Posts Tagged ‘ politics ’

BBC Royal Watch: Unharmed and Time to Panic!

Frantic activity in the halls of the BBC this morning as dramatic news regarding occasional Nazi impersonator Prince Harry broke, as it emerged that he was caught in a savage firefight while serving his country abroad. Although details were initially sketchy, it became apparent during the course of the morning that the Prince, arguably the most important member of the royal family* was unharmed. While based at a camp in Violentistan, the Prince was reported as having possibly defended his comrades from a savage attack. Although it cannot at this stage, or at any point in the future, be confirmed that the Prince, having run out of ammunition, picked up a stick and waved it with gusto in the face of his aggressors, it seems almost certain that the young hero did indeed defend the camp, while others cowered around him, possibly praying to the Queen for deliverance in their time of need.

Hero Harry Spits in the Face of the Taliban!

The BBC was quick to repeat that none of these details could be verified, but wanted to make sure that the loyal subjects of the British Empire could sip their Earl Grey tea at breakfast, safe in the knowledge that their Prince was unharmed, and that possible nothing at all had happened to him, certainly news worthy of topping every bulletin throughout the course of the day.

In other news, two US soldiers died in the same attack, but this is really not the sort of thing that the good people of Britain want to hear about over breakfast…so say the good ol’ BBC. God save the Prince and whatnot.

*located in a war-torn region where he can’t embarrass anyone.

Evening reading.

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New books in today,an evening of Welsh politics in store.

Wales: Local Elections.

It was all fairly inevitable in the end. You imagine that even if we had enjoyed a record turnout for voters in the local elections, the results would not have differed much from the final tallies revealed yesterday. Labour clawed back a percentage of their previous losses to the Conservatives, and took a good number of seats from other parties who appeared to be caught up in the wake of an anti-Cameron backlash. So how might everyone be feeling after this mini test of the current electorates mood?

For Labour it was all cheers and dancing in the shadow of Nye Bevan as the liberal democrat strongholds in Cardiff buckled and snapped. Carwyn and that visitor from London Peter Hain were there to eat up the accolades, though neither seemed to play any prominent role whatsoever in the campaigning. Ed Miliband was also congratulated for the impact of his leadership, though perhaps the applause came from those harbouring sentiments along the lines of ‘well done for not completely cocking this up for us’. As senior Tory politicians were quick to note, Labour candidates in many locations could easily have rolled up to the hustings wearing nothing but a red leather gag, spanking themselves with kippers in something remiss of XXX Morris Dancers Gone Wild Special Edition DVD (part of me hopes such a thing exists), and still comfortably win.

For Wales, in time of economic crises, voters have this consistency above all other parts of the world. If things look uncertain, vote Labour, if the economy is a bit shaky, vote Labour, if there is a chance of rain tomorrow, best vote Labour just to be safe. Often there is no rationale to be found in these patterns, it’s simply a case of that’s how it’s always been – and little will change that. So, for all the celebrations in Cardiff city centre, there will be little doubt about many newly elected Labour members, that the real work is about to begin, the challenge of getting elected for many will have been no more taxing than getting out of bed.

So what of Plaid Cymru? This was supposed to be the grand recovery no? The return from the abyss. Despite Leanne Wood leading the most positive campaign of them all, Plaid went on to lose some 40 councillors – where then was the great revival? As has previously been explore in EyeOnWales, asking a new leader to turn a party around in a month is a ludicrous challenge. An indictment on the leadership of Wood? Gibbering nonsense. Plaid was always going to suffer in light of a Labour revival, coupled with the legacy of Ieuan Wyn Jones. Had he of stood aside several months earlier, who knows how Leanne Wood might have shaped the party by now, it’s impossible to say. As much as anything can be concluded, the rotting corpse of Wyn Jones’ leadership can now be finally shovelled out the door, and the work of rebuilding Plaid can officially being.

As for the Tories and the Liberal Democrats in Wales, plenty of losses to choose from, though Rodney Berman’s exit from the Welsh political stage was both the most amusing and welcome development of the night (though how the disastrously inept and self aggrandising figure of Neil McEvoy survived will be a mystery for the ages). Again, no surprises, but really, with the party leaders in general absence, the losses should really have been much greater. Where on earth where Andrew R T Davies and Kirsty Williams? The respective Tory and Lib Dem leaders seemed to almost entirely vanish from the main stage when campaigning got underway. One can only presume that the pair had long since concluded that a series of humiliating losses across the country was inevitable, and that the only appropriate course of action would be to hide out together in one of the Senedd’s basement bathrooms, playing canasta, hoping that by the time they finished, it will all be over and that nobody will have noticed that they weren’t there. What should really worry both is that no, nobody did notice their absence, something which surely cannot bode well for a few years time.

So there we are, the big four in Wales covered, and only one of them is smiling. Yes even their smiles will only have been flown in for the day, before the forced grins would be put back in their packaging, to be saved for a day when those who won their seats might be able to say, ‘we earnt this’, as opposed to saying ‘the Tories are crap…that helped’.

 

Part 2/4. The Top Ten Worst Welsh Politicians 2011.

Positions 7 to 5 today in our countdown to finding the worst Welsh politician of the year 2011, and for those named below it’s a bit of a case of not knowing where one’s responsibilities rest. Devolution has proved to be rather confusing for a number of our elected representatives, with some unsure whether they should be in Cardiff, or in London, or somewhere in between…frankly, for most of those listed, so long as it’s not in a position of political power, it would be an improvement. However, for those on today’s list, two at least seem to have become frustrating mainstays of the Welsh political scene, no matter how many people they irritate, or for their lack of general contributions to the benefit of Wales – and we fully expect all three to appear in the 2012 list as well!

 

7. Peter Hain

Ah, dear old Peter Hain. He probably deserves a position slightly higher up the list, however, he did, however briefly, remember how to be a local politician during the Gleision Colliery disaster where, for probably the first time in a decade, Hain stood up in support of a community and did nothing to showboat his own electoral ambitions. It was refreshing, very refreshing, and hardly representative of his usual machinations. No, for the rest of 2011, Hain was his usual self, making shameless power plays regardless of how it might benefit the people of Wales. For Hain, it was very much a case of ‘if it’s good for Hain and Labour, it’s probably not good for the people of Wales…but who cares’.

This was most clearly illustrated by Hain’s attempts to overhaul the electoral system in devolved Wales, in such a manner that would almost certainly guarantee Labour dominance of the Senedd for the remainder of its days. Of course there is much to be disgusted by in Hain’s actions, but perhaps it is the fact that a clear cut Westminster politician who has never shown any interest in fighting for a seat in the Welsh Government, was doing his upmost to subvert the development of an institution which he has nothing to do with. This was of course coupled with his shameless flip-flopping on proportional representation. One minute Hain was one of Labour’s most vocal enthusiasts for the political reform movement, yet the second it was rejected by a ‘British’ electorate, Hain leapt on an opportunity to make a case for further reform in Wales that would do nothing but enshrine Labour’s rule over politics in Wales.

For the most part of 2011, Hain has shown himself to be the usual opportunistic bridge troll that he has always been, scrabbling for the shreds of power that fall at his toes, no matter how detrimental it might be to those around him. Hain is really one figure that Welsh politics would do well to be rid of, sadly, he will almost certainly be here in 2012, and for a long time to come yet.

 

6. Cheryl Gillan.

All sorts of excitement surround Gillan this year, and perhaps it is because of the undue excitement surrounding her actions that provide her position on the list now. Granted, this has not been Gillan’s worst year, in some respects, it might be argued that this has been her best year in the Welsh Secretary role, though it must be firmly pointed out that ‘best’ is a term that should be used in a context of apathetic irrelevance which has coloured the majority of her offerings so far. However, for Gillan to be named Welsh MP of the year, was an award so outrageous, that it automatically qualified her for a position on this list.

Much of the hoo-hah surrounding Gillan this year was the chairing of the Silk Commission. Designed to debate the future of devolution in Wales, the Commission essentially amounted to a round table chit chat about some issues relating to devolution in Wales, while overlooking, ignoring indeed, a raft of major issues, the oversight of which, largely making the conclusions of the Silk Commission of limited relevance at best. Celebrated by some as a recognition of the growing worth of the devolved political voice of Wales, we rather like to think that the Silk Commission was an exercise in head patting, an attempt to reassure those operating out of Cardiff ‘that everything will be all right’, and ‘aren’t you all doing so well down there’, followed by a celebratory ‘we’re going to put the findings of the Silk Commission right up on the refrigerator where everyone can see’. There was nothing to celebrate in the Silk Commission, and nothing to celebrate in Gillan’s efforts for Wales.

Indeed, Gillan’s most excitable contribution to politics has been her one woman fight against a railway line being developed in her constituency, no doubt the good people of rural England will be celebrating her success in winning Welsh MP of the year…one wonders how everyone in Wales will celebrate her train derailing schemes? Top that with some fairly shameless politicking of the Gleision Colliery disaster, and Gillan’s contributions to Wales have been one of exploitation, head patting and general disregard.

Thanks for nothing Cheryl, we expect a similar level of apathy from you next year (unless Cameron makes a really good decision for a change and finally boots you out).

 

5. Peter Black.

Peter Black’s high position in the list is probably more a reflection of the many skirmishes EyeOnWales has had with Black on the twitter social media tool over the last year. In practice, Black has probably done much less to harm Wales than either Hain or Gillan has over the last year, yet, there have been some inconsistencies in Black’s offerings that have been unsettling at the very least. Early in the year we were probably more amused than anything else about Black’s flapping over the Lib Dem two, when the Welsh Lib Dem’s meagre election victories were in danger of being slashed even further due to the duos incompetence over illegal memberships of this and that…it was all very silly, as was Black’s response to the situation. But it would be Black’s views on wider matters later in the year that would come to be a course of frustration.

As with Hain and Gillan, a bugbear of many Welsh politicos is the way in which they both seem intent on shaping the political landscape in a devolved Wales, without being part of it. Black spent 2011 largely doing this but in the opposite direction, and one wonders if he is need of a road map to Cardiff, because for much of the calendar year, Black seems to be confused as to where he works. When it has been convenient, the Liberal Democrat coalition with the Tories has been a great thing, ‘look at what we are doing in Government’ Black would cry. Who in Government? Where in Government? For Black, devolution is a temporary beast, as is the concept of a Welsh Liberal Democrat Party it would seem. Anything positive to come out of the Westminster coalition has been pounced on by Black as a cause for celebration, regardless of whether or not any Welsh politician had anything to do with it. Yet when it has not been convenient to do so, the Westminster coalition has been something separate and distance, ‘not to do with us’ we hear.

Of course, the end of the year was marked by more celebrations, as the Welsh Liberal Democrats ‘saved the budget’. Single handed, the Welsh Lib Dems fought Labour into a corner, and forced them to bend the knee in submission to the force of Welsh Lib Dem willpower, blah blah blah. Black’s drooling over the budgetary agreement was sickly in its enthusiasm, and shocking given the man’s eagerness to bash the Labour government with near daily glee, all of a sudden he was working with them, no? Not according to Black, as far as he was concerned this was the Lib Dems doing what was right for Wales, Welsh Labour had very little to do with the whole thing…according to Black.

Peter Black is the noisiest of the Senedd members, eager to be heard, desperate to be at the centre of debate. He might cause little damage, but that is more due to the weakness of his party than his personal ambitions. But his attitude towards devolved government, and his flimsy grasp of what party he belongs to, is consistently galling. It’s time for Black to be a little more quiet, and a little clearer on where his party loyalties lie – two good goals for him to fight for in 2012.

 

Positions 4 to 2 next, and plenty of party leaders in the mix, and an old, slightly insane, favourite.  

Lembit Opik – Not Welsh, Now Go Away.

 Poor Lembit Opik, or at least that is what we once used to say. Always one of the more obscure politicians, who you would be hard placed to put a policy or a decent PMQs contribution to his name, yet despite being an almost non entity in Parliament, we all knew about him. Thanks to his entertaining personality, his political irrelevance was always something we could find a way to look beyond. Then the worst thing happened to someone in the public eye, he began to believe his own hype. Worse perhaps, he seemed to make a concerted effort to live the lifestyle that his audience (those of the gossip columns and salon gossips), rather than his constituents, expected him to.
 
As time went by, and more and more stories and pictures emerged of Lembit doing everything apart from his job, our collective sympathies began to wilt. Even after he lost his seat, there was a modicum of support, a sense of ‘never mind Lembit, we’ll look after you’, and then came the stand up career, another sad reflection of ‘believing one’s own hype syndrome’. Sympathies might have survived had he stayed in a state of political retirement, but no, an abortive attempt at the London mayoral seat soon followed.
 
One wonder who is advising Lembit these days, though it would seem a safe bet to conclude that he is largely advising himself, because had he of actually taken the Liberal nominations, it would seemed to have been an impossible task for him to make any meaningful dent in the actual Mayoral campaign. Nominated or not, another defeat would have followed, another battering to a broken political profile. Still, we might have been of a mind to say ‘well done for having a go at a comeback’, were it not for the Mandela line. Again, issues of advise spring to mind, as for Lembit to blurt out a comparison with one who ranks amongst the greatest of political figures of history, seems baffling and idiotic.
 
Now, there is a good chance that Opik meant this as a joke, and he has certainly attempted to play it that way following his use of the Mandela line. Yet, as the results of his stand up career might indicate, it was not a joke destined to be well received. In many respects, Opik’s constant reliance on falling back on funnies is an indictment on his current approach to politics. He seems out of touch with anyone who might be voting for him, and devoid of idea and strategy. Frankly, patience has run out with this plucky bizarre little former MP. For his own sake, one must hope that he takes his own advice, and embraces some wilderness years, and maybe take the time to acknowledge that, thanks to the choices made in recent years, there is no political future for him anymore. Time to hit the hay Lembit, and leave the scene while there is some faint trace of sympathy remaining – because there is not much left.
 
Now, it’s worth dwelling on why Lembit is being discussed in a Welsh blog, and why this blog is so keen to see the back of him. Simply, Lembit is still seen as a Welsh politician, and many still turn to him as a political voice of Wales. Let’s be clear, Lembit Opik, is not Welsh. He is not a Welsh MP or a Welsh AM – and seems to have no interest in becoming one. He does not represent Wales, he does not speak for the people of Wales. The fact that he still does is the main reason for this column wanting him to quietly leave the stage. Embarrassing yourself is one thing Lembit, but with every gaff and political folly, you embarrass Wales as well. We seem incapable of shaking you, when we would dearly love to do so. As a result, it is indeed time to take your wilderness years, take them and go far away. Hopefully, by the time you come back, should you do so, the taint of Opik on the Welsh political scene will finally have been washed off, and we will no longer have to put up with the London media holding you up to be the clinical example of a Welsh politician.
 
Thanks for the laughs Lembit, but please go away now.

Hating the Poor – Tories and Free Prescriptions.

It seems that the issue of free prescriptions is one that the political junkies can’t help but wheel out of the garage every few months for a good airing. BBC Wales today covered the latest price of covering prescription costs in Wales today, and the figures were indeed on the heavy side of being expensive. So once again here come the Tories, and they certainly love this issue. It’s almost like heroin for them, no matter how bad it often proves for the Tories to use it, they can’t help but going back to it. So it was that Darren Millar appeared to deliver sweeping broadside stabs at Labour policy, deriding free prescriptions as untenable in the given economic circumstances.

Of course, cancer had to come out as well, as Millar rumbled on citing spending on cancer as a problem in Wales, and why on why were we not spending more in this area? Of course Mr Millar, cancer is the one and only health issue in Wales at the moment isn’t it? No doubt, cancer treatment is not something to be left in want of funding, but its use as a political welly to wang in Labours face here is crass and out of touch, especially when Millar seems intent on suggesting that all other illnesses currently provided for by the free scheme simply don’t matter. This is certainly the implication of Millar’s words, and in his readiness to turn to the current economic situation, he belays the real problem with the current Tory opposition in the Senedd, that being a general disregard for the working class in Wales.

Following the Tory leader Andrew R T Davies, who has already led the way with his obscure emphasis on fox hunting, a national vote winner if ever there was, now Millar leads the well trodden path towards the abolishment of free prescriptions. The problem with all this is that in Millar’s own cited economic difficulties, one wonders how many families would afford the rising costs of medicines, were the policy to be abandoned? The simple answer is that many would not, and as a result, many would fail to follow up the medical advice afforded to them and fail to collect prescription medication. Were this to happen, then certainly the budget for cancer treatments would have to be increased, as many patients who turn away from the opportunity to manage and mitigate heath problems through free treatments, would find their health steadily decrease and develop into much worse conditions, cancers being the amongst the most likely to emerge in many cases.

While there may be an argument for reviewing what remains under the protection of the free prescription umbrella, to consider abolishing the programme entirely is to show little to no awareness for the financial difficulties facing families across Wales. Poor health is one of the major issues in Wales today, and losing free prescriptions would only serve to exacerbate that. While Millar might be the latest in a long line of Tories to enjoy the brief limelight afforded by the use of a political soundbite in the form of bashing free prescriptions, one hopes that he might be the last to indulge in such throw away statements. Just because something costs money, does not make it a bad thing. Free prescriptions play an essential role in providing medicines to hundreds across Wales who simply could not afford it any other way. Its abolishment would cost lives, rather than save them through redirected funds.

Mores the point, such a policy would cost working class lives first and foremost, but then, the likes of R T Davies and Mr Millar might well not be losing any sleep over that.

‘Welsh’ Personalities Back Lewis the Hatemonger.

 Well, as a few days passed since I wrote about the dangers of being complacent in the wake of Roger Lewis’ hate article, we have new offerings from the Independent now, and some truly insightful stuff from Matthew Bell. Have a look at it here if you like: http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/welsh-tell-mp-to-lighten-up-over-race-slur-2345252.html. It would seem from Bell’s commentary that the only person to have taken any degree of offence from Lewis’ tirade against Welsh culture, was a single Welsh nationalist MP, that the rest of the country, represented in his article by those he describes as being ‘Welsh personalities’, are suggesting that Jonathan Edwards should just lighten up, get over it, and stop showing up the Welsh people as being a whiney bunch of children.

No doubt Matthew Bell will pay little to no attention to the many Welsh voices who have posted comments on his contribution that would largely fly in the face of his ‘one man campaign’ theory, and go back to relying on his own handpicked voice of the people. So perhaps we should consider his evidence platform in a little more detail, taking each Welsh ‘personality’ one at a time.

Rhondda MP Chris Bryant is first up, a man best known for taking on Rupert Murdoch, and of course making up a load of gibberish about the Royal Families involvement in the whole affair. Bryant is the classic Welsh Labour politician, earning his pay from a Welsh community, while enjoying his life in London. Were he to spend a little more time with his constituents rather than chasing down personal vendettas against wealthy Australians, he might find that the voice of opinion is actually one of annoyance at the very least, with anger being more common.

Next up, Lembit Opik, the man who is so committed to working within the Welsh political spectrum, that having been thrown out by his constituents, rather than pursue another position in his ‘home’ country’, he instead ran off to London to become mayor. No doubt looking to support the London Welsh Society when he gets elected…

Carol Vorderman is next up in the ‘Welsh’ category, her upbringing being cited as reason enough for her views to be considered. However, one must hope that the occasional appearance on ‘Who Do You Think You Are?’ is not all that one must do to maintain an active sense of Welsh identity, or be able to speak on behalf of the nation…one hopes at least.

Finally, despite citing that Lewis ‘had been inundated with messages of support from Welsh and English people’, Bell can only name Stephen Fry and Giles Brandreth in his list of examples. I may be mistaken but Fry and Brandreth both, if memory serves, act as clear illustrations of the English elitist system, that has about as much interesting in protecting Welsh interests, as they are in giving away all of their collective assets to set up a finishing school for leprous goat herders (which, given track record, is probably how they perceive the simple minded over reactionaries of the Welsh nation to be).

When I wrote a few days ago about avoiding complacency in Wales regarding such issues, it was with the dangers of such written responses that I had in mind. Our single representative voice on this issue is being shot down, according to some distant London based writers, by the ‘voice of the Welsh nation’, made up of stay away MPs, failing London mayoral candidates, math teachers who might have visited the country two or three times in their adult life, an English comic who loves the states more than he has any affection for the little land to the side of his favored England, and a blue through and through Tory who would struggle to point at Wales on a map where Wales was the only country on display.

We cannot let the London media rely on such people to speak on our behalf. Let’s get this clear, Roger Lewis did not write a comedy article, he wrote several paragraphs of hatred. The people cited who support him do not represent the Welsh people, some are barely capable of representing themselves. If you want to see how people feel about this issue, look at the message boards, there you will find the true ire, not in the ‘keep the Welsh quiet’ columns of the English national media.

As for anyone in Wales who felt that Lewis’ article was indeed out of order, and an affront to the nation and its cultural heritage – do not let it lie, let people know how you feel, and don’t let the English media whitewash this abuse into oblivion!

Don’t Get Complacent – Saving Wales.

The title, ‘saving Wales’, might seem a little redundant for some, surely with our strengthened Assembly, or Government as we are now calling it, in Cardiff, we are better placed now than we ever have been in the modern political era, to stamp our authority on the British Isles, and ensure that the Welsh brand is one that remains alive and well, and centred in the public consciousness. Yet there are plenty of signs that indicate that all is not well. It is easy enough to point at politicians for not having made most of the powers afforded to them, the sickly state of the health service in Wales, and the seemingly flat lining employment scene here as well, but there are other indicators that we should treat as flag points for concern.

Plenty was written about Roger Lewis’ diatribe against Welsh culture when it was first published in the Daily Mail, and his near racist vitriol was covered in this column as well. But following the initial outcry, with phone calls to the police, and letters sent to the PCC, the story went quiet very quickly. For many, a shared viewpoint on Lewis’ hatred was one of ‘let it go’, ‘just ignore it’ and ‘why are the Welsh getting so wound up about it’, a view expressed by as many people claiming to be Welsh as much it might have been by clear cut English commentators. The very fact that this story went quiet so quickly largely points to the voices of the ‘let it go’ brigade outnumbering those who were willing to get up and do something about it.

This might well point to some sense of growing political maturity in Wales, that we have somehow grown to a point where we are above the need to rise to such jibes. If this is the case, it is something we in Wales need to be very careful about in terms of how far we are willing to embrace such an attitude. The current state of growth of the Welsh language, and in relation, the state of preservation for Welsh culture, and the growing sense of political independence afforded to Wales today, was born out of a mindset which is completely opposed to that expressed by many in the wake of the Lewis tirade. We have not got Wales to where it is today by overlooking slurs against the nation and letting them go by the way side. Time was, such words would be a platform for rising up in a united national voice of outrage. Today, it offers a banner which only a few were willing to carry.

Wales has not been saved. With the current economic climate and general disregard for Welsh language services from the still looming London based authority, Wales remains precarious. If we reach a point of comfort with slurs against what makes Wales Welsh, however clichéd the categorisations might be, then we will never find ourselves in a position to tackle the economic issues which currently grip Wales. The recovery required in this country will only start with a sense of pride in the land. If this is a county in which there is a population that is vocal and loud about how it feels about its home, then it will become a far more attractive proposition to investors. Take an attitude that says ‘people knock us, and we don’t really do anything about it’, and any sense of respect and a subsequent desire to support those who express such opinions, will not be forthcoming.

The very lack of a widespread public outcry regarding the opinions of Lewis, is symptomatic of a decline in Wales. The formation of the Welsh Assembly/Government was a starting point in rebuilding this country, but complacency cannot be allowed to set in, as the journey that must be travelled for Wales is much much longer. It is imperative that Wales holds on to its anger, its burn. There might be a time in the future when we will be secure enough in ourselves, on social, political and economic levels, to be able to ignore such damaging remarks, but we are not there yet. And we will not reach that point while we are comfortable with people publishing such hurtful comments across the border.

Do not let us become complacent, do not let the hate that bubbles in many for Wales be ignored, get angry, get vocal, and keep fighting to save Wales.

The Dangerously Insane Season: Part 1 David Starkey

Given that this is a rather sedentary period in the Welsh political calendar, and with the Eisteddfod out of the way, cultural offerings are somewhat on the wane as well, I thought a silly season programme of commentary was in order, entitled ‘The Dangerously Insane Season’, an opportunity to muse on some of the more terrifying public figures who are currently attracting far too much public attention than they deserve. I really wanted to start this with Michelle Bachmann, but there is some confidence that the longer we hold off on her, the more bizarre ramblings she will produce to make use of. So, we will look closer to home for part 1, and someone doing their best to destroy any shreds of credibility left in their career recently; that would have to be David Starkey.

Starkey of course has had a long history of foot in mouth syndrome in Wales, where for many he is seen as a contemporary cultural ethnic cleanser. His histories of ‘Britain’, as inapplicable as that word might be to his actual historical commentaries, have consistently served to identify Britain as English, and the Royal family as the single most important body of people in the history of mankind. Wales, as well as Scotland, Ireland and Northern Ireland, have served as an unwelcome distraction, an obscure non-English cultural anomaly on the coat tales of the true Britain, the English Britain. As horrifyingly ignorant as Starkey has been to Wales and the other ‘peripheral’ cultures of Britain, I think it also fair to say that we have made peace with his Anglo centric gibbering, and written him off as a frustration best ignored, while he bellows forth his pure-England propaganda.

What nobody really expected though, was that Starkey would take his England only attitude, so frequently subjected upon Wales, and expand it to a whites only attitude on his pure England. It was with bafflement that the nation watched the BBC broadcast Starkey’s descent into racial madness, as he lambasted [his understanding of] black culture, as he described it, condemning black politicians for sounding like white politicians, and lamenting the transition of white children becoming black children. If this madness had passed you by, do sit through this:  http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-14513517, it is one of the most staggering examples of racism ever to have been given a public platform on the BBC. Not even the BNP or the English Defence League have come out with such atrocious rantings, which should really put Starkey’s hate into perspective.

As a Welsh commentator who has long been frustrated, angered and at times incensed by Starkey’s disregard for Wales, it is in some respects with a degree of relief that he has come out with these views. Hopefully now others in Britain, especially the English and the BBC, can now see Starkey for what he really is, and always has been, a savage xenophobic little old man. One wonders if he has a copy of Mein Kampf stashed in his back pocket, which he feverishly grips at night, offering silent kisses to it during his hate inspired dreams of a pure white English only Starkey built utopia? Whether that happens or not is something we can only speculate at, but what can be said for certain, is this is clearly a dangerously insane man, and the BBC must think long and hard about ever giving him a platform on which to spout his views with a voice of authority. Here’s hoping the term of Starkey as BBC history correspondent is at an end, though knowing the BBCs approach to things, I wouldn’t bet on it.    

Roger Lewis – Showing it’s Okay to Hate Wales.

(I know BlogBanw has covered this already – see http://blogbanw.blogspot.com/2011/08/daily-mails-anti-welsh-venom.html , but it was too irritating an article to leave alone)

Following the attempts by some sections of the media to turn the English riots into a race row (see the Guardian 12/08/11 for some of the most recent commentary pieces that have attempted to develop this into a social commentary on how bad it is to be black in Britain today, regardless of the fact most rioters  were clearly white) in what can only be seen as some bizarre attempt to stimulate further unrest and localised hatred among communities, it’s refreshing to see that we have our very own hatemonger in Wales, directing his own brand of bizarre ire against the nation of his birth. In his diatribe at http://www.dailymail.co.uk/home/books/article-2024591/Exploited-raped-controlled-punished-English–mans-ambition-Welsh.html, Lewis seems intent on portraying a cultural image of Wales that is both backward in its cultural endeavours and retarded in its use of the Welsh language. He plummets the depths of ill conceived commentary by dismissing the Eisteddfod as a Klu Kluk Klan comparative, brazenly insults the Welsh language as a political tool, redundant for anyone alive in the country today, while backing up all of his observations with some of the most painfully inaccurate and outdated historical ‘evidence’ committed to print that hark back to historical interpretations of the 1960s. It is, in short, a hateful savage piece of journalism. One wonders what compels Lewis to be so hateful to his country of origin? One imagines that he might have been forced into ritual fallacio in his youth by someone draped in the flag of Glyn Dwr whilst humming the Welsh national anthem, for what else could drive someone, born of this country, to be so savage in their published work against it?

Frankly, it matters little what Lewis’ reasons are for being so hateful, or the fact that he is, what we should be concerned about is that national print media is allowed to get away with such things. As BlogBanw has already pointed out, were this to be any other community to be torn apart with such passion, let’s say, Black, Muslim orAsian communities, just for a starter, there would be incensed fury, and probable burnings outside the offices of the Daily Mail. That a national newspaper is allowed to infect the wider British understanding of Welsh cultural identity in this way, is a travesty. The sad fact that Lewis presents himself as a Welshman, gives his views some pathetic degree of credence to those London eyes flicking over his incendiary words. This must not be allowed. This hateful dirty little publication must be presented for what it is, and its little pit-bull of a so-called Welshman must be acknowledged for what he is as well, muck. There is no better word for it. Together they infest perceptions of Wales with a dirt that does not easily wash off of the eyes with which many English people will now see Wales, having read through their words.

One hopes that heavy and serious complaints are brought against the paper for its slander against our culture and our nation, and one hopes as well, in the nicest possible way, that Roger Lewis, whether he did or did not suffer the image I painted above in his youth, will indeed suffer something similar for his sins against the nation in the very near future.