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Badger sings the blues



badgerbluesAS BADGER writes this week’s column, readers, he is able to say – like countless blues singers before him – ‘I woke up this morning…’ Unlike the poor troubadours of the Mississippi Delta, and up to the point he has written these words, nobody done left him and he has not had to pay a visit to the crossroads to sell his soul in the style of Robert Johnson – or Noelle Gordon, for that matter. In light of these facts readers, you might well wonder why it is that Badger feels the urge to sing the blues. Well, readers it’s sort of like this: Badger has become depressed by what appears to him to be the inexorable march towards a general election in May next year in which the two main parties vying for government are engaged in a headlong race to the bottom of the political sewer in the search for votes.

It seems to Badger that Labour and the Conservatives politicians have realised that the public have become wise to the way in which politicians play with semantics to make every pledge conditional and all promises nebulous non-binding ‘aspirations’. Now they are eager to tap into the ‘anti-politics’ that treats every issue individually with no ideological core and try to convert fear and bigotry into parliamentary seats. There is a dispiriting phrase for the approach the parties have adopted: it is called ‘dog-whistle’ politics. The idea is that the message one releases has a resonance to very specifi c groups of voters within the general population. It is most commonly used to appeal to racist and reactionary views by making the unacceptable (e.g. racism, discrimination) acceptable (‘strong border controls’, ‘traditional British values’).

Those tuned into the wavelength of those employing the dog whistle – for example, racists and bigots – understand the subtext of the message, while other voters might take the words at something like face value; or, as Badger suspects, choose to turn a blind eye to the obvious. The use of loaded language to convey an underlying negative message is not new: John Ehrlichman, who went to prison for his part in the Watergate cover-up, made no bones about the underlying racist message of successive American presidents – including the one for whom he campaigned in 1968, Richard Nixon.

The Republican Party in the USA went so far as to formulate a “Post- Southern Strategy”, that sought to polarize the white-black voters in the American south and drive white voters (the majority) towards them, whilst leaving the Democrats with the uphill task of winning with a minority of the electorate in those key electoral battlegrounds. In the last United States election, the Republicans’ own strategy was turned against them with great effect. Overwhelming numbers of ethnic minority voters, the majority in key states, backed the Democrat incumbent Barack Obama against his Republican challenger. Now, readers, all this may seem a long way from Pembrokeshire, but local politics is no less a crucible for the type of coded comments that are used like a dog whistle to help to divide the herd.

Cllr Adams repeatedly and remarkably echoes the rallying cries of the Conservative Party. In the world according to Adams it’s all the fault of ‘Welsh Labour in Cardiff’, never let it be said that a large part of Pembrokeshire’s problems are home-made. Jamie embraces outsourcing public services by backdoor privatisation. Jamie, let’s face it readers, is a Tory following Tory policies. He is just too cowardly to wear the blue rosette at election time. Readers: Let us go back a bit to September, when Jamie Adams faced a vote of no-confi dence. After delighting (sic) an agog Chamber (sick) with his dazzling wit and turn of phrase, on what basis did Huw George commend Jamie Adams’ leadership? “He’s a Keeston boy: He went to school in Ysgol Dewi Sant, played football for Solva, Keeston Young Farmers, and Pembrokeshire Young Farmers.

He’s Pembrokeshire through and through.” To Cllr George, of course, the twin attractions of offi ce are simple: He has it and he would lose it if Jamie went. Those twin attractions are quite enough for Reverend Huw on their own. He is able to excuse almost anything to retain them. But reading Cllr George’s comments in the knowledge that Cllr Adams sternest critic, Mike Stoddart, and his most likely replacement, David Simpson, are not from Pembrokeshire (no matter how long they have lived here) puts a rather different and divisive gloss on the reverend’s glowing encomium to his Leader. It’s a long journey from the Parliament’s sewer to County Hall, readers, but the resulting verbal output of some members is identifiably the same and smells like it, too.

Now, readers, in light of the above, think of the way the Conservative Party and its henchmen in the national press portray Ed Milliband. Ed is ‘odd’. In a pretty disgraceful way of alluding to his Jewish heritage, it is suggested Ed is not ‘one of us’. Now readers, Ed Milliband has a lot of problems with communicating policies (if we suppose he has some – or any), but what the Conservative press is doing is exactly of a species with the type of propaganda about the Jews that has a long and reprehensible history in this country and others.

The other side of the same coin is the relentless portrayal of the government front bench as the preserve of entitled, arrogant , public school oafs without a shred of compassion or decency between them. In that regard, the Conservatives get it in the neck from both the left (the Labour Party, who rather shamelessly forget where most of their front bench come from) and the right (the ‘Essex man’ membership, who have a rather more authoritarian and intolerant view of the world than the metropolitan front bench). One might almost feel sorry for those poor politicians, readers! Having fi shed for votes in the sewer, they fi nd themselves now caught between two stools.

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Police: RNLI ‘most likely saved man’s life’ following tombstoning incident



POLICE have issued an urgent warning following a tombstoning incident Tenby on Saturday evening (Apr 10).

A multi-agency operation was launched just after 6pm following reports of a man in difficulty after jumping from cliffs into the sea.

A spokesperson for Dyfed-Powys police told The Herald: “We were called to the beach opposite St Catherine’s Island at around 6.15pm today, where a man had got into difficulty after jumping off the cliff into the water.

“On the arrival of officers, RNLI were at the scene and were administering CPR to the 23-year-old who was unconscious and not breathing.

“Fortunately, he regained consciousness shortly after and was taken to hospital for assessment.

Inspector Gavin Howells added: “This incident highlights the serious danger posed by tombstoning or cliff jumping, and the potentially life-threatening consequences.

“We urge people not to take part in this sort of activity anywhere along our coastline, and not to put themselves or the emergency services at risk for a thrill.

“We would like to thank our colleagues at the RNLI for their swift response to this incident, and for their actions which most likely saved this man’s life.”

RNLI Tenby posted on Facebook the following: “The Georgina Taylor was launched after person seen in difficulty in water

“Tenby’s RNLI inshore lifeboat was launched at around 6.25pm on Saturday, following a report of somebody in difficulty in the sea off Castle Beach.

“The volunteer crew were quickly on scene and immediately saw the casualty, who had been pulled from the water and was on the rocks.

“The casualty was taken from the rocks and into the lifeboat, where Casualty Care was administered whilst the helmsman made best speed to the harbour.

“As the lifeboat was entering the harbour, an ambulance was arriving at the slipway.

“The crew then assisted the ambulance personnel in getting the casualty onto the stretcher and into the ambulance, before re-housing the lifeboat.

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Police and drugs advice service issue warning over ‘deadly batch’ of heroin



POLICE have asked the media to issue a warning over a batch of heroin.

The drug circulating in west Wales, first detected in Llanelli, is particularly dangerous, it has been confirmed.

“We are warning drug users to take extra care following reports of a particularly harmful batch of heroin circulating in the Llanelli area” said a Dyfed-Powys Police spokesperson.

“We have reasons to believe some drugs being distributed and used in the Carmarthenshire area at present have been contaminated with other substances and could be extremely dangerous for anyone taking them.

“We would also appeal to drug users to seek medical attention immediately if they become unwell.

“Please share this information with anyone you believe could come into contact with these drugs.

”In an emergency or if you think someone’s life is at risk always dial 999.”

Earlier this week Barod, the drug and alcohol abuse service reported a dangerous and toxic heroin circulating in Pembroke Dock which a spokesperson described as being ‘potentially deadly’.

To comes as Public Health England issued a formal alert about the risks of heroin containing fentanyl or carfentanyl.

The warning reads: “There is significant evidence from a small number of post-mortem results of recent drug user deaths and from police seizures that some heroin may contain fentanyl or carfentanyl added by dealers.

“These are highly potent synthetic opioids and very small amounts can cause severe or even fatal toxicity.

“Those of you in contact with heroin users should be alert to the increased possibility of overdose arising from heroin cut with these synthetic opioids, be able to recognise possible symptoms of overdose and respond appropriately.”

The fentanyls are a group of synthetic opioids; some have legitimate uses while others are illicit drugs.

Fentanyl is about 100 times more potent than morphine and is a licensed medicine used to treat severe and terminal pain. Carfentanyl is 4,000 – 10,000 times more potent than morphine and principally used as an animal tranquilliser.

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Tenby’s famous walrus ‘Wally’ has been spotted again



TENBY’S most famous marine animal has been spotted again after fears she had been scared away.

Wally was spotted on Friday evening by the seaside town’s Lifeboat station.

Thought to be a two-year-old male, the walrus’s return comes after it was feared she had been disturbed by people flocking to catch a glimpse of her and “getting too close”

The animal has attracted hundreds of people to the seaside town now that the travel restrictions with Wales have been lifted to coincide with the Easter school holidays.

Wally was last seen on Monday, but  members of the public were warned it was in the animal’s “best interests” to be “left alone” as much as possible and they were urged to “avoid the temptation to get near and disturb” her.

A joint statement was issued by the RSPCA, Tenby harbour master Chris Salisbury, Welsh Marine Life Rescue, Tenby lifeboat coxswain Phil John, British Divers Marine Life Rescue, Natural Resources Wales and CSIP Marine Environmental Rescue said that they were concerned to hear that people had tried to get close by using personal watercraft or paddle and surfboards.

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