I’M IN SEMI-RETIREMENT AND THIS BLOG IS WINDING DOWN. I INTEND CALLING IT A DAY SOON AFTER THIS YEAR’S SENEDD ELECTIONS. POSTINGS WILL NOW BE LESS FREQUENT AND I WILL NOT UNDERTAKE ANY MAJOR NEW INVESTIGATIONS. DIOLCH YN FAWR.
This week’s offering is about a business I’ve been aware of for some time but have never got around to writing about. Given the raised concerns over the housing crisis in our rural areas I believe the time has come to turn on the spotlight.
WEST WALES PROPERTY FINDERS
This outfit, and the woman who seems to run it, Carol Peett, appear regularly in my Twitter timeline, or else people draw my attention to the business in other ways. That’s because West Wales Property Finders’ business is seeking out second homes and bucolic retreats for wealthy English buyers.
This is why, given the housing crisis in our rural communities, Mrs Peett and her company piss off so many people.
Which in turn explains why someone sent me a photo of a little piece from this week’s Sunday Times, in which Mrs Peett gleefully announced that, “Coastal Pembrokeshire and Ceredigion have seen a ‘tsunami’ of second-home buyers”.
A strange word to use, ‘tsunami’, and yet, if you think about it, rather apt. For a tsunami is very destructive, and so is the business in which Carol Peett operates.
So who is Mrs Carol Peett?
One of my regular sources of information, Companies House, couldn’t tell me much because there’s no company called West Wales Property Finders (WWPF) registered. Yet the Sunday Times describes Carol Peett as “managing director”. If so, of what?
The only directorship I can find for Carol Elizabeth Poyer Peet is Pembrokeshire Weddings Ltd. Formed in June 2016 and folding in May 2019 without the organist ever striking up Here Comes the Bride.
There may be no company but there is certainly a website for WWPF, where we read that Carol Peett was, “Born and brought up on a farm in Pembrokeshire and with her family being one of the oldest in the County, Carol’s in-depth knowledge of the area, property market and people of West Wales is second to none”.
What pretentious bollocks! Everybody belongs to a very old family, that’s why we’re here today. I have ancestors going back to the Neolithic period, and beyond. If I close my eyes (and take another sip of Malbec) I can see one of these antecedents now, a handsome fellow, clad in well-cut animal skins, blogging for posterity on the walls of his cave.
The claim to being born and brought up on a farm also has a touch of the porky-pies to it. I say that because Carol Peett’s Linkedin profile (here in pdf) says that from 1967 until 1976 she was boarding at private schools in southern England. These were Hanford prep school in Dorset, and the now closed North Foreland Lodge in neighbouring Hampshire.
UPDATE: A comment tells us, “Carol Elizabeth Poyer Lewis born May 1958 in Romsey Hampshire”. Which means she was neither born nor brought up in Pembrokeshire.
Carol Peett (then Lewis) left North Foreland Lodge when she was 18, did not go to university, and worked for many years in England.
The WWPF website brings us up to date with, ” . . . she and Rayner returned to live in Pembrokeshire in 2004″. Though whether hubby, Edward Rayner Peett, had ever previously lived in Pembrokeshire is open to question. And as I’ve said, Carol Peett herself couldn’t have spent much time in Pembrokeshire before returning either.
That year, 2004, is when Carol Peet joined The County Homesearch Company, ” . . . the principal homefinder for Channel 4’s popular TV programme, ‘Location, Location, Location’.” She ran the west Wales office of that company.
The WWPF website tells us that, “With the sale of The County Homesearch Company to American company, Dwellworks, Rayner and Carol felt the time was right to break out on their own and so founded West Wales Property Finders in the Autumn of 2014″.
The problem remains that there seems to be no registered company of that name.
The most recent development according to Linkedin was in August 2018 when Carol Peett became an Associate at Garrington Property Finders. On that company’s website we read that the difference between an estate agent and a property finder is that the former works for the seller whereas Mrs Peett and her ilk work for the buyer.
In the eyes of Garrington Property Finders Scotland is a country unto itself, whereas Wales does not exist. The northern part of our homeland is in north west England, and the southern part in south west England.
Here’s the Garrington website page for the South West Region, where we learn the company has offices in Exeter, Bristol and Winchester. No mention of Clunderwen, though, where dwell the Peetts.
So what is the relationship between Garrington Property Finders and West Wales Property Finders? Mrs Peett claims to be an ‘Associate’ of Garrington. I know what that term means in the Mob, but what does ‘associate’ mean in this context?
Answers on the traditional and now shamefully under-used post card.
As might be expected, Carol and Rayner Peett are loyal members of the Conservative and Unionist Party. And well regarded, I would guess, because for the December 2019 UK election we find their names atop Simon Hart’s nomination paper for the contest in the Carmarthenshire West and South Pembrokeshire constituency. (Available here in pdf.)
That of course is Simon Hart, the Secretary of State for Wales, who is said to have no more than a holiday home in his constituency. Maybe the Peetts found it for him!
The fact that Rayner Peett was the proposer, and Carol Peett the seconder, suggests they are well up in the local Conservative Party pecking order, or else close to Simon Hart. Probably both.
We can all speculate as to whether being pally with the local MP helps their business, but we can be absolutely certain that the association does their business no harm.
A business that is both odious and distasteful, for Carol and Rayner Peett contribute to the destruction of Welsh communities. But they are not alone, there are plenty of others in the same line of business.
My view is that Carol and Rayner Peett are simply being true to their natures, and that the real blame lies elsewhere. With politicians aware of the second home problem and associated issues yet choosing to do nothing, and by their inaction allowing the erasing of our identity.
If, as I expect, there is a coalition administration after May’s Senedd elections, with Labour and Plaid Cymru simpering about a ‘progressive’ alliance, ‘wicked Tories’, etc., then they will need to act quickly on the rural housing crisis.
We need punitive taxation on second homes, no loopholes, and a maximum 5% of dwellings in any electoral ward allowed to be holiday homes. We also need to clamp down on the other ways in which Wales is exploited, thereby making it clear to all that Wales is no longer a retirement and recreation area for England.
Rather than making gestures about global problems they cannot influence, perhaps the next ‘Welsh Government’ can focus a little closer to home, stick to the day job by tackling the problems faced by Welsh people and Welsh communities.
There is a storm brewing, and this is inevitable. Because when any nation is being invaded, and overwhelmed, its identity threatened; when people are turned into strangers in their own communities, or expelled from those communities, then resentment will grow.
And if the people’s elected representatives are perceived to be complicit in this tragedy or unconcerned, unwilling for whatever reason to respond, then there will come a reaction from within the people.
The next ‘Welsh Government’ should recognise this. And also recognise that continuing to fail the Welsh people is no longer an option.
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
The next elections for the Welsh Parliament are just over six months away; so this week I’m taking a break from crooks, money-launderers, con men, enviroshysters, third sector leeches to focus on politicians.
Reading that, the cynics among you will say, “So no great change there, then, Jac!”.
How dare you be so disrespectful of our tribunes! Go stand in the corner!
THE 2016 RESULT
Let’s start by reminding ourselves of the overall result from the previous election in 2016.
The first thing you might notice is that despite these elections being organised under a system of proportional representation the result, certainly for Labour, the biggest party, gives an outcome not a lot different to first past the post.
You’ll also see that the main challengers get seats roughly in line with their share of the vote, with the smaller parties generally losing out. It’s a system designed to protect the Labour-dominated status quo in Wales, while also stifling ‘insurgent’ parties.
This system has worked to perfection in Wales because the Conservatives are unlikely to ever gain a majority of seats. And when Labour fails to get a majority then Plaid Cymru or the Liberal Democrats will always be there to help.
After the 2016 election Labour went into coalition with the sole Liberal Democrat AM. Which meant that parties with a total of 38% of the vote were able to form an administration.
Is this really how PR is supposed to work?
THE LABOUR PARTY
At the risk of sounding uncharitable, the great thing the Labour Party has had going for it is . . . not being the Conservative Party. The advertising campaigns, the policy drafting, the tub-thumping and the sloganising could all have been ignored in favour of the simple message – ‘Vote for us, cos we’re not the Tories’.
And it’s worked, for almost a century.
In England, the decline of traditional industries, and their associated trade unions, have weakened the Labour Party. Labour in Scotland suffered the same problem, exacerbated by the rise of the Scottish National Party to the point where Labour is hanging on for dear life, with just one Westminster MP left.
In Wales, Labour has fared better because we’ve been spared the corrupting influence of prosperity, and also because there is no equivalent of the SNP. Of course, Plaid Cymru likes to view itself as the Welsh SNP but the SNP set out to destroy the Labour Party in Scotland whereas Plaid Cymru seeks to keep its Welsh branch alive and in power.
How Labour will do next May depends to a considerable extent on perceptions of the Conservative government in London. For while Scotland has a vigorous national media allowing elections to be influenced by Scottish issues, the absence of a Welsh media worthy of the name means that here we tend see Englandandwales elections.
The exception being perhaps areas with high numbers of Welsh speakers who are less reliant on news from London.
On issues of the day, there is a general and widespread belief that the self-styled ‘Welsh Government’ has handled the Covid-19 pandemic better than Johnson, Hancock, Jenrick and the rest of the gang up in London.
But then, being seen as less incompetent than that crew is no great achievement.
When we address purely Welsh issues, it’s difficult to think of anything Labour has to crow about. For Wales continues to fall behind other countries in areas like wealth, health, housing and education.
Cardiff seems to be prospering but away from the Lesser Wen the country can be divided into post-industrial areas experiencing managed decline and rural areas undergoing engineered population change from Welsh to English.
Labour leader, Mark Drakeford, is less oleaginous than his predecessor, Carwyn Jones, but still a difficult man to like. Despite the Brownie points gained for Covid-19 there remain plenty of bear traps for him to negotiate between here and next May.
By any criteria one cares to apply, Labour has been a failure since 2016. Labour has failed Wales since the dawn of devolution in 1999. But for the reasons I’ve given, Labour will still emerge as the largest single party, with around 30% of the vote.
But well short of a majority of seats.
If nothing else, such a result should increase calls for more Senedd Members and a system of true proportional representation.
THE CONSERVATIVE AND UNIONIST PARTY (CUP)
The last few years have been a series of peaks and troughs for the CUP, with Brexit almost tearing the party apart under Theresa May. Things took a turn for the better when Boris Johnson became party leader and won a famous victory in December . . . since when it’s been downhill again.
In last December’s election the Tories won a number of seats in the north, most notably, Wrexham, held by Labour since 1931. But the overall vote in Wales only increased by 2.5%. The real story was that Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour Party saw its Welsh vote go down by 8%.
Things have not gone well for the CUP since that December election for all sorts of reasons. Such as a number of the new intake being pretty odious specimens.
The new MP for Ynys Môn, Virginia Crosby, has appeared on this blog a number of times, usually defending her colleague and MP for Rossendale and Darwen, Jake Berry. Berry owns properties around Rhoscolyn and earlier this year people were asking if he was breaking lockdown restrictions to travel between his Welsh properties, his London home, and his constituency.
The situation does not look like improving for the Tories, for two main reasons.
Let’s look first at Covid-19. As I said in the previous section, the Conservative government in London has had a disastrous pandemic: incompetence, lies, contracts to cronies, it’s all there, and this will be remembered next May.
As if that wasn’t bad enough, the Tories seem determined to alienate even more people by insisting that the ‘Welsh Government’ is being anti-English when – for perhaps the first time ever – it prioritises the interests of Wales.
I believe it’s the latter, because in spouting this nonsense, the Tories are playing to a particular gallery. I’m thinking now of the anti-Welsh, gammony element that might otherwise be seduced by the growing number of splinter group parties on the BritNat fringe. (I’ll come to them later.)
The other problem of their own making is, again, Brexit. Of course Wales voted for Brexit, but I’m sure very few of us voted for privatising the NHS, chlorinated chicken, and undermining the Welsh farming industry. I certainly didn’t.
But it’s now become clear that a No Deal Brexit was always the favoured option for the CUP leadership in London. Which will mean the City of London remains at the centre of the biggest money-laundering network in the world; the NHS is opened up to US Big Pharma; and we have to get used to food products from the USA, where standards in both hygiene and animal welfare are more ‘relaxed’.
All the Welsh CUP MPs voted for this deal. Which is not clever for people representing constituencies with large numbers of farmers . . . and their extended families . . . and contractors to the industry, and so many others who rely to a greater or lesser degree on agriculture for their livelihoods.
There will be a price to pay next May for the coronavirus cock-ups and the shafting of our farmers. And while the Tories in Corruption Bay weren’t responsible, it’ll be some of them who’ll pay the price.
Other factors working against the Conservatives will be the Englandandwales media/election paradigm and the Vera Lynn Fan Clubs competing for regional votes.
For all these reasons I expect the CUP representation in the Welsh Parliament to fall.
PLAID CYMRU THE PARTY OF WALES
Although Plaid Cymru won 12 seats in 2016 the party is now down to 10. Lord Elis Thomas, the constituency member for Dwyfor Meirionnydd, left to become a Labour-supporting Independent; and Neil McEvoy, the regional AM for South Wales Central, left to sit as an Independent before forming the Welsh National Party (WNP).
A further change since 2016 is that Plaid Cymru also has a new leader in Adam Price. Perhaps the best thing that can be said about him is that he’s not former leader, Leanne Wood.
For most Welsh voters Plaid Cymru is the party of Welsh independence, but as I’ve argued, Plaid Cymru is a party that sought more autonomy for Wales, more funding for Wales, and the creation of a new class of politicians and administrators made up of . . . well, the kind of people who populate the upper echelons of Plaid Cymru.
This was to be a system that created a new class that Djilas would have recognised enjoying prestige and influence without the responsibility of having to fund it. Devolution, with a bit more power, many more sinecures, and lots more money, is the end of the line.
Plaid Cymru was always Cymru Fydd resurrected, not a Welsh Sinn Féin. Until, that is, it moved to the left in the 1980s and really screwed itself up. Enjoying only a brief period of coherence under the leadership of Dafydd Wigley and the first Assembly elections in 1999.
Today we again see a schizophrenic party where Welsh-speaking social conservatives from the rural heartlands mix uncomfortably with some real oddballs and a few with views that should have denied them membership.
Plaid Cymru is today one of those confused leftist parties that is vehemently opposed to intolerance . . . except when it’s those it approves of being intolerant.
As a leftist party Plaid Cymru believes that, thanks to the capitalist system, we’re either going to fry due to global warming, or else we’re going to drown from rising sea levels, so Wales must play its part in trying to avert these outcomes.
In practice, that means supporting wind turbines that create no jobs and simply exploit Wales. Where profits flow to a City hedge fund, or a multinational, or a state-owned energy company from Scandinavia.
Except on issues that are largely irrelevant to Wales – where Plaid Cymru can play gesture politics – the party comes across as weak and indecisive. Take holiday homes. Plaid talks the talk but it won’t walk the walk.
At present Welsh local authorities can impose a council tax surcharge on holiday homes up to 100%. The only council that levies the 100% is Labour-controlled Swansea. (And despite what you might think, there are many holiday homes on the waterfront, in Mumbles, and of course around Gower.)
But Gwynedd, where Plaid Cymru is in control, imposes only a 50% surcharge. It’s a similar picture in Ceredigion and Carmarthenshire.
On independence, Plaid Cymru has been outflanked and overtaken by Yes Cymru. While on the party political front there are two new challengers in the form of Gwlad and the Welsh National Party (WNP). Both are unequivocal about prioritising Welsh interests, and are fully committed to achieving independence.
So you really have to wonder what Plaid Cymru stands for nowadays, and where it’s going. That’s certainly what Welsh voters will be doing in May. Many will conclude that Plaid Cymru has hit the buffers.
Which certainly seems to be the case.
For while opinion polls tell us that more and more people are prepared to consider independence, those same polls show little or no increase in support for Plaid Cymru. Recent polls show 51% of Labour voters prepared to consider independence, but only 71% of Plaid Cymru voters!
What’s going wrong for Plaid Cymru?
In a nutshell, Plaid Cymru believes that the only acceptable vision of independence must be well to the left of centre, pro EU, in favour of open borders, anti Trump, and dragging a whole baggage train of ishoo-of-the-month idiocies that turn off most voters.
Dogmatic to the point of being unelectable.
Plaid Cymru always failed to engage with the urban, anglophone population. After the disappointment of Brexit, the success of the Brexit Party (winning the May 2019 EU elections in Wales and the UK), and BoJo’s victory last December, many in Plaid Cymru – like the US Democrats – have given up trying to win over stupid, racist, poor whites.
They find it preferable to retreat into their cocoons of progressive self-righteousness in the echo chamber of social media.
Which is why I believe Plaid Cymru will lose Ceredigion and also end up with fewer Members from the regional lists.
There’s a temptation to be very unkind in this section . . . but it’s not in my nature to put the boot in when somebody’s down. And boy! are the Liberal Democrats down.
It’s an amazing decline for the party of David Lloyd George, but entirely predictable when we consider the quality of leaders and representatives in recent years at both Welsh and UK level. I’m not sure if Ms Williams holds group meetings with herself but I’m sure she will have thought the same thing many a time.
And yet, despite currently being down to a solitary representative, the Liberal Democrats could be the big winners in May next year.
As I’ve suggested, the CUP has pissed off a lot of people, and most certainly a lot of farmers. Few will know that better than Kirsty Williams, a farmer’s wife.
Obviously, I’m not privy to what goes on at Welsh Liberal Democrat Party meetings (I can never find the telephone kiosk!) but I’m sure Kirsty Williams has hopes for the seats of Montgomeryshire to the north and Ceredigion to the west. (If the students in Aber’ and Lampeter have forgiven the Lib Dems for reneging on tuition fees.)
So I’m predicting that the Liberal Democrats could double, or even treble, their representation in May 2021. These are the three constituencies mentioned, and there might even be a regional list seat.
VERA LYNN FAN CLUBS
This is where it gets tricky, because the landscape on the BritNat right is forever shifting. Hardly surprising when we look at the personalities involved, and realise how many of them are often described as ‘interesting’, or ‘eccentric’ (code for ‘absolute nutter’).
Back in 2016, the big winner among this section of the electorate was UKIP, with 13% of the vote and seven seats. The Abolish the Welsh Assembly Party did not stand constituency candidates and got just 4.4% of the regional vote (which was still more than the share won by the Green Party of Englandandwales).
Since 2016 UKIP has had eight or nine UK leaders, numerous resignations, and in Corruption Bay is now reduced to the solitary – but dapper – form of Neil Hamilton. In fact, I’m not sure if Neil Hamilton isn’t the current party leader. Or was that last month?
Not so long ago the Abolish lot was the fringe of a fringe, but now it boasts two Members of the Senedd, Gareth Bennett and Mark Reckless. Though you’ve gotta be pretty desperate to boast about those two.
I would have loved to have been a fly on the wall at those UKIP meetings because by comparison ferrets in a sack are models of harmony and co-existence.
The most recent development is that Rowlands and the Jones women have formed a new group, the Independent Alliance for Reform. And if that name doesn’t stir something deep inside you – other than wind – then you are beyond hope.
It is obviously designed to be interchangeable with or to complement Aux barricades!
And all the while, in the wings, observing, is Nigel Farage. Will his Reform Party put in a late appearance, or will it be the promised relaunch of the Brexit Party? Though with Brexit almost done what would be the platform?
For let us remember that the Assembly elections of May 2016 were held just ahead of the EU referendum and were almost overshadowed by it. This propinquity benefited Ukip.
One thing’s for sure, if all the parties we’ve looked at in this section fight all the seats then we’ll be royally entertained by the stars they’ll recruit from Wetherspoons and other squelchy underfoot salons. A goodly number of whom will have to withdraw before the election after saying or doing something really stupid.
The BritNat right has no hope of a constituency seat, so hopes rest on the regional lists. Which means that a lot will depend on whether they fight each other or come to some arrangement.
I suspect there are still enough “Brexit means Brexit” types out there to win 3 seats.
THE SERIOUS ABOUT WALES PARTIES
Looking around Wales and seeing the mess this country is in is painful enough, but when you realise that none of the existing parties offers any hope of meaningful change, then new parties will be formed.
And that’s exactly what’s happened; and why we have Gwlad and the WNP.
I am a member of Gwlad and played a small part in its creation, but it was easy for me to withdraw to the blogosphere because the party is in such capable hands.
I like to think that Gwlad combines patriotism with pragmatism. For example, in believing that relying on handouts from London, as Labour and Plaid Cymru prefer, only perpetuates the misconception that Wales could never stand on her own two feet economically.
There are radical yet practical proposals across the board. We’ve already touched on Plaid Cymru’s fear of upsetting second home owners – a number in their own ranks – with meaningful levels of council tax; well, Gwlad does not hesitate to demand a 500% council tax surcharge.
Predictably, the criticism levelled against Gwlad by Plaid Cymru is that we shall “split the nationalist vote”. This is nonsense, because Plaid Cymru has already split – or certainly, limited – the nationalist vote by its inflexible and off-putting socialism.
This is borne out in recent elections and in even more so in recent opinion polls.
What Gwlad will do is reach out to those who want, or would be prepared to consider, independence, but could never vote for a hard-line socialist party also lumbered with the tag of still being a party only for Welsh speakers.
Gwlad could come through a crowded field to win a constituency seat and should certainly collect 3 or 4 regional list seats.
Of course, I’ve met Neil McEvoy a few times and we exchange the occasional e-mail, Wales is a small country after all. But I really don’t know much about his new party beyond what I read in the media.
Though I do know a few others involved with the WNP.
Over the years I’ve sunk a few pints with Councillor Keith Parry . . . and I’m still haunted by a car journey one very rainy night as I tried to concentrate on the road ahead while my mate and Keith’s Jewish wife argued over the Israeli-Palestinian conundrum.
I feared it was all going to end in a fight and a fireball car crash. Phew!
Many observers try to say that Neil McEvoy only took the course he did in forming the WNP because he was effectively thrown out of Plaid Cymru. They couldn’t be more wrong.
Neil has been in politics a long time, and he knows what’s wrong with Wales. On one level it’s London’s political, economic and cultural stranglehold, but on the local level it’s the Labour Party and Plaid Cymru.
Labour holds power on local councils and in the Senedd . . . simply to be in power; to stop someone else getting the salaries and the expenses, attending the bun-fights and the jollies. Labour has little intention – and no real incentive – to improve the lives of our people because for a century it has capitalised on Wales’ deprivation.
Plaid Cymru, as I’ve said, is a party of gestures and abstractions. It is the twenty-first century political equivalent of those medieval divines who would argue over how many angels could dance on the head of a pin.
But actually doing anything? Forget it!
But if one of his constituents persuades him they’re getting a raw deal, then Neil McEvoy will take up the case and demand something be done about it. And he sometimes ruffles feathers doing it. But if kids are sharing a bedroom with rats, or there’s water rippling down the kitchen wall . . .
Neil McEvoy is a do-er, a man who believes in the direct approach; and that makes the anguished attitudinisers of Plaid Cymru very nervous. And never more so than when he confronts the Labour Party.
Sticking it to the man may outrage the sensitive flowers of Plaid Cymru but it goes down well with real people, on the streets of Cardiff, and elsewhere in Wales. People want their problems solved, they do not want to be patronised, or taken for granted, by an aloof and self-serving political class.
The big test will come in the constituency seat of Cardiff West, where McEvoy will be standing against First Minister Drakeford. Plaid Cymru will of course be splitting the nationalist vote in the hope of securing victory for Mark Drakeford.
Neil McEvoy’s street cred and his sheer hard work might win Cardiff West next May, plus a couple of regional list seats.
My very personal belief is that Gwlad and the WNP should not get in each other’s way next May. Neither has the strength yet to fight a full national election so it’s in their interests, and more importantly, it’s in Wales’s interests, for there to be some kind of deal.
I obviously can’t account for all those who might be standing next May, there’s bound to be a wild card or two. But what you’ve just read is how I see it panning out.
Other factors will I’m sure influence voters. Perhaps the UK government’s Internal Markets Bill; supposedly about ‘repatriating’ powers from the EU but which, in reality, gives BoJo’s gang the power to trample all over devolution.
Perhaps it will even be used to challenge the 1707 Act of Union.
More specific to Wales is a growing awareness of and dislike for the chumminess of Cardiff Bay. The air of cronyism and unaccountability exemplified by Labour and Plaid Cymru refusing to bring in a register of lobbyists.
The problem in this area is obvious, but there are always excuses for doing nothing. This is because Labour and Plaid Cymru are too close to those who might be held to account by such legislation.
Another issue that might influence some voters to take a punt on a new party is the widespread perception that Cardiff gets everything. Which doesn’t change when an MS goes to Cardiff promising to speak up for his area . . . only to be sucked into the swamp that is Corruption Bay.
But perhaps we should remember Harold Macmillan’s response when asked what was most likely to influence or derail political plans. Supermac is said to have replied: “Events, dear boy, events.”
In other words, that which cannot be foreseen. Six months is a very long time in politics.
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
I suppose most people reading this know what a placebo is, but for those who aren’t certain . . . a placebo is something given instead of a medicine or treatment and is intended to fool the person receiving it into believing they are taking a medicine or receiving treatment.
In other words, the patient or guinea pig is given something that won’t really do them any good. Understandably, once they realise they’re being given a placebo then its usefulness is gone.
IN THE BEGINNING
Let’s start by reminding ourselves that devolution wasn’t a gift from Heaven, it was not promised in the Labour manifesto of 1997 because those offering it thought it would be good for Scotland and Wales. No, it was offered because it served England’s (perceived) interests.
Also, let’s not forget the Irish dimension; for to support a fragile peace process there was also an imperative to set up a Northern Ireland Assembly. In fact, this desire formed part of the Good Friday Agreement and the Northern Ireland Act (1998). For good measure London was also included in the package to make it look like a sincere attempt to devolve power from Westminster.
In reality, Tony Blair’s Labour government gave devolution to London confident that the Assembly would always have a Labour majority, to the Six Counties because of US pressure, and to Scotland and Wales as a placebo to ‘national aspirations’ which was safeguarded, so it was believed, by an electoral system (certainly in Scotland) that made it difficult for any one party to achieve an absolute majority.
Things are different in Wales for one very obvious reason. While Scotland has a political party and a government determined to improve the country, we have languished for twenty years under successive Labour and Labour-led administrations that have simply masked the old system of neglecting Wales unless she can be exploited.
A very recent and still emerging example would be the National Development Framework (NDF) produced a few months ago by the ‘Welsh Government’. I mention the NDF because it’s a “20-year spatial plan” for the whole country, all other plans are subsidiary to it.
I wrote about the National Development Framework in August, in a post of the same name. In the NDF we read that much of rural Wales outside of the national parks is to be ‘rewilded’, given over to a new ‘national forest’, or else covered in wind turbines and solar complexes.
This of course allows the ‘Welsh Government’ to virtue signal madly that ‘Wales’ is making its contribution to saving the planet. In reality, Wales is being lined up for a coat of Greenwash that will be welcomed by the City and others as a money-making wheeze, while Wales provides even more of England’s electricity.
Of course, we’ve suffered wind turbines for a couple of decades, but what’s interesting in the NDF is that it explores new ways to exploit our uplands. The two articles below, one from the Times and the other from Llais y Sais, will help explain what I mean.
The piece from the Times stresses the carbon-absorbing value of mountains and moorlands while the Western Mail article talks of planting trees on grazing land. Wales of course has plenty of mountains, moorland and grazing land, and if these are to be monetised then we can guarantee that ‘investors’ and others will profit from Welsh land.
All this will be facilitated by the ‘Welsh Government’. Playing the role it adopted with unseemly alacrity when presented with the Summit to Sea scam. For ‘Welsh’ Labour hates farmers more than perhaps any other sector of the population.
When it hasn’t been punishing rustics for not voting Labour the party has been building up an army of cronies to run the ‘poverty industry’. The third sector capitalises on Welsh deprivation with no intention of bringing relief or remedy because to do so would mean an end to the public funding sustaining thousands of well-paid – but usually unnecessary – jobs.
So we see that ‘Welsh’ Labour is quite happy to serve as London’s management team in Cardiff, and equally content to see Wales decline. Then, even at Assembly elections, Labour can heard bewailing Wales’ deprivation and insisting that voters ‘Send a message to London’.
Though what sending a message to London about the mess Labour has made of Wales is supposed to achieve I’m not sure. Unless it’s a pat on the head for the local Labour bigwigs and the promise of seats in the House of Lords.
PLAID CYMRU AND DEVOLUTION
Anyone looking at Plaid Cymru and thinking they see a party working for Welsh independence really should pop along to the Cloud Cuckoo Land branch of Specsavers.
In truth, the thought of independence terrifies Plaid’s leadership, and others in the upper stratum of the party. For with independence comes responsibility, standing on your own two feet, and delivering measures to improve the lives of the Welsh people – for there’ll be no one else to blame.
What Plaid Cymru wants is the kind of DevoMax system I outlined in Plaid Cymru, where to now? (scroll down when you get there). In a nutshell, institutions in which a native elite of politicians, professionals and administrators can prosper. We are almost there; with a few more powers devolved to the Assembly, such as justice and policing, these desires might be satisfied.
At the moment, Plaid still gets the votes of most of those wanting independence, also those concerned with the Welsh language, nationhood and associated factors. But this constituency is losing faith or simply giving up due to the direction Plaid Cymru is taking.
The hard truth for Plaid Cymru is that no amount of fascist-hunters, or trans lobbyists, or EU zealots, or planet-savers, or any other variety of political exotica will be enough to replace the socially conservative Welsh voters being lost, often alienated by the increasing grip on the party exerted by the aforementioned.
These newer elements promote causes common to a number of political parties and pressure groups, which often means that with Plaid Cymru they’re just hedging their bets. Their interest in Plaid Cymru, and indeed Wales, is often due solely to the attractiveness of a small country with a system of devolution and a malleable political leadership.
For the upcoming general election Plaid Cymru has entered into a disastrous ‘Remainer’ pact with a Liberal Democrat Party led by a woman who loses votes every time she’s exposed to public scrutiny and a Green Party that refuses to even recognise the existence of Wales.
With Labour and the devolution system it brought into existence discredited there is a golden opportunity to take Wales forward to independence.
But it can’t happen because all we have is Plaid Cymru, another leftist party that would rather be the junior partner in a colonial management structure than the party – like the SNP – guiding a nation towards independence.
Or perhaps I’m being unfair on Plaid Cymru, maybe its ambition extends to being the senior partner in a colonial administration. Now there’s ambition for you!
We have reached the stage where Plaid Cymru has nothing to say on Wales and independence; and few people listen to what it has to say on other issues. The party is surviving as a political force on goodwill accumulated in a previous incarnation.
THE PLACEBO NO LONGER WORKS
As the old saying has it: ‘You can fool some of the people all of the time, you can fool all of the people some of the time, but you can’t fool all of the people all of the time.’
That’s the stage we’re at with devolution and the leftist hegemony in Cardiff Bay. After twenty years of declining standards I believe that a majority of people now realise that devolution isn’t working and that the blame lies in Cardiff not London.
Realising that devolution has failed explains both the increased support for abolishing the Assembly altogether and also why more of us are prepared to consider independence. With correspondingly fewer in the middle willing to defend devolution. For the ‘recognition of nationhood’ and ‘better than nothing’ arguments no longer persuade.
If returned on December 12 it’s possible that the Tories will do away with devolution in the next couple of years, not because they’re ideologically opposed to devolution – they’re not – but because they can also see that the placebo effect is wearing off.
I would probably support the abolition of the Assembly, reasoning that it might be necessary to take a step back before we can move forward. When stuck in a rut it’s often necessary to go back in order to move forward with greater momentum than took you into the rut. And let’s be honest, we walked into devolution with our eyes shut.
And for those now calling me all sorts of names I put out a simple challenge – defend devolution. (And for God’s sake, don’t insult my intelligence by arguing that things would be better with Plaid Cymru in charge.)
I have argued for a few years that Welsh independence is most likely to come about from an interplay between internal dynamics with external factors, with the latter influencing the former. And that is what we now see happening: Devolution is discredited, as are the parties most closely associated with it; while beyond our borders clouds gather, but these are clouds with silver linings, if we only we realise it.
We now need a Conservative government in London to inflict all the damage its opponents predict it will. Then we must help the Scots in their second independence referendum. Finally, we must make a push for our own independence with a broad-based movement focused solely on Wales and Welsh issues.
Which is why I shall be supporting Welsh independence on December 12 by voting for the Conservative and Unionist Party.
The clue to my motivation lies in my use of the word ‘Wexit’, for I believed then, and I believe even more strongly today, that Brexit, especially a disastrous and damaging Brexit, can lead to Welsh independence. And Welsh independence is my priority; more important by far than membership of the EU.
In addition to voting for Brexit I confirmed my trip to Tartarus by supporting Trump, and more recently, by voting for the Brexit Party in the recent EU elections. Then there’s my backing for Neil McEvoy, and the regular criticism of Plaid Cymru.
Oh, yes, and of course I attack the Labour Party on a regular, almost daily, basis.
So, all in all, I suppose I’ve made a few enemies.
My rap sheet is enough to reduce certain people to bouts of carpet-chewing rage. These, it should be said, tend to be Plaid Cymru members and supporters; more especially what some call the ‘Leannistas’, the woke left, currently nursing their wounds after so many recent defeats and now lashing out blindly at people like me.
Which is ironic in a way, for I am only following Lenin’s dictum, “The worse, the better”. By which he meant that the population at large will be more receptive to revolutionary change when the system they’re familiar with starts disintegrating.
It may be cruel, it may be cynical, but old Vlad was spot on. For the Bolsheviks would never have come to power if Russia had stayed out of World War One and the Czar had introduced adequate reforms.
BY THE LEFT
There are no half measures with these people who attack me.
If you don’t support Extinction Rebellion bringing cities to a standstill then you’re a climate change denier. Vote for Brexit and you’re a fascist/racist/white supremacist. Refuse to accept that ‘chicks with dicks’ are 100% women and you’re a transphobe. The list of crimes people like me can commit – without even knowing it! – is endless. And these ‘crimes’ increase by the month.
Though many of my critics are happy to engage in rational debate, and there’s even banter. But then there’s the darker side, those who just want to screech at me.
Here’s a recent example from Twitter of what I’m talking about.
I don’t know who Aled Gwyn Williams is (is he the one in the cap?), and I’ve no idea what motivated him to put such ugly slanders on social media for my grandchildren to be teased about.
I shall deal with the first paragraph in a minute.
As for the second paragraph, I am none of the things he lists. Though perhaps he’s trying to say the same thing with “fascist”, “racist”, and “authoritarian & white-supremacist”. (I can almost hear the spluttering as he repeats himself.)
As for being “homophobic”, well, just ask my gay friends.
The final smear is that I am a “defender of violence against women”, but I have no idea what the hell he’s trying to say. Does he think I stand outside windows listening to domestic arguments and shouting, “Go on, pal, punch her!”
Displayed here we see the absolute self-belief of the true fanatic (political or religious); convinced that he/she is right and anyone he/she disagrees with is not only wrong, but evil.
Which makes them no different to those they claim to oppose. For the right, we’re told, is intolerant, that it ‘others’ people, who can then be vilified and humiliated. Precisely what Aled Gwyn Williams tried to do to me in that tweet.
Support for the old axiom that says there’s no real difference between the extremes of left and right. They operate in almost exactly the same way.
But yes, I did vote for Brexit; and yes, I did support Trump; and yes, I did vote for the Brexit Party in last month’s EU elections; and yes, I certainly want Boris Johnson to become prime minister: and yes, I did help form Ein Gwlad – because I want Welsh independence!
An increasing number of people across the political spectrum now agree that Brexit delivered by Boris Johnson with his head up Trump’s arse will threaten the Union.
The exclusive English nationalism preached by Boris Johnson makes many more Scots, Irish, and Welsh question the English connection.
This is a good thing. As this Irish tweet I picked up over the weekend understands. (Though I’m not sure about Wales as a fifth province!)
When Johnson is announced as new Tory Party leader and prime minister tomorrow he will face a choice. Either to soldier on with a rebellious minority in his party capable of derailing his plans, or to call a general election in the hope of removing his critics and increasing his majority.
Despite the obvious discord in the Labour Party there’s no guarantee that Johnson could increase his majority, that’s because any election will be fought on the issue of Brexit, which will see certain parties standing aside to give a single anti-Brexit candidate a clear run at the Tory opponent.
His best option then might be an electoral pact with the Brexit Party. The Tories could concentrate on the suburbs and the shires, while Farage’s crew could focus on those ‘left behind’ areas that voted for Brexit in 2016.
Such a pact will confirm the split in the Conservative Party.
For as I’ve said somewhere before, in recent decades ‘Europe’ has been to the Tories what Irish Home Rule was to the 19th century Liberal Party. The Liberals split in 1886 with the breakaway Liberal Unionist Party eventually merging with the Conservative and Unionist Party.
A victory for the pact would give Boris Johnson – and his thirsty deputy, Nigel Farage – the majority needed to turn the UK into an offshore tax haven where everybody whistles The Dam Busters tune before settling down to yet another meal of chlorinated chicken.
A LITTLE BIRD
While it’s difficult to understand the unprovoked attack from Aled Gwyn Williams, he is not alone. Not so long ago a very similar assault was mounted by someone called Huw Marshall who, again, is a complete stranger to me.
Ifan Morgan Jones also came out swinging with a ludicrous charge of Antisemitism over something I’d written that included George Soros. But in my piece I never mentioned that Soros was Jewish. To which I might add that, as a good conservative, I support the state of Israel because it’s an ally of the West.
But why would complete strangers want to attack me, and do so by telling lies? I mean, if you don’t like me, or you don’t agree with me, then don’t read this blog, don’t follow me on Twitter, etc. Am I that influential?
Which makes me wonder whether we are really dealing with a few individuals who’ve taken an intense dislike to me/my views or if there’s more to it.
Let’s think about it for a minute. I criticise Plaid Cymru. I helped form Ein Gwlad. I continually attack the Labour Party. I am an outspoken supporter Neil McEvoy. I regularly refer to Cardiff Bay as ‘Corruption Bay’ (or “a cess-pit”). For years I have exposed the corruption, cronyism and waste of public funding in the third sector . . .
Thinks . . . who might share my interest in those things, but from a perspective opposite to mine, and might be able to influence, directly or indirectly, people who don’t know me?
One obvious suspect is Deryn Consulting, the lobbying firm that acts as a link between Labour, Plaid Cymru, the third sector, and others that together make our country a corrupt and impoverished laughing-stock and a magnet for crooks and chancers.
At this point I should add that I’ve also attacked Deryn more than once.
To understand how Deryn operates – they are lobbyists and ‘influencers’ after all – just think of Welsh public life focused on Cardiff Bay as a web, with Deryn as a fat, hairy-legged spider at the centre.
Deryn was instrumental in the sacking of Carl Sargeant and must bear considerable responsibility for his suicide. Deryn also co-ordinates the unremitting campaign against Neil McEvoy.
Why would Carwyn Jones make TWO phone calls to Deryn almost immediately after hearing of Carl Sargeant’s death? Was it, ‘Oh, dear, ladies . . . tell me what to do now.’
Maybe I should explain that the Cathy Owens mentioned by Dr Hudgell is the leading director of Deryn, while the other woman also figured in Guido Fawkes’ coverage of December 2018, where we read: “Jo Kiernan: Deryn employee and named at last week’s Inquest as co-ordinating a bullying campaign against Sargeant when she worked as Carwyn Jones’ chief SpAd.”
I’m not saying that Aled Gwyn Williams, Huw Marshall, Ifan Morgan Jones, and the rest of my critics are taking orders from the nest (or maybe it’s the bunker nowadays) but they seem to share the Deryn mindset that will not tolerate critics or divergent views.
And never forget that Deryn is a creation of devolution, prospering thanks to weak and malleable politicians in a devolved system still controlled from London. Deryn would not survive independence.
‘HIS NAME IS ROYSTON JONES AND HE’S NOT ON OUR SIDE’
Is what Aled Gwyn Williams wrote in the first paragraph of his tweet.
His tweet is addressed to “Welsh Self-determinationists”, which I assume to mean those who want Wales to be independent. But I have been a nationalist all my life, check with anyone who’s been around since the 1960s.
It follows, then, that when he says I’m not on ‘their’ side, he must mean some grouping other than those wanting independence. As Williams is a hard-line socialist he can only be alluding to the comrades.
I am a lifelong opponent of socialism.
So my real ‘crime’, in Williams’ eyes, is being hostile to socialism.
The small increase in membership in the wake of Adam ‘Soundbite’ Price’s victory may already have been offset by resignations over the party’s treatment of Neil McEvoy, which will of course only strengthen the influence of the ‘Leannistas’.
I’m not the only one who sees this drift to the left. Here’s a tweet put out a week or so ago by writer Siôn Jobbins, asking if he’ll be welcome at Plaid’s Summer School, seeing as he’s not a socialist.
Though it could be that not all the leftists trying to capitalise on the increase in support for independence belong to Plaid Cymru, there may be even more exotic elements trying to muscle in.
Below we see a picture from a recent AUOB Cymru tweet showing some kind of street furniture or utility box in Cardiff presenting an interesting display. In the centre we see nationalist hero, John Jenkins, leader of Mudiad Amddiffyn Cymru, who was sent down for 10 years in 1970 for his role in a 1960s bombing campaign.
John, now 85, has lived in Wrecsam for many years.
We also see a couple of YesCymru stickers, a football fans for independence sticker and Wrexham fans against the Sun (newspaper). But it’s the other three that intrigue me.
On the top left we see the Starry Plough of the Irish Citizen Army, led by James Connolly in the Easter Rising of 1916. This was a socialist organisation that fought alongside the larger, and nationalist, Irish Volunteers led by Padraig Pearse.
The one at the bottom right carries letters printed backwards to look Russian, a communist red star, and the slogan ‘Free Wales’.
Finally, the black one on the left reads ‘Wxm (Wrexham) Antifa No Pasaran!’ Antifa are left wing thugs who first took to the streets of the USA following Donald Trump’s victory, ostensibly ‘fighting fascism and racism’.
Now they resort to bombing and attacking anyone who doesn’t agree with them. A recent victim was journalist Andy Ngo, who wrote: “Antifa operates by a very broad definition of ‘fascists.’ By antifa’s telling, fascists include mainstream conservatives and even centrist journalists who dare criticize them.”
I know exactly how he feels.
You have to wonder what’s going on when the self-appointed promoters of inclusivity beat up the gay son of Vietnamese boat people. I hope to God we don’t have any nutters in Wales preparing to emulate Antifa.
And I’m disappointed to see AUOB Cymru apparently endorse Antifa.
So on a Cardiff street we see a collection of stickers linking independence with socialism, with some pretty hairy and intolerant expressions of socialism at that.
THE CRUCIAL EIGHTEEN MONTHS
Partly due to events beyond our control Wales will soon be closer to independence than at any time in the past five hundred years. But the mood is also being influenced by what is happening here in Wales.
Our homeland is deprived and exploited because devolution has been a miserable failure. For what has devolution given us – Deryn! This realisation has resulted in the Labour Party losing credibility by the day; but I fear Plaid Cymru will be reluctant to take advantage of the opportunity presented by Johnson in No 10 and Drakeford in the Bay.
Instead, Plaid Cymru will chase rainbows and form Englandandwales anti-Tory or anti-Brexit alliances. This loss of focus is due to the party’s leftward drift coupled with the ephemeral appeal of being ‘taken seriously’ by appearing on TV with Caroline Lucas.
And when Johnson makes his move, Plaid Cymru will rush to support the Labour Party in defending ‘the devolution settlement’.
I say, fuck the devolution settlement. It wasn’t worth having in 1999 and it’s been seriously devalued over the past two decades. All our efforts now must concentrate on independence. And to achieve that goal we must reach out to as many as possible of our people.
This cannot be done by demanding a socialist feminist republic (as was heard at AUOB’s first rally on May 11). And if balaclava’d Antifa thugs start beating up people they disagree with, then any hope of independence will be lost. Wales may have a radical past but most of us today are socially conservative.
It should go without saying, therefore, that Wales needs a broad-based movement for independence that must either be ideology-free or else it must accept all ideological standpoints.
And so I’m asking All Under One Banner Cymru if there’ll be a welcome in Caernarfon on Saturday for people who don’t support Plaid Cymru, and people who are not socialist; for those who would have fought alongside Pearse rather than Connolly, who don’t obsess over a second referendum and who regard Antifa thugs no differently to the thugs who follow Tommy Robinson.
I ask because there are clearly some who feel that the drive for independence should be controlled by the left; and maybe they’ll only accept independence on their terms. Either way, it’s insulting and offensive to those holding different views who have worked for independence for over 50 years.
Standing for election on May 22 to Wales’ four European Parliament seats are no fewer than eleven ‘parties’ (I use the term loosely), each putting up the ordained four candidates. Though looking at some of those candidates it becomes clear that their parties have not so much scraped the bottom of the barrel as gone through the barrel bottom and kept going. But that’s just the opinion of a cynical old bastard who long ago lost faith in politicians and political systems. Anyway, form your own opinions as I run through the parties and candidates in alphabetical order. The full list is on the right (click to enlarge). Each section heading contains a link to that party’s website.
Despite the name, this crew is fielding candidates in Wales and Scotland only.
Britain First has already gained considerable notoriety by being allowed – by the Electoral Commission – to use ‘Remember Lee Rigby’ on the ballot papers. The party was founded in May 2011 by Jim Dowson, with lead candidate Paul Gosling as chairman. Though one mystery must be why another founder member, former BNP organiser for Wales and 2009 BNP Euro candidate, Kevin Edwards, is not on the list. Following the break-up of his marriage, and after quitting the BNP in February 2011, Edwards moved from Llandybie (near Ammanford) to Llansamlet in Swansea which, along with neighbouring Bonymaen, is where many of the city’s fascists can be found.
Britain First founder Jim Dowson is also ex-BNP and perhaps into fundamentalist Christianity and hostility to Islam more than direct and blatant racism. A former Scottish Calvinist minister who apparently believes in the death penalty for gays and is fanatically anti-abortion, Dowson has also been a busy boy in the Six Counties, founding Protestant Coalition. So it makes sense that Britain First should be standing in Scotland – targetting the Rangers / Orange Order vote – but why Wales, because as far as I can make out, none of them is Welsh.
Next we have the (as yet) unsplintered BNP. Top of their list is a man many think should not be standing at all because, in a parallel dimension, Mike Whitby of Wrecsam is disqualified from becoming a member of a county council or similar authority, but this, it seems, does not extend to the European parliament. Number two on the list is Laurence Reid, an Ulster Protestant domiciled in Wales. Jean Griffin at number three is presumably party leader Nick Griffin’s wife or daughter (possibly his French cousin). While the one with the least chance of being elected is Gary Tumulty of Salford . . . unless he guns down all the other candidates. Again, it’s encouraging that none of these people are Welsh.
As if Britain First and the BNP weren’t enough, this is yet another bunch of anglo-centric, Unionist fanatics, whe believe that the Ninth Circle of Hell is located somewhere in the English Channel. Regarding our little patch of earth, the message may be more muted than that from the clown troupes mentioned earlier, and said with a smile rather than a snarl, but don’t be fooled, it’s the same message – ‘Wales and England are the same country, and that’s how we like it’.
Top of the Tory list is current MEP Dr. Kay Swinburne who, though Welsh, now lives in the tiroedd coll, which seems to agitate the bruvvers who have just selected young Kinnock. Number two is Councillor Aled Wyn Davies of Llanrhaeadr ym Mochnant & Llansilin (a home of Glyndŵr). Number three is Dr. Dan Boucher who lives in Morriston and does a nice line in self-promotion. Bringing up the Tory rear (and haven’t we all thought about a Tory rear at one time or another?) is Richard Hopkin, a lawyer, who may or may not be the same Richard Hopkin described by his employer as a “pugnacious litigator”. Grrrr! Here’s a link to the introductory video for the lot.
There is a separate Scottish Green Party that has always backed independence, while we have to suffer the Green Party of Englandandwales, a bunch of English middle class colons no different to those in other parties who believe that we Welsh must be told what’s best for us, with our country a laboratory for the policies they’d never be allowed to implement in their homeland. Although standing as a party in these elections their real forte is as a pressure group, where they enjoy influence way beyond their political support by playing on the questionable assertion that people want green policies even if they aren’t prepared to vote Green. Clever, and worth studying. Though Plaid Cymru has mis-read the message and contemplates a formal alliance.
I can’t be bothered to make enquiries about Pippa Bartolotti, John Matthews, Chris Were or Rozz Cutler.
The usual uninspiring crew that brings home yet again how ‘stretched’ once-mighty Labour is to find candidates for Europe, Westminster, the Assembly, and 22 local authorities. Thank God we don’t have as many quangoes as in the past, and that civil servants have taken over the running of devolution.
Derek Vaughan tops the list as the current MEP, a former trade unionist and leader of Neath Port Talbot council and said to be a ‘tidy bloke’. Vaughan is certain to be elected so the interest is really on the second name on the Labour list, Jayne Bryant, born in Newport, who could also be elected if Plaid and the Tories do badly and the anticipated Ukip surge does not materialise. At number 3 we have Councillor Alex Thomas, who represents the Rhos ward, also in Neath Port Talbot. The no-hoper is Christina Rees, formerly Mrs Ron Davies; not wishing to be reminded of her husband’s behaviour she wrote a book about it, The Davies Diaries, though she did later apologise.
Worth noting that there is no Labour candidate from west of Neath or, indeed, from north of Neath.
Where to start (says he, wishing he didn’t have to)? Those who know me know that I reserve a special kind of contempt for Liberal Democrats and liberals of all kinds. I regard them as smug, wishy-washy wankers.
The Lib Dem quartet is headed up by Alec Dauncey who lives in Aberystwyth. Now Alec may enjoy a skinful of lager and a bag of chips of a Saturday night before throwing up the diced carrots on the way home . . . but I doubt it. To me, the picture shows a professional tree-hugger in a polo neck sweater more likely to be found listening to a cupped-ear folk singer while unwinding with a glass of organic cider. His bio is a gem, taking political prose to previously uncharted depths of vacuity. But it is so typically Liberal Democrat.
Number two is another Englishman, Robert Speht, living in Swansea. This one a wind turbine-hugger with a string of failed business ventures and an unpaid sandwich bill to his name. Speht lives in Mayals, one of Swansea’s poshest neighbourhoods which, because it lies within the fiercely defended borders of Mumbles community council, provided Speht with the chance to use the title ‘Councillor’ after losing his city council seat. Said – even by colleagues – to be unreliable he struck up a weird friendship with Richard ‘Tricky Dicky’ Lewis when Lewis, having tried all the rest, eventually fell in with the Lib Dems, mainly because they promised him his year in the Mansion House. To understand how unlikely a Liberal Democrat Richard Lewis is just try to imagine Ghengis Khan the pacifist. Lewis was sighted on April 30 entering the Liberty Stadium to hear Nigel Farage.
The other two candidates are Jackie Radford and Bruce Roberts, of whom I know nothing, and care even less.
Don’t be fooled by the name, for this is not another ‘Wogs begin at Dover’ party. It can’t be, for I see the name of Comrade Robert Griffiths topping their list, as he did in 2009. Robert Griffiths, stalwart of the long defunct Welsh Socialist Republican Movement (also, so some would have it, the Workers Army for a Welsh Republic). Robert Griffiths the current General Secretary of the Communist Party of Great Britain. (Marxist-Leninist, I believe.) So we’ve obviously arrived on the hard left.
Of the other NO2EU candidates I know nothing . . .
For Plaid Cymru / The Party of Wales this is a very important election. Opinion polls suggest they might lose their MEP Jill Evans. If that happens, then I can see real soul-searching within a party that has lost its way.
The problem for Plaid Cymru is that Labour in Wales has cleverly painted Welsh politics as a simple picture of them defending Wales against ‘London’ – even when Labour is in power in London. This is what the ‘send a message to London’ (by voting Labour) is all about, even for European and Assembly elections! Then, because Plaid does little more than promote itself as ‘Labour, but a bit more Welsh, like’, it is, effectively, marginalised. Plaid’s only hope is to get out of Labour’s shadow and re-position itself as a genuinely Welsh party, taking up the issues other parties ignore, and addressing the big issues from an aggressively Welsh standpoint. But it won’t.
In many ways this state of affairs is regrettable, for in Jill Evans, Marc Jones, Stephen Cornelius and Ioan Bellin the party has a strong team. That said, it might still be best for the long term if Plaid was to lose its seat.
Footnote: Plaid’s number 4 candidate in 2009 was the apple of her daddy’s eye, Natasha Asghar. Happy days!
Formed in 1996 by Arthur Scargill – who is still ‘Leader’ – the SLP is perhaps the only hard left group that would need something bigger than a telephone booth for its meetings. It claims a direct line of ideological descent from James Connolly, and quotes him in its website header. But there were, in a sense, two James Connollys. One, the Edinburgh-born British socialist; the other, the man who returned to his Irish roots, formed the Citizen Army, and was executed (though wounded) in Kilmainham jail by the British army after the Dublin Easter Rising of 1916. The SLP reveres the former.
Despite being one of the larger minor parties the SLP’s candidates are hardly household names, even in their own households, but here they are anyway. At number one we have Andrew Jordan, who stood in the Cardiff South & Penarth by-election in 2012, a by-election caused by Alun Michael’s strange decision to stand for election as the local Police and Crime Commissioner. Second is Kathrine Jones, of whom I know naught. David Lloyd Jones, number 3 on the list, is probably the man who stood for Conwy in 2005 against the heavyweight trio of Betty Williams, Guto Bebb and Gareth Roberts. He got 1% of the vote, though he still managed to beat Ukip into 7th place. (Which ain’t gonna happen again any time soon.) If these three are relatively unknown, number 4 on the list, Liz Screen, has a slightly higher profile, if only because she stood in 2009, but it’s all relative.
Not being terribly au fait with the 57 varieties of socialism I’m not quite sure where the SPGB stands – are they Wobblies? Maybe someone can help me out. The SPGB has three branches; Swansea, Cardiff, and that hot-bed of revolutionary socialism . . . Llandudno. I tried to get more information but the SPGB website was down. The SPGB candidates can be found in the list at the top of the page. None of the names mean anything to me. Though if Richard Cheney is the real name of candidate number 2 it’s a strange quirk that he should share a name with Dick Cheney, vice president to George W. Bush and bête noire of the left. Anyway, seeing as Joe Hill was the most famous Wobbly of them all, let’s end this section with Joe Hill, sung by Joan Baez.
The stars of the show! Certainly everybody is looking at Ukip, wondering how big an advance they’re going to make, for there’s no question it will be an advance. I did a recent post on Ukip which says most of what I want to say about them, so it only remains to look at their candidates.
Nathan Gill is an English grannyfarmer living on Ynys Môn who stood in the Seiriol ward in last year’s council elections, where he came eighth out of nine candidates. Though his wife(?) came eighth out out twelve in the Aethwy ward. (This being the ward where our old friend Jacques Protic came bottom of the poll.) Number two on the list is James Cole who, in the photograph I link to, is actually wearing a double-breasted blazer! It says he ‘relocated’ to Swansea, but not from where, though he is Welsh. This video by Cole is priceless; he predicts that ” . . . the native Welsh will be a minority in their own country within the next 15 to 20 years . . . “ yet he makes no mention of English colonisation, for he wants us to believe the influx will come from mainland Europe and elsewhere! Caroline Jones from Porthcawl is a former Tory parliamentary candidate who defected a year ago. The fourth candidate has concerns about “huge volumes of immigration”. David J. Rowlands lives in the Gwent valleys, where this is obviously a serious problem. Rowlands is the only survivor from the 2009 quartet.
I find it very disappointing that three of Ukip’s four candidates are Welsh. But then, this may be a ploy used in the hope of disguising the party’s fundamental Englishness.
One unavoidable conclusion is that the European elections are not taken seriously by the electorate. It gives voters a chance to do something silly, which many of them will. The turnout in 2009 was just 30.4%, down 11% on 2004. (Click on panel to enlarge.) This year’s elections could see an even lower turnout. (Here’s the 2009 result by constituency.)
Six of the eleven parties standing can be said to belong to the extremes of left and right (three of each). Few of their 24 candidates have any relevance to Wales and even fewer have any intention of debating Welsh issues . . . even if they could. Some have been honest enough to admit they’re using the elections – and Wales – simply to gain publicity. In some regards the Greens could be added to this group. Leaving us with the four ‘mainstream’ parties, all running scared of Ukip. For this election is all about how well Ukip will do, how that will impact on the other parties, and if we’ll ever have European elections again.
My position is that I’m a European of the Gaullist persuasion, preferring a confederation of independent states – rather than a bureaucrat-led supranationalist entity – serving as a counter-balance to both Russia and the USA (to which we must now add China). The UK (or England) was never going to fit with either version for so many reasons, one being – as de Gaulle always understood – its ties with the USA. I have now reached the stage where I detest what the European Union has become but could never line up with any of those calling for withdrawal. Perversely, perhaps, the loony left and the loony right being on the same side only serves to make the bloated monster a little more attractive. With enemies like some of those I’ve looked at here, who needs friends?