The response to the original post, put up last Wednesday, has been excellent. Many, many people have said they’ll be coming and a healthy number of donations has been received. I have also received apologies from those who would have come but for various reasons can’t make it.
For example, an old mate of mine who’s stood for Plaid Cymru many times had already arranged to take his missus to Amsterdam that weekend. But I know he’s serious because he sent £100 to be getting on with. Another who has previous plans is Big Gee.
But what’s really encouraging is that the majority of the messages, and the donations, have come from people I don’t know – and I’ve been around a long time! It tells me that there is out there – in Wales and beyond – a constituency that cares about our country, appreciates the mess it’s in, but has no faith in any of the existing parties to tackle the problems.
In fact the response has been so encouraging that I’ve had to find a larger venue, which is the reason for this update.
The meeting will still be held on November 4th, between 1pm and 5pm, and still in Aberystwyth, but the venue is now changed to the Ocean Room at the Belle Vue Royal Hotel.
So we’ve moved a short distance along the Promenade to a room that holds around 100 people. And if this isn’t big enough then we’ll all go out onto the beach and have an al fresco meeting. I’m sure we’ll find somebody to lead the singing.
The bar will be open, so I repeat what I suggested in the first post, “It might be a good idea if people arrive around mid-day and gather in the bar before the meeting begins. Meeting informally beforehand will give us a chance to introduce ourselves and perhaps decide on the best way to run the meeting.”
My contribution will consist of little more than thanking everyone for attending before passing the meeting over to the pro tem chairman. So is anyone volunteering for that role, or does someone have a name to suggest? We need someone with experience of controlling a meeting.
Is anyone volunteering to take minutes?
At some point before the end of the meeting we shall also need to select a steering committee until the first AGM at which a full committee can be elected. Again, are there volunteers, or nominees? We shall need a chair, secretary, minutes secretary, press secretary, membership secretary, treasurer, and perhaps six other committee members.
This meeting is obviously difficult to organise because by and large we’ll be a bunch of strangers starting from scratch. So I’m open to suggestions that might facilitate its smooth running.
More good news is that Aled Job has agreed to act as translator and to do it for free as long as we pay to hire the headsets. This means that speakers will be able to use either Welsh or English.
There will be tea and coffee available in the Ocean Room and if we can start at 1pm prompt we can have a break at 2:45, but we must be out by 5pm at the very latest because there’s a wedding party there in the evening and the room needs to be set up for that function.
As you might have expected, my earlier post, and the prospect of a new party that might achieve something for Wales, got the predictable responses from certain quarters.
WAS ONCE A JOURNALIST
Former BBC man Phil Parry waded in with an absurd piece entitled The Royston family, in which he trundled out his oft-repeated lies about me accompanied by various photos including – yet again! – the one of Cayo Evans holding a gun.
This picture from the 1960s, which I’ve published a number of times on this blog, really gets under Parry’s skin, and that of his mate Martin Shipton over at Llais y Sais. A couple of years back Shipton tweeted me thinking I’d back down after he’d publicised my use of the picture, when I didn’t, he seemed confused.
They presumably hoped that being challenged would make me recant. When they realised that wasn’t going to happen, that I was proud to display the picture, it seemed to affect the wiring in their BritNat brains.
For they’re unable to grasp that the FWA is part of Welsh history, and that many Welsh people have fond memories of Cayo, Dennis and the rest, even a sneaking regard. The only ones who still get agitated over the Free Wales Army are anti-Welsh elements trying to dress up their atavism – even racism – as reasoned opposition to ‘extreme nationalism’. Something of which they of course are mercifully free.
Parry I can ignore, and would have, but using that title went a little too far. Attack me by all means, I’m a big boy who can answer back, but ‘The Royston family’ is my wife, children, grandchildren.
Maybe I’m getting worked up over nothing, because writing about him here will probably encourage ten times as many visits to his site as the original posting generated.
THE WEEKLY ‘SPOT THE CHARLATAN’ COMPETITION
Talking of sad buggers brings me to another of my critics, Martyn Shrewsbury . . . if that is his name, because there are all sorts of question marks hanging over ‘Shrewsbury’. At one time he seems to have been using the name Rowlands. It’s alleged there have been other names.
As might be expected, he is one of those for whom the truth is somewhat ‘elastic’, but then, he’s a philosopher! An example of this elasticity came some five years ago when he was almost sent down for lying to creditors.
Maybe he’s a traditionalist and uses the swinging pocket watch technique, while intoning, ‘Your eyelids are heavy . . . you have an irresistible urge to hand over your wallet’. (I’m sure Groucho did a good portrayal in one of his movies.)
Politically, ‘Shrewsbury’ belongs to the Green Party of Englandandwales, and has stood numerous times for Westminster and the Notional Assembly, without ever overworking the vote counters.
Some years ago he hitched his wagon to the star that was Pippa Bartolotti, then leader of the Wales region of said party, and served her faithfully, to the extent of smearing her opponents using a host of phoney identities.
Among these were ‘Green Dragon’ and ‘Brig Strawbridge’ (the latter an obvious take on veteran Green Brig Oubidge). All explained here. You know, the more I learn about the Green Party the more vivid becomes the unsummoned image of ferrets in a sack.
How could Plaid Cymru ever consider a pact with a party that is itself split into 57 varieties of two-faced, back-stabbing, self-promoting individuals incapable of co-operating with each other let alone with another party!
Everything about the Greens seems to be transitory, or in a permanent state of confusion. Writing this I referred back to More on the Green Party of Englandandwales, which I wrote in November 2014, but none of the links to Green Party sources work any longer!
The only thing that might be said in ‘Shrewsbury’s favour is that he claims to want independence. Though this claim would be more credible if he didn’t belong to a party that doesn’t even recognise the existence of Wales.
In which I try to explain how Plaid Cymru became a serious political party in the 1960s, why it was derailed in the 1980 and 1990s, and how we’ve ended up with a self-emasculating party that sees no role for itself other than as Labour’s little helper.
BLOWN INTO THE LIMELIGHT
I can write about the 1960s with some authority because I was there, I was involved, and I knew many of the players. Most weekends would see a gang of us pile into a hired transit van to attend some rally or protest, and there were real issues for us to focus on; we had Tryweryn (plus the other drownings), Aberfan, the Investiture – how could anyone not believe that Wales would be better off if she was independent?
There was a widespread perception among those I mixed with of there being a broad nationalist front, with Plaid Cymru as the political wing. Many people I knew were members of both Plaid and Cymdeithas yr Iaith Gymraeg (The Welsh Language Society), I even knew people who were members of Plaid, CyIG and the Free Wales Army. There was most definitely ‘overlap’.
Though Plaid’s leadership, Gwynfor Evans especially, attributed the bombing campaigns to MI5 and sought to distance the party from them. Whatever the response, the truth is that in the 1960s Plaid Cymru rode the coat-tails of Mudiad Amddiffyn Cymru and the FWA to became a serious political party, winning Carmarthen in the 1966 by-election and pushing Labour close in subsequent by-elections in the Valleys.
The lesson was clear, get the people to focus on Welsh issues, particularly exploitation and injustice, and Plaid Cymru would reap the electoral reward. Without the reaction to Tryweryn and the protests of Cymdeithas yr Iaith, it’s unlikely that Gwynfor Evans would have beaten Gwilym Prys-Davies in Carmarthen. And Gwynfor’s victory in July 1966 is often cited as the inspiration for Winnie Ewing winning the Hamilton by-election for the SNP in November 1967. Can we go so far as to attribute the impending independence of Scotland to the greed and insensitivity of Liverpool Corporation?
Plaid Cymru’s leaders don’t like being told that the party owes its boost in the 1960s to Owain Williams, John Jenkins and Cayo Evans, but the party certainly lost impetus when MAC and the FWA were broken up. With little to excite and involve the voters Plaid Cymru’s support in the 1970s fell back in the south, but the party entrenched itself in the west and the north, appealing primarily now to Welsh speakers, a trend that damaged its appeal outside the Fro Gymraeg.
Again, I speak from personal experience, having stood as a Plaid Cymru candidate for both Swansea city council and West Glamorgan county council in the mid 1970s. I’d knock on a door, introduce myself as one of the local Plaid Cymru candidates and often get the response, ‘Sorry, love, we don’t speak Welsh’. There was rarely hostility, more the feeling that whatever Plaid Cymru might be (and few knew, or cared), it was definitely a party for Welsh speakers only. Plaid Cymru in the 1970s and 1980s was a national party with a very narrow appeal just bumbling aimlessly along.
PLAID GOES LEFT, AND GREEN, AND DISAPPEARS UP ITS OWN ARSE
Nineteen-seventy-nine was a significant year in Wales for three main reasons.
On March 1st, St David’s Day, Wales rejected the Labour Party’s devolution proposals, with just 20.26% in support. Despite it being a Labour initiative most Labour politicians, led by Neil Kinnock and George Thomas, campaigned vigorously and viciously against devolution.
Then on May 3rd Margaret Thatcher and the Conservatives were elected to power in Westminster, with the party gaining 32.2% of the Welsh vote and eleven of the thirty-six Welsh seats. In the general election of 1983 – and despite the war in the south Atlantic and the losses suffered by the Welsh Guards on the Sir Galahad – the Tories still gained 32% of the Welsh vote. From a high point of 11.5% in the general election of 1970 Plaid Cymru’s share of the vote slipped to 8.1% in 1979 and 7.8% in 1983.
Finally, on December 11th, we saw the first holiday home arson attacks by Meibion Glyndŵr.
Plaid Cymru continued to bumble along, going nowhere. The party was so rudderless, so unattractive to voters outside of the rural west, that the MG campaign was unable to give the boost that MAC and the FWA had done in the 1960s, possibly because holiday homes were not an issue in the areas where Plaid needed to grow. Plaid Cymru was a weak party of dispirited members, ripe for change, or takeover . . . preferably not a takeover by nationalists.
Gwynfor Evans stepped down as president in 1981 and a new generation stepped into his shoes. First, Dafydd Wigley, who’d been elected MP for Caernarfon in 1974, and then, more significantly, from 1984, Dafydd Elis Thomas, who’d been elected in the same year for the neighbouring constituency of Meirionnydd.
Now things begin to get strange. Because although the obvious problem was that Plaid Cymru was not getting enough support from the anglophone Welsh, under Dafydd Elis Thomas the party started reaching out in other directions, primarily to the hairier fringes of the Left, and to even more hirsute elements of the environmental movement. It will be noted that none of these new ‘allies’ had a snowball’s chance in hell of increasing Plaid’s vote in Swansea East or Merthyr or Wrecsam.
Another in Plaid’s hierarchy keen on ‘reaching out’ was Cynog Dafis, who believed there was common ground between Plaid Cymru and the Greens. These Greens were of course overwhelmingly English and many of them were openly dismissive of Welsh identity. As far as they were concerned, they had moved to ‘the country’, not to someone else’s country.
This contempt was returned in kind, for most Plaid Cymru supporters had no time for the Greens, and some, especially those involved in farming and other activities, thoroughly detested these arrogant interlopers who threatened their livelihoods. Yet to Cynog Dafis the hippies and the rest were “those who had moved here to live for progressive and enlightened purposes”.
This episode provides us with an example from thirty years ago of Plaid Cymru’s leadership being out of step with the party’s rank and file, and of course the wider population. Guilty of going off on tangents that did nothing to address Plaid Cymru’s fundamental problem. I wrote a few years ago about this rather silly flirtation with the Greens in Plaid Cymru and the Green Party of Englandandwales.
AN AMERICAN FRIEND
When he was Plaid’s head honcho Dafydd El’s consort was an American named Marjorie Thompson. An interesting woman from an impeccably WASP-Republican background who, after a stint as assistant to a Republican Congressman, crossed the Pond and soon joined the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament, rising to be chair of that body. More remarkably, perhaps, she also served as chair of Scottish CND, though this is not mentioned in her Linkedin profile.
I’m not sure when her relationship with DET began but it lasted some seven years and intrigued observers. Having served her time among the ‘progressives’ in CND and other groups Ms Thompson eventually joined Saatchi & Saatchi, Margaret Thatcher’s favourite ad agency, in 1997, and returned ‘home’, as it were, by joining the Conservative Party in 2009.
I seem to recall that there was interest at the time in a brother of Marjorie Ellis Thompson who, it was alleged, worked for a US intelligence agency. But I could be mistaken, it was all a long time ago. Maybe someone remembers?
By 1992, after all the changes, and all the ‘reaching out’, Plaid Cymru’s percentage of the vote in that year’s general election barely moved. Nevertheless, the party did hold its three seats in the north west and Cynog Dafis added Ceredigion and Pembroke North, almost certainly due to the thousands of bearded ones turning out to vote for him.
Though the only constituency that saw an official Plaid-Green alliance was Monmouth, where the candidate Mel Witherden got 0.8% of the vote, the lowest Plaid vote in the country. Witherden was quite open in stating that many Greens were anti-Welsh in a racist and colonialist way.
Plaid was now firmly located on the political left, it was a ‘welcoming’ party concerned with all manner of ishoos and -isms, and more interested in the opinions of Islington than with what people were thinking in Islwyn.
DESIGNED TO FAIL
Plaid Cymru, the party I joined in the mid-’60s because it – and I – wanted to make Wales a better place for the Welsh people, had become a regional rainbow alliance for which nationhood and independence were dirty words. Wales no longer mattered except for the votes and seats it provided that then allowed the Plaid leadership to rub shoulders with other ‘progressives’.
This party had no chance of winning seats outside of the Welsh-speaking areas, where most of Plaid’s voters supported the party for cultural reasons, and didn’t really care about Plaid’s policies (even if they knew what they were). If this electorate had one concern it was the influx that was breaking up communities and slowly destroying a Welsh way of life.
Plaid Cymru had no intention of making a stand against colonisation; in fact, as we’ve seen, Plaid’s leadership was happy to co-operate with elements of this influx. Never was an electorate taken for granted and treated with such contempt as Plaid Cymru’s rural voters. It’s no exaggeration to say that Meibion Glyndŵr spoke for these people better than Plaid Cymru.
Plaid Cymru was successfully subverted in the late 1980s and early 1990s into a political party that would never get more than 10-12% of the vote in UK general elections and therefore pose no threat to the integrity of the UK state. It would have been easy to interpret this catastrophic re-alignment to foolishness, were it not for the removal of Dafydd Wigley in 2000.
In the first elections to the new Welsh Assembly in May 1999 Plaid Cymru gained 28.4% of the constituency vote (Labour 37.6%) and 30.5% of the second or regional vote (Labour 35.4%). In addition to predictably winning its western, rural seats the party also won Llanelli, Rhondda and Islwyn. This result sent shock waves way beyond Wales.
In June 2000 an internal plot removed Dafydd Wigley, persuading him to cite health grounds for ‘his’ decision. Seventeen years later he leads a full life travelling up to London regularly to sit in the House of Lords and is actively involved in many other, more worthwhile, activities.
HISTORY REPEATS ITSELF
In my previous post I wrote of the strange case of Plaid Cymru councillor and AM Neil McEvoy, stitched up on a ludicrous ‘bullying’ charge by the Labour corruption machine and then, instead of being supported by his party, he found Plaid’s leadership siding with Labour and assorted organisations on Labour’s Third Sector payroll such as Welsh Women’s Aid.
In that post – and if you haven’t read it then I urge you to do so – I talked of the ‘consensus’, a delusion prevalent among Plaid Cymru’s hierarchy that they and ‘Welsh’ Labour are natural allies in the fight against the forces of darkness. This results in Plaid Cymru refusing to take Labour on in the way that the SNP has so successfully done in Scotland. But it goes deeper than that, and it’s more sinister.
Like all advanced states, the UK has a ‘permanent government’ which may or may not be made up of military brass, top businessmen, intelligence chiefs, senior civil servants and others. Whatever their attitude towards the Labour Party – and this will vary depending on who’s leading Labour – they understand full well that Labour is the bulwark against Welsh nationalism simply because it’s the largest party in Wales.
Equally, those I’m talking about understand that due to its corruption and incompetence, and the quality of its elected representatives, Labour in Wales is highly vulnerable, and must therefore be protected from any threat to its hegemony. The best way of doing this is from within. From within Plaid Cymru.
It’s no coincidence that Dafydd Wigley, Plaid Cymru’s most successful ever leader, was removed when the party he led threatened to dislodge Labour in the Valleys. And no coincidence that it was done with a palace coup.
Now Neil McEvoy, a politician from a different mould to most other Plaid MPs and AMs, is gaining popularity in working class Cardiff, so he is stitched up by Labour and hung out to dry by his own party.
To achieve this control over Plaid Cymru the permanent government doesn’t need many on the inside, just enough, in senior positions, to ensure that the right kind of left-liberal losers are recruited and promoted, and that nationalists, or anyone threatening Labour’s domination, is sidelined.
THE DOG IN THE MANGER
Since the Neil McEvoy affair blew up I have spoken with people I know inside Plaid Cymru and they are surprised, annoyed or outraged by the actions of the party leadership. No one I have spoken to supports the party leadership. The confusion extended to surprising quarters, like Martin Shipton in the Wasting Mule. Plaid’s leadership must know that they’ve got this one badly wrong.
But then, this is exactly how Plaid Cymru has been programmed to react in a situation like this. As I said earlier, Plaid Cymru was “subverted in the late 1980s and early 1990s into a political party that would never get more than 10-12% of the vote in UK general elections”, achieved by the simple expedient of taking the party in directions that made it unattractive to the great majority of Welsh voters.
Update that figure for devolution and we are talking of less than 25% in Assembly elections. Anything higher sets the alarm bells ringing in the marbled corridors of the permanent government. And action is taken.
Plaid Cymru since the bright young things took control has been a party promising everything to everybody . . . and delivering nothing, apart from minor concessions allowed by our masters to delude the rank and file that their leaders can deliver, and that the long-heralded ‘breakthrough’ is just around the corner. The ‘breakthrough’ that never comes . . . and was scuppered from within when it threatened to happen.
But perhaps Plaid Cymru’s most useful role has been as a dog in the manger party, because for as long as Plaid is in place, gaining just enough votes, it blocks the emergence of an alternative that could confront and defeat ‘Welsh’ Labour.
MY MESSAGE TO PLAID CYMRU MEMBERS
Whether you accept my theory or not, you know that your party is going nowhere. Which means that you are probably confused or disappointed by the treatment of Neil McEvoy, your party’s most effective politician.
You know that ‘Welsh’ Labour is there for the taking – so why is Plaid Cymru propping up this stumblebum party?
Or ask yourself why your party is so unattractive that Ukip got more votes in the last general election. And not just in Clwyd, but in Blaenau Gwent, Merthyr Tydfil, Rhymni, Swansea East, etc. Come on! wise up!
My belief remains that Plaid Cymru has been compromised. For appearances’ sake, and to block the emergence of a credible alternative, it is allowed a certain level of support, in return for which it must deal with anyone threatening to upset the status quo.
To make Plaid Cymru the party it should be, the party most of you want it to be, you need to give our people the message of hope they want to hear. But to achieve this you must remove the deadwood at the top of the party.
Plaid Cymru needs a new leadership prepared to put the interests of Wales and the Welsh people first, no matter what other parties, the commentariat, or the ‘progressives’ of Islington, may say.
As you might guess, this (originally short) post is a follow-up to my previous one, I Must Be Doing Something Right. It seems that Phil Parry at Wales Eye and Martin Shipton at Llais y Sais just won’t let go . . . though their persistence is not to be compared to slavering pit bulls, more like drowning men clutching at straws.
Yesterday afternoon I received a tweet from Fat Boy, you can see it for yourself on the right, together with my response. (Click to enlarge.) Yes, I was flippant, partly because I have difficulty taking the man seriously and also because I’d caught some bug that had me in bed by seven o’clock. I should have guessed that this was the prelude to another attack on me but, as I’ve said, I was feeling rough and on my way to bed.
Refreshed by fifteen hours of sleep I powered up my computer this morning to learn that after I’d gone to bed Shipton had tweeted again, this time about paramilitary activity and John Jenkins. His tweet and my response can be found on the left. (Click to enlarge.) What was it all about? I soon found out thanks to an e-mail from a supporter directing me to a tweet from Phil Parry at Wales Eye. (Below.) Again, I replied, and again, the response was somewhat flippant because, quite frankly, and with the best will in the world, I regard the man as an arsehole.
Anyway, it seems I am a “controversial commentator” (thank God for that!) and I support a paramilitary organisation. Which organisation would that be? I certainly support the various Kurdish militias fighting their people’s many enemies, but somehow I don’t think Parry is thinking of the Kurds. Given Lard Boy’s tweets yesterday we can safely assume that tomorrow, Wales Eye will run a World Exclusive! that I, Jac o’ the North, Swansea Jack, Royston Jones, supported the Free Wales Army . . . an organisation that ceased to exist around 1970.
This Earth-shattering news will be taken up by media outlets around the globe, Muscovites will stop complete strangers in a Red Square blizzard to ask, ‘Have you heard about that bastard Royston Jones supporting the Free Wales Army?’ And the response will be, ‘That’s nothing, I’ve heard he used to go drinking with that Cayo Evans in Lampeter’. Before they both shuffle off safe in the knowledge that President Putin would know how to deal with the likes of me. Then again, the coverage might be limited to Fat Boy at the Western Mail. In fact, I’m prepared to bet that the uptake will be limited to Llais y Sais.
So what’s going on here? It started off with Wales Eye, from out of a clear blue sky, attacking me in this concoction on September 2nd. A week or so later Wales Eye ran another piece about the persecution fantasies of Jacques Protic due (allegedly) to something I’d written about him, and this resulted in a North Wales Police enquiry. Then Wales Eye told us that I had been reported to South Wales Police for launching a ‘racial hatred’ petition . . . a petition that I did not launch. (But, understandably, Wales Eye neglected to tell us exactly who reported me.) This lie was then repeated almost verbatim by Martin Shipton in the Western Mail, and in WalesOnline, even though I’d put him straight. (See below.) Now it seems I am to be ‘outed’ as a supporter of paramilitary activity, a member of the Free Wales Army, and an admirer of John Jenkins. (Thank God they don’t know about that statue in Aber’!)
What sort of an arrangement is this that sees one of Wales’ most respected journalists (though not respected by me, obviously) acting as researcher for a vindictive blogger? Does Trinity Mirror plc pay Shipton’s salary for him to behave in this demeaning manner? But then, Shipton and Parry are both Labour, and Trinity Mirror has a record of supporting the Labour Party in Wales; who can forget the short-lived Welsh Mirror that crept from under a stone in the wake of Labour’s failure to gain a majority in the first Assembly elections of 1999? This rag was nothing but a platform for Paul Starling to spew his hatred for all things Welsh, dressed up of course as ‘combatting the evils of nationalism’.
With an election approaching, is Trinity Mirror doing ‘Welsh’ Labour another favour by targetting me? For those tempted to answer with, ‘You’re not important enough, Jac’, I would answer that I’m obviously important enough for the chief reporter of Llais y Sais to sift through my blog postings, check my photographs, and to monitor my tweets, looking for anything that could be presented as remotely incriminating. It’s clearly a concerted attempt to discredit me and, by extension, what I write. So why is it happening?
Anyway, the whole point of writing this was to prepare my easily shocked readers for the news that tomorrow, on the Wales Eye blog, ace investigator and top notch political analyst, Phil Parry will break the news that I supported direct action. This will then be relayed by his fat friend over at Llais y Sais. And that, my friends, just about sums up the dire state of what today passes for ‘the Welsh media’. Stop Press:Here’s Parry’s World Exclusive!, in pdf format (saving you having to pay to read it). Oh, yes, make sure you’re not eating anything, otherwise you might choke laughing.
P.S. To save certain ‘journalists’ unnecessary delving into my past I shall set the record straight on a few things.
I did not sink the Titanic, honest!
I may have met Gavrilo Princip at a social event.
I was not responsible for the Wall Street Crash.
I played no part in the invasion of Abbysinia.
I never served in the SS . . . well, not before 1944, anyway.
I was never a hippy in the 1960s (though I did wear flares).
I did not kill JFK, it was the New Orleans Mob (I was with the Chicago Outfit).
I had no hand in the break-up of the Beatles.
I was nowhere near Watergate.
I have no idea where Jimmy Hoffa is buried (God bless him).
I did not invade Las Malvinas The Falklands.
I had no involvement in the collapse of the Soviet Union.
I am not related to Slobodan Milosovic (try Protic on that one).
I was never formally introduced to Saddam Hussein.
I did not vote Yes in last September’s Scottish independence referendum.
I have recommended you both for the very highest awards your profession can bestow.
The title is of course a reference to the past. That’s because the pictures are all of friends and comrades, taken over the past half century. Some by me, others by the late Rhobert ap Steffan (‘Castro’); while the rest are of unknown origin. When I started writing the captions I realised that I was having to use ‘the late’ far too often. So, in the interests of brevity, and to stop me feeling so old and bloody miserable, I have dropped ‘the late’.
I am slowly organising the photographs I’ve accumulated into collections and galleries and will make them available on this site as they’re done. Eventually I hope to have them all catalogued and available via this blog or perhaps on a separate site.
If anyone has information to add, such as names, dates, corrections, even, then please get in touch. Also contact me if you have photos to contribute. If they’re in good nick then please e-mail me a copy. If not in good nick, then how about about letting me work on it? (The original will be untouched.)
This post was originally intended as a follow-up to my post earlier this month on the Welsh Livery Guild. In the post I’d planned I was going to mention that The Welsh Livery Guild is not alone in being an outfit of the costumed Brit Unionist royalist Right. I intended mentioning two other organisations that have made an unwelcome appearance – or reappearance – in Wales, the Orangemen and the Legion of Frontiersmen.
I shouldn’t have to explain about the Orange Order and the part it’s played in Irish – and to a lesser extent, Scottish – history, but maybe a bit more needs to be said about the Frontiersmen. Formed in 1904, in the wake of the Second Boer War, and in imitation of the admired Boer mounted infantry, the Frontiersmen enjoyed a brief popularity, even respectability, before the death-blow fell – Western armies stopped using cavalry except for ceremonial purposes. To which might be added the disappearance, or diminishing acceptance, of the ‘gentleman adventurer’. From then on it was a struggle for the Frontiersmen to justify their existence. With the result that in recent decades, certainly in the UK, this outfit has increasingly attracted sad buggers who enjoy dressing up. (Here is the ARRSEPedia entry.)
Here’s what purports to be the official website of the Legion of Frontiersmen GB. As you’ll see, there’s a homepage, and, er, that’s about it. Though note that they describe themselves as being made up of ex-military, ex-police, even ex-civil service(!), who collectively form “an organisation of Civil Defence volunteers”. Bear that in mind, for it will help explain the circumstances in which they see themselves operating. There’s even a Twitter presence @FrontiersmenGB which seems to be nothing more than retweets. As I write this, the most recent of them is about a launch of the Mumbles lifeboat! Finally, there is also an Independent Overseas Command.
Normally, this penchant for dressing up and playing soldiers would be harmless enough, laughable even. But then, as I started making a few enquiries into the recent activities of the Frontiersmen in Wales I ran into a name I’d recently seen linked with the Welsh Livery Guild. And I saw others, who should have known better, also lending credibility to these Walter Mitty types. But of greater worry to us should be that Wales is specially favoured, with Countess Mountbatten’s Own Frontiersmen Welch Command. Though, confusingly, there may be another Frontiersmen outfit in Wales, the Welsh Auxiliary Corps of Volunteers.
You’ll note that the ARRSEPedia entry (above) is made by the ARmy Rumour SErvice or ARRSE. Here’s a link to an interesting thread on ARRSE from which I have plucked the piece on the left, though whoever posted it does not give the source. (Click to enlarge and read carefully.) Here’s a further thread from ARRSE.
Now if we read the extract on the left, it refers to a big get-together – or “Investiture” – for Frontiersmen and friends at All Saints Church, Penarth on March 5th, 2006. Among the good and great we see the name of “Commander John Curteis the Vice Lord-Lieutenant of South Glamorgan”. This can only be Commander J M D Curteis RD FCA DL who went on to become Master of the Welsh Livery Guild in 2009/10. The Brigadier Alun Thomas-Evans referred to seems to be the same man as this Freemason. Maybe readers will recognise other names from the host in attendance.
Among them Earl Kitchener, the mayors of Penarth and Barry, the local sea cadets, Gorseinon College band, and the ghost of Queen Victoria. (OK, I made up that last one.) What were these people thinking of to lend ceredibility to this bunch of inadequates! Or maybe they view the Frontiersmen differently. Just look at who was involved. The British Legion, the Freemasons, various Jugend groups, the Welsh Livery Guild, Unionist political parties . . . and it all takes place – where else! – in an Anglican church. If you want to find the underpinnings of the British State, and the interconnectedness of the different strands, here they are for you. How many more organisations are there like the Welsh Livery Guild and the Frontiersmen?
For all I know, these clowns in the Frontiersmen may be legally entitled to own and train with weapons. It’s a worrying thought. Especially when we put it into the wider picture. Going back to the Welsh Livery Guild for a moment, I note that Brigadier R E L Jenkins CBE DL, Master in 1998/99, (and another Deputy Lieutenant) is, or very recently was, Director of Movements for the British Army. Which fits with my rather disturbing theory.
Forget ‘civil defence’ and ‘natural disaster’, what I fear we have here is a network of like-minded groups organised to step into the breach if the great unwashed get too stroppy, or if events in Scotland or Wales take an unacceptably un-Unionist tack. These paramilitary and semi-secret groups are linked by an adherence to an extreme variant of the ‘Queen and Country’ outlook. Which means that no matter how many Welsh symbols they choose to use, no matter how much of the Welsh language they employ, these bastards are our enemies. They may be little more than a secret army-in-waiting. At least, that’s how I believe they see themselves.
I note that on its website the Welsh Auxiliary Corps of Volunteers ” . . . offers support to the Welsh Assembly Government in Wales”. Was such an offer ever formally made? If so, what was the official response? Funny when you think about it, isn’t it . . . I can recall back in 1969 Cayo Evans and the Free Wales Army boys getting arrested and banged up for (among other things) wearing unauthorised uniforms. There were other arrests in 1990(?) of the Meibion Glyndwr Colour Party for a similar offence. So why can some in Wales wear contrived or illegal uniforms with impunity?
There can only be one answer. Despite the bollocks about us all being equal before the law, in practice, it all comes down to which side you’re on. If you support the English monarch, the Union, and all that goes with it – including the colonial status of Wales – then you can ponce about in a uniform that would bring tears to the eyes of the most emotional costume designer for a Ruritanian operetta. You can also give yourselves ludicrous ‘ranks’ (even impersonate military officers), award yourselves pretty medals, and nobody’s gonna touch you cos you’re on-side. Making Britain not a lot different to a third world country or a totalitarian state.
Footnote: I should explain, for those perhaps too young to know, that in the old days, when a young man about town (such as I once was) went to measure for a bespoke suit, the tailor, when taking the inside leg measurement, would ask, “Which side does Sir dress?” In other words, ‘Which side do you prefer to have them hang?’ It seemed an appropriate title for this piece considering the pricks I’ve been dealing with.