by Julian Ruck
Now, you readers of Uncut may be thinking that in Wales things cannot get any crazier. Well, please note the following –
Rob Gittins, who lives in Carmarthenshire and is an award-winning screenwriter for such programmes as EastEnders, Casualty and The Bill, has had the publication of his two books, ‘Gimme Shelter’ and ‘The Poet and the Private Eye’ subsidised by public funds – make no mistake, the gentleman’s creative dexterity has certainly made a casualty out of the taxpayer!
But this is not all, do read on.
Martin Shipton, chief hack for the Western Mail no less, has written a political masterpiece on Welsh politics, titled “A Poor Man’s Parliament” (Seren 2011).
An admirable endeavour by anyone’s standards, except for one thing.
Mr Shipton observes, “…..a stifling of public debate in Wales through the reliance on Assembly patronage of so many organisations.” So the book’s blurb maintains anyway.
Well, guess what?
His very own Marquandian and towering political critique was published with the financial help of “Assembly patronage”!
And what did this giant of Welsh journalism, recipient of taxpayer generosity have to say about all this?
“I do not respond to enquiries from “citizen journalists”, particularly those with such an execrable reputation for accuracy as yourself.
You may quote me in full.
Readers will note, no denial, nor was there a response to my question as to whether or not he had received any royalties (courtesy of the public purse of course) from his taxpayer junky Welsh publisher, Seren.
Lovely insult is all very well, but as a humble ‘citizen journalist’ I do somehow seem to have access to political press conferences, I do interview leading Welsh politicians and God forbid I actually write for both the Welsh and national press now and again, oh and not to mention my contributions to both Welsh and national broadcasting – and to cap it all, I’ve even been known to write for the Western Mail, lucky chap that I am!
As for my reputation for inaccurate reporting, to date there has not been one serious or credible challenge to the facts I have reported both here on Uncut and elsewhere. Gwyneth Lewis, ex- Poet Laureate of Wales made an unwise and libelous personal attack on me in the Guardian a while back, wherein said newspaper had to correct and withdraw some of her juvenile nonsense somewhat sharpish, within hours in fact.
Naturally, the lady omitted to mention in her Guardian piece that she herself has received two taxpayer hand outs for her poetic musings amounting to £11,000, and a further grant of £75,000 to sail around the world looking for ports with a Cardiff connection.
Nice work if you can get it.
But here’s another unedifying titbit:
I have been communicating with Mr Shipton for nearly two years re the Welsh arts scandal, and not once has he mentioned his own journey on the Taffia Express gravy train.
And the gentleman has the eviscerating audacity and solipsistic, blustering arrogance to wail with self-righteous and unscrupulous indignation about Welsh Assembly patronage!
A great many people in this country are struggling to make ends meet, so why in God’s name does the Welsh Labour government deem it right and proper for the ‘artistic’ indulgence of the scribbling few (and most of them don’t even do this, they use ghost writers), who are already earning good salaries, to screw the taxpayer for what can only be described as a lazy Sunday afternoon hobby?!
‘Tales of the Welsh Media, don’t end here either.
For some time now, I have been wondering why the national press have been exposing what is going on in Wales re taxpayer funding for Welsh arts etc, but the Welsh media have been remarkably quiet, suspiciously so.
At first I thought it was just BBC Wales, after all so many of their people have been nobbling the taxpayer for both written and unwritten books that their evasion is hardly surprising.
Well, further digging has not only exposed Martin Shipton’s taxpayer funded literary efforts but Jonathan Hill, anchor man at ITV Wales News, has also had his book, “The Pembrokeshire Murders”, paid for by the taxpayer.
Publisher?….yes you’ve got it, Seren.
All three main Welsh media platforms BBC Wales, the Western Mail and ITV Wales all have staffers, journalists and presenters riding the Taffia Express taxpayer gravy train.
Welsh journalistic impartiality and courageous investigative reporting?
Welsh institutional cronyism and toxic Crachach preferment, make Rupert Murdoch look like a standard bearer for a benevolent and kid glove, journalistic Second Coming!
Readers must be aware by now, of the pitiful state of honest, open debate in Wales. You will have read in my other columns that in Wales no-one is prepared to bite the hand that feeds them.
There is no serious and ruthless scrutiny of the Welsh government, no intellectually refined political commentary. It refuses to respond to FoI requests, it maintains a tight discipline of silence.
And the one institution that is supposed to hold the Welsh government to account, is nothing but a weak, passive, kow-towing disgrace to any society that values free speech and open, democratic government.
The Welsh media are all in the pocket of Druid Carwyn’s Assembly patronage, it is no wonder then, that to date none of them are reporting the recent matters I have put into the public domain, albeit that they are of considerable public interest.
Things cannot get any crazier in Wales?
You decide and don’t forget, to add insult to injury remember you the taxpayers will be paying the fees and expenses for the artists, writers and performers who are doing their thing at the Dinewfr Festival in West Wales this weekend.
Oddly enough, I haven’t received an invitation to give some authorial pearls of wisdom at this Welsh artistic extravaganza!
Julian Ruck is a novelist, broadcaster and columnist. His most recent novel is ‘The Silver Songsters’ (pub. April 2014).