Jacob Williams
Tuesday, 30th May, 2023

Blogatha Christie

Blogatha Christie

Conclusive evidence has emerged linking Pembrokeshire County Councillor Alan Dennison to a Facebook account which is anonymously targeting a female fellow councillor

Few would disagree that the ‘whodunnit?’ is the king variety of mystery fiction. Even fewer would disagree that Agatha Christie is this genre’s queen.

She famously loaned her name to the very public and non-fiction ‘Wagatha Christie’ footballers’ wives’ caper, an intriguing whodunnit where the detective work played out in real life online.

And something similar is going on right now at Pembrokeshire County Council.

Tenby councillor Sam Skyrme-Blackhall has been the subject of an anonymous smear campaign at the hands of two Facebook pages, one of which is titled ‘Moanalot.’

Conclusive evidence has emerged linking the page to her fellow PCC member, Cllr. Alan Dennison.

Public details also show the ‘Moanalot’ page was created just ahead of Dennison’s unsuccessful 2021 Welsh Parliament candidacy.

Facebook’s ‘transparency’ section confirms the page was originally created on 19th April 2021, under the title:

Alan Dennison – Senedd Candidate for Reform UK – Preseli Pembrokeshire

In an added twist of irony Moanalot lists falsepoliticians.com as its website address.

Standing as a Reform UK party candidate in his May 2021 Senedd campaign for the north county seat, Dennison – who had never previously held or sought public office – failed to retain his deposit.

But his rebound came in the local government elections twelve months later, when he got elected to PCC to represent Milford Haven’s North ward.

By now standing as a “Truly Independent” candidate, Dennison pledged as part of his successful May 2022 council campaign: “I offer to represent you in County Hall without any political party interference whatsoever.”

Dennison, who claimed he would donate his £16,800 annual councillor allowance to charity, sat as an unaffiliated councillor until joining the authority’s largest opposition group – the Independent Political Group or IPG – on 8th March this year.

However just six days before pledging his allegiance to IPG leader Cllr. Jamie Adams, on 2nd March 2023 the Facebook page linked to Dennison’s prior Senedd campaign was renamed ‘Moanalot.’

Laying dormant for several weeks, Moanalot was triggered into life by the doomed effort earlier this month to remove PCC’s leader, Cllr. David Simpson – the unaffiliated, truly independent councillor who’s held the post since the 2017 election.

The no-confidence motion to unseat Simpson had full support from the authority’s Conservative group, in a joint effort spearheaded by the IPG.

Dennison’s IPG colleague and fellow 2022 intake councillor, Huw Murphy, was the key conspirator and was even lined up for the top job had the removal vote succeeded.

In the event, Cllr. Simpson prevailed 31-29. His May 18th extraordinary council meeting victory included support from Tenby councillor Sam Skyrme-Blackhall, who has become Moanalot’s prime target.

Smearing Sam

Moanalot’s criticisms of unaffiliated independent backbencher Cllr. Skyrme-Blackhall centre on two themes – the allegations that a) she’s secretly a Labour party animal, and b) her support for Cllr. Simpson is motivated by her hopes of a seat in his cabinet.

This ‘anonymous’ smear campaign started just hours after the crunch vote which Simpson survived.

At 11.17pm on the evening of the extraordinary council meeting, Moanalot submitted the following Facebook comment on the Western Telegraph’s meeting coverage:

“No doubt it helped having Sam Skyrme Blackhall, an ‘unaffiliated’ Labour supporting candidate on your side. No doubt the constituents of her ward will be delighted to know their ‘unaffiliated’ councillor doesn’t take sides, well maybe just the one.”

At the time of typing, this comment has received just one response – a shocked emoji reaction from a profile named ‘Alan Dennison.’

Moanalot also included a photograph featuring, among others, Cllr. Skyrme-Blackhall. More on that, later.

Seemingly a keeper of close tabs on Pembrokeshire newspapers, minutes later – at 11.35pm – Moanalot copied and pasted the same wording in a comment on the Pembrokeshire Herald’s Facebook page:

Moanalot was back at it at 8.10am the following morning, 19th May, this time using the Tenby Observer’s Facebook page as a vehicle to smear Skyrme-Blackhall, recycling the comment word-for-word.

For good measure, at 11.03am Moanalot went back and added the aforementioned photo:

On 3.08pm on 20th May – two days after Cllr. Simpson saw off his no-confidence challenge – a new Facebook page was created with the title “Not Another Blogger.”

At 3.20pm ‘Not Another Blogger’ posted a rambling sermon on a familiar theme – criticism of Cllr. Skyrme-Blackhall for her part in rescuing Simpson, and her alleged Labour links.

This 700+ word opus is more tedious than savage, written in prose so painfully pretentious that it’s obviously an attempt to impress or obfuscate its origins – or both.

Best described as the efforts of someone who’s swallowed both a dictionary and a thesaurus, Not Another Blogger says of Cllr. Skyrme-Blackall that: “a flurry of recent revelations and swirling rumours are casting dark shadows over her claims of unadulterated independence.”

The star exhibit underpinning these alleged “flurry of recent revelations” and “swirling rumours” is the previously-mentioned photograph of Cllr. Skyrme-Blackhall repeatedly posted by Moanalot.

Just a day after Moanalot’s first outing with this photograph, we can see it becomes appropriated by Not Another Blogger in the ramped-up campaign.

It shows Cllr. Skyrme-Blackhall among many others at what Not Another Blogger describes as “a local Labour Party Association’s summer gathering.”

Online research shows this image is neither recent, covertly taken, nor secret in nature.

It’s a posed photograph which has been hiding in plain sight since being published online by regional Labour Senedd member Eluned Morgan MS (Baroness Morgan) to her 8,000 or so Facebook followers last year.

Indeed this photograph seems to have been the subject of some cross-party scrutiny among Pembrokeshire’s county councillors, and for quite some time.

Baroness Morgan MS originally posted it to her verified Facebook page on 22nd July 2022, taken at what she called a “picnic in sunny Tenby” marking the Labour party’s centenary.

However its existence was first drawn to my attention by Tory councillor Rhys Jordan three months later, on 28th October 2022.

Like Cllr. Dennison, Cllr. Jordan is a former associate of the party which formed under the name Brexit Party before rebranding as Reform UK.

Three-time Tenby mayor Cllr. Skyrme-Blackhall – who I understand denies being a Labour party member – stood as an independent candidate at her first attempt in PCC’s 2022 election, since which time she has sat not affiliated to any political group.

Public records also show that within both her legally-binding 2022 election nomination declaration, and her post-victory register of interests, Skyrme-Blackhall has consistently declared no political party membership.

Joining the dots

Whilst only slim pickings substantiate alleged links between Cllr. Skyrme-Blackhall and the Labour party, the same can’t be said on the links between anonymous smearer ‘Moanalot’ and Cllr. Alan Dennison. There are also links between both of these and the other anonymous smearer ‘Not Another Blogger.’

For instance, in the early hours of Monday, 22nd May, Moanalot posted the full lengthy wording of Not Another Blogger’s Skyrme-Blackhall rant – sans photo – on the Pembrokeshire Herald’s Facebook page.

But there is perhaps an even wider, more interesting, picture to be analysed here.

On the evening of 22nd May, the Tenby Observer Facebook page shared its online news article, titled “Council hopes other bodies can take on running of Pembrokeshire’s public toilets.”

The TO’s short Facebook snippet recounts comments made by cabinet member Cllr. Rhys Sinnett, that PCC “…is hoping to keep as many public toilets open as possible, with hopes other bodies can take on their running.”

Click to see exchange

It attracted the interest of Cllr. Huw Murphy who, remember, days earlier had been denied his long-coveted opportunity to become PCC’s new leader.

As the IPG’s fanatical recruiting sergeant, former copper Murphy’s a relentless phone caller. The modern day version of Chinese water torture, his campaigning calling convinced councillors Anji Tinley, Alan Dennison, Vanessa Thomas and Mel Phillips to cross the floor since January.

At 3.47pm on Tuesday, 23rd May, a salty Murphy commented on the toilet story with reference to his failed leadership bid:

“31 County Councillors voted for this last Thursday effectively and for clarity they included the Tenby and Saundersfoot County Councillors.”

We may never know if he thought he was talking to his colleague Dennison, but Murphy ended up conversing with Moanalot – who responded in under two hours with:

“Huw Murphy Surely not Sam Skyrme Blackhall, the new independent ‘Labour’ councillor, why on earth would she vote to shut the toilets down in Tenby, oh for a cabinet position possibly……….. so who gets the chop is the next question, Mr Sinnett or Mr Cormack.”

[Cllr. Alec Cormack is a PCC cabinet member.]

A minute later Murphy, perhaps sensing that toilet talk with a supposedly ‘anonymous’ account smearing a fellow councillor in public wasn’t such a good move, replied to Moanalot with the rather beige and non-committal:

“Moanalot Toilet closures #notinmyname”

If this was Murphy’s subtle hint to ceasefire, it appears subtlety isn’t a tool in Moanalot’s arsenal – as the pseudo account continued:

“Whatever next, tourist tax maybe, her party in Cardiff are all for it, no doubt Tenby businesses will relish the thought”

The exchange has received no further input from anyone.

By the middle of last week I know a handful of councillors were aware of the Alan Dennison Senedd campaign’s link to the page now known as ‘Moanalot.’

However while those familiar with Dennison’s scriblings can see clear similarities with Moanalot’s barbs, Not Another Blogger’s spiel is patently not his penmanship.

So is there another person in Cllr. Dennison’s orbit – with a shared interest in doing down a supporter of PCC’s current regime – who is Not Another Blogger’s anonymous editor?

To quote Not Another Blogger, there really are “swirling rumours” on that front – and they may have more than a grain of truth to them.

The net tightens?

The latest twist in this unusual saga is a Facebook entry on the evening of Friday, 26th May by Not Another Blogger in the same vein as its rambling ‘revelation’ on Cllr. Sam Skyrme-Blackhall.

Written by an author ignorant to the old gag that verbal diarrhoea is a sign of mental constipation, the subject this time is another councillor of the 2022 intake: Rhys Jordan.

Largely blowing smoke up Jordan’s derriere, this 500+ word bluster all adds up to nothing, damning the St. Florence member with faint praise en route.

Apparently, Jordan is a “revolutionary force” who’s “just as ambitious as Macbeth” with “a distinct desire to ruffle the plumage of the established order,” a “keen eye on a higher prize” and a “swiftly growing influence.”

Who knew?

A familiar name gets a mention, as we’re told “one of Jordan’s trusted allies is the enigmatic Councillor Huw Murphy.”

There’s even the claim that Jordan had a “hand in bolstering Murphy’s recruitment drive” which saw the IPG boost their numbers by four councillors this year, prior to its ill-fated leadership takeover pact with the Tories.

Illustrated with a crude mockup of Jordan with a fork and horns, Not Another Blogger’s babbling blogpost is more lampoonery than critical.

Even the part questioning whether “trusting Councillor Jordan may be a perilous game” is a backhanded endeavour – posed on the basis that Rhys is either “a shrewd and ambitious player, manoeuvring his chess pieces with unwavering determination” or “an audacious pioneer disrupting the status quo in the Pembrokeshire Tory group.”

The whole contrivance has the smell of the most rotten of red herrings.

The thought being that, in the wake of the Sam Skyrme-Blackhall production, Moanalot feels the net tightening and is seeking to put investigators off the trail by now ‘smearing’ Jordan – who’s reputed to share a lukewarm relationship with Skyrme-Blackhall.

A small detail that stands out to JW is the final part of the claim that Jordan: “has emerged as the Tory group’s enforcer, their spin-doctor, their cunning wordsmith.”

The question, previously put, keeps coming back to: who edits Not Another Blogger?

Those doubting Thomases among us may never be satisfied – but the writing analysis has started in earnest.

Even more…

Not Another Blogger’s Rhys Jordan Facebook post was created at 6.46pm on 20th May.

One minute later it was shared to the Pembrokeshire Council Watch Facebook group by another new anonymous account of the name “Bartholomew Roberts.”

This pseudonym will be a reference to the infamous north Pembrokeshire pirate more commonly known as Black Bart, or Barti Ddu.

Bartholomew Roberts’ sharing of Not Another Blogger’s Rhys Jordan homily has receive little traction. But among the reactions it’s picked up are a ‘like’ from an account named ‘Huw Murphy,’ and two laughing emoji responses from accounts named ‘Alan Dennison’ (who needs no introduction) and ‘Aled Thomas.’

Thomas is the Tory councillor whose three-vote Johnston ward majority – on a small 37.9% plurality – was the smallest of the 2022 election cycle.

Their shared membership of PCC, their 2022 induction, and their desire to take over the authority’s political control aren’t all councillors Dennison and Thomas have in common.

Like Cllr. Dennison, Cllr. Aled Thomas records his membership of the Freemasons within his register of interests, both of them attending in Milford Haven.

Final word, for now, goes to Jon Coles – the Pembrokeshire Herald’s chief writer – who addresses the Jordan spiel and its anonymous authorship in the following public Facebook comment:

“If the person responsible for this could hide their transparent admiration for Cllr Jordan a little better it would dispel the notion that these posts spring from within the Conservative Group or someone adjacent to it. All the talk of “motivations” – the same as in the piece about Cllr Skyrme-Blackhall – suggests someone who is too fond of conspiracy theories. Next week, freemasons and Tenby Town Council’s plan to nuke Amroth for spoiling the view (HINT: the WEF and the NWO are behind it all).”


  • Martin Lewis

    Dennison’s not the sharpest knife in the drawer is he? And helping Adams regain proxy leadership of the council via Murphy has shown massive weakness and a distinct, yet predictable, lack of integrity for screwing his voters over.

  • Mark

    Just wow. As Sam Skyrme-Blackhall is singled out for supporting David Simpson there may have been a hope (expectation?) she would support the takeover. If so she must now feel vindicated for being in the 31.

    Alan Dennison always has a lot to say (which can be good in a politician) and if he had owned his Facebook comments they probably would have caused little more than a stir.

    He also has a hide like a rhinoceros so it makes me think he commented anonymously less out of shame and more because he has no reason to believe his allegations. This is not something he or the people of Milford Haven should be proud of.

    Politics is increasingly divisive but there should be accepted standards. Can anybody really contemplate a Councillor who voted for David Simpson as Leader anonymously attacking Huw Murphy for planning to remove and replace him?

    It is a closely split council and this incident is a clear difference between the two factions. I will wait to see how many of the 29 speak out against it.

  • Mona Lott

    Alan Dennison has suddenly gone very quiet.

  • Susan Davies

    The murky world of politics keeps raising its head within the Council. Unlike many Councillors, residents aren’t worried about political affiliations – they just want their own wishes for the county to be carried through in an honest and open way (sadly honesty and openness has not been the case for many years!).

    It would also be useful if there were a right to protest and temporarily stop procedures when it is felt that the wrong decision has been made…but I’m living in cloud-cuckoo-land!

    Having watched several council meetings, there seem to be some long-standing councillors who enjoy revelling in their own self-importance and have no tolerance for new ideas – especially from newly-appointed councillors; their sneering remarks are a complete turn-off.

    As an example, I was amazed recently that Rhys Jordan was lampooned for visiting a local Deer Park to try to understand how the occasional opening of stalls for sellers of local crafts and products would impact on the area. He was seen as someone with a hidden agenda by the Council Planning Committee – yet someone like him is just what we need; doing the groundwork, understanding the situation and coming to his own conclusion.

    When it comes to local elections, most people will have no idea what the person they are choosing is like, or has done/voted for in the past. Faced with a list of names, they will vote for the person that has always been there, for their own Government Political Party or for someone who claims to be ‘Independent’ – which is why things will never change…and what our local political stalwarts are depending on.

  • Susan, your opinion that residents aren’t worried about the political affiliations of their councillors was certainly not an idea in the head of Alan Dennison who, incidentally, happens to be one of the “newly-appointed” councillors you seem to have such hope for!

    And I think everyone would agree that his stunt of anonymously attacking another councillor online over what he perceives are her political tendencies is patently not business being “carried through in an honest and open way.”

    Whilst you are dismissive of politicians’ political labels, you also seem to go on to dismiss voters opting for independents or “Government Political Party” candidates. I’m not sure who you think that would leave voters to choose from!

    If you’re suggesting existing fringe parties or the formation of brand new parties, they famously gain very little traction, and you would still likely be in the same position of not knowing your candidate or knowing their track record, if any. Politicians (national party, local party, independents) all have to start their reputation somewhere.

    As for your comment on Cllr. Rhys Jordan’s visit to the deer park, and how this cropped up during the April planning committee meeting, it is of no relevance to my blogpost but I am only approving it in order to respond to it.

    I can only conclude that you have made your comments having not watched the webcast of that meeting. You claim that Cllr. Jordan “was seen as someone with a hidden agenda by the Council Planning Committee,” but the committee didn’t discuss this topic, let alone come to a view on it.

    All of what you are referring to followed a question by Cllr. Michael Williams (who you neglect to name.) He queried the nature of Cllr. Jordan’s declaration, earlier in the meeting, of a personal interest in relation to an agenda item in his ward. Cllr. Jordan had initially declared this personal interest on the basis that: “I’m the ward member and the applicant is known to me because of this.”

    When it emerged that he had visited the site, following Cllr. Williams’ question, Cllr. Jordan said that his visit had been following an invite, from the applicant, to see the existing business (deer park) in operation, he did not claim, as you suggest, that his visit had been “to try to understand how the occasional opening of stalls for sellers of local crafts and products would impact on the area.”

    In any case, Cllr. Jordan can quite legitimately refer to the fact that he was not a member of the planning committee when he visited the site – the vacancy he filled arose following the self-referral by his Conservative party colleague (also of the 2022 intake) of racism allegations to the councillor standards watchdog.

  • Rosieone

    Cllr. Dennison seems to be something of an expert marksman…particularly when aiming at his own feet.

  • Steyntonian-warrior

    I doubt Dennison will get a second shot in the council after jumping in bed with Adams, he is very clearly not independent, we haven’t forgot the sort of person Adams is and anyone that supports him deserves to lose their seat.

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