There was this joke that the Conservative Party conducted voter identification in Pontypridd asking people who they intended to vote for – they said: “I’m Labour butt!” – The Tory reported back: “They are Labour, but with reservations”!
I was a member of the Pontypridd Labour Party over 14 years – when New Labour was taking off with Tony Blair and when it ended with Ed Miliband – with a short gap being when I lived in the Ogmore constituency.
As former Pontypridd Assembly Member Jane Davidson told me, “The Labour Party is like a tribe, you don’t talk about us to people outside of it and you stand by them no matter what.” This was not appealing to me as someone who is principled and tries to be objective.
Keir Hardie might have been one of the founders of the Labour Party, but the one we have today is certainly no stones throw a way – more like ten mountains! The Labour Party as now exists can be seen to be a party of parties, or more so a tribe of cliques. Most people in the Labour Party want Labour candidates elected at all costs. As I found to my expense, they care more about selecting people who will toe the line and gull the public into voting for them than someone who actually believes in the labour movement, but needs to develop their skills a bit more first – like I needed to and live I have done.
The Labour Party that exists today seemed to care not about the values of its founders, such as equality for all people, they put getting into officer above any of his values. I was gulled by Tony Blair that the Labour Party had changed from hating businesses and the rich to wanting to create a national where all can achieve their potential as most others were. As one Labour insider told me, “Changing Clause IV was more about making Tony Blair electable, rather than changing the Labour Party.” As I have said previously, I believed whole heartedly in this move to have Keir Hardie’s values reflected in a modern context, but few others did, and I was basically banging my head against the wall for 14 years trying to convince the ‘Pontypridd Tafias‘ and ‘Welsh Labour‘ to reform, and they never planned to.
To understand why, one needs to understand the Pontypridd Tafias that exist, which work like the many cliques that exist elsewhere in the reminisces of Keir Hardie’s Labour Party.
- The Llantwit Fardre Tafia is the most powerful in Pontypridd. Headed by Graham Stacey and the second in command John David they control this mid territory in the ward (called Pontypridd Central BLP).
- The Beddau and Ty Nat Tafia is the second most powerful in Pontypridd. Led by Clayton Lewis with Ricky Yeo as second in command, they control the Northern tribe of the ‘Pontypridd South West BLP’.
- The Pontyclun Tafia controls much of the Southern territories of ‘Pontypridd South West BLP’ including Pontyclun, Talbot Green and Llantrisant. They do not get on with the Beddau and Ty Nant Tafia, other than that they want to control their own territories in Pontypridd South West BLP instead of being a single Branch. It is led by Paul Griffiths with Geoff Woodington being second in command.
- The Taff Vale Tafia is one of the most complex in the constituency. The tribal nature is always shifting. Unlike many of the BLPs they can co-operate within that BLP (i.e. Pontypridd South East) whilst maintaining their cliques. The Southern tribe in Taffs Well is led by Jill Bonnetto, but the Northern tribe is more complex. The Treforest ward in the North is always in conflict with the mid-territories of Hawthorn and Rhydyfelin. The Treforest ward was once occupied by Avril Reid who was separate to the other wards. Once she was disposed in the second half of 2008 she joined forces with Maureen Webber from Rhydyfelin and Thereasa Bates from Hawthorn. This clique still exists to the day and Treforest remains marginalised, being controlled by local businessman Steve Powderhill.
- The Greater Pontypridd Tafia is one of the most confused in the constituency. It’s head for many years has been Christine Raybould, who tries to hold together the former tribes of Trallwn, Pontypridd Town and the Rhondda Ward. Following the revolution of the Great Nick Wall, the Pontypridd Town clique’s solidarity was challenged by the creation of the ‘Pontypridd North East BLP’ and their nights of champagne socialism in the Manor House of Geoff Lloyd became more symbolic as they slowly lost their power to the BLP. There appears to be no clear leader among this Tafia, with Steve Carter trying to claim Trallwn as his own as the Pontypridd Town contender due to the failure of Rhydyfelin-based Allan Bevan to capture it from their opponent Mike Powell. Allan Bevan has tried to take back this seat since losing it to Powell by supporting calls for parking in the Park which falls within Trallwn, but which Steve Carter tries to claim ownership of.
The Pontypridd Tafia are representative of much of the Labour Party today. The BLPs that exist (Branch Labour Parties) only ever have three people at them. No matter how small or big the BLPs are, Morton’s Law, named after Treforest’s treasurer John Morton, says there is no branch so small that it can’t split itself into opposing factions.
If you want to get on in the Labour Party you need to appeal to all the factions within a particular locality, which in the case of Pontypridd is the Tafia’s. Former council leader Russell Roberts did this – having leaders from all the Tafia’s in his cabinet (including opposing members like John David and Clayton Lewis). Former MP Kim Howells was able to appeal to all as well – convincing the Llantwit Fardre Tafia he could be guided by them. Jane Davidson on the other hand was detested by the Lantwit Fardre Tafia, who only supported her because she “was Labour Butt.” Davidson refused to speak again the building of a new private school in the Pontypridd Central BLP area, citing ‘conflict of interest’ and she promised a Church Village Bypass, which wasn’t delivered until after she quit.
These Tafia’s exist on a knife edge. There are only a handful of people who turn up at the Annual General Meetings. These are just enough to keep the Tafia in power, but as I and my friends showed in Treforest, if a few people who believe in the cause can get their friends to join and take over the BLPs, the power enjoyed by the Tafias to appoint their own boys (or girls if lucky) into the positions where they keep their power could be destroyed. That in my view is the only democracy left in the Labour Party – for new members to join and kick out the old guard.
I read the recent spat between Karen Roberts and her former colleagues in the Observer with concern. It seems that the Liberal Democrats and independents are in turmoil, not knowing whom to stab in the back next.
The Liberals, under the stewardship of Ms Roberts and her worrying existence of a colleague Councillor Mike Powell, have treated the people of Cilfynydd with such contempt. First they select a candidate who saw himself earning over
A ROYAL British Legion branch has slammed a proposed boundary change as an “insult and a humiliation to the people of Ynysybwl”.
There have been mixed reactions to the planned boundary changes within Rhondda Cynon Taff, which include the Rhondda ward of Pontypridd merging with the Graig.
Other changes planned by the Boundary Commission for Wales are the merging of Ynysybwl and Coed-y-Cwm with Abercynon, which will become the Abercynon ward.
Beddau and Llantrisant Town will combine to become Llantrisant and there will be one more councillor in the new ward.
Church Village and Tonteg will be given the new title of Church Village while the Rhondda ward of Pontypridd will combine with the Graig community of Pontypridd to form a division called Pontypridd West and Rhondda and Glyncoch will become Rhondda.
Hawthorn will merge with Taffs Well to become Hawthorn ward, with an increase from three to four councillors.
Llanharan and Brynna will become Llanharan while Talbot Green and Pontyclun will be known as Pontyclun. Treforest and Rhydyfelin will become Treforest.
The Trallwng and the Graig communities will merge as Trallwng.
Pontypridd MP Owen Smith said: “I’m delighted that common sense has prevailed and the commission has recognised the madness of what they first proposed, sticking together communities that have no traditional ties, and has instead recognised that political boundaries should reflect traditional communities and local identities.“
But the Welsh Liberal Democrats have criticised the latest ward boundary review claiming it is a complete waste of time and money.
Pontypridd Assembly candidate Coun Mike Powell said: “There are some very welcome changes in the final report with regard to certain wards.
“However, it seems to me that this has been nothing other than an extremely costly exercise which will have little positive impact on the lives of residents.”
Pontypridd Assembly candidate, Plaid Cymru’s Ioan Bellin, said: “It is important that Taffs Well and Nantgarw retains its own identity.
Creating a new ward of Llantrisant and Talbot Green rather than merging Talbot Green with Pontyclun seems to make sense.
Having another councillor for Pontyclun should ensure an enhanced service and level of representation for the electorate there.
The Ynysybwl branch of the Royal British Legion has attacked the proposals, claiming the proposed name of Abercynon is “an insult and a humiliation of the people of Ynysybwl“.
There was support for the proposals from Treforest Town Councillor Jonathan Bishop and Llanharan Community Councillor Jeff Williams.
The Beddau and Tynant Ward’s Labour party also back the proposals.
The commission’s chairman Paul Wood said in his report that a review had been taken of the total number of councillors representing each electoral division.
He said: “As far as possible I want to restore fairness so that councillors generally represent the same number of people.”
A spokeswoman for the Boundary Commission said that the proposals are planned to be implemented in 2012.
During the General Election, perpetual Lib Dem candidate Mike Powell had the following to say about tuition fees:
“I totally oppose them. They are a scourge on our educational system. As the fundamental building block of any society we need to remove all barriers that restrict people getting the best education.”
And now the Con Dem Government that he so loyally supports are shockingly looking to remove the cap on up-front tuition fees which the last Labour Government put in place to protect students. This will make it more expensive for young people to go to university and therefore reduce social mobility.
This is blatantly unfair and I’m angry that Mike Powell thinks he can have his cake and eat it. The ward of Treforest which I represent on the town council relies heavily on the student population to support the growth of local business. How can anyone support such a policy against them now, which only a few months ago when they wanted their vote they thought was a “scourge on our education system”!
My student constituents in Treforest want an answer Mike.
Davidson has not got what it takes to lead the pack, and has squandered all the brilliant opportunities given to them.
Obviously I am not referring to Jane Davidson, the local AM for Pontypridd, who has delivered for the people of Pontypridd, unlike her Lib Dem rival Mike Powell, who makes a joke of the political process.
I was referring to Anthony Davidson, who has been performing badly in a car in the Formula 1 Championship that Jenson Button got to the podium on last year.
It was an impressive drive from my MySpace friend, Lewis Hamilton at today’s Malaysian Grand Prix, as he fought off the Ferrari team to secure second place, alongside team-mate Fernando Alonso, securing McLaren’s first ‘one-two’ since the Brazilian Grand Prix in 2005.
Reading reports on the race, according to the BBC, Hamilton said that it was the most difficult race he had ever had and his team-mate Alonso indicated how much of a ‘team-player’ he was. “One of our chances to win the race was to be first after the first corner and thanks to a good start I was able to arrive side by side with Felipe and made the inside pass, he said. “To have my team-mate second makes things easier.“
Suggestions by a Liberal Democrat councillor that he had evidence of two Plaid and Labour figures making a deal were found to be unfounded by Pontypridd County Court.
Liberal Democrat councillor, Mike Powell was forced to admit to the Court that the photographs he had taken of former councillors Jonathan Bishop (Labour) and Colin Gregory (Plaid Cymru) were in fact not of them making a deal.
The court heard that on 2 July 2006 Cllr Powell took a photograph of Mr Bishop and Mr Gregory discussing Ynysangharad War Memorial Park at the Park and on 10 July 2006 Cllr Powell made investigations about publishing a photograph of two people at a park and that on 11 August 2006 he suggested that he had a photograph of Labour and Plaid politicians doing a deal.
Labour activist and Assembly candidate hopeful Jonathan Bishop said he was glad the case was over, “It was regrettable that the court had to be involved in this matter, but politicians and the public alike should not be subject to these sort of false assertions in a public forum such as an online community“