Jacob Williams
Saturday, 30th November, 2019

One for the road

One for the road

There were nine candidates in the Hundleton by-election earlier this month, but it wasn’t the victor’s vote tally everyone was talking about.

Pembroke pub landlord Jonathan Nutting, who had already served as a Pembrokeshire county councillor nearby between 2012-2017, polled just a single vote.

And we know the solitary X wasn’t his own, because he isn’t a voter in the Hundleton council ward!

Quite a character, our Jonathan, it was difficult not to appreciate his bull-in-a-china-shop style during his time as a councillor.

Refreshingly unfiltered, he divided opinion but was good value and nothing if not reliable when plotting from the opposition benches!

Unfortunately for Nutting, he was unable to turn his genuinely remarkable talent for art into drawing votes on polling day.

But Nutting netting nearly nothing is quite some feat, I can say.

What readers may not know is that the process of seeking election as county councillor requires each candidate to gain the signatures of ten residents within the ward.

One proposer, one seconder, and eight assentors – all must be on the electoral roll.

In a single-member ward, no constituent can sign the nomination papers of more than one would-be councillor.

This means that the signatures of ninety people were acquired by the nine candidates combined.

Conventional wisdom suggests that all signatories are therefore also supporters of the office-seeker they are nominating – support which, one might reasonably assume, should translate into crosses beside their candidate’s name on the ballot paper.

Unfortunately this was not the case for the Pembroke publican – whose ten nominees surely breathed a sigh of relief on learning his tally wasn’t zero.

It of course means that every single one of them can, at least, claim to Nutting: “you got my vote!”

A lie which came so close to being impossible. Phew!

Comfortably successful candidate was the favourite throughout the race, Steve Alderman, to whom congratulations are in order.

Cllr. Alderman – who I’m sorry to say I’ve not yet met in County Hall – was persuaded or at least encouraged to stand, so the story goes, at the funeral of his predecessor, Margot Bateman OBE, who had been a member of the council’s independent political group (IPG.)

Nominated by her widower and seconded by the seat’s former councillor and longtime IPG stalwart John Allen-Mirehouse, Alderman was widely expected to join the IPG, if elected.

But he remains, at the moment, independent – not affiliated to any political group.

That may all change when he finds out us mongrels were famously dubbed – and now wear as a badge of honour the name – ‘the Uglies!’

The tell-tale could come quite soon, as the papers are compiled for this year’s final council meeting.

Set back a week because of the snap general election, it’s being held on December 19th.

The Christmas full council has a record of being a riotous affair – so it could be a baptism of fire for the newbie.

We will have to wait and see if his political affiliation is still listed as ‘unaffiliated’ on the agenda papers – and where he sits in the chamber.

The image I’ve used up top is not a photo of Nutting’s actual vote!

Hart before head

JW notes that Simon Hart, campaigning for re-election in Carmarthen West and South Pembrokeshire, is coming under pressure to comment on the origin of two swastikas that have emerged on his campaign material.

Simon Hart’s June 2017 photograph of the defaced placard

The Tory has made frequent reference since his 2017 re-election to one of his placards defaced in that campaign – in which a mischievous pensmith claimed Hart “will starve your nan and steal her house!”

But the Pembrokeshire Herald’s scoop shows how, by the time he shared a new image of that particular placard earlier this month, two new swastikas appeared on it.

Simon Hart posted this photograph of the same placard in November 2019, now with two swastikas added to it

Si is refusing outright to comment on the change of appearance two years after he had originally taken down the now-infamous graffitied placard from public display.

He claims that “even by Corbynista standards” it’s a “totally outrageous” case of his political opponents causing mischief “that reaches new depths.”

Hart tells the Herald he hopes the paper will “treat it with suitable contempt” and, leaving no doubt as to his position, says: “I am not going to say anything public whatsoever.”

Well the Herald didn’t treat it with contempt – it was their front page lead, and they laid out the story in a double-paged spread to boot.

The saga has since taken off online and has already received national press attention.

When Hart was approached for a comment yesterday by the Independent, they report that a spokesperson in his office told them “he was out canvassing ahead of next month’s election.”

He won’t be able to use that excuse to dodge journalists’ questions today – as he’s suspended his re-election campaign.

But it’s nothing to do with swastikagate.

It’s due to the terror incident in London. He posted last night:

“Following the London Bridge incident and in line with other parties we are suspending election campaigning activity. This means we will not be meeting voters tomorrow (Saturday) or distributing literature. I will not be posting new social media material until the suspension is lifted. I will be contacting our various volunteers to this effect.”

Hart, who was promoted by PM Boris Johnson to a senior Cabinet Office role, has left the door open for much speculation by his refusal to explain or even comment on the swastikas.

The Herald’s cartoon

Among those asking questions of the government minister are the shadow secretary of state for Wales.

Setting aside who added the Nazi symbols, how they did it or why, we can say for certain that Simon Hart sanctioned the use of a swastika-laden placard as part of his 2019 re-election bid.

We know so because he personally posted the image of it to social media, with a lengthy personal blurb.

Call me old fashioned, but knowingly sharing campaign material daubed with swastikas – even those whose provenance are beyond scrutiny – is an unusual approach.

Indeed, it could be described as downright bizarre behaviour – unless, of course, it was part of an attempt to arouse sympathy among would-be voters.

That’s certainly the interpretation I take from Hart’s 650-word post accompanying his photo of the placard which didn’t-used-to-be-but-is-now Nazi-themed.

Within the piece, described by the Herald as “emotive,” he talks about his rough 2017 campaigning experience, pledges and appeals for civility this time around, and even manages to do so by reference to murdered MP Jo Cox.

He might be dodging questions on how the swastikas got there, and he may have a good explanation if and when he eventually comes out of his bunker.

But, however they got there, he also has to accept that he could well be the first politician since Adolf Hitler to knowingly promote his electoral prospects with swastika-laden material.

What on earth was he thinking?



  • Flashbang

    I wonder if you could find the eight assentors for Jonathan Nutting’s tilt at re-election.

    I suspect you wouldn’t have to look further than his pub. Were drinks an inducement, or could it have been the drinkers would have been seeing less of him while he was on council duties? Win-win either way!

    Maybe the IPPG or whoever they are these days can call for pubs to be closed on election days to increase the vote by at least 8 in my reckoning.

  • Dave Edwards

    As one of the “Hundleton Eight”, who were roundly defeated in the local election, I can offer some comments.

    Firstly, as I am sure your well informed readership will understand, there is a very different political dynamic at play in country seats compared to town seats.

    Voting is much more likely to be influenced by where you live rather than your political view, and the only cohesive group at PCC level seem to be the farmers normally allied to the IPG.

    Hundleton Ward is the second largest by area in the county, and as well as Hundleton it includes the villages of Angle, Stackpole, St Twynells, Bosherston and Castlemartin.

    In this election every village had their own candidate!

    Steve Alderman, who if he resists the blandishments of the IPG, will I am sure make a good councillor, had the dual advantage of the village and farming votes so was nailed on from day one.

    Looking ahead, I cannot see this changing any time soon.

  • Malcolm Calver

    David, perhaps the solution to this would be larger wards, say 30. That might make it more likely that a successful candidate was elected on policy grounds or by party, rather than personal connections.

  • Kelvin Thomas

    From Simon Hart’s latest newsletter: “The theft of over £1000 of my election material is a small but irritating part of this! The line between good old robust campaigning and intimidation has always been a fine one but if we aren’t to deter even more people from doing their civic duty then we need to be on top of this.”

    I do hope that this has been reported to the police and that the swastika dauber is found!

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