I don’t know about you, but I don’t like being lied to. Obviously, when it’s your children, or grandchildren, you often suppress a smile before putting them straight. But when it’s a corporate body as powerful and influential as the British Broadcasting Corporation, then it’s an entirely different matter.
For this is a source of information beamed into just about every home on this island and still trusted by most people.
That trust is misplaced, for the BBC is now the state broadcaster, the voice of the London government and, more insidiously, the voice of Britain and a stultifying Britishness. This latter role results in the BBC misinforming people in Scotland and Wales about their homelands, and it also results in people around the world being given a deliberately distorted view of events in these countries.
It was this realisation, and the thought of some campaign against the propaganda machine that prompted the tweet you see above. This tweet encouraged the guest post you’re now going to read.
A GUEST POST BY BRYCHAN DAVIES
Jac suggests on his twitter feed a campaign of non-payment of the television licence fee in light of the now clear editorial bias of the BBC in favour of the union, regularly demonstrated in the coverage of Scottish affairs.
I have therefore taken time to look at how the television licence fee is spent, what happens in Wales, and what happens in the rest of Europe.
A two frame spreadsheet is attached.
In the first frame I have divided the total BBC revenue for the television licence according to population of the countries within the union. The cost of the TV licence is the same in all countries. I have then extracted from this the services provided specifically to Wales, like the two ‘regional’ radio stations, the spend on S4C and then a population proportion for English language television broadcasts, online content, and administration, where Wales is treated as a ‘region’.
In the second frame I have listed the television licence fee payable in other countries in Europe, including countries where the licence fee has been recently abolished.
You will notice that income from TV licences issued in Wales is £180m per year while spending on all services the BBC provide to Wales is £240m per year. Some would argue that this is a subsidy of £60m per year. Those who are hostile to the Welsh language would argue that this is S4C (£76m per year) but for this to be true, all Welsh speakers have four eyes and are able to consume both English and Welsh content simultaneously. Previously only £70m of S4C revenues was not funded by the BBC and directly funded from direct taxation via the Whitehall department of Media and Sport, prior to that all of S4C was funded by DCMS.
The issue with ‘state financed’ content is that if it costs £10m to make a content series this does not change, whether 3m people consume it or 55m people consume it. Only commercially financed content has a ‘break-even’ point in terms of viewers.
Plaid Cymru argue that ‘broadcasting should be devolved’. If this happened and the full array of BBC content currently available in Wales was to be maintained, the licence fee in Wales would need to increase from £147pa to £200pa or the shortfall financed through the block grant.
The reality is that the BBC is a unionist institution and while the population are fed a steady stream of ‘Eastenders bake a cake on Countryfile while Dancing in Coronation Street’, content which could alternatively be provided by commercial broadcasting on Sky, ITV, C4, C5, and others. What comes with the BBC, it’s USP, is a ‘unionist’ news service and content which in the last few years are broadcast as ‘Great British Bake-Offs’, an obsession with World War One documentaries and empire nostalgia dressed up as ‘lifestyle’ and ‘heritage’.
A true Welsh nationalist would have to ague for the abolition of the television licence fee, and that any BBC content imported and consumed from England be on the basis of commercial subscription, as applies in the Irish Republic. This would also mean that Wales only content would either be financed by…
commercial activity only
One of the effects of making BBC imports a subscription pack is that more people consume content on other commercially available transmissions. This would result in a massive increase in the value of commercial sales advertising on Welsh channels.
from a much lower Wales only licence fee
To fund the £76m for a Welsh language channel, a Wales News channel in the English language at £20m with entertainment content purchased globally, the 18m of Radio Cymru and the £20m for Radio Wales giving a £100pa Welsh licence fee.
direct government grant for this from general taxation of £134m
Radio Wales can be based in the existing facility in Swansea, Radio Cymru can be based in the existing facility in Bangor and the English language TV channel can be housed in the new S4C facility in Carmarthen giving greater capacity utilisation. The most difficult issue in any of these options is having to demolish that new building currently squatting outside Cardiff Central railway station, where a bus/tram interchange should be or selling it off to fund transition costs.
♦ end ♦
Jac adds . . .
Since the poisonings of Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia on March 4th the BBC has slavishly toed the official line that it was Putin what done it. The nerve agent involved was quickly identified and attributed to Putin’s henchmen. Following the attack the USA and other countries fell into line and expelled Russian diplomats. It unfolded so neatly that it looked almost choreographed.
The BBC is still telling us that, “The British government says a military-grade Novichok nerve agent of a type developed by Russia was used in the attack on Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia”. So who in the British Government has the expertise to identify nerve agents – David Davis, Boris Johnson, Gavin Williamson?
In matters like this the experts are to be found at Porton Down, the UK’s centre for chemical and biological warfare. On April 3rd Porton Down’s chief executive, Gary Aitkenhead, told us they could not prove that the agent used to poison the Skripals had come from Russia. (Given that Aitkenhead is Scottish maybe it’s only a matter of time before the Daily Mail attacks him for being a ‘Sturgeon stooge’.)
This announcement clearly undermined the UK government’s case against Russia. Which is almost certainly why the BBC’s main Six O’Clock News programme on April 3rd ignored it entirely, and led with the important story of a 96-year-old man going into hospital for a hip operation.
Folks, we have a serious problem on our hands. We are paying to be lied to. Either they stop lying or we must stop paying.
‘The nations and regions of the UK’ is a term used by the BBC and other organisations and it fascinates me for a number of reasons. Primarily I suppose because I can readily identify the former but I’m confused when I read about the latter, especially in a political context. Do you know where these mysterious ‘regions’ are? Let’s start with the relatively easy job of identifying the nations.
There are four nations in these islands. Apart from us Welsh there are the Scots and the English with the three of us making up Britain; and then there are the Irish, with the greater part of Ireland being independent. Northern Ireland is a part of the UK, but as the Troubles made clear, there are two communities there; one that shares its cultural background with the citizens of the Republic of Ireland, and can be called Irish, with the other identifying with Britain, or more particularly Scotland, and insisting it is British.
Which is confusing, because there is no British nation. There is certainly a British state, but that’s a constitutional arrangement. To confuse matters further ‘British’ is a term that was used for centuries by English writers to describe us Welsh and our language, in recognition of the fact that we were the original inhabitants of this island, before the post-Roman Germanic and Irish settlements. (Though this connection is less likely to be made nowadays, for the same English nationalist reasons that ‘Iron Age Britain’ has replaced ‘Celtic Britain’.) So are these people in the northern part of Ireland who claim to British some lost Welsh tribe?
Despite this division into two mutually hostile camps it serves British interests to regard Northern Ireland as one of the nations, on a par with Wales, England and Scotland. Is it not, it is simply a devolved administration, and at some point in the near future it will re-unite with the rest of the island.
I think that settles – for the time being, at least – the nations element of this little piece. Let’s move on.
It seems obvious that if we are looking for the BBC’s regions, then we’ll have to look for them in England. But these regions are arbitrary geographical units, most of which seem to be named after compass points, I see nothing closer to a nation, a geographical area of England where people say – preferably in a distinctive accent – ‘This is my region, I am a native of ————-‘.
At this point you might be tempted to put down your porcelain cup of Darjeeling and wonder aloud, ‘What the fuck is he is on about, why is he writing about the regions of England?’ but please bear with me, for I shall now explain how I believe this is relevant to Wales.
Last Wednesday saw a ‘taskforce’ meet in Cardiff, a gathering of great Labour minds hoping to give the impression that their party has a cunning plan for a new constitutional arrangement post-Brexit.
In attendance were our own Carwyn Jones, former PM Gordon Brown, leader of ‘Scottish’ Labour Kezia Dugdale, ex-deputy PM John Prescott, some bloke named Jon Trickett (described as a strategist’), and among the spear carriers were Christina Rees MP and Nick Forbes, leader of Newcastle council. While in the chorus we find the Labour candidate for Mayor of Greater Manchester, his counterpart for the Liverpool City Region, etc.
Clearly, ‘handing more powers down’ is an attempt to cut off the SNP at the pass, by giving Scotland more powers so that people there will say, ‘See you, Jimmy, we dinnae need independence the noo’. (I bet you read that and thought, ‘Bloody hell! Some Scotsman has taken over Jac’s blog’.)
And in the hope of disguising that this is all about preventing Scottish independence Labour must come up with what looks like a more general plan for all“the nations and regions that make up the UK”.
Which is a bit tricky when we can’t locate these regions, which brings us back to the original problem.
THE LESSONS OF HISTORY
Clearly, England does not have established and distinct regions like France, let alone Germany, where many of today’s länder were independent states well into the nineteenth century. It was a similar situation in Italy, though few today mourn the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies.
By comparison, England was unified by the middle of the tenth century, with London the capital and major city. When William of Normandy invaded in 1066 he only needed to win one battle, kill Harold, and march on London to be ruler of all England. I can think of no other European country of the time that would have fallen so completely, so quickly.
Consequently, what passes for regions in England today are nothing more than broadcasters’ shorthand – the West Country, East Anglia, etc. And yet, there was a time, a brief window, when England was organised into separate kingdoms, or at least, those parts of England that weren’t still under Welsh control.
It was known as the Heptarchy, or Seven Kingdoms, and those of you of a Time Team disposition will go all a-quiver at the mention of the term. It was that period from (roughly) the early seventh century to the early tenth century, and is illustrated in the map. The western areas, coloured in darker green, were the areas still ruled by our ancestors.
That was then, and since then the problem of delineating England’s regions has taxed many great minds, but there was always resistance to formal regions on the grounds that there was something foreign about them, foreign and divisive. Perhaps because her imperial history had taught England how to exploit divisions. So if – God forbid! – some foreign Johnny ever invaded let him find himself faced with a united country. (Though as we’ve learnt, that was England’s weakness in 1066.)
And this resistance to regions persists, so you’d think Labour would have known better after the abject failure of the party’s Regional Assemblies (Preparation) Act 2003. (What do you mean, you ‘don’t remember it’!) This was intended to pave the way, through referendums, for assemblies in northern England. Just one referendum was held, in the north east, in 2004; but the Geordies, Mackems, Smoggies and the rest rejected the offer by 78% to 22%. The whole project was then abandoned.
As I mentioned, one of those attending the taskforce meeting was former deputy prime minister John Prescott, and the northern assemblies project was his brainchild. So this is either a case of some people never learn, or, a good idea is worth persisting with. Take your pick.
WHY IT WILL NEVER WORK
The idea of regions and regional governments is unattractive to most English people; they will probably have an affection for their town or city, the wider locality, maybe their county, but after that it’s England, or Britain. A region is an odd and unnecessary layer to insert.
And yet, if English politicians, and their Unionist allies in Scotland and Wales are to save Britain then they must pretend to believe in devolution, or even federalism, but the problem remains England, it’s just too big. Federalism works in the USA or Germany because no matter how big and rich California and Bavaria might they’re still out-gunned by the rest.
So the only way to sell federalism to Scotland is to suggest breaking England up into regions . . . that the English don’t want. But even if you could get enough English to buy into regions that would still leave the problem of London, infinitely richer than any of the other ‘regions’, and it would almost certainly be the seat of the federal government.
And look at the North West region. Liverpool, Manchester and wealthy Cheshire in the south, and in the north . . . lakes and holiday homes? Come to think of it – where’s Cornwall? Will our Cornish cousins accept being subsumed into a South West region run from Bristol?
The Scots would be foolish to listen to Labour’s overtures, or any promise of more devolution. Ask yourself what would happen in the unlikely event of the Scottish Parliament accepting federalism but the English refusing to accept regions – will the UK government force regions on the English? No.
The second reason for rejecting Labour’s proposals is that we’ve been here before, very recently, in fact, just before the independence referendum in September 2014. Remember ‘The Vow’? In the closing stages of the referendum campaign Cameron, Miliband and Clegg, the leaders of the three main Unionist parties ganged together to promise Scotland something within a whisker of independence. This promise may have guaranteed the No vote, and it was then reneged on.
Thirdly, this taskforce is drawn from the Labour Party, which is unlikely to be in any position to offer anybody anything until around 2025. And just look at who’s in the taskforce; Brown, Prescott, Jones, Dugdale – would you trust any of that lot?
I have faith in the SNP. They know that England and England’s Unionist allies in Scotland are not to be trusted. It must be independence; no more crumbs, no more half measures, no more lies.
It would be nice to report that Wales is on the same path. But she’s not. I fear we’re headed in the opposite direction.
In my previous post I set out my reasons for voting to leave the European Union. I didn’t think I’d be on the winning side, but there you are.
On Thursday night I’d planned to watch the results programme for a bit and then head to bed around midnight. My expectations of defeat seemed to have been met with the announcement of a substantial rise in the value of the pound and bookies telling us that one of the horses in this race was en route to the knackers yard. It wasn’t long before Nigel Farage conceded defeat.
But then a different mood began to take hold as news filtered through that pollsters, bookies and other self-appointed interpreters of the public mood might have got it wrong. For it seemed that up in north east England, in Newcastle, and Sunderland, the unwashed were in revolt. Then the results started to arrive.
Newcastle, where the Remain campaign had expected a substantial majority, was 50 / 50. (Were they blaming the EU for the Toon getting relegated?) Then came Sunderland, where Leave achieved 61.3%. (But the Black Cats escaped relegation!) Some pundit reminded us that Sunderland has a big Nissan car plant, located there to access the European market, so why were people voting Leave. Cue for much tut-tutting and superior mutterings about voters being ‘uninformed’ (i.e. stupid). It wasn’t long before Nigel Farage ‘unconceded’, and had a celebratory pint.
As more results became known a picture emerged suggesting that results could be predicted with near-certainty by checking an area’s indicators of wealth – poor areas were voting to Leave, rich areas voting to Remain. There were of course exceptions, such as Liverpool (58.2% Remain), a result some attributed to the pro-Leave Sun newspaper being boycotted in that city. This may have played a part, but let’s not overlook the fact that Liverpool has received billions in EU funding, perhaps more than the Valleys. What’s more, in Liverpool people can see what the funding has been spent on, and by and large they approve.
Perhaps the divide in England was summed up with this article in the Guardian by John Harris headed, ‘If you’ve got money, you vote in . . . if you haven’t got money, you vote out’. The picture in Wales was almost identical; and yet, just a few short months ago Plaid Cymru was hoping for a substantial Remain majority to contrast Wales with England. (Making me wonder yet again what ‘Wales’ this lot claims to be the party of.)
During the night itself, the voice that stood out for me was that of John Mann, the MP for Bassetlaw in north Nottinghamshire (to the east of Sheffield). Mann made it clear that the referendum had been largely won for Leave by Labour voters in the ‘forgotten’ post-industrial regions of England (and Wales) of which the metropolitan elite knows little and cares less.
A few others also saw the true picture, but these were a minority. I found this article from the Guardian by Mike Carter compelling, it details a meandering walk from Liverpool to London.
The picture in Scotland was the one we’d expected. Even so, it was strange to hear English Remain supporters blame the SNP for not getting enough of its support out, which – it was argued – might have swung the whole UK result. The claim seemed to be that because everyone knew which way Scotland would vote, many Scots Remain supporters stayed at home. In Glasgow, the largest authority, the turnout was just 56.2% (66.6% Remain), whereas in the September 2014 independence referendum the turnout was 75% (53.5% Yes).
In the North of Ireland the picture was rather more difficult to interpret because the two Unionist parties followed different courses. The Democratic Unionist Party (the party of the late Rev Dr Ian Paisley) urged its supporters to vote Leave, while the Official Unionist Party favoured Remain. Both Sinn Féin and the Social Democratic and Labour Party wanted to Remain. And of course, hovering over any political debate in that part of the world is the wider consideration of relations with Britain and the Republic of Ireland.
The result for the whole of the Six Counties was 55.8% Remain, telling us that many Unionists voted with nationalists and Republicans to stay in the EU. Though it’s unlikely that many of them would allow their referendum vote to be seen as support for a re-unified Ireland, which seems to be how Sinn Féin is choosing to interpret the result. Yet almost everyone views the return of a visible, patrolled border with the Republic as a dangerously retrograde step.
REACTIONS AND FALL-OUT
The chaos that has ensued is being attributed to a number of factors, with ‘uncharted waters’ being among the favoured analogies, and not just with those of a nautical bent. Of course it’s true; no one has ever been in this situation before so no one is quite sure what happens next. Certainly our politicians seem to be lost.
Though it’s significant that those who led the Brexit campaign – Farage excepted – seem to be backtracking. Strange behaviour for victors. They remind me of a gang of young tearaways who went to start a fire in their school but didn’t mean to burn the whole place down.
We can now divide the Brexiters into two camps (as indeed they split themselves during the referendum campaign). First, we have those who want to disengage from the EU but regard ‘losing’ Scotland and Ireland as too high a price to pay, hence the backtracking. These can be regarded as BritNats. While on the other hand we have those who want to go the whole hog and have an England independent of the EU, independent of Scotland and Wales, independent of just about everybody and everything. We could be unkind, but let’s call these the EngNats. They include the twat in this article who believes that Catholic Croatia is not part of Europe.
But what really struck me about the reporting of the referendum and its result was the uncomprehending anger of London commentators, luvvies and others who know less about the lives of people in Sunderland and Swansea than I do about yak herders on the Eurasian steppe. ‘How could they be so stupid?’ was their cry.
The BBC – wedded to the US-NATO-EU line I wrote of in my previous post – didn’t actually call those who voted Leave ‘stupid racist bastards’ . . . it was marginally more nuanced. Perfectly illustrated with the picture below for an article on the BBC website.
Some of course did not hold back. Among the more offensive Remainers I encountered was a John Niven; apparently he’s a Scottish writer now living in some Buckinghamshire slum. I can’t say I’ve read anything he’s written, and I certainly haven’t troubled Amazon since reading this asshole’s tweets.
The message from infuriated Remainers was consistently offensive, insulting and intimidating. This is the liberal elite at its worst – still feeling superior but angry and confused because its collective will has been thwarted by the untermensch. Summed up rather well by his article by Brendan O’Neill in the Spectator, The howl against democracy.
The ironies and paradoxes abound. Here we have a group that has for months demonised and belittled others as bigots, yet if poor whites qualified as a minority then the commentariat would be equally guilty of bigotry!
When the BBC wasn’t telling us that thick bastards non-graduates voted for Brexit, it was consulting opinion among groups thoroughly representative of the population. One such group was those attending the Glastonbury Festival, an event covered to an excessive degree by the Beeb. Unsurprisingly, the sons and daughters of the Corporation’s bigwigs and their friends were simply ‘devastated’ at the referendum result.
Just put yourself in the position of a single mother on hearing those views, perhaps a young woman bringing up two or three kids on a sink estate or a flat above a moneylender on a decaying High Street in a forgotten town. Will they make her regret voting Leave? No, but I’ll tell you what it will do, it’ll make her feel angry, hearing people who have so much, and can look forward to so much more, condemning her for her desperation.
Yet another example of hypocrisy. For while the liberal elite and the Leftists accuse those who voted Brexit of causing divisions it is they, who largely control the media, with their patronising bullshit about stupid poor people racists, that risks turning social divisions into yawning chasms.
Another popular theme was that of the young being deprived of their futures by selfish old gits. The Wasting Mule got in on the act with this piece from its Saturday edition. Dan Baker is nineteen years of age and studying in Paris. He believes that we who voted Leave have “succumbed to ignorance”. But then, Dan is 19, and knows everything.
So there you are – you’re stupid and racist for voting Leave, while the ‘more mature’ among us are thoroughly bloody selfish for not dying off pronto, as we would if we really cared about Dan and other deprived youths.
As in England, the insults were flying here too. One my attention was drawn to was a comment from an Englishman making a living out of covering Wales with wind turbines. (This link to his LinkedIn profile no longer works as the page has been removed. Possibly connected with Smith being reported to South Wales Police for a Hate crime.) Not only does he think the country that gives him a living is a pimple on the buttock of his homeland but he also re-tweeted another insult about us deserving a Darwin Award, given for stupidity by the kind of smart-arses who are now lashing out in all directions.
UPDATE 29.06.2016: Around 6pm on the 28th this appeared on Smith’s Twitter account.
I’ll conclude this section with another piece that appeared in the Mule, this one by regular columnist Carolyn Hitt. Now in the past I might have been a little unkind to Carolyn Hitt, lumping her with Jason ‘Jase’ Mohammad and the other bollocks-spouting muppets in our very own Cardiff bubble.
Carolyn Hitt wanted to tell us that she grew up in the Rhondda, an area that attracted migrants from all over, and that the referendum result had “shaken to the core” her “sense of self as a Welsh person”. Serious stuff. But then she goes and blows it all by arguing that in voting to leave the European Union “the majority of Welsh voters threw in their lot ideologically with Middle England”.
‘Middle England’, be buggered! Middle England voted to Remain. The kindest thing I can suggest is that Ms Hitt had not checked the map, or the results, before rushing into print.
THE POLITICAL CONSEQUENCES
Since the referendum result became known the UK has been in a state of political chaos. the only politician who seems to know what she’s about and what she wants is Scottish National Party leader Nicola Sturgeon.
Prime Minister Cameron stood down soon after the result was known and now there’ll be an election to choose his successor as Tory leader. As the new leader will lack a mandate he or she will almost certainly call a general election. The original hope seems to have been that this could be done at a leisurely pace without interfering too much with everyone’s summer holidays, but pressure from the EU seems to have speeded up the process and the new leader is expected to be in place by September 2nd. Boris Johnson is the front-runner, with Theresa May as the ‘Block Boris’ candidate.
We’ve always known that the Conservative Party in Westminster is split on Europe, but what this referendum exposed is how detached from its traditional support the irredeemably metropolitan Labour Party has now become. Made obvious by the fact that those areas that voted most heavily to Leave are areas where Labour has dominated for decades.
Now the prospect of a general election before the year’s out has concentrated Labour MPs’ minds and they have turned on their hapless leader Jeremy Corbyn who, they believe, could never win an election . . . which would of course result in many Labour careerists losing their seats. The problem is that while Corbyn may lack support among MPs he has the backing of party activists, many of whom are Leftist agitators and activists who took over the Labour Party around a year ago to elect him leader.
So we have the Labour Party itself split between members and representatives, with a third element being the Labour voters who chose to leave the EU last Thursday against the advice of the party. These disillusioned voters have no truck with the comrades and little faith in the MPs. Consequently, the Labour Party is in one hell of a mess – and I haven’t even mentioned Scotland, where the Labour Party, for so long dominant, is almost dead and buried.
The picture is different in London, where the vote to stay in the EU was 59.9%. This can be explained by greater wealth, the presence of the liberal elite / Leftist types who now control the Labour Party, plus of course large numbers of immigrants. London may have provided good news for the pro-EU campaigners but it also tells us how divided England has become.
Here in Wales, Cardiff, which has long sought mini London status, grabbing all the goodies for itself, achieved that ambition last Thursday when 60% of its voters chose to Remain against a national figure of just 47.5%. Two capitals unrepresentative of the countries that support them.
The vote in Wales so outraged the youth of Cardiff that many thousands a few dozen were persuaded to take part in a ludicrous march on the Notional Assembly, among their demands were a second referendum (and a third if that was lost), tattoos on the NHS, and votes for foetuses (possibly eggs). Though I didn’t spot Dan Baker among them. Perhaps the poor boy is in his Paris garret drowning his sense of betrayal with glass after glass of pastis.
It only remains to discuss Plaid Cymru. When the full horror of the defeat dawned on the party leadership the immediate response from leader Leanne Wood was to propose a Labour-Plaid coalition. A response typical of those for whom Plaid Cymru is an alternative socialist party rather than a nationalist party. This suggestion was quickly dropped as opposition from within the party mounted.
Though on the weekend immediately following the referendum, when we might have expected the Plaid Cymru leadership to be monitoring and debating a constantly changing situation and planning ahead, Leanne Wood and Jill Evans MEP, were attending a two-day feminist event in Cardiff, and there were other Plaid wimmin there as well.
The latest news seems to be that Plaid is belatedly trying to emulate the Scottish National Party, but it may be too late. I say that because the SNP has for years been appealing directly to the Scottish people, in direct competition with the Labour Party, to the point where it was eventually able to supplant Labour; whereas Plaid Cymru has farted about with Greens, ‘feminists’, and other cross-border ‘progressives’, only focusing on Labour and Wales when forced to do so at election times, and then, almost apologetically.
There will be no clean break with the European Union, things will get very messy from now on, and for the obvious reasons. There may be no break at all.
Just about every pillar of the UK establishment supported the Remain campaign, and they won’t give up without a fight. (A fight most of us will not even realise is happening.) So we can expect increasing calls for a second referendum, perhaps after the general election. (It will be interesting to see what is in the manifestos.) And already we are being reminded that the referendum result is not binding, it was a ‘consultative’ exercise. With most MPs in favour of EU membership that opens up another route for the Remainers.
Even so, there will still be dangerous divisions and tensions between London and the rest of England, tensions that have been obvious for some time, prompting initiatives such as HS2 and talk of a ‘Northern Powerhouse‘, which as we know plans to absorb and assimilate northern Wales. Initiatives that might benefit Manchester, Liverpool, Newcastle and Leeds – all of which voted Remain (though only just in the case of Newcastle and Leeds) – but will do little for Hull, Plymouth, Carlisle, Peterborough, Barnsley, Isle of Wight, Stoke, Dagenham, Wolverhampton, Doncaster, Dartford, Blackpool and countless other smaller cities and towns that voted decisively Leave.
I have already dealt with the divide between England and Scotland. While UKIP and other EngNats might be resigned – even glad – to see Scotland go the BritNats will do all in their power to hang on to the country. So expect to hear promises of a ‘federal structure’ for Britain, which might – as with devolution – see Wales offered the same as Scotland to avoid showing fear of the SNP.
It seems that politics in Englandandwales – as in the USA and continental Europe – is moving to the Right. For few of those who voted Remain did so for the noble and altruistic reasons the metropolitan elite and the commentariat ascribe to themselves – most voted to stay in the EU out of perceived self-interest. City traders in their Cotswold retreats who voted Remain and former steel workers in Ebbw Vale who voted Leave were driven by a very similar impulse.
The next general election could be a choice between the English Centre Right and the English Extreme Right, BritNats and EngNats. Scotland will of course be insulated by the SNP and slowly extricating herself from this threatening mess (perhaps helped by the EU). Wales’ defence however will be limited to a rump Labour Party made up of careerists and mediocrities, a temporarily resurgent Hard Left, and Plaid Cymru. Which is really no defence at all.
So I say, yes, by all means capitalise on the current chaos, but what Wales really needs is a national movement promoting independence for the right reasons, rather than some ad hoc alliance formed in reaction to Brexit that will fall apart once the threat passes. A national movement unconcerned with the views of metropolitan ‘progressives’ and concentrating solely on defending and promoting Welsh interests.
In times of national crisis, when Britain is under threat or involved in overseas conflict, the BBC gives unquestioning support to the official government line. To all intents and purposes the BBC becomes the mouthpiece of the government, an agent of propaganda. This is understandable, it may even be acceptable, though what is less easy to understand is why a referendum on Scottish independence should have been treated like a war, or why Alex Salmond was put on a par with General Galtieri or Saddam Hussein.
And even when the referendum had been ‘won’ the BBC couldn’t drop its prejudice. On the day following the referendum gangs of Loyalists roamed the streets of Glasgow, attacking peaceful Yes supporters and burning Scottish flags. Many of these thugs – some giving Nazi salutes – had come over from the Six Counties, others had come up from England. Yet the BBC reported it as two groups – one pro independence the other pro Union – both intent on violence. If they’d believed they could have got away with it I’m sure the BBC would have portrayed the pro-independence students and families as the aggressors. It was left to the Herald to give the truth, even identifying a Rangers supporters group involved in organising the violence and encapsulating what really happened in George Square and nearby streets with the memorable phrase, “The heart of Glasgow had gone from Woodstock to Belfast in the space of just one day”.
Of course no one at the BBC would admit to it, nor would anyone in the Conservative Party, or at The Times, or in the Tesco boardroom, or on the trading floor at Deutsche Bank, but those thugs that terrorised central Glasgow last Friday night – violent and malodorous though they might be – are allies, for they’re all found in the great Unionist spectrum. This explains why the BBC and the rest of the London media deliberately misreported those events in Glasgow.
If the Scottish referendum presented a very real threat to England’s prestige this wonderful United Kingdom, then it follows that potential or lower level threats must also be dealt with, using the same agencies, primarily the BBC. Yesterday the BBC produced the results of a poll that purported to show that only 3% of people in Wales favoured independence. A quite remarkable finding when compared with other recent polls.
Polls this year by ITV Wales put support for independence at 14% in May and 17% in September. Another poll in September, this one by Face for Business, suggested that support for independence was as high as 29%. Now it would be easy to dismiss this last poll as being wrong . . . though few did, for it seems to have been ignored by the media. I was tempted to dismiss it myself, until I looked into it a little more and found that it provided a breakdown by age group, so I made a comparison with what has been produced for the Scottish referendum by Lord Ashcroft Polls, and the concurrence is quite striking.
The little table I drew up unsurprisingly shows that there is more support for independence in the younger age groups, while it falls off dramatically in both countries after the age of 55. Though the fall is greater for some reason in Scotland, where among the 65+ support for independence is 46% of the highest independence supporting age group, while in Wales it’s 51%. This is strange, even more so when we consider that so many English people retire to Wales. (In the area where I live they make up two-thirds of the 65+ age group.) And even if the FfB poll is all to hell, I still don’t fully understand why support for independence in Scotland declines so dramatically in the 65+ bracket.
Whatever the answers, we have to remember that opinion polls are not simply produced to tell us what people are thinking, many are designed to influence how people think, and this explains the BBC poll. Also, to provide ammunition for the defenders of the UK State who, in Wales, love to trot out the lie that, ‘only between five and ten per cent want independence’. (Hang on, is this why the Face for Business poll was totally ignored?) The only way to establish how many people in Wales want independence is to ask them the same question that was asked in Scotland last Thursday (with Wales substituted for Scotland) – ‘Should Wales be an independent country?’ That’s it, one simple question. Anything else, involving multiple choice or ‘answer-guided’ questions, is unacceptable and designed to confuse and mislead.
Among those making political capital out of the BBC’s propaganda poll was Councillor Pearleen Sangha of Swansea (well sort of, as I’ll explain). She re-tweeted @PearleenSangha enthusiastically that within a margin of error there could be nobody in Wales who wants independence. Even making allowances for the fact that Ms Sangha doesn’t know Wales, not even she believes that. But it’s not about what people really believe, is it, we’re talking propaganda here. Councillor Sangha is a staunch defender of the Union, and was up in Scotland for a few weeks campaigning for a No vote. Though seeing as she’s from the USA I can’t help wondering if she’s a UK citizen, and if not, should she have involved herself in a constitutional issue like this. Although nominally a Swansea councillor Sangha is now working for the Labour Party in Cardiff, so her Uplands constituents see very little of her these days. Though perhaps they don’t notice, for even when she was in Swansea she was strictly a Monday to Friday and 9 to 5 councillor. That’s when she was there, because she also likes to take lengthy trips home to California, and being a true party girl, she never misses a Labour conference or knees-up.
UPDATE 27.09.14: I’m told the Evening Post ran a story today (can’t find it on the website) in which it queried Councillor Sangha’s status. She claims to have resigned as a councillor in July and informed the party leadership, which was then (the recently departed) David Phillips. Yet no one else seems to know about this, certainly no by-election has been called. But despite what she told the Evening Post, on her Twitter account Cllr Sangha is still describing herself as a Labour councillor for Uplands! (Click to enlarge.) Lending weight to the suspicion that she is still, officially, a councillor – even though, due to her long absence and appalling attendance, record she shouldn’t be – is the fact that her council e-mail address is still receiving mail. In addition, she is still listed on the council’s website as a councillor. So what’s the story here?
28:09:14: A story on the Evening Post website today tells us that “Uplands councillor Pearleen Sangha steps down from her post”. She is quoted as saying “It is with regret that I have formally tendered my resignation as a Swansea councillor”. Which I take to mean that she’s resigning now, following the recent attention. Though she claims she decided “some time ago” to resign, perhaps at “the end of July”, when she says she informed the “leadership” of her intentions. (‘Leadership’ suggests more than one person, so who exactly did she tell?) She also wants us to know that she has not received her councillor allowance since then – good for her! Though the problem is that she went AWOL long before July, so it looks as if she was getting paid her councillor allowance while she was no longer in Swansea, no longer attending council and committee meetings, no longer serving her constituents. It has been obvious for a year or so that Pearleen Sangha was not doing her job as a Swansea councillor, but the local Labour Party allowed this situation to persist, and for her to collect her councillor allowance – simply because she is working full-time for the party, in Cardiff. What a squalid arrangement! What contempt it shows for the city of Swansea and its people. Yet another example of the Labour Party putting its interests first.
Robert Burns wrote a damning indictment of those who sold out his country’s independence in Parcel of Rogues; perhaps it should be updated, or maybe someone should give us a new song for the twenty-first century.
Any new ‘Parcel of Rogues’ would have to mention the British Propaganda Corporation, and the London newspapers . . . you know, those ‘journalists’ who’ve been tapping phones, and bribing bent London coppers, like the ones involved in the murder of Daniel Morgan. And we mustn’t forget the noble and upstanding politicians, most of whom seem to be fiddling their expenses. Sticking with politicians, let’s remember ALL the parties opposed to Scottish independence – Labour, Tory, Lib Dem, Ukip, BNP, National Front, Britain First, and a host of even smaller, loonier parties; plus of course the Unionists and Loyalists across the water. Finally, there was Carwyn ‘the veto’ Jones. Then there’s the supermarkets, the supermarkets that rip off Welsh farmers. And how could we forget the banks, for all of them were opposed to Scottish independence because they feared being properly regulated, as they are just about everywhere outside of the UK and the USA. Have you noticed that the bankers who end up in court are not the ones who nearly wrecked the Western economy but ‘rogue traders’, in other words, those who lose the banks’ money! Then there’s the oil industry, ‘Scottish oil running out’ they screamed . . . then four days after the referendum we learn that they got it wrong. But of course, this was unknown before referendum day! These are just some of the turds to be found floating in the cess-pit of modern Britain, the most corrupt and unequal society in Europe.
If the people of Scotland had known the truth, if they could have relied on an impartial and unbiased media, then Scotland would today be on its way to independence. That’s why Britain’s elite so desperately needed its propaganda machine and its foot-soldiers. But it was so blatant, so clumsily done and so easily exposed, that the backlash has started, and Scotland will be independent within ten years. The changes Britain will see in the coming decade will not end with Scotland. Fasten your seatbelts!
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Now that the dust has settled let’s see who’s still standing, who counts as walking wounded, and who might be deserving of a coup de grâce. Below you’ll find a table I’ve compiled giving a breakdown of the results. (Click to enlarge.) For comparison, the 2009 results can be found lower down. (Again, click to enlarge.) Further statistics and tables for 2014 can be found at the Pembrokeshire County Council website or at Welsh not British, where young Mr Evans has produced yet more easy-to-read graphics. (Though I got confused!)
Recent posts may also be of interest. First, my Wales Euro Election 2014: Runners and Riders and then my brief, pre-election biography of Nathan Gill, Ukip No 1 in Wales. Finally, bear in mind that the results were declared by local authority not by Westminster or Assembly constituencies. So while Anglesey council is the same as the constituency, this is rarely the case elsewhere, with some authorities containing more than one constituency and some constituencies straddling local government boundaries.
First, let’s get some of the minor parties out of the way. I cannot understand why NO2EU, Socialist Labour and the Socialist Party of Great Britain bothered standing. These three hard Left parties got a total of just 1.2% of the vote. I suppose it’s a platform, and a way of advertising themselves, but beyond that . . .
Moving over to the other extreme of the political spectrum we find the British National Party and its former members in Britain First. Their combined total was 1.9%. A great disappointment for the BNP, which got 5.4% of the vote at the previous Euro elections. I shall return anon to the BNP.
The performance of the Greens was patchy, ranging from 2.3% in Blaenau Gwent to 8.0% in Ceredigion. Nationally the party got 4.5% which was down on the 5.6% of five years ago. With all the environmentalist brainwashing going on in our schools I would have expected the Green vote to be rising. Then again, maybe many Greens ‘lent’ their vote to Plaid Cymru this time round to save Plaid’s skin. (Something else I shall return to.)
One of the shocks of this election was of course the near-annihilation of the Liberal Democrats. Now you know my views on the Lib Dems, but I’m not a man to gloat, so (putting aside the party hat and champagne bottle) I will stick with the facts. Nationally, the Lib Dem vote dropped from 10.7% in 2009 to 3.9% last Thursday. The candles in the gloom were where you’d expect to find them: 12.9% in Powys and 11.4% in Ceredigion. But even these were poor figures considering that we are dealing here with areas containing (or until recently containing) Liberal Democrat AMs and MPs.
Elsewhere, the picture is one of unrelieved bleakness: votes of less than 3% in Anglesey, Blaenau Gwent, Bridgend, Caerphilly, Carmarthenshire, Denbighshire, Gwynedd, Merthyr Tydfil, Neath Port Talbot, Pembrokeshire, Rhondda Cynon Taff and Torfaen. The centre ground is obviously overcrowded, and being in coalition with the Tories has its price. This result is part of a decline also found outside Wales, and when we add in the findings of opinion polls, it could be that the Liberal Democrats are coming to the end of the line as a serious political party.
Given the result achieved by Ukip, and the added factor this time round of having been in government at Westminster for four years, the Conservatives will be quite satisfied – if not relieved – to have hung on to 17.4% of the vote, down from 21.2% in 2009. The Tories’ lowest vote was 6.2% in Blaenau Gwent, and they got votes below 10% in three other Valleys authorities; with the highest vote, unsurprisingly, being 33.2% in Monmouthshire. This year’s vote was just two percentage points down from 2004.
As for Labour, 28.1% looks excellent when compared with 20.3% in 2009. But 2009 was an election influenced by Gordon Brown being PM and leading an unpopular government heading for defeat in the general election of 2010. To put Labour’s result last Thursday into a longer term perspective, their 28.1% takes them closer to the 32.5% they achieved in 2004. Labour’s lowest vote was 10.3% in Ceredigion and the highest 46.5% in Blaenau Gwent. Which leaves us with just Ukip and Plaid Cymru to consider. Plaid first.
Plaid scraped home to retain its MEP by just a few thousand votes and a share of 15.3%, compared with 18.5% in 2009 and 17.4% in 2004. The percentage share varied wildly, from 43.5% in Gwynedd to 6.3% in Monmouthshire. Only four local authorities (out of 22) gave Plaid a percentage share above 20%. I have made my views on Plaid Cymru / The Party of Wales known in many previous posts: they are a party that reached a ‘plateau’ of support under Dafydd Wigley from which they have been falling back steadily since he was deposed. And if, as we were being told prior to the voting, many Greens, Liberal Democrats and other ‘progressive elements’ were voting Plaid in order to stop Ukip getting a second seat, then the result is even worse.
Plaid’s support was concentrated along the west side of the country, as it has been throughout the party’s history, and even though 118,479 people in the south decided to stick two fingers up to the three main UK parties they chose to do it by voting Ukip rather than Plaid Cymru. Think about that – tens of thousands of working class Welsh people in the Valleys chose ex-public school ‘Frenchy’ Farage and his golf club bigots in preference to Plaid Cymru. Plaid Cymru has completely failed to break through in Denis Balsom’s ‘Welsh Wales’, among those who described themselves as ‘Welsh Only’ in the 2011 census; this failure, coupled with its heartland being colonised (without any protest from Plaid!) guarantees the eventual – and hopefully speedy – demise of this faux national party.
Yet there are those thankful for a ‘nationalist’ party as incompetent and unthreatening as Plaid Cymru. Given the fact that Plaid losing its MEP might have set in train events resulting in consequences unpalatable to such people, I can’t help wondering if, somewhere along the road to Abergwaun, Wales didn’t experience another deus ex machina moment to compare with what happened in Carmarthen back in September 1997.
Now we come to the undoubted stars of the show, even if they didn’t quite manage to top the bill: Ladies and gentlemen – the United Kingdom Independence Party! Let me concede that this was a spectacular result for Ukip, so let’s consider where it might lead. But before that, let’s set the context by saying that Ukip’s share of the vote has risen from 10.5% in 2004 to 12.8% in 2009 to 27.6% in 2014. By any standards, quite spectacular; though it’s not immediately obvious where the votes came from.
By which I mean, between 2009 and 2014 the Ukip vote increased by 114,398, and in percentage share terms from 12.8 to 27.6. In other words, it more than doubled. Yet the Labour vote also increased from 138,852 to 206,332, or 20.3% to 28.1%. So little if any of Ukip’s vote came from Labour. We can also safely assume that few would make the switch from Plaid Cymru to Ukip. Which leaves the Tories, Liberal Democrats and the British National Party. Yet the Tory vote was down by less than 20,000 on 2009, so we must assume that many who had previously used the Lib Dems as their protest vote switched to Ukip this time. (While others went to Labour.) Another source of votes was obviously the BNP; something admitted by leader Nick Griffin, who says his lost supporters will be back when they realise Ukip can’t deliver on immigration. (And the BNP can!) Finally, while Ukip may have picked up the votes of the disenchanted and the gullible in the Valleys; in Powys, the north, and rural areas, we can safely say that Ukip had far more appeal to English residents than to Welsh.
If those are the sources of Ukip’s votes then these, I believe, are the factors that helped Ukip achieve its success. First, the desire among a large section of the electorate to use elections that don’t really matter to put the boot into established politics, and lazy and corrupt establishment politicians – so they voted for ‘Farage the outsider’. Second, genuine, but non-racist, concerns about immigration and how it affects the social life or character of communities. Third, a protest against something very few of them really understand called ‘Europe’ and its increasing control over their lives. Fourth, Lib Dem voters deserting to what they perceive to be another ‘protest’ party. Fifth, Ukip still has novelty value and has been promoted by large sections of the media, including the BBC, which made Farage almost a permanent member of the Question Time panel and other programmes. Which raises an intriguing question . . .
Many can see that the BBC has in the past few years has taken on the role of State broadcaster. Whether this was as a result of a decision taken within the BBC, or a role taken on at the behest of others, need not bother us here. This change has manifested itself in the plethora of programmes now prefixed by ‘Great British’ and the clear bias in reporting the Scottish referendum debate. So the question has to be, why is the BBC giving a free ride to this threat to the established order, portraying Farage as a good egg who enjoys a pint and a ciggie? I’m open to suggestions, but my belief is that we are witnessing here the ‘elastic theory’ in practice; by which I mean, Ukip is being used to legitimise certain issues that were previously taboo, or the preserve of extremists, and therby move political debate to the Right. From the confusion created by this shift will soon emerge – to steal Ukip’s clothes – a ‘repositioned’ Conservative Party. There may even be a place for the unquestionably popular Nigel Farage in the New Conservative Party. Either way, it will mean the end of Ukip as a major political force. Though of course, there were those who thought they could do something similar with Hitler in 1930s Germany.
Looking ahead, I see that Mr Gill, our new Ukip MEP, is quoted as saying, “the Valleys are ours for the taking”, meaning that he expects to win Westminster and Assembly seats in this region. I have no way of knowing from which of his orifices these words emanated, but Mr Gill is an Englishman, living on Anglesey, who knows as much about the Valleys as I do about the Hindu Kush. Which is why I never talk of that region. Ergo he talks bollocks. For he knows as well as I do – or should – that Ukip is a protest vote for elections that people don’t take seriously. Which explains why the party has not a single MP, MSP or AM. Ukip has as much chance of winning Merthyr or Blaenau Gwent next year, or in 2016, as I have of winning the Kentucky Derby. And yet . . .
The threat of Ukip having some success in England at next year’s general election, and perhaps holding the balance of power, remains. (I have heard electoral pacts with the Conservatives mooted.) So put yourself in the position of someone in Scotland who has not yet decided how to vote in the independence referendum. Maybe you’re having a pint in an East End bar, or relaxing at home in Inverurie, when who pops up on the television but Nigel Farage. He says that you Scottish chaps (and he’ll use the word ‘chaps’) should be very grateful to be ruled by chaps like him; so you should forget all this independence nonsense because you’re ‘too wee and too poor’ (said in an appalling Scottish accent, an attempt at humour). Then he signs off with ‘Toodle-pip’. Do you think this intervention, and the possibility of a Tory-Ukip coalition after May 2015, might influence Scottish voters?
We all know the answer, yet some Ukip people are urging Farage to get involved in the Scottish referendum debate, to put Alex Salmond in his place. (Telling us that Nathan Gill isn’t the only Ukipper struggling with political and other realities.) Which takes me back to the BBC. Why is the Great British Broadcasting Corporation giving an armchir ride to the man who could ‘lose’ Scotland? For no matter what some in Ukip may think I must believe that wiser counsels will tell Farage to stay out of the Scottish independence debate because, being so quintissentially English in a rather annoying way, he can only harm the Unionist cause. But will he listen? We shall see. Whatever the future holds the way Farage and Ukip have been handled thus far by both the political establishment and the mainstream media is perplexing. I can only assume that there is a longer game being played.
In conclusion, let me just say a few things that might, hopefully, summarise what I feel about Ukip and the wider Welsh political scene. First, we should thank Ukip for exposing that the ‘socialist roots’ of the Valleys are, for many Valleys’ residents, as shallow as their own leader. When working class and unemployed Welsh people in some of the most deprived parts of Europe can vote for a party whose social policies come close to advocating sterilisation of the poor, then we know that the old certainties are gone, and it’s all up for grabs.
A Welsh academic, writing on Daily Wales, suggested that Ukip, by demanding that immigrants become fluent in English, had somehow released a genie that allowed language activists to demand that people moving into the Welsh-speaking areas of the west should learn Welsh. My comments can be found on the article. But he’s half right. The real lesson though is that by detoxifying the subject of immigration Ukip should have made it easier for us to discuss English immigration into Wales. Far greater in scale and effect than anything England is experiencing.
Finally, given the slow death of Plaid Cymru and other changes taking place in Welsh politics, I feel that the time is now right for nationalists to at least discuss setting aside their differences and uniting behind agreed Regional List candidates for the 2016 elections to the Notional Assembly. The advantages could be many. The elections would provide a platform to promote a more focused message than our people have heard for decades. It would also give the opportunity to challenge Ukip in the only route by which they can hope to achieve Assembly Members. And for Plaidistas reading this, it might provide the kick up the arse most of you know your party needs.