June 21 2012

Ugly mugs

An unusually well-informed mole tells Old Grumpy that, during the recent local election campaign, the leadership of the Independent Political Group ran a sophisticated campaign during which those candidates not standing under the colours of the political parties were divided into two camps.
There were those who were present or potential members of the IPG, and those thought unlikely to sign-up (the unaffiliated), who were listed by the IPG hierarchy under the heading "idiots".
As the longest-standing of these refusniks, having been elected in 2004, I must be the biggest idiot of them all.
It is hard to believe that the chairman of this party/group, Cllr Johnny Allen Mirehouse, had the temerity to complain to the Ombudsman that I was guilty of showing disrespect to members of the IPG.
Indeed, his actual words were that: "His [Old Grumpy's] total contempt for other members - particularly members of the independent group - is evident throughout"(Once more into the breach).
Then again, as I said last week, there are those who believe that the rules only apply to other people (Britannia waives the rules).
However, this latest piece of information from my mole does explain why, on more than one occasion, Cllr Allen Mirehouse has declared that the fact that I had proposed something was reason enough for him to vote against it.
I had always put his dismissive attitude down to his extraordinary capacity for facetiousness, but I now realise it is based on logic.
After all, what sensible person would take any notice of what an idiot has to say.
But being classified as an idiot is not the worst of it, because my mole tells me the IPG also uses the term "Uglies" to describe those independent members who were thought unlikely to join their group.
Grumpette is not amused.
Well, how would you like it if people were going around saying that you were married to an ugly idiot?
And it's even worse for me because I have both a wife and a daughter thus classified.
However, always eager to look on the bright side, I have persuaded myself that, rather than a expression of "total contempt", the use of the terms "idiots" and "uglies" is nothing more than a piece of handy shorthand.
By this reckoning, idiot is short for independent and uglies for unaffiliated.
Just think how inconvenient it would be if every time the IPPG bigwigs wanted to refer to us they had to say: "Those members who promised not to join a political group and have kept their word", or, "Those members who stood as independents and who also own a dictionary".
They could always describe us as "Truly independent" but that would only cause confusion in their own ranks because quite a few of the election addresses put out by the IPPG's own members also contained that particular form of words.
And it wouldn't be good policy to keep reminding them that they had told the electorate one thing and then done exactly the opposite.
In any case, that's my job and I wouldn't want them muscling in on my territory.
My mole also tells me that Cllr Rob Lewis was the mastermind behind the IPG/IPPG's election strategy.
Nuff said!


Out of square

Old Grumpy has been trying to keep up to speed with manoeuvres by former council leader Cllr John Davies to get himself adopted as a party candidate for the role of Police Commissioner. (The grapevine)(Pick and mix)
There was an article in the Western Telegraph about this some five weeks ago though it was a bit vague about which party Cllr Davies had in mind.
But, as Labour has already adopted a candidate (Christine Gwyther), and Plaid are not contesting the election, it would seem that the Tories are the only serious possibility.
With that in mind, and assuming that he will be required to join whichever party he seeks to represent, Old Grumpy has been keeping a close watch on the register of interests where councillors are required to record membership of various bodies and organisations including "A body whose principle purposes include the influence of public opinion or policy."
Clearly, that would cover membership of any political party.
To date, Cllr Davies has not registered his membership of any such party, though it should be noted that members have 28 days in which to register any changes.
However, there is one straw in the wind in that Cllr Davies' register of interests records: "I am not a member of any Masonic organisation."
As the register covers only those organisations to which the member belongs - the list of organisations to which they don't belong is almost limitless - it is difficult to understand why he should choose to mention his non-membership of the freemasons if not in preparation for some wider political campaign.

Huws to blame?

Someone has kindly sent me a transcript of a Radio Cymru interview with Cllr Huw George.
Regular readers will be aware that Cllr George was the Cabinet minister in charge of services to children and young persons when the child protection debacle first came to light.
Soon after, he was relieved of half his portfolio (but not half of his Special Responsibility Allowance) and more recently he has been promoted to deputy Leader with an SRA + basic allowance of £31,000 (see Stop press a.m Wednesday 30 May).
The following is an extract from the interview the full text of which can be found at (Huw George interview)

Gary Owen: Yes but questions are piling up and what about accountability here, don't you think that you for example should consider your position as deputy leader considering that you were responsible for safeguarding children when this matter was first raised?

HG well you started by saying that the meeting yesterday [between PCC Leader Cllr Jamie Adams and Welsh Government Ministers] was very constructive and the meeting between the leader was

GO (interrupts) I do not remember saying that it was constructive because it appears to me that there is difference of opinion about what happened in the meeting yesterday, I hear the leader of Pembrokeshire County council saying one thing and I hear Leighton Andrews saying that serious questions remain so I do not remember using the word constructive.

HG Well Jamie Adams came out of the meeting saying, and I spoke to him immediately and he said that the ministers, Leighton Andrews and Gwenda Thomas listened intently and politely to what he had to say and he had evidence to show them how the authority had moved on and the ministers had listened and heard a large number of things but they were given new evidence yesterday afternoon and they were pleased to accept the new evidence and were very willing to work with us but that does not change anything that has happened and they are very serious matters.

GO And as a result of this are you confident that you should stay in your post as deputy council leader?

HG My conscience is clear, I do my best every day and continue to do so and am very willing to look at things that happened in the past.

Cllr George's conscience is a matter between him and his Maker - it is his competence that we should be worried about.
(full transcript here)

There was also an interview in the Western Telegraph with the Leader, Cllr Jamie Adams.
Cllr Adams was asked: " Do you have concerns that the officers who were involved previously will be taking on this change of culture.
He replied: I see it as a strength, because this is a journey of improvement.
That being the case, it is difficult to see how anyone can ever be held accountable for anything.

Charm offensive

Earlier this week my nine-year old grandson presented me with a 12 inch length of 4 x 4 and a picture of a 1980s Renault car.
"I have to make a model for my homework", he explained.
He told me the picture was the pattern and the block of wood was the raw material from which the model was to be fashioned.
"I'm sorry", I said, "but I'm rather busy at the moment".
"But grandad! I need your expertise", he pleaded.
I doubt if there is a grandfather anywhere in the world capable of resisting that sort of flattery, and an hour later the lump of timber had been transformed into something resembling the body of a motor car.
Using my tank-cutting drill, I even managed to convert a piece of scrap plywood into four fairly realistic-looking wheels.
He was, I am pleased to say, delighted with my efforts.
My daughter, who is a bit of a traditionalist, suggested that it might have been better if he'd been given 20 sums, or some spellings, for his homework.
"What of any benefit did he learn from that?" she asked.
"That his grandad's a soft touch", I replied.


With the Euro crisis in full flow, I like to keep up with what is going on in the Celtic Tiger by reading the Irish papers.
The Irish Independent had an interesting story the other day about an unnamed Austrian politician who had been captured having sex in the forest by cameras set up to film the wildlife.
According to the paper he was now in line for compensation of 25,000 Euros for infringement of privacy.
And who said you can't have the penny and the bun?
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