Jacob Williams
Tuesday 12th April, 2016

Pancake race

Pancake race

The candidates standing for Pembrokeshire constituencies in the upcoming Welsh Assembly election have recently been announced and reported by the Western Telegraph, among others.

Six are vying for Preseli Pembrokeshire, defended by the Conservatives’ Paul Davies, among them the Pembrokeshire Alliance group’s county councillor Bob Kilmister wearing his Liberal Democrat hat.

Seven will run in Carmarthen West and South Pembrokeshire, including Angela Burns who has held the seat for the Tories since 2007.

Cllr. Kilmister is a serial candidate for the Lib Dems and a victory at the end of his latest run will, surely by his own admission, be an unlikely feat.

But Bob’s candidature for the Senedd is far from the most interesting among currently serving Pembrokeshire county councillors.

In addition to the two directly-elected seats, Pembrokeshire – as part of the ‘Mid and West Wales’ region – is also represented in Cardiff Bay by four AMs elected proportionally on the party list system.

Rather expectedly, the list of runners and riders in the gigantic Mid and West Wales regional seat is littered with party grandees.

The higher up one’s name is on a popular party’s list, the higher chance – often certainty – that he or she will be elected.

Take Joyce Watson, for instance. She’s been at the top of the Labour party’s regional list for several elections running and is practically a dead cert to keep her assembly seat into the 2020s.

As well as rewarding stalwarts with near guaranteed posts, these regional seats offer parties like UKIP and the Greens – who may receive consistent support across a region but not enough to see victory in first-past-the-post constituencies – the best hope of gaining representation in Wales’ devolved legislature for the first time ever.

Neil Hamilton’s controversial placement at the top of UKIP’s list for Mid and West Wales put many home-grown kippers’ noses out of joint.

But alongside the more traditional parties like Labour, Conservative, Lib Dem, Plaid Cymru, UKIP and the Greens are a string of cause parties trying to get in on the regional vote.

Some may sound vaguely familiar like the Welsh Communist Party, and the Welsh Christian Party busy “Proclaiming Christ’s Lordship.”

Others you’ve probably never heard of, like the “Association of Welsh Local Independents.”

This may already begin to ring alarm bells particularly for Pembrokeshire readers familiar with the state of ‘independent’ ‘party’ politics (see my definitive Partygate series.)

And if your sensors are twitching uncontrollably at this point it’s probably because this oxymoronic party that’s not a party’s lead candidate is none other than Pembrokeshire council’s former deputy leader and serving cabinet member, Huw George.

He of ‘there are two sides to every pancake’ fame.

Some, for whatever reason, like to bring up the pancake shtick at any opportunity.

It’s a cheap gag you’ll never catch me pulling!

One theory has that Huw’s actually a dab hand at the obscure mathematical branch of topology, and his pancake analogy was mere shorthand for his greater understanding of the complex specialism which Google tells me is:

“…the mathematical study of the properties that are preserved through deformations, twistings, and stretchings of objects. Tearing, however, is not allowed. A circle is topologically equivalent to an ellipse (into which it can be deformed by stretching) and a sphere is equivalent to an ellipsoid.”

But Cllr. George’s talents aren’t limited to topology and, if elected, Cardiff Bay may look forward to his inspired joint lectures on complex tax arrangements and particle physics.

What better way to explain how something – whether tax-dodge money or subatomic particles – can be in two places at once?

This was his infamous articulation to a BBC Radio Wales interviewer on the finer points of the unlawful arrangement which allowed the council’s senior officers to trouser cash sums in lieu of pension contributions whilst avoiding pension tax: “as I see it, the taxman gains in each and every way!”

For readers undecided between spoiling their regional vote or giving it to the Christian Party, they can kill two birds with one stone and give it to Huw George’s new cabal.

After all the ‘Rocking Rev.’ Cllr. Huw George is fully ordained and will ‘proclaim christ’s lordship’ until kingdom come through shining bright lights (whose bulbs are not on timers, either.)

As for his new party, details are extremely thin on the ground, but it appears to have Wales-wide links – fielding candidates across the regions.

The Electoral Commission tells us it was first registered on 18th February this year, to an address near Aberystwyth, Ceredigion.

Its leader and treasurer is listed as “Mr Hugh Evans” whilst its nominating officer is “Mr Raymond Quant,” who appears to be an ‘independent’ group councillor on Ceredigion council.

Voters might question this new party’s judgement as their lead candidate, Huw, was famously removed as PCC’s education cabinet member.

He remained in the cabinet though, reluctantly switching portfolios long after calls for his resignation following highly controversial and scathing professional critiques which highlighted the council’s appalling education service throughout his shambolic tenure.

Their only other candidate on the Mid and West Wales region is a Darren James Mayor, who seems to have something in common with Huw – he’s a cabinet member and ruling ‘independent’ group member on Powys County Council.

If you don’t want to get bogged down in deep conversation when Huw knocks on your door you might ask him if he was a passenger in a left hand drive car at the time he filmed his 2012 council election campaign video:

Cllr. George’s assembly bid has sparked no end of dull rumours at County Hall about what will happen if he gets elected.

Will he step aside from his £30k-odd cabinet role to make room for somebody else at the trough, or even step down as a councillor altogether?

Such gossip on the prospect of victory tends to make one feel rather queasy.

Which reminds me that the Monster Raving Loony Party’s lead candidate for the region is none other than Lady Lily the Pink.

Medicinal compound may be our only hope.

TUESDAY: unbelievable Huw George development – click here!.


Call of duty

The building blocks of the gigantic Mid and West Wales regional assembly seat are Pembrokeshire’s two constituencies in the west and ten others as far east as the English border.

One of the bigger beneficiaries of Bryn Parry-Jones’ departure as PCC chief exec (apart from the cash-laden man himself) is his Carmarthenshire counterpart, Mark James CBE.

Returning officer for this large regional seat used to be Bryn’s job, a nice little earner thank you very much.

And topping up the kitty further, Bryn was also trusted with returning officer duties for the police and crime commissioner election and the Wales-wide European parliament seat.

His cup runneth over.

But I note Mark James – another Welsh Government favourite – is the returning officer for the MAWW region this time.

James is from the same mould as Bryn, and just as unpopular.

He also availed himself of the same unlawful pension opt-out cash sums as part of the same unlawful scheme introduced at the same time at our neighbouring authority in uncannily dodgy circumstances.

It’s a funny old world!


Purdah burden

Councillors and council employees were recently sent out guidance setting out the rules concerning conduct and restrictions during the strictly regulated purdah period in the run-up to the Cardiff Bay elections.

It’s a well-established legal protocol to ensure political neutrality of public institutions.

Among which was:

During this period the Council, Councillors and Employees will not make statements that affect party politics.

As a few of us have noted, this makes it difficult to see how councillors or council staff (whether party members or not) could canvass on behalf of any particular candidate or party.

It’s even more punishing for councillors standing as candidates.

If standing as a Lib Dem in the Preseli Pembrokeshire seat wasn’t enough of a handicap, this rule literally means Cllr. Bob Kilmister can’t even campaign for himself!

The advice probably ought to have clarified that councillors and employees are restricted in what they can say or do ‘in their capacity as councillors/employees.’


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7 Comments...

  • Martin Lewis

    GOD PRESERVE US!!!

  • Interesting that you mention our great helmsman, Mark James, in his capacity as returning officer.

    One of the peculiarities of this sinecure in Carmarthenshire is that the returning officer is able to claim his fees whenever he likes.

    In 2012 he received a £20,000 advance on his fees for the council elections. Unusually, all of the wards were contested that year, but he was not to know that because nominations had not closed when he pocketed the dosh.

    The fact that the money was paid before the end of the 2011-12 tax year was, no doubt, purely a coincidence, and we must cast aside any nasty thoughts that it had anything to do with trying to deprive the tax man of his due or offshore accounts.

  • Nice to see you back in the blogosphere, I thought you had retired?!

    The advance returning officer payments just look wrong and I don’t think anybody ever did get to the bottom of it – I believe BPJ had something similar going on.

    As for this new Association of Welsh Local Independents party, I’m sure before long a clearer picture will emerge.

    They are fielding candidates across Wales’ regions and the names of their listed candidates are quite easy to find, I’m sure to those in the know they’ll be the ‘usual characters.’

    I think it’s the electoral machine devised by so-called ‘independent’ county councillors who know they’ll never be elected via FPTP.

    A person of the same name as the party’s treasurer, Hugh Evans, is the leader of Denbighshire County Council, also an independent.

    These ‘independent’ group council leaders, deputy leaders and cabinet members may be lacking in many things but certainly not ambition.

  • Galf

    Is the Pembrokeshire Alliance party still active? I see that Bob Kilmister’s “Bob’s blog” hasn’t posted anything since 21 February 2015. Has Bob bloggered off!

  • Ivor Whistle

    It is the word ‘guidance’ that is the ‘get out clause’. Since when have PCC (or councillors/employees) listened to ‘guidance’ that it does not agree with…

  • If Cllr Rev Huw George gets elected to the Assembly, can we look forward to an improvement in the Principality’s transport infrastructure?

    http://oldgrumpy.co.uk/archived/May%201%202012.html

  • Goldingsboy

    I wonder, Jacob, whether you have noticed in your photograph of Cllr. George, a strong facial resemblance to Colonel Gaddafi, and even their shared penchant for wearing gaily coloured uniforms?

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