Kremlin watch

The county council has been running a series of training events for members.
Last week, Grumpette attended one on assertiveness.
Taking coals to Newcastle has nothing on this.
I had things to do in the garden so I declined the invitation thinking that the information would be cascaded down to me when she came home.
However, my enquiries have been met with a wall of silence.
Even the print-out of the powerpoint presentation, which might have helped me devise some counter-measures, is nowhere to be found.
I am thinking about writing in to ask if they can put on a course in self-defence.

Spare a thought for poor old Cllr Ken Rowlands who finds himself having to rub shoulders with the hoi polloi in the members’ tea room after losing his place in the Cabinet.
Being fair to “The Voice of Johnston” is not something that comes easily to Old Grumpy, but, if you profess to believe in justice, you have to accept that it is everyone’s entitlement – friend and foe alike.
And is it fair that Cllr Rowlands, who has been in place during the painful period, recently ended, that the council’s education service has been in special measures, should be relieved of his portfolio while Cllr Huw George, who presided over the original debacle, has been promoted to deputy leader?
The talk is that, for a few days after the axe fell, a bemused Cllr Rowlands could be found wandering the corridors of the Kremlin on Cleddau telling anyone who would listen that he was not well pleased with his demotion.
However, in a recent letter from the chief executive, members were informed that Cllr Rowlands had “stepped down” from the Cabinet.
I can only assume that is “stepped down” as in what happens to the man on the gallows when they open the trapdoor.
A further blow to Ken’s ego comes with the news that responsibility for education has now passed into the hands of another Labour defector, Cllr Sue Perkins.
Older Kremlinologists will remember that one of the reasons Cllr Rowlands jumped ship to the IPG in 2008 was that he was defeated in a Labour Group leadership contest by then red Sue.
Well, would you want to be a member of a group who opted to ignore Ken’s towering intellect in favour of Cllr Perkins?
The Western Telegraph carried an interesting and revealing report of the spat between Ken and Sue at the time.
It is something of a backhanded compliment that The Leader has decided that he needed to appoint two new Cabinet members – Cllrs Keith Lewis and Rob Summons – to replace The Voice.
These two have featured in recent postings on this website – Cllr Summons for his supporting role to Cllr Pugh’s attack on me at the December meeting of council and Cllr Lewis for his Oscar-winning performance during the debate on the chief executive’s pension arrangements.
It is tempting to refer to this pair as the two stooges, though it is probably more charitable to conclude that loyalty is its own reward.
Or was that virtue?

Over on that other website the young whippersnapper is reporting that, almost five months after the matter was referred to them by PCC, the police have yet to start an investigation into the grants caper in Pembroke Dock.
I notice he has titled the piece “Sleeping policemen” – so, not so much Z-Cars as Zzzzzzzzzzzzz-Cars.
The reason given for the delay is that the police are currently liaising with the Wales European Funding Office (WEFO) on whether an investigation is “appropriate”.
As Jacob observes, WEFO’s multiple audits of these grants have invariably provided a clean bill of health, so they are, in effect, marking their own homework.

There is a massive agenda for Thursday’s meeting of full council with 34 questions and and nine notices of motion.
Of the questions, only one comes from a member of the IPPG – a softball served up by ultra-loyalist Cllr Daphne Bush on the subject of the recent emergence of the council’s education service from special measures.
A more interesting question is how the council got into special measures in the first place and I understand that BBC Wales’ ‘Week in- Week out‘ will be casting some light on this subject at 10.35 this evening (Tuesday).

The notice of motion that most caught my eye was that submitted in the name of Cllrs D Lloyd, R P Kilmister, R M Lewis and D K Howlett.
To be perfectly honest, I’m not sure what this obscurely worded NoM means, though I have a vague feeling it is something to do with a series of recent “working together” seminars organised by the Leader.

It is accompanied by a list of reasons for its adoption, the first of which reads: “To ensure the highest standards of probity and integrity in all workings of the authority”.

And, before you ask, the Cllr R M Lewis who is calling for these highest standards of probity and integrity is the same R M Lewis who was recently given a two week suspension for unlawful use of the council’s computers for party political purposes during the 2012 elections.
And the same R M Lewis who told the Ombudsman that he had paid Mr Clive James £90-£100 for printing his election leaflets while also telling the Electoral Commission that he had bought paper and ink cartridges at a cost of £56, presumably so that he could print them himself.
Whatever the truth, there is no sign of the legally required invoice from Mr James in his election return.
Probity and integrity – have these people no sense of irony?
This “working together” business is very popular in some circles, but, for myself, I am rather keen on the UK’s adversarial style of politics which I consider to be the main reason why this country is one of the few in Europe that has not had a fascist government in my lifetime (b. 1940).

As Adam Smith put it: “People of the same trade seldom gather together, even for merriment and diversion, but the conversation ends in a conspiracy against the public…” 
Smith was talking about the merchant classes, but the same applies to politicians, in spades.
All working together leads inevitably to groupthink and the tendency towards confirmation bias as described by the philosopher Karl Popper:
“If we are uncritical we shall always find what we want: we shall look for, and find, confirmations, and we shall look away from, and not see, whatever might be dangerous to our pet theories”.
And before you know it you have progressed to ‘noble-cause corruption’, whereby, having collectively convinced yourselves that you are right, you can justify telling lies on the grounds that it is all for the good of the people.