Playground Wales 2, Remedies

INTRODUCTION

In addition to the previous post on tourism I also put out a message on Twitter and Facebook last week reminding people that Gwynedd Council was consulting over whether, or by how much, to raise council tax on holiday homes. The ability to raise council tax on second homes and empty homes being just one of a number of changes we can look forward to in the housing market.

gwynedd-council-tax

Holiday homes also face the possibility of higher Stamp Duty Land Tax when this is devolved in April 2018. (As do Buy-to-Let properties.) Or rather, from that date, we shall see Stamp Duty replaced with a new Land Transaction Tax, to bring Wales into line with the Scottish and UK governments. There was a consultation process, but few responded, seeing as it was not well advertised and ran from July 13 to the end of August.

High summer is an odd time to hold a public consultation process, but while the rest of us were sipping mint juleps and humming Summertime, you can be sure that the organisations representing holiday home owners and private landlords were beavering away ensuring that those they represent had their concerns noted.

Another change is that the ‘Welsh’ Government is now empowered to introduce a tourist tax of the kind found across Europe in cities and regions experiencing large numbers of tourists, with the money raised then used to fund those local services that tourists use but otherwise would not pay for.

Taken together, and implemented imaginatively, as an integrated system, these changes could have wide-ranging and far-reaching implications, all of which would be beneficial to the national interest. Let’s look at these measures in a little more detail.

COUNCIL TAX ON SECOND HOMES

This is an issue that provokes a great deal of debate and passion, and tends to divide people along rather predictable lines. For example, how many second home owners will support increasing council tax on their properties? And how many of those attending one of the regular Meibion Glyndŵr Reunion Dinners (black tie affairs) will argue for anything less than a 500% increase?

A great deal of nonsense is talked in defence of second homes. Here are some of the arguments we’ve heard ad nauseum over the years.

‘To raise council tax on holiday homes in Wales would be racist’. Which is one way of confirming that they are overwhelmingly English owned.

‘Holiday homes put a lot of money into the local economy’. Which wants us to believe that a property lived in for two or three months a year puts more into the local economy than that same property would if lived in permanently by a local family.

‘Nobody else wanted to buy it’. Of course not, you conducted a comprehensive local survey, didn’t you?

‘People would stop coming here’. Why? And as I say, holiday homes often put little into the local economy. Something brought home to me a few weeks ago as I was a-sauntering through Aberdyfi.

A builder crossed the road and asked, ‘Are you Royston Jones?’ Despite not knowing him, and being unsure of his position, I nevertheless answered in the affirmative. After which he introduced himself and we discussed this and that. He’d been in school with my kids and he seemed an easy-going sort of bloke until, while discussing holiday homes, he made it clear that one thing that really pissed him off was holiday home owners bringing in tradesmen from their home area, rather than giving work to locals.

I knew exactly what he was talking about. My wife looks after a holiday home in our village for a family from the East Midlands (she has done for a few decades). Earlier this year there was a builder from the same area working on the property for months, and living in it while he worked. So here we had an example of local tradesmen denied work and local B&Bs denied business.

There is no doubt that raising council tax on holiday homes would encourage some owners to sell and deter others from buying. And the greater the increase then the greater the encouragement/deterrent. More importantly, increasing council tax on holiday homes would bring more properties into full-time use, and this would lead to more vibrant towns and villages, because shops, pubs and other facilities struggle to survive in communities with too many properties empty for most of the year. And this is not just a Welsh problem.

Consequently, there is no sensible or rational argument against raising council tax on holiday homes across Wales, which is why opponents of such moves are forced to employ absurd arguments. Here are a couple of examples that the Cambrian News (where else?) carried some three years ago, when the subject of council tax on holiday homes was being discussed. (Click to enlarge.)

cambrian-news-letters-1

According to Eric Richards of Aberdyfi, second homes are essential to the local economy. He seems to believe that a property ceasing to be a holiday home would remain empty and fall derelict. Another blind spot is failing to understand that Aberdyfi is not representative of Gwynedd. The economy of Bangor – the largest settlement – is based on higher education, administration, the retail sector, etc. The economy of north Gwynedd as a whole would hardly notice a doubling of the council tax paid on holiday homes.

While ‘Pat Beaumont’ believes that increasing council tax “borders on racism”, and might result in “property burning starting again”. Quite how tackling the problem of holiday homes would lead to “property burning” is not explained. Does the writer envision an arson campaign being waged by those feeling aggrieved because they’ve sold their holiday homes to locals?

LAND TRANSACTION TAX (FORMERLY STAMP DUTY)

The new Land Transaction Tax (from April 2018) offers another tool with which to reduce the numbers of holiday homes, or certainly to tax sales of holiday homes and invest the funding gained in the wider community. Of course there are issues to be resolved, fine tuning needed here and there, but a feel for the issues involved can be found in the Summary of Responses (to the consultation process).

As I suggested in the Introduction, those in the know, the property professionals and the business associations, made sure their views were known. The Summary tells us there were six, formal written responses, and these came from:

1/ Chartered Institute of Taxation and Stamp Taxes Practitioners Group

2/ Residential Landlords Association

3/ National Association of Estate Agents

4/ KPMG

5/ Central Association of Agricultural Valuers

6/ Wales Association of Self-Catering Operators

I bet you didn’t even know there was a Chartered Institute of Taxation and Stamp Taxes Practitioners Group (and it is ‘Chartered’, not ‘Charted’, as it says in the Summary).

Many of these organisations of course operate within an Englandandwales framework, which explains their wish that there “should be ‘only one rate throughout the UK’.” Though I suggest that the ‘Welsh’ Government be guided by what’s best for Wales, not what’s convenient for the National Association of Estate Agents.

The current Stamp Duty does not apply to the following categories: property purchases of £40,000 or less; caravans, mobile homes and houseboats; non-residential transactions; employer provided accommodation; and certain purchases of leasehold interests subject to specified conditions.

Seeing as those responding to the survey were asked if they agreed with these exceptions it’s reasonable to assume that these are not set in stone. Which would mean that it’s within the powers of the ‘Welsh’ Government to reduce the threshold to £10,000 or less and apply the new Land Transaction Tax to the sale of static caravans.

Another imaginative use of the new Tax would be to reduce the numbers retiring to Wales, or certainly make retirees contribute more to the country in which they plan to spend their declining years. There is nothing heartless or racist about this, it’s pure economics.

Everyone – and here I really do mean everyone – agrees that the ‘advanced world’ is facing a demographic time-bomb with its ageing population. With a decreasing percentage of the population in work, paying the taxes needed, it becomes more and more of a burden on the national purse to support the growing numbers of elderly people.

Therefore, any country or territory attracting elderly people from outside of its borders has problems. Any country actively encouraging another country’s older people to move in is behaving irresponsibly.

Yet in Wales, this is exactly what we do, by allowing, even encouraging, the building of tens of thousands of new properties in rural and coastal areas that planners – and here I include the Planning Inspectorate – know will not be bought by local people, some of them will even be marketed over the border as ‘retirement properties’. And yet politicians and civil servants refuse to publicly admit what they all know – attracting large numbers of elderly migrants inevitably results in an overburdened health service and other issues.

I know I’ve used this example before, but it explains perfectly what I’m talking about. In the area where I live, south west Gwynedd between Barmouth and Aberdyfi, the 2011 census told us that the 65+ age group makes up 30.1% of the population. And within that age group 65% was born in England.

The figure for the percentage of the population in the 65+ age group is 20.7% for Gwynedd as a whole. For Flintshire it’s 17.6%. For Cardiff 13.2%.

Gwynedd SW Wards merged

This is not natural. This is not sustainable. This is a recipe for disaster for our health service and our wider economy. Unless of course you believe that retirement homes and the like, paying the minimum wage or less, can be the foundation for a healthy economy.

A partial remedy lies in applying a higher level of the new Land Transaction Tax – why not double? – to persons over the age of 50 moving to Wales who have never previously lived here. The extra funding could go straight into the Welsh NHS.

TOURIST TAX

As I’ve said above, tourist taxes of various kinds can be found around the world and, increasingly, across Europe. This article from lovemoney.com explains the tourist taxes you can expect to pay in a variety of countries. If we look at the figures for Italy we see that – as in other countries – different cities and regions charge different rates. Rome charges €6 a night to stay in a four-star hotel whereas Palermo, on Sicily, charges just €2. Florence charges €2.50 a night for self-catering, Milan charges nothing.

venice

There is no reason why Gwynedd couldn’t charge £2 a head per night for self-catering, including static caravans, but Merthyr, or some other area wanting to attract more visitors, could decide against any charge at all. The system across Europe seems to be left to local authorities to decide and it could be the same in Wales.

The Bevan Foundation discussed the issue in February and said, “We suggest that a tourism tax should operate in Wales as a per night charge on hotel room and holiday park stays, capped at seven nights. The tax would be collected and managed by local authorities, and the money raised would be allocated to fund local authority and police services.”

For once I find myself agreeing with the Bevan Foundation (God!), the money raised by a tourist tax must stay within the area where it has been collected and used for the benefit of the local people, the majority of whom derive no benefit from tourism. The money raised must not, as the tourism operators will demand, be spent on encouraging more tourists.

And as for something else we’ll hear –‘This will drive people away!’ The continental experience is that it doesn’t. It’s just a small surcharge that ensures tourism puts something back into the communities it affects. The greater that effect, then the more that should be put back. (And with the post-Brexit pound plummeting and hard times ahead, now is the ideal time for Wales to introduce a tourist tax, ready for the 2017 season.)

CONCLUSION

With a co-ordinated strategy using legislation already in place or soon to be enacted we could achieve a number of what I consider to be desirable objectives:

  • By increasing council tax on second homes, and also using the new Land Transaction Tax, we could greatly reduce the numbers of holiday homes and make the dwellings released available to the wider community.
  • By applying the Land Transaction Tax and a tourist tax to static caravans, but exempting serviced accommodation, we could take the first step on the long road to removing the hideous caravan sites that mar our coastlines and replacing them with hotels and other establishments that will provide more jobs and put more money into local economies.
  • By applying the Land Transaction Tax (and perhaps Council Tax) selectively to retirees we could reduce the pressures on the NHS and various services in many parts of the country. Again, this could be done by district. For example, increase the LTT for those wanting to retire to Pembrokeshire and Conwy, but not to Wrexham and Neath Port Talbot.

There will of course be obstacles to making any of this happen.

To begin with, there will be those who’ll argue, ‘Oh, but caravans and care homes are the basis of our local economy’. If anyone really believes that then what they consider to be ‘the local economy’ is no better than living in the shadow of a big house, surviving off scraps and cast-offs, and constantly being lied to about ‘generosity’.

Yet the defenders of caravan sites and care homes will not all be beaten and brainwashed, for some people make a lot of money from them. These will not give up easily. There will also be well-connected interests opposing Wales using the Land Transaction Tax, council tax and tourist tax in her own interests.

Finally we can guarantee opposition from the ‘Welsh’ politicians in London, who see their role as opposing anything that might benefit Wales . . . if there’s the remotest possibility it might harm England’s interests. Also the civil servants in Wales, advising our Assembly and ‘Welsh’ Government, but answerable to London. And with so many senior officers in local government having no loyalty to Wales we can expect hostility from that quarter too.

It will be an uphill struggle to change a system that has been in place for centuries in order to start running Wales in the interests of the Welsh. The tools are available; it’s now a question of having the will, the courage, to use those tools.

But it must be done, because living in the shadow of the big house has never served our interests. And nowadays, the big house is not what it was; cracks are appearing and they’re struggling to pay the bills. They’ve also started drinking, shouting at the neighbours and anybody else who comes too close.

It’s time to put up a little fence, nothing too intimidating, just enough to make them understand that this side of the fence belongs to us. They’re still welcome to come . . . but on our terms.

END 

42 thoughts on “Playground Wales 2, Remedies

  1. dafis

    paid tourist tax in early Sept in Spain. 10.50Euros per week per person. O.K it niggles when you pay it and as yet its positive impact on local environment remains to be seen. Local hoteliers were saying that EU led austerity programmes were a major factor behind intro of such tax, as other funding lines had been cut back. However they do make a real effort to present an all round clean picture sweeping the beach at 6.30 a.m and emptying bins long before they were overfull. Notably most of the real f***ing pigs in that place were assorted Brits with Brummies and Mancs vying for pole position on the slovenly, dirty shabby chart. Sadly young Welsh girls tended to let the side down as well, but were relatively few in numbers. German and other northern Euro visitors were notably civilised – Anglo Brit Brexiters please note.

      1. dafis

        Offa built the dyke (with help) to keep us to the west. With passing of time we got used to it. Perhaps now is the time to design a modern obstacle ( a Trump design, perhaps ) that will keep those from the east under control. Amajority of English voted to control immigration, we should have the same right also !

  2. The Earthshaker

    Interesting post there’s nothing controversial in what you’ve suggested at all, all three are enacted in countries around the world in one form or another. What makes Wales different is the brainwashing of the populace over decades and the self-interest and spinelessness of our politicians.

    Politics make unusual alliances, we’ve all been there, but if even the Labour front that is the Bevan Foundation believes a Tourist Tax is needed in Wales then it’s going to be difficult for Labour Ministers not to act on it surely?

    And there’s another more pressing reason for Carwyn and Co to act constructively with these new powers and that’s to ensure the Welsh Assembly’s survival in this toxic post Brexit climate where anything that sets Wales apart or benefits the population is a legitimate target to be undermined by Tories, Kippers and venal Welsh MP’s which we’ve already seen play out with the endless pushing of the Great British nonsense at every opportunity.

    1. The primary responsibility of the ‘Welsh’ Government is to safeguard and, wherever possible, improve the well-being of those who live in Wales. The measures I’ve suggested do exactly that. And if they are not to be used for the benefit of the people of Wales then what is the point of giving the ‘Welsh Government these powers? Or come to that, what is the point of devolution?

      It’s like giving a hungry man money but telling him he can’t spend it on food.

  3. Brychan

    I don’t think doubling the council tax on second homes will work. It hasn’t in Cornwall, and they’ve been doing this for years. In some instances, it’s counter productive. It’s not actually evicted any holiday homers in Cornwall or Cumbria. In some places exaggerated property prices. An extra £1000 a year deters the low grade affluent, but makes a property more exclusive and attractive to the super-affluent. You just get a posher punter. Also, it should be remembered that the majority of income to the local authority is by direct grant (Barnett augmented slice of UK taxation) which is based upon census figures. Holiday homers don’t show up as residents, absent from the census, no matter the rate of local charge.

    Jac points out something (the REAL problem) in his analysis of age profile and identifying the land transaction tax (cost of acquisition). As he points out, this depends on the nature of the purchaser. He suggests “over the age of 50 moving to Wales who have never previously lived here”. That would allow Welsh people who have made there wealth elsewhere (often by necessity not by choice) to return to their homeland, while at the same time preventing retirees, the most expensive users of public services, decamping to rural Wales from urban affluent England. Dare I use the words ‘white flighters’.

    Like Jac, I also find myself in agreement with the Bevan Foundation on Tourism Tax.

    Not only does this provide an income to pay for the costs to infrastructure to cope, it can also be used to elongate the season. Cheaper rate off-peak, most expensive in peak season. This is exactly what every other country in the world does, but we’re not allowed to do this in Wales, by England. The problem is explained on the traffic reports on Radio Wales (if so inclined). In summer it starts off with congestion M4 westbound at Pont Abraham and A55 westbound at Penmaenbach. In winter it’s the Coldra or the A470 southbound at Taffs Well that reclaims top slot traffic bulletins. That just about sums up Gwesty Cymru.

    1. I would use tourism tax combined with Land Transaction Tax and Council Tax to mount an assault on static caravans, while going easier on serviced accommodation. If done properly, and ignoring the whining from site owners and those with caravans, this could help clean up our countryside and coastline while increasing business for those establishments more likely to create jobs and buy from local supplier. Also, extend the season.

      1. Serviced accommodation = pandering to the rich. Clearly you hate the poor, the old, and anyone who has the misfortune of not being born Welsh. What a lovely person you must be. And I used to think (esp. post-Brexit) that the English were the arch xenophobes in these blessed isles!

        1. You are a very silly boy. When I talk of ‘serviced accommodation’ I am not thinking 5 star hotels in Aberporth and Barmouth, I look forward to hundreds of small, family-run hotels such as one finds across the continent. This has nothing to do with hating the poor, of which, incidentally, I am one.

          As for the old – of which I am also one – do you deny that thousands of elderly people from England moving to rural and coastal areas of Wales impose no extra burden on the health services of an already poor country?

          And if this is about Welsh and English, then such considerations are unavoidable in a colonial situation. The enemies of Wales are aware of this, but because they wield the power they never need to articulate the true nature of the relationship, nor their motives, or their intentions. We do, and I shall.

          Now go away and exhibit your silliness somewhere else.

        2. Brychan

          Marconatrix..

          The toll prices on the Severn Bridge are as follows…
          Car £6.60 (no extra charge for caravans).
          Van (small or big) £13.20.

          So on the Magor approach all summer on a Friday evening, those touring caravans in the queue pay nothing extra to come to Wales but the working class fitter/electrician/welder from the valleys who’s got a contract job in Swindon or Bristol with the tools in the back of the van, pays double, just to get home.

          So FFS don’t pull the “class” card on the valleys.

          Perhaps if we put a height restrictor on the Bryn Glas tunnels to decapitate the caravaners, sending the HGVs round the Llanwern distributor road. We’d then be able to divert the £1.6billion earmarked for the ‘congestion’ upgrade of the M4 on a new railway line from Carmarthen to Aberystwyth instead.

          Is this xenophobic?

          1. I didn’t realise that towed caravans crossed for free but a small van, no bigger than a car(?), pays the same as a removal van. Where is the logic in that? Why has it gone unreported?

        3. dafis

          Marco – there’s me thinking you had exhibited signs of growing up, of making mature observations, and asking relevant questions. You are well familiar with the prevailing context here in Wales and those issues touched upon above. To come out with that line of unadulterated bollocks about hating the poor, the old and any foreigner is evidence of you adopting your “troll persona”, as you are well informed and have the capacity to join in reasoned discussion, and banter if it pleases you. But not that tired line of old crap.

    2. The concept of second-home owners paying 200% council tax in Cornwall would be news to me. What did happen is the *discount* they previously enjoyed was reduced and then later removed. From the Cornwall Council website:

      “Second Homes
      In 2013, the Government amended regulations to allow councils to reduce the level of discount awarded for empty properties which are furnished, often referred to as second homes. Cornwall Council reduced the 10% discount awarded to these properties to 0%.”

      Of course one way around having a surcharge would be that suddenly on paper the holiday home in Cornwall is the main home, and the primary residence in Berkshire or wherever is now the ‘second’ home.

  4. YBarddCwsc

    The Gwynedd council website that Jac linked to states

    “Gwynedd is the county with the highest rate of second homes in England and Wales. In July 2016 there were 4,867 second homes paying Council Tax which would be eligible to pay the premium.”

    Does this data even seem plausible? Judged by darkened homes on winter evenings, some towns in Gwynedd must be almost 50 per cent second homes.

    My guess is that the number of second homes in Gwynedd is substantially greater than 4,867. How come this number is so low?

    If Gwynedd Council can only identify 4,867 second homes, then the money raised by the Premium Tax will be very modest.

    1. dafis

      That’s how many they CHOOSE to identify. If you have a problem but lack the bottle to sort it then a tendency to understate the problem is a convenient remedy.

    2. I think you’re right about there being more holiday homes than the council admits to. Let’s hope that when it becomes worthwhile to identify and tax them that the council finds them.

    3. Brychan

      There is no such thing as a ‘record of holiday homes’. I would expect the 4,867 identified in Gwynedd to ‘disappear’ by the time the premium comes into force, using avoidance techniques. The 4,867 total is the number of ‘second homes’ in any local authority area is the number of households which return an electoral registration form with the box ticked ‘no voters at this address because it is a second home’. There is no definition of ‘holiday home’ in the legislation.

      Holiday home owners in Gwynedd will be able to avoid paying a premium payment in council tax via the following methods :

      (a) Designating the second home wholly as the main home address. To do this you need to be on the local electoral register, register with the local GP, driving and passport details, and the correspondence address for the inland revenue. The original address ‘first home’ becomes the second home for council tax purposes. The disadvantage to the owners in doing this is that the original family home is subject to capital gains tax when sold.
      (b) Designating the second home as the partial home address. In the case of a couple not married or in a social partnership, one partner has the holiday home as their main residential address, the other partner has the original home as their main residential address. In this case both homes are subject to a single person council tax discount. The disadvantage to this method of avoidance is if the relationship breaks down, each partner has a claim the relevant designated property.
      (c) Designating the second home as a commercial premises. As a ‘holiday let’ any income is subject to commercial taxation, and exempt from council tax completely. It would be necessary to do a ‘use’ change via the planning system, to take the property out of normal residential status. It is likely that most of the larger and most valuable holiday homes have their status changed.
      (d) Passing the main home over to the children in the seven-year title gift arrangement. In this way the children can avoid inheritance tax and get to own the main residence. The primary owner will get to retire to the holiday home as a main residence. The disadvantage of this method of avoidance is that you cannot die seven years after retirement without the kids getting hit with a hefty tax bill, and of cource, the retiree becomes a permanent settler in the holiday home. Most ‘holiday home households’ in Gwynedd are of this type.

      Gwynedd council do not employ ‘snoops’ to check to see if a property is majority occupied as the ‘main residential address’ or to investigate the ‘sleeping arrangements’ of couples to partially designate. There is case law on this issue in Cornwall and because the main bulk of legislation on council tax relate to the ‘type of property’ rather than the ‘type of occupancy’ (it’s easy to identify a student, a vicar, or a soldier) it’s very difficult to define, in law, what a ‘person on holiday’ is. The council tax premium legislation in Wales has little practical use, a blunt instrument. There is no legal definition of ‘Welsh’. UK border agency can only remove or identify in law, non EU persons (perhaps non UK persons after Brexit).

      1. The system is obviously not perfect and we may need a better system for categorically identifying second homes. Using the the ‘snoopers’ you mention would be one method, because I would be prepared to identify all the holiday homes in my village.

        Other methods might be checking electricity and gas consumption, because if little or none is used for the winter months other than the occasional weekend it could be assumed that that property is a second home.

        In this age of computerised records it should also be easy enough to check on someone with an address in Wales, suspected of having a holiday home, to see if they are registered at an address elsewhere. If so, then answers are needed.

        This new legislation provides an opportunity for Carwyn and his gang to put their thinking-caps on and come up with the safeguards to ensure that this legislation works, because there are plenty who want it to fail. At the very least, there should be daunting fines for those caught cheating the system.

        1. Brychan

          I would expect anyone with central heating in a holiday home to have a ‘holiday’ setting on the boiler. This setting kicks in if the ambient temperature drops below 8 degrees. All modern gas boilers have this feature designed to protect a property from damp and frost. Energy consumption might be an indicator but it’s not a clincher. Another indicator is those who isolate the water supply for winter. You could invest in a ‘snoop stick’ to check the winter heating oil levels of those cottages that are off-grid. If questioned by GogPlod just say you’re checking up on the winter welfare of the elderly

          There is a provision in English case law in Cornwall (fishermen) and Cumbria (nuclear contractors) relating to ‘main residential address’. This allows people ‘working away’ to maintain a non premium property when ‘main residential address’ in a holiday area even when sometimes the majority of the time as spent living at another address. Can be visa versa. As with the Cumbria example, this may become an ‘issue’ in Amlwch if Ynys Mon adopts the premium policy.

          There is also the ‘familial’ connection to the area provision. It can be used to designate a second home as the main home. In most cases these provisions would allow ‘Welsh’ people not to fall foul of the premium charge due to employment. I know someone from Gwynedd who works in Cardiff and has a second address in Llantrisant. Goes home most weekends with Nain Cymraig in a Gwynedd care home. I do hope this person will not be ‘premium taxed’ while an English owned cottage gets to use an avoidance technique.

          The only reliable method, without the council being embroiled in controversy, is the ‘tick box’ for second home on the electoral role declaration form. Failure to reply is a civil offence and to reply untruthfully a criminal offence. This is probably the reason why only 4,867 have been identified in Gwynedd. I would expect at least double that, most being households who have failed to return the electoral role declaration form. Any person who subsequently registers to vote at two different addresses can be arrested.

          1. YBarddCwsc

            Brychan, I think this does suggest that very little money would be raised. The cost of identifying second home owners & enforcing the tax will be comparable to the extra monies obtained.

            “Any person who subsequently registers to vote at two different addresses can be arrested.”

            Again, I think enforcement will be a problem here. This will be both hard & expensive to police.

            In any case, one second home I know is owned by a German family. Another neighbour has a home in Merionnydd and a home in France.

            It might be easier to deal with this when houses are bought or sold. If you already have a home, then the Stamp Duty can be doubled.

  5. dafis

    Jac, I’m a voice of slight dissent regarding the matter of football teams wanting to wear a poppy to which you refer in your Tweets column.

    As a Welsh fan I would wear a poppy and support my team to do so, if they so wished, as tribute to those of our nation who gave their lives in various conflicts. That does not mean that I endorse the entry into those conflicts or the aims of the Anglo Brit government in general. I merely pay homage to those who went, often not having any choice in the matter.

    I object ( if that is a sufficiently strong word ? ) to the way the Anglo Brit London-centred political elite have hijacked Armistice Day and the poppy, and sadly the Legion appears to have colluded with them. Watching a succession of political criminals – Blair, Cameron et al – going through the motions every year, knowing well that none of those bastards would ever bear arms or send their sons to war makes me sick. Then the sharp antidote is watching generations of ordinary guys and girls – the real warriors who have memories stained with pain and horror – pay their quiet, modest tribute. They are the ones who matter. That shower in Westminster, well almost all of them anyway, aren’t worth a second thought.

    Mrs May by her rant today has showed us that she too is as dishonest as her predecessors. She has more in common with the upper echelons of FIFA than most of us is prepared to imagine ! Meanwhile those on the other side of “the House” are just adopting a contrary stance without offering anything by way of an alternative. One of your correspondents recently highlighted the antics of a Jo Stevens, Corbyn’s man in Wales, who can’t be bothered to turn out on Welsh issues. What a fuckin’ trollop ! And that pattern of contrarian behaviours is repeated right across the mix of policy areas. Vaz, Abbott, etc etc all giants of modern politics !!

    It’s a shame really that so many of our veterans were so thoroughly brainwashed over decades since WW2 because if they began, in numbers, to see through the tissue of fabrication and bullshit they would form a really useful force to turf out the spivs and frauds that inhabit our politics today.

    1. I’m old enough to remember when Armistice Day and Remembrance Sunday meant something. It was ordinary people paying tribute to those who’d died, and back in the 1950s almost everybody could remember someone who had died in WWI or WWII. It is now 71 years since the end of WWII and all we’ve had since – thankfully – is minor conflicts, which means that few people nowadays have lost a close relative or friend.

      Yet we are exhorted to celebrate the Glorious Dead with more enthusiasm now than when I was a boy. The poppy cult is contrived, engineered, and all done for a political purpose. It is related to the ‘Great British’ programmes that fill the television schedules. It’s less about honouring the dead than serving a contemporary political agenda. (Personally, I blame the SNP.)

      Because the poppy has now been appropriated as a symbol of British nationalism, FIFA was right to refuse permission for footballers to wear poppies.

      I have worn a poppy in the past, but I can’t see me wearing one again until it’s depoliticised, and returns to its original purpose.

      1. dafis

        I follow nearly all of that but where did the SNP drop its clanger ?

        I don’t object either to paying tribute to the people who have died or been scarred by conflicts such as Iraq and Afghanistan, not because I think that mob in London was right to join in with the “cartel’s crusade”, but simply I have some regard for those sent to do the hard graft while the fat cats idle away in their dives. With each passing year my hatred for the likes of Blair and Cameron intensifies, the common “wisdom” says that such feelings should fade away, but if I bumped into them I could tear out their throats to ease my hate. Who knows, one day ………….

          1. Big Gee

            Same here Jac. I’ve always declined wearing a poppy, from a very early age I’ve always seen it as a glorification of war, not just the wearing of a red poppy, but the ridiculous propaganda celebrations that go with it.

            OF COURSE it’s a political thing. The poor people whose sons have been sacrificed on the altar of wars, which were triggered by a nod from the donkeys who have always led lions. It’s even more sinister, because the root purpose of it is to dupe the masses into celebrating the sacrifices their poor sons have made in ignorance over the centuries. To me it’s akin to murdering your child and then bringing a flower around to the door annually to commemorate the fact. It’s bloody evil, sly and slimy.

            Now, it’s taken on even greater significance, as it’s being used in some perverse way to encourage (Brit) patriotism. What the people need is an apology for the sacrifice, not some attempt at glorifying it.

  6. dafis

    your tweet about loonies taking over the asylum caught my eye, and given this morning’s High Court judgement which appears to direct that any decision over Article 50 must be subjected to a Parliamentary vote can we hope that we may yet see a spectacular tearing apart of the Anglo Brit state.
    Already our local Don, Carwyn, sits on the fence of faux high morality saying that the people ‘ave spoken and we must move towards Brexit but always ‘aving regard for the best interests of our people. Nothing very radical there with bags of elbow room for an about turn as it will be all about “best interests”.

    The Anglo Brit establishment ( Remain branch) is chuckling at the thought of having extended the realistic time frame for any exit programme, while the equally revolting AngloNat end of the spectrum rants and raves and has already started calling for a neo-Cromwellian “revolt” to replace parliament, or at least those fuckers who don’t toe their line, and string up a few dodgy judges.
    Phoney “socialists” are celebrating but worried that come the next General Election a wave of UKIP inspired voter “brutality” could see most of them deselected by the electorate if not already removed by a Corbyn inspired Momentum purge.
    Where is Plaid ? Happy to chugg along with CJ in the Remainer entourage gleefully seeing no further than business as usual in the begging bowl trade.

    This is only part way into day 1 of the phoney war what will it look like in say 2 weeks time ?

  7. Brychan

    Regarding the article in Cambrian News (your picture, above) with an opinion from Eric Richards of Rhos Dyfi (2016) formerly of Tywyn (2003). It should be noted that Eric is a contributor to ‘Stormfront’, White Pride Nazi forum. Below is a link showing him praising Nick Griffin the former leader of the BNP. I take it that the Cambrian News is aware of the individuals they are using to voice opposition to holiday home premium?

    https://www.stormfront.org/forum/t640344/

    1. Bloody hell! But then, it serves to confirm that people like Richards, British or English nationalists, are always anti Welsh.

      Though I recall some 20-odd years ago, in the days of Y Cyfamodwyr and Meibion Glyndwr (though there was never a connection) NF News coming out with a front page lead in support of MG! All done in the hope of tarnishing MG, because of course this ‘support’ was picked up on and used by the media and other enemies of Wales.

      Then, in the run-up to the 1989, 20th anniversary, of the Abergele tragedy, the NF went to the media saying they’d been invited to the commemoration, and they were definitely coming. As one of the organisers I remember traipsing up to the BBC studio in Bangor the day before the event to state categorically that these fuckers had NOT been invited. But of course the media and others lapped it up, and believed what they wanted to believe. The NF did not turn up on the day. They had no intention of turning up. But they succeeded in damaging the commemoration with a few press releases and ‘spokesmen’ appearing under fictitious names on radio programmes, ‘Brax’ was one name I recall.

      This ‘support’ for MG and Abergele was part of a strategy implemented by the NF’s masters at the time in MI5, who were learning these tricks from Roberto Fiore, Italian fascist, ally of Griffin, officially on the run, but welcomed and protected by certain elements in the London power structure.

      The way it had worked in Italy was that extreme fascists – semi-domesticated by the Italian security services – would set off a bomb, the Left would be blamed, the police and security services would clamp down on the Left, the communists would lose support and the Mafia-linked Christian Democrats would be entrenched in power. It all came to a head when the fascists went OTT with the Bologna railway station bomb.

      Obviously it was all lower key over here but the tactic was basically the same. I recall NF News running pieces in support of environmentalists, trade unions, anyone who was regarded as hostile or subversive by the establishment risked being targeted. Obviously, Meibion Glyndwr fell into that category. Before the invention of the internet and social media it was very difficult to disavow or deny such ‘support’.

      But the National Front, the BNP, the EDL were never a threat to the political or social status quo. In fact, they upheld it by making the extreme Right look unattractive to less violent or more cerebral individuals who might otherwise have been attracted, which was good news for the Tories. And explains why, unlike continental countries, England/Britain never saw a party of the far Right gain any real electoral support . . . until now.

      1. dafis

        there was also a strong rumour that some of the deeds attributed to Meibion were the work of some covert (deniable?) wing of British intelligence/security services – M.I 2 and a half perhaps ! These were deviants who enjoyed dirty tricks but had neither the courage or trade craft to go the whole hog and take on the IRA in places like South Armagh. So they were given soft jobs in Wales in an attempt to get some return out of their training costs. Another tool rumored to have been put into use was the deployment of agents provocateur, often drawn from Welsh units and even police forces and Special Branch ! We’ll never know the real truth as it is buried for ever with lots of other skeletons wherever Whitehall shreds its rubbish.

        1. There were certainly some strange characters appearing out of the mists. As there were in the ’60s. And as will always happen to ‘fringe’ groups.

          One I recall from the Cyfamodwyr days was a R T or R ap T. Big bloke, first time I noticed him was falling down the steps leaving the Cilmeri memorial. Had no dealing with him whatsoever, if he hadn’t fallen down those steps a few yards behind me I wouldn’t have remembered him at all.

          Next time I hear of the bugger is when I get a ‘phone call from Wales on Sunday saying, ‘Why do you want to kill this man?’ Seems he’d gone to WoS saying that we wanted to kill him! I denied it and said, quite honestly, that I hardly knew the bloke. Anyway, all this came out in a lurid front page splash that proved to be another nail in the coffin of our organisation.

          A few people told me that R T/R ap T had mental problems, and later still I was told that he’d thrown himself off the Clifton suspension bridge.

          I honestly don’t know what became of him, but I am damn certain that some unscrupulous fucker was using the poor sod to get at us.

          1. Brychan

            There were over 200 ‘burnings of holiday homes’ attributed the Meibion Glyndwr, and a £50,000 reward offered by police was never claimed. Significant facts are (a) no human casualties, (b) concurrent fires throughout y Fro and (c) all were English owned.

            Not even the prov-IRA were able to achieve such an efficiently targeted campaign. This was not the work of ‘hot-heads’or ‘peripheral loons’. The modus operandi clearly indicates professional capability and suggests MI5 were involved at least as ‘agent provocateurs’ and probably conducted at least some of the fire bombings themselves. This was either as a ‘flush out’ or as a concerted campaign to discredit mainstream Welsh nationalism.

            We know at the trial of Sion Aubrey Roberts (who would have been aged seven when the MG campaign started) there were MI5 officers involved, and it was the first time MI5 employees gave evidence (anonymously) in open court about their operations.

            One of the ‘hazards’ of MI5 acting as agent provocateur is that people with evident social, mental health, and identity issues are used as protagonists and sources of information. When MI5 put the screws on such individuals they end up, firstly being used as a kiss-and-tell fantasists by the newspapers and eventually end up topping themselves by jumping off bridges, a case Jac has identified.

            The only people killed by Meibion Glyndwr were the oddballs MI5 used as lug worms.

  8. Myfanwy

    Unfortunately, even though these measures to curb the speculation in the housing market are welcome, they are decades overdue and the proverbial horse has already bolted! People will sit on housing as an assist, unless there is a viable alternative, because Gordon Brown raided people’s pensions pots and encouraged people to invest in housing instead, making them believe in the myth that house prices can only ever go up. People now think that it is a more secure investment to buy property, as the Government and the banks have encouraged them to think this way. All sorts of incentives and stimulus to keep the housing market bubble afloat, including the buy to let scheme, which plays on the notion, of an English man’s castles are his multiple holiday rentals. It is not a free market, as politicians, like Keith Vaz!, have a vested interest in the housing market being propped up, otherwise the market would have been allowed to correct a decade ago, now there is Quantitative easing/ Money printing, etc, anytime the market looks like it might be jittery, which pushes up the cost of living for everyone in the process.

    The Scottish Government are considering increasing council tax in bands for higher priced property, which is exactly how many other countries deal with the problem of speculation, this actually might work.

    http://www.bbc.com/news/uk-scotland-scotland-politics-37837010

    Another option is to stop overseas buyers, speculating in the housing market in sensitive areas such as rural Wales, I noticed there were a number of holiday home owners on some of the holiday cottage sites, who were actually from Canada or America etc, yet they owned farmhouses, cottages etc, which they rent out and probably never stay in themselves, are they actually paying tax?

    There should also be a limit to the amount of property one person or organisation can own. There has been so much greedy speculation, which has not been regulated enough and consequently local Welsh people in rural areas are priced out of the housing market, it should never have been allowed to happen in the first place.

  9. Myfanwy

    I meant asset , not assist! Perhaps another option could be, that more of the housing stock is allocated only to house buyers, who are from the local area, which some councils in holiday destination areas, have already begun to do.

  10. dafydd

    Why should areas such as the English lakes have widely accepted concerns over the impacts of second homes on rural communities whilst Gwynedd is seen as a racist banana republic by English incomers? Whilst Cumbric has long since died out in Cumbria with the coming of the Sais we here in Gwynedd still speak our native toungue, allbeit with increasing difficulty in the face of huge inward migration of colonists who have no desire to integrate and respect their new neighbours! Here the stakes are higher in that the heartland of Welsh culture and language on this planet is at risk by the hands of ‘colonists’ who dont understand and will never understand/empathise. So we must protect our identity and right to exist, despite the apathy of the Sais towards what we cherish so much. This can only be achieved through pushing through legislation to stem and mitigate/reverse the impact our ‘neighbour’ has on the only place we can call our home!

    1. Myfanwy

      I totally agree with you dafydd, it is a matter of cultural survival, we definitely have to overcome the pernicious argument given by incomers, who do not respect our unique language and culture, that protecting our heritage is somehow racist. Through a long and very troubled history, it is obvious that the only way to gain that respect, that has never been given, is through legislation. If all schools in Wales became Welsh Medium, the Welsh language would be protected within a generation, if we had a Welsh Curriculum, then our culture would also be protected and would thrive.

  11. Big Gee

    The old saying is “charity begins at home”, by the same context “justice begins at home”.

    It’s pointless trying to win the argument with yr estron – you can try and do that until you’re blue in the face and drop dead in the process – there’s 53,000,000 of them and about 600,000 of us. The first step on the journey is to educate our own people. It is the silent enemy within, who is an ‘enemy’ due to ignorance that really is the core of the rot.

    Education, education, education through a proper Welsh curriculum is the answer.

    When I tried to convince Plaid of this back in 2002, when I was a vice president in the party, guess what I was accused of? Not by the outsiders but within the party. I was told that it was the policy of a Hitler youth, designed to brainwash!! That’s right – the enemy within with a very unhealthy mindset. Little has changed, in fact it’s probably worse by now.

  12. dafis

    Llais y Sais this morning gives coverage to an upcoming “investment by UK Government” to create a major “public sector hub” in Cardiff, of all places ! Now 5000 reasonably well paid jobs which in turn create real added value i.e manufactured goods or paid for services would be most welcome but my money is on these new roles might not be so new after all – relocated from assorted sites across UK perhaps – with many of the better paid roles going to imported executives who in turn will help keep the house price bubble well inflated in Cardiff , the Vale and other surrounding areas.

    To ever have sufficient cred to be seriously beneficial to Wales a well meaning Brit-phile ( does that do the species justice ? ) would have come up with somewhere like the old Velindre site near Swansea which is within commuting radius of a biggish working population, or the Guardian’s favourite town, Ebbw Vale, where people would enjoy the novelty once again of having jobs near their homes ! Imported senior execs could set up home anywhere from Abergavenny down to Glynneath and enjoy a short run to work every morning. North Wales would be similarly well placed to accomodate such a project if they had the appetite for it.

    However I don’t think that the thought process of Welsh civil servants and their political masters went outside the normal boundaries of “this would be nice in Kairdiff, good for local trade and our stats ” . Cardiff therefore travels at speed to be the Western city state of the Anglo Brit model with little or no real relevance to its Welsh hinterland.

    1. The article at http://www.walesonline.co.uk/business/business-news/locations-bidding-land-public-sector-12130285 already suggests that the number of jobs new to Wales (i.e. existing HMRC offices closed to be replaced by the new one) would be around 1000, and applying the usual exchange rate of jobs promised to jobs delivered, the number could be less still.

      Also it has the advantage from Whitehal’s point of view of increasing dependency, so they can say if someone advocates Welsh independence look at all the UK government public sector jobs that would disappear if you had indy.

  13. dafis

    You are correct. The bit that caught my eye read “Combined with other public sector operations at the hub, the total workforce could be around 5,000”.

    However it’s that “dependency” condition that bugs me most of all. In an abstract theoretical sense we should be glad of this type of job creation/ protection but anything so closely wedded to UK.Gov has so many negative aspects when viewed from a perspective of medium/long term independence aspiration. Also the prevalent fashion for jobs in administrative/bureaucratic service with little or no real added value is of concern.

  14. Y Barnwr

    One problem with your suggestion about encouraging the transfer of business activity to the ‘serviced accomodation’ sector is that most of those small businesses would still be owned and run by colonists (often by ‘remote control’), and so the benefits to the local economy would be more limited – much of the profit would doubtless be ‘repatriated’ to bank accounts in Farnham and Leamington Spa (if not Belize!).

    Until we have firm control over land and property ownership in our own country, what you propose – perfectly valid as it is – will have limited positive impact.

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