Yesterday the ‘Welsh’ Government announced that is has taken the troubled Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board into special measures. (The Tawel Fan scandal being the last straw.) Today we learnt that the chief executive, Trevor Purt, has been suspended. And yet . . . despite everything that has been said and written about the health service in Wales generally, and the northern part of the country in particular, there are a couple of issues, or contributing factors, that no one is willing to address. To explain what I’m referring to, I can do no better than quote a recently elected Tory MP, James Davies, now representing the Vale of Clwyd.
This is what the Daily Post had to say about him a month before the election, and here’s Dr Davies’ maiden speech in the House of Commons on June 2nd. The same two themes crop up in both pieces and also figured prominently in his election campaign; one is his concern over the state of the NHS in Wales and the second is the decline of Rhyl. The first of those he blames on the Labour regime down Cardiff docks, which is the easy way out and no more than we should expect from a Tory politician on the Costa Geriatrica. As for Rhyl, well, he doesn’t actually blame anyone, he just seems to believe, rather vaguely that, well, something should be done. Among his suggestions is a new Sun Centre. Of course, that’ll solve all the problems.
Being a GP, Dr Davies must be aware that one of the major reasons for the poor standard of health and other services in his area is the demands placed on those services by a) large numbers of elderly people moving into Wales and b) the white trash, problem families, drug addicts and other substance abusers, plus all manner of criminals, being dumped in the towns along our northern coast. Rhyl being the worst example. Dr Davies knows all this but he cannot say it because, as an England-worshipping Welsh Unionist he is psychologically and emotionally incapable of viewing England as anything other than a paradise inhabited by superior beings with which Wales enjoys a one-sided relationship, with everything good that we enjoy emanating from England, and everything wrong with Wales our own fault. This is the Unionist mind-set (of both right and left), though it’s sad to see this self-loathing displayed in a seemingly intelligent man of just 35 years.
Which leaves James Davies in the position of wanting to discuss, and demand remedies for, problems for which he cannot admit major contributory causes. The Vale of Clwyd constituency is located in Denbighshire, where only 42.7% of the 65+ age group was born in Wales, yet we are asked to believe that the obvious influx of elderly people from outside of Wales has no impact whatsoever on the performance of the NHS locally. (In my area, less than one third of the 50+ age group is Welsh born! See map and table.) I’d hate to think that this inability to link cause and effect is indicative of how he works as a doctor. ‘Yes, Mr Smith, you’ve definitely got cirrhosis of the liver, but we’ll ignore your three bottles of whisky a day’.Much of Davies’ support would have come from elderly English voters angry at the standard of the local health service, but of course oblivious to the fact that their moving to Wales in such numbers contributes to the declining health service they’re complaining about. Nor can Doc Davies be honest about the reasons for the state of the NHS because he’s after the votes of those causing the problem! It’s altogether fitting that this flight from reality is taking place so close to where Alice in Wonderland was written.
But it’s not just James Davies who is unable to face the truth. It’s all the other politicians, and the media. With the latter doing its already tarnished reputation no good by tip-toeing around the elephant in the room. All terrified of speaking the truth for fear of making the front page of the Daily Mail or some other rag and being vilified as ‘racist’ or, what is much worse, ‘anti-English’. And fearing said rag going into overdrive with ‘ . . . veterans of Dunkirk . . . “the few” . . . Welsh all supported Hitler anyway . . . We’ll Meet Again . . . have to ask in Welsh to go to the toilet . . . fucking immigrants . . . fucking Jocks . . . good bloke, that Farage . . . blahdeblahdeblahdebritnatbollocks’.
Last night I put out a few tweets on this subject which were well received, being favourited and retweeted. The one discordant voice belonged to a Plaidista named Rhydian Fitter, who seemed unable to make the connection between tens of thousands of elderly English people moving to our rural and coastal areas and deteriorating heath provision. “I don’t see the connection”, protested young Fitter. Of course not. As a loyal member of Plaid Cymru you must follow the party line that pretends the colonisation of Wales is not happening (and, er, if it is, then it’s a good thing), a line that is little different to that of Dr James Davies, and is also the line enforced by the Daily Mail. Let us hope and pray for Plaid Cymru’s demise to begin next May. Plaid Cymru has had nothing to say to Welsh people – as Welsh people – for over thirty years, you can’t run on empty for ever. If I thought it would help put Plaid out of its misery, I’d even consider voting Ukip . . . despite Nathan Gill.
To conclude, and here I make no apologies for repeating myself. People living in other parts of the country, particularly the south, may be tempted to think that the problem dealt with here is restricted to the rural north and west, because English people don’t retire to Merthyr or Newport. Don’t kid yourself! The ‘Welsh’ Government has a fixed amount to spend on the NHS and other services, when so much of that has to be diverted to the areas suffering the strain of the geriatric influx, or the dumping of undesirables, then clearly, there will be less to spend in Merthyr and Newport, Swansea and Cardiff. We are all paying for the refusal – of all concerned – to acknowledge one of the major factors contributing to the crisis overwhelming the Welsh NHS.
Standing for election on May 22 to Wales’ four European Parliament seats are no fewer than eleven ‘parties’ (I use the term loosely), each putting up the ordained four candidates. Though looking at some of those candidates it becomes clear that their parties have not so much scraped the bottom of the barrel as gone through the barrel bottom and kept going. But that’s just the opinion of a cynical old bastard who long ago lost faith in politicians and political systems. Anyway, form your own opinions as I run through the parties and candidates in alphabetical order. The full list is on the right (click to enlarge). Each section heading contains a link to that party’s website.
Despite the name, this crew is fielding candidates in Wales and Scotland only.
Britain First has already gained considerable notoriety by being allowed – by the Electoral Commission – to use ‘Remember Lee Rigby’ on the ballot papers. The party was founded in May 2011 by Jim Dowson, with lead candidate Paul Gosling as chairman. Though one mystery must be why another founder member, former BNP organiser for Wales and 2009 BNP Euro candidate, Kevin Edwards, is not on the list. Following the break-up of his marriage, and after quitting the BNP in February 2011, Edwards moved from Llandybie (near Ammanford) to Llansamlet in Swansea which, along with neighbouring Bonymaen, is where many of the city’s fascists can be found.
Britain First founder Jim Dowson is also ex-BNP and perhaps into fundamentalist Christianity and hostility to Islam more than direct and blatant racism. A former Scottish Calvinist minister who apparently believes in the death penalty for gays and is fanatically anti-abortion, Dowson has also been a busy boy in the Six Counties, founding Protestant Coalition. So it makes sense that Britain First should be standing in Scotland – targetting the Rangers / Orange Order vote – but why Wales, because as far as I can make out, none of them is Welsh.
Next we have the (as yet) unsplintered BNP. Top of their list is a man many think should not be standing at all because, in a parallel dimension, Mike Whitby of Wrecsam is disqualified from becoming a member of a county council or similar authority, but this, it seems, does not extend to the European parliament. Number two on the list is Laurence Reid, an Ulster Protestant domiciled in Wales. Jean Griffin at number three is presumably party leader Nick Griffin’s wife or daughter (possibly his French cousin). While the one with the least chance of being elected is Gary Tumulty of Salford . . . unless he guns down all the other candidates. Again, it’s encouraging that none of these people are Welsh.
As if Britain First and the BNP weren’t enough, this is yet another bunch of anglo-centric, Unionist fanatics, whe believe that the Ninth Circle of Hell is located somewhere in the English Channel. Regarding our little patch of earth, the message may be more muted than that from the clown troupes mentioned earlier, and said with a smile rather than a snarl, but don’t be fooled, it’s the same message – ‘Wales and England are the same country, and that’s how we like it’.
Top of the Tory list is current MEP Dr. Kay Swinburne who, though Welsh, now lives in the tiroedd coll, which seems to agitate the bruvvers who have just selected young Kinnock. Number two is Councillor Aled Wyn Davies of Llanrhaeadr ym Mochnant & Llansilin (a home of Glyndŵr). Number three is Dr. Dan Boucher who lives in Morriston and does a nice line in self-promotion. Bringing up the Tory rear (and haven’t we all thought about a Tory rear at one time or another?) is Richard Hopkin, a lawyer, who may or may not be the same Richard Hopkin described by his employer as a “pugnacious litigator”. Grrrr! Here’s a link to the introductory video for the lot.
There is a separate Scottish Green Party that has always backed independence, while we have to suffer the Green Party of Englandandwales, a bunch of English middle class colons no different to those in other parties who believe that we Welsh must be told what’s best for us, with our country a laboratory for the policies they’d never be allowed to implement in their homeland. Although standing as a party in these elections their real forte is as a pressure group, where they enjoy influence way beyond their political support by playing on the questionable assertion that people want green policies even if they aren’t prepared to vote Green. Clever, and worth studying. Though Plaid Cymru has mis-read the message and contemplates a formal alliance.
I can’t be bothered to make enquiries about Pippa Bartolotti, John Matthews, Chris Were or Rozz Cutler.
The usual uninspiring crew that brings home yet again how ‘stretched’ once-mighty Labour is to find candidates for Europe, Westminster, the Assembly, and 22 local authorities. Thank God we don’t have as many quangoes as in the past, and that civil servants have taken over the running of devolution.
Derek Vaughan tops the list as the current MEP, a former trade unionist and leader of Neath Port Talbot council and said to be a ‘tidy bloke’. Vaughan is certain to be elected so the interest is really on the second name on the Labour list, Jayne Bryant, born in Newport, who could also be elected if Plaid and the Tories do badly and the anticipated Ukip surge does not materialise. At number 3 we have Councillor Alex Thomas, who represents the Rhos ward, also in Neath Port Talbot. The no-hoper is Christina Rees, formerly Mrs Ron Davies; not wishing to be reminded of her husband’s behaviour she wrote a book about it, The Davies Diaries, though she did later apologise.
Worth noting that there is no Labour candidate from west of Neath or, indeed, from north of Neath.
Where to start (says he, wishing he didn’t have to)? Those who know me know that I reserve a special kind of contempt for Liberal Democrats and liberals of all kinds. I regard them as smug, wishy-washy wankers.
The Lib Dem quartet is headed up by Alec Dauncey who lives in Aberystwyth. Now Alec may enjoy a skinful of lager and a bag of chips of a Saturday night before throwing up the diced carrots on the way home . . . but I doubt it. To me, the picture shows a professional tree-hugger in a polo neck sweater more likely to be found listening to a cupped-ear folk singer while unwinding with a glass of organic cider. His bio is a gem, taking political prose to previously uncharted depths of vacuity. But it is so typically Liberal Democrat.
Number two is another Englishman, Robert Speht, living in Swansea. This one a wind turbine-hugger with a string of failed business ventures and an unpaid sandwich bill to his name. Speht lives in Mayals, one of Swansea’s poshest neighbourhoods which, because it lies within the fiercely defended borders of Mumbles community council, provided Speht with the chance to use the title ‘Councillor’ after losing his city council seat. Said – even by colleagues – to be unreliable he struck up a weird friendship with Richard ‘Tricky Dicky’ Lewis when Lewis, having tried all the rest, eventually fell in with the Lib Dems, mainly because they promised him his year in the Mansion House. To understand how unlikely a Liberal Democrat Richard Lewis is just try to imagine Ghengis Khan the pacifist. Lewis was sighted on April 30 entering the Liberty Stadium to hear Nigel Farage.
The other two candidates are Jackie Radford and Bruce Roberts, of whom I know nothing, and care even less.
Don’t be fooled by the name, for this is not another ‘Wogs begin at Dover’ party. It can’t be, for I see the name of Comrade Robert Griffiths topping their list, as he did in 2009. Robert Griffiths, stalwart of the long defunct Welsh Socialist Republican Movement (also, so some would have it, the Workers Army for a Welsh Republic). Robert Griffiths the current General Secretary of the Communist Party of Great Britain. (Marxist-Leninist, I believe.) So we’ve obviously arrived on the hard left.
Of the other NO2EU candidates I know nothing . . .
For Plaid Cymru / The Party of Wales this is a very important election. Opinion polls suggest they might lose their MEP Jill Evans. If that happens, then I can see real soul-searching within a party that has lost its way.
The problem for Plaid Cymru is that Labour in Wales has cleverly painted Welsh politics as a simple picture of them defending Wales against ‘London’ – even when Labour is in power in London. This is what the ‘send a message to London’ (by voting Labour) is all about, even for European and Assembly elections! Then, because Plaid does little more than promote itself as ‘Labour, but a bit more Welsh, like’, it is, effectively, marginalised. Plaid’s only hope is to get out of Labour’s shadow and re-position itself as a genuinely Welsh party, taking up the issues other parties ignore, and addressing the big issues from an aggressively Welsh standpoint. But it won’t.
In many ways this state of affairs is regrettable, for in Jill Evans, Marc Jones, Stephen Cornelius and Ioan Bellin the party has a strong team. That said, it might still be best for the long term if Plaid was to lose its seat.
Footnote: Plaid’s number 4 candidate in 2009 was the apple of her daddy’s eye, Natasha Asghar. Happy days!
Formed in 1996 by Arthur Scargill – who is still ‘Leader’ – the SLP is perhaps the only hard left group that would need something bigger than a telephone booth for its meetings. It claims a direct line of ideological descent from James Connolly, and quotes him in its website header. But there were, in a sense, two James Connollys. One, the Edinburgh-born British socialist; the other, the man who returned to his Irish roots, formed the Citizen Army, and was executed (though wounded) in Kilmainham jail by the British army after the Dublin Easter Rising of 1916. The SLP reveres the former.
Despite being one of the larger minor parties the SLP’s candidates are hardly household names, even in their own households, but here they are anyway. At number one we have Andrew Jordan, who stood in the Cardiff South & Penarth by-election in 2012, a by-election caused by Alun Michael’s strange decision to stand for election as the local Police and Crime Commissioner. Second is Kathrine Jones, of whom I know naught. David Lloyd Jones, number 3 on the list, is probably the man who stood for Conwy in 2005 against the heavyweight trio of Betty Williams, Guto Bebb and Gareth Roberts. He got 1% of the vote, though he still managed to beat Ukip into 7th place. (Which ain’t gonna happen again any time soon.) If these three are relatively unknown, number 4 on the list, Liz Screen, has a slightly higher profile, if only because she stood in 2009, but it’s all relative.
Not being terribly au fait with the 57 varieties of socialism I’m not quite sure where the SPGB stands – are they Wobblies? Maybe someone can help me out. The SPGB has three branches; Swansea, Cardiff, and that hot-bed of revolutionary socialism . . . Llandudno. I tried to get more information but the SPGB website was down. The SPGB candidates can be found in the list at the top of the page. None of the names mean anything to me. Though if Richard Cheney is the real name of candidate number 2 it’s a strange quirk that he should share a name with Dick Cheney, vice president to George W. Bush and bête noire of the left. Anyway, seeing as Joe Hill was the most famous Wobbly of them all, let’s end this section with Joe Hill, sung by Joan Baez.
The stars of the show! Certainly everybody is looking at Ukip, wondering how big an advance they’re going to make, for there’s no question it will be an advance. I did a recent post on Ukip which says most of what I want to say about them, so it only remains to look at their candidates.
Nathan Gill is an English grannyfarmer living on Ynys Môn who stood in the Seiriol ward in last year’s council elections, where he came eighth out of nine candidates. Though his wife(?) came eighth out out twelve in the Aethwy ward. (This being the ward where our old friend Jacques Protic came bottom of the poll.) Number two on the list is James Cole who, in the photograph I link to, is actually wearing a double-breasted blazer! It says he ‘relocated’ to Swansea, but not from where, though he is Welsh. This video by Cole is priceless; he predicts that ” . . . the native Welsh will be a minority in their own country within the next 15 to 20 years . . . “ yet he makes no mention of English colonisation, for he wants us to believe the influx will come from mainland Europe and elsewhere! Caroline Jones from Porthcawl is a former Tory parliamentary candidate who defected a year ago. The fourth candidate has concerns about “huge volumes of immigration”. David J. Rowlands lives in the Gwent valleys, where this is obviously a serious problem. Rowlands is the only survivor from the 2009 quartet.
I find it very disappointing that three of Ukip’s four candidates are Welsh. But then, this may be a ploy used in the hope of disguising the party’s fundamental Englishness.
One unavoidable conclusion is that the European elections are not taken seriously by the electorate. It gives voters a chance to do something silly, which many of them will. The turnout in 2009 was just 30.4%, down 11% on 2004. (Click on panel to enlarge.) This year’s elections could see an even lower turnout. (Here’s the 2009 result by constituency.)
Six of the eleven parties standing can be said to belong to the extremes of left and right (three of each). Few of their 24 candidates have any relevance to Wales and even fewer have any intention of debating Welsh issues . . . even if they could. Some have been honest enough to admit they’re using the elections – and Wales – simply to gain publicity. In some regards the Greens could be added to this group. Leaving us with the four ‘mainstream’ parties, all running scared of Ukip. For this election is all about how well Ukip will do, how that will impact on the other parties, and if we’ll ever have European elections again.
My position is that I’m a European of the Gaullist persuasion, preferring a confederation of independent states – rather than a bureaucrat-led supranationalist entity – serving as a counter-balance to both Russia and the USA (to which we must now add China). The UK (or England) was never going to fit with either version for so many reasons, one being – as de Gaulle always understood – its ties with the USA. I have now reached the stage where I detest what the European Union has become but could never line up with any of those calling for withdrawal. Perversely, perhaps, the loony left and the loony right being on the same side only serves to make the bloated monster a little more attractive. With enemies like some of those I’ve looked at here, who needs friends?
A few years ago I used to enjoy visiting the excellent BBC blog of Betsan Powys until it was overrun by Unionist bigots. To the point where Ms Powys couldn’t write about the illegal trade in ivory, or EU plum quotas, without these loonies blaming it all on the Welsh language, or devolution. No matter what the subject, their only response was to spout the same robotic messages of hate towards all things Welsh. Among these bigots was one signing as ‘mapexx’. Some of mapexx’ contributions can be found on this page from the blog, scroll down to comments 8, 18, 24, 27, 35, 44, 45, 54.
Pay particular attention to number 35. Here, presumably providing evidence for his / her anti-Welsh language views, mapexx says: “Before you say I am wrong, keep one thing in mind, I WAS a Census enumerator in the 2001 census, and am already signed to be one again in the next census. I was also engaged to do a follow up series of interviews with many across the south east Wales area. I found very very little, in the way of fluency to any level, beyond a few simple words.” (A fuller extract can be found right. Click to enlarge.) The only conclusion to be drawn is that mapexx was an enumerator in the 2001 census, and was to be one again in 2011. Whatever he or she might have been, it was also clear from these and countless other comments that mappex belonged to the rabidly anti-Welsh wing of the Labour Party, all dressed up as opposition to devolution, ‘extremism’, and unspeakable things being forced down the throats of innocents.
Now after reading this very indiscreet and worrying comment I wrote to the Office for National Statistics. For quite obviously enumerators are sworn to a code of secrecy. Regretably I can’t find my letter to the ONS, but I do have a copy of the reply. It can be found here. Soon after the exchange of letters with the ONS mapexx stopped making his / her odious contributions and disappeared. I may even have tipped off mapexx that I was going to write to the ONS. I can’t recall. Maybe someone can find such a comment. Certainly, another regular contributor to the blog drew attention to the indiscretion. Finally, note that the ONS says it has not yet started recruiting enumerators for 2011. Yet mappex already knows he / she will be working on the next census. How can that be? (A suggestion will be found below.) Anyway, time passed, and I almost forgot about mapexx.
Then, today, a letter appeared in the Wasting Mule, and it was as if the gates of memory swung ajar. (That’s poetic, that is.) The letter can be seen left. (Click to enlarge.) It is from Labour councillor Gez Kirby of Caerffili. Let me explain that at the same time mapexx flourished and gained notoriety Kirby was also appearing on blogs and elsewhere saying . . . well . . . very much the same things as mapexx. Kirby and mapexx were almost kindred spirits. Both didactic and pedantic, ‘I’m smarter than you’ types. Coming out with the sort of comments you get from a clever boy who’s been to university and believes this allows him to talk down to people. Or am I being unfair on Kirby? Does the man in the photo look the kind of cocky bastard I’m describing?
The letter in today’s Mule prompted me to visit Caerfilli council’s website and, in particular, Kirby’s information. Where I found, in his Declaration of Member’s Interests, the interesting fact that he works for the Office for National Statistics. (Click here and scroll down.) Following a lead on the council website I did some more Googling and came up with this. Which tells us that Kirby is an ONS representative for the Public and Commercial Services Union. (See panel below left.) Incidentally, something else I learnt from the Caerffili website is that Kirby was elected to the council last year with just 18.74% of the vote, making him the least popular – by some distance – of the three successful Labour candidates in Pontllanfraith ward.
A little more digging told me that Kirby had also belonged (in 2004) to the Population and Migration Theme Working Group of National Statistics. Though these minutes suggest that Kirby was not a great success, for they begin with him apologising for incomplete minutes of the previous meeting! This group seems to deal with population movements, such as the influx we are experiencing into Wales. I can’t help wondering if an anti-Welsh bigot like Kirby isn’t ideally suited for this group, especially if it does more than merely study and report. I’d appreciate more information on this group.
I am not for one minute – heaven forfend! – suggesting that Councillor Gez KIrby is mapexx. In fact we can prove it. All we need to do is find another reasonably articulate, anti-Welsh bigot, based in the south east, who likes to spout his odious views on blogs and in newspapers, is a staunch supporter of Israel, and has strong connections with the Office for National Statistics. There must be hundreds satisfying those criteria . . . Well, dozens, surely? Some? Any?
And even though I’m sure there is no connection between the real-life anti-Welsh bigot, Gez Kirby, and the anti-Welsh troll, mapexx, I would still expect the Office for National Statistics to investigate the possibility – remote though it may be – that someone working for them used a widely-read blog to disseminate confidential information gained carrying out his duties for the ONS. (Of course, the more likely possibility is that mapexx lied about the findings in order to give his / her bigotry some credibility. So which is worse from an ONS perspective?) And if I was Kirby’s employer I’d wonder how much work he does for the ONS . . . when he’s not doing union work, council work, tweeting, networking on Facebook and Linkedin, and posting God knows how many comments in God knows how many names, to God knows how many blogs. (No wonder he can’t get the minutes ready.) Hang on! he works for a government department, I am his employer!
I would also expect the Public and Commercial Services Union to make enquiries, so as to establish beyond any shadow of doubt that their representive, councillor Gez Kirby, is / was not mapexx.
Normally I would also be asking the Caerffili Labour Party to do something, but I feel that shower has more than enough problems to worry about at the moment. I’m not a complete bastard!
Ok, all joking aside, and to leave no one in any doubt as to what I am saying. I believe that there are enough grounds to suspect that Councillor Gez Kirby, an employee of the Office for National Statistics, abused his position to post comments on a BBC blog, under a spurious name, claiming to be using confidential information gained through his employment. That being so, his employer and others, such as Caerffilli council, have no alternative but to establish – through the BBC, internet servers and other channels – whether Councillor Gez Kirby was ‘mapexx’. If so, then disciplinary action must be taken.
I have written recently – and at some length – about the changing composition of the Labour Party back in my home town. (See postings for February and March.) No longer do we see dockers, tinplate workers and other toilers selflessly contributing to the running of the ugly lovely town. Instead we see, increasingly, what may be termed ‘professional politicians’.
By which I mean, people who began their political involvement in school; so much so that these activities distracted them from their studies and precluded entry to a good university, which then resulted in them coming to Swansea, where they continued their political activities, even extended them, to also act as gofers for local politicians. The next step then is to branch out on one’s own, either in Swansea local politics or else by starting one’s negotiation of the labyrinthine innards of the Labour Party. It goes without saying that almost all those of whom I speak are Englanders. Such as young Simon Darvill, who was recently elected chairman of Young Labour.
So what is going on inside Labour? With the ilk of Prescott being phased out we increasingly see a party made up of besuited and smarmy career politicians who’ve never done a ‘real job’, and consequently have to rely on focus groups and other means to learn what ‘ordinary people’ think. (Then pretend they care.) This is clearly true at the UK level, increasingly so at the Welsh level and now, it seems, filtering down to local government level. (That the trend is less obvious in the Valleys is largely due to the lack of universities there.) But this trend does not seem to be confined to Wales.
The Labour leader of Newcastle city council appeared a few weeks ago on Newsnight and I was surprised to see (and hear) that he is from southern England! Is the Labour Party in such a poor state that Tyneside, one of its traditional bastions, can no longer produce its own leaders? Or is there another explanation? Is the control freak Labour Party now training cadres to be sent out around ‘the country’? We know that ‘parachuting’ in parliamentary candidates is common practice, but has it filtered down to lower levels of government?
NO JOBS FOR THE BOYOS
Whenever a multinational company starts smooching politicians and communities in order to get planning permission to erect wind turbines it invariably does so promising jobs. The company hoping to erect wind turbines on Mynydd y Gwair (see February posts) is German company RWE Npower Renewables. Looking through the jobs advertised on its website I see that apart from those on offer in Germany, there are vacancies in Reading, Swindon and Iverness (sic). None in Wales.
The RWE website also provided news of a conference held to discuss the worrying resistance in Wales to wind turbines. Did you know that consent rates for onshore windfarms is 67% in Scotland, 40% in England, but only 18% in Wales? Isn’t that something to be proud of! So a meeting – sponsored by RWE – was called in January to see what could be done to break this Welsh resistance. Read an account of the meeting here. Note also who was in attendance.
THE POVERTY PARTY
Today the wife and I took a spin to Rhuthun, a town we both like. (Though a socialist of my acquaintance thinks it’s ‘chintzy’!) En route, and because our area escaped the worst of the snow, we were surprised to see the white stuff still piled up on Bala High Street. And of course, being a woman, she complained when I pulled up alongside one of the piles and gave her instructions to go buy me a newspaper. “Can’t open the door”, she moaned. “What’s the bloody window for, woman?”
On the way home, instead of taking the direct route back to Bala, I decided to head over towards Cerrigydrudion (and there join the A5). Boy! even today, after a week of sunshine, the drifts were still massive, and in places encroaching onto the road. I began to get some appreciation of what the people of the north east had been through recently, especially the farmers. After getting home I switched on the BBC 1 Welsh News, in time to hear Alun Davies AM, Minister for Natural Resources and Food, defend the Welsh Management’s decision not to give financial aid to the farmers who had lost stock in the recent snowfall.
He justified the decision with the following words: “You don’t create a strong business base by throwing public money at every problem you face”. Just think about that for a minute. This is a spokesman for a Labour administration, and a Labour Party that has done precisely that – throw public money at problems – since the Assembly came into being fourteen years ago. So what’s different about the farmers? Well, for a start, farmers don’t vote Labour, unlike the parasites who make up our Third Sector. To many within Labour the Welsh countryside should exist as envisioned by former AM Jane Davidson – a place of recreation and retreat for the English middle classes. Welsh farmers are brutes who threaten this idyll with, bulls . . . blocked paths . . . speaking Welsh . . . commercial milking parlours . . . noisy tractors . . . just being there, basically.
Labour, the party that keeps Wales poor in order to blame the Tories and stay in power. What a bunch of lying scumbags they are. And to think, until today’s imbecilic and insulting utterance, Alun Davies seemed one of the more acceptable Labour AMs.
As from next week Scotland will have just one police force dealing with everything from Glasgow gangsters to Shetlands’ sheep rustlers. Scotland, with approaching twice the population of Wales and almost four times the land area. Here in Wales we shall plod on justifying four separate police forces on the grounds that Holyhead is nothing like Fishguard, while Llangollen and Brecon might as well be on different planets. OK, so policing is not a devolved issue. But it should be; and it could have been if New Labour had given us a more respectful and workable form of devolution.
As with police forces, so with our 22 councils, a system that has run out of defenders yet staggers along because the Labour Party fears the consequences of culling so many of its councillors. Then there are 7 health boards (plus their impotent ‘shadows’, the health councils). How can the Welsh Management argue it is building a national health service when it fragments decision-making so that those responsible for health in one region look over the border rather than seek, or demand, solutions within Wales?
And how can we ignore the Third Sector? In answer to an FoI I was recently told that the Welsh Management is funding no fewer than 30 schemes across the country ‘helping people back into employment’. Do we really need 30 such schemes in a country the size of Wales? Why not put that money into creating real jobs rather than using it to disguise the fact there are so few jobs . . . and to hell with the hangers-on in the Third Sector, however loyal they may be to Labour.
One issue here is clearly unnecessary duplication. A problem that is almost inevitable in a country dominated by an outdated Statist ethos. For why have one person doing a job when you can have two, and thereby create the illusion of two jobs? A system administered by politicians and others who are good at spending money but have no idea how to generate it, beyond begging.
Responsible for this mess (at least within Wales) is the Labour Party, today driven by little more than the political equivalent of an ancient blood-feud, revived periodically to remind voters of how evil the Tories are. About the only other thing helping Welsh Labour hang on to its vote is the distance it manages to keep – in the public imagination if nowhere else – between itself and its ideology-free masters in London. Done by keeping Wales poor, blaming someone else, then, ostentatiously managing the poverty it must perpetuate to maintain its political grip. The poverty that is then used to justify the colonial relationship with England. As the flowchart explains.(Click to enlarge.)
Having saved most of our people from the corrupting influence of prosperity, and convinced too many of them that the noblest ambition is humbly accepting poverty, in a colony that can aspire to nothing more, the brothers and sisters then frolic and posture on the moral high ground, from where they survey their fiefdom, ‘Caring Wales’. Where everyone is welcome, and everything will be paid for . . . for something will turn up.
(In fact, if you want to delve into literature to explain this Welsh Government then Wilkins Micawber, hoping something will turn up, and Blanche DuBois, depending on the kindness of strangers, are almost unavoidable. Carwyn Micawber and Edwina DuBois?)
But over the horizon I see threats to this idyll. One being that down in the amoral lowlands of Tory England plans are afoot that might prove a test for Labour’s vision. David Cameron has promised legislation to deny social housing to immigrants until they have lived in England for at least 2 years. If enacted, this legislation would apply only to England. So what will be the Welsh Management’s response? The immediate impulse will be to flaunt their moral superiority by not enacting similar legislation. Which will mean . . . what?
Well, if you’re coming from Bangladesh, then no doubt you’d prefer to move to an English city where there are other Bangladeshis. But if the only social housing available is in Bargoed or Blaenau Ffestiniog, then some will inevitably settle for those towns. Pretty soon, the Welsh Management and its cronies in the Third Sector will realise that the moral high ground can be a very expensive neighbourhood. Unless, of course, the UK Government – partly to offload a few ‘problems’ and partly in order to hold Wales up as an example of why not to vote Labour – is prepared to fund it all. For keeping Wales poor serves the interests of both Conservatives and Labour. Knowing they have no chance of winning a majority in Wales the Tories may even view funding Labour’s lunacies as money well spent.
It doesn’t have to be like this. Wales is potentially a very wealthy country. That we are poor today is due to the colonial relationship with England, aided by the corruption and self-interest of the Labour Party, and ‘policies’ such as actually funding our ‘brain drain’! Yet unfortunately Labour faces no real threat, because the party that once hoped to topple Labour has revised down its ambitions. The best it hopes for now is to be a very junior partner to the party destroying Wales. Which means the opposition must come from somewhere else
Following on from the previous post I have now written to the Welsh Government asking that the Mynydd y Gwair project be ‘called in’ due to the many irregularities attaching to the February 7th vote and other, linked issues.
For if the Council’s legal officers strongly advised Councillor Ioan Richard (of the affected ward) to absent himself from the debate then there were a number on the other side as obviously predetermined to vote in favour as Councillor Richard was to vote against, so were they given the same advice? And if so, why were they allowed to ignore that advice? All explained in the letter here. A further copy, with a covering letter, has been sent to the Public Services Ombudsman for Wales.
Looking at the wider picture, the Mynydd y Gwair case, and what I’ve learnt about the state of the Swansea Labour Party in the past couple of weeks, it fits in with a wider picture of the Labour Party in Wales. It is a party increasingly reliant upon a regular influx of non-Welsh candidates in order to keep up the appearance of strength. What’s interesting, is how it achieves and maintains that influx.
I began this series of posts with a fit of nostalgia by recalling the Labour Party I knew back in Swansea when I was growing up there in the 1950s and 1960s. Few of our local councillors and activists impressed me in a positive way, but at least I knew them. I knew who they were. Or if I didn’t, then the chances were that my father knew them, or worked with one of the Brother’s brothers. Most Labour councillors of that era started their political careers in the trade unions, blue collar trade unions catering for the working classes.
Despite their many shortcomings no one could argue that our local councillors did not know their patch, and did not want the best for Swansea. Looking back to those days, the Labour Party I knew back then was, through the trade unions and other activities, part and parcel of the lives and experiences of those who supported the party. Not so today.
THE ‘PAINTED SHELL’ PARTY
I have chosen this metaphor because the more I think of today’s Labour Party the more I see an empty but cleverly decorated shell where once there had been something less attractively adorned but with more content. A party today still able to rely on the ‘donkey’ vote, but with the problem that ‘donkey’ voters rarely join the party, let alone become candidates. Thus leaving Labour dependent on other avenues for many of its representatives.
One route for that supply, obvious when we consider Swansea, is higher education. With two universities and a few other colleges the higher education sector is a valuable source of council candidates for Labour in Swansea. This applies elsewhere in Wales and may go some way to explaining why the ‘Welsh’ Government is so keen on giving Wales a higher education sector grotesquely and damagingly in excess of what a small country needs.
Then, when we look at another route, the Third Sector, and strip away all the political correctness and touchy-feely nonsense, what we see is naked politics. An overlarge Third Sector such as we suffer in Wales attracts a steady inflow of individuals to take advantage of sinecures, jobs and funding handed out by the party they belong to or support.
Making the Third Sector a system of political patronage, plain and simple. Nothing more than a party in power with money to disburse rewarding its friends and supporters. This kind of mild corruption is found all over the world, but it’s rare to find it practised so blatantly in Protestant Europe. In return for this largesse the Labour Party has a ready supply of candidates.
Which means that since the first round of EU Objective One funding in 2000 the Welsh economy and the welfare of our people have taken a back seat to the Labour Party’s ‘patronage-results-in-candidates’ system. That’s bad enough, but understandable in a selfish kind of way. What’s unforgivable is that both the Liberal Democrats and Plaid Cymru have supported this corruption . . . and being the unprincipled chancers or deluded ‘socialists’ they are, would do so again, tomorrow, given the opportunity.
Something else that struck me as I trawled through the available information on Swansea’s new intake of Labour councillors was how many of them belonged to trade unions. Or rather, a single trade union, Unite. And how many are members of the Co-operative party. Which provides another stark contrast with the days of my youth.
For I recall horny-handed sons of toil (unless of course they were shop stewards) who belonged to the TGWU or the NUR, and who drank in the Dockers Club. But today’s skinny latte Labour Party, to maintain the pretence of a link with the hoi-polloi, has union representation from a white collar union that has as members people who’ve never done what most people would regard as work! Somehow I can’t see their names being stitched onto the union banner by candlelight prior to the dawn assault on the bastions of capitalist oppression.
This final observation (no, not the candlelight stitching) brings me to the ugly reality of professional politicians; which is where academe, Third Sector and white collar unions inexorably takes us. To the realisation that we now have a class of people – especially within the Labour Party – who got involved in student politics then, on leaving university became an ‘adviser’ to an MP or AM, or worked for a trade union or a grant-guzzling Third Sector body and, then, without venturing into the ‘real world’ inhabited by un-networked mortals like thee and me, go on to ‘represent’ us in our local authority, or else in Cardiff, London or Brussels.
Throw in the loose canon or crank who nevertheless knows how to play the selection process and you can understand how the Labour Party on Swansea City Council is what it is today: a repulsive collection of carpetbaggers, trendies, oddballs and single-issue obsessives exploiting the indigenous ‘donkey’ vote in order to serve constituencies such as the GLBT community.
I leave you all to consider this. Due to the assorted machinations listed above it could be that the Conservative Party is today, for the first time ever, more representative of the Welsh nation than the Labour Party.
UPDATE 27.02.2013: More information has come to light that has resulted in me making another complaint to the Public Services Ombudsman for Wales. To explain.
Just before Christmas all Swansea’s councillors received a copy of a book, The Wind Farm Scam, by Dr. John Etherington. The book was sent by the organisation leading the resistance to the Mynydd y Gwair wind turbines, SOCME (Save Our Common Mountain Environment).
One councillor, young John Charles Bayliss (who has cropped up here quite often of late!) was mightily unimpressed with this Yuletide gift. So unimpressed that he was moved to tweet. My interpretation of this tweet is as follows. The reference to “coal” I take to mean that the book should be burned. “#Scientificallyilliterate” is probably his opinion of those who sent the book, or possibly Dr. Etherington. While “#BuggerOff” can only be his response to those who kindly sent him the book. Such ingratitude! (The picture referred to in the tweet is simply the front cover of the book with the SOCME complimentary slip.)
This tweet for me is proof positive that as early as December 11th (and almost certainly long before) Bayliss was predetermined to vote in favour of wind turbines on Mynydd y Gwair. That being so, John Charles Bayliss is another councillor who should not have voted on February 7th.
When I was growing up in Swansea the Labour Party seemed to be everywhere, through the presence of its members and supporters in just about every organisation in the locality. Not least the local council. Though this influence was not confined to the public sector and local government; for at times it was difficult to determine who controlled some local companies, was it those who, nominally, owned these companies, or was it the trade unions? Whatever the answer, jobs, homes, and other ‘favours’ could be gained by knowing a local foot soldier; while being on friendly terms with a ‘capo’ could open many doors.
As I got to know our local Labour activists I found most of them very unattractive. (Maybe I was too idealistic. Or perhaps my standards of personal hygiene were too high.) But for whatever reason, they came across as grubby little men, drunk on what power they possessed, and determined to show off, or abuse, that power at every opportunity. They could mouth the class war slogans but the lack of deeper political understanding was obvious once the debate moved beyond slogans and rehearsed arguments. Equally obvious was the absence of principle. Most seemed driven by greed and envy. I often thought that they didn’t really want to raise up the masses so much as bring down the ‘nobs’. And if they’d won the football pools, or been left a tidy sum by Auntie Bessie in Chicago, then it would have been a case of, ‘The working class can kiss my arse . . .’. In other words, they were victims of circumstance, unhappy with their lot, looking for easy answers . . . and nothing provides more easily digestible answers for the uncomprehending ‘victims of the system’ than socialism.
These thoughts have come to me a few times recently as my attention has been drawn to the composition of the Labour Party in Swansea today. The most striking thing is the almost total absence of class warriors. Strange, really, when one considers that the gulf between rich and poor is greater today than at any time in recent history. The cloth caps have been replaced with the kind of headgear favoured by Afghans or Andean peasants. At times it seems not so much New Labour as New Age Labour.
The Leader is a Liverpudlian and there are many other councillors from outside Wales, even an Austrian. There are students fresh out of college, one from California. Then there are students who graduated in earlier years, including one who lists among his Interests “my beloved West Bromwich Albion”! There are also academics among the Labour group, making it clear that Swansea’s centres of higher education are a vital source of recruits for the local Labour Party. Another Labour councillor, born in Southend, is glad to be “back by the sea once more”. Ah, that’s nice.
One of the young ex-students, elected last year for a bedsit land ward on the west side of the city seems to be solely interested in Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, and Trans-sexual (GLBT) matters, if his Twitter account is anything to go by. And this, ‘pet issues’ approach to politics, is found throughout the group. Making the controlling Labour group on Swansea council look like an eclectic collection of individuals held together by a belief that they represent ‘progressive’ elements that only the Labour Party can accommodate. Another interpretation would be that the Swansea Labour Party has lost out in a Faustian pact to people who have now taken over its organisation, structures and soul to promote their own agendas.
Don’t get me wrong, a little outside blood is always beneficial, whether to improve the breeding stock, or to introduce new thinking, but there comes a point beyond which the balance tips and the new element ousts the old. This is what appears to be happening with the Swansea Labour Party. It’s almost as if New Labour’s practice of ‘parachuting’ favourites into safe seats has reached down to ward level. Perhaps it has, for a number of these thrusting, ex-student councillors work for local MPs and AMs. A word in the right ear?
Now of course, even if the Labour group was made up entirely of persons born and bred in Swansea, lifelong Swans fans, etc., etc., these would still have their pet subjects, their hobby-horses, but at least they would know and be committed to the city of Swansea. When there are so many in the ruling group on the city council that a) don’t really know or understand the area and b) are pursuing their own agendas, then we have to ask how well that city can possibly be served by such an administration.
And when we add Swansea Labour’s profile to the well-documented – even award-winning (Private Eye) – troubled councils of Carmarthenshire, Ynys Môn, Caerffili and Wrecsam . . . and when we consider rule by cabinet, or the dictatorship of a chief executive; and when we spread this over the absurd number of twenty-two local authorities in a country of just three million people, then we realise that Welsh local government isn’t just in a mess, it needs to be dismantled and built again from scratch. And among the many changes so desperately needed, why not insist on ten years residence in an area before anyone can stand for the local council?
And yet, knowing Swansea as I do, and Wales, and the origins of the Labour Party, maybe what we see in Swansea today is simply the clock being turned back. Let me explain. I grew up in what amounted to a localised one-party state; yet from my grandparents and people of their generation I came to learn that what I regarded as the established order was, to them, something relatively recent in origin. And not entirely welcome.
In the nineteenth century we Welsh supported the Liberal Party, even when most of us were denied a vote. This loyalty was taken with them by rural immigrants to the industrial areas (like four of my great-grandparents, who came up from Carmarthenshire and Cardiganshire). Inevitably, the ‘human reservoir’ of south west Wales eventually began to dry up; so by the end of the century the workers needed in the southern industries came increasingly from England’s western counties, Ireland, and beyond. This new wave of immigrants found the Liberal Party less attractive than their Welsh workmates; for to them the Liberal Party was part of a ‘package’ that took in the Welsh language and the nonconformist chapels. This new element in Welsh society rejected that ‘package’ and looked for another political party. It arrived with amazingly good timing in the form of the Labour Party.
Which resulted in many of the older Welsh people in the industrial south in the first half of the twentieth century, especially – but not exclusively – those with roots in the Welsh-speaking rural areas, still regarding the Labour Party as something ‘alien’. For it had no Welsh ‘roots’, Labour had merely appropriated the Merthyr Rising, the Chartist Rebellion in Newport, and other specifically Welsh events as heralds of its own Coming. Ignoring the uncomfortable facts that Dic Penderyn may not have spoken English, and that the Newport Chartists called for a Silurian Republic. Labour to many people of my grandparents’ age and background was an English-Irish concoction that had displaced ‘their’ party. Of course this perception had weakened over time, as Welsh people joined the party. Yet even though they themselves may now have voted Labour – due to it having become the only viable opposition to the Tories – they still felt a certain pang of guilt, knowing that their parents and grandparents would have disapproved.
From the other side, due to its non-Welsh roots, and its rejection of the ‘package’, there was always within the Labour Party, particularly in the south east, a lurking suspicion of Welshness, with undisguised anti-Welshness often breaking to the surface. This has persisted to the present day. It goes a long way to explaining why a Welsh Government refuses to manage Wales in the interests of the Welsh. It explains the squandering of precious funding on the Third Sector shysters of the ‘Poverty Industry’. It explains the defeat of devolution in 1979. It goes a long way to explaining why Wales has no financial institutions of her own, few indigenous industries, and a colonial relationship with England. Only a political party with the origins and outlook of ‘Welsh’ Labour could facilitate and celebrate the exploitation of Welsh resources by arguing that to do otherwise would be to give in to ‘narrow nationalism’.
I didn’t intend to give a history lesson here, but maybe Welsh people, inside and outside the Labour Party, should better understand this schizophrenic monster that bestraddles our country. And remember that for every Cledwyn Hughes there was a Neil Kinnock. For every Gwilym Prys Davies a George Thomas. Of course, this will mean nothing to those I started off writing about. Which, I suppose, proves my point.
UPDATE 08.02.13 Last night Swansea council voted to allow wind turbines on Mynydd y Gwair on the northern outskirts of the city. During the debate it was argued that Mynydd y Gwair is a valuable recreation area, where people can walk and enjoy the views looking up towards the Brecon Beacons or out over the Severn Sea. One Labour councillor disagreed. In her Llansamlet ward people can’t afford cars, and so are unable to reach Mynydd y Gwair, which she seemed to think was reserved for rich people with 4 x 4s.
The land in question is owned by the Duke of Beaufort, one of the richest men in England, who owns a great deal of land around Swansea. Four years ago he was paid £280,000 by Swansea council for graciously allowing a new footbridge over the River Tawe, near the Liberty Stadium. The Mynydd y Gwair turbines will be erected – and the subsidies milked – by the massive German company RWE. So to spite the protesting local rich folks – in reality, farmers with old pick-ups grazing sheep on the mountain – the Swansea Labour Party decided to destroy a beauty spot and in so doing further enrich an English lord and a German multinational.
This defeat of the Welsh is doubtless being celebrated today by the brothers and sisters of Swansea’s English Labour Party. They can crack open another bottle of organic llama piss and congratulate themselves on ensuring that in the years ahead vast sums of money will be pumped to such deserving and needy recipients. While those poor souls in Llansamlet, condemned to poverty and public transport, will be paying for it all through rocketing electricity bills.