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.
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.)
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.
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.
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?
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!
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