Arts Council of Wales and Welsh Arts Anti-Racist Union, an update

I’M IN SEMI-RETIREMENT AND THIS BLOG IS WINDING DOWN. I INTEND CALLING IT A DAY IN THE NEXT FEW MONTHS. POSTINGS WILL PROBABLY BE LESS FREQUENT AND I WILL NOT UNDERTAKE ANY MAJOR NEW INVESTIGATIONS. DIOLCH YN FAWR.

This is a follow-up to last week’s post, ‘Corruption Bay and a tale of Cymrophobia‘. You’ll remember that we looked at how Labour Party insiders were paid to produce reports that would guide more ‘inclusive’ policy at the commissioning bodies, the Arts Council of Wales and the National Museum.

UPDATE

One of these submissions, from the mysterious Welsh Arts Anti-Racist Union, painted a picture of Wales as some kind of Hell on Earth where ‘creatives’ of a non-Caucasian pigmentation are brutally discriminated against.

It was reminiscent of the hysteria I’ve been writing about in connection with YesCymru. Where some of those involved in the failed Woke-Left takeover wanted us to believe that ‘women with penises’ are being butchered on Welsh streets by mobs of transphobes.

What I found revealing was that neither those suggesting rampant transphobia or a whites-only arts scene are prepared to debate. Any dialogue must start from a blind acceptance of their ‘facts’.

A few tit-bits have come to light since the previous post went out. For example, someone drew my attention to the metadata naming authors for the three reports.

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The report from Labour insiders Lu Thomas and Jon Luxton named Luxton as the author. But the other two reports listed Arts Council employees as authors. Which might at first sight seem a bit odd, though there could be a simple explanation.

Such as the reports being submitted in MS Word or some other format and the Arts Council converting them to PDF.

If that is not the explanation, then what is?

Despite the ‘authorship’, there is no real issue with the Richie Turner Associates’ report because the contributors are named in the report.

It’s the third report, from the Welsh Arts Anti-Racist Union, that’s causing concern. Because no individual or contributor is named anywhere.

Anyway, in the hope of helping me make sense of the bigger picture, a few people made suggestions. Pointed me in certain directions. So off I went.

NATURE OF THE BEAST

It’s fair to say that Amgueddfa Cymru was almost a ‘passenger’ in this exercise, so I’m ruling them out to focus on The Arts Council of Wales.

The current Chair is Phil George, who I speculated was a Labour Party supporter. His immediate predecessor in the post, from 2007 – 2016, was David Burton Smith, whose political leanings have never been in doubt.

For Dai Smith – father of unsuccessful challenger to Jeremy Corbyn, Owen Smith – is another creature of the left. One of those historians who, like Neil Kinnock, believes Wales isn’t worthy of study until the Industrial Revolution and the creation of a proletariat.

Smith worked for the BBC in Cardiff, from 1994, as, ‘Head of Broadcast (English Language). He was responsible for commissioning programmes on the arts and in drama and has also presented award-winning documentaries on the people and culture of south Wales’.

Through a socialist prism, of course.

An interesting insight into colonial Wales, this. For while the Labour Party rails against Tory cronyism, Old Boy networks and the rest, the Buttybond practises something very similar in Wales.

And the Tories are more than happy to let them do it. I’ll explain why a bit later.

Phil George has a long history with The National Theatre of Wales (NTW). In fact, he was one of the founding directors on September 9, 2008. He seems to have left NTW in March 2016, around the time he was appointed Chair of the Arts Council.

I’m told the National Theatre of Wales was always well favoured in Cardiff. One source reports: ‘”BBC Wales” used and uses every opportunity to promote this company. Hardly any arts documentaries are done but in its formative years, 2010, it commissioned a 30 minute advertorial dressed up as a documentary on a National Theatre production’.

It was thanks to Phil George and NTW that Abdul Shayek of London got his foot in the Welsh public funding door.  For Shayek’s Linkedin page tells us that from April 2011 until April 2013 he was a Creative Associate with NTW.

Shayek then branched out to form FIO, a BAME theatre group. Though apparently reliant on funding from the Welsh public purse this didn’t stop FIO taking plays to India. And Shayek ‘representing’ FIO at symposia and the like in Sri Lanka and Australia.

Nice work if you can get it! And especially if someone else is paying.

Another source tells me FIO got some £400,000 in funding over 3 or 4 three years. (It might have been more.) Which pays for quite a few trips to Oz and old Serendip.

Going back to Shayek’s Linkedin bio we see that he left FIO in August 2020 to join Tara Theatre. No, this has nothing to do with halls and High Kings, it’s yet another ‘ethnically diverse’ theatre group. This time in London.

I’m not sure of the reasons for Shayek’s departure, or where this leaves his creation, FIO. The website suggests it’s still going, and the Charity Commission entry implies he’s still involved.

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Whatever the relationship between Abdul Shayek and FIO he still appears to be involved with the arts scene in Wales. And pissing off quite a few people with his involvement in the Wales Culture and Race Taskforce (WCRT).

Which was set up in June 2020 to, ‘challenge the lack of diversity within the arts in Wales and demand systemic change’.

I’m not sure if this was Abdul Shayek’s brainchild or if he just got involved somehow. Certainly, his creation FIO was holding the money donated to WCRT by other arts groups. Said to be £20,000.

You’ll get a flavour of the dispute from the Critically Speaking blog of Jafar Iqbal. (A supporter of Leyton Orient football club.) In particular, read the lengthy comment from ‘pledging organisations’.

If you want to know more about the role envisaged for the Wales Culture and Race Taskforce then you should read this document prepared for the ‘Welsh Government’.

Strangely, in just 452 words this document manages to use the term ‘white-led’ three times. In the Welsh Arts Anti-Racist Union ‘report’ we encounter the phrase ‘white-led’ 10 times.

When checking the metadata for the document I’ve just linked to, I found the author named as Letty Clarke. So obviously, I wondered who she might be.

You will not be surprised to learn that Letty is also from England, but since January 2020 she has been Curator of Public Programmes at Artes Mundi Prize Ltd. From the Artes Mundi website we learn:

‘Artes Mundi Prize Ltd is a registered non-profit charity that annually relies on support from individuals, corporations, sponsors, trusts and foundations to fund the costs of all our programmes, alongside our core public revenue from Arts Council of Wales and Cardiff City Council’.

The name may sound like a character from a forgotten novel set in 19th century New England, but Letty is of the here and now. And, unfortunately, the ‘here’ is Wales.

Letty Clarke’s Linkedin profile makes it clear that she supports Black Lives Matter, and her Twitter account provides a few gems.

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As many of you will know, investigations are continuing into the death of Mohamud Mohammed Hassan, who died some hours after leaving police custody. But Letty Clarke, after being in Wales for a short time, has already made her mind up.

For according to her Hassan was a victim of ‘police brutality’ and ‘state violence in Wales’. What the hell does she mean by ‘state violence’? There is no Welsh state!

Let me explain the relationship to you, Letty . . . Your country robs my country and by way of compensation doles out money to those buffoons down Corruption Bay, who in turn distribute far too much of that cash to people like you and your friends.

Which means that, one way and another, most Welsh people get screwed twice over.

Up to now in this painful trawl through the ‘Welsh’ arts scene I don’t think we’ve met anyone who is actually Welsh, apart from a few cocks atop the dung heap.

Let’s see if we have any more luck in the next section.

THE SEARCH CONTINUES FOR THE WELSH ARTS ANTI-RACIST UNION

In December 2019 the Wales Audit Office produced a snappily-entitled report, ‘Well-being of Future Generations Increasing Participation in Areas with Under-developed Reach of the Arts – Arts Council of Wales’. You can read it here.

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The Introduction says: ‘This document has been prepared for the internal use of the Arts Council of Wales’. Reminding us that this is an example of the additional public money wasted since the implementation of the Well-being of Future Generations (Wales) Act 2015, and the creation of the post of Future Generations Commissioner, with of course, a whole new department.

The job of Commissioner was given to Labour time-server Sophie Howe. She had previously worked under Alun Michael, the former Labour MP and now Police and Crime Commissioner for South Wales.

Under ‘Contents’ we read: ‘In its efforts to increase participation, inclusion and engagement in areas with under-developed reach of the arts, the Arts Council of Wales (Arts Council) is demonstrating commitment to the sustainable development principle but it recognises the need to further embed the five ways of working.’

Clearly, the Audit Office looked into inclusion in the arts, and made recommendations to the Arts Council. So why, just six months later, did the ACW spaff another £50,000 (minimum) doing what looks like exactly the same thing?

(Note that the Sell2Wales notice I link to is from June 2020. Which is when the Wales Culture and Race Taskforce was set up.)

This duplication produced the three reports dealt with in the previous post, including the submission from the mysterious Welsh Arts Anti-Racist Union.

This digression takes us nowhere nearer identifying the person or persons behind the Welsh Arts Anti-Racist Union. In fact, it’s difficult to get any handle on the WAARU.

One mention I did find was on what I assume to be a podcast. It seems to be called Mostyn, or Lumin, the latter described as, ‘an artist-run radio and publisher led by Sadia Pineda Hameed and Beau W Beakhouse’.

If you scroll down to the bios of others involved, you’ll see this for the Welsh Arts Anti-Racist Union. But again, no name.

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I’d like to be able to tell you that Hameed is from Froncysyllte and Beakhouse from Llangyfelach, but alas . . .

Beau tells us: ‘I’m originally from Bournemouth but moved around . . . I come from a nature & craft background . . .  My parents were self-employed gardeners, who then went into woodcraft . . . Eventually, I managed to study English Literature at Cardiff University’.

Hameed: ‘I’m from London. I also came to Cardiff to study English Literature at uni and decided to stay ‒ in part because I didn’t really have the money to pursue the arts back in London, but also because I really liked how open the arts scene in Wales is.’

Yes indeedy; the ‘arts scene’ in Wales is open to just about anybody . . . artistic talent is unnecessary, and knowledge of Wales undesirable.

Here’s an example of Beakhouse’s poetry from 2017.

Don’t give up the day job, Beau. Whatever it is.

That we are no nearer fingering who wrote the Welsh Arts Anti-Racist Union report is understandable, given its reception. But the Arts Council of Wales must know because the WAARU was paid well to insult us.

Which is why I have submitted a Freedom of Information request to the ACW.

But over and above that, this situation of strangers being paid to insult us could only happen in the peculiar circumstances of devolution, which sees politicians and others who superficially oppose each other agree when it comes to Wales, and the Welsh.

UPDATE: Since publishing this piece I have received feedback, including someone drawing my attention to The Future Generations Report 2020. On page 355 we read what you see in the panel:

I have two points to make.

First, ‘learning Welsh on the job’ sounds like a good idea, until you realise it’s often a ruse to give jobs to people most of whom will do no more than go through the motions of taking a few Welsh lessons.

Mark James, former chief executive of Carmarthenshire County Council, would be a great example of this scam in practise.

Second, The Future Generations Commissioner in her 2020 report is quoting Race Alliance Wales (RAW), a body formally launched on December 19, 2019. How the hell did a newly-constituted body become so influential so quickly?

The answer is that those behind RAW are based almost exclusively in Cardiff and well connected in Corruption Bay.

While organisations elsewhere in Wales, established for far longer, representing many more people, but outside the Bay Bubble, are ignored.

This is not healthy; this is not democratic; this should not be the Wales any of us wants to see.

But it’s the Wales we live in.

FURTHER UPDATE: Someone else has been in touch with an intriguing suggestion. Which is, that when an anonymous Twitter account is launched the author is often to be found among the early followers.

In the case of the Welsh Arts Anti-Racist Union Twitter account the first ten followers can be found here. (Read from the bottom up.) There are quite a few names there that appear in this article.

THE BIT AT THE END WHERE COLOMBO PUFFS ON HIS CIGAR AND . . .

Picking up again on the shared motivations, what I’m hinting at is that these otherwise squabbling interests agree that Wales must be carefully ‘managed’.

Which is why what passes for entertainment on television and elsewhere is banal and superficial. Welsh politics, social issues, and other specifically Welsh matters (when dealt with in English) are often quarantined in programmes broadcast at awkward times . . . which results in hardly anyone watching them.

The same applies more widely, in the fields so copiously manured by the Arts Council. For example, there’s not a hope in Hell of Wales having its own Abbey Theatre.

We are at a stage now where if two plays are in competition for funding, one about Welsh villages being destroyed by excessive tourism, the other about the absence of obstetric facilities for low caste birthing persons in Tamil Nadu, then you can predict with certainty which will enjoy an opening night.

Researching this piece I stumbled on an hour-long lecture by former Arts Council Chair Dai Smith, built around writer Raymond Williams. Smith is speaking at a ‘Cultural Democracy Workshop’ in November 2020.

This was of course delivered at a time when the three reports commissioned by the Arts Council were being prepared. Yes, it was all happening around that time.

Smith makes the point that in the 1950s, ’60s and ’70s, when Williams was at the height of his intellectual and creative powers, his writing was framed by what he saw as a class struggle. But things have moved on.

(Interestingly, a piece on Williams appeared in UnHerd yesterday.)

Most importantly, the political left in Europe and North America has lost the working class. Which is why Marxism is now promoted through race, environmentalism and gender. And the harder the left pushes these the more it alienates the working class.

No one living just thirty years ago could have envisioned the crazy situation we have reached today. And few political activists of the left under the age of 40 can believe that their ideological predecessors idolised those they regard as stupid, racist, transphobic, climate denying Brexiteers.

The sons and grandsons of Marxist miners are fascist white van men!

A hazy understanding of Marxism re-interpreted by Black Lives Matter almost certainly lies behind the report submitted by the Welsh Arts Anti-Racist Union. It also explains the report’s acceptance by the Arts Council.

But why would the Old Etonians in Westminster and their civil servant alumni of lesser schools want to push such drivel? The answer is that they share with the Woke-Left establishment in Corruption Bay a desired outcome.

This explains the funding and other encouragement for people from around the world to come here, take funding that should go to Welsh arts, and then call us racist.

London likes the ‘The Welsh are racist’ message because it explains why we oppose holiday homes, and resent being colonised. (It’s why the Telegraph used the WAARU report.) Corruption Bay modifies it to read, ‘Nationalism is racist’ because that can slander those suggesting there is a better way for Cymru than devolution’s cronyism and exploitation. 

Together they tell us why the ‘Welsh’ arts scene today is a revolting mess of talentless dreamers and grant-grabbing shysters. Overwhelmingly alien; with some of those involved positively racist in their attitudes towards us.

Modern Wales in microcosm.

♦ end ♦

 




Council Elections & Colonialism

COUNCIL ELECTIONS

THOSE WE HAVE KNOWN

Before starting any analysis let’s look at a few individuals who have appeared on this blog recently.

First, Gary @poumista Jones in Llangennech. Gary was heavily involved with the school dispute, siding with those who would like to kill off the Welsh language. He came top of the poll, but the fact that his running mate, Jacqueline Seward, came third, some distance behind the leading Plaid Cymru candidate in this two-seat ward (see here), suggests that there was not an ‘overwhelming majority’, as claimed, supporting the position espoused by Michaela Beddows, Rosemary Emery and others trying to disguise bigotry as ‘choice’.

Ergo Gary’s victory must have contained a considerable personal vote unconnected with the school dispute, which can only be attributed to the free publicity I’ve given him. I therefore expect a few bottles of best quality Argentine Malbec to be delivered in the very near future.

Though many observers fear that Gary’s political career may not prosper, for not only can he do joined-up writing, it is even rumoured that he has read a book! Intellectual snobbery like that is frowned upon in the Llanelli Labour Party.

In Tywyn, there were incredible scenes as Mike Stevens – aka George M Stevens – was carried shoulder-high along the High Street to cries of, “Good old wassisname!” and “Where’s the free beer we were promised, you bastard?” after romping home with 29% of the vote.

Here in the Bryncrug / Llanfihangel ward that man of mystery Royston Hammond will remain an unknown quantity after losing, though given that hardly anybody knew him to begin with 22% of the vote in a two-horse race may be regarded as quite acceptable.

In a nutshell, the local government picture in Wales now is a patchwork, shown well in these excellent maps by Siôn Gwilym (@siongwilym) that take the election results down to ward level. They show us that all parties have their areas of strength but that with just a few outposts elsewhere ‘Welsh’ Labour is largely confined to the south and the north east.

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Now let’s take a quick tour of the country.

ALL ABOARD THE CHARABANC!

In Carmarthenshire there was a split between Llanelli and the rest of the county where Plaid Cymru dominates. Llanelli voted like Swansea, where Labour actually gained a councillor, partly due to Plaid Cymru being almost absent from the city. On the other side of the Bay things were not so good for Labour, with Plaid Cymru gaining seven seats, Independents gaining one seat, and even the Lib Dems gaining a seat in Neath Port Talbot.

Digression: Staying in this area, Labour hanging on in Llanelli throws up, or regurgitates, an interesting possibility for whenever the ‘Welsh’ Government finally gets around to tackling the local government reorganisation Wales so badly needs. Let me explain.

It is taken as read that Swansea and Neath Port Talbot will combine, if only for the obvious reason that they already form a contiguous urban-industrial-commercial entity with the linkages being strengthened all the time. For example, Amazon’s massive ‘Swansea Fulfilment Centre‘ is in fact in Neath Port Talbot, and Swansea University’s new campus is also over the line. But what of Llanelli, the westerly component of this conurbation, separated from Swansea only by Afon Llwchwr?

Obviously Llanelli is not a unitary authority, but when local government reorganisation was discussed a few years back Swansea council’s preferred option (2 1 (i)) was a merger with NPT and Llanelli. I discussed it in Councils of Despair in December 2014. What’s more, this seemed to be the preferred option of the Labour Party in Llanelli. Given the clear dissonance in voting patterns between the town and the rest of the county it’s reasonable to assume that this remains Labour’s favoured option locally, and perhaps nationally.

For it would give ‘Welsh’ Labour a new authority of roughly half a million people, some sixth of Wales’ population, and with a guaranteed Labour majority in the new council chamber. With Labour taking hits and losing seats almost everywhere else this ‘Greater Swansea’ authority could provide it with a new base from which to fight back.

The picture for Wales is that Labour did well in the southern cities, but less well beyond those cities, where Plaid, Independents, and even the Cynon Valley Party won. The north east was another curate’s egg. In the northern metropolis of Wrexham, Labour now holds just 12 out of 52 seats in a town the party once dominated, but gained 3 seats in neighbouring Flintshire to remain the largest party, though without an overall majority. In Denbighshire Labour lost 6 seats and the Independents lost 4, the winners being the Conservatives (+8) and Plaid (+2).

Coming back to the south, it would appear that the further north one went, away from the glitz of Cardiff, the more likely electors were to be pissed off with how that glitz contrasts with the deprivation around them. Two former ‘Donkey Labour’ councils – Merthyr and Blaenau Gwent – will now be run by Independents, with even the council leader losing his seat in Merthyr. (Though due to the death of a candidate the Merthyr voting is not yet finished.)

One reason Labour did so well in Cardiff was that by and large the expected city-wide threats from Plaid Cymru and the Liberal Democrats did not materialise. Certainly, Neil McEvoy topped the poll in Fairwater, and the other Plaid Candidates in this three-seat ward also got elected. In fact, in the Cardiff West constituency, of which Fairwater is part, Plaid got 23,832 votes compared with Labour’s 25,890, but for some reason the party hierarchy has decided that Cardiff West is not a target seat! Maybe this is further punishment for McEvoy, or maybe it’s another example of Plaid Cymru sabotaging any threat of success.

The only council where Plaid Cymru will have a majority of councillors is, as before, Gwynedd. But Plaid will be the largest party in Carmarthenshire, Ceredigion and Ynys Môn, having increased its number of councillors on all three authorities. Plaid even gained another seat in Pembrokeshire, but Independents of various hues still hold 35 of the 60 seats. Which leaves just Powys and Monmouthshire.

In Harri Webb’s Green Desert the ruling Independents took a bit of a hiding, losing 17 of their 47 seats and overall control of the council, with just about everybody feasting on the downed beast, including the Greens, who now have a councillor in Wales. Though the new Green councillor confirms that the Green Party of Englandandwales is about as Welsh as UKIP (probably less so). Moving down to eastern Gwent we see that the Tories won a further 6 seats and now control the council.

To believe some mainstream media outlets the Tories swept the board in Wales, but the truth is that they control just one Welsh council, out of 22, and have fewer councillors than Plaid Cymru, or the Independents, a label that covers everything from Odessa sleepers to the Country Landowners’ Association. Though this being Wales, porkies also had to be told about Labour’s performance.

The headline to the picture below taken from the BBC Wales website – apparently supplied by the man who lost to Corbyn in the leadership contest – suggests that Labour swept the board in the Rhondda. The truth is that Plaid Cymru got more votes and more seats.

(I’ve asked this before, but who is the valkyrie hovering over Smiffy?)

One final thing – Wales is now a UKIP-free zone. The party held two seats, apparently, one of them in Ceredigion where Gethin James represented Aberporth. He must have known the game was up because he stood last week as an Independent – and still lost! Who the other one was I neither know nor care.

SCOTLAND

In Scotland, the Tories swept the board, crushing the SNP in the process . . . in the dreams of the mainstream media. Let’s look at the facts. The SNP is the largest party in Scotland’s four biggest cities, Glasgow, Edinburgh, Aberdeen and Dundee. Allowing for re-drawn boundaries, the SNP now has more councillors than at the last local elections in 2012 (says BBC Scotland’s Brian Taylor).

The truth might be that the SNP is at a ‘plateau’ of support from which it’s difficult to make further progress, but the party’s support certainly isn’t collapsing as some would have us believe.

Yes, the Tories made gains, so let me give my interpretation of why that happened. And the bigger picture of the political realignment I see taking place in Scotland. If I’m right, then what’s happening is further proof of the strength of the SNP. First, a trip down memory lane.

When I was a much younger man, barely out of my teens, I worked for a construction firm for a while, first at the Mond Nickel refinery in Clydach, later building a gas plant in north west England. The site boss was a Protestant from Belfast and almost all his supervisors were either from his background, or else they were Scots.

Listening to the boss and his inner circle was quite an education. For example, I learnt about the links between the shipyards in Belfast and those on the Clyde. Those shipyards where foremen wore bowler hats. Those shipyards where it could be so difficult for a Catholic to get a job. I could hear this talk and then buy the Connolly Association’s Irish Democrat being hawked around the site by Irishmen of a different persuasion.

This was my introduction to the complex interplay between Ireland and Scotland, Protestant and Catholic, Unionist and Republican/Nationalist. I soon realised that anyone who thought the rivalry between Celtic and Rangers was just about football knew nothing. It also made me understand why Conservative candidates in Scotland stood as Unionists, and it had nothing to do with the SNP.

There has always been a strand of Unionism in Scotland that is indigenous but also linked to Ireland, through Orange Lodges, Glasgow Rangers Football Club, the Presbyterian Church and other elements. Unlike Wales where what passes for Unionism is little more than a passive acceptance of English superiority and an excuse for street parties.

The power and influence of this tradition is partly due to so many Scots viewing the Union as a partnership of equals that began in 1603 when James VI rode south to become king of England. It has been reinforced over the centuries by the position of Scots in Ulster threatened by Irish nationalism, and in the nineteenth century from the disproportionate role played by Scots in building the British empire.

Those Scots who have now decided that independence would be the best option are therefore not ‘breaking away’, nor are they ‘separatists’ (deliberately offensive terms), many of them see it as dissolving a business partnership that no longer serves Scotland’s best interests.

Yet the residual power of this Unionist sentiment and the prospect of a second independence referendum explains why working class or unemployed Unionists/Rangers supporters living on some shitty housing scheme are now prepared to vote Conservative. It’s because the Tories are the Unionist party. Anyone who tries to read more into the growth of Conservative support in Scotland is wrong.

The Conservative Party in Scotland is now assuming the role of the Unionist parties in the Six Counties. It therefore needs to be very careful that it doesn’t also become the mouthpiece for the kind of prejudice and hatred we saw when BritNat Nazis rioted in George Square on 19 September 2014 following the independence referendum.

This realignment means that Scottish politics is being stripped of considerations of class and ideology and forming around the simple question, ‘Do you want independence?’ Those who do will support the SNP, an increasing number of those who do not will support the Conservative Party.

This tells us how the SNP has transformed Scottish politics, and how the new, bipolar configuration leaves little space for the Labour Party; a party further damaged because few believe it can provide ‘progressive’ politics within an increasingly regressive state.

‘LADY’ KATE CLAMP

Another way in which Wales differs from Scotland is that we have so few aristocrats living here, which means that I rarely get the opportunity to report on one. So where would I be without ‘Lady’ Kate Clamp, who has graced this blog before. She is the proprietrix of Happy Donkey Hill, formerly and for centuries known as Faerdre Fach.

Those who have yet to encounter this woman may care to watch her in glorious colour and surround sound. I’m not sure which Swiss finishing school she attended, but the signs of good breeding and education abound in this monologue.

The reason I’m writing about her again is that I hear she’s been hiring local workers, promising them cash in hand, and then refusing to pay. One excuse she’s used is that the payments have to go up to London to be authorised – so why advertise cash in hand? These aristocrats, eh!

As I’ve pointed out previously, her father, Michael D Gooley, major donor to the Conservative Party (£500,000 in the final quarter of 2014), is the owner of Faerdre Fach not her, and he has recently bought another property nearby. Dol Llan being a substantial old house just outside Llandysul which ‘Lady’ Clamp is again claiming to be hers, to the extent of trying to make a few quid by selling off bits of it.

If you’ve recovered from the monologue I linked to above you might care to visit her Facebook page, which is where I found it. There you’ll experience more of the same, for it seems no one ever meets ‘Lady’ Kate’s exacting standards . . . which I suppose is her excuse for not paying.

Though if I was Derrick Hughes I might consider having a word with my solicitor after having my professional reputation damaged on Facebook. I wonder if he got paid?

Whichever way you look at her – and I wouldn’t advise looking for too long! – this woman is a phoney. She claims to own property that is in fact owned by her multi-millionaire daddy. She plays the role of the country lady while looking for excuses to cheat people out of money she owes. Her monologues betray her as a foul-mouthed, self-pitying drunk. No wonder no one who knows her has a good word to say for her. Her only ‘friends’ appear be on the internet.

What a tragedy it is that people like this are taking over our country and behaving like a colonialist elite, changing old names and wrecking properties that for centuries have played a role in Welsh communities. It’s surely time for us to stop being so polite, and welcoming. A judiciously delivered ‘Fuck off!’ can avoid so many misunderstandings.

♦ 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.

text box

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’.

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