Dodging the column

While wandering around county hall late this afternoon, I noticed lights on in committee room 2.

Peering through the glass panels, I noticed Brian Hall sitting all alone at the end of the room.

Then I spotted the Leader; the back of Ken Rowlands’ head; and the profile of Lyn Jenkins the member for Solva.

Which committee could this be meeting late on a Tuesday afternoon, I asked myself?

My Grandmother taught me that it’s bad manners to stare, but I did anyway – if you install glazed doors you presumably expect people to look through them – and then my knowledge of the political balance rules came to the rescue when I realised that, without exception, those present were all members of that disreputable band of brothers and sisters who hold sway in county hall.

It dawned on me that I was observing the secret meeting of the non-political, political group known as the IPPG (Independent Plus Political Group) where members were receiving their marching orders ahead of Thursday’s extraordinary meeting inspired by Labour Group leader, Paul Miller.

Part of Cllr Miller’s notice of motion before the EM is a vote of no confidence in the cabinet member for education.

Those last four words are worthy of careful study because, as the young whippersnapper pointed out to me only yesterday, they do not mean, as many people assume, a vote of no confidence in the Cabinet member for education Cllr Sue Perkins.

A mole tells me that Jamie Adams, the sage of Keeston, has had the same idea and before next Thursday’s meeting he is planning to have a cabinet reshuffle with Cllr Perkins being given responsibility for safeguarding.

So, for those who haven’t been keeping up, she will no longer be cabinet member for education and will not be the subject of the no confidence motion.

Of course, that leaves a vacancy and, if my mole is correct, that gap will be filled be the appointment of a ninth cabinet member, which, when you include the leader, brings the council’s brains trust up to ten – the maximum allowed by law.

As an aside I should mention that, in order to cut costs (we’re all in this together and all that) the previous leader John Davies cut the cabinet to eight.

This was increased to nine when Cllr Adams found his majority under threat and now, if my mole is to be believed, is is about to max out on his taxpayer-funded credit card.

Graham Greene’s novel “The Third Man” has just been serialised on Radio 4, so who will be the tenth man (or woman) in the Kremlin on Cleddau?

I remember seeing the film featuring Harry Lime when I was a teenager and, as I recall, some of the action took place in the sewers of Vienna.

Third Man, tenth man, the similarities are striking because what my mole tells me is that the action has now moved to the political sewer that is county hall.

And who will be the tenth man?

None other than Cllr David Lloyd the member for St Davids.

If I could remind readers, Cllr Lloyd “The well respected Pembrokeshire barrister” was the person who persuaded Cllr Michael John to support the plan to give Mr Parry-Jones a huge payoff despite having voted, as a member of the disciplinary committee, for his conduct to be investigated.

He is ideally suited to the role of Jamie’s education front man because he has been a consistent supporter of the plan to transfer sixth forms from schools to Pembrokeshire College.

And lurking somewhere in my inbox is an email from Cllr Lloyd in which he says that Jamie Adams – in whose cabinet he now intends to serve – was not a fit and proper person to be leader of the council.

Indeed, if memory serves me right, Cllr Lloyd was seeking support for his proposed leadership challenge.

If there is a lesson to be learned from the fallout from the Brexit vote it is that you shouldn’t expect too much by way of principle from politicians.

From a purely selfish viewpoint, Cllr Lloyd’s removal to the cabinet benches will relieve me from having his wordy, windy, largely incoherent rhetoric beamed directly into my right ear.

I rang Cllr Lyn Jenkins seeking confirmation of what had gone on, but she told me she wasn’t in a position to comment.

I’m always amazed at the loyalty of these IPPG members to a political party that doesn’t feature on their election addresses.

Open accountable government, is a foreign county where they are concerned.

However within two minutes of the conclusion of that phone call, two of my mr

ost reliable moles rang to confirm that all of the above is true.

Thursday’s meeting promises to be a lively affair.

As usual, the conspiracy theorists got this all wrong because on Wednesday morning the Leader issued a press release explaining the thinking behind this cabinet reshuffle.
And as you’ve probably guessed it was nothing to do with the upcoming vote of no confidence in the cabinet member for education.