Letter from Wales: Drakeford’s Etonian telescope

by Julian Ruck

Mark Drakeford, Welsh health minister and professor of social policy no less (these days, just about everyone who has attended the Cardiff university Welsh madrassa is a professor of something or other), was spouting forth on the Sunday Politics show last Sunday – the Welsh version, which I assure readers is far more entertaining than Andrew Neil’s London spot.

Whilst ducking and diving in true Welsh government fashion, he seemed to be of the opinion that viewers were privileged to hear his pearls of medicinal wisdom and that indeed they were lucky to see him at all. He did have better things to do than accounting for himself you know. I mean, never mind the fact that the Welsh NHS is receiving less money than the English NHS due to Carwyn’s Bernie ap Madoff accountancy rules and farcical use of taxpayers’ money to generate no hope causes eg billions of European hard earned going AWOL, Carwyn’s Carriers at Cardiff airport, business ‘Techniums’ and bankrupt pubs (I’m not joking, see next column).

He began his justifications with a flogged out, tedious and somewhat pedestrian class war diatribe aimed at Cameron’s “telescopic Etonian” perceptions of right not being might – I wonder who wrote that for him? One cannot help but wonder here, what his views on Fettes College elitism and doctoral graduates of the University of Edinburgh are? Not quite the stuff of a Cardiff madrassa, are they? Maybe he had eaten too many laverbread splattered Welsh cakes for breakfast, who knows?

So, the point of all this?

The interview was a classic example of Carwyn’s government being camera shy and not taking kindly to public scrutiny. The soundings I hear from the Welsh media are all the same: Carwyn’s gegin cabinet (gegin, Welsh for kitchen) are always reluctant to show their faces and take a sound thrashing from their masters, indeed they won’t even advise the Assembly Communications Office of briefing times.

Allow me to give you a more personal example of the Welsh government’s contempt for democratic accountability and scrutiny. Only last week when I telephoned its press office for notification of press briefings, one Matthew Pritchard implied I was lying and then in a fit of juvenile tantrum slammed down the phone when I advised that I am a member of the NUJ (with a press pass), I write regularly for SWW Media (owners of the Evening Post, Star, Journal etc etc) and that I have made contributions to both Welsh and national broadcasting and media (BBC’s Sunday Politics being one of them ).

Where previous requests for comment were made to the head of the Welsh government’s press office (one Simon Jenkins, no Alastair ap Campbell I hazard, more a pacifist Ghandi without the loincloth) were concerned, the response was always the same. ‘We do not respond to blogs ie Uncut.’ This ruefully robotic and shifty reply may well have some merit, were it not for the fact that I write for the Welsh press and not just Uncut? Further I am certainly not lying, as Mr Pritchard implies. The evidence to refute this scurrilous accusation is all over the internet for all and sundry to see.

I should mention here, that the Welsh Labour Party press office is no better. Their communications apparatchik Huw Price ( I wonder what his salary is?), is equally inclined to Putinesque lock down when it comes to any kind of journalistic scrutiny that, in his profound sound bite and protective wisdom, may be deemed even remotely inquisitive.

Where Uncut is concerned, I suspect that both Jenkins and his toy throwing side-kick Pritchard, have been too distracted by the pages of Goebbels Diaries and a parochially compliant Welsh media to consider that internet news platforms are rapidly taking over from their print counterparts. The Welsh government may not like my pointed criticisms in these columns and elsewhere, but it is accountable and subject to unapologetic scrutiny whether it likes it or not.

We live in a democracy, albeit that Carwyn and his professorial Team Druid would have the Welsh believe otherwise.

What will they try and do next?

Stop me going to Liberal Democrat and Tory press briefings?

As I have said before, Carwyn’s Labour is not Ed’s Labour and as far as I know Ed hasn’t just forked up £6,661 of taxpayers’ money for a personal 75-inch office TV either.

Julian Ruck is an author, journalist and columnist. He also makes contributions to both Welsh and national broadcasting and media. 


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66 Responses to “Letter from Wales: Drakeford’s Etonian telescope”

  1. Mr Akira Origami says:

    “The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step.”

    Lao Tzu

  2. stevemosby says:

    Julian –

    The mistake you’re making is assuming I was doubting the veracity of your statement, rather than mocking the way you phrased it. Honestly, you’re like something out of Brass Eye.

    As for the year-long stalking – it’s closer to two now, surely? Regardless, it takes up little time. I read and type fast. In total, I’ve probably devoted all of half an hour the whole time to reading and replying to your drivel. And it’s hardly stalking when – welcome to the internet – you post a blog in the same place at the same time every single week. Little sleuthing required there, is there?

    Why? Well, ever since I exposed you a plagiarist, you have failed to admit it, and only ever blustered and bleated and come out with stupid, obvious lies. You reported my blog to the police (because you’re a hypocrite) and threatened me with legal action (never forthcoming, for obvious reasons). You have started a fight while doing almost everything possible to squirm away from admitting what you did. And yet you still, apparently, have the audacity to wonder why. Amazing.

  3. Quite, Steve. If someone posts outrageous and deliberately inflammatory statements on the web they really can’t complain they’re being ‘stalked’ when others point out the obvious errors.

    Ruck, I commented here because this article has you complaining people won’t take notice of you even though you now have an NUJ card. As I said I am a former NUJ member. I never saw NUJ membership as some kind of lock-picking device to give me access to people who would not otherwise talk to me. It’s a trade union for professional journalists, of which you’re not one.

    Your response as ever has been to bluster and threaten while ignoring the real issue at hand. And on this occasion phone my agent threatening to sue me if I comment here again. You know where I am and how to reach me as my inbox testifies. To involve an innocent third party in your efforts at intimidation is quite shameful. I would hope you’d realise that.

  4. Mr Akira Origami says:

    To Mr Hewson

    “I think papers have got tame in recent years unfortunately. And Leveson probably won’t help. Newspapers exist to tell people what they need to hear, not what they want to. Too much of the latter of late. “ What you say is true!

    Papers in Wales have too much of the former. As you are an ex Sunday Times columnist It would be an honour for you to tell us what we need to know.

    This is not a newspaper you can be honest, open, and frank here, tell us your true opinion on the state of Wales.

    Having an intellect like yours here is simply quite marvellous!

    Mr Origami

    PS I wasn’t at all upset with your syntax theory…….

  5. Darren Almond says:

    I would love to see L Uncut try and take someone to court for picking holes in the arguments of one of their writers make.
    I do also like the idea that Ruck has joined the NUJ not realizing it is a Trade Union- just the sort of lefty institution he hates. LOL

  6. To Darren Almond,

    Believe me, no-one would object to hole -picking in my arguments, be it sedate or vituperative.

    You will note however, that attacking me personally seems to be the only form of fair and reasoned debate that the above commentators know.

    They rarely, if ever, comment on substance but then understandably perhaps, Welsh political affairs would hardly be of interest to English authors?

    Julian Ruck

  7. Mr Akira Origami says:

    To Mr Almond

    You may be sowing the seeds for an idea of a “Welsh Trade Unions Uncut”…….

  8. Mr Akira Origami says:

    Wales has similarities with some Eastern European countries.

    As Wales relentlessly marches to devo-max and beyond, is this a snap shot of the future…..

    http://www.euronews.com/2013/11/20/on-160th-day-of-demonstration-bulgarias-largest-trade-union-joins-students-pr/

  9. stevemosby says:

    Julian –

    Stop talking rubbish. People have engaged with your points, and you refuse to engage in return. One obvious example (there are others): you never responded about the possible non-existence of Jeremy Oakley here: http://labour-uncut.co.uk/2013/07/08/letter-from-wales-welsh-government-blows-e130m-investment-in-north-wales/#more-16842

    In the case of this article, it meanders too much to be described as having a destination to review. Such as it does, it’s surely that press officers are shunning you – an NUJ member with a “press pass” indeed! – and that this is both scandalous and indicative of something other than press officers refusing to waste taxpayers’ money responding to drivel. As such, your credentials as a “journalist” are not only on-topic but central to this particular issue.

  10. john abell says:

    Mr origami, your last post is particularly daft even by your standards. The situation in Bulgaria is not comparable to Wales or devolution at all, and you know that. They are going through tough austerity measures, a lot more severe than Wales.

  11. Steve

    It does appear Jeremy Oakley exists. I assume it’s this chap here…

    http://oaklandbiofuels.weebly.com/management-and-contact.html

    However spending about 90 seconds on Google and thinking about this I’d have to wonder whether he really was in a position to justify Ruck’s claim ‘Welsh government blows €130m investment in north Wales’ because Wales turned down Mr Oakley’s plans forcing him to take them to another EU country.

    A very quick research reveals:

    Oaklands Biofuels and Energy Ltd does not appear in the companies listed at Companies House.

    There is no Jeremy Oakley listed there as a director of any biofuel company.

    Oaklands Biofuels and Energy Ltd doesn’t seem to own its own domain name and hosts its website on a free website builder, which would not give me great confidence as a private equity investor looking to hand over £100 million of cash.

    In the six months since Julian Ruck first ‘broke’ this apparent scoop Mr Oakley has kept silent and done nothing to confirm the story. Nor has any other media managed to stand up the tale. Nor has any EU nation announced it has decided to welcome the jobs and investment Wales supposedly turned down. Nor, of course, has Julian Ruck made any attempt to justify his original post.

    In the circumstances it’s hard to believe the original story was nothing but poppycock which any competent junior reporter would have immediately spiked. That isn’t personal abuse, Ruck. It’s a sober assessment of the fairy tale you posted here as fact.

    Personal abuse would be telling someone to ‘have the words “I’m a prat'” chiselled on your forehead.’ Who said that here? Oh…. you!

  12. stevemosby says:

    Oh, that is interesting, as nobody seemed able to find a trace of him in July. I wonder when the site went up. According to linkedin, Mr Poland began working for the company in May of this year, and since the company name is a composite of his and Jeremy Oakley’s names, I would presume that was when it was formed. And yet in the correspondence with Julian, Jeremy indicates they’ve been working on a project for two years.

    And yes, that’s not a reassuring website for an investor with that kind of capital. Aside from the weebly hosting, the email addresses are personal ones. (And from a cursory search, that is the only place online Mr Oakley’s is posted). The direct lines are also in different countries.

    The whole thing is very curious.

  13. Yes – it’s obviously only been put up recently and does not sound like a firm behind a £100m project. Governments – and the media – get a lot of approaches from people with big ideas of course. That’s why both check things.

    One correction – the charming Mr Ruck actually told me to get ‘I’m a twat’ chiselled on my head. Not prat.

  14. One cannot help but wonder WHY the, ‘charming’ David Hewson spends so much blogging on , ‘Letter from Wales’ when he is in fact not Welsh nor does he reside here, but in the metropolitan bubble; or more like it’s outer limits . Besides, it must leave him little time to write his masterpieces based on television epics.

    One also has to wonder WHO is really behind his continual attempts at character assassination,accompanied of course by his bully -boys.

    Had he really the interests of Wales, and the Welsh people at heart he would not retract from a public forum where people who know something of our contemporary society , together with it’s shortcomings could be addressed with a rational and mature manner of discourse ,and not this cheap point scoring ,and ego-bashing many of us are beginning to find very, vey tedious.

    In fact I would even say it is a form of, ‘colonialism’ ie. have a go at the Welsh and belittle this platform for a Welsh debate by reducing it to a slanging match.

    Shame on you Mr.Hewson.

  15. Mr Akira Origami says:

    Mr Abell

    At present Wales is a region of Britain. It gets more money back from the pot than it puts in.

    A sort of fiscal TARDIS that defies the laws of economics, space, time and reality….

  16. Mr Akira Origami says:

    ……and I would imagine democracy, scrutiny, and accountability being quite low on the Bulgarian socialist political agenda…….

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