Miscellany 06.06.2020

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

After the Jake Berry saga it’s time to move on, though we stay on Ynys Môn for the first couple of pieces, before pushing on, even visiting the city of my dreams.

This is another ‘biggie’ but as usual with this format it’s broken down into digestible portions. So there’s no need to rush, you can take your time. Enjoy!

YNYS MÔN

As we used to hear in the old black and white movies, ‘Dead men tell no tales’. Maybe not, but on Ynys Môn dead men do put in planning applications.

In the previous post, Jake Berry MP, Part 4, I mentioned a property that had swum into view in the course of my investigations into Berry’s little empire. This property may have nothing to do with him, but it became interesting in its own right when I realised that a planning application was submitted in August 2019 – by a man who died early in 2017.

Let me explain, for those who may be unfamiliar with the planning system, that you don’t need to own a property to submit a planning application. A builder, an architect, a relative, even a prospective buyer, can submit a planning application, but this must be done with the consent of the owner. Which presupposes that the owner has not departed for the celestial realm.

Now in this case on Ynys Môn the owner was long dead, and those submitting the planning application knew he was dead. We know they knew because they’d put his name on the planning application with ‘(Deceased)’ alongside it!

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Which is difficult to explain; the Will was a straightforward transfer, so why didn’t the person who’d inherited the property put her name on the planning application?

Another curious feature – though it obviously links – is that the Land Registry title document still shows the late Mr Cuddy as the owner. Which might explain why, after putting out a tweet asking why the council had accepted this application from a dead man, I got a Twitter response from the Land Registry.

The LR reminded those in the thread that there is no legal obligation for anyone to update a title document. Which is unfortunately correct. But I believe we are all entitled to know the ownership of property. And money being laundered through property transactions is another reason for making immediate re-registration mandatory.

Does the so-called ‘Welsh Government’ have the power to legislate in this area? And if so, does it have the balls to do what needs to be done?

On the planning matter, I cannot believe that a dead man can be named as the applicant on a planning application. Which calls into question why Cyngor Sir Ynys Môn accepted that planning application.

Again, if this is legal, it should not be. And if the ‘Welsh Government’ can legislate to outlaw the absurdity of dead men making planning applications, then it should do so. Pronto.

Land Registry documents not updated after three years and planning applications in the name of a dead man suggest something is not quite right.

YNYS MÔN 2

I don’t want to paint Ynys Môn as Wales’ Sicily, but strange things do seem to happen there. One I dealt with fairly recently was the sale of the Shire Hall in Llangefni to Tristan Scott Haynes.

Last year I wrote Not another one! about the sale, and there was a January follow-up in Wales, colonialism and corruption (scroll down to ‘Llangefni Shire Hall’).

To put it mildly, Haynes has a ‘colourful’ past, but the county council saw no problem in selling him their old Shire Hall. And the sale was completed 22 August 2019 with money Haynes had borrowed from Together Commercial Finance Ltd.

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The caption tells that Haynes is managing director of Chief Properties Ltd and he also runs a “successful haulage firm”.

Chief Properties was set up in August 2018 for the purpose of buying a property like the Shire Hall. The accounts tell us that the company has fixed assets of £201,942 (the Shire Hall) but is in debt to the tune of £12,460.

As for the “successful haulage firm”, well the next meeting of shareholders will be delighted to learn that Falcon Transportation Ltd‘s total net assets come to £21,282. Roughly what they were the year previously. A truck?

Go back to the caption under the photograph and you’ll read, (Haynes) had never been to Anglesey before identifying Shire Hall as a possible location”. Which suggests that he found it online. And that any building, anywhere, might have done.

But for what purpose?

As far as I’m aware no work has been done on the Shire Hall, certainly no planning permission has been applied for, so why did Haynes borrow money to buy a building that he seems to have lost interest in?

And having bought it, why is Haynes so reluctant to inform the Land Registry? For the title document says that the council still owns the Shire Hall. So why doesn’t the council contact Haynes and ask him to update the LR document?

And if the county council has washed its hands of the Shire Hall don’t the burghers of Llangefni worry about the fate of one of their town’s prime assets?

RHODRI MORGAN AND THE WDA 

It’s generally agreed that despite certain failings the Welsh Development Agency was doing a good job in attracting inward investment, and to this day many people still don’t understand why it was done away with.

A comment to the previous post seemed to provide an answer:

“If any target should be in your sites (sic) in terms of Wales’s failing economy, it should be the former First Minister ‘Saint’ Rhodri Morgan. It was he, in a temper tantrum, midway through a phone call with the CEO of the Welsh Development Agency, threw his toys out of the pram when his instruction that the WDA should spend a chunk of it’s budget in a constituency of Cardiff where a certain Mrs Morgan was sitting MP. The CEO politely advised that this request could prove difficult because Cardiff was not in an EU Assisted Area . . . A person present . . . related that the First Minister threw his phone across the room. When he had calmed down (10 minutes later) he rang the CEO back and said that he was scrapping the WDA and bringing it’s functions under Assembly control. The CEO replied ‘Congratulations First Minster, you have just ruined the economy of Wales’ . . . In the 1980’s, 1990’s and into the 2000’s Wales, largely but not exclusively, due to WDA activities, secured 22% of all inward investment into the UK, an incredible achievement . . .  Sadly, the Assembly, with it’s suspicion and dislike of any ‘specialisms’ and groaning under the dead hand of so many ‘Sir Humphreys’ presided over the rapid decline of inward investment so that today, it stands at 2% of the UK figure. When the WDA was scrapped, Development Agencies in other countries were delighted . . . I was present at the party held by the Scottish Development Agency to celebrate the demise of it’s principal competitor for inward investment. English Estates, the Development Agency for England, was equally delighted for the same reason. That’s the real story of Wales’s decline as an economic force . . . It will be a huge challenge to reverse this decline, but with the right approach, and a massive change of attitude in Cardiff Bay it conceivably could be achieved.”

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This contribution was reinforced in an e-mail from another source which, after a few tweaks, I’m allowed to publish as you see below. This source was also close to the action at the time in question.

“I don’t know (the writer of the comment), but the account with regard to Graham Hawker (CEO) telling Rhodri Morgan he’s screwed the Welsh economy is correct. 

While there is much talked about the WDA and it’s dealings in its early to mid years, in its later life it was an organisation of people (predominantly Welsh people) who actually gave a fuck about trying to lift the prosperity of the country. To this day, I am convinced that the termination of the WDA was done out of both jealousy by Welsh Gov and also a disregard by WDA to service the needs and wants of Ministers as they became more and more demanding for information from the organisation. It was not designed to service Welsh Government. It was designed to deliver economic development to external customers and it did it well. 

To be fair to Hawker, he had instigated a re-organisation programme that would have addressed some of the issues, but Morgan had made his decision for the bonfire of the quangos. Hawker had resigned in front of Senedd committee. He made Morgan look stupid, who then asked him publicly to reconsider his resignation. He didn’t and he left.  

Following Hawker, Gareth Hall was installed as Welsh Gov’s puppet CEO. Rhodri Morgan stated publicly that WDA staff would not see any change in the transition to Welsh Gov. That was total bollocks. There was a culture of cleansing any entrepreneurial spirit and drive in the organisation and a clear move from answering to the WDA board to Ministers. Hall was very close to Marc Clement of Swansea Uni fame. The WDA was being steered by Andrew Davies as Econ Dev Minister at the time, again with close links to Swansea. Make of that what you will. 

It is clear that the politicisation of economic development has killed off any hope of raising Wales’s GDP above 75% of the UK average. We are still below it and I blame total and utter mismanagement of EU funds coupled with what you write about regularly – pushing funding to the third sector ‘economy’, crap pet projects (Cardiff Airport) and shysters. 

Welsh Gov is a broken organisation. It cannot deliver economic development, full stop. 

The wind up of the WDA is a case study of how to destroy exemplar economic development practice and then replacing it with fantasy policies of inclusion, sustainable development, socialist ideologies and then paying those organisations who advocate such tripe to turn up in the Senedd committees to back you up.” 

Most students of Welsh politics know that Rhodri Morgan was the kind of man Doctor Johnson would have described as ‘clubbable’; a man who could be relied on for the witty quip or the diverting anecdote, but hard work was not really his bag.

The manner of the WDA’s demise tells us a lot about Rhodri Morgan and the Labour Party. Both quite happy to destroy what they cannot control however damaging such a course of action might be for Wales.

The incident also exposes the damning contradiction of ‘Welsh’ Labour – forever banging on about employment, blaming ‘London’ or the Tories for Wales not having enough decent jobs, but the beast itself is ideologically and temperamentally opposed to the business and commerce that would provide good jobs because it cannot control them.

‘Keep Wales poor, keep Wales dependent, keep Wales voting Labour’?

The first source reminds us that with the WDA gone Wales’ share of the UK’s inward investment fell from 22% to 2%. While the second source tells that the loss of the WDA saw the rise of the third sector, which is under the control of the Labour Party because the ‘Welsh Government’ controls the purse funding.

To the point where, in the parallel dimension that is Wales, third sector bosses receive awards for achievements in business.

Port Talbot and Afan Women’s Aid is a well-funded third sector body where – as with all third sector bodies – most of the money goes on salaries. Yet in Wales the third sector is regarded as ‘business’. Click to enlarge.

From 2007 until 2011 Labour was in coalition with Plaid Cymru, but Plaid made no attempt to bring back the WDA, for Plaid Cymru is another party made up of social workers, academics and others who think making profits and creating jobs is dirty.

‘Filthy capitalism, innit!’

Much better to live on hand-outs from England. Then enjoy the power of patronage that goes with distributing someone else’s money without the bother of creating it. That is, without the hard work involved organising a national economy.

Which is exactly how the Labour Party views devolution.

And explains why the cycle of decline will continue after next May’s election when Labour will fall short of a majority and need another coalition with Plaid Cymru to stay in power. Plaid Cymru will jump at the opportunity.

And Wales will continue to decline . . . with regular ‘dead cat on the table’ episodes of virtue signalling.

BRIGHTON GREENS DISCOVER GOWER

In my younger days I spent a lot of time on Gower. Oh yes. An aunt and uncle had a house above Port Eynon when such properties could be bought cheaply because most tourists came from within a radius of 40 or 50 miles. They came for a day trip or a holiday, but few of them thought of moving there permanently.

It was on their doorstep, they could visit whenever they liked.

School holidays spent crabbing at Port Eynon were succeeded by teenage years fishing just about everywhere for bass, with Worm’s Head a favourite spot.

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In the twenty-first century it was inevitable I suppose that Gower would attract the eco-colonists, those who want to ‘live off the land’ . . . usually someone else’s land, often thanks to big dollops of public funding, and invariably by ignoring planning regulations.

And lo! it has come to pass.

To read the WalesOnline report from which the above image is taken just click here.

The Furzehill project is the brainchild of the Ecological Land Cooperative of Brighton. That is Brighton on the south coast of England. What attracts them to Wales is the One Planet lunacy, which proclaims that in order to reduce Wales’ carbon footprint people must be attracted to Wales to farm virgin land, burn wood, drive vehicles, and generally impose themselves on what were often pristine landscapes.

This is virtue signalling, big time, introduced when Jane Davidson was Minister for the Environment, Sustainability and Housing from 2007 to 2011. This may also have been the period when the ‘Welsh Government’s ‘All Farmers are Bastards’ strategy was formulated. (Was ‘Game Show Gary’ [ahem] ‘advising’ Davidson?)

Nominally, Davidson was AM for Pontypridd, but she didn’t give a toss about Ponty. She was in Corruption Bay to promote her environmentalist friends’ agenda. The rest of the Labour Party could see the advantage in this because it gave scope for virtue signalling on a global stage while putting the boot into rural electorates that refuse to vote Labour.

Davidson went on to become an academic (of sorts) and an even more outspoken advocate for eco-invaders like herself.

Here’s Davidson’s book on her work in government that culminated in One Planet Developments (OPD) and Future Generations legislation. Which have done nothing for us Welsh (it wasn’t intended to) but has achieved brownie points for a party and a system that, while running Wales into the ground, gets plaudits from people like Nikhil Seth who know sod all about Wales.

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Furzehill is important, and should be watched, for the following reason.

Up until now OPDs have argued that they improve marginal land or even bring life back to abandoned farms. But Gower is an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AOUB). The first area given AOUB status in the whole of this island.

I expect Swansea council to refuse planning permission for these ‘hobbit houses’. If that happens, then there will almost certainly be an appeal to the ‘Welsh Government’. And if those clowns allow the Furzehill project to proceed then National Parks will be the next target for the eco-colonists.

Which makes this application the thin end of the wedge. So watch it carefully. Click here for the council planning portal and enter 2020/0744/FUL into the Search box.

THE LABOUR COUNCILLOR WHO DESTROYED YMCA WALES

For those unfamiliar with the area, the Llansamlet ward is on the east side of Swansea, above Bonymaen and east of Morriston, straddling the M4. At its edge, Birchgrove runs into Skewen merging Swansea with Neath.

It was an area where the Welsh language was still strong when I was a boy, and Swansea’s first Plaid Cymru councillor was elected by Llansamlet’s voters in the youthful form of my old mate Dr John Ball.

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Since then, it’s been pretty much downhill. The ward has been represented by a  succession of Old Labour time-servers, enlivened recently by a few exotic imports.

I’m thinking now of Robert (‘call me Bob’) Clay, privately-educated former MP for Sunderland North and his Austrian-born wife Uta. Both moved on in 2017 and I’m told that these devout Marxists now live in a very agreeable detached property in rural Carmarthenshire.

Llansamlet returned another four Labour councillors at the 2017 elections, among them Maureen ‘Mo’ Sykes, of whom I have written before. To remind you . . . Mo Sykes was CEO of YMCA Wales yet under her ‘leadership’ things went to hell. To the extent that YMCA Wales ceased to exist.

The organisation leaked money, she herself left under a big cloud in July 2014, YMCA Wales went into administration in September, the jewel in the crown – Newgale Outdoor Education Centre in Pembrokeshire – was flogged off for £507,000 in June 2015, and the abandoned branches of YMCA Wales were told to affiliate to YMCA England.

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They were welcomed with open arms by YMCA England for adopting the ‘national brand’.

‘Our Welsh cousins’ Urgh. Click to enlarge

So in the age of devolution we took another step backward. The ‘Welsh Government’, which had funded Mo Sykes and should have been asking what the fuck had gone wrong, showed no interest. After buying a nice detached house on a quiet street in Clydach (for a surprisingly low price) Sykes was handed a safe seat for the 2017 city council elections.

All this is covered in YMCA England(andwales) with links to previous articles.

And now, if my sources are correct, she’s going home to the Six Counties after living off the public purse for years and doing her bit to integrate Wales into England.

If so, good riddance.

LEENA SARAH FARHAT

Soon after the killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis Nation.Cymru insulted us with an article by Leena Sarah Farhat telling us that Wales was full of racist cops. I made a comment, suggesting she apologise to our police, but my comment was removed. Bizarrely, left up were comments from an unhinged wokie (not from Muskogee) attacking me in very personal terms!

This moron seemed to think I’d deleted my comment, and even when told he’d taken a wrong turn he kept marching purposefully into the bog. I’ve had dealings with him before, and he’s typical of his kind. Because I’d called him ‘little boy’ or something he tried to brand me a paedophile by suggesting I thought I was dealing with a child!

No, ‘Alan’, I’m know exactly what I’m dealing with, son. A twat.

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It got so fractious on the state-subsidised mouthpiece for Plaid Cymru run by the saintly Ifan Morgan Jones that he had to pull all the comments. Something he had to do again on Friday when reporting that Martin Shipton, Chief Correspondent of the Western Mail, had lost his judging job at the Book of the Year Awards, run by Literature Wales, after being targeted by the wokies. (Tell me about it!)

(And if you want a definition of colonial establishment, look no further than Literature Wales.)

But I digress. Who is Leena Sarah Farhat?

From what I could gather, she works at Aberystwyth University. She is also Diversity Officer for the Welsh Liberal Democrats, and their candidate for Carmarthen East and Dinefwr. I’m sure she knows Castell Newydd Emlyn and Llanfihangel Rhos-y-Corn like the back of her delicate hand.

Anyway, later that evening I had one of the strange e-mails I get quite regularly. What I’m describing is the internet age’s equivalent of some bloke emerging out the shadows, collar pulled up and hat pulled down, looking furtively around before handing me the slip of paper that will unravel the mystery.

Or maybe I watch too much film noir.

The terse message contained a link, which I was loath to open in case it contained a virus. But I took a chance and the link took me here. To begin with, I wasn’t sure where I’d landed (I feared it might be one of those pornographical sites I’ve read about), but as I took it in I realised it was some kind of social media platform with people asking Leena Sarah Farhat questions.

Some of her answers were quite strange, others disturbing. Here’s a selection.

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Make of it what you will, but here’s my interpretation. Here we have another ‘progressive’ party desperate to be seen to be ‘inclusive’ recruiting someone on whom they haven’t done enough checks, and who turns out to be, if not anti-Semitic, then certainly tacking towards that port of call.

With Plaid Cymru it was Sahar Al-Faifi, with Labour . . . well, take your pick, and now, not to be left out, the Lib Dems will incur the wrath of the Board of Deputies. Good.

ONLY HERE FOR THE MONEY?

An e-mail I receive daily (but often don’t have time to read properly) comes from Business News Wales, which last Wednesday carried tidings of a £750,000 investment by the Development Bank of Wales and others in Agxio Ltd.

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Both the headline and the opening paragraph report that Agxio is based in Aberystwyth. Yet according to Companies House Axgio’s address is actually in leafy Dorking, in Surrey.

What’s more, Agxio is a one-man band, and that one man is Dr Stephen Christie. To read Dr Christie’s Linkedin bio he’s been there, done that, and got the T-shirt. It’s only a matter of time before that photo on his mantelpiece of great-uncle Hamish in his pith helmet makes way for a Nobel Prize.

From Linkedin we learn that since 2011 Christie has been CEO of Neural Insights Ltd, another company based in Dorking. His wife is the only other director. The latest accounts show a company where liabilities exceed assets, though the figures are small. The accounts are ‘filleted’.

Then there’s his chairmanship of MemberMatch Ltd, which helps golfists find playing partners. But he doesn’t seem to have ever been a director, let alone chairman. The latest unaudited financial statement reveals another company in the red.

Dr Christie’s only other extant company, formed in August 2018, is Inbotiqa Ltd. This has Net Liabilities of £107,131 for 2019; which was, admittedly, a big improvement on 2018. The accounts are unaudited.

Something that struck me about Inbotiqa was the massive share issue. Hundreds of thousands of shares.

And it looks similar with Agxio, which is getting funding from the Development Bank of Wales. Dr Currie seems to have spent a great deal of his time figuring out the share issues, just check the filing history.

Don’t get me wrong, Dr Stephen Christie might be a very clever bloke, but his greatest talent may be issuing and selling shares rather than producing anything, or creating jobs.

Furthermore, his ‘presence’ in Aberystwyth may be no more than a letter-box, and so I question whether Agxio should be receiving a penny of Welsh public funding.

INDEPENDENCE PUSH LEAVES PLAID CYMRU BEHIND

The latest poll findings from Professor Roger Awan-Scully for ITV Wales and Cardiff University are intriguing.

To begin with, Coronavirus seems to have impacted on the Conservative vote as if the party’s voters had been confined to care homes; down 11 percentage points from the April poll to 35% for Westminster elections. Labour is up 4 to 39% and Plaid Cymru also up 4 to 15%.

For Welsh Parliament elections, the figures are (constituency first, list second):

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Those figures were fairly predictable. Of more interest were the responses when people were asked questions such as: “If there was a referendum tomorrow on Wales becoming an independent country and this was the question, how would you vote? Should Wales be an independent country?”

In answer, 25% said Yes, but 54% said No. When asked whether the Assembly should be abolished, 25% said Yes, 48% said No.

To the multi-option constitutional question the responses were:

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As you’re probably aware, a great deal has been made of a figure of 33% in favour of independence. This figure is only arrived at when respondents are given the stark choice between doing away with devolution or going for independence. When the returns were:

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Certainly, these findings are generally encouraging. But there’s a long way to go. What I extrapolate from these polls is the following:

  • Devolution is increasingly discredited. After more than two decades of failure it is under pressure from both those who want independence and those who want integration with England. (Which is what abolishing the Senedd would amount to.)
  • Plaid Cymru is making little progress despite the increase in numbers prepared to consider independence. There is clearly scope for other parties, especially if those parties are more focused on Wales and Welsh issues.
  • No account is taken in these polls of how events in Scotland could impact on Wales. I believe that Scotland becoming independent would greatly increase the numbers in Wales choosing independence.

There’s a lot to play for in next year’s elections. And beyond.

FACEBOOK

As you may know, following a complaint by Jake Berry, the MP for Rossendale and Darwen, currently building a property empire on Ynys Môn, Facebook took down the links I’d posted to the articles about him on this blog.

Well now I’m locked out of my Facebook account altogether, yet it appears to still be open to others. There seems to be no appeal process so is there any way I can just close my Facebook page?

All help gratefully received.

♦ end ♦





Carwyn Jones the Betrayer

INTRODUCTION

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

CARL SARGEANT

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

PRINCE OF WALES BRIDGE

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

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

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

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

The fat spider was jumping up and down with excitement!

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

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

But so quintessentially Labour.

BREXIT DEAL

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

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

‘Nae fond kiss, and then we sever’

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

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

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

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

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

So quintessentially Labour.

CONCLUSION

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

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

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

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

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

‘Will they fall for it?’

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

♦ end ♦

An Existential Threat to Wales

TWENTY YEARS ON

We are currently celebrating the twentieth anniversary of the referendum that gave us devolution. Ron Davies described it at the time as “a process not an event”, but little if any progress has been made.

In yesterday’s Llais y Sais Ron Davies was allowed to explain why he thinks devolution has failed to deliver, why it has not improved the lives of Welsh people. This seems to have been a print version of what he said the day before on radio (06:00) and television (15:26).

Llais y Sais allowed Carwyn Jones to respond, and his response was pathetic; hiding behind the shade of Rhodri Morgan and talking of increased powers rather than addressing the point raised by Ron Davies, which was that Wales is worse off today – in terms of wealth, health, education and other indices – than she was 20 years ago ergo devolution has failed to deliver. Few outside the Bay Bubble would disagree with Ron Davies.

But lurking in the shadows I perceive another threat, an existential threat to the continuing existence of Wales. A threat made easier to carry out because devolution has failed and because so many people in certain parts of Wales feel that devolution has delivered nothing for their area.

FERRY ‘CROSS THE MERSEY . . . AND MOVING TO BANGOR

Unlike Ireland and Scotland Wales does not have geography or topography on her side, we have a long border with England  and all but one of England’s major population centres are within two hours travelling time of Wales.

This plan for a ‘North Wales Metro’ rather gives the game away (click to enlarge)

Which made it relatively easy for Roman, Norman and English invaders to detach the more fertile, lowland areas from our control, largely confining our ancestors to the uplands. That Welsh nationhood survived was largely due to the fact that Wales had little else invaders coveted.

This helped preserve Welsh identity until the arrival of industrialisation, which impacted on areas that were overwhelmingly Welsh in character, and while the new-found prosperity naturally attracted immigrants these were largely assimilated. But time, an English education system, the resultant decline of the Welsh language, colonisation, tourism, lack of national leadership and other factors have taken their toll, to the point where plans are now being drawn up to finally do away with Wales altogether by dismembering our country.

Of course, these plans will never be called by their true name, they will always be presented as being ‘beneficial to Wales’.

Let’s start in the north east. The decline started with the arrival of the railways, and with them mass tourism. The Rhyl station of the Chester & Holyhead Railway Co opened on 1 May 1848. In the more industrial areas closer to the border Anglicisation took a different form with the importation of English workers and the banning of the Welsh language. Perhaps the most notorious example were the events that provoked the Mold Riots of 1869.

Despite it all, the north east remained Welsh, but it was inevitable that the factors I’ve mentioned eventually took their toll. The Flintshire of Daniel Owen, David Lloyd and Emlyn Williams is gone, replaced by what can often be mistaken for semi-rural suburbs of Merseyside.

Rhyl, the once-bustling holiday resort, is now a dumping ground for English criminals, with the town’s streets haunted by drug-addicts and their dealers. (The only plus would appear to be that the gangsters are killing each other quite regularly.) The same fate has befallen smaller communities on the north coast. And as this chaos wreaks havoc on Welsh communities Welsh politicians have done nothing.

So we arrive at the point where someone asks, ‘Oh dear, what can we do to ‘revitalise’ this region? I know! we’ll have closer cross-border co-operation.’ This was certainly the recommendation of the ‘Welsh’ Government’s City Regions Task and Finish Group’s Final Report, the group chaired by Elizabeth Haywood.

Who is Elizabeth Haywood? You don’t remember voting for this woman who wants to dismember Wales? Of course you never voted for her, nobody did; she’s Mrs Peter Hain, or Lady Hain, I suppose, since the Orange Man was ennobled. (You really should get all silly ideas about democracy and accountability out of your head, they’ll only confuse you in one-party Wales.)

The Mersey Dee Alliance to which Lady Hain refers is a body that has been in existence for some time, though it seems to have a strange idea of Welsh geography, or to go by this map that appeared on the MDA website it doesn’t accept the existence of Wales at all.

The prospect of our north east (or the whole north) being swallowed up by north west England would be bad enough, but as I explained last month in Gwynedd LDP, and Wider Considerations, the threat is not restricted to the old unitary authority of Clwyd.

Nor is this encroachment, this gradual takeover, confined to the north. If anyone was in any doubt about that, then statements made over the past few days should have made the threat very clear.

ENGLAND’S LITTLE MOUTHPIECE

One of the great conundrums of Welsh politics concerns the role of Secretary of State for Wales, and boils down to the question: ‘Is the Secretary of State for Wales the voice of Wales in the cabinet or the voice of the cabinet in Wales?’

Different Secretaries of State have provided different answers, but the current incumbent of that post, Alun Cairns MP, is most definitely – and perhaps more emphatically than any predecessor – the voice of the cabinet in Wales. Little more than a mouthpiece, but because he is a mouthpiece, we can more easily tell the plans of those who put the words into his mouth.

The thinking in London towards Wales now seems to come in two parts – gradually undo devolution and then dismember Wales.

On the first element of that dual-thrust approach I call to the witness stand Carwyn Jones, First Minister of Wales. The heading gives a clue to the content in “Brexit: Carwyn Jones objects to ‘hijack of devolved powers'”,  or “Ministers in London are trying to get the power to rewrite laws made in Wales – Carwyn Jones”, and a host of similar articles to be found on the internet.

Just about everyone outside of the Conservative and Unionist Party believes that Brexit will provide the excuse for Westminster to a) withhold powers repatriated from the EU, and b) ‘retrieve’ powers already devolved. While those inside the party know it but won’t openly admit it.

Even so, the clues come thick and fast. Alun Cairns was given a lot of space in Llais y Sais – with David Williamson serving as his amanuensis – to promote the idea of Cardiff detaching itself from Wales and linking up with Bristol in a Severnside region. (For some reason I can’t find the piece on the WalesOnline site.)

To ram home the message Llais y Sais chipped in with an editorial, one that went beyond Bristol to “the string of cities along the M4” which of course take us to London.

click to enlarge

I was so vexed by what I read, and incensed by the lies spouted by Cairns, that I took the unusual step of putting out a short post on my Facebook page.

On Monday morning Cairns maintained his assault on honesty with the claim that too much power is centralised in Cardiff . . . and this, remember, is the voice of the Conservative and Unionist Party that wants to centralise even more power in London!

Some might be tempted to agree with him, until they remember there’s little real power in Cardiff because Wales lacks an effective form of devolution. Of course, most people would agree that Cardiff gets more than its fair share of investment and jobs, and it was this resentment that Cairns hoped to tap into.

But let’s take him at his word. He says he wants to devolve power to the regions, he even talks of elected mayors. So would Wil Pughe of Llanfair Caereinion, like his counterparts in London and Manchester, have power over policing? Would Wil – as he has long desired – have control over local PCSO Cerys Evans?

Having one day advocated a Severnside region Cairns pushes on with a back-of-a-fag-packet suggestion masking a deeper message – ‘Devolution isn’t working for most of Wales. In fact, devolution isn’t working at all – let’s get rid of it.’

“Give power to the regions” is something trotted our regularly by the Tories, but it displays no real concern for the regions at all, it’s just a method of doing away with devolution and undermining our sense of nationhood.

DIVIDED, DISMEMBERED, DESTROYED

What of the areas left outside the shining megalopolis of ManPool and the ‘string of cities’ from Cardiff to London?

The remainder of the northern coastal strip along the A55, or those areas not being used to house drug addicts and criminals from over the border, or serving as geriatric ghettoes, will become commuter communities, even over the bridge onto Ynys Môn, as I found out by accident.

For when trawling the internet I often turn up things I wasn’t looking for, such as the map below, produced by Nathaniel Lichfield & Partners. They know that there are three Strategic Development Areas (or Strategic Planning Areas) for Wales, the two city regions and the A55 Corridor. I found a number of other references to the A55 Corridor: here’s one, here’s another.

All the sources tell us that these three SDAs/SPAs will be brought into existence by the Planning (Wales) Act 2015, which received Royal Assent on July 6.

click to enlarge

So why, two years on, are the chattering classes only talking of the two city regions? Is the A55 Corridor a dirty secret being proceeded with by stealth? Interestingly, one feature demanded by a SDA/SPA is joint Local Development Plans, which might explain why Gwynedd and Ynys Môn were recently required to produce one.

The area between the A55 Corridor and the urban south is to become one vast recreation and retirement area for England, offering everything from granny farms and zip wires to Cheshire-sur-Mer (Abersoch), the Birmingham Riviera (Cardigan Bay), and Bear Grylls parting suckers from their money with his ‘get-muddy-and-pretend-you’re-in-the-SAS!’ bollocks.

With assorted ‘Care’ bodies, probation companies and housing associations taking in England’s decrepit, dysfunction, delinquent and downright criminal. For housing ex-cons pays well.

The Valleys are to endure yet more managed decline, the Swansea region will be offered scraps from Cardiff’s table, while Cardiff itself expands and grows fat through exploiting its capital status but simultaneously playing the English provincial city, increasingly linked to Bristol and “the string of cities along the M4”.

Cardiff being a player in Severnside will be welcomed by those Cardiff politicians, such as Russell Goodway, who have always wanted Cardiff to enjoy all the benefits of being capital of Wales while looking down their noses at everything Welsh.

Result: Wales enfeebled, fragmented and exploited as never before. There can only be one outcome.

WHO CAN WE TRUST?

It should go without saying that we cannot trust an individual, or a political party, that has allowed this situation to develop.

Wales is being assaulted from all sides, yet Carwyn Jones may be motivated by loss of prestige rather than the loss of nationhood, or maybe it’s the thought of his party losing its vast network of patronage that moves him to stand alongside Nicola Sturgeon.

The Tories of course are driving this project and they’ll be supported by Ukip. As for the Lib Dems, well, who cares? Which leaves only Plaid Cymru.

Seeing as the destruction of Wales has little to do with Donald Trump, refugees, or trans-gender toilets, and is only tangentially connected with another of Plaid’s current obsessions, Brexit, it would be unrealistic to expect any opposition from Plaid Cymru.

In addition, Plaid Cymru is unsuited for the coming fight because, being a civic nationalist party that welcomes everyone (especially those with ‘ishoos’) – and by so doing supports the colonialist system that sees Wales exporting talent and importing problems – it is psychologically incapable of standing up in a struggle in which it will have to be said, ‘No, you’re not dumping any more of your problems in our country!’

And yet, one doesn’t even need to be a nationalist, or a believer in independence, to become involved in the forthcoming struggle. All that’s needed is the belief that Wales is a nation, with a defined and accepted territory, and that both must be respected.

But our enemies are gathering, they’ve laid their plans, they’ve even told us their plans, so we must resist.

Are you up for the coming fight?

♦ end ♦

Plaid Cymru: Ninety Wasted Years

Former First Minister Rhodri Morgan is getting increasingly crabby in his twilight years. In his Wasting Mule column following the Scottish independence referendum he suggested that Alex Salmond, leader of the Scottish National Party, failed the Richard Nixon ‘Would you buy a second-hand car off this guy?‘ test. A strange way of trying to put down a man widely respected across the political spectrum, both inside Scotland and without. A man regarded as a politician of intellect, ability and commitment to his cause. But then, reading what I’ve just written, and thinking back to the lazy and superficial Rhodri Morgan, a man renowned for soundbites and little else, it was probably just jealousy.

Last Saturday Mr Lightweight was at it again, this time laying into Saunders Lewis, president of Plaid Cymru from 1926, a year after the party’s creation, until 1938. His specific point was that Saunders Lewis made a big mistake in supporting Franco in the Spanish Civil War (1936 – 1939) because had he supported the Republican side – which backed Basque and Catalan self-government – that stance would have resonated beRhodri Morgantter with Welsh people and resulted in increased support for Plaid Cymru, and of course he’s right . . . if one adopts a simplistic interpretation of events coupled with a deliberate mis-reading of history and the benefit of looking back from 2014.

Despite receiving aid and military support from both Mussolini and Hitler Franco was never a fascist himself. He certainly didn’t involve Spain in World War Two. (Although Falangist volunteers did fight on the Eastern Front.) I’ve always viewed Franco as a political animal of a variety we’re unfamiliar with in northern or Protestant Europe, by which I mean an authoritarian, Catholic reactionary. For while the Spanish Civil War may have been an ideological struggle to idealists of Right and Left in other countries, within Spain – certainly from the Nationalist side – the struggle was to maintain Catholic Spain from internal enemies. Due to it having been so ‘politicised’ we tend to forget that this was a war in which religion and the role of the church played a big part. When churches were being torched, nuns raped and priests butchered, it should have surprised no one then – or now – that a convert to Catholicism like Saunders Lewis supported Franco and followed the Vatican line.

As for why ‘Plaid Cymru’ didn’t challenge Saunders Lewis on his position vis-a-vis the Spanish Civil war, as Morgan asks, well the answer seems to have come in a reader’s letter in today’s Wasting Mule. In it, Hywel Davies of Morriston in Swansea says, “As to the claim of the tacit support of Plaid membership for Lewis, Saunders Lewis himself stressed that it was exactly the lack of such support that impelled his resignation as party president in 1938”.

It’s really scraping the barrel for a senior Labour figure to try to smear a political party and a wider movement as fascistic (despite protesting that he’s not doing that) just because of Saunders Lewis’ religious beliefs. Equally deplorable is Morgan reminding us that Lewis once said something favourable about Hitler. Wow! Just about everybody said something favourable about Hitler and Mussolini at some time in the 1930s; whether it was complimenting Hitler for getting Germans back to work or praising Mussolini for making the trains run on time. Far more sinister and self-deluding were those from Morgan’s own political background who travelled to the Soviet Union and came back believing that Stalin was the saviour of mankind, at the very time of show trials and engineered famine!

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Though Rhodri Morgan’s spiteful little diatribe did serve to make me think about Plaid Cymru, and Saunders Lewis, whose real failing was that he was out of touch with twentieth century Wales. For his ‘Wales’ was restricted to the rural, Welsh-speaking west and the north that my great-grandparents had left a generation or two earlier. Which makes me suspect that someone else he admired – another devout Catholic and dweller in Never-Never land – was Eamon de Valera, who also dreamed of a bucolic Celtic paradise unsullied by anything English . . . such as cities, and industry . . .

And yet, this paradise to which Lewis wanted us all to return was overwhelmingly Protestant, and not just Protestant in the easy-going way of the Anglican church (a body known to my paternal grandmother as ‘them English Catholics’), but a forbidding realm of Saunders Lewisdisputatious sects for whom stained glass windows came close to idolatry and enjoyment of almost any sort could be highly suspect. (A world where, as Gwyn Thomas put it, ‘The only concession to gaiety was a striped shroud’.) Yet to these severe and self-denying country-folk Saunders Lewis, the English-born former army officer and academic who had converted to the smells and bells of Catholicism, was offering himself as the Messiah! There was more chance of Joe Stalin being invited for a few friendly beers down a Nazi bierkeller!

Which is why Rhodri Morgan was wrong to suggest that the political map of Wales would look entirely different today if Saunders Lewis had backed the other side in the Spanish Civil War. Plaid Cymru’s fortunes as a political party, and the refusal of most Welsh to accept the party, go well beyond the position of one man on a short war in a foreign country a long time ago. I say that because I believe Lewis had nothing to offer the urban and industrial areas with their anglophone majorities, and his aloofness and Catholicism meant that few heeded him even in the areas he hoped to speak for. Yet this is typical of Plaid Cymru, for the party has always been out of step with, if not alien to, the majority of Welsh people, due to its refusal to accept the reality of the Wales in which it found itself. Apart, that is, from a few, brief moments, when the party seemed to ‘connect’ . . . before hurriedly and fearfully ‘disconnecting’ again.

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I joined Plaid Cymru in the mid-1960s, an exciting and turbulent time in Wales; bombs were going off, there were regular protests on the language and other issues with many being imprisoned, we had the tragedy of Aberfan and provocations such as Tryweryn and the Investiture, all of which combined to excite passions and lead many of us to believe that our country was being exploited and our people neglected. Plaid Cymru inevitably benefitted from this bitterness; first, with Gwynfor Evans’ by-election victory in Carmarthen in 1966, and then running Labour close in the by-elections at Rhondda West in 1967 and Caerphilly in 1968.

One strong memory I have of that period is how people could comfortably belong to a number of different organisations; a situation that allowed a card-carrying member of Plaid Cymru to don a combat jacket and forage cap on Friday night and head for the hills with the Free Wales Army. Obviously Gwynfor Evans and mostCayo of the party’s hierarchy disapproved of violence (which Gwynfor regularly attributed to MI5), but at a lower level there was a more ambivalent attitude. In this kaleidoscope, Plaid Cymru was merely the political wing of a much wider movement, a genuinely national movement. I suppose a comparison could be made with the Labour Movement of the time, where many Labour Party members, and certainly trade union officials, also belonged to the Communist Party, and other extreme Left wing groups.

Plaid Cymru’s 1960s momentum was maintained in the General Election of 1970 that saw the party, for the first time, field candidates in all seats and win 11.5% of the vote, though Carmarthen was lost. In the February election of 1974 Plaid won two seats – Caernarfon and Meirionnydd – then held those two and re-gained Carmarthen in the October election of the same year. Other seats – Ynys Môn and Ceredigion – were won in the late ’80s and early ’90s, but the share of the vote slipped, as Plaid retreated into its rural strongholds. Carmarthen was lost again in the 1979 general election but perhaps worse was the shattering defeat for devolution in the referendum of that year. A defeat ensured by a Labour Party campaigning against its own initiative and giving us a first good view of the odious Neil Kinnock and his venomous spouse.

The late 1970s and 1980s also saw Plaid Cymru change, in a number of ways. The party moved perceptibly to the Left. As if that wasn’t bad enough, it also started ‘reaching out’ to minority groups (no, no, not the Welsh) such as Gays, hippies, ban the bomb types and others. I remember one Plaid conference at which Dafydd Elis Thomas, then party leader, became quite emotional over his new best friend, Brig Oubridge, and whoever or whatever he represented. So who was Brig Oubridge? Well, he was an English hippy who, like so many others, had invited himself into Wales, squatted on some land near Llandeilo – ‘Tipi Valley’ – and then demanded to be given legal rights! Read about him here. These are the sort of people Plaid Cymru’s leadership wanted to co-operate with. It’s not a lot different today.

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Despite this ‘reaching out’ to the non-Welsh Plaid Cymru still managed to be dismissed as ‘the language party’, and this perception – carefully promoted by opponents – has lost the party votes among the anglophone Welsh. But Plaid’s concern for the language is often little more than arguing over legislative minutiae, as if such nit-picking will save the language. It won’t, and Plaid Cymru knows that.

Making the situation in Plaid’s ‘stronghold’ areas today bizarre. On the one hand the indigenous, Welsh-speaking population can see its linguistic and cultural heritage being destroyed by tourism, colonisation, discrimination in employment and other areas . . . so they vote Plaid Cymru Brig Oubridgeas a means of showing they’re still here – ‘Yma o hyd’ – and in the desperate hope that Plaid Cymru will do something to protect what remains of the Fro Gymraeg (the Welsh-speaking areas). But Plaid Cymru has its head so far up the arse of the English Left, the Third Sector, and the Green Men that it won’t do anything to save the Fro. This is a situation that cannot endure. The destruction of the Fro can only result in the collapse of the Plaid vote, and this might come about quite suddenly if enough Plaid voters realise how they’ve been betrayed, or if a genuinely Welsh party was to appear.

But even while Plaid’s heartland areas endure, to be taken seriously as a national party Plaid Cymru needs the ‘breakthrough in the south’. (God! I’ve been hearing that for 50 years.) But of course it’s never happened. Yes, Plaid might have come close in the late 1960s and early 1970s, when it was still a nationalist party, but as I’ve explained, it was carefully steered away towards ‘rainbow alliances’, socialism, and a betrayal of the Welsh people. The only other time Plaid came close to the ‘breakthrough’ was in the first Assembly elections of 1999, and what happened then? – there was a coup against the most charismatic, most popular, and most successful leader the party ever had. On both occasions when Plaid might have pushed on to seriously challenge Labour’s hegemony in Wales it chose instead to make itself less electable. Yet people still wonder why I believe Plaid Cymru was compromised at the very highest levels in the late 1970s or the early 1980s!

To achieve this ‘breakthrough in the south’ Plaid’s leadership believed the party had to be socialist, more socialist than the Labour Party. Which tells me that Plaid Cymru is either deliberately sabotaging its own electoral chances, or that Plaid’s leadership fails to grasp a fundamental truth, which is, the great majority of Welsh who vote Labour do so out of nothing more than habit or self-interest, sometimes both. They do it because parents / grandparents voted Labour, or because they believe that Labour in power in London will ‘look after them’ better than the Tories. But the important thing to understand here is that socialism has nothing to do with it. Which makes any attempt to be more socialist than Labour an exercise in futility.

Plaid Cymru seems unable to accept that there are very few socialists left in Wales, very few indeed among the indigenous working class. In fact, your average working class, Labour-voting, tabloid-reader is very often a conservative and even a racist. Not a violent, Hitler-worshipping nutter, but a person who undemonstratively shares almost all the prejudices of the far Right. The identikit Ukip voter (as the May Euro-elections showed). We all know them. We work with them, we talk with them down the pub.

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We live in interesting times. Never in my lifetime have ‘London’ parties and Westminster politics been held in such contempt. Scotland is on the brink of independence. A new party is on the rise. Welsh people are beginning to realise that Britain is one of the most corrupt and unequal countries in the western world. This state of flux should provide the perfect opportunity for a radical Welsh party, untainted by corruption, ineptitude and the ‘sameness’ of professional politicians, to make massive inroads into Labour’s Welsh vote . . . but instead, it looks as if the beneficiary will be Ukip, an English nationalist party! What a verdict on 90 years of Plaid Cymru!

A party that started out as a movement to defend Welsh language and culture, and to restore the language to the whole of Wales, has totally failed in that ambition. Within a generation what remains of the Fro Gymraeg will be but a memory. Then came the socialist phase, standing shoulder to shoulder with ‘oppressed minorities’ and seeking to tap into the great socialist tradition of Wales . . . which has achieved absolutely nothing. How can a Welsh political party be in existence for ninety years without realising that its greatest – perhaps its only – selling point is its Welshness? Blame England! – play on Welsh grievances! – stir the passions! – reap the rewards! BGwynfor DET Dafydd Wetter to do that and fail than be a bunch of mealy-mouthed compromisers satisfied with crumbs.

The Scottish National Party enjoys its position of strength, not because it ‘reached out’ to colonising Greens (Scotland has its own pro-independence Green Party), not because it indulged itself in sixth form ‘socialism’, not because it snuggled up to Labour and certainly not because it tried to out-Labour Labour; no, the SNP’s strength is the result of confronting the Labour Party and the British system head-on with a message of hope for the Scottish people. This is why Glasgow voted Yes last month. All Plaid Cymru does is agonise over the nuts and bolts of devolution and whine about the Barnett Formula, (basically, just asking for a bigger begging bowl). Plaid Cymru is a defeatist party; it is a collaborationist party.

The 2016 Assembly elections must be Plaid Cymru’s last chance to make the oft-heralded ‘breakthrough’. It deserves no more chances; ninety years is long enough. As things stand, Plaid Cymru’s greatest ‘achievement’ is taking up the space that should be filled by a genuine nationalist party. If Plaid Cymru fails again in 2016, but tries to carry on as if nothing has happened, then it will only strengthen my belief that the party has been compromised. If that happens, then a new party, a nationalist party, must be created. Wales can’t afford any more ‘blocking’. Time is short.

Beginning of the End

The Scottish independence referendum was ‘won’, Alex Salmond has resigned, ‘Loyalists’ roam the streets of Glasgow attacking Yes supporters and burning Scottish flags . . . danger over, what was all the fuss about? That, I’m sure, is how the less sophisticated among us will interpret – and be encouraged to interpret – the events of the past few days. They couldn’t be more wrong. After settling back into Chateau Jones, and collecting my thoughts, here’s my report, starting with a wee travelogue.

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Don’t misunderstand me, I love Edinburgh, but in the murky weather my wife and I experienced there last week those big and imposing brown buildings can look ever so slightly oppressive. And if a few are somewhat architecturally overwrought then the Scott Monument is positively hysterical. I’ve looked at it from many different angles over the years and I can only conclude that the architeScott Monumentct finished designing it before realising he’d only used up half the budget; so from then on it was a case of more knobs here, more fol de rols there, and let’s squeeze on another excrescence . . . to the point where the whole thing is so overburdened with adornments that it looks more like a Thai temple than a memorial to the man who ‘invented’ Scotland for foreign readers. (I have even read someone blaming Sir Walter Scott for the American Civil War. For being the most popular author in ante-bellum Dixie he stands accused of implanting the ‘chivalric’ outlook in Southern menfolk, and encouraging the ultimately destructive delusion that being true to these values would overcome the North’s greater wealth and superior manpower.)

That said, Edinburgh is a great city and a real capital. Princes Street, the Royal Mile and other thoroughfares were still swarming with people – mainly high-spending overseas tourists – at seven in the evening, stopping to have their photographs taken with pipers that could be found every hundred yards or so. (One of whom played Calon Lân for us!) Of course there was the tawdry and the kitsch, but if you’re from Canton, Cracow or Chicago then you may not recognise what is authentically Scottish (and nor will the people back home you’re buying presents for). Even the architecture is different. Look around Edinburgh, or any Scottish city or town, and you know immediately that you aren’t in England. Finally, there are the centuries-old institutions embedded into Scottish life, making devolution, and even independence, a natural progression for a nation in everything but a seat at the UN, whereas Wales has political devolution sitting top-heavy and almost unworkable on a country otherwise integrated with England through countless cross-border institutions and ‘Welsh’ civil servants taking orders directly from London.

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My original plan for polling day had been to take the train to Dundee, but £60 each seemed too much to pay for just over an hour’s train journey, so I drove to Stirling. (Ah! that Cardi blood, coursing close to my wallet.) First stop, Bannockburn; then Stirling castle; finally, the Wallace Monument.Bannockburn poem

The equestrian statue of the Bruce at Bannockburn is big, and in its way it’s impressive; though I suppose similar, slightly overbearing statues to national heroes and liberators can be found from Bratislava to Bogota. Though the whole site was recently rescued from the realm of superheroes by the addition of a poem on a new timber ring atop the rotunda. Written by Kathleen Jamie I reproduce it for you here. The references to “mere transients” and “Small folk playing our part” tell us more of national struggles than huge and dominating statues ever can. (No, I’m not turning socialist.) Bannockburn was such a crushing defeat for the English and their allies that the only sizeable number of foot soldiers said to have made it alive out of Scotland was a detachment of Welsh spearmen, who had the good sense, or leadership, that helped them stick together and fight their way to safety.

The castle at Stirling overlooks the town and the surrounding countryside and is still used as a military barracks. It has regularly played a part in Scottish history, not least in 1314, for the English army the Scots defeated on the plain below was attempting to relieve Stirling castle, the laStirling Castlest English garrison in Scotland. The arrangement agreed was that if the castle was not relieved by mid-summer then it would surrender to the Scots. Great though his achievement may have been, I suppose that for those of a leftward political persuasion Robert de Brus, being an aristocrat, does not arouse the same levels of affection accorded William ‘Braveheart’ Wallace, whose memorial was next on our agenda.

There is, fortunately, a minibus service to the base of the Wallace Monument from the car park and visitor centre below, but after that, you have to climb the 246-step spiral staircase. Which is not as daunting as it sounds due to the regular exhibition rooms you’ll encounter on the climb, these present welcome opportunities to get your breath back. The Wallace Monument is also in the Gothic Revival style but more restrained than the Scott Monument in Edinburgh. It was completed in 1869 and funded by public subscription from within Scotland and thanks to a number of foreign donations, one of them by Giuseppe Garibaldi. It stands on Abbey Craig, from which Wallace is said to have watched the English army (with its Welsh levies) taking up positions on the plain below before the Battle of Stirling Brig in 1297. An army that might have outnumbered Wallace’s forces by as much as five to one, making us realise what a great victory the Scots achieved that day.

*

Enough has already been said about the referendum and its result, so I’ll avoid adding yet another lengthy post mortem and limit myself to just a few general observations.

As the debate went on it became increasingly clear that ‘The Union’ is not some wondrous creation bestowing benefits on all, something to be defended from sacrilegious maniacs wishing to dismantle it; no, the Union is, more than anything else, about prestige – England’s prestige. For with Scotland gone ‘England’ would lose a third of her territory, and this would lead to all sorts of dangerous questions, such as whether ‘England’ should retain her seat on the UN Security Council, or whether, in the EU, ‘England’ – now situated, in population terms, somewhere between Spain and Italy – should still be counted alongside Germany and France. And then there’s those nuclear weapons on the Clyde – with them gone Uncle Sam would find a new best friend.

There is a minority in both Scotland and Wales that understands this, and buys into it, often for reasons of personal advancement. Then there is a much larger constituency that will support the Union because they can be persuaded it offers them more than independence can deliver, or perhaps they can be swayed by purely emotional appeals to ‘shared history’ or ‘standing together against the Nazis’. Support for this interpretation comes from a poll taken just after the referendum which shows, among other things, that 59% in the 25 – 34 age bracket voted for independence, but only 27% in the 65+ age bracket. The shared experiences, whether WWII or British Steel, are largely meaningless for most Scots under the age of 55. Then there’s devolution itself, which for many in the 65+ plus age bracket is something they’re still unfamiliar with, and perhaps uncertain about, whereas for younger Scots, for whom ‘the shared experiences’ belong to the distant past, having a Scottish parliament is normal and – as I mentioned earlier – makes independence almost a logical progression.

This threat to English prestige is the reason we saw political parties, media, banks, businesses, Orangemen and other elements that benefit (or can be persuaded to believe they benefit) from Greater England, unite to oppose Scottish independence. Equally obvious was the strategy of isolating Alex Salmond and presenting him as the sole advocate of the policy. For how often did we see anyone else interviewed? Would anyone know from the media coverage that the influential Scottish Green Party was supporting independence? Or that over a third of regular Labour voters were switching to the Yes camp? And where was Tommy Sheridan, or would his face on the screen have reminded viewers of the perfidy of the London media? No, the independence debate was all about that megalomaniac Alex Salmond. By comparison, there were countless rational and unbiased voices, urging Scottish people to vote No – in the interests of Scotland, of course – voices amplified by a complaisant media and supported by other reasonable voices such as those of Deutsche Bank warning that Scottish independence would precipitate another Great Depression.

Now there is a price to be paid for this unholy and unnatural unity prompted by blind panic when it was thought that Alex Satan might prevail. It’s falling apart now before our eyes. The Tories, under pressure from their own backbenchers and Ukip, have to hold out the prospect of English votes for English-only legislation if not a separate English parliament. Labour cannot accept this due to its traditional reliance on Labour MPs from Scotland (and Wales). But as I’ve mentioned, and as this poll I linked to earlier shows, 37% of those who voted Yes last Thursday voted Labour in the 2010 UK general election . . . are they going to vote Labour again in 2015? Given that we can reasonably assume that most of the Labour voters who supported independence belong to the younger age groups then it’s also reasonable to conclude that Labour is facing a demographic time-bomb in Scotland – yet Labour is the only party that can maintain the Union. Making Labour’s opposition to an English parliament understandable, but hopelessly optimistic, based on a flawed and outdated premiss.LD Voters

The tactic of isolating Alex Salmond may have won the referendum, but the longer term consequences are all positive for both the Scottish National Party and the wider cause of Scottish independence. The SNP is increasingly perceived as the only party that can stand up to the liars and the bullies down in London, a gang to which the #RedTories clearly belong. And this is not just me spouting off – since the referendum the SNP has signed up over 20,000 new members, giving it more members than the Liberal Democrats, a UK-wide party. We were told that the referendum was not about Scotland v England, and of course it wasn’t . . . but it is now, and an increasing number of Scots feel that the only party representing Scottish interests is the SNP.

Scottish independence is guaranteed within a decade, and it probably won’t need a referendum.

*

So where does all this leave Wales? Well, among the many promises made to the Scots was that there would be no revision of the Barnett Formula which sees Wales short-changed in comparison to Scotland and the Six Counties. So Wales looks set to gain nothing, although vague promises of extra powers have been mentioned. Carwyn Jones has, I believe, made a few statements. I say ‘I believe’, because no one listens to Carwyn ‘the veto’ Jones, whether in Wales, England, or Scotland. The man is a weakling and, consequently, a nonentity universally ignored. There may even have been contributions by some person called Crabbe, who’s about as relevant to Wales as Jones is to Scotland.

Though Jones’s predecessor had something to say in his weekly column in the Wasting Mule. If I understood it right, Rhodri Morgan knows that Northern Ireland does well out of Barnett because of the Troubles, and Scotland does well because of the fear of Scottish nationalism. There his reasoning cannot be faulted. But then he goes on to argue that Wales should also be rewarded because we ” . . . didn’t put the whole of the UK through the mincer via referendum or civil war . . . “. So, in other words, we should be rewarded because England has nothing to fear from us. Doesn’t this clown, after a lifetime in politics, understand how it works!

His argument may have self-destructed but it still says a lot about him, and his party. As I have made clear, I detest the Labour Party. I regard the Labour Party in Wales as nothing but quisling scum that have held Wales back for a century. There is no hope for Wales until there is no hope for the Labour Party in Wales. It would be easier to achieve that happy state if we had a party like the SNP. But instead we have a party most of whose leading members still dream of a coalition government with Labour in 2016. Which suggests to me that the Labour Party might not be the only obstacle to Welsh progress.

Ein Gwlad 1

Most of these images and illustrations appeared in Ein Gwlad (2002 – 2005), of which I was co-founder with Henry Jones-Davies and Basil Thomas. I say, ‘most’, because some did not appear, having been held back for future issues that, alas, never materialised.
Some of the pictures are obviously dated, which may give them a certain charm. Some may be obscure, referring to events now almost forgotten; while others retain their impact – or carry the original captions – and require no further explanation.
To read the caption, and any description, click on the little ‘i‘ in the small box in the top left of the image. Further options can be found in the bar at the bottom. Each image appears for 15 seconds unless a further option is selected. To leave full screen mode press the ‘Esc’ button on the top left of your keyboard.

 

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Sisters

Intriguing rumours reach me from the Land of my Dreams. They concern manoeuvering to succeed Martin Caton, current MP for Gower, in 2015. Caton is a decent enough cove, I’m assured, if unassuming and happy to be naught but lobby Gower 2010fodder in the greater scheme of things.

To set the stage, for those unfamiliar with the area . . . As the name suggests, the Gower constituency covers the peninsula of the same name, but seeing as this area is thinly populated the electorate is to be found on the western and northern outskirts of the city, from Mumbles through Gorseinon to Clydach. (Reminding us of the old Lordship of Gower.) Though other communities in Cwmtawe that were formerly in Gower – e.g. Pontardawe, Ystalyfera, Gwaun-Cae-Gurwen – have now been moved to the Neath constituency, making Gower less solidly Labour.

The whispers wafting up on the southern breeze tell me that two of those with aspirations to replace Caton are Fiona Gordon, who represents the largely transient population of Castle ward, and Andrea Lewis, a “self-employed female vocalist”, who represents Morriston ward. Ms Gordon is said to be ‘in with’ the pink gin English student set and their patron, council leader, David Phillips. But things may not be that straightforward.

For even though il Duce is the leader of the city council, and Gower is one of the three Swansea constituencies, the seat is represented down Cardiff docks by the redoubtable Edwina Hart. It’s her patch, and she will not take kindly to outside intervention, particularly as it is further rumoured that Redwina has her own favourite to replace the beleaguered Caton. Who might it be? The breeze whispers the name Christine Gwyther.

For those with short memories . . . Christine Gwyther was AM for Carmarthen West & South Pembrokeshire from 1999 to 2007. Alun Michael – briefly First Minister – made her Minister Alun Michaelof Agriculture. An odd choice, for as can be imagined, Gwyther’s vegetarianism did not go down well with farmers, and she was dismissed in 2000, soon after Rhodri Morgan replaced Michael.  She lost her seat to the Tories in the 2007 elections and failed to regain it in 2011. The poor woman suffered a further setback when, in 2012, she stood for the post of  Police and Crime Commissioner for Dyfed Powys, losing narrowly to unknown Tory, Christopher Salmon.

Now if Redwina has decided to throw her weight behind Gwyther then it renders hopeless any ambitions or machinations from other quarters. Better men than Phillips have tangled with Hart and come off second best.

Of course all this might be just tittle-tattle, but it throws up intriguing possibilities. With Labour’s hold on Gower under serious threat from the popular Conservative candidate and current regional AM, Byron Davies, it presents ‘Welsh’ Labour with all sorts of problems. Though if I was a Labour supporter (now there’s a thought!), none of the likely lasses I’ve mentioned would exactly fill me with confidence. So, looking on the bright side . . . those of us with the best interests of Wales at heart should hope for some very bitter in-fighting that leaves ‘Welsh’ Labour even further weakened. And gives Gower a Conservative MP in 2015.

UPDATE 01.11.13: It now appears that Fiona Gordon may be out of the running, possibly promised one of the consolation prizes made possible by the funding released by Il Duce’s culling of the scrutiny committees.

It was remiss of me not to mention that Gordon is the daughter of Alana Davies, former Bridgend councillor who lost her Porthcawl East seat last year to an Independent, despite a swing to Labour elsewhere in the borough. Alana’s personal website is an excruciating example of its kind; ‘Here’s me with Gordon Brown . . . Hilary Benn . . . Carwyn Jones . . . Dennis Skinner’.

Fiona Gordon’s Linkedin profile tells us that she is ‘Pilot Project Co-ordinator’ at Bridgend County Borough Council. I think we can safely assume that this has something to do with education. By one of those curious coincidences one comes across every so often, Mumsie also earns a crust in education, and formerly held the Labour History groupportfolio for Children and Young People on Bridgend council. Perhaps she was in post when Fiona was appointed Pilot Project Co-ordinator. As I say, coincidence, nothing more.

Staying in Bridgend, a new name in the frame for Gower is said to be councillor, Christina Rees, who is also fourth on the list of Labour candidates for next year’s European elections. Fight it out girls!

UPDATE 03.11.13: Someone just referred me to this (click to enlarge). Is it true? If so, why is there nothing in the Welsh media? If it is true, why was it done almost secretively, with the news broken on the Labour History Group Twitter account? And as Andrea Parma asks – who is she? The only Liz Evans I can find is this one, vice chair of Woking constituency Labour Party – is that her? Very odd.

Welsh Labour: One Big, Happy, And Incestuous Family

Two important and encouraging pieces of news today, and both damaging to the Labour Party or, as its local manifestation prefers, ‘Welsh Labour’. I welcome this because all my life I have dreamed of seeing the Labour Party broken, its control over our country destroyed.

It has become evident to me of late that – perhaps due to English politics being so dull – a number of England’s political commentators have begun to look over the border, and they’ve been amazed at what they’ve found. Basically, a third world country on their very doorstep. Not just poor, but also corrupt. In the past few weeks alone, we’ve had Mark Easton of the BBC trek to darkest Blaenau Gwent, his filmed visit followed by a blog posting which in turn prompted a response from Sarah Bees. (Who she?) In addition, there has been increasing notice taken by important bloggers such as Guido Fawkes, most recently with this piece about the Michael dynasty. Then, to fill my my cup to overflowing, today we heard of collars being felt in Caerphilly, a Labour fiefdom again since last year’s elections. Oh happy day!

Without stating it, Mark Easton’s little film was a condemnation of the Labour Party. The party that has controlled the Heads of the Valleys for a century and the Welsh Assembly since 1999. The party that chooses to use Welsh deprivation to blame the Tories and garner votes, then provide funding for its cronies in the Third Sector. In fact, anything but tackle the problem – cos there ain’t no mileage in that for Labour.Alun Michael

Turning to the Michael clan, it might be worth reminding younger readers that once upon a time Alun Michael was top man in the Assembly, before Rhodri Morgan took over. In fact, Alun Michael was pushed into the job by his bosses in London so that Rhodri Morgan couldn’t take over. It may have been this episode that made Michael realise that selection processes and the will of party members could be overridden. (Though it did not work out for him in the Assembly.)

Last year Alun Michael resigned as MP for Cardiff South and Penarth, and ensured he was succeeded by Steven Doughty, the son of a long-time friend. Michael stood down to run for the newly-created post of Police and Crime Commissioner for the South Wales Police area. He was elected. His son, Tal, standing for the North Wales Police area, was not so fortunate. But the boy done bounced back . . . now he is the Labour Party candidate for Anglesey in the August 1 Assembly by-election to replace Ieuan Wyn Jones. Though dark mutterings are being heard from the bruvvers about a stitch-up. Oh, and did I mention that Tal’s wife Mary (Wimbury) is the Labour candidate in Aberconwy for the 2015 elections to the imperial parliament? (Competition at last for the Kinnock clan!)

Alun Michael is the stereotypical Welsh Labour politico. After migrating to the Lesser Wen from the frozen north he worked for a short time as a reporter before becoming a yoof and community worker for 16 years. In 1972, aged 29, he was made a JP. A year later he became a councillor, and in 1987 became MP for Cardiff South and Penarth following the retirement of Jim Callaghan. So he seems never to have done a ‘real’ job. After a lifetime spent climbing the greasy pole he must feel the party owes him a few favours.

Returning to Caerphilly, more fun and games. It emerged a while back that the council, or a small caucus of councillors, had agreed to greatly increase the salaries of the chief executive and 20 other senior officers . . . this done at the suggestion of the chief executive, Anthony O’Sullivan . . . with the decision ‘taken’ at a meeting at which he was present throughout. Now readers outside of Wales might find this way of doing things a little odd, but bear with me, we are talking Welsh Labour here (to help you, just think of those comforting TV programmes about criminals getting caught due to their own stupidity). Then there was the business of the car payment allowances. Anyway, things came to a head today when the already suspended Mr O’Sullivan was arrested, as was his deputy. As yet, no Labour councillor has been arrested. As yet.

Anthony O'SullivanI’ve thought about this case, and tried to visualise what happened, but it’s not easy. O’Sullivan and his gang are all, theoretically, employees of the council, made manifest in the collective and impressive bulk of the ruling Labour group on Caerphilly council. This being so, they should have submitted a request for salary increases and argued their case in the normal way. But no, something totally different happened. Maybe something like this: ‘Me an’ the boys been talking . . . we’ve decided we’re worth more than you are paying us. So you’re gonna make us an offer we can’t refuse. Capice?’ (Or have I watched the Godfather too many times?)

Maybe I’m being too optimistic, but when I put this together with other Labour news from around the country, such as Swansea’s anybody-but-locals council, or the Nazi-Soviet pact running Carmarthenshire, I can’t help but feel a little frisson, for I see the monolith cracking. I see a party unable to find local candidates with IQ higher than waist measurement; a party that ‘controls’ councils that are in fact run by the employees (most from outside Wales); a party that capitalises on Welsh deprivation to ‘send messages to London’ rather than dealing with that deprivation; a party happy to ally itself with closet Tories; a party now further to the Right than it has ever previously been; a party refusing to do what’s best for Wales lest it succeed, and excite nationalist passions; a party reliant for support on the most dispirited and uncritical element of the nation.

It would be tempting to look at the situation now and compare it with the political scene a century ago. Then, the Liberal Party came to the end of its long reign in Wales and was replaced by Labour. Labour today is perhaps in a worse position than the Liberals were a hundred years ago. After all, the Liberals had an up-and-coming David Lloyd George. Labour has no one of that stature, or political cunning. But perhaps the real difference is that today we have a party dead on its feet, devoid of ideas, believing in power for its own sake and nothing more, that can continue to dominate Wales because there is no viable or attractive alternative.

A Jack Ponders Cardiff’s Promotion

I have almost enjoyed reading the Wasting Mule’s coverage this week of Cardiff’s promotion to the Premier League. It has been relatively restrained, almost balanced. There has been no ‘Bigger than Barcelona’ nonsense, and no insulting attempts to suggest that all Welsh people should support the club. Maybe that all belongs to the era of previous owner Sam Hammam and the excitable Paul Abbandonato acting as his amanuensis. I hope so. Here are my thoughts on Cardiff’s achievement and prospects.

CardiffBadge_250x3_1522755aLet me start by saying – and there is no way of avoiding this – that the quality of the teams in the Championship this year, and consequently the standard of the football played, has been pretty poor. Every time Cardiff faltered the chasing pack went into collective foot-shooting mode. But they proved capable of screwing up even without Cardiff getting them in a tizzy. Last night, for example, Hull had the chance, at home to bottom club Bristol City, of securing second place and automatic promotion, but could only eke out an embarrassing 0 – 0 draw. This lack of quality in the Championship this season will not prepare Cardiff well for the much more testing Premier League next season.

Inevitably, there have been comparisons with Swansea. One theory propounded by more than one I’ve read is that Cardiff are guaranteed more success than the Swans because Cardiff is bigger, or has a bigger ‘catchment area’. Rhodri Morgan, in his Wasting Mule column today,* seemed to be arguing that Cardiff will be successful because of “the chimney pots issue”! Then he went on to say, “Provided Cardiff establishes itself in the top tier, that status will be enormously helpful in attracting conferences and tourists to Cardiff, in competition with Edinburgh, Dublin, Bristol and top European cities”. (Barcelona?)

Though if that linkage of Premiership status and international recognition were true, then when can we expect to see the G8 meeting in Sunderland, or the Bilderbergers gathering (behind closed doors, of course) in Stoke-on-Trent? The truth is that sporting success and economic prosperity have little influence on each other. Just think East Germany. And if that’s not enough to convince you then remind yourself that during the time Liverpool FC was the most successful club in Europe the city was in permanent and almost terminal economic decline. On the other side of the coin, Munich and Milan would be prosperous cities even without successful football clubs.

If comparisons favourable to Cardiff have been made in terms of size and catchment areas, one aspect of the game the ‘Welsh’ media has been somewhat more reluctant to explore is the financial models of the two clubs. After nearly CCFCgoing out of business a decade ago, the Swans were rescued by a consortium of local businessmen determined to run the club responsibly. The fans also have a big share in the club’s ownership, and a director on the Board. Last month the club posted a profit of £15.9m for the second half of 2012. (And this figure does not include the potential sale value of the players.) Swansea City Football Club is therefore locally owned, responsibly run, does not pay outlandish transfer fees or exorbitant wages, makes modest profits, and does not owe a penny to anyone. By comparison, Cardiff is owned by Vincent Tan, a Malaysian businessman no one had heard of a couple of years ago (and had probably not heard of Cardiff), and is said to still owe tens of millions of pounds to various creditors, including Sam Hammam. According to a reader’s letter in today’s WM, the figure is £83.1m.

Whatever the true figure, Vincent Tan has promised Malky Mackay £25m for new players in the close season. Which sounds good . . . until you remember that Queens Park Rangers have spent much more than that on players this season, and they are bottom of the Premier League tonight, virtually guaranteed to be relegated. Let’s now go beyond finances to look at other aspects of the two clubs.

Swansea have consistently been praised for their continental, possession style, of play. But this didn’t happen overnight. The club’s owners not only decided on a new financial model but also a different style of playing the game. What you see today began with the managership of Roberto Martinez, continued under Paulo Sousa, then Brendan Rogers, and now Michael Laudrup. A multilingual Spaniard, A multilingual Portuguese, an Irishman who speaks fluent Spanish, and a Dane who was one of the greatest players of his generation, speaks Italian and Spanish, and is a great ‘pull’ for players who might not otherwise come to Swansea. By comparison, and with the best will in the world, I don’t think Cardiff have the continental contacts to land a player like Michu for £2m. And excellent manager though he might be, Malky Mackay is unknown on the continent, and therefore has no reputation to trade on.

Aside from comparisons of Swansea and Cardiff, there is another issue worth considering. There have been background rumblings about Swansea’s ‘right’, as a Welsh club, to be in the English Premiership; and this can only increase now that there are two Welsh clubs there. The noises won’t come from Manchester United or Chelsea, but from those ‘big’ clubs that have known better days, but now find themselves in the Championship, or even lower. And with English particularism on the rise, perhaps we can anticipate Nigel Farage chasing votes by banging the ‘Welsh Out!’ drum in cities such as Leeds, Nottingham, Derby and Leicester. A bit far-fetched, maybe; but I still predict that those who objected to the presence of one Welsh club in the Premier League can only become more vocal now there are two. And maybe they’ll attract new voices. If so, then this could have unforeseeable consequences.

I wish Cardiff City well, and I’m looking forward to the Swans’ games against them next season, but I urge the Cardiff fans not to get carried away. Enjoy the promotion success by all means, but also remember that reaching the Premier League can be the easy bit . . . it’s staying there that’s usually the problem. Just ask Blackpool, QPR, or half the teams you’re leaving behind in the Championship. Now for the really serious bit. As a Swans fan I know that whatever else might befall the club, it’s in safe hands and almost guaranteed to stay solvent. But if I was a Cardiff fan, my biggest worry would be, what would happen if Vincent Tan went bankrupt or just decided to walk away?

 

* The print version was somewhat less restrained, and headed: ‘Bluebirds’ boost could transform our capital into a roaring Celtic Tiger’. (That’s more like it! Move over Barcelona!)