February 7 2103

Gone for a Burton

A reader in Burton tells me that word in the village is that Cllr David Wildman is about to resign from the county council.
Cllr Wildman was originally elected as a Tory but jumped ship and landed on the more SRA-friendly shores of Ipgland where he has been a Cabinet member since 2004 and before that Chairman of the older persons scrutiny committee.
In monetary terms this was a smart move because since then he has picked up king's ransom in Special Responsibility Allowances in addition to the more than ten grand a year he has been receiving as our unelected representative on Hywel Dda Health Board where he has been defending our interests by rubber-stamping the deeply-unpopular, recently-announced reductions in services at Withybush Hospital.
The reasons for Cllr Wildman giving up his season ticket on the gravy train are not known at this time.
However, my mole tells me that his successor has already been lined up, though he was unable to be absolutely certain as to the identity of the new man/woman.
It's all rather hazy at the moment but my educated guess is that the anointed heir is one of Cllr Wildman's colleagues on Burton Community Council and, as the police are fond of saying: enquiries are ongoing.
I will report further, once I have had time to subject the evidence to closer inspection.
( Thanks to Jacob for the splendid heading)
Update The resignation of Cllr David Wildman will create both a problem and an opportunity for council leader Jamie Adams.
A problem, because, unless the IPPG can retain the seat at a bye election, his majority will disappear together with a seat on the National Park, and the party's automatic majority on all council committees.
An opportunity, because it will free up a Cabinet seat, and the accompanying SRA, with which he can tie one of his less committed members more tightly to his coat tails.
Of course we might recall that, back in early 2011, his predecessor cut the number of Cabinet members from ten to eight as a money saving measure.
Something about sharing the pain of austerity.
Don't hear much of that sort of talk these days when every last drop of Stooges' Remuneration Adhesive is needed to hold the rickety structure together.

Picture post

There have been some interesting changes on that other website.
That shouldn't be interpreted to mean that the content is interesting, though you have to admire his persistence.
It must be very disheartening to be regularly scooped by an old boy like me whose understanding of the technology is, to put it mildly, limited.
What I meant was that the pictures on the front page have changed.
Whereas they used to be of peaceful rural scenes in his East Williamston ward, they now range county-wide - from Tenby to Abercastle by way of Carew, Texaco oil refinery and Burton.
Being a keen bridge player, I know that the secret of success is to try and work out what the opposition is up to so you can devise a counter-strategy.
And it occurred to Old Grumpy that this might be in some way connected to the proposed boundary changes which will see the East Williamston ward erased from the electoral map.
On this theory, Jacob is looking for somewhere else to ply his political trade and these photos are designed to convince the electorate that he is no carpetbagger.
When he arrives on the doorstep and a bolshie voter says: "You've never taken any interest in us before" he can boast that he has been promoting the area on his website since 2013.
I have to admit that, on this theory, Abercastle is a bit of an outlier, but I suspect that one has been slipped in to put me off the scent in much the same way as a false card is employed at the bridge table.
So what of the others?
Well, Tenby borders on his home territory but it is sewn up by the two Michaels (Williams and Evans) so there's no hope there.
And I don't give much for his chances in Burton despite the absence of David Wildman. They're a clannish lot round that way so I don't see them taking to an overseas candidate.
That leaves Carew, and Hundleton where the refinery is located.
Carew is next door to East Williamston so he can pass himself off as a local boy, though David Neale the incumbent has has strong base in the ward and may be immovable
That leaves Hundleton, and I don't suppose it has escaped the crafty Jacob's notice that this is one of the most marginal seats in the county with Johnny Allen Mirehouse hanging on by a thread, courtesy of a split vote.
Of course, this may all add up to less than a row of beans and the reason for the remodelled landscape could be something entirely different.
One possibility is that this scenic transformation is nothing more than a ruse to divert his readers' attention away from the website's lack of recent scoops.

Going straight

4 February 2013

A reprinted newspaper report of a corruption trial in which I was involved has appeared in Pembrokeshire's Best.
Several people have contacted my about this report which seems to suggest that I was in some way involved in this corrupt scheme.
The facts are that I carried out a contract to build a large furniture store at Goshawk Road Haverfordwest for the Property Services Agency (PSA) - a branch of the Department of the Environment..
The contract price was somewhere around £45,000.
One Sunday morning, after the work was completed, I received a phone call from the PSA's quantity surveyor, Donald Hagger who put forward the proposition that in exchange for a payment by me he would inflate the final account for the contract.
The figures in the newspaper report are given as £200 and £1,000, though my own recollection is that both numbers were somewhat larger than this.
Not that it matters, because the principle is the same - in exchange for a kick-back, he was offering to pay taxpayers' money for work I hadn't done.
The following day I went to Haverfordwest police station where I made a complaint and was interviewed by Detective Inspector Derek Davies and Detective Sergeant Ron Lloyd.
They asked me to play along and from then on all my actions were under the supervision of the police.
About a month later, Mr Hagger rang again to arrange a meeting to conclude the deal.
The meeting took place on a Sunday morning at the offices of Parkhouse Dairies - then owned by my brother - at Haven Road, Haverfordwest.
Prior to the meeting the police had provided me with a bundle of marked notes, and had concealed a recording device under my jacket.
Another tape recorder was installed in the office next door, where the two policemen were stationed.
Following a ten minute conversation, the cash was handed over and, as Hagger left the office, he was arrested by D. I. Derek Davies.
At the end of a seven-day trial Hagger, was convicted and sentenced to 15-months in jail.
After sentencing, Mr Justice Pitchforth called me to the front of the court where he thanked me for my public service in bringing this corruption to light.
"In going to the police, you knew you were turning down an easy £1,000", he said. Adding: "If there were more public spirited people like you in the world, and fewer greedy people, there would be less corruption."
I couldn't wish for a better endorsement of my battle to expose the truth about what goes on in county hall than that.

Rewriting history

Silvio Berlasconi is now thought to have an outside chance of retaining power.
If there is a better argument for keeping our distance from the European Union, I can't think what it might be.
Berlasconi's campaign suffered a setback a couple of weeks ago when he praised one of his predecessors as Italian leader, Benito Mussolini.
A few hours later he issued a statement that his words were not meant to indicate his approval of dictatorship, but by then the damage had been done and it seemed that, given his problems with bunga-bunga and corruption trials, his credibility was shot through.
Since then, he has made something of a comeback and he is now just a few points behind his centre-left opponent in the opinion polls.
The defeat of fascism, or more correctly Naziism in the Second World war has led to a complete rewriting of European history for the period 1920 - 1940.
In fact when Silvio said nice things about Benito he was keeping some very illustrious company.
For instance Mussolini was described as "The Roman genius . . . the greatest lawgiver among men" by none other than Winston Churchill, and 1933, in a letter to the US ambassador to Italy, Franklin D Roosevelt wrote: "I am much interested and deeply impressed by what he has accomplished and by his evidenced honest purpose of restoring Italy and seeking to prevent general European trouble."
In defence of the Churchill and Roosevelt it should be said that Mussolini was seen as a bulwark against communism - a creed which he had himself abandoned - though some American historians identify rather disturbing parallels between Roosevelt's New Deal and Mussolini's fascist remedies for Italy's problems.
What eventually put paid to fascism as a respectable political label was not Mussolini's corporatism but the sheer brutality of the Nazis
This is subject in which I have a keen interest because I am fascinated by the process by which free market liberals like me have come to be identified with fascism, whereas when you read Mein Kampf you find that Hitler was virulently anti-capitalist.
Ask most people about fascism and they will think Hitler, Nazis, Holocaust, Evil, with Mussolini and General Franco thrown in for good measure.
Ask them to draw up the political spectrum from left to right and it will probably go communist - social democrat - conservative - fascist.
This flies in the face of all the facts because fascism is a socialist creed.
It is no accident that the longhand for Nazi is National Socialist
Mussolini was a communist agitator before he turned to fascism and Oswald Moseley was a Labour Minister before he founded the British Union of Fascists.
The idea that fascism is a form of extreme capitalism should also be knocked on the head.
As Adolf himself put it: "We are socialists, we are enemies of today’s capitalistic economic system for the exploitation of the economically weak, with its unfair salaries, with its unseemly evaluation of a human being according to wealth and property instead of responsibility and performance, and we are determined to destroy this system under all conditions."
Karl Marx wouldn't have disagreed with any of that.
Nor is it true that fascists are unalloyed anti-Semites.
In 1492 Spanish King enacted the Edict of Expulsion which drove the Jews from the country. It was Franco who abrogated the Edict in 1968, and Mussolini's early fascist governments included a disproportionate number of Jews.
And we all know about Hitler's master race theory.
Though not all fans of eugenics agreed that Hitler's selective breeding methods were the best way forward.
As one put it: "It is in the sterilisation of failures and not in the selection of successes for breeding that the improvement of the human stock lies".
That would be leading British socialist H G Wells, who was joined in the British Eugenics Society by such left-leaning luminaries as Sidney Webb, George Bernard Shaw, John Maynard Keynes, Harold Laski and JBS Haldane.
Indeed, Keynes was president of the society until 1945 when the full extent of Hitler's atrocities became clear and the British left quietly buried its eugenic past.
The trouble with eugenics is that it is based on sound genetic principles - it works, as any farmer will tell you.
And if you believe that the individual is the servant of the state, rather than the other way round, it is perfectly rational to attempt to breed humans for their utility.
The idea that every human being is of equal worth and is entitled to equal consideration, has no place in such a creed.
As Mussolini, the godfather of European fascism put it: "All within the state, nothing outside the state, nothing against the state."
And what is also conveniently forgotten is that, as I pointed out above, until Hitler started sending his tanks over his neighbours' borders, the economic reforms wrought by fascism, particularly in Italy, were widely admired across the world.
So impressed, indeed, that many American liberals considered Roosevelt's New Deal as a fascist plot.
There have been many attempts to define fascism.
George Orwell all but gave up and settled on "bully" as the word that best described fascist methods.
I would say that fascism is essentially a religion characterised by state worship, or worship of some all-powerful leader who is the state incarnate.
One of its features is total contempt for the rule of law and complete disregard for any form of constitutional check on the power of the state, or its rulers.
So, when your hear people express a belief in "outcome not process" - a restatement of the dictator's mantra that the ends justify the means - you are listening to fascist-speak.
I have just finished rereading Liberal Fascism by Jonah Goldberg in which he gives an account of fascism as it existed in the 1930s and its modern day "progressive" equivalent.
There is a chapter entitled "The New Age - we're all fascists now".
I'm afraid he might be right.
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