GE2019: runners, riders and early fallers

PLEASE APPRECIATE THAT I GET SENT MORE INFORMATION AND LEADS THAN I CAN USE. I TRY TO RESPOND TO EVERYONE WHO CONTACTS ME BUT I CANNOT POSSIBLY USE EVERY BIT OF INFORMATION I’M SENT. DIOLCH YN FAWR

There’s to be a general election on December 12 (haven’t you heard!) and already the parties are stumbling, mainly over their selection processes, or lack of them.

Looking beyond candidate selection, I can honestly say that none of the four established parties in Wales has emerged with any credit.

THE CONSERVATIVE AND UNIONIST PARTY

Things got off to a bad start when news leaked that the Assembly candidate for the Vale of Glamorgan, Ross England, had sabotaged a rape trial involving a friend by regaling the court with details of his own relationship with the complainant.

This prompted the judge to say: “You have managed single-handed, and I have no doubt it was deliberate on your part, to sabotage this trial . . . get out of my court.”

Now even though England was the candidate for the Welsh Assembly his behaviour impacted on GE 2019 because the Conservative Party had endorsed him as a candidate knowing what he had done.

Image courtesy of BBC Wales. Click to enlarge

When the facts became known, the furore resulted in England being suspended by the party, and his sponsor, Alun Cairns, standing down as Secretary of State for Wales. Though Cairns dug in his substantial heels to remain the candidate for the Vale.

Things didn’t get any better for the Tories.

I don’t always trust what I read on Nation.Cymru but I’ll accept that a third of the Tory candidates in Wales are domiciled in England. It could even be more, with one or two hiding behind accommodation addresses. But there’s nothing surprising about this.

For this is the old imperial way. Send some promising young chap off to a far-flung corner of the empire, and if he survives the mosquitoes and doesn’t start a bush war then mark him down for advancement. BoJo himself has been through the system, standing for Clwyd South in 1997.

I can imagine the scene in Tory Central Office. ‘Now then, Fothergill, I hear you want to be an MP, eh. Well we’re sending you to this place in Wales . . . nice scenery, I’m told. If the natives don’t eat you and you make it back then, who knows, we could find you a nice little seat in the shires or some agreeable suburb’.

Which is why we have a number of ‘Fothergills’ every election.

Sometimes of course, the party just gets overtaken by events and has little alternative but to parachute in a candidate who’ll need a trusty native guide. This is what has happened in Ynys Môn.

For reasons that may never become clear the Tories on the island initially selected Chris Davies as their candidate. Superficially, it makes sense, because the man was MP for Brecon and Radnor . . . until his conviction for fraudulent expenses claims. There was a successful petition to recall him and he lost the subsequent by-election.

When Davies was forced out from Ynys Môn Central Office had to come up with a replacement pretty damn quick. And so they produced Virginia Crosbie, who knows Wales like the back of her hand, having previously been parachuted into the Rhondda in 2017.

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You’ll see that according to this bio (from which the panel above was extracted), she did very well in the Rhondda, increasing the party’s vote by 58%. Though I can’t help thinking that the way that’s phrased is designed to mislead, because most people like to know a party’s percentage share of the total vote, which is something entirely different.

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What Virginia Crosbie did in the Rhondda in 2017 was to increase the Conservative vote from 2,116 in 2015 (6.7% of the total vote) to 3,333 (10.1%). With most of the increase coming from post-referendum, ‘job done’ Ukip; whose vote dived from 3,998 (12.7%) in 2015 to 880 (2.7%) in 2017. And there was also a higher turnout in 2017.

Which tends to put things into a rather different perspective. But never mind, for Virginia Crosbie might still be worth a punt in Ynys Môn where the Tories came second in 2017, and with Labour MP Albert Owen standing down it’s a wide open race.

Then, just when the Conservative and Unionist Party must have thought the worst was over, their deputy chairman, Lee Canning, defected to the Abolish the Welsh Assembly Party. Here’s Canning’s resignation letter – the boy been bullied!

Let’s finish this section with Francesca O’Brien who’s standing in the target constituency of Gower, briefly held for the Tories by Byron Davies until he was defeated – in a dirty campaign – by shrinking violet Tonia Antoniazzi of Labour. Francesca believes that poor people should be ‘put down’.

Small wonder that senior Tory AM Nick Ramsay felt there were ‘lessons to be learnt’. Amen to that, brother.

LABOUR PARTY

The Labour Party’s customary talent for shooting itself in the foot remains undiminished, and as much as I enjoy putting the old size 9s into ‘Welsh’ Labour the cock-up I’m about to relate may be attributable to HQ. (If indeed cock-up it be.)

On Sunday news broke that the party’s candidate in Carmarthen East and Dinefwr, Maria Carroll, had run a Facebook page advising Labour Party members who had been suspended or otherwise disciplined over anti-Semitism, Holocaust denial and other issues currently bedevilling the bruvvers.

There seemed to be genuine concern over this. Alun Davies, AM for Blaenau Gwent, hoped that ‘Welsh’ Labour would deal with Ms Carroll. Some hope! It was referred to London, who responded with ‘Nothing to see here, move along’.

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Which got me wondering about Maria Carroll. So I tried to find out more, but apart from non-specific references to the NHS, trade unions, charities (i.e. third sector), there was very little. I dug up this Linkedin profile, which might be her. If so, then it appears she still works for the NHS in England.

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Though I seem to recall reading somewhere that she had bought a little shop in the constituency, possibly in Cilycwm. Which might suggest that she has either retired to or is planning to retire to this village north of Llandovery, an area suffering a high level of English colonisation.

Making the ‘local’ Labour Party about as local to the area as I am to Chelsea. For Labour in rural Wales is increasingly reliant on the local college or university, an influx of 1960s generation retirees (still playing at being radical), transferred trade unionists, meme sahibs who’ve gone ‘rogue’, assorted freaks and exhibitionists, etc.

Exemplified by the protest in Haverfordwest last week, organised by Pembrokeshire People’s Assembly (PPA) and Momentum West Wales, against local MP Stephen Crabb. The convener for the PPA quoted in this report is Jim Scott. In a different guise Scott is a leading light in the Green Party of Englandandwales.

Also at the rally was the Labour candidate, Phillipa Thompson. This co-operation between Greens and Labour explains why the planet-savers have stuffed Plaid Cymru by pulling their candidates in Sir Benfro and telling their supporters to vote Labour.

Anti-Tory rally in Haverfordwest. There may be no one in this photograph who was born in Pembrokeshire, for in addition to the ‘local’ Greens and other weirdos leftie activists were shipped down – it’s said – from Swansea. Note the old, ‘Space yourselves out so it’ll look as if there’s more of us’ tactic. Click to enlarge

But I’ve digressed, back to Maria Carroll.

It seems pretty obvious that she has been imposed on ‘Welsh’ Labour by their London masters. It’s equally reasonable to assume that she is favoured by Momentum. And she wants us to believe that while she herself is not anti-Semitic, she’s prepared to help those who are.

Other than that, Maria Carroll’s defence seems to be that it was all a long time ago . . . but perhaps it wasn’t, for she seems to have still been involved last month.

This case exposes yet again how impotent ‘Welsh’ Labour is, even in Wales. Labour Party HQ in London wanted Maria Carroll to stand in Carmarthen East and Dinefwr, and that’s what happened.

Who is she? Where’s she from? What’s her background? Does she know anything about the constituency? Who cares? Certainly not those who’ll be out canvassing for Maria Carroll; for like her, most of them will be new to Wales.

STOP PRESS: Fingers are now also being pointed at Cardiff councillor Darren Williams, said to be the operator of the Welsh Labour Grassroots (Momentum) Twitter account, which rushed to Maria Carroll’s defence.

Questions are being asked by Euan Phillips, spokesperson for Labour Against anti-Semitism and AM Alun Davies.

While much of this can be put down to Labour in-fighting it nevertheless reaffirms that Labour has a problem with anti-Semitism, one that won’t go away any time soon.

UPDATE: I now learn that Maria Rose Carroll stood for the county council in the Cilycwm ward in 2017, losing to an Independent. She is said to be into ‘herbal remedies’ and is given to impromptu dancing. I leave readers to draw their own conclusions as to whether there may be a connection.

When not paying homage to Terpsichore I’m told she deals out ‘personal advice and counselling’. Which I suppose we already knew.

THE REMAIN ALLIANCE

This is the pact between the Liberal Democrats, Plaid Cymru and the Greens to fight Brexit and persuade people to vote for the candidate who opposes Brexit. Which is both absurd and insulting on a number of levels:

  • Without the Labour Party what is essentially an anti-Tory pact is pointless.
  • It’s anti-democratic in that the Lib Dems have said they want a second referendum on EU membership . . . and if the electorate votes to leave, again, then they’ll just refuse to accept that decision.
  • Wales voted to leave the EU in June 2016.
  • The Greens are a deeply un-Welsh if not anti-Welsh party or grouping. Last year members in Wales had the chance to set up a Wales Green Party, but they voted to stay part of the England Green Party. And as we’ve seen in Pembrokeshire, the English Greens in our midst would rather cut off their dreadlocks than vote for Plaid Cymru.
  • What’s more, Plaid Cymru, a party of the left, has done a deal with the Liberal Democrats, the party that was in coalition with David Cameron’s Tories, 2010 – 2016, and whose leader, Jo Swinson, is now doing deals with the Tories against the SNP and refusing to allow a second independence referendum.

This is Through the Looking-Glass politics, where nothing is what it seems, but those who’ve stepped through have chosen to immerse themselves in some alternative reality.

As you know, I write about the Lib Dems as little as possible, regarding them as unprincipled political whores and the worst possible advertisement for a multi-party political system and proportional representation.

Whereas the Greens in Wales are a colonialist excrescence on the Welsh body politic, so let us be thankful that they are largely irrelevant in the wider scheme of things.

Though this irrelevance has not deterred Plaid Cymru from becoming besotted with the Greens in recent decades. The infatuation can be traced back to Dafydd Elis Thomas’s tenure as leader in the 1980s. I remember one particularly ghastly Plaid conference where hippy chieftain Brig Oubridge was feted. Éminence grise Cynog Dafis was another who fell under the Green spell.

Oubridge has since relocated from Tipi Valley, like some latter-day bluestone he has made the journey from south west Wales to Salisbury Plain. Where he stood in the 2017 general election, coming a very distant fourth, but at least he beat ‘Arthur Pendragon’. (Though isn’t that lèse majesté?)

But now to focus on Plaid Cymru, a party that has given me a lot to write about.

You know things have gone to hell when one of the party’s most capable politicians says what you read in the panel below. Wales is one the poorest countries in Europe, yet rather than try to improve the lives of those who belong here Plaid Cymru prefers to play gesture politics by pretending that Wales can accept, take care of, and integrate, an unspecified number of people from God knows where.

For Plaid Cymru, ‘refugee’ is anyone who claims to be a refugee. It’s code for open borders. Click to enlarge.

I’m not sure if Sahar Al-Faifi qualifies a a refugee, but she’s certainly caused Plaid Cymru embarrassment in recent days. To explain . . .

Last Friday, Plaid Cymru put out a tweet using Al-Faifi to promote its party political broadcast later that day in which she appeared. This attracted the usual response from the usual suspects, but also more measured criticism from other quarters, for it soon emerged that she had an anti-Semitic past.

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I think it was @bubblewales that first broke the news she was a wrong ‘un with this piece. Expanded on here. It was then taken up by Guido Fawkes and others. On Monday, as her Plaid Cymru defenders began to fall silent, Sahar Al-Faifi issued an ‘apology’.

A very brief ‘apology’ followed by a wonderful example of whataboutery. Click to enlarge

You’ll note that she claims to have taken “anti-Semitism training, both formally through the (Jewish) Board of Deputies and informally with Jewish colleagues”.

But then things took another turn for the worse for her, and for Plaid Cymru, when the Board of Deputies issued a statement in which we read: “We met Sahar Al-Faifi to confront her over concerns we had over antisemitic social media postings . . . Ms Al-Faifi apologised to us and made some amendments to her social media output. However, we were clear that the situation still remained unsatisfactory”.

It seems there was no formal training in anti-Semitism. In the statement you’ll note mention of an organisation called MEND (Muslim Engagement and Development), to which Ms Al-Faifi belongs, being described as a “highly problematic organisation whose activity risks increasing hostility and suspicion between the Jewish and Muslim communities”.

‘Counter-extremism’ organisation Quilliam International had more to say on MEND. The article was advertised with the hard-hitting tweet below. Had Plaid Cymru been ‘mainstreaming’ Islamist extremists?

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Sahar Al-Faifi has now been suspended by Plaid Cymru, but how did they get themselves into such a mess in the first place? I think we can go back to Liz Saville Roberts’ wish to turn Wales into a nation of ‘sanctuary’.

Plaid Cymru is up on the moral high ground where the air is too thin to allow clear thinking. So when someone like Sahar Al-Faifi shows an interest in the party they see a woman in a niqab who must be a victim of something or other, and who will make Plaid look good to those they’re anxious to impress. So she’s accepted without question.

More cautious minds might think that an educated single woman living in the West choosing to dress like that might be making a political statement. A simple enquiry would then have established that she is the local representative for MEND, and someone who has expressed anti-Semitic views . . . at which point alarm bells should have rung.

And consider this. At the same time as party leader Adam Price was getting stick for quite rightly stating that Wales is a colony of England (though I disagree with him about reparations) others in Plaid Cymru were laying out the red carpet for a woman who clearly believes that there can be no white victims of colonialism.

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Another mystery is why certain influential grouplets in Plaid Cymru rushed to her defence. What sort of treatment do gays, transsexuals and others think they’d receive under the rule or influence of Al-Faifi and her friends?

Plaid Cymru has now reached the stage where we Welsh, needing decent housing and jobs, being marginalised by colonisation, living in the poorest country in Europe, are a distraction from the more important things in this world – a world that Plaid Cymru must save!

Plaid Cymru has betrayed the Welsh nation in order to be regarded as ‘progressive’ by our enemies. I hope they get humiliated in GE2019. Because that’s what they deserve.

Though my fear is that Plaid’s self-destruction may be disguised by the upsurge in support for independence and the lack of an alternative for nationalists. At least Gwlad Gwlad is standing in a few seats.

CONCLUSION

A lot of what I’ve written about is faux outrage in the fevered conditions of an election campaign. Social media just adds fuel to the flames. Something silly said years ago after a glass of two should not be used to destroy a reputation today.

Yet anti-Semitism is something altogether different, not least because I see a bizarre and disturbing parallel between anti-Semitism today and what has gone before.

Hitler hated the Jews because he believed they controlled the economic life of Germany. Today’s socialists use Zionism and the West Bank as fig leaves but much of their animosity towards the Jews is attributable to the same, age-old perception of the usurer Jew’s role in the hated capitalist system.

This also helps explain why extreme variants of Islam get such an easy ride from many Western leftists.

Both the Labour Party and Plaid Cymru must learn that anti-Semitism is no more acceptable when mouthed by an educated woman of colour in a niqab or a business suit than when it’s barked by a thuggish white man in jackboots wearing a swastika armband.

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Polls and Donkeys

That nice man from ITV Wales, you know, the one who’s on Sharp End, Adrian Masters, well he tweeted yesterday that the results of a recent poll were available over on the ITV website, so I went to check on the findings. Some of them are, quite frankly, difficult to believe. Others, disturbing for the lack of engagement displayed by respondents.

One part of the survey asked people for their views on the performance of the current Labour Government down Cardiff docks. On the NHS, schools and the economy Labour’s approval rating was 24 and 25 per cent for non-Labour voters, but not much higher, only 36 – 41 per cent, among their own supporters. Perhaps more worrying from a neutral perspective was that the Don’t Know / Don’t Care / Ew Wha’? response ranged from 31 to 44 per cent!

Despite this lack of support for, or interest in, the Labour Party the YouGov poll nevertheless predicted that in the 2015 UK general election Labour will gain eight seats, five from the Conservatives, two from Plaid Cymru and one from the Liberal Democrats. Seeing as the Conservatives and Liberal Democrats are the parties of the current UK coalition government, this is not entirely surprising, but why should Plaid Cymru also suffer? The seats the poll suggests Plaid will lose are Arfon and Carmarthen East and Dinefwr.

While the Arfon prediction is difficult to fathom, but plausible, the prediction for Carmarthen East and Dinefwr seems impossible. Let us consider the facts. Plaid Cymru had a majority in 2010 of 3,481. The seat lies wholly within the county run by the most dysfunctional council in Wales. A council in which Labour is in coalition with a gang of so-called ‘Independents’, many of whom are Tories, others just in it for themselves, SI Exifplus a few flakes. Yet the council is actually run (or was until very recently) by the chief executive. The poll was conducted 10 – 12 of February, two weeks after the publication of the damning Wales Audit Office report into spectacular and expensive wrongdoing at the council. A resident of Carmarthenshire would have had to have been abducted by aliens not to have known about this report. (Though I bet even aliens would have been talking about it.) So does anyone seriously believe that Labour is going to take this seat next year?

The predictions for Plaid are questionable, but what about the Tories, tipped to lose five Welsh seats in next year’s UK general election? They can surely expect wipeout in the Welsh Assembly elections of 2016. Well, no . . . because according to respondents to YouGov Conservative support at Assembly elections is up two points to 21 per cent! With Labour, predicted to almost sweep the board in 2015 remember, down one point for the Assembly elections in 2016!

So how do we make sense of all this? We could of course be dealing with a very sophisticated electorate, able to make subtle distinctions and different judgements for different contexts. Or, we could be dealing with people who know little and care less; an increasingly apathetic electorate that has given up on politics, which for me would be a more plausible explanation for the inconsistencies.

People who no longer give enough thought to politics and politicians to hold coherent views, so they’re confused, or they revert to the comforting default position of the traditional ‘Donkey Labour’ voter: ‘Don’t understand politics? – Vote Labour!’ Because even when pressed on specific subjects for a simple Yes or No over a third could still only offer ‘Dunno’, suggesting they knew absolutely nothing about Labour’s policies and performance in Wales. Did I say ‘disengagement’? I guarantee that some of those questioned could not have known less about Hungary’s agricultural policies.

The only caveat, and it’s a big one, is that I am suspicious of opinion polls in general, and YouGov in particular. I believe that many people – shall I say, the more ‘suggestible’ among us – can be influenced by opinion polls into joining the ‘winning’ side . . . which of course means abandoning (what the polls suggest is) the ‘losing’ side. In Wales, in order to promote a certain constitutional outlook, the winning side has to be Labour for the ploy to be credible.

Then again, I could be entirely wrong, and this is an authentic and accurate vox populii. In which case, Wales is in more trouble than even I had feared.