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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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Pembrokeshire Leisure welcomes back school swimming



PEMBROKESHIRE Leisure is welcoming back school swimming lessons around the county for the first time since March 2020.

Swimmers from over 20 schools will be attending in their class bubbles to enjoy learning vital water competency skills in Pembrokeshire Leisure’s six swimming pools.

In a county which is surrounded by beautiful beaches and coastline, being safe in and around water is a potentially life-saving skill.

The programme of school swimming lessons helps to achieve the Welsh national priority that every child is a swimmer by the time they leave primary school.

The National Curriculum requirement which has been designed in line with this is that every key stage 2 child should be able to:

  • Swim 25 metres with clothes on (shorts and t-shirt), then tread water for 30 seconds and demonstrate an action for getting help and move into the Heat Escape Lessening Position (H.E.L.P)
  • Demonstrate a shout and signal action to attract attention.

The first school to return was Ysgol Glannau Gwaun at Fishguard Leisure Centre and there are now 20 primary schools which will be attending swimming lessons around Pembrokeshire.

On Monday 14 th June, Coastlands County Primary School attended and their Head Teacher Sonja Groves said: “We are delighted to finally get back to swimming after such a long time away. The children were so happy to be back in the water learning and enjoying. Swimming is a vital life skill which helps to keep the children of Pembrokeshire safe in and around all types of water.”

Leisure Services Manager Gary Nicholas said: “It is fantastic to be able to safely welcome back school swimming to our facilities. Primary school aged children have missed over a years’ worth of swimming lessons and Pembrokeshire Leisure are committed to supporting the aim of every child a swimmer by age 11.

“We will continue to do this by delivering quality school swimming lessons following the Swim Wales Nofio Ysgol programme, using the Free Swimming Initiative to provide targeted sessions for the most deprived swimmers and by continuing to provide swimming lessons at all sites in our Learn to Swim programme.”

For more information about how you can book your child swimming lessons and support their journey to becoming a competent swimmer, contact your local leisure centre.

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Landmarc flies the flag at local training camp to celebrate Armed Forces Week



TO CELEBRATE Armed Forces Week 2021 and the contribution made by local military personnel, Landmarc Support Services (Landmarc) has raised the Armed Forces Day flag at Castlemartin Training Area in Pembrokeshire.

Following an unprecedented year for the UK’s troops as they responded to the challenges raised by the pandemic, Landmarc, which manages the UK Defence Training Estate in partnership with Defence Infrastructure Organisation (DIO), wanted to extend an extra special thank you, by flying the official Armed Forces Day flag at military training estates across the UK, including local camp, Castlemartin.

Landmarc employees were joined by Armed Forces personnel and staff from DIO to witness the raising of the flag, where it will fly proudly until Armed Forces Week comes to a close on the 28th of June.

This Armed Forces Week, Landmarc has pledged its support and sponsorship of Team Emotive in its mission to complete one of the world’s most difficult ocean rowing challenges – the Talisker Whisky Atlantic Challenge – all in the name of raising money for mental health charity, Veterans at Ease.

Made up of four Armed Forces veterans, including one Landmarc employee, Team Emotive is preparing to travel 3,000 miles from La Gomera in the Canary Islands to Antigua. Rowing two hours on, two hours off for forty days, this challenge will push the team to its limits both physically and mentally. 23 rd June 2021

In addition, Landmarc has also announced its official partnership with the Armed Forces charity, SSAFA, working together to support veterans as they transition into civilian life.

Mark Neill, Managing Director at Landmarc, comments: “Each year, every one of us at Landmarc gives thanks to our troops during this special week. As part of the 25 per cent of veterans and reservists that make up Landmarc’s workforce, I know first- hand how important this event is for morale within the Forces community.

“It’s always fantastic to see so many people and organisations come together each year for Armed Forces Week, but the events of the last fifteen months have heightened our gratitude. The efforts from our servicemen and women have been immense and impossible to ignore in the nation’s fight against COVID-19; with our own staff working alongside the military to support the demands of the training estate as it hosts troops from across the country.”

For more information on Landmarc Support Services, please visit

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Endurance runner tackles Pembrokeshire Coast



ENDURANCE runner Sean Conway has successfully completed his epic series of marathons in the UK’s National Parks.

On Thursday, June 17, Sean tackled the Pembrokeshire coast, running from Newport to Dinas Head and back, fuelled by sports nutrition brand ‘Grenade’.

Sean, who is from North Wales, has ran the length of Britain before but says this was the longest stretch of days where he has had to constantly do a marathon every day.

Speaking of his run in Newport, Sean said: “It was so hilly. Honestly, the weather was amazing. It wasn’t too hot and there were some nice views along the way. At Dinas Head, it was amazing looking down at the lagoons and there are some amazing rock formations.”

He took six hours to complete his marathon but there was little time for recovery as he moved on to his final run in Snowdonia the day after.

“This was my second-last marathon so my body was feeling pretty battered and I’ve had to do it fully self-supported so I was doing one run out then back to the car and then out again”, Sean added.

“With covid we’ve all been staying at home more so I wanted to show off how amazing the National Parks are.

“There will be more of us visiting as restrictions are eased but we don’t want to ruin it by being silly.”

Sean was provided with his nutrition for the runs by Grenade and he said he ‘would not have been able to survive without them’.

In the morning he would have an energy drink which contained vitamins and electrolites and he would also mix this in with his water for some of his runs.

Sean would also have protein bars to give him an extra boost as he tried to keep on top of his protein intake.

“Pembrokeshire was so scenic. When I announced the runs this was the run that stood out online and I was really looking forward to doing it. We’ll definitely be coming back soon” Sean concluded.

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