Jacob Williams

Party planners: The party files, Pt. 6

Sunday 18th November, 2012
Party planners: The party files, Pt. 6

So the party files have been rifled through, and after this final instalment which covers the 2012 post-electoral coup d’état, the cupboard is bare (for Partygate, at least.)

Not quite as revealing as the post-2008 stuff, but if you remember, the real effort in establishing the absolute majority of the IPG went on over protracted periods, and I don’t think anybody quite knows what went on to achieve the magic number of 31> members. In fact, right up to the County Council’s AGM held on 24th May, the final numbers of the IPG were still not definite.

As it is though, the IPG went in to the election 39 strong, and (as I type) has 32 members. If I had to bet money, I’d say that this trend will continue into the near future, and that the IPG’s numbers will only be going downward, rather than upward. It’s worth remembering that this figure would have been 33 had Cllr. David Bryan not tippexed his signature out before the AGM. Commanding the ship with a slim majority of 32 (and with some rebellious characters among those on board) makes for some interesting times ahead. Speaking of which, there are some troubled waters on the horizon – the motion of no confidence in cabinet member for Education and the Welsh Language Cllr. Huw George. If the IPG are keen to show that there is no party line and each member is free to vote whichever way they wish, then what better opportunity to prove it.

I received a communication in the week asking me if I could clarify which election candidate the folder on the screenshot called ‘ME’ related to from last week’s party files. They initially guessed that “ME” was the object pronoun, referring to the creator of the folder, but were not totally sure as both letters were capitals. And I can understand – because it could have stood for the initials of Cllr. Mark Edwards or Cllr. Mike Evans. Just in case you thought the same, I can confirm once and for all that it contains the electoral literature of Rob Lewis.

Post-election antics 2012

‘1st group meeting 2012.doc’

Just like the 2008 meeting invitation, this pocket-sized invite was handed out to the newly-elected councillors who stood as ‘independent’ on their ballot paper. I received one, and, though I had no intention of joining the IPG, I accepted the invite – I thought it would be rude not to, plus I couldn’t bear the thought of missing out.

In 2008 these invites were designed to fit four per sheet of A4. I notice that the 2012 iteration is smaller, with 6 per sheet. Efficient thinking – and probably much easier to slip into an unsuspecting councillor’s top pocket unnoticed!

‘how it stands_2012.doc’

This document was created on 4th May 2012, the day of the election count, and it shows there are a number of councillors ‘still to sign.’ I can just imagine the headaches suffered during the IPG’s deliberations and negotiations to keep ‘all the troops happy.’ It must’ve been a logistical nightmare.

The far right column relates to whether or not that councillor has signed up. A tick if so, a blank space if that member is unaffiliated or a member of a registered party. Some of the names have a few words next to them such as the self-explanatory: “Still to sign,” “Sign Tuesday,” and then others have names such as “Jamie,” “RL,” which I guess signifies the person who the IPG is hoping can work their charm in a bid to acquire the remaining signatures. The cell next to Brian Hall’s name is unique, as it contains the symbol of an arrow-head pointing outwards. The irony isn’t lost on me, though I suspect it was probably unintended.

Having beaten the IPG’s leading lady at his second attempt in 2008, Cllr. Phil Baker of Saundersfoot declined the offer to join the IPG’s ranks, and served the 08-12 council term as a dictionary independent, or unaffiliated, unaligned, idiot, ugly, the great unwashed – call it what you will.

The IPG’s leading lights seem to have held out some quite astonishing hopes immediately after the 2012 elections, because this document demonstrates that Phil Baker is down on their list to sign up as a member of the group on “Tuesday.” It seems odd that they thought he might be converted, almost too odd to dismiss, but he reassures me he never came close to burning his dictionary – and I believe him.

There are eight names on this list who had not yet joined the IPG but later went on to sign up: Mark Edwards, Myles Pepper, Paul Harries, Brian Hall, Steve Yelland, Lyn Jenkins, Peter Stock, and Reg Owens. It could be purely coincidental (because Mark Edwards doesn’t appear to have gained or lost anything by holding out) but of the others, it seems that holding out has done the trick, because since signing up they’ve respectively bagged: Chairmanship of Planning committee, National Park appointment, Chairmanship of Environment O&S Committee, Vice-Chairmanship of Children and Families O&S Committee, National Park appointment, Chairmanship of Corporate Governance, and a National Park appointment.

Good things come to those who wait!

‘Group_2012.doc’

You’ll remember from the previous document that there were eight would-be IPG members who had not yet signed up.

Skip forward a few days, and in this document (created on 9th May – the day after the Independent Group’s first party meeting) you’ll notice that five of them (Edwards, Harries, Pepper, Stock and Yelland) now have a tick next to their name, which left Brian Hall, Lyn Jenkins and Reg Owens yet to sign up.

This absolute majority business is simply a matter of basic maths. There are 60 councillors, and to achieve an absolute majority requires 31 or more councillors in the controlling group. Something doesn’t add up though, because this file was created the day after the Independent party meeting where those who had not yet signed up were encouraged to do so. The list shows a 29-strong field of IPG councillors (signified, as before, with a tick next to their name.) However, on the same day that it was created, Jamie Adams was quoted in the Western Telegraph as saying:

“We have formed an Independent Group and it contains in excess of 50% of the members of council and I was chosen as leader of the group.

“I don’t want to confirm numbers yet, we still have a number of people that we’re speaking to. We will be confirming numbers at the AGM at the end of the month.”

Why doesn’t this add up? Well, even if Cllr. Adams had come out of the meeting with an overall majority (which he didn’t according to this list); the Western Telegraph went to print on the morning of Tuesday 8th May, many hours before the 2.30pm Independent Group meeting had even started. So it’s no wonder Cllr. Adams didn’t want to “confirm numbers” to the newspaper, because he simply didn’t know – he gave the quote in anticipation of becoming the IPG leader- which came up trumps, but he also gave it in anticipation of gaining the signatures of David Lloyd, Phil Baker, Phil kidney, Jonathan Nutting, and me, among others – which he didn’t manage. He did have the last laugh, though, in signing up Simon Hancock, something which attracted quite a lot of comments on a previous post.

Also, note the now infamous use of the word ‘Uglies’ to describe proper independent councillors. How charming!

←The party files, Pt. 5

Going to the polls 2012

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7 Comments...

  • Barney

    Why should it matter to you if Phil Baker joined the IPG?

  • Thanks to the IPG having hi-jacked and sullied the word ‘independent,’ the word ‘unaffiliated,’ ‘dictionary,’ ‘true,’ ‘proper’ etc. has had to be used by councillors like me and Phil Baker to qualify our true independence, which is the last bastion of party-free politics on our council.

    Coming from the Saundersfoot electorate’s point of view, they knew what they were voting for in re-electing Phil Baker.

    I think I made it clear, that this is a case of over-zealousness from the IPG, thinking that he would sign up. It was never on the cards. Had he done so though, serving a term as an unaffiliated in order to boost chances of re-election is a new one on me, and would be the most elaborate method of conning the electorate I’ve seen yet!

    Since the election in May the IPG has already managed to poach one Labour councillor (arguably two.) It would cause me untold concern if the unaffiliateds started getting into bed with them too!

  • Andrew Lye

    Very interesting, Jacob. I haven’t heard anyone dispute the facts on your website…yet.

    If not, I guess we will have to assume any silence confirms the accuracy.

  • Tim

    The big question is, what happens next? With both Jacob and Old Grumpy having these files and now they have been published, what are the IPG going to do? This can’t be the end of it…can they just get away with it?

  • Dave Edwards

    It may be that as the Ombudsman has had complaints, the leading lights in this alleged abuse of council resources by councillors are keeping their heads down.

  • John Hudson

    It seems that anyone can do this sort of thing on their own computer, and are apparently free to plan, plot and possibly even recruit others with a view to…what?

    They do not have to tell the electorate that they are operating and conspiring with the intention of forming a political “group” post election.

    Post election any two elected councillors can formally declare that they wish to operate as a political group and other councillors are free to sign up to join a group…or not.

    Where REGISTERED political parties stand for election, candidates are obliged to announce that they are standing as members of a political party on ballot papers, but as we have seen, even this doesn’t mean that they will join the Party or Political Group they stood, and were elected for.

    We are trying to export this system to non-democratic countries!

    Under this system, WE, yet again, have ended up with a council controlled by a Group (gang, clique, cabal, junta, bunch, outfit – what should we call them?) with no public declaration of policies, no mandate from the electorate and no redress, and it is only through discontent amongst the ranks that this “election” information has come to light.

    This wretched council, in the absence of any local public policies, is directed along statutory guidelines and standards imposed by the Welsh Government as interpreted by highly paid, and apparently unaccountable, unelected officers who then advise our elected councillors, who are also seemingly unaccountable.

  • Lean

    Has anyone thought of forming an opposition to the IPG. It could be cross-party and take the form of the old rate payers’ association with the primary aim of securing better value for money for the council tax payers and a possible reduction. I would certainly vote for such a group if it were formed.

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