Posts Tagged ‘Letter from Wales’

Letter from Wales: The Neil Kinnock interview pt1

11/07/2014, 02:39:34 PM

by Julian Ruck

I recently interviewed Lord Kinnock at the Angel Hotel, Cardiff and within minutes it was clear that his political passion and socialist instincts were well and truly intact. Indeed, his parting shot to me was, “Julian, what did you expect, I’m a bloody socialist!”

Not much to argue about there then.

Neil looked good. Trim, well preserved and still full of pulpit Welsh hwyl, as a couple of lady guests at the hotel were soon to comment. It was Neil’s deep Welsh brogue that seemed to send them into a swoon and as far as they were concerned, to hell with politics!

Anyway, the old war horse, never short of a word or two, was generous with his time. 1hr and 50 minutes to be precise, so readers of Uncut will understand that in order to do Neil and the interview justice, I have decided to break his observations and my take on them into two Letters.

So, let’s begin with Neil’s view on Ed Miliband:

“I’ve supported him from before day one……I said to him if David has got the guts to run against his brother who are you to back down? Ed showed nothing but courage in taking his brother on.”

As the interview progressed Neil’s loyalty to Labour’s leader became more explicit, and who can criticise loyalty, where would politics be without it?

“If you watch Ed closely and believe me I have, particularly when he is talking to the man in the street or grassroots, he is totally engaged; they get his full attention and interest. David now, he lacks people skills, for instance when talking with someone and whilst not intending to be discourteous, he scans the room to see if there is someone of greater significance. It’s a misfortune if anything, not a desperate character flaw, he’s a nice man.”


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Letter from Wales: New evidence of how the Welsh media has effectively been nationalised

21/06/2014, 01:23:13 PM

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”!


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Letter from Wales: Arts Council of Wales referred to Welsh Audit Office

12/06/2014, 09:41:28 AM

by Julian Ruck

BBC Wales, whilst usually being keen to report on the minutiae of its director, Rhodri Talfan Davies’ day, is apparently not so enthusiastic about broadcasting the culture of endemic greed that seethes through its nationalist hallowed corridors at Head Office, Llandaff.

On Monday, I attended the press conference at the Senate and not being inclined to exercise the habitual mealy-mouthed and pretty syntax of Welsh media sycophancy and deferential hero-worship, I well and truly went for it.

Naming and shaming BBC Wales presenters and staffers was the name of the game, exposing their taxpayer bungs and making sure certain matters were finally rubbed in to the Welsh political scene was the intention, and not to mention openly exposing all those Dick ap Turpins of artistic impersonation and poetic delusion at the Arts Council of Wales.

Mission accomplished.

Welsh politicos have already filed a report on the Arts Council of Wales with the Wales Audit Office, and if there is no satisfaction here I’m told, a Public Accounts Committee may well be the next step.

About time too!

And did any of the spineless Welsh media platforms report any of this? Like hell they did. What? Bring the Crachach into disrepute, can’t have that now can we? We’ve all got season tickets on the Taffia Express gravy train too!

So much for democratic accountability.

So much for democratic scrutiny.

This is Wales.

Wake up Ed, for God’s sake wake up and see what Welsh Labour is doing.

PS I am persona non grata (which is putting it somewhat mildly!) where the Welsh Labour press office is concerned, but on Monday sneaky serendipity struck. Whilst enjoying a cup of coffee in Cardiff Bay, who should be sitting at another table but the Welsh Minister for Culture and Sport, John Griffiths.

An approach was naturally irresistible, so I duly buttonholed the gentleman and having appraised him of the ACW and BBC Wales’ profligate abuse of the taxpayer I received three words, and I mean three,“ There are procedures.”

That was it.

Welsh Labour’s ethos of accountability at its best, mind you Mr Griffiths didn’t seem too happy about my approach in the first place. There was nowhere to hide and a Welsh media hack I am certainly not!

Julian Ruck is a novelist, broadcaster and columnist. His most recent novel is ‘The Silver Songsters’ (pub. April 2014).  

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Letter from Wales: A Welsh Bonfire of Vanities

08/06/2014, 02:59:45 AM

by Julian Ruck

£300m of taxpayers’ money over the last 10 years for Welsh arts and Wales has some of the lowest literacy and numeracy standards in Europe!

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

One cannot help but wonder what he would make of the flapping, arrogant, self-indulgent squawks and bloated vanities of the Welsh arts scene, full to the brim as it is, with taxpayer largesse and unable to write one word, bend one piece of metal, stretch one sweaty leotard or paint one plate without ‘financial assistance’ being attached.

Allow me to give you some recent examples:

This year’s ‘Creative Wales Awards’, courtesy of those jet setters at the Arts Council of Wales, airline tickets paid by Carwyn’s Team Druid of course (note the Biennale farce reported in previous columns):

£264,779 (FOI) ie 12 awards of £25,000 a pop to allow, and I quote, ‘an individual artist’s vision to be explored, tested and re-imagined without the need to create a ‘final’ performance or exhibition’. Indeed one recipient, a Welsh poet, has received his £25,000 of taxpayers’ money to go to America to improve his lyrical expertise – madness, and a profound abuse of the hard-pressed taxpayer.

The real beauty however must be Gareth Clark, who has been awarded £24,894 ‘to remove himself from everyday comforts and conventions of life and put himself in a place to contemplate and reflect’!!! Well he could do this at his local Job Centre, much cheaper, and I can’t quite see £24,894 forcing him to hawk the Big Issue on street corners either (readers should go to: to observe more of these ridiculous but supremely insulting taxpayer hand outs).

Over the years these Welsh Creative Awards have cost the taxpayer millions and what exactly do most of them achieve?


No exhibitions, no sales and an audience equivalent to the footfall at a garden centre flogging Japanese knotweed.

Creative Wales Awards? Gold plated dole more like, for Welsh artists and writers to stay at home and ‘re-imagine’ their artistic genius. Perish the thought, that like most writers and artists they should have to work to support their ‘art’ or achieve some kind of commercial success.


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Letter from Wales: Last week’s Welsh Labour conference was an exercise in denial

06/04/2014, 12:28:41 PM

by Julian Ruck

Ever since the last Prince of Wales lost his head back in the thirteenth century the Welsh have tended to feel somewhat persecuted by their English brothers, if not a trifle inferiority complexed. And Druid Carwyn is no exception, albeit that we are now in the twenty first century.

At the Welsh Labour conference last weekend he had a good old rant against the ‘Fleet Street’ press for attacking Wales and trashing its reputation, the horrible Tories also came in for some passionate English bashing too – a bit of shooting the messengers here if you ask me and hardly what one might call constructive and razor sharp politicking?

Of course, if there had been any political back bone and honesty he should have been asking conference: why is Wales taking such a battering in the national press??

Carwyn’s words of, “We’ve achieved a huge amount….we’ve delivered, and we will not allow another generation of our youth to be sold down the river,” left me utterly speechless.

To quote Hywel Williams, historian and columnist, on the Radio Wales’ Sunday Supplement (30.3.14) “Welsh health stats are appalling and Welsh education stats are appalling.” Mr Williams went on, “There is a political and administrative elite that is narrow in perspective and in particular is not prepared to recognise the nature of this socio-economic tragedy that Wales has on its hands… elite that is not a particularly clever one. The assumptions are Public Sector Wales and this is the problem.”


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Letter from Wales: Labour’s record in Wales is harming the party’s national prospects

29/03/2014, 11:06:50 PM

by Julian Ruck

At long last national media appears to be waking up to the situation in Wales. Newspaper reports of Ed’s address to the Welsh Labour conference are peppered with serious questions about what is going on over here. It is a great pity that most Welsh Labour MP’s are not following the same path.

Indifference and Welsh political secession are the orders of the day where Westminster is concerned. Welsh MP’s represent their constituents and yet feel obliged to wail the same insipid refrains of “That’s a devolved matter and nothing to do with me!,” every time they are confronted with pointed questions about the Welsh administration and its more than obvious failure to bring Wales out of the dark ages.

Welsh schoolchildren enduring schools not fit for purpose, a Welsh NHS where waiting times for hip replacements are months longer than England and an economy that national growth is leaving behind, are matters beyond their remit and whatever you do don’t be seen to exercise the democratic prerogative of outspoken criticism.

Cowering resistance to accusations of “traitor!” and “quisling!” by the Crachach aristocracy must be avoided at all costs.

Hywel Francis MP, Geraint Davies MP and former secretary of state for Wales no less, Paul Murphy, have all been contacted for a comment on the devastation that is the Welsh education comic opera.




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Letter from Wales: How much taxpayers’ money is the Welsh Language Commission spending on its legal battles?

21/03/2014, 02:20:35 PM

by Julian Ruck

I must draw readers’ attention to the Welsh Language Commission quango which was set up in 2012 to enforce the Welsh Language Act 1993.

Its Crachach supremo is one Meri Huws (for you English readers that’s Mary Hughes, everything in Wales has to be translated into Welsh so I don’t see why I can’t translate Welsh into English, what’s sauce for the goose…) and before one goes any further it needs to be pointed out that the lady Commissioner is yet another Welsh schooled, Welsh university madrassa alumnus.

Now readers may well be thinking here we go again, but Meri is a Commissioner with a difference.

She was chair of the Welsh Language Society in the 1980’s, an organisation whose purpose is the imposition of the Welsh language on the Wales, regardless of what the Welsh might want.

Meri’s recently been on a high court crusade to overturn a decision by NS&I in its attempt to dump its Welsh language service (because no-one used it). You can imagine my interest and the prospect of an interview became somewhat irresistible – such an act of unbridled coercion legal or otherwise, will have cost the taxpayer a great deal of money.

There were also the other tantalising issues of Welsh medium schools (teaching a nationalist agenda, corrupting history eg changing the names of historical figures, Guy Fawkes to Gito Fawkes), and recent wholesale English GCSE failure, not to mention the more general question of how the Welsh language is affecting the Welsh economy.


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Letter from Wales: The last thing Wales needs is devolved policing

09/03/2014, 09:48:10 PM

by Julian Ruck

Dyfed-Powys Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC)  Christopher Salmon has issued a media statement reflecting his thoughts on the Silk Commission’s second report, which recommends that youth justice and policing should be devolved to Wales. The PCC said:

 “I welcome this report; it’s important that we have ongoing public discussion about major issues….I don’t see how Silk would enhance our ability to catch criminals. It would add great deal more expense, and fracturing the criminal justice system down the border would make it harder for us to bring justice and easier for people to escape justice.

We have the balance about right now between Westminster and Wales. We have strong local accountability in the form of Police and Crime Commissioners and, in Dyfed-Powys, that has allowed me to find savings of more than 4% since I arrived whilst adding 30 more police officers to the force…Centralising things in Cardiff would be no better than centralising things in Westminster.”

Before going any further one is compelled to consider the antecedents of said Mr Silk. Readers will not be surprised to learn that the gentleman is a Welsh speaker, born and still lives in Crickhowell, Welsh schooled and an honorary Professor at that old chestnut the Cardiff University madrassa – no surprises here, Crachach time again, nothing like giving plum jobs to outside talent is there?


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Letter from Wales: The Scottish referendum has reheated daft talk of Welsh independence

28/02/2014, 02:41:19 PM

by Julian Ruck

Scotland has some serious history. It has produced pure genius in the arts, philosophy, engineering and politics. One can understand a case for independence and separateness, albeit that abstention from out and out support may well be one’s personal inclination.

But is independence desirable?

Is the breakup of such a small land, a land that is so dependent on all its people pulling and working together, the future? Does Sir Colin Campbell’s Thin Red Line matter anymore, where is the enemy?

We have heard all the economic arguments, but is there not the more teasing question of how long finite natural resources ie gas and oil are going to last?

This writer must argue that the future of any world order cannot depend upon sovereign state autonomy and the sanctity of identity. The future for mankind must be consensus, co-operation and a barrier free global sharing of natural resources.


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Letter from Wales: What is happening to the NHS in Wales?

21/02/2014, 10:37:18 AM

by Julian Ruck

“But it’s not normal, it’s Wales!”

Do excuse my take on a few words from Atul Hatwal, editor of Uncut, in his column 9.1.14. The fact remains however, that nothing at all is “normal” in Wales, indeed the principality makes Westminster look as normal as a packet  Bassetts Liquorice Allsorts and a ’99 on Southend pier.

Allow me to reiterate the statistics broadcast by BBC Wales in respect of the Welsh NHS:

  • 23,500 patients waiting more than 8 weeks for diagnostic treatment, up from 8000 two years ago.
  • The number of people waiting more than 9 months for hospital treatment has reached its highest level in two years.
  • More than 32% of patients in Wales wait more than 8 weeks for an ultra sound scan compared with 0.1% in England.
  • Death rates now coming into question and the Welsh government is refusing to carry out an investigation.

Mark Drakeford, health minister and master of denial, is blaming all of those nasty people in   Westminster again.

This is what happens when you have professors of social policy (from the Cardiff university crachach madrassa of course) running health services in Wales.

Cathy O’Sullivan, acting chair of the board of Community Health Councils in Wales said on Radio Wales recently about the Welsh NHS, ”It needs a very fundamental shake, around how patients are treated in the 21st Century.”

And here’s the problem.


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