September 17 2001


What next?

We are told that any response to the bombing of the World Trade Centre should be proportionate.
But, proportionate to what?
What is considered proportionate this Monday morning would not have been proportionate a week ago.
The question that our political leaders must confront, is not just last week's terrible atrocity, but what may lurk in the future.
For all we know, these terrorists may be plotting an even bigger outrage, possibly involving weapons of mass destruction, at this very moment.
No one can doubt that, following last week's wanton destruction of human life, they will have no scruples about using whatever methods they have at their disposal.
Technology, not morality, is all that limits their activities.
If ever there was a time for the precautionary principle to be invoked, it is surely now.

Tory turncoats

Old Grumpy has been trying to piece together the chain of events, which led to last week's defection of three of the Tory's four county councillors (Phil Llewellyn, Mark Edwards and David Wildman)
The story starts on July 13th this year following a meeting of full Council at which the independents gave full vent to their undemocratic instincts.
Following that meeting, the leaders of the four minority parties (Labour, Conservative, Liberal Democrat and Plaid Cymru) held a crisis meeting where it was agreed to campaign for an elected mayor.
Easily the most vociferous of the minority group leaders was Phil Llewellyn who thundered on about the " democratic deficit '' under the present set-up.
That prompted Maurice Hughes, leader of the Independent Political (sic) Group, to launch a vicious personal attack on Councillor Llewellyn; accusing him, among other things, of being motivated by ambitions to become Pembrokeshire's first Mayor Despite some rumblings among those Tories who were unhappy about co-operating with the other parties, Labour in particular, the local Conservative party executive voted to back the call for an elected mayor, even pledging to donate £200 towards the campaign.
Things became a little murky after that, but the information I have is that Maurice Hughes held secret meetings with some of the Tory top brass and persuaded them to change course.
Presumably, Councillor Hughes' motives had nothing whatsoever to do with the fact that he was desperate to hang on to the job of Leader.
So it came to pass, at the next meeting of the executive committee, certain leading Tories, Hugh Luke and Steve Cole to the fore, engineered a U-turn, leaving Councillor Llewellyn with egg all over his face and a dagger or two sticking out of his back.
It was in 1861 that the great liberal philosopher John Stuart Mill described the Tories as " the stupidest party '' and nothing seems to have changed in the intervening 140 years.
So far, so bad!
But matters were about to take a turn for the worse.
I had expected Councillor Llewellyn to resign as leader of the Tory group, even from the party, but I must say I was flabbergasted to learn that he had joined the Independent Political (sic) Group.
After all the derogatory things he has said about them, publicly and privately (all true), I would have thought he would be uncomfortable in the same parish never mind the same party.
I remember one conversation I had with him soon after the last election when we were discussing the possibility that some of the closet Tories in the Independent Political (sic) Group might defect and join his official Tories.
I reeled off a few names of known Tory sympathisers, whereupon Councillor Llewellyn snorted: " I wouldn't touch them with a barge pole ''.
Now he has jumped into bed with them.
To add insult to injury, it now emerges that when councillors Llewellyn, Edwards and Wildman applied to join the Independents, Maurice Hughes accepted the last two without hesitation, but, because of the aggravation Councillor Llewellyn at caused them in the past, he had to consult some of his senior colleagues before welcoming him into the fold.
No doubt, the grovelling letter Councillor Llewellyn had written to Councillor Hughes renouncing his previous beliefs impressed these senior colleagues.
He had now come to realise, he told The Leader, that there was no place for party politics in local government.
Furthermore, the introduction of an elected mayor would be " disastrous " for Pembrokeshire.
Old Grumpy is reminded of the Stalinist show trials, when, after the inevitable finding of guilt, the defendant would stand up and thank his persecutors

for showing him the error of his ways, before being dragged out and shot.
They, at least, had the excuse that they had been tortured
There is of course one gaping hole in Councillor Llewellyn's story.
If he now agrees with the Tory party executive that an elected mayor would be "a disaster " why did he need to leave the party in the first place?
One part of Councillor Llewellyn's letter to The Leader, when he says that he favours a Leader with Cabinet (Councillor Hughes and his cronies) because the alternative might be a Labour Mayor, struck me as rather odd.
So, elections are all fine and dandy provided the other side doesn't win.
And I was once foolish enough to believe he was a democrat.


Socialist dreamer

Last week a letter appeared in the Western Telegraph from Councillor Steve Watkins a member of the county council's ruling Independent Political (sic) Group.
It seems that Councillor Watkins, reputedly one of the brighter Independents (heaven help us) is as confused as some of his dimmer colleagues.
In his letter he says he is " a lifelong socialist '' and in the next paragraph, that the public does not want ''the council's policies and decisions to be guided by political ideology''.
This seems rather strange because socialism is a political ideology.
So, do Councillor Watkins socialist principles " guide" his decision and policy-making, contrary to the public's wishes, or does he leave them at the door when he enters the council chamber?
And what is the point of been a " lifelong socialist '' if this philosophy has no bearing on the way he reaches decisions.
This " lifelong socialist '' will also be interested to know that the clinching argument at the recent meeting between leading members of his group and top Tories was that the Independent Political (sic) Group was dominated by closet Tories, so why risk letting a Labour mayor in through the front door when, by retaining the present system, they could smuggle in a Tory through the back entrance.


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