by Julian Ruck
Welsh Labour isn’t red, it isn’t new and it most definitely isn’t blue, it’s just plain old and totally out of date. The Welsh Labour government holds on to an exclusive reliance on the state with a stubbornness that would have made even Pyrrhus think again!
It continues to obsess on policies of devolved isolationism and ‘You don’t give….but you get, get get as much as you like and to hell with the British tax-payer!’
England owes us.
For an example of profound arrogance and a total denial of austere times where the ruling Welsh ‘elites’ are concerned, consider the following.
A separatist Welsh language, that has had literally billions of tax-payers’ money thrown at it over the last 40 years, has resulted in bi-lingual signs that few understand, pyramids of bi-lingual paperwork that the overwhelming majority of Welsh folk throw straight into the bin, a Welsh Health Service smartphone ‘app’ for Welsh speakers costing £26,000 being dumped because less than a 1000 people used it, a Welsh language S4C television channel that no-one watches (and not to mention its history of rampant management skulduggery), and a radio station – Radio Cymru – that demands £13 million pa of license fee money.
A couple of weeks ago Radio Cymru’s audience figures dropped to their lowest level ever (119,000 listeners per week), according to respected Radio Joint Audience Research (16.5.13).
In comparison BBC Radio Cornwall receives a modest £1.3 million and yet it has higher audience figures!
Overall, BBC Wales receives £167 million pa of tax-payers’ money for Welsh language broadcasting, which some might feel is fair enough. After all, in any civilised society minorities should be respected and their views always accommodated where possible; but here’s the rub, none of this money has resulted in any kind of increase in Welsh speakers, indeed the opposite obtains.
10 years ago 40% of welsh schoolchildren could speak Welsh, now it’s only a paltry 24%.
You might have thought this would give our welsh leaders some pause for thought? Not a bit of it.
Only last week Leighton Andrews announced a further £750,000 of tax-payers’ money for Welsh language technology and digital media.
This at a time when the NS&I are dumping their Welsh language services because only 107 customers corresponded with them in Welsh (at a cost of £900 per Welsh speaking customers!) and the BMA has just stated that the use of the Welsh language should not be a priority when delivering healthcare because it would be a deterrent to people coming to Wales to work and would have a ‘very adverse effect on welsh healthcare’.
So then, millions of European and tax-payers’ hard earned for nothing but failure and where is the scrutiny and accountability?
Of course there’s no discussion about this in the Welsh media. In Wales, no-one moves without an intravenous grant drip firmly imbedded in their arms.
Last April at the Celtic Media Festival, BBC Wales controller Rhodri Talfan Davies was heard to muse upon this tricky conundrum of loads of tax-payers’ bucks going into welsh language broadcasting.
Lest we forget, Mr Talfan Davies is son of Geraint Talfan Davies and previous controller. He’s the boss of BBC Wales’ political editor Betsan Powys, daughter of R Alun Evans, previous Head of BBC in North wales. And she works with BBC Wales Welsh affiars editor Vaughan Roderick, son of Selwyn Roderick, previous BBC Wales programme maker.
All very cosy. Anyone would think that a public sector organisation was being used as a private fiefdom by a handful of Welsh establishment figures and their families?
In his Celtic Media Festival turn, Mr Talfan Davies was of the view, and this really is worrying, that programmes on Welsh English language stations should have more Welsh language in them. More Welsh language?
Isn’t a Welsh language radio station that very few listen to and a Welsh language television station that virtually no-one watches, enough for you?
Isn’t it enough that both cost tax-payers a fortune for little if any return?
With respect Mr Davies, you are living in cloud cuckoo land and if you go down this route, be in no doubt that the impact on the Welsh language will be a disastrously negative one. Consent and persuasion are the words, not assault and battery.
As usual, the Welsh elites and self-righteous intelligentsia are up to their usual old tricks. Let’s get unsuspecting tax-payers’ money in, carve it all up amongst ourselves and throw a blinder to the Wales Audit Office (WAO) – who couldn’t care less anyway, talk about a toothless pussy cat.
The WAO still thinks ‘scrutiny’ and ‘accountability’ are fancy cocktails served up in some Cardiff Bay nightclub.
Julian Ruck is the author of the Ragged Cliffs Trilogy and legal thriller The Bent Brief’. He is an FoI campaigner and has made contributions to programmes in both Welsh and national broadcasting