Another council meeting and another load of half-baked twaddle from deputy leader Cllr Rev Huw George.
This was during the debate on my motion of no confidence in the Rev George’s fellow deputy leader Cllr Rob Lewis, who, you may recall, was suspended for two weeks by the standards committee for misuse of council computers and subsequently found by the author of that other website to have told conflicting stories to the Ombudsman and the returning officer about the cost of printing his election material.
As both these are statutory bodies, to which elected members have a duty to tell the truth, this is regarded in some quarters as a rather serious matter.
But not by Cllr George and the vast majority of councillors, it appears, because only 13 members supported my motion of no confidence at last Thursday’s council meeting.
Cllr George began his defence of Cllr Lewis with the words: “There are many members of all parties and none who can look deep today.”
He then went on to say that he shared an office with Cllr Lewis and daily witnessed the parade of members who come to see him with their constituents’ problems.
“And Rob will address them – it doesn’t matter where they come from – Rob will address them and help them”.
So, he seemed to be saying, it’s payback time – Rob has helped you keep on the right side of your electorate, now you should support him in his hour of need.
And he finished with a flourish: “His main aim is to help Pembrokeshire. Simply put, in my mind, Rob tried to help people on the wrong computer. I would rather support someone who’s doing the right type of thing on the wrong computer than people who are trying to destroy people on the right computer.”
His Leader, sitting next to him, can be seen on the webcast vigorously nodding his head and smiling broadly at this clever, but flawed, series of soundbites.
Cllr George is the man who explained on radio that, as a result of the Chief Executive’s unlawful tax-avoiding pension arrangements, the “taxman gained in each and every way”.
So, without quite being able to put your finger on it, you know that whenever he speaks he is probably talking through his hat, if that isn’t putting it too high.
However, thanks to the wonders of the webcast we can now take it down in writing for use as evidence.
As for helping Pembrokeshire and helping people on the wrong computer, it is interesting to examine what Cllr Lewis told the Ombudsman. I have added the words in square brackets for clarity.
Ombusman: Now you made the point before that you’re Secretary of…
Lewis: Of the Independent [Political] Group, yes.
Ombudsman: And are you trying to say that that affected the way you dealt with this?
Lewis: Well, as the ruling group we were 39 [out of 60 members] pre the election.
Lewis: I was there to help members [of the Independent Political Group] you know, obviously, we have an interest in keeping control [of] the council.
So, rather than trying to “help Pembrokeshire” Cllr Lewis was using council computers for election purposes with a view to ensuring that he could continue to help himself to the eighteen grand SRA that comes with being deputy leader.
As for those nasty people who “use the right computers to destroy people” I take that to be a reference to the author of that other website and myself.
The use of the words right and wrong to describe this use of computers is an example of what logicians call the systematic ambiguity of language which leads inevitably to sloppy thinking.
The “wrong computer” sounds like it was a mistake – as in in he took the wrong turning.
Much more accurate would be to distinguish between lawful (right) and unlawful (wrong) use of these computers.
The corrupting effects of power are clearly on display when your set of values becomes so seriously warped that you prefer someone who unlawfully uses council computers and then lies to either the Ombudsman or the returning officer, over those who lawfully use computers to disseminate the truth.
And, of course, while to help people is virtuous, to destroy them is evil.
Incidentally, this is the same rhetorical trick used by Cllr Simon Hancock in his speech on the same subject when he sought to brand those who thought Rob Lewis should be censured as malicious when compared to the charitable souls who preferred to turn a blind eye.
It pays keep your bullshit detector switched on when dealing with these people.
But, as I’ve pointed out above, Rob Lewis’ main objective was to help himself and cronies like Huw George to maintain themselves in power.
As for destroying people, they do that by their own actions.
Jacob and I merely report the facts – none of which, so far as I’m aware, have ever been disputed.
It wasn’t either of us who persuaded Rob Lewis to misuse council computers. Nor that he should tell the Ombudsman one thing about his election expenditure and the returning officer another.
Nor were we responsible for Huw George’s false claims in his election address that the £300,000 worth of tarmac laid in his ward in the year prior to the 2012 election was the result of “positive politics” when in fact it was, I am told, scheduled routine maintenance.
And it wasn’t my idea that Cllrs Adams and Pugh should lie to the council about what they had seen in the attic of Coronation School.
Or that Pugh should invent a “third side elevation” at No 25 Dimond Street in order to discredit my claims about the over-measurement of the rendering at that property.
And we had no part in writing Ken Rowlands’ election blurb in which he claimed, falsely, that £7 million had been “committed” to a new school in Johnston.
I had no influence on Sue Perkins’ decision to tell council that she had voted against the Chief Executive on a previous motion of no confidence when the recorded vote in the council’s minutes clearly show that she did the exact opposite.
I’m afraid Cllr George is playing the old game of shooting the messenger.
Worse than that, he impliedly claims some sort of immunity from being held to account.
If those in power are destroyed because their wrongdoing is exposed to public gaze, that’s tough.
It is also the mechanism by which democracies are saved from lapsing into banana republicanism.
Though I have to say, in the case of PCC, it isn’t exactly working all that well.