Miscellany 04.06.2019

I haven’t prepared any in-depth or weighty post for this week; instead, I’ve put together a few things I’ve been thinking about, or been sent, that might also be of interest to you. You know me – always trying to please!

COALITIONS

One of the more bizarre responses to the 2016 EU referendum result came from Leanne Wood, then leader of Plaid Cymru – Let’s go into coalition with Labour!‘, she suggested.

Quite what this was supposed to achieve no one seemed to know, but it struck me at the time as a predictable response from Plaid Cymru’s clenched fist and beret tendency. Those who would still regard the Tories as ‘the real enemy’ even if ISIS invaded the Rhondda Fach.

I mention this because even with the Red Queen dethroned Plaid Cymru seems to be thinking along similar lines today. With new leader Adam Price calling for a coalition of Remain-supporting parties for the next UK general election.

click to enlarge

Ideally, of course, Plaid Cymru would like a coalition with Labour, but thanks to Comrade Corbyn’s vacillating that is not possible. So with that hope dashed, Plaid now seeks a deal with the Liberal Democrats, the Greens, Change UK and the SNP.

(UPDATE: It’s all happening! Now the ‘Welsh Government’ has come out for Remain.)

Let’s consider the SNP first. Things are very different in Scotland, where the SNP will be hoping to win every seat in the next UK general election; so the chances of them doing a deal with other parties, which would almost certainly mean standing down in some seats, is a non-starter.

The SNP could even turn the next general election into a vote on independence and EU membership, especially if Westminster refuses to allow another independence referendum.

Next up is Change UK. If you’re unfamiliar with this lot, then let me explain that they’re a bunch of preening egotists who couldn’t get their own ways in their previous parties. Before the next election comes around clashing egos will have destroyed this collective huff of a party and that’ll be the end of Change UK.

(UPDATE: Within hours of publishing this piece the bust-up happened!)

On to the Greens, aka the Green Party of England, for there is no Wales Green Party. Worse, last year Greens in Wales voted on whether to set up a separate Green party and decided to stay as the Green Party of Englandandwales. Which means that Plaid Cymru wants to work with a party that refuses to recognise Wales as a country!

Note how the BBC reports it, as if common sense prevails against dangerous separatists seeking to sunder a sacred bond. Click to enlarge

Finally, the Liberal Democrats, the party that kept the Tories in power at Westminster between 2010 and 2015, and the party that – with its single AM – helps keep Labour in power down Cardiff docks. A gang of opportunistic and amoral politicos that would sell their grannies for a sniff of power.

Despite decades of trying to promote themselves as the ‘nice’ party I have a deep and abiding contempt for the modern Liberal Democrats. I had time for old Geraint Howells and a few others from the genuinely Welsh Liberal tradition, but the modern party is a venomous thing not to be trusted or handled.

Containing individuals like Callum James Littlemore, who is ‘Diary Manager’ for local party leader Jane Dodds. (She needs a diary manager!) I thought for a minute it was a typo, and he worked on her farm, but apparently it’s true. Anyway, young Callum bears out all I’ve thought about LibDems.

click to enlarge

Though he can’t have been in Wales for long if he thinks Plaid Cymru “support divisive nationalism”. Listen to Uncle Jac: Plaid Cymru is a bunch of evasive, wishy-washy, ishoo-botherers, forever seeking distractions to avoid confronting any specifically Welsh issue. Brexit being the latest such distraction.

Let’s hope we hear little more from Littlemore. (Couldn’t resist it!)

Ruling out the SNP for the reasons I’ve given, these are the parties that Plaid Cymru is ready to co-operate with thanks to Plaid’s fixation with Brexit. What would Plaid get in return – I mean, would these parties campaign for Welsh independence, or even greater devolution? I think not.

It also means that by turning the next election into a single-issue affair Plaid Cymru will ignore the things people care about. Done in order to line up with England’s Brahmin left, thereby alienating thousands upon thousands of people that must be won over if Wales is to escape the humiliation long ago imposed on us by John Bull; a colonial system loyally maintained into the present day by ‘Welsh’ Labour and its rag-bag of hangers-on.

There’ll be a price to pay for this posturing, this self-indulgent myopia. I sincerely hope.

CORRUPTION BAY

This is a term I coined well over twenty years ago as the title of an opus describing the ‘regeneration’ of Cardiff’s docklands. Perhaps the biggest milking of the public purse ever seen in Wales.

Made possible by Secretary of State for Wales (1979 – 1987) Nicholas Edwards, who set up, in April 1987, the Cardiff Bay Development Corporation (CBDC), to be run by his good friend and fellow High Tory, Sir Geoffrey Inkin. The CBDC became the conduit for pumping hundreds of millions of pounds of public money into land owned by Associated British Ports (ABP), of which Edwards was a director.

The CBDC was wound up in 1999 and Edwards – Lord Crickhowell since 1987 – stepped down from the board of Associated British Ports Holdings Ltd 28 April 1999.

Of course, Edwards/Crickhowell didn’t have it all his own way. For example, despite donning his Welsh National Opera tricorn he failed to get a new opera house to the Bay, but learning from that disappointment he made sure that the ‘consolation prize’ of the Notional Assembly building was located on his patch.

And while it was being built he saw to it that ABP continued to coin it by having AMs and staff use Crickhowell House – at £2m+ a year.

Crickhowell House/Tŷ Crughywel/Tŷ Hywel, click to enlarge

Crickhowell House was soon renamed Tŷ Crughywel, and is now Tŷ Hywel, apparently in honour of Hywel Dda. Which looks very much like an attempt to hide the Crickhowell connection, for I’m not aware of Hywel Dda having any local connections.

Despite having moved into the new Senedd building over ten years ago the ‘Welsh Government’ still agreed a series of leases that bind it – and us – to Tŷ Hywel until 2049, or Armageddon, whichever comes sooner. Guaranteed to cost us many more millions of pounds.

I mention this to give the background to what we see today in Cardiff Bay; the squalid and incestuous wheeler-dealing, the lying and the backstabbing, the cronyism, the incompetence, and the waste of public money.

The latest example of the incestuousness comes with Daniel Bryant leaving lobbyists Deryn for Plaid Cymru. This ménage à trois involving Deryn, Plaid Cymru and the Labour Party is not good for democracy or for Wales.

click to enlarge

(Cathy Owens is a director of Deryn. Though I shudder to think what ‘Deryn standards’ might be referring to. Could it be sarcasm?)

But this is what devolution has done. It has given us a class of people, divorced from the real world, who study politics, help out local politicians in their spare time and then, when they finish university, get a job working for a politician, or lobbyists, making contacts, and getting on their party’s list of approved candidates.

They then become politicians and make decisions affecting the lives of people with whom they have little contact and for whom they may have little concern. I say that because politics is no longer about serving the people, it’s a team game of abstractions and all that matters is scoring points against the opposition. (Though in Wales it often seems to be just two ‘teams’ involved.)

This system of musical chairs that begins with teenagers choosing a ‘career’ in politics goes a long way to explaining why Wales is in the mess she’s in today. And also why, alone in western Europe, Wales has no register or regulation of lobbyists – because the lobbyists won’t countenance such legislation!

Speak out in favour of such legislation – as Neil McEvoy has done more than once – and you will be hounded and vilified – by lobbyists, your own party, and anyone else the lobbyists can influence. Is this democracy?

Of course not, but it is Corruption Bay; and those we find lurking there today are worthy successors to the Cardiff Bay Development Corporation.

REMOTE CONTROL

For anyone who missed it over on Jacqui Thompson’s blog, soon-to-be-retired Carmarthenshire chief executive Mark James plans to stay active with Ffynnon Consultancy Ltd . . . of Brighton. A company formed 23 April 2019.

‘Why Brighton?’ you ask, and the answer is because that’s where his mates are. ‘Mates!’ Yes, you must remember his partners from the Cardiff Bay property business. I wrote about it in Baywatch and Baywatch 2. In particular, Mark Philip Carter, a director with James of Building and Estate Solutions Today Limited.

That company is based in Cardiff, but Carter has other companies based at the same Brighton address – 161-163 Preston Road – where we find Mark James’s new venture. Companies such as Friend-James Accountants LLP, Friend-James Ltd and Opher Ltd.

The two directors of Ffynnon Consultancy are James and his missus. He with 400 shares, she with 100.

click to enlarge

It was always unlikely that when James retires later this month, and surfboards out of county hall on a flood of tears, that he would put on his slippers and take up some innocent pastime like counting his money, or evicting bloggers.

But now, with his own consultancy, his protégée Wendy Walters taking over his job, and Emlyn ‘Two Barns’ Dole keeping the councillors in check, James should be able to run the show by remote control!

For as the old saying has it – You can’t keep a good man down. Or in this case, a vindictive and manipulative megalomaniac, and Private Eye Shit of the Year 2016.

You know he can’t just walk away – for there is a Wellness Village to build!

Talking of which . . . there’s something nagging me, for there is another company with a very similar name to James’s new venture. This being the Ffynnon Consultancy Group Ltd.

What’s interesting about the Ffynnon Consultancy Group is that its entry in the ‘Welsh Government’s Directory of Welsh Businesses tells us: “At the Ffynnon Consultancy Group we identify and establish business connections across a wide platform of business sectors in the UAE and the GCC”.

‘UAE’ is of course the initials of the United Arab Emirates, and ‘GCC’ stands for Gulf Cooperation Council. So why would this obscure little company be operating in the Gulf?

click to enlarge

I ask because I’m sure you’ll remember that it was links with that part of the world that led to suspensions at Swansea University and the halting of city deal funding for the Wellness Village.

The sole director of the Ffynnon Consultancy Group – a one-share company that appears never to have traded or done anything since being formed in June 2016 – was Angela Louise Williams of Llandybie, until she was replaced last Friday by Kevin Williams of New Quay, Ceredigion, with the company’s registered address also transferring to New Quay on 3 June.

Given the Gulf connection, I got to wondering if there might also be a link with Swansea University, the Wellness Village, or with outgoing Carmarthenshire CEO Mark James’s new company Ffynnon Consultancy Ltd?

In the hope of getting answers I e-mailed Ffynnon Consultancy Group and received a reply from Kevin Williams, who expressed surprise that Companies House had allowed registrations from two companies with such similar names.

He assured me that neither he nor Angela Louise Williams had any links to either Carmarthenshire County Council or Swansea University. So that would appear to be that . . . just an amazing coincidence . . .

M4 OR NO M4

As I write this, on Monday evening, the word is that tomorrow the ‘Welsh Government’ will not back the proposed M4 ‘relief road’ through the Gwent Levels and Newport docks. So, on that assumption, here are a few points that immediately popped into the cavernous Jac cranium.

  • Let us hope that this unexpected decision heralds a new era of development and investment spread across the country, thereby obviating the need for an M4 ‘relief road’.
  • Presumably the announcement will be accompanied by promises to invest in public transport. Again, I urge that thinking goes beyond the Cardiff region, because there is a country out there.
  • Nothing would prove this administration’s commitment to both Wales beyond Cardiff and public transport better than a west coast railway line from Carmarthen to Bangor.
  • Finally, this decision might deter commuters from Bristol and elsewhere moving into Wales for cheaper housing – have you thought about that? Well, have you!

CAPTION COMPETITION

And, finally, this week’s caption competition. I am grateful to the person who supplied this wonderful photograph of Paul and Rowena Williams of Weep for Wales fame. The picture comes from the XscapeNow Facebook page.

click to enlarge

These crooks are former owners of the Radnorshire Arms Hotel in Presteigne, The Knighton Hotel, Plas Glynllifon, Seiont Manor Hotel and other establishments from Northumberland to Cornwall.

I can’t help thinking that holding an illustration of criminals being caught by the police might be seen as tempting fate.

♦ end ♦

 

28 thoughts on “Miscellany 04.06.2019

  1. CambroUiDunlainge

    Plaid ultimately failed to take up the mantle. In trying to escape the “Welsh language party” label they chose a direction which has ultimately not resonated with the greater Welsh public. Understandably then… many people probably still see Plaid as the Welsh language party.

    I think there’s always been a fundamental misunderstanding of what the movement needs to be in there though… if we are to seek Independence – well in the least such a policy acknowledges we were once a sovereign state which fought a bloody two hundred year conflict to retain its right to rule itself. Plaid needs to step up to be considered a continuation of that (peacefully of course).

    Is working with Unionist parties on British political issues “stepping up”? Is having created two English peers in the spirit of the movement? Or even in the spirit of socialism for that matter? Is their historical lack-luster approach to the English monarchy (swearing allegiance should be something they should never have accepted in the Senedd and their protestations now feel rather “token” in hindsight.). Even when monarchy was addressed by Saunders Lewis and others the idea of taking on a Windsor was suggested. Would prefer to take our chances as a Republic stuck between Anglo-American and European politics bidding for their candidate to become our head of state than anyone who has accepted a gong from – or is a member of – the English royal family.

    They’ve fundamentally missed the point outside their primary objective of protecting the Welsh language. Obviously I by no means blame any one individual for that. This is by no means me putting them down… its frustrated constructive criticism of things which seem abundantly obvious to me.

    1. To escape the ‘Welsh language party’ tag Plaid decided that the way to go was to be more socialist than the Labour Party. Apparently ignorant of the fact that most Labour voters are not socialist at all; they vote Labour for the same reasons stockbrokers vote Tory – out of self-interest.

      Plaid Cymru has got it wrong so many times, over the language, over socialism, over cwtching up the Greens, over ditching Dafydd Wigley, and now with fixating over Brexit, that you have to wonder who’s pulling their strings. A while ago someone used the term ‘managed opposition’ on this blog, and they could be right.

      1. CambroUiDunlainge

        Aye. There’s talk about the SNP and yet Plaid has never made any attempt to become a big tent party like them. Don’t agree with how they’ve dealt with Brexit at all. They’ve acted like another establishment party instead of trying to work out their own way forward… which is something they need to be able to do if they intend to be in government and lead our country towards Independence.

        I think the next decision they make will pretty much decide their future. If NM isn’t allowed back in then it’s going to cause division. If Plaid fail to make significant ground come next elections in these most troubling times that’s pretty much it for them. Those divisions will grow into canyons.

        1. After the vote Plaid Cymru should have sat down and asked, ‘Why did so many Welsh people vote for Brexit?’ The answer they should have come up with is, ‘Because they feel that they and their communities have been abandoned. Nobody cares about them’.

          At which point Plaid Cymru should have sat down and thought, ‘Right, how do we reach out to these people, our people, in areas that we have to win to have any chance of electoral success, let alone independence?’ But instead, Plaid Cymru said (in so many words) ‘You stupid, racist fuckers, we’re off to join the metropolitan elite you so detest’.

          There will be a price to pay for this contemptuous attitude.

          1. Jonesy

            They did not actually say that, but i am puzzled as to how they are going to ‘reach out’! I noticed they had wished a happy uid this week, i scrolled back to see if they had wished a happy easter or pasach but did not find such greetings on their rainbow badged page…. i have nothing against these issurs but it seems that metropolitanism still trumps ( xcuse pun) grass roots politics..

  2. Recommended by a Friend

    Plaid has changed its head but not its body. The Woodists are in control, dead wood in the central office and the clueless AM group, are still all in love with Labour. Labour is telling them to get rid of McEvoy which they will shortly do. Form the next government in Cardiff Bay, what a joke.

    1. Yes, that’s the word I’m getting – the Red Queen may be gone but her followers are still in control of Plaid Cymru, supported by Labour and Deryn. Which does not bode well for Neil McEvoy.

      1. Eos Pengwern

        There’s still a welcome for him in Ein Gwlad whenever he wants to come over. He’ll feel much more at home with us.

          1. Dafis

            Neil McEvoy should move at earliest possible as it would give time to build momentum for the new party’s campaign for next Cynulliad elections.
            He will be a big threat to Labour no matter which party he represents and his grounded no-bullshit approach should fit neatly into the EG framework.
            Plaid party activists might be split but the electorate will be able to see the difference between the real deal offered by McEvoy and the shallow crap spouting from hard core Plaid “loyalists” and Labour “drones”.

  3. Brychan

    On the subject of your “clarification” that supporting Brexit is not a principle but a means to an end. This is the position of the RMT, my trade union. The points are listed here..

    https://www.rmt.org.uk/news/rmt-sets-out-six-key-reasons-for-leaving-the-eu/

    The RMT is the only major trade union to take this stance. A trade union which recognises the EU, as an institution, fails to protect workers rights and assists in the privatisation of the railway network, but ironically, it’s the only trade union left which is in a position to seriously hold the UK government to account.

    In reality if ASLEF or RMT or both, goes on strike, then London seizes up. While the UK state is set up so London gets everything, it’s also, as the railways demonstrate, the Achilles heel of the UK as a nation state.

    https://morningstaronline.co.uk/articleb/aslef-votes-maintain-anti-eu-position
    ASLEF has a similar position on the matter.

    I also question how easy it has been for Ford to close the Bridgend engine plant. If there had been technical investment and South Wales had been the future of the automotive industry (electric cars and full commitment to new breed engines) they would not have closed the plant so easily. In fact, it would have been a reason to remain in the EU, but that reason was absent.

    There are three things that can happen and the question is which will happen first.

    (1) Independence for Scotland.
    (2) London bought to a halt by industrial action.
    (3) Unification of Ireland.

    https://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/scottish-independence/scottish-referendum-rmt-declares-itself-in-favour-of-independence-9712621.html
    RMT supports Scottish Independence.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z7sPjoWklTs{removetoplay}

    All three would be a perfect storm, but sadly Wales will be on the sidelines, with Plaid Cymru running to the hills for a love-in with tepee dwellers. I do hope Jac is willing to publish this comment. This is the REAL left. Politically socialist. Not the trendy whinging of the affluent middle classes. It’s the left of the ordinary workers.

  4. With these things going on Wales will indeed be on the sidelines, to begin with. But there’s no way that Wales can remain unaffected if Scotland becomes independent, Ireland reunifies, and England is in chaos, or worse, run by a Johnson and Farage in tandem.

    As I keep saying – the more radical the changes elsewhere then the more likely Wales is to be affected. If that perfect storm comes about then people who have never advocated independence will see things differently.

  5. D

    What are Plaid for? They are alienating their supporters in the Heartlands and don’t want the likes of McEvoy. Both these elements are more likely to vote for the Brexit Party [or Ein Gwlad?] rather than go for an international and socialist enterprise in which case they would have voted Labour. Plaid are now just fighting for the third sector and public sector vote which keeps Labour in power in Wales and who Labour look after and will do it in an nasty way as well if they have to [with Deryn’s help?].

    The people want Brexit in Wales yet Adam, Leanne & co will not deliver it. If Adam Price thinks people want to remain or anti Brexit why didn’t Plaid get the most votes?

    1. Perhaps the biggest mistake Plaid Cymru made was in deluding itself that the way to win Labour voters was to offer them a more socialist party. Believing that showed how out of touch with ordinary people Plaid’s leadership had become.

      Though the fundamental problem with Plaid Cymru is that it’s a nationalist party that’s afraid to push a nationalist message. For example, it has refused to speak out on the colonisation of our rural areas, preferring to delude itself (again) that these colonists can be won over, ignoring the fact that for every Mike Parker or Liz Saville-Roberts, who adapt to a different country with its own identity, there are fifty or more who see Wales as just a nice place to live, cheap house prices, attractive scenery, no ‘ethnics’.

      Brexit is another escape from reality. People ‘didn’t understand the issues’ or they’ve ‘changed their minds’. Rather than engage with our people Plaid’s leadership chooses to act in a superior and condescending fashion while lining up with elements that if they think about us at all do so in a patronising manner.

      We need a party that speaks a nationalist message to Welsh people: ‘This country is yours and its benefits should be yours’. The classic and traditional message to a downtrodden and marginalised people in a colonial situation. I’m sure Ein Gwlad will be that party.

  6. Dafis

    Picking up on Brychan’s earlier comment/info regarding ASLEF +RMT perhaps individual members of those unions in Wales should be persuaded to shun their robotic adherence to the Labour party. They could join Ein Gwlad where they will get a chance to develop some ideas of contemporary value instead of being treated as third class sources of meagre membership fees undeserving of proper representation. How can a normal working man regard the likes of those moronic dames Abbott and Thornberry in London and the Drakeford clique in Cardiff as relevant to their views and aspirations ? A bit of local canvassing might prove productive in due course and would prove a good case study in grass roots activity.

    1. Brychan

      Predecessors of the RMT founded of the Labour party back in 1900. However it no longer affiliated to the Labour Party. The RMT was expelled from the Labour Party in 2004 due to activity in Scotland. It had affiliated to the Scottish Socialist Party (SSP) led by Tommy Sheridan and supports Scottish independence. When Corbyn was made leader of Labour in London in 2017 the RMT did consider re-affiliation to Labour but this was rejected by the membership. Since then, the Labour Party has died in Scotland.

      RMT is organised as a ‘region’ in Scotland, but in Wales the regions are South West England & South Wales with North West England & North Wales. Not being organised on a national basis has severely limited the unions’ political influence in Wales (loss of GWR buffet and pay cuts for cleaners), unlike in Scotland. At one time the RMT (Wrexham) did donate to the election fund of Plaid Cymru but that relationship has since soured. They have sponsored some individual election funds (Antoniw, Pontypridd) and (Waters, Llanelli) but this is on an ad-hoc basis. I understand the status of McEvoy is a ‘talking point’ of RMT in the Cardiff branches.

  7. Dafis

    Your tweets this morning illustrate clearly the difference between today’s flabby culture ( Cardiff brunch scene, wtf !!) and the sense of purpose that had developed over 50 years ago ( Dai Bonar, FWA/ASL, the early Cymdeithas, Adfer etc ) all stifled or diluted by entryists into Plaid who had a warped agenda which still directs its energies today. That’s a subversive 5th column that guys like Hitler and Stalin would have admired. Trust the British establishment to be good at something utterly negative.

    1. Someone in a comment earlier described Plaid Cymru as a ‘controlled opposition’. A party designed to give a certain impression but ultimately designed to never really fulfil that role.

      1. Dafis

        Some time, maybe years ago, in an exchange with Gwilym we spun out the phrase “corpse in our armchair” as it was better than dog in the manger to describe Plaid’s self appointed role as the party for independence. Nothing’s changed since other than maybe it’s even worse.

        1. That about sums it up, and if anybody tries to breathe life into the ‘corpse’ – e.g. Wigley, McEvoy – then he pays the price.

  8. David Smith

    Did you manage to resolve the “ishoos” (couldn’t resist!) With the comment replies disappearing or perhaps not being delivered at all? Have any fellow-commenters had similar problems? Probably best not to hit reply to this comment in response, haha.

          1. David Smith

            Alright well my dummy entries to this multi-tiered mini-thread are getting a “comment awaiting moderation” message so perhaps it was me not allowing the page to refresh or something before.

            1. David Smith

              And they’ve since been through to the other side and submitted for the crucial Jac approval so I guess all is well!

Now what do you have to say?

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.