Caroline Hitt

Jan 142013
 

We all like to have a go at the Wasting Mule; we ridicule its falling circulation, its Cardiff-centricity, its anti-Welsh position on most issues, but in addition to these and other conscious faults the problems may also be due to the simple and fundamental fact that it’s a poorly produced newspaper. This thought was brought home to me with a few pieces in today’s issue.

I’ll gloss over the fact that Huw Lewis, the Welsh Management’s ‘Housing Minister’, was given the front page and two inside pages for blatant party political propaganda. Or that columnist Caroline Hitt tried to get serious with a whole page of politics . . . well, not really, more, sort of, about politicians. (Though nothing Welsh, of course). Instead I’ll focus on two items that bear out what a bloody awful paper the Mule has become.

  • First piece of evidence for the prosecution is the story on page 14, where one Graham Henry, billed as the ‘Senedd Correspondent’, wondered whether the decline in water-retaining upland peat bogs might not have contributed to the recent flooding. Amazingly, this half-page piece managed to deal with the decline in upland peat bogs – even mentioning the villages north of Aberystwyth so badly affected by flooding last year – without touching on wind turbines, each of which needs a concrete base the size of a football pitch, plus access roads to each turbine, often at the expense of peat bog. Which makes pretending to deal with upland peat bog loss and the resultant flooding, yet without mentioning wind turbines, a bit like discussing the Titanic without mentioning the iceberg!
  • Turning to the sports pages, our old friend Paul Abbandonato came up trumps again. This time in a curious, rambling piece about Real Madrid fans making Swans’ boss Michael Laudrup their third favourite to replace manager Jose Mourinho, when ‘The Special One’ leaves the Bernabeu in the summer. After commending the Dane on the job he’s doing at the Liberty Stadium Abbo went in with studs showing and, “Every week you sense the Swans are going to blow up . . .”. Er, no, I don’t. Nor do thousands of other Swans fans; a host being boosted weekly by neutrals who think the Swans are a fairly good side. As a Cardiff fan, possibly jealous of the Swans’ success, you may be hoping the Swans ‘blow up’, but that’s entirely different. Can’t the Mule find a Swans’ fan, or a neutral, to write about the club, rather than this man who obviously finds it difficult to be positive or fair about the biggest rival to the club he supports? (Unfortunately the “blow up” part of the article does not appear in the online version.)

After all that, the obvious question – and I hear it rise from a thousand devices! – ‘Why buy the bloody rag, then?’ Good question. I regularly ask it of myself. But as I have explained before, if I want my daily fix of Welsh football and rugby, with a dose of Welsh news – however prejudiced and badly written – then there is no alternative. I suspect that most Mule readers are like me: patriotically Welsh, interested in sport, therefore a captive audience. Which might make the Mule unique, in being a ‘paper that knowingly takes a different political line to the one shared by most of its readers.

Which in turn should be a recipe for a publication’s demise. But the Wasting Mule gets away with antagonising its diminishing readership because of the generous payments received from serving as the Welsh Mangement’s in-house publication, not just for ‘news’ but also for public notices and advertisements. Though with the Mule’s falling circulation and ageing readership, how much longer can Carwyn’s gang justify this generosity?

Jan 112013
 

My son lives and works in Machynlleth, with his partner and their two young children in a small house they’re buying in a cul-de-sac. Last night his partner was parking their W Reg car when she had a slight coming together with the vehicle from the larger house next door, coming out of that property’s driveway.

The damage was slight, but words were exchanged and my son’s partner called the police. They turned up and calmed things down. This morning, the woman next door shouted at my son’s partner, “Time to put up the ‘For Sale’ sign. We’re gonna make your lives hell”. The neighbours were reported to their landlord, Powys County Council.Cadillac-Escalade

My son’s partner – who, in addition to bringing up two children under 5 works as a part-time carer – is Machynlleth born and bred. The neighbours moved in about five years ago, from somewhere in the English Midlands. These neighbours, neither of whom works, have seven (7) kids and they drive around in a 6.2 litre, 4 x 4, 15mpg, LHD Cadillac Escalade. Nice.

Now obviously, ‘benefit scroungers’ with 7 kids and a massive and very expensive to run American car would normally be meat and drink for the Daily Mail, but we know they’re not going to be interested in this one. If these people were Welsh, maybe. For as we know, the English media is very keen to run anti-Welsh stories at the moment.

Though our own ‘Welsh’ media is not blameless. Jason Mohammad did a phone-in on Radio ‘Wales’ this week about some young man badly beaten in Cardiff because, allegedly, he was English. The suggestion of an ethnic motive came from no one but the victim himself, who thought the attack might have been provoked by his English accent. Not much to go on, but of course that didn’t stop Radio West Anglia reporting it as Gospel. Though I wonder if ‘Jase’ would have been interested in a case of English on Welsh Jason Mohammadviolence, even with hard evidence? No, he wouldn’t have touched it.

Inevitably, the English media – including the aforementioned Daily Mail – ran with this story about racist Welsh thugs attacking entirely innocent English people. But that’s what we expect. What I found really disturbing was that there was no appeal for moderation from either our political establishment or our police. I can only assume that both decided it was best to say nothing, and to let this smearing of a nation (and possibly influencing of judicial process) go unchallenged.

I wonder if any Welsh people living in England were verbally or physically abused as a result of this gutter press journalism? If they were, then we can guarantee that the Daily Mail would not have reported it. Worse, the ‘Welsh’ media would not have reported it either.

It has become clear of late that Wales and all things Welsh are under attack from all sides. It’s almost as if someone has declared open season on us. Part of this offensive is selective and prejudicial reporting by news media, both in England and in Wales. Another aspect is an attempt at redefining what Welshness means; thereby making anyone who steps beyond this definition an ‘extremist’. The sort of idiot who kicks shit out of someone because they have an English accent.

This brings me back to ‘Jase’ Mohammad and others, such as Wasting Mule columnist Caroline Hitt. (But there are plenty more.) For this group ‘Wales’ is defined by (and confined to) things like sport, tourism, showbiz, Cardiff. It is the dumbing down of any consideration of Welshness to the point where someone from Wales appearing on a ‘reality’ TV show becomes the most important thing happening in the country. No place here for history, traditions, culture, language, economics, politics, or the worsening poverty and increasing deprivation. In fact, no place for anything of real consequence. This is bread and circuses tailored for twenty-first century Wales.Carolyn Hitt

All done to distract us from the colonisation, the exploitation, the calculated attacks on Welsh identity from all quarters. Those who should be defending us are part of the problem rather than part of the solution. While the English media can attack us head-on, what remains of the ‘Welsh’ media operates more subtly. It’s message is, ‘Oh, don’t get worked up over that (you’ll be an ‘extremist’) . . . ‘Look! Catherine Zeta Jones is home in Swansea’ . . . ‘George North’s injured’ . . . ‘There’s a new branch of Gobshite & Co opening in Cardiff’ . . . ‘Prince William lives on Anglesey’ . . . ‘Some twat said something stupid on Facebook’, etc., etc. Weaving a ‘curtain’ of trivia and superficiliality behind which to hide the uncomfortable truths of modern Wales.

I can’t predict the outcome of my son’s spat with his Cadillac-owning neighbour, but I guarantee the neighbour will be blameless of anything – he’s English, my son’s Welsh. No one will dare ask why these undesirables moved to Wales. Or why a Welsh local authority is housing them. Or why they are getting so much benefit they can afford to own a vehicle with three or four times the running costs of a normal car. There are people like my son’s neighbours all over Wales, their numbers increasing; but we mustn’t complain, it makes us ‘racist’.

Yet it’s not racist to relentlessly vilify, intimidate, exploit, traduce, atomise, ridicule, colonise a nation . . . and make it clear that we can expect even worse treatment if we stand up for ourselves! When a minority is treated like this it is often the precursor to something even uglier. So I say, ‘Fuck ’em!’ Enough is enough. Reject the stinking English system and its Welsh quislings. Fight it wherever you can. However you choose.