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
As you may be aware, Leanne Wood, the Plaid Cymru AM for Rhondda, and former party leader, has been criticised by the Assembly’s Standards Commissioner, Sir Roderick Evans QC, for calling me an “arsehole” in a tweet back in January.
Here’s the WalesOnline report of the decision, and here it is on BBC Wales. I supplied a statement to WalesOnline/Western Mail some of which appeared online but the print version was all Leanne Wood with me unable to get a word in.
UPDATE 21.09.2019: Arseholegate rumbles on. In this piece in today’s Llais y Sais Ruth Mosalski claims I am “no stranger to courting controversy”. A convoluted way of calling me controversial. But nothing I say, of itself, can be controversial; it becomes controversial when I am attacked by those I’m writing about here. So if they ignored me – as they claim they want to – then there’d be no controversy.
Note that the headline in the online (WalesOnline) version reads: ‘The quandary facing AMs as they’re asked to reprimand Leanne Wood for calling Jac o’the North an arsehole’. But the print version carries the headline: ‘The Quandary facing AMs over Leanne Wood’s Twitter outburst’.
The facts are that following the tragic death of Steffan Lewis, the Plaid Regional AM for South Wales East, I made a comment on Twitter about his successor, Delyth Jewell. You can see it here, together with Leanne Wood’s response and my answer to Leanne Wood.
Why did I say that? Partly because, according to Ms Jewell’s stated interests, she is concerned with ‘women’s right’, which were already well represented in the Assembly, and ‘international development’, for which the Assembly has no remit.
Further, Ms Jewell had a background in the third sector, and as I put it in my post, Delyth Jewell AM: a clarification, ” . . . the Welsh Assembly, and Wales, needs another representative of the third sector like the Uighurs need more concentration camps.” (A reference to China’s oppression of its Uighur minority.)
Let me finish with Delyth Jewell by saying that since she took up her seat I have, on occasions, been pleasantly surprised by her commitment to Wales and the cause of independence. The same can never be said for Leanne Wood, to whom we now turn.
But before we do, I’m sure you won’t mind me finding space for another tweet from the same thread; this contribution by Marc Phillips, Plaid Cymru treasurer, erstwhile candidate, former party chair, and consort to Helen Mary Jones, the AM for Mid and West Wales.
“Neanderthal prick” is a curious insult, and rather dates him. For it is now agreed by archaeologists, ethnographers and others that we were always wrong to portray Neanderthals as grunting, primitive inferiors to modern humans. They were equally intelligent and culturally developed.
Which allowed the two to interbreed, certainly in Eurasia. Which in turn means that almost everyone reading this has some Neanderthal ancestry. Are we all ‘pricks’? Should we care? Who is Mr Helen Mary Jones anyway?
THE COMPLAINT AND THE RESPONSE
Let me make it clear from the outset that I did not make the complaint, nor did I encourage the person who made the complaint. I became aware of the complaint later in the process.
Here is Sir Roderick Evans’ report to the Assembly containing correspondence between him and Ms Wood, but I’m afraid much of it has been redacted, presumably by Sir Roderick’s staff. I’m going to go through the correspondence and pick out what I consider to be important.
Let’s start with the letter of complaint, which can be found on page 7. Reading it now, I note that it also mentions Marc Phillips, though I’m not clear whether he was also being complained about. Perhaps not, because he’s not an AM. All in all, a clear explanation of what the writer was complaining about.
Now I want to turn to a few of the things Leanne Wood said in her defence.
Let us turn to page 12, where I am described as, “a persistent, pernicious influence on Welsh politics”. I found this interesting because so many of my critics, a number of them allies of Leanne Wood, tell me things like, “Nobody reads your bullshit, Jac”, or “Nobody cares what you think”, while another favourite is, “You’re a nobody”, yet they keep coming back, time after time, to tell me this . . . after reading something I’ve written!
At the risk of sounding immodest, I suggest the important word in the quote from Ms Wood might be ‘influence’.
The next paragraph refers to an article of mine that has been redacted. But speaking of it Ms Wood writes: “A prime example came during his feverish campaign to “expose” a so-called conspiracy between Plaid Cymru under my leadership and the lobbying firm Deryn (there was no such conspiracy) to oust Neil McEvoy from the party. I believe I have a strong case of defamation against Mr Jones for the blog posts he wrote on this subject.”
Again Leanne Wood gives herself away, this time by mentioning Neil McEvoy, and my support for him. She then tries to deny collusion between her and her close supporters on the one hand and Deryn Consulting on the other to marginalise Neil McEvoy, if not to destroy his political career.
To avoid any doubt, I repeat, there has most definitely been collusion, and it was no one-off meeting.
On to page 15 and the final paragraph of Leanne Wood’s letter of 31 January to Sir Roderick Evans. In which she writes: “I don’t regret using the only type of language that someone like Jones understands.”
Just 14 words, but what a huge sentence that is! It seems to be a good example of something I wrote back in June 2016. Where, in EU Referendum: Why I Want OUT!, I said, ” . . . many on the Left seem to believe they are both intellectually and morally superior to their opponents”.
Though what does she mean with, “someone like Jones”? Do I belong to a sub-species? Am I some kind of untermensch? Forget anything I’m accused of saying, this is the language of intolerant extremism, whether it comes from the left or the right.
With “someone like Jones” I am being ‘othered’. And we all know where that can lead.
CLIQUE AND CLAQUE
From her subsequent statements, it appears that Leanne Wood is refusing to accept the decision against her. Which is worrying, for the principle involved goes well beyond whether she was justified in calling me an ‘arsehole’. And for this reason.
If we allow Leanne Wood, or her collaborators and followers, free rein to decide who or what is misogynistic, or racist, or homophobic, or transphobic, or whatever, then they will abuse that freedom to their advantage; in order to silence critics and stifle political debate.
It follows that if this extreme minority – a small percentage of Plaid Cymru members and an even smaller percentage of the population at large – is allowed to dictate the terms of political discourse then democracy is in peril.
This is why there must be an impartial authority to judge on such matters.
For when a democratic system becomes intimidated by a zealous minority promoting extreme agendas and pursuing personal vendettas it ends in tragedies such as the death of Carl Sargeant, and the ongoing persecution of Neil McEvoy.
It was significant that among the first to leap to Leanne Wood’s defence were Labour politicians and Cathy Owens of Deryn Consulting. As I predicted.
In pursuit of their objectives these cliques use insults and smears that get taken up and chanted by inhabitants of a world where there is no room for doubt. Where everything is black and white, right and wrong. Agree with them or face their wrath.
There are some in Leanne Wood’s claque of such total certitude, seeking a transcendental level of wokeness, that they have more in common with suicide bombers than with normal political activists.
This is why I challenge them at every opportunity. Someone has to.
I suppose on one level #arseholegate – as it has been dubbed by the interesting new ‘site Bubble.Wales – is a local skirmish in a global culture war, along predictable fault lines.
In this wider conflict the left has been getting hammered. There was the victory of Donald Trump; then the Brexit vote; the EU election victories, first for Ukip (2014) and then the Brexit Party (2019); plus populist/nationalist leaders and governments being elected all over the place, from Hungary to Brasil to India . . . and now, to cap it all – BoJo, and with Brexit fast approaching!
These defeats are partly explained by a shift away from the left by the (mainly) white working class in Europe, the USA and elsewhere. This is important, because for centuries middle class liberals and leftists have argued that they speak for those unable to speak for themselves.
This patronising myth is now exploded, leaving some of our erstwhile elite feeling distinctly uncharitable towards ungrateful proles. For those who were considered to be dumb and inarticulate have now found their voices, and they’re not singing the Internationale or the Red Flag.
This leaves the left scrabbling around to recruit, even invent, oppressed minorities. ‘What’s that, Mrs Jones – you’ve got ingrowing toenails! Join us and we’ll defend you against the ingrowingtoenailphobes. That Jac o’ the North is one of ’em. Bastard!’
I have to say this, and I hope I don’t upset anyone with what needs to be put bluntly. When it comes to sex, as long as it doesn’t involve children, animals, coercion or inflatable dolls of Marge Simpson, I really don’t care what consenting adults get up to in private. (Just don’t make a cause or a career out of it.)
I felt the need to say that because a disproportionate number of my nastiest critics seem to be . . . well . . . let’s say, of non-heterosexual orientations. Attracted to Plaid Cymru by Leanne Wood they now feel bitter that she’s been deposed, and some seem to hold me responsible! So I am a ‘misogynist’, a ‘homophobe’, a ‘transphobe’, etc., etc., etc.
But I am none of those things. And that includes misogynist, despite what Leanne Wood would like people to think. Ask any woman who knows me. And valid criticism of a politician who just happens to be a woman is never misogyny.
To suggest otherwise is censorship. And usually comes from those who move in closed circles, divorced from the concerns of the general population. This too is dangerous.
But it explains why the most virulent attacks on me come from within the Cardiff Bay Bubble, and from those in other parts of Wales stupid enough to still believe that Corruption Bay is a force for good in Welsh life.
♦ end ♦