Power games

As Alfred Lord Tennyson famously said: “In the spring a young man’s fancy lightly turns to thoughts of love.”

However, here in Pembrokeshire at this time of year, middle-aged men’s fancy turns to thoughts of how they can wrest control of the county council (and all those juicy Special Responsibility Allowances) from Cllr David Simpson and his motley crew.

For we are now within a few weeks of PCC’s annual meeting when Leader Simpson will have to seek re-election for another two-year term.

I had always assumed the landowning classes (Cllrs Jamie Adams and John “Cwmbetws” Davies) wouldn’t take kindly to being banished from the corridors of power and was expecting them to be angling for a comeback.

So, in readiness, I had dusted down my previous scribblings on Cwmbetws’s planning consent and Jamie’s practice of claiming several years’ worth of  backdated travelling expenses once he knew he was to be returned unopposed at the 2012 elections.

There was also the matter of “Independent” Davies trying to carpetbag his way into the Tory nomination for the Police Commissioner’s job and Adams lying about what he saw during his trip into the attic at Coronation School Pembroke Dock.

And, if more was needed, Adams’ misleading statements to council over the Mik Smith affair which will be coming up for examination at next Monday’s meeting of the Cabinet.

However, it seems this pair were two steps ahead of me because I now hear that the Tories have taken over the role of front men for the attempt to restore power to its rightful place.

I should explain that, between them, Jamie Adams’ IPG and the Tories hold 25 of the 60 seats on the council.

As the mathematicians among you will have already have worked out, they only need to recruit six more to establish a majority.

A simple way to achieve this would be to form a rainbow coalition with either Plaid Cymru (six seats) or Labour (seven seats) or both (13 seats).

Plaid, with the exception of Cllr Steven Joseph who defected to the IPG shortly after the last but one election, has always stood firm, but Labour, which lost three members to Jamie Adams’ cabinet following the 2012 poll, is a slightly different proposition, though from what I know of the present set-up I would be most surprised if any of its members took the thirty pieces of silver.

Now, a little dicky bird tells me, Tory Group Leader Rob Summons has been sent forth as recruiting sergeant for the IPG/Tory axis and has been ringing unaffiliated members to test the waters.

Keen students of Pembrokeshire politics will remember that this isn’t the first time that Cllr Summons has acted as Jamie Adams’ stooge.

One hour into the infamous full council meeting on 12 December 2013, he can be heard lecturing me on how to interpret Bills of Quantities; the operation of the Freedom of Information Act; and copyright law.

However, realising that Adams and Cwmbetws are damaged goods, it is rumoured that Cllr Summons has alighted on his fellow Tory Cllr Tony Baron as a potential leader who might apply a veneer of respectability to this prospective coalition.

I am told that at least two unaffiliated members have been tapped up – one of whom has had a £15,000-a-year cabinet carrot dangled in front of them.

I have also heard a rumour (unconfirmed, but from a usually impeccable source) that a member of the present cabinet has been approached with a promise of future goodies if they support the Tory/IPG coup d’etat.

So, night after night, I have been sitting by the phone waiting for the call, but, needless to say, the summons never came.

As you can imagine, we conspiracy theorists have spent many happy hours in the pub speculating about which members on our side of the chamber might be tempted to cross over to the dark side by a lucrative SRA.

You will understand of course that the libel laws prevent me from disclosing our conclusions though it will not surprise you to learn that one criteria for selecting possible defectors is to consider if they have previous form.

That said, from what I hear, Cllr Summons has not met with an enthusiastic reception because Adams and Co are so electorally toxic that most right-thinking members wouldn’t touch them with the blunt end of a ten-foot tarry bargepole and my instinct tells me it will be some considerable time before they again enjoy the sweet taste of power.

By sheer coincidence, just as I was preparing to post this to my website the phone rang and when I answered I was greeted by the dulcet tones of Rob Summons.

Caught off guard, I was in two minds whether to ask for the education or housing portfolio, but it turned out that he wanted to speak to Grumpette about the flooding issue in Havens Head.

Before I handed over the phone, I mentioned what I had heard about his recruitment drive and expressed my disappointment that he hadn’t thought to give me a call, whereupon he told me that my moles had been filling my head with “a load of c–p”.

So, as you can see, faced with the choice of discarding all the “c–p” I had already written, or accepting the Duke of Wellington’s challenge to “publish and be damned”, I opted to follow the more distinguished of the two Tory leaders.