Tuesday 18 November 2014

Trelech - the runners and riders

Nominations for the by-election in Trelech have now closed, and there are three candidates:

Jean Lewis (Plaid Cymru)

Hugh Phillips (Independent)

Selwyn Runnett (Liberal Democrat)

It had been rumoured that Ukip would be throwing its hat into the ring, but it would seem that they couldn't find a candidate. Labour would have faced the same minor difficulty.

Trelech is one of the largest and most rural wards in Carmarthenshire, comprising the village of Trelech itself, a handful of other settlements and numerous farms.

Jean Lewis is a well-known and respected figure locally. She has a long track record of voluntary work in the community and is described as honest and hard working.

Selwyn Runnett is one of those veteran LibDems who can't see an election without wanting to stand. He has something of a mountain to climb, and his prospects won't be helped by memories of Ken Rees who was the last LibDem to be elected to the county council in 2008. No sooner had he been elected under the LibDem banner than Ken got into bed with Meryl Gravell's "Independents". He is understood to have been flirting with Ukip more recently.

The Independents are at least in theory not a political party, and the charade that is usually played out is that someone will sign up to join Pam Palmer's gang only when they have been elected. This means that voters can never be sure whether a candidate is really independent.

In the case of Trelech the Indies made strenuous efforts to find a candidate before alighting on Hugh Phillips, also known as Hugh Gilfach.

Mr Phillips comes with a very colourful history for what is a very quiet and deeply rural area, and the timing of the election is very fortunate because a 10-year undertaking by him not to serve as a director of any company came to an end earlier this year.

The background is a long and highly complex series of court battles over an innovative scheme designed to bypass some of the more onerous aspects of the old milk quota regime. Mr Phillips saw himself as a victim of a campaign by the Intervention Board for Agricultural Produce and subsequently by the Welsh Government to "stop Hugh Phillips".

The dispute had been long-running when companies owned by Mr Phillips went bust owing around £10.6 million at the end of the 1990s. Court cases continued until 2004 when Mr Phillips finally gave his undertaking not to hold any more company directorships or take part in the management of any companies.

For its part, the Government issued a lengthy statement in February 2004 summarising the case and the findings. Among the many findings was:

5. That he caused the production of a forged letter to Clydesdale, the company's bankers, giving an explanation purporting to come from Barclays Bank Plc for the fact that a cheque was not met on presentation which was misleading and untrue. Also, he caused a further letter to be sent to Clydesdale giving a misleading and untrue explanation as to the circumstances in which the forged letter had been provided to them.

In a world of so much change, it is comforting to see that the traditions and standards of the Independent group shine out like a beacon in the gloom.


Anonymous said...

Ha ha. Huw Phillipps! I would have thought and ideal addition to the Kremlin on the Tywi.

Anonymous said...

With a history like that in Carmarthenshire, Mr Phillips has got to be the odds-on favourite to win.

Jac o' the North, said...

Strangely comforting. Though in the world of Welsh rural politics Mr Phillips' little misunderstanding with the Clydesdale Bank may be dismissed as par for the course in the career of an imaginative rural businessmen.

Anonymous said...

I quite understand your bias towards the Plaid Cymru candidate in this by-election, Jean Davies. You are entitled to your view and the opinion you have expressed about her. What you are not entitled to do is make innuendos and judgements about me personally when you don't know me.

Jean Davies is, indeed, a well-known and respected figure locally. I assume that your overall comment about me implies that I'm not. Well, I'm not from Carmarthenshire originally, but I have lived in the Trelech Ward and been part of the local community for 15 years - perhaps that doesn't count as far as you're concerned?

I am not "one of those veteran Lib Dems who can't see an election without wanting to stand". As I'm only 56 years of age, I don't yet put myself in the category of "veteran". I stand as a Lib Dem candidate because I'm a Liberal. I have only ever stood in those elections where I have a direct connection with the community concerned. The inneundo that I'm some sort of carpet-bagger who'll stand anywhere he thinks he might get elected is completely false and unjustified.

You are also not entitled to smear me by association. This is way below the normal standards we expect from you. I am not Ken Rees and your attempt to imply that I will behave in exactly the same way as he did in 2008 has no foundation. For the record Ken Rees is no longer a Member of the Liberal Democrats and, in fact, the majority of Liberal Democrats in Carmarthenshire were opposed to his association with the Independent Group.

If you are asking me: will I join with the Independent Group if I'm elected, the answer is 'No'. If elected, and given the fact that I'll be the only Lib Dem on the Council, I intend to be an unaffiliated Councillor voting and deciding issues in the best interests of my constituents.

I think it's perhaps too expect you to apologise for your comments. However, I think we should actually have an open, honest and clean contest for this By-Election. I think that's what people locally want and expect. I hope you will actually publish this response on your Blog.

Cneifiwr said...

Selwyn - you read rather a lot into a very short paragraph, including several things that were not there.

It is understandable, given previous experience with the LibDems in Carmarthenshire, that people should want to know whether you would join the Independents, or indeed any of the other groups.

Anonymous said...

Well said Selwyn.

You are right in what you say about. Cyneifwrs preference for the Plaid candidate. it is obvious he will say stuff to get her elected.

His paragraph about you was without foundation and quite frankly wasn't fair.

Also what wasn't fair was his assertion that the Plaid candidate was well thought of in the community and well respected etc etc - respected by whom ? Thought of as honest and hard working by whom ?

Obviously this blog is from the perspective of a Welsh Nat but I think you do have a responsibility to try at least to be a little balanced and not denegrate someone simply because they have the temerity to stand against Saint Jean !!!!

Anonymous said...

There is no Jean Davies standing!

Cneifiwr said...

Thank you Anon - this has now been corrected.

Blodwen said...

I'm not quite sure why people think Cyneifiwr has a responsiblity to present an unbiased political opinion on his blog. As long as what he writes is not libellous or derogatory, he has every right to state his point of view. After all, I assume he's not employed by the BBC who have to try to be impartial. He invariably prints comments from people who disagree with him so what's the problem?

gaynor said...

Selwyn I am glad that if you win you will not sit with the Independents and will hold you to that statement, diolch yn fawr

Gwyndaf said...

Selwyn, I don't think many people visit this Plaid Cymru blog expecting impartial political commentary, so I wouldn't worry about the author's partisan bias too much. Pob lwc.

Anonymous said...

Was there a libdem standing in the last county election in trelech?