You win some and . . .


WS has risen to the bait (Spoilsport) though he wants a fiver on Wales and England's final position in the championship rather than sudden death .
At least, that way, we will both get a run for our money.
Unfortunately not all is rosy on the gambling front because a friend reminds me that I owe her a bottle of the £3.99 following the Pembroke St Michael by-election result.
Being a good sport, she has offered me the chance to get my money back by betting that there will be 19 or more Tory candidates at the next county council elections.
As Pembrokeshire's dominant political party (three out of four national seats) only managed to field one runner last time round, I felt this was a an unmissable opportunity to restock the wine cellar.
It seems her optimism(?) is partly based on a casual conversation in the county council's members' tea room where a well known Tory party/Independent Political Group member was predicting a strong Tory turnout next May.
This, together with the Conservative's clean sweep in the National Assembly elections; Aden Brinn's triumph at Pembroke St Michael; and the party's strong showing in the national opinion polls, has convinced her that several Tories, having concluded that the party is no longer an electoral liability, will emerge from the closet into the spring sunshine.
I believe this analysis is seriously flawed - hence my eagerness to take the bet.
What I do know is that some of the county's senior Tory officials are embarrassed by the fact that prominent party members like Peter Stock, David Wildman, David Bryan, Mark Edwards and Elwyn Morse seek to hide their true colours from the electorate.
After all, it's not much of an advertisement for a great political party if people are ashamed to openly admit to membership.
I also know that strenuous efforts have been made to persuade some of these reluctant Tories to run on the party ticket.
But, the last I heard, these pleas had fallen on deaf ears.
Alas, in any contest between principle and low politics there can only be one winner.

Reluctant Tories

I would take the opportunity to remind younger readers of what happened to the last Tory group on the county council.
That was in the late nineties/early noughties when there were four members (Cllrs Phil Llewellyn, David Wildman, Mark Edwards and Mary Megarry) elected under the party's banner.
The group's demise was precipitated by the Local Government Act 2000 which offered councils a choice between the present Cabinet system and an elected mayor.
Tory leader Phil Llewellyn was gung ho for an elected mayor and even persuaded the party hierarchy to fund a campaign to get the necessary signatures on a petition to force a referendum on the issue.
Alarmed by this development the, then, leader of council Maurice Hughes called the party bigwigs to a meeting in county hall where he explained that Labour held all four of the county's national seats and was likely to win any contest for an elected mayor.
Furthermore, he told them, there was already de facto Tory rule in Pembrokeshire County Council, so why rock the boat.
Convinced by these arguments (as I said earlier, low politics always trumps principle) the party promptly pulled the rug from under Cllr Llewellyn's feet.
The upshot was that the group fell apart with three of them joining the Independents and the fourth (Mary Megarry) defecting to the Lib Dems.
Of course, Maurice Hughes was quick to cloak his opposition to an elected mayor in the garb of high principle by claiming it would put too much power in the hands of one person.
That is always a strong argument in a democracy but seen in the light of the Cabinet with Leader system which Maurice Hughes favoured it was pure hypocrisy.
What we now have is a leader, Cllr John Davies, who can hire and fire cabinet members at will; who has absolute control over almost all appointments to outside bodies including local authority representatives on school governing bodies; and who chooses who will receive a special responsibility allowance as chairmen of the various committees.
The only exceptions are those bodies which require political balance (police, fire and national park authorities) where he only has the power to choose the Independent Political Group's representatives.
That means he controls seven seats on the fifteen-member National Park committee and two out of three of the council's representatives on the police and fire authority - a power Cllr Davies used to appoint himself to the £6,500 a year post on the Police Authority.
In all, I calculate, the leader has at his disposal no less than 34 positions that carry extra bunce.
All this power based on a few hundred votes in Cilgerran and the 39 votes of his party colleagues at the secret meeting held in county hall on the Monday after the last election (Night of the long faces).
I would venture to suggest that, with the exception of Cllrs Anne Hughes and Martin Davies, nobody in Milford Haven voted to give Cllr John Davies almost absolute power..
An elected mayor would at least have the democratic legitimacy of county-wide franchise.
The truth is that the ruling junta's opposition to an elected mayor had nothing to to do with concerns about the concentration of power into a single pair of hands but the knowledge that whoever got the prize it would not be one of them.
After all, if Maurice Hughes and three of his cabinet colleagues couldn't hang on to their seats they were hardly likely to sweep to victory in a county wide poll (All change-no change).

Give and take

Grumpette has been trying to persuade me to get somebody in to apply wood preservative to the decking, fences and various garden sheds.
It's not that I'm mean but I resent paying someone to carry out works we can perfectly well do ourselves.
I don't mind forking out for a plumber, electrician or joiner who can do tasks way above my pay grade but painting a fence which requires next to no skill is a different matter.
Anyway we have reached a compromise.
I will buy the Cuprinol and Grumpette will splash it on the fence.
Negotiations were a bit tricky but I finally clinched the deal by offering to let her choose the colour.
A bit of give and take is all that's required.