Labour's latest leadership election may be over, but the civil war continues, with many of the red princes and princesses happily working with the Tories to undermine their own leader. Read Professor Richard Wyn Jones's account of the Wales Bill, currently working its way through Westminster.
Only a very limited amount of parliamentary time has been set aside for debate, he writes, "which would be a pretty outrageous way of proceeding were it not for the fact that the official opposition has made such ineffectual use of the time that has been allotted."
And then this:
The Conservatives and Labour’s Owen Smith combined to veto every single substantive recommendation made by Silk for further devolution in the field of justice, this apparently in order to protect the integrity of the unitary England and Wales legal system.
There are Smith and other Labour colleagues representing Welsh constituencies working their expensive socks off to frustrate the lack lustre Labour administration in Cardiff to ensure that all real power and control over Wales stays in London. George Thomas must be smiling in his pit in hell.
A couple of weeks ago, Labour tabled a motion in the House of Commons calling on the UK Government to withdraw support for Saudi Arabia's lethal campaign in Yemen where good old British bombs are being used to terrorise the civilian population. Children there are starving to death.
Around 100 Labour MPs absented themselves from the vote, some with legitimate excuses, but most with nothing more than a desire to humiliate Corbyn. Again it seems that some Labour MPs actively worked with the Tories to defeat their own party's motion.
Among those absent from the vote was Nia Griffith, MP for Llanelli. Nia Griffith who joined Corbyn's shadow cabinet, then resigned from it in Owen Smith's botched coup, then re-joined it and now seems to be running with the hare and hunting with the hounds.
Never one to mince his words, here is Leighton Andrews commenting on his party leader last weekend:
Meanwhile in Llanelli a real purge is underway, but here the party is lurching to the right, parachuting in red Tory reinforcements and morphing into a kind of pink UKIP-lite with a side-helping of Trump, amid accusations of bullying and character assassination.
Bye bye Bill
If you listened carefully while outside County Hall the other week you would have heard the sound of champagne corks popping in the Executive Suite at the news that Cllr Bill Thomas (Lab), one of the chief executive's bêtes noires, had been de-selected from his ward in Lliedi.
Bill Thomas has ploughed his lonely furrow for 17 years, doing the sort of things which most people would like to imagine that all councillors do. For starters, he has a mind of his own, which marks him out from a good many of his colleagues. He has stood up for his ward through thick and thin, fought a long campaign to try to get justice for the cocklers whose livelihoods have been wrecked by releases of raw sewage into the Burry Inlet. He has fought an even longer and equally fruitless campaign to get justice for Mr and Mrs Clive and Pam Edwards, victims of incredible incompetence and an even more incredible refusal to put matters right by the council. He has banged on for years about the madness of building new homes on flood plains, and he played a key role in uncovering Mark and Meryl's plans to flog off Parc Howard in Llanelli - while Labour was running the council.
|Mr James in a rare encounter with the public|
Needless to say, none of this has endeared him to Mr James, and he has been ordered to sit down and shut up at more council meetings than most of us have had hot dinners. A few years back he stood up in a meeting of full council to allege, clearly very upset, that he had been put under covert surveillance by the council. The chair stepped in quickly to ask him for a quiet chat off camera. Last year, it emerged that Bill had received an e-mail from Mr James warning the councillor that the council had a file of documents which could land him in the High Court on unspecified criminal charges.
As thanks for all those years of service and Bill's courage in fighting for his ward, Labour has now unceremoniously dropped him. Bill is said to be considering standing as an independent.
Lliedi is a two-member ward, the other incumbent being Cllr Jan Williams. It is safe to say that Cllr Williams has been less turbulent than Bill Thomas, but quietly and efficiently she too played an important role in exposing the seedy deal which was being cooked up for Parc Howard.
Both of these councillors are the sort of people anyone, no matter what their party politics, would feel comfortable discussing their problems with, but it seems her face no longer fits Labour in Llanelli, and it is claimed that she was bullied into standing down at the next election in May 2017.
One of the prospective replacements for Bill and Jan is a young Labour councillor from Neath Port Talbot called Rob James.
James is one of those young careerists Labour and the Tories specialise in nurturing. A degree in politics, followed by a job working as research and press officer for Glenda Thomas in Cardiff, and now constituency manager for Geraint Davies MP. In 2015 he tried and failed to become Labour's candidate for Cynon Valley for the 2016 Assembly elections.
After all that hobnobbing with Labour aristocracy, carrying out the humdrum duties of a county councillor must have been a bit of a let-down. His attendance record since being elected as a councillor in Neath Port Talbot has never been anything other than poor, verging on very poor. Here are his statistics for the last few months, with thanks to Stan at the Neath Ferret:
11.05.16 Present Total attendance 40%
2. Environment and Highways Scrutiny Committee
26.05.16 Absent Total attendance 0%
3. Social Care, Health and Housing Scrutiny Committee
12.05.16 Absent Total attendance 0%
4. Licensing and Gambling Acts Committee
25.05.16 Absent Total attendance 0%
5. Registration and Licensing Committtee
16.05.16 Absent Total attendance 0%
6. Annual Meeting of Council
20.05.16 Absent Total attendance 0%
Out of a total of 17 meetings, Cllr James made it to just two.
Perhaps old Cneifiwr is being selective, and choosing just a particularly bad patch when young Rob was indisposed, you may think. You would think wrong.
Here are the percentages for meetings of full council Rob James has attended since being elected in 2012:
His attendance figures for the various committees he is a member of are, if anything even worse. In 2014/15 he failed to attend a single one.
If the good people of Lliedi opt for Rob James next year, his track record in Neath Port Talbot suggests they won't see much of him, and that he'll be waving them goodbye just as soon as he finds a constituency willing to adopt him.
Anyone in Lliedi expecting a young radical determined to break with Labour's deeply entrenched, privileged elite will be deeply disappointed. Rob James' ambition is to board the first class gravy train and take his rightful place alongside Stephen Kinnock, Owen Smith, Chris Bryant, and the rest.
A big clue about his politics is contained in the name of his blog, Centristvision, which rather like his activity as a county councillor, has not seen much action since 2012.
Announcing his decision to move west, Cllr James told his followers on Facebook that he looked forward to campaigning on the future of Parc Howard. Despite the hard work put in by Bill Thomas and Jan Williams to halt the "exciting" plans which Meryl Gravell cooked up under the previous Labour-led administration, and despite Plaid's prompt removal of Parc Howard from the "asset transfer" list when it took over, Labour in Llanelli is now less interested in the boring process of obtaining grant funding for the house and park than it is in creating the impression that, under Plaid, the future of the place somehow hangs in the balance.
A good example of the post-factual politics which are now all the rage. Why bother with the facts when you can just make up a story?
Appalling though Rob James's attendance figures are, they look positively exemplary when compared with Labour stalwart Keri Thomas who has surely notched up what must be the worst attendance record of any councillor in Wales over the last 10 years.
Prior to the 2012 council elections, Keri Thomas was absent for the best part of a year while undergoing treatment for a condition which, to put it delicately, was ironic for someone who hit the headlines in 2012 with an attack on Llanelli's Polish community and what he claimed were their drinking habits. Incredibly, he was nevertheless nominated by Labour to stand again, and was duly elected despite being unable to campaign.
Even more remarkably, upon his return he was put on several important committees, including the Planning Committee. After a year or two of showing up to some meetings, his attendance fell off again to the point where recently he actually faced disqualification for not meeting the minimum of one attendance every six months - something which even Rob James managed in Neath Port Talbot.
Rather than waving goodbye to someone who was clearly unable to perform his duties and serve the people who elected him, Llanelli Labour's finest decided to persuade their man to discharge himself from hospital so that they could wheel him into County Hall just in time to make sure that Cllr Thomas kept his £13,000 a year allowance for doing nothing, while avoiding a by-election.
But all good things must come to an end, and Labour has now finally decided to wave goodbye to Keri Thomas at the next election, about ten years too late for the people of Tyisha ward.
Like Lliedi, Tyisha is a two-member ward, the other incumbent being Cllr Jeff Owen, now an unaffiliated independent.
Hoping to replace Keri Thomas and Jeff Owen is this pair:
Mcpherson is yet another of those third sector/charity bosses who thrive under the network of patronage and nepotism cultivated by 'Welsh' Labour, and it should come as no surprise to learn that both he and Suzy Curry were fervent supporters of Owen Smith in his doomed leadership bid.
Pictured alongside Oily and Nia Griffith are Mcpherson, Suzy Curry and Ryan Thomas, who was rehabilitated by Labour in Kidwelly after he narrowly avoided trial for sexual assault after waiting almost a year before apologising to his victim at the last minute.
That's red Tory Owen Smith with his laddish misogynism and dogwhistle comments about immigrants who consistently blocks every attempt to devolve power to Wales and who bears more responsibility than anyone for the fact that Theresa May, Boris Johnson and the rest are facing an open goal where there should be an official opposition.
Nest of vipers
Ryan Thomas is not the only Labour lost sheep to be rehabilitated. Over in Llwynhendy and Pemberton, business woman Fozia Akhtar stormed out of Labour after the last council elections with her former friend Theressa Bowen in a vicious spat with the grande dame of Llanelli Labour, Tegwen Devichand.
Somehow, a reconciliation was effected in the case of Fozia Akhtar, and she returned to Labour in time to see her sister made Mayor of Llanelli and become embroiled in a row about a large Labour delegation nipping over to France to enjoy the delights of the Festival of Prunes in Agen.
Akhtar's inexplicable return to the party certainly had nothing to do with left-wing entryism to boost Jeremy Corbyn's prospects because her Facebook page proudly displays pictures of a beaming Fozia hobnobbing with that rarest of visitors to Wales, the noble Baron Kinnock of Bedwellty.
Fozia is also hoping to become a county councillor next year now that she and Tegwen have become friends again.
As seen on TV
A few weeks ago, viewers of the BBC's Question Time, or "Bigotry before Bedtime" as it is known in Cneifiwr's household, were treated to the sight of Labour activist Michaela Beddows hijacking a question about UKIP's latest punch-up to attack her own party's education policy and declare that she has "never had a problem with UKIP".
Lee Waters, a red prince if ever there was, has bravely decided that the best way of dealing with the vicious campaign being waged by Beddows and others is to side with the red Ukippers.
The result has been verbal attacks on school staff and governors and a hate-filled campaign of lies and vilification on a website which has drawn heavily on the "expertise" of Jacques Protic, author of the virulently anti-Welsh website, Glasnost.
All of this and the leader of the Labour group on Carmarthenshire County Council, spiritualist Cllr Jeff Edmunds, about whom the Carmarthenshire Herald memorably said that if you looked up the definition of "lugubrious" in an illustrated dictionary, you would find a picture of Jeff.
As if Llanelli did not have enough problems to deal with.