May 1 2012

 

The love that dare not speak its name.

Please keep the IPG members' election addresses coming. And thank you to those who have already sent me a selection.
If stamps are beyond your pocket, a scanned copy will be fine.
No mention, as yet, of membership of the IPG, or its putative Leader, Cllr Jamie Adams.
Unfortunately, we won't be seeing his election blurb because he's been returned unopposed.
Two Cabinet members in the bag so far.
Neither mentions Cabinet membership, though you might have thought that would have been something they would be proud of.
Then again, perhaps not, because the two Cabinet members in question are Cllrs Anne Hughes and Cllr Huw George.
In Cllr Hughes' case, mention of her Cabinet post and the claim that she doesn't have to toe the party line in the same document, might inspire an alert constituent to enquire about the doctrine of collective Cabinet responsibility (Fantasy island).
With regard to Cllr George, he would find himself having to explain how it came to pass that, while he was Cabinet member for children and young persons, the Care and Social Services Inspectorate Wales (CSSIW), produced a damning report on the failings in the council's child protection services for which he was responsible.
However, his election address, which reads like an episode of "The boys from the blackstuff", suggests he might have his eye on the Highways and Transportation portfolio soon to be vacated by the Leader-elect Cllr Jamie Adams.
His claimed achievements include new road surfaces in Clunderwen, Maenchlochog, Clarbeston Rd and Glandy Cross; footpaths in Llandisilio, Clunderwen and Maenchlochog; and flashing speed lights in Clunderwen, Llandisilio and Maenchlochog.
How he comes to take credit for these is something of a mystery because, I assume, they are all part of the council's routine highways maintenance programme.
He also thinks he is due a pat on the back for "Preventing a youth offenders facility" being sited in Mynachlogddu, though I would have thought that a minister of a religion might find the arrival on his doorstep of all these troubled young people a heaven-sent opportunity to save a few souls.
P.S. Meanwhile, Mr Tony Hodges of Pembroke Dock writes to the Western Telegraph bemoaning the state of the roads in the town, which, he claims, is the pothole capital of Wales.
"Tarmacadam must be a thing of the past in our humble town." He concludes.
Perhaps the people of Pembroke Dock should take to the streets singing this adaptation of Pete Seeger's famous song:

Where has all the tarmac gone?
Long time waiting.
Where has all the tarmac gone?
Long time no see,
Where has all the tarmac gone?
Gone to Clunderwen every ton.
When will we get our turn?
When will we get our turn?.

Actually this isn't quite accurate because only the other day the man who came to fit the new floor to our kitchen made the self same complaint about the state of the roads in the town where he lived.
What he wanted to know was how the council could afford to lay new tarmac to the little-used road between Johnston and Troopers Inn, while there were holes in his street in which you could conceal a tank.
A bit of an exaggeration, maybe, but if anyone knows of other instances, Old Grumpy would be pleased to hear from them.
I am also told that in their desperation to retain/acquire a seat on the gravy train some candidates have resorted to placing placards on grass verges in contravention of election rules.
As I know from my time reporting on the Magistrates Courts, the grass verge counts as the highway for the purposes of failure to have an excise licence on your car.
I believe the same the same definition of highway applies to election posters.
The letter all candidates received from the Returning Officer says: "A request will be made to remove any signs in the highway. If they are not removed they will be by the highway authority."
Whether it is in the spirit of free and fair elections to put these posters out in the hope of gaining some advantage before they are forcibly removed is a moot point.
If you want to see where all the tarmac has gone watch this http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VxwsIow3G7A=

In denial

Johnny Allen Mirehouse's election address has popped up in my inbox and, it seems, I have been doing him a disfavour all these years by hyphenating his name.
No disrespect intended!
He has an interesting new angle (no pun intended) on the meaning of independent.
He states: " I will not be controlled by any Party machine in Cardiff or London - but I serve the best interests of you the People of Pembrokeshire, regardless of any political party line."
Why just Cardiff and London?
What about the party machine in Kremlin on Cleddau of which he is chairman (Biter bitten)?
And surely he understands the doctrine of collective responsibility which requires all members of the Cabinet to either support "the party line" or resign.
This doctrine was explained by the Leader at last October's meeting of full council in response to a question by Cllr Michael Williams.
Cllr Williams wanted to know if the Cabinet member for children and young people, Cllr Huw George, having been stripped of a large part of his responsibilities following the child protection fiasco, had suffered a corresponding reduction in salary.
The minutes record that The Leader ". . . pointed out that Executive functions were not discharged by individual Cabinet Members. The Cabinet took collective responsibility for such functions. It was entirely appropriate, therefore, that there was no direct link between the scope of an individual's portfolio and their level of remuneration."
I also note that Cllr Allen Mirehouse raises the spectre of the return of Dyfed with a claim that there " is a plan in Cardiff to expunge the county of Pembrokeshire from the map and to revert to six counties in Wales. The theory that the large county system will be more efficient is laughable of course. Just as with the Hwyel Dda Health Trust and the new education authority SWAMWAC - Pembrokeshire will be the looser (sic) and Pembrokeshire people will be the poorer."
I agree entirely, which is why I opposed the amalgamation of the three local health trusts which led to the formation of Hywel Dda when the Independent Political Group, of which Cllr Allen Mirehouse is deputy Leader/chairman, used its block vote to force the proposal through council in July 2006.
Cllr Anne Hughes has responded to recent criticisms with an advert in the Western Telegraph in which she describes her activities within the the Independent Political Group of which she is a leading light - Cabinet member, no less - as "the possibility of working with others to undertake change within the freedom of a group with similar aspirations and no restraints"
Cllr Hughes would do well to to follow Denis Healey's advice: "When in a hole stop digging" because, as a Cabinet member, she is restrained by the doctrine of collective Cabinet responsibility (Fantasy island) and no amount of bluster can conceal the fact.
She says the voters will have to ask themselves: "Is the candidate local and committed to you, the ward, our town and County?"
I would have thought an even more important question is whether the candidate is committed to telling it as it is.

Faustian pact

If you thought the MP's expenses scandal revealed the depths of corruption in our public life, just wait until the Leveson inquiry produces its report later this year.
What we know so far is that the police, News International and people in the highest reaches of Government were, to use the late Jim McBreaty's wonderful description, all peeing in the same pot.
These were not his exact words, but I have to take account of the fact that your wives or servants might read this.
And what is amazing is that we might never have heard about this if newspapers like the Guardian hadn't pursued the matter.
You will remember that the original story was that the phone hacking scandal was all down to one rogue reporter and a private detective who were on a frolic of their own.
It was only when the Guardian got to hear about the huge amount of hush money paid to Graham Taylor and the hacking of Millie Dowler's mobile phone that the story acquired new legs.
Dozens have been arrested and the NoW closed, and I suspect there is much, much more to come.
It is David Cameron's misfortune that this has all come to light on his watch, but Nu Labour was up to its neck in it as well.
I remember Rory Bremnar's brilliant joke after Tony Blair flew half way round the world to pay court to Murdoch.
"What's he doing associating with a notorious right winger like that?" Bremner asked.
The answer: "Rupert will suffer no lasting damage."
Of course we are fortunate in this country to have 10 national newspapers all fighting each other for circulation.
And they all know that printing stories that the others haven't got is the way to sell newspapers.
How much would we have heard about any of this if Murdoch had a newspaper monopoly?
Rupert Murdoch went to great pains to stress to the Leveson inquiry that he had never asked any British politician for a favour.
Perhaps he didn't need to.
The politicians are smart enough to know what will please Rupert, and Rupert is smart enough to work out that, by dangling the prospect of his newspapers' support in front of politicians, they will do whatever it is they think will please him..
A sort of unspoken Faustian pact.

By the way I've had a nice plug from the University of Glamorgan School of Journalism.
http://journalism.blogs.glam.ac.uk/2012/02/27/old-grumpy-the-man-they-tried-to-gag-rides-again/

Promoted and published by the candidate Mike Stoddart Milford Haven Hakin ward Pembrokeshire County Council elections 3 May 2012
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