Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin hasn’t been reading The Pembrokeshire Herald carefully enough in recent weeks. We know this because the author of this column –star writer of West Wales’ most influential weekly journal, former Wales Media Awards columnist of the year, ChangeUK kingpin and scourge of Putin’s pirate regime– is still allowed to travel to Russia.

So, it seems, is the paper’s editor, Councillor (fingers crossed) Thomas Sinclair. Likewise the elusive and mysterious Badger. It is almost as though Putin doesn’t know, or doesn’t care, what we at The Pembrokeshire Herald have been saying about him.

Others did not escape the President of the Russian Federation’s hostile attentions, and for 287 British Parliamentarians (or 286 if you don’t count South Derbyshire stalwart Heather Wheeler twice, as the Kremlin did), there will be no trips to Murmansk or Novosibirsk this year. In retaliation for sanctions slapped on 386 members of Russia’s parliament who voted to destabilise the Donbas, Russia this week purported to exclude all members of the ‘Conservative Party faction in the House of Commons’ from its soil.

So this summer, Tory MPs can’t head off like Donald Trump to have fun in Moscow hotel rooms; gaudily equipped with gilded bathroom fittings (or at least, if we understood what we read about the encounter correctly, some sort of golden shower). Instead, Putin imagines them sitting at home, stirring melancholic bowls of cabbage soup and ruing their support for Ukraine. As David Davis remarked on hearing of the travel ban: ‘How will I ever cope?’
Not all of Davis’ colleagues received news of the sanctions so stoically: dozens of Conservative MPs were mortified not to see themselves similarly proscribed. Imagine the feelings of hellish inadequacy that overcame the 147 Tories who –despite displays of warlike indignation at Russian barbarity going almost so far as to preclude Russian donations to their election campaigns– feared they weren’t deemed important enough to feature on Putin’s blacklist.

In fact, having spent eight weeks showing the world that they are rubbish at using tanks, artillery, aeroplanes and GPS systems, the Russians have simply demonstrated that no-one in the administration of their shambolic bandit state knows how to use the Google either. The Kremlin’s goons missed out almost all the 2019 intake of Tory MPs. Several of those sanctioned (ChangeUK’s own Sarah Wollaston; ousted Borisophobes Rory Stewart and Dominic Grieve; convicted sex fiend Charlie Elphicke) haven’t been in Parliament for some time.

While lots of the Conservative Party faction incurred Putin’s ire, Labour –a party that really knows its stuff about factions– got off lightly. Only 74 of their number were sanctioned, not including Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer. Maybe the Russians saw Starmer referred to as leader of the opposition, and took that to mean that he actually sometimes opposes Boris. Maybe no-one there has even heard of Starmer and they think their own man is still in charge: Corbyn wasn’t sanctioned either.

The targeting of Labour MPs was about as accurate as the targeting of the Russian rockets that weren’t deliberately aimed at Maternity Hospital No. 3 and Donetsk Regional Drama Theatre in Mariupol. Putin scored a remarkable own goal in excluding thick-as-mince, hard-left heavies like Diane Abbott, Richard Burgon, Ian Lavery, and Ian Mearns; all of whom were signatories to a letter penned by the repulsive ‘Stop the War’ group, blaming the situation in Ukraine on NATO aggression (Starmer made them unsign it double quick pronto or lose the whip).

Poor Richard Burgon –probably the only bloke genuinely upset by the ban– must be desperately confused as to why the hand he licks has started slapping him. Possibly, seeing the quality of their other research, the Kremlin goons were labouring under the misapprehension that Stop the War want the war to stop by some means other than Russia decisively winning it.

No-one from Plaid Cymru or the Scots Nats got sanctioned; unsurprisingly because in trying to split up and destabilise the United Kingdom, they’re doing Putin’s work. Even Plaid’s leader Adam Price, who visited Donetsk just before the invasion and has had nothing nice to say about Putin since, can still go to Russia if he pleases. Failing to sanction a once-in-a-generation, X-factor politician who is one of the Russian regime’s bitterest critics really shows up the arbitrary nature of it all.

Before Putin reads this piece –before he throws his Herald down with rage and summons up the blundering fools who allowed Preseli Pembrokeshire MP Stephen Crabb, among others, to escape his vendetta– unsanctioned Tories should seize their opportunity to get into Russia, lest the iron curtain clang shut for good.

Some are in a better position to do this than others. Jamie Wallis MP (unsanctioned) was back on the telly this week, explaining again that he would prefer to become a woman than have people pay any attention to the careless driving and failing to stop after an accident business.

If transition is genuinely Wallis’ aspiration, he should do it properly: drop the deadname and transition into a lithe and beautiful assassin along the lines of Villanelle in ‘Killing Eve’. Assuming she survives the mission to seduce and gruesomely assassinate Putin, a high-profile frontbench ministerial post awaits the Rt. Hon. Dame Oksana Wallis MP. There, she can spend her days at the despatch box crossing and uncrossing her legs, which will throw even someone as steely as Angela Rayner completely off her stride.