Following on from the previous post, here is my response to the Welsh Government’s Department for Communities and Local Government’s Housing (Wales) Bill. The deadline for responses is Friday, so if you want to make a point then do it now, and send it to CELGCommittee@wales.gov.uk.
In case the PDF version below should disappear (as they have a habit of doing) the document should be available here.
This post is a kind of New Year’s Resolution. Specifically, a promise to waste less time in 2014 on the ‘monkeys’ down Cardiff docks and to pay more attention to the ‘organ grinders’. For it is becoming increasingly clear that simia politicus cambrensis is encouraged to chatter and dance in order that he – and, indeed, she – may draw attention away from those who really exercise power in Wales.
It is surely unfair that those burdened with such responsibilities, those shaping the future of our country, should languish, unacclaimed, in the shadows. Seeing as Richard of Poppleton is a prominent ‘organ grinder’ it is wholly fitting therefore that he should enjoy a little of the spotlight; not least so that we might appreciate better the interesting work he does.
Richard Poppleton is, according to the gov.uk website, “the Director of Wales at the Planning Inspectorate”. Though in this press release of February 2012, announcing his appointment, he is described as “Director for Wales” . . . while later in the same press release, it’s back to “Director of Wales”! So which is it?
The first thing to understand is that there is a single Planning Inspectorate for Englandandwales, and it is an executive agency of the Department for Communities and Local Government in London. An executive agency is a “machinery of government” device that lacks the freedom from ministerial control (UK government ministerial control) enjoyed by both non-ministerial government departments and non-departmental public bodies (quangoes). In other words, it’s an arm of a UK government department trying to pretend it’s something else. That the UK government should promote this deception is perfectly understandable. What is perhaps less easy to understand is why those wretches down Cardiff docks should so willingly participate.
The clues are everywhere. For example, I have referred to the press release of February 2012, announcing Poppleton’s promotion; let’s look at it a little more closely. First, the heading. The Planning Inspectorate and its bosses obviously understand that a bit of meaningless bilingualism can fool a lot of people into believing something is ‘Welsh’. Then, in the very first paragraph, we read, “Richard Poppleton has been appointed Director for Wales in the Planning Inspectorate”. Making it absolutely clear who he works for, and who he answers to.
Moving on to the third paragraph. I couldn’t help but notice the phrase ” . . . our plans and strategies for Wales . . . “, though the sentence ends with, ” . . . serve the particular needs of the Welsh Government.” Which might appear contradictory unless, as I suspect, it is the Planning Inspectorate that decides the ‘needs’ of the ‘Welsh’ Government.
They can’t both be right. Check the figures for yourself, see what a nonsense the one makes of the other. And here’s another odd thing . . . In a letter dated November 12, 2013 – the very same month of the StatsWales figures! – Carl Sargeant, Minister for Housing and Regeneration said, defending the 323,009 households projection, that the figure is ” . . . based on a Welsh specific methodology which is separate to the methodology used in England”. Which can only mean that not only do we have Statistics for Wales but we must have other agencies doing the same work, and coming up with totally different figures! How many such bodies are there? How much are we paying for this confusing duplication?
The truth is of course that the absurdly inflated figure Sargeant tries to defend is the work of the Planning Inspectorate. It is nothing more than a subterfuge to build new housing in the knowledge that the properties built, especially in more rural areas, will find English buyers. Exposing these ‘projections’ for what they are – a blatant strategy of colonisation. Which is why I suggest that anyone wishing to challenge these plans should not waste their time on the ‘monkeys’; insist on dealing with the ‘organ grinders’. In this case, the ‘organ grinder’ is Richard Poppleton.
Let me repeat what I said in an earlier post. The ‘Welsh’ Government is little more than a national version of Carmarthenshire county council, where the unelected dictate to the elected. This fact probably goes a long way to explaining why the ‘Welsh’ Government refuses to intervene in Carmarthenshire. The main difference being that the unelected in Sir Gar have a higher public profile than those running Wales! We must remedy this situation!
IN THE NEXT ISSUE! How the Housing Directorate plans to give housing associations a near-monopoly in the rented accommodation sector! How the Housing (Wales) Bill keeps mentioning ‘England’, and how being local counts for nothing! How the Planning Inspectorate recently made an almost unreported decision with massive implications regarding year-round occupation of holiday caravans! And more!!
In a sense, this post is supplementary to the previous post. Because having made a number of references, both direct and oblique, to the problem I now think it’s time to hit the nail squarely on the head. This ‘nail’ of which I speak is the deception that has been practised for over a decade that wants us to believe Wales is run by the politicians we have elected to the Assembly.
It is now clear beyond doubt that Wales is in fact run by people we have never heard of, and have never voted for. In the main, these are civil servants. Answerable to London but, more importantly, also taking orders from London and making sure that the ‘Welsh’ Government follows the same directives. Though this often means co-operation if there is a shared objective. The number of examples proving this continue to mount.
From talking with Pol Wong about the way his Powys Fadog venture in Llangollen was sabotaged it soon became clear that civil servants – no less than Gillian Morgan, the top civil servant in Wales at the time – showed blatant bias by conspiring with Labour politicians who clearly saw Pol’s vision as being ‘too Welsh’. Meetings to discuss how best to sabotage the Powys Fadog project were even taking place in the home of a local Labour AM!
Then last week, a delegation from Cymdeithas yr Iaith Gymraeg (Welsh Language Society) met with Carl Sargeant, Minister for Housing and Regeneration, in the hope of persuading him to make the Welsh language a material consideration in planning for new housing. Tweets from a couple of those at the meeting make it clear how it went. The politician was at least prepared to listen to the Society’s wishes, but the civil servants wanted to dismiss it out of hand. How do we explain such open hostility?
I think this takes us back to what I said in the previous post about the insane housebuilding plans being imposed on Wales. As I showed in that post, using official figures, the only way to explain this housebuilding extravaganza is to view it as a deliberate attempt to further damage Welsh identity. That being so, then the attitude of the civil servants at the meeting with Cymdeithas yr Iaith is entirely consistent with this strategy, but difficult to explain otherwise.
Something else I pointed out in the previous post was the article in the most recent Planning Inspectorate newsletter. This piece, headed ‘Planning Reform in Wales’, contained phrases such as ” . . . (proposed reforms) resonate with those in England” and “Again reflecting change in England”. Major planning decisions in England and Wales, plus Local Development Plans, are under the control of the Planning Inspectorate, which answers solely to the UK Government. This is disguised by the UK government passing legislation ‘for England’ and the ‘Welsh’ Government ‘for Wales’ – but, increasingly, it’s the same legislation! And this is why civil servants that have been ‘advised’ by the Planning Inspectorate cannot accept any legislation for Wales that fundamentally differentiates Wales from England. (Plus of course there’s the over-arching consideration of anglicisation.)
It’s the same picture in social housing. The preserve in Wales of the shadowy Housing Directorate. Here, again, Wales is locked into an Englandandwales system. One that, inevitably, works against the Welsh national interest; a) by ensuring that, in many areas, more social housing is built than local applicants need, and b) seeing to it that Welsh applicants are always at the back of the queue for allocations. Many social housing providers are now little more than large private companies. Why they should still be treated as charities or social enterprises is a mystery. An even bigger mystery is why any housing association should be receiving funding from the ‘Welsh’ Government.
Then, last year, and purely by chance, I ran across the Wales Rural Observatory. This is a group of English academics, funded by the ‘Welsh’ Government, that comes up with ‘policy suggestions’ for its benefactor. Their website talks of Wales as if was East Anglia, there is no mention of the language or any other distinctively Welsh factors. This is the blind leading the blind. A bunch of English interlopers funded with Welsh money ‘advising’ a political party that believes civilisation stops somewhere just after Llanelli, or the western outskirts of Wrecsam.
It used to be said, back in the pre-devolution days, that a Welsh parliament would be nothing more than ‘Glamorgan County Council on stilts’, suggesting that it would just be a glorified county council controlled by Labour. Looking at what we have today down Cardiff docks there is a comparison to be made with a county council, but it’s not Glamorgan. With the elected representatives surrendering their authority to civil servants, the real comparison is with Carmarthenshire. An authority where the unelected are firmly in control, and General James marches his bedraggled and increasingly mutinous troops towards the unavoidable fate of Special Measures (and probably legal action, as well).
I have believed for some years that Wales under devolution has become less, not more, democratic. The more evidence that comes to light of the power wielded by civil servants then the more obvious this becomes. ‘Welsh’ Labour goes along with this system partly because it lacks the balls to stand up to London; partly because it doesn’t really care about Wales; and partly because as a reward for its submission it is given the freedom to indulge in socialistic fol-de-rols like free prescriptions and the like. Which, if you think about them, are all measures likely to attract into Wales those who’ll be a burden on health care and other services. Coincidence, no doubt.
We need to face up to the truth that devolution has been a dismal failure. I voted for devolution because I wanted a system prioritising Welsh needs and protecting Welsh identity. What we have is a collaborationist regime working with those whose objective is the assimilation of Wales into England. And it wouldn’t matter which party claimed to be in charge down Cardiff docks. Our enemies get away with this because we don’t stand up to them. Consequently, they regard us Welsh with the contempt we deserve. We need to start defending Welsh interests, any way we can.
I am grateful to Gruffydd Meredith of Cymru Sofren / Sovereign Wales
for providing the inspiration for this post.
The title of this post is obviously taken from the great baseball movie Field of Dreams. And even though the subject matter of this post is the ‘Welsh’ Government’s housebuilding programme to 2033, similar reasoning underpins both the storyline of the movie and the programme, as you’ll soon realise.
By now, anyone who takes an interest in Welsh affairs will be aware that someone, somewhere, has decided that between 2008 and 2033 the number of households in Wales will increase by 323,009. This figure, according to Carl Sargeant, ‘Welsh’ Government Minister for Housing and Regeneration, in a letter dated November 12th, 2013, is ” . . . based on a Welsh specific methodology which is separate to the methodology used in England”.
This projected increase accounts for the Local Development Plans (LDPs) that in recent years have been imposed on our local authorities; forcing them into planning for thousands of new houses they know are not needed by local people. Schemes adopted only because our councillors know in advance they’ll lose any appeal and will also be burdened with punitive legal costs. So do these projections stand up to scrutiny?
The first question to ask is, fairly obviously, what is the size of a ‘household’? According to the ‘Welsh’ Government – and available here on the StatsWales website (or click on panel left) – it currently stands at 2.20 persons, but it is predicted to drop steadily until it reaches 2.02 persons per household in 2033.
The figure of 323,009 over 25 years averages out at 12,920 new households per year. So multiplying the annual average of 12,920 new households by 2.2 gives us an increase in population for 2013 of 28,424, falling gradually until we reach 26,098 in 2033. Yet between the censuses of 2001 and 2011 Wales saw an average annual increase of just 15,300. Another curiosity is that according to these household projection figures, Wales should have seen an increase in population between 2008 and 2012 of roughly 114,000. Yet elsewhere on the StatsWales website we learn that the estimated population increase in that period was only 48,200. (Click on panel right to enlarge.) Clearly, the figures for the projected increase in the number of households in Wales is, what statisticians call, a load of old bollocks.
So what is the justification in planning for an annual household / population increase of almost double that we have seen in the decade up to 2011, and more than double what we are experiencing today? Is Wales to enjoy an economic upsurge? Not with Labour running things. Are we to suddenly revert to having large numbers of children? Unlikely. And even if we were, this wouldn’t impact on the household figures until after 2033. Are we to become a nation of misogynist loners? We are already. The only explanation is that Wales is to see an influx of people from outside the country. And given that this is being planned for now, it will be an engineered influx.
These massive and unprecedented increases in population and household numbers can not come into play until the imposed LDPs are in operation. This explains why the household number projection from 2008 to the present is so woefully out of sync with the statistical realities. This also means that Wales is being told to build hundreds of thousands of new houses when those giving these instructions know in advance that the bulk of these new homes are designed solely to encourage English colonisation.
In areas of the north tens of thousands of new houses will be built for commuters moving out of Manchester, Merseyside and Cheshire, further weakening Welsh identity. In Carmarthenshire, so pivotal in recent political history, the Welsh language is to be reduced to curio status and the Welsh born marginalised. Powys is to become Outer Green Belt for the English West Midlands. For what we’re discussing here is not really about households and statistics, it’s about nationhood; our nationhood, and the continuing attempts to destroy it, and, by so doing, remove a political threat. This genocidal strategy is being implemented by the Planning Inspectorate, an English body – or, if you prefer, an Englandandwales body – that pretends it is in some way answerable to the ‘Welsh’ Government. It is not.
The role of the English Planning Inspectorate has become ever clearer in recent years and this, inevitably, has resulted in growing criticism. Presumably in an attempt to prove its independence, the ‘Welsh’ Government has recently produced a Housing Bill, dealing mainly with social housing and private rented accommodation. This Bill is the social housing partner to the LDPs, for it confirms that when it comes to social housing in Wales everyone has priority over the Welsh. For example, in 85 pages it makes no mention of the Welsh language, yet contains half a dozen pages on ‘Gypsies and Travellers’. While I can’t directly blame them for this Bill, it certainly carries the fingerprints of another group of English civil servants pursuing an anti-Welsh agenda, this time the secretive Housing Directorate which, like the Planning Inspectorate, claims to be answerable to the ‘Welsh’ Government. A claim that is equally spurious.
By one of those coincidences that brings a wee shaft of brightness to these short days I yesterday received the latest Planning Inspectorate newsletter. Scroll down and you’ll see a piece headed, ‘Planning Reform in Wales’. (Note also that it mentions ‘Carl Sargeant the Welsh Minister . . . ‘ but neglects to give his portfolio!) Click on the link to the article or read below). I don’t know about you, but I find some of this chilling. “Joint planning boards would produce ‘sub regional’ type plans in those areas of the county (i.e. Wales) that require a more strategic approach than currently exists. Local Devolopment plans would remain but would be subject to refinement“. (My italics.) Which can only mean that the plans currently being forced on our local authorities can be changed. It goes on: “It is evident that further casework would be likely to come to the Planning Inspectorate, both in terms of dealing with applications for developments of national significance and other major developments”. Mmm. So here we are, discussing ‘Welsh’ legislation, yet it will result in more work for an English agency! Then we come to the final paragraphs, which I have reproduced in full. (Again, my italics.)
“In terms of appeals, many of the proposed reforms resonate with those introduced in England. e.g. submission of full statements of case with no opportunity thereafter to introduce argument/evidence.
The right to appear before an Inspector would be removed with the Inspectorate taking a more pro-active, case managing role in determining the appropriate format for appeals. Reflecting the Scottish system, appeals would be started as written representations with the Inspectorate escalating the format type as deemed necessary. This would include a hybrid format, similar to that used in Local Development Plan examinations, where the Inspector decides that most aspects could be dealt with via written representations, but certain aspects would require a hearing or inquiry format.
Again reflecting change in England, Inspectors would be able to initiate cost awards against parties and to recover the costs in dealing with the appeal.
Third party rights of appeal have been ruled out following the evidence considered by the Independent Advisory Group and their recommendations.
Major changes are afoot.”
So, what have we learnt from this? First, that there people out there trying to destroy Welsh identity. Second, they don’t all live in England. Third, Wales, despite the posturing of Welsh politicians, with their silly gimmicks, is really controlled by shadowy civil servants answerable to even more shadowy agencies in London. Fourth, Wales is more closely integrated with England today than she was before ‘devolution’. Fifth, ‘devolution’ is an insulting sham.
But just in case I’m wrong I’ll give Sergeant a chance. You claim that the household projections for Wales up to 2033 are “based on a Welsh specific methodology which is separate to the methodology used in England”. The Planning Inspectorate suggests otherwise, welcoming the increasing uniformity of the planning systems operating in Wales and England. But just in case you’re right; it’s clear from the figures I’ve provided – or, rather, that the Office for National Statistics has provided – that those who supplied your figures for the increase in household numbers have made a mistake.
The population of Wales increased by an average of 15,300 a year between 2001 and 2011, and just 12,050 a year between 2008 and 2012, so how do you – or your ‘Welsh’ statisticians – explain a projected annual increase in population of almost 28,000 a year from now to 2033? If you cannot satisfactorily explain this projection, then you, and the Planning Inspectorate, have no alternative but to scrap Local Development Plans forced on Welsh local authorities to meet this unprecedented and unjustifiable increase.
P.S. Hope you enjoyed yourself at the Labour Christmas bash in Mischiefs Bar last night. (Heard you were DJ!) Also hope you were all spending your own money.
I am indebted to Dennis Morris of Plaid Glyndwr (south Pembrokeshire and nationalist) for bringing to my attention a recent snippet about one of my favourite subjects – social housing.
It’s not easy to make sense of the report on the BBC website, for the headline talks of a ‘Post’ while the article (click to enlarge) gives no further information on any such new post. The article talks of both renting property and buying, but without giving any clue as to what the scheme is supposed to achieve. In fact, the article confuses more than anything else. It’s journalistic gibberish.
Even so, we must assume that Ceredigion council, with the help of the ‘Welsh’ Government, plans to introduce a scheme that will help local people rent or buy property in “their local community”. But we already have ‘affordable housing’ and social housing, so why do we need yet another scheme? One answer might be that locals seem to be at the back of the queue every time, as priority for social housing is given to people from over the border, the bigger their ‘problems’, or their families, the better.
Which explains why we keep revisiting this issue – the problem is not being solved. For example, here’s a link to a similar story from 2010, again concerning Ceredigion. When you have a problem that just about everyone can see for what it is, and when it is discussed endlessly, with repeated promises to remedy the problem, but nothing improves, then you have to ask what the hell is going on. Here’s my interpretation. First, there is a deliberate and concerted strategy at work to colonise Wales with English settlers. This includes those who cannot afford to buy a home . . . even those who may not want to move to Wales! But benefit-dependent families can’t be choosers, so they are being shipped in whether they like it or not.
The ONLY answer to this problem is to change the rules so that in the allocation of social housing being local – i.e. Welsh – outweighs any number of ‘problems’, or kids. Our politicians, especially the so-called ‘Welsh’ Government needs to get a handle on this issue. A start could be made by reining in the civil servants, such as those at the Housing Directorate, who are doing so much damage with the rules they set. Ostensibly working for Wales but in reality answering to London. Simply changing the points system would achieve more than any number of new posts, and it would be far cheaper. It would also save us the regularly regurgitated flim-flam. Moving north . . .
In 2010 Gwynedd’s stock of council housing was transferred, following a tenants’ vote, to Cartrefi Cymunedol Gwynedd. Although I’m no longer a tenant (having gratefully bought my house under the Right to Buy scheme) I take an interest in CCG. One of the first things I noticed was that the new outfit’s vehicles were registered in Essex (maybe a deal with Ford) and they sport ‘UK’ plates. How difficult would it have been to ask for ‘Cymru’ plates, this is Gwynedd, after all?
The new housing association of course inherited part of the Gwynedd workforce, but we see less and less of CCG’s own workers as jobs are increasingly contracted out. Initially, it seemed that these jobs were contracted out to Gwynedd firms. More recently, to firms in other parts of the north, and now to firms from outside of Wales altogether. I noticed this recently with vans in my village for two companies in particular: Lovell of Staffordshire and DNA Plastering & Tiling Ltd of Wigan. (I can find no website for DNA, which was only incorporated as a company in December 2011!) As might be expected, I contacted Cartefi Cymunedol Gwynedd, or rather, I initiated a Twitter exchange. (Click to enlarge.)
Now, in fairness, Lovell does have a ‘regional’ office . . . in Altrincham, for the ‘North West and North Wales’. In its defence, CCG argues that of the 144 Lovell workers on CCH contracts 124 live in North Wales. I have no way of checking that. But even if it’s true, how many of them are Welsh? Even if they’re all Welsh, Lovell remains an English company with profits – from work in Wales – going back over the border.
When it comes to DNA CCG throws in the towel with: “We monitor our contractors & subcontractors closely and set targets to ensure local people are employed whenever possible”. ‘WHENEVER POSSIBLE!!’ God Almighty! this is supposed to be a Welsh company; it takes money from Welsh people, yet it feels under no obligation to provide Welsh people with jobs! Nor does it feel it has any responsibility to the local economy of which it is part, and upon which its tenants rely!
More than likely, what has happened here is that the main contract was given to Lovell, who have then sub-contracted some of the work to DNA. But this is what happens when the main contract is awarded to an English company, which will use the sub-contractors it regularly employs. Though the body awarding the main contract can insist that the sub-contracts go to local firms . . . obviously CCG couldn’t be bothered. Better still, and to avoid any such problems – award the main contract to a Welsh company, or keep it in-house.
I live in a small, relatively isolated village, so I can only report what I have seen with my own eyes, the problem may be much more widespread. Something is clearly wrong at Cartrefi Cymunedol Gwynedd. It is now surely time for local politicians to take an interest – for it is their constituents, and the local economy, losing out as a result of CCG awarding contracts to English firms (irrespective of whether they employ a few Welsh workers). At the very least I would expect our local politicians to query the tendering process at CCG. Establish whether it takes into account the benefit of keeping money in the area, and that this ensures ‘weighting’ that results in accepting higher tenders from local firms. Speaking of ‘weighting’, does the tendering process also take into account the environmental impact of workers from England travelling to work in western Wales?
I can’t help feeling that, one way or another, social housing providers are now part of the problem, rather than part of the solution. A review of how social housing is delivered in Wales is long overdue.
A story in the Daily Telegraph has been getting attention on Twitter and elsewhere. It appears that the Treasury in London is considering giving power over stamp duty (on property purchase) to the ‘Welsh’ Government. (Though if I’ve read the article correctly, it seems that others in the Treasury are arguing against the move!) The (pro-transfer) Treasury would appear to be considering implementing a change proposed by the Silk Commission, set up to look into the devolution settlement and recommend changes it feels might be necessary or welcome.
There would be nothing surprising in the Treasury handing over such power, for it has long been suspected that the Conservative Party would be happy to transfer to Wales authority over the raising of existing taxes. Which if you think about, makes perfect sense. If we raise £100m then this same sum will be deducted from the block grant . . . with the expense of raising and administering the tax transferred to Wales. So we’ll end up out of pocket.
Irrespective of whether there is discord at the Treasury among the unnamed, one name we do encounter in the Telegraph article is that of David Jones, Secretary of State for Wales. Doing what Tory Secretaries of State have ever done – put England’s interests first. For while he may urge caution because of the consequences ” . . . . for the whole of the UK . . . ” this – as he well knows – is disingenuous. The legislation will have no effect on Scotland, so he is thinking solely of England. More importantly, those Conservative voters with second homes in Wales.
Just remind yourself that this post of Secretary of State for Wales exists, so we have always been told, to defend Welsh interests. Increasing stamp duty on second homes would result in more properties coming within the financial reach of local buyers, so shouldn’t David Jones be supporting such a measure? Yes, but only if you fall for the old deception that a Secretary of State for Wales is ‘the voice of Wales in the Cabinet’. In reality, he, and every other Secretary of State, Conservative and Labour, has been the voice of the Cabinet in Wales. Little more than a governor-general with instructions to keep the natives in check.
Elsewhere in the article we were treated to another quote, this time from “a Tory source” which first reminded us that England and Wales (or Englandandwales), ” . . . in many respects form a single economic region”. Yes, we’re aware of the problem. Before going off the rails a bit with, “The border areas are highly populated . . . “. What! Travelling north from Chepstow the border is sparsely populated until one reaches Wrecsam. Which suggests that this ‘Tory source’ is probably from the north or the north east . . . perhaps David Jones again, this time incognito.
One thing I find really sad about this little tale is that the Conservative Party within Wales has made great strides to detoxify itself, to become more Welsh, and then along comes Dai Jones talking like a Tory politician of the 1980s. Such progress has been made in Wales that the party has managed to make itself unattractive to Beata ‘Britannia’ Brookes and Rod Richards, both offloaded onto Ukip. David Melding often sounds a better Welshman than many in Plaid Cymru. Then comes the reality check in the form of David Jones.
Though in fairness, things would be little different if the Labour Party was in power in London. For this episode only exposes, yet again, the fundamental problem with devolution. England agrees we can have devolution just as long as it doesn’t disadvantage England. Which is almost impossible. If Wales was to act in her own best interests – as does every other country – then we would be charging a fair rate for water and other exports. Were we growing a healthy economy then Welsh companies could only expand at the expense of English rivals currently taking advantage of the lack of indigenous competition.
In a nutshell . . . The problem with devolution is that the ‘Welsh’ Government only has power to decide spending priorities of the block grant given by London. Due to the prevailing socialist ethos, this results in much of this money being squandered in order that our politicians can claim the moral high ground. Though this is defended as making Wales a fairer and “more equal” country. Which I suppose has some truth, for we’re all becoming poorer.
Compounded by the fact that we have a Labour Party in control of Wales that sees a virtue in poverty! We are said to enjoy the only administration in Europe that has a Minister for Tackling Poverty. But making a virtue, or a political weapon, out of poverty is so entrenched in Labour thinking that we also have to suffer a Third Sector that exists to glorify and capitalise on poverty, and of course, by so doing provide a few thousand jobs for Labour cronies! As if that wasn’t bad enough, many in ‘Welsh’ Labour seem fearful of making Wales successful lest this excites nationalist passions!
Further exacerbated by the problem that too many policy decisions attributed to the ‘Welsh’ Government are in fact made by civil servants and ‘advisors’ of whom we know next to nothing, beyond the fact that few of them are Welsh, and many of them answer directly to London. The Planning Inspectorate, the Housing Directorate (social housing), the Wales Rural Observatory, are just a few of the bodies involved.
While on the other hand, London will never grant powers that could improve the economic standing of Wales because to do so would, in too many instances, result in England or English consumers of Welsh resources being disadvantaged, or else – as stamp duty explicitly shows – work against the interests of English people taking advantage of Wales’ relative poverty and colonial status in relation to England.
Put it all together and it exposes devolution as a chimera; a worthless sop to Welsh sentiment designed to fail on almost every practical level. Which is what we have seen since the Welsh Assembly came into being. By almost every important criterion Wales is poorer today than she was in 1999, not just in absolute terms but relative to England, Scotland, and almost every other part of Europe.
Consequently, the current model of devolution is indefensible. To persist with it can only be viewed as a collective delusion, or the worst form of national masochism.
In recent months I have given much thought to my lifestyle. I’m spending far too much time at my computer, writing my blog and other things; reading, watching television, or just filling my head with information I’d be none the poorer for not knowing. Then there’s Twitter, Facebook, texts, e-mails. And so often I’m not even sure who I’m dealing with . . . I suspect many are socialists, or oafs in baseball caps. Even socialist oafs in baseball caps! People I wouldn’t bother with in the real world. It has become clear to me that this technology, promised to be the great servant of mankind, can, if we allow it, become our master, exerting an unhealthy influence over our lives.
Another issue encouraging my return to the real world is the new wave of US entrepreneurs and capitalists behind this revolution. They may look and sound like unworldly geeks, but when it comes to business, with their monopolistic ambitions and their tax-dodging, they are more ruthless than Ford, Rockefeller and J P Morgan ever were. Do I really want to use anything over which these amoral weirdoes have control? Do I want to use software or social networking that is all the while gathering information about me? Do I want to download a harmless ‘update’, only to find that I have, totally unwillingly and without warning, also installed a toolbar, a search engine, anti-virus software, tracking cookies and God knows what else? No, I do not.
Don’t run away with the idea that I am rejecting new technology entirely and going live in a cave, but I will in future be drastically reducing the time I spend on my computer. My Twitter account will be closed soon, and so will my Facebook page (which I never could see the value of). As for my blog, I shall keep it open but resort to it less. Maybe a weekly or bi-weekly post, supplemented by ‘specials’ if I think I have something worth saying. For while I believe some of my postings have had an effect, particularly those dealing with the Third Sector and other obvious forms of mismanagement or corruption, at the end of the day, blogging could be viewed as a cheap form of vanity publishing.
‘Why now?’ you might ask. Well, there comes a point when you realise you’re repeating yourself. Largely because the stupidly of politicians, and the perfidy of those who manipulate them, is unchanging. As is the gullibility oftoo many Welsh voters. Only the characters and the circumstances change. One Third Sector scandal is much like another. And when a blogger finds himself referring back to his own earlier posts then he should realise that he’s said it all before. Such is the situation with me.
In addition, my mother has just died, a milestone in any man’s life. So now seems the right time to make my return to the real world. Before finishing, I’d like to thank you all for reading my blog, both at its original home with Google Blogger, and more recently here, courtesy of Gwilym ab Ioan of S C Cambria. Thank you also for your support and comments over the years. What follows may be my last post for a while, in it I try to give my honest assessment of the situation in Wales today, and how we got here.
IN THE BEGINNING
When I joined the nationalist movement in the mid-ʼ60s I joined something vibrant and exciting, there was a ‘We’re not taking this shit any more!’ attitude, and a belief that change would be brought about by pressure from below, by activists like us. And for a while we had the system worried. But by 1975, the high-water mark had been reached, and Welsh nationalism was in retreat. For by now the British Establishment understood what it was dealing with. It knew how far Welsh nationalism was prepared to go, what barriers it wouldn’t cross; it had worked out who could be bought, or intimidated; and it understood that by guiding a nationalist movement without mass support into politics that that movement was never going to threaten the status quo.
And so it proved. After Plaid Cymru won Carmarthen in 1966, Meirionnydd and Caernarfon in 1974, after seventeen years of Cymdeithas yr Iaith Gymraeg, after the Free Wales Army (FWA), Mudiad Amddiffyn Cymru (MAC) and countless other manifestations of Welsh nationalism, on St. David’s Day 1979 just 20.26% of us voted for a Welsh Assembly. That the devolution referendum of 1997 was won was due to Margaret Thatcher and eighteen years of Conservative rule. It had nothing to do with Plaid Cymru. Even then, many Labour voters argued that we didn’t need devolution – Labour was back in power! (A good example of the mentality of the ‘Donkey Labour’ voter; rejecting devolution because it’s only needed when the Tories are in power but unable to work out that the Tories will never give Wales devolution!)
By the early 1970s the English Establishment had worked out the following facts. Plaid Cymru was essentially a linguistic and cultural movement which, once the initial excitement had worn off, would have little appeal to the anglophone majority. Many of the language activists were simply after their own niche in the English system, some proving themselves to be ruthlessly ambitious. While the most sincere and selfless element of Welsh nationalism, those who resorted to direct action, were not prepared to take a human life. Just to be sure, the English Establishment put it place a colonisation strategy to encourage English settlers into Wales, using agencies as diverse as higher education and tourism, plus quangos such as the Development Board for Rural Wales.
It was downhill from there. Apart from the Meibion Glyndŵr campaign and groups such as the Welsh Socialist Republican Movement, Cofiwn, Cyfamodwyr, Wales was quiescent. Plaid Cymru went through various colour changes – red, green, pink – and Cymdeithas yr Iaith’s best days were behind it, its victories nearly all won in the first twenty years of its existence. Whatever came to us now would be gifted by our masters without them having to worry about pressure from below. Even the Meibion Glyndŵr campaign, which had widespread popular support, did nothing to remove the problem of holiday homes.
Which brings me to a consideration of Wales today. Plaid Cymru can be discounted entirely. Exposed and discredited. Infiltrated and manipulated. A former leader openly talking about joining the Labour Party. More concerned with socialism and environmentalism than with nationalism. Its ambition limited to being junior partner in a Labour-led coalition. Quite happy to see the Welsh countryside covered with wind turbines and populated with English settlers. Cymdeithas yr Iaith Gymraeg, or the wider language-cultural movement, stands exposed as a bunch of weak-kneed charlatans. Deluding themselves that another school in Cardiff is fair exchange for the loss of Ceredigion. Smug and complacent on the moral high ground, as the enemy takes over the land below. Direct action? There is none.
Ah! but we’ve got devolution, you reply. No. What we have is a system in which a bunch of second-rate politicians faff about in a leaky building down Cardiff docks while real power is increasingly exerted by English civil servants and organisations of which most of us have never heard – Planning Inspectorate, Housing Directorate, Wales Rural Observatory, countless Third Sector shyster-wagons, etc. – for which we never voted. So don’t kid yourself that this system fronted by Carwyn and his gang is devolved and democratic government, or that it’s doing anything for us. It is nothing but English colonialism with its repulsive features partly disguised with a Welsh veil.
The biggest issue facing the Welsh nation is its very survival. Partly due to ‘Wales’ becoming divorced from ‘the Welsh’. Allowing politicians and academics, journalists and others, to crow about something being ‘wonderful for Wales’ when it offers Welsh people nothing, or is even detrimental to their interests. Tourism, for example. To the point where people can even bang on about Wales being ‘a rainbow nation’, with we Welsh nothing more than another exotic component. Hand in hand with this divorce goes the trivialisation of Welsh identity, and a careful promotion of what are considered to be acceptable expressions of Welshness. So that some tart on a reality TV show would be an acceptable face of ‘Welshness’, but a dignified patriot rejecting an ‘honour’ from the English Queen would be a narrow bigot, an extremist.
These Orwellian interpretations dominate Welsh life. Exemplified by the approach to colonisation. Wales today has ‘incomers’ or ‘in-migrants’, and ‘people from other parts of Britain’, or even ‘from over the border’. These can be ‘retirees’, or people ‘looking for a better quality of life’ (even ‘good-lifers’ is acceptable). They can even be, in the memorable phrase of Wyn Roberts, “this beneficent influx”. You can use any bloody euphemism you choose, but they must never be called ‘English’. To do so would be ‘racist’. Exposing a pathetic self-censorship, perhaps even self-intimidation. This is the level of debate we have sunk to in Wales; one corrupted by political correctness and poisoned by a variant of socialism that would be ridiculed and rejected from Bilbao to Barcelona to Belfast.
From now on the only issue must be the fight against colonisation and the threat it poses to the survival of Welsh nationhood. Everything else is secondary or irrelevant. Whether it’s ‘saving the planet’ (as if Wales could make any bloody difference!) or the chimera of extra power for those clowns I mentioned earlier in the leaky building. Because no matter how many lies are told, how imaginative the euphemisms employed, or how many distractions promoted, WE know the truth: England is carrying out a colonisation programme in Wales that is excluding and marginalising the Welsh (apart from those needed to disguise the process) with the intention of destroying Welsh national identity. Fight this evil wherever you find it. It is the biggest threat the Welsh nation has ever faced.