Coronavirus and Wales

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

Yes, I know I’d promised to write on a couple of other subjects, but this coronavirus pandemic has turned things upside down. It’s certainly impacting on the Jones household.

To begin with, my daily trips to Tywyn for a coffee and a read of the ‘paper are gone. This was often followed by sauntering up and down the High Street, doing a bit of shopping, maybe driving down to Aberdyfi to mooch around some more. But not now.

I’m stuck at home with my long-suffering wife. Fortunately, being a home carer, she’s out quite a lot. Another aid to me keeping cabin fever at bay is to stock up on the Malbec. I’ve found that caressing unopened bottles can have a soothing effect.

Self-isolation has also meant no grandchildren staying, which only adds to the sense of this being a different time. And it’s also quieter outside the house, fewer people about, less traffic. If it wasn’t for the internet it might be like an earlier epoch.

Though perhaps what I miss most is the football. I used to spend at least 25 hours a week watching football. Not just Welsh and English football; I’m just as happy watching La Vecchia Signora or the Jam Tarts. But coronavirus is global, which means there’s no football anywhere. Anywhere! (Yeah, I know, that’s what ‘pandemic’ means.)

So when I’m not online, or out taking my constitutional, listening to music, or up in the attic doing my Fast Eddie impersonations on the kids’ pool table, I’m dipping into my books. Hazlitt has always been a favourite. But when I reached for that little volume of essays the other day I found a page marked with the dust cover, so I opened it . . .

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Fortunately I don’t believe in such things. So for all the shysters out there, and the lying politicians – I plan on being around to write about you for some time yet.

THE STORY THUS FAR

The realisation that things were getting serious took a while to sink in, for just about everybody, with the Welsh Rugby Union taking longer than most to get the message.

The Six Nations game against Scotland, scheduled for March 14, was going ahead almost up until the last minute. This despite the other games in Round 5 – Italy v England and France v Ireland – having been called off, and with football and almost every other sport also put on hold around the world.

It wasn’t until the afternoon of Friday the 13th, with Scottish fans safely in Cardiff and spending their money, that the WRU decided to call the game off.

To understand this disregard for the nation’s health you must appreciate what motivates the Welsh Rugby Union, what it regards as important. Vying for top spot are sucking up to English royals, and making money. Everything else is secondary.

In defence of the WRU, no pressure was applied by the self-styled ‘Welsh Government’. As late as Thursday the 12th, Vaughan Gething, the woefully inadequate health minister, saw no need to call the game off. Though in fairness to Gething, this non-decision could itself have been due to pressure from the WRU.

(Things can often be ‘reciprocal’ in Cardiff.)

Gething last week warned that Wales can expect a “larger impact” from coronavirus because Wales’ population is “typically older, sicker and poorer”. After two decades of his party running things in Wales he felt no shame in such an admission!

Something that did go ahead in Cardiff that Saturday was a Stereophonics concert.

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All grist to the mill of cynics believing that too many ‘national’ bodies based in Cardiff bend over backwards to make sure Cardiff never loses out, even when we are threatened by the worst pandemic since ‘Spanish’ Flu a century ago.

In terms of leadership, things have not got any better.

The ‘Welsh Government’ gives its daily briefing and issues advice, which is usually repeating what has already been said in London. Much like the laws passed in Cardiff docks, which are basically the same laws as England with ‘(Wales)’ added.

Exposing a fundamental problem with devolution when it’s run by a timid and unambitious Unionist party stuffed with mediocrities.

Labour has never resolved the conundrum of wanting to make Welsh people feel devolution is relevant to them but not wanting to depart too far from the London line for fear of being branded ‘nationalist’, even when doing things differently would be best for Wales. And so we have a sham devolution that neither enthuses our people nor serves Welsh interests.

All of which makes a mockery of “Welsh solutions for Welsh problems”, which is how devolution was sold to us many years ago.

Yet there are times when ‘Welsh solutions’ are needed. Let’s cast our minds back to last weekend, just after ‘lockdown’ was announced, when workplaces and schools were closed, and people told to stay home. Yet we saw thousands upon thousands of people treat a national emergency as a national holiday and flock to Wales.

While I didn’t expect the ‘Welsh Government’ to close the border and lay minefields, I did think they could have been a little more decisive than they had been the previous weekend over the rugby international, but no; not even when the scale of the irruption had become obvious.

Below you’ll see a few examples of the ignorance and stupidity we were confronted with, and just a few of many instances of locals acting for themselves. (Some still had to do it yesterday.)

UPDATE: Here’s the response of a second home owner in Y Felinheli today. The slate sign reads ‘Port Dinorwic’, as that road runs down to the old harbour.

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These colonialist attitudes are the result of ‘selling’ our homeland for decades as nothing but another nation’s holiday destination. Encouraging the belief that Wales is some kind of Brigadoon that only comes alive when tourists visit.

This belief that Wales exists for no other reason than the enjoyment of tourists results in contempt for us, our history and our very identity.  

Out of curiosity, I went to the Visit Wales Twitter account, and what I found was revealing. Up until March 12, two days before the planned Wales v Scotland game and the Stereophonics concert, there is at least one ‘Come to Wales’ tweet per day.

There is then a gap of ten days in which Visit Wales did no more than retweet other organisations’ tweets about coronavirus and, significantly, compensation. Like a rabbit caught in the headlights Visit Wales didn’t seem to know how to react. March 22 was of course the Sunday, and by then it had become obvious even to Visit Wales that locals in tourism hot-spots were organising themselves against irresponsible tourism operators and individuals.

Only then did Visit Wales put out a tweet telling potential visitors to stay away. And this might have been motivated as much by worries about the damage being done to the reputation of the tourism industry as by concern for public health.

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If I carry on like this I’ll be accused of ‘politicising’ coronavirus. This was the accusation thrown at Scottish first minister Nicola Sturgeon when she recognised the threat and acted on coronavirus earlier than Westminster.

I accept that coronavirus knows no national boundaries, while on an island there must be some unity of purpose in the face of such a threat, but Wales still faces problems that will not be appreciated by those giving orders in London.

As we’ve seen, one such problem was holiday homes and tourism, and many thousands of people choosing to self-isolate in Wales. Which exposed another serious failing down in Cardiff.

The ‘Welsh Government’ (and this of course includes Visit Wales) refused to address this problem for far too long because politicians and civil servants in Cardiff have come to believe their own propaganda – Wales cannot survive without tourism, consequently nothing must be allowed to interfere with tourism. Not even a pandemic.

Political leadership has been noticeable by its absence. From London the advice has swung from “Nothing to get alarmed about – let’s all catch it!” (the ‘herd immunity’ approach), to “We’re all gonna die! – everybody stay home!” (lockdown).

While here in Wales, when not acting as an echo chamber, our politicians have been even less inspiring. Just read the article below from yesterday’s Llais y Sais. (Available here in pdf format.)

Did you ever read such waffle from a politician? Was Wales ever cursed with a more evasive and dishonest practitioner of even this disgraced profession? Did you ever see anyone more out of their depth?

Yet here’s the man leading the party and the administration that over the past twenty years has given billions of pounds to the crony-parasites of the third sector, where we find CEOs pulling down £100,000+ salaries – while our nurses don’t have Personal Protection Equipment (PPE).

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(My wife, who every day visits sick and elderly people received her face mask on Friday.)

Political confusion reigns.

At London level we saw BoJo and the gang spurn the EU’s offer of ventilators; while in Cardiff, the ‘Welsh Government’ turned down an offer of 10,000, EU certified, Lloyds insured, testing kits of the kind used in South Korea.

This despite the World Health Organisation advising ‘testing, testing, and more testing’ as a way to avoid the spread of Covid-19. The only people being tested in Wales are those showing moderate to severe symptoms who might already have infected hundreds of others. Plus of course, politicians and their friends.

Carefully orchestrated communal clapping must not detract from these political failings. And when the coronavirus threat has passed we must remember how our politicians and their system failed us.

In the immediate future we must be on our guard against London using coronavirus to accrete more powers. For while devolution may not be worth defending, moving back to the status quo ante devolution must not be an option either, though it is being aired.

One airing came from a Welsh Labour MP during Scottish Questions last week, when Chris Elmore, the MP for Ogmore suggested that funding for Covid-19 should bypass the Scottish Government and go to local authorities. An interesting suggestion for a number of reasons.

The SNP of course forms the Scottish Government, but at council level we find a number of Unionist-run councils, often controlled by squalid coalitions held together by nothing more than a desire to keep the SNP out of power.

Such an arrangement as we find in the city of Aberdeen where, after the 2017 elections, the SNP was the largest party by some distance but is kept from power by an alliance of Conservatives, Labour and Independents. (Though the Labour councillors have been expelled from the ‘Scottish’ Labour Party for going into coalition with the Tories!)

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And while Elwood (or was he one of the Blues Brothers?) may be a nonentity in Wales, representing a rosette-on-a-donkey constituency, he certainly made the news in Scotland. And as the report I’ve linked to from the National puts it, “It was left to Alister Jack, the Tory Secretary of State for Scotland, to remind the Labour frontbencher of how devolution works.”

A Tory MP having to remind an MP of the party that introduced devolution how devolution works. Lord and Lady Kinnock must have been so proud.

Though if wanting to rip up the devolution settlement and insincerely argue that the common weal would be better served by handing money directly to local councils sounds familiar, then that might be because it’s the same thing we hear from the Abolish the Welsh Assembly Party. Is Elton a supporter?

If we are to do away with devolution, and that is certainly what I want, then it must be done in order to move forward to independence, not backward to direct rule.

Westminster is letting us down, Cardiff Bay is clueless, the BBC is failing us, Wales is even losing out when it comes to online shopping for God’s sake!

Covid-19 is disrupting all our lives, and will end a few of them; but it has served the purpose of exposing as weak and malleable incompetents those buffoons down Cardiff docks who’ve lied to us for over twenty years about defending Wales.

Stand firm, stay healthy, and when this threat has passed, emerge from self-isolation determined to push on for independence!

♦ end ♦

With Covid-19 dominating the News, and politics in a state of suspended animation, the pandemic even affecting the crooks I so often write about, I may not be posting so frequently over the next few months unless something important happens.

Look after yourselves!

 

Wales, the unmourned death of devolution

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

In this post I’m going to look at the latest YouGov for ITV/Cardiff University poll. There’s a clue to where we’re going in the title of this piece.

Obviously I’ll focus on devolution, so it makes sense to remind ourselves why we have devolution. Younger readers especially should stick with it because they might learn something.

Then I shall move on to consider what we do now that devolution has come to the end of the line.

INNOVATION DESIGNED TO MAINTAIN THE STATUS QUO

Devolution did not come about following a period of political upheaval or unrest, there was no ‘Nation on the March’. Devolution was thrust upon Wales because it served the interests of the Labour Party. Later, even the Conservatives could see benefits in maintaining a management team in Cardiff docks.

To understand the genesis of devolution we need to go back to the Conservative and Unionist Party led by Margaret Thatcher coming to power in May 1979. Under her leadership the party was re-elected in 1983 and again in 1987. Even after she was deposed in November 1990 the party went on to win the 1992 general election led by John Major.

Major’s victory was a surprise to most people, including many Conservatives. But none were as shocked as the Labour Party – who can forget Labour leader Neil Kinnock’s triumphalism at the now famous Sheffield rally.

Mr and Mrs Kinnock were compensated for this and other embarrassments, first by being shunted off to Brussels (where he served as Commissioner and she as MEP), and more recently to the House of Lords. But they remain committed to the struggle against privilege and inequality.

The old socialist tactic of ‘fighting the system from within’. ‘Well, all right!’ Click to enlarge

Each year of Tory rule made devolution more attractive to the Labour Party’s hierarchy . . . based of course on the assumption that a Scottish Parliament and a Welsh Assembly would always have Labour majorities.

The thinking was that devolution would give Labour two redoubts when not in power at Westminster. With many also believing that devolution would defeat the nationalists in both countries. George Robertson, Labour’s Defence Secretary and NATO General Secretary, believed back then that devolution, ‘will kill nationalism stone dead.

How wrong he was, certainly about his native Scotland.

The point to remember here is that devolution was introduced by the Labour Party to serve the interests of the Labour Party. What might be best for Scotland and Wales did not enter into Labour’s thinking.

When the Tories came back to power in Westminster in 2010 they were faced with two very different situations in Scotland and Wales.

The SNP had been in government in Scotland since 2007 and any attempt to remove powers from Holyrood, or do away with devolution entirely, could have made a mildly annoying situation a lot more difficult. Whereas in Wales there was a coalition between Labour and Plaid Cymru, which meant that Wales was ‘secure’, she could be ignored.

THE POLL

The results that were released a week or so ago covered a wide range of questions. Most attention has focused on two findings; the percentage wanting independence and the percentage wanting to do away with devolution altogether. Here are the full findings.

The figures quoted tend to vary so I’ll go with this WalesOnline piece by Ruth Molaski. And that’s where the figures below come from.

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Though the figure in favour of independence is claimed to reach 27% when don’t knows are omitted and other adjustments made. Applying the same refinements it’s claimed that 33% would vote to abolish the Assembly were they given the chance in a referendum.

As Wrecsam Plaid Cymru councillor Carrie Harper says in this Nation.Cymru piece these figures point to “a polarisation of views amongst Welsh voters”. Which I suppose it does, at first sight. But looking at them from another angle what appear to be polar opposites do in fact agree – they reject devolution.

Due to many factors, including Brexit.

I’ve argued – from the time I voted for Brexit – that a difficult and damaging Brexit, resulting in Scotland leaving the UK and Ireland reuniting, will force on Wales the choice between being trapped in Englandandwales and considering independence.

In fact, that was one of the reasons that I voted for Brexit.

Given the impact events in Scotland could have on Wales I was surprised by the way the question below was framed in the poll.

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Surely, it should have tried to establish whether Scotland becoming independent would make Welsh people more likely to support the independence option? So why the obtuse question about positive or negative – are we talking about batteries?

As it’s worded, I would obviously answer ‘very positive’. Whereas a BritNat would answer ‘very negative’. But we would be saying the same thing in that we agree Scottish independence will increase the chances of Welsh independence. But the findings, as they’re displayed, don’t show that.

Why wasn’t the question better worded?

A SYSTEM NOT DESIGNED TO DELIVER NOT DELIVERING

In her article Carrie Harper says that there is a feeling in the north east that ‘Cardiff doesn’t care’. I can tell her that this sentiment is not restricted to her home patch – it’s the same in Swansea, the Valleys, Gwynedd, Pembrokeshire, Powys.

In economic terms devolution has failed every part of Wales but Cardiff.

And yet, we keep electing Assembly Members to represent us who promise the earth, then they go down to Cardiff . . . and perpetuate this Cardiff-centric system. They betray us every time, no matter where we live and no matter which party we vote for.

One reason Cardiff’s done well out of devolution is because it’s used as a ‘showcase’. Visiting dignitaries, politicians, entertainers, rugby and football fans, etc, go no further than Cardiff. They see the investment, the cranes on the skyline and think, ‘Oh! devolution must be working for Wales’.

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Using Cardiff as a showcase city, to give a false impression of prosperity and progress, is symptomatic of a more general problem with the ‘Welsh Government’, that of show over substance. At it’s worst, it’s virtue signalling. But it’s not confined to the Labour Party.

Looking at the self-styled ‘progressive’ parties – Labour, Plaid Cymru, Lib Dems – I see parties playing to a gallery made up of a tiny minority within Wales and a much bigger audience outside of Wales with which that minority identifies.

What I mean is, giving a vote to the toe-rag doing time for robbing your Nan might get favourable column inches in the Guardian but Dai Public doesn’t support it and it does sod all to improve his life.

The ‘Welsh Government’ has declared a climate emergency. Of course it won’t make any difference on a global scale, not when Japan is planning to build 22 coal-burning power stations, and China many more. It’s not even as if the ‘Welsh Government’ takes its own declaration seriously, because if it did it would organise a functioning system of public transport, and it wouldn’t be funding Aston Martin to come here to make cars with gas-guzzling V12 engines.

But Aston Martin is more likely to go bust than it is to set up in Wales. It will join a long, long list of failed investments, money wasted, by politicians who know nothing about business and are terrified of Wales having a successful indigenous economy because it would lose them votes and give the natives the wrong ideas.

So we are served up empty rhetoric and futile gestures.

Not only do the ‘progressive’ parties ignore the interests of Welsh people but very often they introduce ‘Ooh look at us – aren’t we virtuous’ legislation that actually works against the interests of Wales.

For example, people entering care homes in Wales can keep £50,000 before they have to start paying for their care. The figure for England is £22,500. This is one reason that Wales sees an influx of retirees and elderly people from England adding to the burden on our NHS. Our ‘progressives’ would like to do away entirely with care home charges.

Money to fund this generosity must come from other budgets; which helps explain why our infrastructure is so poor, why our kids don’t get the education they deserve.

But now the ‘Welsh Government’ wants to punish us even more by introducing a tax to help fund care for the elderly and disabled . . . many of whom have been attracted to Wales by the £50,000 limit, free prescriptions and other gestures.

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Abolishing care home fees will result in an epidemic of granny dumping, they’ll be queuing at the border. It will be a disaster because the ‘progressives’ will not introduce a residency qualification to stop the system being abused. That would be ‘discriminatory’. (Truth is, they’re terrified of headlines in the Sun and the Daily Mail reading ‘Welsh bastards discriminate against our brave grannies . . . Dunkirk . . . Vera Lynn . . . )

And to expose how damaging devolution is, the Conservatives and the Brexit Party would support this economic insanity because they rely on the Invasion of the Wrinklies (PG) to provide much of their support.

You have to conclude that any administration planning to introduce a tax on a poor people to subsidise richer people moving to their country must hold the electorate of that poor country in utter contempt.

Another reason Wales is poor and badly run is because of the power of the third sector. Here in Wales – uniquely – the third sector has a role in government. The Wales Council for Voluntary Action, which serves as the umbrella body for the third sector, and operates almost as a department of the ‘Welsh Government’, is quite open about its role.

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This is why Wales has the biggest third sector on Earth, filled with leeching luvvies pulling down huge salaries to ‘combat’ problems they’ll never solve because it would put them out of a job; and to ensure they have enough ‘clients’ they import many of them from England.

The third sector coupled with Wales’ colonial relationship with England explains why the towns of the north coast have the biggest drugs rehabilitation industry in the known world.

Thanks to organisations such as Cais Ltd, based in Llandudno, which owns a number of properties, and is funded to the tune of £2.9m a year by the Wales European Funding Office . . . then there’s £1.6m from the NHS, £1.7m from local authorities, and a few million from other sources.

The Cais entry on the Charity Commission website says under the Documents tab that this company operates in ‘Wales And The Marches’. But the map found under the Operations tab tells the truth.

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Money given to Wales by the EU to raise standards is being used to further lower standards by importing drug addicts, alcoholics, criminals and God knows what else from north west England.

The driving principle of devolution seems to be using Wales for the benefit of just about everybody but the Welsh.

That’s why we have wind turbines that don’t turn, and hydro schemes that locals aren’t allowed to know anything about‘Saving the planet, innit’.

‘Rural initiatives’ mean tasteless and culturally damaging tourism developments, zip wires and the like. Or else it’s turfing Welsh farmers off their ancestral land at the behest of George Monbiot and his cohorts with the Summit to Sea scam aka ‘Lebensraum for Guardian readers’.

The ‘Welsh Government’ pushes through housing developments that Wales doesn’t need, funds housing associations many of which prefer not to have Welsh tenants, and does nothing while Welsh communities die when every property that comes up for sale is bought as a holiday or retirement home.

Wales is being turned into a retirement and recreation area for England, a dumping ground for England’s problems, and the pot of gold at rainbow’s end for every crook and shyster looking to make easy money.

But nothing is ever done for the Welsh.

Our politicians are insulated from the system they oversee by hiding away in Cardiff Bay, a world unto itself, hermetically sealed from reality. Where truth is whatever the third sector or the lobbyists decide best serves their interests.

An ugly place where reputations can be destroyed. And men. A cess-pit of corruption and treachery Wales can no longer afford.

AT THE CROSSROADS

There is nothing to be said in favour of devolution. After twenty years it should be obvious to all that it has failed the Welsh nation on every conceivable level. Yes, I talk of a nation; because without it there is no Wales.

Of course the Labour Party is largely to blame, but things would be no better with Plaid Cymru in control. If anything, things would be worse; for not only is Plaid Cymru further to the left than Labour, it has also been infiltrated by ‘woke’ lunatics.

Wales needs new political parties, fresh faces, and a whole new approach to running this country. No more virtue signalling, no more niche politics, no more identity politics, no more pretending that caving in to hedge funds is ‘saving the planet’, and no more ‘influence’ from the third sector.

What I’ve always said about devolution is now the accepted view of a majority of Welsh people, as the poll showed. The only question is which course we take from here. There are only two real options.

As I’ve already said, after Scottish independence and Irish reunification we can either submit to Englandandwales or else we go for independence. Devolution is dead. Nobody killed it, nobody needed to kill it, it destroyed itself.

Few will mourn its passing.

Time to get our people thinking about independence, and to do that we must have political parties grounded in the real world, in Welsh communities, determined to serve those communities and this nation of communities. These new parties must be ready to contest the 2021 Assembly elections.

And the more the merrier. Because with four or five Unionist parties run from London, and Plaid Cymru having such a narrow appeal, independence was impossible to achieve. Let’s broaden the appeal and shift the focus of debate away from London and the UK so that independence becomes the issue in Wales as it is in Scotland.

From now on Welsh politics must be about Wales, and the Welsh people. Let’s offer our people a real choice. No more, ‘What Unionist party should I vote for?’ but instead, ‘Which of the independence parties shall I choose?’

Spread the word! Devolution is dead! It’s time to move on!

♦ end ♦

 

General Election 2019

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

Well, what an election that was, for all sorts of reasons. I shall start this analysis with a quick look around the other countries before homing in on Wales.

NORTHERN IRELAND

If we are to believe the BBC then the results were bad for both major parties, the Democratic Unionist Party and Sinn Féin. Certainly SF lost Foyle (Derry) but it was to the nationalist Social Democratic and Labour Party. To compensate, the party won North Belfast, where Belfast Lord Mayor John Finucane triumphed.

John Finucane was just a lad in 1989 when Loyalist assassins burst into the family home and killed his solicitor father, Pat. Loyalist killers controlled by MI5.

Yes, votes for both Sinn Féin and the Democratic Unionist Party were down but it was the DUP that lost (in total) two seats, not SF. The cross-community Alliance Party won North Down, and in addition to Foyle the SDLP won Belfast South.

For someone who remembers the Troubles – and even the time before the Troubles – it’s quite amazing how politics has changed in the Six Counties.

Until the Reverend Dr Ian Paisley formed the DUP in 1971 the Ulster Unionist Party dominated the political scene, and it wasn’t until 2004 that the DUP became the largest Unionist party in terms of seats at Stormont and in Westminster. Now the UUP has no MPs and got just 11.7% of the vote last week, but even that was an improvement of 1.4% on 2017.

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On the other side, the similarly hegemonic SDLP has been eclipsed by a party that until quite recently was dismissed by the British media as the mouthpiece of the IRA. I can recall when we weren’t allowed to actually hear SF spokespersons – we could see them, and see their lips move, but the words had to be spoken by actors!

That was one of the more bizarre episodes in British broadcasting history. If we were allowed to hear what they said but not them say it, then I can only conclude that we were being protected from the harsh Ulster accent.

Northern Ireland, with more Republican/Nationalist MPs than Unionist MPs, plus one MP representing a party that is neutral on the border, and with Brexit thrown into the mix, is probably moving towards a referendum on Irish reunification.

For this debate is no longer framed by tribal loyalties. The old Protestant-Unionist objections to unifying with a poor, ‘priest-ridden’ country to the south are gone. The Republic today is both more liberal and richer than the North. What’s more, it’s in the EU, and Northern Ireland voted to Remain.

In any future referendum it will not just be Republicans and Nationalists voting for reunification, it will also be members of the Protestant middle class, business people and, especially, the young.

SCOTLAND

The headline result is of course that the SNP ‘won’ the election with 48 out of Scotland’s 59 seats. Though as we know, Boris Johnson has already refused to allow a second independence referendum, so how might events unfold?

Some suggest that the Tory government in London should play the SNP like a fish, paying out a little line (concessions), then reeling in (refusal) . . . until its energy is exhausted and it can be ‘landed’ (accepts no referendum).

Basically, faffing about in the kind of way that would suit Johnson perfectly.

An interesting metaphor that ignores too many unavoidable pitfalls and a number of imponderables.

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First, there’s ‘Getting Brexit done’, which served as Johnson’s mantra throughout the recent election campaign. Yet 62% of Scots and every single council area voted against leaving the European Union. That is a fact that cannot be changed – Scotland voted by a large majority to remain in the EU.

Which means that in fulfilling this election pledge he cannot possibly renege on Johnson will further antagonise many Scots. Even some of those who voted Leave but now wish to respect the majority vote.

Then there’s the Scottish parliamentary elections of May 2021. If London proves obstructive and the SNP turns this election into a mandate for independence we could enter a Catalonia-style morass. God knows where that might lead.

Another imponderable is how Labour supporters might vote in a referendum. They’ll be confronted with a choice between independence and Tory rule. Some will choose independence. How many take this option could prove decisive.

Then there are those who voted Leave but want independence, and may have lent their votes to the Tories last week in order to ‘Get Brexit done’. How many of these are there?

Imponderables aside, four fundamental facts are unavoidable:

1/ The SNP has won a massive victory.

2/ Consequently, the Tory government in London has no mandate to rule Scotland.

3/ Scotland voted to remain in the European Union.

4/ Consequently, London has no mandate to take Scotland out of the EU against its will.

Looking beyond the SNP – difficult given how it dominates the scene – we see that once-mighty Labour is reduced to a single seat, Edinburgh South. The Liberal Democrats are holding on to Orkney and Shetland, Caithness, Sutherland and Easter Ross in the far north, Edinburgh West and Fife North East.

The last of those is interesting because the SNP held this seat by just two votes, the smallest majority in the House of Commons. This time around the anti-SNP vote piled in behind the Lib Dem again and pushed Wendy Chamberlain over the winning line with a majority of 1,316.

Though the Lib Dem’s UK leader, Jo Swinson, she who had talked of becoming prime minister not so long ago, narrowly lost her Dunbartonshire East seat to the SNP.

Elsewhere, the Tories, who had been shaping up to become the natural home for Unionist votes lost seven seats to bring their total down to six. Given that they now hold large, rural constituencies (especially the three along the border) this means that the map gives a somewhat inflated view of Tory support.

Though it should be remembered that in all six Conservative seats the SNP is second, sometimes just a few hundred votes behind.

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Sometimes a party’s share of the vote can tell as much if not more about its overall performance than the number of its MPs. The figures for Scotland make poor reading for Unionists in general and for the new government in London in particular.

‘Getting Brexit done’ may have worked as a slogan in England, and Wales, but it seems to have had the opposite effect in the land that gave us the very word sluagh-ghairm. Which is perfectly understandable given that Scotland voted Remain.

With its separate legal and education systems, with the Kirk, with its banks and different banknotes, Scotland always was a different country. Soon it might be a very different country.

Whatever happens, we can guarantee that the greater the prospect of Scottish independence the dirtier the British state will play. And it certainly played dirty in the 2014 independence referendum campaign. Explained in this remarkable video, London Calling: BBC bias during the 2014 Scottish independence referendum.

I urge you to set aside an hour of your time over Christmas to watch it. Those you’ll see in the film are not wild-eyed conspiracy theorists, these are people who know the score. On the plus side, the BBC is now so discredited that it could never again play the influential role it played in 2014.

Scotland will soon regain the independence that was surrendered in 1707 by an unrepresentative parliament whose members had been bullied or bribed into supporting the Act of Union.

 As Robert Burns put it: Such A Parcel Of Rogues In A Nation.

ENGLAND

Reporting of the election in England was dominated by words like ‘landslide’ and talk of crumbling ‘red walls’. The reality is rather more nuanced, and disturbing for anyone wanting cultural harmony and social cohesion.

The truth is that in England the Conservative share of the vote increased by just 1.7% on 2017. The real story is the collapse of the Labour vote, down 8.0% on 2017. The Liberal Democrats were up 4.6%, the Brexit Party 2.0%, and the Greens 1.2%.

But if we look behind those bare figures we find where and why the Tories did so well. Those areas of the Midlands and the North that voted Leave in June 2016 saw the Tory vote increase substantially, while Remain areas saw the Tory vote go down.

The problem for Labour was that they lost out in both. That’s what happens to ditherers.

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The cities remain Labour, especially London; which meant that in the Midlands and the North the cities and conurbations did not collapse with the rest of the ‘red wall’. The West Midlands conurbation remained largely Labour, as did Merseyside, and Manchester, Sheffield, the Leeds-Bradford conurbation, plus Hull, while in the north east – Sedgefield and Blyth Valley not withstanding – Labour holds a swathe of seats from Newcastle upon Tyne North all the way down to Middlesbrough.

It is the smaller towns and cities, the former mining districts, that will be represented by Conservative MPs for the next few years. Without doing an in-depth check it looks to me as if Stoke on Trent was the largest English city to ‘defect’.

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So why did Manchester and Birmingham stay Labour while Bury, Scunthorpe, Dewsbury, Wakefield and many similar towns go Conservative? Almost certainly because the major cities of the Midlands and the North share certain features with London that make them more challenging for the Tories.

These features are:

1/ A generally younger population, with many students.

2/ Large immigrant populations plus settled ethnic minority communities.

3/ The presence of a ‘progressive’ middle class.

4/ More diversified economies that have coped with recession better than coalfield areas and towns built on a single industry.

5/ They attract more investment.

Which results in the rich and poor of England linking arms and facing off against those in between. Which is a strange thought, because for the greater part of the twentieth century politics in England split along class lines, a division that pitted Tory-voting shires and suburbs against Labour voting cities and industrial regions.

Going further back, to the nineteenth century, it was the new industrialists and others – through the Liberal Party – that represented the interests of the lower orders against the Oxbridge-educated Establishment of aristocracy, landowners, bankers, Church of England, army, civil service.

But last Thursday we entered a new paradigm. When so many people on the minimum wage are prepared to vote Tory then you know something has changed.

Students of politics will immediately recognise the parallels with the USA, where Donald Trump managed to get support from the richest sectors of US society and some of the poorest. Leaving the Democrats with a minority of the white working class supplemented by ethnic minorities, immigrants, and white liberals.

Brexit may have brought these US divisions into sharper focus in the UK but they would be there even without a debate over EU membership. People in the ‘neglected’ areas might have voted Tory last Thursday even without Brexit.

I say that because another reason they voted Conservative was because Labour, the party they once regarded as theirs, has drifted away, hijacked by the hard left, the detested metropolitan elite, and others who look down on them and regard their patriotism with revulsion.

Remember this from the Rochester by-election in 2014? Thornberry is back, and now one of the leading contenders to succeed Corbyn. Click to enlarge

As Jon Sopel, the BBC’s North American editor put it in this article (which is well worth reading): ‘Labour in the UK lost the working class, but gained the woke. And that will give the party sleepless nights over the coming months and years.’

Labour lost the election because it has alienated too many of the patriotic white working class. An as yet unquantifiable percentage of which might be mopped up by whatever party Nigel Farage comes up with next.

WALES

Let’s be brutally frank, there were just two things that saved ‘Welsh’ Labour from a worse kicking last Thursday.

The first was the terror felt by too many in the region twixt Blaenafon and Kidwelly at the prospect of rotating grandparents in the graveyards of Salem, Jerusalem, and yea! even Caersalem.

The second was the absolute fucking uselessness of Plaid Cymru. Because if Jon Sopel is right, about the Labour Party in England, then here in Wales the woke have become Plaid Cymru.

Yes, I know, Plaid held its four seats . . . and failed to come second in any of the other seats it contested. Leaving Plaid Cymru in serious danger of becoming a regional party within a small country, representing a constituency that is rural and largely Welsh speaking in an urbanised and largely anglophone country. Now there’s a party with a future!

Though, in fairness, Plaid Cymru has tried to break away from the ‘rural, Welsh-speaking’ strait-jacket. Unfortunately, rather than appealing to patriotic English speakers in the cities and towns the party allowed (encouraged?) the takeover by socialists who tar any critic with the ‘fascist’ brush, and those who insist that anyone who doesn’t accept a man with a penis as a woman is a ‘transphobe’.

Pick the bones out of that. Click to enlarge

Then, before the election, Plaid’s strategists (don’t laugh!) decided that it would be a splendid idea to go into a Remainer pact in a few seats with the Liberal Democrats and the Green Party of Englandandwales. In a country that voted Leave!!

This is why, last Thursday, when presented with the open goal of a Labour Party in chaos, a Conservative Party made untouchable by the fear of spinning sounds from the local boneyard, and the Lib Dems led by a delusional woman, Plaid Cymru’s vote actually fell, in real and percentage terms!

The only consolation is that Plaid Cymru is probably finished. No party with such limited appeal, making such disastrous decisions, is entitled to any future. What’s worse, in Plaid’s four seats the party’s supporters are social conservatives of the kind despised by those who now control the party. How long can this misalliance last?

Maybe it would be best for Plaid Cymru to drop the pretence that it’s a mainstream party and rebrand itself as the loony left party it has become. This would allow the emergence of another national party on the right to represent the ‘fascists’ and the ‘transphobes’, the patriots and those who’d like to build up an indigenous economy rather than rely on a begging-bowl variant of devolution.

At heart, Plaid Cymru is a Devo Max party securing the maximum number of careers, sinecures, peerages, etc., for those it represents, within the colonial system. Which means having enough power to indulge its lunacies without the responsibility of having to fund any of it.

Here we have a woman whose party has just had a truly dismal election congratulating winning candidates from other parties – just because they’re women! Click to enlarge

But things are not looking too good for this model of devolution at the moment. For a start, Labour is in deep and serious trouble on a UK level and this might extend to the 2021 Assembly elections, with Plaid Cymru in no position to keep the gravy train on the tracks.

Who’s to say the Tories won’t win an outright majority in 2021?

Worse, Plaid Cymru’s obvious weaknesses coupled with Labour’s self-destruction might encourage the new Conservative government to undermine or do away entirely with devolution.

At the very least, London could take more control over funding. An article by Martin Shipton dealt with this possibility in Saturday’s Llais y Sais. Here’s a link to the WalesOnline version, with a clip from it below.

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Now picture the scene . . . Boris Johnson rocks up in Swansea (or it could be Wrexham, Merthyr, Blaenau Ffestiniog or Pembroke) and says, ‘Now listen chaps, I can see that with this bally devolution most of the moolah stays in Cardiff, and that’s jolly unfair. In future, the Bozmeister will dish out the goodies himself – and I guarantee that it will be fair shares for all!’ 

This will of course result in demonstrations in all corners of the land defending the status quo, demanding that the money be given to the ‘Welsh Government’ . . . for it to divert into the poverty racket (third sector, to you). I foresee hastily-scribbled placards being borne aloft insisting that even spads and lobbyists have to eat.

Yes, I’m joking.

But it won’t be BoJo undermining devolution. Labour and Plaid Cymru, plus their parasite friends down Corruption Bay and elsewhere, have already done the job for him, to the point where few would put up much of a fight if the Tories tried to do away with devolution altogether.

Devolution has been an abysmal failure because nobody wanted to make it work for anyone but themselves. Nobody in London or Cardiff.

CONCLUSION

I have chosen to look at all the countries of the United Kingdom because while the Tories’ campaign was all about getting Brexit done, everyone knows that achieving that objective will jeopardise the unity of the state.

I have argued since the EU referendum in 2016 that Brexit and the chaos it could unleash, the knock-on effects in Scotland and Ireland, would offer great advantages to Wales if we only had the sense and the determination to seize them.

But for Wales to capitalise on these opportunities we need politicians, and political parties or movements that want Wales to be a country that benefits the Welsh, rather than a haven for retirees, refugees, colonists, third sector parasites and ‘investors’ looking for easy money.

But I’m deeply pessimistic; for this election suggests that Wales will be in no position to take advantage of the opportunities coming our way. We shall just drift towards assimilation.

♦ end ♦

 

Devolution, the placebo that no longer works

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

I suppose most people reading this know what a placebo is, but for those who aren’t certain . . . a placebo is something given instead of a medicine or treatment and is intended to fool the person receiving it into believing they are taking a medicine or receiving treatment.

In other words, the patient or guinea pig is given something that won’t really do them any good. Understandably, once they realise they’re being given a placebo then its usefulness is gone.

IN THE BEGINNING

Let’s start by reminding ourselves that devolution wasn’t a gift from Heaven, it was not promised in the Labour manifesto of 1997 because those offering it thought it would be good for Scotland and Wales. No, it was offered because it served England’s (perceived) interests.

Also, let’s not forget the Irish dimension; for to support a fragile peace process there was also an imperative to set up a Northern Ireland Assembly. In fact, this desire formed part of the Good Friday Agreement and the Northern Ireland Act (1998). For good measure London was also included in the package to make it look like a sincere attempt to devolve power from Westminster.

In reality, Tony Blair’s Labour government gave devolution to London confident that the Assembly would always have a Labour majority, to the Six Counties because of US pressure, and to Scotland and Wales as a placebo to ‘national aspirations’ which was safeguarded, so it was believed, by an electoral system (certainly in Scotland) that made it difficult for any one party to achieve an absolute majority.

LABOUR AND DEVOLUTION

But as we’ve seen, the ‘no majority’ system has failed, and the Scottish National Party has used its majority in the Scottish Parliament to improve standards and conditions in all manner of ways. But what of Wales?

Things are different in Wales for one very obvious reason. While Scotland has a political party and a government determined to improve the country, we have languished for twenty years under successive Labour and Labour-led administrations that have simply masked the old system of neglecting Wales unless she can be exploited.

A very recent and still emerging example would be the National Development Framework (NDF) produced a few months ago by the ‘Welsh Government’. I mention the NDF because it’s a “20-year spatial plan” for the whole country, all other plans are subsidiary to it.

I wrote about the National Development Framework in August, in a post of the same name. In the NDF we read that much of rural Wales outside of the national parks is to be ‘rewilded’, given over to a new ‘national forest’, or else covered in wind turbines and solar complexes.

From the National Development Framework. Click to enlarge

This of course allows the ‘Welsh Government’ to virtue signal madly that ‘Wales’ is making its contribution to saving the planet. In reality, Wales is being lined up for a coat of Greenwash that will be welcomed by the City and others as a money-making wheeze, while Wales provides even more of England’s electricity.

Of course, we’ve suffered wind turbines for a couple of decades, but what’s interesting in the NDF is that it explores new ways to exploit our uplands. The two articles below, one from the Times and the other from Llais y Sais, will help explain what I mean.

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The piece from the Times stresses the carbon-absorbing value of mountains and moorlands while the Western Mail article talks of planting trees on grazing land. Wales of course has plenty of mountains, moorland and grazing land, and if these are to be monetised then we can guarantee that ‘investors’ and others will profit from Welsh land.

All this will be facilitated by the ‘Welsh Government’. Playing the role it adopted with unseemly alacrity when presented with the Summit to Sea scam. For ‘Welsh’ Labour hates farmers more than perhaps any other sector of the population.

When it hasn’t been punishing rustics for not voting Labour the party has been building up an army of cronies to run the ‘poverty industry’. The third sector capitalises on Welsh deprivation with no intention of bringing relief or remedy because to do so would mean an end to the public funding sustaining thousands of well-paid – but usually unnecessary – jobs.

So we see that ‘Welsh’ Labour is quite happy to serve as London’s management team in Cardiff, and equally content to see Wales decline. Then, even at Assembly elections, Labour can heard bewailing Wales’ deprivation and insisting that voters ‘Send a message to London’.

Though what sending a message to London about the mess Labour has made of Wales is supposed to achieve I’m not sure. Unless it’s a pat on the head for the local Labour bigwigs and the promise of seats in the House of Lords.

PLAID CYMRU AND DEVOLUTION

Anyone looking at Plaid Cymru and thinking they see a party working for Welsh independence really should pop along to the Cloud Cuckoo Land branch of Specsavers.

In truth, the thought of independence terrifies Plaid’s leadership, and others in the upper stratum of the party. For with independence comes responsibility, standing on your own two feet, and delivering measures to improve the lives of the Welsh people – for there’ll be no one else to blame.

What Plaid Cymru wants is the kind of DevoMax system I outlined in Plaid Cymru, where to now? (scroll down when you get there). In a nutshell, institutions in which a native elite of politicians, professionals and administrators can prosper. We are almost there; with a few more powers devolved to the Assembly, such as justice and policing, these desires might be satisfied.

At the moment, Plaid still gets the votes of most of those wanting independence, also those concerned with the Welsh language, nationhood and associated factors. But this constituency is losing faith or simply giving up due to the direction Plaid Cymru is taking.

The hard truth for Plaid Cymru is that no amount of fascist-hunters, or trans lobbyists, or EU zealots, or planet-savers, or any other variety of political exotica will be enough to replace the socially conservative Welsh voters being lost, often alienated by the increasing grip on the party exerted by the aforementioned.

These newer elements promote causes common to a number of political parties and pressure groups, which often means that with Plaid Cymru they’re just hedging their bets. Their interest in Plaid Cymru, and indeed Wales, is often due solely to the attractiveness of a small country with a system of devolution and a malleable political leadership.

For the upcoming general election Plaid Cymru has entered into a disastrous ‘Remainer’ pact with a Liberal Democrat Party led by a woman who loses votes every time she’s exposed to public scrutiny and a Green Party that refuses to even recognise the existence of Wales.

Image courtesy of Sunday Times. Click to enlarge

With Labour and the devolution system it brought into existence discredited there is a golden opportunity to take Wales forward to independence.

But it can’t happen because all we have is Plaid Cymru, another leftist party that would rather be the junior partner in a colonial management structure than the party – like the SNP – guiding a nation towards independence.

Or perhaps I’m being unfair on Plaid Cymru, maybe its ambition extends to being the senior partner in a colonial administration. Now there’s ambition for you!

We have reached the stage where Plaid Cymru has nothing to say on Wales and independence; and few people listen to what it has to say on other issues. The party is surviving as a political force on goodwill accumulated in a previous incarnation.

THE PLACEBO NO LONGER WORKS

As the old saying has it: ‘You can fool some of the people all of the time, you can fool all of the people some of the time, but you can’t fool all of the people all of the time.’

That’s the stage we’re at with devolution and the leftist hegemony in Cardiff Bay. After twenty years of declining standards I believe that a majority of people now realise that devolution isn’t working and that the blame lies in Cardiff not London.

Realising that devolution has failed explains both the increased support for abolishing the Assembly altogether and also why more of us are prepared to consider independence. With correspondingly fewer in the middle willing to defend devolution. For the ‘recognition of nationhood’ and ‘better than nothing’ arguments no longer persuade.

If returned on December 12 it’s possible that the Tories will do away with devolution in the next couple of years, not because they’re ideologically opposed to devolution – they’re not – but because they can also see that the placebo effect is wearing off.

I would probably support the abolition of the Assembly, reasoning that it might be necessary to take a step back before we can move forward. When stuck in a rut it’s often necessary to go back in order to move forward with greater momentum than took you into the rut. And let’s be honest, we walked into devolution with our eyes shut.

Click to enlarge

And for those now calling me all sorts of names I put out a simple challenge – defend devolution. (And for God’s sake, don’t insult my intelligence by arguing that things would be better with Plaid Cymru in charge.)

I have argued for a few years that Welsh independence is most likely to come about from an interplay between internal dynamics with external factors, with the latter influencing the former. And that is what we now see happening: Devolution is discredited, as are the parties most closely associated with it; while beyond our borders clouds gather, but these are clouds with silver linings, if we only we realise it.

We now need a Conservative government in London to inflict all the damage its opponents predict it will. Then we must help the Scots in their second independence referendum. Finally, we must make a push for our own independence with a broad-based movement focused solely on Wales and Welsh issues.

Which is why I shall be supporting Welsh independence on December 12 by voting for the Conservative and Unionist Party.

♦ end ♦

 

Miscellany 04.06.2019

I haven’t prepared any in-depth or weighty post for this week; instead, I’ve put together a few things I’ve been thinking about, or been sent, that might also be of interest to you. You know me – always trying to please!

COALITIONS

One of the more bizarre responses to the 2016 EU referendum result came from Leanne Wood, then leader of Plaid Cymru – Let’s go into coalition with Labour!‘, she suggested.

Quite what this was supposed to achieve no one seemed to know, but it struck me at the time as a predictable response from Plaid Cymru’s clenched fist and beret tendency. Those who would still regard the Tories as ‘the real enemy’ even if ISIS invaded the Rhondda Fach.

I mention this because even with the Red Queen dethroned Plaid Cymru seems to be thinking along similar lines today. With new leader Adam Price calling for a coalition of Remain-supporting parties for the next UK general election.

click to enlarge

Ideally, of course, Plaid Cymru would like a coalition with Labour, but thanks to Comrade Corbyn’s vacillating that is not possible. So with that hope dashed, Plaid now seeks a deal with the Liberal Democrats, the Greens, Change UK and the SNP.

(UPDATE: It’s all happening! Now the ‘Welsh Government’ has come out for Remain.)

Let’s consider the SNP first. Things are very different in Scotland, where the SNP will be hoping to win every seat in the next UK general election; so the chances of them doing a deal with other parties, which would almost certainly mean standing down in some seats, is a non-starter.

The SNP could even turn the next general election into a vote on independence and EU membership, especially if Westminster refuses to allow another independence referendum.

Next up is Change UK. If you’re unfamiliar with this lot, then let me explain that they’re a bunch of preening egotists who couldn’t get their own ways in their previous parties. Before the next election comes around clashing egos will have destroyed this collective huff of a party and that’ll be the end of Change UK.

(UPDATE: Within hours of publishing this piece the bust-up happened!)

On to the Greens, aka the Green Party of England, for there is no Wales Green Party. Worse, last year Greens in Wales voted on whether to set up a separate Green party and decided to stay as the Green Party of Englandandwales. Which means that Plaid Cymru wants to work with a party that refuses to recognise Wales as a country!

Note how the BBC reports it, as if common sense prevails against dangerous separatists seeking to sunder a sacred bond. Click to enlarge

Finally, the Liberal Democrats, the party that kept the Tories in power at Westminster between 2010 and 2015, and the party that – with its single AM – helps keep Labour in power down Cardiff docks. A gang of opportunistic and amoral politicos that would sell their grannies for a sniff of power.

Despite decades of trying to promote themselves as the ‘nice’ party I have a deep and abiding contempt for the modern Liberal Democrats. I had time for old Geraint Howells and a few others from the genuinely Welsh Liberal tradition, but the modern party is a venomous thing not to be trusted or handled.

Containing individuals like Callum James Littlemore, who is ‘Diary Manager’ for local party leader Jane Dodds. (She needs a diary manager!) I thought for a minute it was a typo, and he worked on her farm, but apparently it’s true. Anyway, young Callum bears out all I’ve thought about LibDems.

click to enlarge

Though he can’t have been in Wales for long if he thinks Plaid Cymru “support divisive nationalism”. Listen to Uncle Jac: Plaid Cymru is a bunch of evasive, wishy-washy, ishoo-botherers, forever seeking distractions to avoid confronting any specifically Welsh issue. Brexit being the latest such distraction.

Let’s hope we hear little more from Littlemore. (Couldn’t resist it!)

Ruling out the SNP for the reasons I’ve given, these are the parties that Plaid Cymru is ready to co-operate with thanks to Plaid’s fixation with Brexit. What would Plaid get in return – I mean, would these parties campaign for Welsh independence, or even greater devolution? I think not.

It also means that by turning the next election into a single-issue affair Plaid Cymru will ignore the things people care about. Done in order to line up with England’s Brahmin left, thereby alienating thousands upon thousands of people that must be won over if Wales is to escape the humiliation long ago imposed on us by John Bull; a colonial system loyally maintained into the present day by ‘Welsh’ Labour and its rag-bag of hangers-on.

There’ll be a price to pay for this posturing, this self-indulgent myopia. I sincerely hope.

CORRUPTION BAY

This is a term I coined well over twenty years ago as the title of an opus describing the ‘regeneration’ of Cardiff’s docklands. Perhaps the biggest milking of the public purse ever seen in Wales.

Made possible by Secretary of State for Wales (1979 – 1987) Nicholas Edwards, who set up, in April 1987, the Cardiff Bay Development Corporation (CBDC), to be run by his good friend and fellow High Tory, Sir Geoffrey Inkin. The CBDC became the conduit for pumping hundreds of millions of pounds of public money into land owned by Associated British Ports (ABP), of which Edwards was a director.

The CBDC was wound up in 1999 and Edwards – Lord Crickhowell since 1987 – stepped down from the board of Associated British Ports Holdings Ltd 28 April 1999.

Of course, Edwards/Crickhowell didn’t have it all his own way. For example, despite donning his Welsh National Opera tricorn he failed to get a new opera house to the Bay, but learning from that disappointment he made sure that the ‘consolation prize’ of the Notional Assembly building was located on his patch.

And while it was being built he saw to it that ABP continued to coin it by having AMs and staff use Crickhowell House – at £2m+ a year.

Crickhowell House/Tŷ Crughywel/Tŷ Hywel, click to enlarge

Crickhowell House was soon renamed Tŷ Crughywel, and is now Tŷ Hywel, apparently in honour of Hywel Dda. Which looks very much like an attempt to hide the Crickhowell connection, for I’m not aware of Hywel Dda having any local connections.

Despite having moved into the new Senedd building over ten years ago the ‘Welsh Government’ still agreed a series of leases that bind it – and us – to Tŷ Hywel until 2049, or Armageddon, whichever comes sooner. Guaranteed to cost us many more millions of pounds.

I mention this to give the background to what we see today in Cardiff Bay; the squalid and incestuous wheeler-dealing, the lying and the backstabbing, the cronyism, the incompetence, and the waste of public money.

The latest example of the incestuousness comes with Daniel Bryant leaving lobbyists Deryn for Plaid Cymru. This ménage à trois involving Deryn, Plaid Cymru and the Labour Party is not good for democracy or for Wales.

click to enlarge

(Cathy Owens is a director of Deryn. Though I shudder to think what ‘Deryn standards’ might be referring to. Could it be sarcasm?)

But this is what devolution has done. It has given us a class of people, divorced from the real world, who study politics, help out local politicians in their spare time and then, when they finish university, get a job working for a politician, or lobbyists, making contacts, and getting on their party’s list of approved candidates.

They then become politicians and make decisions affecting the lives of people with whom they have little contact and for whom they may have little concern. I say that because politics is no longer about serving the people, it’s a team game of abstractions and all that matters is scoring points against the opposition. (Though in Wales it often seems to be just two ‘teams’ involved.)

This system of musical chairs that begins with teenagers choosing a ‘career’ in politics goes a long way to explaining why Wales is in the mess she’s in today. And also why, alone in western Europe, Wales has no register or regulation of lobbyists – because the lobbyists won’t countenance such legislation!

Speak out in favour of such legislation – as Neil McEvoy has done more than once – and you will be hounded and vilified – by lobbyists, your own party, and anyone else the lobbyists can influence. Is this democracy?

Of course not, but it is Corruption Bay; and those we find lurking there today are worthy successors to the Cardiff Bay Development Corporation.

REMOTE CONTROL

For anyone who missed it over on Jacqui Thompson’s blog, soon-to-be-retired Carmarthenshire chief executive Mark James plans to stay active with Ffynnon Consultancy Ltd . . . of Brighton. A company formed 23 April 2019.

‘Why Brighton?’ you ask, and the answer is because that’s where his mates are. ‘Mates!’ Yes, you must remember his partners from the Cardiff Bay property business. I wrote about it in Baywatch and Baywatch 2. In particular, Mark Philip Carter, a director with James of Building and Estate Solutions Today Limited.

That company is based in Cardiff, but Carter has other companies based at the same Brighton address – 161-163 Preston Road – where we find Mark James’s new venture. Companies such as Friend-James Accountants LLP, Friend-James Ltd and Opher Ltd.

The two directors of Ffynnon Consultancy are James and his missus. He with 400 shares, she with 100.

click to enlarge

It was always unlikely that when James retires later this month, and surfboards out of county hall on a flood of tears, that he would put on his slippers and take up some innocent pastime like counting his money, or evicting bloggers.

But now, with his own consultancy, his protégée Wendy Walters taking over his job, and Emlyn ‘Two Barns’ Dole keeping the councillors in check, James should be able to run the show by remote control!

For as the old saying has it – You can’t keep a good man down. Or in this case, a vindictive and manipulative megalomaniac, and Private Eye Shit of the Year 2016.

You know he can’t just walk away – for there is a Wellness Village to build!

Talking of which . . . there’s something nagging me, for there is another company with a very similar name to James’s new venture. This being the Ffynnon Consultancy Group Ltd.

What’s interesting about the Ffynnon Consultancy Group is that its entry in the ‘Welsh Government’s Directory of Welsh Businesses tells us: “At the Ffynnon Consultancy Group we identify and establish business connections across a wide platform of business sectors in the UAE and the GCC”.

‘UAE’ is of course the initials of the United Arab Emirates, and ‘GCC’ stands for Gulf Cooperation Council. So why would this obscure little company be operating in the Gulf?

click to enlarge

I ask because I’m sure you’ll remember that it was links with that part of the world that led to suspensions at Swansea University and the halting of city deal funding for the Wellness Village.

The sole director of the Ffynnon Consultancy Group – a one-share company that appears never to have traded or done anything since being formed in June 2016 – was Angela Louise Williams of Llandybie, until she was replaced last Friday by Kevin Williams of New Quay, Ceredigion, with the company’s registered address also transferring to New Quay on 3 June.

Given the Gulf connection, I got to wondering if there might also be a link with Swansea University, the Wellness Village, or with outgoing Carmarthenshire CEO Mark James’s new company Ffynnon Consultancy Ltd?

In the hope of getting answers I e-mailed Ffynnon Consultancy Group and received a reply from Kevin Williams, who expressed surprise that Companies House had allowed registrations from two companies with such similar names.

He assured me that neither he nor Angela Louise Williams had any links to either Carmarthenshire County Council or Swansea University. So that would appear to be that . . . just an amazing coincidence . . .

M4 OR NO M4

As I write this, on Monday evening, the word is that tomorrow the ‘Welsh Government’ will not back the proposed M4 ‘relief road’ through the Gwent Levels and Newport docks. So, on that assumption, here are a few points that immediately popped into the cavernous Jac cranium.

  • Let us hope that this unexpected decision heralds a new era of development and investment spread across the country, thereby obviating the need for an M4 ‘relief road’.
  • Presumably the announcement will be accompanied by promises to invest in public transport. Again, I urge that thinking goes beyond the Cardiff region, because there is a country out there.
  • Nothing would prove this administration’s commitment to both Wales beyond Cardiff and public transport better than a west coast railway line from Carmarthen to Bangor.
  • Finally, this decision might deter commuters from Bristol and elsewhere moving into Wales for cheaper housing – have you thought about that? Well, have you!

CAPTION COMPETITION

And, finally, this week’s caption competition. I am grateful to the person who supplied this wonderful photograph of Paul and Rowena Williams of Weep for Wales fame. The picture comes from the XscapeNow Facebook page.

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These crooks are former owners of the Radnorshire Arms Hotel in Presteigne, The Knighton Hotel, Plas Glynllifon, Seiont Manor Hotel and other establishments from Northumberland to Cornwall.

I can’t help thinking that holding an illustration of criminals being caught by the police might be seen as tempting fate.

♦ end ♦

 

EU Election: build-up, analysis and fall-out

This is in the form of a journal, covering the days leading up to the EU election, the election itself, the results, and of course, it concludes with an erudite analysis.

Yes, it’s another biggie, but broken up into daily sections for easier consumption. Enjoy!

WEDNESDAY

I can barely hear myself think, what with the brass bands playing out in the street, dogs barking, rival party canvassers hurling abuse at one another – look! one of the Change UK crew just punched a Green Party (of England) canvasser who’s dressed as a parsnip! It’s all happening here, I tell you.

I’ve just been to Tywyn for my morning coffee and it’s hectic there, too, a riot of colour; I’ve never seen so many posters up in windows and placards in front gardens and fields. People are intoxicated with excitement and are already queuing outside the polling station, Thermos flasks and sandwich boxes in their backpacks.

In fact, I haven’t seen such excitement since news of the relief of Mafeking came over the telegraph wire.

(Sod it, I can’t keep this up.)

Truth is, you’d never know there was an election happening. I have not seen a single canvasser, poster or placard, just minimalist leaflets delivered by the postie. If democracy is in peril – as the left keeps screeching – then it might be because nobody cares.

I’ve just watched BBC ‘Parliament Live’ and it’s obvious that Theresa May is on her last legs, there is little support for her anywhere in the House. Her legacy might be that through blind stubbornness she will have delivered what few really wanted just a few months ago – a hard Brexit.

Image courtesy of WalesOnline, click to enlarge

Here in Wales, Plaid Cymru is happy because a poll puts them on 19% for tomorrow’s election. But with the two main parties in complete disarray, the not-quite-dead Lib Dems on 10%, the Green Party (of England) on 8%, and a party that didn’t exist a few months ago on 36%, maybe 19% isn’t really that impressive.

Especially as Plaid got 15% in the previous EU election in 2014. And this time around is promoting itself as the last best hope for Remainers.

In Scotland, the same polling company came up with the following figures: SNP 38%, Brexit Party 20%, Green 11%, Labour 10%, Conservatives 10%, Lib Dem 7%, UKIP 2%, Change UK 2%, Other 1%.

It would appear that for this election much of the Unionist-Brexit vote in Scotland is coalescing behind the Brexit Party, and it’s worth bearing in mind that the Green Party in Scotland supports independence. So even though this is a EU vote there could be a majority tomorrow for pro-independence parties.

I’ve got a hell of a cold.

To be continued . . .

THURSDAY, ELECTION DAY

I can’t report ‘fevered activity’ because there isn’t any, certainly not on the EU election front. This election we shouldn’t be having has people thinking of things other than who gets to sit in the EU Parliament.

For most in the Conservative Party the objective now seems to be removing the Prime Minister. Earlier in the week the cabinet agreed on a way to proceed with Brexit, but by the time Mrs May brought it to the House of Commons the agreed plan had changed in ways that most cabinet members couldn’t accept.

This sealed Mrs May’s fate. Another blow was the resignation of Andrea Leadsom, Leader of the House. It’s only a matter of time now.

But back to the election where, on Twitter, Plaid Cymru seems to be anticipating a good result. Time will tell.

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Despite having a hell of a cold I bravely decided to stay up to watch Newsnight. An interesting panel for the discussion (27:25); people who were there at the end with Margaret Thatcher, Gordon Brown and David Cameron, plus Fraser Nelson of the Spectator.

It was generally agreed that Mrs Thatcher would go after President Trump visits in early June. Fraser Nelson pointing out that in the morning she meets Sir Graham Brady of the 1922 Committee and if she can’t produce an acceptable plan for slinging her hook then he will open the dreaded sealed envelopes and that will be that.

Talk inevitably turned to her successor, and the usually well-informed Fraser Nelson told us that Boris Johnson is “so far ahead with the country” that there might be no contest. In other words, the Tory grassroots want someone who might win a general election, or be able to repel – even align himself with? – the Farage juggernaut.

By 36:55 talk turned to the Union, and a how a ‘no-dealer’ like Boris Johnson might threaten this sacred bond. The view was that, essentially, the harder the Brexit the more likely it is to result in Scottish independence.

The other side of this coin, is of course that staying in the EU – which is what Plaid Cymru wants – is more likely to hold the Union together. Which in turn means that by becoming a Remainer party Plaid Cymru could be seen as turning its back on Wales and independence to play silly, British, games. And not for the first time.

For me, as ever, the priority is independence, and I don’t care if it’s delivered by Old Nick himself.

Elsewhere . . .

The Assembly sat and debated a Conservative motion reading, ‘The Welsh economy has stagnated since devolution’.

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The motion was lost because Plaid Cymru supported Labour, as it always does.

Over the years I’ve noticed that Plaid Cymru is quite prepared to mildly criticise Labour . . . until the Conservatives appear. Then it’s socialist solidarity all the way. Labour knows this and can play Plaid Cymru like a violin.

In fact, I think the motion was rather generous. The Welsh economy hasn’t stagnated since devolution – it’s gone backwards. And it’s all due to Labour and Plaid Cymru. Which is why they could hardly admit it.

Still suffering with my cold.

To be continued . . .

FRIDAY

My cold is worse. (I knew you’d be worrying.)

Theresa May has finally resigned. It’s almost anti-climactic, it feels like we’ve been here so many times recently. As Fraser Nelson said on Newsnight, “Ever since she lost her general election her card has been marked”.

Reminding us yet again that for the Conservative Party in the late twentieth and early twenty-first century ‘Europe’ has become what Ireland was for the nineteenth century Liberal Party.

In her farewell speech outside No 10 Mrs May mentioned ‘the Union’ a number of times which, with the increasing prospect of Boris Johnson replacing her, comes under greater threat. The prospect of dealing with Johnson may have prompted Scottish First Minister and SNP leader Nicola Sturgeon to go straight for the nuts with this tweet.

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But of course, the SNP is in a bit of a bind. On the one hand, yes, most Scots voted to Remain. But if the loonies take over the asylum and broadcasters are forced to run Churchill speeches interspersed with musical interludes by Dame Vera Lynn and the Band of the Coldstream Guards then – as I argued in my previous posting – it greatly increases the chances of Scottish independence.

The same applies in Wales. Wanting to be on the side of the angels is all well and good over a skinny latte in Corruption Bay, but when you know that the ‘devils’ are more likely to deliver what you have yearned for all your life then you have to be pragmatic.

I shall definitely have an early night tonight.

To be continued . . .

SATURDAY

This cold of mine could be psychosomatic, connected with the lack of football on the telly, but there are three games today. One being the Scottish Cup Final between Hearts and Celtic, then Newport play Tranmere in the League Two play-off final, and finally, this evening, Barcelona play Valencia in the Copa del Rey final.

The games at Hampden and Wembley both kick off at 3pm. How difficult would it have been to move the Newport v Tranmere game to 5pm? What does it say about the Union? Did somebody in the English FA say, ‘Oh sod that game up there, only the Jocks will want to watch it’. Wrong!

One of the best games I’ve seen in recent years was the 2016 Final between Hibernian and Rangers. With the Hibbees winning in injury time, their first triumph in 114 years. This was followed by fans brawling on the pitch and then, after the polis eventually restored order and got the Gers fans out, we were treated to a glorious rendition of Sunshine on Leith.

What other sport offers you all that?

Being Saturday, there’s little happening on the political front. Though my attention was drawn to a piece on Nation.Cymru yesterday entitled This EU Election was a big disappointment by Remain parties, an outcome Ifan Morgan Jones attributes to a lack of preparedness on the part of the Remain parties combined with Liberal Democrat perfidy.

On the sporting front, Celtic beat Hearts 2 – 1, Newport lost in extra time, and the Copa del Rey final wasn’t even bloody televised! What the hell am I paying for? Never mind, I watched Roscommon beat Mayo in the football (Gaelic) from Castlebar. I kept thinking, ‘I’m sure there’s a Rebel song with a reference to chasing “redcoats through old Castlebar”‘.

The cold persists. I have been bringing up impressive amounts of phlegm from the bronchial region and I’m also into the runny nose stage. The Jac nostrils will need to be plugged tonight ere I lay down my aching head.

To be continued . . .

SUNDAY – THE RESULTS!

Before I could settle down and start working myself up into the required frenzy ahead of the results I had a few chores to fulfil. One being to deliver grandchildren home to Tywyn ahead of the local carnival.

After dropping them off and doing some shopping I was driving past the Co-op when I felt a knock and realised that my nearside wing mirror had been pushed in. Obviously a coming together of my wing mirror with that of a parked car. The traffic made it impossible to stop so I drove on intending to pull into the school driveway.

But then I realised that I was being pursued by a gangly youth, soon joined by another youth, also gangly. The first of them ran in front of my car and stood there with hands on my car bonnet. Then he took a photo of my number plate before demanding that I get out. Which I did.

This first youth then ranted about damage to his vehicle and pointed to my still pushed in wing mirror as evidence of collateral damage to my vehicle. (With his erudite mate contributing ‘Yeah’.) So I walked round, pulled the mirror back into position, showed him that the glass was intact, and that what he insisted was ‘damage’ to the outer shell was just dead bugs. This deflated him somewhat.

Unkind words were then exchanged to the merriment of the growing crowd and we parted acrimoniously, with the first youth – the more loquacious of the two – aiming a kick at the rear of the Jacmobile as a parting shot.

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Picture the scene, gentle reader: a man who never annoys anyone and who has always supported the tourism industry is accosted on a public thoroughfare by two young persons visiting from Englandland. Oh! the irony, the irony.

(Am I over-egging this?)

Anyway, as insurance, the incident was reported to North Wales Police soon after I got home. A young lady called at 2:09 from a withheld number, and assured me that someone would be in touch in a few days to take further details.

Then I settled down to watch  Sunderland lose to Charlton in the last minute of injury time. No luck for these Black Cats.

All other matters aside – but still struggling with my cold – I turned my attentions to the elections, the results of which will be out tonight. Though not all the results from Scotland or Northern Ireland; due to Hebridean Sabbatarians and the complexity of the voting system over the water.

To get us warmed up for the main event Ifan Morgan Jones is doing his now customary routine on Nation.Cymru with his live election blog. Despite bigging up Plaid Cymru IMJ has to concede that both Lib Dems and Greens will do well.

Though other projections only serve to illustrate how lightly people take these EU elections. IWJ reports that Greens are expected to win 23% of the vote in Ireland, up from 1.2% last time. If true, then a jump like that can only attributed to a ‘What the hell? – these elections don’t really matter’ attitude.

I have a bottle of Malbec uncorked and I shall soon settle down for the results programme.

It’s now 1am and I’ve seen enough to tell me that this is an unreal election. I’m not saying that tonight’s results will not have lasting implications, but I am saying they will not be repeated in a ‘real’ election.

I shall conclude this marathon piece tomorrow with a more thorough analysis of the results in Wales and beyond. Perhaps even the Western Isles.

And anyway, there’s no rush. Today is a Bank Holiday, people will have other things to do, places to go. I shall now return to my Malbec.

But before rejoining that most glorious product of Argentina I must comment on this tweet I just picked up.

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Why should a football fans’ group, supposedly appealing to fans of all political persuasions, takes sides politically? Do those running this Twitter account seriously believe that all Welsh football fans agree with their sentiments? This is the social media ‘echo chamber’ at its worst.

Are we supposed to believe that people who voted Brexit don’t sing Hen Wlad fy Nhadau? Don’t support the national football team? Aren’t proud to be Welsh?

Remainers are proving to be very divisive in Wales, and in areas where Brexit should not intrude, such as the movement for independence, and now – football!

To be continued . . .

MONDAY, ANALYSIS

Here are the headlines: The SNP increased its dominance in Scotland, but in Wales and England the clear winner was The Brexit Party, formed less than two months ago. The two ‘main parties’ got hammered everywhere.

If you regard Thursday’s vote as some kind of second referendum on Brexit, then a) you’re probably a Remainer, and b) you really should get a life.

Remainers are claiming victory because, they argue, parties backing a second referendum, or staying in the EU, ‘won’ what was really a party political election. In other words, we must regard Thursday’s vote as another referendum on Brexit! Or maybe a referendum about a referendum?

Which explains why turnout was higher in areas that voted Remain in 2016 than in areas that voted Leave. And this is why I would urge caution in interpreting Thursday’s result. Because if Remainers were more successful in getting their supporters out then that is not necessarily a good indicator of how a second referendum might pan out.

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Something else worth remembering is that the turnout on Thursday was just 37.1% in Wales. The UK figure for the 2016 referendum was 72.2%. Which means that there are a lot of Brexit voters out there who gave the polling stations a miss on Thursday.

That’s because those who voted Leave in 2016, and with Brexit now on the horizon, felt no urgency to express their views. As in life, you’re more likely to make a fuss if you feel you’re being ignored, or if you’ve lost.

Now let’s look more closely at the result in Wales. And previous results.

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As you read at the top, the winner by a mile was The Brexit Party. Greens and Liberal Democrats were both pleased with their performances. Even though they won the EU elections ten years ago on Thursday the Tories got less than half the Lib Dem vote and only just beat the Green Party of England.

This is obviously due to the disastrous premiership of Theresa May. Which means that with the right replacement the party should recover much of the ground lost.

While the Conservative share of the vote was down to just over a third of what was achieved in 2014, Labour did rather better in slipping from a poll topping 28.15% in 2014 to 15.3%.

But this defeat can also be attributed to the party leader, though unlike the Tories, Labour seems to be stuck with theirs. The nominal leader of Labour in Wales, a Matt Drakewell, responded to the result with uncharacteristic decisiveness and, perhaps even more surprising, he seemed to challenge Comrade Corbyn:

“Faced with the damage of a hard-line, Tory Brexit, Welsh Labour believes that the final decision must be made by the public in a referendum. And, for the avoidance of any doubt, a Welsh Labour government would campaign, in such a vote, for Wales to remain in the EU.”

No doubt that announcement will be welcomed in Corruption Bay, from where so much EU funding has been distributed to cronies, but it’s guaranteed to lose Labour tens of thousands of votes in the heartlands that should have seen that money.

Now let’s turn to Plaid Cymru.

Publicly, Plaid is claiming a great victory because, as leader Adam Price put it, “This result is an historic one for Plaid Cymru, beating Labour in a national election for the first time.” Except that . . .

Many in Plaid Cymru expected to get well above 20%; to be achieved by getting some of the votes that eventually went to the Greens and the Lib Dems. For as I said earlier, Plaid had been assiduously promoting itself as THE Remainer party in this election, but too many voters refused to buy it.

Yes, Plaid’s vote was an improvement on 2014, but ten percentage points below what the party achieved in 1999 under Dafydd Wigley. Then again, maybe Adam Price should be thankful Plaid didn’t do better, otherwise he might have found himself out of a job.

‘Progress’ for Plaid Cymru means ignoring the steps backwards and only remembering the forward steps trying to make up lost ground. Overall, taking the long view, there has been no progress at all for Plaid Cymru in twenty years. Or maybe ninety years.

With Labour tearing itself apart over Brexit Plaid Cymru has never had a better chance to win an election, but it still lost to a party less than two months old, with no manifesto, no policies, no nothing.

My cold is much improved. Nice of you to ask.

WHAT’S NEXT?

Brexit is not going away. It is set to haunt and bedevil the politics of these islands for many years to come.

Which might explain why Scotland’s First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon, speaking in Dublin today, promised a second independence referendum in the second half of 2020. She wants out, and believes that enough Scots agree with her to deliver a Yes vote next year.

Plaid Cymru wants a second EU referendum, but what purpose would it serve? If it delivered a Remain victory then those who voted for Brexit in 2016 would argue that they have been cheated. If it reaffirms Brexit then Remainers will still not accept it.

While the SNP wants to leave this mess behind Plaid Cymru wants to get involved in an English civil war. That’s because for Plaid Cymru Brexit is now more important than independence. To the point where many Plaid Remainers regard those who voted for Brexit or the Brexit Party as some form of untermensch.

Here’s one Plaid supporter tonight calling the people of Blaenau Gwent ‘Morlocks‘! These are Welsh people being insulted by a Plaid Cymru supporter for holding different views to him – yet Plaid will soon be asking these people for their votes!

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When did Plaid Cymru become such an extreme and intolerant Remain Party? And why has a ‘socialist’ party turned on the working class?

England is on the road to chaos, Brexit simply exposes older and deeper divisions, over class, the north-south divide, anger at London being so rich while former industrial areas are left to rot. This could get nasty.

Which is why I believe that the priority, now more than ever, must be independence. To maximise support for independence we need another political party to reach out to those that Plaid Cymru is not only unable to reach, but is now insulting and alienating.

This tweet is from Channel 4 director and producer, Martin Durkin. In Wales Plaid Cymru has also adopted the Brahmin left position – at the prompting of the third sector. Click to enlarge.

Those who are not socialists, those who have reservations about the EU, those beyond the echo chambers and the incestuous networks of Corruption Bay. Those that so many in Brahmin left Plaid Cymru now regard as poor, stupid and inferior.

Fortunately we have such a party in Ein Gwlad. A party that will never be flattered or cajoled into lining up with those who don’t give a damn about Wales. A party that knows who Wales’s friends are, and can also identify her enemies.

And I can promise the people of Blaenau Gwent and other parts of Wales that Ein Gwlad will never call desperate Welsh people in abandoned communities ‘Morlocks’.

♦ end ♦

 

Voting Brexit Party for Welsh independence

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

In June 2016 I explained why I was voting for Brexit in a post on this blog entitled, ‘EU Referendum: Why I Want OUT!‘ I followed it up after the referendum with ‘Brexit, Wexit: Things Can Only Get Better!’

I’m telling you this in the hope of proving that what follows is both intellectually and on all other levels consistent with what I wrote three years ago. Consistency being in short supply in Welsh politics at the moment.

AS I WAS SAYING . . .

I explained in June 2016, with the six points reproduced below, why I believed Brexit could result in Welsh independence.

  • We shall lose the EU hand-outs and these will not be replaced by Westminster.
  • Leaving the EU will result in economic meltdown.
  • The City of London will be replaced as Europe’s No 1 financial centre.
  • Brexit is fundamentally English nationalism.
  • Post Brexit the UK will experience the most repressive and anglocentric government ever known.
  • Scotland will probably become independent.

Since writing that I have also come to believe that the Brexit shambles, and the possibility of a hard border in Ireland, could well result in a reunified Ireland.

I concluded my pre-referendum piece in June 2016 with, ‘If you care about Wales, and if you want to see Wales survive and prosper as a nation in her own right, then you must vote to leave the European Union as the precondition for leaving the United Kingdom’.

I wrote that because I hoped for the debacle we see now, the confusion of political parties imploding and new ones appearing out of nowhere, with the emergence of an intolerant English nationalism that tries to shout everybody else down. I also wanted economic collapse. Does that make me irresponsible? Maybe, but only in the short term.

After the referendum Plaid Cymru’s leadership should have sat down, held hands, and engaged in an honest discussion in the hope of figuring out why so many Welsh people had gone against its recommendation and voted to leave the EU.

Had they done so they might have realised that many Welsh voters were pissed off with falling standards in health, education, housing and so many other fields; and they were relatively poorer than they’d been ten or twenty years earlier, with their concerns ignored by politicians they felt to be ‘distant’ and out of touch.

So they allowed themselves to be seduced and they took their frustrations out on the EU by voting for Brexit.

An honest inquiry like that should have made Plaid Cymru realise that many Welsh people were pissed off enough to vote for Brexit because devolution had failed them due to the ‘Welsh’ Labour Party being less than useless.

But when presented with the ever-open goal of England’s management team in Cardiff Bay Plaid Cymru always prefers to put the ball over the bar.

Wales voting for Brexit was as much due to Labour’s and Plaid Cymru’s inadequacies as it was to London’s neglect, proven by the situation in Scotland. There the SNP took Labour on in a no-holds-barred struggle – and won. With the result that since the SNP took control in 2007 things have visibly improved across the board for most Scots, and this influenced their vote in the EU referendum.

For by 2016 not only was Scotland doing much better than Wales by every measurable criterion, but the SNP had successfully convinced a majority of Scots that any problems affecting them could be attributed to London, not Brussels.

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Plaid Cymru’s failure to emulate the SNP’s success was due to the party spending almost two decades doing no more than a little light sparring with Labour prior to elections. The enemy was always ‘them wicked Tories, innit’, even when the Conservative Party was in opposition in Westminster!

A major reason Wales voted for Brexit in 2016 was Plaid Cymru’s failure to emulate the SNP. Worse, when not cwtching up to Labour the party was pushing a discredited ideology and obsessing over ‘niche issues’ rather than the everyday concerns of real Welsh people.

Plaid Cymru is now repeating past mistakes by linking up with groups like the Green Party that view Brexit, and Wales, through an Englandandwales prism. But it has no alternative because it failed to create a Welsh dimension for Brexit.

RED QUEEN TOPPLED, PAWNS FIGHT ON!

Since the overthrow of the Red Queen it appears that Plaid Cymru has, confusingly, moved further to the left! Not only that, but the party has reneged on its 2017 election promise to secure the best Brexit deal for Wales by recently coming out as a hard-line Remain party.

Both these trends were in evidence a week last Saturday at the All Under One Banner Cymru march in Cardiff. Not only was the event restricted to Plaid Cymru and its offshoots but there was as much if not more talk of socialism and EU membership than of Welsh independence.

One speaker, Sandra Clubb, of Undod – Plaid’s ‘independence-but-only-if-it-means-a-socialist-dystopia’ group – even called for a socialist feminist republic. I bet that would be jolly!

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Sandra Clubb is the wife of Gareth Clubb, Plaid Cymru’s CEO.

Consider this: Plaid Cymru was never able to shake off the perception that it’s a party for Welsh speakers. This belief limited the party’s appeal and cost it the votes of otherwise well-disposed, Welsh-identifying anglophones.

Rather than learning from this difficulty Plaid Cymru is now further limiting its appeal by saying, ‘We are the party of independence – but also a socialist party wanting EU membership’. Thereby alienating non-socialists and those none too keen on the EU . . . in a country where the majority voted for Brexit!

This self-destructive positioning can only happen when there is a monumental misjudgement of the public mood brought about by echo-chamber ‘debates’. Social media does indeed have a lot to answer for.

As for the undoubted increase in support for independence, this is due to the same anger as influenced the Brexit vote – but with three more years of it! And there are more who feel this way.

With growing numbers of people increasingly pissed off it’s inevitable that some will look with fresh eyes at Welsh independence. But this has little or nothing to do with anything Plaid Cymru has done.

Yet we see Plaid Cymru trying to ride this wave, and even control it, by presenting itself as the only party offering independence. Which explains why Ein Gwlad was not even informed of the Cardiff march, let alone invited to participate.

One obvious manifestation of this mood has been YesCymru.

A GOOD IDEA BEING SUBVERTED?

I was so glad to see the emergence and growth of this new movement, bringing many new faces into the independence tent by avoiding ideologies and having no links with any political party – as is the case with All Under One Banner in Scotland. But it couldn’t last.

That’s because despite having made little or no contribution Plaid Cymru still wants to both capitalise on and control the growing mood for radical political change within Wales. While also being the local franchise for a UK-wide anti-Brexit movement of the woke and the ‘progressive’.

My understanding of YesCymru is that it’s a loose collective of independent local groups. But to counter centrifugal tendencies it has a Central Committee, and a Constitution. Towards the end of last year, first at an Annual General Meeting, and then at an Emergency General Meeting, both were changed to personnel and rules more attuned to the thinking of Plaid Cymru’s leadership.

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To cover all the bases, in January, Plaid Cymru launched Undod, an outright socialist group, which as we’ve seen, is calling for a socialist feminist republic. Now some tell me I’m out of touch, so maybe there are tens of thousands marching for this feminist republic. If so, they have not marched past Château Jacques.

And although YesCymru maintains the pretence of being ‘a non-party political grassroots organisation’, this pretence is wearing a little thin. A couple of recent incidents will explain what I mean, in relation to both the EU and Plaid Cymru.

Last Wednesday, Nigel Farage visited Merthyr, and the local branch of YesCymru was out protesting. More than that, they blocked a road to stop people from attending the Brexit Party rally.

Then on Saturday, when Plaid Cymru was out leafleting in Chepstow, the local YesCymru crew turned up in support.

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We’ve seen (in the passage of the Constitution I linked to above) that YesCymru claims to be ‘non-party political’, but what does the Constitution say about the EU?

What it says is (my highlighting):

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That reference to ‘the wider European family’ could mean cousin Helmut in Düsseldorf, but I suspect it hints at something else.

If you’re going to write something as soppy and vacuous as what we see in the panel above then why not start with something along the lines of, ‘A new relationship based on mutual respect between the nations of these islands’ before moving on to Europe and the wider world?

Though in fairness, I must say that many YesCymru branches do remain ‘non-party political’, and also avoid the Brexit debate. Using a rule of thumb, the further a YesCymru branch is from the poisonous influences of Cardiff Bay the more likely it is to be true to YesCymru’s espoused principles of neutrality and focus on independence.

WAITING IN THE WINGS

As a student of history, I know that Welsh independence is more likely to emerge from political chaos and economic disaster than from the Tory party anchoring itself on the centre right, Farage’s new party imploding, ‘Welsh’ Labour and its third sector continuing to run Wales (down), the UK remaining in the EU, and Plaid Cymru . . . well, just being Plaid Cymru.

For these, or any combination of them, will keep Wales in the UK.

Which is why I have always believed that leaving the EU acrimoniously and using the resultant shitstorm to our advantage will be the best outcome for Wales in the long run. I say that because this election on Thursday isn’t really about the EU, or Brexit; it’s a preliminary skirmish for an impending conflict to determine who controls the UK.

In Scotland, the SNP is using the 2016 Remain vote to push for a second independence referendum that it might well win. Across the water, la revanche du berceau continues to undermine Unionist supremacy, with the possibility of more moderate non-Catholics preferring unification with a now secular and prosperous South to remaining in a poor, bigot-heavy statelet.

Quite possibly the Brexit Party will cobble together a manifesto and stand in the next general election – which might be called before the year is out – which means we might end up with a coalition of Boris Johnson, Jacob Rees-Mogg and Nigel Farage.

Of course, such a troika will need to reach out beyond England, but it already has allies north of the border and in the Six Counties in the form of the Conservative and Unionist Party, the DUP, Orange Lodges, Glasgow Rangers fans and assorted Loyalist gangs.

And they’re already on the streets. Saturday saw a little sabre-rattling in Glasgow.

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There are dark forces waiting in the wings, using organisations and groups like those in the panel above. These shadowy elements are determined to gain power by one route or another. (And I’m not the only one who sees this.) Which is why nothing must distract us from the bigger picture and the best interests of our people.

Voting for the Brexit Party and encouraging their shadowy friends to show their hand is more likely to draw a response that results in Welsh independence than voting for Plaid Cymru in a meaningless election when the party’s long-term objective seems to be – wait for it! – a return to the status quo ante referendum!

Do you recall those halcyon days, boys and girls? When Wales was a land of milk and honey (or beer if you preferred); those talented and imaginative politicians in Cardiff Bay ruled wisely, making all corners of our land prosperous, and we all danced in the streets shouting, ‘Good old Carwyn, may he reign forever!’

Cos I must have missed it.

♦ end ♦

CLARIFICATION: From the many comments received to my Facebook page it seems that some people think I actually support the Brexit Party. Let me explain . . .

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The Brexit Party and their shadowy friends are the means to an end. Socialists will understand this as ‘raising the revolutionary consciousness’ of the masses. Putting it bluntly, Dai Public is more likely to want independence after a kick in the nuts than yet another patronising pat on the head.

Call me cynical, call me an absolute bastard, but I’m a realist, and I know that just drifting along as we have done for 20 years – which is what Plaid Cymru wants – will get us nowhere.

It was neatly summed up in a letter in today’s Western Mail where someone concluded by saying that Brexit would result in “economic collapse and the breakup of the UK”.

Which is exactly what I’m saying. Short-term pain for long-term gain.

Titbits & Updates 15.07.2017

JULIAN RUCK

While I was away I picked up a copy of the Evening Post, a Swansea institution that has gone downhill in recent years. The ‘paper I knew long ago used to bring out its first edition around midday, with further editions up to and including the ‘Final’ or ‘Late Night Final’. You knew which edition it was by the number of windows filled in on the Mumbles lighthouse image at the top right of the front page. One window filled for the first edition . . .

Then of course there was the Sporting Post on Saturday night, with young boys racing from pub to pub to sell their allotted copies. In competition with them were the ladies of the Sally Ann with bundles of War Cry, and occasionally, yours truly with a band of Plaidistas, offloading Welsh Nation. The competition was fierce! (Though unlike the paper-sellers and the bonneted ladies I could – and did – partake of liquid refreshment to keep me going.)

In those days, long before the internet, before pubs had wall to wall television, but after bookies became legal in 1960, the pubs downtown seemed to be filled in the afternoons with men reading newspapers, men of studious mien, a pencil in one hand and often a half-smoked fag behind an ear. The real professionals had a fag behind one ear and a spare pencil behind the other.

I am of course referring now to aficionados of the turf, the sport of kings . . . and of layabouts dreaming of easy money. For members of the latter group to know which nag had won the 2:30 at Doncaster required the ‘Stop Press’ entry on latest edition of the Post, and it was quite common to see breathless groups of men waiting at the Post‘s various delivery points in anticipation of sudden wealth. All gone.

In recent years, printing was moved out of the city, the Evening Post became a morning paper, and what had once been the Welsh daily with the largest circulation lost its crown to the Daily Post. Then, in what might prove to be the coup de grace the Post was taken over by Trinity Mirror, and is now controlled from Cardiff, its online presence merged with Llais y Sais and the Echo in WalesOnline.

If further proof was needed of the Post‘s downward slide it came when I saw that Julian Ruck now has a weekly column. Here’s his effort from the 7th. (Click to enlarge.)

Before considering what he wrote let’s look at how he’s described by the Post“Julian Ruck is a novelist, broadcaster, political commentator and guest public speaker”.

His ‘novels’ are excruciating pot-boilers that he publishes himself but nobody buys. “Broadcaster”? Mmm, has anyone seen or heard him ‘broadcast’ – or have I been lucky? “Political Commentator”; well, I’m a political commentator, everyone who expresses a political opinion is a political commentator, the term means nothing. “Guest public speaker” is a curious phrase, why not just ‘public speaker’? I suppose it’s trying to say that he gets invited to places. (Twice?)

As for what he has to say, well, here’s a sample, “Dear me, this Welsh bit is getting a bit tedious isn’t it?” The senior language of this island, the language spoken in London when the English were still Germans, is reduced to “this Welsh bit”. What a twat!

Later he describes Welsh as “a foreign tongue”, which is not only offensive but also inaccurate. Because you see, Ruck, it wouldn’t matter if no one spoke Welsh – it would still be the national language of Wales. That’s because it is unique to Wales, it is the ancestral language of the Welsh, and for most of our history it defined Welsh nationality. English may now be the majority language of Wales, but it can never be the national language.

From Amazon, where his books can be bought for £0.01

It would be easy to dismiss Ruck as a pompous little prick, a snob, but I feel rather sorry for him. He’s bitter because he’s been denied the success he feels he deserves. His search for a scapegoat has led him to a conspiracy of Welsh speakers who produce dastardly schemes to deny us the wit and wisdom of Julian Ruck. This leads to him hating the Welsh language itself and all those who speak it . . . maybe he thinks all Welsh speakers are in on the conspiracy.

Face it, Ruck, you’re a crap writer and a mercenary bigot, an opinionated nobody. But to give your attacks some credibility you have to be bigged up into a popular writer, someone whose opinion matters.

Though it says a lot about modern Wales that it’s the Labour-supporting, Welsh-hating, Trinity Mirror Group that provides you with a platform for your BritNat bigotry.

P.S. I’m informed that Ruck’s latest column, on the 14th, was used to attack Welsh language education. Why does anyone buy a rag from Trinity Mirror?

THOSE LEAFLETS

Now let’s turn to others who share Ruck’s attitude to the Welsh language, I’m talking now of those connected with Tales With a Twist.

Thanks to the Electoral Commission I now know that distributing election material lacking an imprint is not an offence; the offence lies in publishing and printing election material without an imprint. But of course, without an imprint, it’s very, very difficult to prove who wrote and printed the document being distributed. Something of a Catch-22 situation.

Which is why I asked the Electoral Commission to give me examples of successful prosecutions for not having an imprint. The response was: ” . . . where the material is a newspaper advertisement we can contact the newspaper for the details of the person who placed the advertisement.” Obviously, but with the best will in the world, someone would have to be really, really stupid to put election material that lacked an imprint in a newspaper advertisement. And would a newspaper accept such an advertisement, knowing that it broke the law?

click to enlarge

Though one possibility intrigues me. What if I was to write and run off a few hundred copies of a leaflet ahead of the next general election, a leaflet claiming that the local Labour candidate attends the same Penrhyndeudraeth coven as the Conservative candidate, where they romp around bollock naked, beating each other with riding crops – but the leaflets never left my house.

According to the Electoral Commission I would have committed an offence, even though no one would read what I’d written. Which is absurd, because what I’d written and printed could only influence electors if it was distributed, yet distributing unattributed election material is not an offence. Am I alone in thinking that the law has got this the wrong way round?

Anyway, things are moving, slowly. North Wales Police seem to be interested. I now have copies of issues 1 and 2 of Tales With a Twist, proving that we are dealing with a campaign rather than a one-off, and even though Councillor Louise Hughes has denied distributing the leaflets I have statements that a) confirm she was distributing them in Trawsfynydd on April 28, and b) that she gave copies to Steven Churchman, the Lib Dem councillor. Other statements are promised.

As for who printed the leaflets, well we all know who that was. What’s more, when I spoke with the DC in Caernarfon on Thursday afternoon we discussed the printer and yet neither of us needed to mention his name. He is – to quote Donald Rumsfeld – a known known.

I have a feeling this may not be over.

PLAID CYMRU & THE SNP

Many of you reading this may get a warm glow from watching Leanne Wood hugging Nicola Sturgeon, but how realistic is it to compare Plaid Cymru with the Scottish National Party? I got to wondering how their results since the first elections to the devolved bodies in 1999 compared.

In 1999 Plaid did marginally better than the SNP; point three of a percentage point lower in the constituency vote but over three percentage points higher in the regional/list vote. A good showing.

In 2003 both parties lost support. Plaid Cymru’s performance can be largely attributed to the palace coup that removed Dafydd Wigley, Plaid’s most popular ever leader. The fall in support for the SNP is due to a number of factors, certainly a change of leader also played a part, though most would agree that John Swinney was a more inspiring replacement for Alex Salmond than Ieuan Wyn Jones was for Dafydd Wigley.

The picture in Scotland was further complicated by what could be explained, perhaps paradoxically, as a falling off in support for the SNP, but the electorate still returned more MSPs in favour of independence.

For while the SNP lost 8 seats in 2003 the Scottish Greens gained 6 seats and Tommy Sheridan’s Scottish Socialists increased their tally by 5. Which meant that there were 40 MSPs (out of 129) supporting independence after the 2003 election against 37 in 1999.

When we move on to 2007 we see the gulf opening. Plaid Cymru improves marginally on 2003 but nothing like the increase that was expected with an unpopular Labour government in Westminster, whereas the SNP’s support increased by almost 50% to make it the largest party.

The election of 2011 is remarkable in that, in Wales, with the Tories now in power in London, many Welsh voters were persuaded to ‘send a message to Lundun, innit’ by voting Labour. By comparison, in Scotland, a Tory government in London did nothing for Labour as the SNP romped home with a majority of the seats.

Most recently, in 2016, the SNP may have lost six seats (and its majority) but in terms of votes there was a fall of only 2.3% in the regional share but an increase of 1.1% in the constituency vote. Add in the two Scottish Green representatives and there is still a pro-independence majority of 65 MSPs in Holyrood.

Here in Wales, Plaid Cymru may have improved on its dismal performance in 2011 (if it hadn’t, then it might have been time to call it a day), partly due to having a new leader in Leanne Wood, but still got less than half the SNP’s share of the vote, leaving the 1999 result looking like a lost golden age.

In Scotland, the issue for a decade or more, and the issue still dominating political debate, is independence. Here in Wales we have a ‘national’ party that would prefer not to debate independence (or colonisation, or exploitation, or anything that might upset or annoy anyone), a party that is bumping along the bottom and going nowhere.

You know my view, I gave up on Plaid Cymru years ago. With Wales falling apart around us, suffering attacks from all quarters, how much longer can you continue supporting a party going nowhere, a party that will sabotage itself if there’s any possibility of success? (Believe me, it will!)

(You’ll notice that I’ve spared Plaid Cymru’s embarrassment by sticking with the devolved vote, not comparing the relative showings for Westminster elections, in which Plaid does even worse.)

MONKTON

In the interests of clarity this whole section was re-written 17.07.2017

WHAT WE KNOW

There were unpleasant scenes in Monkton, Pembrokeshire, on Tuesday night and Wednesday morning last week when a crowd gathered to protest about a paedophile the crowd believed was living at Gwilliam Court. As is invariably the case in such incidents the crowd included some seeking an excuse for trouble, these being responsible for allegedly setting bins on fire, letting down the tyres on police vehicles and other mischief.

Despite the behaviour of these idiots there was a genuine cause for concern, for the woman allegedly living in Gwilliam Court was identified (though not named) by both the Sun and the Daily Mail as Amber Roderick. Her record would cause any parent to worry about her presence on their estate. And yet there are so many questions about the whole business.

On the assumption that we are dealing with Roderick let’s look at her most recent conviction, at Reading Crown Court in January 2012. As the Crown Prosecution Service summary tells us, she was jailed for a minimum of four years and placed on the Sex Offenders’ Register. This NACRO document tells us that anyone imprisoned for 30 months or more stays on the register “indefinitely”.

THE AFTERMATH

It became clear from police and council statements that if it was Roderick – now going by the name of Bridget McGinley – then she was not the tenant of the property in Monkton, the tenant being a man with whom she was co-habiting.

But then, to confuse matters, in this report from the Pembrokeshire Herald Superintendent Ian John of Dyfed Powys Police, says, “The two residents of that flat, as it stands, neither of those two people, were actually currently on the sex offender’s register. The facts are, they were not on the sex offender’s register. It would be inappropriate for me to go into specific detail, but what I will say, the lady who moved in with the gentleman who is the tenant of the flat, was not required to record her movements, as she would have been if she was on the sex offenders register.”

Superintendent John’s convoluted statement suggests three options. 1/ Somebody made a terrible mistake, stirring up a mob when it was not Amber Roderick/Bridget McGinley in that flat, 2/ If it was her, then she has somehow been taken off the Sex Offenders’ Register, 3/ Superintendent John is mistaken.

Also quoted in the Pembrokeshire Herald report is ‘Annalee’ who seems to suggest that in Wales offenders remain on the Sex Offenders Register for only five years, with the clear implication that in Scotland and England the period is longer. Is this true?

Well, after consulting the NACRO document again I believe that in the case that ‘Annalee’ refers to, the age of the offender, and the sentence handed down, meant that he stayed on the register for only five years. And it would have been the same in England. (I can’t speak for Scotland.)

Something else that struck people about the Herald report was local councillor Pearl Llewellyn saying, “I was told by Pembrokeshire County Council not to get involved or to come to these meetings, but I have, because my daughter lived in Monkton.” But she’s the elected representative of these people! Why would the council – and what does she mean by “the council”? – tell her not to get involved?

CONCLUSIONS

There are obviously questions to answer, not least – who owns the property in question; is it Pembrokeshire County Council or Pembrokeshire Housing Association? Or is it perhaps a third party, a private landlord, or even an offshore entity leasing property to social landlords, such as I exposed in Link Holdings (Gibraltar) Ltd?

Someone with whom I’m in contact is having great difficulty getting an answer to that simple question from Pembrokeshire County Council.

In the original version of this section I quoted the Housing (Wales) Act 2014 70 (1) (j) which says that sex offenders and others coming out of prison get preferential treatment in the allocation of social housing.

I was pulled up and pointed to the preamble reading, “a person who has a local connection with the area of the local housing authority . . . “. This is not worth the paper it’s printed on. After years of studying the operations of social landlords I know that no ‘local connection’ is needed to be housed by social landlords in Wales.

If the Llansiadwel Housing Association is offered two or three times the normal rate to house a paedophile from Newcastle who’s never set foot in Wales they’ll jump at it.

To understand the truth of what I’m saying you only have to consider the case in Monkton. If it was Roderick/McGinley living there, then it’s reasonable to assume that the tenant was the boyfriend identified in Reading Crown Court as Patrick Maughan and sentenced to six years in prison at the same trial. Both could have been recently released, and neither has a local connection to Pembrokeshire.

As I say, there are just so many questions. The best way to clear things up, to placate the residents of Monkton, and to restore faith in the council, is for both the council and the police to come clean and give the full details of this case.

Also, for social housing providers and other agencies to stop dumping undesirables from England in Wales, no matter what financial and other incentives are offered.

♦ end ♦

 

Tesco Delivers an Uncomfortable Truth

Most of you reading this will by now be aware that Tesco is closing its call centre in Cardiff and concentrating its operations in Dundee. Inevitably, this has caused Labour politicos to weep and wail but equally predictably the buggers are also lying, because they will never admit to the political realities at work here.

Don’t get me wrong, this is, fundamentally, an economic decision by a major company, but I guarantee that political influence has been exerted in favour of Dundee, not because those exerting the influence give a toss about Dundee or its people, but Tesco having its major call centre in Dundee, creating more jobs in the city, can be exploited for political advantage. What do I mean by that?

If Scottish nationalism has a heartland, then obviously it’s not in the south, nor is it in the Highlands and the islands, or even the three biggest cities of Glasgow, Edinburgh and Aberdeen. No, if the SNP and Scottish nationalism have a stronghold, then it’s in Scotland’s fourth largest city, Dundee.

In the September 2014 independence referendum, Scotland voted 55% No 45% Yes, but in Dundee the result was overwhelmingly Yes.

This was followed up by the elections for the Scottish Parliament in 2016, that saw the SNP gain close to 60% of the vote in both of the city’s constituencies.

click to enlarge

The Scottish Parliamentary elections were of course followed in June by the EU referendum. Although Dundee voted to remain it was by less than the national figure due to Dundee being – in Scottish terms – something of a depressed area.

The Gross Weekly Pay for Dundee City for full-time workers (2016) was £484.20 against a Scottish average of £536.60. By comparison, the averaged out Gross Weekly Pay for Rhondda Cynon Taf, where many of the staff at the Cardiff call centre live, was £495.40. The figure for Cardiff itself was £532.80, and the Welsh average £492.40.

(Surprisingly, the figure for Swansea was just £470.80, for Merthyr £447.80, Blaenau Gwent £433.90, which suggests that many residents of RCT benefit from Cardiff pay rates, but the benefits of the never-ending investment in Cardiff don’t stretch much further afield.)

After that wee diversion let us return to Dundee and consider the most recent election result, those for the UK general election earlier this month.

click to enlarge

As we know, the SNP lost votes and seats across the country, but we can see that Nicola Sturgeon’s party still managed to hold the two Dundee seats with comfortable majorities.

Just as in medieval warfare so in contemporary politics, if your enemy has a citadel, then weakening or capturing it provides a great psychological boost for your troops and damages the morale of your enemy. Equally effective can be winning over the inhabitants, or sowing doubt in their minds. There will be others living far from it who will also be affected by the loss of a citadel.

Which explains why Tesco is concentrating its call centre resources in the SNP stronghold of Dundee and why the move will be subtly presented thus, ‘This is the call centre for the whole of the UK, but of course, if Scotland goes independent it will move south of the border’. The hope being that this will weaken support for the SNP and independence.

The message here is quite clear: the strength of the SNP and the threat of a second independence referendum guarantees that Scotland will be treated well. Not only by direct government intervention, but also by political pressure being exerted on private companies like Tesco to favour Scotland.

But political and economic leverage attaching to considerations of the Union are not confined to Scotland; for we also have to witness the political representatives of murderers, drug-dealers and terrorists demanding £2bn from the UK government for lending their support.

‘Welsh’ Labour’s alleged leader Carwyn Jones splutters and whines but knows there’s nothing he can do about it – nobody’s listening to him because he hasn’t got a single card to play. (Though I wonder how him and the boys would look in balaclavas . . . and I’m sure they could find baseball bats in Cardiff?)

In fact, in a situation like this, Carwyn Jones’s instinctive response is to expose a bit more of his ample belly for tickling, as with his offer to accept nuclear submarines in Milford Haven. Go find something useful to do, Jones, like being clerk to Cwmscwt council, because you’re doing nothing for Wales.

So here’s where I’m going with this. To all of you who voted Labour on June 8th – weren’t you clever!

For the benefit of Labour’s donkey voters, let me try to explain it as simply as I can. Ew votes Labour, right. Now, if there’s a Labour gov’ment up in Lundun, they ignores ew and takes ew for granted. But if there’s a Tory gov’ment up in Lundun, well, they just ignores ew’.

And here’s a special message for Blaenau Gwent, which is a perfect example of the system I’ve just described operating at a more local level. You voted Labour again on the 8th, and now that Carwyn and his gang know you’re no threat, they’re going to shit on you over the Circuit of Wales. And you’ll have no one to blame but yourselves! 

But the real culprits in all of this are Plaid Cymru. Because if Plaid Cymru had a message that resonated with the Welsh people then we wouldn’t be in this mess, and people in the poorest part of the country wouldn’t still be voting for the party responsible for their poverty. And Cardiff wouldn’t be losing jobs to Dundee.

Which is why from now on this blog will encourage the creation of a new movement, that might or might not contest elections, but will certainly promote Welsh patriotism and the defence of the Welsh national interest. It will be Wales and Welsh people first and foremost; and will regard all political parties, all Englandandwales organisations, all media outlets, etc., as inimical to the Welsh national interest unless they prove otherwise.

A fresh start is the only way Wales can make progress.

♦ end ♦

General Election 2017

Those of you who’ve read Cneifiwr’s latest post, about his canvassing experiences, will I’m sure have enjoyed him waxing lyrical about wrens and shimmering vistas, country lanes and tinkling rills . . . well you’ll get none of that fancy bucolic stuff here. This is the opinionated old git section of the Welsh blogosphere.

Last Thursday gave us what was perhaps the strangest election of my lifetime. Not just because of the result and the way the Tories lost the commanding lead they’d held at the start of the campaign, but also because of the combination of factors not present in earlier elections, specifically, the recent surge of the SNP, the influence of Brexit, UKIP and the realignment of that party’s deserting voters, and post-election, the entrance of the DUP. So let’s consider the bigger picture before looking at the results in Wales.

NORTH OF THE BORDER

The Unionist parties and the London media are cock-a-hoop over the ‘defeat’ suffered by the SNP, but was it really such a defeat? In the 2010 general election the SNP won 6 seats out of a total of 59; in May 2015, following the independence referendum of September 2014, the party won 56 seats, gaining 50% of the vote (an increase of 30%). That was clearly a freak result, that was unlikely to ever be repeated.

On Thursday, support for the SNP was down to 36.9% and 35 seats, leaving it still the largest party, and by some distance. This falling off in support can be explained quite simply – independence and whether or not to have a second referendum is the issue in Scottish politics now. Those who want independence generally voted SNP, while those who are opposed to independence, or remain to be convinced, tended to vote for whoever had the best chance of defeating the SNP candidate. As a rule of thumb, tactical voting accounts for the gains made by Tories, Labour and Lib Dems.

It certainly explains what happened to Alex Salmond. The swing against him was 11.8%, but the swing to the Tory victor was 29%. What happened in Gordon was that the Lib Dems (treacherous bastards even to their own) deserted poor Dai Evans. Yet the Lib Dems still gained 3 seats where tactical voting benefited them.

Though I’m sad to see him go (if only temporarily) I enjoyed hearing Alex Salmond in his concession speech quote from that rousing Jacobite song, Bonnie Dundee  with, ‘And tremble, false Whigs, in the midst of your glee, Ye hae no seen the last o’ my bonnets and me!’ Because those who think they’ve seen off the SNP threat, and put Salmond back in his box, should be warned against counting chickens.

Though it’s not always as simple as Unionists gathering behind the candidate most likely to thwart the devilish Nicola Sturgeon, Scottish politics is much more complex and nuanced nowadays, as this BBC piece makes clear. I was particularly struck by the contribution of John Dowson of Dumfries, a lifelong Labour voter, who wants independence, but was thinking of voting Tory because he also wants out of the EU. If he did indeed vote Tory, then his vote will be wrongly counted as a vote against independence.

Because that’s something else you have to understand about Scotland, not everybody who wants independence votes SNP. And how many SNP Brexiteers voted Tory for a hard Brexit, but will vote Yes in another referendum?

OVER THE WATER

When I was a young man, before the Troubles, Northern Ireland was almost a one-party state, and the one party was the Ulster Unionist Party, the UUP. There was no other Unionist Party, UK parties did not contest seats over there, and through gerrymandering, intimidation and various forms of electoral fraud such as personation the Catholic voice was almost silenced. (The Unionist election day call to the faithful was, Vote early, vote often’.)

With the Troubles came a widening divide between the two communities and a hardening of attitudes. One result was the creation in September 1971, by the Reverend Doctor Ian Kyle Paisley, of the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP). From its outset it was more hard-line on the Union and ‘terrorism’ than the rather more patrician UUP, and also more conservative on social issues. Hardly surprising given who’d formed it and its links with his Free Presbyterian Church of Ulster.

The polarisation reached its inevitable conclusion on Thursday when the UUP failed to win a single seat, as did its Nationalist counterpart, the Social Democratic and Labour Party. Sinn Féin won 7 seats, the DUP won 10, and the other seat, North Down, was held by Independent Unionist Lady Sylvia Hermon (née Paisley), widow of Sir Jack Hermon, one-time Chief Constable of the Royal Ulster Constabulary.

As I write this Theresa May has agreed a ‘confidence and supply’ agreement with the DUP rather than a formal coalition, but either way, for the Tories it’s stepping back into the nineteenth century, back to an age of John Bull nationalism, Fenians, the rejection of Darwinism, contempt for the undeserving poor and the stoning of poofters.

On the issues of today the DUP wants a hard Brexit but a soft border with the Republic. Talk about having your cake and eating it! So on that issue at least they’re in tune with the Conservatives.

The Reverend Doctor Ian Paisley, founder of the DUP, leader 1971 – 2008

Any co-operation with the DUP shows a) how desperate Theresa May is to hang on to power and b) how ignorant she is of modern Irish politics. For a start, any co-operation between the Tories and the DUP might threaten the Good Friday Agreement, because seeing Arlene Foster, the DUP leader, in Number 10, will raise fears on the Nationalist-Republican side that the UK Government is no longer impartial in its approach to Northern Ireland.

It should also be explained that the 7 Sinn Féin candidates elected will never be MPs because they refuse to take the Oath of Allegiance to the English monarch. This of course affects the arithmetic in the House of Commons and means that with 643 MPs The Conservatives need just 322 votes. So with the Tories having 318, the DUP 10, plus Lady Hermon tagging along, the ‘Understanding’ has 329 votes. What could possibly go wrong?

Well, playing the Orange Card or relying on Unionists may have paid dividends a hundred years or more ago, but in recent times it’s tended to go pear-shaped, as Sunny Jim found out in 1979, and in the twenty-first century the Conservatives getting too close to the DUP might even jeopardise 20 years of relative peace. This could all end in tears.

Given the close cultural, historical and other ties between Scotland and the north of Ireland one might have thought that their London masters entering a Faustian pact with the DUP would be welcomed by the Scottish Tories, but as might be expected, the DUP is against same-sex marriage, and the lesbian leader of the Scottish Tories, Ruth Davidson, is hoping to get married soon.

Woe! woe and thrice woe!

DOWN BY ‘ERE

LABOUR, ETC

Already, a great deal of nonsense has been spouted by all sides involved on Thursday, so here’s my attempt to give an impartial view. Taking the bigger, Englandandwales picture, it’s obvious to everyone that Theresa May made a massive miscalculation.

The longer the campaign went on the more people turned away from her dalek-like performance and warmed to Jeremy Corbyn’s awkward sincerity. May cannot campaign, she even seems incapable of a genuine smile, or interacting with the Great Unwashed, and yet the Conservative campaign was almost all about her. Quite incredible.

The Prime Minister is clearly on borrowed time. She will never be allowed to lead another election campaign, so her survival might depend to some extent on the pact with the DUP working. One reason she’s still in place is that there’s no obvious replacement. But one will emerge.

That said, this was still a big defeat for Labour, and it’s absurd to celebrate as a victory what is really nothing more than relief at avoiding complete annihilation. Just check the numbers. The Tories may have got the worst possible kind of victory, but Theresa May is still in number 10 and Labour is still in opposition. Which from Labour’s perspective is probably the best outcome.

Because the Labour Party is still at war with itself, and we are now presented with the nauseating sight of former critics changing their position on Corbyn because the slimy, self-serving bastards know a meal ticket when they see one – and this bloke can keep them in a job. (For a number of them, he already has!)

But of course these moderates and Blairites are now even more uncomfortable in a party where the left is strengthened. Will an emboldened Momentum now embark on a campaign of deselections? Which makes you wonder what exactly anti-Corbyn Labour victors were celebrating in the wee small hours of Friday. It can only have been self-preservation and hanging on to a cushy, well-paid job with expenses galore.

Like these two in Port Talbot. Kinnock père hates Corbyn with a vengeance (he reminds him of Derek Hatton), yet here he is celebrating like his boy has scored the winning try against England. In reality, it’s a case of, ‘Tidy, mun, the Kinnock name will continue to shine, boy, one day you’ll be prime minister . . . like I nearly was . . . nearly . . . prime minister . . . Sheffield . . . oh, God! I need a drink’.

This picture is a celebration of personal and family ambition. The Labour Party and what it might achieve for the downtrodden masses is incidental or totally irrelevant, for in the case of the Kinnocks the party’s real purpose is to serve as a vehicle for dynastic ambition. Today’s Labour Party contains more chancers and careerists than at any time I can remember.

PLAID CYMRU

The headline figure is that Plaid Cymru fell back, its vote down 1.7% on 2015. By comparison, the Tories, who we are told were the losers on Thursday, saw their vote increase by 6.3%. Labour’s vote went up by 12.1%, making it clear that in Wales it was Labour that gained most of the former UKIP vote. It would appear that ‘Welsh’ Labour distancing itself from Corbyn paid dividends.

Yes, Plaid gained Ceredigion, but let’s put that victory, by just 104 votes, into perspective. Ceredigion is a seat held by the party at Assembly level, it has been previously held by the party at Westminster level, and was won by an impressive young local after the sitting Lib Dem, or his supporters, were caught telling porkies.

In Arfon, Plaid held on by the skin of its teeth, 92 votes to be exact. How much this result was influenced by the votes of English and other foreign students in Bangor is something we might learn later. Though I have to confess to asking myself many times,‘Who is Hywel Williams?’, because the political firmament remains unlit by his presence. (In fact, I often confuse him with Albert Owen, the Labour MP for Ynys Môn!)

In addition to Ceredigion there were four other seats where Plaid Cymru entertained hopes of success, these were: Ynys Môn, Llanelli, Rhondda and Blaenau Gwent. Here are the results:

click to enlarge

The only comfort Plaid Cymru may be able to draw is that the party’s vote increased in Blaenau Gwent, but in last year’s Assembly election the same candidate, Nigel Copner, came within 650 votes of Labour minister Alun Davies. Furthermore, this is a volatile constituency, won with a handsome majority in 2005 by Independent Peter Law, the incumbent MP who’d left Labour over all-women shortlists.

Following Law’s death, the seat was held at a by-election in 2006 by Dai Davies. In the 2007 Assembly election Blaenau Gwent was won by Law’s widow, Trish, before returning to Labour in 2011. In last week’s election Nigel Copner was helped by Dai Davies.

So maybe there’s no comfort to be drawn from the result in Blaenau Gwent after all.

After the smoke had cleared on Friday Plaid Cymru was back to square one, holding four rural seats where it relies on a socially conservative and largely Welsh-speaking support. It made no progress whatever in the urban and more anglicised areas that make up the greater part of the country. This is a party going nowhere.

Except, maybe, backwards. For in the case of Llanelli, this Westminster seat has been a target for Plaid Cymru since Carwyn James got 8,387 votes against Denzil Davies in 1970.

Then came the 1980s when the bright young things took over, ‘reaching out’ beyond Plaid’s core vote to all manner of minority groups, most of which didn’t give a toss about Wales. Much of this was due to Dafydd Elis Thomas . . . what became of him? But it laid the foundations for the party we see today.

Plaid Cymru’s message is more attuned to the youth vote, the Remainers, the ethnic minorities, of major English cities, than to post-industrial wastelands filled with angry and poorly educated white people who don’t give a toss about trans-gender issues or the latest advances in green technology. Plaid Cymru only gets away with this mis-targeting in the west due to its cultural appeal.

In 2007 Plaid Cymru had the chance to run the Assembly as the largest party in coalition with Conservatives and Liberal Democrats. The leftists and the wimmin rose up with shrieks of horror at the prospect of aligning themselves with the crypto-fascist, baby-eating Conservatives – and Plaid instead became Labour’s little helper in the One Wales Agreement.

Nothing’s changed, this sucking up to Labour goes on and on, I know that one Plaid politician was recently told to stop using the #redtories Twitter hashtag.

A few years before 2007, Plaid removed its most successful leader, Dafydd Wigley, in a squalid coup.

Though never a member myself, many tell me that Plaid Cymru undermined Cymuned, one of the most promising movements Wales has seen in recent decades, but today just a shadow of what it might have been.

Plaid Cymru is either a party making major strategic errors, or else this is a party that has been compromised. Either way, it’s of no further use to the Welsh nation. As things stand, Plaid Cymru is of more benefit to England than to Wales because it’s every colonialist’s dream of a ‘national’ party.

I often think that if I was running the secret state I’d want a party in Wales just like Plaid Cymru. A party that makes the occasional unimportant gains, can keep enough people enthused with the hope of ‘next time’, and, most importantly of all, act as a block on the emergence of a party that might actually threaten the Union.

Unless Plaid Cymru can reform itself into a truly Welsh party, appealing to the whole country, regarding all other parties as opponents, rather than potential partners, then the time has come for Plaid Cymru to stop wasting everybody’s time and leave the field to those with fresh ideas and a different approach.

♦ end ♦

Lying for the Union

TURF WARS

When the SNP began rising to prominence in Scottish politics a very strange thing happened – Labour and Tories realised they quite liked each other really, to the extent of forming coalition administrations on some local authorities just to keep the SNP (majority party) out of power. It’s still happening.

Following the council elections earlier this month Labour in Scotland got itself into a bit of a tizzy due to its councillors in Aberdeen agreeing to go into coalition with the Tories . . . and then being suspended by the party. Because it doesn’t look good for Labour to be slagging off Mrs May and her gang on one level while jumping into bed with them in Scotland’s third city.

It reminds us that the ‘fight’ between Conservatives and Labour is often a very contrived affair, especially when constitutional issues are introduced. Tories and Labour stood shoulder to shoulder in the 2014 independence referendum and told the same lies. Labour paid the price for that in Scotland with certain sections of the electorate deserting the party, and Labour is now losing support from a different element which realises that if they wish to maintain the Union then they should put aside all other differences to back the Conservative and Unionist Party.

I’ve headed this section ‘Turf Wars’ because in some respects Labour and Tories can be viewed as two gangs fighting over a turf (Britain) in order to protect their rackets: riding the gravy train, promoting and aggrandising themselves and their friends, and of course reaping the rewards in peerages and consultancies/directorships on leaving office, if not before. The introduction of the threat from a third party, especially one offering radical change, makes them realise that they have more in common than they had previously wanted to admit.

On a practical level, it results in people belonging to either of these parties happier to see the other party win than have the outsider, the threat, succeed. Which gives us the reason for Labour’s current tribulations in Aberdeen. And many in Labour are quite open about preferring to see the Tories win, as this snippet from Labour Uncut reminds us.

But how far might this cynical co-operation between Labour and the Tories go? Could it happen in Wales?

Going back to the recent council elections, there might have been some jiggery-pokery in Neath Port Talbot. The Labour Party there was going through a difficult time, with many de-selections resulting in former Labour councillors standing as Independents, and to add to Labour’s woes there was a stronger than usual threat from Plaid Cymru.

All of which might explain the arrival of the cavalry in the form of unknown Conservative candidates, who seemed to do little or no canvassing, and most of whom didn’t bother to turn up at the count. What they did achieve in a number of wards was to split the anti-Labour vote and ensure a Labour victory. Some tell me there were paper candidates like these in other areas.

Then there was the Llangennech school dispute where people close to the Labour Party were more than happy to link up with UKIP in order to attack the Welsh language – ‘education’ and ‘choice’ being mere fig leaves. You might argue this was not strictly political, but Labour used the dispute, now being supported by UKIP, to attack Plaid Cymru. So we see a similar pattern at work.

Anti Welsh language campaigners outside Llangennech school with UKIP AM Neil Hamilton

And going back to my previous post, the people behind that obnoxious leaflet had a clear objective, which was to cause maximum damage to Plaid Cymru and hopefully loosen Plaid’s control on Gwynedd council. I mentioned that the leaflets had been seen in Blaenau Ffestiniog (in the Co-op store, to be exact), perhaps I should also have told you that in the Diffwys and Maenofferen ward of the town the Plaid Cymru candidate lost by just 3 votes.

With a margin that small it’s reasonable to assume that the leaflet was decisive.

MEDIA

One reason that Tories and Labour are allowed to get away with such practices is of course because, by and large, the UK media is on the same wavelength, even otherwise liberal outlets tend to line up with them when ‘ugly nationalism’ is introduced to the mix.

A case in point would be the BBC, which still wields incredible influence due to so many people relying on it for their news. People trust the BBC, but that trust is often abused. Because I am in no doubt that the BBC has done a deal with the Conservative Party to follow the required line on most issues in return for keeping the licence fee that guarantees its survival. Though on Scottish independence, for example, the Beeb might not need to be leaned on.

One recent example of the Corporation’s Unionist credentials was the televised Scottish party leaders debate on Sunday when, to believe most of the media, SNP leader Nicola Sturgeon was floored by a nurse who claimed she had to use food banks. Here’s a more balanced view of that new low which exposed the BBC for the state propaganda agency it is, and always has been.

The Scottish nurse, Claire Austin, who attacked Nicola Sturgeon during a live TV debate, claiming that because of low pay she had to use food banks, photographed earlier this year dining at the Plaza Hotel in New York. She lives in a nice part of Edinburgh, dines at the best restaurants, her daughter attends a fee-paying school and has a horse. Oh, yes, and nurses in Scotland get paid more than their counterparts in Wales. Did the BBC put her up to it?                      (Picture courtesy of the Scottish Sun.)

And the BBC also proves what I said earlier about liberal outlets. For within the Corporation certain programmes – often with small, left of centre audiences – are allowed to stray from the official line in the hope of maintaining the image of impartiality. Newsnight, for example, supported Remain, Clinton, anybody but Le Pen, etc, yet when it comes to discussing the SNP or Scotland Newsnight could have Nigel Farage as its producer.

Here in Wales, supplementing the BBC’s output we have Trinity Mirror which, in addition to publishing the Daily Mirror, the Sunday Mirror (and the Daily Record in Scotland) also owns in Wales: Western Mail, Daily Post, Wales on Sunday, the Evening Post, the Echo, Llanelli Star, Caernarfon Herald, Neath Guardian, Flintshire Chronicle, Cynon Valley Leader, Glamorgan Gazette, Gwent Gazette, Merthyr Express, Pontypridd and Llantrisant Observer, Rhondda Leader and the Rhymney Valley Express.

With all the previously separate websites now merged into WalesOnline, and controlled from Cardiff.

Trinity Mirror supports the Labour party. And with the BBC supporting any party that can maintain the Union the combination of Trinity Mirror and the BBC goes quite some way to explaining why a party as utterly useless as ‘Welsh’ Labour can hang on to power.

But Trinity Mirror’s loyalty to the Labour Party can take many forms, much of it distasteful. Further details on one such case were brought to my attention just a few days ago.

JENNY LEE CLARKE

You will recall the case of the Swansea East Labour MP Carolyn Harris’s attack on a co-worker in the constituency office of Harris’s predecessor Siân James. It made the London dailies. No charges resulted only because the complaint was made beyond the six-month limit for charges of common assault.

As might be expected, when Harris became MP for Swansea East in May 2015 things got very difficult for the woman she had assaulted, Jenny Lee Clarke, who was still working in the constituency office. It was no surprise when Harris – once ‘cleared’ – took her revenge by accusing Clarke of theft. Equally unsurprising was the fact that WalesOnline gleefully reported the baseless accusation.

Ms Clarke lost her job and was put through the mill. Here’s her timetable of events:

15.01.16 – Raised a grievance

27.01.16 – 8 hours giving a statement about the verbal, emotional and physical abuse 

28.01.16 – Sacked

26.04.16 – Discovered from broadsheets I was being investigated

24.06.16 – Arrested – bail

19.09.16 – Re-bailed

07.11.16 – Re-bailed

17.02.17 – Still on bail whilst case went to CPS for a charging decision

17.05.17 – No action taken and released with no bail conditions because process had not been adhered too

When Ms Clarke attended Swansea Central police station on May 17th she was told that she was being released with no charge . . . but was also told, “You may in future be asked to attend voluntarily to be re-interviewed”. Though an apology was made “for the length of time this has taken”.

It has been suggested to me that this nightmare only ended when it did because of the ‘no extension of bail without fresh evidence’ provision in the Policing and Crime Act 2017, brought in due to the constant re-bailing in the Cliff Richard fiasco.

As we’ve seen, the Labour-supporting Trinity Mirror Group was quick to exonerate the Labour MP and equally quick to put the boot into her victim. Though, fair play, Richard Youle, senior news reporter for the Evening Post did promise to report the outcome of the investigation, as the e-mail reproduced below tells us.

The problem is that despite being told of the outcome, and reminded of his promise, Mr Youle and Trinity Mirror seem to have lost interest in the case. I wonder why?

Labour supporters reading this – and I do get them! – will be shouting, ‘Trinity Mirror’s reluctance to report the Jenny Lee Clarke case has got nothing to do with saving Labour embarrassment, Jac, cos Carolyn Harris is safe in Swansea East’. And indeed she is, bless her . . . but the Post covers the Bay and Carmarthenshire, so what about another Swansea seat, Gower, where Labour is hoping to overcome Byron Davies’s majority of just 27? And then there’s Llanelli, where you wouldn’t bet your house on Nia Griffith being returned.

This is a case that again exposes the links between the Labour Party and Trinity Mirror, and how they are prepared to combine in destroying anyone who threatens them. For Jenny Lee Clarke is now heavily in debt, she has lost her car, her telephone has been disconnected, and – unlike the stooge-nurse in Edinburgh – Jenny really is using food banks.

And what of South Wales Police? Their role in this does their reputation no favours. I hope there’s no connection between their treatment of an innocent woman and the fact that the PCC for South Wales Police is the odious Alun Michael, former Labour MP for Cardiff South and Penarth who, once elected, stuffed his office with Labour apparatchiks in the time-honoured way.

Having said that the Evening Post and WalesOnline couldn’t find space to tell us that Jenny Lee Clarke was not going to be prosecuted, Trinity Mirror still found space to insult our intelligence with a truly ludicrous story about how Harris had been affected by the Manchester bombing.

Courtesy of WalesOnline

Of course, she was nowhere near Manchester on Monday night, but she had been in Westminster for that attack in March – but she was never in any danger there either. While we expect politicians to exploit tragedies for their own advantage this is still one of the more contrived and disgusting examples I’ve come across.

But it’s what happens when you have a country where the dominant political party enjoys an unhealthy relationship with the company controlling most of the indigenous print media.

Anyone considering a ‘progressive alliance’ with these bastards needs a good talking to, with the kind of implement we shall encounter in the next section.

There is nothing ‘progressive’about the Labour Party.

STOP PRESS!

I am informed by the legendary Ian Bone, founder of Class War, that on Sunday July 16th there is to be a ‘Dress Like Leon Atkin Day’ in Swansea. The message went on, “There will be a perambulation from Jimmy Wilde’s to St Paul’s Crypt followed by speechifying and singing”.  For those now staring at the screen in bewilderment, let me explain.

Leon Atkin was a man of the cloth who used to give shelter to vagrants in the crypt of his church (now a curry house), which stood on the junction of St Helen’s Road and St Helen’s Avenue, opposite the legendary Joe’s ice cream parlour. The Jimmy Wilde referred to was not that Jimmy Wilde, but the old heavyweight boxer, who’d briefly been Welsh champion until losing his title to Tommy Farr. And he had even known the immortal Marciano who, as everyone knows, started his fight career in Swansea.

By the time I knew Jimmy he looked what he was, a beaten-up old heavyweight straight out of central casting, but you knew not to mess with him. He ran a drinking club not far from High Street Station. To describe Jimmy’s place as ‘rough’ would be an understatement on a par with saying Leo Messi’s a pretty good footballer.

Image reproduced courtesy of Google

You must remember that back then the pubs closed in the afternoon so, unless you knew a friendly landlord – or landlady! – if you wanted a drink you had to go to a club. Don’t get me wrong, there were some very tidy clubs, but these tended to be more discriminating than Jimmy about who they served. They expected you to be able to stand upright without swaying, or it would be some other irritating qualification.

Even so, you couldn’t always walk straight into Jimmy’s, there was often a certain film noir element to gaining admittance. For example, you’d knock on the door and a voice from within would ask, ‘Are you a member?’ You’d answer ‘No’, and the voice would come back, ‘Oh, never mind’, and the door would open. It was a strange ritual that served no real purpose.

The link between Jimmy Wilde’s and St Paul’s was of course that many of Jimmy’s customers made a regular perambulation to the Crypt. It might be worth adding that Leon Atkin was a drinker himself, in fact, he’d sunk a few pints with Dylan.

Back in the ’70s Ian and his crew did fantastic work with their underground magazine Alarm, exposing the corruption on Swansea council. Labour Council leader Gerald Murphy eventually got sent down, and then his Ratepayer successor Sid Jenkins got done for accepting ‘favours’. As we used to say – ‘Swansea’s got the best councillors money can buy’.

I recall one night in 1980 drinking with Phil Henry in the Queens on Oxford Street (run then by the Necrews family). Ian Bone was there selling ‘Paul Ringer is Innocent’ badges. The story as I remember it was . . . he’d pissed off some local heavies who’d bent an iron bar over his head, so with the compensation money he bought himself a badge-making machine!

Happy days with unbelievable characters. When did people become so boring?

♦ end ♦

Council Elections & Colonialism

COUNCIL ELECTIONS

THOSE WE HAVE KNOWN

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

click to enlarge

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

ALL ABOARD THE CHARABANC!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

SCOTLAND

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

‘LADY’ KATE CLAMP

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

♦ end ♦