Llais y Sais last Saturday published a curious report – presumably written by Martin Shipton – of a speech made to the Welsh Conservative Spring Conference by Secretary of State for Wales, Alun Cairns (below).
It was almost in the form of an apologia, though of course Cairns didn’t write the article himself. The piece was clearly a response to the criticism he’s received over ‘his’ decision to rename the Second Severn Crossing the Prince of Wales Bridge.
In this post I shall examine what he said and then give my interpretations and opinions.
Let’s start with Cairns’ reference to “the important connections Wales has with the Royal Family”. These were helpfully listed in the article: Welsh gold, Felinfoel beer and Pembrokeshire corgis. Let’s take them one by one.
Gold. During the Roman empire there were people across Europe wearing Welsh gold. So all this ‘connection’ tells us is that Wales has gold and people like wearing gold. And if I’m not mistaken, the English royals don’t even pay for theirs.
Beer. So Big Ears likes a drop of Feelingfoul (so we’re told), but then he and the rest of his family pretend to like all sorts of things to please people, that’s their job. And there must be a good geographical spread – Pontefract cakes, Highland whisky, Cornish pasties, etc., etc.
Pembrokeshire corgis. Is this supposed to prove love for Wales, or Pembrokeshire? I used to have Airedales, but I didn’t break into Ilkla Moor baht ‘at at the drop of a flat cap.
Let’s be honest, these are not meaningful ‘connections’, this is clutching at straws. So let’s move on.
The Bridge inevitably figures strongly in his oration, as does his beloved Severnside, which he described as a “cross-border economic region”, and went on to laud:
A financial services sector worth £2.5bn a year.
A creative industry cluster employing 15,000 people, including the BBC drama village in Cardiff Bay and its Natural History Unit in Bristol.
The world’s largest compound semiconductor cluster in Newport working with quantum technology at Bristol University.
Nine universities with nearly 170,000 students, three of which are members of the Russell Group.
The new Qatar Airlines link to Doha which put Cardiff at the heart of this new economic region on the western side of the UK.
Again, desperate stuff, with the claims unclear or impossible to justify.
For example, what does “worth £2.5bn a year” mean? Who calculated that figure?
“Nine universities with nearly 170,000 students” might sound impressive, until you realise that it’s too many of both. Universities are now businesses, turning out too many unemployable young people with degrees nobody wants and debts most of them will never pay off.
But where the wee man went for broke was in having the nerve to mention Cardiff airport after not so long ago prioritising the interests of Bristol airport by refusing to devolve Air Passenger Duty, despite Cardiff Wales airport being in his Vale of Glamorgan constituency!
And as for Qatar Airlines, let’s wait and see what ‘inducements’ were offered by Carwyn Jones and his band of economic whizz-kids. Because some argue that no company using the airport pays its whack, and the ‘Welsh’ Government has to bribe and beg users to come, and then bribe them to stay.
Cairns believes Severnside should be “learning from and achieving the same dynamism as the north Wales/North West axis”. So how’s that working out?
Investment and employment goes to north west England but northern Wales builds thousands of new homes for those wishing to move out of Greater Manchester and Merseyside but who find no welcome in Cheshire communities fearful of over-development resulting in falling property values.
In addition, the decaying towns of the littoral – particularly Rhyl – will continue their decline as more and more of England’s underclass and criminal elements are dumped there
In addition to commuters and degenerates the north can expect the flood of elderly people to continue until our NHS and social services finally collapse under the strain.
The ‘achievements’ of the Mersey-Dee Alliance are nothing to crow about, much less emulate.
Cairns’ ended his speech with: “The socialist and nationalist parochial and protectionist agenda lacks confidence in our people and stifles the innovation and entrepreneurialism they show. Now, more than ever, we must be confident and outward-looking”.
And this remember was said by a representative of a BritNat government withdrawing inelegantly from the EU, deporting people who’ve lived here for decades, and exploring all sorts of measures to stop Johnny Foreigner coming to live here in the first place.
It would be easy to laugh, but it’s too serious for that.
There are countless synonyms for union: association, alliance, harmony, concord are just a few. Whether it’s a plumbing part or marriage, whether we consider the USA or the Farmers Union of Wales, a union brings together two or more parts for the mutual and equal benefit of those entering into or joining the union.
And yet, by any criterion we apply, Wales is worse off than England, and the gap between us widens every year. Significantly, perhaps, Scotland was not a lot better, but in recent years Scotland’s economy, health service and so many other yardsticks used to measure a country’s well-being have improved relative to England, and left Wales lagging further behind.
Which means that if Alun Cairns was defending the Union then he would be fighting to ensure that Llanelli was as prosperous as Weybridge; that Wales did not lose out in spending on railways and other infrastructure; that we received fair payment for the water that is taken, the electricity exported, that Air Passenger Duty is devolved, and many other things.
But he does none of this, he simply defends the inequalities that make a mockery of the term ‘Union’ with insulting nonsense about corgis and beer. Proving that this is no union as that word is globally understood. It is clearly some other form of political arrangement, one that is less than equal, and this explains why Wales is so much poorer than England.
It is often at this point that the cavalry of the Brit left rides over the hill with, ‘Ah, but there are deprived towns and cities in England – have you ever been to Stoke on Trent, or Blackpool? ‘ Er, yes, I have, but so what? These and all the other run-down towns and districts are England’s problem, and can be remedied with better distribution of the wealth England so obviously possesses.
Wales has no such wealth to distribute, and will never be treated as an equal member of a Union. Wales suffers because she is different; we know it and the difference is recognised by the English, and acknowledged in more ways than the casual racism that has become the norm.
Having mentioned the Brit left in Wales, let’s also remember its foundation myth, which relates how Wales came into existence with the Industrial Revolution, emerging from the void. The same Brit left that has collaborated with Alun Cairns and his predecessors to undermine and impoverish Wales for over a century in order to maintain its fiefdom.
There is no measurable or practical difference between the Labour and Conservative parties in Wales, both seek to keep Wales a colony of England. Making this non-Union they both defend nothing less than a crude and increasingly obvious form of internal colonialism from which they benefit so well.
In addition to the managed decline of our post-industrial areas we see social engineering in our rural areas, accompanied by the ridicule of our language, the changing of our place names, adding up to the destruction of our national identity. All done under the guise of tourism and other idiocies that deliver nothing but minority status for us in our own land.
Political debate in Wales must no longer be shaped by the false paradigm of left and right but by whether Wales remains an impoverished and exploited colony of England or whether we make Wales the country she should be, through independence.
To conclude, Alun Cairns is clearly no Unionist, for you cannot defend what does not exist; Cairns is simply putting a gloss on colonialism and exploitation founded in racism. Which makes him nothing more than a willing mouthpiece for his political masters and his social superiors; those whose predecessors – and not so long ago – traded slaves, and sent children down coal mines.
This cannot continue, the Wales we love will not long survive this system of colonialism. But there is hope, for a new force is emerging in Welsh politics. If you want to be part of this fight against colonialism, this drive for independence, then show your support for Ein Gwlad today.
My attention was drawn last Saturday morning to a very curious story on the BBC Wales website. Telling of some woman named Miranda Whall who has been crawling around on all fours in the hills inland of Aberystwyth (apparently sober!). Read it for yourself.
My instant, and characteristically cynical, reaction, put out on Twitter, was, “Rarely does one encounter such unutterable bollocks. There must be grant funding involved somewhere”.
Sure enough, I was very soon sent evidence that this stunt had netted £25,000 from the Lottery. Was there also money from other sources?
According to the BBC Wales report the inspiration for this stunt ground-breaking transhuman art “came to Miranda in 2015 after reading a book called The Living Mountain by Nan Shepherd, which explores life in the Scottish Cairngorms. (Are there other Cairngorms?) She said: ‘Nan Shepherd wrote about immersing herself in the mountains and opening up her imagination to rethink how we look at them’.”
Let’s be honest – which of us hasn’t felt that same urge to rush into the hills and become one with our woolly compatriots. (Not a reference to the Liberal Democrats.) Many of us do it regularly . . . and some get caught. But enough of that.
The BBC article, by Gwyneth Rees, also provided a link to a video on the Vimeo platform by the Rhys Thwaites-Jones whose photograph I’ve used above. The video is called Woolly Maggot. Which I suppose makes sense to somebody.
Further information received directed me to an article in the Daily Mail telling of someone pretending to be a goat in the Swiss Alps back in 2015. Here it is. The article tells us that being a goat was not Thomas Thwaites’ first choice: ‘I initially wanted to be an elephant, but it wasn’t going very well,’ said Thwaites. ‘I visited a shaman, and she said “you’re an idiot”. So, I decided to be a goat.’
I suggest Thwaites thanks the shaman. Trying to mix in with a herd of elephants could have ended a lot worse than scraped knees and Swiss shepherds wetting their lederhosen. The lions would definitely have targeted him as the weak one in the herd.
Thwaites was funded in this nonsense by the Wellcome Trust to the tune of £30,000 for five months. A paid holiday in the Alps is nice work if you can get it. If you class it as work, that is.
At this point, might it be worth speculating that Rhys Thwaites-Jones is married to the sister of goat man Thomas Thwaites? And, as a consequence, that Miranda Whall’s inspiration came from the brother-in-law of the guy who made her video, rather than some crazy old bat up in the hielands.
Or is there a clique of them – a flock? a herd? – out there looking for sponsors? There certainly seems to be plenty of money out there for anybody who can come up with an idiotic and self-indulgent project that ticks the right boxes.
Personally, I’m thinking of applying for a grant to imagine myself as an Argentine wine drinker. For which I shall need to live in Argentina for a while (take in a few football games, the odd asado, tango lessons with bosomy Argie matrons) and then, to satisfy the funders, make a film of me getting pissed really getting into the role and attending a rally to demand the return of the Malvinas.
It’ll be hard, but I promise to give it my best shot.
Finally, for anyone who might have been wondering, Miranda was trying to pass herself off as a sheep during the summer months, before the rams are brought in to do their stuff. Just as well, I suppose, otherwise Miranda might have found out what it’s like to be sheep in ways she hadn’t planned.
On the plus side, it would have been far more authentic and given Rhys Thwaites-Jones a much more interesting video. The boy could have made a fortune on YouTube. (And certain websites I’m informed cater for that sort of thing.)
CHAD AND BRAD MOVE TO RHYL
Regular readers will know that over many years I have questioned the practice of dumping England’s criminals and degenerates on the north coast. Rhyl being the town worst affected.
Were the local authority and police made aware that two dangerous little thugs had (been) moved onto their patch?
On the assumption that North Wales Police must know about this unending influx, does the force get payments to cover the extra work involved, and if so, where do these payments come from?
Why are local politicians so easy-going about a regular influx of violent people that endanger, and indeed murder and assault their constituents?
Why have journalists written up their reports as if these criminals were local? Or is the decision to hide the origin taken at an editorial level?
Chief Inspector Neil Harrison of North Wales Police commented on the case, “We are determined to maintain a safe North Wales and will always pursue those who bring harm to our communities.” If he’s serious then he and North Wales Police will do something to stop the dumping of scum like this in Wales.
The bottom line here is that ‘re-locating’ England’s rejects in Wales would be much less likely to happen if we had our own legal system. Because do you think Scotland accepts English criminals? The fact that Wales suffers dumping on an industrial scale is one of the reasons London refuses us a separate legal system.
Next time the issue comes up in Westminster I want Welsh MPs to remember all the people in Wales who have been killed, raped, robbed and assaulted by criminals who wouldn’t have been in our country if we had our own jurisdiction.
WOODY ALLEN LOOKALIKE DEFENDS ROD LIDDLE AND FEDOR THE ‘JUGONOSTALGIC’ JOINS IN
The fall-out from Alun Cairns’ announcement that the second Severn Crossing will be officially named the Prince of Wales Bridge continues.
We’re all familiar with the defence used by Liddle, Delingpole and others too numerous to name. We Welsh lack a sense of humour, we are told to ‘get a life’, and most important of all, by defending ourselves we are attacking someone else’s freedom to express themselves.
Which is where I would normally agree with our detractors, for I have always opposed political correctness and the censorship that goes with it.
But those we are discussing are not really defending freedom of speech. What they are defending is the right of an extreme form of English nationalism to say whatever it likes about minorities in these islands, be they ‘minorities’ that pre-date the arrival of the English or minorities here as a result of England’s imperial past.
For no matter how measured and urbane the likes of Delingpole may appear, beneath the surface there writhes a shield-beating Beowulf trying to break out and slay the Grendels defiling their land.
This is no more than we can expect from English writers, but perhaps the most bizarre and insulting defence of Cairns’ decision came from within Wales. I’m referring now to a piece on the Wales Arts Review by Fedor Tot.
‘Who he?’ you demand. Well, Tot describes himself on his Twitter account @redrightman (which uses a picture of a fag-smoking Tito) as a “Serbian-born, Welsh-raised. Yugonostalgic. Probable Comemeunist.” Make of that what you will.
Despite prefacing his piece with, “The decision to rename the Severn Bridge as the Prince of Wales Bridge to is by all means a silly and empty one, one designed purely as a meaningless PR exercise for Tory powers in Westminster, who have no interest in Wales other than as a resource for cheap sheep jokes and the occasional seat. It is a vacuous symbol of valueless political power” he then goes on to attack those opposing this “vacuous symbol” and links them with fascists!
Tot is a Serb, and like many Serbs he suffers from motes and beams, blaming ‘nationalism’ – on the part of Croats, Slovenes, Albanians, Muslims and others – for the break-up of Jugoslavia, but is himself blind to Serbian nationalism. It’s as if the ruling or majority group in a multi-national state can never be guilty of nationalism because it seeks to hold the state together against the centrifugal forces of peripheral nationalisms.
He seems unable to grasp that those seeking to hold such states together are themselves motivated by selfish and nationalistic reasons. The difference being that Jugoslavia was cobbled together after World War One and the Serbs didn’t have enough time to confuse Serbian identity with Jugoslav identity in the way that the English have done, to the extent of Englishness and Britishness now being synonymous and interchangeable.
This explains why Tot can attack us for being nationalistic in opposing the PoW Bridge but make only passing reference to the British nationalism explicit in the naming. (Though I suppose that the confused and unproofread intro could be the work of someone else.)
Though the boy shows promise as a political commentator with this observation: “I would like to clarify for a second here: I do not consider the majority of Plaid Cymru to be a nationalist party, and neither should it consider calling itself a nationalist party, despite the common usage of the term ‘civic nationalism’. Rather what Plaid calls for is something that’s better off being called regionalism or autonomism, as it promotes economic and political independence based on the existence of a region traditionally ignored by centralised powers, a response I very much respect and agree with.”
Chwarae teg, Fedor.
It may be no coincidence that Fedor Tot’s rather silly and insulting piece appeared on the website of the Wales Arts Council, a Cardiff organisation that relies on the ‘Welsh’ Government for much of its funding. I ask you to note that fact because Fedor Tot’s piece was nothing but a reiteration of the BritNat line.
It was the nationalism of the state, be it Britain or Jugoslavia.
P.S. Fedor Tot wants me to make it clear that he is not a Serbian nationalist. Fair enough, I’m happy to do that.
But he describes himself as a Yugonostalgic, in that he yearns for the old Jugoslavia. But Jugoslavia was Serbia’s little empire, held together by the power of Serbian nationalism; as soon as they could, the other nationalities got out.
So what is he nostalgic for? Tell us, Fedor.
‘NUFFIN TO SEE HERE, GUV’
If what I’m hearing is true, then a terrible crime has been perpetrated in the Vale of Glamorgan.
Rubicon could be a kosher outfit, on the other hand it could be the kind of company that – for a price – will find nothing to impede developers.
I urge you to watch the video and draw your own conclusions. Then, if, like me, you feel that an insult of national significance has been perpetrated I’d like you to contact the politicians who seem to have given the green light to this desecration or else may be minded to stop it and save what can be salvaged.
Given that it is our history, and people living in Wales today are descended from those who lived on this site, those whose remains were treated with contempt, this may explain why local archaeologists were not employed. Come to that, who was responsible for hiring an ‘archaeology’ company from God knows where teetering on the brink of liquidation? Or were those the attractions of Rubicon Heritage Services?
Make your voice heard. Demand answers as to who gave the order for a ‘road-widening’ project to exceed its planning consent and destroy a valuable Bronze Age, Iron Age, possibly Neolithic site.
AND FINALLY . . .
Carwyn Jones has thrown in the towel, though I’m at a loss to understand why anyone was surprised by the announcement he made last weekend at the ‘Welsh’ Labour conference. He’s been doomed since Carl Sargeant’s suicide on November 7th and the evidence started emerging about the role of lobbyists Deryn and other parties.
The hot favourite to replace him as Labour leader and First Minister is Mark Drakeford, the Assembly Member for Cardiff West, just. For at the last Assembly election in May 2016 Drakeford was given a nasty shock by local councillor Neil McEvoy standing for Plaid Cymru.
Although he didn’t win Cardiff West Neil McEvoy made it to the Assembly as Regional Member for South Wales Central.
Now whoever leads the Labour Party in Wales is expected to be a constituency (rather than a regional) AM; he or she is also expected to have a solid majority in order to be able to concentrate on being leader rather than having to worry about holding on to their seat.
But if the trend evident in 2016 is repeated in 2021 then Drakeford might not be elected. For Neil McEvoy is a man on the rise . . . or was until his own party decided to sabotage his political career. Let’s look at the chronology.
By June 2017 it was widely believed that Carwyn Jones was preparing to stand down in the near future. This report lists four potential successors, but Drakeford is not among them.
In less than a year, the threat of losing in 2021 to Neil McEvoy is removed and Drakeford emerges from obscurity to be the shoe-in successor to Carwyn Jones. Whether by accident or design the engineered downfall of Neil McEvoy parallels the emergence of his rival in Cardiff West to be the next First Minister of Wales. Funny old game, politics, innit?
“I’m the unity candidate” says the headline in this report, but Drakeford might also be the Plaid Cymru candidate.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Not so long ago I wrote about the Pen y Cymoedd wind farm project, and developer Vattenfall’s use of bribery to win over or silence the local populace. (Click here and scroll down to the section Vattenfall of Money.) Well now I know the route by which the turbines for Pen y Cymoedd will be arriving . . . from China. Yes, China.
Because despite what it says on the Pen y Cymoedd website about, “Siemens, our turbine supplier”, they were not made in Germany, or anywhere else in Europe. We have here a Swedish nationalised industry with a German partner importing wind turbines from China! A journey of some 10,000 nautical miles by the quickest route and taking 22 days at 20 knots. Twenty-two days of a huge ship belching smoke, spilling oil, ‘accidentally’ emptying the bilges, and all manner of things falling overboard.
Though in fairness, it is suggested that these turbines, each in three sections (plus blades and spindle), will be shipped from China to Immingham (the major container port just south of Hull) in one consignment, before being broken down into smaller cargoes for trans-shipping to Swansea. The distance from Immingham to Swansea is 606 nautical miles so if, as suggested, coastal vessels are used, each carrying the component parts of a single turbine, this adds up to a further 92,000 nautical miles (counting return trips)!
With its turbines shipped in from China to Immingham and then shipped on to Swansea, with a total distance covered of some 102,000 nautical miles (plus 532 return lorry trips between Swansea docks and Rhigos), the Pen y Cymoedd wind farm project has the environmental credentials of a dozen coal-fired power stations, each run by a thousand spectacularly flatulent cows. Perhaps we might get a comment on this from La Bartolotti or those competing to succeed her as regional mouthpiece for the Green Party of Englandandwales.
Consider this, also . . . The European steel industry is suffering from Chinese steel being ‘dumped’ on the global market at prices with which European producers cannot compete. These Chinese-made turbines for Pen y Cymoedd will be landed in Lincolnshire, yet just a few months ago, and not far south of Immingham, it was announced that steel production will cease at Redcar with the loss of 1,700 jobs, and there are to be more redundancies at Scunthorpe. On top of which, the turbines are to be landed at Swansea docks, within sight of Port Talbot steelworks! Insult upon injury.
The turbines for Pen y Cymoedd are built in a country where environmental considerations are laughed at, then lugged across oceans, around coasts, and up steep gradients, before each of them is implanted in a concrete base the size of a football pitch in what had previously been virgin moorland. These turbines will provide no permanent jobs in Wales and the profits they generate will go to Sweden or Germany. All we shall see is the annual bribe, the pretty beads paid to the backward natives while their land is raped, again.
Let’s face it, ‘Green energy’ is a massive con. And few projects are proving to be a bigger, or a more insulting con, than Pen y Cymoedd. The turbines there will probably have to run for about 300 years just to pay off the ‘debt’ to the environment incurred by making and transporting the bloody things.
UPDATE 21:00: On Friday the 4th, a few days before posting this, I sent an e-mail to Vattenfall at Pen y Cymoedd asking where the turbines for the site were made. This afternoon I received a ‘phone call from Emily Faull of Vattenfall, a charming young lady who was able to give me a few more facts.
First, she confirmed that the turbine towers were made in China, but the blades and the spindles were made in Denmark and Germany. When I asked whether the turbines had come in through Immingham Ms Faull said no, and that on November 22nd she was at Swansea docks to see “64 sections” arrive on the good ship Amethyst from China. Though if this is the right ship, then it does not appear to have docked in Swansea on November 22nd, though at that time it was en route from Spain to the Netherlands.
Whatever, 64 sections represents 16 turbines (they come in 4 sections, not 3 as I thought), so there would still need to be another four similar voyages to bring the rest of them from China. Though Ms Faull was able to confirm that the transformers were landed at Immingham, and moved by road to Pen y Cymoedd. I’m not sure where the blades and spindles were landed, or how they reached Pen y Cymoedd if they weren’t landed at Swansea.
In a part of the conversation I had some difficulty following, Ms Faull said that it had been hoped to build the turbines at the Mabey Bridge works in Chepstow, but Mabey Bridge felt it was not worth taking on workers only to lay them off again after the Pen y Cymoedd contract was completed. There was also mention of the ‘Welsh’ Government, but what role those clowns played I have no idea.
I have sent Ms Faull another e-mail (07.12.2015) to clarify the remaining details.
UPDATE 18.12.2016: I received the reply today from Ms Faull. It reads:
“Many thanks for your email and apologies for the delay in responding.
Amesthyst landed on 22nd November and I visited the ship on 24th November. The attached photo was taken at Swansea Docks on 23rd November and 64 tower sections were on board. The remaining tower sections will also come via this route. As I said on the call Mabey Bridge were lined up for the tower manufacture, but subsequently withdrew from the bidding process.
The ship came from China and the only stops required would have been for refuelling and personnel changes.
The blades have not yet been shipped, but 192 of these will come from Denmark, with 26 coming from Canada and will again be off-loaded at Swansea Docks.
The size of the wind farm means that means that the operations and maintenance team of around 30 individuals will be based on-site and early next year the team will make a special effort to recruit skilled individuals locally.
With regards to the transformers, these were manufactured at ABB in Bad Honnef, Germany, each of which weigh in at around 125,000 kg and are around 6 metres wide and 8 metres long.”
So in addition to China, Denmark and Germany, we now have components for Pen y Cymoedd also coming from Canada. The environmental credentials of this project, never good, are now compromised beyond redemption. The jobs referred to “early next year”, for which it is hoped to recruit some locals, is not a “maintenance team” at all, this team is on site solely for the erection and installation of the turbines. Once that’s done there will probably be no jobs at Pen y Cymoedd.
The Pen y Cymoedd wind farm is all about money, it’s not about the environment, or even about the generation of electricity. The hundreds of thousands of miles taken up in transporting the components from around the world, by sea and by land, means that the project’s contribution to the environment is entirely negative even if it were to run at optimum output for centuries. Pen y Cymoedd is the most blatant ‘green energy’ rip-off I have ever encountered.
ABERYSTWYTH, THE NEXT RHYL?
Some of you may recall reading about five or so years ago that there was a terrible shortage of student accommodation in Aberystwyth, the poor dabs were dossing on the promenade, or else the lack of accommodation had driven them to outlandish places such as Corris where, it was rumoured, locals stared at strangers. Here’s one tale from the BBC in August 2011, and another from Aber Student Media a month later.
To answer this shortage of accommodation there seem to have been three separate responses. One was the university itself embarking on a building programme of ‘student villages’. The second response was that of investors buying up more large properties in the town for student lodgings. Third, local housing associations got in on the act – using public money, of course.
But now I hear that the bubble has burst, leaving the university with under-occupied ‘student villages’ that make 1960s East German architecture look attractive; private investors with Houses of Multiple Occupation suffering a dearth of multiple occupants; and overstretched housing associations . . . for example, the word on the street is that Tai Cantref is already docked up Shit Creek with its crew roistering in local taverns.
What had once been attractive and easy-going Aberystwyth University, three years by the seaside for an undemanding 2:2, started slipping down the league tables a few years ago. In July 2014 the decline was being reported in the Times Higher Education Supplement and by October even the students were getting worried. The continuing decline was reported in May 2015. Inevitably, this resulted in a drop in the numbers of students applying to Aber’ – at the same time as there was more accommodation for them than ever. What to do?
I suggest one doesn’t need to be a soothsayer to predict that with so many properties now available in a Welsh seaside town, properties almost all of which are designed to house single people, it’s only a matter of time before the problems start arriving from over the border. (Thank God there’s still a railway line from Birmingham to Aberystwyth.) I’m thinking now of the drug addicts and the petty criminals, and of course those recently released from prison, because some of the bigger properties in the town will be ideal as ‘halfway houses’ and bail hostels. (See ‘Tragedy in Pontypridd’ below.)
All this results from Wales having a higher education sector that is too big, a higher education sector that has been encouraged to grow irresponsibly, with no reference to the effects of this unwarranted growth on host communities. While the universities willingly played along, adopting a ‘stack ’em high’ philosophy dictated by business models and profit margins that inevitably resulted in falling standards. Leaving Aberystwyth caught in a vicious circle, a refuge for third-rate academics and students who can’t gain admission elsewhere, with this inevitably deterring those who can read walls.
And now there may be a heavy price to pay. Which would be sad, because like most people, I’m very fond of Aberystwyth, I’ve had some good times there, drunk and sober. But if Aber’ is on its way to becoming the Rhyl of Cardigan Bay, in order to protect the investments of local big shots and housing associations, who will dare challenge this development?
A LETTER FROM CEREDIGION
It’s been a while since this blog visited Cardigan Castle, but Lady Tucker and friends have been busy, and the results will take the project even further from the trust’s stated objectives of preserving the place “for the benefit of the people of Cardigan and the nation”.
The main contractors, Andrew Scott Ltd, have long since departed with their loot, leaving a very long snagging list of botched jobs behind them. A professional painter and decorator who visited recently commented that it was hard to believe from the state of some of the paint and plasterwork that the site had been handed over little more than six months ago.
But the departure of Andrew Scott has not meant that building work has ceased. Tucked away behind the main house and a small cottage is an outbuilding which was renovated by Andrew Scott Ltd to serve as a garage for guests staying in the 5 star self-catering East Wing. This is now being converted into accommodation for disabled visitors, and when it is finished early next year, it will join the three B&B rooms above the usually empty restaurant, the East Wing (sleeps six) and the Gardener’s Cottage (sleeps two).
And there are more exciting developments on the drawing board.
The old stable block which was restored from its ruined state at huge expense to serve educational purposes has been ear-marked by Lady Tucker for conversion into yet more tourist accommodation. This will not come cheap, and expect building work to continue well into 2017.
Also offering exciting potential for reconversion into tourist accommodation is a small house over on the eastern fringe of the castle complex.
Converting these buildings will mean ejecting the current occupants, including a popular cynghanedd class, and the removal of the only locally based groups still using the site to be re-housed well away from the castle by mid-2016.
No longer will well-heeled paying guests have to face the awful prospect of mingling with scruffy locals speaking gibberish, and the Cadwgan Trust can get down to the serious business of marketing the place as luxury tourist accommodation and a venue for weddings and corporate jollies. Or what we locals call a posh hotel.
Paving the way for this is a Wedding Fayre on 6 December, a time of the year when all but the most self-obsessed brides and their mothers will have other things on their mind.
The cultural bit will be confined to a few events (Gilbert and Sullivan, Shakespeare, etc.) in the summer, while as a sideline, non-resident visitors willing to part with a fiver will be allowed in to gawp at the large expanse of lawn and spend a few minutes in the couple of rooms containing exhibitions of old tat. “Look Jeremy, a smashed up old 1940s typewriter which once belonged to the old girl who used to live here!”
After an injection of £12 million plus, including all the funds raised locally and countless thousands of hours of unpaid voluntary work, the people of Cardigan will find that just a year after opening, the castle will to all intents and purposes have reverted to being a private fiefdom, this time run by Lady T and her friends from Aberporth.
Other recent developments include a parting of ways with Equinox, the Cardiff-based firm which tried to steer the castle through the PR catastrophes which dominated much of 2015.
PR is now being handled in-house by Sue Lewis whose portfolio of responsibilities also includes “facilities”.
When not working for Cadwgan, Sue moonlights for the dire Cambrian News, which also employs her hubby to report on local news.
Not long after it ran its notorious “Incomers are Nazis says Plaid candidate” headline, the Cambrian News was at it again with a piece which suggested that Hefin Wyn, the respected local author, journalist and prominent critic of the Cadwgan Trust, had run a campaign of harassment and “virtual persecution” against Glen Johnson, who has resigned from Cadwgan’s board and various committees more often than most of us have had hot dinners.
It subsequently turned out that the newspaper had published these very serious accusations, including a claim that Mr Johnson was having to resign to protect his family, without actually checking the facts or asking the castle’s history man for evidence to back up his claims.
The paper has refused to disclose who wrote the offending article or to hand over to IPSO, the press complaints body, what it says are e-mails citing persecution and harassment it received from Glen Johnson some weeks later.
Whoever wrote the offending article, Sue has clearly been reading a copy of “Teach Yourself PR”, including Lesson One: The Importance of Creating a Narrative because it is now being put about that she feels threatened in Cardigan, and is reluctant even to drive in from Aberporth on her own.
The narrative is that critics of Cadwgan Trust are a bunch of dangerous bigots and fanatics who, we are asked to believe, are lurking behind every lamp post and municipal litter bin between Pendre and Pwllhai in this small market town.
If it’s not the wicked Hefin Wyn and the snipers Cyfeillion Rhys ap Gruffydd have posted above Siop y Cardi, it’s the stiletto-wielding assassins of Cymdeithas y Chwiorydd and the suicide bombers of Merched y Wawr.
We’ll probably be able to read all about it soon in “Wales’ biggest selling weekly newspaper”.
TRAGEDY IN PONTYPRIDD
Some of you will have read accounts from the trial of two men recently convicted of murder in Pontypridd. One of the killers, and the victim, were residents at the Morning Star Inn, on Llantrisant Road. (The second killer was said to be of no fixed abode, but I suspect he too has a connection with the Morning Star.) As you might expect, I got to wondering about the Morning Star, and it’s quite a story.
The Morning Star was, until closed after the murder on February 28th, run as both a pub and a bail hostel or halfway house for released criminals. Owned and / or run by “former Egyptian police officer Saad Taha”. Here’s a report from July 2013 of a public meeting organised so that various authorities and local politicians could hear locals voice their concerns about the Morning Star. They relate things they have witnessed first-hand only to be met with a wall of denials and evasions.
According to DePlod despite reports of knife-carrying, discarded needles and bad behaviour in and around the Morning Star “there is little evidence this came directly from the Morning Star”. Of course not, it was pure coincidence. The incredulity increased when I read that Taha wants us to believe that even though these ex-cons are living above a pub, they are not allowed to drink in the pub! I battled through this storm of bullshit and made further enquiries.
In July 2007 there was a planning application (07/1389/10) for a “raised patio / bar extension – beer garden”, and in March 2008 (08/0393/10) for a “rear balcony”. The first application was submitted in the name of a Mr D Watkins and the second in the name of Saad Taha, so is it reasonable to assume that the Morning Star was still being run as a pub in 2007 but the premises changed hands some time in late 2008 or early 2009 and was then run as both a pub and a halfway house? Both applications were withdrawn.
Next, on September 20th 2011, Taha made an application (11/1140/10) for “Conversion of existing bar areas into bedrooms (Change of use).- amended plan received 25/11/11 – reduction in total number of bedrooms from 17 to 16 – amended location plan received on 26/01/12.” With the first floor already being used to house ex-convicts it appears Taha now sought to convert the ground floor (pub) area and even the basement (cellar). This plan was very wisely turned down by RCT council.
But then, on December 14th, 2012, another application (12/1293/09) was lodged, “Application for a Lawful Development Certificate for an Existing use as a public house and hostel.” Which I take to mean that Taha was now asking for retrospective planning consent for a building already being used – without permission – as a hostel. Planning permission was refused.
I find it significant, and rather confusing, that in his rejected planning applications of September 2011 and December 2012 Taha is asking for a “change of use”. Also confusing, is that the earlier of those applications states that there are already 16 bedrooms at the Morning Star, yet according to the WalesOnline report of the July 2013 public meeting the place only has only “seven beds”. Which is right?
So here’s the question. Seeing as retrospective planning permission for a change of use to a hostel was refused in 2011 and 2012, why was the Morning Star allowed to operate as a hostel? Everybody in the area knew what the building was being used for, including the police and the council, so was it somehow allowed to operate as a hostel without the required planning permissions? If not, then perhaps someone at RCT council can direct me to the approval for the Morning Star to be used as a halfway house for criminals.
Another teaser is, who owns the Morning Star? Having checked on the Land Registry website using the correct post code I can find nothing under Morning Star or 59 Llantrisant Road. So we can’t be sure if Taha actually owns the property (as he claims) or if he’s merely an agent for someone else. Presumably Rhondda Cynon Taf council knows who owns this place, and if it is Saad Taha, why doesn’t he register his ownership with the Land Registry? He’s had long enough.
There’s something odd about the Morning Star saga. Not least, how does a former Egyptian copper end up running a halfway house in Ponty? And what checks were done into his background? Where do his ‘clients’ come from? And who supplies them?
Anyway, undeterred by the minor inconvenience of a man being beaten to death on the premises, and before those charged with the murder had been tried, Saad Taha was again thinking of profiting from the Morning Star when, on August 26th this year, he submitted a planning application (15/1170/10) that reads, “Proposed change of use from existing public house and bedrooms to 6 no. self contained flats”. Wording that raises yet more questions.
For example, why does it describe a home for ex-cons as “bedrooms”? Or is this more evidence that no permission was ever granted for the property to be used as a hostel? Though a bigger worry for the local residents should be, who is going to live in these flats? Given the record of Saad Taha, Rhondda Cynon Taf council, and the pooh-pooh police, locals have every reason to be concerned.
Let me start by establishing what I mean by a colony. A colony is a territory or country run in the interests of another country, and for the benefit of the elite or the population in general of that other country. The colony does not need to be far away, nor do its indigenes need to be of a different pigmentation or religion, what matters is the economic and other relationships between the two countries. By which criteria Wales is most definitely a colony of England.
Historically, we Welsh had to be conquered and brought under English rule a) because we resisted Anglo-Saxon / Anglo-Norman / English attempts to control the whole island of Britain and b) because we, as the original inhabitants of Britain, served to remind these invaders of our prior claim to their land as well as our own.
For centuries we suffered under a discriminatory legal system then, with the Industrial Revolution, we started to see Wales and the Welsh exploited in a more organised fashion, with the motive this time being profit rather than imperialist aggrandisement. In a modified form this system persists today, and although discrimination may no longer be on the statute book it still exists in myriad subtle forms.
Something I was reminded of recently with the re-surfacing of a story I’d been vaguely aware of before. A Welsh businessman named Clive Hughes had planned to build two biomass plants employing hundreds of people, one near Kidwelly, the other on Swansea docks, reported in the panel on the right (click to enlarge). It seems that Mr Hughes had no help in his endeavours from either Mark James Carmarthenshire council or the ‘Welsh’ Government. In fact, he received no reply after writing to First Minister Carwyn Jones.
The reason this story has re-surfaced is because Clive Hughes was understandably peeved to learn that while his projects were either ignored or refused planning permission, civil servants and councils are now falling over themselves to help Chinese investors build two biomass plants, one on Ynys Môn, the other in Port Talbot, just a few miles from his planned Swansea docks site.
Something Clive Hughes was quoted as saying hints at where I’m going with this example. He said, “I have been fortunate to have enjoyed successful multi-million-pound businesses all over the world – however, I have never been treated so badly as in my home county”.
How do we explain this curious tale of Welsh agencies refusing to support indigenous enterprise while generously supporting foreign investment – to do exactly the same thing! In a word, colonialism. (Yes, I know the report mentions nimbyism and “opposition from residents”, but believe me, it goes way beyond that.)
Clive Hughes was wasting his time appealing to Carwyn Jones, who is just a figurehead for a form of sham devolution. Wales – as I have said time and time gain – is run by civil servants, invariably masquerading as ‘advisors’ to Carwyn and his gang of deadbeats, and these civil servants take their orders from London. The wisdom for some years in London has been that it is a good thing to ‘open up’ the UK to foreign investment, particularly from China. Once you know that, then it’s easy to understand why no Welsh businessman will be allowed to queer the pitch for Chinese and other foreign investors.
A further example of the colonial economy at work is often articulated as the question, ‘Isn’t it strange how Welsh people (insert here, Terry Matthews, Chris Evanset al, or Clive Hughes) have to leave Wales to be successful?’ Er, no, there’s nothing strange about it, for two very good reasons. First, too many successful Welsh businesspeople might give us natives silly ideas about our ability to do things for ourselves. Second, any successful Welsh business is almost bound to come into competition with English companies. Both are undesirable in a colonial set up.
Of course after making his money in Canada Matthews returned to Wales and built the very successful Celtic Manor resort outside Newport. But the Celtic Manor poses no threat to the colonial arrangement. To begin with, it does not really compete with English rivals in the way that a company chasing consumers in a competitive market would. In addition, with its NATO conferences and Ryder Cup golf tournaments, the Celtic Manor helps integrate Wales with England.
Note that in the piece I’ve linked to about Matthews, Michael Moritz is described as “the richest person in Wales”, which is stretching it a bit. He was certainly born in Cardiff, but left for the USA in his early twenties, made his fortune in Silicon Valley, and never returned. He still lives in San Francisco with his family. Perhaps the most successful business based in Wales, and the only one quoted in the FTSE 100, is Admiral Insurance, started up and still owned by Henry Engelhardt . . . from Chicago. Which is fine, because it confirms that the Welsh must have outsiders to provide them with work.
Let’s end with another feature of the colonial economy, and again, something that draws bewildered comment from people who refuse to see the system controlling the economic life of Wales. I’m referring now to the phenomenon of successful Welsh companies being taken over by larger companies before they can grow too big, with this often resulting in redundancies or even closure of the now subsidiary Welsh operation. If you don’t understand why this happens then you haven’t been paying attention.
The Roman system of coloniae settled army veterans and their families in conquered territories and border regions, and was employed for two main reasons. First, to keep an eye on the natives and, if necessary, confront any insurgency until the army arrived. Second, coloniae spread the use of the Latin language and Roman ways of doing things.
This example of settling people from, or loyal to, the ruling country in recently conquered territories and colonies is one that has been imitated globally down to the present day. The British have done it across the world, even to Christian European populations. There was the Irish Plantation, the ‘repopulating’ of eastern Canada after the expulsion of the Acadians (Cajuns), and the flooding of the independent republic of Transvaal with British settlers once it was realised that the land beneath the Boers’ feet contained gold and diamonds.
In more recent times, France sees a steady exodus of loyal French people to Tahiti, New Caledonia, Guadeloupe, Martinique and other specks in the ocean in the hope that these emigres will help the natives see the benefit of maintaining ties with France. While on a bigger scale, and in a much more brutal fashion, China has created all sorts of incentives for Han Chinese to settle in, with the intention of dominating, Tibet and Xinjiang.
So why be surprised that Wales has been undergoing a process of colonisation since the 1960s? A process that has taken many forms, some so bleeding obvious you wonder how they got away with it.
Take the Development Board for Rural Wales, an agency set up – so we were told – to stem the depopulation of the five central counties of Montgomeryshire, Cardiganshire, Merionethshire, Breconshire and Radnorshire. It operated by paying English companies to relocate to central Wales, with their workforces (all paid for), while spending many more millions building thousands of new houses for this influx. And while all this cash was being showered on English companies local firms could not apply for a penny of DBRW funding. As blatant a colonisation strategy as Mother England has ever deployed. But Welsh politicians, media, and others still applauded every relocation as ‘New jobs coming to —————‘.
Many countries pay companies to set up in areas needing employment, but I have never come across another case like the DBRW, where a state paid firms to transfer lock stock and barrel, plus workers, to another area. It makes no sense, until you see it for what it was – plain, unvarnished colonisation.
The colony of Wales also serves as a receptacle for those who are not making a contribution to the common weal in England. Those in this category range from geriatrics to young criminals and drug addicts. To the point where in some areas of Wales – such as where I live – two-thirds of the over 65s were born in England. But, hey! looking after old people is a ‘growth industry’.
If it’s not wrinklies then it’s a feckless white underclass. Some towns have been almost destroyed by this phenomenon, and none have come closer to implosion than Rhyl. This link reports a story of a woman living in Rhyl sent down after police found a dead body and a stash of heroin in her flat. An everyday story of Rhyl folk.
When it’s not drug addicts then it’s paedophiles. So many such deviants from over the border are now turning up in Wales that it just has to be organised, perhaps by the Probation Service. I have written about this problem before, one of the most notorious recent cases was a whole gang of paedophiles relocated from London to Kidwelly. Read about it and other cases. Within the past few days I have learnt of two more paedophiles who, by some unspecified route, arrived in Wales. This one in Ciliau Aeron and this one in Llanbadarn Fawr.
In the great colonialist scheme of things it really doesn’t matter whether those coming into Wales are sweet old dears straight out of an Ealing comedy or dangerous perverts, they all make their contribution to skewing Welsh statistics in a way that is unflattering to us, put a strain on an already overburdened health service, and of course, make their contribution to anglicising Wales. ‘Poor Wales’, ‘Ageing Wales’, ‘Wales’ Drugs Problem’ writes Phil Space, and intones Jamie Owen, but no one has the balls to really investigate these issues and give us the truth.
But then, in a colony, the last thing you can expect is an honest media.
I can’t be absolutely certain when I first realised the media lies (maybe it was when I was first lied about), but the reporting of the Balkan wars in the 1990s was something of a watershed because that coverage was not simply a lie here and there, or some vague and ill-defined bias, it was an unwavering adherence to a propaganda line originating in the Pentagon.
Done in pursuit of a strategic objective dictating that Jugoslavia should be dismembered and Russia’s Serb allies at the core of that State be internationally isolated. To achieve this objective the fascist Croats of the Ustaše, and the gangster Albanians in the Kosovo Liberation Army, were depicted as knights in shining armour, while a blind eye was turned to foreign jihadists killing Serbs in Bosnia, leaving us to focus solely on the beastly Serbs, the only ones guilty of any atrocities.
Obviously, when dealing with ‘internal’ matters the UK media is different, but even here, the bias has long been unmistakable, and especially in television. Just about everyone has noticed the recent plethora of programmes with titles beginning ‘Great British’, in fact, it’s become so obvious that it’s something of a joke. A regular orgy of cringe-worthy ‘patriotism’, on sets bedecked with union flags, and all done in the hope of persuading Scots and other disaffected minorities that it don’t get no better than singing the worst national anthem on earth.
While on another level we see some elements of the BBC – Newsnight comes to mind – becoming almost schizophrenic in their desire to maintain their Left-liberal bias while simultaneously following the BritNat line in the hope of pandering to those in the Tory party who wish to dismantle the Beeb. Though in its coverage of the Scottish independence referendum last year all pretence at impartiality went out the window for the BBC in general, and Newsnight in particular.
Here in Wales, with its recent acquisition of the Evening Post, we have Trinity Mirror taking a stranglehold on the ‘Welsh’ print media. We can now look forward to Swansea’s daily paper, the largest selling Welsh daily, being written in Cardiff. And why not? With the political and economic life of the country being centralised on the capital like some tin-pot dictatorship it makes perfect sense.
Our self-styled ‘National Newspaper of Wales’ is now little more than a desperate amalgam of showbiz news, columnists nobody reads, sport, and a daily promotion of all things Cardiff. To the extent that a new restaurant opening, or a celebrity being spotted in the city, somehow becomes a news item that Llais Y Sais deludes itself will be of interest to people in other parts of Wales. No wonder so few people outside of the Cardiff area buy the bloody thing.
Perhaps the best way to explain how this Cardiff-obsessive system operates is by introducing that famous bullshit duet the Barry Brothers. Mark Barry runs M&G Barry Consulting and gets paid to promote the Metro system and other projects designed to further enrich Cardiff at the expense of the rest of Wales, while brother Siôn is the Business Editor for Media Wales, which of course covers the Wasting Mule. So Mark Barry’s clients tell him what they want promoted, he passes ready-made promos on to brother Siôn, who ensures that they appear in Llais y Sais as ‘news’! This is how low ‘journalism’ in Wales has sunk.
In the panel below (click to enlarge) you’ll see a piece by Siôn Barry that appeared in the Western Mail on Monday (23.11.2015). I’m using it because it brings together a couple of the points I’m making in this post. First, we have another successful Welsh company being taken over. This company is based in Swansea, but it’s left to a spokesperson for the company to tell us that.
Because the purpose of this business news report is to give a plug to “Cardiff-based business advisory firm Greenaway Scott”. Something Siôn Barry does quite regularly. Here in May 2013, March 2015, May 2015, and there may be other write-ups by Barry that I’ve missed. Puffs for this company have certainly appeared on Media Wales attributed to others. Would a law firm in any other part of Wales get so much free publicity? So how do we explain it – is Greenaway Scott a client of M&G Barry Consulting? And if so, why is Trinity Mirror allowing the Wasting Mule to be used in this way? Whatever the answer, this is not journalism.
On the television front, S4C looks to be on its last legs as the Tories consider that if its funding is withdrawn no one will complain other than those with a vested interest in so doing. There certainly won’t be any protests of the kind that brought the channel into existence.
ITV Wales continues to plod along, a curate’s egg of a channel ranging from the engaging Adrian Masters to reporters and newsreaders who look and sound as if they’d have trouble locating Aberystwyth if they were dropped on top of Constitution Hill.
While over at the Talfan Davies patrimony things get weirder and weirder. The Monday following the Paris outrages Wales Today carried a piece about Islamophobia! Over a hundred people were dead in Paris, killed by Muslim extremists, yet for BBC Wales the real horror was that some Welsh person might say something nasty to a Muslim! Rarely in a human lifetime does one encounter such a corrupted sense of values, such an absence of proportion. The interviewee, living in mortal fear of being shouted at, claimed to have previously been subjected to abuse, but this must of course have happened before the Paris massacres. She was shrouded from head to foot with just a slit for her eyes, so I suppose she could have been an actress. I began to wonder if this interview had been in the can for a while, just waiting for the next killing spree.
Something becoming more regularly noticeable on BBC Wales is the adherence to the Question Time dictum – ‘When in Wales, listen only to English opinions’. Because even when reporting on news items from the Swansea Valley and similar places with very few English residents BBC Wales will find those English residents, and interview them, ignoring locals. There is an echo here of the British media’s attitude when working abroad – find someone to interview who speaks English, even if that person knows sod all about the issue being covered.
In other areas BBC Wales follows the ‘Great British’ line, and few do it more loyally than Jason Mohammad. His recent interview with Plaid Cymru leader Leanne Wood is a gem of its kind. But then, his ‘ethnic’ background, the fact that he speaks Welsh (but is a devoted Brit), makes ‘Jase’ an absolute treasure who will do anything for the cause. Hang on, it wasn’t him in the niqab, was it?
It is beneficial to the UK economy because – seeing as Wales is tied to England – most of the money spent by tourists in Wales will find its way to England in the form of taxes, payments to suppliers, etc.
‘Welsh’ tourism provides thousands of business opportunities for English people thanks to their greater purchasing power coupled with the unwillingness of some Welsh to engage in the prostitution of their homeland.
Tourism attracts a few million English tourists to Wales every year, many of whom decide to settle here. And even if they don’t immediately settle, then they might buy a little place to use as a holiday home.
Nothing is anglicising Wales faster and more comprehensively than tourism and the colonisation that is its inevitable corollary and consequence. This explains why tourism is being forced on us as ‘the economic salvation of rural Wales’.
Yet we Welsh are expected to accept all this in return for a few thousand low paid, seasonal jobs, and a pat on the head accompanied by, ‘You Welsh should be so grateful that all these English people come here’.
Wales in 2015 is a land being ripped apart, with a national identity under the kind of pressure it is unlikely to survive.
Our former mining valleys are now among the poorest and most wretched areas of Europe. But, due to the low property prices – among the lowest in the UK – we can predict that the Valleys will see more bail hostels and properties housing persons and groups that English communities are glad to see the back of. And the ‘Welsh’ Government – plus local politicians – will welcome this, because appearances are everything, and anything looks better than derelict houses and a rapidly declining population.
Our rural and coastal areas have been condemned to serve as recreation and retirement areas for our neighbours because, ‘There’s nothing else around here, is there?’. No of course there isn’t, not after decades of allowing the rural economy to decline, and doing nothing to bring in decent employment, for local people.
And while the Welsh population is engineered into decline, in both rural and urban areas, a new, replacement population is encouraged to move in, not least through building new homes that Welsh people either cannot afford or else will not be allocated. ‘Oh look! the population of Wales is rising – things must be good there’.
And while this social engineering goes on older forms of exploitation persist. English cities steal our water resources, but it’s justifiable we are told because these cities built the dams. Mmm, try going to Iran and claiming the oil because the original infrastructure was built by the Anglo-Persian Oil Company.
Wales is a colony of England, and we Welsh are still bottom of the pile. The only Welsh who make it – outside certain spheres such as sport and entertainment – are those who submit, or those who collaborate with the colonialist system.
You reading this can either accept this system, or you can fight it; but let no one – certainly not the professional liars in politics and the media – pretend that our relationship with England is anything other than colonial, and designed to eventually destroy Welsh identity.
Back in January I posted a piece, Let’s Be Honest About Housing Associations, that began in nostalgic-humorous mood before going on to make more serious points about the provision of rented accommodation. The fundamental point I tried to make was that up until about a century ago rented accommodation was provided by the private sector, employers, charities and other bodies, not by local authorities or any other social housing provider. I asked, in view of changes taking place in the housing market, whether we could now be moving back towards that situation, how it might be done, and what benefits it might offer.
In my January piece I made a number of points about the changing nature of housing provision in Wales and, especially, how the proportion of people living in the private rented sector (PRS) was growing, almost unnoticed and, certainly in Wales, unplanned. I used the table below to show the dwelling stock percentages in the four categories: local authority, registered social landlord (RSL), owner-occupier and PRS.
I am now able to follow up that January piece thanks to a regular source who has drawn my attention to a recently published report examining the advantages of giving a greater role to the PRS in the provision of social and rented housing. The report is produced by the Public Policy Institute for Wales (PPIW) and is entitled The Potential Role of the Private Rented Sector in Wales. I advise you to open the report in another window or browser in order to follow the points I shall pick up on later in this article. But before that, let’s take a fresh look at the RSL sector, using information not previously available to me.
WAY OUT WEST
For much of this new information I am indebted to another contact who has looked into the workings of the RSL sector in Ceredigion, an investigation that has unearthed a number of disturbing issues, prompting him to submit important questions to the ‘Welsh’ Government. Unsurprisingly, the civil servants acting as the ‘Welsh’ Government refuse to answer his questions, so he has now taken the matter to the Public Service Ombudsman for Wales.
Alas, the PSOW is Nick Bennett, former head of Community Housing Cymru, the umbrella body for housing associations, so I have warned my contact not to expect any help from that quarter. (Bennett’s appointment was a pre-Sophie Howe illustration of how incestuous and corrupt public life is in modern Wales.)
One of the facts unearthed is something called Dowry Gap funding, paid to certain housing associations for them to use in upgrading the housing stock they’ve inherited from councils under voluntary transfer (i.e. through a vote by tenants). This funding is currently being paid to ten housing associations and in 2015 – 16 the total cost will be £43.8m. Tai Ceredigion Cyf’s ‘Dowry’ will be paid at the rate of £1.6m a year for 30 years. If this 30-year term applies to the other, larger housing associations, then the total cost will be £1.3bn.
This Dowry Gap funding seems to complement the Welsh Housing Quality Standard legislation, which demanded that all RSL properties be up to WHQS standard by 2012. This deadline – and its funding of £108m a year – has now been extended to 2020. Introduced in 2004 and running to 2020, £108m a year totals up to £1.7bn.
Adding the two we get a total figure of £3bn for ‘improvements’. Seeing as Wales has 143,790 RSL properties, this works out at almost £21,000 per property! (Is this right? Will somebody please check the figures.) That is a lot of moolah for windows and doors, especially when we accept that many of the dwellings inherited from local authorities were in good condition, certainly not needing ‘refurbishment’ to the tune of 21 grand per property.
Then there seem to be two funding streams for capital projects, i.e. new-build housing, the Social Housing Grant and the Housing Finance Grant. I knew about the first, and I submitted an FoI last year to the ‘Welsh’ Government asking how much had been dished out under the SHG. I used the answers to compile the table below (click to enlarge). It shows that the figure for the six years 2008 – 2013 is £692.5m. (The explanation for the declining amount paid out in SHG can be found below in other, newer funding streams.)
But at that stage I knew little about the Housing Finance Grant. Now I know a little more.
Even though I’m a regular and consistent critic of housing associations one feature of their operations that I have always regarded as commendable is that they raise funding from banks and other commercial lenders. Which means they are not entirely reliant on the public purse. Well, that’s what I thought; the reality is very different, as I learnt from my enquiries into the Housing Finance Grant.
The system works thus: Yes, housing associations find commercial lenders prepared to give them large loans – but then the ‘Welsh’ Government – i.e. you and me! – repay those loans over 30 years to the lenders, M&G Investments and Affordable Housing Finance, the latter being funding guaranteed by the UK Department for Communities and Local Government.
(And as the DCLG website puts it, “Borrowers will need to be Registered Providers (or equivalent in the devolved administrations) and classified to the private sector”. Which suggests that housing associations are not public bodies. Or maybe they are, in which case why is a Conservative government putting so much money into public bodies in order for them to build up valuable assets . . . unless they are being fattened up for full privatisation?)
The system of repaying lenders also applies to the ‘Dowry Gap’; housing associations take out loans, paid in lump sums, and the ‘Welsh’ Government repays those loans over 30 years. This explains why Tai Ceredigion has now completed its programme of upgrading its properties but will continue to receive the ‘Dowry Gap’ funding every year. The money is repaying Tai Ceredigion’s loan, which seems to be itemised in the latest financial statement at £23m.
It is even suggested that ‘Dowry Gap’ and WHQS funding is being used – improperly – for capital projects, but financial oversight of housing associations by the ‘Welsh’ Government is so lax that there’s no way of proving or disproving this claim.
All of which means that housing associations, despite the flim-flam about ‘new ways of doing things’ are old-fashioned Statist creations, entirely dependent on the public purse, which explains why they are favourites of the anti-business parties, Labour and Plaid Cymru.
Their only assets, their only other source of income, is of course their housing stock – either inherited from local authorities or built with public funding. So, again, at no cost to them. It’s a ‘new way of doing things’ only in the sense that it’s more opaque than straightforward dollops of public funding.
Seeing as housing associations are entirely dependent on the public purse it’s worth asking, again, why they are not covered by the Freedom of Information Act? Maybe the duplicitous and very expensive way they’re funded provides the answer.
Another point, one that I have raised before – dealt with in my January post, and also here – is the scandalous amount of this public funding that our ‘Welsh’ housing associations spend over the border. In the case of Cartrefi Cymunedol Gwynedd it was the insanity of giving its total maintenance contract to English firm Lovell which, from its Cheshire base, recruited its sub-contractors exclusively from north west England.
I’m sure Tai Ceredigion uses local firms to do its work, but I still question why a firm operating on Cardigan Bay should have external auditors based in Birmingham (Mazars LLP) and internal auditors in Hampshire (TIAA Ltd). Both may have offices in Cardiff, but neither is a Welsh company. There are genuine Welsh companies closer to and even in Ceredigion that could and should be doing this work that is paid for with Welsh public funding.
‘Welsh’ Government funding should carry the stipulation that as much as possible of that funding remains in Wales. This can only be achieved if the funding reaches genuinely Welsh firms, not outside firms with an office in Wales funnelling profits back to HQ, or those seeking to capitalise on the public funding bonanza with a hastily set up ‘Welsh branch’ that is little more than a post-box and a telephone number.
Of course, it would be easy to argue that none of this really matters because all the funding comes, in one form or another, from London. But only part of the Housing Finance Grant comes directly from London, the rest is raised commercially, and the other funding streams – Social Housing Grant, Welsh Housing Quality Standard and ‘Dowry Gap’ funding – seem to be ‘Welsh’ Government initiatives.
Which is worrying, because it gives us a situation in many parts of Wales, perhaps especially in rural areas, where housing associations are on a treadmill of growth and expansion fuelled by this funding – yet there is often little or no local demand for more social housing.
Housing associations are perhaps the ultimate manifestation of the Third Sector, the shadow world that those buffoons down Cardiff docks want us to believe is an economy, but it’s all smoke and mirrors, all underpinned by public funding. And all unnecessary. As I shall now explain by delving a little more into the Public Policy Institute for Wales report I mentioned earlier.
‘THE POTENTIAL OF THE PRIVATE RENTED SECTOR IN WALES’
Before diving into the report it might be worth just pausing to see what kind of an organisation the Institute is. It was formed in January last year to “provide the Welsh Government with authoritative independent analysis and advice.” If you look through the names to be found in ‘The Team’, ‘The Board of Governors’, and the ‘Executive Group’, you get the impression that the PPIW is very much a cross-border outfit, containing – on the Board of Governors – people who know Wales such as Gerry Holtham, along with people, such as Will Hutton, who may be very clever and a Newsnight regular but know little about our country. ‘The Team‘, presumably those running the PPIW day-to-day, is disappointingly top-heavy, to the point of capsizing, with apparatchiks and people from the Third Sector.
The Executive Group“is made up of representatives from the organisations that formed part of the consortium that collaborated in the development of the PPIW”. These are ‘our’ universities (including Liverpool but not Glyndŵr!) and Victoria Winkler of ‘Welsh’ Labour’s very own think-tank, the Bevan Foundation.
The report set out to answer three questions, found below.
Some Report Findings
The PPIW report confirms that the PRS is growing in every single local authority area, though predictably, Cardiff, with its vast student population and other young singles, outstrips all other areas. In fact, the report tells us that in Cardiff, “owner occupation has actually fallen compared to renting in both absolute and proportional terms”. Table 6 shows that 22.1% of Cardiff’s dwellings are privately rented. The next highest local authority area is Ceredigion with 17.5%, and then in third place comes Denbighshire with 16.5%.
The figures for both Cardiff and Ceredigion are influenced by the student presence while the ‘Rhyl factor’ explains the Denbighshire figure, correlated in Table 1, which tells us that Sir Dinbych lost 870 private households between 2001 and 2011 while the same period saw an increase of 1,468 in the PRS. Other areas saw a decline in the number of private households but nowhere was the fall as dramatic as in Denbighshire.
Staying with Table 6, in percentage and absolute terms Carmarthenshire saw the highest increase in private households due mainly to the saturation housing strategy devised by the Planning Inspectorate and eagerly implemented by those running the council. The same designed-to-attract-English-buyers process can also be observed at work in Powys. (N.B. A ‘household’ can be a person living alone or a family of 10.)
Table 9 tells us that rents in the PRS are always higher than the RSL sector though this varies from area to area. In Blaenau Gwent the average social rent is £61.68 per week, or 89% of the PRS, whereas in Wrecsam, Swansea and Cardiff the percentage drops to 67%, though the average PRS rent in Wrecsam is lower than the two southern cities.
Of course there is a downside to this unplanned and largely unchecked growth in the PRS, especially in decaying coastal towns like Rhyl, and areas of our cities taken over by students. That downside is the breakdown of community life and an increase in various forms of criminality and anti-social behaviour.
It could even be argued that there is a case to be made for paying compensation to long-term residents of such neighbourhoods. Compensation to be paid by the ‘Welsh’ Government or the local authority, whoever was responsible for not guarding against such decline or refusing to implement the legislation that could have prevented it.
A Better Way
Happily, the report also makes clear that there are alternatives to endlessly pumping public money into secretive, unaccountable and amateurishly run housing associations, or otherwise allowing the growth of ghettoes of cross-border criminals and misfits housed by slum landlords. To avoid these outcomes the report draws our attention to institutional investment such as pension funds to provide rented and other property, coupled with more imaginative and varied housing options.
In the Appendix the report’s authors look at three examples in the south where the ‘Welsh’ Government is in partnership with the Principality Building Society in a venture called Tai Tirion (or Tirion Group Ltd, Co. No. 08891823) to build over a thousand new homes on brownfield sites in Cardiff, Newport and the Rhondda. Though that said, there is not a lot of progress being made. Not really surprising, seeing as the ‘Welsh’ Government is involved . . .
I say that not out of malice, it’s just the way things are. Institutional investors such as pension funds are viewed with suspicion by Statist ‘Welsh’ Labour. As the report puts it – refer to ‘three questions’ panel above – “the Minister confirmed that the emphasis of the project should be concentrated mainly on (i) and (ii)”.
To remind you . . . Question iii reads, ‘If the PRS is to be a long term tenure of choice, whether it is likely to be possible to interest institutional money and professional management in the market (i.e. what are the barriers to large scale investment?).’
On reading that you can almost imagine a ‘Welsh’ Labour politician or apparatchik having an involuntary evacuation of the bowels . . . “‘institutional money’! . . . ‘professional management’! . . . people who might understand business! . . . what about our friends in the Third Sector, how are they to sustain their muesli-weaving, skinny latte lifestyles? . . . oh, no, we can’t have that!”
So the ‘Welsh’ Government prefers to let the private rental sector grow in a reckless and uncontrolled manner through the activities of Buy to Let ‘investors’ and people who buy dilapidated hotels in Colwyn Bay to house Scouse junkies.
It is surely obvious that if housing associations are the answer, then the question must have been, ‘What is the most expensive (to the public purse) and least efficient way of delivering rented social housing?’ In the hope of disguising this monumental error we are now encumbered with secretive, unaccountable money pits.
Which would be bad enough if they were at least spending the money on housing Welsh people, but due to the Englandandwales allocation system into which our housing associations are locked a Welsh family is all too likely to discover that the Family from Hell has been given the house next door . . . ‘Hell’ in this case will be Birmingham, or Stoke-on-Trent, or Sheffield, or . . .
Consequently, there is no justification for pouring any more money into housing associations. Especially given that the Conservative government in London is almost certainly planning to do away with them. Or does the ‘Welsh’ Government think this is a devolved matter? Maybe it is, but that won’t count for anything if Westminster forces change through by cutting the block grant. And further undermines the sector with selected benefit cuts.
So my advice to the ‘Welsh’ Government is this: realise that housing associations are an expensive failure. Then, get ahead of the curve by taking control of the social rented sector nationally and looking for the kind of investors mentioned in the Public Policy Institute for Wales report, pension funds and others looking for the kinds of large-scale investments that individual housing associations and single sites cannot provide.
To take advantage of this private funding, and to save the public purse a hell of a lot of money, you, the self-styled ‘Welsh Government’, need to put aside your congenital hostility to business and real money and, for a change, prioritise the best interests of the Welsh people. It’s what you were elected to do – remember?
During the recent election campaign – and even before the campaign started – you made a number of attacks on the NHS in Wales, claiming that the border between our two countries marked the difference between life and death, and that the Labour Party shouldn’t be trusted to run anything. All good knockabout stuff, and when it comes to the Labour Party I’m with you one hundred per cent.
Which means that I’m not writing this in defence of Carwyn Jones and his gang, many of whom seem to be abandoning ship ahead of next year’s Welsh Assembly elections (with three announcing in recent days that they’re standing down). No, my concern is that your regular attacks on the running of the NHS in Wales gives too many people the wrong impression of my country, suggesting that we Welsh are incompetent or incapable of running anything. So I think it’s time to put you straight.
You may have heard that the Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board, which covers the whole of the north, and its population (2011 census) of 687,937, has been placed in special measures by the ‘Welsh’ Government, with its chief executive suspended. That our largest health board is in trouble should surprise no one, once they’re acquainted with the facts.
It is a truth universally acknowledged that elderly people inevitably put greater demands on the NHS than younger age groups. In north Wales there are 138,325 people over the age of sixty-five, making up some 20% of the population, a figure well above the Welsh average of 18.4 per cent. But what is even more striking is that of the over sixty-fives in northern Wales 61,644, or 44.6 per cent of the total, were born in England.
Within that headline figure there are of course variations. In the local authority area of Conwy just 37.1% 0f the over 65s were born in Wales. Where I live, in southern Gwynedd, the five electoral wards between (and including) Barmouth and Aberdyfi have a combined population of just over ten thousand people . . . of whom nearly one fifth are English pensioners! Or to put it another way, in these five wards only 31.6% of the over 65s are Welsh. And only 43.9% of the total population. Do you think there’s an area of rural England where the English make up less than a third of the 65+ age group, and less than half of the total population? I very much doubt it. You English wouldn’t stand for it.
These figures are quite remarkable, and go a long way to explaining why the Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board is up Shit Creek. And of course it’s not just the NHS that suffers, other overstretched Welsh budgets must pay for home help and all the other services elderly people need, for many of them have no family living locally, having, effectively, been abandoned in Wales.
Though it’s not just the elderly from England that put a strain on Welsh services. Let me explain the next problem with a question. Where do you think you’d find Wales’ ‘hotspot’ for crime and anti-social behaviour? Some sink estate in Swansea or Cardiff maybe, or some post-industrial wasteland in the former mining valleys? Wrong and wrong – it’s Rhyl; sunny, seaside Rhyl or, to be exact, west Rhyl. Now why do you think that is? Save the old grey matter, I’ll tell you.
For decades Rhyl and the towns along our northern coast have been used as a dumping ground for criminals, paedophiles, drug addicts and others that Liverpool, Manchester and other places in north west England want rid of. These undesirables have been relocated by English local authorities, charities, the Probation Service and other agencies. Another route is social housing, for Welsh housing associations and councils are locked into an Englandandwales allocation system that sees someone making themselves homeless in Stoke on Trent ‘qualifying’ immediately for accommodation in Llanrhaeadr ym Mochnant ahead of all locals.
Those I am dealing with here are of course footloose, non-working and benefit-dependent; many with long-term health problems caused by substance abuse and a generally chaotic lifestyle. These, again, put a much greater strain on the Welsh NHS, and other services – not least the police – than others in their age groups. And again, this is a problem that is imposed on Wales (often surreptitiously), making extra calls on our already stretched resources.
These problems I have described are not confined to the north of Wales, they are merely worse there. The issues that afflict Rhyl are now spreading along our coasts, and even inland. The problem of social housing in Wales being used to accommodate white trash from England is now a national problem, but noticeable in rural and coastal areas because so many of the indigenous Welsh have left due to the lack of employment opportunities. And it goes without saying that this unwanted influx is having a very damaging effect on the Welsh language and Welsh cultural identity generally.
The only reason I’m writing this is because although everyone is aware of the problems I’ve listed most people are afraid to speak out in case your attack-dogs in the media start barking ‘racist’ or ‘anti-English’. Though there are also those who feign ignorance. Among these is your new MP for the Vale of Clwyd, Dr James Davies, who focused his recent election campaign on the decline of Rhyl and the state of the NHS in Wales. A campaign from which facts were scrupulously excluded – no wonder you’ve taken a shine to him!
There we are, I’ve had my say. Let me conclude by suggesting that if you and your government are genuinely concerned about the NHS and other deteriorating services in Wales, then there’s a simple option open to you. You can either cough up more money for us to look after people who are in reality England’s responsibility, or you can stop dumping England’s problems in Wales.
P.S. Pass this on to your boy Jimbo. He obviously needs to learn the truth about what’s happening in his constituency.
cc the Welsh media and the Welsh political class. Both too scared to speak the truth. They deserve each other.
Yesterday the ‘Welsh’ Government announced that is has taken the troubled Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board into special measures. (The Tawel Fan scandal being the last straw.) Today we learnt that the chief executive, Trevor Purt, has been suspended. And yet . . . despite everything that has been said and written about the health service in Wales generally, and the northern part of the country in particular, there are a couple of issues, or contributing factors, that no one is willing to address. To explain what I’m referring to, I can do no better than quote a recently elected Tory MP, James Davies, now representing the Vale of Clwyd.
This is what the Daily Post had to say about him a month before the election, and here’s Dr Davies’ maiden speech in the House of Commons on June 2nd. The same two themes crop up in both pieces and also figured prominently in his election campaign; one is his concern over the state of the NHS in Wales and the second is the decline of Rhyl. The first of those he blames on the Labour regime down Cardiff docks, which is the easy way out and no more than we should expect from a Tory politician on the Costa Geriatrica. As for Rhyl, well, he doesn’t actually blame anyone, he just seems to believe, rather vaguely that, well, something should be done. Among his suggestions is a new Sun Centre. Of course, that’ll solve all the problems.
Being a GP, Dr Davies must be aware that one of the major reasons for the poor standard of health and other services in his area is the demands placed on those services by a) large numbers of elderly people moving into Wales and b) the white trash, problem families, drug addicts and other substance abusers, plus all manner of criminals, being dumped in the towns along our northern coast. Rhyl being the worst example. Dr Davies knows all this but he cannot say it because, as an England-worshipping Welsh Unionist he is psychologically and emotionally incapable of viewing England as anything other than a paradise inhabited by superior beings with which Wales enjoys a one-sided relationship, with everything good that we enjoy emanating from England, and everything wrong with Wales our own fault. This is the Unionist mind-set (of both right and left), though it’s sad to see this self-loathing displayed in a seemingly intelligent man of just 35 years.
Which leaves James Davies in the position of wanting to discuss, and demand remedies for, problems for which he cannot admit major contributory causes. The Vale of Clwyd constituency is located in Denbighshire, where only 42.7% of the 65+ age group was born in Wales, yet we are asked to believe that the obvious influx of elderly people from outside of Wales has no impact whatsoever on the performance of the NHS locally. (In my area, less than one third of the 50+ age group is Welsh born! See map and table.) I’d hate to think that this inability to link cause and effect is indicative of how he works as a doctor. ‘Yes, Mr Smith, you’ve definitely got cirrhosis of the liver, but we’ll ignore your three bottles of whisky a day’.Much of Davies’ support would have come from elderly English voters angry at the standard of the local health service, but of course oblivious to the fact that their moving to Wales in such numbers contributes to the declining health service they’re complaining about. Nor can Doc Davies be honest about the reasons for the state of the NHS because he’s after the votes of those causing the problem! It’s altogether fitting that this flight from reality is taking place so close to where Alice in Wonderland was written.
But it’s not just James Davies who is unable to face the truth. It’s all the other politicians, and the media. With the latter doing its already tarnished reputation no good by tip-toeing around the elephant in the room. All terrified of speaking the truth for fear of making the front page of the Daily Mail or some other rag and being vilified as ‘racist’ or, what is much worse, ‘anti-English’. And fearing said rag going into overdrive with ‘ . . . veterans of Dunkirk . . . “the few” . . . Welsh all supported Hitler anyway . . . We’ll Meet Again . . . have to ask in Welsh to go to the toilet . . . fucking immigrants . . . fucking Jocks . . . good bloke, that Farage . . . blahdeblahdeblahdebritnatbollocks’.
Last night I put out a few tweets on this subject which were well received, being favourited and retweeted. The one discordant voice belonged to a Plaidista named Rhydian Fitter, who seemed unable to make the connection between tens of thousands of elderly English people moving to our rural and coastal areas and deteriorating heath provision. “I don’t see the connection”, protested young Fitter. Of course not. As a loyal member of Plaid Cymru you must follow the party line that pretends the colonisation of Wales is not happening (and, er, if it is, then it’s a good thing), a line that is little different to that of Dr James Davies, and is also the line enforced by the Daily Mail. Let us hope and pray for Plaid Cymru’s demise to begin next May. Plaid Cymru has had nothing to say to Welsh people – as Welsh people – for over thirty years, you can’t run on empty for ever. If I thought it would help put Plaid out of its misery, I’d even consider voting Ukip . . . despite Nathan Gill.
To conclude, and here I make no apologies for repeating myself. People living in other parts of the country, particularly the south, may be tempted to think that the problem dealt with here is restricted to the rural north and west, because English people don’t retire to Merthyr or Newport. Don’t kid yourself! The ‘Welsh’ Government has a fixed amount to spend on the NHS and other services, when so much of that has to be diverted to the areas suffering the strain of the geriatric influx, or the dumping of undesirables, then clearly, there will be less to spend in Merthyr and Newport, Swansea and Cardiff. We are all paying for the refusal – of all concerned – to acknowledge one of the major factors contributing to the crisis overwhelming the Welsh NHS.
Reading the Daily Post a couple of days ago I saw that the new MP for Vale of Clwyd, Dr James Davies, campaigned hard on “the decline of Rhyl” and “the NHS”. Which got me wondering . . . how could an anti-devolution Tory possibly benefit from concentrating on these two issues?
The decline of Rhyl is attributable to the growth in cheap, overseas package holidays leading to ‘bucket and spade’ resorts like Rhyl losing their popularity. But this still need not have resulted in the town being surrendered to slum landlords and cross-border agencies to use as a dumping ground for criminals, drug addicts and other undesirables. Such people obviously put a greater strain on local health resources than those who enjoy a less ‘hectic’ lifestyle.
Another reason that the health service is under pressure is because large numbers of elderly people move – or are moved by relatives – to Wales. In the area where I live, the coastal stretch between Barmouth and Aberdyfi (including both communities), the 2011 census told us that two-thirds of the population in the 65+ age bracket (which makes up 30.1% of the total population locally) was born in England. (Click here for details.)
A third component becoming ever more apparent is the thousands of people with ‘learning difficulties’ or permanent medical conditions that are being relocated to Wales. This can be attributed to various charities, social housing providers and private landlords lured by the lucre paid by English local authorities and others to take on these vulnerable people, with the burden obviously falling on local services such as health that see none of that money. (This recent piece from Private Eye provides an insight into how councils “package up their vulnerable elderly or disabled people . . . and put them up for online tender”, which can involve moving to another area.)
Given that all these issues put strain on the Welsh NHS, especially in the Vale of Clwyd constituency, and given that all these issues are attributable to our colonial relationship with England, how could an anti-devolution Tory capitalise on them? Who or what did he blame for the problems? The EU? Little green men?
Open your mind to this unbeatable example of surrealist irony: Rhyl drug dealers and the English wrinklies of Prestatyn storming the polling booths to vote for James Davies because they’re angry – bloody angry! – at the decline of Rhyl and the state of the NHS. Only in Wales!
STAYING IN RHYL
The title to this section does not mean that I’m suggesting people actually stay in the town (good God!) it just means that this piece is about Rhyl and, in a sense, carries on from the previous section.
I have decided to bow to public demand and compile a new photo collection for my sidebar, to be entitled ‘Residents of Rhyl’. Here’s a specimen who’s been in the news recently for “pleasuring himself” in a public place and will most definitely figure in the new album. (And to think that only last year he was a contender for the ‘Best Dressed Man in Rhyl’ crown.)
For younger readers, ‘pleasuring oneself’ is a rather archaic way of referring to masturbation. Though some sentimentalists may find it rather nice to see these terms of yesteryear being revived.
In his defence, he may have misunderstood the sign for the ‘Pleasure Beach’, perhaps thinking that the ‘Self-‘ bit had fallen off in the wind. And even if it hadn’t, Rhyl and Pleasure in the same sentence would be enough to confuse anyone.
A PLAGUE OF DAVIESES
Observant readers will have noticed that the three new Tory MPs elected last week are all named Davies. In addition to Jimbo (above) there was Byron in Gower and Chris in Brecon & Radnor. There was already David Davies as MP for Monmouth, and of course there’s Glyn Davies in Montgomeryshire. Which means that five out of the eleven Tory MPs elected in 2015 are named Davies. And if that wasn’t bad enough, the leader of the Conservatives in the Assembly is Andrew R T Davies! And who’s the Deputy Leader – Paul Davies!!
This is not good. I mean, having so many Tory politicians in Wales is bad for a start, but that so many of the buggers are called Davies takes us into the scary realm of premonition and plagues. For I seem to recall that there’s an obscure Nostradamus quatrain that predicts all sorts of disasters befalling the land when this happens. I’ll try to dig it out for you.
STAYING WITH BUGGERS
The late and unlamented George Thomas, Lord Tonypandy, is still making the news. The most recent allegation to surface is that he inappropriately touched a young man on a London to Aberystwyth train many years ago. Well, you’ve got to do something to while away the time, train journeys can be sooo boring.
OK, sorry, but it’s so easy to take the piss, a closet homosexual who gave the game away with his love of the leggings, wigs and all the other nonsense he got to wear as Speaker of the House of Commons and a peer. (Not for nothing was he known as ‘The Danny La Rue of the Rhondda’.) Then there was his truly odious fawning over young Charles Saxe-Coburg-Gotha during the Investiture period. (Though I bet they never left him alone with the boy!) What’s not so funny is that this bastard was a very influential politician, who had powerful friends and allies, both within Wales and beyond.
When considering cases like Thomas we must remember that all MPs are investigated by the intelligence services. Ostensibly done as security checks this process also uncovers an individual’s likes and dislikes, peccadilloes and weaknesses. Once a weakness is identified, and the embarrassing evidence is gathered, then whoever holds that information has great power over the politician concerned. I think we can be certain that George Thomas’ liking for boys and young men would have come to the attention of such people very early in his political career.
But you mustn’t think that this is a one-sided arrangement, for the ‘victim’ in this situation does not have to worry about being publicly exposed as long as he plays ball. Also, any attempts at blackmailing him will be dealt with. Documents and files can be ‘lost’. People like George Thomas are then free to carry on abusing.
Such arrangements help explain how judges, high-ranking military men, top civil servants, MPs and others could meet regularly for orgies at which young boys were abused and even killed. It was because those involved almost certainly enjoyed the protection of a certain agency and in return did what they were told when those running this agency wanted the favour returned. A practice perhaps developed in Northern Ireland, at the infamous Kincora Boys Home, used for decades as a honey trap.
The United Kingdom is a sick, corrupt and increasingly unequal state. The sooner we get out of it the better.
I am indebted to ‘Stan’ of the Neath Ferret site for this latest news from within the Labour Party on the east side of Swansea Bay. Councillor Ms Cari Morgans, who represents the Tonna ward on Neath Port Talbot council, was the office manager for outgoing Neath MP Peter Hain. She is now office manager for Stephen Kinnock, the newly-elected MP for Aberavon. Seeing as we are dealing here with the Labour Party this switch in masters could only have been effected after a full and open selection process . . . a very speedy selection process indeed.
UPDATE 17.05.2015: I am now informed that jobs for new MPs’ staff should be advertised. (Read this.) This is unlikely to have been done in this case because Ms Morgans registered her interest (as Kinnock’s office manager) with Neath Port Talbot council very soon after Kinnock was elected. Which would have allowed no time for advertising the post and selecting the successful candidate after May 7th. Which suggests that any ‘selection process’ was probably completed before Stephen Kinnock was elected MP for Aberavon, or else there was no advertisement and no selection process at all. Which would almost certainly be wrong, if not illegal.
An MP’s office manager, working outside of London, is paid in the range £26,000 – £38,121. But then, I suppose it’s fair in a way that Ms Morgans gets this salary, because I doubt if Port Talbot will see any more of Stephen Kinnock than the Islwyn constituency saw of his father.
THE INLAND RHYL?
When I first visited Blaenau Ffestiniog back in the 1960s it was quite unnerving. ‘This can’t be north Wales’, I told myself, ‘with its rows of terraced houses and enormous slag heaps this place belongs in the Valleys’. It was my introduction to the slate-quarrying region of the north west, or what, even by that time, had become the former slate-quarrying region.
The slate industry has all but gone, Blaenau’s population has halved, while successive governments in London and Cardiff have done nothing to halt the decline. One result of that decline is that Blaenau Ffestiniog now has some of the cheapest, if not the cheapest housing to found in Wales outside of the Heads of the Valleys. Cheap property – as in Rhyl – attracts buyers who have no intention of living in Blaenau themselves but are adept at finding tenants of the kind that local authorities and other agencies over the border will pay a lot of money to get rid of. ‘Out of sight, out of mind . . . and somebody else’s problem’. (So look out Heads of the Valleys!)
This week’s Cambrian News (no, I didn’t buy it) carried the latest story about a thug who’s been dumped in Blaenau Ffestiniog. Read it for yourself by clicking to enlarge the image on the right. In addition to what the report tells us Carl Martin Brennan has stabbed a local boy with a bottle, mugged an alcoholic (though not charged), and beat up his girlfriend. Not a welcome addition to any community, so how did he get to Blaenau Ffestiniog, who ‘encouraged’ him to move from Birmingham?
Last year two local men were jailed for over three years each following a vigilante attack on Brennan. Commenting after their trial Detective Sergeant Gerwyn Thomas of North Wales Police said: “I welcome the sentence and hope it will provide the victim and local community with reassurance that North Wales Police will relentlessly pursue those individuals who commit offences of this nature which fortunately are not common in the area”. Which is not how people in Blaenau see it. They want protection against Brennan, not against local lads who were doing the police’s job in protecting them.
In fact, the people of the town are becoming increasingly angry at the charmed life Brennan leads, they wonder who’s protecting him, and how he manages to stay out of prison. They also wonder what sort of system we live under when two young fathers from their community are languishing in prison while Brennan is still strutting the streets of Blaenau, bullying and intimidating people.
Before this saga causes any more misery maybe North Wales Police should start doing its job by looking out for the people it’s supposed to protect rather than baby-sitting a dangerous and violent criminal, for reasons that can only be guessed at. And maybe it’s also time for Cyngor Gwynedd to stop Blaenau turning into a housing benefit sink-hole full of relocated misfits and criminals. Perhaps the newly-elected MP might have something to say on the matter. I certainly don’t pay my council tax to keep the likes of Carl Martin Brennan in a town where no one wants him.
‘DON’T AFFECT US ROUND ‘ERE’
What I’ve written about Rhyl and Blaenau Ffestiniog is of course not confined to these towns, the problem of undesirables being shunted from England can be found in Colwyn Bay, Barmouth, Holyhead, Fishguard and countless other communities that have seen better days. As for the influx of elderly people this tends to take place in the more agreeable towns and the countryside, though those that move directly into retirement homes can be found anywhere.
People living elsewhere in Wales, particularly city dwellers, might take the view that this doesn’t affect them a) because they’ve already got enough of their own criminals and b) few people retire to Swansea or Cardiff. Wrong. The NHS could almost certainly be providing a better service in Cardiff, Swansea and other major centres if so much of Wales’ NHS funding was not being diverted to hospitals and services in the west, the centre and the north to treat people, many of whom weren’t even living in Wales 10 years ago. It all comes out of one pot.
Another drain on Welsh funding is housing benefit, that bonus for greedy and unscrupulous private landlords. A few figures extracted from this table I used in my recent post To Those That Have Shall Be Given – Housing Benefit! will explain the problem. Powys has a population (mid-year est. 2013) of 132,705, Conwy’s population is 115,835. Yet last year Powys paid out just £8.66m to private landlords in housing benefit while Conwy coughed up £18.11m. Why the difference? Because Conwy contains Llandudno and other coastal towns. Even starker is the difference between Monmouthshire (92,100 & £6.16m) and Denbighshire (94,510 & £17.65m). What’s the difference here? Rhyl is in Denbighshire. But the whole of Wales is paying for Rhyl and similar towns because the ‘Welsh’ Government has to give more in grants to areas being inundated with undesirables from England and this means less for other councils.
On top of which, there is the endless funding poured into Rhyl and other towns for ‘regeneration’ schemes. And those who’ve been brought over the border and dumped in some slum in Holyhead or Denbigh can then jump the housing queue ahead of locals! Which means that Registered Social Landlords such as housing associations are, in many areas, building far more new properties than the local population needs. And who pays for this? YOU DO, no matter where you might be living in Wales. Because of course the ‘Welsh’ Government gives out Social Housing Grant. In the six years 2008 to 2013 the figure was £692m.
This is colonialism of the crudest and most offensive kind. A large country dumps its criminals, its elderly and other dependent groups on a small neighbour – and then gets the neighbour to pay for all this out its own stretched resources! The dumped-on neighbour is too afraid to speak out for fear of being called ‘unwelcoming’, or ‘racist’. (Though it must be said that there are many who welcome this cross-border trafficking as an anglicising strategy; in addition, there are many doing well out of it, not least ‘Welsh’ Labour’s client class in the Third Sector.)
So while there may be a temptation to dismiss what’s being done to Rhyl, Blaenau Ffestiniog and other places as someone else’s problem, it’s not. It’s YOUR problem because it’s happening in YOUR country and one way or another YOU are paying for it, no matter where in Wales you live.
‘HA, HA, HA, THEY DON’T HAVE THESE IN AUCHTERMUCHTY!’
To end on a lighter note . . . or is it? Judge for yourselves. We all know that the BBC is now thoroughly discredited as an impartial conveyor of news. Its bias was plain for all to see in the Scottish referendum campaign last summer, not so much party political as thoroughly English and Unionist. Well, it was at it again this week, the culprit being Newsnight, and again, it was having a go at the SNP . . . but hoping to get away with it due to its ‘humorous’ approach.
Newsnight on Monday May 11th ran a piece about the new intake of MPs, but then concentrated entirely on the SNP contingent, and had a laugh showing them struggling with complicated things like revolving doors and ticket machines on the Tube. See it here for yourself on BBC iPlayer and start at 43:20. This strikes me as the twenty-first century equivalent of old Punch cartoons showing African chiefs with bones through their noses visiting the imperial capital and being overawed by English superiority and white man’s magic.
The previous post, about the disgraceful attack on Plaid Cymru’s Ceredigion candidate Mike Parker by the Cambrian News was, fundamentally, about unsavoury people moving to rural Wales to escape England’s multi-racial towns and cities.
Some fourteen years ago, in a magazine article, Parker did no more than put in writing what everybody already knew – rural Wales has become the destination of choice for many white flighters who, once they have no ‘darkies’ to hyperventilate them, turn their anglocentric focus onto us Welsh. Though of course their contempt is often dressed up as opposition to ‘nationalism’ . . . an argument undermined by white flighters attacking any expression of Welsh identity as ‘nationalism’. Those being discussed here tend to be middle class, and will usually have bought a property in Wales.
There is of course another kind of influx, one I myself have dealt with more than once. I’m talking now of criminals and undesirables of all kinds, moved to Wales by some agency or charity, and as those in this group can rarely afford to buy a house, or are under some kind of ‘supervision’, they tend to find accommodation with only-in-it-for-the-money housing associations and irresponsible private landlords. This is very lucrative because extra payments await those open-hearted enough to take in ‘vulnerable’ people (i.e. those given to criminal activity) who are being dumped a long way away given a fresh start. A number of such specimens were brought to the attention of a wider public in my posting Neighbours From Hell of June 2013.
But you mustn’t imagine that there are just two, discrete groupings, because there are all sorts of overlaps, giving us, for example, middle class criminals, working class racists, and those who manage to endear themselves to the host community by being both racist and criminal. It’s right to make this clear because those I shall be writing about from now on are most definitely racist and criminal.
My attention was drawn to this category by a comment made by ‘Brychan’ to my previous post. In the comment Brychan reminded me of the murder in October 2011 of Gabor Sarkozy, a Hungarian national working as a takeaway delivery driver on the north coast. Sarkozy was kicked to death by James Siree (alternatively Si’Ree), 22, and his uncle Gary Bland, 42. It was the callous and brutal murder of a hard-working family man by two drunken thugs. When I read the reports of the trial, and once I saw that they lived in Rhyl – that favourite dumping ground for England’s undesirables – I wondered about their backgrounds, though I must have been busy with other things because I didn’t do any checks at the time. ‘Brychan’ did, and I’m thankful to him for putting me on the trail of these scumbags.
Siree is the son of Ian Si’Ree, and lived with his father on Vale Road in Rhyl. When police investigating the murder searched the Si’Ree home they found images on the father’s computer that clearly suggested an interest in under-age girls. He was prosecuted and the case came to court but he escaped quite lightly because, according to Judge Niclas Parry, he had “no convictions for anything similar”. Si’Ree may have had no convictions for that type of offence there had certainly been accusations, as this 2001 report from the Bradford Telegraph & Argus makes clear. This report from the same source, a month later, tells us that Si’Ree has upped sticks from Bradford, but does not tell us where he’s gone.
So we have Si’Ree Snr, the paedophile, Siree Jnr and his uncle the murderers, and then, to give us the expected hat-trick, we learn that the family are also fascists, with Ian Si’Ree actually standing for the BNP at council level (in 2008), Westminster level (2010), and for the Welsh Assembly (2011). Though if this is his Facebook page then he now calls himself Ian John. If I’m wrong, then there is an Ian John living in Rhyl who went to school in Bradford and has photos of James Siree on his Facebook page.
What is the system at work here, a system that brings scumbags like the Sirees and Bland to Wales, a system now so obvious that there can be no point it denying its existence? Who is in control of this system, how does it operate, and who in Wales is facilitating it? For the answers to these questions I am indebted, again, to ‘Brychan’, this time for directing me to the Ministry of Justice and its various departments dealing with offenders. You can read what he told me (copied from an e-mail) here.
We have a system that seeks to remove offenders, or persons under investigation, from the immediate area of the alleged offence, and also to resettle those leaving prison. Such requirements would not cause Wales undue problems were it not for the fact that, as ‘Brychan’ puts it, “A housing authority in England can say ‘no thanks we’re full’, even to Her Majesty’s Courts and Tribunal Service, but in Wales the housing legislation gives priority to offenders”. The fact that this loophole has not been closed tells me that this legislation was no oversight, it exists for the purpose it serves. Obviously some areas will suffer more than others.
Though we mustn’t pile all the blame for this problem on social housing providers, for private landlords also play a big role. In a town like Rhyl, that has outlived its raison d’être, decline results in many redundant buildings, making it inevitable that ‘investors’ will move in knowing they can maximise their investments by capitalising on the social residue of England’s cities. The same thing is happening in similar communities; I have reported previously on problems in Llanelli; it’s a big – but largely unreported – issue in Blaenau Ffestiniog at the moment; and it’s happening in the Valleys. In fact, any community in Wales with irresponsible housing associations or large numbers of cheap private dwellings for sale risks having offenders, problem families, deviants and misfits dumped on it.
So we understand the mechanics of this phenomenon, but that doesn’t explain why no one speaks out against it.
Why don’t the police complain about having a regular influx of criminals from outside their force areas, resulting in more work for forces we are constantly told are ‘over-stretched’? Probably two reasons; first, they can hardly complain against the government department that controls police forces in Englandandwales, and second, they probably get financially compensated.
Social housing providers don’t regard this system as an imposition because they get paid handsomely for taking in offenders and ‘difficult’ tenants, that they will persuade themselves are ‘victims’ of something or other – ‘the system’ a cruel world, global warming – and then wash their hands of the suffering and misery their tenants inflict on the wider community. Private landlords share the same attitude towards high-return offender-tenants. Media outlets and politicians in Wales turn a blind eye because to raise the issue risks allegations of being ‘racist’, or worse, ‘anti-English’. An incredible insight into social and political attitudes prevailing in Wales.
I say this because in other societies there are taboos against using the ‘N word’ and other offensive epithets, but here in Wales it’s the ‘E word’. Using the term ‘English’ runs the risk of attack from media and politicians. To the point where no one must be described as English in a negative context. If Charlie Smith, recently dumped in Barmouth, rapes his 80-year-old neighbour, or is caught selling drugs outside school gates, then Charlie is without nationality . . . but if he rescues a drowning pooch then Charlie will be restored to his Anglo-Saxon patrimony, a true son of Alfred and Harold.
Clearly, in answer to the question used as the title for this piece, Gabor Sarkozy was killed by James Siree and Gary Bland. But in the wider sense, Gabor Sarkozy was the victim of the system I’ve described. There are countless other victims, such as the old woman killed in Rhyl for £25 as she made a cup of tea for Wolverhampton murderer George Johnson, and the children raped in Carmarthenshire by the paedophile gang from London re-housed in Wales.
The terrible irony is that this system of exploiting Wales for the benefit of England has been made easier by devolution. In a pre-devolution system with the same law in England and Wales offenders and problem tenants would be spread around in the social housing system (though the problem of private landlords in Rhyl and elsewhere would remain), but different legislation in Wales – supposedly introduced for the benefit of Wales! – has made worse the problem described in this report.
We have a system of sham devolution making it possible for civil servants in Wales – answering to London – to introduce ‘Welsh’ legislation for the benefit of England. Which makes the current system of ‘devolution’ both indefensible and unsustainable. Either we revert to the pre-devolution system of the same laws for Wales and England or we move forward to give Wales real power, but this latter option can only work when we have politicians and civil servants dedicated to putting Welsh interests first. At present, we lack both.
There is no point in politicians continuing to posture and play silly games, going down to Cardiff docks and deluding themselves that they are doing anything useful when in fact the country is run by civil servants serving England’s interests, giving us a system of faux devolution that results in people being murdered, and children raped, a system over which these puffed-up buffoons have no control, and lack the balls to demand control.
Until there is far-reaching change in the relationship between Wales and England the system responsible for the killing of Gabor Sarkozy is guaranteed to claim many more victims.
Despite fierce competition from Channel 17 in Albania and the Nova Scotia Parrot Breeders’ Monthly Jac o’ the North is delighted to have secured exclusive rights to First Minister Carwyn Jones’ end-of-year Review. Enjoy!
Hello there, I’m Carwyn Jones, you may not know me, but I’m the First Minister of Wales. More importantly, I also run the local branch of the Labour Party (along with Owen Smith MP and a few other people). I hope you all enjoyed your Christmas, I know I did. It gave me a chance to put my feet up and relax for a change, after another hectic and hugely successful year in Wales. Let’s go through it month by month.
P.S. Jac has kindly added some pictures showing me at work, so click on them to make them bigger.
JANUARY: The Dylan Thomas Centenery Year got off to a wonderful start when documents were found at Transport House showing that Dylan was a lifelong supporter of the Labour Party, joining the party in 1938 while fighting in the Spanish Civil War. Not only that, but a previously unknown poem also came to light. Here’s a brief extract showing both his mastery of pomes and stuff and also his commitment to the party he loved: ‘I’ve always been ronk Labour / Its meetings are never missed; / Its nostrums are adhered to, / Even when I’m pissed’. The second verse is playfully romantic: ‘I love the Labour Party, / It’s meetings are such fun, / The branch secretary’s a honey, / I wouldn’t mind giving her one’. Chokes me up, it does. And I bet it brings tears to the eyes of all poetry lovers.
FEBRUARY: It was brought to my attention that some foolish people are campaigning to re-open the Carmarthen to Aberystwyth railway line, possibly even go on to Bangor. It should be obvious to everyone that if you’re travelling by rail from north to south (or even south to north) then the existing route via Norwich is clearly the best option and gives people hours, days even, of extra working time. As the old English saying goes, ‘East to west is always best (especially in Wales)’. Who can argue with this tried and tested legitimisation of colonialism?
MARCH: I was surprised to receive from Mr Sargeant and his friends in the Planning Inspectorate a report saying Wales needs one million new homes by 2025. In fact, I said to him, “This seems like a lot, Carl”. But then it was explained to me that this number is due to our soaring birthrate fuelled by the booming Welsh economy which can only be attributed to 15 years of wonderful Welsh Labour controlling the Assembly. So when you look at it like that it makes perfect sense. In fact, a million may not be enough. (Which is what the Planning Inspectorate is already suggesting.)
APRIL: The London media, at the behest of the Coalition government, said terrible things about the Welsh NHS, so let me put a few things straight. The reason Mrs Rhian Evans of Llanrwst’s baby was delivered by the men re-possessing her three-piece suite was not because we had no ambulances available, it was because she tried calling for one in Welsh! Another calumny (a posh word taught to me by Mrs Hutt) being bandied about is that people have to wait ages before being seen by a doctor. Mr Bowen Owen of Ystradgynlais – fleeting cause celébrè of the right-wing English press – would not have spent three weeks in the waiting room if he’d told staff he was deaf. (And it goes without saying that patient confidentiality is our watchword.)
MAY: No, not Mrs May up in London, over whom certain men fantasise. (Ych a fi!) I’m thinking of the European elections, which Labour won with a stonking majority when almost 10% of those elligible to vote in Wales voted Labour. There’s no arguing with a victory of that magnitude. Though of course some nit-pickers did try, saying that Ukip got nearly as many votes as us. But that’s to miss the point, because – and I’m not talking about Europe here – on the issue that really matters, Labour and Ukip are gobbing into the same spittoon.
JUNE: Unkind things were also being said about our higher education sector, so let’s put the record straight. To suggest that some of our universities are lowering entry requirements and cutting corners in pursuit of money is both insulting and incorrect. The fact that Aberystwyth now accepts students with two F grades and a new toothbrush should not deflect from the excellent work being done there by the very popular Ms April McMahon and her loyal and supportive staff. As for Glyndŵr university, degrees were not – as was alleged – being sold in Turkmenistan, far from it. The truth is that a Welsh university broke into new markets by respecting local traditions. In this case, courtesy demanded that certain local dignitaries be allowed to take away examination papers and return them at a time of their own choosing. When it was accepted that the fruit of the potentates’ loins had completed the papers unaided, with everything above board due to the process having been overseen by invigilators provided at said potentates’ expense. How could anyone question such an arrangement?
JULY: Even though I was on holiday with Mrs Carwyn and the kids I couldn’t stop thinking about the job. One day, whilst sipping a mint julep (with shaved ice, natch), I was forced to concede that there are ‘issues’ in local government. That said, all the problems in Caerphilly were clearly the responsibility of the previous Plaid Cymru administration. If they had paid the chief executive a decent whack then there would have been no need for him to conspire arrange to have a massive salary increase from Mr Gezwell Kirby and his Band of Bruvvers in the incoming Labour administration. While down in Carmarthenshire the Independent Party and Plaid Cymru made a terrible mess of things. Later in the year, the leader of Swansea council had my full support . . . until the coup, after which the new leader had my full support. The bottom line is that everywhere you look around Wales you see the same problem – everything going to pot because people won’t let the Labour Party run things unhindered. (Or the chief executive, whichever applies.)
AUGUST: I went to the National Eisteddfod, held this year in Llanelli. As you can see from the photograph, I was mobbed by hordes of young Labour activists. (Phwoar!) While there I made a firm commitment to defend the Welsh language at all times . . . unless it meant contradicting the Planning Inspectorate, annoying the Secretary of State, pissing off Labour MPs, interfering with the colonisation strategy, damaging the profits of Wimpey, Redrow, Persimmon, etc., or alarming anyone in London. Those minor caveats aside, let there be no questioning of my firm resolve to do everything I can to ensure that Welsh-speaking communities survive and prosper.
SEPTEMBER: First, I summoned all the world’s leaders to a NATO summit in Newport so I could tell them how to deal with ISIS, Putin, Salmond and assorted threats to our perfect Western system. (Thankfully, no one realised there were any ‘protests’ in Newport because they were sabotaged organised by Ms Bartolotti of MI6 the Green Party.) Next, I flew (from Bristol) to Scotland to confront the aforementioned Alex Salmond and frustrate his dastardly plan to make Scotland democratic, fair and wealthy. (Jesus! think of the trouble that would have caused!) Due to some very nifty work backstage and in the wings (by those I dare not name) the referendum vote was an emphatic and overwhelming No. It was so emphatic and overwhelming that support for the Scottish National Party has now collapsed as Scots have come to their senses and flock to join the Labour Party. Mr Salmond himself is a broken man, and has abandoned all political ambitions to open a barber shop in Kirriemuir.
OCTOBER: Due to the thousands of new businesses that were created by Welsh Labour with the first two rounds of EU Structural Funds, and the hundreds of thousands of jobs that came with them, those nice people in Europe wisely gave us another two billion pounds to continue with our wonderful work. We are open to imaginative suggestions on how to use this money. Applications containing words or phrases not unlike those here listed stand a good chance of scuring funding: ‘eco-‘ / ‘community space’ / ‘CVs’ (as in ‘help with completing . . . for non-existent jobs’) / ‘enviro-‘ / ‘Labour Party’ (as in, ‘I am a member / supporter . . . ‘) / ‘self-esteem’ / ‘Green’ / ‘multicultural’ / ‘holistic’ / ‘LGBT’ / ‘social enterprise’ / ‘England’ (as in, ‘recently moved from . . . ‘) / ‘raiki’ / ‘not-for-profit’ / ’empowerment’ / ‘real job’ (as in, ‘never had a . . .’).
NOVEMBER: After reading that every Norwegian is now, theoretically, a millionaire, due to the success of Norway’s Sovereign Wealth Fund, I decided we must have one in Wales. (Though I have reservations about using the term ‘sovereign’.) Starting in January, groups of highly-trained financial analysts will be touring the country with state of the art buckets taking up a national collection. So give granny a good shake, slash open the sofa and chairs, and give whatever you can find to Welsh Labour because, deep inside, you know we’ll use it wisely.
DECEMBER: Mr Vincent Tan has made such a favourable impression on Cardiff City fans that we decided to capitalise on his popularity and fast-track him into the Assembly. He’ll be taking over Vaughan Gething’s seat of Kerdiff South and Penarth. We haven’t told Vaughan yet, it’ll be a surprise! . . . a hell of a surprise seeing as we’ve spread a rumour that he’s my annointed successor! (Well, laff!!)
2015: I look forward to 2015 with great optimism. Due to the wonderful work of the Welsh Government’s Bread and Circuses Division our boys will either win the Rugby World Cup or fail heroically; either way, if celebrated properly (with the help of our wonderful Welsh media), it should then give us a majority in the Assembly elections of 2016. As if that wasn’t enough, a string of blockbusters will be filmed at Valleywood: cruise liners will make their first, serene appearance on the Llangollen canal; the roar of F1 cars will be heard at the Circuit of Wales; Cardiff International airport will enter an exciting partnership with Bristol and be re-named Bristol (West); thousands of jobs will be created at the Margam Superpit; Llanelli town centre will become the favoured location for post nuclear holocaust movies; and Rhyl will be twinned with any other shit-hole desperate enough for the connection.
Take my word for it, 2015 is going to be a great year in Wales. Everywhere you go you’ll hear shoe-shine boys and beggars, bailiffs and food bank staff, whistling that old Harry Secombe number, Every day when I wake up, I thank the Lord I’m Labour.
Following on from the previous post, here is my response to the Welsh Government’s Department for Communities and Local Government’s Housing (Wales) Bill. The deadline for responses is Friday, so if you want to make a point then do it now, and send it to CELGCommittee@wales.gov.uk.
In case the PDF version below should disappear (as they have a habit of doing) the document should be available here.