July 12 2012

 

Carpetbagger


It isn't often that Old Grumpy is scooped - indeed to the best of my recollection the last time was back in 2005 (See no udder conclusion).
Now it has happened twice in a few days and I am beginning to wonder if I am losing my touch.
I am referring to two items that appeared on the website of Cllr Jacob Williams ( jacobwilliams.com) in the first of which he gives an account of the Tory Party meeting in Narberth where the former leader of PCC, Cllr John Davies, made his pitch become the party's candidate for the job of Police Commissioner.
It would seem that young Mr Williams has some excellent contacts in the Tory party because I have since spoken to two people who were present at the selection meeting and they both vouch for the total accuracy of his report.
One of them told me that there were "gasps of astonishment" when, in answer to questions about his membership of the party, Cllr Davies admitted that he had only put in the application forms that afternoon.
And, as these forms take time to process, he wasn't even a member of the party at the time of the meeting.
There were, I was informed ,mutterings of "carpetbagger"
It was all downhill after that.
Then, barely a day later, Cllr Williams came up with the news that Cllr Davies had seen the writing on the wall and had thrown in the towel before the second leg of the selection process - a meeting of Tory party members in Brecon to be held the following night.
Well, I suppose he concluded that, if he couldn't win on his home turf with some of the local Tory bigwigs acting as his cheerleaders, there was little point in hauling his campaign wagon all the way up to Brecon.
For the moment, I am putting Cllr Williams' little triumphs down to beginner's luck, but if he continues to outscoop me I will need to take drastic action.
However, I refuse to be downcast because I recall it was on this website that the first news of Cllr Davies' intention to seek the Tory nomination for the police job first appeared (The grapevine).
There is a rumour that Cllr Davies now intends to contest the Police election as an independent.
I doubt that he would be so foolish, unless, of course, he wants to prove Old Grumpy's theory that his electoral appeal doesn't stretch beyond a few-miles radius of Eglwyswrw

The plot thickens

My super-mole has been able to cast some interesting light on events during the 2008 county council elections.
Regular readers will remember that it was at that election that Cllrs Ken Rowlands, Umelda Havard and Lyndon Frayling abandoned the Labour Party and stood as independents.
What annoyed Labour was that all three had been adopted as official party candidates in solid Labour wards and their last minute switch left the party with no time to find alternatives.
Ken Rowlands was seen as the ringleader which is why the leader of the Labour group Cllr Sue Perkins was so annoyed that she sent him an email in which she said that she was "disgusted" by his behaviour and would be happy never to speak to him again.
Now they find themselves sitting alongside each other in the Cabinet. (Time the healer).
Shortly after the election, Cllr Rowlands was elevated to the Cabinet (SRA £14,000+ per annum) though he was at pains to deny that there was any connection between this sudden promotion and his defection.
Indeed he could get quite indignant with anyone who suggested that a man of his integrity could be tempted by money and power.
Mind you, he wasn't above imputing base motives to others because he told the Western Telegraph that the reason for Cllr Perkins' displeasure was that the three defections meant that Labour was no longer the biggest opposition party and, therefore, its leader had lost the SRA that goes with the job.
While researching this piece I came across a website I had never before encountered (http://westernbellygraph.blogspot.co.uk/) which gives a comprehensive account of events at that time.
Not only was Cllr Rowlands adamant that his defection was not motivated by the offer of a Cabinet post, he also claimed that his decision to join the Independent Political Group was made after the election.
Shortly after the election he told the Western Telegraph: "When I stood as an independent in my own name I was entering uncharted territory not knowing what path I would follow if I was successful at the election".
However, my super-mole tells me that this is not an accurate representation of the situation as it existed prior to the 2008 election.
They claim to have seen a document produced shortly before the 2008 election, by one of Cllr Rowlands' soon-to-be Cabinet colleagues which predicted that the IPG would win in the region of 42/43 of the 60 seats.
These were made up of 12 uncontested seats held by current IPG members, 20 "safe seats"; eight "should win" seats (including mine in Hakin); and four or five out of nine "outside chance" seats.
Among the prospective winners of the "safe seats" were Ken Rowlands, Umelda Havard and Lyndon Frayling.
Of course, of itself, this doesn't prove that any of the three Labour defectors had agreed to join the IPG, though it would be rather presumptuous for the author to assume that, if successful, they would.
However my mole tells me they have reason to believe that election material for all three members was also produced by the same Cabinet member who produced the election prediction spreadsheet.
So why would a leading member of the IPG be producing computer-generated election material for these three if they had not already agreed to join the party?
As for the allegation that Ken Rowlands was the ringleader who persuaded the other two to jump ship, that is given credence, my mole suggests, by the fact that all three election leaflets were imprinted with the words "Promoted by Nalda Rowlands Woodlands, Church Road, Johnston."
Which is, by happy coincidence, the same address as that occupied by Ken.
So this business about "uncharted territory" and "not knowing what path I would follow if successful at the election" bears about as much relationship to the facts as Cllr Rowlands' claim in his most recent election address that PCC and the Welsh Government had "committed" £7 million to build a new school in Johnston (Shaky foundations).
Of course, I am leaning heavily on the reliability of the information supplied by my mole.
If it turns out to be mere gossip and tittle-tattle, I can expect to hear from the Ombudsman, or someone's solicitor.
But they have been the epitome of reliability in the past, and the silence so far would seem to indicate that I am on reasonably safe ground.
And the lack of response to what I wrote earlier in the week (Stop Press) also persuades me that I have little to fear.

Thinking the best

I am also told that the author of the election prediction document was concerned that, with such a large majority, it would be difficult "to keep everyone happy".
There are two possible interpretations of this.
First, with the three new ex-Labour members mentioned above, plus Danny Fellows, Maureen Molyneux and Pearl Llewellyn who all had Labour connections, there would be a clash of ideologies with the Tories and closet-Tories who form the bulk of the group.
Alternatively, that with such a large number of members there wouldn't be enough Special Responsibly Allowances and other paid positions (National Park, Police Authority and fire service) to go around.
As someone who believes "there is good in everyone", as our chairman Cllr Peter Morgan is fond of saying, I naturally favour the former.
But I know there are plenty of cynical, suspicion-ridden conspiracy theorists who have convinced themselves that the second is the better explanation.
They should be thoroughly ashamed of themselves!


 

On Tuesday night Grumpette and I spent a very pleasant evening at the Station Inn in Pembroke Dock.
You might think a former railway waiting room is not the obvious place to open a pub, but the food is good, and reasonably priced; the real ale excellent; and the atmosphere on Tuesday, with the Penfro Players - a local amateur string group - bowing away in the background, very mellow.
The only sour note was that Railtrack, or whoever is in charge of stations these days, have introduced parking charges on the station yard.
But, while I am not happy to have to pay 80p to park outside a pub, I must say that the pain was eased somewhat by the fact that the car park has been resurfaced to the highest standard.
Indeed, I would venture to say that you will be hard pressed to find a better laid stretch of tarmac this side of Maenchlochog (The love . . .).
I would suggest that those residents of Pembroke Dock who write to the papers complaining about potholes in the streets should take a walk around to the station to see how the roads would look in a perfect world.
And what better excuse to nip out for a quick pint.

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