Miscellany 28.09.2022

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

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

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

SYCHARTH UPDATE

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

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Here are the points he raised with Cadw:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

FREELOADERS IN FREEPORTS

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

Let’s start in Holyhead.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

So what happens now?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Now why would he do that?

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

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

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

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

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

Milford Waterway. Click to open enlarged in separate tab

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

NAILING THE VOICES?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

At which point things got a bit strange.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

THE OLD FOLKS AT HOME

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

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

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

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

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

Truly amazing!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

And his Welsh involvement doesn’t end with the examples given.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

SOURCES

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

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

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

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

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

So we need to think how this might be achieved.

GLOBALISTS

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

♦ end ♦

 

© Royston Jones 2022


Guest post: ‘Stop Y Bryn Onshore Wind Farm’

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.

Over the years I’ve written a number of times about wind farms, and the deception on which they’re based. Because, as an answer to global warming or as a form of electricity generation they are useless.

Their benefit, or rather, what makes them attractive, to politicians, especially, is their visibility. Everyone can see them, and they allow politicians to crow – ‘Look! Look! We’re doing our bit to save the planet’.

To further ‘prove’ how sincere they are in saving the planet governments offer big subsidies to those erecting and owning wind turbines. This attracts investors, hedge funds, and others who don’t give a toss about the environment.

Due to the fact that the wind is intermittent and unpredictable, there must be 100% back-up for wind turbines. One consequence of this is higher electricity charges for domestic consumers.

‘You can’t pay your electricity bill, Mrs Jones? Never mind, love, sit in the dark and console yourself by knowing you’re saving the planet’.

There are other problems associated with wind turbines, especially in Wales, that no one wants to talk about. One such issue is flooding.

Of which there has been an increase in recent years for English towns on the River Severn, downstream of the ever-increasing number of wind farms on the hills of Powys.

The Rhondda has also seen increased flooding since the massive Pen y Cymoedd wind farm went up. But of course it’s being blamed on ‘blocked culverts’. Doesn’t anyone wonder why the culverts are being asked to cope with extra run-off from the hills? Or are politicians just refusing to even address the question?

No, wait! It must be global warming – put up more wind turbines . . . more flooding . . . more turbines . . . self-justifying lunacy.

The reason wind turbines on our hills cause flooding is because trees are felled to make way for them, and huge areas of peat are lost because each turbine is sunk in a concrete base the size of a rugby pitch. And then there are the hard-core access roads, and the cable trenches . . .

Yet trees and peat are vital in both preventing flooding and in carbon capture.

Without admitting that it’s been causing environmental damage with wind turbines the so-called ‘Welsh Government’ recently announced a scheme to create peatland in the very area where this habitat has been lost to wind turbines.

Click to enlarge

The article in the Western Mail does mention “wind farms”, but without making the obvious connection, though the image used is revealing.

When you think about it, if the environment was the real priority, then, rather than political virtue-signalling and providing guaranteed returns for foreign companies and well-connected people, the best thing to have done would have been to leave the trees and the peat well alone.

Not only has the ‘Welsh Government’ failed the environment, it has also failed us, the people of Wales. For these bird-killing monstrosities create no jobs, no turbines are built in Wales, and they’re all foreign-owned so the money leaves Wales.

Wind turbines in Wales are 19th century colonialist exploitation (but without the jobs) given a quick coat of greenwash for the 21st century.

Wales deserves better. But we’ll never get it by voting in the same clowns who encourage managed decline and then pretend to be ‘doing something’ by offering wind turbines.

Support this campaign because we all want to help the environment but wind farms are just a money-making scam that’s gone on for far too long.

Now read what a spokesperson for the campaign has to say . . .

In just 4 short weeks, the ‘STOP Y Bryn Onshore Wind Farm’ Facebook Campaign group has gone from a standing start to ‘full pelt’ in the blink of an eye, leaving its originators with very little time to catch their breath, and yet in that brief but exciting period, support for the group has grown to just short of 1000 members; it has established a committee, set up a bank account, a Crowdfunding page, AND it has held its first public protest outside the Welsh Government home, Y Senedd.

The protest outside Y Senedd. Click to enlarge

If that is not enough for starters, It has also attended all five of the initial public consultation meetings set up by the proposers of the wind farm project, Coriolis Energy (wind energy developers) and ESB (Ireland’s premier energy company), where the group and its supporters have emphatically shown they are serious about fighting this proposal to the very end.

The campaign group is acting in response to a proposal that is so lacking in detail that even some Senedd members are terming it as just an ‘idea’ at this time, but with it comes the need for so many questions to be answered, and the residents of the affected villages are not happy to let this proposal go uncontested.

But where do you start with the issues brought about by a proposed development of this magnitude? It is one of the best kept secrets in amongst these small semi-rural areas of South Wales, which is an achievement in itself given that usually a mouse can fart and everyone is gossiping, and whilst residents were clapping for NHS Heroes or giving an elderly war veteran money to walk around his garden, the supposedly transparent Welsh Government by way of Natural Resources Wales were inviting tenders that would allow swathes of lush green countryside to be carved up in anticipation of 26 wind turbines to be built in situ, the size of which onshore Britain has never seen before. But secrets of this kind don’t tend to remain secrets for very long, and this one was not going to be the exception.

Soon after the secret was out, residents found themselves talking at 2 metre distances about the environmental destruction that was being proposed, their conversations focused on the suggestion these turbines would reach heights up to 250 meters, and that their blades would be of 80 meter lengths….but what is that in ‘old money’ and what could these structures be compared to?

The turbines planned for Y Bryn are taller than Wales’ tallest building. And remember, the Meridian Tower is at sea-level, whereas these turbines, more than twice the height, will be on hills. Click to enlarge.

The Eiffel Tower, the Shard, local electricity pylons…..it was all a guessing game because of that lacking detail everyone so desperately needed. The reality is people can’t begin to envisage how these will look on top of their beautiful, lush green hills without appropriately designed graphic images, but what they can envisage is how detrimental and destructive these colossal chunks of steel will be to the area, perched on top of land that provides habitats for some of the country’s most cherished species of animals and birds, and who’s ecology contributes so much to an environment already facing a crisis that seems to know no bounds.

These surrounding areas have undergone a transformation in recent years, where the scars from coal mining and other heavy industrial activity have been eradicated and acceptably replaced by flora and fauna many now see as an extension to their own back gardens….except now people are envisaging morning coffee views that bring with them the hum of rotor blade activity drifting on the winds of change, and bringing with them the threats to communities and environments that mean so much more to the residents and villagers.

Many of the campaign group’s questions focus on the environmental impact of this proposal, but like so many other controversial proposals, the details are extremely vague to the extent that the credibility and the incentives of both development companies involved have to be seriously questioned.

For example, why is NRW, which is a public body, being permitted to freely auction off environmental spaces that mean so much to walkers and cyclists, not to mention the eco systems that dwell therein? Surely such activity should be overseen by Welsh Government, and surely they should be seeking authorisation from Y Senedd before putting public land up for tender?

Additionally, with the land proposed being of such historic interest, who at NRW first thought it to be an acceptable area for wind farm development? Heaven knows the importance the people of Port Talbot and Bridgend put on their green space where they are seen as byways that promote better mental and physical health and wellbeing. But, when questions regarding issues around Environmental Impacts, land suitability, sustainable long term employment opportunities, and community benefits are asked, answers are at best contradictory, if there are any answers at all.

The reality is, the Valleys and feeder regions have long been ignored by politicians and business leaders for the inward investment opportunities so desperately needed as a resolution to industry losses in sectors like coal and steel to name just two, and its the residents of those regions who have been expected to accept ‘poor relations’ subsidy programmes historically bestowed upon us by quangos like the Welsh Development Agency, which have then been passed off as ‘Tory Blue’ success stories.

Click to enlarge

Nevertheless, the people of Port Talbot and Bridgend are no longer prepared to be overlooked, and they expect their voices to be heard on this proposal. As the campaign grows and gathers momentum, its members intend to battle on through a program of constructive research and fact-finding exercises whilst it develops a strengthening network of support that delivers positive responses on a daily basis, all driven by the members who BELIEVE wholeheartedly in this fight.

Its steering committee consists of intelligent individuals who are not only aware of the ‘due process’ proposals such as this one are expected to follow, but they are also creative and resourceful to boot. These are not a trigger-happy bunch of community gun-slingers, but instead they are community-spirited residents who are steadfast in their belief that whilst the world needs answers to the Climate Emergency that has been declared globally, there’s is a real suggestion colossal wind turbines are NOT a suitable on-shore solution due to the environmental devastation they can bring, and that a more strategic approach with joined-up thinking and measured risk analysis is needed in order to find a sustainable solution.

The area as it is today. Click to enlarge

As the first round of public consultations is assessed, initial feelings are very positive, especially when the main developer Coriolis is reporting an unexpected number of written objections as well as attendance to its public meetings.

The voice that is ‘STOP Y Bryn Onshore Wind Farm‘ is being heard, and the message it is portraying is reaching far and wide into the communities that stand to be affected by the development. The live Facebook broadcasts from Y Senedd protest have impacted not only on existing campaign group members, but they have touched corners of the community that have so far remained oblivious.

‘What next?’ they hear you ask…..quite simply, they continue to do what they have done so successfully thus far, which is working strategically but stealthily, using their resources and contacts collectively, and pooling their knowledge to lead a campaign that shows grit and determination that is so inherent in the people of Wales! Are you on board?

Cymru Am Byth. Together we are stronger

♦ end ♦

 




A Fairytale Prince and Princess and a Web of Golden PR

BY A GUEST WRITER, ASSISTED BY ‘STAN

(illustrations by Jac o’ the North)

Revelations that Stephen Kinnock and his wife Helle Thorning-Schmidt sent their elder daughter Johanna  to private schools are making waves in both Denmark and Wales in a tale so tangled that even Hans Christian Andersen would have cried the Danish equivalent of “WTF?”

So if you are sitting comfortably, let’s begin at the beginning. Well, sort of.

In Denmark private schools are heavily subsidised by the state which provides up to 87.5% of their funding, leaving parents to pay relatively modest fees by UK standards.

Private education has long been a contentious issue on the left of Danish politics, with the Social Democrats  as ambivalent about it as their British counterparts in the Labour Party. Senior Social Democrats who have sent their children to private schools have attracted criticism from sections of the party, but it is not party policy to abolish private education, and unsurprisingly given how many of its top brass use private schools, the party now takes the line that it is a matter of individual choice.

Kinnock and Thorning-Schmidt have two daughters, and it was long their policy to keep their children out of the public eye. Their privacy was respected by the Danish press, to the extent that when Johanna’s education became an issue, the press had no recent pictures of the family. As we shall see, that changed when Stephen Kinnock launched his campaign to become Labour’s candidate for Aberavon, and was keen to stress his family values.

Non-dom

Kinnock, now 46, has an impressive back catalogue of controversies, and in Denmark none was bigger than the row over his non-dom status, despite being married to the country’s Prime Minister and having his family home in Copenhagen.

The tax row and the investigations and official inquiries which followed it ran on for years, finally coming to an end at around the time Kinnock was seeking to become Labour’s candidate in Aberavon. For those interested, a summary of this bizarre affair can be found here.

Certainly, media interest in his tax affairs gave Kinnock invaluable experience in how to deal with the press and answer awkward questions. Not only did he escape ever having to pay a penny in tax in Denmark, but the row over his conduct and his tax avoidance did not surface as an issue when he launched his campaign to be selected in Aberavon.

What questions Kinnock did face concerned his choice of school for his daughter Johanna, and here again lack of scrutiny by the UK media and a thick coating of Teflon served the Red Prince well.

The timings of events and revelations are important in forming an understanding of how, possibly with quite a lot of luck, possibly with skillful news management, and possibly a conspiracy of silence from some in the media, Stephen Kinnock and Helle Thorning-Schmidt were able to face elections in their respective countries without their daughter’s exclusive private schooling becoming an issue.

What Johanna did next – a timeline

Johanna Kinnock begins her secondary education at a state school in Copenhagen, but moves “for private reasons” to the rather more exclusive private Ingrid Jespersens Gymnasieskole which she attends between 2010 and 2012.

Fees at the school were DKr 1,500 per month (around £165), although as we shall see, Kinnock later suffered a lapse of memory about how much the family had actually paid.

In 2012 Johanna, then aged 16, is on the move yet again, this time to Hellerup Gymnasium, a state school where she stays for just one year.

2013 – Johanna packs her bags and heads off for the exclusive Atlantic College in the Vale of Glamorgan, where fees are currently £28,600. There she completes her secondary education in 2015, a year when both of her parents fight general elections in their respective countries.

A recent article in the Danish tabloid Ekstra Bladet (see translation below) suggests that Kinnock and his wife would have paid around £12,000 a year, including a £10,000 voluntary contribution based on his wife’s income as Prime Minister. The rest was paid by the Danish taxpayer under a grant scheme set up to help parents fund the cost of education abroad, and various unspecified “funds and sponsors”.

Exstrabladet

November 2013 – Hywel Francis announces that he will stand down at the UK general election in 2015, and so the race to find his successor begins, culminating in a vote by the constituency party on 22 March 2014.

There were seven candidates, of whom the early favourites were Jeremy Miles, a lawyer from Pontarddulais (now Labour AM for Neath), and Mark Fisher, local Unison official. Miles was understood to have won the backing of six local branches of the party and have had a clear lead over Fisher.

Somehow Kinnock came through with a late run to beat Miles by a short nose (106 – 105) on March 22, after a recount. This article from Left Futures by Jon Lansman – founder of Momentum – gives one explanation for how this happened.

In the run-up to the vote, Kinnock’s opponents began asking questions about Johanna’s schooling in Denmark, apparently unaware that she was by then living and studying just a few miles away at Atlantic College.

The Western Mail first picked up on the story on 19 February:

Stephen Kinnock slams ‘misleading claim’ that his daughter went to a private school

In this article Kinnock, with breathtaking chutzpah, told Martin Shipton that Ingrid Jespersen’s Gymnasieskole had cost only around £80 a month, and he added that she had gone on to “the equivalent of a sixth form college in Denmark which is wholly state funded”, neglecting to mention that she had since gone on from Hellerup Gymnasium to the £28,600 a year Atlantic College.

The very careful wording which obfuscated Johanna’s whereabouts seems to have put the media hounds off the scent, although they quickly discovered that fees at Ingrid Jerspersens Gymnasieskole were twice the level that Kinnock had claimed.

On 1 March 2014 Kinnock was back in the Western Mail to, ahem, “clarify” matters.

Stephen Kinnock ‘underestimated’ school fees for daughter

The newspaper article talks about attempts by Kinnock’s political opponents to undermine his campaign, and quotes Kinnock as follows:

“This was a fast-moving story and I was very keen to clarify some of the misleading things that were being said about my daughter’s schooling as rapidly as possible.”

Note the implication that it was other people who had been saying misleading things about his daughter’s schooling, rather than Kinnock himself.

The very next day, 2 March 2014, a Danish journalist working for Ekstra Bladet quoted a conversation he had just had with Shipton of the Mail:

‘”I have spoken to people in the party, and they are not impressed by his inaccuracies. They believe that this could influence Stephen Kinnock’s chances”, says Martin Shipton who is editor of the Welsh newspaper Western Mail which has reported on Kinnock’s misinformation.’

With three weeks to go to the crucial vote in Port Talbot, nobody seems to have picked up on the fact that Johanna was not in Copenhagen at all but just down the road. Another whole year and a bit later on 8 May 2015, and another Danish tabloid, BT, produced this very illuminating report just as the dust was settling:

This tender image is a rarity

The newspaper notes that Kinnock and Thorning-Schmidt had always been careful to shield their daughters from the media, so much so that BT had very few pictures of the two girls in its archive. All of that changed in March 2014 when Kinnock released a family portrait taken for use in his selection campaign, and Johanna is pictured again in the report cuddling up to her mother during the count on election night (7/8 May 2015).

The newspaper comments that this sudden change of tack was a strategic choice to portray the Kinnock Thorning-Schmidts as a family which sticks together, “something which means a lot in Wales”.

BT continues by recalling that Johanna had previously been in the limelight in Denmark when it emerged that she had been sent to the fee-paying Ingrid Jespersens Gymnasieskole, echoing a scandal which broke in 2010 when it emerged that a number of senior Social Democrats had children in private schools.

(Two revealing reports on the Kinnock’s attitude to private education appeared in the Danish publication BT; the first on May 9 2010; the second 11 June 2010; both updated 19 September 2012. The headline of the first translates as, ‘The truth about Helle’s spin’, the second, ‘Helle Thorning’s husband raging against private schools’. Translations (in summary) for both articles can be found by clicking here. Many thanks to our new Danish contact for the links, and to one of the authors of this piece for the translations. Jac)

Kinnocks normal

“Today Johanna attends an international high school in Wales, the UWC Atlantic College, which is close to where Stephen Kinnock  is living”, the piece says in conclusion.

Clearly, some in the media knew of Johanna’s whereabouts before the UK general election and probably before Kinnock was selected as Labour candidate for Aberavon. If the arrangements at Atlantic College had been known about, it is highly unlikely that Kinnock would have been selected, and if his handling of the affair had been known about, it would hardly have been a vote winner in Port Talbot in May 2015, come to that.

Instead, Kinnock based his campaign on family values, his close connections from his time at Xynteo with captains of industry, including Tata Steel bosses, and a promise to bring jobs to the town. Promises which were to evaporate after the general election even quicker than fairy dust.

Revelations that her daughter was attending a Dkr 250,000 a year school in Wales, partly at the expense of the Danish taxpayer, would not have helped Helle Thorning-Schmidt either when she faced voters in a general election on 18 June 2015.

Fortunately no hacks bothered to follow up on BT’s heartwarming report with its tender images.

Although the Social Democrats slightly increased their share of the vote, their coalition partners fared badly, and so ended Helle’s stint at the top.

But there is a happy ending because soon after resigning Helle landed the top job at Save the Children International in London, where her predecessor was reported to be earning £234,000 a year – rather more than the Prime Minister of Denmark.

Even more remarkable was that she landed the job despite coming under fire from, erm Save the Children among others, for implementing policies as prime minister which keep refugee children separated from their parents.

And there matters would have rested had it not been for wicked old Jac o’ the North spilling the magic beans on the whole convoluted saga a year later, with post-factual Kinnock claiming to have been open about his daughter’s schooling all the way along.

Labour and the Danish Social Democrats have come a long way since the days of the Little Match Girl who would now be facing deportation or arrest for pestering passers-by when she could go and get a proper job as a consultant.

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Danish taxpayers pay for Helle and Kinnock’s daughter

Translation of an article which appeared in Ekstra Bladet  on 30 July 2016.

Danish taxpayers paid Dkr 140,000 (around £16,000) for the two years former Prime Minister Helle Thorning-Schmidt’s daughter, Johanna, attended Atlantic College in Wales from August 2013 to June 2015.

Annual school fees at the private school are £28,600 – around Dkr 250.000 – but Helle Thorning-Schmidt and her husband Stephen Kinnock did not have to pay that.

Instead, they paid between Dkr 18,000 (£2,000) and Dkr 88,000 (£10,000) a year to send their daughter Johanna to Atlantic College in Wales.

This information comes from the website of United World Colleges (UWC).

UWC sends 15-20 Danish high school pupils to one of the organisation’s 15 schools every year in  Europe, Costa Rica, India, Singapore, Swaziland, USA, Hong Kong and China.

The state paid Dkr 70,000 per year

UWC’s Danish website shows that the average fee per pupil is DKr 158,000 (£18,000) per year.

The Danish state contributes Dkr 70.000 (£8,000) towards the cost, a further Dkr 70,000 is provided by funds and sponsors, while parents contribute Dkr 18,000 (£2,000) a year.

  • UWC Denmark depends on donations from parents in order to give a place to young people a place at a UWC school, it says on the website.

Parents paid Dkr 18,000 per year

For this reason the organisation asks parents to make an additional contribution above the minimum of Dkr 18,000 per year.

  • UWC  has a limited number of full bursaries. If a household’s total income is less than Dkr 250,000 a year before tax, parents can apply for a full bursary. Other parents pay a compulsory family contribution of Dkr 18,000 per year, the organisation states on its website.

It is therefore clear that the  Thorning-Schmidt/Kinnock family paid a  minimum of Dkr 18,000 a year to send their daughter to Atlantic College in Wales.

UWC asks parents to pay additional contributions beyond the Dkr 18,000 to the organisation.

Tax deductions of Dkr 15,000 per year

  • If parents wish to donate more than the compulsory DKr 18,000 contribution, they may claim tax relief of up to DKr 15,000 per year. It therefore follows, the organisation says, that the more parents who donate money, the more pupils will obtain a place.

UWC therefore suggests that parents pay an additional contribution from their taxable income.

Atlantic College

UWC suggestion to parents

UWC’s proposals are as follows:

Parents with a taxable income of between Dkr 500,000 and Dkr 750,000 should pay between Dkr 15,000 and Dkr 45,000 per year.

Parents with a taxable income of between Dkr 750,000 and Dkr 1,250,000 should pay between Dkr 45,000 and Dkr 70,000 per year.

Parents with a taxable income of more than Dkr 1,250,000 should pay Dkr 70,000 per year.

As Prime Minister Helle Thorning-Schmidt earned Dkr 1,439,443.75 (£163,500) in 2013. Depending on her final declaration, she should therefore have paid an additional Dkr 70,000 to UWC.

Kinnock on Facebook

On his Facebook page Stephen Kinnock confirms that his daughter’s place at Atlantic College was partly financed by the Danish state.

  • Johanna’s stay at AC was partly financed under Danish rules governing grants for students studying abroad. The majority of AC’s students and those at other United World Colleges schools are financed by a mixture of state grants and national committees in their respective countries, Stephen Kinnock writes on Facebook.

Welsh blogger

He was reacting to accusations made by the Welsh blogger Jac o’ the North on his blog that Stephen Kinnock hid the fact that his daughter Johanna went to an expensive private school from Welsh voters when he was standing for selection for the Aberavon constituency in the spring of 2014 – a constituency which has returned a Labour MP since 1922.

Jac o’ the North says that Stephen Kinnock would not have been selected if Welsh voters had known that his daughter  Johanna was going to the expensive Atlantic College.

I answered questions

Stephen Kinnock confirms on his Facebook page that his and Helle Thorning-Schmidt’s daughter’s stay at Atlantic College was partly financed by the Danish taxpayer.

  • I was asked about and answered questions about her schooling in Denmark (where she attended the private Ingrid Jespersens School from 2010 til 2012, Ed.), Stephen Kinnock wrote, failing to elaborate whether he would have answered if Welsh journalists had asked him if Johanna had gone to an expensive private school in Wales.

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Jac says . . . 

I still have difficulty believing that when Martin Shipton of Llais y Sais interviewed Kinnock in February 2014 he was unaware that the subject of the discussion, Johanna Kinnock, was already in her second term at Atlantic College.

Given Shipton’s support for the Labour Party, and remembering that his employers Trinity Mirror also support Labour, it could well be that the news was already circulating about Johanna but – perhaps as a favour to the girl’s grandparents – Trinity Mirror arranged for Shippo to ask the wrong questions in order to ‘settle’ the allegations of her being privately educated.

Kinnock family

But let me, for once, push aside my usual draught of vitriol and drink of the milk of human kindness, (God! I’m going some here) and give Shippo the benefit of the doubt, and more, extend that benefit to all the other journos in Wales.

It’s entirely possible none of you knew that the grand-daughter of the ultimate champagne socialists, Lord and Lady Hypocrisy, whose father was seeking election to a Welsh constituency, was being educated at a very expensive school a few miles outside Cardiff . . . but if so, what does that say about you as journalists?

Maybe you should stick to belittling Welsh identity. That seems to be all that most of you are good for.

Port Talbot

Yes, I know, Port Talbot isn’t the only Tata plant affected by the company’s decision to put its UK operation up for sale, but it is the biggest, and serves as useful shorthand.

Rather than giving instant remedies or exposing my ignorance by trying to discuss EU regulations on state aid, or the impact of carbon tax and business rates, let alone the statistics on Chinese steel production and exports, I shall stick to my comfort zone by considering political responses and impacts, winners and losers, and also the possible outcomes.

But first, let me indulge in a little reminiscing.

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I grew up just around the Bay from Port Talbot steelworks and I can remember the plant in the mid-’60s when it employed 20,000 men and the wages paid earned it the soubriquet ‘Treasure Island’. Much of its steel went on to the tinplate works at Trostre in Llanelli and Velindre on the north side of Swansea (where I worked for a short while). Velindre is long gone, but Trostre has struggled on and is now in the same position as Port Talbot.

And if you’ve driven past and think the smells and the smoke of Port Talbot are bad nowadays, then you should have seen it in the ’60s and ’70s. It wasn’t just that the steelworks produced more smoke and smells back then, there were other plants nearby making their contribution.

Just up the road, on the Swansea side of the steel plant, in Baglan Bay, we had one of the largest petrochemical sites in Europe, employing another 2,500 men. A couple of miles inland there was the Llandarcy oil refinery with the same number of employees. Then there was the Tir John power station taking us up to the eastern outskirts of Swansea, where the East Side made its contribution to the shit and the smell with the never-to-be-forgotten Carbon Black plant.

Llandarcy

This spewed out such filth that it resulted in regular protests by local housewives, who couldn’t put washing on the line to dry without it being covered in a dust that also got indoors and clung to everything.

My first-hand experience of Carbon Black came through a summer job I took when at Coleg Harlech. I was employed to sweep the floors inside the plant, where the filth lay inches thick. I was provided with a brush and a rudimentary face mask . . . and that was it. I handed in my brush after a few hours and went to a nearby pub to ease my throat.

The whole area from the east side of Swansea over to Neath and down to Port Talbot was a complex of heavy industry, a nightmare for any proto-Green. And yet, if we add in Swansea docks, the ancillary jobs in transport and other fields, this triangle of smoke and smells provided tens of thousands of well paid jobs for semi-skilled and unskilled men. Most of these jobs have gone, and will never be replaced.

I had many friends and family members working at these various plants, and of course at the steelworks, and not just for the then owner, the Steel Company of Wales. For example, there was a boy I met in Penlan school with whom I became good friends (after the introductory fight); his family had come down from Kilmarnock and his father worked for British Rail in the steelworks’ marshalling yards, said to be the biggest in the world after those at the Chicago stock yards.

Then there was a friend of ours in the post-school era working in the steel works. One night he went over to Port Talbot to hear a promising young singer named Tom Jones. On the way back into Swansea, driving along the Jersey Marine in his Wolseley 1500, he was somehow thrown from his car, which then rolled over onto him. I think Keith was the first close friend I lost.

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THE POLITICAL DIMENSION

The Conservatives

I suppose the Tories’ attitude was summed up accurately and succinctly by Paul Mason when he wrote, ‘Steel Crisis; they do not give a shit’. There are a number of reasons for this being true beyond the Tories being wedded to a blind and unthinking neoliberalism.

The future the Tories envision for the UK is of smart people doing clever things and making lots of money in clean environments with the economy topped up by sheikhs and oligarchs investing hundreds of billions in property and other deals that can be accomplished with a signature. Fundamentally, it’s a fantasy world in which people make lots of money doing very little, certainly not from producing anything other than hi tech gadgetry or financial packages that no one can understand.

There is no place in this vision for steel works and towns like Port Talbot. Such places are alien to Old Etonian politicians. Not only are they distant in terms of miles, and in considerations of social class, they are also distant in time, because they belong to the past, they have no place the glittering future I bewitched you with in the previous paragraph.

Gold cars

Of course, one of the major problems with this vision is that it’s very London-centric, extending only as far as the Home Counties in which many of the new elite will be living. Because you can bet that Sheikh Mohammed bin Slaveholder al Head-chopper is unlikely to be looking for a £30m mansion in Llanelli or Scunthorpe any time soon. Which explains attempts to placate the increasingly resentful natives north of Watford with ‘beads’ like HS2 and talk of a ‘northern powerhouse’.

On a more pragmatic, electoral level, the Tories have nothing to lose in towns like Port Talbot or any similar community in Wales, Scotland or England. You can’t lose support or seats if you haven’t got any to start with. So the truth is, as Paul Mason says, the Tories don’t give a shit.

Unconvincing expressions of concern will be heard, money will be doled out – there might even be a short-term nationalisation – but this hiccup will not be allowed to interfere with the march towards the post-industrial Bright Tomorrow, in which the sons and daughters of today’s Port Talbot steelworkers will be City traders or internet tycoons . . . or, more likely, working just up the road at the vast Amazon warehouse, on the minimum wage, with one toilet break a week.

Though it will be interesting to see how the local Tories deal with the steel crisis in the Assembly election campaign. Who will they blame?

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The Labour Party

For Labour the steel crisis is much more complex and worrying. Not least because it was the equally laissez-faire New Labour governments that helped get us into this mess by nodding through British Steel’s merger with Koninklijke Hoogovens of the Netherlands in 1999 to form Corus, and then twiddling their thumbs when Corus was bought by Tata Steel of India in 2007.

The New Model Labour Party of Citizen Corbyn seems rather more concerned than the party led by Blair and Broon, but there’s little they can do out of power. Though in fairness to young Owen ap Dai ap Smith he didn’t wait for the fat lady to sing before putting the boot in, here he is at the start of February accusing Cameron and Osborne of kissing China’s arse!

Another scion of an anti-Welsh Labour family, the Boy Kinnock, actually took himself off to Mumbai, where the Tata board was deliberating. Quite what he hoped to achieve beyond a little self-promotion is a bit of a mystery. But then, showboating was always part of his father’s political repertoire, though I advise the young ‘un to avoid beaches with incoming tides.

Labour logo

Closer to home, our self-styled ‘Welsh Government’ can only be compared to rabbits caught in the headlights. There are a number of reasons for this. One, they have no experience of business, let alone business on this scale. Two, they simply aren’t aren’t up to the challenge intellectually. Three – and for this they are probably thankful – they don’t have the power to do anything.

That said, this announcement comes at a good time in the electoral cycle for ‘Welsh’ Labour, with Assembly elections just over a month away they can blame the ‘heartless’ Tories for everything and hope that voters don’t remember their party’s role in this tragedy.

And as usual there will be a cynical appeal to the ignorance and confusion of many Welsh voters as Labour – despite being impotent in Cardiff and in opposition in London – urges people to vote for Carwyn and the gang so that Labour can ‘save Port Talbot’.

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Plaid Cymru

The steel crisis should be Plaid Cymru’s Christmas, Easter and St David’s Day all rolled into one. It gives them the chance to attack both major parties, English rule, and foreign ownership of Welsh assets. Thus far, I can only assume that Plaid is waiting its chance, holding its cards close to its chest . . . or maybe it doesn’t realise it has these cards.

I would suggest that rather than asking for anything absurd or impossible – such as demanding that the ‘Welsh’ Government nationalises the steel industry – Plaid Cymru should gather the evidence on the merger and the take-over that Labour allowed to go through when in power, and the Tories’ opposition to the EU raising tariffs on Chinese steel, the refusal by both parties to reduce energy costs for plants like Port Talbot, and compare those betrayals of the Welsh people with what Plaid Cymru would do if it was in power down Cardiff docks.

And stressing a betrayal of the Welsh people should be Plaid Cymru’s approach, rather than going all socialist and linking arms with Labour and the trade unions. Because unless Plaid Cymru’s voice is distinctive, and distinctively Welsh, then there’s really no point to Plaid Cymru, in this debate, or any other situation.

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Liberal Democrats

I know I’m normally harsh on the Lib Dems, but over the years it’s been difficult not to be harsh, and at times almost impossible to take them seriously. And then, in my more mellow moments (not always induced by alcohol!) I think, ‘Weeel, maybe they’re not too bad’. ‘What brings this on?’ you ask.

To start with, there’s Kirsty Williams, the LD leader in Wales. Things have been tough in recent years for her party but she’s stuck with it and deserves a break. She’s a gutsy woman who I’m warming to.

Another LD AM who’s impressed me is William Powell. For one thing, he turns up at Cilmeri in December, where we rarely see Plaid politicians and never Labour or Conservative. (Nor UKIP, come to that!) And then there was the petition I submitted to the Assembly asking that it do something to stop chief executives taking over councils.

Petitions Committee

It was clear that Powell recognised the importance of this issue but the two committee members who ‘discussed’ my petition, Labour’s Joyce Watson and Plaid’s Elin Jones, couldn’t dump it quickly enough. Powell might get my second vote on May 5th.

But I digress.

On the specific issue of the sale of Tata’s UK operations, the Lib Dems – in the shy, retiring form of Peter Black – have called for the Notional Assembly to be recalled. Which might sound like a good idea until we remember that the Assembly is impotent, and what calls itself the ‘Welsh Government’ is nothing but a collection of buffoons. A recall would be nothing more than a pointless gesture and a platform for narcissistic buggers like Black.

In many ways the Lib Dems’ position should not be a lot different to that of Plaid Cymru – ‘A pox on both your houses!’ So I would suggest that Kirsty leads her troops forward with all guns blazing . . . hoping few will remember that her party kept the Tories in power between 2010 and 2015, during which period the problems that have brought us to this crisis were allowed to build and build.

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The Wales Branch of the Green Party of Englandandwales

They won’t like me for saying this, but I know that the Greenies were secretly jumping for joy when they heard that all those smelly, polluting steel plants are to close. But of course they can’t admit that.

What they can do, apparently, is write stupid letters to the press, such as the one below that appeared in Friday’s Wasting Mule. The writer seems to believe that the Port Talbot steel works can be powered by wind turbines, solar panels and fairy dust.

Then again, it could have been a piss-take, for Friday was April 1st.

Green steel

I issue these rebukes with a heavy heart, fearing that I might lose some of the many friends I’ve made in the Green Party over recent years. Oh yes.

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UKIP

If any political party is crass and insensitive enough to make cheap political capital out of tens of thousands of people losing their jobs, then of course that party is UKIP.

Not only does the steel crisis give M. Farage et Co the chance to go nuclear on ‘Europe’, it also provides the opportunity to put the boot into Conservatives and Labour, with the cherry on top being the chance to have a go at the Chinese, the Indians, and just about anybody else they can think of.

UKIP will I’m sure argue that this steel crisis thingy would never have happened if everything was still managed by those splendid chaps down the clubhouse. Better decisions are made after six or seven drinks and a few cigars – everyone knows that! Don’t laugh, a lot of people will believe them.

A few months ago UKIP was predicted to win anything up to nine seats in May’s Assembly elections then, more recently, I’ve seen polls suggesting that support is slipping. The steel crisis could put them back to where they were earlier in the year, and the Tory-supporting media transferring the blame onto the EU might even take the UKIP vote in Wales to new heights.

However you cut it, UKIP is the party with most chance of gaining in May’s elections from the steel crisis.

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SNP

Yes, I know what you’re thinking, but bear with me.

There were a couple of steel plants in Scotland, admittedly much smaller than Port Talbot, that were saved from closure in the past few weeks thanks to decisive action by the Scottish National Party government. Here’s a report from the Guardian.

But this action didn’t please everybody. Here’s a more recent report from the Labour-supporting Daily Record (the Scottish version of the Daily Mirror) telling us that the Labour-controlled Community union is ‘questioning’ the deal.

To explain . . . there are elections in Scotland on May 5th also, and the SNP is almost guaranteed to win by a landslide. So one interpretation of this bizarre intervention by Community is that embittered Labour supporters are prepared to sabotage the Scottish steel deal for short-term political advantage.

Surely Labour wouldn’t do that?

Oh, yes, and remember, the Boy Kinnock was chaperoned on his trip to India by representatives of the same trade union. Whose interests were they looking out for – the steelworkers or the Labour Party?

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EU Referendum

Speaking of the EU reminds us that on June 23rd we have the referendum on whether to stay in or to leave. The fate of the steel industry is bound to influence the way many people vote, especially in Wales. And seeing as Wales gives us the paradox of many Labour voters reading English Tory newspapers then prolonging the crisis can only help the Brexit cause.

Thinking more obliquely, this realisation that the steel crisis could decide a currently too-close-to-call referendum might prompt the EU into action; and if Cameron is serious about staying in the EU, then he might have to discreetly explain to his Chinese chums that – until the referendum is won – he might need to sound a little ‘hostile’, even agreeing to raise tariffs on Chinese steel imports.

When you consider all the possible ramifications you realise that, serious as the crisis in the steel industry is for those directly – or even indirectly – involved, the closure of Port Talbot and the other plants could have long-term and far-reaching implications that overshadow the loss of jobs.

In many ways Prime Minister Cameron is the one to watch, because with the EU referendum complicating things, him not wanting to be seen as a callous toff, yet having to protect the interests of his mates in the City by not offending the Chinese, the next few weeks could be interesting for those who like to watch nifty footwork.

As the Chinese themselves are reported to say, ‘May you live in interesting times’. (Though some say it’s delivered as a curse, not a blessing.)