil Kinnock rather than with Carwyn Jones.

Other HAs – Bro Myrddin, for example – rely on Google Translate. The CEO at Bro Myrddin is Hilary Jones, said to be an ‘ally’ of W&W, who is rumoured to be taking an interest in Hafan Cymru, reported to be in serious trouble due to its over-reliance on the Supporting People programme and EU funding.

But the point is that all Registered Social Landlords are legally required to give equal status to both languages, and also to have a Welsh language scheme in place. But the Regulation Managers employed to enforce these requirements obviously aren’t up to the job (or maybe they too missed out on the puréed laverbread).

Or does the fault lie with those above them? I ask because this recent advertisement for a Regulation Manager bizarrely and confusingly talks of “capability to work in both English and Welsh” but then says that Welsh is “not necessary“!

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This seems to be a case of going through the motions: ‘Look, we’ve got to say this about the Welsh language . . . but in practice it doesn’t really mean anything‘.

A concrete example of Wales and West’s contempt for the Welsh language came recently with its advertisement for a Development Officer in Newcastle Emlyn, with the advertisement in English only and no requirement to speak Welsh in an area where Welsh is widely spoken. Welsh is certainly the majority language among the native Welsh.

This advertisement is not an oversight, nor is the absence of a Welsh website. This is flaunting power. This is a bunch of Labour bigots, with the ‘Welsh’ Government behind them saying, ‘Fuck you, and your language!

How will this attitude contribute to Carwyn Jones’ one million Welsh speakers by 2050?

IMAGE CONFLICTING WITH REALITY

We are encouraged to think of housing associations as streamlined, twenty-first century replacements for the old local authority housing departments, but doing a much better job. In fact, they have so little in common that any comparison is invalid.

To begin with, councils operate within defined geographical areas, whereas housing associations are spread all over the country competing with each other and duplicating each other’s work. Competition and duplication that places a wholly unnecessary burden on the public purse.

This has obviously been realised, and the problem is being addressed by encouraging those housing associations that are most ‘reliable’ from a Labour Party perspective – which also happen to be the least Welsh in staff and attitudes – to expand and take over the others. Which has two main results.

One, it increases Labour Party influence in areas of Wales where the party has no MPs or AMs. Two, it encourages instinctively anti-Welsh organisations to expand into areas where the Welsh language is strong. Good for the Labour Party but a disaster for the Welsh language and for Wales

Another difference is that local authority housing departments would never have struck deals with outside agencies to import someone else’s criminals, paedophiles, drug addicts, problem families, etc. The reason being that councils had that link with their patch, that commitment to their people, and of course councillors needed to be re-elected. With housing associations such considerations and restraints are absent.

For housing associations are distant bodies, answerable to nobody, and can do what they damn well like. And because there’s little profit to be made from housing decent, law-abiding locals, but lots of money available if they inflict problems on small Welsh towns like Lampeter, that’s the model they follow.

A good source of income for many ‘Welsh’ housing associations

And while there are healthy profits for Wales & West and others from importing undesirables, once here they place an inevitable burden on local health and other services, and police resources, while causing misery and disruption to Welsh communities. In a different category, but having a similar effect on the Welsh public purse, are the retirees being brought into Wales, and this is no longer confined to the Costa Geriatrica.

All of which results in the Welsh public purse, which funds W&W and the rest of them, losing out again, and again, and again. And we are the public purse, you and I. It is we who lose out in having to endure inferior facilities and strained resources.

But the model followed by Wales & West is profitable. And the profits made, coupled with ‘Welsh’ Labour backing, allow W&W to undermine and then swallow up their smaller and weaker brethren, which will include responsible social housing providers sticking to what should be the role of housing associations – providing rented housing for local people.

And some day in the not-too-distant future, when towns like Lampeter and Aberystwyth are awash with drug addicts and criminals from God knows where, and there are only a few housing associations left standing, the ‘Welsh’ Labour Party will control them all.

Allowing ‘Welsh’ Labour, through its housing associations and other Third Sector bodies, to exert a control over Wales denied it by the ballot box. We shall have arrived at the one-party state.

Endgame.

♦ end ♦

Sep 302017
 

This is a bumper issue to keep you going as the nights draw in and I get on with a couple of jobs that must be done ere winter tightens its icy grip. The post consists of a number of items enabling you to take it in in easy, bite-sized chunks. (‘Bite-sized chunks’!)

Enjoy!

NORTH WALES HOUSING LTD

News reaches me of another housing association heading for the rocks, this time it’s North Wales Housing Ltd. A body all too representative of ‘Welsh’ housing associations, especially with the retirement properties built by its wholly owned “commercial subsidiary” Domus Cambria. (Though it’s nice to see a bit of Latin being used.)

Looked at more critically, Domus Cambria helps explain what’s wrong with housing in Wales. The Welsh NHS is stretched to breaking point by the demands made on it by, among others, English retirees, yet in Conwy, where almost two-thirds of the pensioners were born in England (2011 census), the council is still giving planning permission for retirement flats that are marketed over the border!

Domus Cambria recently sold the last of its leasehold flats on Llandudno’s West Shore . . . after years of trying. Which explains why it is finally showing a slight profit, though as with Mill Bay Homes in Pembrokeshire, this ray of financial sunshine may be due to cash transferred from the parent body rather than any business acumen attaching to those running the subsidiary.

The ‘Welsh’ Government’s Regulatory Opinion and Financial Viability Judgement for 2015 on North Wales Housing was none too encouraging, and explains what a drag Domus Cambria has been for a small RSL with just over 2,000 rental properties.

“Selling homes has proved challenging, but has been managed within the Group’s existing financial resources. Originally, homes were planned to be sold by May 2012. To date, 10 are provisionally under offer but remain unsold. The response from the Group to address the slow sales has drifted along with no real impetus. The mitigations put in place were reasonable but demonstrate the difficulties of the Board deciding to press ahead with this product in highly challenging market conditions.

Despite Domus Cambria’s difficulties, the leadership and some elements of the Board continue to press to undertake more business of this nature – even though phase 1 has fallen short of expectations.” (Something of an understatement considering sales were 5 years behind schedule.)

The Regulatory Opinion for 2016 is marginally better, but the beguiling song of the Shit Creek sirens can still be heard.

Given the problems with Domus Cambria it’s difficult to understand why North Wales Housing has taken on another sideline in Rakes and Ladders an “in house grounds maintenance team”. Especially as the name is hardly original, for I found another Rakes and Ladders in Bridgend, one in Gloucestershire, yet another in Vancouver, and I’m sure there must be more. Confusion guaranteed.

North Wales Housing has also been trustee since 2007 for The Olinda Trust, a registered charity, which ran the Plas Parciau home for dementia sufferers in Old Colwyn. The accounts up to 31 August 2016 paint a bleak picture, showing a deficit of £264,568, which explains the charity ceasing to trade in October 2016.

North Wales Housing Ltd is, like almost all housing associations, an Industrial and Provident Society (IPS) registered with the Financial Conduct Authority. The FCA website suggests that since 16 September 2016 NWH has also been in the consumer credit business.

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This would have been around the time that The Olinda Trust succumbed to the sirens’ call.

I get the impression of a bunch of incompetents running a housing association too small to survive diversifying desperately in the hope that anyone witnessing this activity will be fooled into thinking those behind it know what they’re doing. They don’t.

Even though North Wales Housing is an IPS, force of habit took me to the Companies House website where, sure enough, I found an entry for ‘North Wales Housing Association Ltd’.

Linked with it is Erw Villas Management Company Ltd, the kind of organisation we encountered when we looked into the Cardiff Bay property dealings of Mark Vincent James, chief executive of Carmarthenshire County Council. An organisation that allows tenants a say in the running of the block of flats in which they live . . . unless of course Mark Vincent James and his associates get involved.

Erw Villas Management Company Ltd was originally registered to an address in Catford, East London. It was struck off in May 2008 but restored 31 January 2011. On 2 February 2011 the address was changed to that of North Wales Housing in Llandudno Junction. On the same day all the old directors resigned and North Wales Housing was named as secretary and director.

Though in the Annual Return of 12 August 2015, and even though Paul William Diggory, the North Wales Housing CEO at the time, is named as director, the two original directors – Raymond Marquis and Jonathan Colin – are still the only shareholders.

Diggory was succeeded as director by Owen Ingram, who has in turn been replaced by Helena Kirk, the current CEO of North Wales Housing.

No Annual Return for 2016 is available with Companies House, so I assume it has not been submitted.

So what is the connection between North Wales Housing, Raymond Marquis and Jonathan Colin, and Erw Villas on Conway Old Road in Penmaenmawr? Answers on a postcard, please. (And make sure there’s a stamp on it this time! cos I’m not bloody paying again.)

The more I looked into North Wales Housing the more clear it became how thoroughly English it is. Take a look at the Board; start with the chair, Tom Murtha, who retired in 2012 from Midland Heart and now seems to have a number of part-time jobs, including NWH. There may be two or three Welsh people on the Board of 12.

Or how about the management team, headed by Helena Kirk, who arrived in Wales last October?

Even the job of designing the website was given to a company in England, Hallnet Ltd of Warrington, Cheshire. Is there no company in Wales that could have designed a website? Is this the Mersey Dee Alliance in practice, or is it just taking the piss?

Because it always makes me smile when I hear someone respond to complaints about Welsh organisations stuffed with English staff with, ‘Ah, yes, but you’ve got to get the best people for the job – no matter where they come from’.

North Wales Housing is on the brink of oblivion, brought there by bad management, so to suggest that the current shower, and its predecessors, are and were the best for the job is an insult to the Welsh nation. And that’s without considering the longer term consequences.

Domus Cambria sought, selfishly and irresponsibly, to increase the burden on local services by attracting to the Costa Geriatrica yet more elderly people – and all because the parent body was struggling financially!

‘Ah, but that don’t affect us down by ‘ere, look’. Yes it does, you thick-as-shit Labour-voting cretin! To prop up a failing NHS and social services burdened by the activities of Domus Cambria and others your Labour government down Cardiff docks will rob money from other budgets, and that affects us all, in every part of the country.

There is no reason to keep North Wales Housing afloat any longer, so let it be taken over by another RSL, one that is larger, more efficient, more responsible, and more Welsh.

TRIVALLIS

‘Not more f###ing Latin!’ you scream. Well, yes, and from that hotbed of classical learning, Rhondda Cynon Taf. (Three valleys, geddit?)

Trivallis is another Registered Social Landlord aka housing association that I’m told is in trouble. Hardly surprising when we read in the ‘Welsh’ Government’s Regulatory Judgement of June 2017“The Group has a number of unregistered subsidiary companies – Trivallis Ltd, Meadow Prospect, GrEW, Homeforce, Porthcwlis, Porthcwlis Homes and Bellerophon Project 1 LLP.”

In my experience, whenever a third sector body / housing association creates a ‘trading arm’ or a ‘subsidiary’ things go wrong, as we’ve just seen with North Wales Housing. That’s because these are set up by people who are used to being bailed out by the public purse and have little or no understanding of the realities of business.

Too often they are disasters waiting to happen.

The subsidiaries I’ve just just listed – some of which are dormant, having never got off the ground – are all being brought in-house, obviously heeding the recent recommendation of the Assembly’s Public Accounts Committee on “diversification”. (Though I was unable to find anything at all for GrEW.)

In case you haven’t noticed, go to the Trivallis website again and look in the top right corner, where you’d expect to find the ‘Cymraeg’ option, or the flag. It’s not there, is it? The website is entirely in English, and that’s because of the strong ‘Welsh’ Labour influence at Trivallis.

Scroll down to the bottom of the home page and you’ll read ‘Powered by VerseOne Technologies Ltd’. Click on the link and you’ll see that the Trivallis website was designed by a Manchester company, with an office in Edinburgh.

Such commitment to Wales! But so typical of ‘Welsh’ Labour, and too many of its housing associations.

‘HOUSE!’ (but nothing to do with housing)

Back in July Llais y Sais ran a story on bookies’ fixed odds betting terminals. In it, Carolyn Harris is horrified to learn that £8m a year is lost on FOBTs in the Swansea Bay region. And so she should be, for Carolyn Harris chairs the Fixed Odds Betting Terminals All Party Parliamentary Group.

Fast forward to last week and the same local media treated us to news that the cavernous Castle Bingo club in Morriston has been refurbished. And there to re-open it was – Carolyn Harris. ‘But bingo’s diff’rent, innit, not like them cowin’ FOBTs’. 

I hope those aren’t “dyke shoes”!

Maybe not, except that it’s not all ‘legs eleven’ and ‘two fat ladies’ in Morriston, for the club provides its customers with other ways to lose their money enjoy themselves on what look suspiciously like FOBTs, or approximations thereof.

So why was Carolyn Harris there, officially re-launching Morriston’s answer to Las Vegas? The justification seems to have been that Castle Bingo was giving Harris a cheque for GambleAware.

As I wrote this I got to wondering about Castle Bingo, and so I checked on the Companies House website. The company was Incorporated in December 1995. You’ll see that there were two directors; Mrs Diane Elizabeth Stockford of Pontprennau, Cardiff and Mr Jeffrey Charles Harris of Sketty, Swansea.

Harris was also a director of Crown Buckley Ltd, the Brains subsidiary; Cadwalader (Ice Cream) Ltd, which went into administration in October 2015; and Cadwalader (Criccieth) Ltd. Harris is also a director of Meeron Ltd., another company in the gambling business.

Stockford became Brierley, and moved to Rudry, while Harris moved to St Nicholas. Brierley resigned as director in September 2012 and was replaced by Lisa Mary Morgan as both secretary and director. All the while Castle Bingo was providing accounts as a dormant company, explained by the fact that both Stockford and Harris were also directors of Castle Leisure Ltd.

Parent company Castle Leisure Ltd began life in 1911 as The Central Cinema, Cardiff, Ltd. Somewhere along the way, and certainly before May 1988, the company became known as Castle Leisure Ltd.

Here’s the latest list of shareholders for the 235,533 shares. In the year ended 25 December 2016 Castle Leisure Ltd had an operating profit of £4,164,319 on a turnover of £30,591,231. The company has 661 employees at its 8 clubs in Wales and 3 in England.

Of course it would be easy to be snobbish, or judgemental, but after all is said and done, this is an established Welsh company, one that has branched out into England and provides hundreds of jobs giving a lot of people what they want.

That said, there are obvious benefits for all concerned: Castle Bingo operates in Carolyn Harris’ constituency; Castle Bingo gives Harris publicity and a little cheque in the hope that she steers MPs away from their business model; a mutually beneficial association which Labour-backing Trinity Mirror is happy to report having for years enjoyed ‘promotions’ and ‘partnerships’ with Castle Bingo.

Finally: A disturbing report reaches me of unseemly, drunken cavorting at the Labour Party conference in Brighton this week involving – it is alleged – Carolyn Harris and rugby-playing Tonia Antoniazzi, the Labour MP for neighbouring Gower.

I don’t want to believe this scurrilous allegation so I would welcome any further information. Especially photographic evidence proving that such an incident did not take place.

CADW

It’s not often that I get the chance to talk of good news and Cadw in the same report, so I’m going to make the most of this.

A good source informs me of a victory won by the natives of Cydweli, who can now enter their local castle for free. Of course they have to provide proof that they are local, and then sing the first three verses of God Save the Queen. (Joke . . . possibly.)

Castell Cydweli

I’m told that the people of Caerffili enjoy the same concession, while in Conwy it’s just a 20% discount on the entrance fee. But why isn’t there a national scheme to allow all Welsh people into all Cadw premises for free? For God’s sake, it’s not as if Cadw built them, or owns them!

And how difficult would such a scheme be to administer? I mean, everybody nowadays has a passport, a driving licence, a bus pass or something that identifies them. Even if it’s only discharge papers from the Sea Scouts (which I still cherish).

The vast majority of those who visit Cadw sites are tourists, with more money than our people, so let them subsidise our visits. To do so would achieve the impossible – make tourism benefit Welsh people.

A national scheme such as I’m proposing could also introduce more of our people to their country’s history, but of course we’d need someone other than Cadw to interpret that history.

‘SPECIAL TRAIN FOR ATKINS’*

There are many people in Wales who take great pride in devolution, and especially in the thought of Welsh laws being made to serve Wales and her people. Obviously, I’m not one of these because without independence or at the very least a Welsh legal system there can be no Welsh laws.

Without independence or a separate jurisdiction what we are served up too often is simply English legislation with ‘(Wales)’ added to the name. We are given the chimera of legislative power but the real purpose is to keep us in line with England.

Where a genuine ‘Welsh’ initiative is allowed, it’s either an expensive gesture such as free prescriptions, or else it’s the ‘Welsh Government’ succumbing to English pressure groups. The perfect example of the latter would be the proposal to open Wales up to canoeists, ramblers and the rest, dressed up as ‘Sustainable Management’.

But I want to focus on the Housing (Wales) Act 2014. I have written about it before and pointed out that it gives homeless people priority for housing, and who would argue with that? Well, I would, because we are locked into an Englandandwales system that means a family of scruffs making themselves homeless anywhere in England qualify for accommodation in Wales ahead of locals.

Another curiosity of this legislation is that homeless ex-service personnel are also mentioned in the Act as being priority cases. Curious because homeless ex-service personnel do not qualify as priority cases in the equivalent English legislation. The reference can be found at 70 (1) (i).

So why are men and women who have served the English Crown, and suffered for it, not given priority treatment in England? And isn’t it all too predictable that England’s homeless, disabled ex-service personnel, and those suffering from PTSD, those with drug and alcohol problems, will be ‘directed’ to Wales?

Though perhaps the real question is, who inserted this sentence into the Bill? Was it the ‘Welsh’ Government, once again playing gesture politics? Or was it slipped in by a civil servant based in Wales but obeying his or her masters in London?

I’ve got no problem with looking after some poor sod who’s lost both his legs on a foreign adventure about which we were lied to from start to finish, but the way it’s being done looks suspiciously like Wales being dumped on, again.

  • I’ve taken the heading for this section from Kipling’s Tommy. It seemed somehow appropriate.

♦ end ♦

Sep 192017
 

TWENTY YEARS ON

We are currently celebrating the twentieth anniversary of the referendum that gave us devolution. Ron Davies described it at the time as “a process not an event”, but little if any progress has been made.

In yesterday’s Llais y Sais Ron Davies was allowed to explain why he thinks devolution has failed to deliver, why it has not improved the lives of Welsh people. This seems to have been a print version of what he said the day before on radio (06:00) and television (15:26).

Llais y Sais allowed Carwyn Jones to respond, and his response was pathetic; hiding behind the shade of Rhodri Morgan and talking of increased powers rather than addressing the point raised by Ron Davies, which was that Wales is worse off today – in terms of wealth, health, education and other indices – than she was 20 years ago ergo devolution has failed to deliver. Few outside the Bay Bubble would disagree with Ron Davies.

But lurking in the shadows I perceive another threat, an existential threat to the continuing existence of Wales. A threat made easier to carry out because devolution has failed and because so many people in certain parts of Wales feel that devolution has delivered nothing for their area.

FERRY ‘CROSS THE MERSEY . . . AND MOVING TO BANGOR

Unlike Ireland and Scotland Wales does not have geography or topography on her side, we have a long border with England  and all but one of England’s major population centres are within two hours travelling time of Wales.

This plan for a ‘North Wales Metro’ rather gives the game away (click to enlarge)

Which made it relatively easy for Roman, Norman and English invaders to detach the more fertile, lowland areas from our control, largely confining our ancestors to the uplands. That Welsh nationhood survived was largely due to the fact that Wales had little else invaders coveted.

This helped preserve Welsh identity until the arrival of industrialisation, which impacted on areas that were overwhelmingly Welsh in character, and while the new-found prosperity naturally attracted immigrants these were largely assimilated. But time, an English education system, the resultant decline of the Welsh language, colonisation, tourism, lack of national leadership and other factors have taken their toll, to the point where plans are now being drawn up to finally do away with Wales altogether by dismembering our country.

Of course, these plans will never be called by their true name, they will always be presented as being ‘beneficial to Wales’.

Let’s start in the north east. The decline started with the arrival of the railways, and with them mass tourism. The Rhyl station of the Chester & Holyhead Railway Co opened on 1 May 1848. In the more industrial areas closer to the border Anglicisation took a different form with the importation of English workers and the banning of the Welsh language. Perhaps the most notorious example were the events that provoked the Mold Riots of 1869.

Despite it all, the north east remained Welsh, but it was inevitable that the factors I’ve mentioned eventually took their toll. The Flintshire of Daniel Owen, David Lloyd and Emlyn Williams is gone, replaced by what can often be mistaken for semi-rural suburbs of Merseyside.

Rhyl, the once-bustling holiday resort, is now a dumping ground for English criminals, with the town’s streets haunted by drug-addicts and their dealers. (The only plus would appear to be that the gangsters are killing each other quite regularly.) The same fate has befallen smaller communities on the north coast. And as this chaos wreaks havoc on Welsh communities Welsh politicians have done nothing.

So we arrive at the point where someone asks, ‘Oh dear, what can we do to ‘revitalise’ this region? I know! we’ll have closer cross-border co-operation.’ This was certainly the recommendation of the ‘Welsh’ Government’s City Regions Task and Finish Group’s Final Report, the group chaired by Elizabeth Haywood.

Who is Elizabeth Haywood? You don’t remember voting for this woman who wants to dismember Wales? Of course you never voted for her, nobody did; she’s Mrs Peter Hain, or Lady Hain, I suppose, since the Orange Man was ennobled. (You really should get all silly ideas about democracy and accountability out of your head, they’ll only confuse you in one-party Wales.)

The Mersey Dee Alliance to which Lady Hain refers is a body that has been in existence for some time, though it seems to have a strange idea of Welsh geography, or to go by this map that appeared on the MDA website it doesn’t accept the existence of Wales at all.

The prospect of our north east (or the whole north) being swallowed up by north west England would be bad enough, but as I explained last month in Gwynedd LDP, and Wider Considerations, the threat is not restricted to the old unitary authority of Clwyd.

Nor is this encroachment, this gradual takeover, confined to the north. If anyone was in any doubt about that, then statements made over the past few days should have made the threat very clear.

ENGLAND’S LITTLE MOUTHPIECE

One of the great conundrums of Welsh politics concerns the role of Secretary of State for Wales, and boils down to the question: ‘Is the Secretary of State for Wales the voice of Wales in the cabinet or the voice of the cabinet in Wales?’

Different Secretaries of State have provided different answers, but the current incumbent of that post, Alun Cairns MP, is most definitely – and perhaps more emphatically than any predecessor – the voice of the cabinet in Wales. Little more than a mouthpiece, but because he is a mouthpiece, we can more easily tell the plans of those who put the words into his mouth.

The thinking in London towards Wales now seems to come in two parts – gradually undo devolution and then dismember Wales.

On the first element of that dual-thrust approach I call to the witness stand Carwyn Jones, First Minister of Wales. The heading gives a clue to the content in “Brexit: Carwyn Jones objects to ‘hijack of devolved powers'”,  or “Ministers in London are trying to get the power to rewrite laws made in Wales – Carwyn Jones”, and a host of similar articles to be found on the internet.

Just about everyone outside of the Conservative and Unionist Party believes that Brexit will provide the excuse for Westminster to a) withhold powers repatriated from the EU, and b) ‘retrieve’ powers already devolved. While those inside the party know it but won’t openly admit it.

Even so, the clues come thick and fast. Alun Cairns was given a lot of space in Llais y Sais – with David Williamson serving as his amanuensis – to promote the idea of Cardiff detaching itself from Wales and linking up with Bristol in a Severnside region. (For some reason I can’t find the piece on the WalesOnline site.)

To ram home the message Llais y Sais chipped in with an editorial, one that went beyond Bristol to “the string of cities along the M4” which of course take us to London.

click to enlarge

I was so vexed by what I read, and incensed by the lies spouted by Cairns, that I took the unusual step of putting out a short post on my Facebook page.

On Monday morning Cairns maintained his assault on honesty with the claim that too much power is centralised in Cardiff . . . and this, remember, is the voice of the Conservative and Unionist Party that wants to centralise even more power in London!

Some might be tempted to agree with him, until they remember there’s little real power in Cardiff because Wales lacks an effective form of devolution. Of course, most people would agree that Cardiff gets more than its fair share of investment and jobs, and it was this resentment that Cairns hoped to tap into.

But let’s take him at his word. He says he wants to devolve power to the regions, he even talks of elected mayors. So would Wil Pughe of Llanfair Caereinion, like his counterparts in London and Manchester, have power over policing? Would Wil – as he has long desired – have control over local PCSO Cerys Evans?

Having one day advocated a Severnside region Cairns pushes on with a back-of-a-fag-packet suggestion masking a deeper message – ‘Devolution isn’t working for most of Wales. In fact, devolution isn’t working at all – let’s get rid of it.’

“Give power to the regions” is something trotted our regularly by the Tories, but it displays no real concern for the regions at all, it’s just a method of doing away with devolution and undermining our sense of nationhood.

DIVIDED, DISMEMBERED, DESTROYED

What of the areas left outside the shining megalopolis of ManPool and the ‘string of cities’ from Cardiff to London?

The remainder of the northern coastal strip along the A55, or those areas not being used to house drug addicts and criminals from over the border, or serving as geriatric ghettoes, will become commuter communities, even over the bridge onto Ynys Môn, as I found out by accident.

For when trawling the internet I often turn up things I wasn’t looking for, such as the map below, produced by Nathaniel Lichfield & Partners. They know that there are three Strategic Development Areas (or Strategic Planning Areas) for Wales, the two city regions and the A55 Corridor. I found a number of other references to the A55 Corridor: here’s one, here’s another.

All the sources tell us that these three SDAs/SPAs will be brought into existence by the Planning (Wales) Act 2015, which received Royal Assent on July 6.

click to enlarge

So why, two years on, are the chattering classes only talking of the two city regions? Is the A55 Corridor a dirty secret being proceeded with by stealth? Interestingly, one feature demanded by a SDA/SPA is joint Local Development Plans, which might explain why Gwynedd and Ynys Môn were recently required to produce one.

The area between the A55 Corridor and the urban south is to become one vast recreation and retirement area for England, offering everything from granny farms and zip wires to Cheshire-sur-Mer (Abersoch), the Birmingham Riviera (Cardigan Bay), and Bear Grylls parting suckers from their money with his ‘get-muddy-and-pretend-you’re-in-the-SAS!’ bollocks.

With assorted ‘Care’ bodies, probation companies and housing associations taking in England’s decrepit, dysfunction, delinquent and downright criminal. For housing ex-cons pays well.

The Valleys are to endure yet more managed decline, the Swansea region will be offered scraps from Cardiff’s table, while Cardiff itself expands and grows fat through exploiting its capital status but simultaneously playing the English provincial city, increasingly linked to Bristol and “the string of cities along the M4”.

Cardiff being a player in Severnside will be welcomed by those Cardiff politicians, such as Russell Goodway, who have always wanted Cardiff to enjoy all the benefits of being capital of Wales while looking down their noses at everything Welsh.

Result: Wales enfeebled, fragmented and exploited as never before. There can only be one outcome.

WHO CAN WE TRUST?

It should go without saying that we cannot trust an individual, or a political party, that has allowed this situation to develop.

Wales is being assaulted from all sides, yet Carwyn Jones may be motivated by loss of prestige rather than the loss of nationhood, or maybe it’s the thought of his party losing its vast network of patronage that moves him to stand alongside Nicola Sturgeon.

The Tories of course are driving this project and they’ll be supported by Ukip. As for the Lib Dems, well, who cares? Which leaves only Plaid Cymru.

Seeing as the destruction of Wales has little to do with Donald Trump, refugees, or trans-gender toilets, and is only tangentially connected with another of Plaid’s current obsessions, Brexit, it would be unrealistic to expect any opposition from Plaid Cymru.

In addition, Plaid Cymru is unsuited for the coming fight because, being a civic nationalist party that welcomes everyone (especially those with ‘ishoos’) – and by so doing supports the colonialist system that sees Wales exporting talent and importing problems – it is psychologically incapable of standing up in a struggle in which it will have to be said, ‘No, you’re not dumping any more of your problems in our country!’

And yet, one doesn’t even need to be a nationalist, or a believer in independence, to become involved in the forthcoming struggle. All that’s needed is the belief that Wales is a nation, with a defined and accepted territory, and that both must be respected.

But our enemies are gathering, they’ve laid their plans, they’ve even told us their plans, so we must resist.

Are you up for the coming fight?

♦ end ♦

Sep 062017
 

‘I can hear the rumblin’ river as it rushes underground’

Those of you familiar with 60s folk music will know that the title of this piece is shared with a great song by Tom Paxton, a song in which he articulated the growing anger he sensed among disparate elements in the 1960s USA.

For the halcyon days of the 1950s were over, gone with their jobs for all. In the inner cities and the Deep South black people were being influenced by Malcolm X and Martin Luther King Jnr, and taking their destiny into their own hands. And as President Johnson sent more and more troops to south east Asia the anti-war movement grew in size and determination. America was in a ferment, from which it became impossible for anyone to insulate themselves, black or white, rich or poor, north, south, east or west.

Which probably explains why we saw an explosion of folk singers trying to articulate or capitalise on the zeitgeist. Though, musically, the 1960s was a difficult time for me; the golden era of early Rock was over, Buddy Holly was dead, and so was Eddie Cochran, while Little Richard seemed to alternate between searching for God and being searched for by the men in white coats. Fortunately, I had by then journeyed back to Rock ‘n’ Roll’s Country roots, with Folk providing another distraction from the horrors of the Beatles and the Beach Boys.

Though as I say, it wasn’t easy. For a start, I was in love with Joan Baez (and couldn’t figure out what she saw in that weird little git, ‘Dylan’). Then there was Judy Collins, and Joni Mitchell – it was great to be alive! The problem was of course that while I loved the music and the singers, I opposed the political sentiments expressed. For I supported the USA in Vietnam, Young Jac had bought into the Domino Theory.

But of all the folk singers of that era none had Tom Paxton’s range. People know his songs for children, such as Goin’ To The Zoo and The Marvellous Toy. Then there are his love songs, including the one everybody’s covered, Last Thing On My Mind, though my favourite remains My Lady’s A Wild Flying Dove.

Of course there are political songs, but even some of these are done with humour; Daily NewsWhat Did You Learn In School Today? Others songs are fun commentaries on life, a favourite of mine is Annie’s Going To Sing Her Song. It reminds me of the Swansea pubs of my youth, where there was always some old bird who’d insist on singing . . . whether anybody wanted to hear her or not. (Sophie Tucker renditions were particularly popular, I recall.)

Finally there are those Paxton songs about life, or death, that just make you think. Try I Can’t Help But Wonder Where I’m Bound, and Jimmy Newman. The latter is a very strange song, but often held up as a musical companion to All Quiet on the Western Front.

‘I can hear a thousand voices making ready for a fight’

So why did I choose that particular Tom Paxton song? Because I sense a mood abroad, a growing belief that Wales is being screwed and we are being lied to. There seems to be an increasing realisation that politicians and their corrupt system – including devolution – have no answers, and may even be the cause of the problem. It almost goes without saying that we no longer trust the mainstream media or any representatives of traditional authority.

I have not known these sentiments to be so widely shared since the 1960s.

The one big difference today from the 1960s is of course that Plaid Cymru is not benefiting from this mood. Back then the national resurgence encouraged by Tryweryn, Aberfan and the Investiture resulted in an upsurge in support for Plaid Cymru, but this time around, after 50 years of Plaid Cymru failure, many have concluded that if not part of the problem, then Plaid certainly isn’t part of the solution either.

We are therefore in uncharted territory.

Another factor contributing to this strange combination of confusion and anger is that we are seeing attacks on the Welsh language from quarters that many had hitherto regarded as friendly, or certainly not hostile. From bastions of left-liberal orthodoxy such as the Guardian and Newsnight.

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn has proved to be another disappointment. He has certainly disappointed Welsh Remainers through his understanding that if Labour is not to become the unelectable party of the chattering classes and ethnic minorities it needs to reconnect with the English working class.

An English working class that is more aggressively and intolerantly English than at any time in living memory. A mood that has spilt over the border to encourage those among us of a BritNat or anti-Welsh mentality.

Wales needs a new voice, but where will that voice come from? And knowing that actions speak louder than words, how do we leave the enemies of Wales in no doubt about our refusal to accept the destruction of our country?

‘And I guess it’s up to me because we’ve given up on you’

The mood I’m describing runs from frustration in some to real anger in others. What unites them is a realisation that Wales is going nowhere with the current system, or with the existing political parties and politicians, except backwards.

Literally, for not only is the UK government trying to avoid devolving powers ‘repatriated’ from the EU but behind the scenes Englandandwales organisations are spreading their tentacles, making a mockery of devolution, and slowly but surely absorbing Wales into England.

Look around Wales today and everywhere our country is both less Welsh and poorer than it was when we voted for devolution 20 years ago. How did this happen, for devolution was supposed to serve the interests of the Welsh people?

It happened because the interests of the geographical area of Wales were allowed to become divorced from those of her people, to the point where politicians and other liars can argue that a policy or an initiative is ‘good for Wales’ yet closer examination reveals that it may indeed benefit somebody but that ‘somebody’ is rarely Welsh.

It’s called colonialism, and history is full of such examples. I bet that in the 1870s Indians on the Great Plains witnessing the destruction of their way of life were told, ‘But look at the money all these buffalo hides bring into the region . . . you ungrateful bastards’.

As I say, this outcome can only be achieved by divorcing a people from its territory, then insisting that the territory in question belongs to everybody, and that’s because it was terra incognita ere the arrival of the enlightened colonialist bringing ‘progress and prosperity’. (They invariably go together.)

In Wales this progress and prosperity will take many forms: managed decline, zip wires, new housing we can’t afford or don’t need, having England’s decrepit, dysfunctional and delinquent dumped on us, and seeing what were once Welsh universities engaged in a race to the bottom. All designed to increase the numbers of strangers in our country, make Wales less Welsh, and slowly assimilate Wales into England.

Any attempt to defend or promote Welshness against this ‘progress and prosperity’ will be decried as ‘racist’, even ‘backward-looking’. (Always amusing to hear this from the English Right and the London redtops.)

A slander made easier to lay by the position taken by Plaid Cymru. For the Party of Wales is more afraid of being labelled ‘racist’ by the Guardian than it is of its national executive being filmed in a drug-fuelled orgy with rent boys and under age girls in William Morgan’s old gaff.

And the rise of the Right across the Western world has made Plaid Cymru shy away even more from promoting Welsh interests. Which further emboldens our enemies.

So the system grinds on almost unchecked.

‘I’ve been listening to some people and one thing I understand’

Or it did until relatively recently.

But as I’ve suggested, there is a mood abroad; a mood that rejects much of what we have been asked to accept in devolved Wales. Not that there is anything anarchistic or nihilistic about this mood, it is simply a realisation and a rejection of the prevailing corruption.

A growing belief that Wales is dying before our eyes. Or, more truthfully, being killed off.

If you want to see this mood, then look at recent developments such YesCymru, consider the outcry against the Ring of Steel planned for Flint castle, and not just the responses to the recent attacks on the Welsh language from the GuardianNewsnight and elsewhere but where the responses came from.

The internet and social media are of course vital in encouraging this mood. I like to think that this blog plays its part. Fortunately I’m not alone, there are a number of good sites out there. One I’ve mentioned before is Nation.Cymru, which came up trumps again recently.

On the first of this month Dylan Iorwerth, a respected journalist, argued that immigration into Welsh-speaking areas must be halted. In other words he is calling for measures to stop English people moving into Wales. Of course this has been said before . . . and it has always provoked a violent reaction from within Wales and without.

Perhaps the most famous example would be the response to Gwynedd councillor Seimon Glyn’s call, back in 2001, to curb English immigration, for which he was pilloried in the English media. As a result, his party leader, Ieuan Wyn Jones, was severely mauled over the issue on Question Time, by Glenys Kinnock.

Not long before, Plaid Cymru vice-president Gwilym ab Ioan was thrown off the party’s national executive for saying that Wales was being used as a dumping ground for England’s elderly, misfits and oddballs.

What I’ve found strange is that there has been no reaction from politicians or media to Dylan Iorwerth’s call to halt English immigration. Why might that be?

Could it be that it’s now generally accepted that there is massive and damaging immigration into the Fro Gymraeg? And if the phenomenon is undeniable then it’s best not to discuss it and stir things up further? Maybe others sense this mood I’m alluding to?

‘A great flood is a-rising fast and there’s a rumbling in the land’

If I’m right, then what’s the best way to capitalise on this mood?

For a start, I suggest that we stop fighting battles that have nothing to do with Wales, or else are beyond our power to influence. One example being those idiots who want President Trump to be impeached or removed by force. I call them idiots because achieving that objective would give the extreme Right the excuse to reject the democratic process altogether and take up arms. (And they have a hell of a lot more guns than their opponents.)

Such distractions are usually the result of ideology. Which is why there can be no place for ideology or dogma in the future struggle. Anyone trying to introduce ideology, or to promote issues external to Wales, must be dealt with, and dealt with ruthlessly. For such people are the enemies of Wales.

Equally dangerous are those who slink in the shadows, whispering, trying to get the more headstrong involved in violence. Also root them out and deal with them.

At this critical juncture Wales needs unity of purpose. As yet, we don’t need a new political party, but we do need a movement. This movement needs to coalesce from the disparate groups and individual voices found on social media and other forums.

We must promote what strengthens and advances Welsh identity, and combat everything that threatens it; all the while accepting that full independence is the only guarantee of the long term survival of Welsh national identity.

In the short term the agenda or strategy could be reduced to a simple Good / Bad list. That which is good for Wales is supported, that which is bad for Wales is opposed.

But if an issue is needed, where widespread support could surely be guaranteed, it would be a campaign to reform how housing operates in Wales. To take planning matters away from the Planning Inspectorate, to reduce the input from Wimpey, Redrow and the rest, to ensure local allocations in social housing, to demand local markets – such as operate on the Channel Islands – reserving most properties for locals.

Or to put it simply: a housing sector serving Welsh needs and interests.

If we cannot get together, sinking our various differences, to agree on a housing campaign such as that, then I’ve misjudged things completely, and there is no mood for radical change.

That’s my contribution. I now suggest that those reading this Think It Over (That’s Buddy Holly, not Tom Paxton.)

P.S. I am not putting myself forward for any role in any movement, my days of activism are long past.

♦ end ♦

Aug 072017
 

Everybody seems to have had their say on this subject so I might as well make my contribution.

First, remember that what was passed a week last Friday was the LDP for Gwynedd minus the Snowdonia National Park, which has its own planning authority and its own LDP. Even though the Park covers most of the county, in population terms it accounts for just over a fifth.

This is due to the largest towns being outside the Park, while Blaenau Ffestiniog, Barmouth and Tywyn are surrounded by the Park but form ‘islands’ covered by the Gwynedd LDP. The largest towns within the Snowdonia National Park are Bala and Dolgellau.

I’ve read the arguments on both sides of this debate, thanks in part to Nation.Cymru, where we were offered, ‘Building 8,000 new homes on Gwynedd and Môn is a defeat for Welsh democracy’ by Huw Williams, with the counter argument from Dyfrig Jones in ‘Building fewer houses would drive up prices and drive away our youth’.

In a sense, both are right. But Dyfrig Jones is also wrong. Let me explain.

‘WHERE WILL OUR YOUNG PEOPLE LIVE?’

Once upon a time, when tribunes of a fraternal bent controlled rural councils, Ceredigion was ruled by Dai Lloyd Evans and his crew, one of the most corrupt, self-serving groups ever to run a Welsh council. (And by God that is saying something!) Not for nothing did Paul Flynn MP refer to Ceredigion in some Commons committee as “the Wild West Show” when it came to planning matters.

Because most of these fraternalist councillors were landowners they wanted to build lots of houses to enrich themselves. Dai Lloyd Evans even bought a field – or was it two? – outside of his native Tregaron and then made sure that the settlement boundary was moved to include his field(s). Planning permission was of course granted for said fields.

In defence of this bonanza of housebuilding all sorts of bollocks was trotted out; from Dai Lloyd himself I remember, ‘But without these new houses where will our young people live?’ We were asked to believe that three- and four-bedroom houses selling for £180,000+ (in 2005) were targeting young, local buyers.

Now I’m not comparing Dyfrig Jones to Dai Lloyd Evans, but . . . the ‘young people’ argument does echo the timeless hypocrisy of the former Ceredigion council leader.

For a start, too many of our young people can’t afford to buy a new house – full stop. But these properties are not intended for local buyers anyway, something made clear from where the new developments are located.

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The new housing planned for Gwynedd is mainly in the north of the county (as is the case in Conwy and Denbighshire) and there’s a very good reason for that – the A55 Expressway. What is taking shape before our eyes is a commuter corridor along the A55 that will allow people working in the Merseyside and Manchester conurbations to live ‘in the country’.

OH, GIVE ME A HOME WHERE THE MILLIONAIRES ROAM

Let me start explaining this with a wee digression.

When I was growing up in Swansea, someone who moved out to Gower was usually thought to have ‘made it’, done well for themselves (or maybe knocked over a bank). I suppose the Vale of Glamorgan fulfils a similar function for Cardiff.

On a larger scale, Cheshire entices those who wish to, and can afford to, avoid the urban sprawl of north west England. Some of the communities with the highest property prices outside of London and its ‘stockbroker belt’ are to be found in Cheshire.

Human nature being what it is, if you’ve paid a million or two for your house in Prestbury, Wilmslow or Alderley Edge, then you don’t want your idyll spoilt – and the value of your property lowered – by a new estate full of double-glazing salesmen and Stockport County footballers. It’s ‘Him off the telly’ and Wayne Rooney or nothing. Which results in many of those who’d like to live in leafy Cheshire being moved on. (This also explains why, in the code used by estate agents, Wrecsam is now ‘West Cheshire’.)

But even if giant ‘Sod Off!’ signs were placed at regular intervals on every highway and by-way approaching the Golden Triangle it would do little to stem the flow of the upwardly mobile out of the nearby cities. And as there’s not much of a welcome further west, around Chester, either, they trudge on further.

Another reason for building so many new houses close to the A55 is that politicians, being what they are – lying bastards, generally – can interpret this protection of Cheshire property values as an indicator of a healthy economy along the north coast. It’s nothing of the kind, or course, but politicians will never miss an opportunity to pat themselves on the back.

Just picture it – Guto Bebb, David Jones, Michelle Brown plus Carwyn and his cohorts fighting over the best spot in front of the cameras!

Finally, let us not forget the grand design to assimilate Wales into England. New housing built in Wales for which there is little or no local demand is a vital part of that strategy.

‘STATISTICS, WHAT STATISTICS?’

Huw Williams was right to argue that accepting this LDP was a defeat for Welsh democracy, though not only because Gwynedd council caved in but because of the way in which housing ‘need’ figures are arrived at, or contrived, and the ruthless inflexibility with which they have been enforced.

I’ve dealt with Local Development Plans and the Planning Inspectorate many times before. (Just type Planning Inspectorate into the ‘Search’ box at the top of the sidebar.) Reading ‘Planning Inspectorate: New Gauleiter for Wales’ will help.

The problem with LDPs is that the Planning Inspectorate predicted future need on a combination of population and household size estimates produced before the data from the 2011 Census were available, and using recent demographic trends – i.e. English immigration!

When the Census findings became available, and they showed that population increase from 2001 to 2011 was less than the Inspectorate had predicted, and that household size was greater – combining to mean fewer properties needed – these inconvenient truths were brushed aside to insist on sticking to the original, and now discredited, predictions.

One example is Denbighshire. The council there argued that in light of new figures the county now needed far fewer properties than had been called for by the ‘Welsh’ Government’s projections, which argued for 8,500 new units between 2008 and 2023. For what the Census and the ONS’ predictions told us was that the projected population increase for Denbighshire in that period was now 4,134.

The Planning Inspectorate accepted the council’s argument (how could they contradict the Census and the Office for National Statistics?) but insisted on sticking with the original – and now discredited – projection! The clip below is from the Inspectors’ report.

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So, for a predicted population increase of just 4,134, and a household size of 2.31 reducing to 2.23 in 2026 Denbighshire must still build 8,500 units.

Of course, it helps to understand all this when you realise that the Planning Inspectorate is an Englandandwales body answering to the Department for Communities and Local Government in London . . . though the ‘Welsh’ Government is allowed to pretend that it has control of the Inspectorate in Wales. It doesn’t.

As might be predicted with such a body, the Welsh language is a vital concern. The recommendation for Denbighshire being . . . bilingual signage.

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A SYSTEM TO SERVE WALES

Where Dyfrig Jones is right is in arguing that building fewer houses will drive up prices . . . but to follow that argument to its illogical conclusion is to believe that house prices will start falling, will come within the reach of Welsh people, only when the external demand is sated – but the external demand is insatiable.

With Local Development Plans we are dealing with a broken system, certainly one that does not work for Wales. There are a number of reasons for this.

First, and as I hope I’ve explained, is the role of the Planning Inspectorate, an Englandandwales body working within an Englandandwales strategic framework that sees Wales helping meet England’s need for housing. There is no way that such a body can serve Wales.

Second, when it comes to strategic planning, the ‘Welsh’ Government has willingly subordinated itself to the UK government to the detriment of Wales’ best interests. So much for devolution!

Third, as Huw Williams suggested on Nation.Cymru, the whole system is a negation of democracy that sees those we elect bullied by persons sent into Wales to serve a dubious agenda. That is bad enough, but too often the Planning Inspectorate finds ready accomplices in the higher ranks of council employees.

Radical change is needed.

It should go without saying that Wales needs a planning system that serves Welsh needs, not the interests of those who can’t afford to buy the property they’d like in Wilmslow. This must be a priority. No more imposed LDPs.

To build fewer houses yet ensure that Welsh people are not excluded we need legislation to guarantee that a majority of the housing stock is restricted to those with strong local connections. To those born and educated in the area, perhaps those who have lived locally for a given period.

It might be worth considering the models that operate in the Channel Islands.

On the largest island, Jersey, there are four categories of resident: ‘Entitled’, ‘Licensed’, ‘Entitled to Work’ and ‘Registered’. As the website tells us, “The “Entitled” category is attributed to those who are Jersey born and have reached the required aggregate residency period.  This category also applies to people who have lived in Jersey for a continuous period of 10 years.”

Jersey

On the second largest island, Guernsey, the system is even simpler. There they have a Local Market and an Open Market, which is almost self-explanatory. The Open Market covers larger, more expensive properties (some 7% of the housing stock), and while locals can buy in the Open Market the Local Market is reserved for them.

‘Ah, but Jac’, I hear you protest, ‘to implement such a policy in Wales would be decried in the English media as ‘racist’. Really! How could it be racist in Wales yet no one complains about the Channel Islands using these methods?

Might the silence have something to do with so many English newspaper proprietors and others having money hidden business interests on the islands, with the Barclay brothers, owners of the Telegraph, actually owning one of the smaller islands, Brecqhou?

CONCLUSION

As someone who has been involved in nationalist politics – often on the ‘hairier’ fringes . . . sometimes very hairy – I know that for fifty years our masters have carefully avoided gifting us another Tryweryn, or another Investiture, anything that might mobilise armchair patriots and produce converts.

Instead, the strategy employed since the 1960s has been to chip away at what makes Wales different. The most effective tactic being demographic change; reduced to its crudest expression – ‘Welsh out, English in’.

The beauty of this strategy is that no single blow ever rouses enough people to challenge the strategy . . . so on it goes . . . chip, chip, chip. The Gwynedd LDP, the managed decline of the Valleys, turning our countryside into a recreational and retirement area for England . . . all these are chipping away at the distinctiveness of Wales, and the survival of Welsh identity.

This strategy is succeeding; soon there will be little left at which to chip. If we don’t wake up soon and grasp that we are in a struggle for national survival, one that must transcend politics and take precedence over everything else, then we might as well stop kidding ourselves and call it a day.

A national struggle against English colonialism is our only hope. No party politics. No divisive ideologies. A national struggle.

♦ end ♦

 

Mar 182017
 

REFERENDA FOR ALL!

As you know by now, the SNP wants another referendum on Scottish independence, to be held towards the end of 2018, when the terms of Brexit will be known but before its implementation, in the hope that a Yes vote might keep Scotland in the EU without the need to apply for membership.

Within hours of SNP leader Nicola Sturgeon asking for her referendum Sinn Féin called for a referendum on re-unifying Ireland. Boosted by the increase in the party’s vote in the recent elections and playing on the fact that there is disquiet on both sides of the border, and in both northern communities, about the possibility of a ‘hard border’ being imposed once the UK leaves the EU.

UK prime minster Theresa May has refused to grant a Scottish referendum, making a vague promise of allowing a vote when the Brexit negotiations are complete and ‘the facts are known’ . . . or perhaps she’ll drag it out in the hope that the SNP loses its majority in the 2021 Scottish elections.

Here in Wales, in response to the SNP’s request Carwyn Jones nailed his colours to the mast of British nationalism by stating that we’re all better off in the UK. Last month declaring that after Brexit the UK could become a ‘mini-EU’. (Does he write this stuff himself?)

Plaid Cymru leader Leanne Wood has called for a ‘debate’ on independence if Scotland votes to leave the UK. Many others, especially on social media, are calling for a Welsh referendum.

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My reading of the situation is as follows.

Ms Sturgeon believes that Brexit is the issue to swing things her party’s way, and she may be right, for as we know Scotland voted 62% in favour of remaining in the EU. But will that translate into Yes votes in an independence referendum?

A lot is being made of those in Scotland who voted for independence in September 2014 and for Brexit in June 2016, with Unionists pretending to believe that this group will vote No to independence in a second referendum. Look, I have wanted independence for Wales all my life – and I voted for Brexit. Like 80% of Scots who voted for independence and Brexit my priority is to break the English connection; whether we’re in or out of the EU is almost irrelevant. So stop talking nonsense.

Sinn Féin has nothing to lose because a No vote to reunification would be expected due to there still being a Unionist majority. The party can count on its own supporters voting Yes, and nationalists joining them, but what if enough Unionists are so worried by Brexit that they’ll agree to a united Ireland rather than be outside the EU? There could be enough to be decisive; but whatever happens, Sinn Féin has nothing to lose.

Mrs May is the real gambler in this situation for any number of reasons, here are three. What would the UK Government do if a referendum organised by the SNP in defiance of Westminster returned a Yes vote and the SNP government in Holyrood declared independence? Second, Mrs May is increasingly being compared with Mrs Thatcher, but seeing as Mrs Thatcher’s legacy is toxic in Scotland this is turning Scots towards independence. Third, her own party, plus Ukip bawling in the wings, will demand a tough Brexit, telling them Europeans where to stick it, so delaying the Scottish referendum may be no advantage.

And here’s a final consideration that could screw up the Unionist position entirely. There is increasing acceptance within the EU that it needs to reform, to become less bureaucratic and more more democratic, and to crack down on corruption rather than on whistle-blowers. What if, as a farewell present, the EU, while negotiating Britain’s exit, simultaneously began reforming itself, so as to make it more alluring to Scottish and Northern Irish voters. For we all know how devious Johnny Foreigner can be.

But of course we are concerned with Wales. If Scotland goes independent, and if Ireland becomes one again – two big ifs – then there will be calls for a referendum in Wales. But there are important differences between Wales and the other two. For example, Scotland and Northern Ireland both voted, by substantial majorities, to remain in the EU, whereas Wales voted to leave.

~ ♦ ~

FOCUSING ON WALES

Let us assume that Brexit goes through to satisfy the BritLanders, that Scotland then votes for independence, and that the Irish throw themselves into each other’s arms, or at least, enough of them want a united Ireland to leave the UK as nothing more than Englandandwales. It goes without saying that in such a situation the calls for a Welsh referendum on independence will become louder.

While the position of most Plaid Cymru members can be guessed at, perhaps of greater importance is the position of the other political parties in Wales, especially the Labour Party. If Lord Kinnock is still with us in 2020 – and let us pray that the Grim Reaper ignores him (as we have learnt to) for a few more years – then I can see him leading the fight against Welsh independence. But what of Carwyn Jones and his gang, possibly more representative of today’s Labour voters than Kinnock?

Even with Scotland and Northern Ireland gone, I cannot see ‘Welsh’ Labour supporting the call for a referendum. The party is just too Brit in its outlook on everything, and so hostile to expressions of Welsh identity such as the Welsh language, as we’ve seen in Llangennech and elsewhere. Most recently in Labour’s refusal to back Dr Dai Lloyd’s modest attempt to protect Welsh place names.

On the plus side, the Labour Party in Wales is losing credibility and haemorrhaging support at a rate that is beginning to alarm the rats left on board, who are now turning on each other, with deselections reported from across the land ahead of May’s council elections.

We can guarantee the Conservative and Ukip positions on Welsh independence, and so without Labour Plaid Cymru could be a lone voice. Which will mean that in order to have any hope of winning an independence referendum the Yes campaign – little more perhaps than Plaid Cymru by another name – will need to remove party politics from the debate and appeal to the people on a different level entirely. Basically, raw patriotism.

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WILL AN APPEAL TO PATRIOTISM WORK?

No doubt some reading this will disagree with me and suggest that a Yes campaign could appeal to voters on the grounds that Wales would be better off in the EU, and so if independence is the only way to reach the land of milk and honey then they should vote Yes. The flaw there being that the ‘better off in the EU’ argument was used last year, and Welsh voters rejected it.

No, it would have to be done on the the most basic level, something like, ‘With Scotland and Northern Ireland gone it’s just England and Wales now, so do you want Wales to become part of England?’

And instead of discussing exports of salt marsh lamb to France, or Trixie Grant-Grabber and her friends at the Gurnos LGBT Muesli Knitters Co-operative losing their EU funding, it would be more sensible to use arguments that will resonate with far more people. One that comes to mind is the survival of our national football team. Because it’s not just the BritNats who want to see a UK football team; national associations around the world question why Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland have national teams when they are not independent countries.

With Scotland independent and Ireland one again maintaining a national football team for Wales will become very difficult, after a No to independence vote it will be virtually impossible. How long before our national rugby team goes the same way? (Yes it’s scaremongering. What do you think the other side will be doing?)

An appeal to patriotism, painting a picture of Englandandwales morphing into England with the loss of our national sporting teams and other badges of our identity, might get 51% of the Welsh vote on a good day after a particularly rousing speech by Carwyn Jones. But 51% of the Welsh vote will not be enough to gain independence due to the strangers in our midst, and I’m not talking here about EU migrants.

At the most recent census in 2011 we learnt that 20.8% of the population of Wales was born in England. The percentage of the population born in Wales was just 72.7%. The figures may be skewed by Welsh mothers having babies in hospitals just over the border, but the effect of our lack of maternity facilities is more than offset by children born to English parents in Wales who do not identify with Wales in any meaningful way.

Perhaps a more telling figure from the census would be that for identification, shown in the table below. There we see that only 65.8% of people living in Wales at the time of the census regarded themselves as Welsh.

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Now it could be that some of these strangers among us would vote for Welsh independence . . . but it wouldn’t be many. They will vote much as the non-French 20% of the population voted in the Quebéc independence referendum of October 1995, overwhelmingly against independence, and enough to secure a hairs-breadth victory of 50.58% to 49.42%.

Which means that given the figures we know, and taking into account other factors, such as the English element in the population being more heavily represented in the older age groups, and therefore more likely to vote, the Yes campaign would need to secure the votes of almost all the ‘Welsh only’ identifiers to win a referendum. Ain’t gonna happen.

~ ♦ ~

WHAT’S THE ALTERNATIVE?

As I hope I’ve made clear, asking for an independence referendum in the next few years will be a mistake. Partly because it cannot be won, but more importantly because a Yes vote of less than 25% could be so demoralising that some people might give up and resign themselves to assimilation into England.

It would make more sense to accept the improved devolution settlement that London is almost certain to offer to soften the blow of us being left alone with our centuries-old abuser. (Yes, London might want a referendum, but if nobody in Wales is asking for it . . . )

The extra devolution we’ll be given will be as flawed and useless as the devolution we’ve known since 1999 unless Labour loses its pre-eminent position in Welsh politics. But to fully capitalise on Labour’s eclipse either Plaid Cymru must re-invent itself as a nationalist party, or be replaced by a nationalist party.

We must grab as much as we can, we must squeeze every last concession out of the London regime, demand anything that can benefit Wales. And don’t be afraid to take to the streets and in other ways show that you aren’t going to be messed around with. I say that not because I’m trying to incite violence but because we have a corrupt and useless political class that will sell us down the river again and again if given a chance.

Once we’ve secured the best deal we can get Wales needs to be ‘stabilised’, by which I mean investment and economic growth needs to spread more evenly around the country, we need to curb colonisation, we need a strategy for the Valleys that goes beyond commuter communities for Cardiff, we need to provide a real economy for our rural and coastal areas instead of being grateful for zip wires and granny farming, we must invest in infrastructure, education and training.

We need to behave as if we were already independent to prepare our people for independence.

We are in the position of being unable to win an independence referendum in the next few years because Plaid Cymru has failed Wales. Plaid Cymru’s dithering and obsession with single-issue politics over the past 40 years has served England’s interests better than it has served ours. 

~ ♦ end ♦ ~