As you know, I’ve been home in Swansea for a few days. I was actually staying in Llanelli but the new roads make getting to Swansea a doddle. The problems start once you get to Fforestfach, and all the out-of-town stores. From there on, through Fforestfach Cross, on to Sketty Cross, past Singleton Hospital and on to Mumbles seems to be one long traffic jam. In addition, the major east-west route down town is undergoing ‘work’ that’s causing a lot of disruption and anger. Among those mightily pissed off is former Wales rugby skipper Colin Charvis.
Add to that the near permanent road works on the Jersey Marine (the main artery from the M4 into the city centre from the east), the shambles at the river bridges, and the extra pressure on that stretch of road from the new university campus, the SA1 development and other projects filling the gap between Swansea and Neath Port Talbot, and you can understand why some people start twitching nervously when they read ‘Swansea city council’ and ‘major development’ in the same paragraph. In short, with it’s dying city centre, traffic chaos, drug problem, reliance on the public sector for jobs, Swansea is a shambles, and a terrible indictment of successive councils.
But Thursday’s issue of the Evening Post carried what I assume is a regular column by the present leader of the council, David Phillips, a scouser who drifted into Swansea via Pembrokeshire a few years ago. It can be found here, and merits comment. The article is accompanied by a photograph of Phillips at the Swans’ new training facilities, reminding us of the old political rule – if you’ve run out of ideas get yourself photographed with children, animals, a worthy cause, or else try to associate yourself with some local success story that in reality has nothing to do with you. Second, according to Phillips the biggest problem in Swansea is litter. Reminding us of yet another old political rule: give yourself some breathing space by finding an issue – like litter – that nobody will argue against. A final observation: at the time of checking this story on the Evening Post website – some 48 hours after it was posted – there had been not a single comment or recommendation. Which says a lot about the political vision and spellbinding prose of David Phillips.
Elsewhere in Thursday’s Post I stumbled across another familiar face, Councillor Mitchell Theaker, Cabinet Member for Children and Young People. (Click to enlarge.) Theaker is one of the ex-students from God knows where that help keep the Labour Party in power in Swansea. The report begins: “Youngsters are urging Swansea Council to support plans to make the city the UK capital of children’s rights”. It goes on to quote a 10-year-old saying, “We need rights to help us learn, get along and have a safer life. It will make Swansea a better place for children”. Have you ever read such bollocks! The Labour Party appoints a gimmicky cabinet post for children and young people that can only be justified by indoctrinating and exploiting kids, giving them silly titles and putting words in their mouths they have no way of understanding. Which reminds us of another important political lesson. If you hear the waters of Shit Creek lapping in the near distance, and find yourself bereft of any mode of propulsion, then gimmicks can be a useful smokescreen . . . especially if they involve children, etc., etc.
Swansea at present is suffering under a Labour administration made up of people from somewhere else who do not know Swansea, and don’t really care. All that seems to matter is that Labour is in power, stopping somebody else being in power – it’s just a political game with little or no relevance to the people of Swansea. This could be proven in the coming months if, as some predict, Phillips’ position is threatened by the recently elected former MP and public school Trotskyite, Bob Clay, another Englishman who knows sod all about Swansea but, like all the others, wants to be on the council to play silly games.
As if that wasn’t enough coverage of the local Labour Party, the Post had yet more, in the dispiriting form of Mike Hedges, former council leader and now AM for Swansea East. (Click to enlarge.) Unusually for today’s Swansea Labour Party, Hedges is actually from the city, Plasmarl, to be exact. I say that because earlier this year in an exchange on Twitter he suggested that I didn’t like him because he was from Plasmarl. I had to inform him that my late father, Idwal Jones, was born and bred in Plasmarl (played for Cwm Albion). The reason I don’t like Hedges is because he’s a Labour machine man who failed Swansea as council leader and is now failing her as an AM; a man with the charisma of a week-old lettuce, a hang-dog expression and a George Thomas voice, who puts loyalty to his gang of carpetbaggers above loyalty to his city and his country. But I digress.
Hedges’ half-page of wit and wisdom told us that in his considered opinion Swansea does not need a mayor. Really! Are we expected to believe that Swansea would be a worse place if run by an individual with ability, vision and energy; someone who knows and cares about the city; someone unwilling to play silly political games? It seems Hedges wants us believe that Swansea should aspire to nothing better than the incompetence of the shower we now see in County Hall. Proving what I said just now; his loyalty is to The Labour Party, not to Swansea, not to Wales.
Clearly Swansea Labour Party needs all the help it can get. For it would struggle to organise an evening of merriment in a building for the manufacture of beer. What passes for Labour’s ‘strategy’ to improve the city can be summed up thus: employ gimmicks and distractions; hope that the success of the Swans and the Ospreys results – somehow, anyhow! – in spin-off investment (then claim the credit); pray for good weather to bring tourists to Mumbles and Gower. With such a brilliant, proactive strategy the bruvvers must have been delighted when Jonathan Roberts took over as editor of the Beans on Toast, to give them the kind of uncritical support the Communist Party of the Soviet Union used to enjoy from Pravda. Something I predicted back in April, but I take no pleasure in being proved right.