Sunday 21 October 2012

Dyfed Powys Police Commissioner - Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dum


For a very worrying report, check out Plaid Wrexham on the motives of some independent candidates.


Thanks to Selwyn Runnett, the St Clears LibDem, for pointing out the other day that anyone who wants to run a serious campaign in November's elections for police commissioners should expect to have to fork out at least £75,000. In Dyfed Powys, which is geographically the largest police area in Wales and England, a half-decent campaign would almost certainly cost more.

The whole idea of elected police commissioners was the brainwave of the Tories, and the legislation was pushed through with the help of the LibDems despite their failure to get either reform of the voting system or reform of the House of Lords through. As someone memorably said, this is not so much a coalition as a hostage situation.

Having voted the idea through, the LibDems now find that they cannot afford to field candidates in Dyfed Powys, even though parts of Powys and Ceredigion could still be counted as LibDem powerbases.

Plaid Cymru for its part has always opposed the idea on principle and is not fielding candidates.

Labour says that it is opposed to the idea, but is fielding candidates anyway with the aim, it says, of campaigning against cuts. If Labour had stuck to its principles and refused to take part, it is more than likely that the Tories would have had to back down and shelve the whole idea.

Labour's claim that Labour police commissioners will somehow be able to reverse cuts to police funding can also be taken with a pinch of salt, since the commissioners will be dependent for most of their budgets on the Home Office and Treasury in London.

In Dyfed Powys Labour has actually helped make matters considerably worse with fiascos such as the use of PFI schemes to fund white elephants including the new police station in Ammanford - now closed and mothballed. Despite being no use at all to the police, the building in Ammanford will continue to be a massive drain on Dyfed Powys police for years and years to come, and only last year Carwyn Jones came along for the celebrations held to mark the final opening of the massive new police Strategic Co-ordination Centre near Carmarthen, funded by Cardiff.

If Labour really wanted to "put more bobbies on the beat" (where have we heard that one before?), as it says, perhaps it should not have wasted tens of millions of pounds on schemes such as these and used the money instead to keep local police stations open and safeguard frontline jobs.

The Labour candidate in the elections is Christine Gwyther, whose career to date can be summarised as follows:
  • 1999 - elected Assembly Member for Carmarthen West and South Pembrokeshire
  • 1999 - appointed first Minister of Agriculture in devolved Welsh Government
  • 2000 - sacked as Minister of Agriculture by Rhodri Morgan as she was preparing to head off to the Royal Welsh Show
  • 2007 - loses constituency to Conservative Angela Burns
  • 2010 - contests Carmarthen East and Dinefwr in general election and loses
  • 2011 - fails in her attempt to win back Carmarthen West and South Pembrokeshire
And that's it. Downhill since 2000. According to her website, she is now working in "front-line community development".

The Labour Party says on its main website that its candidates are talented and experienced. If Dyfed Powys is anything to go by, the party could be prosecuted under the Tades Description Act.

Christine's website (here) appears to have been knocked up in about half an hour. After a couple of paragraphs of waffle about the election, she tells us,

You can find out more about me and my vision for policing in Dyfed Powys on this website.

Except that you can't. There is nothing at all about her vision and precious little about her on the rest of the site, probably because she has no vision and her record is not exactly one to boast about.

Back in London, Ed Milliband explains:

Labour's talented and experienced candidates for Police and Crime Commissioners will campaign hard against these government cuts, putting neighbourhood policing first with bobbies on the beat and a promise not to privatise the neighbourhood patrol or leave it only to PCSOs.

Strange then that as evidence of Labour's commitment to real policing, Christine says:

The Labour Welsh Government is helping cushion the blow [of government spending cuts. Ed.] by introducing 500 community support officers across Wales.

And that's pretty much the entire website except for a section headed Cymraeg. It would have been better to use the heading Scymraeg. Here is the opening line:

Credaf mai hanfod plismona ym pobl, ac felly hanfod f’ymgyrch fydd pobl hefyd.

There is no Labour manifesto, and if any readers have been contacted by anyone from Christine Gwyther's campaign team, they can consider themselves lucky. Most of her energy seems to be going into campaigning through Facebook and Twitter, where she has 35 followers (how many of those are members of the public?).

By contrast, the Tory candidate, Christopher Salmon, has 86 followers on Twitter, where his 4 most recent Tweets include an "excellent supper" in Carmarthen and a "delicious lunch" in Aberystwyth with Tory leader Andrew RT Davies, with whom he was discussing "the future of Wales". The mind boggles.

Salmon believes that his background as a son of the landed gentry (Winchester, Oxford and Sandhurst) and an army officer (website here) has taught him the value of "sound common sense". His startling insight into policing is that crime prevention is what it's all about. If we can prevent crime, there will be no need for expensive detectives and prosecutors.

Unlike his Labour opponent, Salmon's website contains a diary which tells us where to find him. In the next week he has two community meetings, and will be at the Rhayader Horse Sales on 27 October. The following week is rather less busy, with a lunch at Peterstone Court and a harvest supper in Llanrhaeadr.

Also unlike Ms Gwyther, Salmon does tell us a bit about what he thinks. Andrew Mitchell was stupid to swear at police officers, he told us in September, but it was "time to get police tanks off the Downing Street lawn".

Unlike Ms Gwyther, Salmon is having no truck with all this Welsh language nonsense, and his website is devoid of Welsh, mangled, misspelt or otherwise, although he is proud of his ability to speak Russian.

As Cneifiwr has noted previously (fuller profile here), Salmon is a keen military historian, and has contributed pieces to Conservative Home and the Murdoch Times. Unfortunately, if a piece on the Boer War is anything to go by, facts and dates are not his forte.

If Cneifiwr can summon up the energy, we will follow these two great hopes for Dyfed Powys to the finish line on 15 November, although they might just as well toss a coin and get it over with now.


Anonymous said...

If the whole situation wasn't so sad....that piece of yours would be very funny. Anyway, I enjoyed reading it. What will you do? 'Neither of the above' or what?

Penderyn said...

And the Welsh version has even less to say....

Anonymous said...

I've been hearing that Plaid Cymru have endorsed Christine Gwyther, that's why they didn't stand a candidate.

Cneifiwr said...

anon @20.14 I don't know - will probably make my mind up in next couple of weeks. Tempted to spoil the ballot paper.

Anon @22.05 - not from what I hear.

Anonymous said...

Dyfed Powys plod at its finest.

Unknown said...

Here we go gathering nuts in May

Anonymous said...

A spoilt vote in these circumstances seems a good vote

Anonymous said...

Plaid Cymru has endorsed Christine Gwyther? Doubt it - she stood against Plaid's Jonathan Edwards for the general election in 2010. (You didn't add that to her list of failures, Cneifiwr).

What is Gwyther's legacy in Carmarthen West? All those years earning big bucks in Cardiff Bay and what can we say/see that she's made a difference to?

I will personally be spoiling my ballot. I don't know of the Tory, but the Labour candidate is a shambles. God help us either way.

Anonymous said...

Christine Gwyther is pretty hopeless, but at least she is 'one of ours'

Apart from Alun Michael (Uncle Tom) in South Wales, I dont think I know any other candidates..

Cneifiwr said...

Thanks for reminding me Anon @0.56. Failure now added.

Anonymous said...

Oh dear no wonder this place is such a shambles.. the comment 'at least she's one of ours' is worrying. Surely in any appointment/election the criteria should be who is the BEST person for the position...

Anonymous said...

I have met Christine Gwyther.
Congratulations, Labour, you've managed to nominate the only candidate in the world who I would have difficulty voting for to keep out a Tory.
I'm probably spoiling my ballot.

Anonymous said...

As regards the Police Station it is probably the most modern nick in the Dyfed Powys stock. It has a state of the art custody suite which is currently mothballed. At this time Dyfed Powys Police are planning to build another custody unit (5M quidsworth) in the Crosshands area. They also rent a factory unit at Crosshands to accomodate a traffic unit. Shambolic waste of public dosh !

Anonymous said...

My ballot's getting spoiled, for certain. The idea is stupid enough with tidy candidates, but if all we can scrape up is failed AMs and parachutists, then the idea of actually placing a cross would keep me awake at nights.

But I will definitely go to the ballot box - no shows don't mean anything!

Anonymous said...

A 70s hit by Middle of the Road all about Sir Ian MacGregor Tweedle Dee Tweedle Dum.

johnsouthwales said...

police commisioner? don't make me laugh.

when is a crime not a crime? when it occurs in ammanford.

Not so long ago in the beggining of summer, a theft occured in the town square right underneath the cctv in the afternoon. Very annoying as it was, the police were called and eventually got through to them at their call centre. An officer arrived around 10 mins later, and started to ask details.

A couple of minutes, two youths appeared from somewhere out of the blue and were nosing to see what was going on and were asking what was happening. I motioned to move away from them as i didn't fancy discussing personal details infront of strangers and was uncomfortable, but the police officer insisted carrying on. And the officer even said to them that if they know anything about it and if the bike is returned, there will be no questions asked.


I couldn't believe what i was hearing. Then it was dawning on me that they maybe were known to the officer for some reason.

After going home, 20 mins later the officer called and said he found the mountain bike.
But i later found out it was some other people the two youths were with who found it (or so they say).
They said a male around 25 years old took it and even said to me the area of ammanford he was from.
I asked if they told the police this info and they said yes.

After that, i was beginning to think why did the officer go back to the youths (if he did). But he must have gone back because where the youths were was about 300 yards from where it was found, so why were they looking for it if they didn't know anything?

As it was captured on cctv since it was confirmed by another officer in control that they he can see us on camera clearly in view, at least the culprit was caught. Or that's what i thought..

The police did not even bother to apprehend the culprit, or the very least give them a caution for theft. no apprehension, no warning, no arrest, no caution.. ZILCH.

so next time an offence takes place, maybe it's the same person carrying out a misdeed and wonder why they are allowed to carry on because the police didn't do owt about it in the first place.

I contacted the plaid councillor to see if he can make any sense (the same one who's harping on about the pfi station and other police and criminal matters). he didn't even do anything with the correspondence that was sent.

johnsouthwales said...

i like middle of the road. think i have tweedle dee somewhere.. and soley soley, sacremento

Tweedle for Twitter said...

Thanks so much for this tutorial! I did this for a friends wedding party and it worked jolly good. It lasts the whole evening

nothing better to do said...

yet another theft from ammanford town centre. cctv cameras in action, broad daylight, cops haven't made an arrest.

ammanford has one of the lowst crime rates. so what exactly is the purpose of the police if they have a low crime rate and all those officers have nothing all to do all day. you would have thought with a low crime rate they would have a lot of time in their hands to do some investigating? just a thought like

a2 said...

erm there's a story in the CJ that the police have told the council that all crimes in ammanford during october were 100 percent solved.

Ammanford police officer, PC Jones, told councillors that the town had a 100 per cent crime detection rate during October.

If the bike theft occured on oct 27th, how is this proclamation possible? or are the police getting into a habit of not disclosing crime and massaging the figures?