Wednesday 11 March 2015

In defence of Randy Andy and in praise of old-fashioned common sense

As readers will be aware, many of those who leave comments on this blog do so anonymously.

A recent post about Towy Community Church clearly upset one particular reader who felt that this blog had been less than respectful of the Duke of York for suggesting that his private life was "entirely beyond reproach".

The fact that the prince includes among his friends a convicted paedophile, and was recently named in a court case involving allegations of parties with underage girls kept as sex slaves is neither here nor there. He has also had a bad press for taking a holiday with a Libyan gun smuggler and meeting Qaddafi and various other dictators and their business friends. Carping busybodies have criticised his lavish lifestyle, including his legitimate expenses claims such as a modest £130,000 for a business trip to Brazil which involved being photographed with a group of bikini-wearing models on a speedboat.

It could happen to anyone, and if it weren't for the gutter press, nobody would be any the wiser.

Anonymous also had strong views about the flying of flags at County Hall in Carmarthen, claiming that the council had to fly the Union Jack to celebrate the Duke's birthday "by law", whereas there is no law requiring the council to fly other flags, such as the rainbow flag to celebrate the existence of lesbian, gay, bi-sexual and transgender people and their history of often violent oppression.

The suggestion was that the council was right to refuse to fly the rainbow flag, something which would only have encouraged those who indulge in acts which the Bible says are "an abomination" deserving of death.*

As for the law which says that councils must fly flags to celebrate the birthdays of the duke and other members of his family, it appears that these are actually guidelines rather than a law, and it is unlikely that anyone would be hauled off to the Tower of London for forgetting Andy's birthday.

On the other hand, councils which neglect to honour such distinguished members of society might find that the authorities are less willing to shower their officers and members with CBEs, OBEs and MBEs.


It was no doubt purely a coincidence that the blogpost which so upset Anonymous also upset Cllr Pam Palmer, the leader of the "Independent" group on Carmarthenshire County Council. It emerged on Monday of this week that she had read what the blogs had had to say about Towy Community Church and its links with the council, and formed the view that they were libellous.

The subject came up in a part of the Executive Board's latest meeting which was open to press and public, and we learned that the entire Board had been over to the council-funded bowling alley in Johnstown to see for themselves the wonderful work being done there.

The reason for the visit was that the church had breached the conditions of its lease by occupying a part of the building without permission, a minor transgression which the Board has determined to forgive.

Meryl Gravell (Ind) was very enthusiastic. This was "the largest social enterprise we have ever put together, a very complex project with lots of time and effort by so many officers." 

Pam (Ind) declared that this was "a Christian enterprise" taking things forward, and she was very proud of them.

Jane Tremlett (Ind) was also hugely impressed, and wanted the council to facilitate a £20,000 grant for a boiler to heat part of the building the church now wants to occupy and transform into a church auditorium.

Unfortunately, thanks to the unwarranted interference of the Wales Audit Office, the council's libel indemnity clause is currently languishing in suspension from the constitution, so Cneifiwr and Caebrwyn are not expecting to receive a writ any time soon for daring to criticise the council's generous funding of an organisation whose stated core values are that every word of the Bible is literally true, that the Good Book is the final authority in all matters of faith and conduct, and that those who don't sign up to it face an eternity of conscious punishment worse even than listening to Pam holding forth on the decline of common sense in modern society.

But perhaps the council could facilitate some grant funding to ensure that justice is done.

Pam's dislike of external scrutiny by the press and bloggers is no secret. She has strong views about filming council meetings, and also dealt firmly with the scandal over the blacklisting by the council of the South Wales Guardian. 

It will be recalled that a leaked e-mail from the press office called for the newspaper to be placed under a fatwa for criticising the council, the punishment being the withdrawal of council advertising.

All attempts by opposition councillors to raise the matter in the council chamber were blocked, and a decision was taken by the top brass to refer the accusations to Pam Palmer for consideration. In a brief meeting where she was assisted by the author of the famous e-mail, she formed the view that everything was just fine.

For all those who believe that press freedom and free speech have gone too far, it will come as some relief to know that Pam's rag bag portfolio also includes responsibility for overseeing the council's use of  RIPA, the notorious act which gives councils and other public bodies sweeping powers to carry out surveillance of the public.

Whether the Johnstown social enterprise would have received quite such fulsome praise if it had been run by fundamentalist Muslims or people of other faiths or none is something we can only speculate about, but Pam would perhaps be better advised to spend more time reading up on diversity policy and equalities legislation than obsessing about libel.

It seems the way is now open for a spate of grant awards to assist Towy Community Church in building its own particular version of the New Jerusalem in Johnstown.

Meanwhile, Cneifiwr finds himself rubbing shoulders with Leighton Andrews in Pam's bad books. In another outpouring of her robust common sense views, Pam last week described some of Leighton's proposals for reforming local government and "driving out mediocrity" as "an abomination".

We all know where that sort of thing can lead, and Leighton Andrews would be well advised to steer clear of Carmarthen for a while.

Justice being meted out in Nott Square

More on the subject of Leighton's white paper in due course.

* Other brands of Christianity are also available.


Anonymous said...

Arbennig o dda.

Redhead said...

See my comment on so-called "social enterprises on Carmarthenshire Planning blog: they are a con trick created by central government to asset strip and/or surreptitiously fund assets so stripped.

It's like the banking scandal on a slightly smaller scale - but still with bonuses!

Anonymous said...

Pam's flag fury is another illustration of how out of touch she is. Prince Andrew is, after all,only a minor member of the Royal Family,whose public reputation as a pampered playboy, with dubious social connections, does him little credit. He has no substantive connections with Carmarthenshire. To try to justify flying a flag for him as a mark of respect, when refusing to do so as a token acknowledgement of the struggles, victimisation and prejudice that LGBT people have faced, many of whom live in Carmarthenshire, is a real slap in the face for a section of the community she obviously holds in contempt.

Redhead said...

Ah, but the LBGT groups don't have Buckingham Palace garden parties!

Cneifiwr said...

Anon@15.00 In fairness I'd better point out that the comment was submitted by Anonymous.

Anonymous said...

I'll sign my name to this proudly... :)

As a Jewish constituent here in Camrmarthenshire, I'd be interested to know how Meryl thinks the Towy Community Church is making use of the portion of its funding its received from me as a taxpayer to provide any sort of "social enterprise" that I can derive any benefit from... Surely taxpayers money should be used for the benefit of ALL taxpayers, regardless of what faith they belong to...

Redhead said...

We had a planning application that included a "community centre" which turned out to be only the community of a minority "Christian" sect that didn't fraternise wirh outsiders, put through as their elders owned the land and would have made a financial killing with the development around it (to be administered by a housing association where the people running it were the sane sect ... you get the idea!