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Simon Hart under pressure to explain swastikas on election sign

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THE RE-ELECTION campaign of south-county MP Simon Hart is mired in controversy, as the Tory flatly refuses to publicly respond to speculation over who daubed swastikas on his own campaign material whilst in his own possession.

Carmarthen West and South Pembrokeshire’s nine-year incumbent, hoping to retain his seat in next month’s election, is coming under increasing pressure to explain the appearance of the Nazi icons on a poster he had removed from public display two years ago.

During his successful campaign at the June 2017 snap general election, Mr Hart gained national press coverage after publicly sharing a photograph of written graffiti on one of his small roadside promotional billboards.

After Simon Hart’s name on the placard, a black marker pen had been used to daub in block-capitals the words: “WILL STARVE YOUR NAN AND STEAL HER HOUSE!”

The graffitiing episode generated some sympathy for Mr Hart, who has turned the affair into a campaigning platform since 2017.

He has revisited the matter numerous times, even in the House of Commons – during parliamentary debate on life in public service and the abuse of political candidates, after gaining a seat on the Standards in Public Life Committee as a result of his experience.

Criticising what he called the “criminal damage” in 2017, Mr Hart also claimed he had “Nazi swastikas daubed over [his] election boards in Carmarthenshire, between Pendine and Laugharne”.

No photographs of the alleged swastikas were publicly shared on social media by Mr Hart then, or since.

As part of his current campaign, Mr Hart posted, on his Facebook page, a new photograph of the “…will starve your nan…” defaced poster on November 3, stating that he is “determined that the tone and nature of this election should be a big improvement on 2017”.

In his emotive 650-word post accompanying the defaced poster image, Mr Hart says abuse in public life “is hard to hide from, can be anonymised, and can have a debilitating impact on work colleagues, family and friends”.

He also puts out the appeal: “I want to invite my challengers at this election, irrespective of their views or allegiances, to publicly endorse standards of behaviour that have been proposed by organisations such as the Committee for Standards in Public Life (of which I was a member) and the Jo Cox Foundation”.

Among the list of nine standards Mr Hart promotes, and pledges to abide by, is that: “Candidates and their supporters must set and protect a tone of public discourse which is not dehumanising or derogatory”.

But an eagle-eyed opponent of Mr Hart, Jim Scott, noticed that the “…will starve your nan…” poster has been crudely embellished since it was widely shared after being originally photographed by Mr Hart in June 2017.

For its 2019 outing, it is clear by comparison to earlier images of the ‘nan’ placard that two swastikas have been added, in blue marker pen, where not one appeared before.

Mr Scott, a strong critic of the Conservatives who has been chiefly involved in anti-austerity rallies as part of the Pembrokeshire People’s Assembly, says Mr Hart needs to explain how this could happen long after the already-defaced poster had been taken down from public display and kept in safe storage by Mr Hart over the last two years:

“You can tell by the handwriting that this is exactly the same placard being shared by Simon Hart, yet somehow in the intervening two years, two swastikas have been added to it. Who had the opportunity to do it? Who did it? And why?”

Our editor put Mr Scott’s views in writing to Mr Hart, along with a more serious theory that has been speculated online to account for the additions. Mr Hart gave the matter short shrift – responding only to dismiss the matter as mere election mischief from his political opponents.

Promoted by prime minister Boris Johnson to government minister at the Cabinet Office this summer, Simon Hart says he is REFUSING to give a public statement or explanation for the Nazi graffiti. We reproduce in full his brief written response:

“Really?! I have to say even by Corbynista standards arguing about this reaches new depths. I am not going to say anything public whatsoever. Totally outrageous and hope you treat it with suitable contempt!”

At the Herald we believe that the onus is on Mr Hart to end speculation. That, as a seasoned campaigner, senior political figure, and latterly government minister, he owes his prospective constituents a clear, credible, on-the-record explanation for the swastikas’ appearance LONG AFTER he had taken the poster down from public display.

This is a sentiment shared by Jim Scott, who describes Mr Hart’s repeated references to the defacing of his 2017 election material as “Simon Hart’s hobby horse”.

He says: “The question for Simon is: Who drew the swastikas between June 3, 2017 when he first published a photo of the ‘nan’ poster, and November 3, 2019 when he shared a photo of the same poster on Facebook, but this time with two swastikas added to it, when previously there wasn’t a single one?”

Mr Scott said: “Mr Hart’s use of the poster – however the swastikas got there – is a classic case of the big bully playing bullied which won’t wash with the people of Carmarthenshire and Pembrokeshire who need a credible explanation”.

Mr Scott shared his findings on Facebook, where many others said they, too, had noticed the unexplained addition of the shocking Nazi imagery.

“All very mysterious”, says one, whilst another speculates that Mr Hart could claim the offensive penmanship is the handiwork of “the Russians!”

As it was: The graffitied ‘nan’ placard, published by Mr Hart on June 3, 2017

As it is now: Two swastikas have been added to the ‘nan’ placard by November 3, 2019

THE SWASTIKA SAGA IN BRIEF

MR HART, who has served as parliamentarian for Carmarthen West and South Pembrokeshire since defeating incumbent Labour MP Nick Ainger in 2010, is hoping to defend his slimmest majority yet.
In 2017 his majority was 3,110 over his Labour party rival Marc Tierney, a candidate he will be facing in two weeks’ time, along with the Lib Dems’ Alistair Cameron and Plaid Cymru’s Rhys Thomas.

– Mr Hart originally shared an image of the ‘nan’ placard on social media on June 3, 2017
– It says “SIMON HART WILL STARVE YOUR NAN AND STEAL HER HOUSE!”
– Although not photographed and shared by Mr Hart, he claimed he had swastikas daubed on his posters, too
– The story is picked up by the local and national press
– Then-PM Theresa May discusses Mr Hart’s case, and the issue of political abuse
– Mr Hart gains a seat on the parliamentary Standards in Public Life Committee as a result of his experience, exploiting the affair to bring attention to dirty campaigning tactics
– Mr Hart kickstarts his 2019 re-election campaign with an appeal for civility
– His 650-word emotive appeal uses the now-altered image of the ‘nan’ poster
– This image, dated November 3, 2019, is of the same ‘nan’ placard
– Eagle-eyes spot that the defaced poster now has TWO SWASTIKAS ADDED to it
– Questions mount: who had the opportunity to further deface the placard, once in Mr Hart’s possession, and who, in fact, added the offensive icons?
– Mr Hart REFUSES to make ANY public statement, says questions are “totally outrageous” and: “I am not going to say anything public whatsoever”.

This week’s cartoon in The Pembrokeshire Herald featured the Simon Hart story.

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Angle Lifeboat tasked to disabled yacht 22miles from St Ann’s head

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Image Credit - RNLI Penny Harris

ANGLE LIFEBOAT and her crew saw out April when they were tasked on 30th of April to a yacht 22miles from St Ann’s head.

Angle Lifeboat and her crew saw out April when they were tasked on 30th of April to a yacht 22miles from St Ann’s head.

The lifeboat was launched at 10:43pm to a 26ft yacht that had reported smoke coming from their engine compartment. The casualty vessel was 22 miles south west of St Ann’s with two crew onboard.

The lifeboat arrived on scene at 11:46pm. The on scene assessment was carried out and both crew were safe and well but the vessel would need to be towed to Milford Haven. The tow was set up and the casualty vessel was under tow at 11:56pm.

The conditions were perfect for the slow tow back which saw a beautiful moon rising and the early glow of dawn.

Lifeboat arrived at Milford and swapped the casualty vessel to an alongside tow to take it alongside in to the lock at Milford Marina where the casualty was safely tied up at 04:49am.

The lifeboat rehoused at 05:15am where she got her well deserved washdown and the crew headed home to get some sleep.

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Meet the Pembrokeshire Mower Doctor

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A NEW Pembrokeshire business is proving to be an inspiration for young people after its recent launch.

The Pembrokeshire Mower Doctor is the brainchild of Ewan Griffiths, who turned his dream into reality thanks to the advice and support of Cam Nesa.

The project aims to reduce the number of young people aged 16-24 who are not in education, training or employment.

Before signing up to Cam Nesa, Ewan was out of work and struggling for direction, and anxiety was preventing him from maximising his potential.

Throughout his journey with Cam Nesa, Ewan worked closely with youth worker Donna Wright to devise a plan that provided support and guidance to improve his confidence and self-esteem, and provide mechanisms for coping with anxiety.

In addition, the project provided Ewan with opportunities to gain qualifications and obtain information that would help him with starting his own business.

Ewan’s message to other young people is simple, “If you find yourself struggling, there is help.”

“Cam Nesa supported me in all aspects of my plan, and working with Donna was fantastic.”

“I would definitely encourage others to reach out for support.”

Donna Wright, who supported Ewan throughout his Cam Nesa journey, said that the launch of his new business is a great source of pride for Cam Nesa and Pembrokeshire Youth Service.

“Ewan has come on leaps and bounds, and it was his engagement and determination that has made his outcome with Cam Nesa so successful and inspiring”, she said.

“Congratulations Ewan on your achievements, and we all wish you good luck with your new business.”

The Pembrokeshire Mower Doctor provides repairs and servicing for mowers, strimmers, hedge cutters, and most agricultural engines, with the mobile service providing collection and returns.

For more information, search ‘Pembrokeshire Mower Doctor’ on Facebook.

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Milford Haven: Mount estate death not being treated as suspicious say police

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POLICE have confirmed that following a welfare visit to a property in Mount Estate, they discovered a male occupant, in his 30’s, in need of medical help.

Despite the best efforts of medical staff he sadly passed away on Sunday.

A spokesperson for the police confirmed to The Pembrokeshire Herald: “Dyfed-Powys Police attended a property at the Mount Estate, Milford Haven on Friday 30th April 2021, following a report of concern for the welfare of the occupier.

“A male was taken to hospital where he died on Sunday 2nd May 2021.

“The death is not being treated as suspicious.”

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