Sunday 2 April 2017

Election Tour 2017: A big beast, reading, riting and rithmatic and the Spanish Civil War

Correction 3 April

Many thanks to Rob James for pointing out on Twitter that Nia Griffith MP did in fact attend the rather modest campaign launch in Carmarthen where a small group of oldies in red T-shirts gathered on the steps of County Hall.

A brief exchange of messages followed, with an account called Maryetta Ulmen liking Rob's reply.

Maryetta Ulmen sells followers and likes for people wanting to be more popular on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.

Surely not?


With the clock ticking down on the deadline for nominations on 4 April, rumours are flying about the identity of some late entrants to the race.

For reasons which readers of this blog may be able to understand, it is said that Labour has been finding it difficult to fill some of the blanks on its slate in and around Llanelli, and one of the late surprise entrants is believed to be Keith Price Davies, Llanelli's former AM, who is coming out of retirement for a run at the council, possibly in Hengoed.

Joy is unlikely to be unconfined in the Llanelli Labour Party, with Keith having criticised both Tegwen Devichand and Lee Waters in recent months.

The 2012 council elections were very good for Labour across Wales as the party recovered from the Brown years, but its fortunes in Carmarthenshire were rather more mixed. While it did well in Llanelli, the Labour surge petered out in the Amman Valley.

Things are rather different this time round, and Keith Davies will find himself swimming against a strong tide, but if he succeeds the council chamber may contain two former Assembly Members, the other being Rhodri Glyn Thomas who is standing in St Clears for Plaid.

Launching the Titanic 

Last week also saw the launch of Labour's official campaign. Its two big beasts, Nia Giffith MP and Lee Waters AM, turned up to events in Llanelli and Ammanford, but failed to show in Carmarthen, which they seem already to have written off.

Those familiar with Labour campaigns will know that the party is very fond of pledge cards which seek to crystallise its key messages without going into tricky details such as targets and timings. A perennial favourite is "send a message to Westminster", but things are so messy there that for once we are being spared that one.

What we have this time includes promises to tackle litter, re-start council house building and "building new schools fit for the 21st century".

Labour is probably hoping that nobody remembers the last Labour-led council which made a lot of fuss about building council houses, but which managed to build only half a dozen or so bungalows for the elderly at a massively inflated cost. Council house building only got underway when they lost control of the council.

The 21st century schools programme has been underway for years under both Labour and Plaid administrations, and is set to continue.

Kevin Madge recently showed that the three Rs were never one of his strongest suits when he claimed that there was a £2 million shortfall for the new Ammanford "super-school". It turned out that he had mis-read a council report, and that the school was to receive an additional £7 million in funding.

Another pledge is to "reverse the privatisation of social care services". When Labour was in power until 2015 it privatised 80% of the council's care services, with Kevin Madge telling the then leader of the Plaid opposition group that it didn't matter who ran the services, provided they were there.

In the case of all three of these pledges, voters should ask searching questions. What, specifically, are they planning to do that is different from what is already being done, and where will the money come from at a time when local government finances are being bled dry?

The same applies to another aspiration to set up and run a "municipal bus company".

The final pledge is of the motherhood and apple pie variety. Labour says it will run a "modern and transparent" council. We have heard that one before.

Llangennech - it's the Spanish Civil War all over again!

Students of history will know that the politics of the Spanish Civil War were very complicated, with a myriad of competing political groups with different agendas coming together in fraternal solidarity before turning their guns on each other.

Things seem to be not much different in Llangennech where La Pasionaria Michaela Beddows has taken to hanging out with Hamilton's Falangists, the Stalinists are coalescing around Tegwenita Devichand, Lee Waters is holed up in Barry blaming everyone, and Nia Griffith is busy explaining the benefits of nuclear weapons to vegan collectives.

That leaves POUM (Partido Obrero de UnificaciĆ³n Marxista) or the Workers' Party of Marxist Unification. Wikipedia helpfully tells us that POUM was formed by the fusion of the Trotskyist Communist Left of Spain (Izquierda Comunista de EspaƱa, ICE) and the Workers and Peasants' Bloc (BOC, affiliated with the Right Opposition) against the will of Leon Trotsky, with whom the former broke.

Following the death of Franco, POUM re-emerged to fight the first democratic elections as part of a coalition of other groups which together notched up just 0.22% of the popular vote. The party was dissolved in 1980, but it lives on in Llangennech in the form of Gary Jones, who uses the Twitter handle @poumista.

 Here he is preparing to go into battle.


Jac o' the North, said...

Is this Labour's new canvassing tactic? Knock on the window, 'Hello, madam, I'm your local Labour candidate . . . ah! I see you've noticed my helmet . . . '.

Anonymous said...

God i been put right off my cream tea !
I find lab hilaious i mean scraping the barrel now with ex AMs and the amount of deselections its like Bynea and Llwynhendy all over again when they deselected Don and Dil amongst others !

Stan said...

When I had my mugshot done like that the rozzers made me take my hat off and keep my shirt on! Possibly different rules apply down your way, Cyneifiwr?

Further to your comment about Labour having difficulty finding names, particularly in Llanelli, in NPT there has been an explosion of husbands or wives of existing councillors signing up for the cause. There were two married Labour couples on the Council. One couple has been de-selected and both are supposedly standing as Independents, having allegedly gone on long term sick since de-selection and resigned their beloved Labour Party. But others, who may have watched with envious eyes those two councillor allowances coming into one household, have rushed to fill the void. There are now four confirmed Labour husbands and wives having a go. In a few days we shall learn if there are even more. Is this a record?

Jac o' the North, said...

Well, well, Rob James buying 'Likes' on Twitter! And there was me thinking it was all down to his charisma.

jeff3 said...

the greedie ones want the power still hmm strangely wales hasnt rid itself of these parasite

Anonymous said...

I was told that the Labour lot (small lot) had congregated outside County Hall in Carmarthen, and were unceremoniously sent packing by the Deputy Chief Exec!!

Anonymous said...

Keith Price Davies & Rhodri Glyn Thomas both ex AM must have poor pensions that they are seeking an additional £13k top upto serve in County Hall . But if you have champagne & cigar addictions every little helps . Interestingly Keith is 75 and will be 80 when the term ends in 2022

Cneifiwr said...

To be fair Anon@10.40, I don't think either of them is doing it for the money. Rhodri would certainly liven things up a bit, as would Keith Davies, although in very different ways...

Anonymous said...

Correct me if im wrong but Nia Griffith is MP to all Llanelli ?
Then why is she campaigning with ONLY labour candidates ?

Anonymous said...

5/4 @15.33 then why are Adam & Jonathan not campaigning for all the other candidates -its a Party thing

Anonymous said...

Maybe it should be stopped then . Candidates do the work themselves .

Anonymous said...

Keith Davies - aka train-wreck AM - is a joke, and a joke that should not be re-imposed on the people of Llanelli. They really DON'T deserve to have to put up again with this drunken, womanising slob.

Cneifiwr said...

Don't mince your words, Anon @22.34!

Anonymous said...

Good Question ! She was seen all over with the Labour candidates , but Did not support any other party & she is meant to be "our" AM for all of Llanelli !
I really hope Labour are out of the assembly at the General election , because to be honest they have Done nothing for us people in Llanelli , oh sorry they closed out A & E thank's for that!