Senedd Elections 2021

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 is the first of my promised reviews of next month’s elections. This initial foray into a crowded field is longer than intended, so take your time.

I’ve concentrated on those parties with a chance of winning seats, so apologies to the Communist Party of Britain, Captain Beany, the Freedom Alliance, the Socialist Party of Great Britain, the Trade Union and Socialist Coalition, the Welsh Christian Party, the Workers Party, and any others I may have missed.

A more specific and detailed approach may follow in subsequent pieces . . . unless I lose interest entirely.

The risk of simply switching off is real, partly because we lack inspiring politicians and partly because the liars and the bullshitters are already at work and – unchallenged by our wonderful media – spewing forth all manner of nonsense.

Not content with being conduits for misinformation certain elements of the media themselves contribute to the confusion by pretending that only ‘establishment’ parties are standing. Or maybe they believe that only establishment parties should be heard.

WHO’S STANDING?

This time round there are more candidates representing a wider range of political perspectives than in any previous Assembly / Senedd elections. From the genuinely nationalist Gwlad to the extremes of the BritNat fringe.

While many are trying to paint these elections as being about Covid, the truth is that the big question lurking in the shadows is whether Wales should become independent or cease to exist in any meaningful form.

As for what we have now, there are few ready to speak up for it. In fact, I’m amazed that anyone has the chutzpah to defend devolution on the record of the past 22 years.

LABOUR

Which might explain why the Labour Party is asking for another 5 years to do the things it’s failed to do over the past two decades and more. An example would be introducing a register of lobbyists.

On BBC Radio 4 last week, Vaughan Gething, the ‘Welsh Government’s health minister, told listeners that his party was “entirely open” to introducing such a register. Yet they could have done so in January 2018. And even earlier in 2013.

The truth is that, in Wales, the term ‘lobbyist’ is interchangeable with ‘third sector’. And the third sector is ‘Welsh’ Labour’s private army, soaking up hundreds of millions of pounds of public money in providing sinecures for Labour cronies, in return for which the third sector will support Labour in any way it can, including attacking Labour’s opponents.

Image BBC. (I used to have a suit like that, but it was more of a powder blue, with narrower lapels.)

Perhaps the major problem for Labour is that it’s beginning to look clapped out, devoid of fresh ideas, and relying more than ever on voters’ blind, family loyalty – and not being, ‘them wicked Tories’.

Which no longer works, as we saw in the December 2019 UK general election, when Welsh Labour seats fell to, ‘them wicked Tories’. More may go the same way next month. Certainly, there’s not a hope in Hell of Labour getting near the 30 seats needed to form an administration.

That said, there is a widespread perception that Labour is faring less badly here in the popularity stakes than in England. (In Scotland, of course, Labour is now neck-and-neck with the Monster Raving Loony Party.)

Why this might be so mystifies me. Could it be the magnetic personality of Mark Drakeford? Or maybe the abundance of talent we see lined up behind him? Or could it be that the other ‘major’ parties are so unappealing that by comparison any bunch of muppets might look half competent?

(Please don’t think that I’m trying to insult muppets by comparing them to ‘Welsh’ Labour politicians!)

Some argue that Drakeford has handled the pandemic and its restrictions better than Boris Johnson. I don’t buy that. Labour in Wales clearly panicked when restrictions on pubs, gyms and other establishments were lifted in England, and this explains why they brought forward the lifting of restrictions in Wales . . . which now take effect before the elections on May 6 rather than after.

Of course, there may be another explanation for the timing. If so, then it escapes me. I’m open to suggestions.

What’s not in doubt is that Labour will need all the help it can get. Poll findings published last Friday by YouGov put Labour on just 29%, with the Conservatives romping ahead on 43%. These are of course UK figures, but even so, Labour is also in trouble in Wales.

The only question is how far short of the target 30 seats Labour will fall.

PLAID CYMRU

I’m turning to Plaid Cymru now not because it’s the second largest party in Wales (it’s not, by a long way) but because to have any hope of staying in control Labour will probably need to go into coalition with Plaid Cymru.

And the terms of this coalition have been discussed for months. So it makes sense to lump Plaid Cymru in with Labour. So remember, folks . . .

A vote for Plaid Cymru will be a vote for Labour.

Yes, Plaid Cymru talks of winning the election, and of becoming the largest party, but the kindest way of describing such suggestions is wishful thinking.

Because for many years Plaid Cymru has been drifting ever further left. This course to political irrelevance might appear to have changed with the crushing defeat inflicted by party members on far left leader Leanne Wood in 2018, but that would be to misinterpret the situation.

The 77.7% that voted against Leanne Wood is the silent majority, playing little part in the running of the party. Those who support Wood – a vociferous and nasty minority – still control the party’s direction of travel. Largely through intimidation.

Intimidation of the kind that can get a Member of the Senedd to apologise for daring believe that a person with a penis and testicles could be anything other than a woman. And worse, suggesting that transphobia may be rather less heinous and genocidal than pushing Jewish children into gas chambers.

Happier times. Helen Mary Jones MS meets Teifi, and a dog’s best friend, Aled Gwyn Williams.

These are the sort of people that might reluctantly agree to take action against child trafficking, but only on condition that it didn’t involve discrimination against the ‘child-trafficking community’. Because in their world just everyone belongs to a ‘community’ – which is of course oppressed – except those who are part of the white, western patriarchal system, which does the oppressing.

What a fucked-up world these lunatics have invented! Worse, many of them genuinely believe they are living this nightmare. Others just encourage them in that belief.

Even figurehead party leader Adam Price was forced to grovel to this carnival of grotesques. Because they call the shots nowadays in Plaid Cymru. Them and the anti-Semites, and those who believe that the priority for Wales should be extending Harri Webb’s Green Desert to the whole country.

The long-gone Lamb Inn, Merthyr, which Dic Penderyn is said to have frequented, and where a young Jac sank many a pint. Happy days!

A green desert with no nation, no jobs (not for us, anyway), no homes; an emptiness exploited by foreign enviroshysters and renewables mountebanks in order to ‘Save the Planet!’.

It’s no coincidence that Labour pretends to have bought into this planet-saving bollocks. Because if you’re saving the planet, then it stands to reason we don’t need jobs; for example, Port Talbot steelworks can go. And the only roads we’ll need are those to bring our neighbours to and from their holiday homes. We Welsh won’t need roads because we won’t be able to afford cars. But don’t worry, because we’ve always got our rail system – a mere three days to travel from Carmarthen to Aberystwyth. (Don’t forget to change at Scunthorpe Low Level!)

Let’s cut the bullshit. ‘Wales saving the planet’, ‘Green jobs’ (that never materialise), are simply excuses for Wales being a basket-case economy.

Anyone arguing that the future economy of Wales lies in foreign-made and foreign-owned wind turbines and solar panels, providing not a single Welsh job, is either a fool or a liar.

Regrettably, the left in Wales is replete with both.

Perhaps to distract us from its internal problems, and the lack of an economic strategy not approved of by Saint Greta, Plaid Cymru promises a referendum on independence in the first term of a Plaid administration.

Cynics will point out that Plaid is not going to win the elections. Also, that there’ll be many in the Party of Wales happy to ‘lose’ such a referendum.

I’ll conclude this section with an observation I’ve made before, and I’m not the only one to have said it. There is a growing interest in independence; one recent poll put it as high as 39%, but Plaid Cymru’s support has remained static.

It’s as if a growing section of the Welsh public is considering independence . . . but they don’t want it delivered by Plaid Cymru. To think the unthinkable (for some, anyway) . . . Plaid Cymru may be the reason more people aren’t considering independence.

My interpretation is that while it’s well chronicled that socialist parties in the West have largely lost the (white) working class through pursuing policies designed to appeal to ethnic minorities and middle class left liberals, the problem for Plaid Cymru is that it had few working class votes to begin with.

Which leaves Plaid Cymru fighting a 20th century class war with 21st century ‘Woke’ warriors. This, and the elitist obsession with ‘the environment’ – rather than the issues people care about – will not pull in many new punters.

CONSERVATIVE AND UNIONIST PARTY

There’s no question that the Tories are riding high, but considering the opposition they face, maybe they should be doing even better.

For as we’ve seen, the opposition is composed of a Labour Party with 22 years of failure to its name, and a party even further to the left in thrall to identity politics extremists.

Add to that the popularity of BoJo and his jolly band up in London and the Conservatives should be heading for control in Corruption Bay. But that may not be the case.

One problem the Tories face is a combined opposition, one that works well because Plaid Cymru wins seats in areas where Labour is a lost cause. Whereas the Tory vote is more evenly spread across the land than the more ‘focused’ support enjoyed by their socialist opponents.

But this time around things might be different. I say that because of the BritNat parties. If I can remember them all . . . There’s the Abolish the Welsh Assembly Party, then there’s Reform UK (formerly the Brexit Party), and, finally, Ukip.

I suggest that they could combine because, with the demotion of Suzy Davies and other broad hints – not least the promotion of Suzy’s anti-devolution son – the Conservative and Unionist Party has made clear that it’s worried by the rise of the BritNats, and will defend its lawn from their tanks.

Yet when all is said and done, they have so much in common.

Where it could get very interesting would be if the Conservatives emerged from next month’s elections as the largest party.

(It should go without saying that sometimes, my brain enlivened with the produce of Argentina, I dream of Labour and Plaid Cymru combined falling short of 30 seats!)

Andrew R T Davies, Leader, again, of the Conservative and Unionist Party in Wales. Another blue suit? Mmm . . .

As the largest party the Tories could just plough on and test the resolve of opponents with popular policies. I mean, if they promised to take a chainsaw to the third sector and invest the money saved where it could do more good, who would dare object?

Well, obviously, the Labour Party would object because it wants to keep Wales poor, blame the Tories, and keep getting elected. The third sector, constantly moaning about Welsh deprivation while doing little or nothing to remedy it, is essential to this scam. Plaid Cymru’s attitude to the third sector is little different to Labour’s.

But what of the others heretofore mentioned, the Queen and Country boys; what if they cobbled together enough seats to push the Tories towards the required 30?

It’s possible, because even though this election is difficult to call, due to the number of parties and candidates involved, we can be almost sure that the three largest parties will get fewer second preference votes and therefore fewer regional members.

I could live with a Conservative-BritNat parties coalition for a number of reasons.

In the short term, I would expect it to undo the socialist webs that Labour has spun to enmesh and enfeeble Wales over the past two decades. I would also expect such a coalition to put an end to Labour’s war against Welsh farmers.

In the longer term, the unrelenting Britishness might be the kick in the nuts some people need to accept that independence is the only option.

LIBERAL DEMOCRATS

Well, what can I say without being cruel?

I will say this . . . I’d be pleased to see William Powell back in the Senedd. He’s a decent man and his heart’s in the right place, which is more than can be said for most of those who’ll be elected on May 6.

THE GREEN PARTY OF ENGLANDANDWALES

This is a party made up largely of Green white settlers, some of whom espouse colonialist views that might have embarrassed old Leopold II.

An attitude exemplified by their refusal a few years back to actually create a Wales Green Party, preferring to stay part of the England Green Party. In Scotland, the Green Party is Scottish, and has long supported independence.

The non-existent ‘Wales Green Party’ now claims to also believe in independence, not because they care about me or you, but because they see an independent Wales as somewhere they can wield influence that will in no way be hindered by their lack of electoral support.

Which, in a sense, takes us back to lobbying.

The shameless opportunism of the Greens is not a lot different to the entryism we’ve seen recently from far left loonies who have jumped on the indy bandwagon since Comrade Corbyn was given the bum’s rush.

The one consolation, of sorts, is that just about every other party now pays lip-service to the Greens’ message. Which is not good for Wales but, on the plus side, it makes the Green Party of Englandandwales largely redundant.

That can only be good.

THE BRITNAT PARTIES

As I said earlier, these are Abolish the Welsh Assembly Party, Reform and Ukip. They are almost guaranteed to win some seats, and they will naturally align with the Conservative and Unionist Party.

These possibilities are discussed above and there’s not a lot to add.

Beowulf Headbanger celebrating VE day. Now that he’s recovered a little he’s allowed out to canvass for the Abolish the Welsh Party.

No doubt the BritNats will insist there are great ideological differences between them, but these are little more than degrees of anti-Welshness.

Of course, they’ll say they aren’t anti-Welsh, just anti-devolution. But as we know, let someone talk long enough about their opposition to devolution and before long hostility to the Welsh language and other indicators of a separate Welsh identity emerge. Such as the existence of Welsh national sporting teams.

And yet, they’re right. Devolution, and the corruption-infested swamp that is Cardiff Bay, should be done away with. But in favour of independence.

That’s why I believe the BritNats can be useful idiots in realising their worst nightmare.

NORTHERN LIGHT

In the next couple of years Scotland will either become independent or else the UK will slip into some kind of ‘soft’ (maybe not so soft) totalitarianism in order to thwart Scottish independence. At this moment I can’t see any other outcome.

Either of those eventualities will be a wake-up call for Wales. Either of them will tell us that it’s time to go, time to leave the United Kingdom.

When we’ve reached either outcome, anyone still arguing in favour of the UK will be acting out of self-interest or contempt for Wales. Among them we’ll find people like the Kinnocks, discredited Tories, holiday home owners, and others whose objections must be brushed aside.

This is why I tell everyone to watch what’s happening in Scotland. Because events in the Old North could have a bigger impact on Wales’ future than anything we do down here.

WALES’ BEST HOPES

As many readers will know, I had a hand in the formation of new, conservative-ish nationalist party, Gwlad. A party that was desperately needed to represent those who reject incompetent Labour, Rule Britannia Conservatives and BritNats, and Woke Plaid Cymru.

Gwlad is standing a good slate of candidates in next month’s elections. As WalesOnline said in an article last week: “Gwlad has put forward 14 constituency candidates and 21 candidates across the regional lists. Aside from Labour, Tories, Plaid, Lib Dems and Reform UK, they have the most candidates seeking election on May 6.”

Not bad for a party formed just a few years ago. Click here to download the full Manifesto.

Among the many excellent candidates is Rhydian Hughes, standing in his own patch of Clwyd West. Here’s a leaflet being distributed in the constituency.

Though I won’t be able to vote for Gwlad in my constituency of Dwyfor Meirionnydd, that’s because the party is not standing in seats held by Plaid Cymru. But I will be able to vote for our excellent list candidates in Mid and West Wales.

My constituency vote will probably go to the Propel candidate, Peter Read; but the Llais Gwynedd candidate, Glyn Daniels, is also in with a shout.

Having mentioned Propel it’s only right that I tell you a little more about this other new and genuinely Welsh party.

Most of you will have heard of Neil McEvoy. Despite what his opponents would like you to believe, Propel is not a one-man band; Neil is the leader, but he has a good team around him.

As a Member of the Senedd Neil McEvoy has made himself unpopular with Labour and Plaid Cymru through exposing the corruption and duplicity that characterises Cardiff Bay. (Anybody who can piss off both Labour and Plaid Cymru is OK with me.)

Also because, when standing for Plaid Cymru in 2016, he came within 1,176 votes of defeating Mark Drakeford in Cardiff West. Neil McEvoy is standing against Drakeford again, making this one of the more intriguing constituency contests.

(As an example of the way the media is misreporting these elections, Cardiff West is being portrayed by some as a straight fight between Labour and Plaid Cymru!)

Click to enlarge

The fact that Labour and Plaid Cymru attack Neil McEvoy with almost equal vehemence helps expose a long-standing relationship between two self-styled ‘progressive’ parties. The coalition that might emerge after May 6 would be just a continuation of this co-operation.

I’m not absolutely sure, but I’m fairly confident that Gwlad and Propel are not standing against each other in any constituency. I’m not aware of any electoral pact, I think it just panned out that way.

My advice therefore is to put Wales first by voting for Gwlad or Propel. Both parties are new, but fresh thinking is exactly what Wales needs at this critical juncture.

Because, and I repeat: the next few years are about choosing between independence and assimilation. Which do you want?

♦ end

 




Welsh independence: Why? For whom?

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 PROBABLY NOT UNDERTAKE ANY MAJOR NEW INVESTIIGATIONS. DIOLCH YN FAWR.

I had planned a piece on May’s Senedd elections (or whenever they’re held). But then I realised there are a couple of factors still playing out that will impact mightily on that election. I mean Coronavirus and the effects of Brexit.

So, I’ve put that planned piece on the back burner. There’ll be plenty of time to return to it when the picture has become a little clearer.

Instead, I shall deal with another issue that will certainly impact on the election and more widely on Welsh public and political life in the years ahead. Though to refer to it as a mere ‘issue’ fails to do it justice.

IN MY BEGINNING

I got involved in the nationalist movement in the mid-1960s. Driven by patriotism, a lifelong love of history, and a growing interest in politics that soon made me realise my country was not being treated fairly.

I’m not sure there was a single ‘trigger’, but Tryweryn certainly influenced my conversion. If I had any doubts, then Aberfan ended them.

From a long time ago. Click to enlarge.

I wanted independence to improve the lives of the people I cared about: my family, my neighbours, my community, and my nation. I wanted independence to protect my country from neglect or exploitation, and to defend what made us Welsh.

My Wales had no bogeymen, no minorities against which retribution was sought, and there was no irredentist dimension. My nationalism was, and remains, purely defensive; the only people who need fear it are the enemies of my country and my people.

If what I’ve written strikes anyone as ‘blood and soil’ nationalism then that really is your problem, not mine.

I cannot think of any reason for wanting independence other than to serve the best interests of the greatest possible number of Welsh people.

THE LEFT AND THE INDEPENDENCE MOVEMENT

On December 19 Yes Cymru put out what seemed at the time to be a harmless enough tweet welcoming Conservatives into the ranks. The tweet ended with a recognition of the “compatibility” of conservatism and independence.

This tweet outraged the hard left and the woke (increasingly difficult to tell apart) and within an hour it was taken down.

A generous interpretation might be that those who demanded its removal don’t know the difference between Conservative and conservative. For I’m a lifelong believer in Welsh independence who is a conservative, but not a Conservative.

A less charitable, and more worrying, interpretation would be that for some in the new independence movement neither Conservatives nor conservatives are welcome. This they seem to justify by arguing that Wales is a ‘socialist country’, with a ‘radical tradition’.

But how true is that?

The claim that Wales is a socialist country is premised on the fact that the Labour Party and Plaid Cymru together usually get a majority of the votes cast in elections.

Though in the December 2019 Westminster elections Labour gained 40.9% while Plaid Cymru got only 9.9%. Giving a combined total of just 50.8%.

In the most recent elections to the National Assembly (as was) in 2016, the combined percentage of the constituency vote was 55.2%. For the regional lists, the ‘socialist’ total was 52.3%.

But these figures are misleading because how many of those who vote for Plaid Cymru and Labour are really socialists?

I live in Plaid Cymru’s safest seat, Dwyfor Meirionnydd, but few of the Plaid supporters I know could be described as socialists. Most are cultural nationalists and / or social conservatives. It’s a similar picture throughout Plaid Cymru’s western heartland.

Turning to Labour; yes, the vote looks impressive, but to assume that all Labour voters are socialists is nonsense.

The average Labour voter supports the party because he or she believes Labour will raise wages and benefits. The closest this constituency comes to socialism is on specific issues such as the NHS. But again, self-interest dominates.

So, what of Wales’ claimed ‘radical tradition’?

Since the Second World War radicalism – in the sense of challenging the role of the English monarchy and the legitimacy of the British state in Wales – has come exclusively from nationalists.

In the same period Wales has seen strikes, perhaps most memorably the two miners’ strikes, but again, these were about protecting jobs and communities, they were not a fight for socialist ideology.

Socialists are understandably reluctant to concede any of this because it undermines their claim to a monopoly on radicalism. Also because the rise of nationalism in the 1960s had the effect of turning many in the Labour Party into simpering royalists or tub-thumping Unionists. Something that embarrasses many on the left.

The fact is that socialism in the UK was, at a very early stage, broken and domesticated as the Labour Party, and brought into the constitutional fold. Thereby allowing the UK to avoid the political upheavals seen elsewhere in Europe.

Yet many on the left of the independence movement can make common cause with ‘socialists’ who are diehard Unionists, while rejecting those who sincerely believe in independence because they’re not socialists. 

The only interpretation is that socialism is more important for these people than Welsh independence, with the independence movement being just another vehicle for their socialism.

As for the alleged radical tradition, yes it’s there, though sporadic and localised. In the 19th century, the Merthyr Rising, Chartists, Rebecca, Ceffyl Pren, Scotch Cattle, Tithe Wars, were all rooted in an outraged sense of social justice; defending family and community but owing absolutely nothing to Marxist dogma.

What’s happened since is that socialists have tried to re-write history by adopting movements and causes that were never at all socialist.

But even if Wales was a socialist country that would still not be reason enough to exclude others from what should be an ideology-free independence movement.

“DOCTRINES FASHIONED TO THE VARYING HOUR” *

What Labour cleverly did in the twentieth century was to capitalise on the legitimate demands of working class people and promote those demands with more vigour than the Liberal Party.

Which explains why the Labour Party displaced the Liberal Party a century ago as the main opposition to the Conservatives.

But once Labour started going beyond demands for higher wages, better working conditions, etc., into the abstract and the esoteric, promoting socialism for socialism’s sake, then it always lost support.

As we enter the third decade of the twenty-first century the rupture between ideological socialists and the working class is almost complete. To the point where today’s left liberal elite positively despises the white working class.

It’s been summed up brilliantly by trade unionist and lifelong Labour member, Paul Embery, in his new book Despised: Why the Modern Left Loathes the Working Class. As he points out, there are elements of the contemporary left that detest working class values of family, community, tradition and patriotism.

This contemptuous attitude has now reached Wales; it has infected Labour and Plaid Cymru; it has spread to Yes Cymru, and it’s threatening the independence movement.

(Though in fairness, Labour has been far cleverer than Plaid Cymru in keeping the single-issue fanatics, the anti-Semites and other undesirables at bay.)

This new, woke left exercises influence wholly disproportionate to its numbers. As we saw with the removal of that Yes Cymru tweet.

This is done by taking a Manichean position in which they are right and those who disagree with them are not just mistaken, or wrong, but positively evil.

Perfectly exemplified by Leanne Wood and others in Plaid Cymru.

Ask how Antifa rioting and burning shops in Portland, Oregon on a nightly basis promotes anything other than violence and you’ll be met with, ‘Antifa stands for anti-fascist, so only fascists question Antifa’.

Of course! But that still leaves unanswered the question of how burning shops and attacking innocent bystanders and police is fighting fascism.

Here’s another tweet concerning Yes Cymru exposing this attitude. Thomas Wynne Lewis argued that Yes Cymru must appeal to “people on all sides of the political compass”, Luke Williams pretended to agree – then accused Yes Cymru of having “platformed fascists”!

I’m sure this never happened, but as I’ve just said, in the black and white world of the woke left those who contradict them, point out their errors, are, ipso facto ‘fascists’, ‘racists’, ‘transphobes’, etc., etc. End of debate.

This intolerance in defence of ‘toleration’, this refusal to accept alternative views in defence of ‘diversity’, this ‘no platforming’ in defence of ‘freedom of expression’, is now causing problems in the independence movement.

I’ll conclude this section with another tweet, or rather a retweet, this one from a doyen of the wokies, Aled Gwyn Williams. Williams is a member of both Plaid Cymru and Yes Cymru. (As is Teifi.)

“You’re never innocent if you’re a Tory”, the image tells us. Who could argue, for those two in their wingback armchairs are surely the Fred and Rose West of Acacia Avenue.

Remember, folks – these lunatics walk among us!

Let’s push the boat out and imagine Andrew R T Davies, former leader of the Assembly Tories undergoing a genuine conversion to Welsh independence. Despite this being a coup for the movement, and likely to encourage others to support independence, he would be rejected by those we’ve met here.

He would be damned by people who are simply using the independence movement to promote whichever fleetingly popular lunacies torment them.

* ‘The Deserted Village’, Oliver Goldsmith

‘WHY DO WE WANT IT!’

There are a number of factors explaining the increase in support for independence, unfortunately, many of them are tangential, exploitative, or simply wrong.

To begin with, there’s Brexit, and the belief that an independent Wales would join, or re-join, the EU. A belief strengthened by Plaid Cymru recently saying – without apparently consulting anyone, or checking the referendum result – that an independent Wales would become a member of the European Union.

No mention was made of a fresh referendum.

Yet another example of leftist elitist arrogance, echo chamber decision making, and out of step with the wishes of the people.

Recently exposed with an interesting poll on Twitter, not least for the fact that 2,214 people voted. And because there was a majority for ‘Full Independence’ over ‘Independence within the EU’.

If that vote can be achieved on Twitter, where ‘certain views’ tend to dominate, then in the real world the majority would be even greater.

Others are now considering independence because of the present Conservative government in London. Disliking BoJo and the gang is perfectly understandable, but hardly a good enough reason to want Welsh independence.

What happens if Labour wins the next election? Would that mean that an unequal and exploitative Union becomes acceptable again?

A third element increasing support for independence emerges from the foliage in the form of the planet-savers. I don’t wish to be dismissive; I’m quite fond of planet Earth myself, but too many of those I’m thinking of – just like the wokies – see an independent Wales as a blank canvas, with them monopolising the crayons.

This explains the Green Party of Englandandwales recently announcing its support for independence. Yet this party has so little respect for Wales that not long ago it voted against setting up a genuine Wales Green Party.

To explain this dichotomy we need to remember the canvas and crayons I just mentioned. Even under devolution the Greens, in various forms, have found it far too easy to dictate what passes for ‘Welsh Government’ policy.

Just think of One Planet Developments, Future Generations legislation, funding taken from farmers and given to ‘rewilders’ and other charlatans, etc., etc. And a fat lot of good it’s done.

Western Mail 09.01.2021. Click to enlarge

The Greens have decided to support independence because they believe they can easily persuade the government of an independent Wales to implement their polices, without the need for any democratic mandate, and thereby use Wales as a platform from which the rest of the world can better see their virtue signalling.

The benefits of these policies to the Welsh people would be zero because as Angela Womak, deputy leader of the Green Party of Englandandwales, put it:

Image Nation.Cymru

Wales “tackling the ecological and climate emergencies”, is unadulterated bollocks. To suggest that a tiny country can make any significant difference is laughable.

Whether it’s Brexit, Boris Johnson, or environmental concerns, these alone – even collectively – are the wrong reasons for wanting independence.

DEVOLUTION IS DEAD

The battle-lines are being drawn between those who want to abolish the Senedd and assimilate Wales into England, and those of us wanting Wales to be independent.

There will be few speaking up for devolution because it has failed. Wales is a worse place in 2021 than she was in 1999 partly because successive administrations have pandered to vociferous minorities rather than address the needs of the great majority of the nation.

The upcoming contest over Wales’ future could be a close call, and that’s why anyone supporting independence, from any background, and of any political orientation, should be welcomed. None should be excluded.

But those joining simply to promote their pet issue, and then seeking to exclude those who don’t agree with them that it’s the most important thing in the world, need to be taken aside and spoken to.

For these will alienate more people than they will ever attract.

Those taking an interest in independence need to be assured that the direction of ideological travel for an independent Wales, the spending and other priorities, will be decided by the Welsh people, in democratic elections, after independence is achieved.

It will be a blank canvass, and we’ll all have a chance with the crayons.

For my part, I still want independence to improve the lives of the people I care about: my family, my neighbours, my community, and my nation. I want independence to protect Wales from neglect or exploitation, and to defend what makes us Welsh.

I see no reason to change. I never have, and I never will.

♦ end ♦




Yes, there’s definitely an election on the way!

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

A few weeks back I wrote Elections, May 2021, which some may have thought was a bit premature. Well, things have hotted up and there’s no doubting it now – the election campaign has definitely started!

THE ‘NATIONAL MOVEMENT’

In this piece I’m going to focus on elements of what is often referred to as ‘the national movement’. Partly because I’ve been part of this movement for over 50 years and partly because that’s where much of the action seems to be at the moment.

Let’s start with Yes Cymru, which has seen phenomenal growth this year, with the trend accelerating in recent weeks. But this growing interest in independence has not resulted in any increase in support for Plaid Cymru

In fact, according to the latest Welsh Political Barometer Poll Plaid Cymru remains in third place for the constituency vote next May (but up by 2%), and in the same position for the regional list vote (down by 1%).

The poll predicts Plaid will win 15 seats, and if Labour only wins the 25 predicted then we’re in for a Labour-Plaid Cymru coalition. Five years of virtue signalling, pumping more money into the third sector, being told what to do by lobbyists and civil servants, while blaming every Tom Dick and Boris for Wales’ continuing economic and social woes.

In August, there had been a YouGov poll which suggested that, with Don’t knows removed, 51% of Labour voters would support independence if the option was put to them in a referendum. The same poll suggested that only 45% of those who voted for Plaid Cymru in December 2019 would definitely vote for independence.

Which highlights two problems for Plaid Cymru.

On the one hand, most of those who could be won over to independence do not vote for Plaid Cymru, and never will. While on the other hand, the party has in recent years attracted oddball cliques that see Plaid Cymru as just another mouthpiece for what really matters to them, and these have little or no interest in Wales or in Welsh independence.

This is bad news all round for Plaid Cymru, and yet it’s a problem that often afflicts socialist or ‘progressive’ parties, as this tweet, quoting Irish revolutionary, James Connolly, reminds us.

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The message there, and certainly the lesson for Plaid Cymru, is that in Ireland, in the early twentieth century, the socialist movement stayed focused on Ireland, and independence. It did not allow itself to be sidetracked by cranks and dilettantes.

Plaid Cymru not benefiting from the growth in support for Yes Cymru, or from the increasing interest in the option of independence, explains them desperately pushing the idea that anyone leaning in that direction must vote for the party – because there is no alternative.

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But when you think about the panel above, if Plaid Cymru was the party it pretends to be then it wouldn’t need people to ‘lend’ it their vote. Anyone wanting or even considering independence would already be a Plaid Cymru voter.

That Plaid’s support remains static, uninfluenced by the rise in support for independence, speaks volumes.

And of course, Plaid Cymru is no longer the only party promoting independence. We now have Gwlad and the WNP.

The argument used against these newcomers is that they will ‘split the nationalist vote’, which is laughable. By being unable to win over independence-minded supporters of other parties, and with so few in its own ranks wanting independence, Plaid Cymru is already splitting the nationalist vote.

Or, maybe, it has failed dismally to maximise the nationalist vote.

The truth is that the new parties can only increase the nationalist vote by attracting those who wouldn’t ‘lend’ their vote to Plaid Cymru if the offer came gift-wrapped and with a weekend in Tenby thrown in.

Plaid Cymru will, I’m sure, lose votes to Gwlad. I’m thinking of socially conservative nationalists who’ve stuck with the party despite the lurch to the left and who, more recently, have been alienated by the intolerant advocates of identity politics.

If these traditionalists desert in any substantial number then Plaid Cymru will be even more under the control of the aforementioned cranks and dilettantes. Irrespective of who is paraded as the party ‘leader’.

As for those Labour voters prepared to go for independence if a referendum was held, we know where they live. The great majority of them in the urban south between Burry Port and Blaenavon. And many of them voted for Brexit.

Yet Plaid Cymru has recently said that an independent Wales will be a member of the European Union, no ifs or buts. And with no mention of a referendum!

A political party talking down to those it claims to want as voters deserves to be rejected. But this contempt for the white working class seems to be the norm among socialist parties nowadays.

Though maybe some half-hearted effort will be made to reach out to the anglophone working class.

For Plaid Cymru recently applied to register a new descriptor with the Electoral Commission. That new descriptor is New Wales Party, NWP.

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What a coincidence! For earlier last month the WNP applied to register as the Welsh Nation Party, WNP.

After I’d been alerted to it I put out the above tweet last Friday. On Monday, there was an article in Llais y Sais. Now why the hell would something apparently so minor justify such an article?

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Though according to the article, the decision to apply to the Electoral Commission for the change was not made by the National Executive Committee of Plaid Cymru. So who was responsible? The cleaner at Tŷ Gwynfor?

Who’s running this show!

Something else that struck me about the article was that the writer, Martin Shipton, seemed to have forgotten that Plaid Cymru already had the English name Party of Wales. Is that to be dropped?

But it didn’t end with the article. There was even an editorial!

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So much coverage for Plaid Cymru, insisting the change had been under discussion for yonks! A cynic might suggest it sounds like Plaid Cymru desperately trying to explain itself after being caught out in a spoiling tactic intended to confuse voters.

It also suggests that Martin Shipton might be going soft on Plaid Cymru.

Plaid Cymru’s shortcomings may be exposed to the world but it still has options for promoting itself and attacking rivals. Within Yes Cymru, Plaid Cymru supporters urge members to join the party, and last weekend we saw Plaid use an old subsidiary in the form of Cymdeithas yr Iaith Gymraeg (CyIG), the Welsh Language Society.

At the CyI AGM a motion was passed saying, “the pressure group would refuse to engage with anyone whom in their words: ‘promote and tolerate prejudice against any groups, be they LGBT +, black people, migrants or women’.”

And that included Gwlad!

An interesting choice of words, though. “Tolerate prejudice” rather than being prejudiced is straight from the BLM playbook, where not being racist isn’t enough. And I was struck by the use of “migrants” rather than ‘refugees’. Basically, anyone should be allowed to move anywhere without any checks.

Infantile, open borders, anti-Western drivel.

Though consistent. Because Cymdeithas yr Iaith wants Wales to be open to everybody. Which means that a group trying to keep Welsh alive as a community language seems unaware that the biggest threat to the language is inward migration to the language heartlands.

That motion suggests CyIG’s priority now is playing politics rather than saving the language.

Just like Plaid Cymru Cymdeithas suffers from the problem of grabbing off-the-shelf global positions and being unwilling or unable to modify them for Wales.

Look around Europe at small nations or minority groups, Basques, Corsicans and others. Yes, they have socialist parties or groups, but their socialism is used to benefit their people and promote their cause. Not so in Wales.

Saving the planet means covering Wales in foreign-owned wind turbines that create no jobs and put only crumbs into Welsh communities. While supporting migration makes it ‘racist’ to challenge the colonisation of Wales.

Which makes Wales unique in having ‘socialists’ unwilling to challenge colonialism in their own country!

Yet there’s humour in everything. And while Cymdeithas yr Iaith has clearly been  infiltrated by the ‘wokies’ there remains the long and embarrassing shadow of Saunders Lewis.

Saunders Lewis was a founder member of Plaid Cymru, an academic, WWI veteran, a playwright, author, convert to Catholicism, and well to the right of the political centre. His 1962 radio lecture, Tynged yr Iaith (the Future of the Language) was the inspiration for the formation of Cymdeithas yr Iaith.

But the wokies cannot acknowledge Saunders Lewis. He cannot even be named! As we see in the panel below taken from the Society’s website.

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It’s surely only a matter of time until the reference to “a leading academic” is also excised. I can see the next version – ‘Cymdeithas yr Iaith Gymraeg was formed at a congress of workers, peasants and intellectuals that had gathered to discuss sending volunteers to Cuba to fight US imperialist aggression’. Right on!

Joking aside, there’s little in the short term that Plaid Cymru, Yes Cymru, Cymdeithas yr Iaith, Gwlad or the WNP can do to bring Welsh independence nearer. I say that because factors beyond our control are likely to be much more influential.

I’m thinking now of Scottish independence, and the reaction to that of the Labour Party in Wales. Or perhaps it won’t be the party itself that puts Wales on the path to the final rupture but the party’s voters.

I’m suggesting that those who reject Plaid Cymru could help deliver independence. What irony that would be. So much for Plaid Cymru being ‘the only way’!

In the meantime, the UK state will do what it can to support Plaid Cymru. Because as I never tire of telling you, from London’s perspective Plaid Cymru is the ideal ‘national party’.

In a flattering light Plaid Cymru can pass for a national party, but its true benefit lies in its dog-in-a-manger role, blocking the emergence of genuine nationalist parties. Its leaders are biddable, easily seduced with peerages and other ‘honours’, but the party – and this extends to its subsidiary groups – is no threat whatsoever to the constitutional status quo or the colonisation of Wales.

For what more could Mother England ask?

IN OTHER NEWS . . .

Limbering up for May’s elections has not been confined to the disparate elements of the national movement, and confirmation of this has come from wildly differing directions.

Let’s start with an old favourite on this blog.

You’ll recall that a couple of years back, and by a substantial majority, members of the self-styled Wales Green Party voted against becoming . . . . the Wales Green Party. Thereby and irrevocably confirming that they were naught but the local branch of the Green Party of Englandandwales.

But lo! even these colonialist carpet-baggers have sensed the changing mood and are now in favour of Welsh independence! As reported here in Left Foot Forward. (Of which I am an avid reader.)

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“Wales can stand alone”, says Siân Berry . . . but not, apparently, her party’s members in Wales. Driving this inconsistency ad absurdum we could have an independent Wales in which elections are contested by the Green Party of Englandandwales.

At the very least, and if only, for once, to be consistent, the Greens in Wales should now break from England to form a genuine Wales Green Party. To not do so makes them look like opportunists jumping on a bandwagon.

Let me explain what drives this new-found enthusiasm for our national liberation. For it dovetails perfectly with what attracts the oddballs, cranks and dilettantes I mentioned earlier to Plaid Cymru.

Under devolution, and especially with the virtue-signallers managing the show, pressure groups and assorted cranks have realised they can wield influence in Wales to an extent that would not be tolerated in better regulated countries.

This unwelcome phenomenon explains, for example, why we have One Planet Developments. Put simply, Wales is becoming internationally known as a ‘soft touch’.

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The thinking therefore runs . . . ‘If we can get all this in a devolved Wales, then we could control an independent Wales’. Elections would be a minor inconvenience, for cohorts of Estuary English-speaking charlatans in Corruption Bay would control the political process and the spending priorities.

The only way out of this nightmare is to stop voting for politicians and political parties manipulated by people who simply want to use our country, and our money, to fulfil their fantasies.

In my earlier piece I told you about a new grouping called the Independent Alliance for Reform.

This has been formed by David Rowlands, who was elected in 2016 as the Ukip AM for South Wales East; Caroline Jones, elected at the same time for Ukip in South Wales West; and Mandy Jones, who took over the North Wales Ukip seat vacated when Nathan Gill resigned in 2018.

This could be a half-way house, and the word to emphasise may be Reform. I say that because the Electoral Commission’s website tells us that an application has recently been received, and is under consideration, to relaunch the Brexit Party as Reform UK.

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If I’m right, then this would leave Neil Hamilton as the last man standing of the 7 that made up Ukip’s 2016 intake.

The other player for the Brexit / London-knows-best vote is of course the Abolish the Welsh Assembly Party. No doubt, some time between now and next May they’ll realise that what they seek to abolish has changed its name.

CONCLUSION

For the first time in a long time Welsh politics is looking interesting. Partly because of what’s happening in Wales, but mainly because of what’s happening in London, and Scotland, and elsewhere.

For the arrogance, ineptitude and corruption we see from the Conservative government in Westminster has done more to make Welsh independence an attractive proposition than anything happening in Wales.

With the SNP more likely to deliver Welsh independence than Plaid Cymru.

And while Wales voted for Brexit, we did not vote for the looming disaster that will make us even poorer, perhaps turning Holyhead and Fishguard into ghost towns.

All that being so, it really is time for Plaid Cymru to adopt a little humility and accept the realities of modern Wales. Which are:

1/ Plaid Cymru is not the only party or group advocating independence.

2/ Most of those coming around to the idea of independence do not vote for Plaid Cymru and are unlikely to ever vote for Plaid Cymru.

3/ The independence movement contains individuals, groups and political parties with which Plaid Cymru will not see eye to eye. Grow up and accept it!

4/ However, if ideological purity is more important than independence, and if Plaid Cymru continues to align itself with Unionist parties, cranks and others exploiting Wales, then it must expect to be regarded with suspicion.

5/ Ultimately, Plaid Cymru is faced with a simple choice. Either be part of the movement for Welsh independence, or else remain a self-deluding obstacle to achieving independence.

6/ Things are moving in ways that leave Welsh politicians impotent. So look beyond the Corruption Bay bubble, take in the bigger picture, and be ready to seize the opportunities that will surely come our way.

♦ end ♦

 




GE2019: runners, riders and early fallers

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

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

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

THE CONSERVATIVE AND UNIONIST PARTY

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

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

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

Image courtesy of BBC Wales. Click to enlarge

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

Things didn’t get any better for the Tories.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

LABOUR PARTY

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

But I’ve digressed, back to Maria Carroll.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

THE REMAIN ALLIANCE

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

CONCLUSION

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

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

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

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

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

♦ end ♦

 

Miscellany 04.06.2019

I haven’t prepared any in-depth or weighty post for this week; instead, I’ve put together a few things I’ve been thinking about, or been sent, that might also be of interest to you. You know me – always trying to please!

COALITIONS

One of the more bizarre responses to the 2016 EU referendum result came from Leanne Wood, then leader of Plaid Cymru – Let’s go into coalition with Labour!‘, she suggested.

Quite what this was supposed to achieve no one seemed to know, but it struck me at the time as a predictable response from Plaid Cymru’s clenched fist and beret tendency. Those who would still regard the Tories as ‘the real enemy’ even if ISIS invaded the Rhondda Fach.

I mention this because even with the Red Queen dethroned Plaid Cymru seems to be thinking along similar lines today. With new leader Adam Price calling for a coalition of Remain-supporting parties for the next UK general election.

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Ideally, of course, Plaid Cymru would like a coalition with Labour, but thanks to Comrade Corbyn’s vacillating that is not possible. So with that hope dashed, Plaid now seeks a deal with the Liberal Democrats, the Greens, Change UK and the SNP.

(UPDATE: It’s all happening! Now the ‘Welsh Government’ has come out for Remain.)

Let’s consider the SNP first. Things are very different in Scotland, where the SNP will be hoping to win every seat in the next UK general election; so the chances of them doing a deal with other parties, which would almost certainly mean standing down in some seats, is a non-starter.

The SNP could even turn the next general election into a vote on independence and EU membership, especially if Westminster refuses to allow another independence referendum.

Next up is Change UK. If you’re unfamiliar with this lot, then let me explain that they’re a bunch of preening egotists who couldn’t get their own ways in their previous parties. Before the next election comes around clashing egos will have destroyed this collective huff of a party and that’ll be the end of Change UK.

(UPDATE: Within hours of publishing this piece the bust-up happened!)

On to the Greens, aka the Green Party of England, for there is no Wales Green Party. Worse, last year Greens in Wales voted on whether to set up a separate Green party and decided to stay as the Green Party of Englandandwales. Which means that Plaid Cymru wants to work with a party that refuses to recognise Wales as a country!

Note how the BBC reports it, as if common sense prevails against dangerous separatists seeking to sunder a sacred bond. Click to enlarge

Finally, the Liberal Democrats, the party that kept the Tories in power at Westminster between 2010 and 2015, and the party that – with its single AM – helps keep Labour in power down Cardiff docks. A gang of opportunistic and amoral politicos that would sell their grannies for a sniff of power.

Despite decades of trying to promote themselves as the ‘nice’ party I have a deep and abiding contempt for the modern Liberal Democrats. I had time for old Geraint Howells and a few others from the genuinely Welsh Liberal tradition, but the modern party is a venomous thing not to be trusted or handled.

Containing individuals like Callum James Littlemore, who is ‘Diary Manager’ for local party leader Jane Dodds. (She needs a diary manager!) I thought for a minute it was a typo, and he worked on her farm, but apparently it’s true. Anyway, young Callum bears out all I’ve thought about LibDems.

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Though he can’t have been in Wales for long if he thinks Plaid Cymru “support divisive nationalism”. Listen to Uncle Jac: Plaid Cymru is a bunch of evasive, wishy-washy, ishoo-botherers, forever seeking distractions to avoid confronting any specifically Welsh issue. Brexit being the latest such distraction.

Let’s hope we hear little more from Littlemore. (Couldn’t resist it!)

Ruling out the SNP for the reasons I’ve given, these are the parties that Plaid Cymru is ready to co-operate with thanks to Plaid’s fixation with Brexit. What would Plaid get in return – I mean, would these parties campaign for Welsh independence, or even greater devolution? I think not.

It also means that by turning the next election into a single-issue affair Plaid Cymru will ignore the things people care about. Done in order to line up with England’s Brahmin left, thereby alienating thousands upon thousands of people that must be won over if Wales is to escape the humiliation long ago imposed on us by John Bull; a colonial system loyally maintained into the present day by ‘Welsh’ Labour and its rag-bag of hangers-on.

There’ll be a price to pay for this posturing, this self-indulgent myopia. I sincerely hope.

CORRUPTION BAY

This is a term I coined well over twenty years ago as the title of an opus describing the ‘regeneration’ of Cardiff’s docklands. Perhaps the biggest milking of the public purse ever seen in Wales.

Made possible by Secretary of State for Wales (1979 – 1987) Nicholas Edwards, who set up, in April 1987, the Cardiff Bay Development Corporation (CBDC), to be run by his good friend and fellow High Tory, Sir Geoffrey Inkin. The CBDC became the conduit for pumping hundreds of millions of pounds of public money into land owned by Associated British Ports (ABP), of which Edwards was a director.

The CBDC was wound up in 1999 and Edwards – Lord Crickhowell since 1987 – stepped down from the board of Associated British Ports Holdings Ltd 28 April 1999.

Of course, Edwards/Crickhowell didn’t have it all his own way. For example, despite donning his Welsh National Opera tricorn he failed to get a new opera house to the Bay, but learning from that disappointment he made sure that the ‘consolation prize’ of the Notional Assembly building was located on his patch.

And while it was being built he saw to it that ABP continued to coin it by having AMs and staff use Crickhowell House – at £2m+ a year.

Crickhowell House/Tŷ Crughywel/Tŷ Hywel, click to enlarge

Crickhowell House was soon renamed Tŷ Crughywel, and is now Tŷ Hywel, apparently in honour of Hywel Dda. Which looks very much like an attempt to hide the Crickhowell connection, for I’m not aware of Hywel Dda having any local connections.

Despite having moved into the new Senedd building over ten years ago the ‘Welsh Government’ still agreed a series of leases that bind it – and us – to Tŷ Hywel until 2049, or Armageddon, whichever comes sooner. Guaranteed to cost us many more millions of pounds.

I mention this to give the background to what we see today in Cardiff Bay; the squalid and incestuous wheeler-dealing, the lying and the backstabbing, the cronyism, the incompetence, and the waste of public money.

The latest example of the incestuousness comes with Daniel Bryant leaving lobbyists Deryn for Plaid Cymru. This ménage à trois involving Deryn, Plaid Cymru and the Labour Party is not good for democracy or for Wales.

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(Cathy Owens is a director of Deryn. Though I shudder to think what ‘Deryn standards’ might be referring to. Could it be sarcasm?)

But this is what devolution has done. It has given us a class of people, divorced from the real world, who study politics, help out local politicians in their spare time and then, when they finish university, get a job working for a politician, or lobbyists, making contacts, and getting on their party’s list of approved candidates.

They then become politicians and make decisions affecting the lives of people with whom they have little contact and for whom they may have little concern. I say that because politics is no longer about serving the people, it’s a team game of abstractions and all that matters is scoring points against the opposition. (Though in Wales it often seems to be just two ‘teams’ involved.)

This system of musical chairs that begins with teenagers choosing a ‘career’ in politics goes a long way to explaining why Wales is in the mess she’s in today. And also why, alone in western Europe, Wales has no register or regulation of lobbyists – because the lobbyists won’t countenance such legislation!

Speak out in favour of such legislation – as Neil McEvoy has done more than once – and you will be hounded and vilified – by lobbyists, your own party, and anyone else the lobbyists can influence. Is this democracy?

Of course not, but it is Corruption Bay; and those we find lurking there today are worthy successors to the Cardiff Bay Development Corporation.

REMOTE CONTROL

For anyone who missed it over on Jacqui Thompson’s blog, soon-to-be-retired Carmarthenshire chief executive Mark James plans to stay active with Ffynnon Consultancy Ltd . . . of Brighton. A company formed 23 April 2019.

‘Why Brighton?’ you ask, and the answer is because that’s where his mates are. ‘Mates!’ Yes, you must remember his partners from the Cardiff Bay property business. I wrote about it in Baywatch and Baywatch 2. In particular, Mark Philip Carter, a director with James of Building and Estate Solutions Today Limited.

That company is based in Cardiff, but Carter has other companies based at the same Brighton address – 161-163 Preston Road – where we find Mark James’s new venture. Companies such as Friend-James Accountants LLP, Friend-James Ltd and Opher Ltd.

The two directors of Ffynnon Consultancy are James and his missus. He with 400 shares, she with 100.

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It was always unlikely that when James retires later this month, and surfboards out of county hall on a flood of tears, that he would put on his slippers and take up some innocent pastime like counting his money, or evicting bloggers.

But now, with his own consultancy, his protégée Wendy Walters taking over his job, and Emlyn ‘Two Barns’ Dole keeping the councillors in check, James should be able to run the show by remote control!

For as the old saying has it – You can’t keep a good man down. Or in this case, a vindictive and manipulative megalomaniac, and Private Eye Shit of the Year 2016.

You know he can’t just walk away – for there is a Wellness Village to build!

Talking of which . . . there’s something nagging me, for there is another company with a very similar name to James’s new venture. This being the Ffynnon Consultancy Group Ltd.

What’s interesting about the Ffynnon Consultancy Group is that its entry in the ‘Welsh Government’s Directory of Welsh Businesses tells us: “At the Ffynnon Consultancy Group we identify and establish business connections across a wide platform of business sectors in the UAE and the GCC”.

‘UAE’ is of course the initials of the United Arab Emirates, and ‘GCC’ stands for Gulf Cooperation Council. So why would this obscure little company be operating in the Gulf?

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I ask because I’m sure you’ll remember that it was links with that part of the world that led to suspensions at Swansea University and the halting of city deal funding for the Wellness Village.

The sole director of the Ffynnon Consultancy Group – a one-share company that appears never to have traded or done anything since being formed in June 2016 – was Angela Louise Williams of Llandybie, until she was replaced last Friday by Kevin Williams of New Quay, Ceredigion, with the company’s registered address also transferring to New Quay on 3 June.

Given the Gulf connection, I got to wondering if there might also be a link with Swansea University, the Wellness Village, or with outgoing Carmarthenshire CEO Mark James’s new company Ffynnon Consultancy Ltd?

In the hope of getting answers I e-mailed Ffynnon Consultancy Group and received a reply from Kevin Williams, who expressed surprise that Companies House had allowed registrations from two companies with such similar names.

He assured me that neither he nor Angela Louise Williams had any links to either Carmarthenshire County Council or Swansea University. So that would appear to be that . . . just an amazing coincidence . . .

M4 OR NO M4

As I write this, on Monday evening, the word is that tomorrow the ‘Welsh Government’ will not back the proposed M4 ‘relief road’ through the Gwent Levels and Newport docks. So, on that assumption, here are a few points that immediately popped into the cavernous Jac cranium.

  • Let us hope that this unexpected decision heralds a new era of development and investment spread across the country, thereby obviating the need for an M4 ‘relief road’.
  • Presumably the announcement will be accompanied by promises to invest in public transport. Again, I urge that thinking goes beyond the Cardiff region, because there is a country out there.
  • Nothing would prove this administration’s commitment to both Wales beyond Cardiff and public transport better than a west coast railway line from Carmarthen to Bangor.
  • Finally, this decision might deter commuters from Bristol and elsewhere moving into Wales for cheaper housing – have you thought about that? Well, have you!

CAPTION COMPETITION

And, finally, this week’s caption competition. I am grateful to the person who supplied this wonderful photograph of Paul and Rowena Williams of Weep for Wales fame. The picture comes from the XscapeNow Facebook page.

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These crooks are former owners of the Radnorshire Arms Hotel in Presteigne, The Knighton Hotel, Plas Glynllifon, Seiont Manor Hotel and other establishments from Northumberland to Cornwall.

I can’t help thinking that holding an illustration of criminals being caught by the police might be seen as tempting fate.

♦ end ♦

 

Pot Pourri 12.12.2018

As you can see, this is another big one. But it’s made up of five separate reports: Hendy wind farm, recent events in Swansea and Llanelli which may – or may not – be linked, the Bodnant Welsh Food Centre, the redevelopment of the Tower opencast site, and finally, the leadership election in a non-existent political party.

So you can either make yourself a panad, settle down and go through the lot in one go. Alternatively, you can take them one at a time. The choice is yours.

Unless something big crops up this might be my last posting until 2019. If that’s how it turns out, then . . .

HENDY WIND FARM: WHO GAVE THE WORD? WHEN? WHY?

A few weeks ago, in Corruption in the Wind, I looked at three wind farms: Bryn Blaen, near Llangurig; Rhoscrowther, near Milford Haven; and Hendy, near Crossgates. All being promoted by the same property company. 

Hendy wind farm merits another visit.

You’ll recall that Hendy was refused planning permission by Powys County Council and this decision was upheld by a planning inspector in May this year. But then, in late October, Lesley Griffiths, Energy, Planning and Rural Affairs Secretary for the management team in Cardiff docks, said that she would over-rule the planning inspector’s decision and allow Hendy to proceed.

The landscape to be desecrated by Hendy wind farm, click to enlarge

In the earlier piece I argued that what triggered the change of heart over Hendy was the High Court decision in September to finally put a stop to the Rhoscrowther project on the Milford Haven Waterway.

Prior to that High Court decision the developers had Bryn Blaen in the bag, were hopeful of getting Rhoscrowther, and were probably resigned to writing off Hendy, taking the view that two out of three ain’t that bad. But once Rhoscrowther was lost they were down to one out of three – they had to have Hendy.

Here’s the sequence of events leading to where we are at present.

The Construction Environmental Management Plan we encountered in the bullet points above should have been produced before work started, but in the case of Hendy it’s dated November 19, six weeks after on-site work started. 

The more I think about it, the more I believe there’s only one way to explain the panicky happenings at Hendy.

The decision to allow the Hendy wind farm was taken in London after approaches by the developers following the Rhoscrowther decision. (For despite the Planning Inspectorate having a desk in Cardiff it answers to the Department for Communities and Local Government in London.)

A political decision taken in London was passed to the Planning Inspectorate and only belatedly relayed to Lesley Griffiths when someone remembered about devolution. (Further proof that what masquerades as the ‘Welsh Government’ is just London’s management team in Wales.)

Worth mentioning may be that the landowner at Hendy is Sir Robert John Green-Price 5th Bt. It’s reasonable to assume that Sandhurst-educated Sir Robert has influential friends. It’s equally reasonable to assume that the developers, Marcus Owen Shepherd, Matthew Simon Weiner and Richard Upton, also ‘know people’.

Last week the developers were pile-driving at the source of the Edw, a Special Area of Conservation. All being done in the name of ‘conservation’ and ‘the environment’. The Edw runs south to join the Wye at Aberedw.

Pile-driving in an SAC at the source of the Edw, click to enlarge

Where, last Sunday, a day after the Cilmeri commemoration, people remembered a hero who may have been betrayed. How fitting that they should gather at Aberedw, by a river being polluted by modern invaders assisted by today’s traitors.

TIDAL LAGOON PUTTING WIND UP WIND FARMERS?

One of the more interesting schemes promoted in Wales in recent years was the Swansea Bay tidal lagoon. It eventually failed because the UK government refused to support it.

Yet it had a great deal of backing from people who pointed out that the electricity generated by the Swansea lagoon, a relatively small prototype, was bound to be expensive, but the possibilities of tidal power are immense and larger lagoons would be cheaper all round. For one thing tides, unlike wind, are entirely predictable and therefore reliable.

Not far away from the proposed tidal lagoon we saw one of the more extravagant schemes mooted in recent years in the £225m Wellness Village in Llanelli’s Delta swamp, being promoted chiefly by Carmarthenshire chief executive Mark James and Swansea academic Marc Clement, the latter a Turk by birth.

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This project was to be part-funded from the £1.3bn Swansea Bay city deal.

Clement and a few other senior academics in Swansea, including the vice-chancellor, were recently suspended and it was generally agreed that this was somehow connected with the Wellness Village, certainly Clement was connected. Though no Llanelli connection could be established for vice-chancellor Richard B Davies or the other two, unnamed, persons who were suspended.

It was no surprise then that following the Swansea suspensions the Wellness Village seemed to get poorly. Within a very short time the infection spread and now a review has been ordered of the whole city region deal.

But why should the London government suddenly be so concerned about doings in south west Wales?

I’ve been giving this matter some thought, and here’s what I think.

Just a few miles from Swansea Bay lies Mynydd y Gwair, on the northern outskirts of the city. This was an area of wild and unspoilt upland . . . until fat grants were introduced for wind turbines.

Then the owner of Mynydd y Gwair, the Beaufort Estate (Prop. Duke of Beaufort), decided it could make millions by covering this beautiful area with ugly, useless, bird-killing wind turbines. This is the same Beaufort Estate that ten years ago charged the city council £280,000 to put a footbridge over the Tawe near the Liberty Stadium.

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Beaufort and his ilk are descended from medieval robber barons, and they still know how to extract money from the rest of us.

It’s the same across this island. In Scotland the descendants of the Parcel of Rogues and assorted foreign landowners are minting it with wind turbines; while in England it’s a similar story, with former PM David Cameron’s father-in-law among those raking it in.

And linked with them are the property men and experts who will do all the dirty work, and reap their own rewards, those we see behind the Hendy wind farm.

And so there must be a possibility that the UK government is ‘reviewing’ the Swansea Bay city deal because Swansea council is threatening to resurrect the tidal lagoon, for that might be disastrous for the wind farmers who are so close to the Tory party, and in many instances, fund it.

‘But, Jac, what about the suspensions at Swansea University and the Wellness Village?’

The Wellness Village was up Shit Creek anyway, no private money was going to appear. It has simply been written off early before any more public money is wasted. As for the suspensions, the Wellness Village might have been a useful distraction.

Put the Wellness Village to one side and remember that the university is also heavily involved with Tidal Lagoon Mk II. It was the university that commissioned the recent report – on behalf of the Swansea Bay City Region – into reviving the barrage project.

Then look at the plan. Swansea University’s new Bay Campus is at the eastern landfall of the proposed lagoon. Students would have fought to get into a university with its own private beach which also overlooked a ground-breaking tidal lagoon offering many recreational facilities.

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But as I say, a revived Swansea tidal lagoon might be bad news for those behind Hendy wind farm, and for Lord Beaufort, also for the repackaged Parcel of Rogues, and of course for Sam Cam’s daddy.

We may need to look no further to explain the UK government’s decision to ‘review’ the Swansea Bay city deal.

BODNANT WELSH FOOD CENTRE

Another recent business failure was the collapse of the Bodnant Welsh Food Centre in Dyffryn Conwy. Though it now looks as though it has been saved by local teacake tycoon Richard Reynolds (who I’m sure is no relation to Rikki Reynolds of Weep for Wales notoriety).

In all the excitement too many have neglected to ask the basic questions about Bodnant, such as: Who’s calling the shots? Why was a grant of £6.5m made? Should that money have been allocated? Was the money used well? Why did Bodnant Food Centre collapse? What happens now?

The first thing to explain – and this is fundamental to understanding the bigger picture – is that the Bodnant Welsh Food Centre, opened in 2012 by Charles Windsor, is part of the Bodnant Estate, run by The Hon Michael Duncan McLaren QC, educated at Eton and Cambridge.

Michael McLaren’s father was the third Baron Aberconway, but this son has not succeeded to the title because he’s trumped by an older half-brother, Henry Charles McLaren, from his father’s first marriage (though there may be a dispute over entitlement).

Bodnant Estate, click to enlarge

You won’t find Bodnant Welsh Food Centre on the Companies House website because it trades as Furnace Farm Ltd, and this company was Incorporated with Companies House 20 October 2005. Furnace Farm is where we find the venture that received the £6.5m grant, but this is little more than a fancy shop selling overpriced food. 

For as a source put it to me: Dry home cured bacon for sale at £23/kg, yet both butchers at Llanrwst, some four miles away, were selling at £7.55/kg! Both butchers from known local sources!!”

Maybe at this point I should explain that despite not having succeeded to the title, Michael McLaren owns the whole shooting match, for in this document (page 5), the financial statement for year ending 31.01.2013, we read, “The company (Furnace Farm Ltd) entered into transactions with the Bodnant Estate which is owned by The Hon Michael McLaren”.

In addition to the Bodnant Estate and the Welsh Food Centre we have of course the well-known Bodnant Garden, owned by the National Trust but run by Michael McLaren as if he owns it. Then there’s Bodnant Garden Nursery Ltd, a private company with directors Michael McLaren, his wife Caroline, his mother, Lady Aberconwy, and Brian Eric Alcock.

The McLarens have three children: Angus John Melville, Iona Ann Mariel and Hamish Charles Duncan. Nice to see our Welsh aristocracy keeping with those names that resonate through our history.

Alcock’s background is in furniture, in north west England, with a previous directorship in Malbry Furniture (Sales) Ltd (wound up in May 1992), then Burford House Furniture Ltd (dissolved in August 2013).

So how did Alcock, with his IKEA-rivalling career in furniture, get involved with Michael McLaren in Bodnant Garden Nursery Ltd?

The other company in the family group is Bodnant Joinery Ltd, directors Michael and Caroline McLaren.

Giving us a number of interlinked enterprises on the Bodnant Estate, and all of them controlled by The Hon Michael McLaren QC. Invariably, with such an arrangement, there will be trading and lending between the different entities.

For example, that document I linked to earlier tells us that by January 2013 Furnace Farm Ltd owed Michael McLaren £4,969,122. By 31.01.2014 it’s up to £5,997,109. On 31.01.2015 it’s down a little to £5,862,901. A year later there is no specific mention of McLaren but the amount owed to all creditors has increased from £6,804,203 in 2015 to £7,921,963. By 2017 the figure is up to £8,981,591.

In that final financial statement we are also told that Furnace Farm Ltd lost before tax £1,497,444, up from £1,088,324 the previous year.

Just as well the company had a grant of £6.5m.

The problem with assessing how the grant was spent is that Furnace Farm Ltd is much more than just The Welsh Food Centre. For it also includes accommodation, at the farmhouse. In fact, the Estate offers plenty of accommodation.

And let’s not forget the National Beekeeping Centre of Wales.

To complicate the picture further, when I went to the Welsh European Funding Office (WEFO) website I could find nothing for either Furnace Farm Ltd or Bodnant Welsh Food Centre.

So eventually I telephoned WEFO, and I was surprised to learn that the name of the project was in fact the Centre of Excellence for Welsh Food, a name I have not seen used.(But I am only too familiar with this practice for making it difficult to make enquiries.) Here are the details

So the question becomes – on what was the £6,444,107 spent? And after going back to WEFO I was told that, “Furnace Farm Ltd received funding of £237,032 from the Processing and Marketing Grant scheme . . . enabled the company to erect a new bespoke building complex . . . “.

So that’s £6,681,139, and counting?

The document I’ve linked to reads: “Centre of Excellence for Welsh Food The adaptation of abandoned farm buildings for economic use . . . 5 minutes from the A55 . . . private investor is providing 50% of the costs . . . project aims to create a retail outlet for local products, catering facilities for innovation with local food and a culinary school.”

Bodnant Welsh Food Centre, image courtesy of Business Leader, click to enlarge

The mention of “abandoned farm buildings” being adapted “for economic use” may refer to the farmhouse I mentioned earlier, now being used as a holiday let, rather than having anything to do with food excellence.

The latest update tells us that the new owner of the food centre, who plans to re-open on February 1st, and is said to be leasing the buildings from the McLarens, told the Daily Post: “It (Bodnant Welsh Food Centre) has been poorly run and we want to bring it back to what it was . . . with genuine authentic local produce in the shop . . . We can’t get away with charging a premium for something you can pick up in the supermarket.”

How very true. But then, if civil servants and/or politicians want to give someone millions of pounds to spend on property he already owns, then whether a retail outlet succeeds or not may be of little consequence in the bigger scheme of things.

The big question for me is: Why did anyone think it was a good use of EU funding to give millions of pounds to a wealthy aristocrat to open a London-prices shop in the Conwy Valley, especially as such funding was not supposed to be given for retail purposes?

And what guarantees do we have that such ‘misjudgements’ will never occur again?

THE LEFT BETRAYS WALES, AGAIN

This is another little tale that gets rather complicated, so let me set the scene with some background information. (Sorry, no music.)

You’ll recall that in December 1994, under threat of closure, Tower Colliery at Hirwaun was bought out by its miners under the leadership of Tyrone O’Sullivan. This made them mine-owners but paradoxically they also became deities in the socialist pantheon.

Tower Colliery was worked until it became uneconomic and closed in January 2008. What is less well known is that following the closure there was a period of opencast mining in the area.

This explains the formation of Tower Newco Ltd which soon changed its name to Tower Regeneration Ltd, a company dedicated to, “Open cast coal working” and “Development of building projects”. The second of those presumably following the ensuing clean-up operations.

Opencast mining began in May 2012, and if it hasn’t already ended, it is scheduled to end this month.

At its birth, Tower Newco Ltd had a single director named on the Certificate of Incorporation, a Kevin Dougan, of Durham. He was soon joined by others including O’Sullivan and also by Ian Anthony Charles Parkin, another businessman from north east England.

If we turn to the Tower Regeneration website, and scroll down to the bottom we find a link to a company called Hargreaves. It’s no surprise to learn that Hargreaves Services plc is also based in Durham, and among its directors we find Kevin James Stewart Dougan.

Almost immediately it was set up Tower Regeneration Ltd took out a loan with Forward Sound Ltd, of Durham, a company that had been set up less than a year before Tower Regeneration. In fact, it’s difficult to escape the conclusion that Forward Sound was set up specifically to capitalise on the Tower opencast project.

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Why the strong Durham connection? Well, on a practical level it was a coal-mining area, but on the emotional plane Durham to the bruvvers means the annual Miners’ Gala; it conjures up images of comradely solidarity, fluttering banners and fiery speeches.

On 1 December 2017 the ubiquitous Dougan ceased to be a director at Hargreaves Services, Tower Regeneration, and Forward Sound, but rejoined Tower Regeneration the very next day . . . though Companies House wasn’t notified until 27 April this year!

So from the outset, the Tower opencast and regeneration project has been funded and controlled by English interests. And now they’re lining up to get their hands on the money available for ‘restoration’ work. And we are talking many millions of pounds here.

And as might be expected, the English Labour Party in Wales is eager to play its allotted role in short-changing Wales, again.

It seems that the prettying up is to be done by The Land Restoration Trust, which is both a charity (No 1138337) and a company, though for some reason, on its website it’s called The Land Trust. Its headquarters are in Warrington and it specialises in “open space for community benefit”, much of that open space seems to be reclaimed industrial land, especially in former coalfields.

The Land Restoration Trust was set up by the Coalfields and Joint Ventures Division of the now defunct English Partnerships, “the national regeneration agency for England”, which was succeeded in December 2008 by the Homes and Communities Agency, since re-named Homes England.

Clearly the Land Restoration Trust is an England-only body. Though the website has pages for Scotland and Wales both read: “We currently do not manage any sites in (Scotland/Wales) although we are working hard to do so. If you would like discuss any potential opportunities please contact our Business Development team.”

Despite having no sites in Wales Alison Whitehead, described as ‘Development Manager’, enjoys visiting sites in Wales! But then, Alison, as her Linkedin profile tells us, was ‘Development Manager for North of England and North Wales’.

On 31 January 2018 a reception was held for the ‘Land Trust’ at the Senedd. It was hosted by Vikki Howells the Labour AM for Cynon Valley. Here’s the report from the Land Restoration Trust website.

And below you’ll see what Howells put out on Facebook the following day. Note that she mentions “ownership and management options”. In fact, it had already been decided behind the scenes, and years ago, making the Senedd reception no more than a PR exercise.

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Vikki Howells is involved for no better reason than she’s the local AM, having been elected in 2016 because she was the donkey with the red rosette. Does she really understand what’s gone on at Tower and who owns what?

Though if Ms Howells was so keen to inform the Cynon Valley public then she should have explained why her administration has abrogated its responsibilities and rolled back devolution. And also explained why the profits from developing this local site will be leaving Wales.

The Tower opencast operation didn’t last for much more than six years, it employed few, and when repayment of loans, leasing and hiring are taken into account, it wasn’t that profitable, certainly not for Tower. The big beneficiary appears to have been Hargreaves Surface Mining Ltd, renamed Hargreaves Land Ltd in June 2018.

(It should go without saying that Kevin James Stewart Dougan ceased to be a director of Hargreaves Land on 1 December 2017. What is the significance of that date?)

Hargreaves Surface Mining was set up in October 2011, just before opencast mining began at Tower. The timing is no coincidence. Hargreaves Surface Mining Ltd joined a host of new companies that had been created in north east England to make big bucks out of a mining operation in Wales.

An operation that put little money into the local economy but enriched strangers. It also served the purpose of being the necessary precursor to the second stage of the project that will inherit a large tract of land together with millions of pounds to landscape and redevelop it.

Who knows what will be done on the old Tower opencast site. Housing? A leisure resort such as we see not far away in the Afan Valley? One thing I predict with certainty – as with the opencast site, the profits will leave Wales.

Vikki Howells seems to envision the development at Tower linking with the Rhondda Tunnel . . . owned by Highways England!

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Or maybe it’ll be more wind turbines, for while they generate little or no electricity they certainly produce massive incomes for those who operate them, and the landowners involved. 

It’s difficult to believe that all this is happening after twenty years of devolution. But as I’ve argued many times, devolution is a sham, a façade; and behind that façade Wales is being ripped off and inexorably assimilated into England.

This assimilation along with the exploitation we see at Hendy and Mynydd y Gwair, Bodnant and Tower, is being facilitated by socialists, and the Labour Party, doing what they always do – selling Wales down the river.

GREEN PARTY OF ENGLANDANDWALES

Earlier this year members of the self-styled ‘Wales Green Party’ voted against becoming a Wales Green Party, choosing to remain part of the Green Party of Englandandwales and calling themselves The Green Party in Wales. Whereupon the party ‘leader’ defected to Plaid Cymru.

The confusion that resulted may be reflected in the fact that the party website seems to have been abandoned, with nothing posted since 10 July.

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Yet despite all the recent tribulations this Green Party of England in Wales is currently holding a leadership election. Yes, that’s a leadership contest to a non-existent party! Among those standing is Anthony Slaughter.

So who is he? Well, it should go without saying that he’s not Welsh. He lives in Penarth and seems to have a high regard for himself, adopting that tone of moral and intellectual superiority that so endears the Greens to me.

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And he spreads his talents wide, for when he’s not saving the planet he’s up in London demanding something called A People’s Vote, supporting the Stansted 15, and arguing for 20 mph speed limits. Sainthood can’t be far away.

But being a Green he’s probably a practising pagan. (Or am I thinking, vegan?)

Obviously there’s no such thing as the Wales Green Party, but then, there’s no such thing as the Welsh Labour Party either, it’s just a label, there’s nothing registered with the Electoral Commission. 

So maybe the Greens take their lead from the Labour Party, because they often seem close, almost as if the Greens are the idealistic younger relative indulged by the more staid Labour Party. 

And the closeness isn’t confined to the Greens, it seems to extend to the environmentalist movement as a whole, maybe it’s something to do with the self-absorbed regarding themselves as ‘progressive’

This perhaps explains why public money was recently spent on foot massage by the Future Generations Commissioner, that very close friend of the late Carl Sargeant.

click to enlarge

But it’s not just Labour that likes to cwtch up to those who think that the examples of Hendy and Mynydd y Gwair should be replicated on every pristine landscape in Wales. Who believe that carving up the countryside to lay thousands of tons of concrete is good environmental practice.

I mentioned that Slaughter, the would-be leader of the non-existent party, lives in Penarth. Where I’m told certain Plaidistas – the names Clubb and Wilton were mentioned – have been keen to do electoral deals with these Wales-rejecting colonialists.

But then, nothing surprises me any more, whether it’s the Greens, Plaid Cymru, or the Labour Party. They all pursue their own agendas, driven by narrow ideology and trapped within dogmas, rather than pragmatically promoting what’s best for the Welsh people.

That’s why they’ve failed us, and that’s why time is running out for all of them.

end ♦

 

Shorts 16.07.2018 (Well it is summer!)

I’m taking a wee break from the Williams-Partridge gang, but I shall return to them, you can count on it. Weep for Wales 6 is already forming itself in the old Jac noggin.

But as the Walrus said, The time has come to talk of many things . . . but we shall not stray far from my favoured themes of shysters and charlatans, colonialists and their facilitators.

THE GREEN, GREEN PARTY OF HOME (WHICH IS NOT WALES)

There is in Wales a political grouping calling itself the Wales Green Party. Over the years many people – myself included – have pointed out that despite the name it has no legal existence, being merely part of The Green Party (of England). Scotland has a separate party.

Those of a masochistic bent may choose to read some of my previous offerings on the subject: Plaid Cymru and the Green Party of EnglandandWales, More on the Green Party of EnglandandWales, Green Party of EnglandandWales, Wales Region AGM 2015.

This question of whether there is or should be a separate Welsh party has bedevilled the Greens in Wales for some years and so it was recently decided to lance the boil by having a vote on whether to become wholly independent or remain part of the Green Party (of England).

The result is in and 64.8% voted to remain part of the Green Party (of England), though the party leader in Wales, Grenville Ham, favoured treating Wales with respect by forming a separate party.

This result does not surprise me. The Greens I’ve met in my area, and others I know of who’ve moved to rural parts of Wales, tend to offer a ‘We know best’ kind of ‘enlightened’ colonialism. No less offensive when delivered by some malodorous little twat with a 2:2 in mycology than when it’s barked by the District Officer wearing shorts with a razor-sharp crease.

What I’m saying is that, in Wales, most Greens are English arrivals (many of them just passing through). This explains why – unlike Scotland – we do not have a separate and native Green Party. This also explains the vote I’ve just reported.

Greens in Wales must now stop the pretence that there is a Wales Green Party. There is not. What we have in Wales is the regional branch of The Green Party of England. Calling it the Green Party of England and Wales is no improvement, especially when we remember the position in Scotland.

Those who want a Welsh Green Party, those who wish to prioritise the Welsh national interest, had better do some hard thinking. A new, genuinely Welsh Green party could resonate with Welsh voters far better than the Green Party of England has done hitherto.

It could hardly do any worse.

WHO WILL BUY MY LOVELY HOUSES? – THE ‘WELSH’ GOVERNMENT OF COURSE!

And so to Pembrokeshire, which attracts a disproportionate number of those malodorous little gits with a 2:2 in mycology. But on a higher plane, far removed from the darkness and the copious amounts of shit, we enter the realm of Sol Invictus.

And it’s there, basking in the wealth he bestows, that we find Dr Glen Peters. Formerly of bean-counters PwC but now ensconced at Rhos y Gilwen mansion near Cilgerran, where he brings culture to this benighted corner of Wales through Menter Rhosygilwen. You can even get married there.

Courtesy of Linkedin, click to enlarge

But his real interest is making money through his company Western Solar Ltd. There is a solar farm on his land and when he’s not harvesting all that lovely sunshine on his estate he’s building houses . . . to harvest more life-giving sunshine. His footnote in history being assured with Pentre Solar, an ambitious scheme at Glanrhyd.

But ere it started, the ‘Welsh’ Government bunged Peters £141,000 for a factory in which to manufacture sections for the houses. Since then, the ‘Welsh’ Government has loaned the Ateb Group, formerly Pembrokeshire Housing, £900,000 to buy the six houses from Peters.

Yet according to this account in the Guardian, just four of the properties, ‘have “affordable” rents and are being offered to people on Pembrokeshire county council’s housing register who have lived in the area for five years’.

So how many of these houses are for social housing, six or four?

Either way, Glen Peters has made a tidy wodge from the ‘Welsh’ Government and a factory paid for out of public funds has been added to his property portfolio. Yet his Linkedin profile boasts that he has been “Eco Entrepreneur of the Year”.

An entrepreneur (for which there is no word in Welsh, incidentally) is someone who takes risks with his own money. How the hell can anyone be an entrepreneur when he’s feather-bedded by the public purse?

The Solar Village website makes a big thing of “employing locals”, yet closer inspection reveals that these people are ‘local’ only in the sense that they’ve moved to Wales. Just like so many other schemes in the Welsh countryside, especially where environmentalism is concerned, we see Welsh public money funding social engineering.

As for Glanrhyd, it’s a hamlet on a B road some five kilometres from Cardigan. I’m not sure how good the public transport links are, but even if they’re good Ateb might have had trouble finding tenants. Seeing as the houses are now occupied I’d like to know who lives in them, how many are social tenants, and how local those people are to the area.

Worth asking because the Ateb Group is a curious beast, a Community Benefit Society that includes Mill Bay Homes Ltd. I don’t understand how a private company can shelter under the umbrella of a Community Benefit Society; but then, all sorts of things are permitted, or overlooked, in the strange world of Welsh housing associations.

For example, Mill Bay Homes is no longer a Registered Social Landlord, which is hardly surprising seeing as it builds and sells property on the open market like Wimpey and Redrow; but it has over the years borrowed millions from its publicly-funded parent company Pembrokeshire Housing which now – re-branded Ateb – is buying properties from Mill Bay!

It’s all very complicated. Deliberately so.

Does that bank of solar panels feed into the grid when demand is low? If so, who gets the money? Picture courtesy of WalesOnline. Click to enlarge

Western Solar Power has plans for more villages. Another project lined up is for Coastal Housing in sun-blest Ammanford. Where no doubt the public purse will further enrich Glen Peters and Coastal Housing will have properties that attract positive publicity in obscure publications, but they’ll be expensive to build and might not serve the purpose used to justify the public funding – affordable homes for local people.

Glen Peters is obviously on a good thing. All he has to do is keep pressing the right buttons and the money pours into his bank account. But I can’t help thinking that social housing could be delivered a lot cheaper, in places locals want to live, which is why I’m sceptical of Pentre Solar and similar projects.

Bottom line is, it might be acceptable for Glen Peters to enrich himself playing the enlightened squire, and employing his cronies – but not with our money!

BERYL’S IN PERIL!

No doubt you’re all aware that there’s a by-election campaign under way in Cydweli’s Mynydd-y-Garreg ward. In fact, there are only two wards in Cydweli; Mynydd-y-Garreg and Castle, which might make life easy for some, but for your average punter, having eight or nine community councillors for his or her ward must cause confusion.

The council is Labour controlled, with a few Independents, one Tory, one Plaid Cymru, and Ukip represented by Gary Beer of Swansea Quality Lettings Ltd. (That has a certain ring to it, no?)

Standing for Labour in Mynydd-y-Garreg is Beryl-Ann Williams. I’m told her election literature is in English only, a great disappointment to see this on the home turf of the late Ray Gravell, where 62% of the working age population speaks Welsh . . . but only 21% of retired people. Now I wonder why that is?

Beryl-Ann works in the third sector as an ‘art psychotherapist’. (No, honestly, I did not just make that up.) This psychotherapisting may be done at the Kidwelly Community Hub, which seems to serve as a publicly-funded but unofficial Labour Party clubhouse.

Beryl-Ann Williams, Lee Waters AM on the left and Nia Griffith MP on the right, with mayor Phil Thompson behind the MP.

This being the Llanelli constituency, where Plaid Cymru has self-destructed, and Tories have never been thick on the ground, her sole opponent is Independent Ronald Carl Peters-Bond, whose literature is bilingual and has a powerful message:

“Kidwelly Town Council’s focus has been on building a new office costing over £500,000, the overspend on which has now left it in serious financial difficulties. We need to stop the rot.” and “Currently over 80% of the tax you pay to Kidwelly Town Council goes on administration and keeping that shiny building.”

Can you believe that a Labour administration would waste money on such things? And overspend?

I look forward to hearing from distant Cydweli that Grav’s old stomping-ground has rejected a Labour/third sector blagger who seems to have no love for Wales and her heritage.

‘I KNOW NOTHING ABOUT IT . . . MUST BE SOMEBODY ELSE’S GOVERNMENT RESPONSIBLE’

Back in May I wrote about BikePark Wales, yet another example of Welsh assets being handed over to a bunch of strangers in order that they can enrich themselves. In this particular case it was Natural Resources Wales leasing a large area of forested land near Merthyr Tudful to a company with the absurd name of Beic Parcio Cymru Ltd operating as BikePark Wales.

Something that particularly worried me was the fact that this company felt it had the power to fine locals found on the land it was leasing, and that these fines could be collected on the spot by ‘marshalls’ (sic).

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A regular reader of this blog tried to get a number of politicians interested in this surely unacceptable behaviour; Labour and Plaid Cymru couldn’t be bothered and the only politician who came through was Mostyn Neil Hamilton, the Ukip AM for the Mid and West Wales Region.

Last week, in Plenary at the Assembly, Hamilton raised the issue with first minister Carwyn Jones, who professed complete ignorance. (Available here at 22:05.) Now put aside any antipathy you may have towards Ukip, or Hamilton, and consider the issue on its merits. And think about Carwyn Jones’ response.

In that irritating I’m-a-tidy-bloke-but-cleverer-than-you manner Carwyn Jones tried to laugh it off and almost seemed to suggest that Hamilton was making it up. But if what Jones said was right, then BikePark Wales is acting illegally. That being so, then surely something has now been done about it?

No. I’ve just checked the BikePark Wales website and it reads the same as it did before. Which suggests that Carwyn Jones and his management team really doesn’t care about such colonialist arrogance.

When strangers take over a country, exploit it for their own ends, when the indigenous population is elbowed aside, and when a collaborationist administration encourages and funds such behaviour, then that, my friend, can not be dressed up as ‘investment’, or disguised as an ‘economic strategy’.

It is colonialism; and to deny it is no different to the Green Party (of England) refusing to accept that Wales is a country in its own right, just an economically underdeveloped region of England or Britain.

By any criteria you care to apply Wales is a colony. What are you going to do about it?

♦ end ♦

 

New Party, Fresh Start 2

CHANGE OF VENUE TO CATER FOR GREAT RESPONSE

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.

By profession ‘Shrewsbury’ claims to be a psychologist offering Asclepius Therapy treatment at a Swansea clinic. It all sounds a bit New Age to me, but I could be wrong.

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.

♦ end ♦

Assembly Elections 2016: Hopes and Ashes

In my previous post I told you that I was going to vote for Independent Louise Hughes as my constituency AM, and that’s what I did. She didn’t win, nobody expected her to win, but she finished fifth in a seven-horse race, above the Lib Dem and Green candidates; the second of those – and bottom of the poll – being Alice Hooker-Stroud, the recently elected leader of the Wales region of the Green Party of Englandandwales. So well done Louise for beating a party leader. (Well, a regional leader anyway.)

Dwyfor-M
CLICK TO ENLARGE

In fact, the poor showing by the Greens was for me one of the highlights of the night. Clearly their electoral appeal has been greatly over-estimated by just about everyone, especially themselves. I don’t think a single Green constituency candidate reached 4% (can’t be bothered to check them all), while on the regional lists, where they might have been expected to do better, they polled just 3%, a drop of 0.5% on 2011.

Not even that grande dame of the local Greens, Pippa Bartolotti, could break through the 3% barrier. What is wrong with the voters of Newport West; they are offered as a candidate the woman who’s led the Greens to the giddy heights they now occupy and yet the fools refused to elect her! Never mind, posterity will I’m sure be gentle on her. For her amanuensis, ex-con Martyn Shrewsbury, is hard at work right now making up excuses for the woman he adores . . . but does she reciprocate? And if so, how? And do you really want to think about it!

The Greens are so adept at self-publicity that we tend to forget what a tiny and insignificant party they really are.

You’ll see from the Dwyfor Meirionnydd constituency figures above that as elsewhere the new ingredient in the mix was UKIP, whose candidate on my patch, Frank Wykes, got 10.6% of the vote. Wykes describes himself as a Cornishman, which is rather disappointing. And this picture (below) don’t do him no favours either. Looks like it’s been taken from inside the female changing room at the local swimming pool . . . possibly with the same phone used to send the unsettling image to the gendarmerie. Leg it, Frankie!

Frank Wykes

The figures suggest that in Dwyfor Meirionnydd it was the Tories who took the hit from UKIP. (So it’s not all bad news.) Though I note with some anger that candidate Neil Fairlamb labels himself ‘Welsh Conservative’. No you are not! – you are an English bloody Conservative who happens to be in Wales; there is nothing Welsh about you apart from your location.

I represent that elite and transcendental band of true Welsh Tories, a man without a port of call, a political Flying Dutchman.

On the regional list I voted Liberal Democrat in the hope of seeing William Powell, a very decent and capable man, re-elected, but again, my hopes were dashed. The four elected on the regional list were Joyce Watson and Eluned Morgan for Labour, Simon Thomas for Plaid and – wait for it! – Mr and Mrs Neil Hamilton for UKIP. I mention them both because although Hamilton N. is, technically, the elected Assembly Member, his missus Christine will be doing the thinking and the talking for him.

What really did for William Powell though was not the calibre of the opposition – couldn’t be, could it! – but the re-election of Kirsty Williams in Brecon and Radnor coupled with the general decline in the Lib Dem vote elsewhere. Sad, but that’s how this Labour-biased electoral system operates.

Mid and West Wales
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Of course the one result everyone is talking about is Rhondda (make that ‘Rhonnda’ if you’re in UKIP) where Plaid leader Leanne Wood beat the popular and unassuming Labour candidate, Leighton Andrews. Yes, they were dancing in the streets of Treorchy on Friday morning when the result was announced. But then, they’re always dancing in the streets of Treorchy.

Though if you want an illustration of how far the Liberal Democrats have sunk then the Rhondda result provides it. Here the Green candidate got 1.1% of the vote – but still beat the Lib Dem candidate on 0.7%.

The Rhondda result was obviously a victory for a well-respected local candidate, unfortunately Plaid Cymru was unable to repeat this victory elsewhere in the south. Though two results deserve to be mentioned.

First, Neil McEvoy giving Labour a fright in Cardiff West, the first of many frights, I’m sure. Delighted though to see Neil elected on the South Wales Central regional list. I just hope that the Plaid establishment doesn’t ‘get to’ him. Plaid Cymru needs more Neil McEvoys and fewer sons of the manse and masters of cynghanedd, and fewer entryists using the party to promote socialist, environmentalist and other agendas.

And then there was the somewhat overlooked result in Blaenau Gwent. A result that in some ways was more praiseworthy than Rhondda and Cardiff West. There Nigel Copner – a name new to me – came within 650 votes of the winning Labour candidate. In the process local boy Professor Copner increased the Plaid share of the vote by a staggering 31.2%.

Overall, and given the problems being experienced by their rivals (dealt with below) Plaid’s very modest increase in both constituency (+1.3%) and list votes (+3.0%) must be viewed as a failure.

*

For the Conservatives it was also a case of little real change. They must be disappointed to have lost three seats and not to have repeated their 2015 successes in Gower and Vale of Clwyd, though in both constituencies they closed the gap on Labour incumbents who saw support fall away.

And they must be wondering what might have been if local leader Andrew R T Davies had contested the Vale of Glamorgan rather than sticking with the regional list. As it was the Tory candidate came within 777 votes of Labour minister Jane Hutt . . . but the seat might have been won if local farmer Davies had stood. There might yet be repercussions from his decision.

Yet the Tories had to contend with the rise of UKIP and the fact that the party on UK and Welsh levels is split over next month’s EU referendum; then there’s the crisis in the steel industry, the Panama papers, and the fact that many in Wales believe Cameron and Osborne are planning the reintroduction of workhouses.

Putting it all together the party’s showing wasn’t too bad at all. Down just 3.9% in the constituency share of the vote and 3.7% on the regional lists could even be seen as rather good in the circumstances.

*

For the first time UKIP now has Assembly Members, and an interesting bunch they are, who will provide hours of side-splitting entertainment, to the point where many of you will actually miss them when UKIP finally implodes.

Though it might not have come to pass without a favourable alignment in the heavens that saw the Assembly elections precede the EU referendum. Had it been the other way round there might be no UKIP AMs.

Hamiltons

But already the ‘scorpion’ impulse is asserting itself and just days after the elections Christine Neil Hamilton is challenging Nathan Gill for the leadership – yet Gill was anointed by Farage himself! The entertainment has started! Though the leadership challenge can’t take place until Hamilton has taken the Oath of Allegiance (to Mrs Windsor), this is delayed as it’s proving awkward for him to get to Cardiff from his English home.

Perhaps now that he’s back among us we should start using his first given name. To help you become familiar with it, I shall henceforth refer to the new AM for Mid and West Wales as Mostyn Hamilton.

*

The real winner last Thursday was quite obviously the Labour Party. With an aggregate vote of 33.1% Labour gained 49.3% of the seats in what is supposed to be a system of proportional representation. It is nothing of the sort. It is a system designed to give the impression of being a PR system while reinforcing the position of the largest party. A system chosen by Labour to benefit Labour.

Let us hope that with the long promised reorganisation of Westminster constituencies there comes a better PR model. Or if we must stick to the same model, then there must be an increase in the number of regional list seats. In the Scottish Parliament 56 of the 129 seats are regional seats, that’s 43.4%. Here in Wales of course it’s 20 out of 60, or 33.3%. Come to that, why does Scotland have more than twice the number of MSPs for a population well short of double ours?

If, as is predicted, Wales’ representation at Westminster is reduced to 29 or 30 constituencies then this would provide the perfect opportunity to reform the system for Assembly elections. But whatever happens in the future it is now clear that the current system for electing AMs is flawed and discredited. It must be reformed.

Hello, Hello, Hello

I can’t finish without mentioning the Police and Crime Commissioner elections that also took place last Thursday, the results of which have just been announced. Labour took Gwent and South Wales while Plaid Cymru took North and Dyfed Powys.

PCC Dyfed Powys

A very good result for Plaid Cymru, and with Arfon Jones becoming PCC for GogPlod it means that I got one out of three right last Thursday. But then, with my constituency choice being a no-hoper (sorry, Louise), my list choice a long shot, Arfon was always my best chance of getting one right.

I don’t know Dafydd Llywelyn the new Dyfed Powys PCC at all, but someone has been trying to tell me there was something irregular about his selection. The allegation being that he had not been a party member for the stipulated length of time before being selected as a candidate. Surely not!

I would hate to think that Plaid Cymru is slipping into the bad practices of other parties.

~ ~ ~ END ~ ~ ~

NEXT: Why are housing associations allowed to use public funding to build properties for sale to ‘investors’? And more . . .

Port Talbot

Yes, I know, Port Talbot isn’t the only Tata plant affected by the company’s decision to put its UK operation up for sale, but it is the biggest, and serves as useful shorthand.

Rather than giving instant remedies or exposing my ignorance by trying to discuss EU regulations on state aid, or the impact of carbon tax and business rates, let alone the statistics on Chinese steel production and exports, I shall stick to my comfort zone by considering political responses and impacts, winners and losers, and also the possible outcomes.

But first, let me indulge in a little reminiscing.

*

I grew up just around the Bay from Port Talbot steelworks and I can remember the plant in the mid-’60s when it employed 20,000 men and the wages paid earned it the soubriquet ‘Treasure Island’. Much of its steel went on to the tinplate works at Trostre in Llanelli and Velindre on the north side of Swansea (where I worked for a short while). Velindre is long gone, but Trostre has struggled on and is now in the same position as Port Talbot.

And if you’ve driven past and think the smells and the smoke of Port Talbot are bad nowadays, then you should have seen it in the ’60s and ’70s. It wasn’t just that the steelworks produced more smoke and smells back then, there were other plants nearby making their contribution.

Just up the road, on the Swansea side of the steel plant, in Baglan Bay, we had one of the largest petrochemical sites in Europe, employing another 2,500 men. A couple of miles inland there was the Llandarcy oil refinery with the same number of employees. Then there was the Tir John power station taking us up to the eastern outskirts of Swansea, where the East Side made its contribution to the shit and the smell with the never-to-be-forgotten Carbon Black plant.

Llandarcy

This spewed out such filth that it resulted in regular protests by local housewives, who couldn’t put washing on the line to dry without it being covered in a dust that also got indoors and clung to everything.

My first-hand experience of Carbon Black came through a summer job I took when at Coleg Harlech. I was employed to sweep the floors inside the plant, where the filth lay inches thick. I was provided with a brush and a rudimentary face mask . . . and that was it. I handed in my brush after a few hours and went to a nearby pub to ease my throat.

The whole area from the east side of Swansea over to Neath and down to Port Talbot was a complex of heavy industry, a nightmare for any proto-Green. And yet, if we add in Swansea docks, the ancillary jobs in transport and other fields, this triangle of smoke and smells provided tens of thousands of well paid jobs for semi-skilled and unskilled men. Most of these jobs have gone, and will never be replaced.

I had many friends and family members working at these various plants, and of course at the steelworks, and not just for the then owner, the Steel Company of Wales. For example, there was a boy I met in Penlan school with whom I became good friends (after the introductory fight); his family had come down from Kilmarnock and his father worked for British Rail in the steelworks’ marshalling yards, said to be the biggest in the world after those at the Chicago stock yards.

Then there was a friend of ours in the post-school era working in the steel works. One night he went over to Port Talbot to hear a promising young singer named Tom Jones. On the way back into Swansea, driving along the Jersey Marine in his Wolseley 1500, he was somehow thrown from his car, which then rolled over onto him. I think Keith was the first close friend I lost.

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THE POLITICAL DIMENSION

The Conservatives

I suppose the Tories’ attitude was summed up accurately and succinctly by Paul Mason when he wrote, ‘Steel Crisis; they do not give a shit’. There are a number of reasons for this being true beyond the Tories being wedded to a blind and unthinking neoliberalism.

The future the Tories envision for the UK is of smart people doing clever things and making lots of money in clean environments with the economy topped up by sheikhs and oligarchs investing hundreds of billions in property and other deals that can be accomplished with a signature. Fundamentally, it’s a fantasy world in which people make lots of money doing very little, certainly not from producing anything other than hi tech gadgetry or financial packages that no one can understand.

There is no place in this vision for steel works and towns like Port Talbot. Such places are alien to Old Etonian politicians. Not only are they distant in terms of miles, and in considerations of social class, they are also distant in time, because they belong to the past, they have no place the glittering future I bewitched you with in the previous paragraph.

Gold cars

Of course, one of the major problems with this vision is that it’s very London-centric, extending only as far as the Home Counties in which many of the new elite will be living. Because you can bet that Sheikh Mohammed bin Slaveholder al Head-chopper is unlikely to be looking for a £30m mansion in Llanelli or Scunthorpe any time soon. Which explains attempts to placate the increasingly resentful natives north of Watford with ‘beads’ like HS2 and talk of a ‘northern powerhouse’.

On a more pragmatic, electoral level, the Tories have nothing to lose in towns like Port Talbot or any similar community in Wales, Scotland or England. You can’t lose support or seats if you haven’t got any to start with. So the truth is, as Paul Mason says, the Tories don’t give a shit.

Unconvincing expressions of concern will be heard, money will be doled out – there might even be a short-term nationalisation – but this hiccup will not be allowed to interfere with the march towards the post-industrial Bright Tomorrow, in which the sons and daughters of today’s Port Talbot steelworkers will be City traders or internet tycoons . . . or, more likely, working just up the road at the vast Amazon warehouse, on the minimum wage, with one toilet break a week.

Though it will be interesting to see how the local Tories deal with the steel crisis in the Assembly election campaign. Who will they blame?

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The Labour Party

For Labour the steel crisis is much more complex and worrying. Not least because it was the equally laissez-faire New Labour governments that helped get us into this mess by nodding through British Steel’s merger with Koninklijke Hoogovens of the Netherlands in 1999 to form Corus, and then twiddling their thumbs when Corus was bought by Tata Steel of India in 2007.

The New Model Labour Party of Citizen Corbyn seems rather more concerned than the party led by Blair and Broon, but there’s little they can do out of power. Though in fairness to young Owen ap Dai ap Smith he didn’t wait for the fat lady to sing before putting the boot in, here he is at the start of February accusing Cameron and Osborne of kissing China’s arse!

Another scion of an anti-Welsh Labour family, the Boy Kinnock, actually took himself off to Mumbai, where the Tata board was deliberating. Quite what he hoped to achieve beyond a little self-promotion is a bit of a mystery. But then, showboating was always part of his father’s political repertoire, though I advise the young ‘un to avoid beaches with incoming tides.

Labour logo

Closer to home, our self-styled ‘Welsh Government’ can only be compared to rabbits caught in the headlights. There are a number of reasons for this. One, they have no experience of business, let alone business on this scale. Two, they simply aren’t aren’t up to the challenge intellectually. Three – and for this they are probably thankful – they don’t have the power to do anything.

That said, this announcement comes at a good time in the electoral cycle for ‘Welsh’ Labour, with Assembly elections just over a month away they can blame the ‘heartless’ Tories for everything and hope that voters don’t remember their party’s role in this tragedy.

And as usual there will be a cynical appeal to the ignorance and confusion of many Welsh voters as Labour – despite being impotent in Cardiff and in opposition in London – urges people to vote for Carwyn and the gang so that Labour can ‘save Port Talbot’.

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Plaid Cymru

The steel crisis should be Plaid Cymru’s Christmas, Easter and St David’s Day all rolled into one. It gives them the chance to attack both major parties, English rule, and foreign ownership of Welsh assets. Thus far, I can only assume that Plaid is waiting its chance, holding its cards close to its chest . . . or maybe it doesn’t realise it has these cards.

I would suggest that rather than asking for anything absurd or impossible – such as demanding that the ‘Welsh’ Government nationalises the steel industry – Plaid Cymru should gather the evidence on the merger and the take-over that Labour allowed to go through when in power, and the Tories’ opposition to the EU raising tariffs on Chinese steel, the refusal by both parties to reduce energy costs for plants like Port Talbot, and compare those betrayals of the Welsh people with what Plaid Cymru would do if it was in power down Cardiff docks.

And stressing a betrayal of the Welsh people should be Plaid Cymru’s approach, rather than going all socialist and linking arms with Labour and the trade unions. Because unless Plaid Cymru’s voice is distinctive, and distinctively Welsh, then there’s really no point to Plaid Cymru, in this debate, or any other situation.

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Liberal Democrats

I know I’m normally harsh on the Lib Dems, but over the years it’s been difficult not to be harsh, and at times almost impossible to take them seriously. And then, in my more mellow moments (not always induced by alcohol!) I think, ‘Weeel, maybe they’re not too bad’. ‘What brings this on?’ you ask.

To start with, there’s Kirsty Williams, the LD leader in Wales. Things have been tough in recent years for her party but she’s stuck with it and deserves a break. She’s a gutsy woman who I’m warming to.

Another LD AM who’s impressed me is William Powell. For one thing, he turns up at Cilmeri in December, where we rarely see Plaid politicians and never Labour or Conservative. (Nor UKIP, come to that!) And then there was the petition I submitted to the Assembly asking that it do something to stop chief executives taking over councils.

Petitions Committee

It was clear that Powell recognised the importance of this issue but the two committee members who ‘discussed’ my petition, Labour’s Joyce Watson and Plaid’s Elin Jones, couldn’t dump it quickly enough. Powell might get my second vote on May 5th.

But I digress.

On the specific issue of the sale of Tata’s UK operations, the Lib Dems – in the shy, retiring form of Peter Black – have called for the Notional Assembly to be recalled. Which might sound like a good idea until we remember that the Assembly is impotent, and what calls itself the ‘Welsh Government’ is nothing but a collection of buffoons. A recall would be nothing more than a pointless gesture and a platform for narcissistic buggers like Black.

In many ways the Lib Dems’ position should not be a lot different to that of Plaid Cymru – ‘A pox on both your houses!’ So I would suggest that Kirsty leads her troops forward with all guns blazing . . . hoping few will remember that her party kept the Tories in power between 2010 and 2015, during which period the problems that have brought us to this crisis were allowed to build and build.

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The Wales Branch of the Green Party of Englandandwales

They won’t like me for saying this, but I know that the Greenies were secretly jumping for joy when they heard that all those smelly, polluting steel plants are to close. But of course they can’t admit that.

What they can do, apparently, is write stupid letters to the press, such as the one below that appeared in Friday’s Wasting Mule. The writer seems to believe that the Port Talbot steel works can be powered by wind turbines, solar panels and fairy dust.

Then again, it could have been a piss-take, for Friday was April 1st.

Green steel

I issue these rebukes with a heavy heart, fearing that I might lose some of the many friends I’ve made in the Green Party over recent years. Oh yes.

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UKIP

If any political party is crass and insensitive enough to make cheap political capital out of tens of thousands of people losing their jobs, then of course that party is UKIP.

Not only does the steel crisis give M. Farage et Co the chance to go nuclear on ‘Europe’, it also provides the opportunity to put the boot into Conservatives and Labour, with the cherry on top being the chance to have a go at the Chinese, the Indians, and just about anybody else they can think of.

UKIP will I’m sure argue that this steel crisis thingy would never have happened if everything was still managed by those splendid chaps down the clubhouse. Better decisions are made after six or seven drinks and a few cigars – everyone knows that! Don’t laugh, a lot of people will believe them.

A few months ago UKIP was predicted to win anything up to nine seats in May’s Assembly elections then, more recently, I’ve seen polls suggesting that support is slipping. The steel crisis could put them back to where they were earlier in the year, and the Tory-supporting media transferring the blame onto the EU might even take the UKIP vote in Wales to new heights.

However you cut it, UKIP is the party with most chance of gaining in May’s elections from the steel crisis.

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SNP

Yes, I know what you’re thinking, but bear with me.

There were a couple of steel plants in Scotland, admittedly much smaller than Port Talbot, that were saved from closure in the past few weeks thanks to decisive action by the Scottish National Party government. Here’s a report from the Guardian.

But this action didn’t please everybody. Here’s a more recent report from the Labour-supporting Daily Record (the Scottish version of the Daily Mirror) telling us that the Labour-controlled Community union is ‘questioning’ the deal.

To explain . . . there are elections in Scotland on May 5th also, and the SNP is almost guaranteed to win by a landslide. So one interpretation of this bizarre intervention by Community is that embittered Labour supporters are prepared to sabotage the Scottish steel deal for short-term political advantage.

Surely Labour wouldn’t do that?

Oh, yes, and remember, the Boy Kinnock was chaperoned on his trip to India by representatives of the same trade union. Whose interests were they looking out for – the steelworkers or the Labour Party?

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EU Referendum

Speaking of the EU reminds us that on June 23rd we have the referendum on whether to stay in or to leave. The fate of the steel industry is bound to influence the way many people vote, especially in Wales. And seeing as Wales gives us the paradox of many Labour voters reading English Tory newspapers then prolonging the crisis can only help the Brexit cause.

Thinking more obliquely, this realisation that the steel crisis could decide a currently too-close-to-call referendum might prompt the EU into action; and if Cameron is serious about staying in the EU, then he might have to discreetly explain to his Chinese chums that – until the referendum is won – he might need to sound a little ‘hostile’, even agreeing to raise tariffs on Chinese steel imports.

When you consider all the possible ramifications you realise that, serious as the crisis in the steel industry is for those directly – or even indirectly – involved, the closure of Port Talbot and the other plants could have long-term and far-reaching implications that overshadow the loss of jobs.

In many ways Prime Minister Cameron is the one to watch, because with the EU referendum complicating things, him not wanting to be seen as a callous toff, yet having to protect the interests of his mates in the City by not offending the Chinese, the next few weeks could be interesting for those who like to watch nifty footwork.

As the Chinese themselves are reported to say, ‘May you live in interesting times’. (Though some say it’s delivered as a curse, not a blessing.)

 

Round-up: Rhigos, Aberystwyth, Cardigan, Pontypridd

CHINA TO RHIGOS

Not so long ago I wrote about the Pen y Cymoedd wind farm project, and developer Vattenfall’s use of bribery to win over or silence the local populace. (Click here and scroll down to the section Vattenfall of Money.) Well now I know the route by which the turbines for Pen y Cymoedd will be arriving . . . from China. Yes, China.

Because despite what it says on the Pen y Cymoedd website about, “Siemens, our turbine supplier”, they were not made in Germany, or anywhere else in Europe. We have here a Swedish nationalised industry with a German partner importing wind turbines from China! A journey of some 10,000 nautical miles by the quickest route and taking 22 days at 20 knots. Twenty-two days of a huge ship belching smoke, spilling oil, ‘accidentally’ emptying the bilges, and all manner of things falling overboard.

Though in fairness, it is suggested that these turbines, each in three sections (plus blades and spindle), will be shipped from China to Immingham (the major container port just south of Hull) in one consignment, before being broken down into smaller cargoes for trans-shipping to Swansea. The distance from Immingham to Swansea is 606 nautical miles so if, as suggested, coastal vessels are used, each carrying the component parts of a single turbine, this adds up to a further 92,000 nautical miles (counting return trips)!

CLICK TO ENLARGE

With its turbines shipped in from China to Immingham and then shipped on to Swansea, with a total distance covered of some 102,000 nautical miles (plus 532 return lorry trips between Swansea docks and Rhigos), the Pen y Cymoedd wind farm project has the environmental credentials of a dozen coal-fired power stations, each run by a thousand spectacularly flatulent cows. Perhaps we might get a comment on this from La Bartolotti or those competing to succeed her as regional mouthpiece for the Green Party of Englandandwales.

Consider this, also . . . The European steel industry is suffering from Chinese steel being ‘dumped’ on the global market at prices with which European producers cannot compete. These Chinese-made turbines for Pen y Cymoedd will be landed in Lincolnshire, yet just a few months ago, and not far south of Immingham, it was announced that steel production will cease at Redcar with the loss of 1,700 jobs, and there are to be more redundancies at Scunthorpe. On top of which, the turbines are to be landed at Swansea docks, within sight of Port Talbot steelworks! Insult upon injury.

The turbines for Pen y Cymoedd are built in a country where environmental considerations are laughed at, then lugged across oceans, around coasts, and up steep gradients, before each of them is implanted in a concrete base the size of a football pitch in what had previously been virgin moorland. These turbines will provide no permanent jobs in Wales and the profits they generate will go to Sweden or Germany. All we shall see is the annual bribe, the pretty beads paid to the backward natives while their land is raped, again.

Let’s face it, ‘Green energy’ is a massive con. And few projects are proving to be a bigger, or a more insulting con, than Pen y Cymoedd. The turbines there will probably have to run for about 300 years just to pay off the ‘debt’ to the environment incurred by making and transporting the bloody things.

UPDATE 21:00: On Friday the 4th, a few days before posting this, I sent an e-mail to Vattenfall at Pen y Cymoedd asking where the turbines for the site were made. This afternoon I received a ‘phone call from Emily Faull of Vattenfall, a charming young lady who was able to give me a few more facts.

First, she confirmed that the turbine towers were made in China, but the blades and the spindles were made in Denmark and Germany. When I asked whether the turbines had come in through Immingham Ms Faull said no, and that on November 22nd she was at Swansea docks to see “64 sections” arrive on the good ship Amethyst from China. Though if this is the right ship, then it does not appear to have docked in Swansea on November 22nd, though at that time it was en route from Spain to the Netherlands.

Whatever, 64 sections represents 16 turbines (they come in 4 sections, not 3 as I thought), so there would still need to be another four similar voyages to bring the rest of them from China. Though Ms Faull was able to confirm that the transformers were landed at Immingham, and moved by road to Pen y Cymoedd. I’m not sure where the blades and spindles were landed, or how they reached Pen y Cymoedd if they weren’t landed at Swansea.

In a part of the conversation I had some difficulty following, Ms Faull said that it had been hoped to build the turbines at the Mabey Bridge works in Chepstow, but Mabey Bridge felt it was not worth taking on workers only to lay them off again after the Pen y Cymoedd contract was completed. There was also mention of the ‘Welsh’ Government, but what role those clowns played I have no idea.

I have sent Ms Faull another e-mail (07.12.2015) to clarify the remaining details.

UPDATE 18.12.2016: I received the reply today from Ms Faull. It reads:

“Many thanks for your email and apologies for the delay in responding.

Amesthyst landed on 22nd November and I visited the ship on 24th November. The attached photo was taken at Swansea Docks on 23rd November and 64 tower sections were on board. The remaining tower sections will also come via this route. As I said on the call Mabey Bridge were lined up for the tower manufacture, but subsequently withdrew from the bidding process.

The ship came from China and the only stops required would have been for refuelling and personnel changes.

The blades have not yet been shipped, but 192 of these will come from Denmark, with 26 coming from Canada and will again be off-loaded at Swansea Docks.

The size of the wind farm means that means that the operations and maintenance team of around 30 individuals will be based on-site and early next year the team will make a special effort to recruit skilled individuals locally.

With regards to the transformers, these were manufactured at ABB in Bad Honnef, Germany, each of which weigh in at around 125,000 kg and are around 6 metres wide and 8 metres long.”

Pen y Cymoedd, Amethyst, Swansea docks

So in addition to China, Denmark and Germany, we now have components for Pen y Cymoedd also coming from Canada. The environmental credentials of this project, never good, are now compromised beyond redemption. The jobs referred to “early next year”, for which it is hoped to recruit some locals, is not a “maintenance team” at all, this team is on site solely for the erection and installation of the turbines. Once that’s done there will probably be no jobs at Pen y Cymoedd.

The Pen y Cymoedd wind farm is all about money, it’s not about the environment, or even about the generation of electricity. The hundreds of thousands of miles taken up in transporting the components from around the world, by sea and by land, means that the project’s contribution to the environment is entirely negative even if it were to run at optimum output for centuries. Pen y Cymoedd is the most blatant ‘green energy’ rip-off I have ever encountered.

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ABERYSTWYTH, THE NEXT RHYL?

Some of you may recall reading about five or so years ago that there was a terrible shortage of student accommodation in Aberystwyth, the poor dabs were dossing on the promenade, or else the lack of accommodation had driven them to outlandish places such as Corris where, it was rumoured, locals stared at strangers. Here’s one tale from the BBC in August 2011, and another from Aber Student Media a month later.

To answer this shortage of accommodation there seem to have been three separate responses. One was the university itself embarking on a building programme of ‘student villages’. The second response was that of investors buying up more large properties in the town for student lodgings. Third, local housing associations got in on the act – using public money, of course.

But now I hear that the bubble has burst, leaving the university with under-occupied ‘student villages’ that make 1960s East German architecture look attractive; private investors with Houses of Multiple Occupation suffering a dearth of multiple occupants; and overstretched housing associations . . . for example, the word on the street is that Tai Cantref is already docked up Shit Creek with its crew roistering in local taverns.

Aber student accommodation

What had once been attractive and easy-going Aberystwyth University, three years by the seaside for an undemanding 2:2, started slipping down the league tables a few years ago. In July 2014 the decline was being reported in the Times Higher Education Supplement and by October even the students were getting worried. The continuing decline was reported in May 2015. Inevitably, this resulted in a drop in the numbers of students applying to Aber’ – at the same time as there was more accommodation for them than ever. What to do?

I suggest one doesn’t need to be a soothsayer to predict that with so many properties now available in a Welsh seaside town, properties almost all of which are designed to house single people, it’s only a matter of time before the problems start arriving from over the border. (Thank God there’s still a railway line from Birmingham to Aberystwyth.) I’m thinking now of the drug addicts and the petty criminals, and of course those recently released from prison, because some of the bigger properties in the town will be ideal as ‘halfway houses’ and bail hostels. (See ‘Tragedy in Pontypridd’ below.)

All this results from Wales having a higher education sector that is too big, a higher education sector that has been encouraged to grow irresponsibly, with no reference to the effects of this unwarranted growth on host communities. While the universities willingly played along, adopting a ‘stack ’em high’ philosophy dictated by business models and profit margins that inevitably resulted in falling standards. Leaving Aberystwyth caught in a vicious circle, a refuge for third-rate academics and students who can’t gain admission elsewhere, with this inevitably deterring those who can read walls.

And now there may be a heavy price to pay. Which would be sad, because like most people, I’m very fond of Aberystwyth, I’ve had some good times there, drunk and sober. But if Aber’ is on its way to becoming the Rhyl of Cardigan Bay, in order to protect the investments of local big shots and housing associations, who will dare challenge this development?

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A LETTER FROM CEREDIGION

It’s been a while since this blog visited Cardigan Castle, but Lady Tucker and friends have been busy, and the results will take the project even further from the trust’s stated objectives of preserving the place “for the benefit of the people of Cardigan and the nation”.

The main contractors, Andrew Scott Ltd, have long since departed with their loot, leaving a very long snagging list of botched jobs behind them. A professional painter and decorator who visited recently commented that it was hard to believe from the state of some of the paint and plasterwork that the site had been handed over little more than six months ago.

But the departure of Andrew Scott has not meant that building work has ceased. Tucked away behind the main house and a small cottage is an outbuilding which was renovated by Andrew Scott Ltd to serve as a garage for guests staying in the 5 star self-catering East Wing. This is now being converted into accommodation for disabled visitors, and when it is finished early next year, it will join the three B&B rooms above the usually empty restaurant, the East Wing (sleeps six) and the Gardener’s Cottage (sleeps two).

And there are more exciting developments on the drawing board.

The old stable block which was restored from its ruined state at huge expense to serve educational purposes has been ear-marked by Lady Tucker for conversion into yet more tourist accommodation. This will not come cheap, and expect building work to continue well into 2017.

Also offering exciting potential for reconversion into tourist accommodation is a small house over on the eastern fringe of the castle complex.

Converting these buildings will mean ejecting the current occupants, including a popular cynghanedd class, and the removal of the only locally based groups still using the site to be re-housed well away from the castle by mid-2016.

No longer will well-heeled paying guests have to face the awful prospect of mingling with scruffy locals speaking gibberish, and the Cadwgan Trust can get down to the serious business of marketing the place as luxury tourist accommodation and a venue for weddings and corporate jollies. Or what we locals call a posh hotel.

Paving the way for this is a Wedding Fayre on 6 December, a time of the year when all but the most self-obsessed brides and their mothers will have other things on their mind.

Cultural heritage

The cultural bit will be confined to a few events (Gilbert and Sullivan, Shakespeare, etc.) in the summer, while as a sideline, non-resident visitors willing to part with a fiver will be allowed in to gawp at the large expanse of lawn and spend a few minutes in the couple of rooms containing exhibitions of old tat. “Look Jeremy, a smashed up old 1940s typewriter which once belonged to the old girl who used to live here!”

After an injection of £12 million plus, including all the funds raised locally and countless thousands of hours of unpaid voluntary work, the people of Cardigan will find that just a year after opening, the castle will to all intents and purposes have reverted to being a private fiefdom, this time run by Lady T and her friends from Aberporth.

Spin cycle

Other recent developments include a parting of ways with Equinox, the Cardiff-based firm which tried to steer the castle through the PR catastrophes which dominated much of 2015.

PR is now being handled in-house by Sue Lewis whose portfolio of responsibilities also includes “facilities”.

When not working for Cadwgan, Sue moonlights for the dire Cambrian News, which also employs her hubby to report on local news.

Not long after it ran its notorious “Incomers are Nazis says Plaid candidate” headline, the Cambrian News was at it again with a piece which suggested that Hefin Wyn, the respected local author, journalist and prominent critic of the Cadwgan Trust, had run a campaign of harassment and “virtual persecution” against Glen Johnson, who has resigned from Cadwgan’s board and various committees more often than most of us have had hot dinners.

It subsequently turned out that the newspaper had published these very serious accusations, including a claim that Mr Johnson was having to resign to protect his family, without actually checking the facts or asking the castle’s history man for evidence to back up his claims.

The paper has refused to disclose who wrote the offending article or to hand over to IPSO, the press complaints body, what it says are e-mails citing persecution and harassment it received from Glen Johnson some weeks later.

Whoever wrote the offending article, Sue has clearly been reading a copy of “Teach Yourself PR”, including Lesson One: The Importance of Creating a Narrative because it is now being put about that she feels threatened in Cardigan, and is reluctant even to drive in from Aberporth on her own.

The narrative is that critics of Cadwgan Trust are a bunch of dangerous bigots and fanatics who, we are asked to believe, are lurking behind every lamp post and municipal litter bin between Pendre and Pwllhai in this small market town.

If it’s not the wicked Hefin Wyn and the snipers Cyfeillion Rhys ap Gruffydd have posted above Siop y Cardi, it’s the stiletto-wielding assassins of Cymdeithas y Chwiorydd and the suicide bombers of Merched y Wawr.

We’ll probably be able to read all about it soon in “Wales’ biggest selling weekly newspaper”.

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TRAGEDY IN PONTYPRIDD

Some of you will have read accounts from the trial of two men recently convicted of murder in Pontypridd. One of the killers, and the victim, were residents at the Morning Star Inn, on Llantrisant Road. (The second killer was said to be of no fixed abode, but I suspect he too has a connection with the Morning Star.) As you might expect, I got to wondering about the Morning Star, and it’s quite a story.

The Morning Star was, until closed after the murder on February 28th, run as both a pub and a bail hostel or halfway house for released criminals. Owned and / or run by “former Egyptian police officer Saad Taha”. Here’s a report from July 2013 of a public meeting organised so that various authorities and local politicians could hear locals voice their concerns about the Morning Star. They relate things they have witnessed first-hand only to be met with a wall of denials and evasions.

According to DePlod despite reports of knife-carrying, discarded needles and bad behaviour in and around the Morning Star “there is little evidence this came directly from the Morning Star”. Of course not, it was pure coincidence. The incredulity increased when I read that Taha wants us to believe that even though these ex-cons are living above a pub, they are not allowed to drink in the pub! I battled through this storm of bullshit and made further enquiries.

In July 2007 there was a planning application (07/1389/10) for a “raised patio / bar extension – beer garden”, and in March 2008 (08/0393/10) for a “rear balcony”. The first application was submitted in the name of a Mr D Watkins and the second in the name of Saad Taha, so is it reasonable to assume that the Morning Star was still being run as a pub in 2007 but the premises changed hands some time in late 2008 or early 2009 and was then run as both a pub and a halfway house? Both applications were withdrawn.

Next, on September 20th 2011, Taha made an application (11/1140/10) for “Conversion of existing bar areas into bedrooms (Change of use).- amended plan received 25/11/11 – reduction in total number of bedrooms from 17 to 16 – amended location plan received on 26/01/12.” With the first floor already being used to house ex-convicts it appears Taha now sought to convert the ground floor (pub) area and even the basement (cellar). This plan was very wisely turned down by RCT council.

But then, on December 14th, 2012, another application (12/1293/09) was lodged, “Application for a Lawful Development Certificate for an Existing use as a public house and hostel.” Which I take to mean that Taha was now asking for retrospective planning consent for a building already being used – without permission – as a hostel. Planning permission was refused.

I find it significant, and rather confusing, that in his rejected planning applications of September 2011 and December 2012 Taha is asking for a “change of use”. Also confusing, is that the earlier of those applications states that there are already 16 bedrooms at the Morning Star, yet according to the WalesOnline report of the July 2013 public meeting the place only has only “seven beds”. Which is right?

Morning Star reviews

So here’s the question. Seeing as retrospective planning permission for a change of use to a hostel was refused in 2011 and 2012, why was the Morning Star allowed to operate as a hostel? Everybody in the area knew what the building was being used for, including the police and the council, so was it somehow allowed to operate as a hostel without the required planning permissions? If not, then perhaps someone at RCT council can direct me to the approval for the Morning Star to be used as a halfway house for criminals.

Another teaser is, who owns the Morning Star? Having checked on the Land Registry website using the correct post code I can find nothing under Morning Star or 59 Llantrisant Road. So we can’t be sure if Taha actually owns the property (as he claims) or if he’s merely an agent for someone else. Presumably Rhondda Cynon Taf council knows who owns this place, and if it is Saad Taha, why doesn’t he register his ownership with the Land Registry? He’s had long enough.

There’s something odd about the Morning Star saga. Not least, how does a former Egyptian copper end up running a halfway house in Ponty? And what checks were done into his background? Where do his ‘clients’ come from? And who supplies them?

Anyway, undeterred by the minor inconvenience of a man being beaten to death on the premises, and before those charged with the murder had been tried, Saad Taha was again thinking of profiting from the Morning Star when, on August 26th this year, he submitted a planning application (15/1170/10) that reads, “Proposed change of use from existing public house and bedrooms to 6 no. self contained flats”. Wording that raises yet more questions.

For example, why does it describe a home for ex-cons as “bedrooms”? Or is this more evidence that no permission was ever granted for the property to be used as a hostel? Though a bigger worry for the local residents should be, who is going to live in these flats? Given the record of Saad Taha, Rhondda Cynon Taf council, and the pooh-pooh police, locals have every reason to be concerned.

Green Party of Englandandwales, Wales Region AGM 2015

The mythical Wales Green Party is holding its Annual General Meeting on Saturday at the Angel Hotel in Cardiff between 10:30 and 17:00. I have been given sight of some important documents that shed light on both the Greens’ approach to next year’s elections to the Notional Assembly and the personalities likely to be playing prominent roles in that campaign.

I describe this party as ‘mythical’ because there is no Wales Green Party, all we have is a regional branch of the Green Party of Englandandwales. But rather than confuse you as to why I’m writing about something that doesn’t exist, let us go along with the pretence and, for the purposes of this post, pretend that there is a Wales Green Party. (Though of course there isn’t.)

Amelia Womack

Let us start with the recent meeting of the party’s Council on October 10th. Among other things it was agreed that although she is ineligible – not even being a member of the Wales Green Party – UK deputy leader Amelia Womack will be standing for the Assembly next year in the Cardiff Central constituency while also topping the list in the South Wales Central region.

So much for rule books and the party constitution. Though I’m hearing that Ms Womack’s selection has not been universally accepted, and has the potential to cause serious disruption within the party.

Though it could be argued that there is a certain logic at work here. For how can this Womack woman be a member of a party that doesn’t exist? She is deputy leader of the only Green Party in Englandandwales, and is therefore perfectly entitled to stand.

Though the likeliest winner could be whoever tops the list for the Mid and West Wales region, and the one who’s bagged this spot is Alice Hooker-Stroud. It seems Hooker-Stroud has connections with the Centre for Alternative Technology in Corris (surprise! surprise!), and busies herself with other hippy activities in the area, such as the Machynlleth Housing Coop and the Machynlleth Food Coop.

Alice Hooker-Stroud

But you have to give Hooker-Stroud credit, when it comes to self-publicity this girl is bloody good, as you’d expect from someone in her line of work, Public Relations and Communications. Her Linkedin profile is one of the fullest, most comprehensive, I’ve ever read.

Then there’s the videos . . . believe me, this girl is no shrinking violet, just Google Alice Hooker-Stroud to see what I mean. It should come as no surprise to learn that she is also standing for the leadership of the Wales Green Party, against the dynamic duo of Ashley Wakeling and Anthony Slaughter. ‘Leadership election!’ you cry, ‘what about Pippa Bartolotti?’

Ah, yes . . . I can’t keep the bad news from you any longer, boys and girls – Pippa Bartolotti is standing down! I must admit, I shed a little tear when I heard that news.

Pippa Bartolotti

Here is Pippa’s valedictory report. It tells us just a little of what she’s been up to this year, from opening the Rhwiderin (sic) “Save our Woodlands” fund-raiser to hosting the South Wales Greens summer party. (My invitation must have got lost in the post.)

But don’t do anything drastic, for the lovely Pippa will be standing for the Assembly next year in Newport West, and also topping the regional list for South Wales East. So dry those eyes and put away the tissues!

UPDATE 16.12.2015: The winner is (drum roll!) . . . Alice Hooker Stroud! You will note that in the report I’ve linked to there is no mention of Ashley Wakeling; that’s because he pulled out of the contest at the end of November and resigned from the party. Reading his resignation blog post makes it clear that he was coming under attack from Neath . . . which is where Martyn Shrewsbury is now based . . . and seeing as Shrewsbury is La Bartolotti’s faithful retainer, dare we consider that getting rid of Wakeling was her way of ensuring the successor she prefers? Note that Wakeling was accused of being rather too fond of himself . . . so to prove his accusers wrong he will now stand in the Assembly elections as an independent.

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In case you can’t make it to the AGM on Saturday, here is a copy of the agenda, to help you follow the international media coverage I’m sure the event will generate. Having flicked through it myself, I urge you to read it, because it’s more than just an agenda, it runs to 29 pages and is also an annual report, a balance sheet, a list of officials and candidates, election results and reports, and much, much more. It is a very revealing document.

For example, it reminds us what a thoroughly English and middle class party the Green Party is with this analysis of its general election candidates in Wales.

Greens ethnic balance

Elsewhere the membership secretary boasts that membership has doubled in 2015, to a high point of 2,850 on September 6, but then has to concede that things have gone into reverse since Corbyn became Labour leader.

Though I found it encouraging to read that the Green Party supports the “greater economic independence of poor countries” . . . but not of course, Wales.

Green Poor Countries

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Another document of which I have had sight is the Greens’ Strategy document 2015 – 2017. I can also recommend this 28-page document, it’s another fascinating read. I suppose no one should be surprised by this, but for next year’s Assembly elections the Greens will be bringing in lots of helpers from England . . . how will we manage to tell them apart from our ‘Welsh’ Greens?

Anyway, the Greens’ primary objectives for the Assembly elections next year are set out in the panel below.

Green Assembly Aims

Elsewhere in the document we are told that ‘our core demographic remains the left-of-centre “lower class professionals”, likely to work in the third sector or the creative industries’. Plus of course, layabout hippies and other wastrels infesting the Welsh countryside.

Annex 2:5 is good for a laugh. For once the Greens get something right; yes, Plaid Cymru is on a downward trend, and at present it’s still slow. But anyone who believes that Plaid Cymru is a party that wants independence hasn’t been paying attention, or doesn’t know much about Wales, both of which could apply to the Green Party.

Green Plaid Independence

Plaid Cymru also gets a mention in a discussion of election strategies and relationships with other parties.

Greens no Plaid deal

Them bloody badgers!

The final part of the document is taken up with wild hypothesising and guesswork on election outcomes. Here’s an example: ‘Some of the implications are downright weird – for example, in MWW (Mid and West Wales), if the Corbyn bubble continues to expand, we should target Plaid Cymru, but if it bursts, we should target the Lib Dems’.

Believe me, there are some really strange and highly improbable – though very entertaining – calculations in there (some even involve the Socialist Labour Party!), but I shall avoid any snide reference to smoking.

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I have written about the Greens more than once, most recently about a year ago, with Plaid Cymru and the Green Party of Englandandwales (November 10) and More on the Green Party of Englandandwales (November 17). Reading these posts will tell you how I feel about them. The documents I’ve read this week only confirm me in my contempt.

Because those documents reminded us yet again what a thoroughly English party the Greens in Wales are. Dozens, perhaps hundreds of names are given in them, and yet I doubt if more than a handful are Welsh. Alice Hooker-Stroud clams to have attended Llanfyllin High School; maybe she did, but I guarantee she comes from a white settler family.

Alice Hooker-Stroud skype

There is something so ineffably colonialist about the Greens in Wales that I cannot think of any comparison. Not simply because they’re English, but also because of their dictatorial ‘We know best’ attitudes. I cannot think of any party, operating in any Western country, that is so divorced from the indigenous population of that country. So where should we look for an analogy – the Chinese Communist Party in Tibet?

Any Welsh person with concerns for the environment should think long and hard before voting for a party whose members regard him as a quaint and primitive native. And if Plaid Cymru suggests another deal with the Green Party of Englandandwales then that should be taken as final confirmation that Plaid has given up all hope of victory.

UPDATE 12:50: I’ve just been told that Dan Boyle has been appointed to manage the Greens’ Assembly campaign next year. Who is Dan Boyle? Well, he’s an Irish politician, from Cork. In his favour – and unlike the shower we’ve got in Wales – this guy has actually been elected. But he doesn’t know Wales any better than those who’ve appointed him. I hope he knows what he’s let himself in for.

UPDATE 20.11.2015: Predictably, I suppose, this post didn’t go down well in Green circles. To get revenge La Bartolotti revived her attack hamster, Martyn Shrewsbury. Here’s his comeback post. Shrewsbury has served this purpose before as this makes clear. Here’s another account. As these sources also remind us, Shrewsbury very nearly ended up in the slammer. Here’s one report of the case.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, there are some very ugly people in the Wales Branch of the Green Party of Englandandwales. When they aren’t fighting each other like ferrets in a sack they’re up to dirty tricks against anyone exposing them for the charlatans they are. Sometimes it’s both.