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How clean was my valley?
by Andy Beckett, 1994-Aug-28.
For more than five years,
a seemingly inexhaustible stream of scandal has been seeping from the
quangos of Wales. Some believe that there is more to come. Others say that
the revelations and allegations are just an English ploy to keep power in
the principality out of Welsh hands.
The tallest building in Cardiff is a thick, grey tower, stained by rain and
stubbled with aerials, its office windows lit late into the night. You can see it from
the hillside suburbs to the North and the flat docklands to the South, rising from
the centre of the city. There the tower looms, over the National Museum of Wales,
the University College of Wales and the Welsh National War Memorial, proud in
their civic oblong of lawns and trees. It looks like an intelligence headquarters, and
it's about as open. Although it intervenes daily in Welsh life, no Citizen's Charter
covers the work done in the tower, and there are no public meetings, or minutes,
or policy papers.
The tower houses the Welsh Development Agency, Wales's largest quango.
Set up in 1976 to rescue its rusting economy, the WDA has loomed over Wales ever
since, inviting foreign investors, cajoling Welsh commerce, making deals while
dreams of political devolution died. And it has changed the economic life of Wales:
Bosch and Toyota factories now hum where mines and steelworks once clanked,
then sank. Thatcher-endorsed free enterprise now seems to flourish in a socialist
stronghold. The red dragon logo of the WDA guards new business parks from
Pontypool to Porthmadog, and this year Welsh unemployment -- a crushing
symptom of national failure since the 1920s -- is threatening to drop below the rest
of Britain's. The WDA has become Wales's most important institution.
And its most disgraced. Since last summer, a cascade of scandals has poured
from the WDA, released by the publication of a report from a shocked Commons
Public Accounts Committee. The all-party committee became concerned about the
WDA in 1992, when the Auditor General, Sir John Bourn, discovered a mass of
irregularities during his annual examination of the Agency's accounts. In October
1992 he informed the committee; in December it called the WDA's top executives
in for questioning; the following June it published its findings. Suddenly, all Wales
found out what went on inside the tower.
The WDA is a government-appointed body, currently authorised to spend
pounds 70m of government money a year. The PAC report showed that, for much of
the last decade, it has been operating quite out of government control. The report
listed in detail, the excesses that resulted:
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The WDA gave itself perks against regulations: free cars (and fuel) for free
private motoring to top executives between 1984 and 1992; pounds 1.4m of extra
'redundancy' payments to staff between 1989 and 1992; pounds 228,000 to buy the
silence of a dissident executive, Mike Price, whom it sacked after a bitter Agency
civil war in 1991. And it let one of its chairmen, Dr Gwyn Jones, 'interpret' WDA
rules in his own favour. In 1988 he obtained a pounds 16,895 WDA rural
development grant for one purpose, used it for another without informing the
Agency (as required?), and wasn't made to pay it back when a WDA inspector
Meanwhile, the WDA made several disastrous hirings. In 1989, Jones flew to
Baltimore to appoint an American representative, Neil Carignan, who knew little
about Wales. Carignan was then sacked for poor performance, and took pounds
53,288 of WDA office furniture and computers with him. Then Jones recruited a
conman, Neil Smith, as marketing director, without a check of his fraudulent CV.
Smith spent pounds 3,300 on models for 'promotional work' at exhibitions and
hotels -- work that was investigated by police. Sacked after a year, he went to
prison for deception and theft. Meanwhile, the WDA considered privatising itself in
a management buyout. In 1988-1989 it spent pounds 308,000 on a feasibility study,
then hid the cost in its accounts.
These were just the initial, headline scandals revealed by the PAC report.
This May, BBC Wales's 'Week In Week Out' suggested two more: a questionable
land deal at Aberdare in South Wales, where the WDA allegedly secretly favoured
one developer over another -- breaking the Agency's own rules -- so wrecking an
offer that had taken years to put together; and an illegal WDA grant to politically
marginal Mid-Wales. Cardiff Central MP Jon Owens-Jones accused the WDA of
buying votes for the Conservatives by continuing aid to an area that lost its right to
hardship grants in 1982. The appointment of John Redwood as Welsh Secretary
last year to clean up the mess hasn't stopped the embarrassments. The WDA's
chairman, Dr Gwyn Jones, and chief executive, Philip Head, resigned only to get
other quango jobs. Redwood appointed a new chairman, David Rowe-Beddoe, fresh
from a stint as head of Monte Carlo Conservatives Abroad at the last election. In
the uproar that followed, Redwood said he had not seen Rowe-Beddoe's CV.
Redwood admits: "I can never be sure that we've found all the things that went
awry in that period."
Nor have the scandals been confined to the WDA. In February, the chief
executive of Health Promotion Wales, John Catford, resigned after an affair with a
colleague on a taxpayer-funded trip to Brazil. A district auditor's report found last
month that the trip had been undertaken "for purely personal reasons". The report
also concluded that Catford had made several other HPW trips overseas without a
clear purpose, on three occasions being paid by other organisations as well, and
that he was only one of 14 staff who had used their positions to engage in
'non-HPW' business. Another HPW officer, Gordon MacDonald, has also been
disciplined. In May the chairman of the Development Board for Rural Wales, Glyn
Davies, also stood down, after the Public Accounts Committee discovered that the
Board had been secretly giving its executives free houses.
Wales looks bad. There have been scandals in quangos elsewhere in Britain -from Wessex Health Authority to the National Rivers Authority -- but Wales's have
been more numerous, seem more systemic. Some of the main institutions of
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modern Wales, which have helped revive its economy, have been disgraced. How
did this happen?
English prejudice might attribute these scandals to some kind of intrinsic
Welsh laxness, dismissing them as just 'boyos-run-amok'. But this misses a bigger
point. The WDA may run the Welsh economy, but the Welsh Office is still the main
instrument of government for a country which only has the status of a principality,
whatever civic Cardiff tries to suggest to the contrary, and which, unlike most
Western European regions -- let alone nations -- has no parliament of its own.
The Welsh Office is first and foremost an outpost of London. Before Labour
established the Welsh Office in 1964, Wales was simply administered by branches
of Whitehall; since then, the Welsh Secretary, appointed by the Prime Minister and
his office, have ruled. The latter is a small, young department of state (the Scottish
Office is more than three times older), and not a popular or prestigious posting (it's
known as 'Siberia'). Much of its work in areas like education or transport consists
of implementing central government policies rather than developing its own.
The will of Whitehall, in other words, has long shaped Welsh political life,
often in the background but usually decisive. Under the current Conservative
Government, however, that 'will' has become so profoundly unpopular as to be
barely legitimate at all. This paradox has distorted the principality's politics, so
that the scandals at the WDA and other Welsh quangos are not dramatic
aberrations, but typical examples of how Wales has been functioning since 1979.
The Tories have only six out of the 38 MPs in Wales, fewer county councillors
(31) than Plaid Cymru, Labour, or the Liberal Democrats, and just one city council
(Monmouth), huddling close to the English border. They have been weak in Wales
since the Reform Act of 1867. There is virtually no Welsh aristocracy, and the
establishment is generally hostile: "I don't know any Tories," says Kenneth
O'Morgan, vice-chancellor of the University of Wales and the most prominent
historian of Wales.
The same small professional elite (once Liberal, now Labour) has dominated
the principality from Cardiff since the mid-19th century. Welsh professional
practice emphasises partnership -- between businesses and unions, for example -rather than competition. "Wales is something of a political village," says Professor
Kevin Morgan of the College of Cardiff. "Politicians of different persuasions are
more familiar with each other than they care to admit, the key power brokers are
well-known, it is difficult to keep secrets, and information travels fast through a
series of interlocking old-boy networks."
To maintain influence in Cardiff, the Welsh Office has had to rely increasingly
on quangos, whose budgets it controls and whose members it appoints from the
tiny pool of prominent Welsh Tories, the names who reappear in Private Eye's 'Jobs
For The Boyos' column. In 1979 there were 40 quangos in Wales, many of them,
like the WDA and the Development Board for Rural Wales, Labour creations. Now
there are more than double that number. They spend 34 per cent of the Welsh
Office budget, as much as the elected local authorities do.
In theory, the Welsh Office keeps these quangos under tight rein. The Welsh
Secretary appoints their chairmen and boards, meets with them regularly, reads
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their reports annually, and subjects them to a policy review every five years; and,
in any case, appointees' political affiliations might be expected to keep them in
line. In practice, however, the Welsh Office has not scrutinised the day-to-day
running of quangos, nor has it been able to take disciplinary action against those
who misbehave, while party political loyalties have often proved less powerful than
Welsh resentment of interference from London. The Welsh Office may have a
monopoly of theoretical power in Wales, unrivalled by any elected Welsh body, but
this has counted for little on the ground. This paradox, typical of Wales under
Conservative rule, opened up a space in which Dr Gwyn Jones and his WDA ran
Jones was chairman of the WDA from 1988 until last year, its most notorious
period. He ruled the Agency in much the same way that his admirer, Margaret
Thatcher, ruled Britain, dominating and transforming it. Like her, he personified
his dominion's apparent success, then excess. He has been at the centre of all the
newspaper stories, the one name people remember out of the whole accumulating,
confusing mass of revelations.
In Jones's home town, however, people don't think these revelations are
important. "They didn't mean anything to people in Porthmadog," says Christine
Williams, who runs a bed-and-breakfast used by 'Prisoner' fans visiting nearby
Portmeirion. "He never did anything to us up here. I don't know what people
thought in the media …. everyone makes a mistake." Her husband Gary agrees:
"He's brought good things to Porthmadog like the business park and the harbour.
Apart from that there's no jobs here."
Porthmadog is a small town on the coast of north Wales, a misty straggle of
stucco and slate terraces between Snowdonia and the Irish Sea. Jones was born
there in 1949. His parents ran a pub, the Australia Inn, then a sweetshop. He went
to the local grammar school, where his nickname was 'Jones the Busy'.
Christine Williams was there with him: "He was very clever, in the A-stream
-- always running around." She's still proud of 'Dr Jones', thrilled that he's coming
to their school centenary this autumn: "He hasn't changed at all," she says. "He's
not one of those who'll walk down the street and not look at you."
At one end of Porthmadog's High Street, past a closed-down shop or two,
stands the Australia Inn with its two small bars, the first pub you see driving into
town along the stone causeway from the South. Locals there are suspicious,
verging on resentful, of journalists from London asking about Jones.
"He did a lot for Wales," they say. "His critics are jealous …. Wales is a small
place", and Welsh MPs who speak badly of him are "hiding behind Parliamentary
privilege". Jones's famous extravagance is seen as a virtue: "Are you gonna go and
see the head of a Japanese company in a Morris Minor?"
Jones was "a good-looking boy" who did well but wasn't snooty: "When he
was on television, he spoke the same Welsh that we do." People in Porthmadog see
English press attacks on Jones as part of the same London arrogance -- this is a
strong Plaid Cymru area -- as the Conservative Government's. The fact that the
latter appointed Jones seems to matter less than Jones's Welshness. They'd like a
Welsh parliament but, in the meantime, they'd rather have a Welsh-run quango,
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even one plagued by scandal, than an English-run quango.
Despite his ties here, Jones got out of Porthmadog after school, to study
computer science at Manchester University. He got a First and went to the
University of Essex to study for a doctorate. After working for a few years at
British Steel and computer giant ICL, Jones struck out on his own again, setting up
Business Micro Systems in Swansea with ex-ICL colleagues, selling software to
local councils hungry to computerise in the early Eighties. Ross Perot started the
same way in America. Jones learnt quickly how to play the public sector, and forced
his company to the head of the market. In 1985 he also became a director of
Telecommunications and Computing Systems, a Bridgend company that made
Jones was a man of the age: personal number plate, a gleaming half-moon of
a smile, flats in Belgravia and Porthmadog, and a big stone farmhouse spread out
like a Texan ranch on the Gower peninsula, where he bred horses. He'd given
money to the Conservative Party, but selling was his ideology. For two years the
aura of success glowed around him like his perpetual tan.
Then, in 1987, he resigned his Telecommunications and Computing Systems
directorship. Within a week the company was in receivership with debts of pounds
1m. Meanwhile, his own company may have been over-reaching: its software was
getting out of date, and its customers were becoming more difficult to satisfy.
Jones and his one remaining partner sold it to Sherwood Computer Services. Jones
got pounds 1m in shares. A year later Sherwood was pounds 2m in the red,
blaming Jones in an exchange of lawsuits. By 1988 Jones was 39 and without a job,
the value of his shares bleeding away.
In February 1988 he went to a Conservative fund-raising lunch for Swansea
businessmen at the grand Langland Court Hotel, which was also attended by the
new Welsh Secretary, Peter Walker. By accident or design, Jones managed to sit
opposite him. He told Walker he was a millionaire. Two days afterwards, Walker
summoned Jones to the Welsh Office, and offered him the chairmanship of the
WDA on the spot, without asking for references. Jones accepted, and a double-act
immediately formed. Staff at the WDA called it 'Gwalker'. Breaking with the usual
practice of monthly meetings, Jones and Walker started meeting every week,
sometimes every day, and travelling round Wales together.
Jones's appointment might have seemed arbitrary, but Walker had seen a
kindred spirit and a valuable ally. His own background was similar: the son of a
factory worker, he started as an office boy and rose to become one half of Sixties
conglomerate Slater-Walker, getting out while the going was good. Walker was a
bit flash, an Eighties man in style if not substance, and he wanted an entrepreneur
to run the WDA for him. He saw the Agency as the key to his own rehabilitation.
Exiled to Wales in 1987, he wanted to practise his own kind of Keynesian,
socially-conscious Conservatism there -- a kind of paternalism in one principality -a heresy in England at the high tide of Thatcherism, but orthodoxy in corporatist
Wales. The WDA was an ideal tool: since 1975 its job had been to intervene in the
Welsh economy to create public-private partnerships. Also, he guessed that
WDA-led economic success in Wales would make Thatcher forgive, or at least
ignore, his plans for distinctly un-Thatcherite cultural devolution, like Welsh
language teaching and television. (He was right. Wales was spared brutal
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directives from London, like the early imposition of the poll tax on Scotland, and
even Welsh Labour MPs said that Walker was doing a good job, in private.)
However, Walker's abrupt appointment of Jones caused a panic at the WDA.
Its announcement at a board meeting had to be postponed, remembers one of
those present, while WDA executives clustered round a telephone telling the Welsh
Office about the business skeletons they had found in their chairman-to-be's closet.
Jones was finally nominated at the meeting half an hour after news of his
chairmanship was broadcast on the radio. But profiles of Jones in the Financial
Times and elsewhere mentioned none of this, and doubts about the WDA's new,
relatively unknown chairman were stifled.
Jones saw the WDA chairmanship as an opportunity to sell, Wales and
himself, not to serve. "He had really no interest in the public sector," says Shimon
Cohen of Lowe Bell Communications (owned by Mrs Thatcher's PR guru, Sir Tim
Bell), whom Jones hired as his personal PR agent. "Civil servants looked after
He transformed the image of the Agency. He founded Team Wales, linking up
the WDA with local authorities, the Welsh Office, private management consultants
-- anyone who could help draw in investors. He began an endless cycle of
trumpeted personal visits to Japanese, German and American businessmen. He put
WDA staff on performance-related pay and a diet of buzzwords. Former staff
remember how each month became an accelerating run-up to Welsh Questions in
the Commons, for Walker to be able to announce new factories, new jobs for Wales.
The PR budget swelled massively.
The WDA's annual reports thickened with confidence. The report for 1991-92
was typical. It opened with Wales marked a proud red on a map of Europe -- not of
Britain. Then came portraits of the WDA board, Jones first, smiling behind his desk
as if about to leap up, wearing a younger, trendier suit than his colleagues. A
full-page chairman's portrait followed -- the biggest photograph in the report, sent
back by him for retouching 15 times -- which unnecessarily introduced him again.
Then came Jones's report: "…. in spite of the conditions imposed by the recession
…. the Agency can report record achievements: a record number of inward
investment projects with a record level of capital investment …. property
development …. profit …. Wales was the best performing region of …. the UK."
Mrs Thatcher was impressed. In November 1989 she made a rare visit to
Wales to see what Jones was doing. Flying into the bare heart of the Rhondda
Valley by helicopter, she was scooped up by Jones, standing tall, tanned, and
boyishly energetic beside her, and shown the new industry he had brought. He
pointed and talked; she listened. Thatcher praised Jones effusively before an
audience of local (Labour) councillors. Then, as if this was not enough, she
button-holed the television cameras. "I just want to say what a marvellous chap
they've got at the Welsh Development Agency," she said, eyes alight.
But the culture Jones brought to the WDA had its winners and losers. He
liked people who got things done, even if they cut corners and sailed close to the
wind -- these are the phrases that ex-WDA staff mention again and again. He hired
people like Carignan and Smith on instinct. In return, his appointees were dazzled
by and loyal to Jones; they imitated him, talked like him. Jones had highlights in his
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hair. So did his PA.
All the WDA's department heads -- except one, Mike Henry in corporate
services -- moved up to the 18th floor of the tower to be next to Jones. The offices
up there were bigger; they had their own fax; and special security was brought in.
Jones's WDA was dynamic, flash, full of mobile phones and (according to WDA
staff) "25-year-olds with sparks coming out of their arses". Bad news, such as
reports of Wales's continuing low wages, was not allowed; the positive sales
mantras the WDA used with clients were used inside the Agency as well.
Meanwhile, the everyday running of the Agency was less efficient than its PR. An
expensive new computer system took years to get working; there were arguments
over expenses; Jones's impulsive hirings used up the recruiting budget before the
end of the financial year; 'initiatives' were favoured over 'projects', which would
have had a beginning and an end.
And Jones seemed absorbed by his own importance. Once, he was introduced
to the Queen in Holyhead; he had photographs taken, then sent down to Cardiff by
courier to meet him on his return. He filled his office with personal portraits. He
seemed to travel constantly and extravagantly -- he even went to Uzbekistan on a
sales trip once. Eventually, a prohibition on flying by Concorde had to be inserted
into Agency regulations.
Information about WDA excesses began to leak out, via dissatisfied staff, to
Welsh journalists and Labour MPs like Rhodri Morgan and Kim Howells. Despite all
the smiles wreathing the annual report, the Agency was in a state of civil war. The
fast and loose culture introduced by Jones had been a dramatic break with the
WDA's public service past. At first, his sheer energy impressed the old guard, as
one of them remembers: "He could make black seem white for people." But Jones's
profligacy soon irritated, then alienated them.
The old chief executive, David Waterstone, left. Jones saw this as an
opportunity to take over that position as well, but the Welsh Office refused to let
him. Meanwhile, other dissidents stayed on, grumbled, and leaked. Many thought
the senior executives clustering round Jones on the 18th floor -- away from their
departments -- were ridiculous and vain. But open opponents of Jones were frozen
out at board meetings, their reports attacked as 'negative'.
One man who fought Jones was the head of foreign investment, Mike Price.
He was contemptuous of the abilities of Jones's appointees and clashed with them
openly in the WDA offices, then refused to talk to them. Price was exiled to
America to oversee WDA operations there, then recalled early. A confidential
memo revealed what management would do next: "…. he (Price) is continuing to
make disloyal and negative comments …. Inevitably this is leading to problems of
poor morale in the team …. We will arrange for compulsory tests to be undertaken
through the agency's doctor …." -- Price was put on 'gardening leave' and
forbidden to enter the WDA building. WDA employees around the world were
forbidden to talk to him. Then a retirement package was put together: pounds
228,000 and a confidentiality clause that forbade Price -- by legal agreement -from talking about what had happened, about the agency's affairs, or the terms of
the settlement. Price accepted. He now lives in the Czech Republic and keeps his
silence. But other dissidents, further embittered by Price's treatment, didn't.
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In November 1991 HTV Wales's 'Wales This Week' devoted a whole
programme to Jones and the WDA. Its allegations -- about Price, and about Jones's
plan to spend a weekend in Tahiti during a WDA selling trip -- were less significant
than the manner of the WDA's reaction. Jones refused to do an interview by
satellite, dispatching instead his chief executive, Philip Head, to the HTV studios.
Asked about Price, Head threatened to walk out of the interview, then said, "It's
grossly unfair for you to ask me to comment on any individual …. who works for
the Agency." The presenter asked: how was the WDA accountable then? "Of course
we're accountable," said Head. "We're accountable to the Welsh people."
Unconvinced, Rhodri Morgan, Labour MP for Cardiff West and a long-time WDA
critic, put down questions in the Commons and called for a debate. The WDA was
getting a reputation.
In December 1992, the Public Accounts Committee, a powerful cross-party
Commons committee that scrutinises the spending of public bodies, called in Jones,
Head, Henry, and their Welsh Office overseer, Sir Richard Lloyd-Jones, for a formal
hearing. The Agency was brought to book at a ring of tables in an ancient panelled
room in the House of Commons.
The MPs' questioning was relentless and -- unusually for a Commons
committee -- aggressive, verging on angry. Jones spoke only to answer accusations
made specifically against him, and to justify his decision to leave the Agency, taken
a few days before the hearing: "I have from the outset …. in October 1988, said I
was planning to stay for four years. I come from the private sector. I belong to the
private sector and I will return to the private sector."
This perspective, and the inability of the Welsh Office to do anything about it,
was clear again and again. "I can take no disciplinary action against
non-departmental public bodies," Lloyd-Jones told the committee. "Disciplinary
action is a matter for those bodies themselves."
Meanwhile the WDA men ducked questions, weaved between accusations,
and made small, grudging admissions. By the end of the day, the PAC Chairman,
Labour MP Robert Sheldon, was enraged: "We have listened to what the WDA have
said today. I must say that what has come over to me is their incredible arrogance,
lack of contrition, and almost smugness."
His committee's report was damning: "We regard it as unacceptable that the
Welsh Office took no action against anyone in the top echelons of the Agency who
presided over a catalogue of serious and inexcusable breaches of expected
standards …." Unusually, the report made recommendations, that: "the Welsh
Office take urgent steps to ensure that problems similar to those covered by this
report do not recur."
Jones left the WDA two weeks after the PAC report was published, and went
on holiday to Antibes. His resignation letter made no mention of any criticism,
instead listing the WDA's achievements under his tenure. It concluded: "My five
years (at the WDA) have been demanding, exciting, tiring, stimulating: I would not
have missed them for the world."
The WDA did seem to have substantial successes under Jones. In 1991-1992,
Wales attracted over a fifth of Britain's foreign investment, with only a twentieth of
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the population, according to the DTI. But the new Welsh economy was less
dynamic than it looked, says Robert McNabb, senior lecturer in economics at the
University of Wales. He saw, and still sees, a 'two-tier' economy: prestige foreign
firms paying well for skilled work, and a mass of low-paid service employment.
"You could never be sure whether the jobs that were created would have been
The WDA wasn't keen on hard facts: "I've done some research work for the
WDA. I always found it quite difficult (for them) if you came up with something
In the end, it's as hard to quantify the WDA's overall contribution to the
Welsh economy -- Rhodri Morgan disputes the DTI's investment figures -- as it is to
quantify the Agency's culture of excess; but you can look at what it built. At the
north end of Porthmadog there's a substantial WDA project, the Penamser
Industrial Estate. A tall, proud WDA sign announces that 16 of its 26 sites, laid out
among trees below the first crags of the mountains, have been filled by a mixture
of local and national businesses: W H Smith, Portmeirion China. The filled units,
from small workshops to warehouses, are neatly trimmed in the same red as the
WDA headquarters and literature. But all is less hopeful than it seems. Unit 11,
which houses Beddgelert Woodcraft according to the WDA sign, is in fact empty,
foot-high weeds in its gutters, red window frames peeling. Even Jones's supporters
admit that Beddgelert Woodcraft was one of several local businesses lured to the
industrial estate by cheap initial rents, only to leave soon afterwards.
But, despite its controversies, Jones's WDA did seem to work. Carried along
on warm currents of media attention, from Welsh and English press alike, it acted
a bit like a Welsh government. Its Team Wales diverted national aspiration, so
stifled by the English at the level of politics, into the economy. Critics like Rhodri
Morgan were accused of "talking Wales down".
And Jones -- with his small-town roots in the nationalist heartland of
Wales, his ordinary Welsh speech, and his cheeky dazzling of the English -kind of substitute prime minister, or president. "Welsh people feel
comfortable with one of their own," says Russell Goodway, Labour leader of
Glamorgan County Council.
Jones's old home in Porthmadog, a plain grey three-storey terraced house
facing on to the small lush park opposite the Australia Inn, is now occupied by
Gwynfor Hughes, the manager of the local community centre. Between answering
phone-calls in Welsh, Hughes talks about Jones in reverent tones: "I've known
Gwyn all his life. He's done well for a local boy …. He had an ear for everybody."
About the scandals, he says: "He was a busy man, always on the go. The
chairman can't watch the books all the time …. Gwyn should be tapped on the back
for what he's done," he continues. "It was an opportunity to get something for the
area. I thought: we've got a Porthmadog lad chairman of the WDA. Now let's get on
But the new chairman at the WDA isn't a Porthmadog lad. "One's very
conscious of the fact we are guardians and spenders of the public purse," says
David Rowe-Beddoe, Jones's successor, picking and spacing his words. Patrician
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and austere, furrowing his brow in the WDA's small but smart London office, he's
the opposite of Jones's grinning, hyperactive hustler.
Of the scandals, Rowe-Beddoe says: "We have taken the medicine." Then,
very carefully: "There may be something else, of course. When you take the
medicine you sometimes see another pimple."
Thanks to his Tory past and Home Counties vowels, Rowe-Beddoe is seen in
Wales as an English imposition (despite his having Welsh parents). This is the other
side of the 'Jones-as-Welsh-President' coin. 'Cleaning up' the WDA has meant, as an
official rethink ordered by Rowe-Beddoe put it, "diluting the proportion of
Wales-based people serving on the board." After 18 months interrogating and
criticising Welsh 'quango-crats' -- and the symbolism of Jones brought to heel in a
committee chamber in Westminster was distinctly colonial -- London now has an
excuse to assert greater central control.
"The Welsh way of doing things was slightly too friendly," says Welsh
Secretary John Redwood, sitting with exaggerated ease in an armchair at the
Welsh Office -- its London branch. A Thatcherite graduate of All Souls and
Rothschild, he is self-styled 'Wokingham Man', whose appointment horrified many
in Wales. "Redwood thinks he's a missionary," says Rhodri Morgan, "for radical
free-market Reagan-Thatcher ideology." Redwood makes no bones about this: "I do
want to cut quite a number of quangos," he says crisply.
Redwood started his political career as a local councillor; he has little
affection for unelected quangos. In June he wrote about his plans for Wales in the
Sunday Telegraph: the WDA's role in modernising Wales was "not decisive", he
said; he saw "fear of the marketplace" in the principality. "I want Wales to be as
successful as Wokingham," he concluded. "The market must be given its head."
Three weeks later, he stripped key functions from the Development Board for
Rural Wales. Then he halted the WDA's payment of grants and loans to small
businesses, which the Agency had admitted dispensing on "legally arguable"
grounds for years. "Redwood has doubled the ante," says Rhodri Morgan, by
reacting to Labour's WDA criticisms with the threat to amputate one of its limbs -perhaps even beginning to dismantle it.
English power in Wales suddenly seems more naked. Redwood refuses to
consider a Welsh parliament. "John Major makes a 20-minute visit to Wales in the
same way he visits Northern Ireland," says Russell Goodway. People in the
Australia Inn say Rowe-Beddoe doesn't talk to everyone (he can't speak Welsh) like
Dr Jones did; the WDA is less friendly than it was; the Welsh quangos are now
And Wales is the guinea-pig for the next wave of local government reform.
"Wales is to local government what Scotland was to the poll tax," says Kevin
Morgan. In 1996 its local and district authorities will be replaced by new unitary
authorities. Some Welsh councillors think these authorities have been deliberately
designed to be too small to function properly, so that they can be replaced by
another layer of super-quangos, each controlling a region of Wales, run by
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Surprisingly, Jones himself still seems to be doing quite nicely: BBC Governor
for Wales, and on the board of S4C (the 'Welsh Channel Four'), Tesco and several
computer companies. And he's still trying to put his spin on the WDA story. Shimon
Cohen telephoned me, unprompted, with the Jones version of events. Then, while
maintaining that Jones, no longer a client but a 'friend', was on holiday in
California and didn't want to be disturbed, he offered to pass on faxed questions to
Jones, and to have answers back within 24 hours.
I did so, and Cohen called me back, speaking Jones's words. Replying to
questions about the scandals, he said: "Of course there were problems within the
Agency, but just look at the results."
Had Jones done anything wrong? "If wrong means illegal, no. If wrong
means, would I have done anything differently, yes." He did not comment on any
specific scandals at the WDA; at no point since they emerged has Jones done so.
Instead, he attacked "party political infighting" for obscuring his achievements at
Cohen also took the opportunity to suggest that his client might be
responsible for an increase in Welsh programming on the BBC. At Broadcasting
House in Cardiff, Jones's picture dwarfs the other governors' in the boardroom. But
all this clever PR has been undermined (as it was at the WDA) by Jones's
impetuosity. In June he used his position as a BBC governor to attack the 'Week In
Week Out' programme about the WDA's allegedly illicit Aberdare land deal, and
Mid-Wales grant, at a private meeting of the BBC Broadcasting Council for Wales.
Without declaring a personal interest -- that these WDA actions occurred
during his chairmanship -- Jones said their investigation was unpatriotic and
detrimental to Wales's economic interests.
News of this intervention leaked out, and provoked an Early Day Motion
tabled by Rhodri Morgan on 21 July calling for his resignation. Sources at the BBC
say Jones's governorship may not be renewed next year, and that his future as a
quango-crat, like the WDA's as a quango, is being eroded by the continuing
revelations from the Agency.
This is the one thread of the WDA saga that is unravelling as might be
expected. The others have twisted and kinked since the scandals first emerged.
Jones's entrepreneurial WDA may have been praised by Thatcher; but it was also
the corporatist tool of 'Walker the Wet', and the vehicle for a form of frustrated
Welsh nationalism. The Agency may have been criticised by Welsh Labour MPs; but
it's still at the centre of their party's plans for Wales (albeit made accountable to a
Welsh Parliament). The WDA's continuing problems may embarrass the
Conservatives now; but they have also given them a much-needed reason to take
more power for themselves and away from Wales.
And then Wales, having side-stepped Thatcherism at its height, may find
itself at the whim of one of Thatcher's proteges, John Redwood. Last week he
considered the first ever private bid to build and operate an NHS hospital, in
Swansea; and then, as he does every night, he drove home to Wokingham.
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Reputation in Shreds
"Spuriously citing 'data protection laws', a committee chaired by Speaker John Bercow permits the
shredding of tens of thousands of documents relating to the MPs' expenses scandal of 2009. With
the evidence against them destroyed, no doubt many politicians (and many employees of their
agencies, as seen) will be hugely relieved -- including some hoping to return to Westminster next
year, after being banished in disgrace, and others who never left. But along with those documents,
the authorities shredded any hope of restoring Westminster's reputation for integrity." (National
They react as the illuminati would, with the 'authority' of assassins, with the Masonic power of
Satan, with Satanic Despotism, with fearsome threats, intimidation, arrests, imprisonings, murder,
cyber espionage, $millions spent on 'disinfo' and 'shut up' campaigns, and 'psychological warfare'.
'Inappropriate Use of Public Funds'
was brought to you with the kind permission of Mr. M. and Cupid Stunt.
As the man on the TV observed (in reference to 'the assassin', 2014-Oct):
"He loved his dog so much, he married him."
After which, Aspy and Yappy lived happily ever after.
"And they had a king over them, which is the angel of the bottomless pit, whose
name in the Hebrew tongue is Abaddon, but in the Greek tongue hath his name
Apollyon." [REVELATION 9:11]
"For the love of money is the root of all evil:" [1 TIMOTHY 6]
Do those who love wealth also love evil?
In a society of 'total charity', there would be no money, no reason to exploit, steal,
oppress or kill, only charity. The alternative is 'total genocide', because genocide
(and now GM!) has been profitable business (hence the immense wealth of the
Vatican and its Rothschild Zionist bankers, also the immense wealth of the EIR and
its UGLE -- European Imperial Royals and the United Grand Lodge of England).
When the G8 gather and promise to end 'world poverty', it's just a front. When
those with immense wealth pledge to do 'charitable works', it's just a front. When
the UN promises to end this war or end that war, it's just a front. Welcome to the
Babylonian Maso-Zio-Paedo Matrix, those who do the 'Will of God', but their god is
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