In my last post I published the package of information that had been sent to me after I had asked Leanne to intervene because Chris Franks was not doing his job properly. Prior to that, Chris had fully expected me to turn up to a formal hearing without knowing any details about the complaint, who would judge me, what the evidence against me was ... or what the official investigation report which formed the basis of the decision to hold a formal hearing, and was supposed to reflect my position as well as that of my accuser, said. I had now got some answers, though not all of them.
By far the most important piece of information was the investigation report, and in these next posts I want to look at what it contains. One thing in it stands out above everything else.
I have spoken to Rhun and he has confirmed that he is against nuclear energy but if it is imposed by Westminster he will ensure that Ynys Môn gets the maximum benefit of the job and economic opportunities.
If anyone had to sum up Plaid's policy on nuclear energy in one sentence, that's as good a way of putting it as any. It is in two parts, and each part is essential. The first part is that we in Plaid Cymru are opposed to nuclear energy. The second part is that we will fight to get the best from Wylfa B if it is imposed on us by Westminster. The if is all-important.
In the early stages of the Ynys Môn by-election campaign, Rhun was quite happy to stress the second part, but did not say anything at all about the first part. He refused to be clear about whether he supported or was against a new nuclear power station at Wylfa. I described his position at the time as "tortuously ambiguous" in this post, and went on to say:
Up until now I have not known where Rhun stood on this issue. My objection to him being allowed to stand or being selected was based on the fact that we could not properly assess his suitability to stand as a Plaid Cymru candidate in such a short time. I had hoped that his first statement would be something much more positive:
I had hoped Rhun would say that he is totally opposed to Wylfa B and will fight to stop it happening.
I had hoped Rhun would say that it is being forced on us by a Westminster government that will not let Wales decide our own energy policy for ourselves.
I had hoped Rhun would say that we in Wales can produce more electricity than we consume from renewable sources, a major part of which are around the coast of Ynys Môn, and that we will create better jobs on the island by developing these than by building a new nuclear power station.
I had hoped Rhun would say to those already working in the nuclear industry who are concerned about their jobs that there will be plenty jobs for decades to come in decommissioning Wylfa A, making it safe and cleaning up its toxic legacy.
I had hoped Rhun would say that the cost of dealing with new and very much more toxic nuclear waste—which would have to be kept on the island indefinitely rather than moved to Sellafield as happens now—will be a millstone round the neck of future generations that Wales as a nation will struggle to afford.
... and I had hoped Rhun would also say that if, and only if, a Westminster government forces Wylfa B onto us despite all our objections, it had damn well better ensure that we at least get something out of it in terms of construction jobs, supply chain opportunities and the skills necessary for the operation of the station once completed.
If he has any political sense at all, Rhun will say all of these things. It is not too late for him to do so. What is wrong with Rhun's statement to the Daily Post is that he makes the last point without making all the other points. He cannot hope to get away with that. He needs to unequivocally express his opposition to nuclear power before he gets to the "if".
Fair play to him, as I noted in my next post, Rhun did then go on to make some of these points, in particular about the problem of nuclear waste and energy policy being decided in Westminster rather than in Wales, but he still wouldn't say whether he was or was not opposed to nuclear energy.
Because of this ambiguity, he was put under ever-increasing pressure about it from all sides, and he eventually snapped. On 19 July, well over half-way through the campaign, he tweeted this:
@theNukeGuy Ha!Yes,I'm pro Wylfa B,& will fight to ensure our young people& communities benefit.Can't put it clearer than that!All the best.— Rhun ap Iorwerth (@RhunapIorwerth) July 19, 2013
As I noted at the time, if Rhun was a person of principle or character, why had he been afraid to make it clear that he supported Wylfa B in his previous statements to the Daily Post and on his own blog? But whatever the reason, the cat was now out of the bag, and in the last ten days of the campaign Rhun made it abundantly clear that he was in favour of nuclear energy at Wylfa B, openly acknowledging that he did not agree with Plaid Cymru's policy. So far as I am aware, that has been his position in public ever since.
What is completely scandalous is that Rhun said one thing in public, but then—only six weeks after he had been elected—said the exact opposite when formally questioned about it as part of an official Plaid Cymru investigation.
This shows Rhun for what he is: a man without principles who will flip-flop on the issues. He will say one thing to one set of people at one time because he thinks it's what they want to hear, and then say completely the opposite thing to a different set of people at another time. This is two-faced hypocrisy of the very worst sort and there should be no place for such behaviour in politics.
It's not down to me to decide which is the truth and which is the lie. All I can say with certainty is that one of them must be a lie. Perhaps what he did was deliberately lie to the investigation in order to make it appear that his beliefs were in line with Plaid Cymru policy. If so, I guess his purpose would have been to make it appear that I had no reason at all to criticize him, and therefore that my criticism of him was unreasonable and unjustified.
But that is to miss the point. I never called Rhun a liar on the basis of whether or not he agreed with Plaid Cymru policy. I called him a liar because he misrepresented our policy by saying that we support the construction of new nuclear power stations on existing nuclear sites. We don't. We are totally opposed to the construction of any new nuclear power stations in Wales.
But there is perhaps another possibility: that he is in fact against nuclear power, but that he lied to everyone in Môn and Wales about it because he thought that telling this lie was the only way he would be elected ... and that being elected was more important to him than telling the truth.
I'm sure it is a story that has been told many ways in many languages, but in the novel Dirgel Ddyn by Mihangel Morgan is a character called Mr Schloss. He is the landlord of the house in which the author has a bedsit, and his idea of conversation revolves around praising Thatcher and saying that Hitler had the right idea about the Jews. Not exactly the most endearing of people. But one day he finds his cat has been killed and is distraught. In his grief he confides to the author that his cat was the nearest thing to a family he had, and tells the story of his childhood. As a small boy in Germany he sees the Nazis kill his entire family, but he manages to stay hidden and survives. When he asks the man who rescues him why the Nazis would do this, he learns that it is because his family was Jewish, and is told that he must never, ever tell anyone that he is Jewish. So what does the small boy do? He reckons that no-one will suspect him of being a Jew if he goes round telling everyone how much he hates the Jews. So that's what he does, and it then becomes a part of his life that he can't change ... even though every time he says how much he hates the Jews, he twists the knife a little deeper into his own heart.
Immediately after the Ynys Môn by-election, I summed up my thoughts in this post, and said something which I am still sure is true, although maybe one word now needs to be changed. For me, the big question in the by-election campaign was why Rhun started by being ambiguous about whether or not he supported Wylfa B, and only made his position clear in that infamous tweet of 19 July:
One explanation is that he was being goaded by Labour, who were making all sorts of silly accusations to try and catch him off balance. At one time they were saying that his ambivalence about whether or not he supported Wylfa B was a sign that he secretly supported it; but when another Labour goon suggested that it was a sign that he was secretly against Wylfa B it proved so -------- to him that he felt he had to say he supported it.
At the time, the word I used was "offensive". But what if his ambiguity at the start of the campaign was not to hide the fact that he supported Wylfa B, but to hide the fact that he opposed it? Perhaps the word should have been "embarrassing", and what motivated him to jump that way was the fear that telling the truth would cost him the election. He had tried to sit on the fence about it, but when the fence was shaken he made the mistake of choosing the easy way out and is now living a lie on the wrong side of it. So far as the public is concerned he has put his cards on the table and is unambiguously pro-nuclear ... and now that he's said it, he can't go back on it for fear of being exposed as someone unscrupulous enough to tell lies in order to save his electoral skin.
As I've said, I don't know which one is true. If Rhun is against nuclear energy, then he lied to the people of Ynys Môn and to Wales as a whole, probably because he thought that he needed to lie in order to get elected. If he is in favour of nuclear energy, then he lied to an official Plaid Cymru investigation, either in an attempt to make it appear that my criticism of him was unjustified or, far worse, because he wanted to stitch me up.
With the publication of this report it will now be obvious to everyone that, one way or the other, Rhun has lied about where he stands on the issue of nuclear energy.