On arrival at County Hall for Thursday’s penultimate county council meeting of the 2012-2017 term, councillors found envelopes waiting in their pigeon holes.
They contained an undated, unsigned statement from the self-styled “Voice of Johnston,” Cllr. Ken Rowlands.
Rowlands was first elected as Labour member for Johnston in 2004.
Crafty Ken was also adopted as the party’s candidate for the 2008 election, but within an inch of the close of nominations, not leaving Labour enough time to find a replacement, ditched them to successfully stand as an ‘independent’ – bringing two fellow comrades with him.
Lay-preacher Ken always claimed that he only decided to join the council’s ruling independent party post-election – and denied that his fellow Labour councillors Lyndon Frayling and Umelda Harvard were his dowry for doing the dirty.
This was all blown wide open by my Partygate revelations.
This showed, among other things, that the ruling party were creating election leaflets for the three of them – and counted on their respective seats as being “safe” and “almost in the bag” in secret pre-election strategy documents I published online.
Oh, and The Voice of Johnston’s denials were dealt a terminal blow as Partygate also revealed that, er, Ken’s wife acted as the trio’s election agent!
Cllr. Sue Perkins, who’d previously trounced a bitter Ken for the Labour leadership, knew exactly what had gone on and accused the three of “pretending to be Labour candidates and misleading voters,” telling Ken: “I would be happy never to speak to you again.”
She most famously sniffed: “I hope you are happy with your 30-pieces of silver!”
This was in reference to Ken’s immediate promotion, post-election, to a lucrative cabinet position.
Who said loyalty goes unrewarded?
At that time, the Partygate evidence wasn’t available to support the version put forward by Cllr. Perkins – whose theories Ken shrugged off as “vitrolic, offensive and smacking of political paranoia.”
Sue, of course, was totally right – and her spirit was willing – but her flesh was weak.
Five years later she would join Ken in ditching Labour in return for the ruling ‘independents’ – and a cabinet post of her own!
Countless more pieces of silver have played their part in propping up Pembrokeshire council’s rotten ruling independent party – see Cllrs. Simon Hancock and Alison Lee – which today has more ex-Labour councillors than the official Labour group.
Back to Ken, whose cabinet tenure under successive independent party leaders came to an end in 2014 when he was put out to grass.
Former deputy-head Rowlands was the education portfolio holder, presiding over poor educational performance much like his predecessor Cllr. Huw George.
With time to mull things over on the backbenches, it’s got right up Kenny’s nose that the council’s “often positive outcomes” feature “in the back pages of the press” and certain unnamed councillors “denigrate this authority’s progress” failing to “acknowledge the successes.”
So much that he sent us a piece of his mind!
Ken opens his letter saying he was “somewhat surprised” that “the more rational members” of the authority “had not responded positively to Councillor Rob Summons’ e-mail to members in December.”
This is a reference to a crackpot missive his ruling independent party colleague sent all councillors on Christmas Eve.
When most people were chopping parsnips dreaming of a white Christmas, the Burton bruiser – ex-copper Cllr. Summons – thought it was ripe time to be defending his independent party’s record in a spontaneous outburst.
Cllr. Rowlands’ letter seems to confirm suspicions his pal’s yuletide outpouring fell on deaf ears – or none at all – as Summons’ spam was laughably filtered as junk mail!
Ruling IPPG councillor Summons, who won the Burton seat in the 2013 by-election, is said to be cosying up to the Conservatives – and some sources claim he’ll be their candidate there in this May’s election.
Repeating Summons’ unsolicited theme, Thursday’s finger-pointing letter to councillors from The Voice of Johnston – reproduced in full below – neglects to name a soul.
Rowlands goes for anonymous slurs and euphemism – smear tactics famously deployed by his party leader, Cllr. Jamie Adams.
So we may never learn the identities of spineless Ken’s “bellyachers” on the “side-lines!”
With polling day mere weeks away, some interpret the following letter as The Voice of Johnston’s choice of swansong…
❏There’s plenty to dissect from Thursday’s meeting, to which I may well return. In the meantime read Old Grumpy’s post on it here.