Senedd Elections 2021

I’M IN SEMI-RETIREMENT AND THIS BLOG IS WINDING DOWN. I INTEND CALLING IT A DAY SOON AFTER THIS YEAR’S SENEDD ELECTIONS. POSTINGS WILL NOW BE LESS FREQUENT AND I WILL NOT UNDERTAKE ANY MAJOR NEW INVESTIGATIONS. DIOLCH YN FAWR.

This is the first of my promised reviews of next month’s elections. This initial foray into a crowded field is longer than intended, so take your time.

I’ve concentrated on those parties with a chance of winning seats, so apologies to the Communist Party of Britain, Captain Beany, the Freedom Alliance, the Socialist Party of Great Britain, the Trade Union and Socialist Coalition, the Welsh Christian Party, the Workers Party, and any others I may have missed.

A more specific and detailed approach may follow in subsequent pieces . . . unless I lose interest entirely.

The risk of simply switching off is real, partly because we lack inspiring politicians and partly because the liars and the bullshitters are already at work and – unchallenged by our wonderful media – spewing forth all manner of nonsense.

Not content with being conduits for misinformation certain elements of the media themselves contribute to the confusion by pretending that only ‘establishment’ parties are standing. Or maybe they believe that only establishment parties should be heard.

WHO’S STANDING?

This time round there are more candidates representing a wider range of political perspectives than in any previous Assembly / Senedd elections. From the genuinely nationalist Gwlad to the extremes of the BritNat fringe.

While many are trying to paint these elections as being about Covid, the truth is that the big question lurking in the shadows is whether Wales should become independent or cease to exist in any meaningful form.

As for what we have now, there are few ready to speak up for it. In fact, I’m amazed that anyone has the chutzpah to defend devolution on the record of the past 22 years.

LABOUR

Which might explain why the Labour Party is asking for another 5 years to do the things it’s failed to do over the past two decades and more. An example would be introducing a register of lobbyists.

On BBC Radio 4 last week, Vaughan Gething, the ‘Welsh Government’s health minister, told listeners that his party was “entirely open” to introducing such a register. Yet they could have done so in January 2018. And even earlier in 2013.

The truth is that, in Wales, the term ‘lobbyist’ is interchangeable with ‘third sector’. And the third sector is ‘Welsh’ Labour’s private army, soaking up hundreds of millions of pounds of public money in providing sinecures for Labour cronies, in return for which the third sector will support Labour in any way it can, including attacking Labour’s opponents.

Image BBC. (I used to have a suit like that, but it was more of a powder blue, with narrower lapels.)

Perhaps the major problem for Labour is that it’s beginning to look clapped out, devoid of fresh ideas, and relying more than ever on voters’ blind, family loyalty – and not being, ‘them wicked Tories’.

Which no longer works, as we saw in the December 2019 UK general election, when Welsh Labour seats fell to, ‘them wicked Tories’. More may go the same way next month. Certainly, there’s not a hope in Hell of Labour getting near the 30 seats needed to form an administration.

That said, there is a widespread perception that Labour is faring less badly here in the popularity stakes than in England. (In Scotland, of course, Labour is now neck-and-neck with the Monster Raving Loony Party.)

Why this might be so mystifies me. Could it be the magnetic personality of Mark Drakeford? Or maybe the abundance of talent we see lined up behind him? Or could it be that the other ‘major’ parties are so unappealing that by comparison any bunch of muppets might look half competent?

(Please don’t think that I’m trying to insult muppets by comparing them to ‘Welsh’ Labour politicians!)

Some argue that Drakeford has handled the pandemic and its restrictions better than Boris Johnson. I don’t buy that. Labour in Wales clearly panicked when restrictions on pubs, gyms and other establishments were lifted in England, and this explains why they brought forward the lifting of restrictions in Wales . . . which now take effect before the elections on May 6 rather than after.

Of course, there may be another explanation for the timing. If so, then it escapes me. I’m open to suggestions.

What’s not in doubt is that Labour will need all the help it can get. Poll findings published last Friday by YouGov put Labour on just 29%, with the Conservatives romping ahead on 43%. These are of course UK figures, but even so, Labour is also in trouble in Wales.

The only question is how far short of the target 30 seats Labour will fall.

PLAID CYMRU

I’m turning to Plaid Cymru now not because it’s the second largest party in Wales (it’s not, by a long way) but because to have any hope of staying in control Labour will probably need to go into coalition with Plaid Cymru.

And the terms of this coalition have been discussed for months. So it makes sense to lump Plaid Cymru in with Labour. So remember, folks . . .

A vote for Plaid Cymru will be a vote for Labour.

Yes, Plaid Cymru talks of winning the election, and of becoming the largest party, but the kindest way of describing such suggestions is wishful thinking.

Because for many years Plaid Cymru has been drifting ever further left. This course to political irrelevance might appear to have changed with the crushing defeat inflicted by party members on far left leader Leanne Wood in 2018, but that would be to misinterpret the situation.

The 77.7% that voted against Leanne Wood is the silent majority, playing little part in the running of the party. Those who support Wood – a vociferous and nasty minority – still control the party’s direction of travel. Largely through intimidation.

Intimidation of the kind that can get a Member of the Senedd to apologise for daring believe that a person with a penis and testicles could be anything other than a woman. And worse, suggesting that transphobia may be rather less heinous and genocidal than pushing Jewish children into gas chambers.

Happier times. Helen Mary Jones MS meets Teifi, and a dog’s best friend, Aled Gwyn Williams.

These are the sort of people that might reluctantly agree to take action against child trafficking, but only on condition that it didn’t involve discrimination against the ‘child-trafficking community’. Because in their world just everyone belongs to a ‘community’ – which is of course oppressed – except those who are part of the white, western patriarchal system, which does the oppressing.

What a fucked-up world these lunatics have invented! Worse, many of them genuinely believe they are living this nightmare. Others just encourage them in that belief.

Even figurehead party leader Adam Price was forced to grovel to this carnival of grotesques. Because they call the shots nowadays in Plaid Cymru. Them and the anti-Semites, and those who believe that the priority for Wales should be extending Harri Webb’s Green Desert to the whole country.

The long-gone Lamb Inn, Merthyr, which Dic Penderyn is said to have frequented, and where a young Jac sank many a pint. Happy days!

A green desert with no nation, no jobs (not for us, anyway), no homes; an emptiness exploited by foreign enviroshysters and renewables mountebanks in order to ‘Save the Planet!’.

It’s no coincidence that Labour pretends to have bought into this planet-saving bollocks. Because if you’re saving the planet, then it stands to reason we don’t need jobs; for example, Port Talbot steelworks can go. And the only roads we’ll need are those to bring our neighbours to and from their holiday homes. We Welsh won’t need roads because we won’t be able to afford cars. But don’t worry, because we’ve always got our rail system – a mere three days to travel from Carmarthen to Aberystwyth. (Don’t forget to change at Scunthorpe Low Level!)

Let’s cut the bullshit. ‘Wales saving the planet’, ‘Green jobs’ (that never materialise), are simply excuses for Wales being a basket-case economy.

Anyone arguing that the future economy of Wales lies in foreign-made and foreign-owned wind turbines and solar panels, providing not a single Welsh job, is either a fool or a liar.

Regrettably, the left in Wales is replete with both.

Perhaps to distract us from its internal problems, and the lack of an economic strategy not approved of by Saint Greta, Plaid Cymru promises a referendum on independence in the first term of a Plaid administration.

Cynics will point out that Plaid is not going to win the elections. Also, that there’ll be many in the Party of Wales happy to ‘lose’ such a referendum.

I’ll conclude this section with an observation I’ve made before, and I’m not the only one to have said it. There is a growing interest in independence; one recent poll put it as high as 39%, but Plaid Cymru’s support has remained static.

It’s as if a growing section of the Welsh public is considering independence . . . but they don’t want it delivered by Plaid Cymru. To think the unthinkable (for some, anyway) . . . Plaid Cymru may be the reason more people aren’t considering independence.

My interpretation is that while it’s well chronicled that socialist parties in the West have largely lost the (white) working class through pursuing policies designed to appeal to ethnic minorities and middle class left liberals, the problem for Plaid Cymru is that it had few working class votes to begin with.

Which leaves Plaid Cymru fighting a 20th century class war with 21st century ‘Woke’ warriors. This, and the elitist obsession with ‘the environment’ – rather than the issues people care about – will not pull in many new punters.

CONSERVATIVE AND UNIONIST PARTY

There’s no question that the Tories are riding high, but considering the opposition they face, maybe they should be doing even better.

For as we’ve seen, the opposition is composed of a Labour Party with 22 years of failure to its name, and a party even further to the left in thrall to identity politics extremists.

Add to that the popularity of BoJo and his jolly band up in London and the Conservatives should be heading for control in Corruption Bay. But that may not be the case.

One problem the Tories face is a combined opposition, one that works well because Plaid Cymru wins seats in areas where Labour is a lost cause. Whereas the Tory vote is more evenly spread across the land than the more ‘focused’ support enjoyed by their socialist opponents.

But this time around things might be different. I say that because of the BritNat parties. If I can remember them all . . . There’s the Abolish the Welsh Assembly Party, then there’s Reform UK (formerly the Brexit Party), and, finally, Ukip.

I suggest that they could combine because, with the demotion of Suzy Davies and other broad hints – not least the promotion of Suzy’s anti-devolution son – the Conservative and Unionist Party has made clear that it’s worried by the rise of the BritNats, and will defend its lawn from their tanks.

Yet when all is said and done, they have so much in common.

Where it could get very interesting would be if the Conservatives emerged from next month’s elections as the largest party.

(It should go without saying that sometimes, my brain enlivened with the produce of Argentina, I dream of Labour and Plaid Cymru combined falling short of 30 seats!)

Andrew R T Davies, Leader, again, of the Conservative and Unionist Party in Wales. Another blue suit? Mmm . . .

As the largest party the Tories could just plough on and test the resolve of opponents with popular policies. I mean, if they promised to take a chainsaw to the third sector and invest the money saved where it could do more good, who would dare object?

Well, obviously, the Labour Party would object because it wants to keep Wales poor, blame the Tories, and keep getting elected. The third sector, constantly moaning about Welsh deprivation while doing little or nothing to remedy it, is essential to this scam. Plaid Cymru’s attitude to the third sector is little different to Labour’s.

But what of the others heretofore mentioned, the Queen and Country boys; what if they cobbled together enough seats to push the Tories towards the required 30?

It’s possible, because even though this election is difficult to call, due to the number of parties and candidates involved, we can be almost sure that the three largest parties will get fewer second preference votes and therefore fewer regional members.

I could live with a Conservative-BritNat parties coalition for a number of reasons.

In the short term, I would expect it to undo the socialist webs that Labour has spun to enmesh and enfeeble Wales over the past two decades. I would also expect such a coalition to put an end to Labour’s war against Welsh farmers.

In the longer term, the unrelenting Britishness might be the kick in the nuts some people need to accept that independence is the only option.

LIBERAL DEMOCRATS

Well, what can I say without being cruel?

I will say this . . . I’d be pleased to see William Powell back in the Senedd. He’s a decent man and his heart’s in the right place, which is more than can be said for most of those who’ll be elected on May 6.

THE GREEN PARTY OF ENGLANDANDWALES

This is a party made up largely of Green white settlers, some of whom espouse colonialist views that might have embarrassed old Leopold II.

An attitude exemplified by their refusal a few years back to actually create a Wales Green Party, preferring to stay part of the England Green Party. In Scotland, the Green Party is Scottish, and has long supported independence.

The non-existent ‘Wales Green Party’ now claims to also believe in independence, not because they care about me or you, but because they see an independent Wales as somewhere they can wield influence that will in no way be hindered by their lack of electoral support.

Which, in a sense, takes us back to lobbying.

The shameless opportunism of the Greens is not a lot different to the entryism we’ve seen recently from far left loonies who have jumped on the indy bandwagon since Comrade Corbyn was given the bum’s rush.

The one consolation, of sorts, is that just about every other party now pays lip-service to the Greens’ message. Which is not good for Wales but, on the plus side, it makes the Green Party of Englandandwales largely redundant.

That can only be good.

THE BRITNAT PARTIES

As I said earlier, these are Abolish the Welsh Assembly Party, Reform and Ukip. They are almost guaranteed to win some seats, and they will naturally align with the Conservative and Unionist Party.

These possibilities are discussed above and there’s not a lot to add.

Beowulf Headbanger celebrating VE day. Now that he’s recovered a little he’s allowed out to canvass for the Abolish the Welsh Party.

No doubt the BritNats will insist there are great ideological differences between them, but these are little more than degrees of anti-Welshness.

Of course, they’ll say they aren’t anti-Welsh, just anti-devolution. But as we know, let someone talk long enough about their opposition to devolution and before long hostility to the Welsh language and other indicators of a separate Welsh identity emerge. Such as the existence of Welsh national sporting teams.

And yet, they’re right. Devolution, and the corruption-infested swamp that is Cardiff Bay, should be done away with. But in favour of independence.

That’s why I believe the BritNats can be useful idiots in realising their worst nightmare.

NORTHERN LIGHT

In the next couple of years Scotland will either become independent or else the UK will slip into some kind of ‘soft’ (maybe not so soft) totalitarianism in order to thwart Scottish independence. At this moment I can’t see any other outcome.

Either of those eventualities will be a wake-up call for Wales. Either of them will tell us that it’s time to go, time to leave the United Kingdom.

When we’ve reached either outcome, anyone still arguing in favour of the UK will be acting out of self-interest or contempt for Wales. Among them we’ll find people like the Kinnocks, discredited Tories, holiday home owners, and others whose objections must be brushed aside.

This is why I tell everyone to watch what’s happening in Scotland. Because events in the Old North could have a bigger impact on Wales’ future than anything we do down here.

WALES’ BEST HOPES

As many readers will know, I had a hand in the formation of new, conservative-ish nationalist party, Gwlad. A party that was desperately needed to represent those who reject incompetent Labour, Rule Britannia Conservatives and BritNats, and Woke Plaid Cymru.

Gwlad is standing a good slate of candidates in next month’s elections. As WalesOnline said in an article last week: “Gwlad has put forward 14 constituency candidates and 21 candidates across the regional lists. Aside from Labour, Tories, Plaid, Lib Dems and Reform UK, they have the most candidates seeking election on May 6.”

Not bad for a party formed just a few years ago. Click here to download the full Manifesto.

Among the many excellent candidates is Rhydian Hughes, standing in his own patch of Clwyd West. Here’s a leaflet being distributed in the constituency.

Though I won’t be able to vote for Gwlad in my constituency of Dwyfor Meirionnydd, that’s because the party is not standing in seats held by Plaid Cymru. But I will be able to vote for our excellent list candidates in Mid and West Wales.

My constituency vote will probably go to the Propel candidate, Peter Read; but the Llais Gwynedd candidate, Glyn Daniels, is also in with a shout.

Having mentioned Propel it’s only right that I tell you a little more about this other new and genuinely Welsh party.

Most of you will have heard of Neil McEvoy. Despite what his opponents would like you to believe, Propel is not a one-man band; Neil is the leader, but he has a good team around him.

As a Member of the Senedd Neil McEvoy has made himself unpopular with Labour and Plaid Cymru through exposing the corruption and duplicity that characterises Cardiff Bay. (Anybody who can piss off both Labour and Plaid Cymru is OK with me.)

Also because, when standing for Plaid Cymru in 2016, he came within 1,176 votes of defeating Mark Drakeford in Cardiff West. Neil McEvoy is standing against Drakeford again, making this one of the more intriguing constituency contests.

(As an example of the way the media is misreporting these elections, Cardiff West is being portrayed by some as a straight fight between Labour and Plaid Cymru!)

Click to enlarge

The fact that Labour and Plaid Cymru attack Neil McEvoy with almost equal vehemence helps expose a long-standing relationship between two self-styled ‘progressive’ parties. The coalition that might emerge after May 6 would be just a continuation of this co-operation.

I’m not absolutely sure, but I’m fairly confident that Gwlad and Propel are not standing against each other in any constituency. I’m not aware of any electoral pact, I think it just panned out that way.

My advice therefore is to put Wales first by voting for Gwlad or Propel. Both parties are new, but fresh thinking is exactly what Wales needs at this critical juncture.

Because, and I repeat: the next few years are about choosing between independence and assimilation. Which do you want?

♦ end

 




Lucky black cats!

I’M IN SEMI-RETIREMENT AND THIS BLOG IS WINDING DOWN. I INTEND CALLING IT A DAY SOON AFTER THIS YEAR’S SENEDD ELECTIONS. POSTINGS WILL NOW BE LESS FREQUENT AND I WILL NOT UNDERTAKE ANY MAJOR NEW INVESTIGATIONS. DIOLCH YN FAWR.

I am indebted to a source for this fascinating story of Labour cronyism, concerning individuals who have previously appeared on this august site.

BACKGROUND

When my source mentioned the name Luke Holland Jac’s aural appendages went all a-quiver. For Holland was one of those named as being implicated in the shameful campaign against Carl Sargeant. A campaign that resulted in Sargeant’s suicide in November, 2017.

Here’s what I wrote in a pot pourri post in May 2018.

“I’m told that following Sargeant’s death, Christina Rees, MP for Neath and Shadow Secretary of State for Wales, had to be forced by other Welsh MPs to make a statement of condolence. Because, I’m told, she, or perhaps her political adviser, former Cardiff councillor, Luke Holland, had been briefing against Carl Sargeant, and that the briefings continued against former AM Leighton Andrews, Sargeant’s friend and defender.

There was outrage within the Labour Party over the behaviour of Rees and Holland, which the bruvvers managed to keep within the party (easy given the absence of a Welsh media) but even so, Holland’s position became untenable and he left, or was forced to leave, Ms Rees’ office.”

Carl Sargeant died on November 7; Holland was forced out soon after, and then, on November 30, Holland did what all political insiders in his position do – he formed a PR outfit. This one named Cathod Du Consultancy. (Cathod du being Welsh for ‘black cats’.)

And Holland was soon picking up work from his old boss, Christina Rees. According to TheyWorkForYou Rees has slipped £33,164.95 Holland’s way since he branched out on his own. (Though I may have missed some payments.)

Click to enlarge

The most recent accounts available – or rather, the ‘Filleted Unaudited Financial Statement’ – doesn’t give much away, and appears to show a company just bumping along. According to his Linkedin profile Holland has no other source of income.

But those ‘accounts’ are dated November 30, 2019, so maybe things have picked up since then. Certainly, that is what’s being suggested.

COMRADES

If we go back to the Cathod Du website, on the Our Clients page we see Learning & Work Cymru. (Though why isn’t Christina Rees MP listed among the clients?) This is the name used by the local manifestation of The National Learning and Work Institute (NLWI), with offices in London and Leicester. The Cardiff office was established in 2016.

The ‘National’ in the name refers of course to England. And even though it now covers two nations, no one saw any need to change it.

Running the Cardiff branch we find Dave Hagendyk. Some readers may recognise the name. For as his Linkedin profile reminds us, Hagendyk is another Labour insider. In fact, from November 2010 until he left to take up his new post with the NLWI in March 2017, Hagendyk was General Secretary of ‘Welsh’ Labour.

The figures I’ve been given – which my source obtained from a Freedom of Information request to the ‘Welsh Government’ – tell that from the time it set up its branch office in Cardiff NLWI started receiving money from the ‘Welsh Government’. Which, if nothing else, tells a lot about devolution in Wales.

Rather than set up a new body suited to Wales, serving Wales, and answerable to Wales, the Labour Party preferred to invite in and fund an English organisation. All it asked in return was that the money given was used to provide sinecures for Labour time-servers. Pure cronyism.

And make no mistake, it is just a branch office in Cardiff. Using ‘Cymru’ in the name is just deception. The website gives Companies House number 02603322, which is the company number for the England-headquartered organisation.

Despite claiming to have a distinct Welsh presence, and despite being in receipt of ‘Welsh Government’ funding, the National Learning and Work Institute maintains no separate accounts for its Welsh operations.

And we are not talking small change here. Between setting up in Wales in 2016 and April 2020 the National Learning and Work Institute received £2,080,035.90. It’s probably closer to three million now.

Thus far, we have established that Holland and Hagendyk are both Labour insiders, Holland’s company Cathod Du Consulting counts Hagendyk’s National Learning and Work Institute as a client, and of course, the NLWI gets oodles and oodles of Welsh public money.

What could better explain both how devolution has been corrupted and also how the Labour Party operates in Wales? But it gets even cosier!

If you compare the two Linkedin profiles you’ll see that when Hagendyk was General Secretary of ‘Welsh’ Labour he had for a while as his Head of Press and Broadcasting none other than Luke Holland.

And then, when Hagendyk left for NLWI, you’ll never guess who replaced him as General Secretary of Welsh Labour – Luke Holland’s wife, Louise Magee!

Magee is yet another of those who came to Wales to study, got involved in student politics, and then stayed to started climbing the greasy Labour pole. A career punctuated by stints helping sister parties in the Antipodes.

Does she know much about Wales? I doubt it. But that may suit the Labour Party perfectly. For the less she knows the less likely she is to question or contradict her political masters.

Where would ‘Welsh’ Labour be without the regular supply of English student careerists from our universities to actually run the party? And of course, the third sector?

So, let’s recap. The ‘Welsh Government’ gives millions to the English National Learning and Work Institute; money which is then used to provide what all concerned hope will be mistaken for real jobs; while also keeping disgraced Luke Holland out of the local food bank.

And to cap it all, and show his gratitude, Holland then sponsored the kit of Hagendyk’s daughter’s football team.

The ones who should really be thanked are us, the Welsh public. For this is just public money being recycled.

Or, to put it another way, what passes for the Welsh economy under Labour.

QUESTIONS

My source appended questions to the tract, and here they are:

  • Given the huge sums of public money given by the Welsh Government to Learning and Work Institute (L&W Cymru) – over £2 million over four years, there are questions to be answered about transparency and ‘cronyism’ concerning the relationship between L&W Cymru (Dave Hagendyk) and Cathod Du (Luke Holland).
  • Cathod Du state on their website that L&W Cymru are their “clients”. How much were Cathod Du paid by L&W Cymru for this work and was this work tendered for – given how much public funding L&W Cymru receive each year?
  • Is the Chief Executive of the Learning and Work Institute, Stephen Evans, aware of the close personal relationship that exists between his Director in Wales and his client, Luke Holland’s company, Cathod Du?
  • Will the Chief Executive of the Learning and Work Institute, Stephen Evans, disclose how much L&W Cymru paid Cathod Du for their services and whether this work is ongoing?
  • Given the personal relationship between Hagendyk and Holland, is the Chief Executive of the Learning and Work Institute, Stephen Evans, aware that his Director in Wales is in receipt of a sponsorship donation to fund his private hobby – a donation from a company that refers to L&W Cymru as one its “clients”?
  • What guidance and oversight does the Learning and Work Institute give to L&W Cymru in relation to ensuring there is maximum transparency about how it conducts its financial affairs and how its spends its money and there is sufficient separation and no overlap between how its employees conduct themselves professionally and privately? In other words – would Dave Hagendyk have received sponsorship from Cathod Du for a private concern (hobby) had Cathod Du not been clients of L&W Cymru?
  • Considering the large sums of public money given by the Welsh Labour Government to L&W Cymru (year-on-year), what conditions are imposed by the Welsh Government to recipients of such funding, to ensure there is maximum transparency about how the money is spent – and to avoid any allegations or perception of ‘cronyism’?
  • What is the view of the Auditor General for Wales, Adrian Compton in relation to this matter? Would he be satisfied there was sufficient transparency about the financial relationship (both private and public) between L&W Cymru and Cathod Du given the huge amounts of public money L&W Cymru receives from the Welsh Government each year?

FINAL THOUGHTS

Call me a cynical old bastard (and many do!) but nothing here surprises me. This is how devolution has operated for 22 years – a vast trough for Labour insiders and hangers-on, regularly topped up with public funding.

Devolution serves the Labour Party but the Labour Party does not serve Wales. The areas that vote Labour are taken for granted, while the areas that don’t vote Labour are ignored or punished.

What have we got to show for devolution?

A third sector so big it can be seen from outer space. Thousands of otherwise unemployable misfits jostling for their hand-outs. An ugly nest of back-stabbers briefing against each other in Corruption Bay.

Wales deserves better.

Devolution has failed.  We can either move on to independence or just do away with devolution altogether. Either way, the only real loser will be the Labour Party and the parasitic networks attached to the beast.

Don’t be fooled by talk of ‘home rule’ or ‘federalism’. It doesn’t matter how much lipstick is put on the pig of devolution it will remain a pig.

Pigs and troughs – what an epitaph for devolution!

♦ end ♦

 




Why I would vote to abolish the Senedd

I’M IN SEMI-RETIREMENT AND THIS BLOG IS WINDING DOWN. I INTEND CALLING IT A DAY SOON AFTER THIS YEAR’S SENEDD ELECTIONS. POSTINGS WILL NOW BE LESS FREQUENT AND I WILL NOT UNDERTAKE ANY MAJOR NEW INVESTIGATIONS. DIOLCH YN FAWR.

For this, another of my infrequent, pre-retirement postings, I’ll explain why I would vote to abolish the Senedd in a referendum offering the straight choice of to keep or to abolish.

BACKGROUND

In a recent post, ‘Welsh independence: Why? for whom?’, I explained why, when a teenager, I became convinced that independence was the only answer for Wales. I wrote:

I wanted independence to improve the lives of the people I cared about: my family, my neighbours, my community, and my nation. I wanted independence to protect my country from neglect or exploitation, and to defend what made us Welsh.

Devolution is obviously not independence but still, judged against those criteria devolution has been an abysmal failure. For the only beneficiaries have been cliques, claques, and the assorted parasites of a vast and burdensome stratum smothering the nation.

LET ME GIVE SOME EXAMPLES

While the greater part of Wales, and the nation, has seen no benefits, this constitutional tinkering must have brought some benefits, to someone, somewhere, otherwise it would be universally damned and consequently unsustainable.

So let’s try and identify some beneficiaries. I’ll use examples of us losing out and others benefitting at our expense. (You’ll soon get the hang of it.)

THIRD SECTOR

The ‘stratum’ I referred to earlier is the third sector. Bigger than ever in Wales, and bigger in Wales than in any other country.

Wales is a rich country made poor by English rule, and the Labour Party has capitalised on our deprivation both for electoral gain – by blaming ‘London’ / Tories – and also by using that deprivation to create a whole new ‘poverty sector’ for its cronies.

Wales is now smothering under the weight of duplicating and competing third sector gangs, most of which seem to be staffed by strident memsahibs from over the border. Cohort after cohort of Common Purpose’ finest, goose-stepping from conference to workshop to those regular meetings in which they dictate policy and funding priorities to politicians.

This third sector is fundamentally and irredeemably parasitical. Preying on Wales’ deprivation in order to suck money from the public purse. A vast network of self-polishing turds who would not be missed if they ceased doing tomorrow whatever they claim to be doing today.

Both Labour and the third sector exploit and capitalise on Wales’ poverty and deprivation. If the money wasted on the third sector was spent in combatting that poverty and deprivation then Wales would be a much better place.

ENVIROSHYSTERS

Perhaps to make us feel guilty for wanting decent jobs, decent homes, an acceptable road and rail system, etc., our gaze is directed away from such crass materialism to the altruistic, the selfless, in the form of saving the planet.

This crusade – for it is nothing less! – is done without providing jobs or any other material benefits to us Welsh. This national insult takes many forms.

Here’s a recent re-working of the theme.

Click to enlarge

Is this supposed to be a consolation prize for the Circuit of Wales? Or for more false hopes raised over the TVR car plant? (Which is not coming, by the way.)

Blaenau Gwent is the poorest part of the country. What it needs is decent jobs, housing, NHS dentists, etc., not bullshit publicity stunts from Corruption Bay.

We are told that “50 residents will be selected to create the first Climate Assembly in Wales”. I hope Gwent Police have the riot gear ready for the trouble that will surely erupt in Ebbw Vale and Tredegar as people fight over those 50 places.

Here’s the latest in the ‘Save the planet’ offensive: “I think if political parties are not putting addressing the climate and nature emergencies right at the top of their manifesto agenda then they will be letting down both the current and future generations in Wales,” says Sophie Howe, Labour apparatchik being paid £100,000 a year in a non-job created specially for her.

The message from our leaders is: ‘Wales may be the poorest country in Europe and getting poorer, but fuck that, cos we – on £100,000 a year – are saving the planet’.

I want to see a healthier nation living in a greener land making its contribution to a cleaner planet. But Wales has more immediate priorities. And it’s positively insulting for overpaid Labour Party nobodies to lecture those worrying about feeding their kids and paying their rent.

UPDATE: As if on cue, Nation.Cymru published a piece by Neil Anderson, ‘How can we make the land of our fathers the land of our futures?’ In it we read: “Incoming farmers are likely to be more adventurous and innovative . . . “.

Yet more arrogant – almost racist – envirocolonialism. It seems Kiwi Anderson has been won over to Welsh independence. A reminder that the reason Greens and others are jumping on the indy bandwagon is because they want our land.

GRANNY FARMERS

Wales has the oldest population in Europe and it’s getting older. An unwanted accolade achieved by a number of factors combining. The lack of a decent economy being one. The other is the self-styled ‘Welsh Government’ going out of its way to attract elderly people to Wales.

This is done because, due to the lack of a balanced economy in rural areas and the regular exodus of young people that results, population levels need to be maintained; for nothing says ‘area going to hell’ more clearly than a falling population. How better to maintain population levels than by attracting retirees? (Actually, I can think of many better alternatives, but bear with me.)

No only does the ‘Welsh Government’ see no problem with our ageing population, it even tries to present it as something to be celebrated, as I discovered a few years ago in a reply to a Freedom of Information request.

Click to enlarge

An influx encouraged by the ‘Welsh Government’ legislating so that people entering care homes can keep £50,000 before they start paying for their care. The figure for England is £22,500.

Yet the ‘Welsh Government’ would like to go further, doing away with care home charges altogether by introducing a tax so that we actually pay for wealthy English biddies who’ve been dumped in Welsh care homes by relatives safeguarding their inheritances.

How difficult would it be to introduce a rule insisting that a person must have lived in Wales for 20 years prior to entering a care home before they can benefit from the £50,000 allowance?

Do that and Welsh people won’t lose out and we curb the plague of granny dumping.

HOLIDAY HOMES

I recall, back in the 1980s, during the Meibion Glyndŵr campaign, politicians getting up on their hind legs to proclaim that they would not be influenced by ‘terrorists’. God! they sounded so brave and principled. It brought a tear to my eye.

Thirty years on from the end of that campaign, and after 22 years of devolution, nothing has been done beyond the ‘Welsh Government’ allowing councils to impose a 100% surcharge on holiday home council tax. But it has refused to close the loophole that sees holiday homes classed as businesses to escape council tax entirely.

Oh, I almost forgot, there is also a tiny and insignificant increase in Land Transaction Tax of one per cent per valuation band, introduced 22 December. Which is no deterrent at all to those who can buy a second, third, or fourth home.

In fact, the so-called ‘Welsh Government’ refuses to do anything that might save Welsh communities and allow Welsh people to buy a home in areas cursed with tourism. When pressed on the matter just yesterday by the impressive Delyth Jewell the woeful Julie James could only respond with a promise to . . . kick the issue into the long grass.

From BBC Wales’ ‘Senedd Live’ 03.02.2021 (Alun Jones). Click to enlarge

With the holiday homes problem at crisis levels due to Coronavirus, with Welsh communities being destroyed before our eyes, the fact that those useless bastards down Corruption Bay refuse to act should tell you all you need to know about devolution.

NATIONAL LIBRARY OF WALES

In the past few days we’ve seen the outcry as the ‘Welsh Government’ decided it couldn’t fund the National Library of Wales.

Wales has a ‘government’ that can find money for every lunatic outfit under the sun but cannot find money for the memory of the nation!

Eventually, those clowns did find something down the back of the settee but only after an online petition and a public outcry.

But you have to wonder who made the initial decision not to fund.

THE WAR ON FARMERS

Part of the problem lies in the fact that devolution is controlled by civil servants who may be based in Wales but take their orders from London. Civil servants such as Gary Haggaty, beau to Lesley Griffiths, the Labour MS for Wrecsam, and Minister for the Environment, Energy and Rural Affairs.

L to R: Gary Haggaty, civil servant; Lesley Griffiths MS, Labour, Minister for Environment, Energy and Rural Affairs; Caroline Hitt, writer for the ‘Western Mail’; Elin Jones MS, Plaid Cymru, Senedd Llywydd (Speaker). The cosiness of Corruption Bay made corporeal in a Dublin bar. Click to enlarge

Last week, Gary and Lesley – despite promising to consult with farmers before doing anything – introduced legislation to deal with the localised problem of spillage (NVZ) into watercourses. Instead of tackling the guilty parties the lovebirds have imposed financial burdens on all farmers to ensure that they cannot in future do what they weren’t doing anyway.

I quote, again from yesterday’s ‘Senedd Live’:

“Plaid Cymru’s Llyr Gruffydd says the minister is on the record as saying that these Nitrate Vulnerable Zone regulations would not be introduced while the pandemic was in existence – no less than ten times.”

It was eleven times, and here’s the video evidence.

And many of these spillages have nothing to do with farmers. I am reliably informed that the testing done by Natural Resources Wales (yes, them!) cannot differentiate between farm slurry and raw sewerage from other sources.

And let’s remember that the biggest spillage ever occurred last year when a train transporting oil from Milford Haven derailed near Llanelli. No doubt, in a few years time, when people start forgetting about it, it will be blamed on farmers and used to introduce legislation even more burdensome.

This is just the latest assault in a war on Welsh farmers by the ‘Welsh Government’. Done because ‘Welsh’ Labour hates farmers, and also because there are others queuing up to take over Welsh land. Friends of Jane Davidson, ‘rewilders’, Tory MPs.

Significantly, in England, the NVZ legislation targets problem areas and culprits rather than penalising all farmers.

So, we see that under devolution Welsh farming is another area of our national life being targeted and damaged. And it could not have happened without devolution. Because if London had singled out Welsh farmers for such treatment there would have been rioting, and possibly worse.

I could give plenty more examples where devolution has failed us. Here are just a few snapshots:

  • There’s colonisation, resulting in the Welsh element in the population decreasing year on year. As a prominent citizen of a border town told me a few weeks back: “Some of the attitudes retired people come here have towards the locals are shocking, their sense of superiority is unbelievable.”
  • Then there’s a crass and exploitative form of tourism that is destroying Welsh communities, especially Welsh-speaking communities.
  • No other country on Earth has allowed One Planet Developments. Yet here in Wales hippies and enviroshysters are encouraged to take over land, flout planning and other regulations, bring up children in unsanitary and dangerous conditions, and then this colonisation is justified as part of OUR contribution to saving the planet.
  • Under devolution we have seen Cardiff grow and prosper, largely at the expense of the rest of Wales.
  • Wales produces twice as much electricity as we need and the rest goes to England free of charge, the same applies to our water resources, stolen by Severn Trent. 
  • The ‘Welsh Government’ pays some of our brightest young people to go to English universities and then makes no attempt to bring them home after graduation. While filling our universities with mediocrities from over the border who stay on to fill third sector and public sector jobs. 
  • Publicly-funded housing associations build ‘affordable’ homes that most locals can’t afford while neglecting the social rented sector for which there’s a local demand.
  • Let’s not forget the shysters – so many of whom have appeared on this blog – who get showered with funding after turning up with their ‘exciting’, ‘job-creating’ projects meticulously outlined on the back of a fag packet.
  • Then there’s the cess-pit that is Cardiff Bay, where those we elect to represent us rub shoulders daily with unregistered lobbyists and others trying to influence them – and almost always against the best interests of the nation.

FINALLY, A VERY TWENTY-FIRST CENTURY EXAMPLE

This pretence of devolved power is a very thin veil behind which England’s interests are served. A great example was supplied to me last week by someone involved in matters technological which went a bit over my head, but I’m sure you’ll get the gist of it.

This source wrote:

” . . . dotCYM had no hope when Plaid Cymru was useless, Labour and the civil servants were working against it, and then Nominet came in with their money and used it to destroy them. The money from .cymru and .wales domains are now going to Oxford instead of Wales.”

The source continued:

“The Welsh government is clever in creating schemes to develop Welsh language technology and software. They come out with a new scheme with millions to develop Welsh software but there’s a maximum of about 30k per project, which isn’t enough to get anywhere or develop anything of use. Also, the money they give for research into Welsh language technology comes with the proviso that the research is then open sourced. What happens then is that large companies from outside Wales can take it, add it to their software as token Welsh support that doesn’t work well, and then sell it back to the Welsh”.

My source then explained to me what’s happening in New Zealand, where those working on a similar project for the Maori language successfully fought against their work becoming open source. The Maoris defended their stance thus:

“By simply open sourcing our data and knowledge, we further allow ourselves to be colonised digitally in the modern world.”

THE TRUTH DAWNS

More and more people grasp that devolution is an unworkable nonsense, even if they don’t understand why. This explains the growing polarisation between those wanting to do away with the Senedd and those wanting independence.

When all devolution’s defenders can muster is, ‘But it’s recognition’, or ‘free bus passes’, then you know that even they have given up.

Successive ‘Welsh’ Assembly Governments and ‘Welsh Governments’ have not only failed to remedy the problems inherited in 1999 they have introduced new measures to work against the national interest.

This is not what I voted for in the September 1997 referendum. It’s no exaggeration to say that what we’ve experienced over the past 22 years is a form of anti-Welsh devolution.

Consequently, in a referendum offering the simple choice between keeping the Senedd or abolishing it I would vote to abolish, because abolition would be the best option for the greatest number of Welsh people.

But I still want independence.

♦ end ♦

 




Welsh independence: Why? For whom?

I’M IN SEMI-RETIREMENT AND THIS BLOG IS WINDING DOWN. I INTEND CALLING IT A DAY SOON AFTER THIS YEAR’S SENEDD ELECTIONS. POSTINGS WILL NOW BE LESS FREQUENT AND I WILL PROBABLY NOT UNDERTAKE ANY MAJOR NEW INVESTIIGATIONS. DIOLCH YN FAWR.

I had planned a piece on May’s Senedd elections (or whenever they’re held). But then I realised there are a couple of factors still playing out that will impact mightily on that election. I mean Coronavirus and the effects of Brexit.

So, I’ve put that planned piece on the back burner. There’ll be plenty of time to return to it when the picture has become a little clearer.

Instead, I shall deal with another issue that will certainly impact on the election and more widely on Welsh public and political life in the years ahead. Though to refer to it as a mere ‘issue’ fails to do it justice.

IN MY BEGINNING

I got involved in the nationalist movement in the mid-1960s. Driven by patriotism, a lifelong love of history, and a growing interest in politics that soon made me realise my country was not being treated fairly.

I’m not sure there was a single ‘trigger’, but Tryweryn certainly influenced my conversion. If I had any doubts, then Aberfan ended them.

From a long time ago. Click to enlarge.

I wanted independence to improve the lives of the people I cared about: my family, my neighbours, my community, and my nation. I wanted independence to protect my country from neglect or exploitation, and to defend what made us Welsh.

My Wales had no bogeymen, no minorities against which retribution was sought, and there was no irredentist dimension. My nationalism was, and remains, purely defensive; the only people who need fear it are the enemies of my country and my people.

If what I’ve written strikes anyone as ‘blood and soil’ nationalism then that really is your problem, not mine.

I cannot think of any reason for wanting independence other than to serve the best interests of the greatest possible number of Welsh people.

THE LEFT AND THE INDEPENDENCE MOVEMENT

On December 19 Yes Cymru put out what seemed at the time to be a harmless enough tweet welcoming Conservatives into the ranks. The tweet ended with a recognition of the “compatibility” of conservatism and independence.

This tweet outraged the hard left and the woke (increasingly difficult to tell apart) and within an hour it was taken down.

A generous interpretation might be that those who demanded its removal don’t know the difference between Conservative and conservative. For I’m a lifelong believer in Welsh independence who is a conservative, but not a Conservative.

A less charitable, and more worrying, interpretation would be that for some in the new independence movement neither Conservatives nor conservatives are welcome. This they seem to justify by arguing that Wales is a ‘socialist country’, with a ‘radical tradition’.

But how true is that?

The claim that Wales is a socialist country is premised on the fact that the Labour Party and Plaid Cymru together usually get a majority of the votes cast in elections.

Though in the December 2019 Westminster elections Labour gained 40.9% while Plaid Cymru got only 9.9%. Giving a combined total of just 50.8%.

In the most recent elections to the National Assembly (as was) in 2016, the combined percentage of the constituency vote was 55.2%. For the regional lists, the ‘socialist’ total was 52.3%.

But these figures are misleading because how many of those who vote for Plaid Cymru and Labour are really socialists?

I live in Plaid Cymru’s safest seat, Dwyfor Meirionnydd, but few of the Plaid supporters I know could be described as socialists. Most are cultural nationalists and / or social conservatives. It’s a similar picture throughout Plaid Cymru’s western heartland.

Turning to Labour; yes, the vote looks impressive, but to assume that all Labour voters are socialists is nonsense.

The average Labour voter supports the party because he or she believes Labour will raise wages and benefits. The closest this constituency comes to socialism is on specific issues such as the NHS. But again, self-interest dominates.

So, what of Wales’ claimed ‘radical tradition’?

Since the Second World War radicalism – in the sense of challenging the role of the English monarchy and the legitimacy of the British state in Wales – has come exclusively from nationalists.

In the same period Wales has seen strikes, perhaps most memorably the two miners’ strikes, but again, these were about protecting jobs and communities, they were not a fight for socialist ideology.

Socialists are understandably reluctant to concede any of this because it undermines their claim to a monopoly on radicalism. Also because the rise of nationalism in the 1960s had the effect of turning many in the Labour Party into simpering royalists or tub-thumping Unionists. Something that embarrasses many on the left.

The fact is that socialism in the UK was, at a very early stage, broken and domesticated as the Labour Party, and brought into the constitutional fold. Thereby allowing the UK to avoid the political upheavals seen elsewhere in Europe.

Yet many on the left of the independence movement can make common cause with ‘socialists’ who are diehard Unionists, while rejecting those who sincerely believe in independence because they’re not socialists. 

The only interpretation is that socialism is more important for these people than Welsh independence, with the independence movement being just another vehicle for their socialism.

As for the alleged radical tradition, yes it’s there, though sporadic and localised. In the 19th century, the Merthyr Rising, Chartists, Rebecca, Ceffyl Pren, Scotch Cattle, Tithe Wars, were all rooted in an outraged sense of social justice; defending family and community but owing absolutely nothing to Marxist dogma.

What’s happened since is that socialists have tried to re-write history by adopting movements and causes that were never at all socialist.

But even if Wales was a socialist country that would still not be reason enough to exclude others from what should be an ideology-free independence movement.

“DOCTRINES FASHIONED TO THE VARYING HOUR” *

What Labour cleverly did in the twentieth century was to capitalise on the legitimate demands of working class people and promote those demands with more vigour than the Liberal Party.

Which explains why the Labour Party displaced the Liberal Party a century ago as the main opposition to the Conservatives.

But once Labour started going beyond demands for higher wages, better working conditions, etc., into the abstract and the esoteric, promoting socialism for socialism’s sake, then it always lost support.

As we enter the third decade of the twenty-first century the rupture between ideological socialists and the working class is almost complete. To the point where today’s left liberal elite positively despises the white working class.

It’s been summed up brilliantly by trade unionist and lifelong Labour member, Paul Embery, in his new book Despised: Why the Modern Left Loathes the Working Class. As he points out, there are elements of the contemporary left that detest working class values of family, community, tradition and patriotism.

This contemptuous attitude has now reached Wales; it has infected Labour and Plaid Cymru; it has spread to Yes Cymru, and it’s threatening the independence movement.

(Though in fairness, Labour has been far cleverer than Plaid Cymru in keeping the single-issue fanatics, the anti-Semites and other undesirables at bay.)

This new, woke left exercises influence wholly disproportionate to its numbers. As we saw with the removal of that Yes Cymru tweet.

This is done by taking a Manichean position in which they are right and those who disagree with them are not just mistaken, or wrong, but positively evil.

Perfectly exemplified by Leanne Wood and others in Plaid Cymru.

Ask how Antifa rioting and burning shops in Portland, Oregon on a nightly basis promotes anything other than violence and you’ll be met with, ‘Antifa stands for anti-fascist, so only fascists question Antifa’.

Of course! But that still leaves unanswered the question of how burning shops and attacking innocent bystanders and police is fighting fascism.

Here’s another tweet concerning Yes Cymru exposing this attitude. Thomas Wynne Lewis argued that Yes Cymru must appeal to “people on all sides of the political compass”, Luke Williams pretended to agree – then accused Yes Cymru of having “platformed fascists”!

I’m sure this never happened, but as I’ve just said, in the black and white world of the woke left those who contradict them, point out their errors, are, ipso facto ‘fascists’, ‘racists’, ‘transphobes’, etc., etc. End of debate.

This intolerance in defence of ‘toleration’, this refusal to accept alternative views in defence of ‘diversity’, this ‘no platforming’ in defence of ‘freedom of expression’, is now causing problems in the independence movement.

I’ll conclude this section with another tweet, or rather a retweet, this one from a doyen of the wokies, Aled Gwyn Williams. Williams is a member of both Plaid Cymru and Yes Cymru. (As is Teifi.)

“You’re never innocent if you’re a Tory”, the image tells us. Who could argue, for those two in their wingback armchairs are surely the Fred and Rose West of Acacia Avenue.

Remember, folks – these lunatics walk among us!

Let’s push the boat out and imagine Andrew R T Davies, former leader of the Assembly Tories undergoing a genuine conversion to Welsh independence. Despite this being a coup for the movement, and likely to encourage others to support independence, he would be rejected by those we’ve met here.

He would be damned by people who are simply using the independence movement to promote whichever fleetingly popular lunacies torment them.

* ‘The Deserted Village’, Oliver Goldsmith

‘WHY DO WE WANT IT!’

There are a number of factors explaining the increase in support for independence, unfortunately, many of them are tangential, exploitative, or simply wrong.

To begin with, there’s Brexit, and the belief that an independent Wales would join, or re-join, the EU. A belief strengthened by Plaid Cymru recently saying – without apparently consulting anyone, or checking the referendum result – that an independent Wales would become a member of the European Union.

No mention was made of a fresh referendum.

Yet another example of leftist elitist arrogance, echo chamber decision making, and out of step with the wishes of the people.

Recently exposed with an interesting poll on Twitter, not least for the fact that 2,214 people voted. And because there was a majority for ‘Full Independence’ over ‘Independence within the EU’.

If that vote can be achieved on Twitter, where ‘certain views’ tend to dominate, then in the real world the majority would be even greater.

Others are now considering independence because of the present Conservative government in London. Disliking BoJo and the gang is perfectly understandable, but hardly a good enough reason to want Welsh independence.

What happens if Labour wins the next election? Would that mean that an unequal and exploitative Union becomes acceptable again?

A third element increasing support for independence emerges from the foliage in the form of the planet-savers. I don’t wish to be dismissive; I’m quite fond of planet Earth myself, but too many of those I’m thinking of – just like the wokies – see an independent Wales as a blank canvas, with them monopolising the crayons.

This explains the Green Party of Englandandwales recently announcing its support for independence. Yet this party has so little respect for Wales that not long ago it voted against setting up a genuine Wales Green Party.

To explain this dichotomy we need to remember the canvas and crayons I just mentioned. Even under devolution the Greens, in various forms, have found it far too easy to dictate what passes for ‘Welsh Government’ policy.

Just think of One Planet Developments, Future Generations legislation, funding taken from farmers and given to ‘rewilders’ and other charlatans, etc., etc. And a fat lot of good it’s done.

Western Mail 09.01.2021. Click to enlarge

The Greens have decided to support independence because they believe they can easily persuade the government of an independent Wales to implement their polices, without the need for any democratic mandate, and thereby use Wales as a platform from which the rest of the world can better see their virtue signalling.

The benefits of these policies to the Welsh people would be zero because as Angela Womak, deputy leader of the Green Party of Englandandwales, put it:

Image Nation.Cymru

Wales “tackling the ecological and climate emergencies”, is unadulterated bollocks. To suggest that a tiny country can make any significant difference is laughable.

Whether it’s Brexit, Boris Johnson, or environmental concerns, these alone – even collectively – are the wrong reasons for wanting independence.

DEVOLUTION IS DEAD

The battle-lines are being drawn between those who want to abolish the Senedd and assimilate Wales into England, and those of us wanting Wales to be independent.

There will be few speaking up for devolution because it has failed. Wales is a worse place in 2021 than she was in 1999 partly because successive administrations have pandered to vociferous minorities rather than address the needs of the great majority of the nation.

The upcoming contest over Wales’ future could be a close call, and that’s why anyone supporting independence, from any background, and of any political orientation, should be welcomed. None should be excluded.

But those joining simply to promote their pet issue, and then seeking to exclude those who don’t agree with them that it’s the most important thing in the world, need to be taken aside and spoken to.

For these will alienate more people than they will ever attract.

Those taking an interest in independence need to be assured that the direction of ideological travel for an independent Wales, the spending and other priorities, will be decided by the Welsh people, in democratic elections, after independence is achieved.

It will be a blank canvass, and we’ll all have a chance with the crayons.

For my part, I still want independence to improve the lives of the people I care about: my family, my neighbours, my community, and my nation. I want independence to protect Wales from neglect or exploitation, and to defend what makes us Welsh.

I see no reason to change. I never have, and I never will.

♦ end ♦




Development Bank of Wales

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

This post began life as another Miscellany, a gathering of tit-bits. But one of the component pieces grew to the point where it just took over.

DEVELOPMENT BANK OF WALES

As the name suggests, the Development Bank of Wales exists to help Welsh businesses. Which is as it should be, though I’ve reported on a few cases over the years where loans should never have been made.

But there you go. Officialdom.

I support the DBW funding Welsh companies to set up, to grow, and to employ more people, thereby contributing to local communities; even to the extent of taking the odd punt on an indigenous entrepreneur thinking outside the box.

But I do not support handing over Property Development Loans to house builders. Because if the projects are viable then loans should be easy to come by from banks and other institutions.

I’m not sure this is a clever advert. Some might read it as suggesting that if you’re well-connected in Cardiff, like former Blues captain, Xavier Rush, then you’re more likely to get a loan. Click to enlarge

Which is why I was annoyed to read the headline ‘£5.6m Property Boom for Mid and West Wales’ in Business News Wales last Friday. (Thanks for the tip, ‘D’.) And even more annoyed after reading the article.

It referred to two specific developments. To wit: Hayward Homes has been given £3m to build houses at Tycroes, Ammanford, with prices starting at £269,950; while Sotero Ltd has secured “an initial £1.3m” to start on ‘Drovers Meadow’, Bronllys, Brecon, where prices will start at £350,000.

Naturally, I wanted to know more about these companies. Here’s what I found . . .

HAYWOOD HOMES

COUNTRY LIFE

Before tucking into the main course here’s a starter. Or maybe an introductory digression. Up to you.

The head honcho at these Haywood companies is the eponymous Michael Robert Haywood. One of his close sidekicks is Anthony Grahame Scutt, who has a place outside Pennal, near Machynlleth. Perhaps a holiday home.

Scutt has been involved in seven companies that supposedly organise country fairs, game fairs and the like. All were set up in 2015 and all were dissolved 2017/18, Companies House not burdened with anything more than accounts for dormant companies.

Michael Robert Haywood was involved in most of them.

First there’s the Great British Falconry Fair Ltd. Which looks fine until you learn that there is no Great British Falconry Fair, only a British Falconry Fair.

Similarly, we find Great British Game Fair Ltd but does it have any connection – beyond a similar name – with the real deal in the form of the Game Fair?

Then there’s the Midland Game Fair, the Lowther Show, the Kelmarsh Country Show, and the Highclere Country Show, all of which exist, but the Scutt companies using those names don’t seem to be involved with them.

A name used by Haywood and Scutt for one of their companies was the Sussex Country Show, which doesn’t seem to exist in any form.

One show website provided the name Countryman Fairs Ltd, a company with no assets other than its share issue. Unsurprisingly, perhaps, it too was destined for receivership until someone had second thoughts in November last year.

In addition, there is Countryman Business Ltd, also in liquidation. Among the directors are Haywood, Scutt, and American Ian Francis Harford, whose companies all seem to have a ‘country sports’ theme.

To complete the picture – possibly – we’ll look at CFL (2015) Ltd. This company was known as Countryman Fairs Ltd until 2015, when it changed its name to make way for the new Countryman Fairs Ltd, which you’ve just read about.

There is the usual dramatis personae and it should go without saying that CFL (2015) is in liquidation.

Another Countryman Fairs director, who pops up in many of the companies with which Haywood and Scutt have been involved is Michael Paul Bailey, who has been involved with over eighty companies.

Bailey recently took over Scutt Management Services Ltd, where Anthony Grahame Scutt had been a director from its Incorporation in 2001. Scutt resigned on 1 June 2020, but came back a week later. His and his wife’s shares were transferred to Bailey 17 June.

At the risk of sounding uncharitable, something’s not right here. The way these companies set up and then collapse looks very similar to the operations of the ‘unorthodox’ businessmen you so often read about on this site. 

TYCROES

But let us leave the waxed jackets and the gun dogs to return to Haywood’s building companies, and his Tycroes venture.

An artist’s impression of life in suburban Ammanford, where everyone has a new Merc parked in the drive. Click to enlarge

While there is quite a network of Haywood companies the one receiving the DBW loans is Haywood Homes (Wales) GL Ltd, with its address in Halesowen which, if you check a map – and despite what Alwyn Thomas of DBW says – is not ‘local’ to any part of Wales. The other Haywood companies are also based in England.

The land in question, just east of Tycroes, is a couple of miles from Pont Abraham and the M4. Which is the reason these houses are being built where they’re being built. For they’re commuter properties.

The land has been in Haywood’s possession for some time; the title document says it was bought in April 2004 from Newland Homes of Gloucestershire. Part of the site has already been developed, and the DBW money funds the next phase, Llys Tirnant.

Llys Tirnant. Click to enlarge

Of itself, there’s not a lot to be said against this project . . . except that, yet again, we have a company from outside of Wales making money from Wales. Money that goes back over the border.

That’s bad enough, but when the Development Bank of Wales funds such companies, then the system is broke. Or maybe it’s exposed for what it is.

The loans from the DBW were delivered 5/6 November last year. Starting on 5 November Haywood Homes (Wales) GL Ltd paid off three loans with Lloyds Bank, money borrowed for earlier phases at Tycroes and also for land it owns at Drefach, just outside Llanelli, which is also within easy reach of Pont Abraham. Where I’m sure the company plans to build more commuter properties . . . that it will ask the DBW to fund.

How much more land has Haywood got banked?

There’s certainly the land to the north of Alma Street in Llanarth, Ceredigion, owned by Haywood Homes (Llanarth) Ltd, bought with a loan from the National Westminster Bank. And let’s not forget Principality Ventures Ltd, with four outstanding charges covering yet more land at Tycroes, plus land at Cross Hands.

That they find these plots suggests to me that although Haywood, Scutt, Bailey and the rest are based in England, they have good contacts in Wales. I wonder who or what those contacts might be?

If I was involved with the DBW, or if I was a politician, I would also be asking the directors of Haywood Homes (Wales) GL Ltd about their huntin’, fishin’, shootin’ creations.

UPDATE 07.07.2020: The land in Llanarth was sold in April 2013 for £160,000. Haywood Homes (Llanarth) Ltd went into voluntary liquidation in 2014 without repaying National Westminster Bank the money owed. The money received for the land did not appear in the company’s final accounts. Where did it go?

The four directors were Michael Robert Haywood and his wife, Anthony Grahame Scutt and his wife.

SOTERO LTD, BRONLLYS

The company that has been given £1.3m to start with (more to follow), is run by Spanish national Sonia Mancisidor, from her palatial offices at 111/112 Bute Street, in Cardiff.

Which is where we also find Elgoibar Ltd, the company that took out loans to buy the Bute Street property. Loans from two companies: M5 Associates, and Amicus Finance PLC . . . which is in administration.

The impressive Bute Street offices of Sonia Mancisidor’s property empire. Click to enlarge

The land at Bronllys was bought through Sotero Ltd with loans from M5 Associates Ltd and FundingSecure Ltd. The latter has also gone belly-up.

Though not before Sonia Mancisidor repaid the FundingSecure loan on 5 April 2019, soon after the first loan was received from the Development Bank of Wales.

Judging by the companies she’s previously borrowed from it would appear that Sonia Mancisidor does not use regular banks. Or maybe regular banks say ‘No’. Which would then explain her flirting with some very iffy lenders.

The surviving lender (for now), M5 Associates Ltd, is based in Newport, and run by Peter Leslie Jeffreys and David William Mark Painter.

Sonia Mancisidor has other property companies to her name, all of which have been formed in the past three or four years.

The Business News Wales report that started this investigation says, “With prices starting at £350,000, Drovers Meadow is the latest project for family-owned development business Sotero.” 

But Sonia Mancisidor is the sole director of her companies, so where’s the ‘family’?

Sotero’s only asset is the land it owns at Bronllys. Land bought with loans from two lenders, one of which is in liquidation. The title document suggests that the vendor was a Heulwen Ann Davies.

Sonia Mancisidor is quoted saying: “Drover’s Meadow is a really special development in the picturesque village of Bronllys that is attracting the interest of local families and those wishing to relocate to this beautiful part of Wales.”

With prices starting at £350,000 there’ll be more in the second category than in the first. Many, many more.

Two questions kept bubbling up in the old Jac noggin as I looked into this. The first was, ‘How did Sonia Mancisidor get to know about this land in Bronllys?’ The second, ‘For someone with no experience of building anything to suddenly jump in the deep end with £350,000 plus homes is odd – is someone else involved?’

Maybe Sonia Mancisidor has made connections in Cardiff.

If not, then someone should ask buy-to-let landlord Sonia Mancisidor from whence came the inspiration to build £350k+ houses in Powys. I’m certainly wondering.

THOUGHTS

By lending money to companies to build houses the Development Bank of Wales is behaving like the institutions we used to call High Street Banks. That is surely not the DBW’s raison d’être.

From studying Haywood Homes and Sotero, the system seems to work like this. Companies borrow money to buy land in Wales, then go to the Development Bank of Wales to help them out with more money, which is used to pay off the original loan and finance the building of the houses!

Then you return to ‘Go’ and start all over again!

Is this really how the Development Bank of Wales is supposed to operate?

If speculative building companies need money then they should go to the banks. And if the banks think they’re not a good investment then the DBW shouldn’t lend them money either.

From the DBW website. Click to enlarge

Now listen, Alwyn, I’m sure you’re a tidy boy and I don’t want you to think I’m picking on you, but . . .

You say, “Local developers like Haywood Homes and Sotero have a big social and economic impact; bringing much needed homes, jobs and supply opportunities to local communities.”

To begin with, we’ve established that these companies are not by any stretch of the imagination ‘local’ to the contracts you’re funding. The jobs created will be in the construction phase only. As for supply chains, there’s no guarantee that an English company will use Welsh suppliers; and as for Señorita Mancisidor, I’m not sure where she’ll find a supply chain.

Staying with Sonia Mancisidor, the very expensive homes she (or someone) will be building at Bronllys are obviously targeting English buyers – she says so herself. Is making Bronllys less Welsh the big “social impact” you refer to, Alwyn?

Wales is a small, poor country with a larger and richer neighbour. An unequal relationship that inevitably results in Wales losing out. This has been the case for a thousand years or more.

Yes, Wales has an economy . . . but there’s little about it that’s genuinely Welsh; whether it’s the house-building we’ve just looked at, or tourism, the retail sector, the media, finance, etc., etc.

Devolution has only made things worse, because it has given us organisations like the DBW that pretend to serve Welsh interests but in reality only perpetuate the colonial system. Yet too many of us fall for this simply because these bodies have ‘Wales’ or ‘Welsh’ in the name.

Just about the only sector of Welsh life still largely in Welsh hands is agriculture . . . and that explains why the colonial management class down the Bay has declared war on farming.

The Development Bank of Wales is one of those organisations we are expected to support and defend because it has ‘Wales’ in the name, yet in reality the DBW is just another agent of the colonial system.

♦ end ♦

 




Miscellany 27.04.2020

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

Here’s something to keep you occupied in these long days of lockdown after you’ve finished mowing the lawn, walking the dog, and counting your bottles of Malbec.

This is another bumper issue, some 4,500 words, but it’s made up of a number of unrelated reports, so there’s no need to gorge; take your time and enjoy!

A PEOPLE THAT ISN’T TAUGHT ITS HISTORY . . .

I watched a documentary the other week about Arthur, Duke of Brittany, who may have had a stronger claim to the English throne than his Uncle, John, and his claim was even supported by John’s brother, Richard I, ‘Coeur de lion’. Having raised an army to challenge his uncle, young Arthur blew his opportunity, was captured and – if contemporary rumours are to be believed – came to a particularly gruesome end.

The killing was even covered in the Margam Abbey chronicles.

The programme established that John was a very nasty piece of work, possibly a psychopath. He also drank heavily and often flew into uncontrollable rages. It was best not to be around him when he’d ‘taken a drink’ (as great-aunt Fastidia might have phrased it).

My ears pricked up when one of the contributors to the programme, seeking to establish John’s credentials as an all-round murderous bastard, mentioned his killing of young Welsh hostages at Nottingham castle. This was something I’d never heard about, so obviously I checked. It was true.

At a low point in his glorious career Llywelyn Fawr was held in check by his father-in-law John by the surrender of some 28 young hostages, sons of Gwynedd’s leading families. When Llywelyn next flexed his muscles the boys were hung from the castle walls. Reported here in ‘Nottinghamshire History’.

“In order to keep the Welsh Prince Llewellyn in subjection, John, had taken as hostages 28 boys, ranging from 12 to 14 years of age, and kept them in his Castle at Nottingham. It is said the news came to the King while staying at his hunting palace at Clipstone that the Welsh Prince had again broken out in revolt. Hastily summoning his followers, he held a Council beneath the spreading branches of an oak tree (now known as Parliament Oak), when the execution of the hostages was decided upon. Then he swore ‘by the teeth of God’ that he would not eat again until he had wreaked his vengeance, and mounting his steed, he rode in all haste to Nottingham Castle, where he gave instructions for the execution of the hostages, as a preliminary to quelling the rising; and the shameful order was immediately carried out before his eyes, the boys being taken from their play—some screaming, others pleading in vain for mercy—and hanged on the Castle walls.”

Main gate of Nottingham Castle. Click to enlarge

Both the murder of Arthur of Brittany and the killing of the hostages are in some accounts attributed to William de Braose, 4th Lord of Bramber, who often served as John’s very willing torturer and executioner.

The title Bramber comes from the family’s castle in Sussex, but De Braose was more active in the March, as Sheriff of Hereford and Lord Abergavenny. And while John was reviled in the north west William made his enemies at the opposite corner of the country, due to the Massacre at Abergavenny Castle in 1175.

The facts are that Seisyll ap Dyfnwal, ‘Lord of Upper Gwent’, was invited to a Christmas feast at the castle, along with his eldest son, his followers and their attendants. Being invited guests, they followed custom and left their weapons outside. Once inside, the doors were locked and de Braose’s men attacked and killed their Welsh guests.

It is then rumoured that after the massacre de Braose rode to Seisyll’s home and killed his younger son Cadwaladr after snatching him from his mother’s arms.

De Braose’s behaviour is ‘excused’ by arguing that Seisyll ap Dyfnwal had killed de Braose’s uncle, Henry FitzMiles, so it was tit for tat. But attempting to wipe out the male lines of the leading Welsh families in the locality suggests de Braose was trying to expand his own land holdings.

In 1182 Hywel ap Iorwerth of Caerleon had Dingestow castle, near Chepstow, destroyed and Abergavenny castle burnt by Seisyll’s relatives. De Braose was not there but his men were taken captive.

After it was burnt again, this time by Glyndŵr’s forces in 1404, Abergavenny castle ceased to be used as a fortification and gradually fell into disrepair.

‘These were brutal times, they all behaved like that’, is what you’ll hear from defenders of the Union. But I don’t recall any incident in which our ancestors behaved with such barbarity, depravity and duplicity.

If they had, we’d have been taught it in school. You can be sure of that.

ONE PLANET DEVELOPMENTS REVISITED, AGAIN

Back in December – in an update – I mentioned that a Neil Moyse, who lives on a OPD at Tir y Gafel in Pembrokeshire, is applying to build another OPD at Llyn Adain Gwydd, near the village of Meidrim in west Carmarthenshire. The village to which I trace my direct paternal line.

To get the planning application details type W/39846 here.

In a nutshell, Moyse wants planners to believe that a family of four will be able to support themselves as gardeners on 1.63ha of land, even though a great part of the holding will remain uncultivated. Much of it, in fact, is water, accounting for the ‘Llyn’ element in the name.

But any property built in such an attractive location will be valuable, especially if it is imaginatively ‘extended’, perhaps in the manner of Bryn Llys, at Nebo. Which, I’m sure you’ll recall, transmogrified from a traditional Welsh farmhouse into a mansion betraying the aesthetic sensibilities we associate with Lottery winners, or in this case, a gang of fraudsters.

Bryn Llys before and after the ‘extension’. Click to enlarge

I’m not for one minute suggesting that Moyse is a crook like those at Bryn Llys, but neither am I persuaded that this is a simple One Planet Development. And if the Moyse family moves to Llyn Adain Gwydd what happens to their property in Pembrokeshire?

My understanding was that OPDs offer a chance for people to exchange the crass materialism of the modern world for lives attuned to the rhythms of nature, not for building property empires.

All of which would be reason to reject this application, but a little bird in the tree tells me that Moyse and his kin are pretty irresponsible to boot.

For I hear that during this period of lockdown the Moyse family travels almost every day from their Pembrokeshire property to their new lakeside estate near Meidrim. Is this ‘essential travel’? And now they’ve even pitched a tent!

My little bird also says . . .

“Black sheeting . . . ‘shines’ across valley and due to cutting down of many trees is much more open to view.  . . . people turned up today in massive camper van looking . . . to camp out . . . The wood behind Mr Moyse’s plot belongs to Woodlands.co.uk. This wood has camper vans sited in it that are there illegally.  People are coming and going and fire smoke can often be seen.  They have blocked the public footpath and even after representations from local council have not reopened.  These are friends of Mr Moyse . . .”

As I’ve explained many times before, OPD is just another tactic in the wider strategy of dispossessing us Welsh and replacing us with a new population. Because in 20+ years of devolution those cringing bastards down Corruption Bay have done nothing to benefit those who belong in this country.

And if you want an example of the ecological credentials claimed by these OPD land-grabbers, then I’ll let my little dicky bird finish its song with, “otters and geese that have been nesting and breeding for decades have not been near this year.” 

Visualise an unspoilt area of Welsh land, a sylvan gem. Would you rather see otters gambolling there or gangs of arrogant English hippies in camper vans and silly houses, incessantly burning wood while pontificating about saving the planet?

The greatest contribution these people can make to the Welsh countryside is to leave it.

GARY HAGGATY

Gary is a senior civil servant, but more importantly, the lover of Lesley Griffiths, the Minister for Environment Energy and Rural affairs in the ‘Welsh Government’.

In the piece in which he debuted a few weeks back I mis-spelt his name as Haggarty. Sorry about that, Gary, but we all make mistakes.

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Anyway, I asked if anyone had information on Gary, so I could ‘pad out’ his biography, as it were. And I had a few responses, so here’s some more information that I put out recently. Here in pdf format.

I’m told he’s originally from Portsmouth, or thereabouts. He is said to have been a leading light in the Young Socialists, or its replacement, Young Labour.

How Gary came to Wales is unclear – did he attend university here? – but until some 10 or 12 years ago he was employed in in the ‘Welsh Government’s regional office in Llandrindod Wells, and he is believed to have lived in Abbey Cwm Hir.

‘Game Show Gary’ left his wife and child/children for another woman, a younger woman who was also a work colleague. Gary is said to be a great one for ‘helping’ young female colleagues. Very much a hands-on approach.

Once in Cardiff, as Head of Agriculture, Fisheries and Rural Strategy, and administering the Glastir and Farming Connect programmes, he stated, more than once, that “Farmers in Wales are over supported and under taxed”. His hostility towards farmers was made clear in other ways.

And yet, despite his openly expressed hostility towards Welsh farmers he progressed within the ‘Welsh Government’s departments dealing with farming! In May 2016, Lesley Griffiths was appointed Cabinet Secretary for Environment and Rural Affairs. This would have brought her into direct connect with Gary Haggaty . . . and their contact soon became very direct.

When the affair between Griffiths and Haggaty became public knowledge last year he was assigned the post of Deputy Director, Community Safety Division within Welsh Government. And if you’re wondering what the Community Safety Division is, it’s an excuse for Wales not having power over policing. In the early days of devolution it was known as the Crime Reduction Unit.

Up until his transfer Haggaty was advising Lesley Griffiths on ways to make life difficult for Welsh farmers, done in order to make land available for hippies and rewilders, eco-zealots and zip wires. In other words, anybody but the Welsh.
Seeing as they’re still an ‘item’ he’s probably still advising her.

But forget the affair. The real cause for concern should be that a man like Gary Haggaty, with his blatant and regularly expressed hostility to Welsh farming, should ever have been in a position of influence within the ‘Welsh Government’.

But he was. And there are many other civil servants like him in Wales, who answer to London, dictate to the ‘Welsh Government’, and do serious damage to our country and our nation.

I’m sure there are people out there with more information on ‘Game Show Gary’ Haggaty, so just leave it in the usual tree-trunk.

AN ARRANGED MARRIAGE

We have 48 bodies in Wales ‘combating homelessness’. (Or did have in 2017, now it’s probably more.) You might think that with so many battalions in the field Wales is on its way to victory over homelessness, but that would be to misunderstand the strategy at work and the objective.

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There are CEOs pulling down £80,000+ a year and many other Labour Party cronies doing very nicely out of maintaining high levels of homelessness . . . so this is a ‘war’ that must not be won.

Among the major players in the homelessness racket is Llamau, which has appeared on this blog many times. Like so many third sector bodies in Wales Llamau seems to be run by female English disciples of Common Purpose, the liberal freemasonry, who specialise in screwing public money from thick-as-shit Labour politicians with no better ideas on how to use money.

Here’s a little tale about Llamau’s CEO which gives an idea of how things link up in Cardiff Bay, and the incestuous political culture that prevails in that cess-pit.

In the ongoing – unending? – leftist-third sector witch-hunt against Neil McEvoy, Frances Beecher was one of the complainants. (And was almost certainly encouraged to make her fatuous contribution by Deryn Consulting.)

So did Neil McEvoy turn up at the Llamau offices with a can of petrol in one hand, a lighter in the other, a wild look on his face as he sang the Arthur Brown classic, Fire? Er, no, but he had raised his voice at a public meeting! Oh, the bwute! The bwute!

But enough history. For I bring tidings of Llamau expanding.

There was an organisation called the Swansea Young Single Homeless Project (SYSHP) which did good work in the ugly lovely town for almost thirty years, but on 1 October 2019 it merged with Llamau. Or rather, Llamau took it over 3 October 2018, when the SYSHP trustees/company directors were given the heave-ho and replaced with Llamau appointees.

Among the replacements was lawyer Thomas Graham Breed who – on 23 January this year – became a director of Capital Law in Cardiff. (Belated congratulations, Graham.) This is one of the self-styled ‘Welsh Government’s favoured legal firms. A great deal of Welsh public money goes to Capital Law.

It was obviously a hostile takeover and you have to wonder why SYSHP succumbed to it so meekly. Were they told it was a fait accompli, and given the choice between takeover and collapse?

It being a done deal might explain why the Supporting People Grants (the mainstay of SYSHP funding), administered by the ‘Welsh Government’, fell from £832,938 in y/e 31.03.2018 to £644,215 in y/e 31.03.2019.

Click to enlarge

While other funders, including the Lottery, thought SYSHP was a good enough bet to increase their funding.

It’s very odd, because with such well-connected and influential new hands on deck you would expect ‘Welsh Government’ funding to have increased . . . unless, as I suggest, it was an engineered failure to facilitate complete takeover.

According to the latest available accounts for SYSHP as a condition of the takeover “. . . the charity (SYSHP) will meet all of its liabilities and then transfer over the remaining assets to Llamau at their fair value . . .”. but Llamau now owns the Swansea Young Single Homeless Project, and its assets.

I can only assume that all outstanding debts and charges are to be paid out of the remaining SYSHP funds and whatever is left transfers to Llamau. Including the prime assets of 51 & 52 Walter Road in central Swansea.

What we see here is another example of an organisation using its influence in Cardiff Bay to promote itself in other parts of Wales at the expense of rivals who do not have the ear of our wise and incorruptible tribunes, and do not socialise with the civil servants who manipulate said tribunes.

This phenomenon – the norm in third world countries – explains so many things. For example, it tells us how Wales & West Housing has become our only truly all-Wales housing association.

Another manifestation of this phenomenon, one I note as I travel around, is that Cardiff estate agents get business all over Wales. It’s so sad that there are no estate agents in other parts of the country.

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Yes, devolution’s been good for some in Cardiff. As long as you’ve got the connections.

DAWNUS 3B

Around this time last year I did a few pieces on the collapse of Dawnus, a Swansea-based construction and civil engineering company. These were Dawnus, Dawnus 2, Dawnus 3 and (scroll down to) Dawnus 3A.

Dawnus did a great deal of work in West Africa, and it was suggested that Ebola in that region went some way to deciding Dawnus’s fate. For the company’s decline was said to have begun with the Ebola outbreak in January 2014.

Not long after Ebola hit we saw the arrival on the scene of Nicholas Charles Down, whose Linkedin profile suggested he’d worked mainly outside the UK. Though it’s difficult to figure out if he’d been brought in to try to save Dawnus or to administer the last rites.

Click to enlarge

Whichever it was, once he took over the Dawnus group it was downhill from there on. Here’s a list of the Dawnus companies with which Down was involved. You’ll see that they’re all in administration or liquidation except Medrus Plant Hire (Swansea) LLP. Though Companies House makes clear that Medrus went the way of the others.

And now it appears that Down is neither the director of any company nor is he involved with a Limited Liability Partnership. So where did he go?

The reason I got interested in the Dawnus story was that I received a number of reports saying that the most valuable machinery was shipped to West Africa towards the end of 2018, when the shit was visibly heading – if in slow motion – towards the fan.

The photographs below that were sent to me purport to show the heavy stuff en route to the docks for shipment to West Africa.

Click to enlarge

But even before then, much of the good stuff was already in Liberia and Sierra Leone. As this charge of 27 March 2018 against Dawnus Construction Holdings Ltd makes clear. Just scroll down and see how much plant and machinery was in Africa.

Two companies emerged from the catastrophe. The first was Dawnus International Group Ltd, formed 22 March 2019, which shook off the ‘Dawnus’ tag by becoming DIG International Group Ltd less than a week later. The second was DIG Civil Engineering Ltd, formed 9 April 2019, but still a non-trading company according to Companies House.

The two companies shared an address in Clydach before moving last month to Stradey Business Centre in Llangennech, Llanelli. Which is interesting, because this gives me the opportunity to introduce another player in the form of Hydro Industries, also based at Stradey Business Centre.

You’ll have to go back to last year’s articles to get the full import, but to cut a long story short, there has always been military and defence industry involvement in the margins of this saga. French defence giant Thales being one of the players. For a time Thales had a presence on the same Llanelli estate where we find the DIG companies, and Hydro Industries.

The thing about Hydro that I found remarkable was who got involved with this rather obscure little company in Sosban last year. Though it might be relevant that among the original Hydro directors is arch BritNat and former chairman of the Welsh Rugby Union, David Pickering.

In June 2018 Guto Harri joined the board of Hydro. That’s Guto Harri who regularly appears on Newsnight, the former BBC journalist and communications director for Boris Johnson when BoJo was mayor of London.

Harri was soon joined by Diane Marguerite Marie Briere de’Lisle, who is course French, and the wife of Admiral Insurance founder Henry Englehardt. Then came Henrietta Baldock of Bank of America and Legal and General Assurance. With Robert Brooks as secretary. ‘Who him?’ I’m not sure, but I guarantee he don’t live round by ‘ere.

There’s no doubt in my mind of UK government involvement in the demise of Dawnus. Our masters in London might not have caused the Dawnus collapse but they took advantage because Dawnus was involved in a strategically important region.

Hydro Industries’ reward for whatever part it played in the Dawnus saga was a major contract in Saudi Arabia, that murderous theocracy that helps to keep the British arms industry afloat. A few days later a £150m contract in Egypt was unveiled.

Click to enlarge

I suggest that the involvement of the UK government explains why the ‘Welsh Government’ offered Dawnus no real help – the pretend politicos down Cardiff docks were warned off.

Around the same time Hydro ‘won’ the Saudi and Egyptian contracts its business address moved from Llangennech to Berkeley Square in West London. (That’s Berkeley Square of nightingale fame.) Quite a move for a company started by a bunch of Turks.

So who now owns Hydro Industries?

Come to that, who now owns the machinery in West Africa? Was it shipped home to pay off creditors? I doubt it very much. Those shipments of machinery from Wales to West Africa in late 2018 were made to keep assets away from liquidators and creditors. That machinery and equipment is there now winning hearts and minds, and combating the spread of Chinese influence.

The irony is that Hydro Industries, and to a lesser extent Dawnus, provide clean drinking water to those who realise the importance and value of this essential commodity. While here in Wales, the whining invertebrates calling themselves the ‘Welsh Government’ are quite happy to give away our water!

UPDATE: I’ve been sent something that links with both Dawnus and the point I made in the earlier section about Cardiff estate agents getting the work all over Wales. This is the old Dawnus depot in Clydach, up for sale on Prime Location, with details available from Alder King of Cardiff, which has its HQ in Bristol.

OH GOODY! ANOTHER WIND FARM

A few years back there was an attempt to plant yet more wind turbines near the A44 as it snakes its way up from Aberystwyth to meet the A470 at Llangurig. The project was imaginatively named Mynydd y Gwynt.

Those behind it seem to be a family of local landowners who’d already diversified in a number of ways. To promote its scheme the clan had linked with Isle of Man-based company Renewable Energy Holdings Plc.

The scheme was knocked back and finally rejected by the Court of Appeal in London in March 2018. And while the IoM outfit went bust in March 2016 the local element of the doomed consortium, Mynydd y Gwynt Ltd, is still in business. Though in April 2016 it moved its correspondence address from Ffynnon Wen, Capel Bangor to c/o Haines Watts, 7 Neptune Court, Vanguard Way, Cardiff.

Now there’s another wind farm scheme, this one called Lluest y Gwynt. The company Lluest y Gwynt Wind Farm Ltd was formed in June 2018 . . . just months after the Court of Appeal hammered the final nail in the Mynydd y Gwynt coffin.

So is Lluest y Gwynt just Mynydd y Gwynt under a slightly changed name, and at a site very close by?

The image at the top comes from the Cambrian Mountains Society and the image below from the Planning Inspectorate, prepared by Dulas. Click to enlarge

Behind Lluest y Gwynt we find Statkraft, “Europe’s largest developer of renewable energy”, a company wholly owned by the Norwegian government. In partnership with Statkraft is Eco2 of Cardiff. Eco2 chairman is Peter Darwell, said to be worth a bob or two.

There have been a few dozen Eco2 companies over the past twenty years but the most recent additions to the stable have been, Eco2 LYG Limited, Incorporated 24 May 2018. And Eco2 Dulais Limited (27 November 2019). Darwell is the major shareholder in both, with a line-up of shared directors.

The documents received by the Planning Inspectorate for Lluest y Gwynt can be viewed from this link.

Statkraft, like all investors hoping to exploit poorer countries, seeks out those with access to the local ‘chiefs’. So it has linked with Cardiff-based Eco2 to gain access to local politicians and decision makers.

I’m sure that Statkraft is hoping Eco2 CEO Dr David Williams will be able to help. For having served as chairman of the ‘Welsh Government’s Energy and Environmental Sector Panel from January 2011 to August 2018 he must know a few movers and shakers down Corruption Bay.

There’s nothing new in this. When I wrote Corruption in the wind? in November 2018 I recounted the amusing tale of a mystery woman frantically lobbying in April 2017 on behalf of those behind some Powys wind farms. (Scroll down to section headed ‘Mystery woman’)

That woman was Anna McMorrin, live-in lover of Alun Davies AM, who became the MP for Cardiff North in the June 2018 election. McMorrin wasn’t employed by the investors behind Hendy and Bryn Blaen wind farms because she knew owt about wind turbines, she was employed solely because she knew people down Cardiff docks who could make the decisions the investors wanted.

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And it’s the same with Statkraft and Eco2.

Lobbying down Corruption Bay isn’t restricted to Deryn Consulting and other lobbying firms, for Labour insiders also feather their nests from knowing who to schmooze. And Labour Party insiders doing so well from this system explains why there is no register of lobbyists down the Bay.

Will Lluest y Gwynt succeed where Mynydd y Gwynt failed? Perhaps. But why should we cover more of Wales with ugly and inefficient wind turbines to kill red kites and other birds while increasing the risk of flooding, and all done to enrich a company owned by the government of one of the richest countries on Earth?

Finally, it’s worth remembering that Lesley Griffiths, the Minister for Environment, Energy and Rural Affairs, will have a big say in whether or not to allow Lluest y Gwynt wind farm, So who do you think Statkraft and Eco2 should have a quiet word with; you know, someone who might be able to influence her?

Watch this space.

‘SEASONAL PROPERTIES’, AN UPDATE

In the previous post I reported on a minor act of vandalism in Pwllheli and the bizarre response of North Wales Police.

Someone painted ‘Go home’ on a number of holiday flats near the marina and GogPlod responded by waxing lyrical about key workers staying in these properties, even pleading, ‘How would you like it . . . ?’ – even though no one was staying in them! I described this contribution from the local gendarmerie as ‘bollocks’, even questioning whether it had originated with the police.

Though I was certainly enchanted by the new term, ‘seasonal properties’.

But the police were right, key workers have been staying in these flats . . . key workers from Birmingham, on holiday. What’s more, they’ve threatened to beat up the local councillor who reported them!

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I couldn’t make this up!

I’m beginning to suspect that when it comes to holiday homes or ‘seasonal properties’ the police would rather not be bothered. Yes, they’ll do some patrolling on main roads for the benefit of the cameras but confronting some selfish bastards sitting it out in their or someone else’s holiday home is just too much trouble.

AND, FINALLY . . . 

There are those who say, “Oh there’s nothing wrong with devolution, it’s the fault of the Labour Party. Get rid of them and everything will be fine”. Having given this view the consideration it deserves (about 0.3 seconds) my response is – bollocks!

Wales is now so hopelessly corrupted, its political class, public officials and burdensome third sector motivated either by serving themselves or else serving England – often both – that nothing short of very radical change can improve things for the great majority of our people.

Consequently, any intellectual under-achiever who suggests that things would be better with a Plaid Cymru management team in Cardiff Bay, or a Labour-Plaid Cymru coalition, should receive either a pitying pat on the head or a kick up the arse. (Perhaps depending on whether you’ve ‘taken a drink’.)

If next year’s Assembly elections go ahead we must ensure there are not enough AMs from Labour and Plaid Cymru to form a coalition. That must be the starting point for the change Wales needs.

♦ end ♦




Wales and Coronavirus 2

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

I know I often start with an apology (I have a lot to apologise for), and this time is no exception. I’d toyed with the idea of writing about other subjects, but there really isn’t much point.

So I’m offering a second helping of Wales and Coronavirus, with perhaps an entertaining digression or twa.

THE CASE OF THE MISSING TESTING KITS

Politicians have been under the spotlight in this crisis, which will return to haunt some of them. For many politicos are being exposed as liars, others as incompetents, while the worst of them are both, and more.

Let’s take the case of the testing kits that the ‘Welsh Government’ insists it ordered from Roche, an order that it’s alleged was cancelled by the Swiss pharma giant when the UK government got involved and put in a bigger order.

A few things strike me as odd about this incident. First, the ‘Welsh Government’ has produced no evidence of an order being placed, let alone accepted. Second, after an initial flurry of outrage London’s local management team seems to have fallen into line, leaving Drakewell looking increasingly like a compliant ‘regional leader’ in a totalitarian state.

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But let’s be generous, and assume that even if the order wasn’t actually placed, that negotiations were at least underway. That being so, was Whitehall tipped off about the ‘Welsh Government’ – for once! – looking up to the job, even upstaging BoJo’s gang?

This might explain why the deal between the ‘Welsh Government’ and Roche fell through. But if so, who tipped off Whitehall?

My money would be on civil servants, more specifically, senior civil servants of the type appointed by London and answering to their masters in the Great Wen. And when they’re not carrying clecks they’re implementing orders from London, often dressed up as ‘Welsh legislation’.

But even before the Roche incident, we now know that an offer was made in early March to carry out testing, but the offer has been ignored, according to Professor Andrew Godkin of the School of Medicine in Cardiff.

The BBC reported:

‘Prof Godkin, who leads the School of Medicine, said Wales has significant laboratory capacity to help ramp up the numbers of Covid-19 tests.

“It’s been deeply frustrating. We flagged up what was available about three weeks ago,” he said.

“We certainly have the capacity here and in Cardiff University to really offer… a considerable number of tests.”‘

Why hasn’t this offer, from an institution within miles of Corruption Bay, been taken up?

Whatever the truth about the testing kits from Roche, the ‘Welsh Government’ has clearly surrendered control to Downing Street. With the result that when it comes to testing kits, personal protection equipment (PPE), Wales will get whatever London decides.

And so, here we are, a month or more into this crisis, and front line staff in our health service are still waiting for tests and PPE. The conclusion I draw is that the ‘Welsh Government’ has chosen not to act contrary to London diktats, even when to do so would be best for Wales.

Which makes devolution rather pointless.

Though of course, it could all be a cunning plan worthy of Baldrick. For ‘Welsh’ Labour likes nothing more than to blame somebody else for anything that goes wrong. By surrendering control over the fight against coronavirus to London Cardiff Bay might be seen as getting itself off the hook.

ANOTHER WEEKEND INFLUX

While it wasn’t as bad as the previous weekend there was still a sizeable influx of selfish idiots who just don’t care about risking other people’s lives. Liz Saville Roberts MP even reported that second home owners were sharing information on how to avoid police checks, like it was some game.

As that tweet from LSR suggests, the police seem to have been more proactive this weekend, stopping people and asking them where they were going, and why.

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The evidence popped up regularly on Twitter, with reports of vehicles also being stopped on Dyfi Bridge at Machynlleth (a boundary between GogPlod and Dyfed Powys), and also around Bala.

But this tweet put out on Friday evening by a councillor on Ynys Môn would suggest that nothing was being done on the bridges linking the island with the mainland.

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Perhaps his cri de coeur was answered, for the following day police were out, but getting in their way was the new MP for the island, Virginia Crosbie. For as we know, Tory politicians can’t resist a photo opp with police. (Though of course there are 20,000 fewer cops since 2010.)

Though you have admire her brass neck. To begin with, Conservatives love holiday homes, most Tory MPs have at least one. And I guarantee that Crosbie garnered quite a few votes from holiday home-owning families that live in safe Tory seats, and could afford to vote from their holiday homes in a marginal constituency like Ynys Môn.

Though the ultimate hypocrisy was her claim that it’s all being done to help the NHS. The health service would be coping a hell of a lot better with this pandemic if her party had put more money in over recent years.

If those clowns in London she regards as the government could just arrange for front-line health staff to be tested, and to have PPE, she’d look less like a politician exploiting global misery to promote herself.

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Though maybe I’m being a bit harsh, for we mustn’t use coronavirus to score political points, must we? Though if that’s the case, then someone should have told ‘Barry’ Lee Waters, Sosban’s AM.

Plaid Cymru put out a statement over the weekend urging people to stay at home, and when it was retweeted by ITV Wales’ Welsh political editor, Adrian Masters, Waters jumped in with both feet to infer that Plaid was being anti-English.

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Obviously the boy hadn’t read the full statement that Adrian Masters had so helpfully retweeted. (Quelle twat! as we used to say in Swansea.) Though Barry’s contribution reminds us of another political party that has problems with holiday homes. His own.

Which is strange, for we should expect any socialist or social democratic party to be opposed to holiday homes on a number of grounds, but not ‘Welsh’ Labour, which has tied itself up in all sorts of knots.

Lee Waters often gets confused over health matters. Here’s a pic from a couple of years ago, showing him with the Llanelli MP, Nia Griffith, protesting against hospital closures introduced by their own ‘Welsh Labour Government’ in Cardiff. No wonder they both look so sheepish. Click to enlarge

Mainly because from a ‘Welsh’ Labour perspective holiday homes is a ‘nashie’ issue, the kind of thing that people like me are supposed to get vexed about. Which is true, up to a point, I suppose, but it’s hardly an obsession with me, as you’ll realise from searching this blog.

But because that’s how Labour in Wales frames it, doing anything to discourage the growth in the number of holiday homes is seen as a concession to political opponents.

The collateral damage of hard-working local people priced out of the property market, and the destruction of Welsh communities and even Welsh identity, is acceptable because by and large the areas worst affected don’t vote Labour.

Which in practical terms, results in ‘Welsh’ Labour being as indulgent towards holiday homes as the Conservative and Unionist Party.

While Plaid Cymru’s request was for no one to travel unnecessarily, Visit Wales still has trouble telling tourists and holiday home owners to stay out, as this tweet put out on Saturday makes clear. They can’t quite bring themselves to say, ‘Don’t travel INTO Wales’.

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We’ve had two weekends of ignored lockdown and now we face Easter weekend, for which I’m sure the police are preparing. Though I would suggest that rather than random checks all over the country, or responding to tweets such as that from Councillor Carwyn Jones, checks on the border would be more effective.

Wales is a small country with a limited number of decent, cross-border roads, maybe a dozen in all. You’ll see that I’ve made three additions to the motorway and trunk road map reproduced below. All three cross the border into Powys, with the A44 being the only road into Aberystwyth from the east, the A489 links with the A470 heading north towards Snowdonia, and the A438 runs down to the Beacons.

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Just having a police presence from Friday morning on these roads where they cross the border would have an effect. Pulling over motor homes and towed caravans would obviously make sense, as would stopping anyone who looks a bit ‘touristy’.

And if such a tactic proves successful then we could make it permanent!

PROFITEERING

We’ve all heard reports of coronavirus being used to bump up prices by shysters like Mike Ashley of Sports Direct, but it’s not just the usual suspects, as I found out last week.

I was looking for a new scanner/printer and after deciding on the model I wanted I went online to compare prices. To my surprise – as I’ve never bought from them before – John Lewis Partnership offered the best deal. So I ordered my machine, an Epson ET-7750 at £549.

I then had an e-mail telling me that the order was being processed. Before, bizarrely, receiving another e-mail saying that my contact details had been changed. Not by me they hadn’t! This was followed by, ‘We are unable to process your order’, and then a cancellation.

Read by numbers. Click to enlarge

Curious, I went to the John Lewis website. The machine I’d ordered was still there of course – but the asking price had gone up by £50 since I’d placed my order!

Obviously I had to find another supplier. I went to one I’d never heard of before, Box.

I paid just over £10 more than I’d originally paid John Lewis, but at least there was no nonsense about ‘changed details’, and it even arrived on Saturday, not on Monday as I’d expected.

But being the curious bugger I am, after placing my order I went back to the Box website – and saw that the price had increased by £30 in less than 24 hours!

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It seems obvious to me that with so many stores closed online retailers feel they can charge whatever they like. So if you’re shopping online – be careful!

‘ALL PULLING TOGETHER’

In a number of ways it seems that the UK government is using the coronavirus crisis to override devolved administrations and possibly undermine devolution. How far this will go remains to be seen.

For coronavirus is now up there with World War II, the monarchy, World Cup 1966, the Falklands, the death of Diana, Only Fools and Horses, and the 2012 Olympics, as a ‘shared experience’. Something that we are expected to believe transcends national and regional differences, and makes distinctions of class, religion and of course, politics irrelevant.

Coronavirus will be milked for all it’s worth, and of course it explains why Her Maj made an address to the Commonwealth on Sunday. (You missed it!)

The problem is of course, that we aren’t ‘all in it together’.

Let us visualise a member of the Cheshire Set, with private health care, and let’s call him Dominic. Let’s further assume that he drives down in his Merc to spend a weekend in his holiday home, and while in Wales he infects old Mrs Roberts with Covid-19 then fucks off back to his big house in Wilmslow before Mrs Roberts dies.

Yeah, I suppose that could be a shared experience; cos Dom must have had coronavirus for him to infect Mrs Roberts. Stands to reason.

And just as Hitler had Versailles, those arseholes in London feel they too must have someone to blame, or a distraction. But with so much Chinese money sloshing about in London they can’t imitate their orange friend in Washington and call it the ‘Chinese Virus’ . . . so they pick on footballers!

Matt Hancock, the uninspiring Health Secretary in the UK government, has demanded that footballers give up a chunk of their earnings in the fight against coronavirus. Specifically, for hospices.

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Perhaps a case could be made for paying these players less because football, like all other sports, has been suspended until the crisis has passed. But if the issue is money, then a few hundred footballers taking a pay cut isn’t going to make much difference. And how would the money be collected? Or even assessed? If their clubs pay them less is Hancock planning to ask Liverpool and Manchester City and Arsenal for whatever they’re not paying Salah, de Bruyne, Lacazette and the rest?

But if money is the issue, then a hell of a lot more could be raised from the Tories’ tax-avoiding friends, with their tax haven companies, as Gary Lineker has suggested. (There’s no, ‘if they possibly can’ about it, Gary. They definitely can!)

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Staying with the beautiful game, why am I and millions of others still having to pay Sky, BT, Premier Sports and Amazon Prime for football that’s not being played? Will Hancock talk to Rupert Murdoch and others to get our subscriptions suspended until football resumes? Will he hell!

But it’s not a question of money. No amount of money collected now can make much difference in the fight against coronavirus. The problems in the NHS are structural and of long standing. The money should have been invested years ago, over the last few decades in fact.

Which makes having a pop at footballers a cheap publicity stunt from a cheap politician.

Another ‘national treasure’ recruited in the fight against coronavirus and for British unity is Florence Nightingale. The new emergency hospitals in England have been named after her, and of course the Millennium Stadium in Cardiff, home to the Welsh Rugby Union, has followed NHS England’s lead.

But in Glasgow the emergency hospital was named after Louisa Jordan, a WW1 nurse from Maryhill, who died working in Serbia. She is still fondly remembered by the Serbs. (Serbia suffered more casualties per capita than any other country.)

This decision has outraged those who wear Union Jack underpants beneath their kilts and support a certain football club. One such was former Labour MP Douglas Alexander, who detected ‘small-minded nationalism’ at work.

To believe Douglas Alexander, naming a hospital in Glasgow after a woman from that city who lost her life helping others is wrong, but to name it after a woman who did a great job of self-promotion in one of Britain’s countless 19th century colonialist adventures, but who has no connections with Scotland, is the right thing to do.

Here, as with Barry Lee Waters, we see the BritNat mind at work. Scottish or Welsh nationalism (bad) is detected in the most harmless gesture, but it would be blind to British nationalism (good) if London sent in the tanks and started arresting people.

WHAT NEXT?

Coronavirus is having strange effects. In this posting I’ve found myself defending Plaid Cymru and agreeing with Gary Lineker.

Regular readers will know that I am no friend to Plaid Cymru; but what is not so well known is that I was no fan of Lineker the footballer, I think he ruins Match of the Day with the faux mateyness, and I detest even more his liberal pontificating on social media.

But there you go, these are not normal times. And the worst is yet to come, in terms of deaths, and in disruption to what were our everyday lives.

Political leadership in both London and Cardiff has failed us. The economy is already severely damaged, house prices will collapse, savings and investments will suffer, and by this time next year our lives could be framed by very different political and economic paradigms.

There is no going back to things as they were pre Covid-19. That system has been found wanting. Once the worst of coronavirus is behind us Wales must have a fresh start. And that can only mean independence.

♦ end ♦

 

 

 

Coronavirus and Wales

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

Yes, I know I’d promised to write on a couple of other subjects, but this coronavirus pandemic has turned things upside down. It’s certainly impacting on the Jones household.

To begin with, my daily trips to Tywyn for a coffee and a read of the ‘paper are gone. This was often followed by sauntering up and down the High Street, doing a bit of shopping, maybe driving down to Aberdyfi to mooch around some more. But not now.

I’m stuck at home with my long-suffering wife. Fortunately, being a home carer, she’s out quite a lot. Another aid to me keeping cabin fever at bay is to stock up on the Malbec. I’ve found that caressing unopened bottles can have a soothing effect.

Self-isolation has also meant no grandchildren staying, which only adds to the sense of this being a different time. And it’s also quieter outside the house, fewer people about, less traffic. If it wasn’t for the internet it might be like an earlier epoch.

Though perhaps what I miss most is the football. I used to spend at least 25 hours a week watching football. Not just Welsh and English football; I’m just as happy watching La Vecchia Signora or the Jam Tarts. But coronavirus is global, which means there’s no football anywhere. Anywhere! (Yeah, I know, that’s what ‘pandemic’ means.)

So when I’m not online, or out taking my constitutional, listening to music, or up in the attic doing my Fast Eddie impersonations on the kids’ pool table, I’m dipping into my books. Hazlitt has always been a favourite. But when I reached for that little volume of essays the other day I found a page marked with the dust cover, so I opened it . . .

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Fortunately I don’t believe in such things. So for all the shysters out there, and the lying politicians – I plan on being around to write about you for some time yet.

THE STORY THUS FAR

The realisation that things were getting serious took a while to sink in, for just about everybody, with the Welsh Rugby Union taking longer than most to get the message.

The Six Nations game against Scotland, scheduled for March 14, was going ahead almost up until the last minute. This despite the other games in Round 5 – Italy v England and France v Ireland – having been called off, and with football and almost every other sport also put on hold around the world.

It wasn’t until the afternoon of Friday the 13th, with Scottish fans safely in Cardiff and spending their money, that the WRU decided to call the game off.

To understand this disregard for the nation’s health you must appreciate what motivates the Welsh Rugby Union, what it regards as important. Vying for top spot are sucking up to English royals, and making money. Everything else is secondary.

In defence of the WRU, no pressure was applied by the self-styled ‘Welsh Government’. As late as Thursday the 12th, Vaughan Gething, the woefully inadequate health minister, saw no need to call the game off. Though in fairness to Gething, this non-decision could itself have been due to pressure from the WRU.

(Things can often be ‘reciprocal’ in Cardiff.)

Gething last week warned that Wales can expect a “larger impact” from coronavirus because Wales’ population is “typically older, sicker and poorer”. After two decades of his party running things in Wales he felt no shame in such an admission!

Something that did go ahead in Cardiff that Saturday was a Stereophonics concert.

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All grist to the mill of cynics believing that too many ‘national’ bodies based in Cardiff bend over backwards to make sure Cardiff never loses out, even when we are threatened by the worst pandemic since ‘Spanish’ Flu a century ago.

In terms of leadership, things have not got any better.

The ‘Welsh Government’ gives its daily briefing and issues advice, which is usually repeating what has already been said in London. Much like the laws passed in Cardiff docks, which are basically the same laws as England with ‘(Wales)’ added.

Exposing a fundamental problem with devolution when it’s run by a timid and unambitious Unionist party stuffed with mediocrities.

Labour has never resolved the conundrum of wanting to make Welsh people feel devolution is relevant to them but not wanting to depart too far from the London line for fear of being branded ‘nationalist’, even when doing things differently would be best for Wales. And so we have a sham devolution that neither enthuses our people nor serves Welsh interests.

All of which makes a mockery of “Welsh solutions for Welsh problems”, which is how devolution was sold to us many years ago.

Yet there are times when ‘Welsh solutions’ are needed. Let’s cast our minds back to last weekend, just after ‘lockdown’ was announced, when workplaces and schools were closed, and people told to stay home. Yet we saw thousands upon thousands of people treat a national emergency as a national holiday and flock to Wales.

While I didn’t expect the ‘Welsh Government’ to close the border and lay minefields, I did think they could have been a little more decisive than they had been the previous weekend over the rugby international, but no; not even when the scale of the irruption had become obvious.

Below you’ll see a few examples of the ignorance and stupidity we were confronted with, and just a few of many instances of locals acting for themselves. (Some still had to do it yesterday.)

UPDATE: Here’s the response of a second home owner in Y Felinheli today. The slate sign reads ‘Port Dinorwic’, as that road runs down to the old harbour.

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These colonialist attitudes are the result of ‘selling’ our homeland for decades as nothing but another nation’s holiday destination. Encouraging the belief that Wales is some kind of Brigadoon that only comes alive when tourists visit.

This belief that Wales exists for no other reason than the enjoyment of tourists results in contempt for us, our history and our very identity.  

Out of curiosity, I went to the Visit Wales Twitter account, and what I found was revealing. Up until March 12, two days before the planned Wales v Scotland game and the Stereophonics concert, there is at least one ‘Come to Wales’ tweet per day.

There is then a gap of ten days in which Visit Wales did no more than retweet other organisations’ tweets about coronavirus and, significantly, compensation. Like a rabbit caught in the headlights Visit Wales didn’t seem to know how to react. March 22 was of course the Sunday, and by then it had become obvious even to Visit Wales that locals in tourism hot-spots were organising themselves against irresponsible tourism operators and individuals.

Only then did Visit Wales put out a tweet telling potential visitors to stay away. And this might have been motivated as much by worries about the damage being done to the reputation of the tourism industry as by concern for public health.

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If I carry on like this I’ll be accused of ‘politicising’ coronavirus. This was the accusation thrown at Scottish first minister Nicola Sturgeon when she recognised the threat and acted on coronavirus earlier than Westminster.

I accept that coronavirus knows no national boundaries, while on an island there must be some unity of purpose in the face of such a threat, but Wales still faces problems that will not be appreciated by those giving orders in London.

As we’ve seen, one such problem was holiday homes and tourism, and many thousands of people choosing to self-isolate in Wales. Which exposed another serious failing down in Cardiff.

The ‘Welsh Government’ (and this of course includes Visit Wales) refused to address this problem for far too long because politicians and civil servants in Cardiff have come to believe their own propaganda – Wales cannot survive without tourism, consequently nothing must be allowed to interfere with tourism. Not even a pandemic.

Political leadership has been noticeable by its absence. From London the advice has swung from “Nothing to get alarmed about – let’s all catch it!” (the ‘herd immunity’ approach), to “We’re all gonna die! – everybody stay home!” (lockdown).

While here in Wales, when not acting as an echo chamber, our politicians have been even less inspiring. Just read the article below from yesterday’s Llais y Sais. (Available here in pdf format.)

Did you ever read such waffle from a politician? Was Wales ever cursed with a more evasive and dishonest practitioner of even this disgraced profession? Did you ever see anyone more out of their depth?

Yet here’s the man leading the party and the administration that over the past twenty years has given billions of pounds to the crony-parasites of the third sector, where we find CEOs pulling down £100,000+ salaries – while our nurses don’t have Personal Protection Equipment (PPE).

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(My wife, who every day visits sick and elderly people received her face mask on Friday.)

Political confusion reigns.

At London level we saw BoJo and the gang spurn the EU’s offer of ventilators; while in Cardiff, the ‘Welsh Government’ turned down an offer of 10,000, EU certified, Lloyds insured, testing kits of the kind used in South Korea.

This despite the World Health Organisation advising ‘testing, testing, and more testing’ as a way to avoid the spread of Covid-19. The only people being tested in Wales are those showing moderate to severe symptoms who might already have infected hundreds of others. Plus of course, politicians and their friends.

Carefully orchestrated communal clapping must not detract from these political failings. And when the coronavirus threat has passed we must remember how our politicians and their system failed us.

In the immediate future we must be on our guard against London using coronavirus to accrete more powers. For while devolution may not be worth defending, moving back to the status quo ante devolution must not be an option either, though it is being aired.

One airing came from a Welsh Labour MP during Scottish Questions last week, when Chris Elmore, the MP for Ogmore suggested that funding for Covid-19 should bypass the Scottish Government and go to local authorities. An interesting suggestion for a number of reasons.

The SNP of course forms the Scottish Government, but at council level we find a number of Unionist-run councils, often controlled by squalid coalitions held together by nothing more than a desire to keep the SNP out of power.

Such an arrangement as we find in the city of Aberdeen where, after the 2017 elections, the SNP was the largest party by some distance but is kept from power by an alliance of Conservatives, Labour and Independents. (Though the Labour councillors have been expelled from the ‘Scottish’ Labour Party for going into coalition with the Tories!)

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And while Elwood (or was he one of the Blues Brothers?) may be a nonentity in Wales, representing a rosette-on-a-donkey constituency, he certainly made the news in Scotland. And as the report I’ve linked to from the National puts it, “It was left to Alister Jack, the Tory Secretary of State for Scotland, to remind the Labour frontbencher of how devolution works.”

A Tory MP having to remind an MP of the party that introduced devolution how devolution works. Lord and Lady Kinnock must have been so proud.

Though if wanting to rip up the devolution settlement and insincerely argue that the common weal would be better served by handing money directly to local councils sounds familiar, then that might be because it’s the same thing we hear from the Abolish the Welsh Assembly Party. Is Elton a supporter?

If we are to do away with devolution, and that is certainly what I want, then it must be done in order to move forward to independence, not backward to direct rule.

Westminster is letting us down, Cardiff Bay is clueless, the BBC is failing us, Wales is even losing out when it comes to online shopping for God’s sake!

Covid-19 is disrupting all our lives, and will end a few of them; but it has served the purpose of exposing as weak and malleable incompetents those buffoons down Cardiff docks who’ve lied to us for over twenty years about defending Wales.

Stand firm, stay healthy, and when this threat has passed, emerge from self-isolation determined to push on for independence!

♦ end ♦

With Covid-19 dominating the News, and politics in a state of suspended animation, the pandemic even affecting the crooks I so often write about, I may not be posting so frequently over the next few months unless something important happens.

Look after yourselves!

 

Wales, the unmourned death of devolution

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

In this post I’m going to look at the latest YouGov for ITV/Cardiff University poll. There’s a clue to where we’re going in the title of this piece.

Obviously I’ll focus on devolution, so it makes sense to remind ourselves why we have devolution. Younger readers especially should stick with it because they might learn something.

Then I shall move on to consider what we do now that devolution has come to the end of the line.

INNOVATION DESIGNED TO MAINTAIN THE STATUS QUO

Devolution did not come about following a period of political upheaval or unrest, there was no ‘Nation on the March’. Devolution was thrust upon Wales because it served the interests of the Labour Party. Later, even the Conservatives could see benefits in maintaining a management team in Cardiff docks.

To understand the genesis of devolution we need to go back to the Conservative and Unionist Party led by Margaret Thatcher coming to power in May 1979. Under her leadership the party was re-elected in 1983 and again in 1987. Even after she was deposed in November 1990 the party went on to win the 1992 general election led by John Major.

Major’s victory was a surprise to most people, including many Conservatives. But none were as shocked as the Labour Party – who can forget Labour leader Neil Kinnock’s triumphalism at the now famous Sheffield rally.

Mr and Mrs Kinnock were compensated for this and other embarrassments, first by being shunted off to Brussels (where he served as Commissioner and she as MEP), and more recently to the House of Lords. But they remain committed to the struggle against privilege and inequality.

The old socialist tactic of ‘fighting the system from within’. ‘Well, all right!’ Click to enlarge

Each year of Tory rule made devolution more attractive to the Labour Party’s hierarchy . . . based of course on the assumption that a Scottish Parliament and a Welsh Assembly would always have Labour majorities.

The thinking was that devolution would give Labour two redoubts when not in power at Westminster. With many also believing that devolution would defeat the nationalists in both countries. George Robertson, Labour’s Defence Secretary and NATO General Secretary, believed back then that devolution, ‘will kill nationalism stone dead.

How wrong he was, certainly about his native Scotland.

The point to remember here is that devolution was introduced by the Labour Party to serve the interests of the Labour Party. What might be best for Scotland and Wales did not enter into Labour’s thinking.

When the Tories came back to power in Westminster in 2010 they were faced with two very different situations in Scotland and Wales.

The SNP had been in government in Scotland since 2007 and any attempt to remove powers from Holyrood, or do away with devolution entirely, could have made a mildly annoying situation a lot more difficult. Whereas in Wales there was a coalition between Labour and Plaid Cymru, which meant that Wales was ‘secure’, she could be ignored.

THE POLL

The results that were released a week or so ago covered a wide range of questions. Most attention has focused on two findings; the percentage wanting independence and the percentage wanting to do away with devolution altogether. Here are the full findings.

The figures quoted tend to vary so I’ll go with this WalesOnline piece by Ruth Molaski. And that’s where the figures below come from.

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Though the figure in favour of independence is claimed to reach 27% when don’t knows are omitted and other adjustments made. Applying the same refinements it’s claimed that 33% would vote to abolish the Assembly were they given the chance in a referendum.

As Wrecsam Plaid Cymru councillor Carrie Harper says in this Nation.Cymru piece these figures point to “a polarisation of views amongst Welsh voters”. Which I suppose it does, at first sight. But looking at them from another angle what appear to be polar opposites do in fact agree – they reject devolution.

Due to many factors, including Brexit.

I’ve argued – from the time I voted for Brexit – that a difficult and damaging Brexit, resulting in Scotland leaving the UK and Ireland reuniting, will force on Wales the choice between being trapped in Englandandwales and considering independence.

In fact, that was one of the reasons that I voted for Brexit.

Given the impact events in Scotland could have on Wales I was surprised by the way the question below was framed in the poll.

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Surely, it should have tried to establish whether Scotland becoming independent would make Welsh people more likely to support the independence option? So why the obtuse question about positive or negative – are we talking about batteries?

As it’s worded, I would obviously answer ‘very positive’. Whereas a BritNat would answer ‘very negative’. But we would be saying the same thing in that we agree Scottish independence will increase the chances of Welsh independence. But the findings, as they’re displayed, don’t show that.

Why wasn’t the question better worded?

A SYSTEM NOT DESIGNED TO DELIVER NOT DELIVERING

In her article Carrie Harper says that there is a feeling in the north east that ‘Cardiff doesn’t care’. I can tell her that this sentiment is not restricted to her home patch – it’s the same in Swansea, the Valleys, Gwynedd, Pembrokeshire, Powys.

In economic terms devolution has failed every part of Wales but Cardiff.

And yet, we keep electing Assembly Members to represent us who promise the earth, then they go down to Cardiff . . . and perpetuate this Cardiff-centric system. They betray us every time, no matter where we live and no matter which party we vote for.

One reason Cardiff’s done well out of devolution is because it’s used as a ‘showcase’. Visiting dignitaries, politicians, entertainers, rugby and football fans, etc, go no further than Cardiff. They see the investment, the cranes on the skyline and think, ‘Oh! devolution must be working for Wales’.

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Using Cardiff as a showcase city, to give a false impression of prosperity and progress, is symptomatic of a more general problem with the ‘Welsh Government’, that of show over substance. At it’s worst, it’s virtue signalling. But it’s not confined to the Labour Party.

Looking at the self-styled ‘progressive’ parties – Labour, Plaid Cymru, Lib Dems – I see parties playing to a gallery made up of a tiny minority within Wales and a much bigger audience outside of Wales with which that minority identifies.

What I mean is, giving a vote to the toe-rag doing time for robbing your Nan might get favourable column inches in the Guardian but Dai Public doesn’t support it and it does sod all to improve his life.

The ‘Welsh Government’ has declared a climate emergency. Of course it won’t make any difference on a global scale, not when Japan is planning to build 22 coal-burning power stations, and China many more. It’s not even as if the ‘Welsh Government’ takes its own declaration seriously, because if it did it would organise a functioning system of public transport, and it wouldn’t be funding Aston Martin to come here to make cars with gas-guzzling V12 engines.

But Aston Martin is more likely to go bust than it is to set up in Wales. It will join a long, long list of failed investments, money wasted, by politicians who know nothing about business and are terrified of Wales having a successful indigenous economy because it would lose them votes and give the natives the wrong ideas.

So we are served up empty rhetoric and futile gestures.

Not only do the ‘progressive’ parties ignore the interests of Welsh people but very often they introduce ‘Ooh look at us – aren’t we virtuous’ legislation that actually works against the interests of Wales.

For example, people entering care homes in Wales can keep £50,000 before they have to start paying for their care. The figure for England is £22,500. This is one reason that Wales sees an influx of retirees and elderly people from England adding to the burden on our NHS. Our ‘progressives’ would like to do away entirely with care home charges.

Money to fund this generosity must come from other budgets; which helps explain why our infrastructure is so poor, why our kids don’t get the education they deserve.

But now the ‘Welsh Government’ wants to punish us even more by introducing a tax to help fund care for the elderly and disabled . . . many of whom have been attracted to Wales by the £50,000 limit, free prescriptions and other gestures.

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Abolishing care home fees will result in an epidemic of granny dumping, they’ll be queuing at the border. It will be a disaster because the ‘progressives’ will not introduce a residency qualification to stop the system being abused. That would be ‘discriminatory’. (Truth is, they’re terrified of headlines in the Sun and the Daily Mail reading ‘Welsh bastards discriminate against our brave grannies . . . Dunkirk . . . Vera Lynn . . . )

And to expose how damaging devolution is, the Conservatives and the Brexit Party would support this economic insanity because they rely on the Invasion of the Wrinklies (PG) to provide much of their support.

You have to conclude that any administration planning to introduce a tax on a poor people to subsidise richer people moving to their country must hold the electorate of that poor country in utter contempt.

Another reason Wales is poor and badly run is because of the power of the third sector. Here in Wales – uniquely – the third sector has a role in government. The Wales Council for Voluntary Action, which serves as the umbrella body for the third sector, and operates almost as a department of the ‘Welsh Government’, is quite open about its role.

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This is why Wales has the biggest third sector on Earth, filled with leeching luvvies pulling down huge salaries to ‘combat’ problems they’ll never solve because it would put them out of a job; and to ensure they have enough ‘clients’ they import many of them from England.

The third sector coupled with Wales’ colonial relationship with England explains why the towns of the north coast have the biggest drugs rehabilitation industry in the known world.

Thanks to organisations such as Cais Ltd, based in Llandudno, which owns a number of properties, and is funded to the tune of £2.9m a year by the Wales European Funding Office . . . then there’s £1.6m from the NHS, £1.7m from local authorities, and a few million from other sources.

The Cais entry on the Charity Commission website says under the Documents tab that this company operates in ‘Wales And The Marches’. But the map found under the Operations tab tells the truth.

Click to enlarge

Money given to Wales by the EU to raise standards is being used to further lower standards by importing drug addicts, alcoholics, criminals and God knows what else from north west England.

The driving principle of devolution seems to be using Wales for the benefit of just about everybody but the Welsh.

That’s why we have wind turbines that don’t turn, and hydro schemes that locals aren’t allowed to know anything about‘Saving the planet, innit’.

‘Rural initiatives’ mean tasteless and culturally damaging tourism developments, zip wires and the like. Or else it’s turfing Welsh farmers off their ancestral land at the behest of George Monbiot and his cohorts with the Summit to Sea scam aka ‘Lebensraum for Guardian readers’.

The ‘Welsh Government’ pushes through housing developments that Wales doesn’t need, funds housing associations many of which prefer not to have Welsh tenants, and does nothing while Welsh communities die when every property that comes up for sale is bought as a holiday or retirement home.

Wales is being turned into a retirement and recreation area for England, a dumping ground for England’s problems, and the pot of gold at rainbow’s end for every crook and shyster looking to make easy money.

But nothing is ever done for the Welsh.

Our politicians are insulated from the system they oversee by hiding away in Cardiff Bay, a world unto itself, hermetically sealed from reality. Where truth is whatever the third sector or the lobbyists decide best serves their interests.

An ugly place where reputations can be destroyed. And men. A cess-pit of corruption and treachery Wales can no longer afford.

AT THE CROSSROADS

There is nothing to be said in favour of devolution. After twenty years it should be obvious to all that it has failed the Welsh nation on every conceivable level. Yes, I talk of a nation; because without it there is no Wales.

Of course the Labour Party is largely to blame, but things would be no better with Plaid Cymru in control. If anything, things would be worse; for not only is Plaid Cymru further to the left than Labour, it has also been infiltrated by ‘woke’ lunatics.

Wales needs new political parties, fresh faces, and a whole new approach to running this country. No more virtue signalling, no more niche politics, no more identity politics, no more pretending that caving in to hedge funds is ‘saving the planet’, and no more ‘influence’ from the third sector.

What I’ve always said about devolution is now the accepted view of a majority of Welsh people, as the poll showed. The only question is which course we take from here. There are only two real options.

As I’ve already said, after Scottish independence and Irish reunification we can either submit to Englandandwales or else we go for independence. Devolution is dead. Nobody killed it, nobody needed to kill it, it destroyed itself.

Few will mourn its passing.

Time to get our people thinking about independence, and to do that we must have political parties grounded in the real world, in Welsh communities, determined to serve those communities and this nation of communities. These new parties must be ready to contest the 2021 Assembly elections.

And the more the merrier. Because with four or five Unionist parties run from London, and Plaid Cymru having such a narrow appeal, independence was impossible to achieve. Let’s broaden the appeal and shift the focus of debate away from London and the UK so that independence becomes the issue in Wales as it is in Scotland.

From now on Welsh politics must be about Wales, and the Welsh people. Let’s offer our people a real choice. No more, ‘What Unionist party should I vote for?’ but instead, ‘Which of the independence parties shall I choose?’

Spread the word! Devolution is dead! It’s time to move on!

♦ end ♦

 

General Election 2019

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

Well, what an election that was, for all sorts of reasons. I shall start this analysis with a quick look around the other countries before homing in on Wales.

NORTHERN IRELAND

If we are to believe the BBC then the results were bad for both major parties, the Democratic Unionist Party and Sinn Féin. Certainly SF lost Foyle (Derry) but it was to the nationalist Social Democratic and Labour Party. To compensate, the party won North Belfast, where Belfast Lord Mayor John Finucane triumphed.

John Finucane was just a lad in 1989 when Loyalist assassins burst into the family home and killed his solicitor father, Pat. Loyalist killers controlled by MI5.

Yes, votes for both Sinn Féin and the Democratic Unionist Party were down but it was the DUP that lost (in total) two seats, not SF. The cross-community Alliance Party won North Down, and in addition to Foyle the SDLP won Belfast South.

For someone who remembers the Troubles – and even the time before the Troubles – it’s quite amazing how politics has changed in the Six Counties.

Until the Reverend Dr Ian Paisley formed the DUP in 1971 the Ulster Unionist Party dominated the political scene, and it wasn’t until 2004 that the DUP became the largest Unionist party in terms of seats at Stormont and in Westminster. Now the UUP has no MPs and got just 11.7% of the vote last week, but even that was an improvement of 1.4% on 2017.

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On the other side, the similarly hegemonic SDLP has been eclipsed by a party that until quite recently was dismissed by the British media as the mouthpiece of the IRA. I can recall when we weren’t allowed to actually hear SF spokespersons – we could see them, and see their lips move, but the words had to be spoken by actors!

That was one of the more bizarre episodes in British broadcasting history. If we were allowed to hear what they said but not them say it, then I can only conclude that we were being protected from the harsh Ulster accent.

Northern Ireland, with more Republican/Nationalist MPs than Unionist MPs, plus one MP representing a party that is neutral on the border, and with Brexit thrown into the mix, is probably moving towards a referendum on Irish reunification.

For this debate is no longer framed by tribal loyalties. The old Protestant-Unionist objections to unifying with a poor, ‘priest-ridden’ country to the south are gone. The Republic today is both more liberal and richer than the North. What’s more, it’s in the EU, and Northern Ireland voted to Remain.

In any future referendum it will not just be Republicans and Nationalists voting for reunification, it will also be members of the Protestant middle class, business people and, especially, the young.

SCOTLAND

The headline result is of course that the SNP ‘won’ the election with 48 out of Scotland’s 59 seats. Though as we know, Boris Johnson has already refused to allow a second independence referendum, so how might events unfold?

Some suggest that the Tory government in London should play the SNP like a fish, paying out a little line (concessions), then reeling in (refusal) . . . until its energy is exhausted and it can be ‘landed’ (accepts no referendum).

Basically, faffing about in the kind of way that would suit Johnson perfectly.

An interesting metaphor that ignores too many unavoidable pitfalls and a number of imponderables.

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First, there’s ‘Getting Brexit done’, which served as Johnson’s mantra throughout the recent election campaign. Yet 62% of Scots and every single council area voted against leaving the European Union. That is a fact that cannot be changed – Scotland voted by a large majority to remain in the EU.

Which means that in fulfilling this election pledge he cannot possibly renege on Johnson will further antagonise many Scots. Even some of those who voted Leave but now wish to respect the majority vote.

Then there’s the Scottish parliamentary elections of May 2021. If London proves obstructive and the SNP turns this election into a mandate for independence we could enter a Catalonia-style morass. God knows where that might lead.

Another imponderable is how Labour supporters might vote in a referendum. They’ll be confronted with a choice between independence and Tory rule. Some will choose independence. How many take this option could prove decisive.

Then there are those who voted Leave but want independence, and may have lent their votes to the Tories last week in order to ‘Get Brexit done’. How many of these are there?

Imponderables aside, four fundamental facts are unavoidable:

1/ The SNP has won a massive victory.

2/ Consequently, the Tory government in London has no mandate to rule Scotland.

3/ Scotland voted to remain in the European Union.

4/ Consequently, London has no mandate to take Scotland out of the EU against its will.

Looking beyond the SNP – difficult given how it dominates the scene – we see that once-mighty Labour is reduced to a single seat, Edinburgh South. The Liberal Democrats are holding on to Orkney and Shetland, Caithness, Sutherland and Easter Ross in the far north, Edinburgh West and Fife North East.

The last of those is interesting because the SNP held this seat by just two votes, the smallest majority in the House of Commons. This time around the anti-SNP vote piled in behind the Lib Dem again and pushed Wendy Chamberlain over the winning line with a majority of 1,316.

Though the Lib Dem’s UK leader, Jo Swinson, she who had talked of becoming prime minister not so long ago, narrowly lost her Dunbartonshire East seat to the SNP.

Elsewhere, the Tories, who had been shaping up to become the natural home for Unionist votes lost seven seats to bring their total down to six. Given that they now hold large, rural constituencies (especially the three along the border) this means that the map gives a somewhat inflated view of Tory support.

Though it should be remembered that in all six Conservative seats the SNP is second, sometimes just a few hundred votes behind.

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Sometimes a party’s share of the vote can tell as much if not more about its overall performance than the number of its MPs. The figures for Scotland make poor reading for Unionists in general and for the new government in London in particular.

‘Getting Brexit done’ may have worked as a slogan in England, and Wales, but it seems to have had the opposite effect in the land that gave us the very word sluagh-ghairm. Which is perfectly understandable given that Scotland voted Remain.

With its separate legal and education systems, with the Kirk, with its banks and different banknotes, Scotland always was a different country. Soon it might be a very different country.

Whatever happens, we can guarantee that the greater the prospect of Scottish independence the dirtier the British state will play. And it certainly played dirty in the 2014 independence referendum campaign. Explained in this remarkable video, London Calling: BBC bias during the 2014 Scottish independence referendum.

I urge you to set aside an hour of your time over Christmas to watch it. Those you’ll see in the film are not wild-eyed conspiracy theorists, these are people who know the score. On the plus side, the BBC is now so discredited that it could never again play the influential role it played in 2014.

Scotland will soon regain the independence that was surrendered in 1707 by an unrepresentative parliament whose members had been bullied or bribed into supporting the Act of Union.

 As Robert Burns put it: Such A Parcel Of Rogues In A Nation.

ENGLAND

Reporting of the election in England was dominated by words like ‘landslide’ and talk of crumbling ‘red walls’. The reality is rather more nuanced, and disturbing for anyone wanting cultural harmony and social cohesion.

The truth is that in England the Conservative share of the vote increased by just 1.7% on 2017. The real story is the collapse of the Labour vote, down 8.0% on 2017. The Liberal Democrats were up 4.6%, the Brexit Party 2.0%, and the Greens 1.2%.

But if we look behind those bare figures we find where and why the Tories did so well. Those areas of the Midlands and the North that voted Leave in June 2016 saw the Tory vote increase substantially, while Remain areas saw the Tory vote go down.

The problem for Labour was that they lost out in both. That’s what happens to ditherers.

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The cities remain Labour, especially London; which meant that in the Midlands and the North the cities and conurbations did not collapse with the rest of the ‘red wall’. The West Midlands conurbation remained largely Labour, as did Merseyside, and Manchester, Sheffield, the Leeds-Bradford conurbation, plus Hull, while in the north east – Sedgefield and Blyth Valley not withstanding – Labour holds a swathe of seats from Newcastle upon Tyne North all the way down to Middlesbrough.

It is the smaller towns and cities, the former mining districts, that will be represented by Conservative MPs for the next few years. Without doing an in-depth check it looks to me as if Stoke on Trent was the largest English city to ‘defect’.

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So why did Manchester and Birmingham stay Labour while Bury, Scunthorpe, Dewsbury, Wakefield and many similar towns go Conservative? Almost certainly because the major cities of the Midlands and the North share certain features with London that make them more challenging for the Tories.

These features are:

1/ A generally younger population, with many students.

2/ Large immigrant populations plus settled ethnic minority communities.

3/ The presence of a ‘progressive’ middle class.

4/ More diversified economies that have coped with recession better than coalfield areas and towns built on a single industry.

5/ They attract more investment.

Which results in the rich and poor of England linking arms and facing off against those in between. Which is a strange thought, because for the greater part of the twentieth century politics in England split along class lines, a division that pitted Tory-voting shires and suburbs against Labour voting cities and industrial regions.

Going further back, to the nineteenth century, it was the new industrialists and others – through the Liberal Party – that represented the interests of the lower orders against the Oxbridge-educated Establishment of aristocracy, landowners, bankers, Church of England, army, civil service.

But last Thursday we entered a new paradigm. When so many people on the minimum wage are prepared to vote Tory then you know something has changed.

Students of politics will immediately recognise the parallels with the USA, where Donald Trump managed to get support from the richest sectors of US society and some of the poorest. Leaving the Democrats with a minority of the white working class supplemented by ethnic minorities, immigrants, and white liberals.

Brexit may have brought these US divisions into sharper focus in the UK but they would be there even without a debate over EU membership. People in the ‘neglected’ areas might have voted Tory last Thursday even without Brexit.

I say that because another reason they voted Conservative was because Labour, the party they once regarded as theirs, has drifted away, hijacked by the hard left, the detested metropolitan elite, and others who look down on them and regard their patriotism with revulsion.

Remember this from the Rochester by-election in 2014? Thornberry is back, and now one of the leading contenders to succeed Corbyn. Click to enlarge

As Jon Sopel, the BBC’s North American editor put it in this article (which is well worth reading): ‘Labour in the UK lost the working class, but gained the woke. And that will give the party sleepless nights over the coming months and years.’

Labour lost the election because it has alienated too many of the patriotic white working class. An as yet unquantifiable percentage of which might be mopped up by whatever party Nigel Farage comes up with next.

WALES

Let’s be brutally frank, there were just two things that saved ‘Welsh’ Labour from a worse kicking last Thursday.

The first was the terror felt by too many in the region twixt Blaenafon and Kidwelly at the prospect of rotating grandparents in the graveyards of Salem, Jerusalem, and yea! even Caersalem.

The second was the absolute fucking uselessness of Plaid Cymru. Because if Jon Sopel is right, about the Labour Party in England, then here in Wales the woke have become Plaid Cymru.

Yes, I know, Plaid held its four seats . . . and failed to come second in any of the other seats it contested. Leaving Plaid Cymru in serious danger of becoming a regional party within a small country, representing a constituency that is rural and largely Welsh speaking in an urbanised and largely anglophone country. Now there’s a party with a future!

Though, in fairness, Plaid Cymru has tried to break away from the ‘rural, Welsh-speaking’ strait-jacket. Unfortunately, rather than appealing to patriotic English speakers in the cities and towns the party allowed (encouraged?) the takeover by socialists who tar any critic with the ‘fascist’ brush, and those who insist that anyone who doesn’t accept a man with a penis as a woman is a ‘transphobe’.

Pick the bones out of that. Click to enlarge

Then, before the election, Plaid’s strategists (don’t laugh!) decided that it would be a splendid idea to go into a Remainer pact in a few seats with the Liberal Democrats and the Green Party of Englandandwales. In a country that voted Leave!!

This is why, last Thursday, when presented with the open goal of a Labour Party in chaos, a Conservative Party made untouchable by the fear of spinning sounds from the local boneyard, and the Lib Dems led by a delusional woman, Plaid Cymru’s vote actually fell, in real and percentage terms!

The only consolation is that Plaid Cymru is probably finished. No party with such limited appeal, making such disastrous decisions, is entitled to any future. What’s worse, in Plaid’s four seats the party’s supporters are social conservatives of the kind despised by those who now control the party. How long can this misalliance last?

Maybe it would be best for Plaid Cymru to drop the pretence that it’s a mainstream party and rebrand itself as the loony left party it has become. This would allow the emergence of another national party on the right to represent the ‘fascists’ and the ‘transphobes’, the patriots and those who’d like to build up an indigenous economy rather than rely on a begging-bowl variant of devolution.

At heart, Plaid Cymru is a Devo Max party securing the maximum number of careers, sinecures, peerages, etc., for those it represents, within the colonial system. Which means having enough power to indulge its lunacies without the responsibility of having to fund any of it.

Here we have a woman whose party has just had a truly dismal election congratulating winning candidates from other parties – just because they’re women! Click to enlarge

But things are not looking too good for this model of devolution at the moment. For a start, Labour is in deep and serious trouble on a UK level and this might extend to the 2021 Assembly elections, with Plaid Cymru in no position to keep the gravy train on the tracks.

Who’s to say the Tories won’t win an outright majority in 2021?

Worse, Plaid Cymru’s obvious weaknesses coupled with Labour’s self-destruction might encourage the new Conservative government to undermine or do away entirely with devolution.

At the very least, London could take more control over funding. An article by Martin Shipton dealt with this possibility in Saturday’s Llais y Sais. Here’s a link to the WalesOnline version, with a clip from it below.

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Now picture the scene . . . Boris Johnson rocks up in Swansea (or it could be Wrexham, Merthyr, Blaenau Ffestiniog or Pembroke) and says, ‘Now listen chaps, I can see that with this bally devolution most of the moolah stays in Cardiff, and that’s jolly unfair. In future, the Bozmeister will dish out the goodies himself – and I guarantee that it will be fair shares for all!’ 

This will of course result in demonstrations in all corners of the land defending the status quo, demanding that the money be given to the ‘Welsh Government’ . . . for it to divert into the poverty racket (third sector, to you). I foresee hastily-scribbled placards being borne aloft insisting that even spads and lobbyists have to eat.

Yes, I’m joking.

But it won’t be BoJo undermining devolution. Labour and Plaid Cymru, plus their parasite friends down Corruption Bay and elsewhere, have already done the job for him, to the point where few would put up much of a fight if the Tories tried to do away with devolution altogether.

Devolution has been an abysmal failure because nobody wanted to make it work for anyone but themselves. Nobody in London or Cardiff.

CONCLUSION

I have chosen to look at all the countries of the United Kingdom because while the Tories’ campaign was all about getting Brexit done, everyone knows that achieving that objective will jeopardise the unity of the state.

I have argued since the EU referendum in 2016 that Brexit and the chaos it could unleash, the knock-on effects in Scotland and Ireland, would offer great advantages to Wales if we only had the sense and the determination to seize them.

But for Wales to capitalise on these opportunities we need politicians, and political parties or movements that want Wales to be a country that benefits the Welsh, rather than a haven for retirees, refugees, colonists, third sector parasites and ‘investors’ looking for easy money.

But I’m deeply pessimistic; for this election suggests that Wales will be in no position to take advantage of the opportunities coming our way. We shall just drift towards assimilation.

♦ end ♦

 

Devolution, the placebo that no longer works

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

I suppose most people reading this know what a placebo is, but for those who aren’t certain . . . a placebo is something given instead of a medicine or treatment and is intended to fool the person receiving it into believing they are taking a medicine or receiving treatment.

In other words, the patient or guinea pig is given something that won’t really do them any good. Understandably, once they realise they’re being given a placebo then its usefulness is gone.

IN THE BEGINNING

Let’s start by reminding ourselves that devolution wasn’t a gift from Heaven, it was not promised in the Labour manifesto of 1997 because those offering it thought it would be good for Scotland and Wales. No, it was offered because it served England’s (perceived) interests.

Also, let’s not forget the Irish dimension; for to support a fragile peace process there was also an imperative to set up a Northern Ireland Assembly. In fact, this desire formed part of the Good Friday Agreement and the Northern Ireland Act (1998). For good measure London was also included in the package to make it look like a sincere attempt to devolve power from Westminster.

In reality, Tony Blair’s Labour government gave devolution to London confident that the Assembly would always have a Labour majority, to the Six Counties because of US pressure, and to Scotland and Wales as a placebo to ‘national aspirations’ which was safeguarded, so it was believed, by an electoral system (certainly in Scotland) that made it difficult for any one party to achieve an absolute majority.

LABOUR AND DEVOLUTION

But as we’ve seen, the ‘no majority’ system has failed, and the Scottish National Party has used its majority in the Scottish Parliament to improve standards and conditions in all manner of ways. But what of Wales?

Things are different in Wales for one very obvious reason. While Scotland has a political party and a government determined to improve the country, we have languished for twenty years under successive Labour and Labour-led administrations that have simply masked the old system of neglecting Wales unless she can be exploited.

A very recent and still emerging example would be the National Development Framework (NDF) produced a few months ago by the ‘Welsh Government’. I mention the NDF because it’s a “20-year spatial plan” for the whole country, all other plans are subsidiary to it.

I wrote about the National Development Framework in August, in a post of the same name. In the NDF we read that much of rural Wales outside of the national parks is to be ‘rewilded’, given over to a new ‘national forest’, or else covered in wind turbines and solar complexes.

From the National Development Framework. Click to enlarge

This of course allows the ‘Welsh Government’ to virtue signal madly that ‘Wales’ is making its contribution to saving the planet. In reality, Wales is being lined up for a coat of Greenwash that will be welcomed by the City and others as a money-making wheeze, while Wales provides even more of England’s electricity.

Of course, we’ve suffered wind turbines for a couple of decades, but what’s interesting in the NDF is that it explores new ways to exploit our uplands. The two articles below, one from the Times and the other from Llais y Sais, will help explain what I mean.

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The piece from the Times stresses the carbon-absorbing value of mountains and moorlands while the Western Mail article talks of planting trees on grazing land. Wales of course has plenty of mountains, moorland and grazing land, and if these are to be monetised then we can guarantee that ‘investors’ and others will profit from Welsh land.

All this will be facilitated by the ‘Welsh Government’. Playing the role it adopted with unseemly alacrity when presented with the Summit to Sea scam. For ‘Welsh’ Labour hates farmers more than perhaps any other sector of the population.

When it hasn’t been punishing rustics for not voting Labour the party has been building up an army of cronies to run the ‘poverty industry’. The third sector capitalises on Welsh deprivation with no intention of bringing relief or remedy because to do so would mean an end to the public funding sustaining thousands of well-paid – but usually unnecessary – jobs.

So we see that ‘Welsh’ Labour is quite happy to serve as London’s management team in Cardiff, and equally content to see Wales decline. Then, even at Assembly elections, Labour can heard bewailing Wales’ deprivation and insisting that voters ‘Send a message to London’.

Though what sending a message to London about the mess Labour has made of Wales is supposed to achieve I’m not sure. Unless it’s a pat on the head for the local Labour bigwigs and the promise of seats in the House of Lords.

PLAID CYMRU AND DEVOLUTION

Anyone looking at Plaid Cymru and thinking they see a party working for Welsh independence really should pop along to the Cloud Cuckoo Land branch of Specsavers.

In truth, the thought of independence terrifies Plaid’s leadership, and others in the upper stratum of the party. For with independence comes responsibility, standing on your own two feet, and delivering measures to improve the lives of the Welsh people – for there’ll be no one else to blame.

What Plaid Cymru wants is the kind of DevoMax system I outlined in Plaid Cymru, where to now? (scroll down when you get there). In a nutshell, institutions in which a native elite of politicians, professionals and administrators can prosper. We are almost there; with a few more powers devolved to the Assembly, such as justice and policing, these desires might be satisfied.

At the moment, Plaid still gets the votes of most of those wanting independence, also those concerned with the Welsh language, nationhood and associated factors. But this constituency is losing faith or simply giving up due to the direction Plaid Cymru is taking.

The hard truth for Plaid Cymru is that no amount of fascist-hunters, or trans lobbyists, or EU zealots, or planet-savers, or any other variety of political exotica will be enough to replace the socially conservative Welsh voters being lost, often alienated by the increasing grip on the party exerted by the aforementioned.

These newer elements promote causes common to a number of political parties and pressure groups, which often means that with Plaid Cymru they’re just hedging their bets. Their interest in Plaid Cymru, and indeed Wales, is often due solely to the attractiveness of a small country with a system of devolution and a malleable political leadership.

For the upcoming general election Plaid Cymru has entered into a disastrous ‘Remainer’ pact with a Liberal Democrat Party led by a woman who loses votes every time she’s exposed to public scrutiny and a Green Party that refuses to even recognise the existence of Wales.

Image courtesy of Sunday Times. Click to enlarge

With Labour and the devolution system it brought into existence discredited there is a golden opportunity to take Wales forward to independence.

But it can’t happen because all we have is Plaid Cymru, another leftist party that would rather be the junior partner in a colonial management structure than the party – like the SNP – guiding a nation towards independence.

Or perhaps I’m being unfair on Plaid Cymru, maybe its ambition extends to being the senior partner in a colonial administration. Now there’s ambition for you!

We have reached the stage where Plaid Cymru has nothing to say on Wales and independence; and few people listen to what it has to say on other issues. The party is surviving as a political force on goodwill accumulated in a previous incarnation.

THE PLACEBO NO LONGER WORKS

As the old saying has it: ‘You can fool some of the people all of the time, you can fool all of the people some of the time, but you can’t fool all of the people all of the time.’

That’s the stage we’re at with devolution and the leftist hegemony in Cardiff Bay. After twenty years of declining standards I believe that a majority of people now realise that devolution isn’t working and that the blame lies in Cardiff not London.

Realising that devolution has failed explains both the increased support for abolishing the Assembly altogether and also why more of us are prepared to consider independence. With correspondingly fewer in the middle willing to defend devolution. For the ‘recognition of nationhood’ and ‘better than nothing’ arguments no longer persuade.

If returned on December 12 it’s possible that the Tories will do away with devolution in the next couple of years, not because they’re ideologically opposed to devolution – they’re not – but because they can also see that the placebo effect is wearing off.

I would probably support the abolition of the Assembly, reasoning that it might be necessary to take a step back before we can move forward. When stuck in a rut it’s often necessary to go back in order to move forward with greater momentum than took you into the rut. And let’s be honest, we walked into devolution with our eyes shut.

Click to enlarge

And for those now calling me all sorts of names I put out a simple challenge – defend devolution. (And for God’s sake, don’t insult my intelligence by arguing that things would be better with Plaid Cymru in charge.)

I have argued for a few years that Welsh independence is most likely to come about from an interplay between internal dynamics with external factors, with the latter influencing the former. And that is what we now see happening: Devolution is discredited, as are the parties most closely associated with it; while beyond our borders clouds gather, but these are clouds with silver linings, if we only we realise it.

We now need a Conservative government in London to inflict all the damage its opponents predict it will. Then we must help the Scots in their second independence referendum. Finally, we must make a push for our own independence with a broad-based movement focused solely on Wales and Welsh issues.

Which is why I shall be supporting Welsh independence on December 12 by voting for the Conservative and Unionist Party.

♦ end ♦

 

Swansea Disloyals

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

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

NEVER JUST A GAME

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

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

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

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

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

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

MEMORY LANE

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

A CITY BETRAYED

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Click to enlarge

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

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

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

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

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

THE FAR RIGHT CAPITALISES

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

But how did we arrive at this situation?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

THE BIGGER PICTURE

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

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

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

Connections were made. And persist

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

Click to enlarge

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

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

Another retweet from East Swansea Loyal. Click to enlarge

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

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

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

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

LOOKING AHEAD

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

In the meantime, let everybody understand . . .

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

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

♦ end ♦