Oh, the joy! the euphoria! Didn’t you feel the surge of national pride, the collective Cymric breast heaving, positively heaving, at the joyous news? – Lonely Planet declares ‘North’ Wales to be the bestest al fresco fun fair around.
So what exactly has ‘North’ Wales won? Well, it seems that northern Wales came fourth in the Top Regions category of the best destinations to visit in 2017. (The other categories being countries and cities.)
Northern Wales came fourth in the section subtitled “offbeat destinations demanding our attention”. Mmm, anyone who’s visited Betws y Coed or Caernarfon, Llangollen or Beddgelert, will find the use of that word ‘offbeat’ rather bizarre (and I haven’t mentioned the coastal resorts!). But, anyway, read the Lonely Planet piece for yourself.
So what are the other “offbeat destinations” with which north Wales was competing? In first place came Chocquequirao, “hidden across the deep Apurimac Valley . . . the last Inca refuge from the conquistadors”. Which makes this Andean location sound fascinating, and a worthy winner.
Second was Taranaki in New Zealand, which is certainly off the beaten track, confirmed with Lonely Planet‘s description it being a “remote location”. I shall return to the matter of tourism in New Zealand in a minute.
Then, one place ahead of ‘North’ Wales, we find the Azores. Described by Lonely Planet as the “next Iceland” and as a result we are warned, ” . . . the secret won’t last: the Azores have seen a 31% increase in tourism over the last 12 months, so visit in the 2017 sweet spot before things really take off.”
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Now I don’t know much about the Lonely Planet publication other than that it gets a lot of publicity – certainly here in Wales, for every time we get a mention it seems to merit a big news splash – but who pays it any real attention? Maybe its target audience, which I’d guess is the English middle class and its gap year offspring. (I belong to neither category.)
And that’s because, I suspect, Lonely Planet sees its role in identifying ‘offbeat destinations’ before – as seems to be the fear with the Azores – these idyllic locales are discovered by hoi polloi demanding ‘El fish and chips, Pedro – and pronto!’. Without, I hope, sounding snobbish, this is perfectly understandable.
In September, Mrs J and I took one of our regular trips to Scotland, and no matter where we went, from the Robert Burns Museum to Sweetheart Abbey to Threave (origin, tref) Castle, we met tourists from all over the world, but nowhere we went was overwhelmed in the way that parts of Wales so often are.
Of course Edinburgh can feel a bit ‘crowded’, but it’s bustling and cosmopolitan, it’s energising . . . and a hell of an improvement on being surrounded by miserable Brummies on a wet Sunday in Barmouth. These people milling around Princes Street and the Royal Mile are also spending lots of money (helped by the fact they’re not slumming it in ‘a caravan down the beach’), and when they go home they’ll tell their friends how wonderful Scotland is.
Scotland gets a better class of tourist, and certainly more overseas tourists. These even spend more per head (heid?) than overseas tourists to Wales. The figures for 2015 bear this out, for we see that while Scotland saw 2.6 million visits from overseas Wales welcomed just 970,000. In Scotland, the average spend per head was £651, compared with £422 in Wales. Giving a total overseas spend in Scotland of £1,695m against our £410m, less than a quarter of Scotland’s income.
There is of course a historic explanation for this. When railways became capable of transporting large numbers of working class people in relative comfort, and for prices they could afford, this advance placed Wales, unlike Scotland, within reach of many of England’s cities and industrial regions. Though that does not explain why we should still be providing holidays on the cheap, going for quantity rather than quality, 150 years later.
There are other, perhaps equally prosaic, explanations for Scotland attracting more overseas tourists and fewer English day-trippers than Wales. Distance being a pretty obvious one. Also, Scotland is much larger than Wales, with a greater variety of scenery. Scotland has airports with regular long haul flights to destinations around the world. Finally, Scotland has a beautiful and historic capital city.
But none of these explain the lack of ambition in the ‘Welsh’ tourism industry. Nor should they be accepted as excuses.
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After my Caledonian digression let me return to what I hinted at earlier when mentioning Taranaki, second among the ‘Top Regions’. A friend of mine has visited New Zealand a few times; it’s not cheap, but then, he’s a wealthy bachelor. I remember him telling me about one particular trip to the Southern Alps. He had to book in advance, prove he was healthy and insured, and as they liked the cut of his jib he was taken on a trek through the mountains lasting a few days.
The Southern Alps are protected by various National Parks and other forms of legislation to the point where the chances of a coachload of drunks turning up and making nuisances of themselves is close to zero . . . unlike on Snowdon, for example.
Returning to the Lonely Planet review of ‘North’ Wales we see that what got us noticed was zip wires, wave machines and subterranean trampolines. It seems logical to conclude that if we have more of these, and maybe a water chute running from the top of Cader Idris down to Dolgellau, or Talyllyn, we might achieve the coveted third place next year. Dare we dream of second place!
Grouped with the last refuge of the Incas, the as yet unspoilt Azores, and the majesty of the Southern Alps, a few big boys’ toys scattered about the north seem laughably incongruous, and unworthy. Especially when you read under the ‘Responsible Travel’ heading, “At Lonely Planet sustainable and responsible have always been parts of our vocabulary.” ‘Sustainable’ and ‘responsible’ are words that have never tarnished the lexicon of ‘Welsh’ tourism.
Which I suppose exposes the central contradiction of tourism – ‘Come see this awe-inspiring place . . . and by so doing, help despoil it’. Which explains why I admire the New Zealand approach that realises beautiful and irreplaceable environments and landscapes such as we find in the Southern Alps need to be protected from tourism.
If the Southern Alps had been in Wales they would by now have been extensively and thoroughly ‘developed’, suffering regular visits by twat-like politicos spouting bollocks so vacuous and inane as to make Vacuity and Inanity rise up in indignation. But on the bright side, there would be local employment – collecting garbage.
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When you look around Wales at the ugliness tourism has inflicted, the anglicisation it has brought, the environmental degradation, the social disruption, you have to ask what sort of people are we to have allowed this.
The answer is that we remain what we’ve been for maybe 800 years – a people with no real control over our country. Tourism is a perfect example, not only does it serve England’s interests, but ‘Welsh’ tourism is largely run by, and therefore profits, English people. Why should they give a toss about wrecking our homeland?
What’s best for England will always prevail over the best interests of us Welsh, and devolution has entrenched this system of exploitation even more firmly. I recently coined a term for this phenomenon, devocolonialism. In a future post I shall expand on what I put out recently in a tweet.
I feel this needs to be done because anyone believing that devolution has achieved anything positive for Wales needs a cold shower of facts.
It’s been an interesting few months here at Jac o’ the North Towers, what with solicitors’ letters, getting mentioned in the London dailies, and generally pissing off those who so richly deserve it. So let’s recap.
My initial suspicion was that the spivs running Pembrokeshire Housing and Mill Bay Homes had gone to Hugh James demanding that their reputations be desullied, but after thinking about it, I wondered whether it might not have been initiated by the ‘Welsh’ Government.
Because Hugh James does very well out the public purse, having received over twenty million pounds in the past five years. Significantly, £4.34m of that was in March this year from the Housing Supply Division. (And we can assume there have been further payments in the current financial year.)
Another reason for suspecting those working for the ‘Welsh’ Labour Government is that having dealt with them for a number of years I, and others, have reluctantly concluded that they’re a bit ‘slippery’. This is because those involved with funding Registered Social Landlords (housing associations) have a vested interest in pretending everything’s hunky-dory in order to protect themselves.
Just think about it – you’re a civil servant who gives Cwmscwt Housing Association £20m to build accommodation for anticipated Mongolian refugees, fleeing mad yak disease. The sons of Genghis Khan do not materialise (yaks have calmed down), which leaves Cwmscwt Housing Association in grievous danger of going belly-up and, more importantly, embarrassing you. To avoid this calamity, you either pour in more money in a desperate attempt to save Cwmscwt Housing Association or you have it quietly taken over by another RSL, with the details forever hidden from the public gaze.
Sometimes the attempts at obfuscation are just laughable, but again, it’s a case of doing anything to avoid having to say, ‘Oops, we made a mistake’. Here’s another recent example concerning the aforementioned spivs down in Pembrokeshire and the protection given by civil servants.
In our investigations into Mill Bay Homes we (i.e. Wynne Jones, A. E. and myself) soon realised that this outfit – an Industrial and Provident Society – had filed nothing after the accounts for y/e 31.03.2013. The FCA confirmed more than once that this was the case.
Yet an e-mail I received from Simon Fowler of the ‘Welsh’ Government on July 18th declared: “We have had sight of a confirmation from the FCA that Pembrokeshire Housing and Mill Bay Homes submitted all their regulatory returns by the given deadline.” Had we got it wrong? Should I give up blogging and go back to my former career as a bingo caller?
After a few days scouring local charity shops for my purple jacket and bow tie I was saved further traipsing when, on July 21st, Wynne Jones was told by Nazmul Ahmed of the FCA (‘Supervisions – Retail and Authorisations’) that the accounts for the two missing years (2014 and 2015) had finally been received by the FCA – on June 2nd. Remember the date.
I relayed this news to Simon Fowler, who responded thus: “We are satisfied that the evidence we have seen from the FCA corroborates Pembrokeshire Housing’s story. Pembrokeshire Housing have kindly allowed us to forward you a copy of the letter of apology received from the FCA.” Here’s the ‘evidence‘.
You’ll see that it merely tells us that Pembrokeshire Housing, the parent company of Mill Bay Homes, sent two e-mails on June 8th and 15th – because given the lateness of the returns it was desperate to see them shown on the public register as quickly as possible. But nothing changes the fact that the returns were not received until June 2nd. So the returns were eventually made, 19 months late, and 7 months late.
When I suggested to Mr Fowler that his ‘evidence’ exonerating Mill Bay Homes was nothing of the sort, he replied: “We now consider the matter of closed, and will not respond to any further queries regarding PHA’s submission to the FCA.” Which is par for the course. Catch them out in a lie, or prove them wrong, and one guaranteed response will be the shutters coming down.
And if you thought that was bad . . .
To understand how far civil servants will go to avoid admitting that they, or anyone funded by them, has made a mistake, or broken the rules, then the next example I’m going to give is almost unbelievable. Breathtaking in its contempt for us, the public.
There is a scheme running now called Help to Buy, it’s a UK scheme but known here as Help to Buy – Wales. During our investigations into Mill Bay Homes we learnt that Nick Garrod, a head honcho at MBH, had built a bespoke house for a very good friend of his named Adam Uka. Not only that, but Mr Uka also availed himself of Help to Buy. All here in the title document from the Land Registry.
So A.E. wrote to those administering the Help to Buy scheme pointing out that according to their website, under the Builder Registration tab and the secondary tab FAQs, it says that builders, or ‘Providers’ – in this case Mill Bay Homes and Nick Garrod – “cannot sell to friends and family”.
More questions were asked and a great deal of side-stepping, flim-flam and bullshit came from those entrusted with administering the Help to Buy scheme, but we were assured that no rules had been broken. Which was perplexing. Because the facts seemed indisputable. (And to top it all, Adam Uka had even grabbed a bit more land after the property was completed!)
So what do you think happened next, boys and girls? Did the ‘Welsh’ Government send down to Pembrokeshire a highly-trained team of finger-waggers and tut-tutters to tell naughty Mill Bay Homes they were breaking the rules?
No. What they did was change the rules to remove the reference to ‘friends’ and change it to something much vaguer. So that it now reads:
Isn’t it reassuring to know that hundreds of millions of pounds are poured every year into social housing, that this is overseen by our wonderful civil servants, and spent by bodies like Mill Bay Homes, using public funding to build bespoke, four-bedroom, detached homes for friends of the company’s bosses?
It would be wrong to think of ‘Welsh’ Labour as being just another political party, like the Conservatives, or Plaid Cymru, because it’s so much more than that.
Having run Wales for decades the Labour Party can reasonably be compared to the old Communist Party of the Soviet Union. It controls the funding and the patronage, it makes the political appointments, and then there’s Labour’s private army in the Third Sector, which provides the party with foot soldiers, mouthpieces and candidates, and into which deposed or disgraced politicians can be absorbed.
Labour being in control of the gravy train predictably attracts those who view the party as ‘the way to get on’. This explains why ‘Welsh’ Labour has always had its Brown Envelope Faction and its Troughing Tendency.
But just as with their counterparts in the old USSR these shysters can be relied on to unquestioningly toe the party line and mouth the slogans because they are not really interested in ideology or policies. It’s all about the gravy train. In fact, from the perspective of those running the show, the brown envelope brigade is less trouble than those who might actually believe in something.
Over the decades Labour has built up a formidable system of nepotism and patronage. And whereas that influence was in many ways restricted to areas or regions where the party was strong, devolution has given us national organisations over which Labour can exercise its baleful influence, and reach those areas previously protected by their rejection of Labour at the polling booth. Devolution, which promised so much, has merely served to strengthen Labour’s stranglehold on Welsh life and, paradoxically, this has been happening while Labour’s support among the electorate dwindled.
If you want to know why support for Labour is dwindling, then consider Swansea. The party there has been wracked by in-fighting and factionalism for years, it has attracted carpet-baggers and single-issue obsessives, to the point where it has almost become a world unto itself carrying on its feuds with neither regard nor concern for the city it is supposedly running. Here’s my most recent post on this shower, Swansea Labour: The Farce Continues.
The latest news is that the Clays, a Trotsyite couple, both councillors for the Llansamlet ward, he English, she Austrian, are stepping down ahead of next May’s council elections. The word is that he – possibly both – have been offered some position by Jeremy Corbyn. Bob Clay certainly seems to be running Momentum in the city. So who’s replacing them?
One is a young woman named Jordan Elizabeth Pugh (aka Jordan Elizabeth), who graduated from Swansea University this year in Social Work. I’m told she’s a single mother, 24-years-old, and originally from the Valleys. Whether she lives in the Llansamlet ward is not known, but even if she does, she can hardly know it well.
The other replacement is Mo Sykes, of whom I have written more than once. (Here, here and here.) Two years ago she left her job with the YMCA in rather mysterious circumstances. Many thought there’d be a court case, but apparently not. Sykes is from the Six Counties, and so she’s another with minimal knowledge of the city.
But that’s not the point, because Sykes and Pugh, ‘Len’ Summers in the Uplands, the student-councillors, the Clays and all the others are not there to serve Swansea – they’re there to keep Labour in power! But as Labour’s support evaporates, and the party gets more desperate, Labour’s representatives take on the appearance of a freak show.
As with similar regimes, ‘Welsh’ Labour must have control of the media, and in Wales this is just so easy.
UPDATE 06.10.2016: I am now informed that, following her appointment as a social worker in the city, Jordan Elizabeth Pugh will not be standing for the council next year. So Labour found her a job by another route.
It goes without saying that the BBC, the state broadcaster, is a disseminator of all things British and – outside the sphere of sport – regards Welshness as a subordinate or regional identity. To understand how bad BBC Wales has become just think Jason ‘Jase’ Mohammad.
As for ITV, I can only repeat what I wrote in Wales Colony of England, last November: “ITV Wales continues to plod along, a curate’s egg of a channel ranging from the engaging Adrian Masters to reporters and newsreaders who look and sound as if they’d have trouble locating Aberystwyth if they were dropped on top of Constitution Hill”.
The immediate threat to S4C seems to have passed, but with the language’s heartlands being destroyed and no one defending them the language and S4C are doomed. A glorious colonialist irony at work here: those with access to the means of exposing and combating the destruction of the Welsh language are funded by the same power that directs the destruction.
In radio, for Radio Cymru read S4C. Radio Wales is Radio West Britain, which leaves only ‘local radio’, most of the output being about as local to Wales as it is to East Anglia.
If that’s not bad enough, then the print media is a true disaster area. We have just a few daily newspapers, most of them very local in their circulation. The biggest-selling Welsh-based newspaper is the South Wales Evening Post, covering the Swansea region. The others are the South Wales Echo (Cardiff and the central valleys), South Wales Argus (Newport and the Gwent valleys), the Wrecsam (or Chester) edition of the Leader, and the Daily Post, a morning ‘paper covering northern and central parts of the country.
The only newspaper available all over the country (if you can find it) is the Western Mail. Now I’ve said a lot about this rag down the years, I’ve referred to it as ‘The Wasting Mule’, ‘Llais y Sais’ (voice of the English). Much of my criticism has been almost good-natured but I now believe we’ve passed that stage, and the time has come to view it for the malevolent influence on Welsh life it really is.
There have been worrying incidents in recent years that have seen the Western Mail go out of its way to defend the Labour Party, or attack Labour’s critics (including me), and one of the worst incidents came to light very recently, and concerned that scion of a famous Labour House, Stephen Kinnock.
The bottom line is that Stephen Kinnock was selected as the Labour candidate for Aberavon in March 2014 by 106 votes to 105 because he withheld the truth about his daughter’s private education at Atlantic College. By deliberately asking the wrong questions, Martin Shipton of Llais y Sais was complicit in that deception.
This trickery was almost certainly done to please those multi-pensioned socialists and party legends, Baron Kinnock of Bedwelly and Baroness Kinnock of Holyhead.
If ‘Welsh’ Labour can be compared to the Communist Party of the Soviet Union then the Western Mail is surely its Pravda.
HOW FAR DOES THE INFLUENCE SPREAD?
I’ll finish with another example of how vindictive ‘Welsh’ Labour can be . . . though this case throws up deeply concerning possibilities. I shall have to tread carefully.
Back in April I wrote about the intriguing case of Carolyn Harris, the Labour MP for Swansea East and her reported assault on Jenny Lee Clark, in November 2014. The case made the London dailies, here’s the Sun‘s account of the incident, here it is in the Telegraph, the Daily Mail, and, finally, Wales Online.
Note that the London ‘papers came out with the story on March 7. Unable to ignore it the Western Mail ran it a day later – but with a totally different slant. It is now less about an assault, or a hate crime, and more an allegation against the victim of the assault. And who wrote this piece – why! it’s Martin Shipton again.
Without I hope complicating this story too much, here’s the background. The (alleged) assault took place on 24 November 2014, when Clark and Harris were both working for the MP for Swansea East, Siân James. In May 2015 Harris succeeded James as MP. But the incident wasn’t reported to the police until 27 January 2016. The following day Lee was dismissed by Harris.
The police did not pursue the assault complaint because it was made outside the six-month time limit for common assault allegations. Or rather, no prosecution took place due to someone’s decision to class the incident as common assault. A more serious charge could have been laid and the six-month time limit would not have applied.
A charge of fraudulently increasing her salary then appeared against Jenny Lee Clarke. This offence is alleged to have been committed in August 2015, but no one heard of it until March 2016, when ITV phoned Carolyn Harris MP about the assault on Lee.
What is more worrying than Swansea Labour Party in-fighting is the possible role of the police. For example . . . Just after posting Swansea Labour: The Farce Continues, I e-mailed Jenny Lee Clarke to check on something.
Her reply, timed at 01:52 on July 24, said: “I’ve also still not had 1 phone call nor a visit from anyone remotely related to south wales police +their so called investigation against me. 6months +nothing.”
But then, in an another e-mail, timed at 17:55, she wrote: “How coincidental now I’ve just been contacted by Bethan Bartlett who is on her way 2 pick me up 4 questioning.” (Bethan Bartlett is a police officer.)
Jenny Lee Clarke was taken to Swansea Central police station, interrogated for an hour and, despite having gone voluntarily, was kept in the cells for five hours, getting home at 01:30 and is now on bail until September 19.
Which strikes me as a rather crude attempt at intimidating a middle-aged woman with little experience of dealing with the police, and none of being banged up. Or maybe the message was for somebody else.
It was obviously pure coincidence that Jenny Lee Clarke was whisked downtown after I had been in touch with her for the first time in months. I mean, no one’s reading my e-mails, are they?
A coincidence, just like four solicitors’ letters arriving in a matter of days . . . none before, none since.
‘Welsh’ Labour corrupts everything it comes into contact with because it is a totalitarian party that must hang on to power at all costs. Power for its own sake, rather than exercising power for the public good.
Internally, Labour is a party held together – if that’s the right word! – by bullying and harassment, misogyny and anti-Semitism, nepotism and favouritism, plus all manner of corruption.
The price the party pays is in falling support at the ballot box and failing to recruit, or hold on to, decent representatives. The latest example came a few days ago in Cardiff, where councillor Gretta Marshall left “vicious” and “divided” Labour to join Plaid Cymru.
The price Wales pays is inefficiency and corruption resulting in deprivation. Money is squandered on white elephants by civil servants and Third Sector apparatchiks who are above the law, given free rein by ‘Welsh’ Labour politicians who are too busy engaging in feuds, or fighting each other on the greasy pole.
Thankfully, all is not doom and gloom. The Labour Party is splitting, and cannot survive in its present form. Before long, and for the first time in almost a century, we shall be able to breathe the clean air of a Wales no longer dominated by Labour.
Before we turn to Stephen Kinnock’s latest attempt to set the record straight about his past, here by way of an overture to the main show is a handy chronological summary of the schools saga.
Kinnock “rages” against private education, and the way it enables a privileged elite to buy its way into a better life makes him “extremely angry” (2009)
Kinnock and his wife send their elder daughter to a private school in Copenhagen (2010)
She later moves on to the even swankier Atlantic College (£28,600 a year) near Cardiff, partly paid for by the Danish taxpayer (2013-2015)
“Stephen Kinnock slams ‘misleading claim’ that his daughter went to a private school” (Western Mail, February 2014), failing to mention that his daughter was a pupil at Atlantic College.
“Stephen Kinnock ‘underestimated’ school fees for daughter” (Western Mail, March 2014). It’s all the fault of political opponents trying to undermine him, and oh yes, those fees were twice as much as he had previously said.
23 July 2016 – Kinnock issues a further “clarification”, saying that he has “always been open about, and proud of, the fact that a vital part of Johanna’s education took place in Wales”.
The ink had barely dried on that before Kinnock was busy banging out another “clarification” to Twitter users who were asking him about his tax affairs in Denmark.
According to Stephen, it was all old news, very simple and clear cut:
Ask anyone in the Danish media or bewildered members of the Danish public who tried to follow all the twists and turns of this byzantine tale over several years, and the picture that emerges is very far from simple.
A Google search on the words “Kinnock skat” (Danish for ‘tax’) returns 56,500 entries, and that is just the tip of the iceberg.
Why, for example, did Kinnock and his wife tell the press within days of the story breaking that he was about to file a tax return in Denmark, and would be paying back taxes as well as liabilities going forward? And why did the couple engage a top tax lawyer who fought tooth and nail to get him off the hook?
“I want to pay tax in Denmark”
Seven days after the article Kinnock mentions on 23 June 2010, the Danish press was ablaze with the story. On that day, the Danish national news agency, Ritzau, carried a report quoting various reputable sources, including Berlingske Tidende, a leading quality daily, saying that Stephen Kinnock had agreed to pay tax in Denmark.
Here is one of the many press reports from the time.
“After a week of news headlines, the Social Democrats’ leader, Helle Thorning-Schmidt, is caving in: her husband wants to pay tax in Denmark with retrospective effect, says Berlingske Tidende.”
“He will pay tax in Denmark for the first time, and the couple promises that he will continue to do so in coming years.”
At the time Kinnock was working in Geneva, but the family home, his wife and children were in Copenhagen.
Thorning-Schmidt told the press that the couple believed that they had always acted correctly, and that they had contacted a tax lawyer who confirmed their interpretation, “but there are some grey zones in all of this, and we want to steer clear of grey zones. We have therefore chosen to go the whole hog and pay tax in both Denmark and Switzerland.”
On second thoughts…..
The lawyer, Frode Holm, told the press that the grey zone arose because Kinnock had not just regularly spent time at home in Denmark, but had also conducted business meetings there.
The larger than life Frode Holm was not just any old tax lawyer, but was reckoned to be the very best in the country, and famous for performing miracles for very rich clients who had run into a spot of bother with the taxman, as explained by Politiko, a part of the Berlingske media group, here.
One of his cases is said to have involved a businessman who was facing a tax bill of Dkr 1.9 billion (around £260 million). Holm turned it round and secured a rebate of nearly £900,000 for his client.
The sums involved in the Kinnock/Thorning-Schmidt case were peanuts by comparison, but Helle Thorning-Schmidt had her eyes set on becoming Prime Minister, and so Holm’s job was partly to ensure that no political damage was inflicted, with zero tax liability for Kinnock a bonus.
The taxman enters the bedroom
This was the beginning of a saga which was to run on for nearly four years, and Frode Holm was to hit the headlines spectacularly in the autumn of 2012 when it emerged that he had told the tax authorities two years earlier that Stephen Kinnock was gay or bisexual.
Holm claimed that he had done this to explain why Kinnock’s wife did not want to go to a meeting with the tax authorities, because “she (Helle Thorning-Schmidt, Ed.) does not want to sit here and have to explain their personal circumstances”.
Holm’s claim that it was he who set the rumour rolling was later disputed by others involved in the case, and this aspect of the story grew legs and became a convoluted saga in its own right. However, if Holm’s version of events was correct, several mysteries remain. Was he just making it up, and were his clients aware of what he was doing from the beginning? If not, when did they become aware of what their lawyer was saying?
When he was asked in October 2012 whether he believed that Kinnock was gay, as he had told the taxman, Holm replied “no comment”.
To be fair to the Danish press, journalists became aware of the rumours surrounding Kinnock’s sexuality early on, but decided that this was a private and personal matter. It was only towards the end of 2012 when it became clear that the issue was so closely bound up with his tax status that the floodgates opened.
The problem confronting the couple boiled down to precisely how many days Kinnock had spent in Denmark. If it was less than 180, Kinnock was not liable to Danish tax.
The trouble was that in order to stress their credentials as a normal, close family, the couple had previously given interviews to a whole series of newspapers, magazines and authors saying that Kinnock spent several days with his wife and children each weekend at home in Copenhagen. If it was true that Kinnock had spent four days at home each weekend, Friday to Monday, he would be liable to tax.
On 16 September 2010, the Danish tax authorities concluded that Kinnock had not spent more than 180 days at home, and was therefore not liable to tax in Denmark. As we shall see, the decision was by no means straightforward.
But the affair had only just begun because leaks and attempts by political opponents to exploit the tax question later led to investigations and an inquiry, during the course of which various previously confidential documents became public.
A hair’s breadth
It emerged that Kinnock had only narrowly escaped having to pay tax, and that the tax office had reinterpreted its own rules when it reached its decision. Had the rules on matters such as responding to business e-mails and meetings while in Denmark not been relaxed, Kinnock would have clocked up more than 180 days.
The decision has since cost the Danish taxman dear.
In another high profile case, Camilla Vest, a Danish model, and her husband Peder Nielsen, boss of the Danish shipping conglomerate Maersk, were found guilty in November 2011 of tax evasion and sentenced to 21 months in prison and a fine of DKr 6.6 million (approximately £750,000). The verdict was overturned a year later, with the tax authorities’ ruling on the Kinnock case playing a significant role in the court’s decision.
Fans of the Danish political thriller Borgen will probably be wondering where fiction ends and reality begins by now. When Kinnock himself was asked what he thought about the TV show, he said that he had enjoyed the first series, but had found the second too far-fetched.
In reality, the scriptwriters probably concluded that having a woman prime minister married to the “Socialist” non-domiciled scion of an ennobled British political dynasty embroiled in scandals about his tax affairs and private schools, with a maelstrom of rumours about his marriage and sexuality, would have been dismissed by viewers as too bizarre to be believed.
But if we are to believe Stephen Kinnock, who has probably calculated that Berlingske Tidende, Ekstra Bladet, BT and the rest of the Danish press are not widely read in Port Talbot, it’s all very simple and clear-cut.
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’.
In my previous post I set out my reasons for voting to leave the European Union. I didn’t think I’d be on the winning side, but there you are.
On Thursday night I’d planned to watch the results programme for a bit and then head to bed around midnight. My expectations of defeat seemed to have been met with the announcement of a substantial rise in the value of the pound and bookies telling us that one of the horses in this race was en route to the knackers yard. It wasn’t long before Nigel Farage conceded defeat.
But then a different mood began to take hold as news filtered through that pollsters, bookies and other self-appointed interpreters of the public mood might have got it wrong. For it seemed that up in north east England, in Newcastle, and Sunderland, the unwashed were in revolt. Then the results started to arrive.
Newcastle, where the Remain campaign had expected a substantial majority, was 50 / 50. (Were they blaming the EU for the Toon getting relegated?) Then came Sunderland, where Leave achieved 61.3%. (But the Black Cats escaped relegation!) Some pundit reminded us that Sunderland has a big Nissan car plant, located there to access the European market, so why were people voting Leave. Cue for much tut-tutting and superior mutterings about voters being ‘uninformed’ (i.e. stupid). It wasn’t long before Nigel Farage ‘unconceded’, and had a celebratory pint.
As more results became known a picture emerged suggesting that results could be predicted with near-certainty by checking an area’s indicators of wealth – poor areas were voting to Leave, rich areas voting to Remain. There were of course exceptions, such as Liverpool (58.2% Remain), a result some attributed to the pro-Leave Sun newspaper being boycotted in that city. This may have played a part, but let’s not overlook the fact that Liverpool has received billions in EU funding, perhaps more than the Valleys. What’s more, in Liverpool people can see what the funding has been spent on, and by and large they approve.
Perhaps the divide in England was summed up with this article in the Guardian by John Harris headed, ‘If you’ve got money, you vote in . . . if you haven’t got money, you vote out’. The picture in Wales was almost identical; and yet, just a few short months ago Plaid Cymru was hoping for a substantial Remain majority to contrast Wales with England. (Making me wonder yet again what ‘Wales’ this lot claims to be the party of.)
During the night itself, the voice that stood out for me was that of John Mann, the MP for Bassetlaw in north Nottinghamshire (to the east of Sheffield). Mann made it clear that the referendum had been largely won for Leave by Labour voters in the ‘forgotten’ post-industrial regions of England (and Wales) of which the metropolitan elite knows little and cares less.
A few others also saw the true picture, but these were a minority. I found this article from the Guardian by Mike Carter compelling, it details a meandering walk from Liverpool to London.
The picture in Scotland was the one we’d expected. Even so, it was strange to hear English Remain supporters blame the SNP for not getting enough of its support out, which – it was argued – might have swung the whole UK result. The claim seemed to be that because everyone knew which way Scotland would vote, many Scots Remain supporters stayed at home. In Glasgow, the largest authority, the turnout was just 56.2% (66.6% Remain), whereas in the September 2014 independence referendum the turnout was 75% (53.5% Yes).
In the North of Ireland the picture was rather more difficult to interpret because the two Unionist parties followed different courses. The Democratic Unionist Party (the party of the late Rev Dr Ian Paisley) urged its supporters to vote Leave, while the Official Unionist Party favoured Remain. Both Sinn Féin and the Social Democratic and Labour Party wanted to Remain. And of course, hovering over any political debate in that part of the world is the wider consideration of relations with Britain and the Republic of Ireland.
The result for the whole of the Six Counties was 55.8% Remain, telling us that many Unionists voted with nationalists and Republicans to stay in the EU. Though it’s unlikely that many of them would allow their referendum vote to be seen as support for a re-unified Ireland, which seems to be how Sinn Féin is choosing to interpret the result. Yet almost everyone views the return of a visible, patrolled border with the Republic as a dangerously retrograde step.
REACTIONS AND FALL-OUT
The chaos that has ensued is being attributed to a number of factors, with ‘uncharted waters’ being among the favoured analogies, and not just with those of a nautical bent. Of course it’s true; no one has ever been in this situation before so no one is quite sure what happens next. Certainly our politicians seem to be lost.
Though it’s significant that those who led the Brexit campaign – Farage excepted – seem to be backtracking. Strange behaviour for victors. They remind me of a gang of young tearaways who went to start a fire in their school but didn’t mean to burn the whole place down.
We can now divide the Brexiters into two camps (as indeed they split themselves during the referendum campaign). First, we have those who want to disengage from the EU but regard ‘losing’ Scotland and Ireland as too high a price to pay, hence the backtracking. These can be regarded as BritNats. While on the other hand we have those who want to go the whole hog and have an England independent of the EU, independent of Scotland and Wales, independent of just about everybody and everything. We could be unkind, but let’s call these the EngNats. They include the twat in this article who believes that Catholic Croatia is not part of Europe.
But what really struck me about the reporting of the referendum and its result was the uncomprehending anger of London commentators, luvvies and others who know less about the lives of people in Sunderland and Swansea than I do about yak herders on the Eurasian steppe. ‘How could they be so stupid?’ was their cry.
The BBC – wedded to the US-NATO-EU line I wrote of in my previous post – didn’t actually call those who voted Leave ‘stupid racist bastards’ . . . it was marginally more nuanced. Perfectly illustrated with the picture below for an article on the BBC website.
Some of course did not hold back. Among the more offensive Remainers I encountered was a John Niven; apparently he’s a Scottish writer now living in some Buckinghamshire slum. I can’t say I’ve read anything he’s written, and I certainly haven’t troubled Amazon since reading this asshole’s tweets.
The message from infuriated Remainers was consistently offensive, insulting and intimidating. This is the liberal elite at its worst – still feeling superior but angry and confused because its collective will has been thwarted by the untermensch. Summed up rather well by his article by Brendan O’Neill in the Spectator, The howl against democracy.
The ironies and paradoxes abound. Here we have a group that has for months demonised and belittled others as bigots, yet if poor whites qualified as a minority then the commentariat would be equally guilty of bigotry!
When the BBC wasn’t telling us that thick bastards non-graduates voted for Brexit, it was consulting opinion among groups thoroughly representative of the population. One such group was those attending the Glastonbury Festival, an event covered to an excessive degree by the Beeb. Unsurprisingly, the sons and daughters of the Corporation’s bigwigs and their friends were simply ‘devastated’ at the referendum result.
Just put yourself in the position of a single mother on hearing those views, perhaps a young woman bringing up two or three kids on a sink estate or a flat above a moneylender on a decaying High Street in a forgotten town. Will they make her regret voting Leave? No, but I’ll tell you what it will do, it’ll make her feel angry, hearing people who have so much, and can look forward to so much more, condemning her for her desperation.
Yet another example of hypocrisy. For while the liberal elite and the Leftists accuse those who voted Brexit of causing divisions it is they, who largely control the media, with their patronising bullshit about stupid poor people racists, that risks turning social divisions into yawning chasms.
Another popular theme was that of the young being deprived of their futures by selfish old gits. The Wasting Mule got in on the act with this piece from its Saturday edition. Dan Baker is nineteen years of age and studying in Paris. He believes that we who voted Leave have “succumbed to ignorance”. But then, Dan is 19, and knows everything.
So there you are – you’re stupid and racist for voting Leave, while the ‘more mature’ among us are thoroughly bloody selfish for not dying off pronto, as we would if we really cared about Dan and other deprived youths.
As in England, the insults were flying here too. One my attention was drawn to was a comment from an Englishman making a living out of covering Wales with wind turbines. (This link to his LinkedIn profile no longer works as the page has been removed. Possibly connected with Smith being reported to South Wales Police for a Hate crime.) Not only does he think the country that gives him a living is a pimple on the buttock of his homeland but he also re-tweeted another insult about us deserving a Darwin Award, given for stupidity by the kind of smart-arses who are now lashing out in all directions.
UPDATE 29.06.2016: Around 6pm on the 28th this appeared on Smith’s Twitter account.
I’ll conclude this section with another piece that appeared in the Mule, this one by regular columnist Carolyn Hitt. Now in the past I might have been a little unkind to Carolyn Hitt, lumping her with Jason ‘Jase’ Mohammad and the other bollocks-spouting muppets in our very own Cardiff bubble.
Carolyn Hitt wanted to tell us that she grew up in the Rhondda, an area that attracted migrants from all over, and that the referendum result had “shaken to the core” her “sense of self as a Welsh person”. Serious stuff. But then she goes and blows it all by arguing that in voting to leave the European Union “the majority of Welsh voters threw in their lot ideologically with Middle England”.
‘Middle England’, be buggered! Middle England voted to Remain. The kindest thing I can suggest is that Ms Hitt had not checked the map, or the results, before rushing into print.
THE POLITICAL CONSEQUENCES
Since the referendum result became known the UK has been in a state of political chaos. the only politician who seems to know what she’s about and what she wants is Scottish National Party leader Nicola Sturgeon.
Prime Minister Cameron stood down soon after the result was known and now there’ll be an election to choose his successor as Tory leader. As the new leader will lack a mandate he or she will almost certainly call a general election. The original hope seems to have been that this could be done at a leisurely pace without interfering too much with everyone’s summer holidays, but pressure from the EU seems to have speeded up the process and the new leader is expected to be in place by September 2nd. Boris Johnson is the front-runner, with Theresa May as the ‘Block Boris’ candidate.
We’ve always known that the Conservative Party in Westminster is split on Europe, but what this referendum exposed is how detached from its traditional support the irredeemably metropolitan Labour Party has now become. Made obvious by the fact that those areas that voted most heavily to Leave are areas where Labour has dominated for decades.
Now the prospect of a general election before the year’s out has concentrated Labour MPs’ minds and they have turned on their hapless leader Jeremy Corbyn who, they believe, could never win an election . . . which would of course result in many Labour careerists losing their seats. The problem is that while Corbyn may lack support among MPs he has the backing of party activists, many of whom are Leftist agitators and activists who took over the Labour Party around a year ago to elect him leader.
So we have the Labour Party itself split between members and representatives, with a third element being the Labour voters who chose to leave the EU last Thursday against the advice of the party. These disillusioned voters have no truck with the comrades and little faith in the MPs. Consequently, the Labour Party is in one hell of a mess – and I haven’t even mentioned Scotland, where the Labour Party, for so long dominant, is almost dead and buried.
The picture is different in London, where the vote to stay in the EU was 59.9%. This can be explained by greater wealth, the presence of the liberal elite / Leftist types who now control the Labour Party, plus of course large numbers of immigrants. London may have provided good news for the pro-EU campaigners but it also tells us how divided England has become.
Here in Wales, Cardiff, which has long sought mini London status, grabbing all the goodies for itself, achieved that ambition last Thursday when 60% of its voters chose to Remain against a national figure of just 47.5%. Two capitals unrepresentative of the countries that support them.
The vote in Wales so outraged the youth of Cardiff that many thousands a few dozen were persuaded to take part in a ludicrous march on the Notional Assembly, among their demands were a second referendum (and a third if that was lost), tattoos on the NHS, and votes for foetuses (possibly eggs). Though I didn’t spot Dan Baker among them. Perhaps the poor boy is in his Paris garret drowning his sense of betrayal with glass after glass of pastis.
It only remains to discuss Plaid Cymru. When the full horror of the defeat dawned on the party leadership the immediate response from leader Leanne Wood was to propose a Labour-Plaid coalition. A response typical of those for whom Plaid Cymru is an alternative socialist party rather than a nationalist party. This suggestion was quickly dropped as opposition from within the party mounted.
Though on the weekend immediately following the referendum, when we might have expected the Plaid Cymru leadership to be monitoring and debating a constantly changing situation and planning ahead, Leanne Wood and Jill Evans MEP, were attending a two-day feminist event in Cardiff, and there were other Plaid wimmin there as well.
The latest news seems to be that Plaid is belatedly trying to emulate the Scottish National Party, but it may be too late. I say that because the SNP has for years been appealing directly to the Scottish people, in direct competition with the Labour Party, to the point where it was eventually able to supplant Labour; whereas Plaid Cymru has farted about with Greens, ‘feminists’, and other cross-border ‘progressives’, only focusing on Labour and Wales when forced to do so at election times, and then, almost apologetically.
There will be no clean break with the European Union, things will get very messy from now on, and for the obvious reasons. There may be no break at all.
Just about every pillar of the UK establishment supported the Remain campaign, and they won’t give up without a fight. (A fight most of us will not even realise is happening.) So we can expect increasing calls for a second referendum, perhaps after the general election. (It will be interesting to see what is in the manifestos.) And already we are being reminded that the referendum result is not binding, it was a ‘consultative’ exercise. With most MPs in favour of EU membership that opens up another route for the Remainers.
Even so, there will still be dangerous divisions and tensions between London and the rest of England, tensions that have been obvious for some time, prompting initiatives such as HS2 and talk of a ‘Northern Powerhouse‘, which as we know plans to absorb and assimilate northern Wales. Initiatives that might benefit Manchester, Liverpool, Newcastle and Leeds – all of which voted Remain (though only just in the case of Newcastle and Leeds) – but will do little for Hull, Plymouth, Carlisle, Peterborough, Barnsley, Isle of Wight, Stoke, Dagenham, Wolverhampton, Doncaster, Dartford, Blackpool and countless other smaller cities and towns that voted decisively Leave.
I have already dealt with the divide between England and Scotland. While UKIP and other EngNats might be resigned – even glad – to see Scotland go the BritNats will do all in their power to hang on to the country. So expect to hear promises of a ‘federal structure’ for Britain, which might – as with devolution – see Wales offered the same as Scotland to avoid showing fear of the SNP.
It seems that politics in Englandandwales – as in the USA and continental Europe – is moving to the Right. For few of those who voted Remain did so for the noble and altruistic reasons the metropolitan elite and the commentariat ascribe to themselves – most voted to stay in the EU out of perceived self-interest. City traders in their Cotswold retreats who voted Remain and former steel workers in Ebbw Vale who voted Leave were driven by a very similar impulse.
The next general election could be a choice between the English Centre Right and the English Extreme Right, BritNats and EngNats. Scotland will of course be insulated by the SNP and slowly extricating herself from this threatening mess (perhaps helped by the EU). Wales’ defence however will be limited to a rump Labour Party made up of careerists and mediocrities, a temporarily resurgent Hard Left, and Plaid Cymru. Which is really no defence at all.
So I say, yes, by all means capitalise on the current chaos, but what Wales really needs is a national movement promoting independence for the right reasons, rather than some ad hoc alliance formed in reaction to Brexit that will fall apart once the threat passes. A national movement unconcerned with the views of metropolitan ‘progressives’ and concentrating solely on defending and promoting Welsh interests.
As the title suggests, I am voting for the UK, but more especially for Wales, to leave the European Union. There are many reasons for this decision, some of which are set out below. And while my primary interest is Wales my concerns over the EU encompass wider, even global, issues.
THE BIG PICTURE
There have always been dreamers or idealists who’ve believed that the human race would be far happier if we had one, world government, and that wars could be avoided if we all spoke the same language. Nowhere has this belief been more explicitly stated than in those movies that see Earth threatened with alien invasion / destruction making us all pull together to defeat a common enemy. Heart-warming stuff that makes us proud to be Earthlings.
Away from the idealism I believe there really are powerful and influential people working towards a similar kind of global unity. Let me allay your fears for my sanity by making it clear that I am not talking now about anything as exotic as Illuminati or Knights Templar, Zionists or Nazis, let alone aliens or disguised reptilians moving among us. These are human beings not a lot different to you and me, just more ruthless, and greedy.
Among the more irritating ‘barriers’ to this one-world objective are nation-states, national identities, local governments, languages other than English, regional tastes and peculiarities. In fact, many of the things you and I cherish. So another objective for our Elite is to break down these ‘barriers’, and this is done by promoting the growth of supra-national bodies and encouraging the ‘homogenisation’ of the human race.
Perhaps it’s the absence of reptilian characteristics, but those I’m referring to are not easily identifiable, though many of them will be found at the regular meetings of the Bilderberg Group. (That said, the Bilderberg Group may itself be little more than a useful distraction for conspiracy theorists.)
Those I’m discussing are an ever-changing but self-perpetuating Elite that operates in the way secretive or semi-secretive groups have operated throughout history; that is, by infiltrating other organisations and also – more importantly – by recruiting those they see rising within the corporate world, the media, politics, the military and other fields. You cannot apply to join.
THE POLITICAL ROUTE
The best way to progress their strategy is by covering both bases in democracies where we find two major parties split along vaguely Left / Right lines, and then work through both of them. Achieved by largely removing ideology from politics and reducing political ‘debate’ to sound bites, photo opportunities, and taking up ‘positions’ that mean absolutely nothing.
In recent decades this blurring has been achieved in the USA, the UK, and other Western countries sharing such a political system. And yet, the rise of Trump, the support for Sanders, the election of Corbyn (even if it was achieved by the hard Left), and increasing support for populists and nationalist parties on the European mainland, presents our putative world leaders with the biggest threat their plans have yet faced. That’s because these hiccups warn them that across the Western world an increasing number of people believe they are ruled by elites out of touch with their concerns. And they’re right.
The Washington Post and the New York Times rail against Trump, ridicule his supporters, but those putting their faith in the Republican presidential candidate are not all gun-toting rednecks; they are people who have seen their jobs exported to low wage countries and their living standards fall, who have seen their patriotism exploited by one pointless and expensive war after another, who have lived through a recession caused by the reckless and criminal behaviour of people who all escaped punishment, who have seen the America they grew up in change around them.
To summarise: the aspiring world Elite has been clever in taking over the political centre ground and using that control to cast the cloak of moderation over its own ambitions. To the extent that anyone outside of the imposed boundaries of ‘responsible’ debate automatically becomes ‘dangerous’, or an ‘extremist’.
You know how clever this Elite has been when you hear socialists defend the EU for what it’s done for workers rights, and women’s rights, and God knows what other acts the bruvvers hold to be virtuous. I say that because the EU is merely a halfway house to the world our Elite craves.
The EU serves to lull us into a resigned acceptance of vague and distant government over which we have no control, but disguises its intentions by doling out goodies to appease the gullible. The question I would ask those currently defending the EU is this, if the Elite I’m describing achieves its objective of an unelected global government that cannot be removed, do you really think they’ll still be handing out goodies?
THE WORLD OF HARRY LIME
If we would seek a birthplace for this Elite, then it has to be the USA. There’s a temptation to assume that it grew out of that bogeyman of ’60s activists and folk singers, the military-industrial complex, but I believe we need to go back further.
In the first decade or so following the end of World War Two Europe was a very uncertain place. Not only were the Soviets camped in the east but in the west communist parties almost came to power through the ballot box in Italy and France. This frightened both the USA and the European elites trying to re-establish themselves after the disruption of World War Two.
There were a number of initiatives used to counter the communist threat to western Europe. First there was NATO, with the Treaty signed on April 4th 1949. Next came the forerunner to the Common Market and the EU, the European Steel and Coal Community, announced by Robert Schuman in May 1950.
Taking the fight to the communists was Gladio. Formed as a ‘stay behind’ force in the event of a Soviet invasion Gladio developed into a terrorist organisation, using false flag attacks – as part of the Strategy of Tension – to lose the Left political support and justify repressive legislation. This culminated in the 1980 Bologna train station massacre, which was initially blamed on Left-wing terrorists but was actually carried out by fascists directed by the Italian secret service.
Operation Gladio can be traced through NATO back to the Pentagon and the CIA. Unsurprisingly, no one likes to talk about Gladio nowadays.
Finally, we had the first meeting of the Bilderberg Group at Oosterbeek in the Netherlands in May 1954.
I don’t want to dwell too much on this aspect of recent European history partly because it’s all rather distasteful, but without appreciating what was happening in the decades following WWII, it’s not easy to understand where we are today. The Strategy of Tension that invents enemies or exaggerates threats in order to justify repression is something that all governments employ to some extent. How far they’re prepared to go along this road depends on how serious they regard the challenges facing them. Though when the strategy is externally controlled then national governments may not even be consulted.
By the late 1980s we were into the brief era of Glasnost and Perestroika. There were many now in the USA who believed that their country had rescued Europe from the Nazis, had then pumped in huge amounts of cash to re-build Europe, before saving us from the Communists, and that all this entitled the USA to some control over Europe. And some tangible benefits from that control.
NATO, RUSSIA AND TURKEY
The Soviet Union and its former Warsaw Pact allies falling apart after 1990 should have meant the end of NATO, a military alliance set up to counter the spread of Soviet communism. But no, NATO has continued to grow, and all in one direction – eastward, seeking to encircle Russia.
NATO and the EU work hand in hand. It begins by, typically, exaggerating the threat of Russian aggression to frighten eastern European states into joining NATO, with membership of the EU offered as a sweetener. For a post I wrote in February I drew up a little table showing how joining NATO is invariably rewarded with EU membership. I reproduce a slightly amended version here.
Turkey is the obvious anomaly, but rest assured, the Turks have been promised EU membership . . . by the USA. Though it’s proving to be a hard sell. For a clear majority of the EU’s people do not want Turkey as a member, but the promise has been made and now a way must be found to give Turkey EU membership, or, at least, the benefits of EU membership, and this can only be done by denying the people of Europe a say in the matter.
Turkey, that refuses to acknowledge its genocide against the Armenians. Turkey, a country waging constant war against its Kurdish minority. Turkey, friend of ISIS. Turkey, the Islamist dictatorship on the borders of Europe. We are supposed to welcome this country into the EU simply because it’s a loyal ally of the USA in its power struggle with Russia! I’d rather have Russia in the EU.
What I’ve written should explain why President Barack Obama has made a number of interventions in support of the UK staying in the EU. In one speech he went as far as saying that we would be punished if we left the EU. (The BBC report I’ve linked to suggests that Obama was ‘doing Downing Street’s bidding’. Do these people understand nothing!)
The USA wants the UK to remain in the EU for the very reasons President de Gaulle wanted to keep the UK out – because the UK (more especially, England) will always act as Uncle Sam’s Trojan Horse. The UK in the EU will make life easier for major US corporations, and continue to isolate and taunt Russia. The Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership should be a warning to everybody.
The campaign itself has been distinguished by its lack of honesty, the absence of rational let alone intellectual discourse, and now, as I write this, by the hysteria surrounding the murder of MP Jo Cox.
Apparently her killer, rather than being an unhinged saddo, living alone and friendless since his granny died, is a ruthless assassin with links to US white supremacists, the apartheid regime in South Africa (toppled 22 years ago!), and motivated by his hatred for the EU. To believe much of what I’ve heard and read in the past 72 hours, the murder might as well have been committed by Farage, Gove and Johnson.
Something else worth mentioning about this killing is that once again we see the Elite and the Left in harmony. In times past of course, in the good old Gladio days, the Elite would have been targeting the Left, but currently the threat to the Elite’s agenda comes from the Right, both in the USA and in Europe, and so public opinion must be mobilised against that threat.
The ‘National Newspaper of Wales’ on Saturday told us, ‘Wales united in grief’ – for a woman we’d never heard of until she was murdered! ‘National grief’, if such a thing exists, is surely reserved for tragedies like Aberfan or, if we are dealing with individuals, then someone the nation knows and loves.
Also on the front page the Mule told us that the “Nation stands together to remember MP Jo Cox”. No, not really; it was just a few politicians campaigning. This killing was a truly horrible deed, but God Almighty! it has been shamelessly and distastefully milked by the Remain camp.
Elsewhere we have had various groups coming out in support of remaining in the EU, including of course (drum roll) ‘The World of Showbiz’. But what sort of moron is influenced in making a very important choice by a soap opera ‘star’? Come to that, why do luvvies believe that anyone with an ounce of sense gives a toss about their opinions? Is life for them one big Graham Norton Show?
The BBC and the rest have played ball to the extent that just about anyone arguing against EU membership belongs to the ‘Right Wing’ or the ‘Extreme Right’; and is ipso facto a ‘racist’ or a ‘fascist’. It seems that in the modern political spectrum there is naught but a wasteland between the advance guard of the Fourth Reich and the cuddly and ‘responsible’ Centre-Right represented by Cameron, that merges seamlessly into the Centre-Left.
Which is strange, really, because somewhere in this ‘wasteland’ is where I locate myself, and I know that the neighbourhood is becoming daily more popular.
And yet, the irony, not lost on anyone who follows and analyses what goes on in the world, is that the Elite-NATO nexus has not hesitated to fund and to arm overtly fascist groups in Croatia, Ukraine and elsewhere. So the message is clear – there’s nothing wrong with fascism per se but the jackbooted ones must be on the ‘right’ side.
Of course, there’s no escaping the fact that this debate is essentially a Left / Right split. Perhaps this was inevitable, and I have no problem with it. What I do take issue with – and not just in this referendum campaign – is that many on the Left seem to believe they are both intellectually and morally superior to their opponents. In their eyes I am both stupid and evil for writing this.
There’s no avoiding it, I suppose; we must discuss the beast itself. Though I don’t really want to spend too much time on it. Let’s start by going back in time a bit.
Given my admiration for General de Gaulle, his l’Europe des patries held some attraction. Then there was the alternative of a fully federalist model that promised to do away with the existing nation-state and perhaps revive Europe’s ancient regions and submerged nations.
But whichever model was chosen I believed – influenced by books such as The American Challenge – that the ambition should be a continent standing up to both the USA and the Soviet Union. A beacon to the rest of the world, offering a real alternative that balanced individual freedoms with collective responsibility for the less fortunate.
The bureaucratic aberration we see today results from neither of those options I considered all those years ago. The EU today is little more than the political wing of NATO. The EU was long ago adopted by the Elite as a vehicle to carry forward its agenda. The EU today, given these links, and how NATO and the Elite provoke Russia, may even be a threat to peace.
I suppose I also have to address immigration seeing as this is said to be the most important single reason for people in the UK wanting to leave the EU. My position is quite simple; genuine refugees should be taken in, but economic migrants should not be allowed to enter the EU unless needed. As for migration within the EU of EU citizens, well, that’s part of the package, the only way to stop it is to leave.
The reason the issue is so fraught, and divisive, is that with immigration we once again see the unholy alliance between the Elite and the Left. The latter seems to believe that Europe should take in just about anybody, with few if any checks. (The attitude that led to the wake-up call of New Year’s Eve in Cologne, where the attackers were not refugees from Syria or Iraq but young, and mainly illegal, male migrants from North Africa.)
The Hard Left cries crocodile tears over refugees but in reality it views immigration as just another weapon in its ongoing war against the corrupt and capitalist West. (Yawn.)
The Elite of course supports uncontrolled immigration because this is a force for homogenisation, and also because it drives down wages. But using the mainstream media to vilify as ‘racists’ all those who have reservations about immigration is insulting to tens of millions of decent people across Europe, and it will backfire.
It is already backfiring, on both sides of the Atlantic. The Austrian establishment suffered a bit of a shock recently when Austrians nearly voted in a Freedom Party president. (Note that for the Grauniad the FPÖ is a “far-right party”.) Now new President Christian Kern is considering introducing legislation to ban the peaceful – but embarrassing – protesters of the Identitarian movement. “We have to think about whether we are too tolerant”, says Kern. Chilling words.
The conundrum for the Elite, and indeed for those who like to project themselves as ‘moderate’ and mainstream politicians, can be spelt out thus: For reasons commendable or not you want immigration, but you don’t want the political drift to the Right that challenges your authority and your plans. Yet uncontrolled immigration – even the perception of uncontrolled immigration – will always drive many voters to the Right.
I shall end with one final example of how out of touch those running this circus are with the ordinary people of Europe. One issue that I guarantee unites people across Europe is their contempt for tax havens, so beloved of the Elite. Yet Europe has a tax haven at its very core, it’s called Luxembourg.
When I joined Plaid Cymru back in the mid-’60s there was no question that the party believed in independence. There was no debate over the issue; it was independence, a seat at the United Nations and all the other trappings of statehood. The problem was that this inevitably raised the response that accused us of wanting to ‘cut Wales off’. (‘Cut’ being an emotive and loaded word in almost any context.)
Then along came the Common Market, and Plaid Cymru seized the opportunity to promote ‘Independence within Europe’ which, it was hoped, would avoid the damaging ‘cut’ riposte. It hasn’t really worked. In fact, UK membership of the EU has not made Plaid Cymru any more popular; it has simply allowed the party to pretend that Wales somehow has a real presence in Europe, while simultaneously arguing that independence is soooo twentieth century.
But the argument being pushed more than any other, by Plaid Cymru and the other parties, is that Wales ‘does well’ out of the EU. What this really means is that because Wales is relatively poor we get lots of hand-outs. It’s quite incredible to hear ‘Welsh’ Labour, largely responsible for Wales’ poverty, extol the benefits of EU membership for this reason.
There’s no doubting that Wales has received billions in EU hand-outs – but look around you, where are the benefits? The truth is, as I keep saying, far too much of this funding has been wasted building up a whole stratum of Welsh life beholden to the statist ‘Welsh’ Labour Party. It’s almost as if our politicians are afraid to do what’s best for Wales in case it gives us ideas.
Wales today is asleep, lulled into accepting a steady, subsidised decline. We are told by all political parties that we must be grateful for these dollops of cash because we can’t do anything for ourselves. Therefore we must stay in the EU to ensure the cash keeps coming. There needs to be a better reason than that.
Finally, I ask you to consider the reasons given, by different voices, for Wales to vote Remain, and then decide whether – like me – you don’t in fact view these as the ‘cold shower’ Wales needs to finally wake us up and get us moving in the right direction:
We shall lose the EU hand-outs and these will not be replaced by Westminster.
Leaving the EU will result in economic meltdown.
The City of London will be replaced as Europe’s No 1 financial centre.
Brexit is fundamentally English nationalism.
Post Brexit the UK will experience the most repressive and anglocentric government ever known.
Scotland will probably become independent.
I know I’m lining up with some unpleasant people (I see through them better than most), but the issue is too big to let personalities intrude. The European Union is a bureaucratic nightmare run by weaklings and a failure on every level. Worse, it no longer serves the interests of Europe’s peoples but those of a shadowy Elite that regards all nationalities, and all languages other than English, as obstacles to a world unified without the knowledge or consent of its peoples.
On Thursday you won’t just be voting on the European Union; a Remain vote will also be an endorsement of NATO’s dangerous Bear-baiting; of the Elite’s global control programme, and, possibly – more likely if democracy threatens to break out – a return to Operation Gladio.
You don’t want to live in this dystopian future, few do, but the wheels are already in motion. If you care about Wales, and if you want to see Wales survive and prosper as a nation in her own right, then you must vote to leave the European Union as the precondition for leaving the United Kingdom.
Let me start by establishing what I mean by a colony. A colony is a territory or country run in the interests of another country, and for the benefit of the elite or the population in general of that other country. The colony does not need to be far away, nor do its indigenes need to be of a different pigmentation or religion, what matters is the economic and other relationships between the two countries. By which criteria Wales is most definitely a colony of England.
Historically, we Welsh had to be conquered and brought under English rule a) because we resisted Anglo-Saxon / Anglo-Norman / English attempts to control the whole island of Britain and b) because we, as the original inhabitants of Britain, served to remind these invaders of our prior claim to their land as well as our own.
For centuries we suffered under a discriminatory legal system then, with the Industrial Revolution, we started to see Wales and the Welsh exploited in a more organised fashion, with the motive this time being profit rather than imperialist aggrandisement. In a modified form this system persists today, and although discrimination may no longer be on the statute book it still exists in myriad subtle forms.
Something I was reminded of recently with the re-surfacing of a story I’d been vaguely aware of before. A Welsh businessman named Clive Hughes had planned to build two biomass plants employing hundreds of people, one near Kidwelly, the other on Swansea docks, reported in the panel on the right (click to enlarge). It seems that Mr Hughes had no help in his endeavours from either Mark James Carmarthenshire council or the ‘Welsh’ Government. In fact, he received no reply after writing to First Minister Carwyn Jones.
The reason this story has re-surfaced is because Clive Hughes was understandably peeved to learn that while his projects were either ignored or refused planning permission, civil servants and councils are now falling over themselves to help Chinese investors build two biomass plants, one on Ynys Môn, the other in Port Talbot, just a few miles from his planned Swansea docks site.
Something Clive Hughes was quoted as saying hints at where I’m going with this example. He said, “I have been fortunate to have enjoyed successful multi-million-pound businesses all over the world – however, I have never been treated so badly as in my home county”.
How do we explain this curious tale of Welsh agencies refusing to support indigenous enterprise while generously supporting foreign investment – to do exactly the same thing! In a word, colonialism. (Yes, I know the report mentions nimbyism and “opposition from residents”, but believe me, it goes way beyond that.)
Clive Hughes was wasting his time appealing to Carwyn Jones, who is just a figurehead for a form of sham devolution. Wales – as I have said time and time gain – is run by civil servants, invariably masquerading as ‘advisors’ to Carwyn and his gang of deadbeats, and these civil servants take their orders from London. The wisdom for some years in London has been that it is a good thing to ‘open up’ the UK to foreign investment, particularly from China. Once you know that, then it’s easy to understand why no Welsh businessman will be allowed to queer the pitch for Chinese and other foreign investors.
A further example of the colonial economy at work is often articulated as the question, ‘Isn’t it strange how Welsh people (insert here, Terry Matthews, Chris Evanset al, or Clive Hughes) have to leave Wales to be successful?’ Er, no, there’s nothing strange about it, for two very good reasons. First, too many successful Welsh businesspeople might give us natives silly ideas about our ability to do things for ourselves. Second, any successful Welsh business is almost bound to come into competition with English companies. Both are undesirable in a colonial set up.
Of course after making his money in Canada Matthews returned to Wales and built the very successful Celtic Manor resort outside Newport. But the Celtic Manor poses no threat to the colonial arrangement. To begin with, it does not really compete with English rivals in the way that a company chasing consumers in a competitive market would. In addition, with its NATO conferences and Ryder Cup golf tournaments, the Celtic Manor helps integrate Wales with England.
Note that in the piece I’ve linked to about Matthews, Michael Moritz is described as “the richest person in Wales”, which is stretching it a bit. He was certainly born in Cardiff, but left for the USA in his early twenties, made his fortune in Silicon Valley, and never returned. He still lives in San Francisco with his family. Perhaps the most successful business based in Wales, and the only one quoted in the FTSE 100, is Admiral Insurance, started up and still owned by Henry Engelhardt . . . from Chicago. Which is fine, because it confirms that the Welsh must have outsiders to provide them with work.
Let’s end with another feature of the colonial economy, and again, something that draws bewildered comment from people who refuse to see the system controlling the economic life of Wales. I’m referring now to the phenomenon of successful Welsh companies being taken over by larger companies before they can grow too big, with this often resulting in redundancies or even closure of the now subsidiary Welsh operation. If you don’t understand why this happens then you haven’t been paying attention.
The Roman system of coloniae settled army veterans and their families in conquered territories and border regions, and was employed for two main reasons. First, to keep an eye on the natives and, if necessary, confront any insurgency until the army arrived. Second, coloniae spread the use of the Latin language and Roman ways of doing things.
This example of settling people from, or loyal to, the ruling country in recently conquered territories and colonies is one that has been imitated globally down to the present day. The British have done it across the world, even to Christian European populations. There was the Irish Plantation, the ‘repopulating’ of eastern Canada after the expulsion of the Acadians (Cajuns), and the flooding of the independent republic of Transvaal with British settlers once it was realised that the land beneath the Boers’ feet contained gold and diamonds.
In more recent times, France sees a steady exodus of loyal French people to Tahiti, New Caledonia, Guadeloupe, Martinique and other specks in the ocean in the hope that these emigres will help the natives see the benefit of maintaining ties with France. While on a bigger scale, and in a much more brutal fashion, China has created all sorts of incentives for Han Chinese to settle in, with the intention of dominating, Tibet and Xinjiang.
So why be surprised that Wales has been undergoing a process of colonisation since the 1960s? A process that has taken many forms, some so bleeding obvious you wonder how they got away with it.
Take the Development Board for Rural Wales, an agency set up – so we were told – to stem the depopulation of the five central counties of Montgomeryshire, Cardiganshire, Merionethshire, Breconshire and Radnorshire. It operated by paying English companies to relocate to central Wales, with their workforces (all paid for), while spending many more millions building thousands of new houses for this influx. And while all this cash was being showered on English companies local firms could not apply for a penny of DBRW funding. As blatant a colonisation strategy as Mother England has ever deployed. But Welsh politicians, media, and others still applauded every relocation as ‘New jobs coming to —————‘.
Many countries pay companies to set up in areas needing employment, but I have never come across another case like the DBRW, where a state paid firms to transfer lock stock and barrel, plus workers, to another area. It makes no sense, until you see it for what it was – plain, unvarnished colonisation.
The colony of Wales also serves as a receptacle for those who are not making a contribution to the common weal in England. Those in this category range from geriatrics to young criminals and drug addicts. To the point where in some areas of Wales – such as where I live – two-thirds of the over 65s were born in England. But, hey! looking after old people is a ‘growth industry’.
If it’s not wrinklies then it’s a feckless white underclass. Some towns have been almost destroyed by this phenomenon, and none have come closer to implosion than Rhyl. This link reports a story of a woman living in Rhyl sent down after police found a dead body and a stash of heroin in her flat. An everyday story of Rhyl folk.
When it’s not drug addicts then it’s paedophiles. So many such deviants from over the border are now turning up in Wales that it just has to be organised, perhaps by the Probation Service. I have written about this problem before, one of the most notorious recent cases was a whole gang of paedophiles relocated from London to Kidwelly. Read about it and other cases. Within the past few days I have learnt of two more paedophiles who, by some unspecified route, arrived in Wales. This one in Ciliau Aeron and this one in Llanbadarn Fawr.
In the great colonialist scheme of things it really doesn’t matter whether those coming into Wales are sweet old dears straight out of an Ealing comedy or dangerous perverts, they all make their contribution to skewing Welsh statistics in a way that is unflattering to us, put a strain on an already overburdened health service, and of course, make their contribution to anglicising Wales. ‘Poor Wales’, ‘Ageing Wales’, ‘Wales’ Drugs Problem’ writes Phil Space, and intones Jamie Owen, but no one has the balls to really investigate these issues and give us the truth.
But then, in a colony, the last thing you can expect is an honest media.
I can’t be absolutely certain when I first realised the media lies (maybe it was when I was first lied about), but the reporting of the Balkan wars in the 1990s was something of a watershed because that coverage was not simply a lie here and there, or some vague and ill-defined bias, it was an unwavering adherence to a propaganda line originating in the Pentagon.
Done in pursuit of a strategic objective dictating that Jugoslavia should be dismembered and Russia’s Serb allies at the core of that State be internationally isolated. To achieve this objective the fascist Croats of the Ustaše, and the gangster Albanians in the Kosovo Liberation Army, were depicted as knights in shining armour, while a blind eye was turned to foreign jihadists killing Serbs in Bosnia, leaving us to focus solely on the beastly Serbs, the only ones guilty of any atrocities.
Obviously, when dealing with ‘internal’ matters the UK media is different, but even here, the bias has long been unmistakable, and especially in television. Just about everyone has noticed the recent plethora of programmes with titles beginning ‘Great British’, in fact, it’s become so obvious that it’s something of a joke. A regular orgy of cringe-worthy ‘patriotism’, on sets bedecked with union flags, and all done in the hope of persuading Scots and other disaffected minorities that it don’t get no better than singing the worst national anthem on earth.
While on another level we see some elements of the BBC – Newsnight comes to mind – becoming almost schizophrenic in their desire to maintain their Left-liberal bias while simultaneously following the BritNat line in the hope of pandering to those in the Tory party who wish to dismantle the Beeb. Though in its coverage of the Scottish independence referendum last year all pretence at impartiality went out the window for the BBC in general, and Newsnight in particular.
Here in Wales, with its recent acquisition of the Evening Post, we have Trinity Mirror taking a stranglehold on the ‘Welsh’ print media. We can now look forward to Swansea’s daily paper, the largest selling Welsh daily, being written in Cardiff. And why not? With the political and economic life of the country being centralised on the capital like some tin-pot dictatorship it makes perfect sense.
Our self-styled ‘National Newspaper of Wales’ is now little more than a desperate amalgam of showbiz news, columnists nobody reads, sport, and a daily promotion of all things Cardiff. To the extent that a new restaurant opening, or a celebrity being spotted in the city, somehow becomes a news item that Llais Y Sais deludes itself will be of interest to people in other parts of Wales. No wonder so few people outside of the Cardiff area buy the bloody thing.
Perhaps the best way to explain how this Cardiff-obsessive system operates is by introducing that famous bullshit duet the Barry Brothers. Mark Barry runs M&G Barry Consulting and gets paid to promote the Metro system and other projects designed to further enrich Cardiff at the expense of the rest of Wales, while brother Siôn is the Business Editor for Media Wales, which of course covers the Wasting Mule. So Mark Barry’s clients tell him what they want promoted, he passes ready-made promos on to brother Siôn, who ensures that they appear in Llais y Sais as ‘news’! This is how low ‘journalism’ in Wales has sunk.
In the panel below (click to enlarge) you’ll see a piece by Siôn Barry that appeared in the Western Mail on Monday (23.11.2015). I’m using it because it brings together a couple of the points I’m making in this post. First, we have another successful Welsh company being taken over. This company is based in Swansea, but it’s left to a spokesperson for the company to tell us that.
Because the purpose of this business news report is to give a plug to “Cardiff-based business advisory firm Greenaway Scott”. Something Siôn Barry does quite regularly. Here in May 2013, March 2015, May 2015, and there may be other write-ups by Barry that I’ve missed. Puffs for this company have certainly appeared on Media Wales attributed to others. Would a law firm in any other part of Wales get so much free publicity? So how do we explain it – is Greenaway Scott a client of M&G Barry Consulting? And if so, why is Trinity Mirror allowing the Wasting Mule to be used in this way? Whatever the answer, this is not journalism.
On the television front, S4C looks to be on its last legs as the Tories consider that if its funding is withdrawn no one will complain other than those with a vested interest in so doing. There certainly won’t be any protests of the kind that brought the channel into existence.
ITV Wales continues to plod along, a curate’s egg of a channel ranging from the engaging Adrian Masters to reporters and newsreaders who look and sound as if they’d have trouble locating Aberystwyth if they were dropped on top of Constitution Hill.
While over at the Talfan Davies patrimony things get weirder and weirder. The Monday following the Paris outrages Wales Today carried a piece about Islamophobia! Over a hundred people were dead in Paris, killed by Muslim extremists, yet for BBC Wales the real horror was that some Welsh person might say something nasty to a Muslim! Rarely in a human lifetime does one encounter such a corrupted sense of values, such an absence of proportion. The interviewee, living in mortal fear of being shouted at, claimed to have previously been subjected to abuse, but this must of course have happened before the Paris massacres. She was shrouded from head to foot with just a slit for her eyes, so I suppose she could have been an actress. I began to wonder if this interview had been in the can for a while, just waiting for the next killing spree.
Something becoming more regularly noticeable on BBC Wales is the adherence to the Question Time dictum – ‘When in Wales, listen only to English opinions’. Because even when reporting on news items from the Swansea Valley and similar places with very few English residents BBC Wales will find those English residents, and interview them, ignoring locals. There is an echo here of the British media’s attitude when working abroad – find someone to interview who speaks English, even if that person knows sod all about the issue being covered.
In other areas BBC Wales follows the ‘Great British’ line, and few do it more loyally than Jason Mohammad. His recent interview with Plaid Cymru leader Leanne Wood is a gem of its kind. But then, his ‘ethnic’ background, the fact that he speaks Welsh (but is a devoted Brit), makes ‘Jase’ an absolute treasure who will do anything for the cause. Hang on, it wasn’t him in the niqab, was it?
It is beneficial to the UK economy because – seeing as Wales is tied to England – most of the money spent by tourists in Wales will find its way to England in the form of taxes, payments to suppliers, etc.
‘Welsh’ tourism provides thousands of business opportunities for English people thanks to their greater purchasing power coupled with the unwillingness of some Welsh to engage in the prostitution of their homeland.
Tourism attracts a few million English tourists to Wales every year, many of whom decide to settle here. And even if they don’t immediately settle, then they might buy a little place to use as a holiday home.
Nothing is anglicising Wales faster and more comprehensively than tourism and the colonisation that is its inevitable corollary and consequence. This explains why tourism is being forced on us as ‘the economic salvation of rural Wales’.
Yet we Welsh are expected to accept all this in return for a few thousand low paid, seasonal jobs, and a pat on the head accompanied by, ‘You Welsh should be so grateful that all these English people come here’.
Wales in 2015 is a land being ripped apart, with a national identity under the kind of pressure it is unlikely to survive.
Our former mining valleys are now among the poorest and most wretched areas of Europe. But, due to the low property prices – among the lowest in the UK – we can predict that the Valleys will see more bail hostels and properties housing persons and groups that English communities are glad to see the back of. And the ‘Welsh’ Government – plus local politicians – will welcome this, because appearances are everything, and anything looks better than derelict houses and a rapidly declining population.
Our rural and coastal areas have been condemned to serve as recreation and retirement areas for our neighbours because, ‘There’s nothing else around here, is there?’. No of course there isn’t, not after decades of allowing the rural economy to decline, and doing nothing to bring in decent employment, for local people.
And while the Welsh population is engineered into decline, in both rural and urban areas, a new, replacement population is encouraged to move in, not least through building new homes that Welsh people either cannot afford or else will not be allocated. ‘Oh look! the population of Wales is rising – things must be good there’.
And while this social engineering goes on older forms of exploitation persist. English cities steal our water resources, but it’s justifiable we are told because these cities built the dams. Mmm, try going to Iran and claiming the oil because the original infrastructure was built by the Anglo-Persian Oil Company.
Wales is a colony of England, and we Welsh are still bottom of the pile. The only Welsh who make it – outside certain spheres such as sport and entertainment – are those who submit, or those who collaborate with the colonialist system.
You reading this can either accept this system, or you can fight it; but let no one – certainly not the professional liars in politics and the media – pretend that our relationship with England is anything other than colonial, and designed to eventually destroy Welsh identity.
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.
Thus far, this has been a stultifying election campaign enlivened only by the glorious promise of the SNP destroying the Labour Party in Scotland and then regaining Scotland’s independence. Here in Wales independence is a dream shared by only a few, so we are reduced to taking solace in sideshows and distractions, with explains why I’m reporting here on the two curious incidents, or the two-act farce, in Ceredigion.
First there was the disgraceful smear against Plaid candidate Mike Parker mounted (or fronted) by the Cambrian News, a rag with a long-standing policy of publishing anonymous or fake anti-Welsh letters and, in my area, serving as a mouthpiece for lodge and golf club to rail against ‘the council’ (code for Plaid Cymru) ‘neglecting’ south Meirionnydd. Complaints from men who argue for smaller local authorities on the grounds that these would be more ‘democratic’ when what they really want are councils run by . . . well, men like them, handing out planning permissions willy-nilly to each other’s friends and families.
I have no wish to deal with the Cambrian News at any length, so let me try to explain it briefly for anyone unfamiliar with the tale. Mike Parker, the Plaid Cymru candidate in Ceredigion, is an Englishman who, some fifteen years ago, wrote a book in which he said that a number of the English who move to Wales are white flight racists. This suggestion would encourage much head-nodding among the Cambrian News‘ readership so, in order to damage Parker, the story had to be spiced up to the point where the headline screamed: ‘Incomers are ‘Nazis’, says would-be MP’. Clearly implying that Mike Parker is an intolerant, if not unhinged, individual who believes that all English people moving to Wales are followers of Adolf Hitler.
The fact that Mike Parker never even used the term ‘Nazi’ was irrelevant. The use of it by the Cambrian News and others has been justified on the grounds that ‘this is what Parker meant’, or, ‘there can be no other interpretation of Parker’s reference to “Final Solution crackpots”‘. Both wrong. First, attacking someone for what they have written is one thing, but once people start guessing what writers meant, then accusers are on very shaky legal ground. Second, if you read what Mike Parker wrote in Planet in 2001, especially his comparison of rural Wales with those western states of the USA that attract anti-federal government militias, it becomes obvious that the full sentence “To some extent, rural Wales has become the British equivalent of the American mountains (that are) inhabited by a sprinkling of paranoid conspiracy theorists, gun-toting Final Solution crackpots and anti-government obsessives” can only be referring to the USA. (My parenthesis.) Mike Parker is definitely not saying that rural Wales contains small armies of English nutters living in encampments and stockades. Which fatally undermines the excuse given for the use of ‘Nazis’.
The chorus of outrage and condemnation inevitably contained Labour voices. Among them was the dulcet tenor of Peter ‘the Great’ Hain, who repeated the word ‘Nazi’. Alistair Campbell, Tony Blair’s propaganda chief also joined in, before recanting. One contribution came from Parker’s Labour rival, Huw Thomas, a councillor in Cardiff but originally from Ceredigion. Young Huw was outraged by the alleged anti-English sentiment expressed by Parker (himself English, remember!). He fulminated, “These outrageous and deeply offensive remarks are exactly the sort of poisonous rhetoric you’d expect from Ukip, not a party that claims to be progressive and left wing. There should be no place in our politics or our society for such divisive and hateful language. As a Cardi to my core, I’m proud that Wales and Ceredigion have a history of welcoming people from across this island and across the world. These comments are totally at odds with the Ceredigion I know and love.”All good stuff, though I’d recommend that Huw Thomas downplays the “Cardi to my core” bit, Labour’s supporters in Aber Uni and elsewhere might not like being reminded that their candidate is one of the natives.
While all this was going on that Greek bloke Hu Bris must have been lurking close by, hand cupped to his shell-like because, within days, it was Labour’s turn to squirm as the election in Ceredigion took a bizarre twist with revelations about the saintly and ‘welcoming’ Huw Thomas. It came to light that Huw had, during the 2006 World Cup, been much vexed by the proliferation in Ceredigion of cars flaunting England flags. His answer to the problem, aired on a Welsh language website, was to use Tipp-Ex correcting fluid to mimic “bird poo”! (Yes, I know, very weird.) Thomas was forced to admit his silliness, but rather than leave it at that Labour luminaries rallied around, trying to turn this minor disaster in an unwinnable seat into a national triumph, arguing that this was how an apology should be made – in contrast to the unashamedly unapologetic Mike Parker! The Labour Assembly Member for the Rhondda, Leighton Andrews, made himself look really stupid with a couple of tweets to which I couldn’t resist replying. (Click to enlarge.) Now I’m blocked from Porky’s Twitter account as well. These Labour politicos are so sensitive!
What a to-do, eh, boys and girls! So have we learnt anything from all this thud and blunder? Well, if nothing else, the Cambrian News has told us what a disgusting, anti-Welsh rag it is, and why it should be boycotted. BBC Wales, whose newsreaders can’t be bothered to properly pronounce Welsh place names, reminded us that, just like the Secretary of State for Wales, it is the voice of London in Wales. But for me, the real lesson is that when we clear away the party politicking, the posturing and the propaganda it becomes obvious that Parker and Thomas were in fact dealing with the same problem, and agreeing. That this important fact will be ignored by the ‘Welsh’ media tells us all we need to know about its colonial nature.
Mike Parker was saying that there are some very ugly specimens among the English in rural Wales, racists, bigots, and “Little Englanders”. Talking of the England flags that so irked him, Huw Thomas wrote, “It truly shows the degree our society has been infiltrated by incomers who are not ready to integrate. Very often, from what I see, some flying English flags are young people, who have been brought up in Wales, but who are loyal to England”. Elsewhere Thomas refers to such people as “chavs” and “casual racists”. Both men are talking about the influx into rural Wales of people for whom Wales is just a western extension of England, some enlarged Cornwall with even ‘funnier’ names.
What’s more, the English colon isn’t a demon conjured up by Parker and Thomas, for he’s introduced himself to others, as this account by Martin Shipton in the Western Mail makes clear, ‘Like Mr Parker, I was once approached in a pub in rural Wales by an Englishman whose opening conversational gambit was: “Isn’t it great here without any f****** P****?”’ And if you’re the type of English person who is intolerant of other identities, then Welsh is just another non-English identity. The mistake that’s been made – especially by the professional ‘anti-fascists’ of the Left – has been to focus on Nick Griffin and other high-profile individuals – but they were never the problem! (Here’s Shipton’s piece on the Thomas revelation.)
So Mike Parker and Huw Thomas were both talking honestly of English colonisation. That taboo subject that will draw accusations of ‘racism’ against anyone who dares raise it. Making it almost a contemporary Welsh version of The Emperor’s New Clothes . . . but in this version the small boy who blurts out the truth gets run through with a pike. The fact that ‘racism’ has been used so consistently and over such a long period should make it obvious that those behind this tactic will not be found in the offices of local weekly rags, or at BBC ‘Wales’. This denial of rational debate is UK State policy, as is English colonisation itself.
I was warned on Monday . . . someone had seen a tweet by Phil Parry who runs the WalesEye blog, that home to ‘exclusives’ and ‘revelations’ that are so exclusively revelatory that you must pay to read them. There was to be yet another piece on that poor, persecuted soul Jacques Protic, still living in fear of assorted assassination squads. (I can scarcely believe I’m writing this crap, but it’s what Parry and Protic want you to believe.) Read it for yourself, here or below:
This latest offering is obviously a re-heating of what has previously been served up, more than once, with Parry now hoping to disguise just how stale and overcooked the whole thing has become by adding thimblefuls of fresh ingredients. It hasn’t worked. (For those unfamiliar with this epic, here’s a recent post of mine from which it can be traced back.)
The first ‘thimbleful’ is the news that “A critic of Welsh language education has been assigned police protection after his life was threatened, Wales Eye can reveal. Jacques Protic, who lives in North Wales, was given a dedicated police officer to monitor possible law-breaking. Threats on Mr Protic’s life are constant and in one recent incident a telephone caller said: “I’m going to do your fucking head in”.
So Parry wants us to believe that Protic now has his very own copper, though there’s a contradiction in the opening sentences. The first, with its reference to “police protection”, conjures up an image of 24-hour armed guards. Yet the second deflates that effect with, “a dedicated police officer to monitor possible law-breaking”. In other words, some unlucky sod who’s been given the thankless task of returning Protic’s phone calls.
Something else that’s very odd about this ‘news’ is that the alleged threat against Protic was made – as Phil Parry himself has previously told us – after a post of mine in August 2013, so this is not “a recent incident”, as Parry now wants us to believe. And there have obviously been no further ‘threats’, for if there had been then Parry would have regaled us with every detail . . . in a revelatory and paywalled ‘Exclusive!‘ So why has it taken North Wales Police a year and a half to respond to this single, alleged, ‘threat’? Jacques Protic could have been dead and buried by now, lynched by a mob of crazed Eisteddfodwyr, or maybe shot by a Day of the Jackal-style hit-man hired by Cymdeithas yr Iaith. The fact that no one has said ‘Boo!‘ to Protic for eighteen months also undermines Parry’s hyperbolic “Threats on Mr Protic’s life are constant”. He just can’t help being a journo, can he?
Parry then goes on to remind his readers (there must be some!) what a frightful fellow I am, supporting the Free Wales Army, and using my blog to show 50-year-old photographs of men who are all now dead. Perhaps worse, I’ve called Parry and his friend Shipton, chief reporter over at Llais y Sais (who doubles as Parry’s researcher), all sorts of horrid names. I am also condemned for promoting this petition on social housing. Though he neglects to remind us that Llais y Sais was forced to issue a correction on February 28th after repeating some of his earlier lies about me. How could this fact have slipped the mind of such a meticulous and conscientious journalist?
Apart from the ludicrous suggestion that Jacques Protic now has his own police protection unit there are just two other ‘thimblefuls’ in Parry’s latest outgushing that differentiate it from his earlier ventures into character assassination. First, he tells us that I have now been placed by the police on a “security watch-list”. If this actually means anything then I’d be grateful to have my new status explained. Second, in previous Wales Eye posts Parry has not hesitated to name the unfortunate young copper who was, allegedly, reprimanded for not properly investigating the Protic complaint, but now Parry has come over all coy and refers to the officer as “Pc xxx”! (Yes, ‘Pc’.) Has somebody had a word in Parry’s shell-like?
Though as ever when I’m dealing with these people there is unintentional humour. Protic is quoted in the latest Wales Eye post referring to North Wales’ finest as “buggers” for not taking him seriously, for not believing in the bogeymen he sees all around. Now for all I know, ‘buggers’ may be Serbo-Croat for fine upstanding fellows, then again, it might not. If it means what I think it means, and if it typifies his attitude when dealing with the police, then I’m not surprised they’re loath to take Protic seriously.
Though if Protic is no longer “involving the (police)”, how come they have just given him, according to Parry, “a dedicated police officer”? This suggests Protic is either lying or else he is being given protection without his knowledge. But if Protic is ignorant of what’s being done on his behalf, how does Parry know – does he have a hotline to GogPlod HQ in Bae Colwyn? Or is he making this up as he goes along? You know, I feel quite ashamed of myself for even thinking such a thing. (Slaps wrist.)
No matter what the answer, I shouldn’t even be writing about Protic, because these attacks on me from Wales Eye and the Wasting Mule are not really in defence of Jacques Protic, and something I wrote going on two years ago? Parry and Shipton couldn’t give a toss about Protic, he’s just an excuse to get at me. So why am I a target? Because I attack the Labour Party, its sponging cronies in the Third Sector, and all the other manifestations of colonial Wales. The system Parry and Shipton support and defend.
So I confidently expect more attacks in future, because when it comes to putting the boot into the Labour Party, and exposing the system of sham devolution that ‘Welsh’ Labour is happy to front, I’m just getting warmed up.
UPDATE 26.03.2015: I am indebted to D I for leading me to the Samizdata blog, previously unknown to me, and a posting entitled, ‘What do the Maori and Welsh languages have in common?’ by Essex girl ‘Natalie Solent’. According to Natalie, and to most of those commenting, what the two languages have in common is that both are being forced down people’s throats using lots of public money. Sound familiar?
It should come as no surprise therefore to learn that among those commenting is Jacques Protic. I have collected up his comments and present them here for your judgement. (Click to enlarge or right click to open in a new window.) Among the lunacies flying from the Protic keyboard is that, “Everything that matter (sic) or should matter in Wales, Education, NHS, Economy and so on is in terminal decline and largely down to the Welsh language imposition”.
He goes on to tell Samizdata of the death threats against him, how it is almost impossible for anglophones to get public sector jobs in Wales, how Cardiff is “under siege” from Welsh speakers, how his little girl “was got at by few Y Fro arrogant parents”, etc., etc. Protic also tells us his 16-year-old son is a pupil of Ysgol John Bright in Llandudno, but D I tells me that on his Facebook page Protic says that his son is a pupil at Ysgol David Hughes.
To fully appreciate the almost unique combination of ignorance and bigotry on show in both the article and the comments you have to read it for yourself. Here’s the link again. When you do, you’ll run across a number of comments from ‘J Jones’. Now I am 99.9% certain that this is Protic by another name. If not; if there is a J Jones (sometimes Jon Jones), then he and Protic must be telepathic, for they always turn up on the same blog, and are always in full agreement, quoting from and complimenting (and complementing) each other, as we see on Samizdata.
The more I think about Protic, the less sure I am who and what he is. He lives on Ynys Môn, almost certainly in Porthaethwy. We know this from him standing for the Aethwy ward in the council elections of May 2013. Yet I am told that he works over the border and drops his children off at school in Llandudno, Conwy, in the hope of them escaping the Welsh language education systems of Ynys Môn and Gwynedd. Which must make for a long day, leaving home well before 8 am and getting home at around 6 or 7 pm. Yet he still finds time to submit his odious opinions to countless blogs, using God knows how many names, and most of them timed during the working day! In addition to which he has time to seek out information he thinks useful from countless sources, just look at the links he provides in his comments to Samizdata, to the BBC and even Hansard (from an obscure House of Lords debate in 1958!).
It’s almost as if attacking the Welsh language and those who speak it is his full-time job, and even that he has assistance. Don’t laugh! because it doesn’t matter what we think of him; when he makes his contributions on Samizdata and countless other blogs and outlets we know nothing about there will be many reading them who’ll believe his insane distortions. Then we have Phil Parry and others playing their part, depicting him as a martyr, and that “Threats on Mr Protic’s life are constant”. There could be more going on here than we realise.
UPDATE 02.04.2015: Realising that his previous post on ‘under-threat’ Jacques Protic was just regurgitated nonsense Phil Parry knew he had to come up with something more recent. It arrived in his post of March 31st (though it would have been more appropriate if he’d left it for a day).
It seems that someone commenting on the Samizdata blog (see above, Update 26.03.2015) ‘threatened’ Protic, and this resulted in North Wales Police assigning 30 armed detectives to the case! OK, I’m exaggerating, but the lone copper Parry claims is one too many. Read the thing for yourself. The ‘threat’, from someone signing as ‘Arrango’ says, “As for you Jacques, your time is coming”. Now as threats go, this one is rather ambiguous – and it doesn’t even end with an exclamation mark! It could even be predicting a Lottery win or some other piece of good fortune. If GogPlod has really chosen to interpret this as a threat on Protic’s life, and is wasting police time and public money on it, then somebody needs to have a word.
As for Parry himself, well, I’m almost beginning to feel sorry for him, especially as I understand now how Wales Eye works. It was started in order to run propaganda against opponents of the Labour Party and also to put out stories that Parry’s friends in the Cardiff media bubble are afraid to break themselves, from fear of legal action or of alienating the powerful. Once Parry has put these stories ‘in the public domain’ this allows Shipton and others to run with them, now quoting Parry. It’s all there in the early postings. And the Wales Eye Twitter timeline also gives plenty of clues as to the nature of the beast.
Such as the great WRU scoop stopped by the threat of legal action. Neither the Beeb nor Llais y Sais would dare be first to use such a story . . . but if Parry could oblige by breaking it for them then that would let them off the hook. Rhun ap Iorwerth was another who came in for a lot of attention around the time he was leaving the BBC to stand for Plaid Cymru in the Ynys Môn by-election of August 1st, 2013. Much of what Parry wrote about the Plaid candidate could only have come from inside BBC ‘Wales’. (Though it also betrays a certain personal animus.) Some of it was crude and racist, but it’s what we expect from ‘Welsh’ Labour and those who push its message. Then, in researching my most recent post, about nepotism and the Labour Party, I noticed that Parry had written about the Business School at Swansea University, then, making it obvious how the relationship works, Shipton wrote up the same story in the Wasting Mule.
Phil Parry is no more than a kept man, reliant for his ‘exclusives’ on what his friends feed him, these being stories they prefer – for whatever reason – not to use themselves, or not until he has put them in the public domain. Or else attacking Labour’s political opponents – Plaid Cymru more than others – in ways that the mainstream media could not get way with, not least because of the crude racism, and blind hostility to the Welsh language. All very squalid, but no more than we have come to expect from the Labour Party in Wales and the Cardiff media bubble.
I first came across the name of Alistair Moffat when I read his book Arthur and the Lost Kingdoms, in which he suggests that his native Kelso may be the capital of the obscure Hen Ogledd kingdom of Calchfynydd, and there is much to recommend it. There is even a Chalkheugh Terrace. More intriguing is the mound and few remaining ruins of Roxburgh castle (which first appears in the written record in 1107 as ‘Marchidun’, which could be Old Welsh for something like ‘cavalry fort’), a natural defensive position close to the confluence of the rivers Tweed and Teviot, just outside the modern town.
Amazingly, no archaeological work has ever been undertaken on this site of national importance due to the fact that the Duke of Roxburghe, on whose estate the ruins lie, forbids digging. He may even set the dogs on anyone looking remotely like an archaeologist. The Duke’s palatial castle of Floors can be seen in the photograph across the Tweed from the old castle and burgh of Roxburgh / Marchidun, which often served early medieval Scotland as an informal ‘capital’. (Click to enlarge.) If I was that Nicola Sturgeon I’d be on the old dog and bone in no time, ‘Oi, Dukey, I’m sending some boys down to do a bit of digging – don’t get in the way!’ But perhaps that’s not her style.
About six or seven years ago the wife and I were on holiday in the Borders (I often take her with me) and we visited Floors Castle. A party of us was shown around by what I took to be a faithful family retainer, who gave us the rehearsed spiel, and eventually came to the bit about the then Earl of Roxburghe being elevated in 1707 to Duke of Roxburghe. I was too polite, and hungover, to start singing Parcel of Rogues but the significance of the date was not lost on me. Yet his descendant denies access to an important centre of post-Roman Britain; one that might even be connected to Arthur. Why would he do that?
I have digressed too long with Alistair Moffat’s book, with which I broadly agree, despite its flaws. If ‘Arthur’ existed, then I believe he would have come from the Roman-trained military elite of the land between Hadrian’s wall and the territory of the Picts, the frontier zone and ‘trip-wire’ to any incursion from the north. Regrettably, Alistair Moffat’s latest venture into the Welsh past is less commendable.
I’m referring now to Cymru DNA Wales, a series to be broadcast on S4C with its ‘findings’ already being reported in what passes for our national print media (Trinity Mirror). As the website puts it: “This is a project with an epic ambition – nothing less than the discovery of the ancestral genome of a nation.” So which respected scientific institution is carrying out this research? Well, actually, it’s The Moffat Partnership Ltd, set up in 1999 by the eponymous Alistair Moffat, whose background is in journalism and television. His company has already ‘investigated’ Scotland’s DNA, and Ireland’s DNA, even Yorkshire’s DNA! and now it’s our turn to get screwed researched.
For this is a crude, money-making exercise dressed up as ‘science’, using Welsh celebrities in order to get Dai and Delyth Public to part with £250 each (£200 using the vouncher off the website!) in the hope of discovering that they are descended from Owain Glyndŵr or Nest. The whole thing is, as we respectable geneticists are wont to say, a load of old bollocks, that abuses advances in understanding human makeup while also capitalising on the current fad for tracing one’s roots. But don’t believe me, read what Private Eye has to say in the panel on the right (click to enlarge).
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not knocking DNA research and what it can achieve. If it helps solve crime, then fine; if it can be used in anthropology and other fields, then all well and good; if it can unravel the reasons for certain medical conditions then, with reservations, I’ll support that too, but I draw the line at it being used as a high tech (and expensive) parlour game for the twenty-first century.
We have already been told that Gwaun Cae Gurwen’s own Gareth Edwards has DNA from central Europe and the Volga region; Dafydd Iwan is linked to Romano-Welsh aristocracy; Siân Lloyd is related to Tsar Nicholas II; while Bryn Terfel – who is, we are told, comfortable singing in German – has Rhineland roots. It’s only a matter of time before it is exclusively revealed that Jason Mohammad is descended from Penclawdd cockle-pickers. That’s what it’s all about; use celebs, and make sure that the ‘findings’ elicit the ‘Well fancy that!’ response that might persuade Dai and Delyth to cough up £500 become involved with this ground-breaking research..
As someone quoted in the Private Eye piece says, “There is no genetic marker for nationality”. Which is true. If we look at central Europe, where populations have swirled and been displaced for centuries, we can find Magyars with the same genetic markers as Czechs; while the Prussians, those hate figures from an earlier era, held up as the embodiment of the Germans’ aggressive tendencies, were in reality Germanised Balts.
Another example, one I have used in the past, is that of Serbs, Croats and Bosnian Muslims. They speak the same language and at one time were a single people, but over the centuries the adoption of different religions led to a widening gulf between them, to the point where they can quite happily butcher others sharing the same DNA. Or maybe this earlier, apparently homogenous and undivided group, didn’t share the same DNA.
So while it’s possible to identity the gene that gives red hair, going beyond that to say, ‘You are Welsh because of this gene’ is nonsense. Which is why it’s sad to see S4C mixed up in this, with so many vultures circling. As for the others, well, celeb trivia like this – when not attacking innocent bloggers (sob!) – is now the staple at Llais y Sais because it’s easier than having to deal with real news, or focus on anything happening outside of Cardiff.
Anyway, DNA testing is soooo yesterday. The coming thing is phrenology. So send me £5,000 and I will dispatch a team of my highly-trained technicians to take lots of measurements of your head and tell you everything about yourself. You want to be descended from Julius Caesar? We can arrange that! You want to be the rightful heir to the throne of the pharaohs? Leave it to us – we’ll even provide the paperwork in hieroglyphics! Of course, we’ll resist the temptation to tell you the most important thing about yourself – that you’re very, very gullible.
UPDATE 10:45: I am indebted to Terry Breverton for this link, proving that I am not the only one with serious reservations about this whole project.
FURTHER UPDATES: Here are a couple of links to other postings about Cymru DNA Wales I’ve been made aware of, both in Welsh. Here’s cymru fyw; and the Syndod blog.
UPDATE 12.06.2015: This piece appeared in Private Eye No 1394 June 12
UPDATE 27.11.2015: In the first update I supplied a link to the Cruwys News blog, based in Devon, and written by Debbie Kennett. I can now link to another post by Ms Kennett following the transmission on S4C last Sunday of the latest ‘findings’. It’s worth reading because where my forte lies in sniffing out shysters, charlatans and scammers, Ms Kennett really does know about DNA.
Things came to a head recently with Plaid Glyndŵr’s petition on social housing, for which I provide a link in my sidebar. The assault started with a strange tweet from Martin Shipton, chief reporter at Llais y Sais, on the afternoon of January 26th, asking for my phone number in order to discuss “your housing petition”. When I received the Shipton tweet I was unaware of the Wales Eye piece, because of course it hadn’t yet appeared, so I innocently and helpfully tweeted Shipton back, explaining my relationship with the petition.
Overnight the Wales Eye article by Phil Parry was published saying, “A website which urges a policy of Welsh homes only for Welsh people has been reported to the police for inciting racial hatred, Wales Eye can reveal”. Martin Shipton said the same thing in the Western Mail / WalesOnline, and despite what I’d told him, he began his piece with, “The Wales Eye news website discloses that the Jac O’the North blog has been reported to South Wales Police after launching a petition” Significantly, perhaps, the WalesOnline article soon became (and remains) unavailable.
In the hope of getting redress I contacted the legal department of Trinity Mirror, the company that owns Llais y Sais, on Februay 2nd. On the 25th I received an e-mail from a Paul Mottram, which said:
“I refer to your complaint dated 2nd February and apologise for the late reply.
The Western Mail has obtained a statement from the police saying the following: ‘South Wales Police was contacted by a member of the public who was concerned at the language used in a blog posted under the name of ‘jacothenorth’.
The content of the blog was scrutinised and no offence was committed.
The reporting person has been spoken to and given assurances that no criminality has taken place’.
Media Wales would be happy to publish the fact that no offence was committed on the walesonline website to resolve this issue.
If that is satisfactory, I will arrange for it to be published.”
Eventually Mottram and I agreed on the wording that appeared on the WalesOnline website on Friday the 27th of February and on page 2 of the following day’s edition of the Wasting Mule. You can read both on the left (click to enlarge).
You may find the synchronicity in this episode noteworthy, for the Wales Eye piece by Parry was posted on Tuesday, January 27, and the WalesOnline version was timed at 06:30 on the same day. I should imagine that the Wales Eye piece appeared in the early hours, otherwise Shipton would have been quoting from a blog post that hadn’t yet appeared! There was obviously collusion, the proof being the tweet from Shipton asking about the petition. In fact, Shipton is almost acting as Parry’s researcher!
Yet the two accounts differ significantly in their conclusions. The Wales Eye piece, after relating – yet again! – the horrors endured by ultra bigot Jacques Protic, and how he was failed by GogPlod, ends thus:
“Now, it appears, the target of the Jac O’ the North website is incomers (presumably a reference to the Plaid Glyndŵr petition) and this has led to another police inquiry.
Perhaps this one will be the last.”
Whereas the WalesOnline article by Tub O’Lard ends like this:
“It is understood that South Wales Police will not forward the complaint about Mr Jones to the Crown Prosecution Service.”
So Shipton already knew that the police were not taking the complaint seriously when he wrote his piece, and seeing as he and Parry were collaborating so closely, Parry must also have known, but he chose not to say because to have done so would have undermined his attack on me. Worse, he pretends to believe that the complaint will lead to action resulting in the closing down of my blog, and yet . . .
Parry gives the game away that he knows the police have thrown out the complaint with the caption he attaches to the petition link he lifted from my blog. (My intellectual property.) For in it he says: “Petition calling for social housing for Welsh people which was investigated by the police”. Not is being investigated by the police but ‘was’. Clearly Parry knew when he wrote his nonsense that the police had thrown out the complaint. But maybe it didn’t matter. Maybe all that mattered was that a complaint had been made, which allowed Parry and Llais y Sais to write their libellous bollocks.
The lies written by Parry and Shipton referred specifically to the Plaid Glyndŵr petition, but if you look at the reply I got from Trinity Mirror, it reads: “The content of the blog was scrutinised (by police) and no offence was committed”. So if this really does mean the blog, rather than the petition, are we now talking of two complaints, or more than two? Worth asking because Parry also got his knickers in a twist over the old FWA photographs on my blog, with Shipton again acting as his ‘researcher’.
Yet despite him knowing, and finally admitting, that the police were not taking the original complaint against me seriously, Parry can’t resist upping the ante in his February 4th posting, Arms Race, with:
“An earlier probe by a Police Constable and Inspector of South Wales Police into alleged racism on the blog was aborted for lack of evidence.
But now the police have received more information after several complaints about inflammatory comments and decided to take action.
A complainant was contacted by a senior officer who said several similar protests were made to the police following the revelations about the petition and a decision has been reached to pursue the inquiry.”
What ‘racism’? Does he mean the petition? But the only group mentioned in the petition are the Welsh! ‘Inflammatory comments’. Does he really mean comments, things said by visitors to my blog? What possible ‘revelations’ could there be about a simple, self-explanatory, 21-word petition in plain English?
So if Phil Parry is to be believed (yes, I know), people are queuing up to report me to Plod! Rubbish of course, but still, we must consider the various possibilities here, which appear to be: 1/ South Wales Police misled Trinity Mirror, which means that the clarification published on Friday is unreliable. 2/ Phil Parry is privy to everything the police are doing and is therefore the only one who really knows what’s going on. 3/ Phil Parry is an obsessive fantasist who’s taken an intense dislike to me. 4/ Somebody is pulling Parry (and possibly Shipton’s) strings, and perhaps protecting Trinity Mirror’s interests by getting Parry to write the bilge leaving Llais y Sais able to argue that it’s merely relaying what someone else has written. Make up your own minds. If it helps, no police officer, from any force, has ever been in contact with me.
As I mentioned in a previous post, I submitted a Freedom of Information request to South Wales Police; it can be found here, together with the first page of the reply. Which says, in essence, ‘We can’t give you the informtion you request because that would breach your data protection rights’! There were a few other pages and a form for me to officially ask if they hold any information on me. But what’s the point, I’ve been through this rigmarole before with North Wales Police over the Protic allegations.
Looking at the four options I’ve posited above, I choose number four, because I can’t believe that Parry and Shipton believe what they’re writing. No rational and balanced individual could possibly think that a petition asking for social housing to be allocated (but not exclusively) to Welsh people ‘incites racial hatred’. And do they really believe that the authorities would be interested in photographs taken almost half a century ago of men who are now almost all dead! Or that those same authorities care that I knew these men? Or to put it another way, when it comes to my support for the FWA, or my respect for John Jenkins, do Parry and Shipton seriously believe that they’re telling the police, MI5, or anyone else, anything they haven’t known for decades? So why bother?
This is not journalists breaking stories, this is history lessons spiced up with lies, hyperbole and silly, time-wasting complaints to the police for a contemporary purpose. Another example of the desperation on display is Parry quoting my playful references to alcohol having been consumed in some of the scenes depicted in those 1960s photographs, as if this somehow damns me! Effectively saying, ‘Oh my God! look at this – a group of young men in the late ’60s, and they used to drink!’ What it really shows is that Phil Parry will use anything, however innocent or banal, in his pathetic and increasingly desperate attempts to blacken my name.
Consequently, the only conclusions I can draw are that either Parry and Shipton have lost all sense of proportion and the instinct for what makes a good story (in which case they shouldn’t be allowed near a keyboard), or that this is some kind of a silly game, in which they are no more than pawns.