Jacob Williams
Tuesday, 16th May, 2023

Huw dares, wins?

Huw dares, wins?

Following on from my last two blogposts (here and here) it’s little surprise that Cllr. Huw Murphy’s name is going forward as a candidate to become leader of Pembrokeshire County Council at Thursday’s extraordinary meeting.

As I’ve previously pointed out, he goes up for the authority’s most senior elected role despite a) not being the leader of his Independent Political Group (IPG) and b) not knowing whether there will ever be a vacancy.

An opening will only occur if a majority of all sixty councillors votes to remove the incumbent: Cllr. David Simpson (unaffiliated independent) who’s been leader since 2017 and a councillor since 2004.

All sorts of confusion seems to have beset the IPG in their efforts to oust Simpson and install Murphy – and I’m not just referring to the initial cock-up(s) over the tabling of the no-confidence motion.

At various stages over the past few weeks information has been reaching me that some IPG and Tory councillors were acting under two misapprehensions.

Firstly that the vote to remove Cllr. Simpson would be a secret vote, and secondly that, should Simpson succumb, if only one candidate was nominated to replace him – as has proven to be the case with Cllr. Murphy – then he or she would become leader by default.

Constitutionally, the vote to remove Cllr. Simpson will be by a recorded means unless council specifically adopts another method.

Don’t be surprised, then, if the challengers make an effort to have this key vote taken by secret ballot instead – a method they might hope will draw out potential secret opponents of the current regime.

This will only happen if a majority of councillors resolve to take the vote to remove Simpson by a secret ballot – by a vote which itself would be recorded, and which the present administration would likely treat as a proxy vote of confidence in Cllr. Simpson.

On the issue of automatic replacement, if it’s curtains for Simpson then it’s not a given that Cllr. Murphy will emerge from Thursday’s meeting as PCC’s new leader.

His nomination would still need to be debated and voted on. His short time on the council may not go in his favour.

But whatever councillors think of Cllr. Murphy’s inexperience – and some may think it’s an advantage – the bigger factor is likely to be the baggage of the colleagues he associates with.

Speaking of which, Old Grumpy has today put finger to keyboard, and promises a follow-up post tomorrow on “the dubious agricultural planning consents” obtained by Murphy’s IPG leadership forefathers.

Caught red-handed

Light relief, this morning, as Cllr. Huw Murphy sent a near 1,000-word email to PCC’s chief executive, monitoring officer, and copied to all councillors.

Titled “Councillor Tony Wilcox – Social Media post,” moaning Murphy’s mega missive laments a Facebook comment by Wilcox, in which the Pembroke Dock veteran suggests the ongoing council takeover bid is motivated by money and cabinet seats.

First elected last year, the IPG member for Newport and Dinas – who with support from the Tories and others hopes to be council leader before the week is out – included a mobile phone screenshot of his Labour colleague’s offending words.

Cllr. Murphy’s angle is summed up in this snippet:

“I fully appreciate with the upcoming meeting of Council on May 18th that Councillors may have strong views and although debate is welcomed, I cannot allow misinformation to be placed into the public domain in an effort to achieve political objectives.”

Best part, though, is how Murphy dropped a close colleague right in the smelly stuff.

He inadvertently revealed he was acting on a sneaky tip-off from his fellow plotter and 2022 inductee, Tory councillor Rhys Jordan.

Injudicious Jordan – who some say would forego at least one internal organ to serve in a Murphy cabinet – overlooked the fact that the screenshot he took and sent to Murphy included both his mugshot and the words “Comment as Rhys Jordan.”

His involvement in Murphy’s snitching strategy was pointed out to all in a follow-up email by Cllr. Joshua Beynon – who obviously knows a thing or two about screen capturing.

In a flustered response to Beynon’s detective work into his tale-telling tactics, Jordan admits: “I forwarded a screenshot to Cllr Murphy…” going on: “my aim was to advise him to sidestep any potential political mudslinging on social media,” and that councillors “…should conserve our energy for the forthcoming debate.”

This is surely enough to discourage any councillors who may have had thoughts of coming down with diplomatic flu on Thursday morning…

The extraordinary full council meeting to debate the no-confidence motion against the authority’s leader, Cllr. David Simpson, begins at 10am on Thursday, 18th May, and will be live-streamed (and subsequently archived) at this link.


  • Quill

    Considering some of the previous holders before him and what they got up to, imagine if David Simpson becomes the first PCC leader removed from post. Doesn’t sound much like justice to me.

  • Flashbang

    Doesn’t matter who wins, it’ll be the taxpayers being the biggest losers.

    I think the Murphy/Adams cabal will bring back the worst of the worst days of Jamie Adams’ previous tenure as leader. Why is he even allowed to be in local government after his disastrous regime?

    As for all the other members of the IPPG or whatever they are these days, it’s easy to forget why you were elected when money is being waved in front of you to sell your soul.

  • Flashbang

    I wonder if all of the 29 who voted for the Jamie Adams puppet show were promised cabinet positions without being aware there aren’t 29 posts to go around.

    I was very happy to see Adams get done over again though it was close. If he has any integrity he’ll resign and let PCC try and rehab its reputation. I only caught parts of the webcast (amateur night production) so it’s not hard to see why the place is dysfunctional.

  • Malcolm Calver

    Whilst watching the webcast I was amazed that both of the candidates and those that spoke failed to mention what is obvious, that Pembrokeshire County Council is a luxury the actual council taxpayers of Pembrokeshire can no longer afford.

    We had the likes of Cllr Miller rejoicing in the fact that the projects the council have embarked on such as Ocky White and the transport interchange are only costing the council a fraction of the total cost. Wake up Cllr Miller, taxpayers pay for the rest through other taxation.

    We also had ex-council leader John Davies worrying about the the exclusion of Welsh speakers in the administration and lack of funding in the northeast of the county. Maybe he was advocating more agricultural workers’ bungalows, a topic which I do recall he has had quite an interest in. Let’s be real our schools seem to be more interested in promoting Welsh than preparing children for actual work positions.

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