Sunday 15 September 2013

Boiled cabbage in the Canteen of No Hope

Kevin Madge has been leader of Carmarthenshire County Council for just over a year now. Usually party leaders can expect something of a honeymoon in their first year, with things only getting rough as the prospect of a difficult election looms. So it says something about Kev's grip on the top job that rumours of a rebellion have surfaced with almost monotonous regularity ever since he got the keys to the council limo.

According to the jungle drums, Kev's political life is once again hanging by a thread, and he is having to try to buy potential assassins off with promises of jobs.

His problem is that he has very little room for manoeuvre in a council where he has to balance the demands of the closet Tory Independents, the divided factions in his own Labour group and an overmighty chief executive.

The outcome of the last elections did not help, with Labour in Llanelli doing well, while the national tide running in favour of Labour bypassed Kev's home patch in Ammanford.

Even Kev's political opponents agree that he is fundamentally a nice man, while his friends acknowledge that he was never one of the brightest bulbs in the room. His public speaking skills make George Dubya Bush look like David Lloyd George.

Churchill may have said that all he had to offer was blood, sweat and tears, but he held out hope of victory and better things to come. Kev's message to the troops this week was that all he has to offer is boiled cabbage. On ration, indefinitely.

Things would not be so bad if he could call upon a talented and vaguely inspiring cabinet, but his deputies Tegwen Devichand and Pam Palmer, are very well suited to dolloping out cabbage in the Canteen of No Hope. The one exception is Colin Evans, but it is hard to see the Llanelli caucus opting for yet another leader from Ammanford.

There may not be much charisma around in the Llanelli Labour caucus either, but there are some thwarted egos. How much longer will they put up with the unremitting diet of boiled brassicas served up by Chef Kev and his grim team?


Anonymous said...

Not a lot can be said about any of our county Councillors. Plaid and the Independents are as dreary as anyone in Labour. Just look at PHG. Could cure anyone's insomnia.

Mrs Angry said...

I am intrigued by your choice of pic, Cneifiwr. Is this woman's outfit traditional in Carmarthenshire? What happened to the pointy hats and shawls?

Of course netting is very on trend, at the moment: Miss Angry and her (male) comapnion wore something very similar yesterday to London Fashion week.

Cneifiwr said...

I don't know what it was - telepathy perhaps - but I kept thinking of you as I wrote this.

Glad to hear that your male companion (Mr Mustard?) still has hair worth netting.

Anonymous said...

What I've been hearing is the plaid leadership is under threat because of the failure to negotiate a cabinet position back in 2012. The disastrous attempt to steal 10 individual independent votes and the snub to o
the Labour Party of 2 seats on the cabinet (and not allow labour to pick who they were) backfired massively on PHG. On thegrapevine is that The new Plaid Councillors would have preferred a proper offer to Labour rather than the clear snub from PHG who assumed he'd be in the leaders office by the Monday after the election.

His Group want him out and have given him one last chance of redemption. Waiting in the wings are several eager faces that have been kept out of the shadow cabinet in favour of Carmarthen West grandees. Hence why the new coalition offer from plaid has come at such a random time, and is the third offer in 12 months! Last chance saloon comes to mind!

Anonymous said...

A lot of this is Members' Room nonsense with a bit of embellishment thrown in for bedevillment.

Kev is not under threat from within his own group. The malcontents are basically Bill Thomas (who is seen as a lone crank banging on about sewerage all the time and whom no other Labour councillor takes seriously) and Anthony Jones (who regards Kev is an idiot but who accepts that Kev is the Godfather who has the votes stitched up; Kev may not be an intellectual but has the political nous to survive in the competitive Labour Group jungle).

The only threat to Kev (as Leader of the Council) comes from within the Independent Group who think that Kev is an embarrassment as Leader and one of their own should lead now the two groups are of equal size.

Word is that if anything should happen to tip the balance to make the Independent Group larger than the Labour Group then there'll be instant inter-coalition demands for and Indy to take the reigns (all this needs is for a Labour, Plaid or Unaffiliated Councillor to defect to the Independent Group or a Labour Councillor to defect to Plaid or Unaffiliated - the latter is what Bill Thomas is expected to do once he realises that he has zero prospects for advancement within the Labour Group in County Hall or the Labour Party in general).

Of course, the ace that Kev has is that he could simply grow a pair, tell Pam Palmer to stick it and do a deal with Plaid.

As for the Plaid rumours, PHG is safe as houses. Seen as a fairly effective leader of the opposition and at least respected across the chamber (the only disquiet in his group is that he is too subservient to the Chief Exec in behind the scenes meetings; it was PHG who was most aggressive in supporting the Chief against Jacqui Thompson and this explains why Caebwryn does not share CneifIwr's pro-Plaid stance).

So there we have the situation as it stands in County Hall at the moment. Could be an interesting 12 months but will probably be a boring next 3 years where the status quo continues...

Cneifiwr said...

An interesting analysis Anon @00.49. If the Indies think Kev is an embarrassment, what do they make of the performance of their own leaderene?

I wouldn't be surprised if Bill Thomas was discovering lots of "friends" he never knew he had right now.

Anonymous said...

The chickens are coming home to roost and the "ruling group" now face fronting the cuts that they will have had practically no role in chosing as the officers know best. Poor Kev is probably out of sorts as he realizes that members of the public may take the title of Council Leader literally and actually blame him for decisions he has rubber stamped for his real bosses.
He can't accept PHG's offer of a grand coalition as Plaid are the largest group and would put insist PHG was leader.
If he has any political sense kev should go for the grand coalition. He'd lose the leaders big salary to PHG but as the cuts hit PHG is also shallow enough to be flattered into compliance by the officers.
By the end of the term the coalition would be in disarray and it will all have been PHG's fault, at least according to the other groups.
The truth is the lack of real talent, drive and burning ideology all CCC councillor groups will produce little chance of rebellion in the short term. Do you really get the politicians you deserve?

Mrs Angry said...

Tssk: MISS Angry, Cneifiwr, here - on the left. /photo/1 This is normal headwear in Broken Barnet, of course.

Anonymous said...

Do you all get the impression that most Councillors seem to be only interested in feathering their own nests?