Short video from Beast TV of author Martin Amis commenting on the US presidential election.
Short video from Beast TV of author Martin Amis commenting on the US presidential election.
gan Eifion Lewis
Touring a show they had devised themselves about S4C’s on-going crisis my students had quite a shock. The drama – 4 waleS/C england – was the product of intensive discussions they organised on behalf of a channel that they infrequently watch. Indeed, they infrequently watch any television channel. Facebook and other social media applications have generally taken the place of television with regard to this age group. The response of audiences in the village halls and chapel vestries of our Welsh speaking communities was quite a shock to them. Audiences presented them with a depth of feeling and concern about the potential fate of S4C that they were just not prepared for.
At the beginning of this year I took part in an open discussion in my own community about the channel’s crisis. Two emotions were prevalent: anger and anxiety. The anger emanated from the UK coalition government’s high-handed treatment of our one and only Welsh medium channel. The anxiety was focussed on its future. Does S4C have one?
It’s a good question and one that has almost as many answers as there are interested parties. Some media analysts are concerned that the contractual arrangements between S4C and the small group of largely Cardiff based companies that supply the bulk of its output will make it very difficult for the channel to manage the severe budget cuts that the government has enforced.
Although they are too wary to say it out aloud what they infer is simple: S4C does not have a sustainable future. Not, that is, in its present form. Their worst day scenario is a complete – call-in-the-receivers style -shutdown.
Their best guess is that a much smaller and very much less active S4C will be rescued from the ashes. Less active would mean a return to limited hours broadcasting – from 6.00pm until 10.00pm nightly, for example. Such a reduced schedule would mean the end of S4C’s substantial children’s output – an output that is widely acclaimed not only for its high production standards but also for its tangible contribution towards delivering a bilingual Wales. Such a reduction would also raise questions about S4C’s presence at our main communal happenings which include the Royal Welsh Agricultural Show as well as the Urdd and the National Eisteddfodau. Whereas television coverage tends to have an adverse effect on sporting events Wales’ principal cultural festivals have doubtlessly enhanced their appeal and effectiveness since the advent of S4C and its comprehensive coverage.
Ned Thomas, a veteran of the battle to establish a Welsh channel and an academic with wide experience of international media, has commented that whilst many European broadcasters are heavily dependent on the dubbing of American drama and films to fill their schedules S4C, from the start, has managed to provide us with television that is home-produced through and through. But whilst the harbingers of doom warn us that such a service cannot be taken for granted in the future other, more radical voices say that cutting S4C’s working budget does not necessarily mean a less virile service.
Indeed, they argue to the contrary. A slimmer S4C could be more invigorative and much more exciting. Such an argument is based on a presumption that the channel’s guiding figures will translate the funding crisis into an opportunity to re-imagine its role and re-define its raison d’etre to take account of the very different current context of television as a national media and its relationship with the whole issue of the Welsh language in comparison to the days of its inception, almost 40 years ago. In 1982, the Welsh fourth channel was allowed to join BBC 1, BBC 2 and HTV’s collective monopoly of home entertainment. Within the last 10 years the advent of multi-channel digital television followed by the social networking revolution has consigned that situation well and truly to history.
Similarly, the day-to-day status of the Welsh language has changed considerably over the same period of time.
Forty odd years ago hardly any one of the many professional agencies that now plan and promote the language at national, regional and local level existed. Most importantly of all, there was no Welsh Assembly Government to take political responsibility for the language and to instigate progressive initiatives across the boundaries of all devolved matters.
The students who wrote and performed 4 waleS/C england are from a variety of linguistic backgrounds. They would not have gathered together on a Welshmedium university course were it not for the bilingual educational provision whose widespread blossoming is indicative of the changes Wales has undergone since S4C was first launched. Language commentators attribute much of the success of the bilingual schools movement to the change in attitude towards the Welsh language effected by S4C’s early success. From being the language of all our yesterdays it became the lingua franca of a confident and ambitious young and creative energy.
Doomsday could still happen – not least if S4C is to become merely an esoteric department within the BBC’s vast and hierarchical empire. Surely the radicals’ approach is the only possible way of ensuring a meaningful future for the channel. Such an approach would engender the development of a broadcasting strategy that is based on the multi-channel and multi-platform reality of the moment. Such an approach would ensure that S4C, and its world-wide potential, is seen as an essential component within the burgeoning framework of a bilingual nation. In Welsh, ‘language’ opinionis idiomatically partnered by ‘culture’ (iaith a diwylliant). The radical re-imagining of S4C would re-establish the symbiotic link between the language and distinctive culture of Wales. Such a step could be very far reaching. It could even provide us with the power of self-belief.
It was understanding the battle fought by a determined few that enthused my students to create a drama out of S4C’s crisis.
Eifion Lewis is a proud product of the Rhondda Valley. However, it is the rural communities of the west that have provided him with a base of creativity and energy with which to question both the fragility and resilience of Welsh culture. During his time as Lecturer in Charge of Theatr Felin-fach he instigated radical projects that
sought to develop a creative dialogue between cultures. Subsequently he established Cwmni Cydweithredol Troedyrhiw – a co-operative company that produced, in 2010, a whole year of multi-media work dedicated to the re-telling of how the community of Epynt was lost, 70 years previously. In May, 2010 he was appointed Performance and Script-writing Fellow at University of Wales, Trinity St David’s. He has one son, Rhodri, and his wife, Eleri, is part of Tinopolis’ Wedi 3 production team in Llanelli.
We have received and now publish a response from Henry Jones-Davies (of Cambria magazine) on the ongoing saga of Mr.Lewis versus Cambria Politico.We feel that this is an important issue of freedom of the Press/ blogosphere and are publishing the correspondence in the expectation that, on this basis, people will make their own minds up about the politician and party in question.
Annwyl Mr. Lewis
Re: Your complaint to the Press Complaints Commission
A complaint from you regarding an item published on the Cambriapolitico blog, which you chose to make in the style ‘Matt Greenough’, has been passed to me. Your complaint referred to a post on the Cambria Politico blog, yet it was directed to Cambria Magazine, which did not publish the post.
I will make a defence of the post that must be made in the interests of free speech. I will deal with your points in turn:
• Allegation of intimidation, harassment or persistent pursuit:
You have provided no particulars of this, which would seem to require acts which are repeated or intrusive.
• Pejorative reference to mental illness:
You have alleged that “there is a clear implication running through the piece that (you) suffer from a mental health problem”.
The “implication running through the piece”: the theme of the article is that the Labour Party in Wales has in it a body of opinion which is “devo-sceptic”, or “terrified of being labelled a closet nationalist”, or “rabidly unionist or loony-left”, or who “loath Wales, its people, language and culture and history”. Those who hold such views end in positions which, in the opinion of the writer, ought to expose them to ridicule. That is what runs through the article.
You “suffer from a mental health problem”: you appear to base this on the use of the description of you as “Screwloose”. This description appears as follows:
1. Paragraph 1 – where it is linked to political views which the writer perceives you as holding,
2. Paragraph 2 – where it is linked to you allegedly having ‘chips on your shoulder’,
3. Paragraph 4 – where it is linked to you being a contender in the Wales Labour leadership contest.
In the premises, I cannot see that “Screwloose” refers to the state of your mental health. I think a reader would link the description to your political views, with which the writer of the piece clearly disagrees.
References to your mental health: in Paragraph 4 you are referred to as in many ways “reasonable”. There is no other reference to the state of your mental health anywhere in the piece.
On this point, I therefore reject your suggestion that any allegation has been made against you as to your mental health. The suggestion made in the piece is that you, an otherwise reasonable man, hold puzzingly extravagant, inconsistent and unattractive views on the subject of Wales.
I would invite you to consider the use of the epithet “Screwloose” as being analogous to the following. On Saturday 21 November 2009, the normally reliable Andrew Grice, Political Editor of The Independent, wrote an article published in that paper. In the article he reported:
“Mr.Brown (Prime Minister) and others had to swallow their doubts about the centre-right nominee for President (of the EU), the non-descript Belgian Prime Minister Herman van Rompuy. Mr. Brown didn’t mind that, even though for weeks his allies have been referring to the Belgian premier as “Rumpy Pumpy” and “Rumpelstiltskin”.
I suggest that the use of these epithets by – apparently – your colleagues in the Labour Party, carry no implication of unchastity in M. van Rompuy, or prejudice against ugly persons of restricted growth. I hope it does not tax the imagination too greatly to realise that the epithet “Screwloose” – which has, for some considerable time, been applied to you by way of conversational currency amongst the political classes in Cardiff and elsewhere in Wales – is, quite obviously, a play on your name, rather than a comment on any aspect of your personality or state of mind. As you will know, the use of such epithets has a very long and strong tradition in Wales.
In summary, I feel entitled to point out to you that, as you expose yourself to a level of politics which has more prominence than the level you have occupied to date, you will in future have to accustom yourself to comment couched in tones with which you are apparently unfamiliar and may well find displeasing.
You have chosen to resort to the Press Complaints Commission. As one who loves – and strives for – Wales, I must surely be expected to defend a piece in its comment about a politician – you – who ought, but sadly appears not to, share my feelings for Wales. And I will do so robustly.
As to the remainder of your letter, my replies are as follows:
• Legal Advice: I imagine that you will receive advice which includes the following:
1. Allegation of insanity: defamatory if made, but not in fact made in this case.
2. Cambria Politico: has available the defence of Fair Comment on the views of a person in public life.
• Removal of blog post: As you will know, the relevant blog post was removed while legal advice was taken. You will also know, which will not surprise you on reflection, that it has been re-posted, and that you did – by your (office’s) actions – draw increased, unnecessary and presumably unwelcome attention to the political criticisms made of you in the piece.
Copies of this (edited) reply have been sent to the Press Complaints Commission and to the Presiding Officer and Chief Executive of the National Assembly for Wales. Cambriapolitico finds itself on the front line of the defence of free speech in Wales, and we will not let the retreating rabble of a rapidly disintegrating Labour Party attempt to stamp it out.
The redacted version of the Huw Lewis blog post instead of the one the Labour Party bully-boys don’t want you to see. We’re confident that the full version will be back on line for your delectation (and their confusion) soon!
xxxxxxx xxxxx the xxxxxx
By Axxxxx Llxxxx Pxxxx
xxx xxxx it all appeared to be going swimmingly well for xxxxxx, xxxxxxx xxxxxxxxx Labour leadership candidate Huw ‘xxxxxxxxxx’ Lewis – xxxxxx xxx xxxxxxxxxx.
Over the last few weeks in the gripping battle to succeed Rhodri Morgan as First minister of Wales, it appeared that rank outsider xxxxxxxxxx, xxxxx xxxxxxx xxxxx xxxxx xx xxx xxxxxxx xxxx Harry Ramsden xx x xxxxxx xxxxxx, might yet slip under the radar and bring the contest to a tight finish.
Obvious favourite Carwyn Jones, a xxxxxxx xxxxxxx and xxxxx xxxx xxxxxx with xxxxxx gravitas to lead a political party, xxxxxx out on the burning issue facing Wales: increased powers for the Assembly – apparently xxxxxx xxxxxx xxxxxxxxxxxx xxxxxx. Meanwhile xxxxxx xxxxxx Edwina Hart’s campaign ran xxxxxx xxxxxx with xxxxxx the future of xxxxxx.
No mention of anything remotely xxxxxx, xxxxxx xxxxxx or xxxxxx
Suddenly xxxxxx seemed to be a contender. The former chemistry teacher’s 5-minute interview on Thursday’s AM/PM programme actually gave the impression of a reasonable, softly-spoken family man and with no mention of anything xxxxxx, xxxxxx xxxxxx or xxxxxx -as might have been expected. When considered against the xxxxxx of Edwina and Carwyn on the same programme, xxxxxx his chances. xxxxxx then came yesterday’s headline…
xxxxxx xxxxxx xxxxxx BEHIND HUW LEWIS’ VISION FOR WALES!
and the dream is all xxxxxx.
The very idea of this xxxxxx duo of political xxxxxx and xxxxxx xxxxxx (Kinnock as Labour leader, Glenys as a xxxxxx ‘xxxxxx’ MEP xxxxxx xxxxxx Foreign Office minister) giving a boost to anyone in this contest is as xxxxxx as it is xxxxxx. Here is a couple whose xxxxxx Wales, its people, language, culture and history (xxxxxx is on record as saying that xxxxxx) is matched only by an xxxxxx (see Cambriapolitico passim). Lewis xxxxxx that he was “honoured and humbled to have the backing of two such great party figures”, adding xxxxxx that xxxxxx was somehow responsible for having “saved the party from electoral extinction”, xxxxxx opposite xxxxxx case. He famously xxxxxx election xxxxxx it to years in the xxxxxx until Tony Blair recreated it along Tory lines in the lead up to the New Labour victory of 1997.
xxxxxx avowed socialist AM for Merthyr Tydfil – who lives with his AM wife in xxxxxx Penarth (xxxxxx his “passion is to rid Wales of the xxxxxx of child poverty”) – being endorsed by a duo of champagne- xxxxxx and political xxxxxx, is one step xxxxxx.
xxxxxx the Labour Party in Wales has the sense to see straight xxxxxx.
The Stasi are waiting in the wings!!
A warning from history.
In an attempt to gag Cambria Politico, one of the fiercest critics of the Labour Party in Wales, agents for Labour leadership contender Huw Lewis launched a barrage of intimidatory threats resulting from an article on this blog which hit their boss a little too hard for comfort. With precious little investigative political journalism in Wales as it is, and the consequent yawning democratic deficit, Labour’s thugs are determined to hound journalists who criticise their bosses even in a quite obviously satirical and tongue-in-cheek way.
Such naked intimidation on the part of the Huw Lewis camp does his campaign no credit whatsoever. If this is a foretaste of what we might expect from a Labour administration led by Lewis it bodes very ill for Welsh democracy indeed. But this is Labour showing its true colours and they are ugly ones. Be warned.
For the record, here is the full text of an email (sent erroneously to the editor of Cambria Magazine) from one of Lewis’s henchmen and forwarded to Cambria Politico:
Further to my phone message this afternoon and my conversation with Clive Betts, I’m writing to inform you that I am making a formal complaint to the Press Complaints Commission regarding defamation in the above piece and in regards to how the article relates to the following sections of the PCC Code.
1. (i) The Press must take care not to publish inaccurate, misleading or distorted information, including pictures.
4. (i) Journalists must not engage in intimidation, harassment or persistent pursuit.
12. Discrimination (i) The press must avoid prejudicial or pejorative reference to an individual’s race, colour, religion, gender, sexual orientation or to any physical or mental illness or disability.
Leaving the entirely puerile tone to one side, there is a clear implication running through the piece that Labour AM, Huw Lewis, suffers from a mental health problem. This is an extraordinarily serious allegation made in a totally unacceptable and staggeringly crass fashion.
I would like to know what your publication guidelines are for Cambria Magazine and the accompanying blog, which is registered to the magazine.
Where does editorial control lie?
I am also reporting this matter to Claire Clancy, the Head of the Assembly Commission in order that she may review ongoing concerns in relation to the conduct of Cambria Magazine in relation to Members of the National Assembly for Wales, with particular regard to article 4 of the PCC code.
I am also asking for legal advice in relation to taking the matter forward relating to the specific blog post.
For your information, Clive Betts today denied to me directly that he wrote this piece and is therefore not responsible for its content. I have to accept his word on that matter.
Mr Betts also denied knowing who did write the piece and who was responsible for the publication of the blog. A statement which I believe to be untrue. I look forward to your clarification on who the blog author is.
Whilst these matters are being taken forward, I would like this blog post removed immediately.
Office of Huw Lewis AM & Lynne Neagle AM
Tel: 029 2089 8752
Fax: 029 2089 8387
National Assembly for Wales
Cardiff Bay CF99 1NA
While Cambria Politico takes legal advice on this issue the post has been ‘unpublished’. Watch this space.
Cambria Politico will not be silenced but will continue to speak for, and fight for, the people of Wales and continue to expose cant, humbug, corruption, bullying and intimidation wherever it is found.
Echoes of Stalinist Russia as Labour tries to gag free speech in Wales.
Following threats of legal action by sinister agents of Huw Lewis AM, we have temporarily unpublished our article about the Labour leadership candidate while we consult legal counsel.
Why have we done this? Why are we bowing to pressure from the hated political class? Where is Freedom of Speech? Where is Freedom of the Press? Why has our blog been singled out for this treatment? How is blogging and citizen journalism affecting the political process?
These are all interesting issues that we shall be exploring in depth in the coming weeks and months leading up to the General Election. But be sure of one thing Cambriapolitico will not be intimidated – The right of Free Speech must be upheld.
NOW THAT all our “evening” newspapers have ceased to be such any more – they all prepare new and print their copies during the night before their publication date – is it about time they tried to catch up with the world ?
With copies on sale as early as the day’s morning newspapers, have any of them thought carefully about what their new daily schedules should mean ?
My guess is they haven’t one iota.
Proof of this is today’s South Wales Argus from Newport, and its treatment of the retirement of Rhodri Morgan as First Minister.
That paper is printed overnight in one of two distant towns in England – which, changes according to the night of the week - and is then freighted in by lorry. Copies should be on sale by daybreak.
That is what happens in much of North America – although my knowledge is limited to southern Ontario, I would be surprised if things are much different in most of the rest of Canada and the United States. The Argus is owned by a United States company.
Along the north shore of Lake Ontario, there is one big city – Ontario, from which are published a clutch of heavyweight mornings. Those papers are on sale in the host of small towns along the lakeside.
But this long string of towns, perhaps 20 or so miles apart, each boasts its own local paper. These are rarely weeklies; instead they are dailies. And almost every one is published in the early morning having been printed at a central printing plant. They run in head-to-head competition with the Toronto mornings.
Are they each on the edge of closure due to the competition ? No, they are each thriving (admittedly, less so this year than last).
In their close geographical proximity to each other, they are rather like our “evening” newspapers in Wales, and indeed in England.
But they are totally unlike their Welsh and British cousins in one way. They are in fact miles ahead.
“Evening” papers in Wales specialise in local news. So do those in Canada; if you want to know what your council or football club decided or did the previous day, you turn to your local daily in Canada to find out.
But they are not so narrow-minded as to halt their interest in everything once they reach the final shop which possesses a sales point, or at the council boundary.
Canadian local dailies will also contain regional, provincial and indeed national news. Perhaps indeed international. All right, the news isn’t brilliant; it’s culled from the wire services. Perhaps, it is a bit livelier than that put out by Press Association, our equivalent.
You may well reply that Britain possesses no provinces or regions – which means little provincial or regional news.
But Wales does. It is called Wales, and it possesses a National Assembly.
Now, true, because of the machinations of Welsh Labour MPs our own little assembly no doubt possesses far fewer powers than the colonial-era institution based in Toronto.
But those powers are growing. Even more important, our li’l ol’ Assembly is getting established. Happenings there are becoming a talking point.
The biggest such talking point is the pending retirement of Rhodri Morgan – a fellow who is certainly extremely well known and important throughout Wales. An announcement was made around noon on Thursday. Far too late for our new-style “evening” papers; their copies would have been all distributed hours before.
But, with their new-style schedules, perfect for the following day’s editions.
So I picked up the Argus in suburban Newport, in the hours after the Western Mail had devoted (according to the BBC news) six pages to the subject. And it had even been on the London news from the BBC.
As the Argus newspaper execs would no doubt boast, the Mail doesn’t sell many copies in their county.
So what did the Argus do to cover such a momentous announcement ? A leading article, certainly. And what else. If the Mule thought it was worth six pages, what did the Argus think ?
About six paragraphs at the bottom of an inside page. After all, Mr Morgan didn’t live in its circulation area. Nor was his office in Newport. So, it wasn’t worth much.
As equally, the Argus isn’t worth much. And the same applies to almost all the Welsh, English and Scottish evening papers. Those papers have changed fundamentally in their publication schedules (some of their staff now work evening, and even overnight, shifts).
But you wouldn’t think anything had changed. No wonder parts of British daily press are dying. Death started from the head, and it’s sinking towards the feet.
WHAT ON earth has happened to the Western Mail, sometimes known as Llais y Sais?
The treatment of the death of Ceredigion farmer-poet Dic Jones has revealed that whatever improvements may have started to occur, the paper should still rapidly relocate itself to Bristol, where it once fondly hoped to be cock of the roost, writes Clive Betts from the Assembly press gallery (during sessions).
Although the Caerdiff people who ran the Western Mail - with bossing from the in-blows who thought they knew more than them – imagined the paper existed for the good of the South (the capital S was crucial, for the true provincials they were) Wales mercantile class, its true strength was in the West.
A good way of checking was to note the newspapers the bus drivers were reading (not when driving their vehicles, we hope).
In Caerdiff it would usually be the Sun (greatly by now outselling the Mirror, the other product from the Trinity Mirror group, owners of the Western – of England – Mail).
But down West, much further than Llais y Sais journalists would often venture, your lowly bus driver would be as likely to have the WesternMail propped beside his wind-screen.
Ring up the Western Mail and ask them what percentage of households in each council area purchased the paper. Down West the figure used to approach 50 per cent. Way, way above the Cardiff figure.
The Llais understood that some years ago when it launched a series of regional editions each morning. In those days, each region (a sort of old-style county) had its own edition.
Historically, the edition name was printed on the front page, and did little more than acknowledge the changes to the news that happened as the print time for each edition approached. Usually, in addition one page would be editionalised, carrying news only for that edition’s area.
But clearly someone in Caerdiff realised at one time that the regional editions could mean much, much more. So the news input for these editions suddenly rocketed – to the alarm of journalists who had to produce the copy.
Eventually, the “editions” became almost weekly supplements. NUJ members in Cardiff complained – not only about the extra work they were having to do, but about their fear that these new-style editions would eventually put local weeklies out of business.
The point is that the Western Mail in those days knew the power of the regions.
But now no more. Anything west of Fairwater (the “posh” part of Ely, which is otherwise a pretty awful council estate) is in the back of beyond (as if it lay west of Uxbridge, to a Fleet Street journalist).
That is where the death of Dic Jones, the sitting Archdruid, comes in.
At 75, he was too ill to attend the recent Eisteddfod at Bala (did the Western Mail mention that fact ?).
Mr Jones was a character in bardic and eisteddfodic terms. And not because he was often on telly, but it was because he was such a character that he was on telly and radio.
In his life and his language, he symbolised the West. The Western Mail was created for people like him. But of course the “Western” of Llais y Sais didn’t really extend as far as the Bristol portal of the Severn Tunnel.,..
It is now not much more than Steve Dube’s weekly farming pages which remind us of the land that Dic occupied. This was real Western Mail territory.
But what did Mr Jones get on his death ?
Ten paragraphs on page 10 under a single-column headline, until it was stopped by an advert, in a spot where you would normally find the Llais’s News Bulletin snippets. No picture.
Who wrote it ? No name.
Smells to me very like a piece from the Press Association’s UK wire, which is sent to everyone in the UK. Not something from the Welsh wire because the Western Mail no longer subscribe to that wire because they “can’t afford” it – which explains why their Assembly converage can sometimes be rather lacking.
So, the story in the Western Mail about Dic would be the same one went to the Aberdeen Press and Journal.
The Llandudno Daily Post’s piece was at least written by a named-reporter. Eryl Crump’s piece contained a lovely line about Dic’s love of Bala, and that he would have “loved to live there if he had to choose anywhere else away from his native Ceredigion”.
Had that happened, he would at least have then been relieved of the need to consider buying the Western Mail anymore. Bala is in Daily Post land where almost the only people buying the “national newspaper of Wales” are those driving through to or from Caerdiff.