BEFORE Badger begins, he would like to correct an impression that could have been given by his column last week that Cllr Keith Lewis had not repented of any sins. Keith repenteth plenty. Or at least he will soon. It was a case of too many Lewises spoiling the joke. Saint Simon of Neyland will forgive Badger. Saint Simon knows that one word, “Plus” (or minus), can make or ruin a joke however bad. It is Rob Lewis who repenteth not, Saint Simon. Pray for his immortal soul, pray. And after that, on with the motley and back to the fray. A long time ago, when the world was green, adherents to extremist ideology clustered around one or two publications like moths drawn to a flame.
Badger remembers the strident cries of “Socialist Worker!” delivered in a mockney dahn serf accent by Repton old boys whose daddies were something big in the FO; Badger remembers Militant, a newspaper printed and circulated by those who thought everyone had sold out Marxist-Leninism, including —rather surprisingly — the pre-Glasnost Soviet Union. Badger remembers when jokes like this were rather more common: Q: How many Marxists does it take to screw in a light bulb? A: None: The light bulb contains the seeds of its own revolution! But the touchstone of many a member of the lunatic fringe of British left wing politics was a selection of extracts from speeches and aphorisms delivered by the biggest dingbat in the Comtnunist belfry.
Badger refers of course to “Quotations of Chairman Mao Tse-Tung”; otherwise, universally known in the West as “The Little Red Book”. Now, the glorious dawn of a new Cultural Revolution is upon us with the ascent to the giddy heights, Chair of Pembrokeshire County Council, of Chairman Tom Richards. Tom, often to be seen sashaying around Quay Street in a quite fetching scarf, hat and coat combination of a style befitting a gentleman farmer, has ascended to this seat of power not because of his keen insight, still less in recognition of his administrative skill or prowess with a well-timed gavel. No: readers Chairman Tom has been promoted to glory because of the old rule of “Buggin’s ibm”. This is not so much a job for the boys, as a job for one of the “good old boys”. But here is his chance to make a mark. To exchange notoriety for fame. Perhaps, readers, Chairman Tom’s thoughts might give us an insight into the future.
His investigative instincts piqued, Badger tunnelled to the Chairman Welsh Hook fastness to try and get a peep at what makes Tom tick and to discover how the Chairman’s thought processes work. After taking a wrong turn in Cockshoot Wood, Badger espied the tower of St Lawrence’s Church and regained his bearings: guided by the clink of glass on glass to the window of Chairman Torn’s parlour. There, wearing naught but his hat, chain of office, and an enigmatic smile was Chairman Tom. Perched on a stool and illuminated by a flickering oil lamp, Tom sat ploughing through Das Kapital and nodding eagerly.
Strewn around him on the floor were copies of “The Communist Manifesto” and Lenin’s “What is to be Done?” Through his spyglass, Badger spotted one phrase of Lenin’s, heavily underlined “The fear of criticism displayed by the advocates of freedom of criticism cannot be attributed solely to craftiness. No, the majority look with sincere resentment upon all theoretical controversies, factional disagreements, broad political questions.” Chuckling softly to himself, Chairman Tom continued to peruse selections of the literature of the left, scribbling the occasional note in its margins with a quill charged with green ink. Badger had not expected this: the complete works of Jancis Robinson, possibly; The Farmer’s Guardian, probably; The Beano, certainly. But not Chairman Tom showing every researching his own Little Red Book.
Badger had formerly always subscribed to the cock up theory of history and discounted conspiracy theorists as crackpots, like Oliver Stone or Gordon Brown. Now, however, recent events in Pembrokeshire suddenly became clear. Badger’s head swam in a way usually attributable only to over-imbibing on fermented fox. The collapse of the Communist Party after the 1996 Russian election: the re-establishment of Pembrokeshire County Council, the same year. Frustrated in their eastern European homeland, the pinkos had found a new crucible in which to carry out their unholy social experiments: County Hall, Haverfordwest.
The revolution having failed in the former Soviet Union, did the reds go from Moscow to Martletwy? Is it really so far-fetched to suspect that they might have? And if they did that would make the lPPG a Communist front. Not so much a sleeper cell, but a sleep-walking one. Let’s look at the facts, readers. Cadres formed; covert recruitment practices; literature produced secretively; slavish devotion to the party line: a bureaucracy that is only too eager to help rewrite history; the systematic harassment and bullying of refuseniks. CCCP = County Council Communist Party! Badger’s beguiling theory explains so much about the Kremlin on the Cleddau!
The mind-set is the same. The methods are identical. And Chairman Tom’s disdain for democracy and determination to stamp it out at all costs remarkably familiar. The glorious day has finally arrived for the !PPG fellow-travellers. The hammer and sickle replaced with the proud banner of the golden trough triumphant. Readers! Never mind the age old question of whether Bryn is a shape-shifting lizard who needs to travel by private lift twice a day to regenerate into (approximately) human form. The evidence suggests that the commies are already running Pembrokeshire. Altogether, comrades, before the secret police arrive! `Parry Jones’ flag’s a golden trough. Gouge the poor, enrich the toffs”.