I’M IN SEMI-RETIREMENT AND THIS BLOG IS WINDING DOWN. I INTEND CALLING IT A DAY SOON AFTER THIS YEAR’S SENEDD ELECTIONS. POSTINGS WILL NOW BE LESS FREQUENT AND I WILL NOT UNDERTAKE ANY MAJOR NEW INVESTIGATIONS. DIOLCH YN FAWR.
This week’s offering is a short guest post on an organisation currently providing a great deal of entertainment and amusement. To which I’ve added a contribution of my own.
You only have to remind yourself of the sort of people now running this three-ring circus to immediately understand why so many people are spellbound.
I am of course referring to YesCymru.
Now read on . . .
With the dust and smoke from YesCymru’s AGM on 22 May still thick on the social media battlefield, we can now look forward to another election to the Politburo. This time it’s for the post of Secretary, and first out of the traps is Scott Mackay from Swansea.
Scott’s brief moment in the sun on Twitter as he announced his decision to stand quickly clouded over as he was reminded of some of his more recent pronouncements:
In other words, those unhappy with the direction the movement has taken are just a bunch of far-right fashies, with their “almost entirely baseless” complaints.
Whatever message Scott chooses for his campaign, it seems pretty clear that he does not see himself as a unifying peacemaker.
It won’t surprise readers to learn that Scott has the enthusiastic support of our old friend Aled Williams (and Teifi by proxy):
With an endorsement from the man who has done more to wreck the independence movement than anyone else alive, Scott should be home and dry.
UPDATE (by Jac): Scott Mackay yesterday issued an apology . . . of sorts.
The last week was not without its lighter moments as whoever is handling the movement’s Twitter account mysteriously announced “What a great idea” in response to a tweet that many members found themselves unable to read.
It turned out that the message called on members to meet up in railway stations to campaign and that it came from Rachel Cooze, one of the recently elected central committee members. La Cooze and YesCymru had momentarily forgotten that, in a demonstration of her commitment to inclusivity, she has blocked a huge swathe of the membership from her Twitter account.
Complaints rolled in from disgruntled punters who had never had any interaction with her, but had been blocked anyway.
The effect that this has on potential new YesCymru members when they discover they have been blocked by a senior representative of the movement is not hard to predict. Whatever Rachel Cooze’s objectives are, maintaining and growing the membership are not on the list.
Perhaps recognising that using a personal Twitter account to transact YesCymru business has its drawbacks, Ben Gwalchmai recently announced he was setting up a second account to deal exclusively with YC matters.
Ben has set his Twitter account to autodelete every 24 hours, but an eagle-eyed passer-by did manage to spot this intriguing message on his personal account (you know, the one that doesn’t deal with YC matters):
“KatieMonVie” is a peripheral member of the group which has risen to prominence within YC, but she won’t be joining YC until it has been purged of all transphobes, TERFs, fashies, etc., etc.
So what had rattled her cage?
After a little prompting, Katie revealed that the dodgy, ableist, transphobic and now homophobic committee member concerned was Niki Jones, and that Niki’s latest crime was to like a tweet from someone wondering why Aled Williams seems to have become the voice of the Indy movement:
Fair enough, “the don” could have used slightly more polished English, and the use of “it” was either a little careless or just a clumsy attempt to use inclusive non-binary pronouns, but a lot of people are asking the same question.
Clearly, Ben made a note of this outrage, and no doubt the matter will be raised when the central committee undergoes compulsory diversity and inclusivity training:
The movement’s new LGBTQ+ three-step process was excitedly announced by Comrade Gwalchmai as an example of his drive for increased “transparency and professionalism” by the movement’s leadership.
Quite how this will make the Politburo more transparent, let alone professional, is not clear, but only cynics would see this new process as a mechanism for weeding out members and committee members who are found guilty of being on La Cooze’s blocked list.
Meanwhile, writing from London where she edits Bricks Magazine, “an independent queer led publication rerouting the intersections between fashion and our precarious social systems”, another member of the central committee, Tori West, has announced that she is going on strike less than a month after being re-elected:
— ♦ —
Jac adds . . .
Those being written about here used to depict me as some rare and malevolent presence. A lone voice howling into the void.
In the past few months they’ve been made to realise that not only I am not alone, but that they are far less popular than they once believed. With the result that Twitter accounts have been closed, tweets deleted and, as we saw with Scott Mackay, apologies issued.
These things would never have happened just a few months ago when Aled and Teifi could saunter around Ceredigion cocking their legs against ‘Cofiwch Dryweryn’ walls and growling at Dr Dilys Davies.
Not only is a pillar of their belief system collapsing as Stonewall is dismantled, but in addition they draw the contempt of decent people because so many of them are just very unpleasant. And extreme in their beliefs.
Our guest writer referred to YesCymru Central Committee member Rachel Cooze blocking people on Twitter. Many of these would have committed the crime of following me. For Cooze and some allies went through my Twitter followers requesting they stop following me.
But someone Cooze or one of her allies contacted went even further.
Who the hell is ‘Tess’, linked with #SavetheNorthernMeadows, and why is she saying these lies about me? She doesn’t even know me!
More specifically, Marshall seems to be involved with the Environmental Leadership Programme (ELP). But now it gets a wee bit odd.
The plan to put the new Velindre cancer centre on Cardiff’s Northern Meadows is ‘Welsh Government’ policy. Yet the UpRising / ELP presence in Wales is in partnership with Labour-run Cardiff City Council, and is a ‘delivery partner’ for the Future Generations Commissioner, who is of course Labour time-server, Sophie Howe.
Are Cardiff council and the Future Generations Commissioner helping protesters against a ‘Welsh Government’s policy? Or is this some cunning game in which the Labour Party is on both sides, and therefore can’t lose?
Or another example of the left hand not knowing what the right hand is doing?
Either way, yet more Welsh public funding is wasted on Woke-Left-Green ‘activists’.
It might be significant that Tessa Marshall has written for the Undod blog, because in its short life Undod has become the mother church for leftist extremists in Wales.
No doubt I shall be attacked for ‘harassing’ or ‘doxxing’ Tessa Marshall. Because in the demi-monde of the Woke-Left people can be slandered with impunity; ‘targets’ can be vilified, and in other ways attacked. But defend yourself, or expose what ugly people they are, and the pack will feign outrage before turning on you.
After studying those involved in trying to take over YesCymru, and slander anyone who dares to criticise them, I detect three categories.
First, we have those claiming to be socialists, even communists. Often embittered individuals who maybe can’t understand why their 2:2 in Media Studies didn’t land them that £70k job.
Second, we have the sexuality / gender-obsessed. These can be ‘uncomfortable’ gays and lesbians. They can also be confused young people, and even those who have transitioned.
Third, we have those who pay lip service to the causes espoused by Categories 1 and 2 but also enjoy saying and doing things to outrage people. (As long as Mam and Dad don’t find out!)
Members of Category 1 exploit members of Category 2 who regard members of Category 1 as friends and protectors. Many of both Categories see themselves as involved in some noble crusade. While those in Category 3 are just there for the craic.
If you put them all together you’d be hard-pressed to find many rounded, reasonable, and successful individuals in sound mental health.
And that’s why their hold on the indy movement must be broken.
I’M IN SEMI-RETIREMENT AND THIS BLOG IS WINDING DOWN. I INTEND CALLING IT A DAY SOON AFTER THIS YEAR’S SENEDD ELECTIONS. POSTINGS WILL NOW BE LESS FREQUENT AND I WILL NOT UNDERTAKE ANY MAJOR NEW INVESTIGATIONS. DIOLCH YN FAWR.
For this, another of my infrequent, pre-retirement postings, I’ll explain why I would vote to abolish the Senedd in a referendum offering the straight choice of to keep or to abolish.
I wanted independence to improve the lives of the people I cared about: my family, my neighbours, my community, and my nation. I wanted independence to protect my country from neglect or exploitation, and to defend what made us Welsh.
Devolution is obviously not independence but still, judged against those criteria devolution has been an abysmal failure. For the only beneficiaries have been cliques, claques, and the assorted parasites of a vast and burdensome stratum smothering the nation.
LET ME GIVE SOME EXAMPLES
While the greater part of Wales, and the nation, has seen no benefits, this constitutional tinkering must have brought some benefits, to someone, somewhere, otherwise it would be universally damned and consequently unsustainable.
So let’s try and identify some beneficiaries. I’ll use examples of us losing out and others benefitting at our expense. (You’ll soon get the hang of it.)
The ‘stratum’ I referred to earlier is the third sector. Bigger than ever in Wales, and bigger in Wales than in any other country.
Wales is a rich country made poor by English rule, and the Labour Party has capitalised on our deprivation both for electoral gain – by blaming ‘London’ / Tories – and also by using that deprivation to create a whole new ‘poverty sector’ for its cronies.
Wales is now smothering under the weight of duplicating and competing third sector gangs, most of which seem to be staffed by strident memsahibs from over the border. Cohort after cohort of Common Purpose’ finest, goose-stepping from conference to workshop to those regular meetings in which they dictate policy and funding priorities to politicians.
This third sector is fundamentally and irredeemably parasitical. Preying on Wales’ deprivation in order to suck money from the public purse. A vast network of self-polishing turds who would not be missed if they ceased doing tomorrow whatever they claim to be doing today.
Both Labour and the third sector exploit and capitalise on Wales’ poverty and deprivation. If the money wasted on the third sector was spent in combatting that poverty and deprivation then Wales would be a much better place.
Perhaps to make us feel guilty for wanting decent jobs, decent homes, an acceptable road and rail system, etc., our gaze is directed away from such crass materialism to the altruistic, the selfless, in the form of saving the planet.
This crusade – for it is nothing less! – is done without providing jobs or any other material benefits to us Welsh. This national insult takes many forms.
Here’s a recent re-working of the theme.
Is this supposed to be a consolation prize for the Circuit of Wales? Or for more false hopes raised over the TVR car plant? (Which is not coming, by the way.)
Blaenau Gwent is the poorest part of the country. What it needs is decent jobs, housing, NHS dentists, etc., not bullshit publicity stunts from Corruption Bay.
We are told that “50 residents will be selected to create the first Climate Assembly in Wales”. I hope Gwent Police have the riot gear ready for the trouble that will surely erupt in Ebbw Vale and Tredegar as people fight over those 50 places.
Here’s the latest in the ‘Save the planet’ offensive: “I think if political parties are not putting addressing the climate and nature emergencies right at the top of their manifesto agenda then they will be letting down both the current and future generations in Wales,” says Sophie Howe, Labour apparatchik being paid £100,000 a year in a non-job created specially for her.
The message from our leaders is: ‘Wales may be the poorest country in Europe and getting poorer, but fuck that, cos we – on £100,000 a year – are saving the planet’.
I want to see a healthier nation living in a greener land making its contribution to a cleaner planet. But Wales has more immediate priorities. And it’s positively insulting for overpaid Labour Party nobodies to lecture those worrying about feeding their kids and paying their rent.
Yet more arrogant – almost racist – envirocolonialism. It seems Kiwi Anderson has been won over to Welsh independence. A reminder that the reason Greens and others are jumping on the indy bandwagon is because they want our land.
Wales has the oldest population in Europe and it’s getting older. An unwanted accolade achieved by a number of factors combining. The lack of a decent economy being one. The other is the self-styled ‘Welsh Government’ going out of its way to attract elderly people to Wales.
This is done because, due to the lack of a balanced economy in rural areas and the regular exodus of young people that results, population levels need to be maintained; for nothing says ‘area going to hell’ more clearly than a falling population. How better to maintain population levels than by attracting retirees? (Actually, I can think of many better alternatives, but bear with me.)
No only does the ‘Welsh Government’ see no problem with our ageing population, it even tries to present it as something to be celebrated, as I discovered a few years ago in a reply to a Freedom of Information request.
An influx encouraged by the ‘Welsh Government’ legislating so that people entering care homes can keep £50,000 before they start paying for their care. The figure for England is £22,500.
Yet the ‘Welsh Government’ would like to go further, doing away with care home charges altogether by introducing a tax so that we actually pay for wealthy English biddies who’ve been dumped in Welsh care homes by relatives safeguarding their inheritances.
How difficult would it be to introduce a rule insisting that a person must have lived in Wales for 20 years prior to entering a care home before they can benefit from the £50,000 allowance?
Do that and Welsh people won’t lose out and we curb the plague of granny dumping.
I recall, back in the 1980s, during the Meibion Glyndŵr campaign, politicians getting up on their hind legs to proclaim that they would not be influenced by ‘terrorists’. God! they sounded so brave and principled. It brought a tear to my eye.
Thirty years on from the end of that campaign, and after 22 years of devolution, nothing has been done beyond the ‘Welsh Government’ allowing councils to impose a 100% surcharge on holiday home council tax. But it has refused to close the loophole that sees holiday homes classed as businesses to escape council tax entirely.
Oh, I almost forgot, there is also a tiny and insignificant increase in Land Transaction Tax of one per cent per valuation band, introduced 22 December. Which is no deterrent at all to those who can buy a second, third, or fourth home.
In fact, the so-called ‘Welsh Government’ refuses to do anything that might save Welsh communities and allow Welsh people to buy a home in areas cursed with tourism. When pressed on the matter just yesterday by the impressive Delyth Jewell the woeful Julie James could only respond with a promise to . . . kick the issue into the long grass.
With the holiday homes problem at crisis levels due to Coronavirus, with Welsh communities being destroyed before our eyes, the fact that those useless bastards down Corruption Bay refuse to act should tell you all you need to know about devolution.
But you have to wonder who made the initial decision not to fund.
THE WAR ON FARMERS
Part of the problem lies in the fact that devolution is controlled by civil servants who may be based in Wales but take their orders from London. Civil servants such as Gary Haggaty, beau to Lesley Griffiths, the Labour MS for Wrecsam, and Minister for the Environment, Energy and Rural Affairs.
“Plaid Cymru’s Llyr Gruffydd says the minister is on the record as saying that these Nitrate Vulnerable Zone regulations would not be introduced while the pandemic was in existence – no less than ten times.”
And many of these spillages have nothing to do with farmers. I am reliably informed that the testing done by Natural Resources Wales (yes, them!) cannot differentiate between farm slurry and raw sewerage from other sources.
This is just the latest assault in a war on Welsh farmers by the ‘Welsh Government’. Done because ‘Welsh’ Labour hates farmers, and also because there are others queuing up to take over Welsh land. Friends of Jane Davidson, ‘rewilders’, Tory MPs.
Significantly, in England, the NVZ legislation targets problem areas and culprits rather than penalising all farmers.
So, we see that under devolution Welsh farming is another area of our national life being targeted and damaged. And it could not have happened without devolution. Because if London had singled out Welsh farmers for such treatment there would have been rioting, and possibly worse.
I could give plenty more examples where devolution has failed us. Here are just a few snapshots:
There’s colonisation, resulting in the Welsh element in the population decreasing year on year. As a prominent citizen of a border town told me a few weeks back: “Some of the attitudes retired people come here have towards the locals are shocking, their sense of superiority is unbelievable.”
Then there’s a crass and exploitative form of tourism that is destroying Welsh communities, especially Welsh-speaking communities.
No other country on Earth has allowed One Planet Developments. Yet here in Wales hippies and enviroshysters are encouraged to take over land, flout planning and other regulations, bring up children in unsanitary and dangerous conditions, and then this colonisation is justified as part of OUR contribution to saving the planet.
Under devolution we have seen Cardiff grow and prosper, largely at the expense of the rest of Wales.
Wales produces twice as much electricity as we need and the rest goes to England free of charge, the same applies to our water resources, stolen by Severn Trent.
The ‘Welsh Government’ pays some of our brightest young people to go to English universities and then makes no attempt to bring them home after graduation. While filling our universities with mediocrities from over the border who stay on to fill third sector and public sector jobs.
Publicly-funded housing associations build ‘affordable’ homes that most locals can’t afford while neglecting the social rented sector for which there’s a local demand.
Let’s not forget the shysters – so many of whom have appeared on this blog – who get showered with funding after turning up with their ‘exciting’, ‘job-creating’ projects meticulously outlined on the back of a fag packet.
Then there’s the cess-pit that is Cardiff Bay, where those we elect to represent us rub shoulders daily with unregistered lobbyists and others trying to influence them – and almost always against the best interests of the nation.
FINALLY, A VERY TWENTY-FIRST CENTURY EXAMPLE
This pretence of devolved power is a very thin veil behind which England’s interests are served. A great example was supplied to me last week by someone involved in matters technological which went a bit over my head, but I’m sure you’ll get the gist of it.
This source wrote:
” . . . dotCYM had no hope when Plaid Cymru was useless, Labour and the civil servants were working against it, and then Nominet came in with their money and used it to destroy them. The money from .cymru and .wales domains are now going to Oxford instead of Wales.”
The source continued:
“The Welsh government is clever in creating schemes to develop Welsh language technology and software. They come out with a new scheme with millions to develop Welsh software but there’s a maximum of about 30k per project, which isn’t enough to get anywhere or develop anything of use. Also, the money they give for research into Welsh language technology comes with the proviso that the research is then open sourced. What happens then is that large companies from outside Wales can take it, add it to their software as token Welsh support that doesn’t work well, and then sell it back to the Welsh”.
My source then explained to me what’s happening in New Zealand, where those working on a similar project for the Maori language successfully fought against their work becoming open source. The Maoris defended their stance thus:
“By simply open sourcing our data and knowledge, we further allow ourselves to be colonised digitally in the modern world.”
THE TRUTH DAWNS
More and more people grasp that devolution is an unworkable nonsense, even if they don’t understand why. This explains the growing polarisation between those wanting to do away with the Senedd and those wanting independence.
When all devolution’s defenders can muster is, ‘But it’s recognition’, or ‘free bus passes’, then you know that even they have given up.
Successive ‘Welsh’ Assembly Governments and ‘Welsh Governments’ have not only failed to remedy the problems inherited in 1999 they have introduced new measures to work against the national interest.
This is not what I voted for in the September 1997 referendum. It’s no exaggeration to say that what we’ve experienced over the past 22 years is a form of anti-Welsh devolution.
Consequently, in a referendum offering the simple choice between keeping the Senedd or abolishing it I would vote to abolish, because abolition would be the best option for the greatest number of Welsh people.
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 recent years I’ve written a few articles – too many to list here – about the unrelenting assault on Welsh farming and rural life. A campaign that sees Welsh politicians used as puppets by senior civil servants serving interests other than those of Wales and Welsh people.
This post is in the form of an update.
THE GATHERING STORM
Arraigned against our farmers are politicians in London of assorted political hues, left-‘Green’ politicians in Corruption Bay, civil servants linking Westminster and Whitehall with Cardiff docks, and land-grabbing ‘environmentalists’ who tend to be either strident memsahibs or darlings of the Guardianistas.
Now on the one hand, we all want cleaner water. But it looks as if Ms Griffiths and her friends have been over-zealous in their attempts to give us crystal clear rills, rivers we can cross by walking on the backs of spawning salmon, and lakes home to old slappers catching the swords that are regularly chucked in.
But on the other hand, we don’t want to drive farmers out of business using sly and underhand methods. Well, I don’t, but there are some who do, and Ms Griffiths is an ally of theirs, possibly no more than a tool.
In both statements you will see reference to Nitrate Vulnerable Zone (NVZ). This term is used to describe areas, “that contain surface water or groundwater that is susceptible to nitrate pollution from agricultural activities”.
The percentage of Welsh land designated NVZ currently stands at 2.4% (750 farm holdings) and there was an understanding that the percentage would increase – Natural Resources Wales recommended 8% – but Ms Griffiths has proposed that the whole country becomes a NVZ. (So you’ll understand the response of the farming unions.)
A flick through those responses makes it clear that farmers’ bodies were outnumbered by angling clubs and environment groups, a number of them Englandandwales bodies. (I’m thinking here of the National Trust, the RSPB, Marine Conservation Society and the Angling Trust.) And the way the responses came in suggest that members and supporters were whipped into line.
One question considered the effects of an All-Wales NVZ on the Welsh language. There was a majority view that enforcing an All-Wales regime would be damaging to the Welsh language because the (often unnecessary) expense involved could prove too much for the smaller family farm. But in the very last paragraph we read:
“One respondent who agreed with the question thought language should not be a fundamentally important factor in any new regulations. However, it was essential that a Welsh identity was maintained through clean waters and a beautiful countryside.”
So there you have it. Remove Welsh-speaking farming families and Welsh identity will be perpetuated by the water nymphs and sword-catching slappers to which I heretofore alluded.
But I repeat, I want to see clean rivers and lakes; it’s just that I believe this can – and must – be achieved without waging war on the farming community. Which is what it seems motivates Ms Griffiths and her pals, using the findings of a consultation process skewed by those with many years experience in such dark arts.
This proposal to extend NVZ must not be looked at in isolation, for it is part of a wider strategy to ‘discourage’ traditional farming and open up the Welsh countryside to new ideas . . . and a new population.
Which means that pleasing a few thousand hippies and eco-fanatics was seen to be more important than providing an economy, a health service, an education system an infrastructure, and all the other things needed by three million people.
And remember! in 2009 Wales was managed by a Labour-Plaid Cymru coalition.
‘One Wales: One Planet’ led, in October 2012, to the ‘Welsh Government’s Technical Advice Note (TAN) 6, which allowed One Planet Developments. A measure intended to attract hippies into Wales and allow them to build what they like, wherever they choose; with local planning authorities forced to give them planning permission, often retrospectively.
Wales is the only country in the world to have enacted this hippies’ charter.
No other country entertains anything like this bullshit.
More recently we have seen the arrival of the memsahibs and the Monbiots demanding huge swathes of our homeland in which they can play silly buggers. I’ve dealt with this in The Welsh Clearances of 16 October 2018 and a number of times since. Just type ‘rewilding’ or ‘Summit to Sea’ in the search box on top of the sidebar to find these further contributions.
There is is no question that influencers have been working on the ‘Welsh Government’ for a decade or more, and they have tended to be men with little understanding of or sympathy for farming, and very often a poorly concealed hostility towards Welsh farmers.
We should not be surprised therefore that through the malign influence of this cabal Welsh farming has been weakened by one cut after another, to the advantage of the hippies, the memsahibs and the Monbiots.
They always encourage legislation against farmers, nothing is ever done for farmers.
Most of those I’m referring to have been mentioned in previous blog posts, but now I want to focus on one who has been rather overlooked, Gary Haggarty. No, this is not Gary Haggarty, the UVF killer and supergrass, but Gary Haggarty, former Rural Director for the ‘Welsh Government’.
But more importantly, Haggarty is the partner of Lesley Griffiths, the Minister for Environment, Energy and Rural Affairs in the ‘Welsh Government’. Their affair was kept secret for quite some time but has been widely known about for at least a year.
Haggarty has form, for he is said to be the genius behind the decision to take money off farmers with the 2013 ‘Pillars’ decision.
Responsibility for replacing of the Tir Mynydd scheme with the unpopular Glastir arrangement is also laid at his door. Glastir tends to regard traditional Welsh farming as just another rural activity, little different to organic hobby farming. Which of course fits perfectly with the overall strategy.
When Brexit came along Haggarty saw another weapon he could use and he rolled it out with the September 2018 consultation document, ‘Brexit and our land: Securing the future of Welsh farming’. The second element in that title is quite insulting considering what we know about Haggarty’s attitude to farming and farmers.
The ‘Welsh Government’s response to the results of the consultation process is contained in this document.
A further publication in July 2019 was ‘Sustainable Farming and our Land’, which was described by its ‘author’, Lesley Griffiths, as ‘revised proposals’ following the responses received to the ‘Brexit and our land’ consultation, also ‘authored’ by Griffiths.
Or were they, because of course the Minister for Environment, Energy and Rural Affairs was in a relationship with a man on a mission to bring Welsh farmers to heel? And so I have no doubt that he wrote most of what appeared in these publications. And she was happy to let him do it.
Which means that a man with not a single democratic vote to his name is dictating policy to the wretched and useless ‘Welsh Government’. And Gary Haggarty is not the only one.
So much for devolution!
This relationship was known about in Cardiff Bay for a long time, but Haggarty was only reassigned when it became public knowledge. Yet the relationship was improper whether it was public knowledge or not. They should have been separated, professionally, as soon as the affair became known about.
BEST OF FRIENDS
As I say, the relationship between Griffiths and Haggarty is now out in the open, as shown by the image below, taken in a Dublin bar on 8 February, the day of the Ireland v Wales rugby international.
On the left we see the happy couple, and on the right, Elin Jones, the Plaid Cymru AM for Ceredigion and Llywydd (Speaker) in the Senedd. And is that Llais y Sais columnist Carolyn Hitt behind Jones? If so, what’s a nice girl like her doing there?
You could say that seeing Labour and Plaid Cymru politicians sharing a convivial jar in a Temple Bar pub shows how civilised Welsh politics is. Not really.
Could you imagine Elin Jones sharing a Guinness with Andrew R T Davies, or his successor, Paul Davies? Or enjoying a snifter and a risqué joke with Mostyn? (Neil Hamilton, to you.)
And if Neil McEvoy had walked through the door Elin Jones would have screamed, switched off his microphone, summoned the gardaí and demanded that they drag him off to Kilmainham to be summarily executed.
Let Uncle Jac interpret that photograph for you. What it says is this: In next year’s Assembly elections Labour will fall well short of a majority of seats, consequently its only hope of staying in power lies in a coalition with Plaid Cymru. Therefore a vote for Plaid Cymru in 2021 will be a vote for Labour.
So don’t be fooled by the playful sparring you’ll see in the election campaign. It’s only done to fool mug punters. Don’t you be one of them!
Something else that strikes me is that Elin Jones, from a farming background, has no problem socialising with people inflicting so much pain on Welsh farming. A testimony to the amnesiac qualities of the Cardiff Bay air.
There was a piece of good news for our farmers last week. And unwelcome news for those wanting to displace them. For that’s where we’re at: two sides, one still in possession of its ancestral land, and the other prepared to use all manner of tactics to take possession.
This is semi-naked colonialism, with native ‘friendlies’ who have jumped into bed with the enemy justifying their treachery by pretending it’s done for the greater good of saving the planet.
“The report comes from the Natural Capital Committee (NCC), which says planting trees into peat bogs would prove a serious mistake.”
But don’t worry, for those pulling Lesley Griffith’s strings will still want wind turbines plonked on peat, to cause flooding and other problems – and it will all be done in order to save the planet!
Left to these people, Welsh identity itself will be destroyed . . . to save the planet. Gesture politics all the way.
Devolution does not work for us Welsh. Devolution benefits a colonial management class that just rubber-stamps decisions made by strangers acting against the Welsh national interest. We must move on to independence and reclaim our country from both our external enemies and their internal allies.
♦ end ♦
UPDATE 16.04.2020: Conservative MPs from Wales have written to Lesley Griffiths condemning her treatment of Welsh farmers over NVZ. (Did they also send Gary a copy?) Will Plaid Cymru also defend our farmers, or will they side with their Labour friends? (Available here in pdf.)
The title gives a strong hint of the tenor and quality of IMJ’s piece, which was both antagonistic (towards me) and riven with non-sequiturs. Make up your own minds as to whether he simply got his facts wrong or deliberately misrepresented what I had written.
Let’s start with the title of his piece. What I actually wrote was: “I’m not saying that George Soros controls Wales, but having read what Soros has to say on climate change – and it really is an obsession with him! – he could have dictated everything the ‘Welsh Government’ has put out in recent years.”
By which I meant that the ‘Welsh Government’s output on saving the planet is attuned with the way Soros uses the threat of climate change to enforce the political and other changes he desires. Somehow, from that, Ifan Morgan Jones chose to believe that I think George Soros is running Wales. The generous interpretation would be that he simply missed the ‘not’.
He continued: “Jac o’ the North’s evidence for this ultimately amounts to the fact that some people now working in Wales used to work for projects to which George Soros had given money, and that institutions set up in Wales have ties to institutions to which George Soros has given money.”
In fact, the two people I named, who are behind Black Mountains College, worked directly for George Soros.
One, William Newton Smith was, “For 20 years head of George Soros’s higher education programme”. He was the founding executive chairman of Soros’s controversial Central European University in Budapest, Hungary.
The other, Ben Rawlence, worked for George Soros’s Open Society Foundations, and also Human Rights Watch, a body funded by Soros. Despite being Project Lead of a new higher education college Rawlence appears to have no experience of higher education other than having been a student himself.
As this document makes clear, Black Mountains College “would be part of a global liberal arts network mentored by Bard College, NY, USA.”Bard College is a small, off-Broadway kind of institution kept afloat with Soros money.
And of course the ‘network’ referred to is the other institutions around the globe that Soros funds and through which he exerts his political influence. Many of them set up for him by William Newton Smith.
If further proof were needed of how the policies of the ‘Welsh Government’ chime with the Gospel according to St George, we read in the document I linked to a few paragraphs ago, “It would be a college set up with the Well-being of future generations at its heart”.
If established, Black Mountains College would produce climate change zealots dictating the political agenda in Wales, curtailing our liberties and making an already poor country poorer for no measurable reduction to global warming. This being the virtue signalling for which Wales is famous, and why it’s so attractive to those seeking to use Wales for their own ends.
There is no doubt in my mind that George Soros is the guiding influence behind Black Mountains College.
The final point I wish to address is Ifan Morgan Jones accusing me of being anti-Semitic. He tries to be clever by saying, “Jac himself strenuously denies any accusation of anti-semitism (sic) in his post. He himself never mentions Soros’ Jewishness”.
Consider: Ifan Morgan Jones introduces the issue of George Soros being Jewish, but only in order to suggest that I – who never mentioned it – am anti-Semitic!
I’ve been losing interest in Nation.Cymru for some time. It obviously serves a certain agenda, appealing to an in-crowd. ‘In’ with their own little cliques and echo chambers, but usually out of step with the great majority of our people.
THE MULE KICKS OUT
My piece on Black Mountains College was published last Monday. Ifan Morgan Jones’s attack came out on Tuesday, and then, on Saturday, in the Western Mail‘s ‘Weekend’ supplement (and TV guide) there was a double-page spread extolling the vision of those involved. (Available here in pdf format.)
Well, I’m sure that was the intention, but it was compromised by the statements made by the principals, and of course, the omissions. Let me explain.
To begin with, the article says that Rawlence and Sheers’ ” . . . thinking has has been shaped by the ground-breaking Well-being of Future Generations (Wales) Act”. The same connection I made in my article.
Later, Rawlence is quoted: “It (BMC) . . . can attract others . . . who want to come and work here”.
Which supports something else I said – “the Black Mountains College will be in Wales, but not of Wales”. For this is not a college as you and I would understand it; BMC will cater for the kind of people who want to drop out on One Planet settlements.
Despite the highfalutin plans, the whole BMC thing still seems rather half-baked. And perhaps amateurishly managed. For the idea is three years old and yet there seems to be no tangible progress to report.
The preferred location for BMC is the old Talgarth mental hospital, which the article told us is privately owned. Again, they’ve known that for three years, so have any moves been made to acquire the building?
I worry, given the involvement of Labour Party heavyweights like Future Generations Commissioner Sophie Howe, and Jane Davidson, former Minister for Environment, Sustainability and Housing, that the Black Mountains gang are expecting public funding.
I just hope that the redundancies announced at University of Wales Trinity Saint David are in no way connected with Black Mountains College. With UWTSD providing accreditation is BMC also lined up to join the UWTSD group, maybe as a replacement for Lampeter?
Other oddities in the WM report (attributed to Jenny White but almost certainly written by Rawlence and/or Sheers) was the absence of any mention of William Newton-Smith, so trusted by George Soros, who we read about in the first section.
But no signs yet of Uncle George’s money. Maybe he’s hoping some mug will cough up so he won’t need to put hands in his very deep pockets. That ‘mug’ might be us, the Welsh public.
Whatever, we’re entitled to know how Black Mountains College is to be funded. Because I honestly don’t think it’s going to be done through JustGiving.
That the ‘National Newspaper of Wales’ should give them a two-page spread so soon after I asked a few questions, and that Ifan Morgan Jones was even quicker off the mark, tells me that Sheers and Rawlence (who remind me of a Simon and Garfunkel tribute act) must be well connected.
And if that’s the case, then we should be on our guard.
Plaid Cymru’s support for One Planet Developments and related bullshit is not limited to the abstract or the ideological, for some Plaidistas are coining it from the hippy influx.
One whose name keeps cropping up is Vicky Moller of Pembrokeshire. Not only has she built up a nice little portfolio of smallholdings, but she was also a driving force behind OPD legislation. Almost inevitably, she has supported a number of OPD planning applications, including Beeview farm on the slopes of Mynydd Carningli.
And it seems to be generational, for her children are also capitalising on the invasion. Here is the Management Plan for Beeview Farm, where we encounter, on page 73, “energy consultant Jamie Ashe”. By page 79 he has become “reed bed designer Jamie Ashe”. (Is this promotion?)
Now I have never understood why the planet savers think burning wood is acceptable. Maybe it’s because wood is ‘natural’? But so is coal. Even lignite is natural. And yet, those who have been encouraged to move here to reduce Wales’ carbon footprint (work that out!) obviously see nothing wrong in filling the air with wood smoke.
I have driven the A487 past Corris on a windless winter evening and marvelled at the pall of smoke overhanging the valley thanks to the Centre for Alternative Technology cult’s acolytes. Who, with their wood-burning stoves, candles, joss sticks and joints make an Orthodox cathedral at Easter look smoke-free.
With at least one of her offspring benefiting from Beeview ‘farm’ Vicky Moller was herself an enthusiastic backer of this OPD that breached the border defences of a National Park. The first, but certainly not the last.
Moller is a Plaid Cymru Assembly candidate, yet many locals have difficulty understanding what kind of Wales she wants to live in. And their confusion isn’t limited to OPDs.
Pembrokeshire county council wants to close village schools, especially in the Welsh-speaking north of the county. Yet Vicky Moller helped found, and is a big supporter of, Nant y Cwm Steiner school, attended by many of her ‘alternative’ friends’ children. While others prefer home schooling.
But then, since the advent of devolution, the tide has been running against the indigenous Welsh and in favour of those Vicky Moller supports. And others taking over our country.
Things could be about to get even worse.
Because last week, Sophie Howe, the Future Generations Commissioner, called for more climate change funding. Much of her pitch I found uncontentious – more spending on public transport, energy-efficient homes, renewable energy, but then came the sting in the tail . . .
With that kind of money available in the future, what we’ve seen up until now could be viewed as a scouting party for the main force. Things could be about to get a whole lot worse.
It’s been covered by countless media outlets so I’m not going over it again; no, what I want to focus on is protester Janet Barker, “from Builth Wells, Powys . . . who works in environmental education and homelessness prevention, and runs a small holding (sic) and ethical angora business”.
(I was relieved to read that, cos there’s a lot of unethical Angora about. Bastards!)
Another report I dug out told us that her partner is an author. It didn’t take long for them to be identified and located on social media. They live near Llyn Brianne . . . ‘off-grid’, of course.
Peter Barker has written a book entitled System Error. When I first read the blurb and saw that the central character is called Imogen Thomas I began to worry that it might be set in Wales. I worried because the author is from Dorset and his partner from Wigan.
My fears were realised, for Imogen – who is, you’ll be surprised to learn, also a Greenpeace activist – stalks the mean streets of Llandrindod Wells. Here’s a section I lifted from what the author has made available.
This is most definitely Station Crescent not the Nevsky Prospekt, but it has a certain . . . well, a certain . . . oh, what’s the word I’m looking for? It’ll come to me.
As far as I can make out this earthly paradise for ethical rabbits is not a One Planet Development, which serves to remind us that the problem is not limited to OPD.
And yet, I don’t wish to be too harsh (you know me), I’m sure they’re both sincere people. But there’s no way they’re making a living out of a few acres and rabbit fur. (Nor Peter Barker’s riveting prose.) Like virtually all those who come here they either have their own money, or they have family money to fall back on, or else they rely on grants, state benefits and other hand-outs.
Which makes a nonsense of whole premiss that families, with children, can live this way. And you have to worry about the children.
It can’t be done. So why is the ‘Welsh Government’ encouraging this fantasy? And if it’s such a great idea – and it’s obvious that many English people want to try this lifestyle – why aren’t OPD and other initiatives being introduced in England?
Because, yet again, we are being taken for mugs, and Wales exploited.
AND NOW FOR SOMETHING COMPLETELY DIFFERENT . . . OR MAYBE NOT
“Relatively cheap property prices in the county are attracting private providers to places like Swansea, a group of councillors was told.
Swansea currently has 13 homes registered with Care Inspectorate Wales (CIW), with at least four more due to open in the next year. Only one of them is a Swansea Council-registered home.”
The article also made it clear that the problem extends to Neath Port Talbot. So it’s a Swansea Bay problem due to companies from outside of Wales taking advantage of cheaper property here to bring in someone else’s problems.
I don’t want to sound heartless, because these kids have problems, and they need help – but they should not be our responsibility.
And they cost us money. Just read what the police had to contribute to the report.
“In March, South Wales Police chief superintendent Martin Jones said his officers were dealing with missing children and taking care of young people in crisis at weekends due to the increase in children’s residential homes in Swansea and Neath Port Talbot.
He said: ‘In these homes there are about 110 children and they’re being brought in from outside Swansea and Neath Port Talbot, that’s putting massive strain on police resources and on social services, and other resources in health.'”
I suppose because this is how Englandandwales must operate. The Valleys and Swansea Bay – accounting for some half the population of Wales – is becoming increasingly attractive to those who run ‘homes’ and the like.
The problem of Swansea’s unneeded children’s homes probably links with another problem I highlighted a few months ago in this post. (Scroll down to ‘Welsh Not 2019’.)
This story made news as a Welsh language issue, with staff speaking Welsh at a care home in Ystradgynlais said to be upsetting residents. No one thought to ask why residents at a home in a largely Welsh-speaking community were unfamiliar with the Welsh language.
And of course this system of social dumping goes a long way to explaining why Wales has such a bloated third sector. (And an overstretched NHS.)
Then, earlier this month, we heard of a case in the Rhondda that followed the same pattern – an English company planning to house highly disruptive youngsters in a Welsh community. The company in question being Rise Care Ltd of Bristol, and so new is this company that no accounts have yet been filed with Companies House.
The reaction was so hostile – problems with similar establishments in Tonyrefail and Ebbw Vale were cited – that even local MP Chris Bryant (Labour) and local AM Leanne Wood (Plaid Cymru) were forced to object. (Clearly there were votes to be lost.)
I have a suggestion for Bryant and Wood. Ask Care Inspectorate Wales why it registers such establishments, for unproven companies, in areas where there is no local need? Get to the root of the problem rather than engaging in very public displays of knee-jerk nimbyism to hang on to your seats.
And maybe your party leaders down in Corruption Bay will begin to appreciate that we have a serious, national problem of social dumping on our hands.
Wales is a corrupt country being exploited to benefit anybody and everybody – at our expense. It’s our country yet we are marginalised and exploited.
We need to be more assertive. And it really doesn’t matter how we go about it. Any nation being exploited and invaded has the right to defend itself.
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‘ve written about One Planet developments before, but to refresh your memories, and help newcomers, here’s a brief outline.
One Planet seems to be a generic term for a loose global network of people who believe in living a more environmentally-friendly lifestyle, both as individuals and communities. And who can argue with that?
The wider and diffuse One Planet movement may be global but Wales is the only country that has implemented OP legislation.
This came about because certain people realised that devolution coupled with malleable politicos offered a golden opportunity for them to live the lifestyle they wanted, wherever they liked, with no restraints. And even to have it funded.
It also opened the door to those who wished to cover Wales in wind turbines. Those grotesque machines that inflict more environmental damage in their production, transportation and erection than is ever recouped during their short and intermittent working lives.
Although the One Wales: One Planet document of May 2009 was signed by then first minister Rhodri Morgan the main driving force within the cabinet would appear to have been Jane Davidson, Minister for the Environment, Sustainability and Housing.
Another influence would have been Plaid Cymru, which from 2007 until 2011 was the junior partner in a coalition with Labour. For Plaid had been cosying up to multifarious Greens for a couple of decades, some of them pathologically anti-Welsh. But what the hell! if there’s virtue to be signalled then Plaid’s your party.
The purpose of this posting is to bring you up to date, with examples of how the legislation mentioned in the previous section is damaging Wales. Also, how our local authorities and planning bodies are impotent in the face of land grabs because the aggressors have the full support of the ‘Welsh Government’, DEFRA, and the Planning Inspectorate.
And then, we come face to face with George Soros in the form of the Black Mountains College.
This example from north Pembrokeshire reminds us of how little support these eco-shysters receive from the indigenous communities. In Maenclochog, local councillor Huw George has even called for a moratorium on One Planet developments because, he argues, the system is being abused.
Councillor George has seen five OPD applications in his ward.
And of course he’s right when he argues that the system is being abused. Everyone who looks at how One Planet operates can see that the legislation is too lax. Another – and predictable – problem is that One Planet and associated legislation is of no benefit whatsoever to Welsh people. But it was never intended to be!
Think about that for a minute: a ‘Welsh Government’ passes legislation that it knows in advance will be of no benefit to Welsh people.
Making what is dressed up as saving the planet just another form of colonialism. Encouraged by an administration that may celebrate Welshness on an official and superficial level while simultaneously allowing or encouraging the destruction of the communities where that identity still thrives naturally.
The indefatigable Wynne Jones tried to find out a little more about this remarkable deal. For example, was a business plan submitted; and how is such generosity – with Welsh public assets – justified. But after a deluge of flim-flam the shutters came down. As they always do.
Anyone who takes an interest in the workings of the ‘Welsh Government’, and asks questions soon runs into a fog of obfuscation, which is usually the prelude to contact being ended completely. That’s because the ‘Welsh Government’ breaks its own rules, which then means that projects cannot be scrutinised or monitored.
Another feature is that many of those migrating to our rural areas to save the planet don’t want their children going to Welsh schools, or they think they can educate them better at home. This results in many kids just slipping off the radar, often with tragic consequences, as in the case of Dylan Seabridge.
I’m not suggesting that this boy’s parents, originally from Stoke on Trent, were involved in the One Planet scam; they just represent another type ‘escaping’ to our rural areas.
Another recent arrival worthy of a write-up is Matthew Watkinson, who lives with his wife Charis and their two children at Beeview farm, near Newport, Pembrokeshire.
They live in what can only be termed a rural slum, and claim to make a living on a couple of acres from selling eggs. If children were living in conditions like that in a town then the NSPCC and social services might be alerted. But this is One Planet living.
A parallel universe, where for planning permission, fire safety regulations, child welfare, etc., all the norms and laws of society that you and I must obey are suspended.
Like most of his kind, Watkinson pissed off the locals, and responded to their objections with this diatribe that gets very personal. But it’s par for the course; facile and self-serving arguments sustained with a combination of invective and moral superiority driven home by a sense of entitlement – ‘You Welsh peasants have no right to be critical of us superior beings’.
Beeview farm appears on the list of approved projects* as Golwg y Gwenyn and is described as a ‘Prospective OPD application’, but then we are also told that it’s ‘the first OPD to be granted full planning permission within a Welsh National Park’. I suspect we reconcile these statements by understanding that the structure for which planning permission was granted in July 2016 has yet to be built.
Apart from him being an arrogant twat, another reason locals did not grasp Matthew Watkinson to their bosom was because his OPD is on the slopes of Mynydd Carningli, a very special area with Neolithic, Bronze Age and Iron Age structures, including the famous hillfort.
Quite rightly, no development is allowed on Mynydd Carningli and locals felt that Watkinson was using OPD to circumvent planning rules in a very delicate area. And he’s got away with it, further endearing himself and the One Planet system to the locals of the Newport area.
* You may have noticed an intriguing caveat to the list of One Planet Developments: ‘This is not a full list – some OPDs prefer not to make themselves public, and there may be more that are not known to us’. Where might one obtain a full list?
‘I’M A GYPSY, HONEST, GUV’
Now we turn to an example of One Planet and Future Generation guidelines popping up in an unlikely situation. Here’s a case from Garnant, near Ammanford. On one level it’s another chancer who’s moved into Wales and is now trying to con the system, but on another level it’s almost funny.
As we read in the report from the South Wales Guardian Henry Rogers and his family moved to semi-rural Bryncethin Road just outside Garnant in 2012. And he has now been given planning permission for a caravan and other amenities alongside the house in which he says his wife lives alone.
For Rogers claims to be separated from his wife, and because he is a gypsy, he now demands his own encampment where he can fiddle his evenings away accompanied by wood crackling on an open fire. Local objectors are unimpressed, saying he is neither a gypsy nor has he separated from his wife.
When councillors on the planning committee asked for proof of Rogers’ gypsy status planning officer John Thomas ‘ . . . said a 15-page statement justifying the applicant’s lineage and background had been submitted, and that Gypsy-traveller sites were lacking in the Garnant area’.
What! How many gypsy sites does a small place like Garnant need?
Councillors were denied a view of the statement and Thomas had to admit that it contained no hard evidence of Rogers’ claimed ancestry, but the planning officer covered his arse with, ‘ . . . . (Thomas) had consulted housing department colleagues, who “verified that it’s common practice to accept justification statements”’.
So all you need do is concoct a ‘statement’ and planning permission is yours!
I have just one question: How does an Englishman claiming to be a ‘gypsy’ and having a caravan site in open country “improve the economic, social, environmental and cultural well-being of Wales”?
As on the slopes of Mynydd Carningli, Maenclochog, and countless other locations, we see locals united in opposition. Which tells me that the bad feeling created by One Planet developments is damaging rather than improving ‘the social, environmental and cultural well-being of Wales’. While the economic contribution is negligible if not negative.
THE GEORGE SOROS BLACK MOUNTAINS COLLEGE
For the concluding section of this offering we head for the Black Mountains – inspiration for Raymond Williams’ Border Country – where big things are in the offing in the form of a new seat of learning – The Black Mountains College (BMC).
I must confess that until a few days ago I knew nothing of this highly suspect venture exciting project. And when you see who’s involved you’ll wonder why it’s not headlines every day of the week. Let’s start at the beginning.
Though I find it odd that Rawlence has no background in education. So you have to wonder what he contributes to the scheme, and why he’s Project Lead. Unless the answer lies in his links with Soros?
Programme Manager is Libby Pearson, who has connections with, among others, Swansea University and the ‘Welsh Government’.
The sole director of Black Mountains College Ltd and one of six directors of Black Mountains College Project is Dr William Herbert Newton-Smith, a Canadian philosopher of science and co-proprietor (with his wife) of Welsh Lavender Ltd of Builth.
As for the charity, we of course find Newton-Smith listed as a trustee, along with the other directors of Black Mountains College Project: David Isaac, Elizabeth Passey, Owen Sheers, Chris Blake and Emily Durrant. Short biographies can be found here, where we learn that Newton-Smith was, ‘for 20 years head of George Soros’s higher education programme’.
In fact, Newton-Smith was the founding executive chairman of Soros’s controversial Central European University in Budapest, Hungary, used to influence and control human behaviour by inculcating the globalist agenda.
I don’t subscribe to all of the views on Soros we hear from the US right but I do worry that he may genuinely believe that it’s in the best interests of humanity to do away with borders, languages, religions and nationalities in order to create a homogeneous, anglophone, and ‘manageable’ global population, done by frightening us with global warming and other threats.
This is why I oppose Soros, and it’s also why I’m worried at the involvement of two of his former employees in this new education venture. Because the Black Mountains College will be in Wales, but not of Wales. Made clear in the clip below from the BMC website.
Another clue is the complete absence of the Welsh language from the BMC website.
Something else that worries me is that the Black Mountains College wants to engage in teacher training and issue Post Graduate Certificates in Education (PGCE) in order to percolate its message through the Welsh education system.
An object made easier by having on the BMC’s Advisory Council both Jane Davidson, former Minister for Environment, Sustainability and Housing, who since 2011 has flitted around academe and elsewhere reciting her mantras; and Sophie Howe, the Future Generations Commissioner.
Most of those involved with the Black Mountains College are strangers to our country but they know that if you want the sun to shine on your project, with regular life-giving showers of funding, then it helps to have Labour heavyweights on board.
Finally, let’s look at this from an educational angle. Higher education in Wales is in trouble (some might say crisis), with a number of institutions having apparently over-reached themselves. Only last Friday, Jane Davidson, in her role as Pro Vice-Chancellor for External Engagement and Sustainability, announced redundancies at UWTSD.
This is the same Jane Davidson who is now helping launch Black Mountains College, which will almost certainly ask for large amounts of public funding, and may ultimately be controlled by George Soros.
What the hell is going on?
UPDATE: Ben Rawlence has responded, on Twitter, by accusing me of anti-Semitism.
There is a strategy in place for our rural areas that seeks to undermine traditional farming and replace our farmers with those you’ve read about here. Implemented by a ‘Welsh Government’ influenced by those who’ll be the beneficiaries of the strategy.
The ‘Welsh Government’ is now using Brexit to justify further cutting financial support to farmers, but as we’ve seen, the policy of undermining traditional agriculture has been in place for over a decade. (Though if Brexit is an issue then those liars in Corruption Bay could if they wished maintain funding at EU levels – as the Scottish Government will.)
The next assault will come from the ‘findings’ of the Brexit and our land consultation. A good source tells me that the consultation is a sham as the decision has already been made to proceed with the ‘public goods’ system on which the outgoing Rural Development Programme 2014 – 2020, Sustainable Management Schemes Collaborative Projects scheme was based.
No, the truth is that Welsh farmers are being discriminated against, and rural Welsh life threatened; a form of discrimination against an indigenous population that can only be viewed as colonialism bordering on apartheid.
And now we know that George Soros is somewhere in the mix. I’m not saying that George Soros controls Wales, but having read what Soros has to say on climate change – and it really is an obsession with him! – he could have dictated everything the ‘Welsh Government’ has put out in recent years.
In William Newton-Smith and Ben Rawlence we have Soros’s emissaries in Wales, operating through the Black Mountains College. So should the ‘Welsh Government’ be giving funding, approval, accreditation or any other support to those representing a man who likes to run small countries by remote control?
The Soros connection is established beyond any doubt with this document in which the Brecon Beacons National Park Authority recommends grant funding. We read, “BMC would be part of a global liberal arts network mentored by Bard College, NY, USA”. Bard College is funded by George Soros. The ‘network’ referred to is the institutions around the world Soros controls through his vast wealth.
The document also tells us that BMC’s accreditation will come from the University of Wales Trinity St David, which explains the presence of Jane Davidson.
But should Sophie Howe, Jane Davidson or any other public figures be involved in this venture that could, if it follows the pattern we’ve seen elsewhere, be subversive of democracy?
Or does the ‘Welsh Government’ already know that Black Mountains College is a George Soros project and is willingly co-operating?
If so, then how much influence does George Soros have in Wales?
As you can see, this is another big one. But it’s made up of five separate reports: Hendy wind farm, recent events in Swansea and Llanelli which may – or may not – be linked, the Bodnant Welsh Food Centre, the redevelopment of the Tower opencast site, and finally, the leadership election in a non-existent political party.
So you can either make yourself a panad, settle down and go through the lot in one go. Alternatively, you can take them one at a time. The choice is yours.
Unless something big crops up this might be my last posting until 2019. If that’s how it turns out, then . . .
HENDY WIND FARM: WHO GAVE THE WORD? WHEN? WHY?
A few weeks ago, in Corruption in the Wind, I looked at three wind farms: Bryn Blaen, near Llangurig; Rhoscrowther, near Milford Haven; and Hendy, near Crossgates. All being promoted by the same property company.
Hendy wind farm merits another visit.
You’ll recall that Hendy was refused planning permission by Powys County Council and this decision was upheld by a planning inspector in May this year. But then, in late October, Lesley Griffiths, Energy, Planning and Rural Affairs Secretary for the management team in Cardiff docks, said that she would over-rule the planning inspector’s decision and allow Hendy to proceed.
In the earlier piece I argued that what triggered the change of heart over Hendy was the High Court decision in September to finally put a stop to the Rhoscrowther project on the Milford Haven Waterway.
Prior to that High Court decision the developers had Bryn Blaen in the bag, were hopeful of getting Rhoscrowther, and were probably resigned to writing off Hendy, taking the view that two out of three ain’t that bad. But once Rhoscrowther was lost they were down to one out of three – they had to have Hendy.
Here’s the sequence of events leading to where we are at present.
25.10.2018 Lesley Griffiths gives approval in letter to developer’s agents. (Though in that letter it was amusing to read, under ‘Timings & Plans’, “The development shall begin not later than five years from the date of this decision”.)
The Construction Environmental Management Plan we encountered in the bullet points above should have been produced before work started, but in the case of Hendy it’s dated November 19, six weeks after on-site work started.
The more I think about it, the more I believe there’s only one way to explain the panicky happenings at Hendy.
The decision to allow the Hendy wind farm was taken in London after approaches by the developers following the Rhoscrowther decision. (For despite the Planning Inspectorate having a desk in Cardiff it answers to the Department for Communities and Local Government in London.)
A political decision taken in London was passed to the Planning Inspectorate and only belatedly relayed to Lesley Griffiths when someone remembered about devolution. (Further proof that what masquerades as the ‘Welsh Government’ is just London’s management team in Wales.)
Worth mentioning may be that the landowner at Hendy is Sir Robert John Green-Price 5th Bt. It’s reasonable to assume that Sandhurst-educated Sir Robert has influential friends. It’s equally reasonable to assume that the developers, Marcus Owen Shepherd, Matthew Simon Weiner and Richard Upton, also ‘know people’.
Last week the developers were pile-driving at the source of the Edw, a Special Area of Conservation. All being done in the name of ‘conservation’ and ‘the environment’. The Edw runs south to join the Wye at Aberedw.
Where, last Sunday, a day after the Cilmeri commemoration, people remembered a hero who may have been betrayed. How fitting that they should gather at Aberedw, by a river being polluted by modern invaders assisted by today’s traitors.
Yet it had a great deal of backing from people who pointed out that the electricity generated by the Swansea lagoon, a relatively small prototype, was bound to be expensive, but the possibilities of tidal power are immense and larger lagoons would be cheaper all round. For one thing tides, unlike wind, are entirely predictable and therefore reliable.
Not far away from the proposed tidal lagoon we saw one of the more extravagant schemes mooted in recent years in the £225m Wellness Village in Llanelli’s Delta swamp, being promoted chiefly by Carmarthenshire chief executive Mark James and Swansea academic Marc Clement, the latter a Turk by birth.
This project was to be part-funded from the £1.3bn Swansea Bay city deal.
Clement and a few other senior academics in Swansea, including the vice-chancellor, were recently suspended and it was generally agreed that this was somehow connected with the Wellness Village, certainly Clement was connected. Though no Llanelli connection could be established for vice-chancellor Richard B Davies or the other two, unnamed, persons who were suspended.
But why should the London government suddenly be so concerned about doings in south west Wales?
I’ve been giving this matter some thought, and here’s what I think.
Just a few miles from Swansea Bay lies Mynydd y Gwair, on the northern outskirts of the city. This was an area of wild and unspoilt upland . . . until fat grants were introduced for wind turbines.
Then the owner of Mynydd y Gwair, the Beaufort Estate (Prop. Duke of Beaufort), decided it could make millions by covering this beautiful area with ugly, useless, bird-killing wind turbines. This is the same Beaufort Estate that ten years ago charged the city council £280,000 to put a footbridge over the Tawe near the Liberty Stadium.
Beaufort and his ilk are descended from medieval robber barons, and they still know how to extract money from the rest of us.
It’s the same across this island. In Scotland the descendants of the Parcel of Rogues and assorted foreign landowners are minting it with wind turbines; while in England it’s a similar story, with former PM David Cameron’s father-in-law among those raking it in.
And linked with them are the property men and experts who will do all the dirty work, and reap their own rewards, those we see behind the Hendy wind farm.
‘But, Jac, what about the suspensions at Swansea University and the Wellness Village?’
The Wellness Village was up Shit Creek anyway, no private money was going to appear. It has simply been written off early before any more public money is wasted. As for the suspensions, the Wellness Village might have been a useful distraction.
Put the Wellness Village to one side and remember that the university is also heavily involved with Tidal Lagoon Mk II. It was the university that commissioned the recent report – on behalf of the Swansea Bay City Region – into reviving the barrage project.
Then look at the plan. Swansea University’s new Bay Campus is at the eastern landfall of the proposed lagoon. Students would have fought to get into a university with its own private beach which also overlooked a ground-breaking tidal lagoon offering many recreational facilities.
But as I say, a revived Swansea tidal lagoon might be bad news for those behind Hendy wind farm, and for Lord Beaufort, also for the repackaged Parcel of Rogues, and of course for Sam Cam’s daddy.
We may need to look no further to explain the UK government’s decision to ‘review’ the Swansea Bay city deal.
BODNANT WELSH FOOD CENTRE
Another recent business failure was the collapse of the Bodnant Welsh Food Centre in Dyffryn Conwy. Though it now looks as though it has been saved by local teacake tycoon Richard Reynolds (who I’m sure is no relation to Rikki Reynolds of Weep for Wales notoriety).
In all the excitement too many have neglected to ask the basic questions about Bodnant, such as: Who’s calling the shots? Why was a grant of £6.5m made? Should that money have been allocated? Was the money used well? Why did Bodnant Food Centre collapse? What happens now?
The first thing to explain – and this is fundamental to understanding the bigger picture – is that the Bodnant Welsh Food Centre, opened in 2012 by Charles Windsor, is part of the Bodnant Estate, run by The Hon Michael Duncan McLaren QC, educated at Eton and Cambridge.
Michael McLaren’s father was the third Baron Aberconway, but this son has not succeeded to the title because he’s trumped by an older half-brother, Henry Charles McLaren, from his father’s first marriage (though there may be a dispute over entitlement).
You won’t find Bodnant Welsh Food Centre on the Companies House website because it trades as Furnace Farm Ltd, and this company was Incorporated with Companies House 20 October 2005. Furnace Farm is where we find the venture that received the £6.5m grant, but this is little more than a fancy shop selling overpriced food.
For as a source put it to me: “Dry home cured bacon for sale at £23/kg, yet both butchers at Llanrwst, some four miles away, were selling at £7.55/kg! Both butchers from known local sources!!”
Maybe at this point I should explain that despite not having succeeded to the title, Michael McLaren owns the whole shooting match, for in this document (page 5), the financial statement for year ending 31.01.2013, we read, “The company (Furnace Farm Ltd) entered into transactions with the Bodnant Estate which is owned by The Hon Michael McLaren”.
In addition to the Bodnant Estate and the Welsh Food Centre we have of course the well-known Bodnant Garden, owned by the National Trust but run by Michael McLaren as if he owns it. Then there’s Bodnant Garden Nursery Ltd, a private company with directors Michael McLaren, his wife Caroline, his mother, Lady Aberconwy, and Brian Eric Alcock.
The McLarens have three children: Angus John Melville, Iona Ann Mariel and Hamish Charles Duncan. Nice to see our Welsh aristocracy keeping with those names that resonate through our history.
So how did Alcock, with his IKEA-rivalling career in furniture, get involved with Michael McLaren in Bodnant Garden Nursery Ltd?
The other company in the family group is Bodnant Joinery Ltd, directors Michael and Caroline McLaren.
Giving us a number of interlinked enterprises on the Bodnant Estate, and all of them controlled by The Hon Michael McLaren QC. Invariably, with such an arrangement, there will be trading and lending between the different entities.
For example, that document I linked to earlier tells us that by January 2013 Furnace Farm Ltd owed Michael McLaren £4,969,122. By 31.01.2014 it’s up to £5,997,109. On 31.01.2015 it’s down a little to £5,862,901. A year later there is no specific mention of McLaren but the amount owed to all creditors has increased from £6,804,203 in 2015 to £7,921,963. By 2017 the figure is up to £8,981,591.
In that final financial statement we are also told that Furnace Farm Ltd lost before tax £1,497,444, up from £1,088,324 the previous year.
Just as well the company had a grant of £6.5m.
The problem with assessing how the grant was spent is that Furnace Farm Ltd is much more than just The Welsh Food Centre. For it also includes accommodation, at the farmhouse. In fact, the Estate offers plenty of accommodation.
To complicate the picture further, when I went to the Welsh European Funding Office (WEFO) website I could find nothing for either Furnace Farm Ltd or Bodnant Welsh Food Centre.
So eventually I telephoned WEFO, and I was surprised to learn that the name of the project was in fact the Centre of Excellence for Welsh Food, a name I have not seen used.(But I am only too familiar with this practice for making it difficult to make enquiries.) Here are the details.
So the question becomes – on what was the £6,444,107 spent? And after going back to WEFO I was told that, “Furnace Farm Ltd received funding of £237,032 from the Processing and Marketing Grant scheme . . . enabled the company to erect a new bespoke building complex . . . “.
So that’s £6,681,139, and counting?
The document I’ve linked to reads: “Centre of Excellence for Welsh Food The adaptation of abandoned farm buildings for economic use . . . 5 minutes from the A55 . . . private investor is providing 50% of the costs . . . project aims to create a retail outlet for local products, catering facilities for innovation with local food and a culinary school.”
The mention of “abandoned farm buildings” being adapted “for economic use” may refer to the farmhouse I mentioned earlier, now being used as a holiday let, rather than having anything to do with food excellence.
The latest update tells us that the new owner of the food centre, who plans to re-open on February 1st, and is said to be leasing the buildings from the McLarens, told the Daily Post: “It (Bodnant Welsh Food Centre) has been poorly run and we want to bring it back to what it was . . . with genuine authentic local produce in the shop . . . We can’t get away with charging a premium for something you can pick up in the supermarket.”
How very true. But then, if civil servants and/or politicians want to give someone millions of pounds to spend on property he already owns, then whether a retail outlet succeeds or not may be of little consequence in the bigger scheme of things.
The big question for me is: Why did anyone think it was a good use of EU funding to give millions of pounds to a wealthy aristocrat to open a London-prices shop in the Conwy Valley, especially as such funding was not supposed to be given for retail purposes?
And what guarantees do we have that such ‘misjudgements’ will never occur again?
THE LEFT BETRAYS WALES, AGAIN
This is another little tale that gets rather complicated, so let me set the scene with some background information. (Sorry, no music.)
You’ll recall that in December 1994, under threat of closure, Tower Colliery at Hirwaun was bought out by its miners under the leadership of Tyrone O’Sullivan. This made them mine-owners but paradoxically they also became deities in the socialist pantheon.
Tower Colliery was worked until it became uneconomic and closed in January 2008. What is less well known is that following the closure there was a period of opencast mining in the area.
Opencast mining began in May 2012, and if it hasn’t already ended, it is scheduled to end this month.
At its birth, Tower Newco Ltd had a single director named on the Certificate of Incorporation, a Kevin Dougan, of Durham. He was soon joined by others including O’Sullivan and also by Ian Anthony Charles Parkin, another businessman from north east England.
Almost immediately it was set up Tower Regeneration Ltd took out a loan with Forward Sound Ltd, of Durham, a company that had been set up less than a year before Tower Regeneration. In fact, it’s difficult to escape the conclusion that Forward Sound was set up specifically to capitalise on the Tower opencast project.
Why the strong Durham connection? Well, on a practical level it was a coal-mining area, but on the emotional plane Durham to the bruvvers means the annual Miners’ Gala; it conjures up images of comradely solidarity, fluttering banners and fiery speeches.
On 1 December 2017 the ubiquitous Dougan ceased to be a director at Hargreaves Services, Tower Regeneration, and Forward Sound, but rejoined Tower Regeneration the very next day . . . though Companies House wasn’t notified until 27 April this year!
So from the outset, the Tower opencast and regeneration project has been funded and controlled by English interests. And now they’re lining up to get their hands on the money available for ‘restoration’ work. And we are talking many millions of pounds here.
And as might be expected, the English Labour Party in Wales is eager to play its allotted role in short-changing Wales, again.
It seems that the prettying up is to be done by The Land Restoration Trust, which is both a charity (No 1138337) and a company, though for some reason, on its website it’s called The Land Trust. Its headquarters are in Warrington and it specialises in “open space for community benefit”, much of that open space seems to be reclaimed industrial land, especially in former coalfields.
The Land Restoration Trust was set up by the Coalfields and Joint Ventures Division of the now defunct English Partnerships, “the national regeneration agency for England”, which was succeeded in December 2008 by the Homes and Communities Agency, since re-named Homes England.
Clearly the Land Restoration Trust is an England-only body. Though the website has pages for Scotland and Wales both read: “We currently do not manage any sites in (Scotland/Wales) although we are working hard to do so. If you would like discuss any potential opportunities please contact our Business Development team.”
Despite having no sites in Wales Alison Whitehead, described as ‘Development Manager’, enjoys visiting sites in Wales! But then, Alison, as her Linkedin profile tells us, was ‘Development Manager for North of England and North Wales’.
And below you’ll see what Howells put out on Facebook the following day. Note that she mentions “ownership and management options”. In fact, it had already been decided behind the scenes, and years ago, making the Senedd reception no more than a PR exercise.
Vikki Howells is involved for no better reason than she’s the local AM, having been elected in 2016 because she was the donkey with the red rosette. Does she really understand what’s gone on at Tower and who owns what?
Though if Ms Howells was so keen to inform the Cynon Valley public then she should have explained why her administration has abrogated its responsibilities and rolled back devolution. And also explained why the profits from developing this local site will be leaving Wales.
The Tower opencast operation didn’t last for much more than six years, it employed few, and when repayment of loans, leasing and hiring are taken into account, it wasn’t that profitable, certainly not for Tower. The big beneficiary appears to have been Hargreaves Surface Mining Ltd, renamed Hargreaves Land Ltd in June 2018.
(It should go without saying that Kevin James Stewart Dougan ceased to be a director of Hargreaves Land on 1 December 2017. What is the significance of that date?)
Hargreaves Surface Mining was set up in October 2011, just before opencast mining began at Tower. The timing is no coincidence. Hargreaves Surface Mining Ltd joined a host of new companies that had been created in north east England to make big bucks out of a mining operation in Wales.
An operation that put little money into the local economy but enriched strangers. It also served the purpose of being the necessary precursor to the second stage of the project that will inherit a large tract of land together with millions of pounds to landscape and redevelop it.
Vikki Howells seems to envision the development at Tower linking with the Rhondda Tunnel . . . owned by Highways England!
Or maybe it’ll be more wind turbines, for while they generate little or no electricity they certainly produce massive incomes for those who operate them, and the landowners involved.
It’s difficult to believe that all this is happening after twenty years of devolution. But as I’ve argued many times, devolution is a sham, a façade; and behind that façade Wales is being ripped off and inexorably assimilated into England.
This assimilation along with the exploitation we see at Hendy and Mynydd y Gwair, Bodnant and Tower, is being facilitated by socialists, and the Labour Party, doing what they always do – selling Wales down the river.
GREEN PARTY OF ENGLANDANDWALES
Earlier this year members of the self-styled ‘Wales Green Party’ voted against becoming a Wales Green Party, choosing to remain part of the Green Party of Englandandwales and calling themselves The Green Party in Wales. Whereupon the party ‘leader’ defected to Plaid Cymru.
The confusion that resulted may be reflected in the fact that the party website seems to have been abandoned, with nothing posted since 10 July.
Yet despite all the recent tribulations this Green Party of England in Wales is currently holding a leadership election. Yes, that’s a leadership contest to a non-existent party! Among those standing is Anthony Slaughter.
So who is he? Well, it should go without saying that he’s not Welsh. He lives in Penarth and seems to have a high regard for himself, adopting that tone of moral and intellectual superiority that so endears the Greens to me.
And he spreads his talents wide, for when he’s not saving the planet he’s up in London demanding something called A People’s Vote, supporting the Stansted 15, and arguing for 20 mph speed limits. Sainthood can’t be far away.
But being a Green he’s probably a practising pagan. (Or am I thinking, vegan?)
Obviously there’s no such thing as the Wales Green Party, but then, there’s no such thing as the Welsh Labour Party either, it’s just a label, there’s nothing registered with the Electoral Commission.
So maybe the Greens take their lead from the Labour Party, because they often seem close, almost as if the Greens are the idealistic younger relative indulged by the more staid Labour Party.
And the closeness isn’t confined to the Greens, it seems to extend to the environmentalist movement as a whole, maybe it’s something to do with the self-absorbed regarding themselves as ‘progressive’
This perhaps explains why public money was recently spent on foot massage by the Future Generations Commissioner, that very close friend of the late Carl Sargeant.
But it’s not just Labour that likes to cwtch up to those who think that the examples of Hendy and Mynydd y Gwair should be replicated on every pristine landscape in Wales. Who believe that carving up the countryside to lay thousands of tons of concrete is good environmental practice.
I mentioned that Slaughter, the would-be leader of the non-existent party, lives in Penarth. Where I’m told certain Plaidistas – the names Clubb and Wilton were mentioned – have been keen to do electoral deals with these Wales-rejecting colonialists.
But then, nothing surprises me any more, whether it’s the Greens, Plaid Cymru, or the Labour Party. They all pursue their own agendas, driven by narrow ideology and trapped within dogmas, rather than pragmatically promoting what’s best for the Welsh people.
That’s why they’ve failed us, and that’s why time is running out for all of them.
I have written a number of times about One Planet Developments in Wales, and of those taking advantage of this idiocy . . . and of us. (OPD itself will be explained in a mo.)
It would be easy to apply the generic term ‘hippies’ to those I’m going to write about, but this doesn’t convey the full picture, because those we’re dealing with are not all laid-back types, with no interest in material possessions.
No, those I’m going to write about are most definitely interested in owning things, especially that for which we humans have fought and killed each other for millennia – land.
Warning: This is a lengthy read (3200+ words) so make yourself a cuppa or pour yourself a glass and settle down to enjoy it.
ONE PLANET DEVELOPMENTS EXPLAINED
As far as I can make out OPD was announced to an unsuspecting nation in May 2009, with the document One Wales: One Planet. This document gave retrospective planning permission to a number of illegal settlements and dwellings. The use of that cardinal number was fitting seeing as Wales was then managed on behalf of London by the One Wales coalition between Labour and Plaid Cymru.
I have grabbed the illustration below from said document and added names.
‘One Wales: One Planet’ was supplemented in July 2010 with ‘Technical Advice Note (TAN) 6 Planning for Sustainable Rural Communities’. This contains gems such as, “Many economic activities can be sustainably located on farms”. Er, yes, it’s called farming, it’s been going on for thousands of years.
TAN 6 gives the impression that despite it being about the countryside it was written by people who know nothing about real farming. The sentence I’ve quoted suggests that whoever wrote it believes that sheep farmers do nothing but farm sheep, filling their many periods of inactivity by perhaps flying off to the Dalmatian Coast.
Which in a sense makes sense. Because although OPD, TAN 6 and lots of other guff is ostensibly about the rural areas of Wales, it’s not about the Wales we’ve grown up in, it’s about a Welsh countryside of the future, socially engineered to be inhabited by different people. And in some parts, uninhabited.
The agreement between Labour and Plaid Cymru in 2007 is set out in the ‘One Wales‘ document, subtitled, ‘A progressive agenda for the government of Wales’. Section 8 (page 30) deals with ‘A Sustainable Environment’ and begins, “Climate change is the greatest threat facing humanity”.
Which suggests that for whoever wrote that, war, poverty, starvation, displacement, oppression, exploitation and all the other very real tragedies facing the human race in 2007 were nothing when compared to what might affect us at some time in the future. Making it pretty clear about the interests and motives of the author.
Whoever penned that is eager to employ a hypothetical future catastrophe in order to advance a narrow and self-serving viewpoint that will work to the advantage of those with whom he or she identifies. In other words, bouncing the Labour-Plaid Cymru coalition into giving special treatment to those claiming to be saving the planet by moving to Wales.
Further on in Section 8 we read, “We will establish a Climate Change Commission for Wales, which will be chaired by the Minister for Sustainability and Rural Development.” So who was that?
In the picture above you will see, seated on the left, Jane Davidson, she was the Minister for Sustainability and Rural Development in the 2007 – 2011 coalition government.
Though information on the Climate Change Commission for Wales is sparse. It seems to have been set up in 2007 yet for some reason its first annual report didn’t appear until January 2012. Typing the name into the search box of the ‘Welsh’ Government’s website brings up very little, certainly no later annual report.
But who is Jane Davidson?
Given that she cares so frightfully for rural Wales it should go without saying that she is English and middle class, born in Birmingham and educated at what was then Malvern Girls’ College but appears to have since merged with St James’s School to give us Malvern St James Girls’ School.
What else do we know about Jane Davidson?
After Birmingham University she came to Aberystwyth, perhaps to do some post-graduate qualification, but she certainly taught for a few years (1981 – 1984), became development officer for the Youth Hostels Association (1984 – 1987), and by 1987 was a Cardiff councillor, and known as ‘Lady Jane’.
Her political career really took off when she became a researcher for Rhodri Morgan, the MP for Cardiff West in 1991. For some reason she didn’t stand in the council elections of 1995 and ceased to be Rhodri Morgan’s researcher in 1995/6. Giving us a lacuna between 1995/6 and 1999 when she was elected to the new Welsh Assembly, so if anyone can fill it I’d be most grateful.
(For many of those I write about gaps in the CV are often explained by being banged up, but in the case of Jane Davidson I’m sure she was doing something worthy like smuggling prayer wheels made from recycled wood into Tibet.)
As I’ve said, she was elected to the Assembly in May 1999 after being foisted on the bruvvers of Pontypridd and the constituency responded by unenthusiastically electing her with a majority of just 1,575 votes. She was soon made deputy speaker by the unloved and soon departed first minister Alun Michael, a man she is said to have known rather well.
On taking up her post in 2007 she resigned as Welsh vice-president of the Ramblers Association, but became president immediately on leaving office in 2011. We are expected to believe that she had no contact whatsoever with the Ramblers between 2007 and 2011 despite helping push through the Wales Coastal Path, which has caused such disruption, misery and expense for so many Welsh farmers and landowners.
But then, these – like the electors of Ponty – were never people Lady Jane cared about.
According to her Wikipedia entry, which I assume Jane Davidson edited, we read, ” . . . she was responsible for the Welsh Government agreeing to make sustainable development its central organising principle“.
There were no more pressing matters to deal with? Or had devolution now been subverted to a single issue – saving the planet? And were we supposed to believe that a tiny country like Wales could make a difference? This suggests to me that it was the obsessive Davidson who also wrote, in the ‘One Wales’ document, that “Climate change is the greatest threat facing humanity”.
Does this myopia explain Wales being the poorest country in Europe? Did Jane Davidson and a few other English environmentalists con our gullible and deferential politicos into opening Wales up for them and their friends to act out their crackpot ideas?
The answer would appear to be yes, for it doesn’t end with OPD and Jane Davidson, perhaps because the English Labour Party in Wales has never been short of gullible and deferential clowns.
Following on from OPD and TAN 6 we saw, in January 2014, Alun Davies, Minister for Natural Resources and Food, announce that 15% of EU Common Agricultural Policy funding was to be transferred from Pillar 1 (farmers) to Pillar 2 (‘rural development projects’).
Another body feeding ‘advice’ to the ‘Welsh’ Government was the Wales Rural Observatory at Aberystwyth University. Made up of academics who knew nothing about Wales until they moved here they were highly qualified to offer such advice. The WRO went out of business 31 March 2014. (I do hope it was something I wrote.)
Independently, we saw a number of organisations like the Agroecology Land Trust spring up, which has blessed us with Red Pig Farm.
Apart from providing yet more jobs for Labour cronies the Future Generations department seeks to brainwash Welsh schoolchildren into accepting that developments like Lammas, complete with its pagan temple, represent the future Wales they should support and aspire to.
We have now reached the point where the One Planet insanity is being lauded outside Wales and promoted as “a ground-breaking Welsh government scheme under which people get to circumvent tight planning rules so long as they build an eco-home in the countryside and go back to working the land on which it sits”.
You can see that the headline reads – ‘Want to save the planet? Move to Wales’. Which exposes the absurdity of the whole idea, because if Wales was populated entirely with hippy ‘farmers’ they’d merely have transferred their footprint from somewhere else, and collectively they wouldn’t cancel out the effect on the environment of a single coal-fired power station in China.
But never mind the facts, for Lady Jane and her friends such publicity must represent victory.
Everything Jane Davidson has done in the field of environmentalism has been done to promote the interests of others like her, those who see Wales as a country of great potential, for them . . . and at our expense. For I cannot think of a single policy or initiative that she and her kind have been involved with that set out to improve the lives of Welsh people.
The footprint these people are really trying to reduce is our footprint, our footprint in our country.
Some of you may be asking why the Labour Party and Plaid Cymru are so supportive of this nonsense.
You have to remember that the Labour Party has little support in rural areas and so inflicting self-idealising ‘peasant farmers’ on areas that don’t vote Labour may be seen as a form of revenge. Certainly Labour has nothing to lose electorally. And then there’s the good publicity gained outside Wales from those who don’t know the truth.
And as the bruvvers have all read their socialist theories and studied the Russian Revolution maybe they view Welsh farmers as kulaks who must be destroyed in order for the peasants – in the form of eco-settlers – to take over. (And those of us of a certain age remember how successful Soviet agriculture was in putting food on Russian tables!)
But why would Plaid Cymru work against the interests and wishes of their core voters in Ceredigion, Pembrokeshire and Carmarthenshire? The answer seems to be that Plaid Cymru politicians have either been blackmailed with charges of ‘racism’ or else they’ve fallen for the Green invaders’ self-serving bullshit, and this pre-dates One Planet and One Wales.
Cynog Dafis, the former MP for Ceredigion from 1992 until 2000 and AM for the Mid and West Wales regional seat from 1999 until 2003, was an early supporter of the eco-influx, in fact, he stood for Westminster in 1992 as a Plaid-Green candidate.
Others have been involved with that spiritual home of eco-living the Centre for Alternative Technology in Corris. Among them my Lord Elis Thomas, who was a trustee or some such, as was Ellen ap Gwynn, currently Plaid leader in Ceredigion.
CAT has been in Corris for over 25 years and has drawn a few hundred hippies into the area. To the extent that on still autumn evenings there’s more incense and smoke (from wood-burning stoves and spliffs) hanging over Corris than you’ll find in an Orthodox cathedral at Easter.
Much of what I’ve written thus far might be gleaned from previous scribblings; what I’ve tried to do here is give the timetable for a whole strategy that has resulted in the ‘Welcome’ sign being put up to encourage many odd and not a few undesirable persons into our rural areas.
A strategy that increases Wales’s carbon footprint and therefore exposes that in reality it’s simply a type of colonisation. Supposedly more acceptable because it’s done in the cause of saving the planet.
And you mustn’t think that the problem is confined to the west, for since making contacts in Powys over the Paul and Rowena Williams case I learn of a OPD project at Twiscob Top, near Presteigne involving Paul and Kate Hooper, who had previously tried to inflict themselves on Carmarthenshire, insisting that they be allowed a dwelling near their charcoal business.
Powys planners seem reluctant to do their job partly because the Hoopers are using OPD and partly because of the expense involved in standing up to these bullies and their ‘Welsh’ Government backers. Which probably explains why they think they’ve won.
Now it’s time to move on to a related subject that shares many of the attitudes we’ve already encountered: the sense of entitlement, the belief that Wales would be better without the Welsh.
I’ve mentioned Corris and the Centre for Alternative Technology but the charlatans of environmentalism are not confined to this small area off the A487. They seem to have spread like a plague over the Dyfi valley area. In no small part due to the influence of notorious enviro-propagandist George Monbiot, who lived in the area for a while.
Monbiot’s pet hate is sheep. Those evil, woolly bastards wandering the hills planning human downfall. This article last year in the Grauniad tells us that while cruelty and lack of calories are the ostensible reasons for defending ourselves from the threat, the true motives become clear when we read: ” they (sheep) occupy around 4m hectares of the uplands”. And we are not talking Swansea Uplands here.
But the sheep-free uplands would not be left for Mother Nature to reclaim over time, oh no, they would need to be managed . . . by people . . . well, by people very much like Monbiot, and others we’ve encountered. In other words, we are talking now of engineered re-wilding.
One shadowy re-wilding project about which I and others are having difficulty getting information is ‘Summit to Shore’, covering 10,000 hectares and 20 sq km of sea from “the Pumlumon uplands down to Cantref (sic) Gwaelod”.
Heavily involved, maybe managing the show, is the laughably dysfunctional (or seriously corrupt) Natural Resources Wales where, among other board members, we find Dr Elizabeth Haywood, whose mini bio didn’t allow space to inform us that she is the wife of Peter Hain.
NRW’s master of ceremonies in Summit to Shore is Andy Middleton, “social entrepreneur . . . environmental innovator” and someone who – it is alleged – believes murderers and rapists should be forgiven for acting out crimes motivated by subconscious thoughts.
But the driving force will be Rewilding Britain, an organisation with which George Monbiot is linked, and some of the funding will come from hedge fund managers Artemis. There are other organisations involved – all based outside Wales or else Welsh-based white flight outfits – but no farming unions and no body representing commercial fishermen. In other words – no locals.
What better illustration could there be of the way the Labour Party operates through nepotism and corruption, facilitating the colonialist agenda and treating us Welsh with contempt? Though in fairness, it could be said that Labour has done its bit for re-wilding by reintroducing a species we thought we’d lost – the quango.
The re-wilding may have already started for in the area we’re dealing with Cambrian Wildwood has brought in some alien Konik horses to its land at Bwlch Carog, near Machynlleth. This report from BBC Wales tells us that, “The horses, from a herd in Kent, are descendants of the now extinct European horse, the Tarpan”.
These Konik horses are certainly from Kent, but the donkeys giving rides at Aberdyfi may have a stronger claim to be descended from the Tarpan. Though you have to ask why anyone supposedly concerned with authenticity and restoring land to a previous condition would import a Polish breed – via Holland and England – when we have horses of our own from Gower to the Carneddau.
Is this yet another example of environmentalists’ antipathy to all things Welsh – except our land?
Oh, yes, you’ll never guess who I found when I looked at the ‘Who we are’ page on the Cambrian Wildwood website – there, smiling back at me were George Monbiot and Lady Jane Davidson!
One thing I’ve learnt about environmentalists and re-wilders is that they have trouble with the truth; it’s not just equines, it’s also felines, specifically lynx.
A statement was recently put out by the Lynx Trust UK saying that it had obtained permission from all relevant landowners to release lynx into the Kielder Forest area of north east England. This was a lie, and was quickly countered by the National Sheep Association.
Something I noticed on the Lynx Trust UK website was, “We will work closely with local communities, stakeholders and the general public”, which I’ve read over and over on re-wilding and environmentalist websites, but it’s a lie. The Green invaders prefer to operate secretively through bodies like Natural Resources Wales, get the backing of individuals like Jane Davidson, and then present their plan as a fait accompli to local people and their elected representatives.
We are dealing here with an insidious form of takeover. No longer are greens and environmentalists looking for abandoned smallholdings, they now want to take over large swathes of our country. In this they are helped by the ‘Welsh’ Government and those the Labour Party has placed in strategic bodies to do its bidding.
Yet if those clowns down Cardiff docks were serious about protecting our environment and reducing Wales’s carbon footprint then it could be done quite easily by reducing tourist numbers, especially to seasonally swamped western areas. Further benefits could be obtained by re-instating a west coast railway and feeder lines to reduce road traffic.
But it’s never been about the environment. The English Labour Party in Wales has allowed itself to be hoodwinked by a bunch of well-heeled shysters and obsessives who want control of those parts of Wales that have rejected Labour, and Labour is quite happy to oblige.
THE GREEN PARTY
You may have noticed that I’ve written this without once mentioning the Green Party of England in Wales. What’s that, you thought there was a Wales Green Party? No, no, they voted on it a few weeks back and Green Party members in Wales voted by a substantial majority to remain part of the Green Party of England, rather than become a separate party, as is the case in Scotland.
That tells you a lot about Greens and environmentalists, off-grid dwellers, planet savers and re-wilders, and it betrays their thoroughly colonialist attitude towards us and our country.
Pure, unadulterated colonialism. Encouraged by leftist political parties.
♦ end ♦
P.S. Maybe I should have been more specific with Lady Jane’s role at Lampeter.
She is, in full, ‘Associate Pro Vice Chancellor for External Stakeholder Development and Engagement and Director of INSPIRE at the University of Wales Trinity Saint David’. (Try saying that after three bottles of Malbec!) INSPIRE is the Institute of Sustainable Practice, Innovation and Resource Effectiveness.
Also at INSPIRE we find Andy Middleton of Natural Resources Wales. And Peter Davies, who “was previously Wales’ Commissioner for Sustainable Futures and provided advice to the Welsh Government”. Not forgetting Anna Jones, who “is currently involved with the voluntary rollout of the Wellbeing of Future Generations Act”.
Isn’t it all so cosy, everybody knowing everybody else, and almost everything traceable back to the ‘Welsh’ Government. Or is the word I’m looking for ‘incestuous’?
Most of you will be aware that after a protracted and amateurish ‘process’ Plaid Cymru has now expelled Neil McEvoy from its Assembly group. This will have surprised absolutely no one. But what is it all about, what’s the real story?
From speaking with Neil McEvoy and others, and from my own research, this is my interpretation of an affair that reflects badly on devolution, also on Plaid Cymru, the Labour Party, and the third sector, while telling us much about the anti-democratic manoeuvrings and poisonous environment of Cardiff Bay.
The biggest problem I found in researching this piece – something I’ve been doing, off and on, for months – was not the scarcity of evidence but the overwhelming amount of it. Which meant that I had to stick to the straight and narrow without being detoured by personal animosities and other distractions.
IN THE BEGINNING
I don’t think we need to go back any further than November 2011 to find the time when Neil McEvoy made himself a host of powerful enemies, people who have pursued him ever since, and would now appear to have him down . . . though I wouldn’t bet on it.
What he did with a Facebook post and tweet about men being denied access to their children, and his criticism of Welsh Women’s Aid – run then by Labour’s Paula Hardy and today still packed with party members including the former MP for Swansea East, Siân James – was to threaten a system that relied on unquestioning acceptance of certain dicta, in this case – ‘All men are bastards, and all women are victims’.
This particular dictum wrings an unquestioning acceptance out of politicians and others which is then used to cultivate an ever-growing number of third sector bodies – as new ‘niches’ are found to exploit – with hundreds of crony jobs and all paid for from the public purse. And who would dare argue – for aren’t they ‘helping vulnerable women’.
Though it’s worth remembering that McEvoy was not without support from the very same quarter where most wanted him lynched, as this piece reminds us. It’s about Erin Pizzey, who had founded the UK’s first women’s refuge in London, in 1971.
This woman has been a doyenne of the women’s rights movement since the term ‘battered wives’ was coined and has expressed strong views on the narrow interpretation that only women can be victims of domestic violence. She has also been very critical of what she terms ‘aggressive feminism’.
Predictably, this has made Pizzey unpopular with those who use their gender as a weapon in securing personal advancement, often in the absence of ability or qualifications. And especially with those who view someone else’s domestic abuse as a good career move for them.
Following the self-interested attacks from various third sector bodies back in 2011 the Labour Party predictably came down on a Plaid Cymru politician. But it didn’t end there, because McEvoy was suspended by his own party.
Here we see the first inkling of something beneath the surface suggesting that the political differences we are asked to believe in, the Punch and Judy shows of electioneering and political debate, may be just a sham.
THE POLITICS OF IT 1
Neil McEvoy was first elected as a Labour councillor for the Riverside ward on Cardiff city council in 1999, becoming vice-chair of the Labour group. In 2003 he left to join Plaid Cymru and lost his seat in the 2004 elections.
In 2008 he was back on the council, representing the Fairwater ward. With Plaid now running the council in coalition with the Lib Dems he served as deputy council leader from 2008 – 2012. Although Labour returned to power in 2012 McEvoy retained his Fairwater seat, coming top out of 13 candidates with 16% of the total vote.
Neil McEvoy entered the Assembly in 2016 by the regional route, becoming an AM for South Wales Central. Although the regional vote is difficult to interpret, few doubt that Plaid’s good showing was due to McEvoy being on the regional list.
Roll on to 2017 and in defending his Fairwater seat Neil McEvoy took Plaid Cymru to previously unscaled heights and a humiliating defeat for Labour. He upped his percentage of the vote to 20%, with the leading Labour candidate trailing way behind on 9%.
What makes this result so impressive is that just before the council elections – in March, in fact – a Cardiff Council (i.e. Labour) tribunal found that a throwaway remark McEvoy had made to a council official amounted to ‘bullying’.
Plaid Cymru joined in by suspending him from the Plaid Cymru Assembly group. Plaid chairman Alun Ffred Jones, thought that the ludicrous charge was “serious because it involves bullying”. (Alun Ffred is one of those men so devoid of animation that watching him I think back to the old Soviet Union and the undead politburo members atop Lenin’s tomb. A fur hat and a few snowflakes would complete that rather unsettling image.)
The timing and co-ordination of these attacks was of course coincidental.
THE POLITICS OF IT 2
Were he or she reading this then I’m sure that the foreign correspondent of Maritza Plovdiv would be thinking (in Bulgarian) ‘Wow! at last Plaid Cymru has a politician who can stick it to the Labour Party, take them on and beat them on their own turf. Let the good times roll!’
In truth, since Neil McEvoy arrived in the Assembly, Plaid Cymru’s faint-hearts have behaved as if they’d been handed a bomb. For a number of reasons.
To begin with, I don’t think they understand McEvoy. For while Plaid may have many members in Cardiff nowadays, and there may be a thriving Welsh language scene in the city, this is largely due to the population movement that has enfeebled our rural areas.
But Neil McEvoy didn’t move down from Pwllheli or up from Crymych, he’s Kerdiff through and through, with his Irish/Yemeni/English/Welsh background. And this is his strength, for he appeals to Cardiff voters who might not engage with Carys or Rhodri.
Nor did he come to Plaid by any of the usual routes. By which I mean, he certainly hasn’t come from the language movement, he isn’t an environmentalist or a hard leftie infiltrator, nor is he a professional politician who started out as a party worker or spad, and he certainly didn’t emerge from the third sector.
So in many ways, Neil McEvoy is a one-off, an enigma; and for all their talk of ‘the people’, when presented with a genuine man of the people Plaid Cymru’s upper echelons are horrified.
That’s because Neil McEvoy – like most of us reading this – realises that the real enemy in Wales is the Labour Party, not the Conservatives. And so he attacks the Labour Party and its corrupt system again and again. This is why Plaid Cymru is on the verge of expelling him from the party.
It is no exaggeration to make a comparison with the palace coup against Dafydd Wigley in 2000, for once again Plaid Cymru is thinking of getting rid of its most popular politician and its greatest electoral asset.
And once again, the move may be prompted by influences external to the party.
ALL PROGRESSIVES TOGETHER
In the collective mindset of the Plaid Cymru leadership and hierarchy being ‘progressive’ – and/or being viewed by others as ‘progressive’ – is more important than doing what’s best for Wales. Posturing.
Giving the finger to the US president, saving the planet, arguing that only fascists and racists want us to leave the EU, supporting every -ism that rolls off the left-liberal production line, and getting good coverage in the Guardian, are much more important than serving Wales.
Despite professing love for, and faith in, ‘the people’, progressives don’t really trust hoi polloi to do what’s best (especially since Brexit, Trump, and a host of other recent disappointments). Far better that a progressive elite should run things in the best interests of the untutored mob.
This has given Wales the kind of paternalistic statism we have always known from Labour, with Plaid Cymru latching on to Labour’s coat-tails in recent decades. Industry and commerce are inimical to this model because companies and even individual entrepreneurs cannot be easily controlled, and so both Labour and Plaid Cymru – despite regular protestations to the contrary – are anti-business.
There was a time when Labour could exercise this control through the workforces of major industries and trade unions, but with the passing of the traditional working class it has tried to maintain its hold by breaking society down into ethnic, sexual and other ‘deprived’ or ‘oppressed’ groups – all of which must be defended!
This helps explain the rise of the third sector which, especially in Wales, now fills the role vacated by the trade unions as Labour support troops. Plaid Cymru dutifully goes along with this . . . on condition that enough of its people get a slice of the third sector pie.
It’s no surprise then that one of the complainants against Neil McEvoy is Frances Beecher of homelessness company Llamau (of which I have writ many times). Her complaints are laughable, and tell us how contrived this witch-hunt is, and who’s behind it.
For example, “he was ‘bullish, difficult and aggressive’ at the charity’s public election hustings in May 20”, we are told. Er, so a politician spoke up at a public meeting! God Almighty – let’s get the bastard!
This ‘social worker politics’ ensures that Wales remains poor, for which Labour and Plaid Cymru blame the Tories (even when they aren’t in power), and the poverty allows the Tories to point to Wales and use it as a warning of what happens if you vote Labour.
So everybody wins – except Wales.
Let’s also remember that relying on more money from the UK government proves that Plaid Cymru doesn’t want independence. Dependent devolution with few responsibilities and plenty of perks is far more amenable.
Of all the -isms Plaid Cymru has adopted over recent decades none is currently more pernicious and self-harming than the aggressive and intolerant form of feminism now stalking Cardiff Bay.
It manifests itself in a number of ways, and it transcends party boundaries to the advantage of Labour.
In November 2015 I wrote this mixed-bag post, and you should scroll down to the section ‘Sophie Howe, more Labour cronyism’. Howe, a Labour time-server, had been deputy PCC for South Wales to Alun Michael, the former Labour MP, then a new post was created for her, that of Future Generations Commissioner.
Neil McEvoy (who I referred to in the piece as “a rising star within Plaid Cymru”), criticised the appointment for what it was – Labour cronyism. Others in Plaid Cymru saw it differently, like then AM Jocelyn Davies.
It was the Jocelyn Davies view that prevailed in Plaid Cymru and provided me with an insight into certain attitudes that allowed gender and perceptions of solidarity to over-ride the political differences most of us imagined existed. The political differences we were asked to vote for at election times.
With the death of Carl Sargeant and other recent developments we now know that things are even worse than justifying political cronyism for no better reason than that the appointee is “a strong woman”.
The agenda takes many forms. For example, there is currently a petition calling for Neil McEvoy not to be reinstated to the Plaid Cymru Assembly group. It is addressed to party leader Leanne Wood, but is it her decision alone?
Even though it claims to be the work of ‘Concerned Welsh Women’ it’s pulling in signatures from around the world, so obviously the petition has been widely publicised in feminist circles and the Labour Party.
The word on the street is that this petition was started by another ‘strong woman’, in the form of Helen Mary Jones, sometime AM for Llanelli. She of course denies it. Though I find it interesting how many times her rebuttal reduces the whole business to a men versus women issue.
At one point she refers to Neil McEvoy as “Neil McAvoy”. Being unable to even get his name right might suggest he’s almost incidental to something bigger.
Whether Helen Mary Jones did start the petition or not she told a friend of mine once, “I have more friends in the Labour Party than in Plaid Cymru”. Make of that what you will.
Helen Mary Jones was AM for Llanelli. The seat where the great rugby coach Carwyn James once stood, and where Plaid Cymru had one of its strongest branches . . . until the general election of 2017, when the candidate selected by the local party was turfed out to make way for a woman candidate imposed by Cardiff HQ.
UPDATE 25.01.2018: It seems that the petition has been taken down.
The late Carl Sargeant complained about being bullied from within the office of Labour leader and First Minister Carwyn Jones in 2014. The finger points at former television journalist Jo Kiernan, who left at the end of 2015. This report of her departure makes it clear she was loathed by many people even in her own party.
When she left the office of the First Minister Jo Kiernan went to lobbying firm Deryn, from where the bullying and undermining of Carl Sargeant continued. The ‘Welsh’ media is reluctant to say this, so let us be thankful for Guido Fawkes. Jo Kiernan also served as a consultant to Llamau.
Though whether the continued bullying came from Kiernan alone will perhaps be established in coming months. It may be significant that Jo Kiernan’s Twitter account went silent around the time of Carl Sargeant’s death, but the tweets preserved suggest she too is ‘a strong woman’.
If we look to the six leading players at Deryn we see four with Labour backgrounds, Cathy Owens, Huw Roberts, Jo Kiernan and Vicki Evans, and two from Plaid Cymru, Nerys Evans and Elin Llŷr.
In July 2016 Neil McEvoy drew attention to what he, and many others, considered to be a conflict of interest involving Nerys Evans. He also called for a register of lobbyists. Which would have seen his card marked, yet again.
Early in 2017 Neil McEvoy further endeared himself to Deryn by revealing that Ofcom’s Welsh operation had awarded a contract to Deryn without any tendering process, and this looked bad seeing as two Deryn directors – Nerys Evans and Huw Roberts – sat on the Ofcom Wales board.
These third world shenanigans feed into the continuum, Labour/Plaid Cymru-lobbyists-third sector. With people, overwhelmingly women, floating between the different parts as if they were one. Though of course the continuum is restricted to Labour and Plaid Cymru personnel.
Which inevitably results in political differences blurring, or disappearing altogether. The priorities are influencing political decisions (often for personal gain) and milking the public purse. And God help anybody, like Neil McEvoy, who becomes aware of this corruption and starts blowing the whistle.
This explains why Plaid Cymru is so anaemic, so reluctant to confront Labour. It could even be that through channels like Deryn Labour is to some extent controlling Plaid Cymru. Certainly Nerys Evans is a very close friend of Leanne Wood.
One thing’s for sure, when it comes to election times, and we are asked to choose between Labour and Plaid Cymru, there is no choice, they’re one and the same; combining to keep Wales poor so they get votes by blaming the Tories while their friends in the third sector feather their nests from exploiting our deprivation. (And, where necessary, importing more!)
Neil McEvoy knows this. Neil McEvoy wants to expose this. And it’s the reason Neil McEvoy is now being targeted: Discredit the messenger and hope that the message dies with his political career. But it won’t work. Too many people are waking up to the incestuous relationships and the wider corruption down Cardiff Bay.
Neil McEvoy will emerge from this stronger and more popular, but the careers of many of his detractors will suffer, and I’ll enjoy writing about it. Because you’ve brought it on yourselves!
To properly understand this article it’s best to know a little of the legislative and other background, and when we put it all together it should warn us that what we see at Red Pig Farm (yes, honestly, Red Pig Farm) is one element of the dystopian future envisioned for the Welsh countryside by our masters down in Cardiff Bay. (ALT = Agroecology Land Trust Ltd.)
‘WELSH’ LABOUR, DAVIES OUT, HOWE IN
First, though, let us reflect on the role of Alun Davies AM (then Minister for Natural Resources and Food) who, in January 2014, announced that the government he represented had decided to transfer 15% of EU Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) funding from Pillar 1 to Pillar 2. (See it here.) Which meant that henceforth this money, instead of going to our farmers, would be spent on “rural development projects”, most of which will have nothing to do with real farming, and little or nothing to do with Welsh people.
But then, it might be argued that Davies had form when it came to undermining Welsh agriculture, for after the heavy snow of March 2013, when farmers in the north east were particularly badly hit, he announced there would be no ‘Welsh’ Government aid. Justifying the decision with these priceless words (April 3, 2013, BBC Wales News), “You don’t create a strong business base by throwing public money at every problem you face”.
Yes, folks, that came from a ‘Welsh’ Government minister; a representative of an administration, and a political party, that believes there should be a Nobel Prize for frittering away public money.
Despite these manifest idiocies and insults to the collective intelligence the Well-being of Future Generations Act (Wales) Ltd is now law, and is already being taken advantage of by those seeking to move to Wales.
Such as James Scrivens and Sara Tommerup, he English, she Danish. This enterprising duo are the proprietors of the Agroecology Land Trust Ltd, based at the above-mentioned Red Pig Farm, which was carved out of Forestry Commission land near Bethlehem, Carmarthenshire, some years ago, long before Scrivens and Tommerup discovered Wales. We shall return to them anon.
ENTER JANE DAVIDSON LABOUR(?) AM
For in addition to the legislation I’ve mentioned, in 2011 those buffoons down Cardiff docks also accepted the diktats of the One Planet Council. As it says on its website, “The One Planet Council provides a bridge between applicants and local planning authorities, with guidance and tools to support anyone making the transition to this more sustainable way of life. It works also with those who have already made that leap, and with policymakers, academics and landowners.”
In other words, it helps good-lifers, bullock worshippers and others move to Wales and get retrospective planning permission for buildings they’ve erected without consent – even in National Parks. And they can do it because they have the support of the ‘Welsh’ Government. (By the way, that reads bullock . . . though I suppose bollocks-worshippers applies just as well.)
A major reason for the direction taken by the ‘Welsh’ Government in this period is Jane Davidson, former AM for Pontypridd, and now chief Patron of the One Planet Council. It was she who persuaded her colleagues to agree to its agenda before she stood down in May 2011 as Minister for the Environment. After leaving the Assembly she also became director of the Wales Institute for Sustainability (INSPIRE) at Trinity St David Lampeter.
Jane Davidson is one of those middle class Englishwomen one finds in the National Trust, Cadw, and other bodies, who believes that the Welsh countryside is too naice to be left to us; it needs to be run by people like her and those she feels comfortable with, whose numbers can be increased by elbowing the backward locals aside.
For make no mistake, Davidson represents the Green lobby and others who want greater access to the Welsh countryside, and freedom to use and exploit our rural areas as they wish. One such group would obviously be the Ramblers Association, for whom she became ‘Welsh’ President almost immediately she’d left the Assembly.
At Davidson’s direction, fully supported by coalition partners Plaid Cymru, and groups and individuals unlikely to vote for either party, the ‘Welsh’ Government produced, in May 2009, One Wales: One Planet, a document setting out how we are to reduce Wales’ carbon footprint.
Among the ambitions articulated by this document, that could have been been written by Friends of the Earth (and might well have been), we find, “Within the lifetime of a generation, we want to see Wales using only its fair share of the earth’s resources, and where our ecological footprint is reduced to the global average availability of resources – 1.88 global hectares per person”.
So there you are, we’re all entitled to 1.88 global hectares per person – claim yours while stocks last!
Jane Davidson was able to walk into the post of Minister for the Environment because she was one of the few Labour AMs who knew anything about that mysterious world beyond Merthyr known as ‘The Countryside’, inhabited by strange creatures most of whom steadfastly refused to vote Labour.
So she had free rein in the Dark Regions and Plaid to vouch for her in quarters where she might have encountered suspicion or hostility.
Which meas that we could view her appointment at INSPIRE as the reward from the enviro-colon network she had so assiduously worked for while at the Assembly – cos she sure as hell didn’t represent the people of Pontypridd.
But as we know, politicians are not supposed to take up posts connected with their previous ministerial duties. Davidson obviously did by taking the job at INSPIRE and was reprimanded for it . . . but edited her Wikipedia page to hide her little embarrassment.
N.B. You may have noted that even though Wales is the only country to have adopted the One Planet agenda, and this outfit operates only in Wales, OP haven’t got round to doing a Welsh version of the website.
HIPPY, HIPPY STATE
Let’s wend our way back to Red Pig Farm and the happy couple. There can be no doubt that James Scrivens and Sara Tommerup relocated to Wales because of the favouritism shown towards their ilk by the ‘Welsh’ Government. For as it says on the Red Pig Farm website:
I love that phrase “reactionary and conservative local council”. Translated, it means, ‘People who represent the wishes of the majority when confronted with the unreasonable demands of recently-arrived Alternatives’.
Before relocating to Carmarthenshire we find Scrivens and Tommerup in Gloucestershire, running the Yorkley Court Community Farm Ltd near Lydney, a company struck off in August 2015 without apparently doing any business. According to this BBC Points West report it seems that Yorkley Court Community Farm was in fact a squatter camp.
Another company they were involved with at that time was Agroecological Land Initiative Ltd, Incorporated February 24, 2015. The name was changed on April 14, 2015 to Agroecology Land Trust Ltd, and then, on June 26, 2016, to Red Pig Farm Ltd.
Scrivens and Tommerup have settled in quite well, among their ventures is a stake in the Llandeilo Food Hub in a disused railway wagon at the local station. As the report in the West Wales News Review tells us, this project is grant-aided by the ‘Welsh’ Government.
There now follows a short diversion . . .
The Llandeilo Food Hub seems to come under the umbrella of the Heart of Wales Line Development Company Ltd, yet another ‘community venture’ run by those whose parents and grandparents are buried somewhere else. In more senses than one, the company appears to be up a siding, for the latest accounts tell us it has net assets of only £20,169, and is kept in the black through the generosity of a director not insisting on payment of her £35,500 loan.
This benefactrix is Gillian Elizabeth Wright. Now if that name rings a bell then it might be because I wrote about her and her Llandovery Hub, in Ancestral Turf. (I’d like to tell you more about Llandovery Hub, but the website offers neither Companies House registration number nor Charity Commission number. Nothing turns up on the FCA website, either. What kind of outfit is this?)
The Level Crossing Community Interest Company was yet another ‘community venture’ that was only ‘viable’ with public funding and, like thousands of others, that have swallowed hundreds of millions of pounds, it has been a complete waste of money.
UPDATE 07.09.2016: Here’s a report in a local paper from mid-July 2013, before the business opened, with the date suggesting that this tourism venture had already lost half the summer. The report tells us that the building was leased from the owner, Neo Neophyton. Does anyone know to whom it was leased, and the terms?
Moving back to Red Pig Farm we see that Scrivens and Tommerup are seeking human company, for they have submitted a planning application for more dwellings at the ‘farm’, which lies in open country and, remember, in a National Park! But thanks to the legislation passed by the ‘Welsh’ Government they anticipate no problems.
“We are fully aware of the many challenges in obtaining residential planning permission in the open countryside. However, thanks to the pioneering foresight of the Welsh government a planning framework to support low-impact rural developments known as One Planet Development is in place to guide applications that seek to demonstrate the ecological benefits from the creation of sustainable land based livelihoods”.
Finally, let me conclude this passage by highlighting an inconsistency. According to the One Planet gurus and others we must reduce our carbon emissions. Fair enough. Yet Red Pig Farm is also home to Black Mountain Wood Fuels, and as we know, burning wood creates higher carbon dioxide emissions than any other fuel.
Which seems to expose a contradiction in the back-to-nature schema. For the desire to protect the planet obviously conflicts with the wish to live ‘naturally’ by burning wood. And believe me, those seeking the ‘alternative’ lifestyle do love to burn wood.
Corris (Isaf) is home to many such people, thanks to the nearby Centre for Alternative Technology (of which, incidentally, Sara Tommerup is a ‘graduate’). One can drive the A487 past Corris on a still winter’s day and see a vast pall of smoke motionless above the village. It reminds me of the old films of London smog.
And I haven’t considered the issue of regenerating the stocks of wood.
Let’s recap: through legislation and other measures the ‘Welsh’ Government has made life more difficult for Welsh farmers and others who were born and raised in the countryside, while making it much easier – with both funding and relaxation of planning rules – for outsiders to settle in our rural areas.
Now let’s put it all into its chronological sequence:
May 2007: Birmingham-born Jane Davidson appointed Minister for Environment and Sustainability in the Labour – Plaid Cymru coalition government.
April 29, 2015: Well-being of Future Generations (Wales) Act 2015 becomes law.
Spring 2016: James Scrivens and Sara Tommerup arrive at Red Pig Farm, and almost immediately apply for planning permission to erect other dwellings, in open country, and in a National Park.
And all this takes place to the background drone of George Monbiot in his regular Guardian column and elsewhere calling on governments to remove farming subsidies, bankrupt Welsh farmers, and thereby remove sheep from the hills to allow ‘rewilding‘. His voice being one of a chorus. It may be no coincidence that Monbiot moved to the Machynlleth area in 2007.
I’m sure the envirofascists and their political allies would argue that Welsh people are free to get involved, and join them in building their carbon-free (well, apart from the wood stoves) Utopia in our green and pleasant land.
Trouble with that is that I don’t know any Welsh people who want to live in a turf house choking on fumes from a wood fire and shitting in the bushes before batting away the sheep turds while taking a bath in the stream.
The people I know want the best that modern life can offer, and wonder why they have to go without, especially when they see so much money being given a) to people who arrived here yesterday, and b) to activities from which they derive no benefit.
There are so many demands on the Welsh countryside today, from tourism, from the ‘outdoor activities’ industry, from the military (even more so if Scotland becomes independent), from white flighters, from good-lifers, and from so many other quarters. The problem, when viewed from the perspective of such people, is that far too much Welsh land is still in Welsh hands.
And while the Planning Inspectorate can demand tens of thousands of new homes surplus to local need, and housing associations can waste tens of millions of pounds building homes for tenants who have never been to Wales in their lives, and the local economy can be allowed to atrophy with the few jobs that remain increasingly filled by transfers from outside Wales and recruitment from within the local English population, something more is still needed.
♦ ♦ ♦
Which is why, when we consider the bigger picture, and remember the commitment of vast sums of public funding, we have to conclude that moving money around within the CAP, and One Planet, and TAN 6, and all the other ‘Green’ initiatives are just elements of a wider programme of engineered demographic change. A Clearance for the twenty-first century, done without the unsightly bloodshed and the blatant expropriation.
In my more generous moments I used to think that the Assembly and the ‘Welsh’ Government were merely incompetent for achieving so little for our people. But enough time has passed now to realise that this failure is quite deliberate. Worse, successive ‘Welsh’ Governments have actively discriminated against the native Welsh.
Nothing would change if Plaid Cymru had a majority in the Assembly, things might even be worse, because while many in Labour see the envirofascists as just a stick with which to beat those who refuse to vote for them, The Party of Wales has fallen completely under their spell.
The survival of the Welsh nation is under threat as never before. To save the nation we must reject all political parties, and the distraction of electoral politics. There is no hope of winning by that route, and not enough time.
The past few weeks have been perhaps the most turbulent period I can recall in over fifty years of following politics on this island. This goes some way to explaining why the most recent posts have avoided contemporary politics – things have been changing daily. But now that things have settled down a bit, with Mrs May in No 10, BoJo set to charm Johnnie Foreigner, and the battle-lines drawn in the Labour Party leadership election, it should be safe to resume commenting.
I wish to focus on the Labour Party, partly because many commentators are suggesting Labour might not be with us for much longer, or certainly not in the form we have come to know and love. (There! I’ve said it.) Another reason is that Labour remains the largest party in Wales plus the fact that one of the contenders for the leadership of the Labour Party represents a Welsh constituency.
For as I’ve mentioned, there is currently a struggle going on inside Labour for control of the party that will determine its future direction. A struggle between present leader Jeremy Corbyn and his allies on the one hand, and most of the MPs (and indeed AMs) on the other, represented by the two challengers, Angela Eagle and our very own Owen Smith.
The divide seems to be between what might be described as the Blairite rump of the party pitted against assorted varieties of the Hard Left that joined to elect Corbyn and will, if they are allowed, deselect most of the Labour MPs opposing the leader, plus remnants of Old Labour. Or to put it another way, unprincipled careerists versus unrealistic ideologues and those who’ve been left behind.
Now Owen Smith is a man with quite an interesting background and past. He is the son of Dr Dai Smith, self-appointed chronicler of the Welsh working class. One of those Labour historians who believes Welsh history begins with the Industrial Revolution. Prior to this, Wales was a rural wasteland of Welsh-speaking peasants preyed upon by equally Welsh-speaking warlords and bandit chiefs. In fact, it was a Welsh-speaking hell from which we were saved by industrialisation and then the creation of the Labour Party.
Dr Dai was an academic but also served a stint as “Editor BBC Radio Wales and Head of Programmes (English language) at BBC Wales from 1992 to 2001”, and while at the Beeb he recruited young Owen. Though Owen left in 2002 to become a spad for Paul Murphy, then Secretary of State for Wales.
After failing to win the Blaenau Gwent by-election in 2006, against Independent Dai Davies, he continued with his job as a well-paid lobbyist for Pfizer, before moving on to Amgen, another pharmaceutical company, in 2008.
(By one of those quirks that are almost inescapable when looking into the backgrounds of Labour politicians, Owen Smith, while still at the BBC, recruited a young Lee Waters, who is now the Assembly Member for Llanelli. But Waters has assured me that they were unknown to each other when Smith recruited him. And I believe him. Oh yes.)
Around the time of the by-election Owen Smith gave an interview to WalesOnline in which he appeared to support the Iraq war and favour privatisation in the NHS. Read the interview here. He has since distanced himself from these remarks.
From what I’ve read in the past couple of days it would seem that many people who know him consider Owen Smith to be a bit . . . well, slippery, and perhaps he’s not what he wants us to believe he is. This piece by former ambassador Craig Murray says it all in the title – The Entirely Fake Owen Smith.
Owen Smith is one of New Labour’s chameleon-like smoothies who can change his position on anything at the blink of an eye. What you see is unlikely to be what you get because there are no principles to maintain, no constants . . . other than looking out for Number One. Exemplified by something I found on Twitter.
THE KINNOCK FAMILY AND FRIENDS
Friday saw the funeral of Jo Cox, the MP murdered a week before the EU referendum. As she was apparently killed by a right wing extremist expressing anti-immigration views many thought her death might swing the referendum in favour of Remain. That it did not tells us that the margin of victory for the Leave vote could have been even greater without this tragedy.
After the killing we heard both Neil Kinnock, former Labour leader, and his son Stephen, now MP for Aberavon (Port Talbot), tell us how well they knew Jo Cox and what a wonderful woman she was. Kinnock senior even likened the sad episode to “a death in the family”. But how did the Kinnocks know her so well?
(Another who spoke warmly of his friendship with Jo Cox, and having worked with her at Oxfam, was Stephen Doughty, the Labour MP for Cardiff South and Penarth. Many believe that Doughty owes his safe seat to family links with his powerful predecessor Alun Michael, now Police and Crime Commissioner for South Wales Police.
It seems that the connection between the Kinnocks and Jo Cox began in the late 1990s when Glenys Kinnock was an MEP (1994 – 2009) and Cox served as her adviser for two years before moving on to Oxfam and Oxfam International. Later she was also involved with the Save the Children Fund, and immediately before becoming an MP was with the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. After becoming an MP she shared an office with Stephen Kinnock.
Her husband Brendan also worked for the Save the Children Fund, but had to leave in rather unpleasant circumstances. His boss at the Fund, who also left under something of a cloud, was Justin Forsyth. Both Cox and Forsyth had been advisers to prime minister Gordon Brown, and both arrived at the charity in 2010, soon after Brown lost the general election. Forsyth had also been an adviser to Brown’s predecessor Tony Blair.
Many argue that Forsyth and Cox subverted the charity into ‘Save the Labour Party’ through regular attacks on the coalition and then the Conservative governments. In 2014 the charity – or rather, Forsyth – engineered a Global Legacy Award for Tony Blair, a decision opposed by many, even within the Save the Children Fund.
When Forsyth became a father, it was no surprise to see him congratulated by Baroness Kinnock.
Her title is quite interesting. Perhaps in a show of socialist or feminist sentimentality Glenys Kinnock refused to call herself Lady Kinnock when hubby Neil was ennobled in January 2005 . . . holding out for her own peerage, which duly arrived in 2009. The Kinnocks are one of the few couples to both be peers.
As I’ve mentioned, and as most of you reading this already knew anyway, Stephen Kinnock is now the MP for Aberavon, the Port Talbot constituency. He was selected as the Labour candidate in early March 2014 by, I believe, a single vote, perhaps 106 – 105. Around the time of his selection questions were asked about his children’s education – were they receiving private education?
In this Llais y Sais article by Martin Shipton, from February 2014, Kinnock explains the situation by telling us that his elder daughter, Johanna, 16, had attended a local school in Copenhagen which is mainly state funded but where parents are expected to contribute, in the Kinnocks’ case, it’s around £80 a month. (In a subsequent article, on St David’s Day, and just days before the Aberavon selection committee met, Kinnock confessed he had “unintentionally misled the Western Mail”, in fact, the fees were closer to £160 a month.)
From that local school with its modest fees, Shippo tells us, “Johanna went on to the equivalent of a sixth-form college in Denmark which is wholly state-funded”. We are being told this, remember, in February 2014 . . . yet Johanna Kinnock became a student at Atlantic College in September 2013!
How do we explain this? Here we have the son of Wales’ most famous political dynasty coming home to rescue us from the wicked Tories, to save Port Talbot steelworks, so surely we’d have loved to hear that the grand-daughter of Lord Kinnock and Baroness Kinnock was also here among us, at the famous Atlantic College.
Why then are we lied to and told she’s at a sixth-forth college in Copenhagen? Could the reluctance to tell us the truth have anything to do with the fact that fees at Atlantic College are £28,600 a year?
Obviously, in February and March 2014 Stephen Kinnock knew that his daughter was in her second term at Atlantic College, and he lied, knowing that to admit she was at an expensive school might cost him the nomination for Aberavon, as it almost certainly would have, given the closeness of the vote.
But what of the Fat Man, and other ‘journalists’ in Wales? Were they genuinely unaware that Johanna Kinnock was at Atlantic College, or did they choose to keep it from us – and perhaps worse, give her father a platform to mislead us – in order to help Stephen Kinnock gain the Aberavon nomination?
People in Denmark certainly knew, as this article from December 2013 confirms. Google Translate charmingly renders it: “Thus, father and daughter be united in the British country where also Michael Laudrup competes as coach in Swansea. Helle Thorning-Schmidt in an interview with Billed-Bladet reported on his farewell with his daughter at the airport: – ‘It was terrible to say goodbye to her. We stood and tudbrølede’, the Prime Minister explained in a double interview with her and her husband”.
Johanna Kinnock graduated from prestigious, and expensive, Atlantic College in May 2015 . . . with few of us in Wales ever knowing she was there! No doubt the ‘Welsh’ media will insist it kept quiet to guarantee her privacy . . . but we know the truth.
UPDATE 23.07.2016: Stephen Kinnock has ‘responded’ on his blog to what I’ve written. Read it here. I think ‘evasive’ is the word I’m looking for.
My questions centred on Atlantic College, yet Stephen Kinnock claims that he was only asked about his daughter’s past education in Copenhagen, and this is why he made no mention of Atlantic College. Very convenient. And we must accept that no questioner wondered where the girl was at the time?
The questions were being asked to establish whether Kinnock’s children were at fee-paying schools, an issue that would have embarrassed him, and possibly cost him the Aberavon nomination. The response he gives on his blog is clever, but it’s no answer.
After telling us about the bursaries and scholarships on offer at Atlantic College he has this to say of his daughter, “Johanna’s time at AC was partly funded by a standard Danish state scholarship for students studying abroad.” “Partly funded”, so where did the rest of her £28,600 a year fees (plus other expenses) come from?
There is no doubt in my mind that Johanna Kinnock’s presence at Atlantic College was kept from us – by both her father and the ‘Welsh’ media – in order to help him secure the Labour nomination for Aberavon.
The great advantage Tory grandees have over Labour politicians is that they don’t have to act, they have no problem saying, ‘Grandfather was a banker and I’m a banker’. But so many in the Labour Party feel the need to play a part in the hope of connecting with those they want to vote for them. Whenever I consider this it brings to mind a somewhat bizarre analogy.
I’m a great fan of Country music, the more authentic the better; I can listen to Hank Williams all night (and often do). The songs he wrote and sang were influenced by his marital difficulties, his drinking, the pain he suffered with his back and the drugs that helped, and all delivered in that haunting, penetrating voice. He’s not singing about anybody else, this is a young man baring his soul, and poor Southern whites in the late 1940s and early 1950s knew it.
We are now up to Hank Williams III, and talented though the grandson may be, he’s too far from his grand-pappy’s upbringing in Alabama. The authenticity of the rural South that gave birth to Country music is, inevitably, missing. It’s gone forever, and to pretend that it can be recreated in a studio or by a PR agency is just self-delusion.
“My grandfather was a miner” insists Stephen Kinnock. Fine, so was mine, for a while, after coming back from the War (the one to end all wars). But you aren’t asking people to vote for your grandfather, you’re asking them to vote for you, so tell us, Kinnock, who and what are you? And while you’re at it, tell us where your daughter went to school.
This generational disconnect is inevitable, in politics as in other spheres, but it affects the Labour Party worse than other parties because Labour was founded to represent a single class, and now it’s arrived at a situation where the likes of Stephen Kinnock and Owen Smith, the children of peers and academics, have to dig up grandparents in the hope of connecting with that class they don’t really understand. Trying to be what you’re not rarely works.
And worse, the ‘Welsh’ media, knowing who’s in charge, and who pays, with adverts and official notices, to keep Shippo’s ‘paper afloat, play along, doing Labour’s bidding, and failing us.
BANANA REPUBLIC SANS BANANAS
A century of Labour enjoying almost unchallenged power has given us a system of favouritism, nepotism and blatant corruption that is unknown elsewhere in Europe. To all intents and purposes, Wales is a one-party state. Combine the corruption with our relative poverty and Wales deserves to be considered a third world country.
Yet there are those in Wales who do very well for themselves, that’s the whole point of ‘Welsh’ Labour’. Keep Wales poor, blame somebody else, reap the electoral benefits, then divvy up the seats, the sinecures and the funding.
This corruption is known to those at UK level who should intervene but is tolerated because a) there’s little chance of the Tories overtaking Labour and b) those that might overtake Labour are unacceptable. So London turns a blind eye to institutionalised corruption, and allows Labour politicians and thousands of hangers-on to fill their boots.
Those I’m discussing here make up what is often called ‘the liberal elite’, flitting between Public Relations, charity / third sector work, and political office, while preaching at the rest of us and condemning right of centre politicians for securing good jobs in the worlds of finance and business.
But many of those they condemn create jobs and wealth, but the liberal elite is almost entirely decorative, and superfluous, almost a price we’re prepared to pay to make us feel better about ourselves. All sustained by the public purse, either in direct, governmental funding or else donations to charities and foundations. They’re parasitical hypocrites.
It is these, and their control – until recently – of the Labour Party that has led to voters deserting the party, and explains why the post-industrial areas of Englandandwales voted as they did in the EU referendum. Brexit was the disenfranchised of the post-industrial wastelands saying to the liberal elite, ‘Fuck off, you selfish, lying bastards!’
Labour’s control of its traditional followers is now, as I said at the start, greatly weakened. With Labour in real danger of falling apart. Either Corbyn stays at the helm, which probably makes Labour unelectable (because the media and ‘others’ will destroy him), or else Labour will have as leader the uninspiring Eagle or ‘Slippery’ Smith. Corbyn, Eagle, Smith, none will connect with the areas that voted Brexit.
Here in Wales Labour seems marginally more united, but if Labour in England splits, or maybe disintegrates, then there is no way that ‘Welsh’ Labour can escape the consequences. (How many Welsh will vote Labour if there’s no party in England to form the UK government, or even vote Labour in Assembly elections?) As some Russian tsar said of the Ottoman empire in the nineteenth century, ‘We have a sick man on our hands’. Keeping him alive artificially would be unkind.
We are a nation badly served in almost every conceivable way, and it’s our fault – nobody else’s – because we’ve accepted it for so long, and elected vermin more concerned with self-advancement than with serving Wales. Nothing will change until we make it clear that we aren’t taking it any more. It’s time to start getting ‘awkward’, and any attempt to limit this awkwardness to the narrow sphere of electoral politics would be the height of folly.
Because from now on all ideologies should be made irrelevant, all that matters is the national interest, because this is the only way to serve the Welsh people. For example, control over our natural resources is obviously in the national interest, so let’s demand that we have that control. And if politicians say, ‘Oh, it can’t be done’ or, ‘But what about England?’ the answer must be –
‘You and your parties do not represent the Welsh national interest, you have never represented the Welsh national interest; so step aside, for we are throwing off you parasites to decide our future for ourselves’.
Back in January I posted a piece, Let’s Be Honest About Housing Associations, that began in nostalgic-humorous mood before going on to make more serious points about the provision of rented accommodation. The fundamental point I tried to make was that up until about a century ago rented accommodation was provided by the private sector, employers, charities and other bodies, not by local authorities or any other social housing provider. I asked, in view of changes taking place in the housing market, whether we could now be moving back towards that situation, how it might be done, and what benefits it might offer.
In my January piece I made a number of points about the changing nature of housing provision in Wales and, especially, how the proportion of people living in the private rented sector (PRS) was growing, almost unnoticed and, certainly in Wales, unplanned. I used the table below to show the dwelling stock percentages in the four categories: local authority, registered social landlord (RSL), owner-occupier and PRS.
I am now able to follow up that January piece thanks to a regular source who has drawn my attention to a recently published report examining the advantages of giving a greater role to the PRS in the provision of social and rented housing. The report is produced by the Public Policy Institute for Wales (PPIW) and is entitled The Potential Role of the Private Rented Sector in Wales. I advise you to open the report in another window or browser in order to follow the points I shall pick up on later in this article. But before that, let’s take a fresh look at the RSL sector, using information not previously available to me.
WAY OUT WEST
For much of this new information I am indebted to another contact who has looked into the workings of the RSL sector in Ceredigion, an investigation that has unearthed a number of disturbing issues, prompting him to submit important questions to the ‘Welsh’ Government. Unsurprisingly, the civil servants acting as the ‘Welsh’ Government refuse to answer his questions, so he has now taken the matter to the Public Service Ombudsman for Wales.
Alas, the PSOW is Nick Bennett, former head of Community Housing Cymru, the umbrella body for housing associations, so I have warned my contact not to expect any help from that quarter. (Bennett’s appointment was a pre-Sophie Howe illustration of how incestuous and corrupt public life is in modern Wales.)
One of the facts unearthed is something called Dowry Gap funding, paid to certain housing associations for them to use in upgrading the housing stock they’ve inherited from councils under voluntary transfer (i.e. through a vote by tenants). This funding is currently being paid to ten housing associations and in 2015 – 16 the total cost will be £43.8m. Tai Ceredigion Cyf’s ‘Dowry’ will be paid at the rate of £1.6m a year for 30 years. If this 30-year term applies to the other, larger housing associations, then the total cost will be £1.3bn.
This Dowry Gap funding seems to complement the Welsh Housing Quality Standard legislation, which demanded that all RSL properties be up to WHQS standard by 2012. This deadline – and its funding of £108m a year – has now been extended to 2020. Introduced in 2004 and running to 2020, £108m a year totals up to £1.7bn.
Adding the two we get a total figure of £3bn for ‘improvements’. Seeing as Wales has 143,790 RSL properties, this works out at almost £21,000 per property! (Is this right? Will somebody please check the figures.) That is a lot of moolah for windows and doors, especially when we accept that many of the dwellings inherited from local authorities were in good condition, certainly not needing ‘refurbishment’ to the tune of 21 grand per property.
Then there seem to be two funding streams for capital projects, i.e. new-build housing, the Social Housing Grant and the Housing Finance Grant. I knew about the first, and I submitted an FoI last year to the ‘Welsh’ Government asking how much had been dished out under the SHG. I used the answers to compile the table below (click to enlarge). It shows that the figure for the six years 2008 – 2013 is £692.5m. (The explanation for the declining amount paid out in SHG can be found below in other, newer funding streams.)
But at that stage I knew little about the Housing Finance Grant. Now I know a little more.
Even though I’m a regular and consistent critic of housing associations one feature of their operations that I have always regarded as commendable is that they raise funding from banks and other commercial lenders. Which means they are not entirely reliant on the public purse. Well, that’s what I thought; the reality is very different, as I learnt from my enquiries into the Housing Finance Grant.
The system works thus: Yes, housing associations find commercial lenders prepared to give them large loans – but then the ‘Welsh’ Government – i.e. you and me! – repay those loans over 30 years to the lenders, M&G Investments and Affordable Housing Finance, the latter being funding guaranteed by the UK Department for Communities and Local Government.
(And as the DCLG website puts it, “Borrowers will need to be Registered Providers (or equivalent in the devolved administrations) and classified to the private sector”. Which suggests that housing associations are not public bodies. Or maybe they are, in which case why is a Conservative government putting so much money into public bodies in order for them to build up valuable assets . . . unless they are being fattened up for full privatisation?)
The system of repaying lenders also applies to the ‘Dowry Gap’; housing associations take out loans, paid in lump sums, and the ‘Welsh’ Government repays those loans over 30 years. This explains why Tai Ceredigion has now completed its programme of upgrading its properties but will continue to receive the ‘Dowry Gap’ funding every year. The money is repaying Tai Ceredigion’s loan, which seems to be itemised in the latest financial statement at £23m.
It is even suggested that ‘Dowry Gap’ and WHQS funding is being used – improperly – for capital projects, but financial oversight of housing associations by the ‘Welsh’ Government is so lax that there’s no way of proving or disproving this claim.
All of which means that housing associations, despite the flim-flam about ‘new ways of doing things’ are old-fashioned Statist creations, entirely dependent on the public purse, which explains why they are favourites of the anti-business parties, Labour and Plaid Cymru.
Their only assets, their only other source of income, is of course their housing stock – either inherited from local authorities or built with public funding. So, again, at no cost to them. It’s a ‘new way of doing things’ only in the sense that it’s more opaque than straightforward dollops of public funding.
Seeing as housing associations are entirely dependent on the public purse it’s worth asking, again, why they are not covered by the Freedom of Information Act? Maybe the duplicitous and very expensive way they’re funded provides the answer.
Another point, one that I have raised before – dealt with in my January post, and also here – is the scandalous amount of this public funding that our ‘Welsh’ housing associations spend over the border. In the case of Cartrefi Cymunedol Gwynedd it was the insanity of giving its total maintenance contract to English firm Lovell which, from its Cheshire base, recruited its sub-contractors exclusively from north west England.
I’m sure Tai Ceredigion uses local firms to do its work, but I still question why a firm operating on Cardigan Bay should have external auditors based in Birmingham (Mazars LLP) and internal auditors in Hampshire (TIAA Ltd). Both may have offices in Cardiff, but neither is a Welsh company. There are genuine Welsh companies closer to and even in Ceredigion that could and should be doing this work that is paid for with Welsh public funding.
‘Welsh’ Government funding should carry the stipulation that as much as possible of that funding remains in Wales. This can only be achieved if the funding reaches genuinely Welsh firms, not outside firms with an office in Wales funnelling profits back to HQ, or those seeking to capitalise on the public funding bonanza with a hastily set up ‘Welsh branch’ that is little more than a post-box and a telephone number.
Of course, it would be easy to argue that none of this really matters because all the funding comes, in one form or another, from London. But only part of the Housing Finance Grant comes directly from London, the rest is raised commercially, and the other funding streams – Social Housing Grant, Welsh Housing Quality Standard and ‘Dowry Gap’ funding – seem to be ‘Welsh’ Government initiatives.
Which is worrying, because it gives us a situation in many parts of Wales, perhaps especially in rural areas, where housing associations are on a treadmill of growth and expansion fuelled by this funding – yet there is often little or no local demand for more social housing.
Housing associations are perhaps the ultimate manifestation of the Third Sector, the shadow world that those buffoons down Cardiff docks want us to believe is an economy, but it’s all smoke and mirrors, all underpinned by public funding. And all unnecessary. As I shall now explain by delving a little more into the Public Policy Institute for Wales report I mentioned earlier.
‘THE POTENTIAL OF THE PRIVATE RENTED SECTOR IN WALES’
Before diving into the report it might be worth just pausing to see what kind of an organisation the Institute is. It was formed in January last year to “provide the Welsh Government with authoritative independent analysis and advice.” If you look through the names to be found in ‘The Team’, ‘The Board of Governors’, and the ‘Executive Group’, you get the impression that the PPIW is very much a cross-border outfit, containing – on the Board of Governors – people who know Wales such as Gerry Holtham, along with people, such as Will Hutton, who may be very clever and a Newsnight regular but know little about our country. ‘The Team‘, presumably those running the PPIW day-to-day, is disappointingly top-heavy, to the point of capsizing, with apparatchiks and people from the Third Sector.
The Executive Group“is made up of representatives from the organisations that formed part of the consortium that collaborated in the development of the PPIW”. These are ‘our’ universities (including Liverpool but not Glyndŵr!) and Victoria Winkler of ‘Welsh’ Labour’s very own think-tank, the Bevan Foundation.
The report set out to answer three questions, found below.
Some Report Findings
The PPIW report confirms that the PRS is growing in every single local authority area, though predictably, Cardiff, with its vast student population and other young singles, outstrips all other areas. In fact, the report tells us that in Cardiff, “owner occupation has actually fallen compared to renting in both absolute and proportional terms”. Table 6 shows that 22.1% of Cardiff’s dwellings are privately rented. The next highest local authority area is Ceredigion with 17.5%, and then in third place comes Denbighshire with 16.5%.
The figures for both Cardiff and Ceredigion are influenced by the student presence while the ‘Rhyl factor’ explains the Denbighshire figure, correlated in Table 1, which tells us that Sir Dinbych lost 870 private households between 2001 and 2011 while the same period saw an increase of 1,468 in the PRS. Other areas saw a decline in the number of private households but nowhere was the fall as dramatic as in Denbighshire.
Staying with Table 6, in percentage and absolute terms Carmarthenshire saw the highest increase in private households due mainly to the saturation housing strategy devised by the Planning Inspectorate and eagerly implemented by those running the council. The same designed-to-attract-English-buyers process can also be observed at work in Powys. (N.B. A ‘household’ can be a person living alone or a family of 10.)
Table 9 tells us that rents in the PRS are always higher than the RSL sector though this varies from area to area. In Blaenau Gwent the average social rent is £61.68 per week, or 89% of the PRS, whereas in Wrecsam, Swansea and Cardiff the percentage drops to 67%, though the average PRS rent in Wrecsam is lower than the two southern cities.
Of course there is a downside to this unplanned and largely unchecked growth in the PRS, especially in decaying coastal towns like Rhyl, and areas of our cities taken over by students. That downside is the breakdown of community life and an increase in various forms of criminality and anti-social behaviour.
It could even be argued that there is a case to be made for paying compensation to long-term residents of such neighbourhoods. Compensation to be paid by the ‘Welsh’ Government or the local authority, whoever was responsible for not guarding against such decline or refusing to implement the legislation that could have prevented it.
A Better Way
Happily, the report also makes clear that there are alternatives to endlessly pumping public money into secretive, unaccountable and amateurishly run housing associations, or otherwise allowing the growth of ghettoes of cross-border criminals and misfits housed by slum landlords. To avoid these outcomes the report draws our attention to institutional investment such as pension funds to provide rented and other property, coupled with more imaginative and varied housing options.
In the Appendix the report’s authors look at three examples in the south where the ‘Welsh’ Government is in partnership with the Principality Building Society in a venture called Tai Tirion (or Tirion Group Ltd, Co. No. 08891823) to build over a thousand new homes on brownfield sites in Cardiff, Newport and the Rhondda. Though that said, there is not a lot of progress being made. Not really surprising, seeing as the ‘Welsh’ Government is involved . . .
I say that not out of malice, it’s just the way things are. Institutional investors such as pension funds are viewed with suspicion by Statist ‘Welsh’ Labour. As the report puts it – refer to ‘three questions’ panel above – “the Minister confirmed that the emphasis of the project should be concentrated mainly on (i) and (ii)”.
To remind you . . . Question iii reads, ‘If the PRS is to be a long term tenure of choice, whether it is likely to be possible to interest institutional money and professional management in the market (i.e. what are the barriers to large scale investment?).’
On reading that you can almost imagine a ‘Welsh’ Labour politician or apparatchik having an involuntary evacuation of the bowels . . . “‘institutional money’! . . . ‘professional management’! . . . people who might understand business! . . . what about our friends in the Third Sector, how are they to sustain their muesli-weaving, skinny latte lifestyles? . . . oh, no, we can’t have that!”
So the ‘Welsh’ Government prefers to let the private rental sector grow in a reckless and uncontrolled manner through the activities of Buy to Let ‘investors’ and people who buy dilapidated hotels in Colwyn Bay to house Scouse junkies.
It is surely obvious that if housing associations are the answer, then the question must have been, ‘What is the most expensive (to the public purse) and least efficient way of delivering rented social housing?’ In the hope of disguising this monumental error we are now encumbered with secretive, unaccountable money pits.
Which would be bad enough if they were at least spending the money on housing Welsh people, but due to the Englandandwales allocation system into which our housing associations are locked a Welsh family is all too likely to discover that the Family from Hell has been given the house next door . . . ‘Hell’ in this case will be Birmingham, or Stoke-on-Trent, or Sheffield, or . . .
Consequently, there is no justification for pouring any more money into housing associations. Especially given that the Conservative government in London is almost certainly planning to do away with them. Or does the ‘Welsh’ Government think this is a devolved matter? Maybe it is, but that won’t count for anything if Westminster forces change through by cutting the block grant. And further undermines the sector with selected benefit cuts.
So my advice to the ‘Welsh’ Government is this: realise that housing associations are an expensive failure. Then, get ahead of the curve by taking control of the social rented sector nationally and looking for the kind of investors mentioned in the Public Policy Institute for Wales report, pension funds and others looking for the kinds of large-scale investments that individual housing associations and single sites cannot provide.
To take advantage of this private funding, and to save the public purse a hell of a lot of money, you, the self-styled ‘Welsh Government’, need to put aside your congenital hostility to business and real money and, for a change, prioritise the best interests of the Welsh people. It’s what you were elected to do – remember?
Drugs is big business, as this recent case reminded us, and drugs generates lots of money for people other than drug dealers. Even the UK government has acknowledged that drug dealers buy cars, houses, boats, bling, foreign holidays, etc., etc. On top of that, the so-called ‘War on Drugs’ keeps cops, lawyers and prisons in business. And as if that wasn’t enough, we then have all those who’ve found jobs ‘helping’ drug addicts.
There must now be thousands of agencies, large and small, operating locally, at Wales level, UK level, which often overlap and duplicate each other’s work and, in total, receive billions of pounds in funding from various sources. The only losers in this situation are of course the drug addicts – but ‘it’s their own fault anyway’. A strange attitude to take towards those who keep this ship afloat.
Of course, the only other blot on this landscape of economic win-win is that those involved in manufacturing, importing and distributing drugs tend to keep their assets offshore, or under granny’s mattress, and therefore pay no tax. But since when have such practices ever troubled UK politicians, of any party?
If you wanted to be utterly cynical, you could argue that there are now so many people dependent on the drugs trade that if the ‘War on Drugs’ was, by some fluke, won, then it might have a seriously detrimental effect on the UK economy.
I am indebted to Brychan for reminding us that among the big players in Wales in the ‘helping drug addicts’ racket is The South Wales Association For Prevention Of Addiction Ltd (Charity No 265008), more usually known as Drugaid. Its four trustees are Professor Neil Frude, Miss Sylvia Diana Scarf, Mr William George David Smith and Mrs Linda Hodgson. As well as being trustees of the charity these four are also the only directors of the cash-rich Newport-based company of the same name (No 01073381).
Professor Frude appears to be a somewhat unorthodox psychologist and one-time stand-up comedian, who runs the Happiness Consultancy in Berkshire. He is also an external professor at the University of South Wales and has some connection with Cardiff University. Though his main income is said to be from his work for BUPA, which no doubt contributes greatly to Frude’s personal happiness.
Miss Sylvia Diana Scarf is a retired lady of 79, who may live in Newport, or she may live in Oxford. I’m told that she recently got an OBE for her work with the Girl Guides. (When I tried to ‘work’ with Girl Guides during my Sea Scouts days all I ever got was ‘Get lost, you dirty sod’!) Miss Scarf is also said to be ‘big’ in the Anglican Church. When I read that it made me think of John Major’s old ladies cycling to Evensong after a skinfull of warm beer. Ah!
William George David Smith seems to be a chartered accountant in Cardiff and Linda Hodgson may, or may not, live in Porth, in the Rhondda. The contact and director for Drugaid is a Caroline Phipps from God knows where but currently domiciled in Caerffili. All in all, a typical ‘Welsh’ Third Sector outfit, made up of willing locals and those who can sniff out easy money from 500 miles away.
Drugaid first saw the light of day in Cardiff, in 1972, brought into this cruel world by the Reverend Peter Keward, and christened South Wales Action to Prevent Addiction (SWAPA). Since when it seems to have moved to Newport and concentrated its activities in the central and eastern Valleys, even into prosperous Monmouthshire. And despite what the outdated ‘About Us’ page says, Drugaid is also spreading west, yea unto Pembrokeshire and Ceredigion. In fact, the organisation now covers the whole of the south, from the border to the Irish Sea . . . apart from Cardiff and Swansea Bay, perhaps having been warned off the two main cities.
In figures submitted to the Charity Commission Drugaid had income for the year ended March 30, 2014 of £2,727,668 and expenditure of £2,789,439. It had 78 employees and 30 volunteers, so we are dealing here with a sizeable operation, and it’s still growing, currently advertising to fill 8 vacancies. (Here in screen capture.)
What does Drugaid actually do?
This is the tricky bit. Drugaid seems to work with ‘partner’ bodies, these include GPs, health services, various other Third Sector bodies, and the ‘National’ Probation Service (for Englandandwales). The latest available accounts show that these ‘partners’ (excluding local health boards and councils) put £1.74m into the Drugaid pot y/e 31.03.2014, with a further £606,397 coming from our wonderful ‘Welsh’ Government. So where does it go?
Well, £1.83m went on wages and salaries, then there was ‘Hire of equipment and services’ (£211,870), ‘Motor and mileage costs’ (£88,151), ‘Light and heat’ (£80,287), ‘Telephone’ (£42,249), ‘Other operating leases’ (£162,854), ‘Sundries’ (£160,807), ‘Depreciation’ (£91,902), etc., etc. Apart from ‘Needles’ (£31,949), it’s difficult to identify any direct spending on those the charity is supposed to be helping, but let’s remember, this is a major employer, pushing towards 100 employees. (The two columns show y/e 31.03.2014 on the left, 2013 on the right.)
If one wished to be unkind it would easy to dismiss Drugaid as yet another charity where almost all the funding goes on salaries and administrative costs. A grotesquely bloated organisation, currently expanding beyond its ability to cope with this expansion and, as a result, not achieving a lot. Hardly surprising perhaps for a charity overseen by a stand-up comic.
I say that because in searching the Drugaid website I could find nothing boasting of ‘outcomes’, that word so beloved of Third Sector organisations, used in describing successes, numbers of ‘clients’ helped. Then my hopes soared as I saw ‘Drugaid Annual Review‘ . . . but the last one was posted in 2011! How is anyone – funders, for example – supposed to know whether Drugaid is actually doing any good? Or is Drugaid just part of some Third Sector merry-go-round where ‘cases’ get moved on from one agency to another with each agency taking its cut?
Another indicator that all may not be well is something else I found on the website, an invitation to tender, worded thus: “Drugaid is currently reviewing the provision of Supervision to our employees. Following feedback from staff, a review of our Supervision Policy and research into best practice in Supervision, Drugaid has decided to redefine the supervision that is offered to all staff to provide a more inclusive, productive and efficient means of providing this vital support to all who work for us.”
Oh sorry, the closing date for that tender was 20th of February 2013!!! This is getting worrying. If the website is anything to go by, Drugaid is in one hell of a mess – but remember, this is an organisation that’s still expanding! Here’s a screen capture of the 2013 invitation to tender, because I guarantee it won’t be on the website much longer.
What else do we know?
I’ve already mentioned that in addition to the charity there is also a private company, limited by guarantee, with the same directors as are trustees of the charity. The company has a net worth of £1.1m, and £1.2m in cash.
Having also mentioned the situations currently vacant, it may be worthwhile focusing on one of these, the job in Merthyr catering for veterans. This caught Brychan’s eye due to a difference in legislation between Wales and England. Here in Wales, the Homeless Persons (Priority Need) (Wales) Order 2001 specifies that anyone who finds himself / herself homeless after leaving the armed forces is categorised as a priority for social housing. The Homelessness Act 2002, which applies to England only, allows local authorities there to reject applicants on the grounds of ‘no local connection’.
Given what we already know about the operations of the Third Sector and social housing bodies, and how lax legislation allows – even encourages – the importation of ‘clients’ from England, it demands no great leap of the imagination to envision Drugaid bringing in English ex-service personnel with drugs problems. Does this go some way to account for the recent expansion, both in personnel numbers and geographical reach?
Whatever Drugaid is doing, or supposed to be doing, it doesn’t seem to do it well. Nowhere does it give figures for those it has helped, as a result there seems to be no way whatsoever of gauging its success. The percentage of its income spent on salaries and administrative charges is ludicrous, and should be unacceptable to its funders. The website, Drugaid’s window to the world, is an absolute shambles, full of gibberish and out-of-date pages. There has been no Yearly Review posted since that for 2011. How the hell can an organisation in such a state be allowed, even encouraged, to expand?
Finally, and being guided by the latest accounts, it’s difficult to escape the conclusion that Drugaid is no more than a glorified needle exchange. As such, it does not deserve the excessive funding it receives. It is surely time for partners and funders to review their support for Drugaid.
NEIL WOOLLARD, ANOTHER UPLANDS COUNCILLOR GONE MISSING?
Following on the recent news of the departure from Swansea of Uplands councillor John Charles ‘John Boy’ Bayliss, which itself followed on the departure last year of his friend Pearleen Sangha, I now hear that another Labour councillor from that ward may have disappeared.
The name I’m hearing is Neil Woollard, an interesting character, Woollard, for in addition to his day job, and his council work, Neil and some friends are the Rag Foundation, a popular folk ensemble. The group’s repertoire draws heavily on the songs of Gower folk singer Phil Tanner (1862 – 1950), a man whose life covered the ending of south Gower’s ‘island’ status, those centuries when it had more in common with Somerset than with north Gower. I’ve even read somewhere that Woollard is Tanner’s grandson, but to my knowledge Tanner had no children, certainly none are recorded.
What I’m hearing is that Woollard is employed by ‘a company involved with the Swansea tidal lagoon’, yet for some reason this means that he now lives in the Cardiff area. Though this might not be as odd as it sounds, for the company behind the lagoon is based in Gloucester, so maybe he’s chosen to live somewhere roughly half way between Swansea and Gloucester. But I’m only guessing. My source is however adamant that Woollard now lives somewhere in the Cardiff area.
While Woollard’s attendance record at council meetings has not taken the dramatic turn for the worse we saw with Bayliss (and why should it, for Bayliss is further away, in Bristol), there has still been a marked decline. In the period 14.05.2015 – 06.11.2015 his attendance record was 30%, but for the six-month period before that it was 60%.
So the question on Woollard is roughly the same as I asked for Bayliss.Is he still able to properly discharge his duties as councillor for the Uplands ward in Swansea? If not, then there must be a by-election, not another lengthy period – as we saw with Sangha – of the Labour Party staying schtum or, when pressed, maintaining that he’s still, ‘livin’ down by ‘ere, mun’ and that nothing has changed.
Dylan Thomas’s old neighbourhood is now an area of flats and houses of multiple occupation, with a largely transient population of students and drifters, but that is no reason for this transient and footloose lifestyle to extend to the Labour councillors elected to represent the ward.
UPDATE 19:25: I am now informed by one of my alert readers that Woollard is actually working on the proposed Cardiff tidal lagoon, as Head of Local Engagement. The Cardiff Tidal Lagoon bio blurb makes it clear why Woollard was recruited – his contacts within the Labour Party.
Strangely, or perhaps not, there is no mention that Woollard is a Swansea councillor. What do the rules say about elected councillors canvassing other councillors, AMs and ministers on behalf of a private company? And how should people back in Swansea feel about one of their councillors working on what could be viewed as a rival project to the Swansea tidal lagoon? Serious questions here for Woollard and Labour.
SOPHIE HOWE, MORE LABOUR CRONYISM
Earlier this year I wrote about Sophie Howe, the Deputy Police and Crime Commissioner for South Wales. Well now her Labour cronies have given her another well-paid job, this time as Future Generations Commissioner, a flim-flam post created, it would appear, for no better reason than to pander to the Green lobby . . . and of course to create another cushy number for one of the insiderest of Labour insiders.
Howe is the daughter of a Labour councillor, who herself became a councillor at 22, she also worked as a Research / Casework Assistant for both Julie Morgan MP and Sue Essex AM, before moving up to do similar work for Julie Morgan’s husband and First Minister Rhodri Morgan, and then his successor in that post Carwyn Jones, before most recently becoming No 2 to former Labour MP Alun Michael in February 2013, after he became the PCC. She was hoping to find a safe seat for the May General Election, but failed, so this post could be viewed as a consolation prize. But I have no doubt that a safe seat will be found for her before 2020, so no one should expect her to see out the ‘seven-year term’ of this job.
Her father, Peter Howe, followed her into the office of Julie Morgan to, eventually, become office manager. A correspondent insists that Howe was a bully, a failing overlooked by his adoring daughter who was otherwise so interested in protecting women from male bullying. Though in this instance the suggested ‘trigger’ might have been jealousy, as the woman being bullied had been selected to stand for Cardiff City Council . . . whereas Peter Howe had been overlooked.
Reactions to the appointment varied. Tory leader Andrew R T Davies did his ‘Confused but Mildly Outraged of Cowbridge’ act while others were less charitable. Among them a rising star within Plaid Cymru, councillor Neil McEvoy. On a lighter note, Llanelli Plaid Cymru councillor Ruth Price made a Sharon Stone comment which unfortunately allowed Howe’s defenders to focus on this merry quip rather than on the appointment itself.
Howe’s boss, PCC Alun Michael, went into full feigned outrage mode and was quoted as saying, ‘There is no place for comments of this sort in a civilised society and it is particularly unacceptable in Wales.” What utter bollocks. A civilised society is judged by far, far more important things than an off-the-cuff remark like this. Among them, openness in public appointments. You sanctimonious little prick!
For her pains Ruth Price also took stick from her own party, including a Twitter DM from Llanelli Assembly candidate Helen Mary Jones. In fact, among Plaid’s big-wigs there seemed to be considerably more support for Sophie Howe than opposition. It even seemed to be decided by an individual’s attitudes to a Plaid coalition with Labour next year. Here’s what Plaid Cymru regional AM Jocelyn Davies tweeted almost as soon as the announcement was made public.
Well, well, there was me thinking that this Sophie Howe appointment was about Labour cronyism corrupting the public and political life of Wales, a reminder that Wales is a one-party state, but no! – it’s a wimmin issue. And everything’s OK cos our Sophie is “a strong woman”. Is Jocelyn Davies standing again next year?
Using this rationale, perhaps it would have been acceptable for a misogynist communist to have sent Hitler a telegram in 1933, saying, ‘Good to see a strong man in charge, Mein Fuhrer‘ . . . before he was dragged off to the concentration camp.
It’s said that Sophie Howe is a lawyer, if so, she’s never used that training for anything other than political purposes. Every job she’s ever done has either been working directly for the Labour Party, or else was gained through her Labour Party connections. Consequently, there is no way of gauging this woman’s real ability because there has never been any politically impartial assessment. She should never have been appointed Future Generations Commissioner.
SAM WARBURTON, CAPTAIN CARDIFF
The Rugby World Cup circus has departed, the ball has gone from the castle wall, and despite all the hype and expectation, we didn’t win the bloody thing, again. Yes, I know, we had lots of injuries, and biased refs (no, sorry, that was Scotland), but what struck me was that even when it was all over the ‘Welsh’ media couldn’t stop being . . . well, the Cardiff media.
Soon after the Final final whistle two of Wales’ great rugby pundits weighed in in the Wasting Mule to tell us that Sam Warburton, the Wales captain, is the best player we’ve got, and the only one who’d make it into the World XV to take on the tourists from Mars. First, on October 29th, it was former Wales captain Gwyn Jones, and a few days later, on November 1st, it was the turn of rugby correspondent Andy Howell.
Don’t get me wrong, Sam Warburton is a fine player, it’s just that the Cardiff media is besotted with him. Sometimes it’s possible to pick up the Llais y Sais and find him on the front page, a few of the sports pages, and a couple of inside pages. It’s bizarre, because it’s quite obvious that on the field of play – and I suspect in training and elsewhere – the national team is actually led by Alun Wyn Jones and Dan Biggar. Whereas Warburton, on the field, is almost silent, and certainly no captain. So is it a ceremonial role?
This adoration of Sam Warburton does not extend beyond Wales, or perhaps beyond Cardiff. Shown by another report I picked up around the same time, sandwiched between the two I’ve quoted, this being the six-player shortlist for the Rugby World Player of the Year. Who do we see on the shortlist – Sam Warburton, surely? No, the only Welshman there is Alun Wyn Jones. Suggesting that people outside of Wales have a better perspective on Welsh rugby than many inside Wales.
This corrupted view of various players’ qualities is due to the fact that the Wasting Mule, and to a lesser degree the BBC and ITV, see a great part of their role in being to promote the city of Cardiff, and anyone or anything that can in turn be used to promote Cardiff. This can not be done with Biggar or Jones because both come from Swansea, which is the worst of all possible alternatives. So it has to be wall-to-wall Warburton.
Of course it was the Welsh Rugby Union not the media that made Warburton captain, and there’s little doubt in my mind that Warburton regarding himself as British rather than Welsh makes him the perfect captain for hard-line Unionists like WRU Chairman David Pickering, for whom Wales flickers into life only on the rugby field. A kind of sporting Brigadoon.
Why Wales coach Warren Gatland falls into line with this nonsense is no great mystery. He knows Alun Wyn will sing the anthem lustily enough for both himself and Warburton, and put himself about for the full 80 minutes; he also knows that Biggar will cajole and inspire his team-mates for as long as he’s left on, so if it keeps the WRU suits and the Cardiff media happy why not play along with the charade of a figurehead captain?
WHERE WOULD THEY BE WITHOUT US?
Lying in bed the other morning, picking my nose and flicking bogies around the yet-dark room, I got to thinking about devolution, as you do when engaged in activity so conducive to deep, analytical thought.
It occurred to me that devolution, coupled with EU poverty funding, higher education, local government and other fields, have created in Wales tens of thousands of jobs in management roles for English administrators and others of moderate or even dubious ability who would struggle to land jobs offering anything like the same salaries and pension benefits in the private sector.
I’m thinking here of civil servants attached to the ‘Welsh’ Government and its various agencies, so many of the officers in our twenty-two local authorities, those innumerable managers in our seven health boards (plus the hospitals, clinics, centres, etc), housing associations beyond counting, third-rate academics in a higher education sector that ceased serving Welsh needs almost half a century ago, third sector organisations and other bodies too numerous to mention that have either come into existence since devolution or else have set up a ‘Welsh’ presence by transferring in staff.
Looking at it this way, devolution has been of more benefit to perhaps 30,000 members of England’s middle class than it has to 2.5 million Welsh. And most of this generosity is paid for out the Welsh public purse. But hey! that’s how colonialism operates.