Monday, 20 February 2017

Mistar Urdd, y Kippers a Chyflafan mewn Cwt Ieir

Helo blant!

Mae hi bron yn amser gwely. Ydych chi'n barod am stori fach?

Roedd yn ddiwrnod braf pan aeth Mistar Urdd i Ben-y-Bont ar Ogwr i gyhoeddi Eisteddfod yr Urdd 2017 a chwrdd â llawer o bobl bwysig iawn.

"Rydym yn mynd i greu miliwn o siaradwyr Cymraeg", meddai Wncwl Carwyn.

"Rwy'n caru'r iaith Gymraeg", meddai Anti Caroline Jones, Aelod Cynulliad UKIP , "ond dw i ddim am weld addysg Gymraeg i holl blant Cymru".

Teimlai Mistar Urdd braidd yn anghyffyrddus wrth iddo sefyll rhwng Anti Caroline ac Wncwl Carwyn, ond gwenai pawb arall o glust i glust!


A dyma Darren Bromham-Nichols sy'n gweithio i Anti Caroline yn ei swyddfa fach hyfryd yng Nghastell Nedd. Am enw anodd, blant!


Mae Mr Bromham-Nichols yn hoffi cŵn bach, ac mae ganddo ddiddordeb mawr mewn cwestiynau cyfoes, megis "I ba raddau ydy hiliaeth a sosialaeth yn elfennau annatod o ffasgaeth?":

While I think we can concede racism is more of a subject now and more is brought to the surface, none of us expect slaves working in the cotton fields or have to make sure we're not walking into the wrong “Whites” or “Coloureds” entrance. I mean, I've not been on a bus for a while but I don't expect they still make black people sit at the back any more...

Na, dw i ddim yn deall chwaith, blant. 

Tra bod Mr Bromham-Nichols yn hoff iawn o gŵn bach annwyl, dyw e ddim yn hoffi rabsgaliwns Cymdeithas yr Iaith. Ddim o gwbwl.

"Maen nhw'n eithafwyr plentynaidd", meddai Wncwl Neil Hamilton, sydd yn ffrind i Anti Caroline.

Ac yna aeth Mr Bromham-Nichols ati i ymchwilio Cymdeithas yr Iaith yn ei swyddfa fach hyfryd. A oedd Wncwl Carwyn yn rhoi arian i'r bobl ddrwg yma?

Er siom fawr Mr Bromham-Nichols, methodd ei waith ymchwil, ond roedd e'n benderfynol o fynd i'r gad yn erbyn gwehilion cythryblus yr hen Gymdeithas ddrwg.


"The hunters will become the hunted", meddai Mr Bromham-Nichols. "Tally-ho, what, what!"

Ac wele, draw ym Mae Caerdydd roedd yna ffermwraig ifanc o'r enw Dr Bethan Jenkins. "Rwy wedi penderfynu gwahardd llwynogod Cymdeithas yr Iaith rhag rhoi tystiolaeth i Bwyllgor Diwylliant, y Gymraeg a Chyfathrebu y Cwt Ieir am nad ydyn nhw'n parchu mandad democrataidd UKIP", meddai.

Roedd Wncwl Neil, Anti Caroline a Mr Bromham-Nichols wrth eu bodd. "Am benderfyniad gwych", medden nhw.

Yn fuan iawn ar ôl hynny, cafodd Wncwl Neil wahoddiad annisgwyl gan aelodau Plaid Lafur yn Llangennech oedd yn eiddgar am ei weld yn y pentref.

"A wnewch chi gysylltu â nhw i drefnu gwibdaith a'r cyhoeddusrwydd?" gofynnodd Wncwl Neil i Mr Bromham-Nichols. Yn Saesneg, wrth gwrs.

Ac i ffwrdd ag ef.

Fe gafodd Mr Bromham-Nichols sgwrs gyfrinachol, ddifyr efo'i ffrindiau newydd yn ardal Llanelli fel aelod o grŵp preifat ar Weplyfr.

😊😊😊😊😊😊

Ond yn anffodus, roedd rhyw hen lwynog cyfrwys yn clustfeinio, ac mi ddaeth y cyfan allan mewn cyfres o twîts.

Roedd yna gecru a chlegar byddarol yn hen dŷ cam Plaid Lafur, a'r plu'n hedfan ymhobman. "Nid arnaf fi mae'r bai", meddai Mr Waters, ac roedd pawb ond y Kippers yn flin ofnadwy.

Wel, dyna stori ryfedd!

Cysgwch yn dawel, blantos.






Sunday, 19 February 2017

Labour in Llanelli and Llangennech - from bad to worse

Before launching into the next post, I would like to thank all those who have contributed to this series on events in Llangennech and the Llanelli Labour Party. Information has come in from a very wide range of sources - members of both Labour and Plaid, as well as others who are not members of any political party.

This will be the eighth in a series of posts, and I had no idea when I wrote the first of them that the floodgates were about to open.

Y Cneifiwr is now in its seventh year and it has covered a huge range of subjects. Looking back, one theme which has run through the whole course of the writing here is bullying.

Towards the end of last year, Radio Cymru highlighted the problem with some truly remarkable interviews with victims of bullying. The most moving piece of all was with a woman called Annette who recalled how she and her friends had bullied a small girl at school.

The episode had played on her mind for years, but when she eventually raised the subject with her old school friends, none of them could recall taking part in the physical and mental abuse they had inflicted on the girl.

That is not surprising because a characteristic of bullying, whether at school or in adult life, is that a pack mentality can take over, and people lose their sense of personal responsibility. In adult life, and in politics especially, this pack mentality can mean that not only do we sometimes lose any sense of personal responsibility, but victims become dehumanised and we come to believe that the ends justify the means. Many bullies live in a state of denial.

The bullying at Annette's school was eventually discovered by a dinner lady who brought it to an abrupt end. The school and the parents acted as if there had never been a problem, and the matter was brushed under the carpet.

Years after those events, Annette decided to try to find the victim, Josephine, only to discover that Josephine had died at an early age. Annette was unable to apologise for the suffering she had inflicted on the little girl, and that guilt hangs heavily on her to this day.

Annette is one side of the coin; the victims are the other. Commonly, victims stay silent for fear that if they say anything, the bullying will only get worse, and people in a position to do something might not believe them anyway or just cover it up.

As we all know, bullying can only flourish when it is hidden, but it takes real guts to come out of the shadows, whether you are a victim or a witness to it.

Thank you to all of you who have come forward.

_________________


What has emerged in this series of posts is a picture of bullying and intimidation in the Labour Party in Llanelli which has been allowed to develop unchallenged over many years, and it is spreading like a cancer.

In all of the testimony and evidence that has come in, the same names occur over and over again. Perhaps out of fear of rocking the boat and the consequences of standing up to people who have built up a powerbase, and most definitely out fear of negative PR, senior party figures have stayed silent and turned a blind eye.

Recently Kevin Madge told a member of the public that Momentum was active in Carmarthenshire, and that they were "vicious".

For those of you who are not political anoraks, Momentum is a group within the Labour Party which backs Jeremy Corbyn and his agenda for change in the party. Many of its members are genuinely decent people, but inevitably Momentum has attracted some rather less innocent figures with rather different agendas.

To many on the outside, Momentum is made up overwhelmingly of new recruits to the Labour Party; fresh-faced idealists who want to transform not just the party but UK politics as well.

In Carmarthenshire things are rather different. Far from being a vehicle for new blood and fresh-faced idealists, the same old faces have taken control.

Here is a picture of a Momentum meeting chaired by a familiar bee-hived figure who is neither fresh-faced nor a new recruit.

Not many fresh faces here
Tegwen Devichand is sitting in the middle. Also present at the meeting were Tim Evans of the SWP and Bobby Owens from TUSC (Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition). Both the SWP and TUSC have fielded election candidates of their own against Labour.

A Labour Party member who has observed Tegwen Devichand at close quarters said that she seems to veer from extreme left to extreme right, and it should therefore come as no surprise that her Facebook timeline should include material such as this:



Britain First is, of course, a violent neo-Nazi group.

Llangennech

Before we get into the nitty gritty of the Waters-Beddows-Seward saga and who said what and when, it is worth saying that while the bigotry and ignorance shown by the anti-WM campaigners were bad enough, and their collaboration with UKIP and the fanatical hate merchant Protic were even worse, the most disgusting aspect of their campaign was the bullying and intimidation that accompanied it.

Here, for starters, is Jonathan Edwards MP:

Jonathan Edwards said he had since been contacted by parents and teachers who believe they are victims of "systematic intimidation by Labour party activists".  He questioned why Labour party officials and elected members have not taken action sooner, and added that the "toxic actions of the Labour party in Llangennech are not the result of just one individual.

And here is a parent writing on the Herald newspaper website:

I’m not a political person or a Plaid Cymru member, I’m just a parent in Llangennech and I have to say that I’m relieved that this is coming to an end at last.The local Labour party have bullied and silenced us for months. Door stepping, pressure, waving petitions in our faces, threatening us when we didn’t want to sign them, trying to make us feel like traitors while they go all over the tele and radio pretending that all of Llangennech is against these changes. They’ve been disgusting and intimidating. As a Llanegennech parent, I never asked them to speak for me and I know my friends didn’t ask them to either.

A couple of months ago, I also met some of the parents from Llangennech and can testify that they too felt bullied and intimidated. We also now know that the Beddows campaign group travelled far and wide blanket canvassing for support, even knocking on the door of a retired Director of Education who lives miles away.

As the constituency AM, Lee Waters must have heard reports of the tactics being used by the campaign group, and yet he was still happily mingling with them last week.

Labour's Response


Last week Nia Griffth was hundreds of miles away canvassing in Copeland, while tweeting calls for an increase in defence spending, which is now presumably more important than social care or the NHS. She does not appear to have found time to say anything about what is happening in her constituency party.

Lee Waters also kept a low profile for most of yesterday while he was out canvassing with a Labour councillor who was heavily implicated in a public attack on a fellow councillor who had suffered from mental health problems. "I know, I have seen her medical records!"

Then last night, Lee Waters finally broke his silence, blaming the situation in Llangennech on Cllr Gwyn Hopkins:




This is the same Lee Waters who was banging on about the need for Leadership, with a capital 'L', last year.

Nothing to do with me, and anyway Michaela Beddows had now left the party, he declared.

The trouble is, that it has everything to do with Lee Waters who lent his support to the Beddows/Seward group. We saw in a previous post how he had said  "Be careful", when she told him how she and Jacqueline Seward had gone about bringing in Neil Hamilton. Not, "don't do it".

This conversation took place in a closed group on Facebook, and for a little light relief, here is the moment when Waters and Co. realise that someone else can see what they thought they were saying in secret:




Beddows herself will shrug this off, paint herself as a victim (her coach, one of Labour's candidates in Llangennech, Gary 'Poumista' Jones, has already initiated canonisation proceedings), and then probably end up joining UKIP.

So far, nobody else has been suspended, but the group of which Beddows is one of the most prominent members clearly saw the Labour Party as a vehicle for furthering their campaign, and as we know, Llanelli Labour was only too happy to welcome them in.

Attempts have been made by a couple of individuals commenting on this blog to pretend that some members of the Llangennech school campaign group were not associated with the Labour Party, and the ward party removed a profile picture from its Twitter account (still locked, incidentally) which showed them wearing red rosettes and grinning at the camera.

Here's one of them standing next to Neil Hamilton. Her name is being withheld because while she is entitled to her views, it is completely unacceptable for the Labour Party to pretend that she has nothing to do with them.



Here she is again with Lee Waters:



And here she is again at a meeting at a meeting of Labour Party members with First Minister Carwyn Jones in Gorseinon last week. Seated in the same row are her friends Michaela Beddows and Jacquline Seward:



And finally, here she is with Llangennech Labour:



Where next?

The Llangennech school campaign group has inflicted huge damage on the village, having persuading themselves that the ends justified the means.

The school transition is now a legal fact, and the best thing the Labour Party could do is to tell the campaigners to disband and accept the decision. There is no point in carrying on, and the wounds need time to heal.

It is hard to see how Labour can allow Gary Robert Jones and Jacqueline Seward to remain as candidates in the council elections because of their involvement with the campaign group (Seward was a leading member of it), even if the party overlooks the small matter of Seward's collaboration with UKIP and Protic.

For the Labour Party nationally, there must be an investigation into the Llanelli Constituency Party - the bullying, intimidation and cosying up to Britain First, UKIP and extremist organisations on the hard left and right must not be tolerated.

And those members who were aware of the bullying and who are Facebook 'friends' of those posting neo-Nazi and other material need to examine their consciences and ask themselves why they did nothing about it.


Saturday, 18 February 2017

Llanelli Ice Cream Wars

At last, a blogpost about something other than Llangennech Labour.

When historians sit down to analyse the turbulent times we live in at some point in the future, one phenomenon which will probably puzzle them as much as it does us is why the explosive growth in Labour Party membership numbers has been accompanied by a massive slump in the party's electoral fortunes.

Unlike us, historians will know whether or not the decline we are now witnessing really was terminal.

If you are reading this, future historians of Wales, you may also want to examine why in some places the influx of new members with all their hopes for change actually achieved the reverse, with the gnarled and rotten old guard strengthening its grip on the party.

Llanelli is a case in point. The same old faces are increasing their grip on the party, intimidation and bullying are rife, and just two families and their friends dominate the show in a town with a population of around 50,000.

Power grab

This week saw a small coup d'etat on Llanelli Rural Council. No dead and not many injured, but the Labour Party's reputation was shot to pieces as 75 year-old Tegwen Devichand seized control.



By all accounts, the meeting was extremely heated, with Cllr Sharen Davies, Devichand's daughter, once again in the thick of it, heckling and shouting down her opponents. Several councillors left early, citing intimidation and personal abuse, with Sharen Davies accusing one councillor of corruption.



Cneifiwr understands that formal complaints have been made about the conduct of some of the Labour councillors, and that the legality of the motion which triggered the change of control is being challenged.

In a separate move, Cneifiwr understands that Labour Party HQ is conducting an investigation into other allegations made against Cllrs Devichand and Davies in particular.

The following account is based on a summary provided by Cllr Martin Davies, the Plaid leader on Llanelli Rural Council, and a similar explanation appears in this week's Herald.

____________________

To explain what has happened, we need to go back to December 2012 when two defections from Labour to Independent (Cllrs. Akhtar and Bowen) meant that the Plaid/Independent coalition had the numbers to take  control of the council. Plaid and the Independents could have done this in January 2013, but to save on costs, disruption and extra work for staff, and after a request from Councillor Bill Thomas (Labour), the then leader of council, to 'leave things as they were', the opposition parties waited until the new council year in May 2013.

[Cllr Thomas is no longer a member of the council. Correction: He is. Ed]

Committees are established at the AGM in May, and since 2008, save for two exceptions (the death of Cllr Edwards, and a clash of interests by Cllr Cundy) they stay and have stayed unchanged throughout the council year. If the leader changes, it has repercussions for the entire membership of all committees. A number of changes will now be required and this of course will lead to more administrative work. 
From the council's point of view this week's power grab by Cllr Devichand is entirely pointless; it will have to be ratified at the next monthly meeting in March, and then changes will have to be made to the committees. Such changes will have to be put on the agenda of (presumably) the March meeting. Of course, election purdah kicks in on March 28, therefore being leader of council is of no benefit except as a political weapon, in time for this year's elections.
A former Plaid councillor, Cllr Stephen Donoghue, 'crossed the floor' to Labour in November, giving Labour the numbers it needed, and it could have tabled this motion some time ago. Just recently Cllr Devichand was very critical of a WAG bid to change the council's name, citing it to be a waste of money. But it appears that wasting scarce Rural Council money on unnecessary changes is OK.
The effect of Cllr Devichand's manoeuvre, therefore, is to put her in charge of the council with just six weeks to go before its goes into election mode, with a lot of time and resources now having to be spent on changing the council's administration.

In something of an understatement, Cllr Martin Davies added, "It concerns me that events like those witnessed this evening risk bringing the Rural Council into disrepute."

_____________________

Explaining her actions to the Herald, Cllr Devichand justifies this abrupt change of control so close to an election by arguing at some length that she and her Labour colleagues felt obliged to move because attendance at council meetings had been so low.* Stretching credibility to snapping point, she also claims that she had no wish to become leader, but did so at the urging of her fanbase.

[*Although she did not say so, she was referring to the Independents. Ed]

If you believe that, you'll believe anything.

Countering that argument, Cllr Giles Morgan (Independent) told the newspaper that the main reason why the Independents' attendance figures were poor was because of intimidation and bullying, principally by Cllrs Devichand and Davies.

As readers of this blog will recall, one particular incident involving Cllrs Devichand and Bowen ended up with the Public Services Ombudsman, with allegations of pushing, shoving, foul language, punches and slaps being traded.
 
Fozia and Shahana

Readers may also recall that Fozia Akhtar dramatically resigned from the Labour Party in 2013, accusing Tegwen Devichand and her daughter Sharen Davies of bullying.

It is now clear that there has been an equally dramatic reconciliation between these formerly warring parties.

According to local sources, Fozia's large extended family signed up en masse to Labour, and ward party politics being what they are, that gave them sufficient clout to call the shots in Llwynhendy where Sharen Davies is a county councillor.


The Gucci handbags and knuckle dusters were put aside and a deal struck. The Devichand clan and friends would support Fozia's candidacy in Llwynhendy, in return for Fozia's clan's support for Sharen.

In addition, it was agreed that both clans would support installing Fozia's sister, Shahana Najmi, as candidate for the county council in Lliedi alongside young Rob James who has moved down from Neath and is very keen to reboot his so far unsuccessful political career.
Rob's arrival in Lliedi and the parachuting in of Shahana meant that "sadly", the two incumbent councillors, Bill Thomas and Jan Williams had to be put out to grass. 

According to recent reports, Bill Thomas may yet throw his hat into the ring in the May elections as an unaffiliated independent.

Prunes

Shahana Najmi is a serving councillor on Llanelli Town Council and a former mayor.


One of her claims to fame was that she ran the John Street Post Office in Llanelli, a business venture which came to an abrupt end amid a swirl of rumours, with Shahana herself being locked out of the building minus her very smart handbag and mobile phone.

The post office was run by a company called Starnine Ltd, with Shahana Najmi being the sole remaining director when the company went bust and the receivers were brought in at the end of 2013.

Her time as mayor of Llanelli was also not without controversy, and she came in for considerable criticism when she headed a Labour delegation, including herself and the deputy mayor, to Agen in France for that town's annual Prune Festival at considerable expense to Llanelli's taxpayers on, cough, vital council business.

One remarkable aspect of this trip was not just that it was a Labour-only affair, but also that a series of past Llanelli mayors, including Bill Thomas (Lab), had passed up the opportunity to sample the delights of the prune. Bill Thomas told councillors that he had been invited twice before, but had not gone. 

Times may be hard, but Shahana clearly knows a trough when she sees one.

Statistics

Rob James was said to be "tamping" when he discovered that Tegwen Devichand had further extended her powerbase onto his newly adopted patch, but last week he brushed himself down and gave an extended interview with all the usual guff about standing up for his new community to the Herald.
The Herald interviewer pointed out rather unkindly that his attendance record as a councillor in Neath Port Talbot over the last five years had been the subject of some criticism. Or to put it another way, once he had bagged his seat, his enthusiasm for standing up for his voters had waned rather dramatically. For much of 2016 he clocked up a record which is almost as bad as Keri Thomas's (Labour, Tyisha), with 0% attendances on the four committees he was nominally a member of.

Ah well, he replied, being a councillor was not all about showing up to meetings. True enough, but if other councillors followed his example, local government would grind to a halt.

And anyway, he continued, he had a day job, and that had made attending to council business difficult. 

It would have been rude to ask why he had decided to stand for election in the first place.

Rob continued to brazen things out by telling the newspaper that his attendance record in Neath Port Talbot  had improved dramatically over the last six months (i.e. since bloggers pointed out just how bad his stats were), and were now running at 90%!

This spectacular improvement can be put down to two things: a very poor grasp of basic maths and Rob's resignation from all committee posts.

According to local sources, he was also disqualified or politely asked to resign from two school governorships in Neath after failing to turn up to any meetings at all.

The Herald interview was by and large a pretty unremarkable mix of self-justification and platitudes, but Rob James went off piste spectacularly at one point to call for a vote of no confidence in the chief executive of Carmarthenshire County Council.

Remarkably, this earned him a very sharp rebuke from Paul Harries, another Labour candidate who is standing in Swiss Valley.

In a letter to the Herald, Harries pointed out that reckless statements like this could end up costing the taxpayer huge amounts of money because if it ever comes to the point where the council attempts to free itself of its Head of Paid Service, the highly litigious Mr James would be able to point to Rob James's interview and claim unfair dismissal.

With three months to go, Labour's election campaign is already proving to be comedy gold.



  

Llangennech - A Suspension and Tegwen's Reaction

Events have moved so fast over the last week, and so much information has come in that this blog will post two separate pieces today.

Early yesterday evening reports came in that one or more Labour Party members had been suspended in the Llanelli area. The best information available is that, so far at least, just one person is involved, and that the decision was made not in Cardiff, but in London after Jeremy Corbyn intervened.

If that is correct, it speaks volumes about the 'Welsh' Labour Party. Despite having clear and unequivocal evidence of collusion between Labour Party members and UKIP, despite clear evidence that some members have been flirting with the extreme right, and despite the open contempt shown by a raft of Labour figures, including Llanelli's AM, Lee Waters, councillors and candidates for official party policy, the best Carwyn Jones could come up with was to try to shift responsibility for sorting out the mess onto Carmarthenshire County Council.

Earlier in the day Jonathan Edwards MP wrote to Corbyn, and it would seem that it was Jonathan's letter that finally produced action.


The letter is worth producing in full:

"Annwyl Jeremy,

Labour party members campaigning with UKIP in Carmarthenshire

I write an open letter to bring to your attention the activities of Labour activists in Carmarthenshire which I know, having worked with you over a number of years, will cause you considerable concern.

Since I was elected to the House of Commons, you and I have both campaigned on fundamental issues such as human rights; protection of minorities; religious and cultural diversity; solidarity with working people; an ethical foreign policy; peace and global disarmament.  I know these are values which are fundamentally important to you as a progressive politician.  Above all, we stand on a common platform against the politics of the far right which bases its politics on sowing division and hatred and, in particular, the targeting of minorities.

I regret to inform you of the activities of Labour party members and activists in the Llanelli constituency in relation to Welsh medium education in the village of Llangennech. 

I am sure you will be familiar with the Labour Welsh Government's education strategy of promoting and increasing bilingual education provision as part of its strategy to achieve one million Welsh speakers.  Welsh as a language faces significant pressures in its traditional heartlands, a social symptom of economic decline as our young people have to move to find meaningful work.  Increasing bilingual education provision is a key part of the strategy supported by both Labour and Plaid Cymru at a national level.

Regrettably, the Labour party in Llanelli has run a nasty, divisive campaign against the plans of the local Plaid Cymru-led Council to implement a policy initiated by the then Labour-run Council administration and approved by the Labour Welsh Government.  I am informed by local residents that parents who support the plans have been intimidated by local activists.

Most surprising to you might be the fact that one Labour County Councillor referred to bilingual education as "apartheid" during a debate in the local Council.   These actions are undoubtedly influenced by political considerations as we approach this year's local authority elections.  Both County Council seats in Llangennech are held by Plaid Cymru. 

I know it will be an issue of grave concern to you that the Labour party in Llanelli is actively coordinating efforts with UKIP in Llangennech community.  UKIP Assembly Member Neil Hamilton recently campaigned with Labour in Llangennech – a visit we now know was coordinated in liaison with the official Labour party candidate for Llangennech ward.  Labour party members pictured on social media wearing Labour party rosettes are too seen in the picture with UKIP's Neil Hamilton. Furthermore, recent comments to local media from a Labour supporter in Llangennech suggest your party will contest the Llangennech Community Council elections in a joint campaign with UKIP.


Finally, and perhaps most shocking, I have seen that the Labour supporter who is orchestrating this joint campaign with UKIP has shared deplorable images from the Tea Party and English Defence League on social media.

Sadly, none of the issues I raise are a surprise to me.  The institutional anti-Welsh prejudice of Labour locally is why working class politicians like myself find their natural home in Plaid Cymru.  However, I am sure considering your principled position on these issues you would be horrified by the activities of these representatives of your party.  Furthermore, with these activities taking place within the constituency of your Shadow Defence Secretary, I am sure you will want to ensure your Shadow Cabinet is not brought into disrepute by these worryingly close links with UKIP.


I would hope that you, like me, would consider the fight against intolerance, prejudice and the far right as the struggle of our times.  If we are to succeed there must be no compromise in our rejection of the politics of hate and division.      



I ask that you, as the Leader of the Labour Party, investigate the activities of Labour members in the Llanelli constituency to ensure the voice and opinions of the far right are not given a platform in your party membership or those who seek public office in your party's name.

Yn gywir iawn,

Jonathan Edwards AS/MP
Dwyrain Caerfyrdin a Dinefwr / Carmarthen East and Dinefwr"

_______________________

Following news that there had been a suspension, Jonathan was asked by the press for his response:

"It seems that Jeremy Corbyn has responded to the worrying collusion between his party and UKIP within a matter of hours, whilst the First Minister, Labour officials in Wales and elected members in Llanelli have done nothing for weeks.

"A suspension and investigation is a welcome course of action but the scope of it must be expanded to suspend all members and candidates that we have shown to be involved in actively campaigning with UKIP or have permitted such cooperation.  The toxic actions of the Labour party in Llangennech are not the result of just one individual.

"As this investigation gets underway, I would expect all those who have perpetuated the divisive rhetoric of the far right, including those who brand this Welsh Government policy as 'apartheid' to be barred from standing for public office in the name of the Labour Party.

"Furthermore, with only three Labour councillors voting to support its own policy on Welsh medium education, Labour head office should ask itself whether those who disregard party policy should be allowed to represent the party at all."

_____________________

A defining characteristic of the Labour Party in Llanelli (and the Amman Valley for that matter) is the intensely tribal nature of their politics, and it will be anathema to many that it was Jonathan's intervention which triggered the suspension.

If dissenting voices have proof that the suspension had nothing to do with Jonathan Edwards, this blog will be pleased to publish it.

When it comes to tribalism, no Labour Party figure could be more tribal than the grande dame of Llanelli Labour, Tegwen Devichand, about whom much more in the second piece which will follow later today.

As we have seen, Tegwen Devichand was one of the first to ship up outside the school in Llangennech last year to fan the flames of bigotry and division. 

The following screenshot was taken at 7pm last night and shows that, with breathtaking chutzpah, she responded to the news of the suspension by "liking" Jonathan's letter three quarters of an hour earlier.

 
Having finally sensed which way the wind was blowing, it seems that self-preservation kicked in at the very last minute.



Friday, 17 February 2017

Llangennech: Lee's Leadership

A week has now gone by since the Hamiltons' outing to Llangennech, and if anything the fallout is intensifying.

Attention has now turned to Lee Waters AM who is facing scrutiny for his role in the whole Llangennech saga. What did he know? What has been his relationship with the group running the school campaign, and what has he said and done?

Fortunately, thanks to public pronouncements and social media, we know quite a lot about Lee Waters' role in all of this, and we can say for certainty that his involvement goes back a long way.

Back in August 2016, this blog wrote an open letter to Lee Waters asking him to show real, decisive leadership. Needless to say, the letter did not receive a reply.

Two things were happening at the time. First, the Labour leadership contest between Jeremy Corbyn and Owen Smith was in full swing. Waters backed Smith, as did Nia Griffith, which can't have gone down well with many of the movers and shakers in the Llanelli Labour Party, not to mention people like Michaela Beddows who had joined to support Corbyn, despite holding views which he would find completely repugnant.

Whenever there is a row in Llanelli, you can be sure that Tegwen Devichand will be close by, and Cneifiwr noted her less than whole-hearted support for her MP:

Taking up her knitting and her seat in the viewing area at the foot of the guillotine, Tegwen Devichand told the Carmarthenshire Herald this week that, "Nia is entitled to her opinion. When it comes to re-election, if people want to re-elect her, only time will tell".

Meanwhile, Lee Waters was writing about the virtues of what he called "Leadership".

At the same time as war was raging in the Labour Party, the Llangennech school campaign was in full swing, and it was already clear that the campaigners had developed close bonds with some very extreme elements. As this blog noted earlier this week, Tegwen Devichand shipped up outside the school in Llangennech at a very early stage, even though Llangennech is not on her patch.

Demonstrating what he meant by "Leadership", Lee Waters' response to the school campaign was first to keep a very, very low profile. But then, at the end of July 2016, he came out with what he said was his first public pronouncement on the issue. That suggests that behind the scenes discussions had been going on for some time.

Showing yet more "Leadership", Waters sided with the campaigners while claiming that he supported his government's policy on extending Welsh medium education, a stance which would leave the policies being pursued by Alun Davies and Carwyn Jones dead in the water.

Lee Waters had decided that the best approach would be to ride the tiger of intolerance and ignorance in the hope of picking up a few more votes, while keeping his fingers crossed that the tiger would not turn on him.

It is clear that Lee Waters has maintained close links to the Llangennech campaigners. Nobody would accuse Waters of being lacking in grey matter. Was he really unaware, with his background, that they held views and were consorting with extremists diametrically opposed to the values the Labour Party is supposed to stand for?

The ties between Waters and the campaign group have continued right up to the present, as this leaked very recent exchange from a closed Facebook group shows:



Waters was aware that the Hamiltons were being invited to Llangennech, and he knew that Beddows and Jacqueline Seward, both Labour Party members, had taken the lead in arranging the visit and the PR.

The visit involved other Labour members and activists as well, as we know from a wealth of photographic evidence.

Once again, Waters showed what he means by "Leadership".

Instead of saying, "this visit must be cancelled, and under no circumstances must any member of the Labour Party associate themselves with it. In fact, by liaising with UKIP, you have broken party rules and must now face disciplinary proceedings", Lee's response was "be careful".

Neil Hamilton must be chuckling away to himself as he tucks into his full English in Wiltshire.




Wednesday, 15 February 2017

Llangennech - More News from the Vipers Nest

Update 16 February

Operation Smoke and Mirrors has clearly begun in Llangennech, with one anonymous source having sent several convoluted comments to this blog with the aim of trying to prove that Labour was not really involved in arranging and stage managing Neil Hamilton's visit to the village.

He (and Anon is almost certainly one of those pictured below) focusses on one woman in particular, claiming that she is not a Labour Party member or activist.

Rather odd, then, that this individual should have been pictured out canvassing with Jacqueline Seward while appearing in the main profile picture of Llangennech Labour's Twitter account, wearing a red rosette.

Anon also overlooks Jacqueline Seward's role in setting up the Hamilton visit.

As noted below, this unfortunate picture has now been removed from the account in an attempt to rewrite history.


 
 _________________


It was one of those rare occasions when Kevin Madge, former Labour leader of Carmarthenshire County Council, got something right.

"Carwyn won't forget Carmarthenshire", he told councillors a few years back.

And how right he was. There is probably not much that disturbs the slumbers of our First Minister, but the thought of the Labour Party in Carmarthenshire must have him waking up in a cold sweat.

Fallout from the row in Llangennech reached the Senedd yesterday, with Leanne Wood taking Carwyn to task for the conduct of Labour councillors, candidates and members in Carmarthenshire and the collaboration between Labour and UKIP in Llangennech. They were trashing Carwyn's policies. What was he going to do about it?

Carwyn responded with his Uncle Jim Callaghan routine. Everyone needed to calm down and pipe down. He was aware that comments had been made that he did not agree with, but if anyone thought he was about to take responsibility and read the Riot Act, they shouldn't be allowed out on their own.

Nothing to do with me, Sunny Jim, was his message. It was for Carmarthenshire County Council to explain their decisions and sort this out, although quite how the county council is expected to sort out the sewer that is Labour in Llanelli, he did not say.

Meanwhile, Nia Griffith and Lee Waters have been keeping their heads down as the lid has been lifted on the dysfunctional and toxic nature of their constituency party, and with good reason.

First, both of them have been helping to fan the flames of intolerance and prejudice. Recently Nia Griffith appeared on the panel of Radio Four's Any Questions in Tywyn. A member of the audience who turned out to be a Conservative Party activist and former election agent, asked which should be prioritised: spending on the Welsh language or spending on social care.

Instead of explaining that spending on the language is an infinitesimally small part of government spending (a fraction of 1%), she played to the gallery.

Waters has gone rather further in recent months, siding with the group which arranged the Hamiltons' visit to Llangennech, some of whose members have been cosying up to neo-Nazis and others on the extreme right.

Second, as we shall see, their constituency party has spiralled way out of control, and they can only look impotently on.

Behind the scenes, however, there are signs that alarm bells have finally started to ring at Labour HQ. An anonymous source from Far Right Watch announced on Twitter that the "local party" was aware of the situation and intended to deal with it.

It is not clear what this source, almost certainly watching aghast from somewhere in England, meant by "local party". Was it "Welsh" Labour or the local constituency party? If the latter, there is zero likelihood that anything will be done to tackle the real causes of the party's problems in Llanelli and the surrounding area.

It is a mark of how messed up things are that this information had to be gleaned from a Labour source based far away from Llanelli rather than the MP or AM.

Ferrets in a Sack

That there are those who despair about what is happening to Labour in Llanelli is clear from a leaked e-mail  from a Labour activist to the party's county councillors. Referring to this blog and likening the situation to ferrets in a sack, "Mr T" asks,



Have you seen this? Honestly, you couldn't make it up - what a bunch of idiots we are!!
It's no wonder we could be wiped out after May's elections!

Putting aside the vile slur on the good character of ferrets who are really much nicer than the key players in this soap opera, Mr T was clearly very naive if he thought his fears were going to be taken seriously.

First to reply was Cllr Louvain Roberts who assured him that not all of Cneifiwr's facts were correct.

No doubt Mr T is an intelligent soul, and so he would have inferred from that answer that Cllr Roberts acknowledges that some at least of the myriad accusations are indeed correct.

Needless to say, Tegwen Devichand was having none of it.

If you believe half the rubbish that comes out of this blogger mouth. He has lost his vocation in life.
He'd be better off writing fairy stories.*


*Punctuation courtesy of Y Cneifiwr.


As Kevin Madge might say using one of his favourite cliches, the ostriches replied to Mr T's concerns by running around with their heads in the sand.

Airbrushed and secret

One of the first signs that something may be going on was a sudden change in the profile of the Twitter account of Llangennech Labour. Until now it had a large picture of various members and activists, several of whom were involved in arranging the Hamiltons' visit to the village last week. One or two of them have also been flirting with fascist agitators and neo-Nazi groups.

Suddenly yesterday, the picture was gone, replaced with photos showing only the two Labour candidates for Carmarthenshire County Council, Gary 'Poumista' Jones, who hails from somewhere near Aberdare, and Jacqueline Seward, who was closely involved in arranging the Hamiltons' outing to Llangennech and managing the PR side of the trip.

As readers of this blog have seen, her friends include the sinister Jacques Protic, author of the Glasnost hate site.

One of the pictures on the account shows Jones and Seward rushing away from a battered old campervan, possibly after an encounter with a voter.

Hours later, and the account went 'protected', meaning that its tweets can now only be viewed by permission of the account holder. That is a truly remarkable state of affairs for what is presumably an official account belonging to a mainstream political party.

What are they hiding? Is a gigantic spring-clean now in progress?

Sacrificial lamb

Members and would-be members of the Labour Party have been expelled or barred for the most trivial of offences. You can be barred, for example, for retweeting anything produced by the Green Party.

On the other hand, Jacqueline Seward is still the official Labour Party candidate despite cwtshing up to UKIP, and Michaela Beddows appears still to be a member despite retweeting material from the neo-Nazi EDL and her open flirtation with UKIP.

Beddows, whose Twitter account is now also protected, told the world last year that she had joined Labour to support Jeremy Corbyn, and also that she was planning to stand for election as a community councillor in May.

It remains to be seen what, if anything, will happen to the pair, but it is now unlikely that Beddows will end up sitting on Llangennech community council wearing a Labour rosette. Perhaps she will offer her services to UKIP or the EDL.

Jacqueline Seward's case is more interesting, but if she remains as the official candidate, Labour will be writing off their chances in Llangennech.

Gary Jones' role in the UKIP scandal should also be looked at closely if the Inquisition is brought in. Jones has been a key player in the toxic anti-Welsh medium campaign from the start, coaching Beddows and others.

What is much more unlikely is that the Labour Party will take action to get to the heart of its problems in the Llanelli area by tackling the bigger fish.

Tegwen and Co.

One conspicuous figure who turned up to one of the first demonstrations outside Ysgol Llangennech was none other than our old friend Tegwen Devichand:


With exquisite timing, and despite being reprimanded by the Ombudsman for Public Services for her conduct at a council meeting, Cllr Devichand has just become leader of Llanelli Rural Council.

Carwyn Jones will be pleased.

Stay tuned for the next installment, in which we will be exploring goings-on in Lliedi and Llwynhendy that make the Cosa Nostra look like a bunch of amateurs.





Tuesday, 14 February 2017

Llangennech: Michaela and the EDL

Readers of this blog will have seen how Michaela Beddows, one of the more prominent anti-Welsh medium campaigners in Llangennech posted a comment on this blog yesterday.

"Bless you", the campaign group was not anti-Welsh, she protested, and Cneifiwr had totally misunderstood the whole situation. "You would not take one bullet into a battle you would take all the ammunition you could take and that is exactly what I am doing. I am fighting a battle of common sense and fairness", she went on, defending the group's decision to cosy up to UKIP.

Beddows was silent on the group's links with Glasnost.org, run by right-wing extremist Jacques Protic, and she also forgot to tell us about her friends in the English Defence League, those bastions of fairness and common sense.

Thanks to sharp-eyed observers for picking up on the following "misunderstandings":



And here she is passing on the views of her friend Protic whose latest rants mix fake news about Islamic rapist rampages in Germany, pro-Putin black propaganda and statements such as "Welsh is a tribal language":





Needless to say, the Hamiltons' meeting in the village last week with assorted Labour activists, candidates and Beddows is now propaganda gold for UKIP:

Mainstream media sources, such as the South Wales Evening Post and the Llanelli Star, which have been happily providing a platform for Michaela, the Sewards and others, need to consider carefully what they are helping to foment in Llangennech.