Welsh politics was recently rocked by the tragic death of Carl Sargeant, the Assembly Member for Alyn and Deeside, who took his own life after being suspended by the party following allegations that he had behaved improperly towards women.
Understandably, with a man taking his own life over vague allegations that seem not to have been properly investigated, or even explained to him, the spotlight also fell on Carwyn Jones, the man who employed the alleged bullies and back-stabbers.
Feelings in Sargeant’s constituency party ran high, and it was no surprise when Carwyn Jones, First Minister of the ‘Welsh’ Government and leader of the Labour Party in Wales, was told by the family not to attend the funeral of a Labour Party Assembly Member.
I don’t know Jack Sargeant – I doubt if many do – but that doesn’t seem to matter; what does seem to matter is ‘honouring’ his dead father and sticking it to Carwyn Jones. Though how that is to be achieved without damaging the party Carl Sargeant loved is also open to question
Those reservations aside, the selection seems to have been largely welcomed among the bruvvers. Here’s a tweet from Peter Hughes who represents the trade union Unite in the South West Region (of England). For those unfamiliar with Unite, it seems to be a union popular with Labour politicians.
In the thank you speech he made last night young Jack made such play of being a local candidate for local people that I thought for a minute we were in Royston Vasey (League of Gentlemen). Which again, raises a question – for is Jack standing for the ‘Welsh’ Labour Party led by the hated Carwyn Jones or is he the candidate for some new and local incarnation of Labour? Perhaps even an Independent?
If elected, will Jack trot down to Cardiff and take the Labour whip, and orders from Carwyn Jones? If he does, then what was all the fuss about? And if he doesn’t, then the voters of Alyn and Deeside will have been duped into voting for what they believed was a Labour candidate.
Quite frankly, the selection of Jack Sargeant was pure theatre. A decision made on emotional grounds. Emotion, like anger and alcohol often results in decisions that are soon regretted.
Apart from being Carl Sargeant’s son in what other way is Jack Sargeant qualified to be the candidate and, most likely, the Assembly Member, for Alyn and Deeside?
The Royston Vasey theme continued with attacks from the Labour/Sargeant camp on other parties’ candidates for not being local. The Plaid Cymru candidate, Councillor Carrie Harper, was singled out for being from faraway Wrecsam.
Clearly, there is anger in the constituency over the way Carl Sargeant was treated by the Labour Party, so the obvious outlet for that anger would be to vote for any party other than Labour.
So is Labour being its traditional devious self by asking people to vote Labour . . . or rather, to vote for Jack Sargeant and forget that he’s the Labour candidate. For I guarantee that it will be the Sargeant name rather than ‘Labour Party’ that we’ll hear in the campaign.
We can but hope that what passes for the ‘Welsh media’ does it’s job between now and February 6th.
‘Tell us, Jack; if elected, will you shake hands with Carwyn Jones?’
‘Come to that – will you even be a member of the Labour group in the Assembly?’
‘You say that if elected you want to investigate the events leading up to your father’s death, but you must appreciate that the more waves you make the more damage you’ll do to the party your father loved.’
‘Apart from being your father’s son what qualifies you to be the candidate for Alyn and Deeside?’
‘Isn’t there a risk that your selection might be seen as a succession rather than as part of the democratic process?’
‘If elected, and after the anger has subsided, what will you have to offer the people of Alyn and Deeside?’
I expect Jack Sargeant to be elected. He will arrive in the snake-pit that is Cardiff Bay full of purpose . . . until emissaries for Carwyn Jones get to work on him. Avuncular arms will be felt on his young shoulders and messages intoned: ‘Terrible mistake . . . culprits will be punished . . . Carwyn didn’t know . . . lovely man, your dad, we all loved him . . . think of the party . . . Brexit . . . Tory bastards . . . ‘.
And we shall hear little more of young Jack Sargeant.
The alternative scenario is that the boy goes down to Cardiff with vengeance in his heart and causes chaos. The Labour Party in Wales splits along its Welsh/British fault line and politics in Wales suddenly becomes interesting.
I have decided to re-visit the May 7th General Election partly because I haven’t posted anything for over a week and partly because much has been said since I published my earlier analysis on the 11th.
A recent example would be what was said by Kim Howells, former MP for Pontypridd, on BBC Radio Wales’ Sunday Supplement programme on May 24th, arguing that Labour didn’t do as badly in Wales as in England because ” . . . people have greater trust in Carwyn Jones and the Welsh Assembly Government . . . “. Which is a strange thing to say. Not least because this was a UK General Election, in which Carwyn Jones and his team were sidelined. Even when we had the televised debate of Welsh party leaders Labour was represented by Owen Smith MP not Carwyn Jones AM.
Yet we are expected to believe that when Dai and Sharon Public went to vote each thought, ‘Yes, I know Miliband is a twonk, and the party is run by a metropolitan elite that doesn’t give a toss about people like me, but I shall still vote Labour because I am so impressed with Carl Sargeant, and Lesley Griffiths . . . and then there’s that Theodore Huckle – what a wonderful Counsel General! This argument is – as we political commentators are wont to say – a load of old bollocks.
Though if Howells is right, then it’s a hell of a put-down for the aforementioned Owen Smith and his parliamentary colleagues. And not without irony. For it means that Welsh Labour MPs escaped paying the price for their blind obedience to the metropolitan elite because of the “trust” people have in an Assembly many of them resent as a challenge to their position, an institution many of them do not wish to see attain any further powers.
Though if Howells really believes what he said maybe this chimes with a regularly repeated theory that says Labour in Wales has avoided the fate of its Caledonian comrades because it adapted better to devolution, with part of that adaptation being the development of a kind of ‘nationalism with a small n’ that puts some distance between the Labour Party in Wales and its bosses in London. The “clear red water” suggested by former First Minister Rhodri Morgan. Which if true, only reminds us again of the irony, even hypocrisy, attaching to the attitudes of Labour MPs from Wales.
Something else Kim Howells said was, “If we ever want to be back in government again, we need to win southern England”. This no doubt is the argument we’ve heard over and over since May 7th that says Labour must appeal to the ‘aspirational’. Yet Labour appealing to the aspirational / southern England puts it in direct competition with the Conservative Party, so where does that leave Labour’s traditional heartlands and supporters? And how does a Labour Party winning over voters in the Home Counties with promises of cuts in public services, and the privatisation of the NHS, win back Glasgow and Dundee? Come to that, what would such a party have to say to most Welsh voters? It can’t be done. It’s a circle that cannot be squared.
This is the nightmare scenario for Labour, the day of reckoning that was postponed by the razzmatazz and flim-flam of the Blair era. For almost a century, Labour relied on a unionised working class with a few idealists and romantics from further up the social ladder to smooth over the rough edges. A support base that rapidly declined in the closing decades of the twentieth century. What remains of the unionised working class is no longer umbilicaly tied to the party. The children and grandchildren of those long-gone miners, steelworkers, dockers, etc, either still vote Labour out of habit or, increasingly, don’t vote at all, or else are quite happy to give their votes to other parties.
The only obvious replacement for this lost support appears to be immigrants to the UK. But this is a poisoned chalice. For being supported by immigrants (and doing well in inner cities) allows the Tory media to accuse Labour of being ‘soft on immigration’ and of favouring ‘benefit scroungers’. And there just aren’t enough immigrants, nor a large enough ethnic minority population, for Labour to emulate the Democratic Party in the USA. (The dream of many Labourites.)
If Labour follows the advice that tells it to appeal to the aspirational and to woo southern England then it can kiss Scotland good-bye for ever, and it will haemorrhage support in traditional heartlands south of the border. In this scenario, Labour’s only hope of future success is to replace the Conservative Party by, effectively, becoming more Conservative than the Conservatives. But why should anyone who normally votes Tory consider voting Labour (with its history) even if it promises to deport all foreigners, sterilise the poor, and abolish all taxation?
Let’s go back to former communist and NUM official Kim Howells. He believes the party is in the “deepest crisis” he can remember. He went on, “If the Labour party doesn’t come up with fresh thinking, with some radical analysis of what’s going on in society and what people need out of society, it could well dwindle to a very small number of MPs.” Ed Miliband was “dull”, Labour’s next leader would need to be “much more radical” (while appealing to southern England?) Asked for her views, former MEP Baroness Eluned Morgan ‘admitted the party needed a “thorough rethink”‘ and went on to say that ‘the party needed to readdress the way it approached politics and the way it makes contact with society if it was to move forward successfully’.
Another giving evidence at the open and ongoing inquest was Gerald Holtham – ‘Who he?’, you cry . . . well Holtham is an economist, and regarded by many as one of Labour’s cleverest supporters. Just a few days before Howells and Morgan made their contributions Holtham weighed in with his analysis. It was full of dire warnings about relying on the “tribal” or “sentimental” vote, demanding that the party think hard “about real problems”, warning the party against a “sterile debate”, and then reassuring us that the public is not stupid. This presumably is the same public that we find in areas like Merthyr, Blaenau Gwent, Swansea East and other constituencies; the same public that has voted Labour for three or four generations and is now tempted to take a punt on Ukip. How could anyone possibly think such people are stupid!
Did you ever read such vacuous nonsense in your life? So many words that say nothing? That’s because Howells, Morgan and Holtham are lost, they don’t have a clue! They all have opinions on where Labour went wrong – expressed in cliches and sound bites – but no one has an answer to where Labour goes from here. When you realise what a mess the Labour party is in, you begin to understand why it was almost wiped out in Scotland. But you also begin to realise that it was only saved from worse results in Wales by Plaid Cymru‘s refusal to connect with Welsh voters.
Personally, I suspect that all three are looking to avoid being honest about the Labour Party’s lucky escape on May 7th, though Holtham goes some way towards acknowledging the troubling reality with his remarks about “tribal” and “sentimental” voters. For the way I see it, the Labour Party in Wales is like an old wildebeest, still managing to stay on its legs, and from a distance even looking healthy, but in truth surviving only because there is no predator around to finish it off. Scavengers have had a nip here and there, but ‘Welsh’ Labour survives because there is no local cousin of the SNP lion to finish it off.
To repeat, Labour’s traditional support is gone and it can never be replaced. Tailoring the party’s message for different audiences – which is what Labour does – is doomed to fail in this age of 24-hour news coverage and social media. By comparison, the Conservative Party can put out the same message from Land’s End to John O’ Groats. (And the SNP the same message from the border to the Northern Isles.)
Here in Wales the Labour Party is in for more disappointment next May in the Assembly elections . . . despite the allure of Carwyn Jones and his cabinet of all the talents. Though the cracks will probably be papered over, and the inevitable delayed, through the “tribal” vote referred to by Holtham. Because with a Tory government in Westminster many of our unstupid Welsh electors will be persuaded to ignore everything wrong with Wales and ‘send a message to London’, again.
So don’t knock it, Holtham. Labour’s “tribal” vote is all that keeps Owen Smith and his gang in the comfort to which they have become so accustomed, and is the guarantee that your party stays top dog down Cardiff docks. Without it, the shadows encroach.
Despite fierce competition from Channel 17 in Albania and the Nova Scotia Parrot Breeders’ Monthly Jac o’ the North is delighted to have secured exclusive rights to First Minister Carwyn Jones’ end-of-year Review. Enjoy!
Hello there, I’m Carwyn Jones, you may not know me, but I’m the First Minister of Wales. More importantly, I also run the local branch of the Labour Party (along with Owen Smith MP and a few other people). I hope you all enjoyed your Christmas, I know I did. It gave me a chance to put my feet up and relax for a change, after another hectic and hugely successful year in Wales. Let’s go through it month by month.
P.S. Jac has kindly added some pictures showing me at work, so click on them to make them bigger.
JANUARY: The Dylan Thomas Centenery Year got off to a wonderful start when documents were found at Transport House showing that Dylan was a lifelong supporter of the Labour Party, joining the party in 1938 while fighting in the Spanish Civil War. Not only that, but a previously unknown poem also came to light. Here’s a brief extract showing both his mastery of pomes and stuff and also his commitment to the party he loved: ‘I’ve always been ronk Labour / Its meetings are never missed; / Its nostrums are adhered to, / Even when I’m pissed’. The second verse is playfully romantic: ‘I love the Labour Party, / It’s meetings are such fun, / The branch secretary’s a honey, / I wouldn’t mind giving her one’. Chokes me up, it does. And I bet it brings tears to the eyes of all poetry lovers.
FEBRUARY: It was brought to my attention that some foolish people are campaigning to re-open the Carmarthen to Aberystwyth railway line, possibly even go on to Bangor. It should be obvious to everyone that if you’re travelling by rail from north to south (or even south to north) then the existing route via Norwich is clearly the best option and gives people hours, days even, of extra working time. As the old English saying goes, ‘East to west is always best (especially in Wales)’. Who can argue with this tried and tested legitimisation of colonialism?
MARCH: I was surprised to receive from Mr Sargeant and his friends in the Planning Inspectorate a report saying Wales needs one million new homes by 2025. In fact, I said to him, “This seems like a lot, Carl”. But then it was explained to me that this number is due to our soaring birthrate fuelled by the booming Welsh economy which can only be attributed to 15 years of wonderful Welsh Labour controlling the Assembly. So when you look at it like that it makes perfect sense. In fact, a million may not be enough. (Which is what the Planning Inspectorate is already suggesting.)
APRIL: The London media, at the behest of the Coalition government, said terrible things about the Welsh NHS, so let me put a few things straight. The reason Mrs Rhian Evans of Llanrwst’s baby was delivered by the men re-possessing her three-piece suite was not because we had no ambulances available, it was because she tried calling for one in Welsh! Another calumny (a posh word taught to me by Mrs Hutt) being bandied about is that people have to wait ages before being seen by a doctor. Mr Bowen Owen of Ystradgynlais – fleeting cause celébrè of the right-wing English press – would not have spent three weeks in the waiting room if he’d told staff he was deaf. (And it goes without saying that patient confidentiality is our watchword.)
MAY: No, not Mrs May up in London, over whom certain men fantasise. (Ych a fi!) I’m thinking of the European elections, which Labour won with a stonking majority when almost 10% of those elligible to vote in Wales voted Labour. There’s no arguing with a victory of that magnitude. Though of course some nit-pickers did try, saying that Ukip got nearly as many votes as us. But that’s to miss the point, because – and I’m not talking about Europe here – on the issue that really matters, Labour and Ukip are gobbing into the same spittoon.
JUNE: Unkind things were also being said about our higher education sector, so let’s put the record straight. To suggest that some of our universities are lowering entry requirements and cutting corners in pursuit of money is both insulting and incorrect. The fact that Aberystwyth now accepts students with two F grades and a new toothbrush should not deflect from the excellent work being done there by the very popular Ms April McMahon and her loyal and supportive staff. As for Glyndŵr university, degrees were not – as was alleged – being sold in Turkmenistan, far from it. The truth is that a Welsh university broke into new markets by respecting local traditions. In this case, courtesy demanded that certain local dignitaries be allowed to take away examination papers and return them at a time of their own choosing. When it was accepted that the fruit of the potentates’ loins had completed the papers unaided, with everything above board due to the process having been overseen by invigilators provided at said potentates’ expense. How could anyone question such an arrangement?
JULY: Even though I was on holiday with Mrs Carwyn and the kids I couldn’t stop thinking about the job. One day, whilst sipping a mint julep (with shaved ice, natch), I was forced to concede that there are ‘issues’ in local government. That said, all the problems in Caerphilly were clearly the responsibility of the previous Plaid Cymru administration. If they had paid the chief executive a decent whack then there would have been no need for him to conspire arrange to have a massive salary increase from Mr Gezwell Kirby and his Band of Bruvvers in the incoming Labour administration. While down in Carmarthenshire the Independent Party and Plaid Cymru made a terrible mess of things. Later in the year, the leader of Swansea council had my full support . . . until the coup, after which the new leader had my full support. The bottom line is that everywhere you look around Wales you see the same problem – everything going to pot because people won’t let the Labour Party run things unhindered. (Or the chief executive, whichever applies.)
AUGUST: I went to the National Eisteddfod, held this year in Llanelli. As you can see from the photograph, I was mobbed by hordes of young Labour activists. (Phwoar!) While there I made a firm commitment to defend the Welsh language at all times . . . unless it meant contradicting the Planning Inspectorate, annoying the Secretary of State, pissing off Labour MPs, interfering with the colonisation strategy, damaging the profits of Wimpey, Redrow, Persimmon, etc., or alarming anyone in London. Those minor caveats aside, let there be no questioning of my firm resolve to do everything I can to ensure that Welsh-speaking communities survive and prosper.
SEPTEMBER: First, I summoned all the world’s leaders to a NATO summit in Newport so I could tell them how to deal with ISIS, Putin, Salmond and assorted threats to our perfect Western system. (Thankfully, no one realised there were any ‘protests’ in Newport because they were sabotaged organised by Ms Bartolotti of MI6 the Green Party.) Next, I flew (from Bristol) to Scotland to confront the aforementioned Alex Salmond and frustrate his dastardly plan to make Scotland democratic, fair and wealthy. (Jesus! think of the trouble that would have caused!) Due to some very nifty work backstage and in the wings (by those I dare not name) the referendum vote was an emphatic and overwhelming No. It was so emphatic and overwhelming that support for the Scottish National Party has now collapsed as Scots have come to their senses and flock to join the Labour Party. Mr Salmond himself is a broken man, and has abandoned all political ambitions to open a barber shop in Kirriemuir.
OCTOBER: Due to the thousands of new businesses that were created by Welsh Labour with the first two rounds of EU Structural Funds, and the hundreds of thousands of jobs that came with them, those nice people in Europe wisely gave us another two billion pounds to continue with our wonderful work. We are open to imaginative suggestions on how to use this money. Applications containing words or phrases not unlike those here listed stand a good chance of scuring funding: ‘eco-‘ / ‘community space’ / ‘CVs’ (as in ‘help with completing . . . for non-existent jobs’) / ‘enviro-‘ / ‘Labour Party’ (as in, ‘I am a member / supporter . . . ‘) / ‘self-esteem’ / ‘Green’ / ‘multicultural’ / ‘holistic’ / ‘LGBT’ / ‘social enterprise’ / ‘England’ (as in, ‘recently moved from . . . ‘) / ‘raiki’ / ‘not-for-profit’ / ’empowerment’ / ‘real job’ (as in, ‘never had a . . .’).
NOVEMBER: After reading that every Norwegian is now, theoretically, a millionaire, due to the success of Norway’s Sovereign Wealth Fund, I decided we must have one in Wales. (Though I have reservations about using the term ‘sovereign’.) Starting in January, groups of highly-trained financial analysts will be touring the country with state of the art buckets taking up a national collection. So give granny a good shake, slash open the sofa and chairs, and give whatever you can find to Welsh Labour because, deep inside, you know we’ll use it wisely.
DECEMBER: Mr Vincent Tan has made such a favourable impression on Cardiff City fans that we decided to capitalise on his popularity and fast-track him into the Assembly. He’ll be taking over Vaughan Gething’s seat of Kerdiff South and Penarth. We haven’t told Vaughan yet, it’ll be a surprise! . . . a hell of a surprise seeing as we’ve spread a rumour that he’s my annointed successor! (Well, laff!!)
2015: I look forward to 2015 with great optimism. Due to the wonderful work of the Welsh Government’s Bread and Circuses Division our boys will either win the Rugby World Cup or fail heroically; either way, if celebrated properly (with the help of our wonderful Welsh media), it should then give us a majority in the Assembly elections of 2016. As if that wasn’t enough, a string of blockbusters will be filmed at Valleywood: cruise liners will make their first, serene appearance on the Llangollen canal; the roar of F1 cars will be heard at the Circuit of Wales; Cardiff International airport will enter an exciting partnership with Bristol and be re-named Bristol (West); thousands of jobs will be created at the Margam Superpit; Llanelli town centre will become the favoured location for post nuclear holocaust movies; and Rhyl will be twinned with any other shit-hole desperate enough for the connection.
Take my word for it, 2015 is going to be a great year in Wales. Everywhere you go you’ll hear shoe-shine boys and beggars, bailiffs and food bank staff, whistling that old Harry Secombe number, Every day when I wake up, I thank the Lord I’m Labour.
I am indebted to Gruff Meredith of Sovereign Wales for forwarding me a letter he received from the ‘Welsh’ Government. (Below right, click to enlarge.) A letter signed by Carl Sargeant, ‘Minister for Housing and Regeneration’, and addressed to William Powell, the Lib Dem chairman of the Assembly Petitions Committee. It relates to a petition submitted by Gruff asking the ‘Welsh’ Government to introduce a deposit loan scheme for local first-time buyers, which would of course necessitate local occupancy regulations.
There is nothing revolutionary about local occupancy schemes, such schemes already operate in, among other areas, the Peak District and North York Moors National Parks in England. (Click on images below to enlarge.) The wider problem here is of course one I’ve dealt with many times before – the difficulty Welsh people experience in buying a home in rural and coastal areas suffering from coloniotourism and the resultant colonisation.
You’ll notice that I’ve highlighted two sections. The first refers to ” . . . an under-supply of properties across the UK”. But should this be the concern of a ‘Welsh’ Minister, whose role is restricted to Wales? It can only be of relevance if Wales is tied in to an Englandandwales planning and housing system with Wales being used to help meet England’s demand for housing. Which of course it is, as I have pointed out many times. For not only is the Planning Inspectorate an agency of the Department for Communities and Local Government in London but other civil servants based in Wales answer to this and other UK government departments. We can be ‘bet-your-house-on-it’ certain that the civil servant who wrote this letter for Sargeant to sign answers to London. Which of course, makes Sargeant an expensive irrelevance . . . as are the others down Cardiff docks, all of them mouthpieces for scriptwriters up in London and their stage managers in Wales.
But you mustn’t think that this ‘make-it-as-difficult-as-possible-for-the-Welsh’ system applies only to the open or private housing market, for it also extends to social housing. This was made clear to me just before Christmas 2010 in an e-mail from Nick Bennett, then chief executive of Community Housing Cymru, who wrote: “There are over two million people on waiting lists for social housing . . . “. Not in Wales, matey! Bennett is a former business associate of recently-resigned minister, Alun Davies, and is now Public Services Ombudsman for Wales. (Click here and scroll down for more information.) This explains why housing associations – sucking up Welsh public funding in order to provide work for English companies – either build more housing than is locally needed, or else allocate properties to English undesirables while locals are left on waiting lists. (Click here and scroll down to the section, ‘Cartrtefi Cymunedol Gwynedd’.)
The second passage I’ve highlighted in the letter signed by Sargeant reads: ” . . . however I would be very keen to hear his (Gruff Meredith’s) views on housing supply and barriers to development in Wales”. What ‘barriers to development’! There are none. Is this an attempt at humour, even sarcasm?
To sum up, local occupancy clauses could easily be introduced, as they have been in many parts of England, but the ‘Welsh’ Government refuses to do so, which means that the ‘Welsh’ Government is refusing to serve the best interests of the people it is elected to represent. Though when we remember that Wales is actually run, via civil servants, from London, then this refusal to help Welsh people have homes in their own country is easily explained by ‘London’ wishing to facilitate further English colonisation.
The overarching issue here, and on which I have regularly written, is that no matter what those mummers down Cardiff docks may like to think of themselves, and despite the image projected to a gullible public, they are powerless, because devolution is a sham, real power still rests with London, just as it did pre-1999. There are examples a-plenty.
Having mentioned Alun Davies, let’s take a look at this video (F/F to 2:04) of a presentation he made before losing his job as ‘Minister for Agriculture’. The background is that someone in London decided to transfer 15% of EU agricultural funding allocated to Wales from Pillar 1, which goes to Welsh farmers, to Pillar 2, which will be spent on the vague and all-encompassing description of “rural development projects”. Which in practice means it will be allocated to Greens, hippies and other pushy colonists to fund ludicrous ‘projects’ that will be little more than non-jobs for those involved. Basically, the Third Sector goes rural. As I say, the sap who had to deliver London’s decision was Alun Davies. Note in the video how he is flanked by two English civil servants, there to make sure he doesn’t fluff his lines or deviate from the script, reminiscent of a Stalin show trial. This is one of the saddest cameos from the era of phoney devolution.
Or how about the M4 relief road? It seems that a carefully-orchestrated clamour arose demanding a new £1bn motorway around Newport, but how was it to be funded? Answer: the London Government would allow its provincial repertory company to borrow the money. To translate . . . the Old Etonians in London told Carwyn Jones he could borrow a billion pounds from their chums in the City of London on condition he gives out construction contracts to major donors to the Conservative Party for a project that, when completed, will faciliate the easier flow of English goods into the richest corner of Wales. In fact, on a visit to London, and in a bout of uncharacteristic extemporaneity Jones had told his scriptwriters that if he wasn’t allowed to get Wales into debt . . . well, he wouldn’t go up to Scotland to line up with the Nazi-Loyalists and others. And lo, it came to pass . . .
The one given credit for overseeing the process and approving the £1bn ‘black’ route is Edwina Hart who, in the current line-up, plays the Minister for Economy, Science and Transport, a role for a mature and rounded character actor. Though odd, in a way, that a country with little in the way of economy, science or transport should need such a part at all. But there you are, this is showbiz not real politics. Hart is said to be reluctant to give live interviews, or to defend her decisions, but chwarae teg, that’s asking her to explain what she had no part in deciding. Making it perfectly understandable why she should choose to emulate the great Garbo. (In fact, the rest of the cast could do a lot worse than follow her example when off-stage.)
Having begun this piece with Carl Sargeant it’s only fair to bring down the curtain with something else he put his name to in January this year. (For those with the stomach for it, the full, three-page letter can be found here.) In this letter Sargeant, who plays the ‘heavy’ in London’s Welsh provincial repertory company, tries to explain the relationship between the ‘Welsh’ Government and the Planning Inspectorate. It is the biggest load of bollocks I’ve read, and believe me, I’ve read some bollocks in my time. Despite that, it also very revealing.
Many times I have read it argued that there are two Planning Inspectorates, one serving England, one serving Wales, with the latter having its own office in Cardiff and answering to ‘Welsh Ministers’. This letter makes it clear there is but one Planning Inspectorate, though we are asked to believe that it has been “. . . empowered by Welsh Ministers to take a range of decisions on their behalf”. But how can those with no power themselves empower others? What this really says is that for the purposes of the Planning Inspectorate Wales is part of England. To disguise this, and allow the troupe of players known as the ‘Welsh Ministers’ to retain some credibility, it allows them the fig leaf of pretending it has been empowered to operate in Wales by them. I also love the second sentence in the extracted paragraph, an encomium for the Planning Inspectorate . . . “openness and impartiality” be buggered!
To disguise the ugly reality that Wales is a colony of England we have a bunch of mouthpieces masquerading as the ‘Welsh Government’. Though they have no control over planning or housing in case they interfere with the colonisation programme. Nor are they allowed to control our natural resources or our economy lest this power be used to serve Welsh interests. Though, and perhaps significantly, they are allowed freedom in those areas London is reasonably confident they will screw up – education, health – so that they can then be held up to ridicule and used to warn English voters of the dangers of the Labour Party in government.
This system cannot be improved, it can only be swept away. And the sooner the better.
In a number of recent posts – work back from here – I have criticised the projections made by the Knowledge and Analytical Services (KAS), a unit based in Cardiff but answering to the Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) in London. These projections have raised questions as to their reliability and true purpose, especially when used by the Planning Inspectorate (an ‘executive agency’ of the same DCLG) to force on our local authorities tens of thousands of new homes for which there is no perceptible Welsh demand. We have thankfully reached the stage where no matter how abstruse the subject matter, or obtuse some of our politicians, it is now difficult for anyone to justify most of the new housing demanded.
In particular, I sought to explain the significance of household size; that is, how many individuals make up a household. Because linking household size with projected increases in population is the basis for determining how many new homes will be needed.
The KAS had previously projected a household size for 2008 of 2.27 reducing to 2.02 by 2033, with a figure for 2011 of 2.23. The Census showed that the figure for 2011 was in fact 2.31. Which meant that the KAS had to revise its figures, which now project household size reducing from 2.31 in 2011 to 2.23 in 2026 (and 2.18 in 2036). (See KAS table, click to enlarge.) Quite a difference across Wales. As I said in an earlier post: “This difference of .08 (for 2011) may seem unimportant . . . until you remember that it equates to 46,764 dwellings and (x 2.31) a population of 108,025. To put that into perspective, at the 2011 Census there were just 31,600 households in Ceredigion”. The KAS document can be read below.
The projected population levels have also been brought down. The figure now being quoted, for 2012 to 2037, is for an increase in Wales’ population of just 247,000. To give some idea of the recalculation involved, just two years earlier the same statisticians were projecting a population increase of 363,000 between 2010 and 2035.
So we see that in a matter of two years the projected population increase is down and the household size is up, which must result in far fewer dwellings being needed over the next 25 years than was previously argued for. A simple calculation would suggest that over that period, and by dividing population increase by household size, Wales will need something like 112,000 new dwellings. Obviously there are other factors to be taken into account that will increase that figure, but one thing’s for sure – Wales does not need anything like the figure of 331,168 new dwellings being bandied about by Carl Sargeant as recently as last autumn. It’s time for a re-think.
Nowhere is this re-think more needed than in Denbighshire. (I know I bang on a bit, but I’ve got a soft spot for Denbighshire, though not its ruined coast, obviously.) The clip below from the BBC (click to enlarge) tells us that last year Denbighshire was forced by a Planning Inspectorate inspector to build 8,500 new homes in the LDP covering the period 2006 to 2021. Yet according to the latest figures (2011) produced by the Knowledge and Analytical Services the county’s population will increase by only 4,134 between 2011 and 2021. Yippee! Everybody will have two homes!
Clearly, the new housing for Denbighshire is overwhelmingly speculative building. Which also goes a long way to explaining the plans for Flintshire and Wrecsam. This is the Mersey-Dee conspiracy in operation. Our north east being used to protect property values in Wilmslow, Prestbury and elsewhere by directing the less well-heeled commuters for Liverpool and Manchester over the border, helped by estate agents advertising properties in Wrecsam as ‘West Cheshire’.
This helps explain the anomaly of the KAS projecting huge percentage increases in the numbers living alone, and childless (elderly) couples – groups that would obviously need one- and two-bedroom properties – to justify the large numbers of new dwellings needed . . . yet after ‘consultations’ with the Planning Inspectorate and the Home Builders Federation what emerges is a deluge of planning applications for three- and four-bedroom houses!
All of which makes the motives of those arguing for extravant numbers of new dwellings deeply suspect. Greedy developers cannot be entirely blamed. Which is why I suspect there are darker motives at work; essentially an attempt to change an area’s – and eventually a country’s – character, identity, and loyalty. I may be right, I may be wrong; but it is now established beyond any doubt that the figures and projections used to intimidate Welsh councils into building homes we don’t need were most definitely wrong. Which means that the Local Development Plans are discredited. All must be scrapped.
No new development plans should be drawn up until we have had local government reorganisation. There is no reason to delay this reorganisation any longer, nor is there any good reason to get it wrong (again) by insisting that it can only be done by mergers within existing boundaries, or that the proposed new councils must stick to police force or health board boundaries. Five years from now we could have a national police force and just one health board for the whole country.
But while the future is always difficult to discern, the past, and the statistics produced in recent years by the Knowledge and Analytical Services – the figures that informed the Local Development Plans – are glaringly clear – and they are wrong! To continue as if they were right, and that nothing has changed, would be further proof of the “darker motives” I referred to above.
As regular readers will be aware, I have recently focused on planning and housing in Wales, more specifically, the data being used to forecast how many new homes Wales will ‘need’ over the next couple of decades. What I have learnt is that the forecasts produced in the name of the ‘Welsh’ Government bear little relation to the data supplied by the Office for National Statistics nor to any genuine Welsh need. This is because those producing the forecasts are serving agendas that have nothing to do with meeting Wales’ housing needs.
Before proceeding, a brief recap might save you having to refer to recent posts too regularly. The raw data is, as I’ve mentioned, produced by the ONS. This comes in the form of the 2011 census findings and subsequent population projections. The ONS however does not produce household projections – i.e. the number of new homes that will need to be built – this is “sourced” to the Department for Communities and Local Government in London. In Wales, household projections are made by a unit calling itself Knowledge and Analytical Services, which answers to the DCLG in London. These figures are then used by the Planning Inspectorate, an ‘executive agency’ of the DCLG. Both claim to have some separate Welsh existence, and to answer to the ‘Welsh’ Government. This is absolute bollocks.
The figures produced by the KAS and PI underpin the Local Development Plans currently being forced through and also the Housing (Wales) Bill (see recent posts) which deals specifically with social and rented housing. This means that all plans for new housing in Wales are concocted by civil servants answering to a UK / England government department. These machinations are then presented as a fait accompli to Carl Sargeant, the ‘Welsh’ Government Minister for Housing and Regeneration, whose role in the whole squalid affair is limited to saying what civil servants tell him to say.
On January 5th I wrote to the Stats Housing unit in Cardiff asking how a projected population increase (ONS) of 357,000 between 2008 and 2033 could explain a need for 331,168 extra households being predicted by KAS, bearing in mind that the projected household size doesn’t fall below 2.0. This is even more difficult to explain when we remember that both projections, household size and household numbers, are made by the same people. Read the exchange below or click here to download it.
As you can see, the response came from a Tony Whiffen, who works for the ‘Demography, Heritage and Equalities Statistics unit of the Knowledge and Analytical Services unit of the ‘Welsh’ Government. My first thought was, ‘Seeing as demographic change in Wales invariably means the destruction of Welsh identity and heritage you have to be a real joker to link demography and heritage like that’. Anyway, Mr Whiffen’s defence seems to be that household projections are accounted for by a) predicted levels of in-migration; b) a great increase in the number of (i) people living alone or (ii) childless couples; and c) a big increase in the number of elderly people. This is supposed to explain the increase of 331,168 new households for a projected population increase of only 357,000. Now, you can accept that, or you can – like me – be a little more sceptical.
Because if Mr Whiffen is right, and the Planning Inspectorate acts on his group’s predictions, then most of the new properties planned for Wales would be one- and two-bedroom properties, bungalows and flats. Yet Mr Whiffen’s argument is fatally undermined by the Planning Inspectorate and its Local Development Plans when we see, in Carmarthen, Bodelwyddan and all over the country, schemes for thousands of new three- and four-bedroom houses, schools, and other amenities for a more ‘balanced’ population.
In the final paragraph of Mr Whiffen’s e-mail he admits that, “Since then (the 2008 projections) the 2011 Census has shown that average household size has not fallen as much as projected . . . we are currently working on a new set of household projections and these will take into account the results of the 2011 Census. These will be based on the 2011-based Local Authority Population Projections for Wales and are due to be published in February.”Which looks promising, until we remember . . .
1/ These new figures will be compiled by the same people – Knowledga and Analytical Services – that wants us to believe in a population increase attributable almost entirely to people living alone. Telling us that while we can trust the data produced by the ONS the same cannot be said of those using the reputation of the ONS to make insane extrapolations.
2/ Mr Whiffen says that “we are currently working on a new set of household projections . . . based on the 2011-based Local Authority Population Projections for Wales”, which predict a population increase for Wales of 269,777 between 2011 and 2036. But why use the 2011-based figures rather than the more recent – and reliable – ONS figures of 2012? Simple. The 2011 figures are of course the work of the KAS and predict a higher increase in population.
Local Development Plans and the Housing (Wales) Bill have little to do with housing (certainly with housing us Welsh), and all to do with attracting into Wales as many English settlers as possible. It is part of a wider colonisation strategy. Why? Well, this has been happening in one form or another since the national awakening of the 1960s, but it took on extra urgency when we voted for devolution, twice. With Scotland voting on independence in September it becomes essential for our masters to ‘secure’ Wales. There is no better way of doing this – proven throughout history – than by populating a territory with one’s own people.
What is sad is that many Welsh will be willing participants in this process, for a number of reasons. One is Owen Jones, a director at Boyer Planning. According to British Bullshit in the Colony of Wales, aka BBC Wales, plans have been submitted to Denbighshire county council by Barwood Land and Estates to build 1,700 new homes near Bodelwyddan. Boyer Planning acts as ‘advisers’ to Barwood (who, despite what the BBC Wales report says, are based in Northampton not Cardiff).
Though let me make it absolutely clear that I am in awe of Owen Jones. For what I have quoted in the second paragraph of the panel reveals a talent for bare-faced lying that takes my breath away. Anyone who can keep a straight face while saying that trebling the size of Bodelwyddan will not change it is a man to be watched. Very carefully.
Because Welsh identity is under threat from so many quarters, defending who and what we are must take precedence over everything else. These current housing plans are a deliberate assault on our identity. They seek to make Wales less Welsh. They are another step in the ongoing process of assimilating Wales into England. They must be fought by anyone who cares about Welsh nationhood.
From now on Wales must plan for no more housing than we Welsh need. Housing plans must not be based on earlier, and undesirable, levels on immigration. And they should certainly not be formulated to encourage downsizers, commuters, white flighters or any other category from England. Fight these plans! Make Bodelwyddan a new Tryweryn!
Following on from the previous post, here is my response to the Welsh Government’s Department for Communities and Local Government’s Housing (Wales) Bill. The deadline for responses is Friday, so if you want to make a point then do it now, and send it to CELGCommittee@wales.gov.uk.
In case the PDF version below should disappear (as they have a habit of doing) the document should be available here.
In my recent posts I have dealt with the projected increase in households Wales will see in the next few decades. Predictions made by civil servants answering to the Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) in London, and who are provided with a fig leaf of ‘Welsh’ credibility by Carl Sargeant, Minister for Housing and Regeneration in the self-styled ‘Welsh’ Government.
One problem is that these household projections made by the DCLG’s Knowledge and Analytical Services unit (KAS) have been used to formulate Local Development Plans that insist Welsh local authorities plan for the building of new dwellings in quantities that cannot be justified by any future Welsh demand. But we mustn’t overlook the fact that, while the majority of these new properties will be for sale, a sizeable percentage will be for rent. Which is an opportune moment to introduce you to the Housing (Wales) Bill, new legislation proposed for the rented sector in Wales. This Bill is currently being nodded through by the buffoons down Cardiff docks, with Carl Sargeant again acting as ‘fig leaf’.
Let’s look at the Bill; click here or read it below to appreciate the emotional-ideological triggers designed to elicit the right response from the right-on: ‘Social housing’ – ‘Hooray!’ ‘Private landlords’ – ‘Boooo! Bastards‘ ‘People with “problems”‘ – ‘Ah! Poor dabs.’ ‘The Homeless’ – ‘Bloody market forces’. ‘Gypsies and Travellers’ – ‘Innocent victims of persecution’. Among other things, this Bill is an attack on the private rented sector. For it seeks to ensure that housing associations, charities and the like, have a virtual monopoly in the rented sector. Which would be bad for Wales. We know what housing associations are guilty of now; if this Bill becomes law it will give them carte blanche to ignore local need and concentrate on taking in England’s problems. Before explaining the Bill’s other intentions, I want to mention something that throws light on issues raised in recent posts, and also helps us better understand the Bill.
I previously mentioned that the household numbers projection came from the Knowledge and Analytical Services unit of the Department for Communities and Local Government but, so the KAS claimed, was based on population projections made by the Office for National Statistics. So I contacted the ONS to ask if they produced their own households projections. By way of response, I was provided with this link, which takes us back to the DCLG! (The ONS has subsequently confirmed that household projections “is sourced to the Department for Communities and Local Government”.)
Clicking on the link in the second paragraph takes us here. Scroll down and you will read what I have reproduced in the panel. What struck me was the phrase “changes in household formation contributed about 3% of household growth”. Which means that, as the ONS predicts Wales’ population will increase by 247,000 between 2012 and 2037 then, with an average household size for the period of 2.12, and allowing for the 3% (changes in household formation), the projected increase in population could be accommodated with roughly 120,000 new dwellings. Yet the Knowledge and Analytical Services unit, speaking through its mouthpiece, Carl Sargeant, says we must prepare for 323,009 or even 331,168 new dwellings between 2008 and 2033. Doesn’t add up, does it? Let’s go back to the Bill, and something else that caught my eye.
If you go to the ‘Welsh’ Government website page for the Bill, and click on the link for Explanatory Memorandum, scroll down on that document to Section 3.4, you’ll see that alongside the opening word “Research” is a tiny 4, directing the reader to a reference that, in this case, takes us to Housing Need and Demand in Wales 2006 – 2026, by Alan Holmans and Sarah Monk of the Cambridge Centre for Housing and Planning Research. On this document scroll down to 2.12 and you’ll read what I’ve reproduced in the panel.This research tells us there will be an increase of 269,000 new households between 2006 and 2026, to cater for a projected population increase (ONS) of 282,600. With an average of some 2.12 persons per household this is a very high figure . . . but there’s an explanation – 66 per cent of that increase will be made up of one-person households, and 21 per cent one-parent families!
If these predictions are correct, then they presage either the end of family life as we have known it, or they warn us to anticipate an influx of the elderly, the unemployed / unemployable, ex-cons, substance abusers, single mothers, ‘battered wives’, etc. This, let me remind you, is the “research” that underpins the Housing (Wales) Bill and the Local Development Plans. (The figure used by Sargeant is just an ‘updated’ version.) Reliable “research” that elsewhere – Table D6, page 98 – informs us that Denbighshire will see over 80,000 more households between 2006 and 2026! To put this into perspective, at the census of 2011 Denbighshire had just 40,500 households.
The evidence presented in this post, and recent posts, suggest strong linkage between the Department for Communities and Local Government in London and Carl Sargeant, the ‘Welsh’ Minister for Local Government and Communities. The Local Development Plans, for which Sargeant acts as front man, are ruthlessly pushed through by the Planning Inspectorate using ‘statistics’ concocted by the Knowledge and Analytical Services unit (aided by the Cambridge Centre for Housing and Planning Research). Both are arms of the DCLG. Now it appears that the linkage may be getting even stronger.
A comment to my previous post provided this link. It tells us that the DCLG is providing funding – made available by the European Investment Bank (EIB) – to social housing providers. Something that should be of little interest to Wales . . . except that down among the English organisations listed as recipients of this funding we see the Wales and West Housing Association, which is receiving “up to £25m to build 251 homes in Wales”. Does it qualify because it’s a cross-border outfit? I don’t think so; the website says it has offices in Cardiff and Flint (convenient for Merseyside) but says nothing of any activities in England. So why is an English government department giving money to a Welsh housing association to build properties in Wales? Why isn’t the ‘Welsh’ Government handling this funding? One suggestion is that this is devolution being secretly rolled back. And here’s another oddity. This Bill is, supposedly, Welsh legislation, dealing with housing and building in Wales – yet in 85 pages it contains not a single reference to the Welsh language!
In fact, the Bill abounds with curiosities. Here’s another. I was struck by the number of references to ‘England’, thirty-nine in all. So, for comparison, I consulted the Housing (Scotland) Bill, and do you know what? – it doesn’t contain a single reference to ‘England’. Because the Scottish Bill is precisely that – legislation for Scotland; whereas the ‘Wales’ Bill is yet more Englandandwales treachery, legislation that seeks to fully integrate social housing provision in the two countries. But not equally. For the Bill seems to suggest that someone refused social housing in England because of criminal or other behaviour must be housed in Wales. And that a local connection to any English local authority counts as ‘local connection’ in Wales!
Thirty-nine references to England and no mention of the Welsh language should tell you all you need to know about this Bill, and why it should more honestly be renamed the Housing (Englandandwales) Bill, for that’s what it is, and it’s been handed down by the Department for Communities and Local Government in London. It’s a plan to give more money and powers to ‘Welsh’ housing associations – bodies exempt from Freedom of Information legislation – in order that they can take in tens of thousands of English tenants. Why now? Well, for a start, there’s the ‘bedroom tax’, and the changes in benefits, which will result in many thousands being moved out of London. Now the UK government is talking about reducing housing and other benefits for under-25s. We could be moving towards a situation where, with legislation being slightly different in Wales to England, Wales takes in a large part of the London exodus; a paedophile refused accommodation in Birmingham could be housed in Bargoed; a young criminal evicted from a flat in Bradford will be dumped in Barmouth; and non-working families with 7 or 8 unruly kids will become your neighbours in Blaenau Ffestiniog or Blaenau Gwent. Because, don’t forget, the Department for Communities and Local Government is calling the shots, framing the legislation and dishing out the cash.
It would be nice to think that some, at least, of our AMs will see the Housing (Englandandwales) Bill for what it really is, but most will fall for the ‘triggers’ and think it ‘progressive’. And all the while, those who wish to destroy Welsh identity through colonisation will be smiling; and the parasites of the Third Sector, Labour’s Fifth Column, will be rubbing their hands at the prospect of the increased power, and more money, they’re being handed by a Tory minister in London! Wales carved up by the Brit Right and the Brit Left, both getting what they want. With we Welsh losing out, yet again.
The consultation period ends on January 17th.
Please make your feelings known about this disgraceful Bill.
To recap . . . I believe I have established in recent posts that the ‘new households’ projections used by the Planning Inspectorate to force through the recent Local Development Plans are flawed. Deeply flawed. So obviously flawed that they were almost certainly contrived to serve a darker purpose than the provision of new housing. So let us consider the origin of the figures used and, more importantly, who produced them.
First let us go to StatsWales, a very useful and well-ordered website providing – as the name suggests – statistics about Wales. You will recall that in my two most recent posts I drew attention to the mismatch between the population projections and the projected increase in the number of households. In a nutshell, the ‘households’ figure argued for new homes greatly in excess of what would be required by the number postulated by the anticipated population increase.
So let us first consider the population projections. These can be found here, with the most recent, 2012 – 2037, predictng an increase of 247,000. If we scroll down to the ‘Metadata’, then click on ‘Author’, we see that these figures were produced by the Office for National Statistics (and can be found on the ONS website). However, when we consult the household projections and select the 2008-based projections (the latest available) these predict 323,009 new households 2008 – 2033. When we scroll down as we did with population projections we read, ‘Knowledge and Analytical Services, Welsh Government’. Is this what Carl Sargeant alluded to in his November letter (see previous post) when he said, that the methodology used to work out the households projection was ” . . . based on a Welsh specific methodology which is separate to the methodology used in England”.
(There may even be a higher figure than 323,009. You will note that in the Sargeant letter it says this figure is “slightly lower” than the figure ‘his’ civil servants were originally working with. I believe the ‘lost’ figure is 331,168. This can be found in the 2008-based households projections by totalling the figures for each local authority. Though why this doesn’t tally with the national projection of 323,009 is a mystery. Maybe when you’re being ‘imaginative’ with figures such anomalies are unavoidable)
As you might guess, I just had to find out more about the Knowledge and Analytical Services. In my enquiries I found this on the ‘Welsh’ Government website. (Click panel, right, to enlarge.) Let’s go through it carefully, for it would be easy to mis-read this little announcement.
Anyway, the notice says that Carl Sargeant was ‘asked’ “to approve a list of priority analytical activities, and associated research spend, for the KAS team over the remainder of 2012-13”. Analytical activities presumably decided by, and funded by, the minister in London. In other words, a Labour Party minister in Cardiff is ordered to agree to a directive from a Tory minister in London to allow English civil servants to determine what happens in Wales. This is Carl Sargeant’s “Welsh specific methodology”! But wait! have we not encountered this UK ministry before? Yes, indeedy! For the Planning Inspectorate itself is but an executive agency of the very same Department for Communities and Local Government.
Let us start connecting the dots. The Office for National Statistics produces population projections. However, skulking behind the original and respected imprimatur of the ONS the KAS unit then extrapolates wildly exaggerated ‘households’ projections, which are in turn taken up by the Planning Inspectorate to force through Local Development Plans that demand new housing in numbers that cannot be justified by any conceivable future local need.
To be more precise, the KAS unit and the Planning Inspectorate argue that for the ONS’ projected population increase of less than 250,000 over the next 25 years Wales will need some 330,000 new homes! (See recent posts.) Also worth noting is that KAS ‘households’ projections were produced in 2003, 2006 and 2008, so why nothing since then, especially as the ONS population projections – on which the KAS claims to base its own projections – were revised in 2010 and 2012? The answer is obvious – the 2008 ‘projections’ were concocted specifically for the Local Development Plans, to ‘justify’ some 200,000 new homes that we Welsh will not need. Making it obvious who these new homes are being built for.
Wales being controlled by unelected and anonymous English civil servants, taking their orders from London, shows up, yet again, the sham of ‘devolution’; and exposes the self-regarding buffoons of the ‘Welsh’ Government as nothing more than errand boys and mouthpieces. Worse, the refusal of these puppets to challenge the ethnocidal policies being implemented – in their name – makes them complicit in these crimes. Confirming, yet again, that the Labour Party remains the greatest enemy of Welsh nationhood.
Following on from my previous post, a few more things need to be said about the way those we elect and, perhaps more importantly, those we do not elect, plan how many new dwellings will be built in Wales in the next couple of decades.
In that previous post I wrote of Carl Sargeant, Minister for Housing and Regeneration, and his assertion that the number of households in Wales would increase by 323,009 between 2008 and 2033. The StatsWales figures quoted by Carl Sargeant predict a decrease in household size in this period from 2.27 persons to 2.02, and taking an average of 2.12 (2020), this ‘translates’ into a population increase of some 685,000. Though the most recent (2012) population projections from StatsWales predict an increase of just 247,00 between 2012 and 2037. How do we make sense of these differing figures?
Though before proceeding it’s worth remembering that there is no exact or direct correlation between the increase in the number of households (and therefore the number of dwellings needed) and the increase in population. An increase in the number of households cannot translate exactly into an increase in population. Certain factors come into play, such as more people living on their own, smaller families, or even slum clearance programmes. But I doubt if many older properties in Wales will be demolished and I have used the household size projections provided by StatsWales so, even allowing for more of us living on our own, there seems no way to reconcile the two sets of figures.
Yet the answer lies in the fact that the ‘households’ figure is from 2008 (updated September 29, 2010) whereas the population projection I’ve used is from 2012. Also note that the population projection in 2012 shows a reduction of 116,000 from the projected increase made just two years earlier. (All explained in the panel on the right. Click to enlarge.) Now it stands to reason that if the population projections have been substantially reduced then the number of households projection also needed to be revised, yet this has not been done. With the result that, over the past two or three years, our local authorities have been ordered to plan new dwellings on the basis of discredited data. Worse, those demanding that our councils pass these Local Development Plans knew the figures used to justify those plans were unreliable.
Without, I hope, appearing too personal, I must return to Carl Sargeant for a moment. If you read his letter of November 12th last year to William Powell AM, Chair of the Petitions Committee, you will see that the ‘households’ figure he (Sargeant) had been working with seems to have been an even higher figure than the 323,009 of StatsWales! (Left, click to enlarge.) But worse, he appears to admit that his officials can’t explain where the figures they’ve been using came from! Can you believe this? So where might Sargeant’s officials have got this insane, and now lost, figure they were using? Thin air is one possibility, but a much more likely source is the Planning Inspectorate, represented in Wales by Richard of Poppleton (see previous post).
To help understand the mismatch in the two sets of figures on a local level, let us look at Denbighshire, where the council is being ordered – by Planning Inspectorate officials – to build thousands of new properties for English commuters much-needed local homes, 7,500 by 2021. According to StatsWales’ 2008-based household projection the number of households in the county will increase, between 2010 and 2021, by 5,972, and this figure is, presumably, being used to justify the building programme. Yet the most recent (2011) StatsWales population projection says that the county will see growth of just 4,134 between 2010 and 2021. There is no sensible way of explaining the same body predicting, for the same area, a greater increase in new households than in total population . . . unless of course, we are dealing with a population that has yet to arrive in Wales?
What we are facing here is a blatant colonisation strategy being implemented by the Planning Inspectorate. A calculated assault on Welsh identity. It is now time for Carl Sargeant and others down Cardiff docks to stop acting as fig leaves for this racist programme – pretending these are their strategies – and to start serving Welsh interests by standing up to cross-border agencies that do not have Welsh interests at heart.
The Local Development Plans were based on what was known to be incorrect information in order to maximise the number of properties available to English buyers and tenants. This colonialist motivation should surely invalidate these LDPs. If the ‘Welsh’ Government fails to recall the discredited LDPs then this will provide further evidence of the organ grinders and monkeys nature of Welsh political and public life.
This post is a kind of New Year’s Resolution. Specifically, a promise to waste less time in 2014 on the ‘monkeys’ down Cardiff docks and to pay more attention to the ‘organ grinders’. For it is becoming increasingly clear that simia politicus cambrensis is encouraged to chatter and dance in order that he – and, indeed, she – may draw attention away from those who really exercise power in Wales.
It is surely unfair that those burdened with such responsibilities, those shaping the future of our country, should languish, unacclaimed, in the shadows. Seeing as Richard of Poppleton is a prominent ‘organ grinder’ it is wholly fitting therefore that he should enjoy a little of the spotlight; not least so that we might appreciate better the interesting work he does.
Richard Poppleton is, according to the gov.uk website, “the Director of Wales at the Planning Inspectorate”. Though in this press release of February 2012, announcing his appointment, he is described as “Director for Wales” . . . while later in the same press release, it’s back to “Director of Wales”! So which is it?
The first thing to understand is that there is a single Planning Inspectorate for Englandandwales, and it is an executive agency of the Department for Communities and Local Government in London. An executive agency is a “machinery of government” device that lacks the freedom from ministerial control (UK government ministerial control) enjoyed by both non-ministerial government departments and non-departmental public bodies (quangoes). In other words, it’s an arm of a UK government department trying to pretend it’s something else. That the UK government should promote this deception is perfectly understandable. What is perhaps less easy to understand is why those wretches down Cardiff docks should so willingly participate.
The clues are everywhere. For example, I have referred to the press release of February 2012, announcing Poppleton’s promotion; let’s look at it a little more closely. First, the heading. The Planning Inspectorate and its bosses obviously understand that a bit of meaningless bilingualism can fool a lot of people into believing something is ‘Welsh’. Then, in the very first paragraph, we read, “Richard Poppleton has been appointed Director for Wales in the Planning Inspectorate”. Making it absolutely clear who he works for, and who he answers to.
Moving on to the third paragraph. I couldn’t help but notice the phrase ” . . . our plans and strategies for Wales . . . “, though the sentence ends with, ” . . . serve the particular needs of the Welsh Government.” Which might appear contradictory unless, as I suspect, it is the Planning Inspectorate that decides the ‘needs’ of the ‘Welsh’ Government.
They can’t both be right. Check the figures for yourself, see what a nonsense the one makes of the other. And here’s another odd thing . . . In a letter dated November 12, 2013 – the very same month of the StatsWales figures! – Carl Sargeant, Minister for Housing and Regeneration said, defending the 323,009 households projection, that the figure is ” . . . based on a Welsh specific methodology which is separate to the methodology used in England”. Which can only mean that not only do we have Statistics for Wales but we must have other agencies doing the same work, and coming up with totally different figures! How many such bodies are there? How much are we paying for this confusing duplication?
The truth is of course that the absurdly inflated figure Sargeant tries to defend is the work of the Planning Inspectorate. It is nothing more than a subterfuge to build new housing in the knowledge that the properties built, especially in more rural areas, will find English buyers. Exposing these ‘projections’ for what they are – a blatant strategy of colonisation. Which is why I suggest that anyone wishing to challenge these plans should not waste their time on the ‘monkeys’; insist on dealing with the ‘organ grinders’. In this case, the ‘organ grinder’ is Richard Poppleton.
Let me repeat what I said in an earlier post. The ‘Welsh’ Government is little more than a national version of Carmarthenshire county council, where the unelected dictate to the elected. This fact probably goes a long way to explaining why the ‘Welsh’ Government refuses to intervene in Carmarthenshire. The main difference being that the unelected in Sir Gar have a higher public profile than those running Wales! We must remedy this situation!
IN THE NEXT ISSUE! How the Housing Directorate plans to give housing associations a near-monopoly in the rented accommodation sector! How the Housing (Wales) Bill keeps mentioning ‘England’, and how being local counts for nothing! How the Planning Inspectorate recently made an almost unreported decision with massive implications regarding year-round occupation of holiday caravans! And more!!
In a sense, this post is supplementary to the previous post. Because having made a number of references, both direct and oblique, to the problem I now think it’s time to hit the nail squarely on the head. This ‘nail’ of which I speak is the deception that has been practised for over a decade that wants us to believe Wales is run by the politicians we have elected to the Assembly.
It is now clear beyond doubt that Wales is in fact run by people we have never heard of, and have never voted for. In the main, these are civil servants. Answerable to London but, more importantly, also taking orders from London and making sure that the ‘Welsh’ Government follows the same directives. Though this often means co-operation if there is a shared objective. The number of examples proving this continue to mount.
From talking with Pol Wong about the way his Powys Fadog venture in Llangollen was sabotaged it soon became clear that civil servants – no less than Gillian Morgan, the top civil servant in Wales at the time – showed blatant bias by conspiring with Labour politicians who clearly saw Pol’s vision as being ‘too Welsh’. Meetings to discuss how best to sabotage the Powys Fadog project were even taking place in the home of a local Labour AM!
Then last week, a delegation from Cymdeithas yr Iaith Gymraeg (Welsh Language Society) met with Carl Sargeant, Minister for Housing and Regeneration, in the hope of persuading him to make the Welsh language a material consideration in planning for new housing. Tweets from a couple of those at the meeting make it clear how it went. The politician was at least prepared to listen to the Society’s wishes, but the civil servants wanted to dismiss it out of hand. How do we explain such open hostility?
I think this takes us back to what I said in the previous post about the insane housebuilding plans being imposed on Wales. As I showed in that post, using official figures, the only way to explain this housebuilding extravaganza is to view it as a deliberate attempt to further damage Welsh identity. That being so, then the attitude of the civil servants at the meeting with Cymdeithas yr Iaith is entirely consistent with this strategy, but difficult to explain otherwise.
Something else I pointed out in the previous post was the article in the most recent Planning Inspectorate newsletter. This piece, headed ‘Planning Reform in Wales’, contained phrases such as ” . . . (proposed reforms) resonate with those in England” and “Again reflecting change in England”. Major planning decisions in England and Wales, plus Local Development Plans, are under the control of the Planning Inspectorate, which answers solely to the UK Government. This is disguised by the UK government passing legislation ‘for England’ and the ‘Welsh’ Government ‘for Wales’ – but, increasingly, it’s the same legislation! And this is why civil servants that have been ‘advised’ by the Planning Inspectorate cannot accept any legislation for Wales that fundamentally differentiates Wales from England. (Plus of course there’s the over-arching consideration of anglicisation.)
It’s the same picture in social housing. The preserve in Wales of the shadowy Housing Directorate. Here, again, Wales is locked into an Englandandwales system. One that, inevitably, works against the Welsh national interest; a) by ensuring that, in many areas, more social housing is built than local applicants need, and b) seeing to it that Welsh applicants are always at the back of the queue for allocations. Many social housing providers are now little more than large private companies. Why they should still be treated as charities or social enterprises is a mystery. An even bigger mystery is why any housing association should be receiving funding from the ‘Welsh’ Government.
Then, last year, and purely by chance, I ran across the Wales Rural Observatory. This is a group of English academics, funded by the ‘Welsh’ Government, that comes up with ‘policy suggestions’ for its benefactor. Their website talks of Wales as if was East Anglia, there is no mention of the language or any other distinctively Welsh factors. This is the blind leading the blind. A bunch of English interlopers funded with Welsh money ‘advising’ a political party that believes civilisation stops somewhere just after Llanelli, or the western outskirts of Wrecsam.
It used to be said, back in the pre-devolution days, that a Welsh parliament would be nothing more than ‘Glamorgan County Council on stilts’, suggesting that it would just be a glorified county council controlled by Labour. Looking at what we have today down Cardiff docks there is a comparison to be made with a county council, but it’s not Glamorgan. With the elected representatives surrendering their authority to civil servants, the real comparison is with Carmarthenshire. An authority where the unelected are firmly in control, and General James marches his bedraggled and increasingly mutinous troops towards the unavoidable fate of Special Measures (and probably legal action, as well).
I have believed for some years that Wales under devolution has become less, not more, democratic. The more evidence that comes to light of the power wielded by civil servants then the more obvious this becomes. ‘Welsh’ Labour goes along with this system partly because it lacks the balls to stand up to London; partly because it doesn’t really care about Wales; and partly because as a reward for its submission it is given the freedom to indulge in socialistic fol-de-rols like free prescriptions and the like. Which, if you think about them, are all measures likely to attract into Wales those who’ll be a burden on health care and other services. Coincidence, no doubt.
We need to face up to the truth that devolution has been a dismal failure. I voted for devolution because I wanted a system prioritising Welsh needs and protecting Welsh identity. What we have is a collaborationist regime working with those whose objective is the assimilation of Wales into England. And it wouldn’t matter which party claimed to be in charge down Cardiff docks. Our enemies get away with this because we don’t stand up to them. Consequently, they regard us Welsh with the contempt we deserve. We need to start defending Welsh interests, any way we can.