If the title to this post makes you scoff, thinking that Wales has nothing in common with a large Mediterranean island controlled by gangsters, think again. Wales may not be a sun-blest isle; judges are not shot down in the street; and drug-trafficking is not (yet) the major industry, but if we stick to the corruption of political and public life then the comparison is valid.
The Mafia has been a powerful influence in Sicily for a long time, so long that its tentacles now reach into almost every aspect of Sicilian life. This allows it to corrupt public life on the island in its interests, and for the benefit of its members and followers. Here in Wales it’s the Labour Party that controls things, to its electoral gain and for the financial advantage, and status, of its members and supporters.
But the problem in Wales is made worse, and the corruption deepened, by Wales’ colonial relationship with England. This relationship ensures that the corruption often benefits English individuals, English companies and agencies. These agencies, in the form of charities, ‘social enterprises’ and other imaginative constructs, are collectively known as the Third Sector. They are linked, first, in their loyalty to the Labour Party; second, through many of their leaders being ‘graduates’ of Common Purpose, an organisation building power structures in public life designed to by-pass or ignore the democratic process. Common Purpose is pro EU and almost certainly shelters under the Bilderberg umbrella. I have written about these organisations recently.
Let us now look briefly at examples of how Wales suffers from the incestuous, corrupting relationship between the Labour Party, the Third Sector and Common Purpose.
The most celebrated case (to date) is that of AWEMA (All Wales Ethnic Minority Association). AWEMA was the creation of Labour Party stalwart Naz Malik of Swansea, but thanks to generous public funding he soon went national and was able to provide jobs for the whole Malik family. Nepotism, misuse of funds, bullying, sexual harassment, you name it, AWEMA had it all. Warnings were given – in 2003 and 2007 – to the Labour administration in Cardiff that things were not right at AWEMA, but these warnings were ignored.
Eventually, the resignation of Board members triggered the collapse of the Malik family empire. For family empire it had become. In addition to supporting the fruit of Naz’s loins AWEMA was also linked with his sister’s charity, Lynk Reach, and even operated – with Welsh public funding – in Kenya and Pakistan! In chronological order, my postings on AWEMA can be found here, here, here, here and here. Another major scandal, has been Plas Madoc in Wrecsam. In brief: the regeneration of a ‘troubled’ estate, and the funding that went with it, was entrusted to Miriam Beard, from Manchester, who brought her family with her and ensured they also benefited from Welsh largesse. (And quite a family, the Beards, such a gain for Wales.) The enduring mystery is why an unqualified woman like Miriam Beard was ever put in charge of this ‘flagship’ project. Connections, possibly with the Labour Party, seem the only explanation.
But not all these scandals see the light of day, as I have realised since blogging on AWEMA. For following the AWEMA revelations I was sent information about another ethnic minority charity, one specifically for women. The problem here – apart from the usual bullying – seems to be that the woman running the show is married to a man whose business interests overlap with those of the charity. This, predictably, leads to ‘confusion’ over what’s what. From available evidence, we can safely assume a Labour Party connection.
Changing tack slightly, in August I posted a blog about the Wales Rural Observatory. This is a group of English academics (with of course a token Welsh presence) that gets paid millions of pounds to dream up policies and initiatives for rural Wales, which the Welsh Government then presents as its own handiwork. And results in another fudge between the academic and business worlds. I support links between the worlds of academe and business; my objections kick in when the ‘businesses’ are reliant upon public funding, and Welsh interests are harmed.
- Penywaun Enterprise Partnership (PEP) in Aberdare, Rhondda Cynon Taf. Set up, with public funding, to revitalise one of the most deprived wards in the Valleys. The Labour luvvie entrusted with this task was Helen Boggis. When Ms Boggis decided to run for the council she seemed to forget that the staff and resources of PEP (a charity) could not be used in her campaign. But then, the boundaries between Labour and the Third Sector are so blurred it probably never occurred to her she was doing anything wrong.
- Or how about Rhondda Life Ltd, yet another ‘social enterprise’ that seems to have done little more than spend a few mill of public money to provide Ferndale with another watering hole and, in the process, run up considerable debts. The incestuousness of the system I’m describing is exemplified perfectly by telling you that the chief executive of Rhondda Life, the man who insisted there were no debts or other problems, just happens to be Travers Merrill, the ‘businessman’ referred to above, linked with the ethnic women’s charity, and the outfit ABESU. Merrill has also worked for the Cardiff Bay Development Corporation, as good a grounding as anyone could hope for in learning how to ‘draw down’ public funding. (Love that term!)
- My previous post dealt with another scandal in the Rhondda, the Penrhys wind farm scam regeneration project. This has seen a £40m contract go to a Labour Party member in England running a shell company that keeps moving – three known addresses in the past year! A sort of a hermit crab of a company!
- Another scandal currently breaking is the sale of assorted plots of Welsh Government-owned land for £21m to South Wales Land Developments which, despite the name, is based in Guernsey. Fronted by one Langley John Davies. A busy boy our Langley. Any of these companies ring a bell with anyone? One of them, Nemo Personal Finance Ltd is a money-lender with very poor reviews, making Langley Davies and his secret friends just the kind of people the Welsh Government should be selling public land to . . . just before it’s announced that the land is to be built on, thereby vastly increasing its value. Insider information? A suspicion given strength by the company’s name, for seven of the parcels of land are actually in the north . . . but it’s the southern ones – especially those around Cardiff – that are going to make Lang and the gang rich. Nemo Personal Finance is “Part of the Principality Building Society Group” which explains why Langley is also a non-executive director of the Principality Building Society . . . so if you fall behind with your mortgage repayments you can get a loan from Nemo. Neat! These plots of land have quite a history, being originally bought by the Land Authority for Wales, run by Sir Geoffrey Inkin, Nick Edwards’ chum who simultaneously ran the Cardiff Bay Development Corporation, pulling in all that lovely public funding for Nick and his other chums at Associated British Ports. Ah! les neiges d’antan.
What is so revealing is that many of those involved in this musical chairs system of milking the public purse are not even Welsh – they’ve been drawn here because it’s just so easy to get public funding for any ludicrous ‘project’ or ‘social enterprise’.
With the result that Wales is corrupt from top to bottom. Our homeland is run by English civil servants, academics moonlighting as consultants, and Third Sector shysters ‘advising’ our politicians – in Estuary English, of course – what legislation they should implement. This done via ‘focus groups’ and ‘consultations’ of which we are usually unaware. Our politicians then do as they’re bid. Our politicians . . . that shower of useless, stupid, lazy, cowardly, drunken misfits down Cardiff docks. This is not democracy.
And it has crept down to our local councils, where those we elect are ignored as local government gets taken over by Common Purpose ‘graduates’. Made possible by the fact that the councillors we see today are of an inferior quality to those of the past. Our elected councillors should be giving orders to the senior officers, and taking only advice from them. Now, increasingly, it’s the other way round, with the councillors ignored. This is not democracy.
I began this longer than intended post by comparing Wales with Sicily, but the more I think about it, the more I realise that I’m being unfair to Sicilians, even mafioso. North Korea is probably the only fitting comparison.