In denial

Normally, when the heads of political parties lead their followers over an electoral cliff, they do the decent thing and resign – think Neil Kinnock, John Major, William Hague, Michael Howard and, most recently, Ed Miliband.

Jeremy Corbyn seems to be bucking the trend, but it is difficult to see how he can keep his job if the election on June 8 produces the predicted Tory landslide.

Another who seems to believe that the usual rules do not apply is Jamie Adams whose IPPG received the mother of all drubbings on May 4.

Out went deputy leader Keith Lewis; cabinet member and election co-ordinator Rob Lewis; principal yes-women Daphne Bush and Umelda Havard; sycophant extraordinaire David Neale; and serial switcher Owen James.

That makes six to go with the three (Rob Summons, Tom Richards and Steve Yelland) who, as predicted in this column back in February, defected to the Tories just before the election.

And it gets worse because several IPPG loyalists retired at the end of the last term and their seats have fallen either to political party members or those who have pledged to stay truly independent.

Into this category fall (replacements’ names in brackets) Sue Perkins (Joshua Beynon (Lab)); Mark Edwards (Alison Tudor (Lab)); Wynne Evans (Vic Dennis (Lab)); Alison Lee (Paul Dowson (Ind); Johnny Allen-Mirehouse (Margot Bateman (Ind)); Arwyn Williams (Dai Boswell (Tory)); and Lyn Jenkins (Mark Carter (Tory)).

Those of you who have been keeping up will have worked out that this all adds up to 16 (6+3+7) which, when subtracted from 31 (IPPG’s pre-election strength) leaves a sorry-looking bunch of 15.

Not since Napoleon’s retreat from Moscow has there been such carnage.

But, apparently unconcerned by this electoral meltdown, Cllr Adams told the Western Telegraph that the IPPG now faced a “challenging situation” but this could prove a “fresh start” for the authority.

He is right about the “challenging situation” because, under normal rules of arithmetic, it is not easy to see how he is going to get himself re-elected as leader with only a quarter of the council behind him.

It has been suggested that the Tories might come to his rescue, but their 12 seats only takes him up to 28 – still three short of a majority.

Of course he could resort to his time-honoured practice of dangling an SRA, or three, in the opposition pool but even that might not get him over the finishing line because card-carrying Labour party members such as Reg Owens and Simon Hancock might decide that coalition with the Tories was a red line they were not prepared to cross especially if they glimpsed some greener grass on the other side of the fence.

As for Cllr Adams’ “fresh start”, he told the Telegraph: “This is an opportunity to be more forward thinking and forward looking”.

And, the newspaper reports:

“His first move will now be to talk with remaining members of the IPPG group about how to proceed in the next term, and what they do after that will likely involve talking to other councillors too.”

If Jamie Adams thinks he can conjure a business-as-usual scenario out of the wreckage of last Thursday’s election then I can only conclude that over-exposure to the company of boot-licking toadies has left him seriously delusional.

But that’s what he appears to have in mind because he told the paper that he had shown a previous track record of embracing [bribing] members from other groups into Cabinet, and would now need to look at the “pool of talent” available, and “how to use that to best effect for the people of the county”.

There will surely have to be a “fresh start” with some “forward thinking” but the people of Pembrokeshire have sent out the clearest possible message that it shouldn’t be under his leadership.