STaN's Latest column
Also see snippets on the Twitter page of the Neath Ferret
19 March 2017They're off!
Local Labour Twitter accounts are in overdrive right now, as hyper as those old pit ponies let out for their summer grazing. I just wish they could come up with an adjective more imaginative than "fantastic" all the time.
Anyway, what excited our Dulais valley resident MP (see below) was the "fantastic" evening at NPT's Labour Campaign Launch, no less. NPT has great councillors according to her. She obviously meant the Labour lot. She'd hardly praise any other sort. I wonder if she included all those lazy Labour buggers that hardly ever turned up to Committees - some of whom have been deselected to try and con the public that this lamentable Party has its finger on the pulse. Now I'm prepared to retract this if proven wrong, but a little bird told me that Ms Rees used to be a Porthcawl Town Councillor - with attendances that would hardly have earned her a Gold Star from teacher!
Now girls, sing after me:
"Tall, blonde, dark and lean
Rough and tough and strong and mean ....."
Those bottom images of the event remind me of one of those cringeworthy Karaoke evenings. I don't think that cerise sweater and black shirt that the Reverend is wearing should be allowed out in public either. Maybe in 1977 but never, ever in 2017. And what's with the black collar? I guess the white doggie one was in the wash.
Then check out those perennial, sycophantic "Retweeters" and "Likers" of the Tweets by Labour bigwigs, vying for position again. Alan Lockyer in first this time, with Mike Harvey relegated to fourth - even beaten by his Mrs, Debbie, who in the top photo is third from the right in the back row.
A different little bird has told me that Harry Potter's Mrs, whom I assume is Mrs Anthony Taylor, is standing in the Port Talbot area. Could it even be the same ward as Harry? This is actually getting more surreal than a real J K Rowling book. We've had the Millers, we've had the Bebells, the Lockyers (though one is a Neath Town councillor). We've the Harveys going for a double act. There are rumours of Mr Wingrave going for a seat in one of the Coedffranc wards to join his Mrs, who currently represents Cadoxton. And now the bloody Harry Potters. Mrs Bloody Harry Potter aka Rachel Taylor is actually seated third from the left in the front row in that group photo.
Are Labour REALLY that desperate that all those husbands and wives have to be wheeled out to make the numbers up? Is it the prospect of two council allowances coming in to one household - is that's what is causing this stampede to the public trough? Or could it be that the title of "Neath's No 1 Couple" first promulgated here on these pages and now jealously guarded by the Lockyers, has seized the imagination of other attention seekers, and they want their five minutes of fame in STaN's column?
I'm all for more women on our councils, believe me. But take this too far and when a lightbulb needs changing in the Committee Room we're going to be right up sh*t street.
More to come on these lovely couples in due course......
12 March 2017Huge Labour turnout in Port Talbot
Well that's what was said on Aberavon Labour's Twitter page. Here's a picture of the turnout on 11 March.
Just for once, well, I'm lost for words!
12 March 2017Duffryn or Dyffryn?
I have just spotted a new Twitter profile for Mrs Debbie Harvey, who is the Labour Party candidate for the Dyffryn ward in the May election. Readers may recall my article in November 2016 dealing with Mrs Harvey's bid to join her husband Mike on the Council.
Mrs Harvey has been spectacularly quiet both on social media and around the ward itself - so quiet in fact that STaN thought she might have had second thoughts about the scale of the task ahead of her. How wrong was I?
The profile was changed recently and confirms Mrs Harvey's status as the candidate for the Labour Party - or "Welsh labour" as she puts it.
Eagle-eyed readers will be able to spot some familiar faces in the Twitter site's photos, including Councillor Alan Lockyer and Town Councillor Jan Lockyer, christened by STaN as Neath's First Couple because of the amount of wining and dining out the
socialite socialist couple write about on social media. The soubriquet seems to have tickled the pair, and indeed their family and friends, who now are wont to make a cheeky reference to it in the silly Twitter games that some adults people play. The nickname has clearly stuck and they never disappoint me in living up to it.
In fact, that very photo you spot there was posted after a night out together for both couples, Debbie tweeting:
Another photo is appropriately an image of a huge meal, something that Neath's First Couple-in-Waiting (that's the Harveys) have to get used to getting down their neck if they are going to snatch the title from the Lockyers in 2017.
Enough frivolity, time to get to the point, and it's this. There is no "Duffryn" ward in Neath Port Talbot. It's spelled "Dyffryn" - at least as far as STaN understands it. I have seen certain placenames in the locality spelled with a "u" on occasion. Some people write "the Duffryn ponds", rightly or wrongly.
Some will say, stop bloody nit-picking, STaN, but to me it's important you get these things right. More especially if you are seeking to be the Councillor in that area.
So can anyone more familiar with this ward and the historical placenames associated with it pass on their advice? Is Debbie correct and the Dyffryn Clydach Community Council needs to change its title? Or doesn't it matter?
I'll be looking out for any corrections that may be made, though I have to say that Labour Party councillors and politicos are closing or locking their social media faster than most of them can get to a free bar. "They don't like it up 'em!" as Clive Dunn used to say in Dad's Army. I'm loving it!
07 March 2017Clean up at Memorial Gate, Neath
Most will have read or heard about the desecration of memorial wreaths at Neath's Memorial Gate and possibly the clean-up operation thereafter. Here's a link to an ITV News article on it. Giving an interview is Councillor Peter (Reverend) Rees. He's in the last video link in the report.
What doesn't come out of this interview is the fact that the clean-up operation plus the attendant publicity was organised by the Royal British Legion. More specifically by a gentleman by the name of Darren Bromham-Nichols who is the local President of the Royal British Legion. And on the day (26 February), Darren's partner, Lee Bromham-Nichols had this to say on Facebook:
Labour councillors showed their true colours today - attacking the President of the RBL Neath for organising a community event cleaning up the mindless vandalism that both the County Borough and Town Councils did absolutely nothing to fix. They were the first to jump in front of the cameras. Neath really needs to get rid of this nasty lot.
Darren organised the even (sic) in his capacity of President of the Royal British Legion Neath branch. Peter Rees verbally attacked him in public in at the memorial gates and accused him of pulling a publicity stunt because there is an election coming up (not sure of the relevance as Darren is not standing!). Even the ITV crew couldn't believe the behaviour of a public servant. A few years ago, Daren organised a candlelit vigil at the same location with a few hours' notice because the council failed to organise any public events. The real issue is that he has embarrassed them yet again.
Since the above is a matter in the public domain on Lee's Facebook page I trust he doesn't mind me reproducing its contents. I think Lee has hit the nail right on the head though. The Reverend is pissed (sorry for blaspheming, Rev) because once again Labour have been caught napping and missed an open goal. If anything like this is happening "on their turf" they must retain ownership of it. A bit like a dog with a bone and have you seen what they are like when you try and take it off them?
But the real issue here is that this particular business should be above Party politics. Someone had to take action and this appears to have been the Royal British Legion itself albeit through the organisation of its local President. Labour likes to retain a vice-like grip on organisations and institutions throughout its area. If there's any that threatens that domination they'll soon find a family member, or friend, or friend of a friend to infiltrate it. But that vice-like grip I described is looking every day more like a dead man's grip.
For the sake of balance before I finish I should tell you that Lee is the Plaid Cymru candidate for Tonna in the coming elections. And just to restore the balance a bit more, standing against Lee as Labour candidate is Mrs Leanne Jones, who works for Christina Rees MP, who in turn was given glowing references by the Reverend - he used to teach her.
If I might give Darren a piece of closing advice, this would be it:
But even if you should suffer for what is right, you are blessed. “Do not fear their threats; do not be frightened.”
That just happens to come from 1 Peter 3:14
So there we are, Darren. I hope you find some consolation and comfort in those words.
05 March 2017STaN's Open Letter in reply to Councillor Rob James
On 1 March 2017, Rob James, the Labour councillor for Bryncoch South wrote a letter to the Neath Ferret, published on 2 March. The letter is copied below, under the title Rob gave to it "What do you want to be know (sic) as?"
The letter raised questions for the Editorial team of the Neath Ferret that I leave it for them to answer on the Ferret itself. My response to Rob takes the form of an open letter, printed under his below.
What do you want to be know as?
Back in 2011, I was approached to discuss this very site. There was one goal, to create a balanced online discussion on the state of affairs in Neath. It appears that this site does not have the same goal and rather operates as an investigative journalist, and a little like a Facebook group.
I have absolutely nothing to gain from me messaging on here. Everyone knows I do not intend on responding in Bryncoch South. All I was intending on doing was to challenge the status quo.
I have no personal issue with any Councillor regardless of which party they represent. Some of the contributors on this site, do have a bias towards being anti-Labour.
What I will say to you all is this. There is a reason why the majority of Labour Councillors do not come on here for a frank exchange on their policies or what they have done as Councillors, it's because of this bias. Credit to Andrew, who has much more diplomacy than me and would have made a fantastic Councillor for Bryncoch.
You have had Bethan represent this area for nearly 10 years, Suzy has represented this area for a number of years, you have a UKIP AM and Peter Black represented this area from 1999 to 2017. Looking at some of the stories, whether it be the regular attacks on the former MP for Neath or the current MP for Neath, maybe the Labour Councillors or just Labour activists, you would assume there are no other parties operating here.
So, the editors on this site have a choice going forward after this election. I've make a choice to achieve a balance on here (maybe ask Stan not to call former MPs old c***ing dinosaurs, that would be a start), or continue shouting at the wind and be known as an anti-Labour website.
Posted by Rob on 01 March 2017
Stan's reply, dated 5 March 2017
Interesting letter, and since you mention me personally, let me reply.
I've made it perfectly clear what I think of many in the present day Labour Party, be it local MPs or local councillors. But I've also given credit to individuals in your Party, Andrew Jenkins locally springs immediately to mind. And if you followed what I posted last year you'd find strong support from me for your current leader, Jeremy Corbyn.
That support I offered Corbyn was denied him by the chap whose office you work in right now. And denied him by Christina Rees - my MP. And Stephen Kinnock. And Peter Hain. And many of NPT's "Labour" councillors. I have nothing but contempt for the disloyalty and treachery so many in your Party have shown towards your leader. On Corbyn's watch your Party has grown to unprecedented levels of membership, in the main from those it is there supposedly to represent. And still he is undermined at every opportunity by the likes of Hain and Kinnock.
Rees' "loyalty" has been secured for now by promotion. Seven months ago she was on the front stage with Owen Smith at his Wales launch for his humiliating leadership campaign. She snatched a photo of them arm-in-arm and used it as her profile picture on her Twitter site. A woman of deep loyalty and principle, following on from that other icon of principle, the hypocritical Peter Hain. What have the people of Neath done to deserve such paragons of virtue?
I'd qualify and expand your statement that most councillors won't come on the Ferret because they are fearful of a fair roll of the dice. It's too simplistic to say this. These are grown men and women who are well used to being in the public eye and having to deal with opposing views. I would say their absence is explained by (1) - having to face a very uncomfortable examination on the Ferret's pages that they can avoid by simply ignoring the Ferret. I don't blame them - it IS uncomfortable, but it's also uncomfortable for us being represented by people who will take office then refuse to engage and won't earn their corn. And (2) - because there's often no personal or political advantage in them posting there.
I have absolutely nothing to gain from me messaging on here. - Rob's own words, above.
Like you, I will give Andrew Jenkins credit for posting, and I'm sure other readers and contributors of the Ferret would endorse that. Didn't the editors award him Councillor of the Year 2016 alongside Martyn Peters, the Plaid Cymru Councillor for Dyffryn Clydach?
But is Andrew actually unofficial spokesman for the rest of you? Is he "The One", like Nero in "the Matrix", allowed a degree of freedom and latitude by the Reverend on the understanding that if a shitstorm results, he stands in the face of it himself, to ensure no dirt lands on those who skulk in the background and put bullets in his gun?
I don't run the Ferret, I'm not part of the editorial make up. What choice they make, if any, in terms of a change of direction is up to them.
Just one other matter. To quote from your post earlier "I have no personal issue with any Councillor regardless of which party they represent". Would you like to reconsider that statement?
Earlier in the week in a cheap attempt to discredit the reputation of your fellow Bryncoch South councillor, Janice Dudley (Plaid Cymru) you drew the attention of readers of the Ferret to a Twitter post (actually nearly two months old) by another Plaid Cymru Councillor, representing Llanbadarn Fawr, Ceredigion. You said "There is a lovely picture of her getting cosy with Plaid Cymru County Councillor for Llanbadarn Fawr Ceredigion". To me, your remarks insinuate something beyond a get-well visit to the gentleman concerned, who was in the stages of recovery following hospital treatment. I've since looked at the Tweet myself and I reckon you should be thoroughly ashamed of yourself for such a scurrilous comment. If I was Mrs Dudley at the very least I would be having a quiet word with you. But as I've said previously, she is quite capable of speaking for herself and no doubt expects nothing better from you. That was a really cheap shot even by the standard of the gutter politics that accompanies an election campaign. You owe her an apology.
With a comment like that, as your days representing us here finally come to an end, you have revealed just what I have suspected for some time. In my opinion you have a lot to learn in the areas of class, manners, diplomacy and work ethic that I expect to see in an elected representative. Accordingly you do not command the respect from me that I would like to be able to give to a local councillor. No doubt this won't bother you. It's only me. And when all's said and done - you join a long list of senior Labour names, many of whom I am sure you are already on first name terms with. Our political system is riven with people just like you and them. You are collectively part of the problem in our politics, not the solution the public are crying out for. If only you personally could see beyond your ambition to realise it. You'll probably make a bloody good Labour MP with those credentials and skillsets. But not with my vote.
I bear you no malice and I hope that you will take something positive from the events played out here the last few months. I also hope that you and the people of Lliedi will both benefit as a result of what's gone on. It's now time for me to turn the page over on this chapter but you have a few colleagues yet that I'd like to turn my attention to. (You may get a mention but you may appreciate no longer playing a starring role).
I'll follow your new life in Carmarthenshire Council with interest. You are probably aware that some have tipped you for stardom and one day, who knows, the people of Bryncoch South may say - he was our local Councillor once and such was his presence you'd never have known he was there!
Here's a link to "Y Cyneifiwr", the Carmarthenshire blogger, who always entertains and surprises with the stories of everyday life in the world of Carmarthenshire politics. This one has news of the possible glorious future for Rob James.
03 March 2017Doppelgangers
I have heard it said that Councillor Andrew Jenkins (Neath South) and Councillor Rob James (Bryncoch South) look remarkably alike. So I thought readers would be interested to see these images of both. Make your own mind up.
Councillor Jenkins Councillor James
But STaN would like to put forward a theory, one that has been bugging him for a considerable time. What if they are both the same bloke - I mean two separate bodies, clearly, but identical in DNA? Could it be that they have been cloned in the same Labour laboratory - from the same test tube even? Has the Labour Party been conducting some ghastly experiment on the poor people of Neath? Well I think we know the answer to that one, don't we.
Prospective Councillors from Neath's Labour Cloning Laboratory practise a day out canvassing
"Now Comrades, repeat after me:
Tories are scum. Let's kick 'em out. Tories are evil. Come on boys, SHOUT!
Tories close factories. Tories shut pits. Even to blame for your wife's saggy tits.
Tories are bastards. They'll make you do work. Vote Labour, stay poor - don't be a berk...."
And so ad infinitum.
Look at the evidence. Two guys appear out of nowhere on the local political scene at the same time, both look remarkably alike, both endorsed by Gwenda Thomas, former AM (who was that then?). Both represent the Labour Party. Both stand for a seat in the same ward. Both are keen to use the new social media. Both set up websites. Both "do" Twitter and use Facebook. Both determined it seems to make politics a full time career. Both went to Swansea University in the latter part of the 2000's, where they both took Bachelor of Arts degrees. Then both followed it up with Master of Arts qualifications early in the 2010's - again in Swansea. Someone grab a sample of the hair from both and I'll pay for a DNA test - these guys are cloned.
Do not dismiss this theory too quickly. In Aberavon I've already written about the Extra-Terrestrial that successfully wormed its way into the political scene there and has seemingly got away with it.
Conspiracy theories - don't you love 'em.
STaN has also picked up from the copious social media posts of other Labour councillors in NPT that they too are morphing into each other. Some councillors are growing similar facial hair (no, not the female ones - yet; they are still obviously using their Gillettes) and apparently wearing almost identical posh dark overcoats, scarves, white shirts and red ties. Wives are being photographed in the top eating houses, wearing broad smiles and fancy clothes, in order to sell to the world at large an image of domestic and romantic bliss and social success.
Anyone who knows the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune that is real life will know that this is a mirage, a con-trick, a chimera, being played out on those who are dull enough to be taken in by it. No-one's life can be anything other than a rollercoaster. Up and down, good and bad, rough and smooth, yin and yang. I'm offering a bottle of (empty) Bollinger to the first Labour councillor from NPT to go on to social media and say, "Me and the Mrs had a right old barney last night. We went out, the food we had was shite, the beer was warm, the wine was corked and the company we were in would have bored the tits off a nun." OK - I realise you can't say all that in the 140 characters allowed on Twitter but I could help you distill it down if you wanted.
But this charade that social media posters have about life being all hunky-dory, well it's obviously catching some idiots - otherwise, why would they be imitating each other?
Coming back to the Labour Cloning Laboratory before I finish, does anyone know where it is? They say you can pinpoint a cannabis farm by the amount of electricity it is using for keeping the plants warm - don't they use special lights? Any cloning lab must similarly use a lot of energy, I'd have thought, keeping all those little clones warm, nurturing them, giving them all i-pads to practise on before being let out on the unsuspecting public. So my bet is it's in 39 Windsor Road where for years the gas and electricity bills have been astronomical. And what better trick could the Labour Party play on the public than to have us all pay for the privilege of them mass producing cloned councillors for us. You couldn't make it up!
27 February 2017African Potash - on borrowed time?
My thanks to Frank Little for his eagle eye in spotting something was amiss with the shares and share dealings in African Potash. I am grateful. http://ffrancsais.blogspot.co.uk/
If you'd invested any of your hard earned money in African Potash Limited (AFPO) last year you could be forgiven for feeling a bit peeved. The company's shares were the poorest performing shares on the Alternative Investment Market (AIM) according to Research Tree.
"The worst performer of the year was fertilizer company African Potash Ltd whose share price collapsed from 3.3p to 0.123p after it issued 235m shares to raise £500k, leading to Cantor resigning as its nominated adviser".
The share price has shown much better fortune, in September 2012 being as high as £7.63, £2.85 in September 2015, then a march almost lemming-like over a cliff. In December 2016 dealing in the company's shares on the AIM were suspended with the share price at £0.06.
The shares are currently traded (27 February 2017) on something called the NEX Exchange at a mid-range price of £0.03.
This abject performance from a company that only this time last year was promising far better days ahead has led to some scathing comments online. In April 2016 the website Share Prophets accused the company of being "lying bastards" following announcements earlier in 2016 of customer orders. The accusation was that the company was deliberately share ramping ahead of a placing.
Then in August 2016, two further online criticisms, the latter being Share Prophets again:
The second of these was dated 30 August and contained an open letter to Peter Hain who is a non-executive director in the company.
Just two days later the writer, Tom Winnifrith (Share Prophets) received a solicitor's letter from Memery Crystal, acting for the company. The letter threatened legal action unless steps were taken to withdraw alleged defamatory claims against the company and pay costs and damages. Winnifrith did not accede to the requests. No action was pursued by the company. Winnifrith called their bluff. In fact he also called them "crony capitalist bastards and fraudsters". A man not to mince his words.
Moving on to January 2017, Winnifrith published a further article, referring to our local Orange Lord as "Lord Peter Hain of Sleaze". No further solicitor's letter has come his way. For more information, and entertainment value then do read all these links.
Other investors recently are highly critical of AFPO for its lack of communication about just what is happening right now. Here's a post from an investors' forum as recently as 23 February 2017. Clearly, something is seriously amiss in this company.
In the latest Company Report for year ending 30 June 2016 the auditors, RSM UK Audit LLP state they are not able to provide an audit opinion on the financial statements made by the firm's directors due to insufficient appropriate audit evidence, and the existence of "material uncertainty" which may cast doubt on AFPO being able to continue as a going concern. The company made a loss of $6.1m in year ending 30 June 2016 and lost $8.8m the year before, with net current liabilities of $2.3m and is reliant on trading cashflows that are not contracted and equity finance not committed. In other words, it looks like AFPO are right up shit creek in the Congo without a paddle.
Every cloud has a silver lining. That annual report of the Company shows that on his date of appointment to the Company board, 1 December 2015, Peter Hain was awarded 10 million warrants for company shares at prices between 3p and 8p, exercisable by 2020. In the staff costs for that accounting year he is recorded as receiving $32,000 and share based payments of $187,000. Just remember - he wasn't appointed until 1 December 2015. The accounting year ended 30 June 2016. That's just seven months by my reckoning.
Readers may be interested to see the other areas of work declared by Lord Hain in the Lords Register of Interests. These do not include his incomes from public speaking, interviews, TV appearances, book writing and other hobbies. Or his income as a UK pensioner. Or his very sizeable public sector pension as a former MP and Minister. Or his extremely generous tax free payments of £300 a day for attending the House of Lords.
Clearly, Lord Hain no longer has need of those Parliamentary expenses that helped to pay his outrageous oil bills a few years back.
One could say life is good right now for him. If you value the quality of your life by your bank balance that is.
Thankfully, not all of us do.
22 February 2017St Patrick's Day in Banwen - or a Day in the Life....
Following my last article about STaN's Law and whether or not Christina Rees had broken it, one of my Labour Party friends (there, that shocked you) sent me the following images. They relate to last St Patrick's Day, which was, of course, 17 March 2016.
It is said by some that St Patrick was born in Banwen so without further ado Ms Rees and her Neath staff set off to the very edges of her fiefdom in celebration of the fact, and probably dropping in to the Dove Workshops at the same time - it was a Thursday so a normal working day, so they had to be seen to be doing something.
Anyway, here's a photo of the quartet at a Banwen street sign, with two of her staff members obviously dressed as leprechauns for the day. The image is courtesy of Mrs Leanne Jones who is in the foreground - the Labour candidate for Tonna in May 2017.
But here's an altogether more daring photo taken that day that is a bit harder to get hold of.
Now that is quite definitely the same road sign and I have it on good authority that the person baring his/her arse to the camera is one of that hardworking quartet. With all due respect to Mrs Jones and Ms Rees I really don't think it's theirs, which kind of narrows it down to 1 of 2. I leave it to readers to try and work out just which leprechaun the rear view is.
bare bear in mind that the collective (public sector) salaries of these four is probably over £150K a year. What a comfort it is that all four seem to be having such a wonderful time larking about, dressing up - and in one case stripping off too, on a typical working day. What a contrast to the working conditions of probably 98% of the rest of the country. These people have got it sussed while the rest of us muppets go out and earn the real wealth that supports them.
One final point - whoever owns that bum didn't take that photo himself. The question is: if that's not Christina who is baring her bottom, was she
behind operating the camera? Now that's food for thought.
I've been informed that the second photo, the more risque one, was in fact not taken that day but on a weekend. My apologies for getting it wrong, and to Ms Rees and her staff in that case. I am slightly more encouraged that a typical working day does not include naked photo-shoots, only fancy dress.
19 February 2017STaN's Law - Part 1 of 3
In a recent post I wrote about the local office staff of our MP, Christina Rees and suggested that one of her employees bore a remarkable resemblance to the man who is likely to be her future son-in-law.
Let's cast our mind back to May 2015 when predictably Ms Rees became the new MP for Neath, taking over from the Lord of Nepotism and Cronyism himself - Peter Hain. I've previously written about Hain employing at various times his mother, his sister, and his niece. And I've also related how people he regarded as "friends" assisted in the production of his books, yet these same people were employed by him as members of staff, on public money.
It's hard to imagine a clearer case of nepotism, cronyism and scratching each others backs on the public purse. But hey, it's all within the rules, that's the perennial response when you catch them out.
Back to Christina though. Just one month after taking office, if you check IPSA records for expenditure by our new MP you'll find that £229 was paid out in June 2015 on website design and production, to an outfit called C Kearney Web Services. That's not much money for IT consultancy work - probably a day's work - but there it is, nonetheless. Curiously, a Google search of mine found no mention of a business called "C Kearney Web Services" but if there are any sharper-eyed folks out there who can point me in the right direction - I'd be grateful.
Now Christina's daughter happens to be betrothed to a young man whose social media posts suggest is quite a character, and (I'm not pulling your leg) the sort of guy I think I'd welcome into my home if my daughter had brought him here. But that's not the point. His name is Ciaran Kearney (sorry Ciaran but I'm afraid it's needs must to tell this one), and has seemingly been in that relationship with Ms Rees' daughter some time before her mother landed that plum role as Neath's MP. For there to be two C Kearney's associated with Ms Rees and her daughter at that time - well, it's as unlikely as spotting an Invisible Man picking up litter in Bryncoch South, don't you think? They must surely be the same bloke! But yet again - there are no Parliamentary rules been broken, only the rule that I have always followed in my own life (STaN's Law) that you don't do something that will make the majority of fair-minded people point a finger at you and say - WTF is going on here? And by Ms Rees happening to employ a man in a relationship with her daughter it makes me do precisely that.
But we know this apparent cronyism (if Ciaran had married Rees Junior would it be nepotism?) didn't end there because not long afterwards, and certainly by September 2015, young Ciaran was taken on as a full-time Caseworker by his future mother-in-law. A full-time Caseworker, outside of the London area, is employed on a salary of between £16,000 and £26,093. And being on an MP's books brings with it a stunning perk - membership of their pension scheme, a non-contributory scheme in which IPSA would automatically pay in at least 10% of the salary, and still one of the best in the UK.
That's worth a huge bump up. Again, because I'm a poor man who has had to work for everything I've got, and never had a mother-in-law who looked after me, plus being wary of vindictive court action, I'd stress no rules are broken - only STaN's Law again.
But whether or not IPSA's requirements on the proper procedures for staff recruitment were followed, that's a different matter and a good question. And the only way we shall ever find that out is if we asked Ms Rees herself. Because IPSA won't tell you, being as useless as a grave robber in Margam Crematorium. I asked IPSA this exact question when Stephen Kinnock employed Hain's former Office Manager in May 2015. And the ball was swiftly thrown back into the MP's court to answer. In other words, we might have our procedures but if MPs choose not to follow them, please don't ask awkward questions. Now piss off! That's a fine example of an MPs' Watchdog. More the MPs' bloody Lapdog!
So, were they followed? Where was the job advert placed? Because IPSA require MPs to "advertise the vacancy". How many applied, who vetted the applications, were interviews carried out? Because again, IPSA require the MP to "conduct appropriate assessments to ensure you have the best candidate for the role".
Extract from IPSA Guidelines for MPs employing staff
With Ms Rees being rather unexpectedly promoted to the position of Shadow Secretary of State for Wales, the fifth such encumbent since the General Election in May 2015, and previously being Shadow Justice Minister, what a pity it would be if it turned out that basic procedures for staff recruitment weren't followed - to the benefit of her future son-in law. She can take the ostrich-like attitude of Stephen Kinnock and ignore the question, or quite easily clear up any doubt about this with a short statement. Frankly - on this one I genuinely wouldn't mind if our MP laid my concerns to rest.
However, the same questions apply to the employment of the other two members of staff in the Neath office of Ms Rees, both of whom are now candidates for Welsh Labour in the May elections - Mr Dean Cawsey (or "Banwen's Finest" or "Banwen Boy" as Ms Rees frequently refers to him) and Mrs Leanne Jones. Dean is standing in the Onllwyn ward, Leanne in Tonna. The public, who actually pay the wages (and pensions) of these people and Ms Rees, have a right to know if the proper process has been followed or if corners have been cut - for some unknown reason. But somehow, I just don't think there'll be full transparency here. I'll let you ponder why.
Finally, here's a nice recent photo of Christina, Banwen Boy and her Caseworker outside a Neath cafe. I'm getting a little worried about the number of photos posted by my Labour friends which are connected to eating and drinking in Neath's hostelries, and sometimes those further afield. A cup of coffee and a piece of cake is a very occasional treat for Mrs Stan and me, but then again, we ain't on the public payroll. But this lot seem to be insatiable, posting of mealies here, drinkies there, with the regularity of the rising and setting sun. Some of these Labour guzzlers would put the gannets of Grassholm Island to shame.
Ms Rees and office staff supporting yet another Neath hostelry -
Tweet "liked" by Councillors Lockyer and Harvey. Lockyer in first this time!
I love that hashtag #workingtogether. I think I've said enough.........
In the second part of this article I shall return to tell you a story about my favourite subject of all, Baron Hain of Neath. It's a ne'er-been-told, historical Tale of Nepotism, propped up with the spending of public money, that might put your blood pressure up a few points. But knowing how Hain operated, it shouldn't surprise you too much.
14 February 2017Jobs for the Boyo's
It's clear that the large scale massacre of the not-so-innocents within NPT Labour is being kept under wraps, a bit like a jealously guarded family secret about a favourite uncle caught nicking women's underwear off washing lines. But little by little the news slips out. By 4 April we shall have to know the whole picture because all candidates for the 4 May elections have to be announced by then.
Sandfields is not an area I'm that interested in. Any community that could vote in someone called Kinnock has to have serious issues it ought to address and I'd normally say deserves everything that then comes its way in terms of the paucity of its democratic representation. But news has filtered through of one new candidate that may have nothing to do with the extraordinary cull that has taken place. Or maybe it has. Who knows, who cares even?
Sandfields East ward returns three councillors to NPT and in 2012 two out of the three were Labour, the third (and highest returned candidate) was an Independent.
Collin Crowley Welsh Labour / Llafur Cymru 879 Elected
Lella Helen James Independent 1116 Elected
Ted Latham Welsh Labour / Llafur Cymru 1041 Elected
Collin Crowley sadly passed away in 2013, and the seat was then won in a by-election in October 2013 by Mike Davies (Labour). Mr Davies himself died the next year, after which Matthew Crowley, Collin's son, took the seat again for Labour.
Lella James, the Independent Councillor in Sandfields East who was herself Labour a good few years back, is standing down in 2017. In the nearby Port Talbot ward it looks like Lella's son, a chap called Ian James, has fallen victim to the bloodletting and is one of the de-selected Labour candidates. I understand that Crowley and Latham will stand again. With Lella out of the frame it leaves it odds on for a Labour threesome in Sandfields East. So who will be the Third Man (or woman) to enjoy themselves romping in the family bed?
Step forward a young gentleman named Sean Pursey. (Twitter account here: https://twitter.com /SeanMPursey)
When I saw a photo of Sean I immediately thought, "I think I know that bloke!" Then it came to me. When Boyo Kinnock was first sniffing around Aberavon, pressing the flesh, trying to impress, I remember seeing a lot of photos on his social media where he was surrounded by a number of very young looking boys and the occasional young (and some not so young) women. The photos were generally snapped in pub or club lounges (golf club by the looks of the one I've published below), trying to sell the viewer an image of comfortable working class (?) solidarity in places where some of our more
stuck up choosy Neath councillors would never be seen dead. In fairness, neither would Boyo Kinnock normally be seen there, but sometimes even the pampered son of the nation's premier Champagne Socialist family has to choke on a half of bitter instead of sip a glass of Premier Cru. I'm sure he had a good shower and made up for it all afterwards.
No doubt stacking the images with young people was meant to sell a message of change, of hope, of a new future. And young people haven't lived through the political disappointments and subsequent disillusionment of us more senior folk. Accordingly, they are more idealistic - or more easily led would be another way of putting it. But it worked for Boyo. The people of Aberavon and Port Talbot fell for it hook, line and sinker, the bloody mugs! Just in that photo alone there were six votes for Kinnock to snatch the Aberavon candidacy. And he took it - by one. Thanks, kids!
A club somewhere in Port Talbot, early 2014
I'm convinced Sean is one of those young acolytes of Kinnock and is second from the left in the cosy image above. I could be wrong - he may have a doppelganger. As Sean is now only 22 then he must have been only 19 back then, barely old enough to drink alcohol legally. And probably so wet behind the ears that he swallowed all the BS that spewed out of Boyo's mouth. Don't think I'm being unduly harsh on these young politicos. I was 19 myself once and thought that I and the group I hung around with knew it all. One can imagine the effect that the vastly more mature, worldly, manipulative Kinnock had on impressionable young people who were likely just awakening politically. Just the Kinnock name itself might have been enough to see some of them running eagerly home to Mam and Dad, bursting to tell them who they had been drinking with that evening. If you think this is me being just my usual vitriolic self when it comes to the Kinnocks, their ilk and their supporters, then think again. The internet is awash with photos posted by political wannabes like Sean, proudly lined up alongside "celebrity" names like Alan Johnson, Alastair Campbell, Peter Hain and even Christina Rees and Jeremy Miles. Like moths to a candle-flame! (Flies to a cowpat, surely, Stan?)
But back to 2017 and I wondered what Sean does for a living nowadays. Had the promises of Boyo to protect and provide jobs and investment in Port Talbot borne fruit? Well it certainly has for Comrade Sean. Because his Linkedin account reveals that since November 2015 he's had a tidy little public sector number - working in Boyo's office as a Communications Officer. The rate for the job is £16,000 to £26,093 per annum (outside London).
I'm getting a little bit concerned about how many of our local MPs' staff are trying for seats on the NPT Council. They can't have been in their existing jobs since before May 2015 but suddenly feel an irresistible urge to
milk the taxpayer even further represent local communities - in at least one case where they don't even live!
I'm as keen as anyone to see a good age, gender, race balance - you name it - on our Council, but I don't want it just ram-jam-packed with those already well paid on the public purse who sit on their arses in nice warm offices, paid for by us. Perhaps one of the problems is if you are in a real job of work, time is money for you, and becoming a councillor is just impossible. If you are a plasterer, when you haven't got your trowel in your hand, you ain't earning. Contrast that with the local staff of MPs who seem to be on a continual merry-go-round of trips to Westminster, visiting local hostelries, events, dinners etc. They've got it cushy by comparison and would have a rude wake up call if they ever had to be on site by 8 in the morning, working in the cold or the rain. The trouble is, you see, just look at their role models - Stephen Kinnock and Christina Rees. Just ask yourselves - how much real work have these two ever done in their lives? They have profited from nepotism and no doubt cronyism just about all their working lives, while our own sons and daughters have to compete for scraps in a world where it's what you know not who you know, and get woken by an alarm clock at 6 am, not stroll in to a lovely warm office at 9am and put the bastard kettle on. No, these politicians and wannabes wouldn't last five bloody minutes out of their cosy, comfortable, subsidised environments.
Need I say more?
11 February 2017Is this image photo-shopped?
I am singularly unimpressed by the dedication our Bryncoch South Labour Councillor shows towards voluntary work in the community he is currently paid to represent.
A bottle of Bollinger awaits the first historical photo someone can provide me of Councillor James litter picking in the community he receives his £13,300 a year for representing. (Prize offered by Mr and Mrs Lockyer apparently - it's an empty one!)
If Plaid Cymru in Bryncoch South fail to focus on this guy's abject performance here, they don't deserve to take his seat.
Invisible Man dons reflective jacket to impress Donkey voters
10 February 2017Humility in Labour - the classic Oxymoron
I came across an old post of mine last night as I was cleaning up my files. It seems a pity to bin it so here it is (drafted in October 2016). As my memory ain't what it was, apologies if you've seen it previously.
If I was a local Labour councillor in one of Neath's Town wards I'd be wary of broadcasting certain things on social media. That's because I'd be extremely conscious of the fact that not all could live in as affluent a manner as I could, and writing openly about frequent wining and dining out wouldn't do one's reputation any favours. As a gourmet and bon vivant perhaps - but not as a councillor.
Remember, these are Wards where beggars doss in shop doorways, drunks p*ss in the streets, a woman had public sex with several men and the results posted on social media - with the inevitable intervention by Peter Hain MP. No - not at the sh*gging patently. I mean a comment for the Evening Post! Yet Labour councillors proudly proclaim the initiative known as Operation Avalanche for the police to clean up the place.
Well I tell you this - it still looks exactly the bleeding same to me.
But coming back to one of the councillors responsible for this patch, tweeting you are enjoying a "bottle of bolly" suggests an extravagance that few can or would want to stretch to, even if the occasion was a special one. Especially when the menu for the establishment lists said bottle (Bollinger, naturellement) at the price of £65.
Now the armchair psychologist in me reckons that "bolly" is this councillor (and his wife's) drink of choice because it features in so many Bond movies. Maybe they have bought in to the advertiser's link between their fizzy product and the exciting, hedonistic and materialistic lifestyle of 007. Maybe our councillor secretly sees himself as an MI5 Agent. Maybe his wife looks in the mirror and sees a Bond girl? Maybe, Stan, you'd better remember that Bond has a Licence to Kill! But seriously, I can remember that we once had a Plaid Cymru councillor who was in the running to be the actual movie Bond. http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/wales/8147651.stm
My own experience of expensive alcohol is that it is over-rated and over-priced. Anyone who really appreciates bang for your buck knows that you can indulge yourself with some excellent beverages for a modest outlay even these days. Spending all that money on a bottle of bubbly is sheer snobbery and ignorance - I'd warrant I could find you better stuff at a third of the cost or less. But it ain't "Bolly" so wouldn't have the same kudos in a tweet to be seen by your friends and fellow councillors. After all, what's the point of social media posts of this type if not to make friends and colleagues jealous and prove what an utter prat you are?
There are people in NPT, probably in that councillor's own ward, dependent on foodbanks to feed themselves. How would you think they felt if they read what was posted? Have some humility for Christ's sake! (Stan - come on? A humble Labour councillor? That's the classic definition of an oxymoron!)
With elections coming up soon some of these Labour councillors may need to moderate what they are posting in the public domain, and that may be the reason for the wife of the Labour councillor I am referring to now hiding her tweets like a squirrel stashing away its nuts.
Many people are pretty peed off with their lot right now and are in the mood to give the established order a kicking. As a nation of animal lovers, traditionally we have been loth to give our beloved Donkey a good thrashing. It's about time that changed. There will be a golden opportunity come May.
It would be remiss of me not to show the original social media post (it was posted August 2016 for history buffs) that led to me drafting this so here it is:
"Ab Fab" clearly refers to "Absolutely Fabulous". Draw your own conclusions on that statement. But the series and film are based on women who use their considerable financial resources to fund an over-indulgent lifestyle in an attempt to maintain their youth and recapture their glory days. I rest my case......
01 February 2017Night of the Long Knives in NPT
I'm hearing stories that the bloodletting within Labour in NPT with regard to deselection of existing councillors is worse than a haemophiliac falling into a bathful of leeches. It's suggested some 25 existing Labour councillors will no longer be on the ballot papers in May, and I still don't know if this is the final total. Whether 25 hopefuls will take their seats after the votes are counted is highly unlikely. Now obviously some of these will have stood down anyway, but that figure, if true, suggests a massacre almost worthy of Pol Pot. In fact it's 50% of their existing complement of councillors!
The bulk of the carnage seems to be in Afan, with many Port Talbot and Aberavon seats losing their representatives. Any theories or actual reasons why are welcomed on the letters page of the Ferret. Or were the existing set actually as frigging useless as I always thought?
I have heard of certain Councillors whom I shall not name and have had the chop going on "sick leave" now, presumably drawing their allowances for sod all until May. (Much like a few others we know then!!)
In Neath North we know Alan Lockyer and Mark Protheroe are reselected (don't feel neglected if I say no more, Alan - you'll have your moment in the spotlight in future posts), along with Peter (Reverend) Rees and Andrew Jenkins in Neath South. Peter will be around 80 if he sees out the next stint, helping our Council to retain valid comparisons with the House of Lords. If I get to that age I'd like to think I could spend my time behaving quite disgracefully, being extremely rude to people I don't like and coming on a bit strong with members of the opposite sex. No change there then, Stan!
I'm looking forward to seeing the official announcement about Alltwen where my old
friend sparring partner on the Ferret, David Lewis, was formerly the Labour councillor until he declared UDI. Old Finbarr as I affectionately call him has been exceedingly quiet of late. If he does stand again, which I very much doubt and many are saying he's gone, I assume he will do so as an Independent. I reckon Labour will struggle there to be honest no matter what Finbarr decides to do. I miss the old codger actually. It's much less fun winding up the Invisible Man, Councillor Rob James. Finbarr gave me more of a buzz, maybe because under that brusque exterior I felt there may even have been a sense of humour.
We know Rob James is standing for Labour in Lliedi, part of Llanelli, Carmarthenshire. Who is to replace him in Bryncoch South, well I haven't heard. Not that it matters that much because most people living there have absolutely no idea who Rob James is anyway. They know Janice Dudley (Plaid Cymru) because she can be guaranteed to deliver a leaflet to your door every five years.
In fact I've not heard of anyone in the frame for Labour in Bryncoch South. If you know different write in. This seems to apply in other areas too - in the Swansea valley it's suggested they are finding it a problem getting good candidates to stand. (Much like the rest of NPT then).
And Ms Cari Morgans, Labour councillor for Tonna is standing down. Maybe working for Stephen Kinnock as office manager is taking its toll.
Already in the frame for Labour as her replacement is a lady named Leanne Jones, who presumably comes highly recommended as she's already on the public purse working in Christina Rees' office in Windsor Road. I don't think she's local to Tonna - I thought she lived in the Melin, but you know how
cronyism selection processes go in Labour. Here's a photo of Leanne standing by a street sign for Tonna, just to prove she's ever been there. But people of Tonna - beware. For all you know it's been photoshopped!
Then in Ali Thomas' old Onllwyn seat, standing is a local man (Banwen, I believe) named Dean Cawsey. Those familiar with the workings of Communities First will recognise both Dean and Leanne as both worked for the organisation set up in the NPT area. Oh, and Dean also now works in Christina Rees' office as her Office Manager.
Here's a nice photo of Christina and her staff in the office. Good practice for Dean and Leanne I'd have thought. A huge spread of food to get down your neck, as training for all those freebies you get invited to. For those that don't know, it's Christina and Dean on the right, and if you're unsure which is which these days, Christina doesn't have facial hair - then to the left is Leanne (again - no beard), with a gentleman whom I won't name, or show his full visage as I don't believe he's putting himself up for election in NPT. But some may think that if you could see him he looks remarkably like the fiance of Christina Rees' daughter. If they are one and the same then no doubt he got the job on his own merits, after a full and proper advertising and interview process as recommended by IPSA, didn't he?
Much more to come when I've time. Sorry it's so brief.
"Let them eat cake...."