Wednesday 10 May 2017

Havard Hughes: Second home from home

A little known fact is that there are as many elephants in Carmarthenshire than there are elected Tories.

One of the consequences of calling a snap election in the middle of the local government election campaign was that the parties, including the Tories, were caught on the hop, in many cases with no candidates in place.

There have been rows in other places, most notably Bridgend, where Conservative Central Office imposed a London candidate on the constituency party in preference to local members. Now the same is happening in Carmarthen East and Dinefwr where Havard Hughes, a former LibDem, is being parachuted in over the heads of local talent and hoping to join Valli the elephant at the Skanda Vale ashram near Llanpumsaint and Simon Hart as the sole representatives of their respective species in the constituency. And Hart relies on the southern half of Pembrokeshire to get elected.

With just four weeks to go until polling day, and rather less in the case of the growing number of voters who opt for postal ballots (somewhere around the 30% mark), the local Conservative association's website is currently silent on the topic, still promoting its candidate for the Cynwyl Gaeo ward in the council elections on 4 May (he lost). Perhaps Conservative Central Office has not got around to telling them yet.

But Havard Hughes is the man who will be wearing the blue rosette, and he has announced his "selection" on Twitter.

Hughes lives in London and works as media and public affairs manager for the Coventry Building Society in Coventry.

Although he grew up in Carmarthenshire, Hughes has spent most of his adult life in the Big Smoke, and for much of that time he was a fervent Liberal Democrat, chairing the LibDem Students in Cambridge before going on to work for Vince Cable and becoming a LibDem councillor.

Unlikely though it is that Havard Hughes intends to move back to live among us, he describes Carmarthenshire as his "second home", a phrase which carries rather different connotations in the north of Carmarthenshire and shows that he has spent rather too long away from Rhydargaeau, which is where his Twitter profile would have us believe he now lives.

Describing himself as an "instinctive liberal", he decided to jump ship to the Tories in 2007 having been persuaded that David Cameron's liberal conservatism addressed things that mattered to him, such as the environment.

Liberal values, a concern for the environment and so much else that Cameron claimed to stand for are so last year. As one wit recently commented after the UK Government was found by the European Court of Justice to have been in breach of EU laws over the amount of sewage and waste water discharged into the sea off Carmarthenshire, we will soon be free to drink as much sewage as we like.

The ECJ has also issued the UK with a final warning for breaching air pollution controls on nitrogen dioxide, but with luck we may be out of the EU before the matter can be taken further.

Last week Theresa May's government was forced by the High Court to publish its proposals for tackling air pollution after it tried to delay publication until after the election. The flimsy paper which came out met with near universal derision, with claims that it was even weaker than the previous version which was ruled inadequate in November last year.

Havard Hughes' instinctive liberalism and concern for the environment seem to have gone the same way as his hero worship for David Cameron as he prepares to go into battle for the distinctly illiberal Theresa May.

Or perhaps his liberal, environmentalist principles are still there. It's hard to tell.

Whatever the case may be, the former long-term activist for the pro-EU LibDems and admirer of the pro-EU David Cameron is likely to be regarded with some suspicion by the pro-Brexit contingent in Carmarthen East and Dinefwr. 

If Havard Hughes comes up against Neil Hamilton in any hustings, the sparks are likely to fly, with disgraceful suggestions that the Tory candidate is in fact a Saboteur and Enemy of the Will of the People merely waiting for the political winds to shift once again.

Meanwhile Hamilton himself has polled what Professor Roger Scully says is the lowest score for any political leader in all of his 25 years in academia, a message which was promptly retweeted by Llanelli AM Lee Waters, who was clearly relieved that there is someone in Welsh politics even less popular than he is.

In four weeks from now Havard Hughes will be heading back to the congenial delights of Hampstead, and as the words "strong and stable leadership" are paroted for the final time, Valli will trumpet into the starry Camrarthenshire night, and there will still be as many elephants as Tories in Carmarthenshire.


Emlyn Uwch Cych said...

O Cneifiwr, do try to keep up! Llampumsaint has been in the Carmarthen West and South Pembs seat since the 2010 General Election.

There are no more elephants than elected Tories in Carmarthen East and Dinefwr.

Cneifiwr said...

Wps. Diolch am ddweud.