Miscellany 28.09.2022

I hadn’t planned on putting out a post this week. But people contact me and say, ‘Have you seen this, Jac?’; and most of the time I can politely respond and let it pass. But now and again I get a clutch of reports or leads that are worth bringing together in a post like this.

It’s big, 4,500+ words, but as I always say, you can take it a section at a time.

And because it’s so big, and it’s taken so much work, don’t expect anything next week.

SYCHARTH UPDATE

The previous post was about my visit to Sycharth on September 16, and my disappointment with state of the site. Which prompted a reader to write to Cadw, the agency responsible for conserving our heritage.

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Here are the points he raised with Cadw:

  • The stile to Sycharth is in a poor condition.
  • Car parking is insufficient.
  • The whole site is in a mess. An hour with a strimmer would do wonders.
  • The information board does not mention much of  Cymru’s history.
  • Its neglect is a travesty and an insult to our past and heritage.
  • Utterly shameful behaviour on your part.

To which Cadw responded with this. Which tells us the site belongs to the Llangedwyn Estate. More particularly, Nicholas Watkin Williams-Wynn.

A couple of phrases from the Cadw response are worth focusing on.

‘Sycharth  . . . forms part of a working tenant farm under the Llangedwyn estate with permissive public access and parking at its discretion’.

‘Cadw installed the car park (four cars max) and access works (stile?) in 2010-2011 but their maintenance is again the responsibility of the owners.’

So it’s up to the Llangedwyn Estate whether people are allowed to visit Sycharth. And could, presumably, block public access. It’s also the Estate’s responsibility to maintain car parking and access. To judge by what I saw there, the Estate is doing its best to discourage visitors.

Is this some old dynastic feud being played out in the 21st century?

So I ask again: If the so-called ‘Welsh Government’ can find £4.25m to buy Gilestone farm for an English music festival, for purposes that are yet to be explained, why can’t it find the money to buy a site of national if not international importance and maintain it adequately and respectfully?

FREELOADERS IN FREEPORTS

Freeports are back in the news. And it seems Wales is getting one. Either in Holyhead or Milford Haven and Port Talbot.

Let’s start in Holyhead.

Now the Conservative MP for Ynys Môn, Virginia Crosbie, is a big supporter of freeports, and has staked her reputation on turning a run-down ferry port into a beacon of global trade that will bring into Caergybi the riches of the Orient, the gold of the Indies, and of course – Guinness from Dublin.

Here she is setting out her ambition in a mercifully short video.

Though in truth, freeports rarely live up to their billing. And often involve very murky dealings. Private Eye has been following the evolution of the Tees Freeport in north east England. And produced the report below in the issue before last. (Available here in pdf format.)

N.B. Political donations are not to be confused with bribes and backhanders; and if friends of London politicians get juicy contracts then it can only be because their firms are best able to deliver.

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Tees-side is a heavily built-up area, with a population pushing 380,000. And after the loss of its heavy industry – particularly steel – there is a widespread perception that the area is ‘owed something’.

Holyhead, by comparison, is a small town, with not much to speak about other than the ferry port to Ireland.

Until it closed in 2009, a major local employer was the Anglesey Aluminium smelter, with its private jetty. The plant received its electricity from Wylfa nuclear power station, some 15 miles away, another major employer that is now gone.

Roughly one thousand jobs paying good wages lost, but never mind, we’ll obey those who know best and stick in a few wind turbines and wave machines – plenty of jobs and unlimited cheap energy. Not.

The vacant site was taken over by Anglesey Aluminium Metal Renewables Ltd which in January 2016 became Orthios Power (Anglesey) Ltd. The site eventually being used for a plastics-to-oil operation.

But this folded earlier this year, with debts estimated at some £200m. And the end came suddenly, certainly for the staff. I’m told there was just a 10-minute warning not to start the next shift!

There are many Orthios companies listed with Companies House, none going back further than 2009 and most formed in the past three years. The ultimate holding company seems to be Orthios Operations Ltd, formerly Orthios Group (Holdings) Ltd.

So what happens now?

Well, the old smelter site has been bought by ferry operator Stena, and this is how a source on the island explains it . . .

‘Now of course they (Stena) can shift the dockside car parks elsewhere leaving nice waterside development plots. Just the sort of place to build a cable plant so they can load directly onto ships. The sort of cable company Virginia Crosbie MP was courting … the one owned by a Tory donor’.

He’s referring to Tratos, another local company hoping to benefit from offshore wind farms. Well, when I say ‘local’, it might be local if you were living in Italy. As the report makes clear.

From North West Wales Conservatives website. Click to open enlarged in separate tab.

This further report will explain a bit more of what’s going. Though you may not need to read beyond the headline: ‘Holyhead could get 300 cable jobs if area gets freeport status – says firm run by Tory party donor’.

Not much more to say really. Stena is leading the Freeport bid, and now Stena is pulling out the stops to get an ‘anchor’ company located in Holyhead. As is the local MP.

To finish this piece on Holyhead I have to mention Jake Berry MP. Now Jake is MP for a constituency in north west England, but he owns a number of properties on Ynys Môn. During the Covid lockdown it was rumoured that Virginia Crosbie was living in a property owned by Berry.

In addition to his post as party chairman, new Prime Minister, Liz Truss (I know you’re all impressed!), has made Berry Minister without Portfolio. Which may not sound much, but it kind of gives him a free hand.

That appointment was announced September 7. The day before the announcement, Berry resigned from the Northern Research Group Ltd (northern English Tory MPs), where he held the controlling interest. Also from Ford Bridge Farm Ltd.

Now why would he do that?

Ford Bridge Farm is of course an English rendering of his – or his wife’s – Rhyd y Bont farm at Rhoscolyn, on Holy Island. This is the smaller island, off the main island, and where Holyhead is located. Which means that Jake would be very close should the freeport materialise. A neighbour!

Rhyd y Bont circled. Click to open enlarged in separate tab

Does Jake Berry anticipate benefitting in some way from a freeport at Holyhead? Or am I being too cynical? Cynical! Moi!

By comparison, the southern rival seems far less well advanced. In fact, we could be forgiven for thinking it’s hardly off the ground. This report would suggest that it was launched as recently as last week.

Though this piece from November 2020 suggests the Port of Milford Haven has been thinking about a freeport for some time.

Milford Waterway. Click to open enlarged in separate tab

The more recent activity may be due to the fact that in May it was announced that the 45km limit (for the extent of freeport status) could be extended in Wales. This could certainly explain the southern bid combining Milford Haven with Port Talbot.

Which are 87km apart, as the fabled crow flies.

This somewhat bizarre combination is presumably justified by links between Milford Haven and Swansea Bay. As show in the image below. Which strikes me as being a wee bit desperate. For example, the Llandarcy refinery closed in 1998.

And would a freeport in Milford make the oil, gas, or electricity flow any faster?

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My insular source believes that for all sorts of reasons the southern bid will win out. I’m not so sure. For with local boy Jake Berry working his magic behind the scenes, and his good friend Virginia Crosbie staking her political reputation on it, I would not be at all surprised to see the £26m freeport pot head up the A5 rather than down the M4.

But whichever direction the loot heads the lucky recipients will need to watch out for sharks circling – but these won’t be in the water. They’ll be arriving in Beemers and hoping to dazzle with PowerPoint presentations and insincere smiles.

And, dare I say it, ‘inducements’. There, I’ve said it.

And I say it because a freeport in either Holyhead or Milford / Port Talbot will attract grifters like the fresh laverbread stall in Swansea market draws discerning gourmets.

NAILING THE VOICES?

This section is decidedly odd, and I wasn’t sure about using it, so please understand if certain details are withheld. (Especially towards the end.) But I do have the information and the relevant documents.

It started when someone got in touch, saying she had information on Gilestone, but what she offered was unconnected incidents jumbled up with snippets from hither and yon.

The long and winding road somehow took us to Ammanford. And Alan Delaney Tait. If the name rings a bell it’s because Tait claims to hear voices of women and children being abused, hurt, even killed. These sounds either come from beneath his property or from tunnels nearby.

Tait has turned his ‘voices’ into a cottage industry. With many videos on YouTube and other platforms. That said, they don’t get many views. This one, with 40k, is probably the most popular.

Most people, including the local police, dismiss Tait as a publicity-seeking crank. No tangible evidence of human trafficking has ever been found. In fact, there is nothing beyond Tait’s recordings; and as has been pointed out, these could have been made anywhere.

Doing a quick check for Tait on the Companies House website turned up some interesting stuff. Now I’m not sure from where Tait originates, but he’s been living in Ammanford in recent years.

And yet Companies House gives out eight companies for ‘Alan Delaney Tait’ with addresses in Ystalyfera, in the Swansea Valley.

With other companies where he drops the ‘Delaney’ and becomes plain ‘Alan Tait’.

Such as Alan Dee UK Ltd. (I love the way some use ‘UK’, hoping their enterprise will be mistaken for the local branch of a global empire.) Then there’s UKWide Contract Services Ltd,  ADT UK Wide Ltd and, finally, Number Plates Online Ltd.

In recent years the focus of operations seems to have switched to Derbyshire, in the East Midlands. With The Three Boars Guesthouse Ltd and Chal Rentals Ltd.

For these Derbyshire-based companies Tait has as co-director the gloriously monikered Carlos von Gallo. Who has his own YouTube channel, where he puts out nothing but Tait’s Ammanford ‘recordings’.

‘Von Gallo’ is listed as the sole shareholder at the two companies’ deaths, but does he really exist?

What the 14 companies I’ve given here have in common is that after a short life – in some cases very short – they all went under. There are no survivors.

Something else I found intriguing was that for almost all Tait’s companies there was an issue of a single £1 share (if it was him alone) or £2 if there was another director (Tait’s wife or ‘von Gallo’). With two notable exceptions.

These were The Old Coal Store, with a share issue of £25,000, and Barlas Eren Sezer Ltd, with a share issue of £125,000.

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I don’t wish to cast aspersions but, if I had money I couldn’t account for, then disguising it as a share capital in a company doomed to fail, might have its attractions.

In his ‘voices’ videos Tait points the finger at the nearby Sophia Nails. He further claims that the leaseholder was a Vietnamese woman named Trang Thanh Tran. She is now said to run T Nail Spa in the centre of Swansea.

There is a company of that name where she is listed as sole director. But the single £15,000 share is held by Thi Hai Nhung Nguyen who gives as his address another nail bar, this one on Chepstow Road in Newport.

Tran’s partner, or husband, Quang Lam, was the leaseholder in Ammanford and also at Heaven Nails in Llanelli. He was sent down for 5 years for belonging to a gang growing and distributing cannabis.

There are a number of ‘Heaven Nail’ companies, all but one run by Vietnamese nationals.

The Vietnamese connection may be significant because some comments to the YouTube videos claim to have heard Vietnamese being spoken by the ‘voices’.

But the problem with Tait is that even if he’s telling the truth about the voices, and the Vietnamese connection, one look at his business record tells us that he is, to put it generously, ‘unlucky’, with so many failed companies to his name. 

Despite Tait being so ‘unlucky’, I was still left wondering . . . and so, motivated by nothing beyond idle curiosity, I Googled ‘Sophia Nails’, the name of the Ammanford salon. What popped up was the Sophia Nail Spa in Porth, in the Rhondda.

At which point things got a bit strange.

For in February this year a company, Sophia Nail Spa Ltd, was launched. The only director is a 23-year-old Vietnamese named Thien Van Hoang.

And although the company uses 22 Hannah Street, Porth, as its correspondence address, the Certificate of Incorporation gives Hoang’s address as 31 Ridley Terrace, Sunderland.

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At this point is might be worth suggesting a few things.

  • First, whoever’s running the Porth nail bar may know nothing about the company that’s using the same name.
  • Next, Thien Van Hoang may not even know he is named as director of Sophia Nail Spa Ltd. I have come across other examples of people being listed as company directors without their knowledge.
  • Finally, Thien Van Hoang may never have visited Sunderland.

But to find another Vietnamese connection is intriguing. Not least because it seems nail bars are used by Vietnamese criminals for exploiting women and girls, also for money laundering. The same gangs that are involved with cannabis. And not just in the UK.

Just type ‘Vietnamese nail bars trafficking’ into your search engine and you’ll bring up countless news reports. It’s big business.

Which may also explain Sophia’s Nail Bar at 9 Oxford Street, Mountain Ash. (Shown in image below.) Which more recently seems to have been known as New Star Nails. Which again is odd, because a company of that name folded in July 2018.

The secretary and the only director are both of Vietnamese extraction.

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Returning to Porth, if we look at the building in which Sophia Nail Spa is located we see a block – 20-25 Hannah Street – with a second floor and, in part, a third floor.

Another company listed at this block was a sporting establishment (darts, snooker, etc), on the first floor, which in July changed its name and apparently became a bar. All the old directors left and a single new director arrived, a 22-year-old woman with an unmistakably Welsh name.

I’m not saying young Welsh women shouldn’t run bars, but . . .

For a start, ingress and egress to a bar on the first floor will only be possible by a flight of stairs from the street. Would a council – even Rhondda Cynon Tâf – grant a drinks licence to a place where people would regularly fall or be pushed down the stairs?

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On a weekend a fleet of ambulances would be needed to carry away the injured. And as we know, Wales doesn’t have a working fleet of ambulances.

Something’s not right. The old Jac nose is all a-quiver.

From countless previous cases in Wales and across Europe, Vietnamese nationals owning or running nail bars should have aroused the suspicions of both local councils and the police. 

Finally, the company that owns that 20-25 block on Hannah Street in Porth is based just a mile and a half, as the crow flies, from Gilestone Farm!

I am not suggesting anything. It’s just a small world and Wales is a small country.

THE OLD FOLKS AT HOME

Someone contacted me suggesting I might be interested in the latest in a series of bad news stories about care homes. And this one really is bad.

Like so many of the care homes in Wales, Pontypridd Nursing Home is run by a company based outside of Wales. In this case, RB Care Homes Ltd, of Chislehurst in Kent. The RB stands, presumably, for director Raqia Bibi.

I can’t find a website but there is a Twitter account with nothing posted for three years. It’s a similar story with the Facebook page.

I suspect this company has gone under. Maybe not officially, but Companies House is still waiting for accounts that should have been submitted by November 30 last year. I don’t think they’re coming.

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Despite the parlous state of RB Care Homes, and other companies of hers we’ll look at in a minute, Raqia Bibi was, as late as June this year, being held up as an exemplar of good practice in the sector!

Truly amazing!

Pontypridd Nursing Home wasn’t Ms Bibi’s first venture into care homes, nor her first foray into Wales. For she has a string of companies behind her, including you’ll notice, Wrexham Care Centre.

Where some three years ago she also made the news for the wrong reasons. You’ll see that her partner in Wrecsam was Mohanananthan Kuhananthan. With whom the story takes a bit of a twist. But be patient.

For a start, Wrexham Care Centre Ltd was always a dormant company, with money going through Nant-y-Gaer Ltd, which is also in administration.

Then, you’ll remember that the news report I linked to at the top of this section said that the Pontypridd Nursing Home is run by RB Care Homes Ltd, which may be true. But that company has also been filing as dormant since it was Incorporated in February 2017.

The report made no mention of Pontypridd Care Home Ltd, owned by Mohanananthan Kuhananthan. With Raqia Bibi as co-director. Which may be explained by the fact that it’s this company that actually owns the property on Maesycoed Road, for which it claims to have paid £1.5m in May 2012.

Which means that while local authorities and others go chasing dormant companies for money those companies don’t have, the assets themselves are owned by companies they may know nothing about. It’s a popular trick.

Maybe Wrecsam and Rhondda Cynon Tâf councils, or anyone else owed money from the collapse of nursing / care homes, should consult their lawyers about refocusing any claims.

Kuhananthan has other companies. Many companies. Four under the Comfort Care Homes brand suggest operations in Wales. With, in some cases, money owed to the Development Bank of Wales. These relate to the Danygraig Nursing Home, in Newport.

What I find extraordinary is that these DBW loans were made in June, when it would have been obvious, after the most cursory of enquiries, that not only are Kuhananthan’s companies in deep trouble, but that the man himself may not be entirely above board.

UPDATE 10.10.2022: It may be worth clarifying that Kuhananthan was no longer a director of Comfort Care Homes (Danygraig) Ltd when the DBW loans were made, and Bibi had never been a director. But this company is owned by Dream Care Homes (RB) Ltd, formed in December 2021. And while they’re not shown as directors of this company either, I suspect the ‘RB’ tells us something.

Kuhananthan’s Welsh involvement doesn’t end with the examples given.

Through the company Mufulira Ltd, which Kuhananthan joined in May 2018, and was followed by Raqia Bibi in July 2021, they own Ridgeway Care Centre in Pembrokeshire, which must be worth a few bob.

The entrance to the Ridgeway Care Centre, Llawhaden, Pembrokeshire. Click to open enlarged in separate tab

In fact, the latest accounts seem to value Ridgeway at just short of two million pounds. That said, while it might be owned by Mufulira – another company in trouble – Mufulira itself is owned by Comfort Care Homes Ltd, which we know is yet another Kuhananthan and Bibi company.

Maybe Pembrokeshire County Council should also be on alert, and realise who owns Ridgeway. But then, Kuhananthan-Bibi companies appear to have no assets beyond the buildings, all of which have loans or mortgages against them.

I didn’t have the time to go any deeper, but I suggest for anyone so inclined, that Kuhananthan and Bibi are worthy of further investigation.

Before finishing this section, here’s another interesting connection.

We earlier encountered Nant-y-Gaer Ltd, which I suggested was the Kuhananthan-Bibi company actually running the home of that name in Wrecsam. (Now ‘Wrexham Care Centre’.) But there’s also a Nant-y-Gaer Hall Ltd.

When going through the details for Nant-y-Gaer Hall Ltd I noticed that Kuhananthan gave as his address 83 Dyserth Road in Rhyl. Where we find Sandy Lodge Hospital, run buy Medirose Healthcare.

A company formed as recently as November 2020 and filing as dormant.

However, 83 Dyserth Road is owned by HuaTong Ltd, a company that somehow manages to make a loss every year. The directors and owners are Chinese citizen, Wang Liu, and Sharvanandan Arnold, who has cropped up before in connection with fellow Sri Lankan Mohanananthan Kuhananthan

I conclude that care for the elderly in Wales is an utter shambles. It’s attracting unscrupulous if not crooked operators. They’re drawn by easy money and the lack of adequate oversight.

As a start, and a show of intent, I would like the ‘Welsh Government’ and Care Inspectorate Wales to announce they will not register or deal with any care home, nursing home, or other facility, where Mohanananthan Kuhananthan and Raqia Bibi are involved.

To lighten the mood a little, though not too much . . .

I genuinely worry about the care of the elderly because I’m not getting any younger myself. Will I be properly taken care of when my kids dump me in the Uncle Joe Sunshine Home for Unrepentant Fascists and Incorrigible Transphobes?

SOURCES

I had planned to have a section dealing with information I’d received from a source somewhere within the ‘Welsh Government’ detailing the nepotism and corruption all around.

And of the power wielded by those connected with housing associations, often in areas that have nothing to do with housing, and how the Wales Council for Voluntary Action is almost an arm of government.

Also some of the names I’m called in Corruption Bay. Some so bad he / she couldn’t even put them into print! Well, I was mortified. Mortified, I was!

But on reflection I feel it could be dangerous for this person if I was to go into details. So I’ll leave it there.

The information I’ve received thus far was posted anonymously to Gwlad and passed on to me. But I do wish to maintain contact.

So we need to think how this might be achieved.

GLOBALISTS

In recent years it has become increasingly clear to me that much of what I report on is simply the ‘Welsh Government’ and various agencies in Wales adopting and promoting agendas dreamt up elsewhere.

‘London’, is only part of the answer. And an increasingly irrelevant part.

A few years ago I wouldn’t have been writing this, but the Covid ‘pandemic’ and the way it was seized upon by politicians and others opened my eyes, and it helped me see the bigger picture.

That bigger picture of unelected, supranational bodies imposing agendas on governments and other institutions that impact on just about everybody on Earth.

In particular, I’m referring to the World Economic Forum. Made up of politicians, bankers, and multi-billionaires like Bill Gates, George Soros and Mark Zuckerberg. This self-electing elite – like almost all previous elites in human history – believes it is made up of essentially decent people, who are obviously smarter than the rest of us, and should therefore run the world.

Klaus Schwab and the World Economic Forum. Click to open enlarged in separate tab

It reminds me of a couple of lines from Tom Paxton’s 1960s protest song, Daily News.

J. Edgar Hoover is the man of the hourAll that he needs is just a little more power

Just like J Edgar Hoover all the new global elite needs is a little more power. And then a little more. And then . . .

(Never agreed with his politics but I always thought Paxton was the best – certainly the most versatile – of the 60s folk / protest singer-songwriters. Love songs, political songs, humorous songs, kids’ songs, he could do them all.)

The principal tool the new elite uses to exert control and impose its agenda is climate disaster. Just like the Nazis they realise that to impose your will you need to frighten people with an imagined or overblown ‘threat’.

For the Nazis, it was the Jews, the Communists, Versailles; but for Klaus Schwab and his gang it’s global warming – and it’s all our fault. So we must change our behaviour to make up for the damage we cause, in ways that will be decided for us.

And it’s the West that must be targeted. Partly because the West is the richest and most advanced area of the globe, and also because concepts of individual liberty are more highly developed and valued in the West than most other parts of the world.

This explains the many-fronted attack on Western civilisation by the globalists and their foot-soldiers on the Left. With their initiatives denied / defended / promoted / hidden / (depending on requirements) by their allies in Mainstream Media and Big Tech.

It also explains much of what we see in Wales: the war on farmers, the lack of spending on infrastructure, the 20mph speed limit, our hills being ravaged by wind farms.

The crises we see approaching, food shortages due to the war on farmers, power cuts thanks to a campaign against fossil fuels and increased reliance on useless ‘renewables’, no petrol or diesel to run our vehicles, being locked out of your bank account for holding the ‘wrong’ views, political unrest resulting from these problems, unnecessary lockdowns and dangerous vaccinations justified by a virus with increasingly suspect origins, even the war in the Ukraine, have all been engineered, and could all have been avoided.

Because it’s all about control. Over us. By them.

Compared to forced chipping of children, and silencing those who challenge the WEF narrative, Lee Waters stuffing the National Infrastructure Commission with cronies representing housing associations, Sustrans / Deryn (Waters is ex Sustrans himself), and the M4 corridor, is small beer.

And no less than we have come to expect from Welsh politicians.

I’ll end with a little history lesson cum allegory that might explain how I see things.

Carlos Marcello was the Mafia boss of New Orleans for many years, and one of the most powerful gangsters in the USA. Then in 1960 John F Kennedy became President; he appointed his brother Bobby as Attorney-General, and Bobby went after the Mob.

Predictably, many leading figures in organised crime wanted to whack Bobby Kennedy; but Marcello sagely observed that if you cut off a dog’s tail he can still bite you, so it was better to go for the head.

Which helps explain why Marcello is strongly suspected of being implicated in JFK’s assassination in Dallas on November 22, 1963. He probably was involved, but this wasn’t a straightforward Mafia hit, and they didn’t act alone.

The point I’m making is that I’m spending too much time on a ‘tail’. And while I shall continue to report idiocy like Gilestone, in future I intend paying more attention to the ‘head’.

♦ end ♦

 

© Royston Jones 2022


Buy-to-rent beavers, hawking sheikhs and Mrs Hain

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

Yes, I promised there wouldn’t be anything until next Monday, but something came up and I thought, ‘Why not?’ And seeing as I’m spoiling you, next week’s offering might now be later than I’d promised.

You can have too much of a good thing!

ESCAPEES ON THE DYFI

This story starts with a report on the North Wales Live website of beavers in Afon Dyfi. A similar report appeared in the Western Mail yesterday. These beavers shouldn’t be there, of course, but they are, and no one seems to know who put them there!

Which could happen, I suppose. Anyone can walk into a pet shop and buy a mating pair of beavers . . . then mislay them somewhere near Machynlleth. It must happen all the time.

The fact that there are people wanting to release beavers into Welsh rivers is pure coincidence. Equally coincidental is that the Dyfi is targeted by these people.

The unlawful release may have taken place around the time – or even before – an application to release was made by Wildlife Trusts Wales to Natural Resources Wales. More on both these organisations later.

BEAVERS EVERYWHERE!

Another area being targeted by beaver lovers is in Carmarthenshire, where we find the Bevis Trust. The website tells us that the Trust, ” . . . manage wildlife on our 300 acre farm in Carmarthenshire and on other farms in the south west of Wales.”

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Are we dealing here with a Welsh farming family wishing to reintroduce species that have not been found in Wales for centuries?

No prizes for guessing the answer to that question, for we are now in the murky world of ‘rewilding’.

Companies House tells us that the Bevis Trust for Wildlife Management is based at Penllynin Farm, west of Carmarthen. Seemingly run by Dr Nicholas Christopher Fox and the woman I take to be his Swedish wife, Barbro Ingrid Margareta.

Financially, the most recent ‘Micro company’ accounts (y/e 31.12.2018) give fixed assets of £444,733 (the farm?), but a negative figure for ‘total net assets’. This being accounted for by ‘current liabilities’.

I wondered who owns the farm, but when I tried my luck on the Land Registry website I found that Penllynin farm is not registered. Which is odd. Has it recently changed hands, with perhaps new ownership details being processed, or is someone trying to hide something?

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Another outfit at the same address is International Wildlife Consultants (UK) Ltd. The ‘Abridged Balance Sheet’ (y/e 31.12.2019) shows healthy net assets of £8,749,561.

Though there are two charges against the company. One seems to be a bank loan for the purchase of Vowley farm, near Royal Wootton Bassett in Wiltshire. The farm probably contributes most of the £2,320,764 in fixed assets. There is also a newly-minted Vowley Management Company Ltd.

With almost six million pounds of ‘assets’ accounted for by ‘debtors’. Who might they be? On page 7 of the latest accounts we read:

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So – and not for the first time – we are dealing with linked or interlocking companies with money passing between them. Let’s see if we can figure out what’s what.

Wingbeat Ltd has “the same ultimate controlling party”. It never seems to have traded, with the one-time assets made up almost entirely of stocks, and the latest accounts showing a negative value of over one million pounds, accounted for by ‘creditors’. Presumably other Fox companies.

The other company mentioned in the capture above is Mickelbo Ltd, which is rather interesting. Not least because from its Incorporation in December 2003 until February 2007 it was known as International Wildlife Consultants Ltd.

I referred to money passing between the various companies owned by Nicholas and Barbro Fox. Go back to the 2004 accounts for Mickelbo Ltd (then International Wildlife Consultants Ltd) and you’ll read, in the final entry:

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It was the same in the following year’s accounts. Charging their company for use of their land. All perfectly legal.

The change of company name in 2007 is due to the complete change in business, from a wildlife consultancy to a buy-to-rent landlord. This explains 40 outstanding mortgages. A number of these mortgages refer to properties in Carmarthen, Whitland, St Clears.

Most of these mortgages are with Mortgage Express, which has quite a history.

All 100 shares in Mickelbo are owned by International Wildlife Consultants (UK) Ltd. Which is why we can read this in the latest Mickelbo accounts:

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Let’s recap. A couple of strangers decide Wales looks attractive. They start buying up land and property – then they rent it back to us! They have created not a single job. They now want permission to release beavers into Welsh rivers.

Because they’re curious to see what will happen. But unconcerned about the damage these animals might cause, and the livelihoods and leisure activities they could harm.

MONEY ON THE WING

In addition to beavers the Foxes are also interested in hawks. As we see with The Festival of Falconry and The Falconry Heritage Trust. We find other directors at these two charities, with an eclectic collection at the second representing China, Italy, USA, Japan, Netherlands, Belgium and Mongolia. (There is of course no Welsh involvement.)

The Festival of Falconry is filing as a dormant company with debts of £1,587. The Falconry Heritage Trust is in much better financing shape, thanks to . . .

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This grant seems to have been sat on for a decade and explains the bulk of the one and half million pounds currently in the kitty.

The donor, “Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, colloquially known by his initials as MBZ, is the Crown Prince of the Emirate of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the United Arab Emirates Armed Forces”.

His official biography paints him as a liberal; no mention of chopped-up journalists or adulterers being stoned to death. But then, in the Gulf, these considerations are relative.

Compared to Hitler and Stalin Mussolini looked almost cuddly.

Though going through The Falconry Heritage Trust accounts I was surprised to read, “Dr N Fox, a trustee of the charity, is a director and shareholder of International Wildlife Consultants Ltd”.

This was the previous name for Mickelbo, the new company has ‘(UK)’ in the name. Can’t they keep up with their own name changes?

BEAVERS EVERYWHERE!

So, we know there are beavers in the Dyfi, the Foxes want them in Carmarthenshire, while in Llandrindod we find yet another group with beavers straining at the leash. (Or however beavers express their deep yearning for liberty.)

I’m referring now to the Welsh Beaver Project, which is the umbrella organisation for a number of groups. Another umbrella organisation for local groups is Wildlife Trusts Wales (WTW).

From WTW we learn there is a single Trust for the whole of the north, another for ‘south and west Wales’, a third for Gwent; but instead of there being one for Powys, ‘Brecknock’, Montgomeryshire and Radnorshire have one each.

Now you might expect an organisation representing Welsh wildlife bodies to be located somewhere rural . . . but you’d be wrong. The registered office for Wildlife Trusts Wales is in Mount Stuart Square, in the black heart of Corruption Bay.

For Wildlife Trusts Wales is as much about lobbying politicians and influencing civil servants as it is about protecting wildlife. And of course, ensuring a steady flow of public moolah to create jobs . . . to employ people to lobby . . .

Just like George Monbiot and his Summit to Sea gang of ‘rewilders’, the WTW sees Brexit as a great opportunity. That’s because the self-styled ‘Welsh Government’ will in future control the agricultural purse-strings. (Unless Westminster takes back that power.)

Just like the Monbiot gang the ‘Beavers Everywhere!’ crew believe they can persuade the ‘Welsh Government’ to re-label and divert farm payments to them.

It’s spelled out quite brazenly in the most recent annual report (top of page 2). We read that the ‘Welsh Government’ being in control of farm funding represents, “Significant opportunity to influence future payments”.

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And the enviro-colonists of WTW have every right to be optimistic. For the Minister for Environment, Energy and Rural Affairs is Lesley Griffiths, who is shacked up with ‘Game Show Gary’ Haggaty. He belongs to a clique of civil servants believing that all farmers – but especially Welsh farmers – are absolute bastards, and should be cleared off the land.

Their land.

‘BEAVERS, WHAT BEAVERS?’

It seems clear that the runaway – swimaway? – beavers on the Dyfi have been there for a few years . . . without anyone doing anything about it. The agency that should have been taking an interest is Natural Resources Wales.

Now you know me, I don’t like twisting the knife, but NRW has not had a good press of late. Most memorably with the timber sales, something that was never properly explained. But that’s Wales – a colony run by a corrupt management team with neither an effective political opposition nor a media to hold it to account.

This scandal resulted in Labour AM Lee Waters claiming the NRW was “out of control”, and for once I agreed with him. Because for once, he was right.

Deposed NRW chair, Diane McCrea, entered the revolving door from which popped her replacement Sir David Henshaw, who was, ” . . . born and bred in Liverpool”, but has “lived in North Wales for a number of years”. So he knows Wales like the back of his hand.

Then there’s CEO Clare Pillman who, in a different role, played her part in inflicting HMP Berwyn on us.

In fact, if you want to see ‘colonialism’ spelled out in thirty-foot-high neon letters you couldn’t do much better than the Board of Natural Resources Wales.

Though while the majority of the members are imports, there is also Geraint Davies described – because he’s the only one – as a “fluent Welsh speaker”. (Being a mere native, Geraint of course comes at the bottom of the list.)

Former chair of Wildlife Trusts Wales, Howard Davies, is also on the Board. Isn’t that cosy for when WTW deals with NRW? Howard is also CEO of the National Association for Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty.

At NAAONB we find office manager Amber Carter. Amber previously worked for Wildlife Trusts Wales and Environment Wales (the forerunner to Natural Resources Wales).

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Did I say cosy? It’s positively incestuous!

Another who caught my eye was Chris Blake, for he is also involved with the Simon and Garfunkel tribute act at the putative Black Mountains College. An institution that provides “planet-centric education”. So there!

I wrote about them here and here. (You will need to scroll down.)

His brief bio on the BMC website tells us that Blake is a director of Green Valleys CIC .

The Green Valleys (Wales) Community Interest Company is based in Crickhowell, which we need to be told is in Wales. The latest accounts show that on a turnover of £208,753 in 2019 it managed a gross profit of £147,119, which is nothing to scoff at.

Unfortunately, administrative expenses took £178,338, and the bottom line, with everything taken into account, was a deficit for the year of £235,023. Bank loans and overdrafts accounting for £120,000 of that.

Making me wonder if any green energy companies make money. Would any of them survive without grants and other hand-outs?

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Another member of the NRW Board worthy of mention is Dr Elizabeth Haywood, aka Mrs Peter Hain. Because for a woman with not a democratically cast vote to her name she plays a worryingly influential role in Welsh political and public life.

“Purely advisory roles, surely, Jac?”

Mmm. But when you consider how lazy and useless the Labour politicos of Corruption Bay are, and the fact that she’s the wife of a party heavyweight who outranks them all, then Haywood’s ‘advice’ will go a long way to determining policy.

Such as her Task and Finish Group into City Regions concluding that the best future for our north east is to be taken over and integrated with the north west of England.

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I could understand ‘advice’ like that coming from the English side of the border – “Let us take over Flintshire, Wrexham and Denbighshire for overspill housing in order to protect property values in Cheshire”, but from the Welsh side it sounds like surrender.

Or, more likely, it’s just stating the English position in a way that’s supposed to make it more palatable. It happens all the time.

As I said at the top of this section, I introduced Natural Resources Wales because it is the agency that should have taken action when it became known that beavers had been illegally released into the Dyfi catchment area.

A couple of days ago I put out a tweet that was answered by NRW and then taken up by @Cynfab3 who seems to know about the Dyfi beavers. The responses from NRW tell me they aren’t interested in taking any action.

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To cover their own negligence NRW even tries to pass the buck to Dyfed Powys Police!

JAC AND THE BEAVERS

So what is the considered opinion of this august blog towards our furry, flapper-tailed friends?

Let me make it quite clear that I have nothing against beavers. They’ve done me no harm. So, in principle, I would have no real objection to them being reintroduced into Welsh rivers.

But that’s not the point is it?

My objection is based on the fact that this scheming – and law-breaking – is being done by alien groups with an unhealthy influence over civil servants and politicians, the latter elected to serve the Welsh interest. And being done against the wishes of those whose opinions should be paramount and decisive – the local, Welsh population.

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Which makes this latest furore contemporary Wales in a nutshell, where everyone’s interests are catered for, except us Welsh. Where you only have to scream “climate change” loudly enough to get what you want.

Resulting in Wales filling up with bullshitters and shysters who spend their time attending conferences, making self-promoting videos, lobbying politicians, milking the public purse – and contributing sod all to the health or wealth of the nation.

Simply creating conditions where you can – quite literally – throw up a shack in open country, just as long as you claim it’s a One Planet Development saving us from global warming. As this recent FoI response makes clear.

Nobody in officialdom cared about this unauthorised OPD, just as nobody cares about the unlawful release of beavers into the Dyfi because the authors are people with names like Guy and Cassandra rather than Gwilym and Cerys.

Am I exaggerating?

As I write, we have tourists dumping rubbish everywhere, blocking roads; Welsh communities are being destroyed by holiday homes and colonisation, yet the ‘Welsh Government’ prefers to sit on its hands, serving the interests of an alien and genocidal tourism industry.

We need a fresh intake of politicians to Corruption Bay prepared to prioritise Welsh interests. Make it happen next year!

STOP PRESS: The latest ‘rewilding’ stunt is the suggestion that golden eagles be ‘reintroduced’ to Eryri. But will they survive saturation tourism, wind turbines and an absence of their natural prey?

Given the mess left by tourists in recent weeks maybe we should be thinking of vultures?

♦ end ♦




Wales and Coronavirus 2

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

I know I often start with an apology (I have a lot to apologise for), and this time is no exception. I’d toyed with the idea of writing about other subjects, but there really isn’t much point.

So I’m offering a second helping of Wales and Coronavirus, with perhaps an entertaining digression or twa.

THE CASE OF THE MISSING TESTING KITS

Politicians have been under the spotlight in this crisis, which will return to haunt some of them. For many politicos are being exposed as liars, others as incompetents, while the worst of them are both, and more.

Let’s take the case of the testing kits that the ‘Welsh Government’ insists it ordered from Roche, an order that it’s alleged was cancelled by the Swiss pharma giant when the UK government got involved and put in a bigger order.

A few things strike me as odd about this incident. First, the ‘Welsh Government’ has produced no evidence of an order being placed, let alone accepted. Second, after an initial flurry of outrage London’s local management team seems to have fallen into line, leaving Drakewell looking increasingly like a compliant ‘regional leader’ in a totalitarian state.

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But let’s be generous, and assume that even if the order wasn’t actually placed, that negotiations were at least underway. That being so, was Whitehall tipped off about the ‘Welsh Government’ – for once! – looking up to the job, even upstaging BoJo’s gang?

This might explain why the deal between the ‘Welsh Government’ and Roche fell through. But if so, who tipped off Whitehall?

My money would be on civil servants, more specifically, senior civil servants of the type appointed by London and answering to their masters in the Great Wen. And when they’re not carrying clecks they’re implementing orders from London, often dressed up as ‘Welsh legislation’.

But even before the Roche incident, we now know that an offer was made in early March to carry out testing, but the offer has been ignored, according to Professor Andrew Godkin of the School of Medicine in Cardiff.

The BBC reported:

‘Prof Godkin, who leads the School of Medicine, said Wales has significant laboratory capacity to help ramp up the numbers of Covid-19 tests.

“It’s been deeply frustrating. We flagged up what was available about three weeks ago,” he said.

“We certainly have the capacity here and in Cardiff University to really offer… a considerable number of tests.”‘

Why hasn’t this offer, from an institution within miles of Corruption Bay, been taken up?

Whatever the truth about the testing kits from Roche, the ‘Welsh Government’ has clearly surrendered control to Downing Street. With the result that when it comes to testing kits, personal protection equipment (PPE), Wales will get whatever London decides.

And so, here we are, a month or more into this crisis, and front line staff in our health service are still waiting for tests and PPE. The conclusion I draw is that the ‘Welsh Government’ has chosen not to act contrary to London diktats, even when to do so would be best for Wales.

Which makes devolution rather pointless.

Though of course, it could all be a cunning plan worthy of Baldrick. For ‘Welsh’ Labour likes nothing more than to blame somebody else for anything that goes wrong. By surrendering control over the fight against coronavirus to London Cardiff Bay might be seen as getting itself off the hook.

ANOTHER WEEKEND INFLUX

While it wasn’t as bad as the previous weekend there was still a sizeable influx of selfish idiots who just don’t care about risking other people’s lives. Liz Saville Roberts MP even reported that second home owners were sharing information on how to avoid police checks, like it was some game.

As that tweet from LSR suggests, the police seem to have been more proactive this weekend, stopping people and asking them where they were going, and why.

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The evidence popped up regularly on Twitter, with reports of vehicles also being stopped on Dyfi Bridge at Machynlleth (a boundary between GogPlod and Dyfed Powys), and also around Bala.

But this tweet put out on Friday evening by a councillor on Ynys Môn would suggest that nothing was being done on the bridges linking the island with the mainland.

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Perhaps his cri de coeur was answered, for the following day police were out, but getting in their way was the new MP for the island, Virginia Crosbie. For as we know, Tory politicians can’t resist a photo opp with police. (Though of course there are 20,000 fewer cops since 2010.)

Though you have admire her brass neck. To begin with, Conservatives love holiday homes, most Tory MPs have at least one. And I guarantee that Crosbie garnered quite a few votes from holiday home-owning families that live in safe Tory seats, and could afford to vote from their holiday homes in a marginal constituency like Ynys Môn.

Though the ultimate hypocrisy was her claim that it’s all being done to help the NHS. The health service would be coping a hell of a lot better with this pandemic if her party had put more money in over recent years.

If those clowns in London she regards as the government could just arrange for front-line health staff to be tested, and to have PPE, she’d look less like a politician exploiting global misery to promote herself.

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Though maybe I’m being a bit harsh, for we mustn’t use coronavirus to score political points, must we? Though if that’s the case, then someone should have told ‘Barry’ Lee Waters, Sosban’s AM.

Plaid Cymru put out a statement over the weekend urging people to stay at home, and when it was retweeted by ITV Wales’ Welsh political editor, Adrian Masters, Waters jumped in with both feet to infer that Plaid was being anti-English.

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Obviously the boy hadn’t read the full statement that Adrian Masters had so helpfully retweeted. (Quelle twat! as we used to say in Swansea.) Though Barry’s contribution reminds us of another political party that has problems with holiday homes. His own.

Which is strange, for we should expect any socialist or social democratic party to be opposed to holiday homes on a number of grounds, but not ‘Welsh’ Labour, which has tied itself up in all sorts of knots.

Lee Waters often gets confused over health matters. Here’s a pic from a couple of years ago, showing him with the Llanelli MP, Nia Griffith, protesting against hospital closures introduced by their own ‘Welsh Labour Government’ in Cardiff. No wonder they both look so sheepish. Click to enlarge

Mainly because from a ‘Welsh’ Labour perspective holiday homes is a ‘nashie’ issue, the kind of thing that people like me are supposed to get vexed about. Which is true, up to a point, I suppose, but it’s hardly an obsession with me, as you’ll realise from searching this blog.

But because that’s how Labour in Wales frames it, doing anything to discourage the growth in the number of holiday homes is seen as a concession to political opponents.

The collateral damage of hard-working local people priced out of the property market, and the destruction of Welsh communities and even Welsh identity, is acceptable because by and large the areas worst affected don’t vote Labour.

Which in practical terms, results in ‘Welsh’ Labour being as indulgent towards holiday homes as the Conservative and Unionist Party.

While Plaid Cymru’s request was for no one to travel unnecessarily, Visit Wales still has trouble telling tourists and holiday home owners to stay out, as this tweet put out on Saturday makes clear. They can’t quite bring themselves to say, ‘Don’t travel INTO Wales’.

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We’ve had two weekends of ignored lockdown and now we face Easter weekend, for which I’m sure the police are preparing. Though I would suggest that rather than random checks all over the country, or responding to tweets such as that from Councillor Carwyn Jones, checks on the border would be more effective.

Wales is a small country with a limited number of decent, cross-border roads, maybe a dozen in all. You’ll see that I’ve made three additions to the motorway and trunk road map reproduced below. All three cross the border into Powys, with the A44 being the only road into Aberystwyth from the east, the A489 links with the A470 heading north towards Snowdonia, and the A438 runs down to the Beacons.

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Just having a police presence from Friday morning on these roads where they cross the border would have an effect. Pulling over motor homes and towed caravans would obviously make sense, as would stopping anyone who looks a bit ‘touristy’.

And if such a tactic proves successful then we could make it permanent!

PROFITEERING

We’ve all heard reports of coronavirus being used to bump up prices by shysters like Mike Ashley of Sports Direct, but it’s not just the usual suspects, as I found out last week.

I was looking for a new scanner/printer and after deciding on the model I wanted I went online to compare prices. To my surprise – as I’ve never bought from them before – John Lewis Partnership offered the best deal. So I ordered my machine, an Epson ET-7750 at £549.

I then had an e-mail telling me that the order was being processed. Before, bizarrely, receiving another e-mail saying that my contact details had been changed. Not by me they hadn’t! This was followed by, ‘We are unable to process your order’, and then a cancellation.

Read by numbers. Click to enlarge

Curious, I went to the John Lewis website. The machine I’d ordered was still there of course – but the asking price had gone up by £50 since I’d placed my order!

Obviously I had to find another supplier. I went to one I’d never heard of before, Box.

I paid just over £10 more than I’d originally paid John Lewis, but at least there was no nonsense about ‘changed details’, and it even arrived on Saturday, not on Monday as I’d expected.

But being the curious bugger I am, after placing my order I went back to the Box website – and saw that the price had increased by £30 in less than 24 hours!

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It seems obvious to me that with so many stores closed online retailers feel they can charge whatever they like. So if you’re shopping online – be careful!

‘ALL PULLING TOGETHER’

In a number of ways it seems that the UK government is using the coronavirus crisis to override devolved administrations and possibly undermine devolution. How far this will go remains to be seen.

For coronavirus is now up there with World War II, the monarchy, World Cup 1966, the Falklands, the death of Diana, Only Fools and Horses, and the 2012 Olympics, as a ‘shared experience’. Something that we are expected to believe transcends national and regional differences, and makes distinctions of class, religion and of course, politics irrelevant.

Coronavirus will be milked for all it’s worth, and of course it explains why Her Maj made an address to the Commonwealth on Sunday. (You missed it!)

The problem is of course, that we aren’t ‘all in it together’.

Let us visualise a member of the Cheshire Set, with private health care, and let’s call him Dominic. Let’s further assume that he drives down in his Merc to spend a weekend in his holiday home, and while in Wales he infects old Mrs Roberts with Covid-19 then fucks off back to his big house in Wilmslow before Mrs Roberts dies.

Yeah, I suppose that could be a shared experience; cos Dom must have had coronavirus for him to infect Mrs Roberts. Stands to reason.

And just as Hitler had Versailles, those arseholes in London feel they too must have someone to blame, or a distraction. But with so much Chinese money sloshing about in London they can’t imitate their orange friend in Washington and call it the ‘Chinese Virus’ . . . so they pick on footballers!

Matt Hancock, the uninspiring Health Secretary in the UK government, has demanded that footballers give up a chunk of their earnings in the fight against coronavirus. Specifically, for hospices.

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Perhaps a case could be made for paying these players less because football, like all other sports, has been suspended until the crisis has passed. But if the issue is money, then a few hundred footballers taking a pay cut isn’t going to make much difference. And how would the money be collected? Or even assessed? If their clubs pay them less is Hancock planning to ask Liverpool and Manchester City and Arsenal for whatever they’re not paying Salah, de Bruyne, Lacazette and the rest?

But if money is the issue, then a hell of a lot more could be raised from the Tories’ tax-avoiding friends, with their tax haven companies, as Gary Lineker has suggested. (There’s no, ‘if they possibly can’ about it, Gary. They definitely can!)

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Staying with the beautiful game, why am I and millions of others still having to pay Sky, BT, Premier Sports and Amazon Prime for football that’s not being played? Will Hancock talk to Rupert Murdoch and others to get our subscriptions suspended until football resumes? Will he hell!

But it’s not a question of money. No amount of money collected now can make much difference in the fight against coronavirus. The problems in the NHS are structural and of long standing. The money should have been invested years ago, over the last few decades in fact.

Which makes having a pop at footballers a cheap publicity stunt from a cheap politician.

Another ‘national treasure’ recruited in the fight against coronavirus and for British unity is Florence Nightingale. The new emergency hospitals in England have been named after her, and of course the Millennium Stadium in Cardiff, home to the Welsh Rugby Union, has followed NHS England’s lead.

But in Glasgow the emergency hospital was named after Louisa Jordan, a WW1 nurse from Maryhill, who died working in Serbia. She is still fondly remembered by the Serbs. (Serbia suffered more casualties per capita than any other country.)

This decision has outraged those who wear Union Jack underpants beneath their kilts and support a certain football club. One such was former Labour MP Douglas Alexander, who detected ‘small-minded nationalism’ at work.

To believe Douglas Alexander, naming a hospital in Glasgow after a woman from that city who lost her life helping others is wrong, but to name it after a woman who did a great job of self-promotion in one of Britain’s countless 19th century colonialist adventures, but who has no connections with Scotland, is the right thing to do.

Here, as with Barry Lee Waters, we see the BritNat mind at work. Scottish or Welsh nationalism (bad) is detected in the most harmless gesture, but it would be blind to British nationalism (good) if London sent in the tanks and started arresting people.

WHAT NEXT?

Coronavirus is having strange effects. In this posting I’ve found myself defending Plaid Cymru and agreeing with Gary Lineker.

Regular readers will know that I am no friend to Plaid Cymru; but what is not so well known is that I was no fan of Lineker the footballer, I think he ruins Match of the Day with the faux mateyness, and I detest even more his liberal pontificating on social media.

But there you go, these are not normal times. And the worst is yet to come, in terms of deaths, and in disruption to what were our everyday lives.

Political leadership in both London and Cardiff has failed us. The economy is already severely damaged, house prices will collapse, savings and investments will suffer, and by this time next year our lives could be framed by very different political and economic paradigms.

There is no going back to things as they were pre Covid-19. That system has been found wanting. Once the worst of coronavirus is behind us Wales must have a fresh start. And that can only mean independence.

♦ end ♦

 

 

 

Family silver

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

In this post I want to pull together a number of threads without, I hope, complicating the story too much.

TOWER COLLIERY

Let’s start by going back to this post I wrote last December and scroll down to the section headed ‘The left betrays Wales, again’. What I tried to explain was the recent history of the Tower Colliery site since deep mining finished in January 2008.

I wrote that the closure was followed by a short period of opencast mining, to extract some six million tons of anthracite coal. This began in May 2012 and ended in March 2017, when new environment regulations meant that Aberthaw power station could no longer take Tower’s coal.

From what I can make out, this opencast operation was a partnership between the original Tower Colliery Ltd (Incorporated 28.11.1994), Tower Regeneration Ltd (Inc 20.08.2009), and a company from north east England called Hargreaves Services Plc As explained here.

The open cast site seems to be owned by Tower Regeneration with a loan from Forward Sound Ltd, a company linked to Hargreaves.

Tower Colliery Ltd is ultimately owned by Goitre Tower Anthracite Ltd. The 488 Goitre shareholders are I assume former miners and the relatives of former miners. With the maximum individual holding apparently limited to 8,260 of the 2,164,075 shares.

With open cast mining finished, what is to become of this high and windy, but scenically attractive, area?

The answer would appear to be . . . zip wires!

‘TOP O’ THE WORLD, MAM’

The title of this section is taken from that great film noir, White Heat, and the line spoken by Cody Jarrett, played by James Cagney, before the gas tank on which he’s standing explodes. (Obviously, in the movie, Jarrett says ‘Ma’, not ‘Mam’.)

I use it because Rhigos can give that top of the world feeling. And that’s where we are, on the A4061 that makes its way from the A465 Heads of the Valleys road down into the Rhondda. On the map below you’ll see, marked with a red cross, the Rhigos Viewpoint, a large lay-by giving superb views over the surrounding country.

Image courtesy of Google Earth. Click to enlarge.

Not only that, but in bad weather the Rhigos Viewpoint serves as a temporary depot for Rhondda Cynon Taf gritting lorries, allowing them to travel in both directions and avoid the climb up from their regular depots in the valley below.

Why then was the Viewpoint recently put up for sale?

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We see that the online sale document is dated 27 June and Lesley Griffiths’ letter to Lee Waters AM is dated 16 July. Between these dates concerned locals noticed the sale, someone living in Llanelli contacted his AM, Lee Waters, who wrote to Ken ‘Flint Ring’ Skates; the civil servants in Cardiff or wherever realised they’d been rumbled, pulled the advert, and Lesley Griffiths replied to Lee Waters denying any sale.

A little episode that does not reflect well on those who manage Wales for their bosses in London. Lesley Griffiths in particular is getting a bit of a reputation for being averse to the truth.

Returning to Rhigos . . . If we look at this image of the viewpoint and lay-by we see, centre right, Craig y Llyn, the jumping-off point for one of the three planned zip wires.

Image Courtesy of Google. Click to enlarge.

Maybe the real question is, if the Rhigos Viewpoint is to be included in the Zip World project, why was it advertised for sale clearly hoping nobody would notice? Was the plan for it to be bought by some intermediary who would then profit from selling it on to Zip World?

But that suggestion hints at corruption – naughty boy, Jac! – and this is Wales, where corruption is unknown.

There is no question in my mind that the sale of the Rhigos Viewpoint links with the promised arrival of Zip World.

And while the plans shown in the WalesOnline report for the car park, toilets and office accommodation clearly refer to the property owned by Tower Colliery (scroll down to the plan), I believe the Zip World project goes way beyond what is owned by the former miners and their families.

UPDATE 02.08.2019: A message reaches me saying that the advertisement was no ‘mistake’ but was in fact the ‘Welsh Government’ covering its arse by meeting its legal requirements. The land can now be handed over – to Zip World? – and the WG can say, ‘We advertised it, but no one was interested’.

ZIP WORLD

As we know, this is the company that runs zip wires at Penrhyn near Bethesda, and Betws-y-Coed, with underground trampolines at Blaenau Ffestiniog.

There were big changes in Zip World companies towards the end of last year affecting Zip World Ltd, Zip World Fforest Ltd, and Zip World Group Holdings Ltd. What is termed “a management buy-out” took place which means that the parent company is now ZWPV Ltd (Inc 24.10.2018).

But it’s not that straightforward, for at the foot of the final page of the most recent accounts we read that, “Due to the shareholdings in place at ZWPV Limited, the directors consider Sean Taylor to be the ultimate controlling partner”. That is, Sean Wallace Taylor.

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So, if not a one-man band, then the Zip World companies would certainly appear to be under the control of a single individual. And it gets a little more complicated when we look at this new parent company, ZWPV Ltd.

There are six other directors, who all give as their address, ‘Zip World Base Camp, Denbigh Street, Llanrwst, Wales, LL26 0LL’. But for head honcho Taylor, the address given is, ‘8th Floor, One Central Square, Cardiff, United Kingdom, CF10 1FS’.

And among the directors giving the Llanrwst address is Giles Alexander Thorley, who joined the company 21 February 2019. This is odd, because Thorley is CEO of the Development Bank of Wales. So either he’s moonlighting or else he’s there in an official capacity. I hope it’s the latter, which probably means Thorley’s there representing the ‘Welsh Government’.

But let’s return to Taylor’s Cardiff address. Seeing as parent company ZWPV has its address in Llanrwst like everything else and everybody else, why would Taylor’s individual address be in Cardiff?

Or to put it another way, who else might we find on the 8th Floor at One Central Square to explain Taylor using it as his address? Well, the whole floor is the domain of solicitors Blake Morgan, a company that of course has many clients, including the ‘Welsh Government’ and its various agencies.

Which makes a certain sense, and other pieces are falling into place as I write this to support that presumption.

Before moving on to consider what might really be happening up at Rhigos I want to go back to ZWPV. (What does the ‘PV’ stand for?) It was Incorporated 24 October 2018 with Sean Taylor holding the only share. On St David’s Day there was an allotment of over 14 million shares, including 92,500 preference shares.

While under ‘Filing history’, for 12 March, you’ll see ‘Resolutions’, an arrangement entered into with LDC Parallel (Nominees) Ltd, designed to raise money through selling those 92,500 preference shares.

Companies using the term ‘Nominees’ have, or find, investors who remain anonymous.

So if I’m following this thread properly: the main Zip World companies are now huddled under the umbrella of ZWPV Ltd controlled by Sean Wallace Taylor who, through an agreement with LDC Parallel (Nominees) Ltd, is looking to sell shares to investors who will remain anonymous.

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There are a number of other companies bearing the ‘LDC Parallel’ name, numbered I to VIII, with all but the last of them based in Aberdeen.

Finally, we learnt earlier this month of another interesting figure who has joined the Zip World board. This being Greg Evans, who, as this blurb tells us, is . . .

“A former US Navy Petty Officer and Centrica Energy Director of Nuclear and Renewables, he is recognised as a thorough leader in safety leadership in both nuclear and renewable power generation.

His work in renewables saw him leading major infrastructure project (sic), including the design, development and commissioning phases of the £1.2 billion Lincs Wind Farm.”

Intriguing. Though like me, I’m sure you’re wondering why a man with a background in nuclear and renewable energy has joined a tourist operation like Zip World.

I think the answer lies in: ” . . . to strengthen the management team and take the business to the next level”. With the emphasis on ‘next level’. Which might be another way of saying diversification.

One disturbing possibility pulls together Evans’ background in the nuclear industry and the fact that Zip World uses quarries and mines. Could this be about the storage of nuclear waste?

HOW MIGHT IT ALL FIT TOGETHER?

OK, so what’s the big picture?

A company that has been well favoured by the ‘Welsh Government’ in its northern ventures has decided to move south. Details were announced in February this year and probably accounts for the reorganisation in the Zip World group.

Also, in October last year, both Zip World Ltd and Zip World Fforest Ltd cleared charges with Finance Wales Investments (10) Ltd. Seeing as Giles Alexander Thorley, CEO of the Development Bank of Wales, is also a director of FWI (10) Ltd, maybe these charges had to be cleared before he could join the revamped set-up in February this year.

Though note also the involvement of Blake Morgan.

Click to enlarge

Let’s take another look at the layout of the land at Rhigos. It will help explain what I believe is planned.

The picture below is taken from the Viewpoint looking looking west. It shows the ridge of Craig y Llyn, from where one of the zip wires will start, and below it lies the lake to which the name refers, Llyn Fawr. (There’s a Llyn Fach further over.)

You’ll notice that one side of the lake is straight, and that’s because it’s a reservoir, as is Llyn Fach, they both supplied Tower Colliery.

Click to enlarge

It’s time now to introduce someone you’re probably familiar with. Someone else who can be found on the eighth floor with Blake Morgan.

I’m referring to Shire Oak International Ltd (SHI). And whaddya know – one of the two directors of SHI is Mark Shorrock, who was of course the mastermind behind the proposed Swansea tidal lagoon, rejected by the UK government last June.

So is he involved at Rhigos, has Sharrock’s gaze been distracted from Mumbles? Of course, sharing the Cardiff address with Sean Taylor of Zip World could be pure coincidence, but I think not.

For while we all associate Mark Shorrock with tidal lagoons, he is a man with fingers in many pies. There’s quarries, for a start, such as Dean Quarry in Cornwall, from where he hoped to get the stone for the Swansea lagoon wall.

Another ‘pie’ is renewable energy; solar, wind and pumped storage. And companies such as Shire Oak Pumped Storage (Llanddulas) Ltd, which was struck off in April. This is a fate that befalls many of Shorrock’s companies. The boy’s had some bad luck.

Which may be why the ‘Welsh Government’, in the form of Carwyn Jones (remember him?), promised to chip in with £200m when the UK government shafted his plans for Swansea Bay.

Not only that, but he got quite comfy down in the City of my Dreams, and was well regarded by Swansea University. Where the Uni had the third floor of the Civic Centre on Oystermouth Road all to themselves, for their Centre for Regional Innovation, under recently departed Marc Clement.

A local source tells me that at one time there were no fewer than seven Shorrock companies on the third floor. Though getting information on them from either the council or the university proved futile, they always had an excuse.

WHAT DOES THE FUTURE HOLD FOR RHIGOS?

Whether Shorrock has teamed up with Zip World or not at Rhigos I’m certain that the ‘Welsh Government’ is involved because, through Natural Resources Wales, it owns so much of the land up there; including the two lakes, the escarpment and the forests.

But even if Shorrock is not involved, if his being at the same Cardiff address as Sean Wallace Taylor is pure coincidence, then whatever is planned for Rhigos still goes way beyond zip wires.

The clues are there:

  • There’s the reorganisation of the Zip World group towards the end of last year.
  • Then the new company linked up with LDC Parallel (Nominees) Ltd to find secret investors.
  • We have the CEO of the Development Bank of Wales becoming a director of the new Zip World parent company. (To look after ‘Welsh Government’ interests, in the form of land and assets to be handed over?)
  • Then there’s the curious aborted sale of a prime piece of property in the form of the Rhigos Viewpoint that saw a ‘Welsh Government’ Minister misleading us.
  • Finally, a new director joins Zip World very recently who has no experience in tourism, but whose field of expertise is nuclear and renewable energy.

To understand what I think is happening at Rhigos you have to remember that the ‘Welsh Government’ has massive assets in publicly-owned land, much of it held by Natural Resources Wales, which of course took over Forestry Commission land. Forestry managed by NRW accounts for 6% of the total area of Wales.

There is pressure from various quarters to ‘monetise’ these assets, and if that can be done behind a green smokescreen then so much the better. We see it all over Wales in forests where thousands of trees have been felled to make way for wind turbines and the roads serving them. More damage is done in building, transporting and erecting wind turbines than they ever recoup in their short working lives.

From Natural Resources Wales website. Click to enlarge

The high ground at Rhigos provides the perfect opportunity to ‘monetise’ some NRW assets. There may indeed be zip wires, but they won’t come alone. There will be cabins, maybe a hotel and other facilities, perhaps wind turbines and some scheme involving Llyn Fawr and Llyn Fach. Perhaps even the storage of nuclear waste.

With the package dressed up as an ‘adventure resort’ such as Gavin Woodhouse promised for the nearby Afan Valley. For, remember, with the M4 and the Heads of the Valleys road providing access, plus almost two million people within 40 miles of Rhigos, there is a much bigger customer potential than for any venture in the north.

Whatever is planned for Rhigos, the ‘Welsh Government’ should pause and ask itself what it’s getting involved in, and with whom. For example, is there any concern over ZWPV’s anonymous backers?

If Shorrock’s involved, then is he being thrown a bone for losing out on the Swansea Bay tidal lagoon? And if so, do we owe him anything?

And if we’re going to give honesty a romp in the summer sunshine, then maybe we can also have explained to us the relationship between the ‘Welsh Government’ and its assorted agencies on the one hand, and certain favoured Cardiff legal firms and people like Sean Wallace Taylor and Mark Christopher Shorrock on the other?

How do it all fit together, innit?

To conclude; my reading of the Rhigos situation is that deals are being struck in the background, with our assets; and this will result in some people making a lot of money, yet once again, we, the Welsh people, will lose out.

But this is unavoidable in a colonialist environment when the local political class can be dictated to by their colonial masters and also wound around the fingers of the money men.

An independent Wales run by such people – or those hoping to replace them – would see us receiving food parcels from Venezuela. And they’d probably celebrate such shows of ‘solidarity’.

♦ end ♦

 

Carwyn Jones the Betrayer

INTRODUCTION

Just over six months ago, in early November, the world must have looked a very pleasant place to Carwyn Jones, First Minister of Wales.

For he’d reached the top of the pile; he was leader of Labour Party in Wales, the Assembly and, by extension, Wales itself, which he managed on behalf of the London government.

This allowed him to puff and posture – at which he is most adept – as if he was the beloved leader of some newly emerged country. It may not have been carpets of rose petals greeting every public appearance but most people thought him a decent enough fellow even if they disagreed with his politics.

Plaid Cymru certainly trusted him enough to continue the coalition it had negotiated with his predecessor Rhodri Morgan and, when that coalition ended in 2011, to continue supporting the Labour Party on almost all crucial votes.

click to enlarge

For was he not a worthy successor to Rhodri Morgan, and a trusted custodian of Ron Davies’s ‘process’? Did he not inherit the mantle of Aneurin Bevan and yet also represent twenty-first century Labour? Was he not known to the Cymric masses simply as ‘Carwyn’? Did he not love his rugby, and a good pint? Was he not therefore a ‘Tidy bloke, mun’.

So assured of his authority was this master mariner on the clear red water, so cloudless was his horizon, that one day, and quite suddenly, he broke off from thinking of names he might adopt when he was ennobled (as he most assuredly would be).

For under malign influences he decided to exercise his authority with a reshuffle of his cabinet. Which is when the clouds started gathering for Carwyn Jones.

CARL SARGEANT

On Friday November 3rd the reshuffle was announced, and among those dumped from the cabinet was Carl Sargeant, until then Secretary for Communities and Children. Sargeant was also suspended from the party over allegations of improper behaviour towards women. Allegations that were never explained to the accused man. Four days later Sargeant was found dead at his Flintshire home. It was suicide.

Soon the news emerged that politicians and journalists had known of Sargeant’s removal before the man himself was informed. These leaks were due to the incestuous relationship Carwyn Jones’s staff has with public affairs agency Deryn Consulting and others.

As I made clear in an earlier post, Sargeant was, like us all, a flawed human being, but the allegations that got him sacked were concocted within a loose network of wimmin extending from Cardiff Bay into the third sector and other poisonous environments wherein may be found self-styled ‘progressives’. These creatures, of assorted sexual proclivities and identifications, call themselves feminists, but this is just a cover to play mind games, mess up people’s lives, and destroy careers.

Many of them are the same females responsible for similar lies told about AM Neil McEvoy.

click to enlarge

In the Alyn and Deeside by-election held on February 6th Carl Sargeant’s son, Jack, unsurprisingly retained the seat for Labour. Jeremy Corbyn, the UK Labour leader, visited the constituency, but not Carwyn Jones, who had been warned by Sargeant’s family and friends to stay away.

Since then Carwyn Jones has fought to keep the evidence from emerging which would prove that a) the allegations providing the excuse to sack Sargeant were without foundation, and b) the news of Sargeant’s sacking was leaked from his office.

The inquiry into the circumstances surrounding Carl Sargeant’s death is proceeding very slowly, and if things go according to plan, then the findings will be made public after Carwyn Jones stands down at the 2021 elections, and Labour is returned to power.

Jones has already announced his retirement as leader of the party with a leadership contest now under way that, if nothing else, exposes the paucity of talent in Plaid Tlodi (Poverty Party).

The conspiracy that led to the death of Carl Sargeant and the subsequent cover-up have reminded us what a repulsive milieu devolution has created in Cardiff Bay.

A little world unto itself in which unelected and unaccountable people influence politicians and policy making; where people flit between politics, third sector bodies and PR companies as if they are moving between different parts of the Welsh body politic. Which unfortunately they are.

And yet, politicians, especially of left-leaning parties, delight in this arrangement, they relish the advantages of having allies beyond the Assembly chamber who can be used to attack anyone they want attacked, even in their own party. Carl Sargeant was a victim of this system.

Carwyn Jones has sat, like a big fat spider, at the heart of this web of whispers and back-stabbing, enjoying its benefits, for almost a decade. We can but hope that justice will now be served, for Carl Sargeant and for Wales.

PRINCE OF WALES BRIDGE

The first most of us knew about the decision to rename the Second Severn Crossing the Prince of Wales Bridge came on April 5th with an announcement from our small but perfectly formed Secretary of State, Alun Cairns.

The reaction was swift and almost universally hostile. A petition was started which raised over 38,000 signatures. But what did Carwyn Jones have to say on the matter?

When pressed, the response from a ‘Welsh’ Government spokesman was: “Alun Cairns wrote to the FM about the naming of the bridge last year and we didn’t raise any objections.” So we were asked to believe that Carwyn Jones had simply gone along with the idea, perhaps reluctantly accepting it as a fait accompli.

click to enlarge

But then, in response to a FoI request from BBC Wales, we learnt that far from merely acquiescing to this squalid bit of sycophancy he had replied to Cairns: “I welcome the idea to rename the crossing the Prince of Wales Bridge . . . I stand by to be involved in the official renaming ceremony . . . I would be grateful if your officials could liaise with my Diary Secretary on the arrangements for the ceremony”.

The fat spider was jumping up and down with excitement!

(Should he call himself Lord Prince of Wales Bridge? Or had that little bastard Cairns booked the title for himself? Never mind . . . it would be a wonderful day, the sun would shine, thousands of people would turn out to wave and cheer. Then he could wind down to a cushy retirement, Father of the Nation status, peerage, memoirs, film rights . . . )

With this episode, the reputation of Carwyn Howell Jones unravels a little more. It exposes him yet again as a scheming, self-serving, two-faced politician.

But so quintessentially Labour.

BREXIT DEAL

One of the fall-outs from the June 2016 vote to leave the EU was that the UK government sought to hang onto powers that would be ‘repatriated’ from the EU, powers that should be devolved to Scotland and Wales. Initially, there was united opposition to this move from Scotland and Wales.

Carwyn Jones swore to be Nicola Sturgeon’s bestest friend and staunchest ally. Though as a great admirer of Sturgeon I’m sure she realised early on that once he’d had his little fit of bravado, once he could claim to have won ‘concessions’ from London, he would do what everyone knew he’d do before the curtain went up – surrender.

‘Nae fond kiss, and then we sever’

For Carwyn Jones is good at showboating, good at sniping and bullying; but beneath it all he’s a lazy, thin-skinned man of straw.

Even so, Carwyn Jones might have got away with his surrender to London were it not for the fact that his boss, UK Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, fatally undermined him by supporting Scottish Labour’s support for the SNP Government against what Corbyn quite unambiguously described as a “Whitehall power grab“.

Added to the egg from the bridge disclosure Corbyn’s intervention now gave us the makings of a family-sized omelette on the Jones visage.

And not for the first time we have the Labour Party in different parts of the island saying different things. Reminding us that Labour is often vociferous and principled on certain matters . . . when it’s in opposition. When in power it tends to forget the promises it made when in opposition.

For example, it’s official UK Labour policy to do away with zero-hour contracts, but in Wales Labour has refused seven times to implement Labour Party policy. The word is hypocrisy.

So quintessentially Labour.

CONCLUSION

Plaid Tlodi might seem to be in a very strange place at the moment, and yet, there’s nothing really strange about it when you realise this is how it must be when a devolved system of government is managed by a party unenthusiastic about devolution and unwilling to make it work lest it stirs unwelcome passions.

Which leaves Labour in the impossible position of telling us it’s ‘defending Wales’ while opposing anything that might make Wales a better country, for that would involve legislation that would make Wales too different from England.

Then there is the added incentive that the poorer Wales is the more votes that are piled up for Labour – but only for as long as enough voters are stupid enough to blame the Tories for all Wales’ woes.

It’s all done to confuse, but lately Labour seems to be confusing itself.

Which might explain why we were recently treated to the bizarre spectacle of Labour MP for Llanelli Nia Griffith and her AM counterpart Barry Lee Waters protesting against the downgrading of the town’s hospital – in other words, protesting against their own party!

‘Will they fall for it?’

But there can be no confusion about the general direction of travel since Brexit made it clear to Labour that a majority of its supporters are, to varying degrees, xenophobes, and that these greatly outnumber the combined hard left, ‘Islington’ and ethnic minority votes. Resulting in a split party.

Without stretching things too far a comparison can be made with the Democratic Party in the USA in the 1960s and ’70s. Embittered Southern whites had voted Democrat for a century after the Civil War because Lincoln had been a Republican; which found them in the same party as liberals, ethnic minorities, hippies and others many of them would willingly have lynched.

Them old Southern Democrats, them good ole boys. Happy Days!

I’m not sure if Carwyn Jones is a fan of the Marx Brothers, but one of Groucho’s quips seems so appropriate, both for him and for his party: “Those are my principles, and if you don’t like them . . . well, I have others”.

Carwyn Jones’ semestris horribilis has left him discredited and his party floundering. The rest of us laughing. Can he really hang on until 2021? Personally, I don’t much care whether he hangs on or steps down, for he has damaged his party badly, while his own reputation is irrevocably tarnished.

So I can’t see publishers fighting to give him an advance on his memoirs now, and as for the blockbuster with George Clooney playing, ‘Carwyn! – the man who shat on everybody!’ well, it’s a non-starter. A guest appearance on Jonathan is about the best he can hope for now.

That said, he’s probably improved his chances of a peerage. Which for him, is probably a good result.

What more do you need to know about Wales, and our relationship with England? Or about the Labour Party? Or about Carwyn Jones?

♦ end ♦

Labour: The End is Nigh

The past few weeks have been perhaps the most turbulent period I can recall in over fifty years of following politics on this island. This goes some way to explaining why the most recent posts have avoided contemporary politics – things have been changing daily. But now that things have settled down a bit, with Mrs May in No 10, BoJo set to charm Johnnie Foreigner, and the battle-lines drawn in the Labour Party leadership election, it should be safe to resume commenting.

I wish to focus on the Labour Party, partly because many commentators are suggesting Labour might not be with us for much longer, or certainly not in the form we have come to know and love. (There! I’ve said it.) Another reason is that Labour remains the largest party in Wales plus the fact that one of the contenders for the leadership of the Labour Party represents a Welsh constituency.

For as I’ve mentioned, there is currently a struggle going on inside Labour for control of the party that will determine its future direction. A struggle between present leader Jeremy Corbyn and his allies on the one hand, and most of the MPs (and indeed AMs) on the other, represented by the two challengers, Angela Eagle and our very own Owen Smith.

The divide seems to be between what might be described as the Blairite rump of the party pitted against assorted varieties of the Hard Left that joined to elect Corbyn and will, if they are allowed, deselect most of the Labour MPs opposing the leader, plus remnants of Old Labour. Or to put it another way, unprincipled careerists versus unrealistic ideologues and those who’ve been left behind.

OWEN SMITH

Now Owen Smith is a man with quite an interesting background and past. He is the son of Dr Dai Smith, self-appointed chronicler of the Welsh working class. One of those Labour historians who believes Welsh history begins with the Industrial Revolution. Prior to this, Wales was a rural wasteland of Welsh-speaking peasants preyed upon by equally Welsh-speaking warlords and bandit chiefs. In fact, it was a Welsh-speaking hell from which we were saved by industrialisation and then the creation of the Labour Party.

Dr Dai was an academic but also served a stint as “Editor BBC Radio Wales and Head of Programmes (English language) at BBC Wales from 1992 to 2001”, and while at the Beeb he recruited young Owen. Though Owen left in 2002 to become a spad for Paul Murphy, then Secretary of State for Wales.

smith carp1

After failing to win the Blaenau Gwent by-election in 2006, against Independent Dai Davies, he continued with his job as a well-paid lobbyist for Pfizer, before moving on to Amgen, another pharmaceutical company, in 2008.

(By one of those quirks that are almost inescapable when looking into the backgrounds of Labour politicians, Owen Smith, while still at the BBC, recruited a young Lee Waters, who is now the Assembly Member for Llanelli. But Waters has assured me that they were unknown to each other when Smith recruited him. And I believe him. Oh yes.)

Around the time of the by-election Owen Smith gave an interview to WalesOnline in which he appeared to support the Iraq war and favour privatisation in the NHS. Read the interview here. He has since distanced himself from these remarks.

From what I’ve read in the past couple of days it would seem that many people who know him consider Owen Smith to be a bit . . . well, slippery, and perhaps he’s not what he wants us to believe he is. This piece by former ambassador Craig Murray says it all in the title – The Entirely Fake Owen Smith.

Owen Smith is one of New Labour’s chameleon-like smoothies who can change his position on anything at the blink of an eye. What you see is unlikely to be what you get because there are no principles to maintain, no constants . . . other than looking out for Number One. Exemplified by something I found on Twitter.

Owen Smith expenses

THE KINNOCK FAMILY AND FRIENDS

Friday saw the funeral of Jo Cox, the MP murdered a week before the EU referendum. As she was apparently killed by a right wing extremist expressing anti-immigration views many thought her death might swing the referendum in favour of Remain. That it did not tells us that the margin of victory for the Leave vote could have been even greater without this tragedy.

After the killing we heard both Neil Kinnock, former Labour leader, and his son Stephen, now MP for Aberavon (Port Talbot), tell us how well they knew Jo Cox and what a wonderful woman she was. Kinnock senior even likened the sad episode to “a death in the family”. But how did the Kinnocks know her so well?

(Another who spoke warmly of his friendship with Jo Cox, and having worked with her at Oxfam, was Stephen Doughty, the Labour MP for Cardiff South and Penarth. Many believe that Doughty owes his safe seat to family links with his powerful predecessor Alun Michael, now Police and Crime Commissioner for South Wales Police.

Michael recruited as his deputy PCC Labour councillor [and daughter of Labour councillor] Sophie Howe, who’d served as a spad to first ministers Rhodri Morgan and Carwyn Jones. When Ms Howe failed to secure a safe seat for the 2015 UK general election the spurious post of Future Generations Commissioner was created for her as a consolation prize.)

It seems that the connection between the Kinnocks and Jo Cox began in the late 1990s when Glenys Kinnock was an MEP (1994 – 2009) and Cox served as her adviser for two years before moving on to Oxfam and Oxfam International. Later she was also involved with the Save the Children Fund, and immediately before becoming an MP was with the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. After becoming an MP she shared an office with Stephen Kinnock.

Her husband Brendan also worked for the Save the Children Fund, but had to leave in rather unpleasant circumstances. His boss at the Fund, who also left under something of a cloud, was Justin Forsyth. Both Cox and Forsyth had been advisers to prime minister Gordon Brown, and both arrived at the charity in 2010, soon after Brown lost the general election. Forsyth had also been an adviser to Brown’s predecessor Tony Blair.

Many argue that Forsyth and Cox subverted the charity into ‘Save the Labour Party’ through regular attacks on the coalition and then the Conservative governments. In 2014 the charity – or rather, Forsyth – engineered a Global Legacy Award for Tony Blair, a decision opposed by many, even within the Save the Children Fund.

When Forsyth became a father, it was no surprise to see him congratulated by Baroness Kinnock.

Glenys Kinnock tweet

Her title is quite interesting. Perhaps in a show of socialist or feminist sentimentality Glenys Kinnock refused to call herself Lady Kinnock when hubby Neil was ennobled in January 2005 . . . holding out for her own peerage, which duly arrived in 2009. The Kinnocks are one of the few couples to both be peers.

Forsyth is now Deputy Executive Director of UNICEF.

To conclude this section it only remains to tell you who is now running the Save the Children Fund on an annual salary of $344,887. It’s Helle Thorning-Schmidt, former Prime Minister of Denmark and taker of the infamous selfie with David Cameron and Barack Obama at Nelson Mandela’s funeral. She is also known as Mrs Stephen Kinnock, but apparently there’s no room to mention that fact on her Save the Children bio.

Mrs Kinnock StCF bio

LABOUR AND THE ‘WELSH’ MEDIA

As I’ve mentioned, and as most of you reading this already knew anyway, Stephen Kinnock is now the MP for Aberavon, the Port Talbot constituency. He was selected as the Labour candidate in early March 2014 by, I believe, a single vote, perhaps 106 – 105. Around the time of his selection questions were asked about his children’s education – were they receiving private education?

In this Llais y Sais article by Martin Shipton, from February 2014, Kinnock explains the situation by telling us that his elder daughter, Johanna, 16, had attended a local school in Copenhagen which is mainly state funded but where parents are expected to contribute, in the Kinnocks’ case, it’s around £80 a month. (In a subsequent article, on St David’s Day, and just days before the Aberavon selection committee met, Kinnock confessed he had “unintentionally misled the Western Mail”, in fact, the fees were closer to £160 a month.)

From that local school with its modest fees, Shippo tells us, “Johanna went on to the equivalent of a sixth-form college in Denmark which is wholly state-funded”. We are being told this, remember, in February 2014 . . . yet Johanna Kinnock became a student at Atlantic College in September 2013!

Johanna Kinnock Atlantic College

How do we explain this? Here we have the son of Wales’ most famous political dynasty coming home to rescue us from the wicked Tories, to save Port Talbot steelworks, so surely we’d have loved to hear that the grand-daughter of Lord Kinnock and Baroness Kinnock was also here among us, at the famous Atlantic College.

Why then are we lied to and told she’s at a sixth-forth college in Copenhagen? Could the reluctance to tell us the truth have anything to do with the fact that fees at Atlantic College are £28,600 a year?

Obviously, in February and March 2014 Stephen Kinnock knew that his daughter was in her second term at Atlantic College, and he lied, knowing that to admit she was at an expensive school might cost him the nomination for Aberavon, as it almost certainly would have, given the closeness of the vote.

But what of the Fat Man, and other ‘journalists’ in Wales? Were they genuinely unaware that Johanna Kinnock was at Atlantic College, or did they choose to keep it from us – and perhaps worse, give her father a platform to mislead us – in order to help Stephen Kinnock gain the Aberavon nomination?

People in Denmark certainly knew, as this article from December 2013 confirms. Google Translate charmingly renders it: “Thus, father and daughter be united in the British country where also Michael Laudrup competes as coach in Swansea. Helle Thorning-Schmidt in an interview with Billed-Bladet reported on his farewell with his daughter at the airport: – ‘It was terrible to say goodbye to her. We stood and tudbrølede’, the Prime Minister explained in a double interview with her and her husband”.

Johanna Kinnock Graduation

Johanna Kinnock graduated from prestigious, and expensive, Atlantic College in May 2015 . . . with few of us in Wales ever knowing she was there! No doubt the ‘Welsh’ media will insist it kept quiet to guarantee her privacy . . . but we know the truth.

UPDATE 23.07.2016: Stephen Kinnock has ‘responded’ on his blog to what I’ve written. Read it here. I think ‘evasive’ is the word I’m looking for.

My questions centred on Atlantic College, yet Stephen Kinnock claims that he was only asked about his daughter’s past education in Copenhagen, and this is why he made no mention of Atlantic College. Very convenient. And we must accept that no questioner wondered where the girl was at the time?

The questions were being asked to establish whether Kinnock’s children were at fee-paying schools, an issue that would have embarrassed him, and possibly cost him the Aberavon nomination. The response he gives on his blog is clever, but it’s no answer.

After telling us about the bursaries and scholarships on offer at Atlantic College he has this to say of his daughter, “Johanna’s time at AC was partly funded by a standard Danish state scholarship for students studying abroad.” “Partly funded”, so where did the rest of her £28,600 a year fees (plus other expenses) come from?

There is no doubt in my mind that Johanna Kinnock’s presence at Atlantic College was kept from us – by both her father and the ‘Welsh’ media – in order to help him secure the Labour nomination for Aberavon.

UPDATE 26.07.2016: Here’s a report that just appeared on the BBC Wales website. Maybe this story has legs.

THE DOWN HOME ANALOGY

The great advantage Tory grandees have over Labour politicians is that they don’t have to act, they have no problem saying, ‘Grandfather was a banker and I’m a banker’. But so many in the Labour Party feel the need to play a part in the hope of connecting with those they want to vote for them. Whenever I consider this it brings to mind a somewhat bizarre analogy.

I’m a great fan of Country music, the more authentic the better; I can listen to Hank Williams all night (and often do). The songs he wrote and sang were influenced by his marital difficulties, his drinking, the pain he suffered with his back and the drugs that helped, and all delivered in that haunting, penetrating voice. He’s not singing about anybody else, this is a young man baring his soul, and poor Southern whites in the late 1940s and early 1950s knew it.

We are now up to Hank Williams III, and talented though the grandson may be, he’s too far from his grand-pappy’s upbringing in Alabama. The authenticity of the rural South that gave birth to Country music is, inevitably, missing. It’s gone forever, and to pretend that it can be recreated in a studio or by a PR agency is just self-delusion.

Hank Williams

“My grandfather was a miner” insists Stephen Kinnock. Fine, so was mine, for a while, after coming back from the War (the one to end all wars). But you aren’t asking people to vote for your grandfather, you’re asking them to vote for you, so tell us, Kinnock, who and what are you? And while you’re at it, tell us where your daughter went to school.

This generational disconnect is inevitable, in politics as in other spheres, but it affects the Labour Party worse than other parties because Labour was founded to represent a single class, and now it’s arrived at a situation where the likes of Stephen Kinnock and Owen Smith, the children of peers and academics, have to dig up grandparents in the hope of connecting with that class they don’t really understand. Trying to be what you’re not rarely works.

And worse, the ‘Welsh’ media, knowing who’s in charge, and who pays, with adverts and official notices, to keep Shippo’s ‘paper afloat, play along, doing Labour’s bidding, and failing us.

BANANA REPUBLIC SANS BANANAS

A century of Labour enjoying almost unchallenged power has given us a system of favouritism, nepotism and blatant corruption that is unknown elsewhere in Europe. To all intents and purposes, Wales is a one-party state. Combine the corruption with our relative poverty and Wales deserves to be considered a third world country.

Yet there are those in Wales who do very well for themselves, that’s the whole point of ‘Welsh’ Labour’. Keep Wales poor, blame somebody else, reap the electoral benefits, then divvy up the seats, the sinecures and the funding.

This corruption is known to those at UK level who should intervene but is tolerated because a) there’s little chance of the Tories overtaking Labour and b) those that might overtake Labour are unacceptable. So London turns a blind eye to institutionalised corruption, and allows Labour politicians and thousands of hangers-on to fill their boots.

Those I’m discussing here make up what is often called ‘the liberal elite’, flitting between Public Relations, charity / third sector work, and political office, while preaching at the rest of us and condemning right of centre politicians for securing good jobs in the worlds of finance and business.

But many of those they condemn create jobs and wealth, but the liberal elite is almost entirely decorative, and superfluous, almost a price we’re prepared to pay to make us feel better about ourselves. All sustained by the public purse, either in direct, governmental funding or else donations to charities and foundations. They’re parasitical hypocrites.

It is these, and their control – until recently – of the Labour Party that has led to voters deserting the party, and explains why the post-industrial areas of Englandandwales voted as they did in the EU referendum. Brexit was the disenfranchised of the post-industrial wastelands saying to the liberal elite, ‘Fuck off, you selfish, lying bastards!’

Labour’s control of its traditional followers is now, as I said at the start, greatly weakened. With Labour in real danger of falling apart. Either Corbyn stays at the helm, which probably makes Labour unelectable (because the media and ‘others’ will destroy him), or else Labour will have as leader the uninspiring Eagle or ‘Slippery’ Smith. Corbyn, Eagle, Smith, none will connect with the areas that voted Brexit.

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Here in Wales Labour seems marginally more united, but if Labour in England splits, or maybe disintegrates, then there is no way that ‘Welsh’ Labour can escape the consequences. (How many Welsh will vote Labour if there’s no party in England to form the UK government, or even vote Labour in Assembly elections?) As some Russian tsar said of the Ottoman empire in the nineteenth century, ‘We have a sick man on our hands’. Keeping him alive artificially would be unkind.

We are a nation badly served in almost every conceivable way, and it’s our fault – nobody else’s – because we’ve accepted it for so long, and elected vermin more concerned with self-advancement than with serving Wales. Nothing will change until we make it clear that we aren’t taking it any more. It’s time to start getting ‘awkward’, and any attempt to limit this awkwardness to the narrow sphere of electoral politics would be the height of folly.

Because from now on all ideologies should be made irrelevant, all that matters is the national interest, because this is the only way to serve the Welsh people. For example, control over our natural resources is obviously in the national interest, so let’s demand that we have that control. And if politicians say, ‘Oh, it can’t be done’ or, ‘But what about England?’ the answer must be –

‘You and your parties do not represent the Welsh national interest, you have never represented the Welsh national interest; so step aside, for we are throwing off you parasites to decide our future for ourselves’.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ END ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

New, Old, Same Old Labour

A GUEST POST ON THE POLITICAL CLASS OF CARMARTHENSHIRE, NOW BEING USED BY WOULD-BE TYRANTS EVERYWHERE TO PROVE THAT DEMOCRACY IS A CRUEL DECEPTION

 

Jeremy Corbyn may have won the Labour leadership contest, and Labour may have seen an unexpectedly large influx of new members, but how much has really changed at local branch level?

Nothing at all if we examine “Welsh” Labour. Take Labour in Carmarthenshire, for example.

The Emperor’s New Clothes

Immediately after the general election the knives came out for party veteran Kevin Madge, who was also leader of the County Council. The contest was widely regarded as a tussle between the party’s Amman Valley and Llanelli factions, but it later emerged that at least one of Madge’s assassins was much closer to home.

Kevin Madge has spent his entire career of almost 40 years as a full-time Labour councillor, and for most of the last ten years he enjoyed a generous “senior salary” as a member and then leader of the council’s Executive Board, or cabinet, in bed with Meryl Gravell and her Independent rag-bag army of reactionary grannies, rich retired farmers, opportunists and assorted hangers-on.

The rambling, incoherent Madge was never the brightest lamp post in the street, although decades spent wrangling in smoke-filled Labour committee back-rooms clearly taught him a few survival skills.

Meryl and her acolytes sized up their man, clasped him to their ample bosoms, and a long love affair was born in which Madge was nothing more than an impotent mascot pinned to the bonnet of the municipal limousine chauffeured by Chief Executive Mark James, with Lady Gravell ensconced on the plush leather back seat.

Madge Gravell

The result was a scandal-prone, seedy dictatorship which turned Carmarthenshire into an Eldorado for companies sheltering in tax havens, assorted fraudsters, funny handshake merchants, con-artists and big business rip-off merchants, while ordinary voters were left to scrape a living on the minimum wage.

Top council jobs were and still are the preserve of outsiders, swathes of rural communities had the guts ripped out of them as they lost their schools, shops and pubs, the young and talented left in droves for the brighter lights of the big cities, and the Welsh language suffered a catastrophic decline. CBEs, OBEs and MBEs showered down on the elite and their supporters.

Kevin Madge didn’t see it like that, of course, but what eventually did for him was a growing realisation that the party was on a one-way street to electoral disaster as Madge found himself championing a string of extremely unpopular policies, including massive hikes in charges for using council-owned sports pitches, bowling greens and other facilities.

Voters could no longer see the difference between Madge’s party and the crypto-Tories he had snuggled up to for so long.

Having lost the top job, Kevin Madge disappeared from public view for a couple of weeks before returning to the council chamber to blub his way through an interminable valedictory ramble listing his supposed achievements. He now sits on the backbenches nursing his grudges and sharpening his knives.

Madge’s replacement as Labour leader on Carmarthenshire County Council is the very lugubrious Jeff Edmunds whose main activity when not being a councillor is as pastor of a spiritualist church. His expertise in contacting the dead may yet come in very handy.

But the dogs bark, and the caravan moves on. Jeremy Corbyn is now party leader, and in Carmarthenshire the party is reorganising itself. It’s all change, or rather the deckchairs are being rearranged.

A recipe for success

Kevin Madge has just been appointed chair of a new “super branch” encompassing the Amman and Gwendraeth valleys, presumably because someone believes that he is a vote winner.

When he stood for election in the 2007 Assembly election, Kevin Madge saw Labour’s share of the vote decline from 31% to 24%. In 2012 when Labour was bouncing back in local government elections from the catastrophe of the Brown years everywhere else, Labour lost ground in Kevin Madge’s stomping ground in the Amman Valley. In 2015 Carmarthen East and Dinefwr was one of Labour’s top target seats, and the election was contested by Kevin Madge’s young protégé, Calum Higgins. Whereas Labour saw modest advances in most parts of Wales, Madge and Higgins saw Plaid Cymru returned with a significantly increased majority as Labour voters stayed away or switched to Ukip.

Prior to the influx of new members brought about by the recent Labour leadership campaign, Labour’s constituency branches were in dire shape – in Carmarthenshire as in other parts of Wales. Party activists were reduced to a gnarled rump of grizzled veterans with a very sparse sprinkling of younger blood.

Why anyone under the age of 60 would have wanted to join “Welsh” Labour before May 2015 is a question worth asking. The party was about as attractive to average 20-somethings as joining a bowls club, playing bingo or going to a 1950s night at the local working men’s club.

There are strange and rather sad young people who do all those things, but they are few and far between.

The answer is, of course, that unlike bowls clubs and the like, “Welsh” Labour runs a system of patronage which offers all sorts of goodies for anyone who is prepared to go to committee meetings and put up with the smell of wee and the company of poisonous old power junkies.

Open all hours

Let’s meet Shahid Hussain over in Kevin Madge’s heartland in Cwmaman.

Kevin shahid

Shahid is in his early thirties and a budding entrepreneur who runs a garage and a couple of shops. Back in 2012 he stood for election to the County Council. “I’m sexy and I know it”, he told his Twitter followers, who were treated to his views on women, “yids”, rugby (“gay porn”) and older people. Referring to his Plaid opponent, Shahid predicted he would so kick his ass that he might “pop a hip or something”.

Shahid was very proud of the coverage he had been getting in the local rag, but he quickly achieved press coverage which few Welsh politicians, even the heavyweights, could ever dream of. He even made it big on the other side of the Atlantic.

Labour reacted by telling Shahid to delete his Twitter account and tut-tutting. Kevin Madge blamed it all on the “dangerous” Twitter rather than the unpleasant idiot using it, and days later he was back out campaigning for his boy.

Fortunately for the people of Cwmaman, it was Shahid’s ass that was kicked, but all was not lost because he remained a member of Cwmaman Town Council.

The unfortunate Twitter episode was quickly forgotten, and this year Shahid rose to become mayor, from which lofty position he has continued to make waves.

At a public meeting chaired by Shahid to discuss relocating the town’s post office, he opposed a proposal to move it to the community centre.

Kevin Madge shifted uncomfortably and suggested to his boy that he perhaps ought to declare an interest here, as Shahid was known to be seeking the post office franchise for his garage.

“What is this fucking shit?” shouted Shahid, outraged at the implication that there might be anything wrong with using public office to further his business interests.

Not long after that, matters came to a head again when Shahid opposed a planning application for a convenience store run by a partner of Tesco, forgetting to mention that he had submitted his own plans for a convenience store nearby.

At a stormy meeting on 23 October, the town council approved a vote of no confidence in its mayor, by 11 votes to 1. The only councillor to have confidence in the mayor was, erm, Shahid himself. The next stop is expected to be a formal complaint to the Ombudsman.

If this does bring his career in Labour to an end, Shahid can at least be confident of a warm welcome from Ukip.

Shahid is one of Labour’s young guns, but perhaps we should not be too harsh because the older generation of Labour councillors has not always set a good example.

UPDATE 30.10.2015: Despite a near-unanimous vote of no confidence (11 to one, with one abstention), Shahid Hussain is refusing to resign as mayor of Cwmaman, according to a report in the Carmarthenshire Herald today. The matter will now be referred to the Ombudsman for Public Services with all the attendant lengthy delays and legal costs that that will entail.

Dead donkeys

Step forward the reptilian Keri Thomas, Labour’s veteran councillor for Tyisha, Llanelli.

Keri Thomas has been known to drink more than the occasional glass of shandy, and in 2011 he fell seriously ill before receiving a liver transplant.

He took a year off on full pay from the council with the Chief Executive’s blessing. Despite being too ill to campaign, he was nevertheless selected to stand in the 2012 election once again, and was successfully returned, proving the old adage that you could put a red rosette on a dead donkey and it would still romp home in most of Labour’s strongholds.

Thomas recovered sufficiently to take up work again after the 2012 election, and he was soon lashing out at Llanelli’s Polish community for their drinking habits. Unfortunately, a little more than a year later the occasional tipple was starting to take its toll again, and for most of the last two years he has rarely been seen in County Hall except for meetings of the planning committee of which he was a member until recently.

Keri Thomas remains a councillor and, incredibly, a member of one of the scrutiny committees.

Readers of this blog were recently shocked by John Bayliss’s 27% attendance record in Swansea, but Keri Thomas is on course for the worst attendance of any councillor in Wales. According to the council’s own statistics, he has notched up an attendance record of 0% since they began publishing performance data in August.

Staying in Llanelli for a moment, let’s meet Dafen Dolly, or Tegwen Devichand as she is more formally known. Tegwen has led a colourful life, and despite very humble beginnings has managed to become quite a wealthy woman and the grande dame of Llanelli Labour politics.

Dafen Dolly

One of her protégées was Theressa Bowen, a local woman and party activist, and thanks to Tegwen, Theressa became a Labour county councillor for the first time in 2012. Unfortunately a very bitter falling out ensued, with Tegwen accusing Theressa of stealing a stash of valuable jewellery from her home.

Nothing came of the accusation, and no charges were brought, but Theressa promptly upped and left Labour to join Meryl’s Independents. Meryl and Tegwen are not exactly best friends, and Meryl welcomed Theressa with open arms, not least because the defection put Labour and the Independents on level pegging in the County Council. Meryl even let Theressa stay in her exclusive Spanish villa.

The simmering dispute between Tegwen and Theressa boiled over again earlier this year in a very public row in which the two women accused each other of assault, and both complained to the poor old Ombudsman.

The rise, fall, and rise of Ryan

Our trip started in Cwmaman before reaching Llanelli. All aboard for the next stop in Kidwelly where a by-election has been called for 19 November following the death of the previous Labour incumbent.

This is the first Carmarthenshire by-election to be held under the new Corbynista Labour Party, and with all those new members, you would think the party would have been able to come up with an attractive candidate.

Fair play, they did at least try. One new member who had signed up so that he could vote for Jeremy was surprised to receive an e-mail asking if he would like to stand in Kidwelly, even though he lives as far away from Kidwelly as you can get in Carmarthenshire, and has never set foot in the town.

Which brings us to the cautionary tale of Ryan Thomas.

Ryan became a member of Kidwelly Town Council at the tender age of 24, and by 2014 he was deputy mayor and a rising star. A bit like Shahid, in fact.

Ryan and Nia

Unfortunately things went pear-shaped for him at last year’s mayor-making ceremony when he became tired and emotional, made some very rude comments about the mayor’s wife to a young man who turned out to be her son and then groped a 19-year old woman.

The police became involved, charges were eventually laid, and Ryan was committed to trial.

In the meantime, Ryan was suspended by the Labour Party and he resigned from the council.

British justice ground its way slowly, as usual, and many months passed until the morning of the trial itself when Ryan suddenly realised that it had all been a terrible mistake. He made a formal apology which was accepted by the young woman who had waited in vain for so long, and charges were dropped. The judge dismissed the case and entered a verdict of not guilty.

For those readers who sometimes wonder about the subtleties of the legal system, this neatly illustrates the difference between “not guilty” and “innocent”.

That was in August, and there was jubilation in the public gallery as Ryan walked free. He now finds himself selected to stand as the Labour candidate for his town in November.

(Jac says: ‘What an indictment this is of the English judicial system. The horny little sod confessed, eventually, to indecent assault – but was then found ‘not guilty’! When I come to power anyone suspected of being a Labour Party member will – after receiving a good kicking – be sent off for two years of re-education, where this blog will be compulsory reading. Oh yes.’)

CLARIFICATION (see comments) 05.11.2015: In court Ryan Thomas said, “I accept that I was intoxicated and that my conduct may have been inappropriate as a result” . . . “I wish to apologise for any offence caused.” So let us accept that he was found not guilty of groping. And I may have got the charge wrong, though different reports use different terms, including ‘groping’. The fact remains that he apologised for having done something, so what did he apologise for?

A new boy

To find a truly fresh-faced new hopeful on the Labour scene in Carmarthenshire, we will have to return to Llanelli where Lee Waters, until recently director of the Institute for Welsh Affairs, has thrown his hat into the ring to replace Keith Davies as Assembly Member for Llanelli next year. Party-loving Keith is retiring, presumably to spend more time with his Chardonnay.

As director of the IWA, which likes to describe itself as an independent think tank, and a former ITV chief political correspondent, Lee Waters has been able to observe the inner workings of the Labour Party at close quarters, and he will be even more aware than most of the party’s dismal record since 1999, so his decision to throw in his lot with the freak show in Carmarthenshire is hard to see as anything other than a career move.

Neither Waters nor any of the other exhibits we have examined could be described as part of the Corbynite new wave, so where does this leave all those bright-eyed and bushy-tailed new converts and idealists?

The idea that Kevin Madge, Dolly Dafen or any of the other grizzled old guard and their young clients are about to release their grip on the party and hand the reins to a group of newcomers is about as realistic as Jeremy’s chances of entering 10 Downing Street.