The tangled web

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 a complicated story, so I advise you to pay attention. I’ve written about Dawnus and Hydro Industries a few times in recent years, but now I want to go back, ten years and more, to the start of this story. I shall use information from a number of sources, primarily Rebecca Television, the greatly missed Cneifiwr blog, and another well-informed source.

DESIRABLE PROPERTY

We’ll begin in March 2006 when it became clear that the Ministry of Defence (MoD) was winding down its Llangennech site in Llanelli and the prospect was causing some consternation in the locality.

The local Labour MP was Nia Griffith, and of course there was a Labour government in Westminster at the time. Griffith asked a question about Llangennech in the House of Commons. For the government, Don Touhig, Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Veterans) Ministry of Defence, confirmed that the Llangennech site would close by mid-2008.

Soon after the closure, early in 2009, the ‘Independent’-Labour-run Carmarthenshire County Council purchased the site and immediately sold it on to a commercial entity. Which raised a number of questions, aired in this report from May of that year.

First, why couldn’t this commercial entity, R & A Properties, have bought the site from the MoD? Second, why wasn’t R & A Properties registered with Companies House? Third, who was behind R & A Properties?

The answer to the first question will be given later.

Question 3 was answered very quickly when we were told that one of those behind the scheme was David Francis Pickering, former captain of the national rugby team and then chairman of the Welsh Rugby Union (WRU). Working with his “lifelong friend” Robert Nigel Lovering.

Not only that, but Pickering is a big supporter of the Labour Party. He got into some trouble in 2010 for using his position at the WRU “to organise a £1,000-a-plate pre-election fundraising event for Welsh Labour.”

So we have The Labour Party in control in Westminster, Cardiff Bay, the Shire Hall (coalition), and a staunch Labour supporter gets handed the deal of his life with the old MoD site in Llangennech. Such serendipity!

But back to the questions.

The second question was answered by David Pickering when he said, “I know some people will find it strange that R & A is not a limited company but we’ve been advised to do it this way by our professional advisers.” So they paid someone to ‘advise’ them to enter into a multi-million pound deal using a non-existent company! Advice like that might explain Pickering’s business record, which we’ll look at in a minute.

Though in fairness, there does seem to have been a company, or rather, a Limited Liability Partnership, called R&A Properties, for it’s mentioned in the accounts of Hydro Industries Ltd for y/e 31/03/2016. (More on Hydro Industries anon.)

I’m at a loss to explain the reference to DFP Properties Ltd, a company whose records show it has never done any business whatsoever. Click to enlarge

There was even a rather forlorn and untended website.

The problem here is that R&A Properties LLP does not exist, or it has certainly never been registered with Companies House. So from what parallel dimension did this creature slip through the Llangennech portal to help Hydro Industries?

A company called R & A Properties Cardiff Limited was eventually Incorporated 5 March 2019, with Pickering, Lovering, and Wayne Preece (of Hydro Industries) as directors. Why it took so long to legitimise R & A is a mystery that might be answered later in this posting. Though why ‘Cardiff’ should be in the name, seeing as the correspondence address given for the company is the Stradey Business Park in Llangennech, remains a mystery.

The deal in 2009 was justified because Pickering and his mates had a ‘blue chip’ company lined up to provide dozens or hundreds of top-notch jobs. The number given seemed to depend on who you spoke to and which way the wind was blowing.

Later in 2009 we learnt that Thales UK, part of the French defence giant, would be adapting the Bronco All Terrain Tracked Carrier built by a Singapore company and re-branding them ‘Warthogs’ for deployment with the British Army in Afghanistan.

Which made sense, for in December 2008, the UK government had agreed to buy over 100 Broncos from Singapore Technologies Kinetics.

The Bronco. Click to enlarge

As you’ve read, the 37-acre site was bought from the MoD by Carmarthenshire County Council and soon sold to the mysterious R & A Properties LLP.

The Land Registry turns up nothing for Stradey Business Park or Stradey Park Business Centre. You have to use the LR map, which produces two separate titles. The first, CYM462190, for ‘Land on the north side of Mwrwg Road, Llangennech’. The second, CYM458189, ‘Land on the south side of Mwrwg Road, Llangennech’.

There is a third title, mentioned on both of these documents, it’s CYM444641, but it seems to be unavailable at the Land Registry website.

Consulting Google Maps tells us that Heol Mwrwg bisects the site. Or check it out on the image below.

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What we learn from these documents is that Robert Nigel Lovering owns both titles . . . or rather, they were bought with loans from Lloyds Bank Plc and The Secretary of State for Defence, with Carmarthenshire County Council chipping in later.

Moving on . . . early in 2009 the MoD sold the Llangennech site to Mark James, aka Carmarthenshire County Council, and he quickly sold it on to his mates, Dai Pickering and Robert Lovering.

And that answers the first question we left hanging earlier – why couldn’t R & A Properties have bought the site directly from the MoD? Answer: R & A couldn’t buy directly from the MoD because Lovering was getting a loan from the MoD to make the purchase. So it had to go through Carmarthenshire County Council.

For a very similar reason, the loan from the council in December 2012, was made not for the purchase of the site but to improve it.

You’ll have noticed that only Lovering’s name appears on the title documents. So why is that?

One answer might be Pickering’s financial status. For according to Paddy French at Rebecca Television Pickering had outstanding debts, both against companies he was involved with and also against him personally.

We read of one such debt: “In July 2009 Lloyds TSB obtained judgment against him for an unpaid bill of £10,232. The bank has taken him to court – and secured the debt against his Cardiff home.” 

Rebecca Television estimates HMRC lost around £4 million in unpaid National Insurance, VAT and other taxes from the collapse of assorted Pickering companies.

Cneifiwr used the Rebecca Television article in an interesting update, Warthogs and a man with a van, in April 2014. It’s worth a read.

If we look at the companies David Pickering has been involved with, most are dissolved. The only ones still standing fall into three categories: 1/ Companies he left, 2/ Companies associated with the WRU, 3/ Companies Pickering has joined or formed in recent years. We’ll look at this final category in a minute.

It’s difficult to escape the conclusion that Pickering is a failed businessman whose public profile and many contacts can still get his size 12s under boardroom tables.

COOL, CLEAR WATER

One hypothesis to explain this remarkable deal in Llangennech must be . . .

The MoD had agreed the Warthog deal with Thales in 2008, but was reluctant to invite Thales to do the work at Llangennech themselves because politicians and media might view that as too close a relationship between the British Ministry of Defence and what was after all a French company.

With the added advantage of Llangennech being well off the beaten track for the London redtops.

So I make no apologies for again using this scene from the Godfather, in which Willie Cicci gives evidence to a Congressional hearing. For just like the Corleone family the MoD needed ‘buffers’ between them and Thales.

It’s difficult to explain the convoluted sale in any other way.

Let’s focus now on Wayne Preece, who doesn’t seem to have been a director of any company before 2011 (unless it was R&A Properties LLP), when he joined an obscure Swansea outfit called Brightley Ltd. Where he was in partnership with Mark Batty, another with a glittering business career.

One of the companies with which Batty was involved – one of the few still afloat – is the Langland Bay Golf Club Ltd. One of Swansea’s better golf clubs in an up-market suburb. In fact, this part of the city figures more than once in this narrative.

For not only does Lovering live in Langland Bay, but Preece is also a resident. And among the previous directors of the Langland Bay Golf Club I see Huw Wyn Price. Price and his wife were the founding directors of Lancehawk Ltd in 1986. Lovering joined on 1 July 1999 and seems to have taken over, to the extent that he is now the only director.

I assume the company is doing well because I see 12 satisfied charges over the years, some with lenders I’ve never heard of. The accounts, unaudited and abridged, show Total Net Assets of £872,709.

‘Lancehawk’ has a certain martial ring to it. And so I wouldn’t be surprised if it has done work for the Ministry of Defence. The address given for Lancehawk used to be Lovering’s Langland Bay home, but now it’s relocated to – where else? – the Stradey Business Park.

Maybe someone else thought Lancehawk sounded a bit too ‘Up yours!’ which might explain the company trading as the rather blander European Telecom Solutions (ETS).

Though the ETS website doesn’t seem to be maintained very well. For example, the latest ‘News’ is for September 2018. Has nothing happened in the last year and a half? Why is there no mention of Covid-19 such as I find on every other website I visit these days? Don’t tell me ETS is another ‘buffer’!

Another Lovering company to add to the line-up is R & A Secure Services Ltd, formed 6 September 2012. That ‘R & A’ again. But it can’t be the ethereal company we seek because Lovering is the sole director. Its correspondence address was in central Swansea, but last September it moved. You have one guess!

Click to enlarge

Preece, as I’ve said, seems to have been involved in no company before 2011, with the exception of the rather odd Brightley, but then in 2012 and 2013 Preece joined a number of companies under the ‘Hydro’ banner, all based on the Stradey Business Park. In chronological order they were:

  • Hydro Industries Marine Ltd Formed 29 November 2012 with Preece, Lovering and Philip Graeme Morgan as directors. The company seemed to do nothing and was dissolved via compulsory strike-off 14 July 2014.
  • Hydro Industries Ltd Formed 2 September 2010 by Janine Morgan, who I assume is the wife of Philip Morgan, who joined her 1 April 2011. Next came Christopher Lewis 27 June 2011, and then Pickering, Preece and Lovering 2 January 2013. More recently we have seen a number of luminaries climb aboard. One of those new arrivals is Robert Brooks, who I’m told lives or lived just around the headland from Langland Bay in Caswell Bay. The Morgans left 6 August 2014.
  • Hydro Strata Ltd (formerly Hydro Mining Ltd). Formed 11 March 2013 with Preece and Morgan as directors. Never more than a dormant company and it was dissolved via voluntary strike-off 25 April 2017.
  • Hydro Utilities Ltd Formed 4 April 2013 with Morgan and Preece as directors. Morgan left 5 August 2014 and the company drifted towards voluntary strike-off 25 April 2017.
  • Hydro Environmental Systems Ltd Wayne Preece was in on the ground floor with Morgan 3 May 2013. Morgan left 5 August 2014 and Pickering joined 19 June 2019. Accounts and confirmation statement are overdue.
  • Hydro Marine & Salvage Ltd Preece and Morgan were there at the kick-off 7 October 2013 but Morgan left 5 August 2014. Dissolved by voluntary strike-off 25 April 2017.
  • Hydro Oil & Gas Ltd Preece and Morgan from the start 7 October 2013, Morgan left 5 August 2014 and Preece called it a day with voluntary strike-off 25 April 2017.

What I find strange here is that the late Philip Morgan (he died suddenly in the early part of 2018) was an expert in his field, academically recognised. Morgan’s departure from the Hydro companies in August 2014 can be explained by him setting up KP2M Ltd in April 2014, which trades as Power & Water from its Llansamlet base.

Yet what knowledge of water did Preece bring to the party, with his background in Sony televisions and Thales?

And yet despite Preece’s apparent lack of knowledge of H2O Hydro Industries thrives. For as we read recently, the company has been awarded two lucrative contracts in the Middle East. One is in Saudi Arabia, and then there’s a £150m gig in Egypt.

Things are certainly looking up at Hydro Industries. Just compare the balance sheets below, covering a 4-year period. What you see represents quite a turnaround in just a few years. Did they find a Fairy Godmother?

Click to enlarge

For remember, this impressive improvement preceded the Middle East contracts!

Here, in pdf format is the latest distribution of shares, dated 2 September 2019. Note that although Robert Lovering ceased to be a director 1 July 2019 he retains his share holding.

Let’s now go back to the time before Preece joined Morgan at the Hydro companies.

THALES COME, THALES GO

After losing his managerial job with Sony in Bridgend – the plant finally closed in early March 2006 – Preece found himself doing fixed-term contracts for Thales UK. This gave him a foot in the door.

And tells me that by late 2008 Preece knew about the deal Thales had struck with the MoD to convert the 100+ Singapore-built Broncos into Warthogs. He now used whatever influence he had to get Thales to bring the work to Wales.

But he needed help.

If they didn’t already know each other then this is when the troika formed. Preece had the contacts with Thales (possibly also the MoD); I believe Lovering certainly had the MoD contacts (which is why the site was ‘sold’ to him); and then there was Dai Pickering, with his Labour Party contacts, and his rugby anecdotes guaranteeing him the best biscuits in Mark James’ private suite.

This explains why, in defence of the deal, the council said the sale had been agreed with persons “known to some officers”. For Mark James, then the county CEO, is a big rugby fan, and has used council money and sweetheart deals to benefit the local Scarlets.

And the generosity was reciprocated. For as Cneifiwr reports: “Shortly after the council approved the purchase and simultaneous resale of the site in February 2009, the chief executive of Carmarthenshire County Council accepted an invitation from David Pickering to a rugby international.” 

The Ministry of Defence was quite happy to sell the Llangennech site to the county council on the understanding that the council immediately sold it on to Preece, Lovering and Pickering. This may be the reason that the partnership back in 2009 had to be kept under wraps.

Despite all the hype, the brass bands and the kids waving flags to welcome Thales, the French outfit didn’t stay very long. So, why did Thales pull out? Well, here’s what I’ve been told . . .

Thales signed the lease agreement with Lovering, or Lovering and Pickering, or all three, before the site had actually been bought. Which of course made the agreement invalid. Possibly illegal.

This cock-up was perhaps attributable to the fact that the agreement had not been concluded by Thales’ Properties Department, as would have been normal, but by another arm under some Urgent Operational Requirement (UOR) measure.

Image from Google Maps taken in August 2011, with time running out. Click to enlarge

In an attempt to cover up le désastre I’m told that the final page of the lease agreement, with signatures and dates, ‘went missing’. When it ‘reappeared’ the time lords had worked their magic – for now it showed that the site had been purchased before the lease agreement was concluded between the mysterious R & A Properties and Thales.

Phew!

But this was only a short-term measure. Once Thales held one of its regular checks on lease agreements, which would examine all documentation, the feline would be free of the encumbering sack.

And so Thales pulled out and took the work elsewhere. Search for ‘Llangennech’ or ‘Llanelli’ on the Thales website and nothing comes up. It’s as if this chapter never happened.

Which was a great pity. For while it lasted Thales provided good jobs and the workforce repaid the company by making big profits on each vehicle. A million pounds per vehicle has been quoted to me.

But Thales upped sticks and took the work away to less favourable locations, with inferior facilities, and more expensive premises. A ‘lean-to’ in Glasgow that could barely accommodate the vehicles was mentioned, as was a much more expensive venue in Sussex that lacked a decent crane.

So everyone lost out  . . . except perhaps those who had screwed up.

ON TAWE BANKS

The incentive for the three amigos to legitimise themselves with R & A Properties Cardiff Ltd in March last year may have come from the publicity being generated by the collapse of Dawnus.

Because I am convinced that the British government stepped in when it became obvious that Dawnus was on the ropes and going down for the count.

I say that because a) Dawnus was operating in Sierra Leone and other ‘sensitive’ areas of West Africa where China is extending its influence; b) because expensive plant and machinery was shipped out to West Africa – out of reach of liquidators and creditors – before the collapse; c) because administrators reports have been delayed for another year; and d) because the two phoenix that rose from the Dawnus flames, DIG International Group Ltd and DIG Civil Engineering Ltd, moved in March from the old Dawnus depot in Clydach to . . . go on, have a guess!

In addition to the main depot and yard at the old Players Tinplate works site in Clydach, Dawnus also had a presence in the Ashmount Business Park in Llansamlet. Very close to where Hydro Industries began life in 2010 as Watertec Solutions Ltd. And where today we find Power & Water.

Are these coincidences?

Click to enlarge

I’m not a conspiracy theorist, I just know enough about how the world works to know that the UK government, or the MoD, or certain other agencies, don’t open offices abroad and put up a brass plate reading ‘Spies ‘R’ Us’. It’s done subtly, often using phoney companies as fronts.

Or recruiting genuine companies already operating in an area of interest. There might be an approach along the lines of, ‘As you’re out there, old boy, we were wondering . . . ‘. Nothing 007 about it, just keep your eyes and ears open and we’ll have the occasional chat.

Or it might just be supporting British companies in Africa and elsewhere in order to counter the influence of rivals. Today, in Africa, that means China.

This table was produced by McKinsey & Company for a June 2017 report. Chinese investment, and influence, has increased since then, both in sub-Saharan Africa and the Middle East. Click to enlarge

Those who’ve seen the wonderful film, Our Man in Havana, will recall that Alec Guinness’s character, James Wormold, is a vacuum cleaner retailer recruited by MI6. It may have been a piss-take by writer Graham Greene, but he knew what he was writing about, he’d been recruited by MI6 himself. And posted to – of all places! – Sierra Leone.

The different trajectories of the Dawnus group and Hydro Industries, and the Thales debacle, all link through a number of factors.

First, we have various arms of the UK government treating Wales as a colony, and interfering in our political and economic life. Then there’s the lack of openness and accountability at local government level. The ‘pliability’ of those elected to Corruption Bay. The cupidity of certain BritNat businessmen. And finally, good old-fashioned Labour Party cronyism.

And I haven’t even mentioned the drones, but that can wait.

Do you still want to know what’s wrong with Wales?

♦ end ♦

P.S. The British military has always directed operations at Llangennech and that is still the case. Which is why I should have mentioned Rick Libbey, a 30-year-service man who is Chief Operating Officer for Hydro Industries.

It’s pretty clear who really calls the shots at Hydro.




GE2019: runners, riders and early fallers

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

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

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

THE CONSERVATIVE AND UNIONIST PARTY

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

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

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

Image courtesy of BBC Wales. Click to enlarge

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

Things didn’t get any better for the Tories.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Click to enlarge

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

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

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

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

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

LABOUR PARTY

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

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

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

Click to enlarge

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

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

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

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

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

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

But I’ve digressed, back to Maria Carroll.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

THE REMAIN ALLIANCE

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

CONCLUSION

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

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

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

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

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

♦ end ♦

 

President Donald J Trump, a statement

It’s no secret that I supported the election of Donald J Trump in 2016.

That was for a number of reasons; not least because I identified with the people who supported Trump, the forgotten Americans; and because the thought of Hillary Clinton in the White House, spewing forth her well-practised brand of venomous liberal hypocrisy, filled me with revulsion.

Even so, I was never blind to Trump’s failings. For not even his most fawning acolyte would describe him as an intellectual, or a man of great moral integrity. But I put these reservations aside in the interests of the greater good, which for me meant reversing the trends of recent decades that are nothing but – to adapt Clausewitz – communism by other means, in their attempts to undermine the very fabric of the West.

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Even in 2016 I wished that the candidate to have emerged from the Republican hustings and primaries had been a more worthy and inspiring beneficiary of the zeitgeist, and less liable to hinder the West’s return to sanity. But we were delivered Trump, and I accepted it, kept my mouth shut. Since then, on the many occasions when I’ve thought he was wrong, I still stayed silent.

This silence has become increasingly difficult to maintain for a number of reasons. One being that in the age of the internet and social media a blowhard and a buffoon has fewer places to hide. Especially when he chooses to issue pronunciamentos via Twitter.

I would never have believed that a tweet could convey such bombast, such sheer fucking stupidity, with such frightening clarity.

You have to remind yourself that this is not some acne-plagued youth who’s a bit pissed off about something – This is the president of the USA!’

Now things have come to a head.

Trump’s decision to give the green light to an Islamist dictatorship to attack the West’s most reliable ally in the Middle East crosses a line. I can no longer bite my tongue. God knows the Kurds have suffered long enough at the hands of their many enemies, and they have been betrayed by the West more than once. By France and Britain after the Great War and more recently by one or more of Trump’s predecessors.

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And now by Donald J Trump 45th president of the United States of America himself.

What Trump fails to understand is that the influence of the USA and the West is not solely reliant on economic power and military might, there must also be a moral dimension. It means doing the right thing, and standing by your friends and allies is doing the right thing.

Even when a people or a country are not necessarily our friends we should still not be blind to their plight. Trade deals with China should never mean ignoring the ethnocide being practised against Tibetans and Uighurs. And in seeking arms sales to and oil exports from Gulf states we must not ignore humanitarian considerations within those states and the wider region.

But if US foreign policy remains determined by Wall Street and whether dictators and mass murderers are our bastards then we are in trouble.

The final straw for me came when Trump defended his decision to throw the Kurds to the Turkish wolves by arguing that the Kurds weren’t on the beaches of Normandy in June 1944! It was then that I decided I can no longer stay silent.

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Only a complete idiot could have made such a remark. Perhaps tomorrow he’ll rebuke the Kurds for not riding to Custer’s rescue at the Little Big Horn.

The Kurds are not simply fighting for themselves, they are defending Arabs, both Muslim and Christian, plus of course the Yazidi population that ISIS tried to destroy by butchery and enslavement. Which brings us to the ISIS fighters that the Kurds defeated and now hold, with their families, in a number of camps.

Turkey’s attitude to ISIS has always been ambivalent. Many thousands of foreign fighters from Europe and elsewhere were allowed to cross Turkey unhindered to join ISIS. If Turkey’s invasion proves responsible for bringing ISIS back to life then that really would be some legacy for Donald J Trump.

Trump is now an embarrassment for the USA and the West, and it’s time we were rid of him. But it must not be done by impeachment, which would be a victory for the wrong side. Trump must be removed, or his power curtailed, by his own side in order to salvage something from his disastrous presidency.

I still stand with those who elected Trump in 2016, the forgotten Americans. I am still committed to the struggle against the enemies of the West, both internal and external. And I look forward to more success in the future, but that success can now only be realised without Donald J Trump.

♦ end ♦

 

Chilcot and Iraq, All You Really Need to Know

Having read the full Chilcot Report on the invasion of Iraq by the USA and the UK – in the original Latin – I have decided to spare my readers that ordeal by giving a succinct summary of what lies behind that disaster and why we are where we are.

However, for the masochists among you, here’s a link to the Executive Summary. This runs to 150 pages, but the full Report is 2.6 million words long, or over four times the size of War and Peace, so don’t even think about reading it.

For all you need to know, read on . . .

1/ The best place to start is with the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan in 1979. From the perspective of the Pentagon, the CIA and the State Department at that time, anyone who fought against communism was a ‘freedom-fighter’, be he a drug-trafficking fascist, a mass-murdering psychopath or, as in Afghanistan, a religious fanatic wanting to turn the clock back a few centuries.

And so it came to pass that Uncle Sam ended up funding, arming and in other ways supporting the Bearded Ones in their fight against the Russians. (No, these were not hipsters.)

Beards

In the same year, the major US ally in the region, the Shah of Iran, was forced into exile by another bunch of Bearded Ones. There was further humiliation for the USA when its Tehran embassy was overrun and 66 US citizens taken hostage.

2/ Next, in September 1980, hostilities commenced between Iran and Iraq. Despite Iraq being ruled by a ruthless tyrant named Saddam Hussein, who began his career as an assassin for the Ba’ath Party, the USA decided – on the ‘enemy of my enemy’ principle – to back (the beardless) Saddam.

After massive losses on both sides the inconclusive war came to its end with the ceasefire of August 20th 1988.

3/ Saddam Hussein decided to flex his military muscles again by invading Kuwait in August 1990 – using weaponry supplied by Western powers during the war with Iran. This invasion was widely condemned, and a UN-supported coalition force was organised under US leadership to liberate Kuwait.

A brief military campaign at the start of 1991 saw the Iraqi army expelled and Kuwait restored to its former condition of Western-friendly despotism. However, the coalition stopped short of toppling Saddam, who then took revenge on his Kurdish and Shia subjects, who had been encouraged to rise against him by the USA and its partners with the promise of protection and / or Saddam’s removal.

The US president at the time of the ‘liberation’ of Kuwait was George H W Bush.

4/ With the Russians gone Afghanistan descended into civil war, from which emerged victorious, in 1996, the fundamentalist (and well bearded) Taliban, but nobody paid them too much attention because they were the good guys who’d fought against Ronald Reagan’s ‘Evil Empire‘.

The Taliban takeover allowed Saudi national Osama bin Laden and his al-Qaeda organisation to return from its four-year exile in Sudan. (Bin Laden was never seen without his beard.) Al-Qaeda is a Sunni Muslim terrorist organisation that views the West as a corrupting influence on the Islamic world, and it announced its war on the West with attacks on US embassies in Dar es Salaam and Nairobi in August 1998.

5/ Unpleasant though these incidents were they were both a long way away, but everything changed with al-Qaeda’s attack on the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center in New York City on September 11th, 2001.

In response, Afghanistan was invaded, and it was soon realised that 9/11, as it became known, could also be used as an excuse to remove Saddam Hussein. For by now the US president was George W Bush, son of the president Bush who had lost face by leaving Saddam in power.

Attacking Iraq was a curious decision for many reasons. As I’ve said, Osama bin Laden was a Saudi, many of his funders and supporters were Saudis, most of the hijackers on the planes that caused such devastation were Saudis. So if any country should have been attacked in response to 9/11 it was surely Saudi Arabia! But no, for the Saudis and the Americans were friends.

6/ But this time there was to be no UN support, and no grand coalition. Russia, Germany, France and most other countries opposed US action against Iraq. So to give himself a fig leaf / partner George W Bush turned to the UK, and its prime minister Tony Blair. At a meeting on his Texas ranch in April 2002 Bush got Blair to commit the UK to joining with the USA in invading Iraq and removing Saddam Hussein. (Bush and Blair have never been seen bearded.)

Three months later Blair wrote his now infamous memo to Bush in which he promised, “I will be with you, whatever”.

My view has always been that Blair was seduced by the opportunity to play a world role in partnership with the USA, and so he allowed himself to be talked into invading Iraq. A country that had nothing to do with 9/11 and led by a man who was as hostile to the Bearded Ones as Western leaders. (And who understood far better what he was dealing with.)

Fundamentally, the problem may have been that Blair allowed it all to go to his head, he seemed to think that he too was a president, rather than a prime minister answerable to parliament. That he was able to get away with it exposed weaknesses in the UK system that seem to have been overlooked. What steps have been taken to ensure that no future prime minister can behave like a one-man government?

Bush Blair

7/ The planned invasion then had to be justified. Which saw a year or more in which we heard one ludicrous claim after another telling us how dangerous Saddam Hussein was, and what a threat he was to the West. Why! he had missiles that could target British bathers on Cyprus beaches.

This is when we became familiar with the term Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD), which it was claimed – by the US and UK – Saddam possessed, and was preparing to use. The problem with this assertion was that United Nations weapons inspectors that were in the country, and free to go wherever they wished, could find absolutely nothing to substantiate these claims. That was because the claims were bullshit, and those making the claims knew they were bullshit.

Bush, Blair and their underlings knew that Iraq had no nuclear, chemical or biological weapons but the pretence had to be maintained. In his State of the Union address on January 28th 2003 George Bush said, “If Saddam Hussein does not fully disarm, for the safety of our people and for the peace of the world, we will lead a coalition to disarm him.” Saddam Hussein was being told to get rid of weapons he didn’t possess otherwise his country would be invaded! Clearly the USA was going to invade Iraq, and sure enough, Operation Iraqi Freedom began on March 19th 2003.

8/ The invasion itself went swimmingly, the Iraqi army was soon rolled up and the media showed us grateful Iraqis dancing in the streets and showering their liberators with gifts. British forces were given territory in the Shia heartlands of the south east to control, in and around the city of Basra, not far from Iran. Then it all started to go wrong.

The sudden and complete removal of Saddam’s army and police, coupled with the reluctance of the US and UK military to antagonise the locals, resulted in looting and more general criminality becoming widespread. The political situation deteriorated by the day as the Iranians encouraged the Shia majority to exercise its new-found power through its militias. While Saddam’s now dis-empowered and jobless Sunni supporters grew ever more bitter as they envisioned a Shia-run Iraq.

In the north, the Kurds effectively withdrew from the crumbling state and set up their own institutions.

The truth was that no one in the US-UK alliance really had a clue what might happen after Saddam was toppled. It was all wishful thinking premised on the aftermath of D-Day: Go in, kick out the bad guys, be welcomed as liberators, drink some booze and lay a few chicks, set out the rules for a pro-Western system of government, go home to ticker-tape welcome . . . more booze and chicks.

If only!

9/ What actually happened after the initial welcome was years of fighting between coalition forces and Shia militias or Sunni insurgents. The country fell apart. A major contribution to the upsurge in hostility to the occupying forces was the decline in public amenities, health care and other facilities, this being the inevitable result of the gratuitous destruction of infrastructure by the coalition at the start of the campaign, largely done for the entertainment of the television audience in the West.

Saddam Hussein was unquestionably a bastard, but he wasn’t particularly ideological, and he certainly wasn’t driven by religious zeal, nor was he especially greedy. He certainly liked power and used it as he thought necessary to hold together an artificial and fissiparous country bequeathed by the Sykes-Picot carve-up during WWI.

But as Iraqis were soon to lament, under Saddam they at least had electricity, and a working sewage system, the hospitals had drugs and doctors, there was public transport, kids went to school and on to university. Compared to the ‘liberation’ Iraq under Saddam Hussein began to look like a lost golden age.

10/ Democracy (of a sort) was installed . . . or another way of putting it would be that Shia sectarianism was empowered. For the Shia majority, with its (lavishly bearded) leaders controlled by Iran, now ruled the roost and were determined to make the Sunni – of whom Saddam was nominally one – pay for the years in which they, the Sunni, had ruled that same roost at the expense of Shia and Kurds.

The resentment felt by the Sunni resulted in attacks on the US military, and on Shia shrines and other targets. To cut a long story short, it was the treatment meted out to the Sunni by the USA and the Shia – who were backed, bizarrely, by both the USA and Iran – that created the conditions in which Sunni ISIS could establish itself and flourish.

And that’s where we are today, boys and girls.

CONCLUSION

With no clear plan beyond settling a family score by getting rid of Saddam Hussein, and grabbing Iraq’s oilfields and other assets for vice president Dick Cheney’s Halliburton and other US companies, George W Bush didn’t really know what he was doing. His ally, or perhaps his dupe, Tony Blair, deluded himself that this was some noble crusade against evil. Even today Blair argues that he did the right thing. One’s a duplicitous and devious idiot, the other’s a self-deluding zealot who, like so many who have done great wrong, now finds solace in religion.

Halliburton

They blundered in, blundered about for a few years, wrecking an entire country, strengthening Iran, causing the rise of ISIS, before blundering out, little wiser about the country they’d destroyed than when they invaded.

Add disastrous military escapades like Iraq and Afghanistan to globalisation and immigration and you explain the increasing alienation of the white working class in the USA and in post-industrial regions across Europe. Which in turn explains the popularity of Donald Trump (and Bernie Sanders), Brexit, Marine le Pen and a host of other examples showing growing public contempt for what had been the established political order.

President George W Bush and Prime Minister Tony Blair told us that by invading Iraq they were making the world a safer place. The world is now infinitely more dangerous, both from external foes and also from internal divisions due to the discrediting of the Anglo-Saxon, transatlantic political and economic model (the latter following the Crash of 2008).

When millions of voters are prepared to put their faith in Nigel Farage you know just how badly Bush and Blair fucked up. That is their legacy.