August 27 2001


Old Grumpy on-line

My website can now be accessed by logging on to This, you may remember, is the site closed down earlier this year after the County Council's top PR man, Dai "Spin" Thomas, wrote to my Service Provider complaining that I had posted "overtly defamatory and factually inaccurate" comments on the Web regarding Mr Roger Barrett-Evans' conduct during the Enfield planning.
Significantly, Mr Barrett-Evans has not, himself, got round to lodging a complaint, never mind serving a writ.
Anyway, I soon had the site up and running again under a new name, containing exactly the same "overtly defamatory" material.
I even e-mailed the council, giving details of the new domain, fully expecting them to act again.
But, despite a claim by the monitoring officer in a letter to the opposition leaders that the council's original action was all perfectly legal and above board, there has been no further attempt to close me down.
This seems rather strange!
Here is a site, which, according to the council's chief spin-doctor, brings senior officers and leading councillors into disrepute (and by association the authority itself), yet, though they have a perfectly legal remedy available to them, they do nothing.
A mole tells me that the reason my site continues unmolested is that leading figures in the council are of the opinion that the original action was an infringement of my right to free speech as enshrined in the Human Rights Act and when some of the more enthusiastic enemies of free expression wanted to mount another assault they were vetoed from, what my mole described as, "the very top"

Wouldn't do to admit that publicly, of course, because the council has its reputation for infallibility to protect..


Halls well that ends well

A couple of weeks ago, the Mercury published a letter from Councillor Brian ''County'' Hall which contained what he no doubt thought was a devastating riposte to my criticisms of the Independent Political group's lack of a manifesto.
According to " County " Hall the lack of such a programme was '' precisely why " the independents won 38 seats at the last election compared to only 22 gained by the manifesto-toting political parties.

Does Cllr Hall make up this rubbish himself or does he employ a spin-doctor?
Logicians have a Latin tag for this particular species of fallacious reasoning: post hoc ergo propter hoc, which roughly translated means: because this follows that, that must be the cause of this.
The illustration given in my ancient logic textbook of this particular fallacy is that of the natives in some African tribes who used to beat drums during a solar eclipse.
Lo and behold, this has the desired effect to persuading the sun to emerge from the moon's shadow.
When Western rationalists explained that beating drums is a waste of energy, because laws discovered by Newton, Kepler, and others, govern the movement of heavenly bodies, they are met with blank incomprehension.
" But it's always worked in the past ", the tribesmen would say.
And it always will, of course, for the tribesmen at least.But whether the Independent Junta can keep pulling the wool over the eyes of the Pembrokeshire electorate is another matter.

Might is right.

As the Thoughts of Chairman Hall, who is all set to be a member of the Cabinet if the Independents get their way, are of some importance to his potential subjects, I have spent a little time deconstructing his letter to the Mercury.
His claim that the Independents' electoral success is due to lack of a manifesto is backed up by the statement: "we owe loyalty to the people of Pembrokeshire and not to any party or cause''.
With respect, as Councillor Hall is fond if saying during council debates before proceeding to show complete disrespect for anyone who dares to disagree with him, this is a piece of platitudinous rubbish.
"The people'' are not some amorphous lump, but a collection of individuals each with his or her own aspirations.
Some may want higher taxes and more public spending (the socialists) and some the opposite (the Tories).
The idea that Councillor Hall and his Independent Group cronies can be loyal to both at the same time is clearly preposterous.
But this '' loyalty to the people '' stuff is far more sinister than that because it carries the implication that anyone opposing the independents is being disloyal to the people.
This is the same totalitarian mindset that caused so much grief during the century just gone.
Armed with the certainty that you, and you alone, have the people's interests at heart, it requires no great intellectual leap to conclude that anyone who stands in your way must be acting in bad faith. Any criticism is seen as treachery and opposition is equated with treason.
Fortunately, the independents don't have the power to send their critics to the Gulag but they, or at least their leading lights, feel perfectly justified in trying to silence us.
In my case by harassing me with threats of legal action, which they have no intention of carrying out, and, in the case of opposition councillors, by the abuse of the power of the chair to curtail debate whenever awkward questions are asked.
At another point Councillor Hall accuses me of pursuing my own political agenda.
This is a strange thing for a politician to say, for what is the point of entering the political arena, aside from self-aggrandisement and the pursuit of power for its own sake, unless you have some idea what you want to achieve i.e. an agenda.
Top of my agenda is to see Pembrokeshire County Council run on proper democratic lines and in accordance with the rule of law.
One of my aims is to see that planning decisions are determined on the basis of policy and not on how many chums the applicant has on the committee.
This concept - alien to some on the Independent benches - is known as justice.
Without that, all boasts about low council tax and coming top of the cleaning league are nothing more than a " making the trains run on time ''.


The Internet is truly a wonderful invention.
One day last week I was left in charge of cooking the dinner, while the family went to the beach.
" That nice tarragon chicken that you make ", was the suggestion.
Unfortunately, I couldn't find my recipe so I logged on to in search of guidance. Sure enough, there were the instructions for tarragon chicken, Delia-style, which differed from my usual concoction in that it called for the best part of a pint of medium dry amontillado sherry.
The verdict: " not as nice as usual '', has got me wondering whether I might have a future writing cookery books.
On the other hand, it might be that polishing off the remainder of the sherry during the cooking process could have caused temporary memory loss and the omission of some crucial ingredient.


Name games

Still having trouble with my voice recognition software, particularly when it comes to Councillors' names.
John Allen -Mirehouse keeps coming up as " John alone at my house '' while Joyce Watson produces "Joys what sauna? ''.
Our beloved leader, Cllr Maurice Hughes, flashes up on the screen as " callous Maurice is used " (by COMB, presumably) and Roy Folland as "Roy fallen down" - quite apt when you consider what he does for a living.
However, there are some things that it seems to know more about it than it should, because Councillor John Thomas causes it no problems whatsoever.

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