BBC Wales’ political commentary is bowel shakingly inept!

BBC Wales appears to be hell bent on giving the rest of the UK an impression that the Welsh are nothing but a load of Welsh speaking nincompoops!

Its political commentary and commentators are unsophisticated, unpolished and blindingly undynamic.

It is no wonder that Wales is seen as an irrelevance by the rest of the UK, when one has this bias, profoundly fatuous and slapstick delivery of public broadcasting


Julian Ruck talks with Will Hutton about the Welsh economy.

Julian Ruck: “No one would argue against the fact that the Welsh economy is in a pretty parlous state, would they?”

Will Hutton: “Yes, yes. That’s true.

“Basically, the Welsh economy is not in wonderful shape but there are pockets that are doing rather well. The University of Warwick has produced an innovation map, it’s very interesting. Starting at Cambridge arching through Oxford and finishing in Gloucester, this arc of innovation goes right down to Bristol but stops at the Welsh border. The thing is, South West Wales has almost no innovative firms.

“It has all the problems of the English rural economy, but this is multiplied because much of the land area, Mid Wales and North Wales, is not great agricultural land. You also have the hangover of industrialisation and the collapse of the old coal and iron industries. I actually think that whether its business starts ups or hotspots of inward investment, there are some good things going on in Wales, particularly with Cardiff University eg the Cardiff Bay development and so on, although I don’t know whether they’ve done it completely right.”

JR: “Do you think that the post-devolution ‘Welshification’ process and promotion of the Welsh language is having a negative impact on the Welsh economy, particularly where the recruitment of outside talent is concerned?”

WH: “My great concern, as an outsider looking in, is that the Welsh government is continuing to try and hold on to what you’ve got. This is not unreasonable, focusing on equality, social justice etc but it seems to me that you are really missing out here, because unless you have some dynamism in the private sector what sort of renewal are you going to have in say, the next twenty years?

“I’m not a nationalist or even an English nationalist for that matter, but if you want to play the nationalist card then I think it’s really important to have imaginative ideas but I’m not sure I see that coming out from Wales.

“The Welsh Labour Party are not recruiting people whose first thought is: How do you create a dynamic private sector? Again, I’m sympathetic to social justice, inequality and so on but you’ve got to think about the economic architecture and framework; you don’t have to be a Thatcherite Tory to recognise that, at best Wales has an economy based on small and medium sized businesses.

“Wales needs excellence in innovation, just as you see in Cardiff. Actually, one does really worry about the future of Wales.”

JR: “Wales is a grant junky Will, no-one farts in Wales unless there is a grant behind it (this got a laugh or two, if you ask LFW, economists are not as dour as one is led to believe!). Just take Cardiff Airport, or Pinewood studios, not to mention all the small business hairdressers and false nail emporiums. It’s in our blood, our business culture.”

WH: “I’m not against trying to trigger activity through grants, it’s whether they trigger any activity and this is the question that must be asked. Then one has to ask, are they well designed and will they create a culture in which the first thought is: Not how do I create a viable business model to start with, but how do I impress the grant giver with my case for getting a grant?”

JR: “The trouble here, is that once the company has had the grant, tax breaks and all the rest, when these run out its bye bye. At least this seems to be the situation in Wales, there are countless examples.”

WH: “Wales has got to think through what its offering. Like I say, this arc of innovation going on in England; the area is going to be extremely prosperous, it’s unbelievable what is going on there. It’s absolutely essential for Wales that it goes along the M4 corridor to Cardiff.

“It’s fundamental and anything that obstructs this has just got to be scrapped, otherwise Cardiff will lose out.

“Where Wales is concerned generally, the first thing you have to do is recognise the problem. You must have a national conversation about it, you have to do something. There will be arguments on the left and arguments on the right about it, but it must be argued about and I don’t think this happening in Wales.”

JR: “Now you mention it, you are right. One rarely hears these matters being properly explored let alone debated in Wales, certainly where the Welsh media and political oversight are concerned, but frankly that’s nothing new.”

WH: “ I’m not saying that good things are not talked about, for example skills, improving the health service, education and all that but the economy doesn’t appear to be located in any bigger narrative, it seems that if you can get health and education right then the rest will follow, well it won’t.”

JR: “Do you think that Welsh nationalism is damaging Wales?”

WH: “Yes. It may also be damaging Scotland too. Investors will be thinking: “Why get stuck into peripheral economies, why bother when you have all this stuff going on in England?

“I’ve lots of Scottish and Welsh friends but because they were born in Aberystwyth or Edinburgh, they think they have something special or distinctive that I haven’t got.”

JR: And hear hear to that! That’s nationalism for you. Are you a left winger Will, truth now?”

WH: “Look, the whole conversation in the UK has become so right wing that actually someone like me seems a man of the left. I’m a child of the European enlightenment and when I see things in capitalism that are not just not working then I will say so. I believe in liberty and equity and looking after other people.”

And on that note, the interview with LFW came to an end. Left or right, Mr Hutton raised some interesting and important points where the economy of Wales is concerned. He also raised them with sincerity and frankness.

For want of writing that most awful of political clichés:

Wake up Wales! ‘Lessons need to be learnt’!

Will Hutton is a political economist, writer, weekly newspaper columnist and former editor-in-chief for The Observer.

Julian Ruck – Editor

Woman’s Hour and the Guardianista really have lost it!

In recent years the BBC has undoubtedly become more and more detached from the man on the street and the real world.

If you want to hear smug liberal, left wing middle class tripe being exploited on a grand scale, listen to Radio 4’s Woman’s Hour and the sugar coated tongue of its empathyholic presenter Jenni Murray.

The other day our Jenni was exploring the question:

Is a new Walt Disney Cinderella film relevant to a modern audience?

Pardon me? It’s a fairy tale NOT a treatise on societal maturity or equality between the sexes as Murray suggested!

Woman’s Hour mystifies me at the best of times, but consider this: She was joined by two down to earth, Hampstead Heath smart set out-riders, one a fashion editor and the other, a chief reporter with the Observer (as if one would expect anything less!).

Is Cinderella still a fantasy romantic ideal or is it simply a lesson on how to marry into money, this gloriously insightful trio mused? Oh and not forgetting that the film dares to resist being an “anthem for feminism” and that the mention of a “dowry was unnecessary”.

The all-knowing child psychologist and infant malaise expert from the Observer advised, that should any post- traumatic stress disorder result from a viewing of the film then “parents should have a bit of chat with their children and talk them through the themes”.

Themes? Cinderella is a FAIRY STORY for God’s sake!

What world are these people living in? It sure as hell isn’t Bradford!

The BBC has become nothing less than a taxpayer funded conduit for elitist, liberal arrogance and a nauseating detachment from real people.

And its journos had better not turn up at my house with cold food either, otherwise I’ll do a Clarkson on ‘em!

Julian Ruck – Editor

Women Can’t Park! The Feminista demanded my head for this one, humourless lot!!

A recent incident reminded me of a column I wrote a short while back. Here it is, uncut this time:

Now according to all the motoring organisations, women are safer drivers than men and have less accidents etc etc, so far be it for me to argue with such authority. They are less aggressive than men to be sure and one rarely sees a woman jumping out of a 4×4 snarling and wielding a baseball bat. But here’s the thing, they may well be better drivers but they sure as hell can’t park.

Only the other day, whilst sauntering passed a lap dancing club (and no I didn’t go in, there was a Feminista demo going on outside the place, something to do with women getting stuck to poles?), I encountered one female of the species trying to park a small Fiat in a space big enough for a Combine Harvester.

I couldn’t help but stop and observe the lady’s determination as she tried to park her car. It really was something to behold. Having re-arranged the curb and pavement slabs a couple of times, she sensibly decided that it was just not going to happen, gave up and drove off – nearly splattering an unsuspecting cyclist in the process.

Every man out there is aware of the undeniable fact that women simply cannot park a car – although in the interests of fairness and in order to keep Guardian readers happy and those inclined to wail ‘sexist!’ at any man who just happens to challenge female might in all things, there are of course exceptions. My own missus not being one of them it must be said, to date, she has managed to mutilate a parking meter, demolish a pillar or two and had more bumpers replaced than a Formula 1 racing car unable to pass a pit stop.

No doubt, this particular column will raise the odd feminist yelp of outrage – I’m hardly renowned for being a people pleaser after all – but the fact remains, and from a man who has had considerable ‘ ladies behind the wheel’ experience, women can’t park a car and that’s that!

Julian Ruck – Editor

A JUDGE AND NOTHING BUT… defence of ‘sexist’ slurs?

In the past I have been accused by the humourless Feminista of being a sexist – mainly for writing a column: Women Can’t Park -which I will re-publish in due course just to rub salt into their extremely silly wounds.

The above, a political thriller, will be published September 30th.


Following the assassination of the Home Secretary and a number of terrorist outrages, Great Britain lapses into chaos and martial law.

Extreme political parties see an opportunity to fill the vacuum and exploit the breakdown of law and order.

Following attempts on her own life, can the formidable Supreme Court Justice, Lady Charlotte Treharne and her veteran ex-SAS husband Joel Samson, stop Britain tearing itself apart?

Liz Lutgendorff of the New Statesman had just written a piece about sexism in the sci-fi novel. Now admittedly, A JUDGE AND NOTHING BUT does not fit into this particular genre, but I believe her anti-sexist ‘tests’ have valid application whether the  work of fiction is sci-fi or a political thriller.

Her three tests of whether a novel is scurrilously sexist or not are:

1 Does the book have at least two female characters?

2 Is one of them a main character?

3 Do they have an interesting profession/skill like male characters?

Well now, many of the characters in a AJNB are tough females eg a Supreme Court Justice, a Home Secretary and a young ex-Israel Defense Force soldier. There are more than three in fact.

The main character is a female and a Supreme Court Justice at that, one of only two women ever to have been appointed to the UK’s Supreme Court – in reality, Brenda Hale is the only female Justice at present who sits.

All of them are highly intelligent, educated and strong, but God help them they love men!

So, Ruck IS NOT GUILTY as charged. Indeed all my novels have capable and main female characters in them eg Lise Treharne of the RAGGED CLIFFS TRILOGY to name but one.

Julian Ruck – Editor

Letters From America: To Bear or Not to Bear?

The 2015 UK General Election is now a possession of history, but here in the colonies the political machines are revving up in anticipation of the 2016 Presidential Election.

The American political landscape is an increasingly polarized one, and the highly politicized topic of gun control is reflective of this. Already it is being brought into focus as political hopefuls give vent to their thoughts on the issue.

On one extreme can be found gun control advocates calling for stringent gun laws and even the outright banning of many firearms, while on the other end of the spectrum hardliner gun rights lobbyists point to what they feel is a clearly stated constitutional right to bear arms.

There exists in the middle both gun control and gun rights advocates alike who voice their support for modest reform, such as mandatory background checks for gun purchases and increased firearms education. Leaders from both sides of the aisle (and an overwhelming number of Americans in national opinion polls) support expanded background checks before the purchase of guns. Guns sales to felons and the mentally ill are prohibited, and background checks help enforce this. But when it comes to specifics, the divide shows- and it has proven difficult to make progress in the direction of compromise and reformed gun legislation.

For instance, some congressional Democrats are pushing not only for expanded background checks, but also for broadening the requirement for records of sale transactions. Many gun rights supporters see this as a move towards establishing a national gun registry, and vigorously oppose it. In their corner is the might of the gun manufacturing industry, which directs the political stance of gun ownership clubs like the National Rifle Association.

Furthermore, this is not just a federal matter but one state rights, as each state puts forth individual state laws regarding gun sales. This lends further ravelment to an already thorny issue.

Gun related death rates in the United States dwarf those of most industrialized Western countries. According to the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s 2013 Crime Report, 69 percent of murders were gun related. With mind towards gun fatalities the U.S. ranked 4th, with 669 times more murders with firearms than the UK, which ranked 39th. The U.S. had nearly 7 times the number of gun homicides per capita that did Portugal, which lays claim to one of the higher rates in Western Europe. In fact, overall gun violence in the U.S. readily compares to that of some of the deadliest places in the world, including South Africa, El Salvador, Pakistan, and The Democratic Republic of the Congo. Staggeringly, at least 1.4 million Americans have been slain by guns since 1968, comparable to the U.S.’s accumulated war dead in that same period.

The U.K. has had plenty of experience with gun legislation; its first gun policies date back to the reign of Henry VII in the 15th century. Today, its method of gun licensing is thorough and strictly regulated- and it has one of the lowest rates of gun violence in the world. Yet despite Europe’s model of strict gun control policies, scrupulous licensing practices, and lower levels of gun violence, not everyone here is convinced that more vigorous gun laws are the answer for America. Looking closer to home, they point to stringent guns laws as not always delivering the desired results.

For example the state of Illinois, which has some of the strictest gun laws in the country, suffered 364 murders by firearm in 2013. By way of comparison, the state of Vermont, which has the loosest gun laws in the country had 5. The District of Columbia (Washington D.C.) prohibits the ownership of guns, yet bears witness to its fair share of gun violence’s. In this nation’s capitol, which has a population a shade higher than Vermont’s, 103 murders occurred in 2013, 81 of which were gun related. In fact, from 1985 through 2012, Washington D.C. had the nation’s highest murder rate eight times, most recently in 1999. During these periods the city had mortality rates of 70 or more per 100,000 citizens.

And thus follows an argument– if the bad guys are always going to get their hands on guns, why shouldn’t I be able to defend myself with one? Supporting this mentality, the 2007 Harvard Gun Study came to the conclusion that stricter gun laws do not prevent gun violence, pointing to high gun murder countries like Russian- where guns are banned.

According to a 2014 FBI study, there were 160 active shooter/mass shooting incidents between 2000 and 2013 in this country. In light of the recent mass shootings in America, supporters of gun control cite lax gun licensing practices as a serious factor. There are contrary arguments that gun laws are not the problem here, but rather the mental health status of Americans, with the mass-shooting phenomenon emblematic of a surplus of physic tension among our citizenry. Additionally, they argue, five of these incidents were ended by the intervention of armed citizens, a boon to the argument for gun rights.

At their core, the issues of gun violence and gun control in this country have deeply rooted social origins. Mine is a comparatively young nation, one that was a frontier not all that long ago, and our blood-steeped Civil War had political and social ramifications that resonate to this very day. This coupled with an unfortunate history of racial tension do factor into the equation. Be it the prevalence and accessibility of firearms, a mental health crisis of national proportion, or an admixture of both, one thing is certain. Gun violence is on the rise in this country and in the bloody wake of gang violence, riots, hellish mass shootings, and a lamentable body count, some solution must be identified.

Edward Swanson is a journalist from Vermont in the United States and the author of two historical thrillers, Mesmer’s Disciple and Madoc’s Legacy (Ranked by Kirkus Reviews as “Best Books of 2014”).

The BBC – A Bonfire of Vanities?

LFW thought it might be interesting to re-publish an extract from an article written by the editor, for Labour Uncut back in April 2014 particularly as the BBC’s Charter renewal is under investigation by both the House of Lords and the Commons, so here we go:

Tom Wolfe has railed against the excessive and greedy vanities of New York society.

The Taffy piece de resistance however, must be BBC Wales.

As reported in previous Uncut columns (and in the national press), a good number of its presenters and a journo or two – not to mention its previous controller Geraint Talfan Davies, father of present Director Rhodri Talfan Davies– have either received personal taxpayer hand-outs for their autobiographies amounting to many thousands of pounds (although not so much of the ‘auto’ I hazard, most of these books have been written by ghosts) or their Welsh ‘publishers’ have received grants to publish them – in many instances the public purse has been nobbled twice. A pay-out to the author and a pay-out to the Welsh publisher to publish them.

Here are just a few examples:

Mal Pope – £4000 for his autobiography ‘Old enough to Know better.’ Well, that’s debatable!

Owen Money – £6000 for his auto biography ‘Money Talks’ – doesn’t it just!

Chis Needs, £7,500 for his auto biography ‘And There’s More’. There certainly is.

And ‘there is more’ than meets the eye at the studios of BBC Wales’ flagship television news programme BBC Wales Today.

Derek Brockway its ebullient weatherman, has had his books about traipsing around Welsh mountain tops etc, paid for by the taxpayer too – one can’t help wondering if his designer outdoor weatherman weeds were also part of the deal?

And what about taxpayer funded royalties to all these BBC Wales presenters come amateur scribblers?

Mr Brockway’s Welsh publisher Y Lolfa, confirmed tax payer subsidy but refused to comment on royalty payments, such comment being ‘inappropriate’. One cannot help but be remined here of an observation by Margaret Hodge MP in reference to her duties on a Parliamentary Public Accounts Committee:

‘Where public money is being spent by Companies they cannot hide behind ‘commercial confidentiality’. It is simply not good enough. It’s not on. It’s unacceptable!’

And the BBC’s press office response? Here it is word for word:

Dear Mr Ruck, 

Thank you very much for your contact with the BBC Press Office on Thursday 8th May and again on Monday 12th May. 

Firstly, I should make you aware of the fact that the BBC should not disclose confidential information relating to individual commercial and/or contractual matters and transactions, unless required to do so by law.  More specifically, the matters which you enquire about appear to be regarding contractual arrangements between third parties not involving the BBC and in such cases the BBC would not be privy to such terms or information. 

Thank you again for your enquiries. 

Readers must draw their own conclusions but it would appear that it’s not quite enough for BBC Wales’ staffers to be paid by the taxpayer, they must also have their life stories squeezed out of the public purse too. It should also be noted here, that a BBC Wales journalist, one Brian Meechan, has also received £4000 from the taxpayer for his own unwritten, let alone published, ‘book’?

Karen Owen, former Producer of Religious Programmes at BBC Cymru, has just received £6000 from Literature Wales, I assume to‘re-imagine’ a bit of rhyming verse, as has yet another BBC Wales former Assistant Editor of Welsh Current Affaires, one Catrin Geralt, who has just been given £3000 – but get this, Ms Geralt is on the very Literature Wales Management Board that dishes out all these literary alms!!

Readers will be forgiven for concluding that there is no cronyism like Crachach cronyism.

And the BBC Trustees didn’t want to know about any of this, everything is as it should be according to them.

To conclude?

I can’t help wondering what Lord Reith would make of all this, although on second thoughts……….?

PS BBC Wales announced on 7.5.14 that Welsh language S4C’s peak time audience viewing figures have dropped by a sixth. That’s a sixth of 1%.

S4C has cost the UK taxpayer more than £2.2 billion to date and as for it generating £2.09 of investment in Wales for every £1.00 of grant? See post below.


It all started with Lord Kilbrandon and ‘Scotland’s oil’.

At least this is what the possessive nationalist SNP called North Sea oil, back in the 1970’s.

Almost out of the blue, the old refrain of Scotland being too skint to be independent was for the birds. Scotland was loaded and England was on the back foot of abject poverty.

Wales was starting to agitate for cultural nationalism by using the Welsh language as a weapon to achieve a fanciful and utterly deluded, RS Thomas independent end. Arson and the jailbird Saunders Lewis were back on the agenda and English hating had become the  nationalist sport of the ‘Home Rule Army of Wales’ as Plaid Cymru was originally called.

Political nationalism was on the rise in both countries – LFW uses the word ‘countries’ reservedly, neither are sovereign States – with oil and a minority  language being used as the foundation stones for a new Celtic revival.

In a by-election held in the Labour heartland of Merthyr Tydfil in 1972, Plaid Cymru (the Party of Wales) gained 37% of the vote and came within 4000 votes of winning the seat. In 1973 the electorally bomb proof Labour seat of Glasgow, Govan, fell to the SNP candidate and firebrand Margo MacDonald.

In the final days of his government Harold Wilson, in his profound wisdom and no doubt in an effort to appease those who would divide and conquer, set up a Royal Commission on the Constitution.

The result?

The Kilbrandon Report, named after the Scottish judge who completed the Commission’s work following the death of his predecessor, Sir Geoffrey Crowther.

The Report was explosive.

The majority who sat on the Commission proposed elected assemblies in Wales and Scotland; it should be noted however, ‘that none of the said Commissioners supported outright separation’.*

What the Report did do, was ‘endorse the central nationalist claim that Scotland and Wales had distinct identities and interests that deserved special recognition.’*

The gauntlet of a war on centralised government had been thrown down and it wasn’t going to take prisoners.

‘The fundamentals of Britain’s territorial constitution would be in contention, as they had not been since the battles over Irish Home Rule before and immediately after the First World War.’*

Scotland, it cannot be denied, has a valid claim to a separate ‘identity’, one only has to consider its constitutional history, legal system, contributions to politics, philosophy, engineering, literature and the arts generally, however LFW must argue that Wales has few of these things and is merely a poor relation attempting to create a nation state where none before existed.

Scotland enjoys some serious history. Wales does not.


Lord Kilbrandon and his team meant well in 1973, but the seeds they planted have now grown into a bloody great, venomous Triffid!


*‘Britain Since 1918’ – David Marquand 

Corbyn’s Progress is boring a donkey’s glass eye to sleep. Try this:The Matron’s suspenders!

LFW felt it was time to offer some light relief from all the Corbynite political soothsaying.

So here we go, should set the feminista off if nothing else!

Can’t have men being let off the collar and leash now can we?


LFW talks with Sam Gould, UKIP Wales Election 2016 Camapaign Manager

Letters From Wales: “What impact do you envisage UKIP having at the Assembly elections next year?”

Sam Gould: “Labour is unrecognisable now. We’ve done the analysis, and if our general election results were applied to the proportional voting system in Wales, we would have won 7-8 seats at the Assembly.

“An ITV poll in June put us at 8 AM’s next year.”

LFW: “Assuming you pick up some seats, because let’s be honest here, polls are hardly reliable just take the General Election fiasco, what part do you see UKIP playing in a Welsh administration next year?”

SG: “As I say, we are aiming to get between 8 and 10 seats at the Assembly. This is achievable. We are far more organised and have Mark Reckless overseeing our Welsh policy team.”

LFW: “What are you offering Welsh voters that is different?”

SG: “There are a large number of Labour voters who want to leave Europe. We are responding to this. The key question for Labour voters is this:

‘What has Labour done for you?’ When you ask this question on doorsteps people are stumped.

“Are Labour still looking after the working class? Are they protecting benefits? How is uncontrolled immigration protecting the working class? When you look at Welsh Labour’s handling of these things it’s atrocious.”

LFW: “Ok, UKIP thrashes immigration which is fair enough, but can we look at three principle areas where it could be argued Welsh Labour has totally messed up ie education, health and the Welsh economy?”

SG: “Labour’s record on all three has been appalling. Our detailed policies in respect of all these issues are being worked out as I speak.”

(Still some ducking here, but let’s give UKIP the benefit of the doubt.)

LFW: “Can we look at Welsh medium schools then, for a moment?”

SG: “You have to look at the fact that if you are learning a scientific subject, say physics or biology in Welsh, you’re limited if you want to become a doctor. The technical vocabulary isn’t there. You have to relearn everything in English.

“The debate on the Welsh language needs to happen. Yes it needs to be protected and yes it is part of our culture but the lengths to which it is being pushed on young people in schools for instance, is not necessarily to the benefit of pupils or their education generally.”

LFW: “There is of course the cost to the taxpayer? To date £2.2bn to S4C alone, for example.”

SG: “As I say, the whole issue must be properly and openly debated.”

JR: “UKIP is always accused of being highly nationalist, do you think that the growth of Welsh nationalism post devolution is making Wales more introverted, backward looking and insular?”

SG: “Of course it is, no argument.”

LFW: “Would you get into bed with the Tories?”

SG: ”We won’t go into coalition with anyone in the Assembly. We’ve made this very clear. What we might do and we will make this decision after the elections, is enter into a pact on a policy by policy basis in order get some of our key policies through.”

LFW: “If the Tories pick up more seats which they might well do, it could mean that together you hold the balance of power at the Senate?”

SG: “What you are referring to is a rainbow coalition of some sort, so my previous answer stands. I firmly believe that Welsh Labour will be in a minority after the Assembly elections. We are Labour’s biggest threat and Carwyn Jones knows this.”

The voice of the people? A real chance for change?

You decide.