April 23 2010


Birds of a feather

I understand that the Welsh Assembly has appointed former Milford Haven Port Authority boss Ted Sangster to the National Park Committee.
No doubt Mr Sangster will be pleased to renew his acquaintanceship with the county council's recently retired Director of Development Mr Roger Barrett-Evans who was recently appointed as an independent member of the National Park's standards committee.
Upon taking up their appointments, both men would have had to sign an undertaking to be bound by the Code of Conduct; one of the provisions of which is that they will not divulge confidential information.
It would be beyond irony if Mr Sangster should ever find himself accused of breaching that part of the Code and found Mr Barrett-Evans sitting in judgment. (See An unlikely tale) (MHPA Docs).

Palace coup

Old Grumpy hears rumours that there has been an outbreak of hostilities in the Independent Political (sic) Group, with one member threatening to stand against the party's chosen chairman of one of the scrutiny committees (SRA £8,000) at next month's AGM..
No names, no pack drill for the moment, but all will be revealed in due course.
It is hard to believe that this manoeuvring for position is being conducted against the wishes of the leader.
My own theory is that the Leader considers the present incumbent a bit of a liability but doesn't want to wield the axe in case it causes dissension in the ranks.
How much better to let somebody stand against them and then then say "that's democracy" when the present chairman is ousted.
In court circles, this is known as a palace coup.

Picture post

Two more photos of Cllr Rev Huw George in this week's WT.
Old Grumpy has been counting and that makes seven in the past three weeks.
At this rate he will soon be passing Don Twigg's long-standing record for most photographed local politician.
These photos usually feature the Cabinet member for education standing at the back of a group of school children who have done something worthwhile like collecting thousands of tons of empty plastic milk containers for export to China.
Old Grumpy notices that the former Fishguard policeman always has the same self-satisfied look on his face.
Which isn't surprising considering that he is being paid the best part of 30K a year for carrying out the full time job of council member and cabinet member and at the same time he is getting goodness knows how much for carrying out the full time job of minister at a couple of Baptist chapels.
In addition, the Leader has appointed him to the National Park Committee (another couple of grand) and Old Grumpy notices that his register of interests includes "Acting - Ted Wyman theatrical agency - intermittent activity."
So, all this preaching and council work takes place during periods when, as the thespians like to say, he is resting.
This looks a bit like the loaves and fishes trick, but with time as the infinitely elastic subject matter.
I can tell you that these photos don't come cheap because they involve paying for the services of a professional photographer, usually Martin Cavaney, and though I can't speak for Cllr George I do know that some of his predecessors as cabinet member for children claimed travelling expenses every time they piloted the car to some far off assignment.
In these times this must surely present an opportunity to save money.
My own suggestion is that every school in the county should be given a full-size cardboard cut-out of the Cabinet member for education and a digital camera.
I'm sure it would prove cheaper in the long run.


If you meet someone walking down the street with a broad grin on their face, you can be reasonably sure they have either won the lottery or they're a liberal democrat.
I didn't watch the first debate - early to bed early to rise, etc - but by all accounts Lib Dem leader Nick Clegg was the star of the show.
This came as a surprise to observers across the Atlantic who had never hard of him and when one enterprising reporter googled Nicholas Clegg he found the Lib Dem leader in second place on the search list behind the website of an estate agent of that name covering Bury, Ramsbottom, Haslingden and Rossendale.
I just tried this myself and the batting order is still the same, but not for much longer, I suspect.
Mr Clegg seems to have certain advantages in this battle, one of which is that he has at his side the formidable Vince Cable who was the only major politician to predict the impending financial crisis.
But his greatest plus is that he is neither Gordon Brown nor David Cameron.
Mr Brown can't hope to get away with the line that our economic troubles are the result of "a global financial crisis originating in America" during a searching three week election campaign without someone pointing out that the UK's particular problems are largely the result of the huge borrowings run up during his time as Chancellor.
As for Mr Cameron, the self-confessed "heir to Blair", I just can't see the electorate falling for the smooth patter of an Eton-educated silver spoon merchant.
The great liberal (not to be confused with liberal democrat) philosopher John Stuart Mill described the Tories as "the stupidest party" and I suspect that the decision to choose as leader the patrician Cameron rather than the rough edged, self-made man David Davies -brought up in a council house by a single mother - will come to be seen as one of their stupidest actions.
The Tory's great fear is that a hung Parliament and a Lib/Lab pact will lead to some sort of deal on proportional representation that will make it virtually impossible for the Conservatives to ever again win an outright majority.
The stakes couldn't be higher.

Do as I say

I was talking to an English dairy farmer the other day and he was full of the usual moans about the stranglehold that the supermarkets have on milk prices and the government's refusal to do anything to help.
He may have a point on that but when he launched into a tirade against imported food my free-trader's hackles began to rise.
"Is all the machinery on your farm British made?" I asked.
He explained that his Toyota estate car was made in Derby.
"But what about your tractor?" I inquired.
There was an embarrassed cough before he fessed up to its Finnish origins.

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