The piece you’re about to read originated as a press release today from Neil McEvoy AM (though the title above is mine). I thought it deserved the widest possible audience. For while the Labour Party and Plaid Cymru whine about the Tories avoiding debate and subverting democracy in Westminster, they are doing something very similar in Wales!
Labour and Plaid Cymru BLOCK Assembly vote on full release of Carl Sargeant leak inquiry
On 24th September in the Business Committee of the National Assembly for Wales, Labour and Plaid Cymru joined forces to block a vote that could have led to the full release of the inquiry into Carl Sargeant’s death.
Independent AM Neil McEvoy introduced a No Named Day Motion on 17th July 2019 calling for use of Section 37 of the Government of Wales Act to force full publication of the leak inquiry report, including all notes and interviews conducted as part of the inquiry, with redactions to ensure anonymity.
Mr McEvoy submitted the motion after the Welsh Government only revealed a closure minute note from the investigation, which was just one page long and contained almost no information on the investigation.
Speculation has been rife about the information collected as part of the report when it was revealed that certain journalists knew of Mr Sargeant’s sacking from government before it had taken place. Mr Sargeant went on to take his own life just days later.
Under pressure, the former Labour First Minister, Carwyn Jones, established an inquiry to report on whether there had been an unauthorised leak of Mr Sargeant’s sacking.
In a further twist, the then leader of the Conservatives alleged that the source of the leak was the controversial lobbying firm Deryn.
This led to stronger calls for the leak inquiry to be published. But not only did the Welsh Government refuse to publish the inquiry, they took the extraordinary step of initiating legal action to try to prevent the National Assembly for Wales voting to force publication. In the event, the vote took place and Labour had enough votes to prevent publication, since several opposition AMs were missing.
In March 2019, Neil McEvoy submitted a second motion to force publication. Days later the new First Minister, Mark Drakeford, agreed to publish the leak inquiry, after the Coroner’s report into Carl Sargeant’s death was concluded. The Business Committee of the National Assembly then agreed not to allow Mr McEvoy’s motion through to a vote, anticipating that the First Minister would release the inquiry.
In a further explosive release, during the inquest into Mr Sargeant’s death the family’s legal firm, Hudgell Solicitors, revealed phone records showed that:
‘According to phone transcripts obtained in evidence, after learning of Carl’s death, the former First Minister [Carwyn Jones] made two short calls to his wife and father, followed immediately by long phone calls to Ms Owens and Jo Kiernan, a senior adviser at [lobbying firm] Deryn.’
The nature and purpose of the lengthy phone calls to the lobbying firm implicated in the leak is still unknown.
Following the Coroner’s report concluding the Welsh Government released a closure minute note of the investigation into the leak, falling well short of delivering the full report it had promised.
Mr McEvoy tried for a third time to have the full report released, again submitting a motion to use Section 37 of the Government of Wales Act. When the motion was first considered at the Assembly’s Business Committee the party whips agreed to return to their groups and consult. After that consultation Plaid Cymru decided to vote with Labour to BLOCK the motion and prevent all AMs being allowed a vote on the Assembly floor.
Plaid’s blocking vote came on the same day as they accused the Prime Minister of trying to shut down democracy in Westminster through prorogation of Parliament. The Presiding Officer later confirmed that Labour and Plaid had blocked the motion, while the Conservatives and Brexit Party had voted to support it.
Independent AM Neil McEvoy said:
‘I really am astonished that Plaid has decided to side with Labour and prevent the Assembly having a democratic vote on releasing the Carl Sargeant leak inquiry.
‘On the same day their MPs in London stated that government should not override the voice of parliamentary democracy, their Chief Whip in Wales was working with the government to stop the Welsh parliament from voting on a matter of major public interest. Why are they proroguing releasing the leak inquiry?
‘As for Labour, they have yet again shown that they have no commitment to democracy or transparency. People will now rightly ask what both parties are trying to keep hidden when we really need answers from this very troubling period in Welsh politics.
‘I’m not going to let this go though. I’ll be sending this motion back to Business Committee every week until they agree to let us have a vote. Plaid and Labour can keep explaining to the Sargeant family why they refuse to let them, and the public, know the full details surrounding his death.
21 March 2018, Neil McEvoy submits No Named Day Motion NNDM6698 to use Section 37 of the Government of Wales Act to force publication of the Carl Sargeant leak inquiry. The Tory group later submits its own identical motion.
28 March 2019, Neil McEvoy launches 2nd attempt to force publication of the leak inquiry through a new No Named Day Motion.
In response to Mr McEvoy’s motion the First Minister agreed to publish the leak inquiry, after publication of the Coroner’s report. As a result Business Committee does not take Mr McEvoy’s motion through to a vote in the Assembly.
17 July 2019, Neil McEvoy launches third attempt to use Section 37 of the Government of Wales Act to force publication of the full leak inquiry, this time through No Named Day Motion NNDM7127, but also including all notes and interviews conducted as part of the inquiry to be released (with redactions for anonymity).
18 July 2019, Sargeant Family solicitors reveal that after learning of Carl Sargeant’s death the former First Minister made two quick phone calls to his mother and father before immediately engaging in long telephone calls with two senior employees at the controversial lobbying firm Deryn.
17 September 2019, the Business Committee first considers the new motion and agrees for groups to discuss whether or not to support the motion and then return a week later for a decision.
24 September 2019, Labour and Plaid Cymru vote against the motion, meaning the motion will go to the floor of the Senedd for a democratic vote of all AMs. The Tory and Brexit Party groups support the motion. Later that day the Presiding Officer confirms that Labour and Plaid have blocked the vote.
Neil McEvoy AM
♦ end ♦
My next post will be out over the weekend. It will, again, highlight the dangers of identity politics, the ‘woke’ warriors, and the damage a few extremists are doing to the independence movement.
After this I hope to move on to more challenging targets.
The clue to my motivation lies in my use of the word ‘Wexit’, for I believed then, and I believe even more strongly today, that Brexit, especially a disastrous and damaging Brexit, can lead to Welsh independence. And Welsh independence is my priority; more important by far than membership of the EU.
In addition to voting for Brexit I confirmed my trip to Tartarus by supporting Trump, and more recently, by voting for the Brexit Party in the recent EU elections. Then there’s my backing for Neil McEvoy, and the regular criticism of Plaid Cymru.
Oh, yes, and of course I attack the Labour Party on a regular, almost daily, basis.
So, all in all, I suppose I’ve made a few enemies.
My rap sheet is enough to reduce certain people to bouts of carpet-chewing rage. These, it should be said, tend to be Plaid Cymru members and supporters; more especially what some call the ‘Leannistas’, the woke left, currently nursing their wounds after so many recent defeats and now lashing out blindly at people like me.
Which is ironic in a way, for I am only following Lenin’s dictum, “The worse, the better”. By which he meant that the population at large will be more receptive to revolutionary change when the system they’re familiar with starts disintegrating.
It may be cruel, it may be cynical, but old Vlad was spot on. For the Bolsheviks would never have come to power if Russia had stayed out of World War One and the Czar had introduced adequate reforms.
BY THE LEFT
There are no half measures with these people who attack me.
If you don’t support Extinction Rebellion bringing cities to a standstill then you’re a climate change denier. Vote for Brexit and you’re a fascist/racist/white supremacist. Refuse to accept that ‘chicks with dicks’ are 100% women and you’re a transphobe. The list of crimes people like me can commit – without even knowing it! – is endless. And these ‘crimes’ increase by the month.
Though many of my critics are happy to engage in rational debate, and there’s even banter. But then there’s the darker side, those who just want to screech at me.
Here’s a recent example from Twitter of what I’m talking about.
I don’t know who Aled Gwyn Williams is (is he the one in the cap?), and I’ve no idea what motivated him to put such ugly slanders on social media for my grandchildren to be teased about.
I shall deal with the first paragraph in a minute.
As for the second paragraph, I am none of the things he lists. Though perhaps he’s trying to say the same thing with “fascist”, “racist”, and “authoritarian & white-supremacist”. (I can almost hear the spluttering as he repeats himself.)
As for being “homophobic”, well, just ask my gay friends.
The final smear is that I am a “defender of violence against women”, but I have no idea what the hell he’s trying to say. Does he think I stand outside windows listening to domestic arguments and shouting, “Go on, pal, punch her!”
Displayed here we see the absolute self-belief of the true fanatic (political or religious); convinced that he/she is right and anyone he/she disagrees with is not only wrong, but evil.
Which makes them no different to those they claim to oppose. For the right, we’re told, is intolerant, that it ‘others’ people, who can then be vilified and humiliated. Precisely what Aled Gwyn Williams tried to do to me in that tweet.
Support for the old axiom that says there’s no real difference between the extremes of left and right. They operate in almost exactly the same way.
But yes, I did vote for Brexit; and yes, I did support Trump; and yes, I did vote for the Brexit Party in last month’s EU elections; and yes, I certainly want Boris Johnson to become prime minister: and yes, I did help form Ein Gwlad – because I want Welsh independence!
An increasing number of people across the political spectrum now agree that Brexit delivered by Boris Johnson with his head up Trump’s arse will threaten the Union.
The exclusive English nationalism preached by Boris Johnson makes many more Scots, Irish, and Welsh question the English connection.
This is a good thing. As this Irish tweet I picked up over the weekend understands. (Though I’m not sure about Wales as a fifth province!)
When Johnson is announced as new Tory Party leader and prime minister tomorrow he will face a choice. Either to soldier on with a rebellious minority in his party capable of derailing his plans, or to call a general election in the hope of removing his critics and increasing his majority.
Despite the obvious discord in the Labour Party there’s no guarantee that Johnson could increase his majority, that’s because any election will be fought on the issue of Brexit, which will see certain parties standing aside to give a single anti-Brexit candidate a clear run at the Tory opponent.
His best option then might be an electoral pact with the Brexit Party. The Tories could concentrate on the suburbs and the shires, while Farage’s crew could focus on those ‘left behind’ areas that voted for Brexit in 2016.
Such a pact will confirm the split in the Conservative Party.
For as I’ve said somewhere before, in recent decades ‘Europe’ has been to the Tories what Irish Home Rule was to the 19th century Liberal Party. The Liberals split in 1886 with the breakaway Liberal Unionist Party eventually merging with the Conservative and Unionist Party.
A victory for the pact would give Boris Johnson – and his thirsty deputy, Nigel Farage – the majority needed to turn the UK into an offshore tax haven where everybody whistles The Dam Busters tune before settling down to yet another meal of chlorinated chicken.
A LITTLE BIRD
While it’s difficult to understand the unprovoked attack from Aled Gwyn Williams, he is not alone. Not so long ago a very similar assault was mounted by someone called Huw Marshall who, again, is a complete stranger to me.
Ifan Morgan Jones also came out swinging with a ludicrous charge of Antisemitism over something I’d written that included George Soros. But in my piece I never mentioned that Soros was Jewish. To which I might add that, as a good conservative, I support the state of Israel because it’s an ally of the West.
But why would complete strangers want to attack me, and do so by telling lies? I mean, if you don’t like me, or you don’t agree with me, then don’t read this blog, don’t follow me on Twitter, etc. Am I that influential?
Which makes me wonder whether we are really dealing with a few individuals who’ve taken an intense dislike to me/my views or if there’s more to it.
Let’s think about it for a minute. I criticise Plaid Cymru. I helped form Ein Gwlad. I continually attack the Labour Party. I am an outspoken supporter Neil McEvoy. I regularly refer to Cardiff Bay as ‘Corruption Bay’ (or “a cess-pit”). For years I have exposed the corruption, cronyism and waste of public funding in the third sector . . .
Thinks . . . who might share my interest in those things, but from a perspective opposite to mine, and might be able to influence, directly or indirectly, people who don’t know me?
One obvious suspect is Deryn Consulting, the lobbying firm that acts as a link between Labour, Plaid Cymru, the third sector, and others that together make our country a corrupt and impoverished laughing-stock and a magnet for crooks and chancers.
At this point I should add that I’ve also attacked Deryn more than once.
To understand how Deryn operates – they are lobbyists and ‘influencers’ after all – just think of Welsh public life focused on Cardiff Bay as a web, with Deryn as a fat, hairy-legged spider at the centre.
Deryn was instrumental in the sacking of Carl Sargeant and must bear considerable responsibility for his suicide. Deryn also co-ordinates the unremitting campaign against Neil McEvoy.
Why would Carwyn Jones make TWO phone calls to Deryn almost immediately after hearing of Carl Sargeant’s death? Was it, ‘Oh, dear, ladies . . . tell me what to do now.’
Maybe I should explain that the Cathy Owens mentioned by Dr Hudgell is the leading director of Deryn, while the other woman also figured in Guido Fawkes’ coverage of December 2018, where we read: “Jo Kiernan: Deryn employee and named at last week’s Inquest as co-ordinating a bullying campaign against Sargeant when she worked as Carwyn Jones’ chief SpAd.”
I’m not saying that Aled Gwyn Williams, Huw Marshall, Ifan Morgan Jones, and the rest of my critics are taking orders from the nest (or maybe it’s the bunker nowadays) but they seem to share the Deryn mindset that will not tolerate critics or divergent views.
And never forget that Deryn is a creation of devolution, prospering thanks to weak and malleable politicians in a devolved system still controlled from London. Deryn would not survive independence.
‘HIS NAME IS ROYSTON JONES AND HE’S NOT ON OUR SIDE’
Is what Aled Gwyn Williams wrote in the first paragraph of his tweet.
His tweet is addressed to “Welsh Self-determinationists”, which I assume to mean those who want Wales to be independent. But I have been a nationalist all my life, check with anyone who’s been around since the 1960s.
It follows, then, that when he says I’m not on ‘their’ side, he must mean some grouping other than those wanting independence. As Williams is a hard-line socialist he can only be alluding to the comrades.
I am a lifelong opponent of socialism.
So my real ‘crime’, in Williams’ eyes, is being hostile to socialism.
The small increase in membership in the wake of Adam ‘Soundbite’ Price’s victory may already have been offset by resignations over the party’s treatment of Neil McEvoy, which will of course only strengthen the influence of the ‘Leannistas’.
I’m not the only one who sees this drift to the left. Here’s a tweet put out a week or so ago by writer Siôn Jobbins, asking if he’ll be welcome at Plaid’s Summer School, seeing as he’s not a socialist.
Though it could be that not all the leftists trying to capitalise on the increase in support for independence belong to Plaid Cymru, there may be even more exotic elements trying to muscle in.
Below we see a picture from a recent AUOB Cymru tweet showing some kind of street furniture or utility box in Cardiff presenting an interesting display. In the centre we see nationalist hero, John Jenkins, leader of Mudiad Amddiffyn Cymru, who was sent down for 10 years in 1970 for his role in a 1960s bombing campaign.
John, now 85, has lived in Wrecsam for many years.
We also see a couple of YesCymru stickers, a football fans for independence sticker and Wrexham fans against the Sun (newspaper). But it’s the other three that intrigue me.
On the top left we see the Starry Plough of the Irish Citizen Army, led by James Connolly in the Easter Rising of 1916. This was a socialist organisation that fought alongside the larger, and nationalist, Irish Volunteers led by Padraig Pearse.
The one at the bottom right carries letters printed backwards to look Russian, a communist red star, and the slogan ‘Free Wales’.
Finally, the black one on the left reads ‘Wxm (Wrexham) Antifa No Pasaran!’ Antifa are left wing thugs who first took to the streets of the USA following Donald Trump’s victory, ostensibly ‘fighting fascism and racism’.
Now they resort to bombing and attacking anyone who doesn’t agree with them. A recent victim was journalist Andy Ngo, who wrote: “Antifa operates by a very broad definition of ‘fascists.’ By antifa’s telling, fascists include mainstream conservatives and even centrist journalists who dare criticize them.”
I know exactly how he feels.
You have to wonder what’s going on when the self-appointed promoters of inclusivity beat up the gay son of Vietnamese boat people. I hope to God we don’t have any nutters in Wales preparing to emulate Antifa.
And I’m disappointed to see AUOB Cymru apparently endorse Antifa.
So on a Cardiff street we see a collection of stickers linking independence with socialism, with some pretty hairy and intolerant expressions of socialism at that.
THE CRUCIAL EIGHTEEN MONTHS
Partly due to events beyond our control Wales will soon be closer to independence than at any time in the past five hundred years. But the mood is also being influenced by what is happening here in Wales.
Our homeland is deprived and exploited because devolution has been a miserable failure. For what has devolution given us – Deryn! This realisation has resulted in the Labour Party losing credibility by the day; but I fear Plaid Cymru will be reluctant to take advantage of the opportunity presented by Johnson in No 10 and Drakeford in the Bay.
Instead, Plaid Cymru will chase rainbows and form Englandandwales anti-Tory or anti-Brexit alliances. This loss of focus is due to the party’s leftward drift coupled with the ephemeral appeal of being ‘taken seriously’ by appearing on TV with Caroline Lucas.
And when Johnson makes his move, Plaid Cymru will rush to support the Labour Party in defending ‘the devolution settlement’.
I say, fuck the devolution settlement. It wasn’t worth having in 1999 and it’s been seriously devalued over the past two decades. All our efforts now must concentrate on independence. And to achieve that goal we must reach out to as many as possible of our people.
This cannot be done by demanding a socialist feminist republic (as was heard at AUOB’s first rally on May 11). And if balaclava’d Antifa thugs start beating up people they disagree with, then any hope of independence will be lost. Wales may have a radical past but most of us today are socially conservative.
It should go without saying, therefore, that Wales needs a broad-based movement for independence that must either be ideology-free or else it must accept all ideological standpoints.
And so I’m asking All Under One Banner Cymru if there’ll be a welcome in Caernarfon on Saturday for people who don’t support Plaid Cymru, and people who are not socialist; for those who would have fought alongside Pearse rather than Connolly, who don’t obsess over a second referendum and who regard Antifa thugs no differently to the thugs who follow Tommy Robinson.
I ask because there are clearly some who feel that the drive for independence should be controlled by the left; and maybe they’ll only accept independence on their terms. Either way, it’s insulting and offensive to those holding different views who have worked for independence for over 50 years.
This decision that took most of us by surprise needs to be examined and certain ramifications and possibilities considered. For last week’s decision might have significance beyond a single road project.
When Carwyn Jones was First Minister it was understood that the relief road would go ahead. So for a start, the decision announced last week means that things have changed under his successor, Mark Drakeford.
Perhaps the most striking aspect of last week’s decision is that Mark Drakeford, and the ‘Welsh Government’, have gone against the wishes of their superiors in London. It’s impossible to over-stress that what happened last week was a form of insubordination.
Our Secretary of State, Alun Cairns, that most London-loyal of individuals – and, we now learn, a Boris Johnson supporter – was “hugely disappointed” by the decision. It may have come as a bit of a shock to him, for Cairns knew long ago what the inspector’s recommendation was, and he probably expected the new management team in Cardiff docks to follow Compliant Carwyn’s lead and do as the inspector (and London) recommended.
So maybe any consideration of this shock to the system political boils down to two questions:
Why has Drakeford refused to do London’s bidding in this instance?
Is this a one-off act of rebellion or does it herald a fundamental change of course for ‘Welsh’ Labour?
One possible explanation might lie in the fact that despite all the criticism of London-centricity, and the disproportionate amount of infrastructure spending in London and the south east of England, for two decades Wales has followed exactly the same course.
Because a curious feature of devolution is that those areas that voted against devolution in 1997 have been the areas to benefit most since 1999. Maybe this is related to the phenomenon that has seen successive Labour administrations in Cardiff Bay neglect those areas that vote Labour.
So, to be generous, this decision not to proceed with the M4 relief road might mark the beginning of attempts to ‘rebalance’ the Welsh economy.
Even if I’m being too generous there, on a purely financial level, it would have been difficult to justify expenditure of £1.5 bn (at the very least) in a country of just over 3 million people unless the benefits are widely enjoyed. That would obviously not have been the case with the M4 relief road, and further, expenditure on that project would mean fewer infrastructure projects elsewhere in the country.
It’s even being suggested that areas of England – notably Bristol – would have benefited more from an M4 relief road than areas of Wales just twenty or thirty miles away, such as the Heads of the Valleys.
This is how Alun Davies, AM for Blaenau Gwent, put it in a couple of tweets.
Weighing up cost and benefit, the M4 relief road would have meant the ‘Welsh Government’ borrowing a great deal of money for a project that at best would only benefit one corner of the country, and at worst, might have been of more benefit to adjacent areas of England.
On those grounds alone, no body claiming to be the ‘Welsh Government’, serving the whole of Wales, could have given the go-ahead for the M4 relief road.
But that consideration has never before stopped an administration in Cardiff Bay from pouring investment into the city at the expense of the rest of the country. So there may be other explanations.
THE PLANNING INSPECTORATE FOR ENGLANDANDWALES
Having mentioned the Planning Inspectorate this is a good time to remind you of the malign influence this agency has exerted over Wales.
In this example from March 2014 I wrote about the plan to expand Bodelwyddan and how it linked with the Local Development Plan (LDP) for Denbighshire. In this post we see how the Planning Inspectorate was forcing a Welsh local authority to allow housing greatly in excess of any local need.
And even after census findings made it clear that the county would need less new housing than had previously been anticipated, the Planning Inspector insisted on keeping to the now discredited figures:
“Objects and aspirations” can only mean catering for an influx of new residents from outside of the county, and almost certainly from outside of Wales. Which means that in many cases the LDPs that have been forced on our local authorities by the Planning Inspectorate are ‘local’ only in the sense that they affect areas of Wales.
In Denbighshire, the northern part of the county lies within the A55 corridor, which is being developed as a linear commuter belt for north west England. The ‘Welsh Government’ will never admit this – in fact, it might not even be consulted – but others know, and are planning for it.
What’s being done here could be done without devolution – so what’s the point of having a ‘Welsh Government’ if it doesn’t live up to the name? Is devolution just a chimera, a smokescreen?
Cross-border co-operation is one thing, and desirable, it happens all over the world; but it must be done on a basis of mutual respect with both sides benefiting. The map you see above is Englandandwales in operation. Anyone arguing otherwise would probably describe Tryweryn as a mutually-beneficial project.
Without labouring the point I hope you get the gist – the Planning Inspectorate has done a lot of damage to Wales over the years. Which explains why the agency’s relationship with the ‘Welsh Government’ has always been a source of confusion for Welsh politicians and others.
The truth is that the Planning Inspectorate for Englandandwales has a desk in Cardiff but takes its orders from London, with the ‘Welsh Government’ allowed to pretend it has some control.
The truth is driven home when we see an inspector adjudicating on a Welsh case one week and being in Yorkshire or Devon the following week. (Though of course, never in Scotland.)
It was no surprise then that the Planning Inspectorate wanted the M4 black route. Because that’s what London wanted.
Though if Mark Drakeford can see the problem with the Planning Inspectorate for Englandandwales then he must also be aware that this is only the tip of an iceberg. That ‘iceberg’ being the problem of ‘Welsh’ civil servants relaying orders from London.
PLANNING FOR A WELSH FUTURE?
The fact that the ‘Welsh Government’ went against the recommendation of the Planning Inspectorate, its London masters, and a number of powerful lobby groups (perhaps even . . . whisper it – Deryn!), means that Mark Drakeford has really stuck his scruffy neck out.
Which leads me to suspect, or hope, that this decision might be about more than the explanations we’ve been given on cost and environment damage. There might be things bubbling below the surface that could prove to be more important in the medium term than the M4 decision itself.
First off, I am convinced that the M4 decision links with this announcement from a month ago that Wales will soon have its own planning inspectorate. Let’s look at what the article in The Planner says.
“Currently, the Planning Inspectorate for England and Wales is responsible for making decisions and recommendations on planning-related land issues and appeals. The Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG) and the Welsh Government fund it.
Based in Cardiff, the inspectorate’s Wales Division manages casework on planning and related applications and appeals, including developments of national significance. It examines local development plans, which set out land use planning policies and form the basis of local planning decisions, using a team of dedicated Welsh inspectors and administrators.
The new planning inspectorate for Wales is expected to be fully operational by the end of the current assembly term, which is May 2021.”
This move was explained by the ‘Welsh Government’ thus: “planning law and policy has diverged and continues to diverge at an accelerating rate from England”. Which makes a certain sense, but if that’s the real reason then policing, broadcasting and many other powers would also be fully devolved.
Though a cynic might suggest that Drakeford is launching the new agency because he’s burned his bridges with the Planning Inspectorate after giving them two fingers over such a high-profile project as the M4 relief road.
Whatever the reason, I’m hoping Drakeford and his cabinet want a separate Welsh planning inspectorate to do things differently in future and for the right reasons. Otherwise, why set up a new and separate agency?
IN CONCLUSION . . .
Does the dropping of the M4 relief road coupled with the announcement of the new planning inspectorate herald a change of direction for the ‘Welsh Government’?
The cynic in me thinks, ‘Nah, this leopard ain’t gonna change its spots, Jac. After twenty years of screwing up on devolution Labour’s only pretending to do things differently now because it’s slipping in the polls. Any change will be purely cosmetic.’
But then, the optimistic side to my nature (long dormant) asserts itself and says, ‘Wait! Maybe from now on they will put the interests of Wales and Welsh people first. Perhaps they’ll realise that there are communities within twenty miles of Corruption Bay approaching third world standards of deprivation. And that our rural areas need more than zip wires and granny farms.
‘Perhaps it’ll mean no more insane legislation to encourage hippies, ‘rewilders’ and other enviroshysters; no more grants showered on multinationals’ branch factories and con men with ludicrous ‘projects’; no more red carpet treatment for exploitive ‘celebs’ such as Bore Grylls; no more funding and other encouragement for the third sector to import England’s problems so as to maintain thousands of unnecessary jobs with our money.
‘Maybe, at long last, Wales will be treated as a country, in which the interests of those who belong here are considered more important than kudos gained from playing to galleries that only seek to exploit and marginalise us. Perhaps our kids will be given a decent education to prepare them for better jobs than scurrying around an Amazon warehouse or desperately waiting for Easter in the hope of some low-wage tourism job.’
In a few days time Neil McEvoy, the Assembly Member for the South Wales Central region, is up before the beak, in the form of Sir Roderick Evans, the Standards Commissioner. The charge is that McEvoy used equipment the Assembly had provided for constituency work for party political purposes.
The story that I’m about to relate is complicated, compiled from a number of sources, but an internal consistency becomes evident as interwoven threads emerge. Also certain attitudes I have written about before.
One of those threads is that there are people across the political spectrum who wish that boat-rocking Neil McEvoy would just go away . . . but if he won’t do the decent thing with a 37 bus then they’ll have to do it themselves.
And this hostility seems to transcend party divides, uniting those who huff and puff, play silly games, and in reality do nothing but oversee the continuing decline of Wales.
But let us start at the beginning.
Neil McEvoy is one of the most easily recognised politicians in the Assembly. He’s certainly popular with people who take no more than a passing interest in politics, and that’s because he is seen to stick it to the man. Regularly. God knows Wales doesn’t have many other politicians doing this.
His background is Arab-Irish-English, just the sort of candidate Plaid Cymru has been looking for to make the breakthrough in Cardiff, or so you might have thought. And his arrival in Plaid was followed by something of a breakthrough.
Before McEvoy joined the party in 2003 Plaid Cymru had just one seat in Cardiff (Creigiau) and little chance of success anywhere else. Yet from 2008 to 2012 Plaid Cymru – with seven seats – was in a ruling coalition with the Liberal Democrats and Neil McEvoy served as deputy council leader.
By the council elections of 2017 Neil McEvoy and the two other Plaid candidates for the Fairwater ward were elected with the biggest Plaid vote in any ward in Wales, while in the wider Cardiff West constituency Plaid came second to Labour in every other ward, winning the average popular vote.
The picture is equally impressive on the national stage.
In 2016 Neil McEvoy was elected Assembly Member for the South Wales Central region. He also stood for the Cardiff West constituency and almost doubled the Plaid Cymru vote from his own showing in 2011.
In fact, McEvoy came close to sparing us the embarrassment of Mark Drakeford as first minister. If the current trend continues then there’s a strong chance that McEvoy will beat Drakeford in the 2021 election.
Though of course some will argue that this growth in support would have happened without Neil McEvoy.
In addition to the bare numbers provided by elections Neil McEvoy has shaken things up in other ways:
He was the first person in UK politics to use Facebook videos. He was mocked for doing so, now it’s the norm.
This helps explain why those who believe devolution is nothing but a system that allows local ‘friendlies’ to manage Wales on England’s behalf – without engaging the excitable natives – regard Neil McEvoy as dangerous, and that’s why they’ll go to any lengths to damage him.
For example, back in March 2017, at the instigation of the Labour Party and its third sector cronies Plaid Cymru suspended Neil McEvoy on a trumped up charge of ‘bullying’. (In reality, he was standing up to City Hall for a constituent.)
The picture below shows former Labour councillor Paul Mitchell holding a copy of the local newspaper at a gathering of Labourites celebrating McEvoy’s misfortune. (Interesting that they felt the need to hide behind curtains that were the height of fashion in 1960s East Germany.)
If every picture tells a story then the message from this one is, never underestimate how much the Labour Party hates Neil McEvoy, and the lengths they’ll go to to destroy him. Equally, never forget how eager Plaid Cymru is to appease the English Labour Party in Wales.
Michael Deem is not a name familiar to many of you, but he’s central to this story, for it was Deem who made the complaint to the Standards Commissioner.
What know we of Mr Deem?
Well, he seems to have emerged from the gloom in 2015, saying he was interested in what Plaid Cymru was doing and wanted to be part of it, and was welcomed into the fold. In July 2016 he became manager of Neil McEvoy’s Cardiff West constituency office.
His rise within the party continued and after prime minister May called an election for June 2017 in the hope of boosting her majority he was hurriedly adopted as the Cardiff West candidate. Deem and Plaid Cymru suffered a bad defeat, coming a poor third, with less than 10 per cent of the vote.
Making enquiries into Michael Deem proved interesting. For it’s not often I get to write about an Asda selling champion. According to his Linkedin profile he’s still working for Asda, but I’m told he’s now working for HMRC, so he appears to have abandoned Linkedin.
Fortunately, some photographs exist of Michael Deem during his Asda days. He was something of a flag-waver. Of course, this can’t be held against him, he probably had no choice in the matter . . . but he still seems very enthusiastic.
The montage below contains two photos of him waving the flag for Asda and Britain, another shows him outside Buckingham Palace, while the fourth has him waving that flag again, but this time there seems to be no Asda connection, it looks like his own choice. Where is he?
As I’ve said, he was office manager for Neil McEvoy – and a disaster in the job. One of his primary duties was dealing with constituents’ casework, which he claimed to be doing but rarely did. This had consequences, such as one constituent losing out on his pension. There were dozens of other complaints.
And of course, this ‘negligence’ (if such it was) reflected badly on Neil McEvoy.
In addition to neglecting his duties he enjoyed playing the petty tyrant, especially towards a young female employee. Even throwing things at her! This was witnessed and reported by a member of the public.
Then there were the mood swings. And the debts Deem ran up that his employer, Neil McEvoy, had to pay out of his own pocket. And let’s not forget the time he was reported to the Information Commissioner for copying and sharing highly confidential information. There were unauthorised holidays . . .
After being suspended in July 2017 Deem joined the trade union Unite which I have described before as the Labour Party by another name. It wasn’t long before the workings of Plaid Cymru’s Cardiff West constituency office were being discussed in Labour circles.
After a protracted process Deem was eventually sacked early in 2018. His appeal was dismissed by the Assembly’s Legal Service. He then threatened McEvoy with an Employment Tribunal unless he (Deem) was paid £8,000. McEvoy told Deem – via ACAS – that he was prepared to go to a Tribunal. That was the end of the matter and Unite withdrew its support.
By August 2018 Deem was using his Facebook page to appeal for advice. Now what I find interesting about this appeal is Deem’s belief that he’s going to be a UK media sensation for putting the boot into McEvoy! Is it all being done for publicity?
Or is he just deluded, for Michael Deem is a young man with a high opinion of himself, and a bully when he can get away with it?
For while he was useless at his job he was good at promoting himself. This explains being selected for Cardiff West in the 2017 Westminster election. In that campaign he refused all advice from Neil McEvoy who knew the constituency so well and he came a very poor third. Having pinned his hopes on becoming an MP his attitude towards Neil McEvoy and the constituency office deteriorated even further.
Michael Deem effectively did himself out of a job, but he’s never going to accept that. What’s more, given that his dispute is with Neil McEvoy there will be no shortage of people encouraging him to believe that he’s the latest victim of an ogre.
If the Standards Commissioner rejects Deem’s complaint we can probably expect McEvoy’s enemies in Plaid Cymru to find some old biddy who’ll claim she was elbowed in the face by Neil McEvoy when they were reaching for the parsnips in Tesco. Or maybe some child will sob to BBC Wales cameras that Neil McEvoy ran over ‘Freddy’, his pet cockroach, while speeding through Splott in his (almost certainly uninsured) car.
What do you mean, I’m being ridiculous? Check out the things that have been said about Neil McEvoy by Leanne Wood and her cronies, by the Labour Party, by Deryn, by the harridans of the third sector. Also, what they’ve persuaded others to say. And they’re still at it!
But the relationship was not always so fraught.
THE MCEVOY ENIGMA
When Neil McEvoy was simply a Cardiff councillor and an aspiring Assembly Member he could be encouraged just like any other Plaid candidate. But when he was elected to the Assembly in 2016, and more importantly when he started making waves, then he became a danger.
That’s because there are too many in Plaid Cymru with a bipolar view of politics. On the one hand they see the ‘progressives’ of the left (Plaid, Labour, Greens), while on the other hand are arrayed the forces of reaction (Tories, Ukip, Beelzebub and me). The Welsh dimension does not intrude into this paradigm.
Guided by this alignment Plaid Cymru see it as their duty to link with Labour and Greens (both very English parties) to fight the enemy in some ideological precursor to Armageddon.
This makes Neil McEvoy, a charismatic and confrontational politician, doing the best for his constituents and his country, a threat that has to be dealt with. For in addition to the eternal struggle against the forces of darkness there are many cushy jobs in the third sector and elsewhere to consider, sinecures in revivified quangos, peerages even; plus lucrative contracts within the gift of the ‘Welsh’ and UK governments. All these are dependent on Plaid Cymru not making waves.
It has been relatively easy for Plaid Cymru to isolate Neil McEvoy because he doesn’t belong to any of the cliques making up the party. Which I would loosely define as the cultural-linguistic wing, the environmentalist wing, and the niche socialist wing.
These classifications are not mutually exclusive, of course, but no matter how much they may overlap the fact remains that Neil McEvoy fits into none of them. He is just a Cardiff boy who knows his city and its people better than anyone who’s moved to Cardiff from Ceredigion or Gwynedd.
He also knows what’s wrong with Cardiff, and with Wales . . . and who’s to blame. But wearing bipolar lenses makes Plaid Cymru think Labour is blameless.
For most of the half century and more that I’ve been observing Plaid Cymru the cry has been, ‘How can we appeal to the South?’ It could now be argued that the Valleys are winnable, which leaves the cities of the coast.
Where Neil McEvoy has made the breakthrough in appealing to the natives of Kerdiff (bless ’em!). For he is one of their own and so they listen to him, and they like what they hear, so they vote for him.
Plaid Cymru should be delighted, but no; for the reasons I’ve already given, his popular appeal unsettles the party hierarchy . . . and of course it threatens the re-election of first minister Mark Drakeford.
Which explains why the attacks from Leanne Wood’s disciples continue. Here’s a truly bizarre one that came out of the blue on Thursday from Cyffin Thomas and others. Thomas “writes monthly-ish articles for the Lampeter Grapevine“.
What provoked this? What the hell were they trying to say to the first AM of colour born in Wales? Does being gay and socialist give you licence to say anything? Can you imagine the outcry from my many ‘progressive’ admirers if I’d said something like that? Or if I’d used black images?
We’re dealing with hypocrites here. Hypocrites who’ve been allowed to hide behind their rainbow flags, or their gender, or what they imagine to be the moral superiority bestowed by ‘socialism’, and they’ve got away with lies and insults for too long.
With his period of expulsion drawing to a close some new excuse for excluding Neil McEvoy had to be found. And that’s all you need to know about this allegation by Michael Deem. A charge levelled by a dismissed employee who is almost certainly being egged on by others.
In essence, the ‘charge’ is that a former Plaid Cymru AM used his office for the benefit of . . . Plaid Cymru! The complaint made by a Plaid Cymru member.
Nobody disputes that Neil McEvoy works hard for his constituents, so it seems bloody strange to me that the former office manager would complain about the office he himself was supposed to be running.
WE’VE BEEN HERE BEFORE
However we look at it, this case reflects badly on Plaid Cymru, yet it doesn’t surprise me one bit.
For as I’ve told you before, I have long believed that there is an element within Plaid Cymru determined to scupper any threat of real success. A grouping that regards the prospect of independence with horror.
Those I’m referring to want Plaid Cymru to:
ignore Welsh issues – ‘ugly nationalism’ – or else frame them in a British or global context
maintain a level of support just enough to inhibit the emergence of a true nationalist party
Making Plaid Cymru the perfect ‘nationalist party’ . . . from London’s perspective.
Cast your mind back to the removal of Dafydd Wigley in 2000. He had just led Plaid Cymru to its greatest ever success in the first Assembly elections of 1999. But before the cheering had died down elements within Plaid Cymru were working to remove their party’s greatest electoral asset . . . and to replace him with Ieuan Wyn Jones!
The excuse used was Wigley’s heart condition, and his general health. Nineteen years later he’s fit and well, leading an active life and regularly attending the House of Lords.
I’m not saying that Neil McEvoy is as important to Plaid Cymru’s electoral success as Dafydd Wigley, but there is a parallel to be drawn.
I suggest that because Plaid Cymru prefers corporate blandness to individual sparkle; and craves the kind of ‘respectability’ it believes is only achieved by not offending authority. Given the mess Wales is in, such an approach is little more than self-serving defeatism.
This is why, when Neil McEvoy was elected to the Assembly, I wrote in Assembly Elections 2016: Hopes and Ashes: “I just hope that the Plaid establishment doesn’t ‘get to’ him. Plaid Cymru needs more Neil McEvoys and fewer sons of the manse and masters of cynghanedd, and fewer entryists using the party to promote socialist, environmentalist and other agendas.”
The Plaid establishment clearly did ‘get to’ Neil McEvoy, but he resisted, and when he wouldn’t bend to their will they sought to attack him at every opportunity. Just ask yourself – whose interest is being served by Plaid Cymru and its nefarious allies continually undermining such an electoral asset?
Worked it out yet?
If there’s a young firebrand out there wanting to give the system a kick in the nuts, then Uncle Jac’s advice would be: ‘Don’t waste your time with a compromised establishment party that will only stab you in the back if you look like achieving anything. Try your luck with Ein Gwlad’.
I’m even tempted to offer the same advice to Neil McEvoy. But I suspect he’s more loyal to Plaid Cymru than certain elements of Plaid Cymru are to him, or the party.
♦ end ♦
UPDATE 07.01.2019: Soon after posting this article I received an e-mail notification of a comment to my Facebook page. Unfortunately, the comment – in response to Delaney M Christian – had been pulled before I could see it.
Llinos Price is one of those to whom I referred in the article, a woman dangerously obsessed with Neil McEvoy and determined to damage him. Last year she started a petition against him.
When she’s not sticking pins into her voodoo doll of Neil McEvoy her day job appears to be with the Woodland Trust. That is the same Woodland Trust involved with George Monbiot and his gang, using the management team in Cardiff docks to take money off Welsh farmers and hand it to a replacement population in the form of ‘re-wilders’ and other would-be colonists involved in the Summit to Sea scam.
It never ceases to amaze me how many of the prissy and self-regarding devolution elite, so profuse in their loyalties to Wales, seem to fall in with the ugliest and most blatantly colonialist organisations and projects. Maybe ethnic cleansing is now ‘progressive’.
They really do need to step back from the Bay Bubble and take a long hard look at where Wales is headed.