Letter from Wales: Let’s see if the Welsh gravy train survives a collision with Ed Balls’ fiscal reality

by Julian Ruck

The other day Ed Balls said, “We need to look ruthlessly at how every pound is spent.”

He obviously has yet to travel on the Welsh express gravy train.

Devolution has allowed the ancient Labour enthusiasm for small-town political monopoly and personal fiefdom to run riot – for the impotence of democratic principle and challenge, look no further than Wales with its happy coteries, self-serving cabals and “all the usual suspects” political foxhole mentality.

Like the rest of the UK, there are three sectors in Wales. The public, the private sectors and  of course the third Sector which is not for profit and seeks to help citizens in varying and various ways eg health charities, CAB’s etc.

As alluded to in previous “Letters,” Wales is a tax-payer junky, it cannot and will not move away from the divine right of tax-payer subsidy in all things – as least Westminster subsidy that is.

Wales is small, many in Westminster may even think insignificant, its population not even  half of London’s. But should this smallness negate any scrutiny by its paymasters? Any accountability?

In Wales, criticism of the ruling party is viewed with suspicion and superior arrogance. The elite potentates of Old Labour carte blanche carry on with a 90 year mandate as if Blair never existed and the unions still rule the ghostly memories of coal and steel grandeur.

London must and always will, pay up.

Dissent is for the birds. Outspoken truth to be sneered at and discredited wherever possible. The Welsh will always vote old Labour.

So why don’t even a minority of the Welsh speak up? The answer is simple. All three sectors are in the tax-payer pocket, in some way or another. Even the private sector relies heavily on public subsidy, although it is debateable whether there is a Welsh private sector at all. To get on in Wales one has to be Old Labour, one has to toe an outdated and defunct Clause IV line and ignore what is going on in the rest of the world.

Speak out? Don’t be silly, who do you think pays my mortgage? Who do you think puts food on the table? In Wales, Labour has become a 24 hour, 5 Star workhouse make no mistake. If the Victorians thought they had it right, welcome to old Welsh Labour’s world!

Allow me to give you just one example (out of many) of Welsh Poor Law gratuity.

Take Welsh academia, now these institutions really are rife with subsidised personal advancement.

Tutors and lecturers Dr Tiffany Atkinson, Dr Zoe Skoulding. Tiffany Murray, Dr Fflur Dafydd, Jasmine Donahaye have all received thousands of pounds from the tax-payer for their own vanity creative writing efforts and note we’re not talking here about academic research or endeavour, we’re talking about their very own poetry and novels.

Multiple awards and bursaries going to the same people are also the name of the game in Wales eg Gwyneth Lewis (ex-National Poet of Wales), Jon Gower, Meic Stephens (ex- CEO of Arts Council of Wales), Tony Bianchi, Robert Minhinnick, Richard Gywn…….. it just depends on who you sit down and have supper with. In London it’s Islington, in Wales it’s Cardiff Bay, the only difference being that the food is rather more haute cuisine in London.

Having a proper day job, like most writers, is of course out of the question.

Only recently, this unassailable and perverse sense of tax-payer entitlement was epitomised so delightfully by one Liki Siencyn, chief executive of Literature Wales.

Following the £100,000 of public money dished out to Dinefwr and Laugharne book festivals last year, she announced with a confidence that would have reduced even Simon Cowell to tears and I quote, “The flourishing publishing industry that exists in Wales today, is defiant in the light of the economic climate.”

Defiant? Flourishing? Well, it would be wouldn’t it.

It depends totally and unapologetically on the tax-payer!

So then, why would anyone wonder why Wales is so cowardly left of left and this includes its academic gamers?

Everyone is living off gold-plated top drawer dole. Everyone lives in each other’s pockets so for god’s sake don’t upset the applecart.

And as for those old chestnuts ‘scrutiny’ and ‘accountability’, I put all the above and much much more in the hands of the Wales Audit Office.

Guess what the reply was?

They are satisfied that correct and proper procedures are in place where the distribution of direct Welsh government allocation of public funds to the Welsh publishing industry are concerned and that quality oversight is ‘adequate’.

Such is the standard of government oversight in Wales.

It is simply absurd.

It is also brazenly dishonest.

Since devolution the Welsh government has blown its trumpets and demolished the walls of progress and any chance of some modest Welsh self-reliance.

Nick Capaldi, CEO of the Arts Council of Wales, was on television earlier this week (BBC Wales News) announcing his support for a Welsh artist’s contribution to an exhibition of the visual arts in Venice – the recording of a man snoring in a telescope.

Cost to tax-payer? £400,000 and I wonder who is paying for Nick’s little excursion to Venice on a PR exercise? I know the price of a cappuccino in St. Mark’s Square will make your eyes water.

The arrogance of entitlement is just plain astonishing. The country is broke but not for the Arts Council of Wales and its apparatchiks it seems. To hell with austerity, Westminster and the tax-payer, a Welsh artist and the CEO of the Arts Council of Wales must come first and money is no object!

The title of Ed Balls’ speech at the start of the week was “striking the right balance for the British economy”. He described something called a zero based spending review:  “a root and branch review of every pound the government spends from the bottom up”

Let’s see if the Welsh gravy train survives a collision with Labour’s new fiscal reality.

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

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106 Responses to “Letter from Wales: Let’s see if the Welsh gravy train survives a collision with Ed Balls’ fiscal reality”

  1. Mr Akira Origami says:

    To Mr Abell

    Dear Mr Abell you are the one ranting on this site.

    Even Welsh nationilst/anarchists have a right to have their words heard. Mr Abell your response to Mr Ruck’s article is becoming increasingly incoherent.

    Remember Mr Abell Plaid Cymru are only the forth largest party in Wales, when voting in the United Kingdom of Great Britain.

    Labour 36.2%
    Conservative 26.1%
    Liberal Democrat 20.1%
    Plaid Cymru 11.3%

    Plaid Cymru are the only party that suggest the principality should become an independant state.

    In my opinion, based on the fact that Plaid Cymru have been losing votes, the principality will never becone an independant state. It is not the will of the people and never will be.

    Wales has never been a kingdom.

    Mr Abell as you mention “Kent” in your last response.

    First found in the county of Kent of south eastern England, where they have held a family seat from ancient times. They arrived in England with King William the Conqueror and the name is mentioned in the Battel Abbey roll as Abell.

    (source: House of names .com)

    We should all be proud of our ancestors Mr Abell. Anglo- Saxon, Norman, Celt or Indian – be proud and celebrate the diversity of cultures in the United Kingdom of Great Britain.

    Yours faithfully

    Mr Origami

    PS….look again at Mr Ruck’s article….in my opinion a well written article.

    PPS …please Mr Abell….please, stop ranting……….please!

  2. John Abell says:

    Mr Origami.

    As it happens, my father is from England, I am from Wales. They are sepearate countries, Cardiff is the capital city of Wales.

    I have lived most of my adult life in England you anonymous coward. I have lived in Kent, London, Hereford, Cornwall and Bristol.

    I do celebrate diversity, I live in a predominantly Asian area of Cardiff and it is culturally vibrant, it is in Wales.

    I have lived in Brixton and St Pauls, they are wonderfully diverse as well, they are in England.

    Why are you obfuscating when about political parties and my surname when I have never stated any party allegiance? Why do you think I am a nationalist?

    At least I put my own name to my own words. What is your name?

    Mr Abell

    PS….look again at Mr Ruck’s article…. in everyones opinion apart from yours it is a terribly written article.

    PPS… please Mr ‘Origami’….please, stop obfuscating and using smoke and mirrors……….. please!

  3. Kim Filling says:

    What I fail to understand is why Ruck won’t answer any of the questions put to him. Look at it this way: if I’m served a pizza that has dubious toppings and I ask the waiting staff for clarification then I blooming well expect a clear and honest answer. Just tell me, am I eating sun baked mushroom innards or not? Can’t answer? The. Take that pizza back and send the head chef out to see me. An honest slice (or ten) is all I want, and I have a feeling that the author of this article is serving up quite the opposite.

  4. dave rodway says:

    Personally, I’m still waiting for Ruck to answer my 7 questions, all of which are legitimate and bear directly both on his points and his personal impetus for making his attacks.

  5. @ J.Abell re : 12/06.13
    Point of Correction
    I was present at the talk Mr. Ruck ‘tried’ to give at Chapter Arts Centre , Cardiff last November where it was continually interrupted by yourself and Richard Davies , editor of Parthian and other cronies where I also saw you shout down JENNY RATHBONE AM. making many of us there that night despair of ‘democracy’ and ‘devolved ‘political debate of any standing in Welsh society.
    It was a shameful display of male arrogance and bullying , in my opinion and of many other there .
    It is also true that ever since you have ‘stalked’ Julian Ruck so that it has become something of a compulsive obsession with you. Perhaps it is time to seek help.Take care,Gillian

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